White House

Corker Blasts Trump’s ‘Inappropriate’ Remarks

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) is firing back at President Trump over his push for the Justice Department to investigate Democrats and Hillary Clinton, The Hill reports.

Said Corker: “President Trump’s pressuring of the Justice Department and FBI to pursue cases against his adversaries and calling for punishment before trials take place are totally inappropriate.”

He added that the president’s remarks “not only undermine our justice system but erode the American people’s confidence in our institutions.”

Sean Spicer’s Secret Harvard Fellowship

Harvard Crimson: “Sean Spicer was publicly offered a Visiting Fellowship here at the Harvard Kennedy School—and then allowed to speak entirely off the record.”

“During his time on campus, Spicer had closed-door forums with select faculty and fellows, spoke in a few chosen classes, and attended invite-only meals with selected groups of students. In total, 11 events over three days, all off the record, none open to the general student body or public. Not a single word Sean Spicer spoke during his Visiting Fellowship at Harvard was on the record, nor could a single word could be heard without an explicit invite.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Frank Bruni: “It hit me this week, around the time when Sarah Huckabee Sanders was blithely seconding Chief of Staff John Kelly’s Civil War revisionism, that I missed Sean Spicer.”

“I missed the panic in his eyes, which signaled a scintilla of awareness that he was peddling hooey. I missed the squeak in his voice, which suggested perhaps the tiniest smidgen of shame.”

“He never seemed to me entirely at home in his domicile of deception; she dwells without evident compunction in a gaudier fairyland of grander fictions. There’s no panic. No squeak. Just that repulsed expression, as if a foul odor had wafted in and she knew — just knew — that the culprit was CNN.”

Sessions on the Hot Seat Again

First Read: “In a normal Washington, the attorney general would be out after this — especially since this isn’t the first time he’s been accused of misleading under oath. (Sen. Jeff Sessions would have already called for the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.) But in our politically paralyzed Washington — where the Trump White House and Senate Republicans are probably loathe to have confirmation hearings for another attorney general — Sessions might be able to survive if he begs for forgiveness.”

Trump Nominates Club Members to Plum Posts

A USA Today review finds that Trump has installed at least five people who have been members of his clubs to senior roles in his administration.

“Presidents often name campaign donors and close allies to administration posts, particularly prized diplomatic postings in cosmopolitan European capitals, such as Paris and London, and the tourist playgrounds of the West Indies. But never in modern history has a president awarded government posts to people who pay money to his own companies.”

Kushner Turns Over Documents to Special Counsel

Jared Kushner “has turned over documents in recent weeks to special counsel Robert Mueller as investigators have begun asking in witness interviews about Kushner’s role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey,” CNN reports.

“Their questions about Kushner signal that Mueller’s investigators are reaching the President’s inner circle and have extended beyond the 2016 campaign to actions taken at the White House by high-level officials. It is not clear how Kushner’s advice to the President might relate to the overall Russia investigation or potential obstruction of justice.”

Trump’s Low Approval Still Higher Than Congress

 A new Pew Research poll finds that just 34% of Americans approve of President Trump’s overall job performance, while 59% disapprove.

“However, Trump’s job approval rating is higher than those of Republican and Democratic congressional leaders. Just 22% approve of the way Republican congressional leaders are doing their jobs, down 12 percentage points since February. Job ratings for Democratic leaders are not quite as negative (29% approve), though also are lower than in February (37%).”

Big Majority Approves of Mueller’s Investigation

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that a 58% majority say they approve of special counsel Robert Mueller’s handling of the Russia investigation while 28% say they disapprove. People’s views depend in large part on their political leanings, but overall, Americans are generally inclined to trust Mueller and the case he has made so far.

Meanwhile, fewer than 4 in 10 Americans say they believe Trump is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation, while about half believe he is not.

What If Trump Didn’t Know About the Collusion?

Matt Bai: “The only thing for sure right now is that Mueller has his talons into some Trump associates who would probably throw the president off a plane before they’d spend a single day in jail, so it’s fair to assume that whatever they know will be known to all of us before long.”

“Is it at least plausible that Manafort and Papadopoulos and others in their orbit could have been acting as de facto Russian agents without Trump or his coterie of little Trumps really being aware of it? Or that the Trumps were vaguely aware of what was happening but didn’t think it was such a big deal?”

“I actually do think that’s plausible. And it’s a version of events I find just as disconcerting as any other.”

“There’s no narrative here in which we don’t have a patsy for a president, in a dangerous and confusing world. If that doesn’t scare you, it should.”

Clovis Admits He Has No Science Credentials

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientist nominee, Sam Clovis, who now serves as the agency’s senior White House adviser, confirmed in an Oct. 17 letter obtained by the Washington Post that he has no academic credentials in either science or agriculture.

The 2008 farm bill specifies that appointees to the position should be chosen “from among distinguished scientists with specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics,” given that the official is “responsible for the coordination of the research, education, and extension activities of the Department.”

Update: The Washington Post reports Clovis has withdrawn his nomination.

Why Manafort Won’t Talk

Martin London: “The operative element of the prosecutor’s strategy is the defendant’s fear. But do Manafort and others close to the Administration really have anything to fear from Mueller? No, they do not, because the President is not going to sit by and let either himself or his children go to jail. Period. This is not the normal ballgame.”

“I project this scenario: Manafort, having already pled ‘not guilty,’ clams up. He has no incentive to speak because he has no fear. Months (or years) from now, just before trial, Trump issues some tweets to the effect of This is all an attack by Hillary Clinton supporters!, and he pardons Manafort and anybody else who has been indicted by Mueller. If Mueller then brings Manafort before the Grand Jury and demands he answer questions because he no longer has any legitimate fear of federal prosecution because of his pardon, Manafort will take the Fifth because he is still subject to criminal liability in New York State, where much of the money laundering occurred. Manafort’s assertion of the privilege will be upheld because Trump’s pardon affected only federal charges.”

Trump’s Female Accusers May Get Their Day In Court

“While allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful men in recent weeks have drawn wide public support and prompted quick response, women who came forward during the presidential race with accusations against Donald Trump said they spent the past year feeling dismissed and forgotten,” the New York Times reports.

“But that could change if a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who accused Mr. Trump of unwanted sexual advances is allowed to proceed in New York State Supreme Court, a legal ruling that could come before the end of the year. Lawyers in the suit sought a subpoena seeking all Trump campaign records related to his female accusers. If the case advances, the accusers could be deposed, going up against Mr. Trump yet again.”