White House

Trump Advisers Get Into ‘Screaming Match’ on China Trip

“Tensions between two top Donald Trump economic advisers spilled over during a recent trip to China earlier this month, resulting in what was described by administration officials as a ‘screaming match,'” the Daily Beast reports.

“The confrontation, which took place between Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House economic adviser Peter Navarro, came during a very important stretch of trade negotiations for this White House. And it underscored the deep divisions that have developed within the president’s economic team over a key pillar of the president’s agenda.”

Missing Files Motivated Leak of Cohen’s Financial Records

Ronan Farrow: “Last week, several news outlets obtained financial records showing that Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, had used a shell company to receive payments from various firms with business before the Trump Administration. In the days since, there has been much speculation about who leaked the confidential documents, and the Treasury Department’s inspector general has launched a probe to find the source.”

“That source, a law-enforcement official, is speaking publicly for the first time, to The New Yorker, to explain the motivation: the official had grown alarmed after being unable to find two important reports on Cohen’s financial activity in a government database. The official, worried that the information was being withheld from law enforcement, released the remaining documents.”

“Seven former government officials and other experts familiar with the Treasury Department’s FinCEN database expressed varying levels of concern about the missing reports. Some speculated that FinCEN may have restricted access to the reports due to the sensitivity of their content, which they said would be nearly unprecedented. One called the possibility ‘explosive.'”

Giuliani Says Mueller Told Him They Can’t Indict Trump

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has informed President Trump’s attorneys that they have concluded that they cannot indict a sitting president, according to the President’s lawyer,” CNN reports.

Said Rudy Giuliani: “All they get to do is write a report. They can’t indict. At least they acknowledged that to us after some battling, they acknowledged that to us.”

Quote of the Day

“If our leaders seek to conceal the truth or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.”

— Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, quoted by NBC News, giving the commencement address at the Virginia Military Institute.

Trump Team Ready to ‘Pressure’ Mueller

Politico: “Frustrated by the open-ended nature of Mueller’s Russia probe, which hits its one-year mark on Thursday, Rudy Giuliani says Mueller should follow the example Comey set in 2016, when the then-FBI director investigated — and then publicly exonerated — Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server.”

“Never mind that Comey later re-opened the case days before the 2016 election, after the discovery of new evidence, possibly costing Clinton the election. Or that Giuliani calls Comey ‘a major phony’ and ‘a little baby.'”

“Giuliani’s point, echoed by many conservatives, is that Mueller’s year-old investigation has run too long and is causing Trump unacceptable political damage.”

Cohen Asked Qatari for Millions for Trump Family

Michael Cohen “is facing claims he asked a Middle Eastern official for millions of dollars to give to ‘Trump family members’ in a meeting at Trump Tower weeks after the president’s election victory,” the Daily Mail reports.

“Cohen is alleged to have asked Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, a former diplomat in charge of a $100 billion Qatari investment fund, to send ‘millions’ through him to Trump family members. A source told Daily Mail that the Qatari said he refused.”

Slate: Michael Cohen’s meetings with Michael Flynn and a Qatari diplomat might be the key to unlocking the Steele dossier.

Senate GOP Won’t Confront Trump Over McCain Smear

“For six days straight, Republican senators had publicly rallied to the defense of their longtime colleague battling cancer, Sen. John McCain, who was the target of a crass joke by a White House aide calling him irrelevant because ‘he’s dying anyway,” the Washington Post reports.

“But in a long luncheon Tuesday with President Trump himself, none of the Senate Republicans in attendance brought up the ­McCain smear — or the steadfast refusal by Trump and the White House to apologize for it.”

White House Cuts Cyber Security Post

“The Trump administration has eliminated the White House’s top cyber policy role, jettisoning a key position created during the Obama presidency to harmonize the government’s overall approach to cybersecurity policy and digital warfare,” Politico reports.

“The cyber coordinator led a team of directors and senior directors who worked with agencies to develop a unified strategy for issues like election security and digital deterrence. The coordinator also represented the administration in meetings with foreign partners and at conferences and other public events.”

