White House

Mueller Seeks Documents Related to Trump’s Actions

Special counsel Robert Mueller “has asked the White House for documents about some of President Trump’s most scrutinized actions since taking office, including the firing of his national security adviser and F.B.I. director,” the New York Times reports.

“In recent weeks, Mr. Mueller’s office sent a document to the White House that detailed 13 different areas that investigators want more information about. Since then, administration lawyers have been scouring White House emails and asking officials whether they have other documents or notes that may pertain to Mr. Mueller’s requests.”

“One of the requests is about a meeting Mr. Trump had in May with Russian officials in the Oval Office the day after James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, was fired.”

Washington Post: “The requests broadly ask for any document or email related to a series of highly publicized incidents since Trump became president, including the firing of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Comey, the people said. The list demonstrates Mueller’s focus on key moments and actions by the president and close advisers which can address whether Trump sought to block the FBI investigations of Flynn and of Russian interference. His team is also eyeing whether the president sought to obstruct the earlier Russia probe.”

Price Travels on Private Jets for Official Business

“In a sharp departure from his predecessors, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price last week took private jets on five separate flights for official business, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars more than commercial travel,” Politico reports.

“The travel by corporate-style jet comes at a time when other members of the Trump administration are under fire for travel expenditures… Price, a frequent critic of federal spending who has been developing a plan for departmentwide cost savings, declined to comment.”

Trump Using Facebook Ads to Reassure Base

President Trump “is using targeted Facebook ads to reassure supporters that he still plans to build the border wall after his recent public comments caused many to question whether he would keep his promise,” BuzzFeed reports.

“The ads are not visible on the timelines of the Trump or Pence Facebook pages. They are therefore so-called ‘dark post ads’ because they can only be seen by people the campaign chose to target with the message. This is the same type of ad Facebook recently acknowledged was purchased by a Russian troll factory in order to target Americans during the election.”

Mueller Interviews His Boss on Russia Investigation

The Wall Street Journal reports Robert Mueller’s office has interviewed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about Trump’s firing of James Comey.

“The interview, which occurred in June or July, presents the unusual situation of investigators questioning the person directly overseeing their probe. Mr. Mueller as special counsel has a good deal of independence, but he ultimately answers to Mr. Rosenstein, because Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation. The special counsel’s handling of the interview could be a sign that Mr. Mueller’s team doesn’t view Mr. Rosenstein as a central witness in its probe, as the deputy attorney general hasn’t withdrawn himself from overseeing it since that interview. A key witness would likely have to take such a step.”

Trump Rebounds from Polling Slide

Politico: “Following a low of 39 percent in the Politico/Morning Consult poll last month after his controversial reaction to the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump is back at 43 percent in this week’s survey. Other surveys show similar results: Trump bottomed out at 35 percent in Gallup’s weekly tracking poll in late August, but ticked up to 38 percent last week. Trump is at 40 percent in the RealClearPolitics average, up about 2.5 points from his low-water mark last month.”

Officials Reject Study Showing Positive Impact of Refugees

“Trump administration officials, under pressure from the White House to provide a rationale for reducing the number of refugees allowed into the United States next year, rejected a study by the Department of Health and Human Services that found that refugees brought in $63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost,” the New York Times reports.

The story hints the information was kept out of the final report by White House adviser Stephen Miller.

“An internal email, dated Sept. 5 and sent among officials from government agencies involved in refugee issues, said that ‘senior leadership is questioning the assumptions used to produce the report.’ A separate email said that Mr. Miller had requested a meeting to discuss the report. The Times was shown the emails on condition that the sender not be identified.”

An Accidental Scoop

Kenneth Vogel writes about how he happened to be sitting next to two of President Trump’s lawyers at a restaurant:

To my astonishment, they were in the midst of a detailed discussion of the Russia investigations being conducted by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and various congressional committees, as well as the strategy of Mr. Trump’s team for responding.

They were in a public place where they could have been overheard by anyone. I just happened to be a reporter, so I figured their conversation was fair game. I ordered another iced tea, pulled out my phone and began typing out notes, hoping that they would assume I was merely responding to emails, tweeting or surfing the internet.

Populist Nationalists Kept at Bay by Kelly

Mike Allen: “Who is around President Trump matters much more than with most presidents, because of his impulsiveness, lack of ideology and willingness to make snap decisions. So if you wonder why President Trump has been willing to seriously entertain — and in one case so far, execute — policies that would’ve been anathema to Campaign Trump, it’s partly because of the feedback loop built by Chief of Staff John Kelly and the process adhered to by the national security team before briefing Trump.”

“Trump’s exposure to populist nationalism is now close to zero, and look for the latest version of Trump to be on display when he speaks to the U.N. General Assembly at 10:30 this morning.”

Trump Son Gives Up Secret Service Protection

Donald Trump Jr. has elected to forgo protection by the Secret Service, the New York Times reports.

“The agency ceased protecting Mr. Trump, who lives in New York City and is an executive at the Trump Organization, last week. Mr. Trump, an avid camper and hunter, is said to be seeking more privacy than he can expect with a contingent of agents accompanying him everywhere.”

Trump Privately Tries to Mend Fences with GOP Senators

CNN: “The private outreach is part of a more concerted White House effort to repair relations Trump damaged with his own party over a tumultuous August, following the failure of the GOP effort to repeal Obamacare and a slew of White House controversies, including the President’s controversial handling of a deadly protest in Charlottesville.”

“And it now comes at a critical time: The White House is desperately trying to revive its health care push before a September 30 deadline — and needs senators like Murkowski to salvage the President’s agenda. But of course, it hasn’t always been smooth — especially as Trump has tried to circumvent Republicans and cut deals with Democratic leaders — over the GOP leadership’s objections.”

Federal Investigators Wiretapped Manafort

“U.S. investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources tell CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe.”

“The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Trump.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that prosecutors told Manafort they planned to indict him when they raided his home in July.

“Dispensing with the plodding pace typical of many white-collar investigations, Mr. Mueller’s team has used what some describe as shock-and-awe tactics to intimidate witnesses and potential targets of the inquiry.”

New York Women Want the ‘Ivanka Look’

“A New York plastic surgeon says that since the 2016 Republican primaries, he has seen a deluge of patients who want to look like Ivanka Trump,” the New York Post reports.

“Dr. Norman Rowe says that since last summer, up to 50 clients have asked him to give them the Ivanka look — which he describes as widened cheekbones, a slender nose and large eyes.”

Trump Backers Blame Republicans First

Washington Post: “These churchgoers are at the heart of the dilemma nagging Republican leaders as they struggle to forge a path between the Grand Old Party and the Party of Trump. These voters don’t consider themselves Republicans. They are first and foremost supporters of the president.”

“They are quick to explain away the compromises the former real-estate developer and reality TV star has made and the inconsistencies in many of his positions. They describe Washington as a swamp and speak of Democratic and Republican congressional leaders with the same levels of frustration and disappointment — while describing Trump as if he were a longtime neighbor. They have high hopes for his presidency, but they also fear he might be held back by his party. And they don’t expect their devotion to the president to waver, even a tiny bit, any time soon.”