March, 2017

Trump and Kushner Worth at Least $741 million

“Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, will remain the beneficiaries of a sprawling real estate and investment business still worth as much as $741 million, despite their new government responsibilities, according to ethics filings released by the White House Friday night,” the New York Times reports.

“Ms. Trump will also maintain a stake in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The hotel, just down the street from the White House, has drawn protests from ethics experts who worry that foreign governments or special interests could stay there in order to curry favor with the administration.”

“It is unclear how Ms. Trump would earn income from that stake. Mr. Kushner’s financial disclosures say that Ms. Trump earned between $1 million and $5 million from January 2016 to March 2017, and puts the value of her stake at between $5 million and $25 million.”

White House Struggles with Russia Firestorm

“President Trump entered his 11th week in office Friday in crisis mode, his governing agenda at risk of being subsumed by escalating questions about the White House’s conduct in the Russia probe — which the president called a witch hunt,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump and his senior aides spent much of the day on the defensive, parrying the latest reports that senior administration officials had potentially acted improperly in the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Moscow’s meddling in the U.S. elections and possible links between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.”

Meanwhile, CBS News has learned that U.S. investigators are looking into whether Trump campaign representatives had a role in helping Russian intelligence as it carried out cyberattacks on the DNC and other political targets in March 2016.

How Republicans View Work Ethic, Intelligence of Blacks

Washington Post: “The biggest yawning gap between Democrats and Republicans is on the issue of motivation and will power. The survey asks whether African Americans are worse off economically ‘because most just don’t have the motivation or will power to pull themselves up out of poverty?'”

“A majority — 55 percent — of white Republicans agreed with this statement, compared to 26 percent of white Democrats. That’s the biggest gap since the question was first asked in 1977 — though the gap was similar (60-32) in 2010.”

“The survey also asks people to rate the races on how hard-working or lazy they are, which allows us to compare whether people rate some higher than others. In this case, 42 percent of white Republicans rated African Americans as being lazier than whites, versus 24 percent of white Democrats. That 18-point gap is the second-biggest on-record, behind 2010 (19 points).”

Trump Administration Brags About Wealthy Staffers

“Starting Friday evening, the White House will begin to release financial disclosure forms filed by about 180 members of the Trump administration who are either commissioned officers or paid more than $161,755,” the Washington Post reports.

“Already, the administration is bragging that its members are way wealthier than those who worked for former president Barack Obama — a point of pride that doesn’t quite match the president’s campaign pledge to ‘drain the swamp’ of wealthy GOP donors, lifelong political operatives and those who are simply out-of-touch with everyday Americans.”

Did Michael Flynn Do Something Illegal?

Ryan Lizza talked to a Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee:

I asked the Republican congressman if he believed that Flynn did anything illegal in the phone call, in which Flynn discussed actions taken the same day by the Obama Administration. A rarely enforced eighteenth-century law known as the Logan Act makes it illegal to “influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government” or “defeat the measures of the United States” in disputes with an adversary. “That’s open to question,” the Republican congressman told me.

The Hill: 5 questions investigators want to ask Micheal Flynn.

Trump Unafraid of Possible Government Shutdown

Daily Caller: “According to the source in the room, White House staffers told attendees that Trump doesn’t see much downside to a shutdown and believes congressional Democrats will bear full responsibility if one does occur.”

“A White House official speaking on background confirmed that the issue of whether the president is unafraid of a shutdown was raised at the meeting, and confirmed that staffers communicated the president’s commitment to funding the border wall – a major point of contention in avoiding a government shutdown – but denied that any answer in the affirmative was given by White House staffers.”

Related for members: Republicans In Retreat

Obama Officials Made List of Russia Documents

Obama administration officials “were so concerned about what would happen to key classified documents related to the Russia probe once President Trump took office that they created a list of document serial numbers to give to senior members of the Senate Intelligence Committee,” a former Obama official told NBC News.

“The official said that after the list of documents related to the probe into Russian interference in the U.S. election was created in early January, he hand-carried it to the committee members. The numbers themselves were not classified.”

The purpose, said the official, was to make it “harder to bury” the information, “to share it with those on the Hill who could lawfully see the documents,” and to make sure it could reside in an Intelligence committee safe, “not just at Langley.”

Flynn’s Immunity Request Denied by Senate Committee

The Senate Intelligence Committee turned down the request by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s lawyer for a grant of immunity in exchange for his testimony, two congressional sources told NBC News.

A senior congressional official with direct knowledge said Flynn’s lawyer was told it was “wildly preliminary” and that immunity was “not on the table” at the moment. A second source said the committee communicated that it is “not receptive” to Flynn’s request “at this time.”

Venezuela Plunged Into Crisis After Power Grab

“Venezuelans have been thrust into a new round of political turbulence after the government-stacked Supreme Court gutted congress of its last vestiges of power, drawing widespread condemnation from foreign governments and sparking protests in the capital,” the AP reports.

“Governments across Latin America condemned the power grab on Thursday and Friday, with the head of the Organization of American States likening it to a ‘self-inflicted coup’ by socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s ‘regime’ against the opposition-controlled congress.”

The House Is In Crisis Too

Rick Wilson: “It’s not just the White House that’s in crisis. It’s increasingly obvious that the House of Representatives is also in trouble. Thursday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearings were serious, probing, informative, and bipartisan; a marked contrast to the alternate reality Nunes and his allies tried to cast in their first hearings. For the House, Nunes has almost singlehandedly wrecked the credibility of its intelligence committee, raising the specter of either a Senate committee that dominates the investigation or a select committee with sweeping powers that will terrify this White House.”

“At this very moment, Speaker Ryan is desperately trying to cobble together a governing majority in the body from its disparate camps of Freedom Caucus firebreathers, mainline Republicans, the Trump Cheer Squad, and the 20 or so members in swing seats. Ryan can’t afford more embarrassments, and Nunes may have put him in an untenable position. This is particularly painful for Ryan because just two days ago he vigorously defended Nunes’s performance as head of the House Intelligence Committee and because Nunes claims he informed Ryan what he was up to before going to the president.”

“Most organizations and individuals in a political or media crisis share one characteristic: They don’t know they’re in a crisis until the smell of smoke and the sound of sirens is almost deafening.”