White House

Trump’s Top Science Adviser Has a Political Science Degree

Scientific American: “A job that’s been held by some of the nation’s top scientists is now occupied by a 31-year-old politics major from Princeton University.”

“More than a year into his term, Trump hasn’t identified a potential nominee for the key position held by prominent scientists in Republican and Democratic administrations alike… That means the job falls to Michael Kratsios, the deputy assistant in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. At least for now. Kratsios graduated from Princeton in 2008 with a political science degree and a focus on Hellenic studies.”

White House Morale Plunges After Porter Scandal

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders is pushing to have White House counsel Don McGahn or chief of staff John Kelly brief the press directly on what they knew about former staff secretary Rob Porter and the domestic abuse allegations made against him, Politico reports.

Said one person close to the White House: “I think the president is going to side with her.”

Associated Press: “West Wing aides have had their faith in the chief of staff shaken, and morale has plunged to levels not seen since last spring’s firing of FBI Director James Comey and the August uproar over Trump’s refusal to denounce white supremacists after the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.”

Kushner Investors Subpoenaed by U.S. Tax Authorities

“U.S. tax authorities have requested documents from lenders and investors in real estate projects managed by Jared Kushner’s family,” Bloomberg reports.

“They have gathered information from people who lent money and assembled investors for some Kushner Cos. real estate projects in New York and New Jersey.”

“The Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department issued the subpoenas within the past year… The tax inquiry appears unrelated to other investigations that have since burst into public view.”

Scores of Trump Officials Lack Permanent Clearances

“More than 130 political appointees working in the Executive Office of the President did not have permanent security clearances as of November 2017, including the president’s daughter, son-in-law and his top legal counsel,” according to NBC News.

“Of those appointees working with interim clearances, 47 of them are in positions that report directly to President Donald Trump. About a quarter of all political appointees in the executive office are working with some form of interim security clearance.”

Priebus Opens Up About His Time in the White House

Former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus confirms to Vanity Fair the media’s portrayal of a White House in disarray and riven by conflict: “Take everything you’ve heard and multiply it by 50.”

Here’s how he describes the aftermath of President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey:

While Priebus and Bannon watched the fiasco explode as the pundits excoriated the Trump White House on every cable news show, Kushner did a slow burn. He was livid, furious that the communications team could not defend Comey’s firing. Bannon blew his stack. “There’s not a fucking thing you can do to sell this!,” he shouted at Kushner. “Nobody can sell this! P. T. Barnum couldn’t sell this! People aren’t stupid! This is a terrible, stupid decision that’s going to have massive implications. It may have shortened Trump’s presidency—and it’s because of you, Jared Kushner!

The screaming matches and white-knuckle showdowns continued. Eight days later, Priebus got an unexpected visit from the White House counsel—a story he has not told publicly before. “Don McGahn came in my office pretty hot, red, out of breath, and said, ‘We’ve got a problem.’ I responded, ‘What?’ And he said, ‘Well, we just got a special counsel, and [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions just resigned.’ I said, ‘What!? What the hell are you talking about?’ ”

The piece is an adaptation from the forthcoming paperback edition of The Gatekeepers by Chris Whipple.

Pruitt Justifies His First Class Air Travel

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt “has broken months of silence about his frequent premium-class flights at taxpayer expense, saying he needs to fly first class because of unpleasant interactions with other travelers,” the AP reports.

Said Pruitt: “We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment. We’ve reached the point where there’s not much civility in the marketplace and it’s created, you know, it’s created some issues and the (security) detail, the level of protection is determined by the level of threat.”

Trump Says He’s ‘Totally Opposed’ to Domestic Violence

President Trump declared he is “totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind” as the White House sought to tamp down growing controversy surrounding former aide Rob Porter who resigned last week after facing allegations that he had abused his two ex-wives, the Washington Post reports.

Said Trump: “I’m totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that. And it almost wouldn’t even have to be said. So, now you hear it, but you all know.”

He declined to answer any follow up questions.

Stormy Daniels Claims She’s Now Free to Talk

Sources close to Stormy Daniels tell The Blast that her legal team notified President Trump’s legal team, including attorney Michael Cohen, that they are in violation of the agreement they made back in 2016.

Daniels is apparently “ready to spill all the tea regarding her alleged affair with Donald Trump” because Cohen allegedly breached the contract he negotiated with the porn star.

A manager for the adult film actress confirmed to the Associated Press that Daniels believes Trump’s lawyer invalidated a non-disclosure agreement by publicly discussing the payment.

Official Resigns After Not Being Granted Clearance

George David Banks, a senior official on the National Economic Council, “resigned after being informed that he would not receive a permanent security clearance, as the White House faces increasing scrutiny over the number of high-ranking officials allowed to work on interim clearances,” Politico reports.

Banks “was informed by the White House counsel’s office Tuesday that his application for a permanent clearance would not be granted over his past marijuana use.”

Abuse Scandal Consumes White House

“The more frantically the White House tries to extricate itself from the Rob Porter scandal, the deeper it digs into a political hole,” CNN reports.

“Eight days in, it’s beginning to look like the storm set off by the surfacing of allegations by two ex-wives of the former presidential aide will never abate, absent a decisive intervention by President Trump in moment of accountability and self-criticism that seems alien to this White House.”

Multiple sources told CNN that Trump has not yet decided whether to replace chief of staff John Kelly “but that conversations about who could succeed him have heated up.”

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweets: “Several White House officials are now prefacing or concluding their sentences in conversations with reporters by making clear they can’t swear by the information they’ve just given.”

Trump Habits Spread Through White House

Mike Allen: “All habits, good and bad — in all organizations, big and small — flow down fast from the top. This dynamic is particularly true in the White House, and unmistakably true in this Trump White House.”

“Trump’s lifelong habits — to improvise, to attack, to deny the undeniable, to leak — spread fast through the White House, metastasized in the agencies, and infected Republicans in Congress.  They are Republican habits now.”

Said one White House official: “It’s the Donald Trump culture. It’s every man for himself — do what’s best for me, not for the organization.”