Ethics Lawyer Says Trump Violated Emoluments Clause

Norm Eisen, the top ethics official under former President Obama, accused President Trump of violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause because of a Trump development project in Indonesia that will be backed by Chinese government loans, The Hill reports.

The South China Morning Post reports that $500 million in Chinese government loans will support construction of MNC Lido City, a billion-dollar resort and theme park project that will feature Trump-branded hotels and a golf course.

Penn Won’t Talk About Trump

The Atlantic: “Penn’s silence on its most powerful alumnus stands in contrast with how other universities have related to their own presidential (or near-presidential) graduates. George W. Bush was invited to give Yale’s commencement address just months into his first term. And Columbia, the alma mater of Trump’s predecessor, features on its website a giddy post titled ‘Our Top 10 Obama Highlights.’ … And then there is Wellesley’s warm embrace of Hillary Clinton, class of 1969. She spoke at commencement last year, and a page on the school’s website is dedicated to her time at the school.”

“That it is Penn and not any other Ivy League school now navigating this terrain is additionally awkward—for Penn, perhaps more than its peers, has long had status anxiety.”

Even a Phone Ban Can’t Stop White House Leakers

CNN: “Despite active efforts to flush out administration leakers — including machines used to detect unauthorized cell phones in the West Wing — President Trump and his senior aides haven’t yet been able to stem the flow of damaging information.”

“The White House banned the use of personal cell phones in the West Wing in January. It was an idea first floated by chief of staff John Kelly when he replaced Reince Priebus last July, but one he didn’t implement until months into his tenure. Officials publicly maintained that the ban was because of national security reasons, but multiple staffers said privately that they were under the impression it was carried out in hopes of limiting leaks to reporters.”

“Kelly was agitated when a memo he wrote outlining the new policy quickly leaked to media outlets, a source familiar with his reaction said.”

Trump Puts Pence In a Corner

“President Trump wasn’t planning to attend the recent NRA convention – that is, until he learned that Vice President Mike Pence would be giving the keynote address,” Politico reports.

“That led to a change of plans in the West Wing, according to two people familiar with the arrangement, and nearly a week after the NRA announced Pence would speak, the president was added to the schedule to speak moments after Pence.”

“It wasn’t the first time Trump has changed his plans to one-up the veep. It was originally Pence, not Trump, who planned to travel to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. But upon seeing who else would be attending, Trump decided to make the trip himself instead, bumping Pence off the schedule, according to a person familiar with the matter.”

Trump Denies White House Has a Leaking Problem

President Trump tweets:

The so-called leaks coming out of the White House are a massive over exaggeration put out by the Fake News Media in order to make us look as bad as possible. With that being said, leakers are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are!

Jonathan Chait: “People were already invoking the Republican Party’s rejection of ‘the reality-based community’ and its ‘epistemic closure’ long before Donald Trump took it over. But it has taken Trump to elevate the Republican Party’s reality-altering habits to a level that is literally Orwellian.”

“‘Doublethink,’ as George Orwell wrote, ‘means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.’ Even Big Brother had enough respect for his audience to insist that they had always been at war with Oceania, or whoever they were at war with at the moment. You didn’t see Big Brother calling Oceania his great ally and enemy in consecutive sentences.”

Why the White House Never Apologizes

Jonathan Swan: “Once you’ve worked for Trump for a while you know that the worst thing you can do, the biggest show of weakness, is to apologize. He never does and never did (with one exception — the “Access Hollywood” tape). So staff knows that if they publicly apologize they’re actually MORE likely to incur Trump’s wrath than if they just move on.”

Said a senior administration official: “Not apologizing is a core operating principle for Trump. The basic belief is that you never actually get ‘credit’ — from the Left, the media, political opponents, etc. — for apologizing, so why do it? Even the Access Hollywood response video included a defiant Trump going after the ‘actions’ of Bill Clinton and ‘bullying of victims’ by Hillary, and ended with ‘See you at the debate!'”