White House

Quote of the Day

“There is no compassion whatsoever in the White House. I’m just beside myself with sadness because our president is a bully, our president is a punk, and he just doesn’t get it. I don’t know where he was raised, but his family didn’t do a good job raising that guy.”

— Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D), quoted by NBC Philadelphia.

Cohn Faked Bad Connection to Get Off Call with Trump

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) told CNN that White House adviser Gary Cohn took a call from President Trump during a discussion with Democratic senators about tax reform.

Said Carper: “Gary gets up and takes a call on his cellphone, comes back into the room, and says, we have somebody calling in from Asia, and it was the president, which was nice. Nice of him to do that. 15 minutes later, the president is still talking. And I said to Gary, it was a room where we’re all sitting around this big table, and I said, Gary why don’t you do this… just say, ‘Mr. President, you’re brilliant! But we’re losing contact, and I think we’re going to lose you now, so good-bye.'”

He added: “And that’s what he did, and he hung up.”

Mueller Probes Kushner’s Contacts with Foreign Leaders

“Robert Mueller’s investigators are asking questions about Jared Kushner’s interactions with foreign leaders during the presidential transition, including his involvement in a dispute at the United Nations in December, in a sign of the expansive nature of the special counsel’s probe of Russia’s meddling in the election,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The Mueller team’s questions come as investigators scrutinize Mr. Kushner for his initial omission of any foreign contacts from a government form required to obtain a security clearance.”

Kushner’s Influence Wanes in the White House

Gabriel Sherman: “It’s perhaps hard to remember now, but it wasn’t long ago when Trump handed Kushner a comically broad portfolio that included plans to reinvent government, reform the V.A., end the opioid epidemic, run point on China, and solve Middle East peace. But since his appointment, according to sources, Kelly has tried to shrink Kushner’s responsibilities to focus primarily on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And even that brief appears to be creating tensions between Kushner and Kelly.”

“According to two Republicans who have spoken with Trump, the president has also been frustrated with Kushner’s political advice, including his encouragement to back losing Alabama G.O.P. candidate Luther Strange and to fire F.B.I. Director James Comey, which Kushner denies. (For what it’s worth, Kushner’s choice of Strange prevented Trump from the embarrassment of inadvertently supporting Roy Moore.) Trump, according to three people who’ve spoken to him, has advocated for Jared and Ivanka to return to New York in part because they are being damaged by negative press.”

Said one source close to Kushner: “He keeps pressuring them to go.”

Don’t Mention Trump on Thanksgiving

A Survey Monkey poll in 2014 found that 11% of Americans indicated that Barack Obama was the topic most likely to spur an argument on Thanksgiving. This year, 37% say that about Donald Trump.

“The expectation that Trump would be the subject most likely to hijack Thanksgiving transcended party lines: We asked respondents if they considered themselves Republicans, Democrats or independents, and regardless of party affiliation, the most common answer in each group was still Trump. Just over half of self-identified Democrats — 169 out of 319 respondents — said talking about Trump was most likely to start an argument, compared to 34% of independents and 20% of Republicans.”

It’s All About CNN

A USA Today editorial says the Trump administration’s decision to sue to block the proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner “smacks of politics” because of the president’s vendetta against CNN.

Ever since the Nixon administration secretly meddled in antitrust policy, both parties have tried to keep raw partisan politics out of it. Presidents appoint certain types of lawyers to head the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission antitrust units, then leave them alone to conduct independent reviews that follow the facts and the law. At least that was the practice until Trump became president… None of this makes any sense outside of political vendettas. Turner Broadcasting is fairly small potatoes in terms of market power…

If the AT&T-Time Warner case goes to court, the administration is highly likely to lose, but not before wasting a lot of taxpayer and shareholder money on legal fees in the process.

The Chicago Sun Times concurs: “Trump is behaving again like a tin-pot dictator, trying to punish a media company that has dared to cover him honestly, aggressively and accurately.”

Trump’s Science Office Is a Ghost Town

“In its 41-year-old history as the White House hub of innovation, the Office of Science and Technology Policy has never gone this long without a leader or official mandate,” CBS News reports.

“But nine months into his administration, there’s no clear indication that the president is close to naming a science adviser who will inform his policymaking, though that’s the mission that the OSTP has played since its founding in 1976 by President Gerald Ford. From climate change to space to education, the office has served as an in-house incubator for research, data, and crisis management that drove policy under seven presidents.”

FCC Plans Total Repeal of Net Neutrality Rules

“FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will reveal plans to his fellow commissioners on Tuesday to fully dismantle the agency’s Obama-era net neutrality regulations, people familiar with the plans said, in a major victory for the telecom industry in the long-running policy debate,” Politico reports.

“The commission will vote on the proposal in December, some seven months after it laid the groundwork for scuttling the rules that require internet service providers like Comcast or AT&T to treat web traffic equally.”

McMaster Called Trump an ‘Idiot’ and a ‘Dope’

Five sources told BuzzFeed News that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster mocked President Trump’s intelligence at a private dinner with a powerful tech CEO.

“Over a July dinner with Oracle CEO Safra Catz — who has been mentioned as a candidate for several potential administration jobs — McMaster bluntly trashed his boss… The top national security official dismissed the president variously as an ‘idiot’ and a ‘dope’ with the intelligence of a ‘kindergartner.'”

A sixth source said that McMaster “had made similarly derogatory comments about Trump’s intelligence to him in private, including that the president lacked the necessary brainpower to understand the matters before the National Security Council.”

The Mooch Says He’ll Be Back

Anthony Scaramucci, the short-lived White House communications chief who was forced out after just 11 days on the job, told the Associated Press that he remains in close touch with the White House.

He said that although he has not spoken to President Trump in over a month, he talks to members of the president’s inner circle “regularly” and sees himself working with Trump again in the future.

The Treasury Secretary’s Wife

National Review on the viral photo of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his wife holding a page of uncut dollar bills:

And she was back in the news this week, visiting the plant at which U.S. currency is printed. Dressed in some ridiculous Kylo Ren get-up, she struck a pouty model pose while holding a sheet of uncut dollars in one black-leather-gloved hand. (Because normal people wear leather gloves indoors.) But the adoration in her eyes was something to behold, and who could fail to be moved, at least a little, by the sight of Louise Linton photographed with the love of her life?

Steven Mnuchin was also in the picture.

20 Families Got Jobs In Trump Administration

“A Daily Beast examination of public records reveals that there are at least 20 families, joined by either blood or marriage, in which multiple members hold some federal post or appointment. They include the families of some of Trump’s most prominent campaign supporters and agency officials, including one cabinet officer. The posts range from senior White House staff to more ceremonial and advisory positions.”