White House

No Reason to Feel Sorry for Sean Spicer

Jack Shafer: “By the end of his active tenure as press secretary—which we can date to June when the administration started platooning in Sarah Huckabee Sanders for on-camera briefings—Spicer had become the Lord Haw-Haw of the Trump administration. That’s a mighty harsh appraisal. Lord Haw-Haw was, after all, a British citizen who broadcast German propaganda into the UK from Hamburg during World War II. Lord Haw Haw’s willingness to say everything and anything that would serve his masters finds its parallel, albeit cleansed of the unspeakable Nazi taint, in Spicer’s peacetime opportunism. Nobody took Lord Haw-Haw seriously. Like Spicer, he was just noise on the margins of the signal, a continuing joke that wasn’t very funny considering the stakes involved.”

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“Here’s what I’ll tell you about the president: He’s the most competitive person I’ve ever met. I’ve seen this guy throw a dead spiral through a tire. I’ve seen him at Madison Square Garden with a top coat on and he’s hitting foul shots and swishing them. He sinks three foot puts. I don’t see this guy as a guy who’s ever under siege.”

— Anthony Scaramucci, at a press briefing on his first day as White House communications director.

How Does Trump Spend His Day?

David Remnick has a great interview with Maggie Haberman of the New York Times about her reporting on President Trump.

REMNICK: How does Donald Trump spend his day when not in routine meetings that are on his schedule?

HABERMAN: This is really like the holy grail of reporting that has been sought and not completely answered for some time, including by me. He gets very irritated when we all report that he watches a lot of TV. He does watch a lot of TV—it doesn’t seem like that’s a massively controversial statement. But he doesn’t like when that is said because he thinks it’s shorthand for saying he doesn’t work that hard. He holds a lot of meetings. But his Oval Office is an incredibly open-door room, unlike most Oval Offices, where, really, it is, as you know, David, it’s the palace, and the chief of staff is the gatekeeper. I mean, Trump’s Oval Office is like Grand Central Station. People try briefing him and someone comes in and interrupts him. People just sort of walk in without being previously announced in any meaningful way. He spends his day interacting, is how I would describe it. He gets the daily brief in the mornings. He has had that condensed down to a more visual-cued form than it was previously.

REMNICK: It sounds like you’re being a little bit polite. What previous Presidents did, in one way or another, was read a tremendous amount the night before and then get a brief from the director of National Intelligence. And he has no patience for that, from what I understand. He has no patience for reading briefing books, and he has to see a lot of pictures, a lot of video, a lot of charts.

HABERMAN: He likes a lot of charts. He likes looking at things.

Will Republicans Draw a Red Line for Trump?

First Read: “If things appear that the country is indeed headed toward a possible constitutional crisis — Trump instructing the Justice Department to fire Mueller, Trump pardoning aides and family members — there is a simple solution: Congressional Republicans can act.”

“They can do so by passing a law to reinstate Mueller, or they can threaten impeachment. The question, of course, is whether they’d follow through.”

“That’s why every member of Congress should be on the record on this question: What will you do if Trump tries to fire Mueller or pardon his aides or family members? And the fact that this question needs to be asked — six months into Trump’s tenure as president — is an extraordinary development.”

Trump Can’t Stop Mentioning Hillary Clinton

Washington Post: “In fact, in 19 interviews that he’s conducted since becoming president, we found that Clinton tended to be mentioned much earlier than a number of Trump’s other favorite topics: The 2016 election, the votes he received, the electoral college and Barack Obama. Tallying the first appearance of each word in those 19 interviews, we figured out how far into an interview Trump first made mention of them, on average.”

“In 17 of 19 of his interviews, Clinton came up, on average about 36 percent of the way in. That’s more frequently and earlier than his mentions of Obama, who made it into only 16 interviews, about 43 percent of the way in.”

Kushner’s Status Being Used to Lure Chinese Investors

“Jared Kushner’s status as a top aide to President Donald Trump was used to lure Chinese investors to his family’s New Jersey development, even after his family’s company apologized for mentioning his name during a sales pitch in May,” CNN has found.

“References to Kushner are part of online promotions by two businesses that are working with Kushner Companies to find Chinese investors willing to invest in the 1 Journal Square development in exchange for a US visa. The promotions are posted in Chinese and refer to Kushner Companies as ‘real estate heavyweights,’ going on to mention ‘the celebrity of the family is 30-something ‘Mr. Perfect’ Jared Kushner, who once served as CEO of Kushner Companies.'”

Bannon Steps Back Into Shadows

“Steve Bannon has largely disappeared from the White House’s most sensitive policy debates — a dramatic about-face for an operative once characterized as the most powerful man in Washington,” Politico reports.

“Bannon, chastened by internal rivalries and by President Donald Trump’s growing suspicion that he is looking out for his own interests, is in a self-imposed exile, having chosen to step back from Trump’s inner circle for the sake of self-preservation.”

Trump’s Russia Comments Could Cause Legal Problems

President Trump’s “decision to talk off the cuff about the Russia probe to reporters allowed him to put out his version of events-but increased the legal risks to him, as well as to his children and the growing number of associates who have been pulled into the expanding investigation,” Politico reports.

“Every public statement by the president or others involved opens a line of questioning for special counsel Robert Mueller or lawmakers exploring the contacts between Trump associates and Russia during the 2016 election. Like the president’s tweets, his interviews can be used to establish facts or intent, offering investigators a gold mine of information but potentially creating conflicts for others that can lead to headaches for their various lawyers-or to criminal charges including perjury or obstruction of justice.”

Trump Reshuffles Legal Team

“President Donald Trump is reshuffling his legal team as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation moves full steam ahead,” CNN reports.

“Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s longtime personal attorney who has been the lead lawyer on the Russia investigation, will see his role recede… Instead, attorney John Dowd, along with Jay Sekolow, will now be the President’s primary personal attorneys for the investigation… Dowd will take the lead.”

“By being outside the White House, their dealings with the President will be protected under attorney-client privilege that is afforded any US citizen.”

Spokesman for Trump Legal Team Quits

Politico: “Mark Corallo, the spokesman, had grown frustrated with the operation and the warring factions and lawyers, these people said. Corallo also was concerned about whether he was being told the truth about various matters.”

“Corallo has been close to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Russia investigation, and has praised him publicly. He didn’t like the strategy to attack his credibility.”

Trump Picks Scaramucci as Communications Director

“President Trump is expected to announce that Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci will be White House communications director,” Axios reports.

“Trump has left the role open since Mike Dubke resigned in May, and the President has vented frequently to his friends about the performance of his press operation… Trump’s plans to appoint Scaramucci came as a surprise to Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who found out after the plans had already been made.”

Trump’s Club Wants to Hire 70 Foreign Workers

“President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida has asked permission to hire 70 foreign workers this fall, attesting — in the middle of the White House’s ‘Made in America Week’ — that it cannot find qualified Americans to serve as cooks, waiters and housekeepers,” the Washington Post reports.

“Those requests were made to the Department of Labor in recent days and posted online Thursday.”