White House

Trump Now Paying His Own Legal Bills

President Trump “has begun paying his own legal bills related to the Russia investigation and will no longer use political donations to his reelection campaign or the Republican Party to cover the costs,” Reuters reports.

His lawyer says the president now wants to make the party “even.”

Ivanka and the Fugitive from Panama

A new Reuters investigation reveals how an alleged fraudster in Panama, working with Ivanka Trump, helped make Trump’s first international hotel venture a success.

The broker who spearheaded the sale of the Trump-branded project did business with a money launderer for Colombian drug cartels and two criminals from the former Soviet Union.

Is Hope Hicks the Key to Mueller’s Investigation?

Politico: “Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is preparing to interview the woman who’s seen it all: Hope Hicks. She’s been part of Donald Trump’s inner circle for years, first at Trump Tower and then as an omnipresent gatekeeper and fixer who could get emails or other communications directly to the boss during the 2016 campaign. As a senior White House adviser and now as communications director, she’s been in the room for moments critical to Mueller’s probe, which has grown to include the president’s response to the Russia investigation itself.”

“Mueller’s decision to request an interview with Hicks – who hasn’t been named in any criminal wrongdoing – also indicates he’s reached a critical point in the overall investigation, according to former prosecutors and veterans of past White House investigations. Typically, conversations with such senior level aides are saved for near the end of a probe.”

Trump Wants Pompeo to Replace Tillerson

President Trump “has turned his daily intelligence briefing — a routine that in previous administrations has been a dry, formal affair — into a free-flowing conversation during which he peppers his CIA director, former House member Mike Pompeo, with questions about everything from national security threats to the internal dynamics of Congress,” Politico reports.

“The CIA director’s favored status in the West Wing has made him the odds-on choice to succeed Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, according to more than half a dozen administration officials and outside advisers familiar with the White House’s current plans. It’s not clear when Tillerson might leave — he has vigorously denied rumors that he plans to resign anytime soon — but Pompeo has told associates that he expects the president to tap him for the position and that he’d accept the job if it’s offered to him.”

Trump Approval Remains Near Record Low

A new Quinnipiac poll finds President Trump’s approval rate at 35% to 58%, near his record low.

Also interesting: Just 40% of voters say Trump is fit to serve as president, while 57% say he is not fit.

By a 51% to 38% margin, Americans would like to see Democrats win control of the House of Representatives in 2018. By a 52% to 39% margin, they would like to see Democrats win control of the Senate.

New Book Already Shaking Up White House

Coming in January: Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff.

Mike Allen: “My conversations with the West Wing show there’s already a frenzy inside to figure out who told Wolff what. Wolff tells me key players have been barraging him with calls, trying to figure out what his sources said about them: ‘It’s the fundamental dynamic of this White House — people divided against each other.'”

Sessions Mulls Special Counsel to Investigate Clinton

Attorney General Jeff Sessions “is entertaining the idea of appointing a second special counsel to investigate a host of Republican concerns — including alleged wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation and the controversial sale of a uranium company to Russia — and has directed senior federal prosecutors to explore at least some of the matters and report back to him and his top deputy,” the Washington Post reports.

“The list of matters he wanted probed was wide ranging, but included the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, various dealings of the Clinton Foundation and several matters connected to the purchase of the Canadian mining company Uranium One by Russia’s nuclear energy agency.”

New York Times: “The decision to examine those matters raises questions about whether Mr. Trump is trying to use the Justice Department to investigate his political rivals and distract from the special counsel’s investigation into his presidential campaign. It also comes at a tenuous time for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Mr. Trump has hinted to advisers he may want to fire.”

No One Knows What Omarosa Does

The Daily Beast reports that no one seems to know what Omarosa Manigault does in the White House.

After the abrupt end to our day in March, I called a Republican source in constant contact with the White House and asked what they thought Omarosa’s job entailed. “No clue,” the source said. I told the source about our whirlwind of a morning.

“Wait, Hope [Hicks] let you follow [Omarosa] around?” the source asked. No, I hadn’t spoken with Hope, who now serves formally as the White House communications director. “So Sean [Spicer] let you?” Ditto. “Christ,” the source said. “No one in the comms department knew a random reporter was walking around the West Wing. This is why people think we’re a shit show.”

‘They’re In a World of Shit’

Vanity Fair: “A year after Trump’s stunning election, the administration has zero legislative wins, a looming investigation hanging over their heads, and Jared and Ivanka have a pretty erratic family member/boss to deal with—and New York isn’t looking much prettier.”

“The Trump-Kushners, as much skilled branders as they are political neophytes, have not been able to privately shake concern over the looming investigation. During the weekend before Mueller’s first indictments were unsealed, three sources who spoke to Kushner or were familiar with his conversations told me that he worked the phones asking about whether they thought the investigation would amount to anything. ‘They’re in a world of shit,’ one of the people close to the family told me. ‘He may seem cool, but he’s sweating, and she’s like her father. She’ll never acknowledge it and [will] blame the media. But she’s been working on her reputation forever, and now it’s going to suffer horrifically. And for what?'”

Trump Careens Off Message After Talking to Putin

President Trump “stayed on script for more than a week as he crisscrossed Asia — and then Russian President Vladimir Putin showed up,” Politico reports.

“After chatting with Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit here, Trump abandoned the diplomatic tone the White House had carefully scripted for his five-country tour, once again contradicting the overwhelming consensus among current and former U.S. officials that the Russian leader tried to manipulate the 2016 election.”