February, 2018

Kushner Firm Received Loans After White House Meetings

The firm run by Jared Kushner’s family reportedly received a $184 million from Apollo Global Management after founder Joshua Harris made “regular” visits to the White House, the New York Times reports.

Kushner’s firm also received a $325 million loan from Citigroup after Kushner met with Citigroup’s CEO Michael Corbat.

“There is little precedent for a top White House official meeting with executives of companies as they contemplate sizable loans to his business… Mr. Kushner has reported owning hundreds of partnerships, limited liability companies and other entities, but he is not required to disclose the lifeblood of any real estate firm’s business: its lenders and outside investors.”

Sessions Dines with Rosenstein in Show of Solidarity

Attorney General Jeff Sessions had dinner tonight with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Solicitor General Noel Francisco, Axios reports.

“The symbolism was unmistakable: the three top ranking officials in the Justice Department appearing together in a show of solidarity on the same day Trump is publicly and privately raging about Sessions.”

Mueller Investigating Trump’s Efforts to Oust Sessions

Special counsel Robert Mueller “has been investigating a period of time last summer when President Trump seemed determined to drive Attorney General Jeff Sessions from his job,” the Washington Post reports.

“In recent months, Mueller’s team has questioned witnesses in detail about Trump’s private comments and state of mind in late July and early August of last year, around the time he issued a series of tweets belittling his ‘beleaguered’ attorney general… The thrust of the questions was to determine whether the president’s goal was to oust Sessions in order to pick a replacement who would exercise control over the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and Trump associates during the 2016 election.”

Also interesting: “Behind the scenes, Trump has derisively referred to Sessions as ‘Mr. Magoo,’ a cartoon character who is elderly, myopic and bumbling.”

More Than 30 Trump Aides Lose Top Secret Clearance

“More than 30 aides to President Trump have been stripped of access to top secret intelligence,” Bloomberg reports.

“The officials have been notified that they will be downgraded to a lower-level ‘secret’ interim security clearance while their background investigations continue… None of the officials have been asked to leave the administration and their portfolios on top secret matters will be distributed to other staff members.”

Kushner Described as Paranoid

CNN: “Kushner, whose business dealings and wide portfolio have been the subject of intense scrutiny, told people that he suspected the timing of the story about his foreign contacts was coordinated to be released when issues surrounding his security clearance were in the news, according to a source familiar with his thinking, who described his demeanor in recent days as paranoid.”

“He is under the impression that officials from the intelligence and national security communities were aware of this information beforehand, the person said, but waited until his clearance issues were in the spotlight to make it public.”

Hope Hicks Is Resigning

Hope Hicks said that she was resigning as White House communications director, the New York Times reports.

“Ms. Hicks, 29, a former model who joined Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign without any experience in politics, became known as one of the few aides who understood his personality and style and could challenge the president to change his views.”

“She told colleagues that she had accomplished what she felt she could with a job that made her one of the most powerful people in Washington, and that there would never be a perfect moment to leave… She did not say what her next job would be, and it was unclear what the departure date is, although it is likely to be in the next few weeks.”

Jonathan Swan: “Trump will miss her in the same way he misses former bodyguard Keith Schiller. Hicks is family and has been part of his routine for nearly three years now. Trump increasingly finds himself working in a building populated by people he doesn’t know and doesn’t trust; Some of whom did not even vote for him.”

Trump Says He Supports Confiscating Guns

President Trump voiced support for confiscating guns from certain dangerous individuals, even if it violates due process rights, The Hill reports.

Said Trump: “I like taking the guns early like in this crazy man’s case that just took place in Florida … to go to court would have taken a long time. Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

Mueller Asking What Trump Knew About Hacked Emails

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is asking witnesses pointed questions about whether Donald Trump was aware that Democratic emails had been stolen before that was publicly known, and whether he was involved in their strategic release,” NBC News reports.

“Mueller’s investigators have asked witnesses whether Trump was aware of plans for WikiLeaks to publish the emails. They have also asked about the relationship between GOP operative Roger Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and why Trump took policy positions favorable to Russia.”

U.S. Satisfaction With the Government Remains Low

Gallup: “More than one year into Donald Trump’s presidency, Americans’ satisfaction with their national government shows no signs of improving. About a third of U.S. adults (34%) say they are ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ satisfied with the size and power of the federal government, down six percentage points from 2017 but on par with most readings since 2011. Thirty-eight percent of Americans are satisfied with ‘our system of government and how well it works,’ essentially unchanged from 2017 and much lower than it was between 2001 and 2008.”

Sessions Defends Himself from Trump Attacks

Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended himself from earlier criticism by President Trump without mentioning him by name, Bloomberg reports.

Said Sessions: “We have initiated the appropriate process that will ensure complaints against this department will be fully and fairly acted upon if necessary. As long as I am the attorney general, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution.”