It is the first day of March 2018. I wrote a lot of posts yesterday, and I didn’t even it HALF of the things going on. The breaking news that would be major scandals in any other White House. It was insane.
Here’s what happened JUST YESTERDAY:
- Hope Hicks — without question, the aide (family aside) with whom Trump is closest — resigned one day after she admitted in closed-door Hill testimony that she told white lies for the president.
- White House Chief of Staff John Kelly cracked down on Jared Kushner, stripping his top security clearance, and watching anonymous aides leak about and trash him, while offering no public defense of the president’s son-in-law.
- Jared, Ivanka and Don Jr. let it be known to friends they are furious with Kelly and his allies.
- Jared loses his internal P.R. guru, Josh Raffel, when he needs him most.
- Economic adviser Gary Cohn is at war with trade policy adviser Peter Navarro.
- Trump is at war with Attorney General Sessions. … N.Y. Times lead story: “Trump Tears Into Sessions Over Russia Investigation.” … WashPost: “Behind the scenes, Trump has derisively referred to Sessions as ‘Mr. Magoo,’ a cartoon character who is elderly, myopic and bumbling.”
- Intelligence chiefs use every chance possible to contradict the commander-in-chief on Russia.
What did I get? Hope Hicks for one.
Oh, and a follow-up to Hope Hicks? Buzzfeed is reporting that many staffers in the White House are looking for the exits.
I also got Trump’s war with Jeff Sessions. (Oh, an update on that. Sessions went to dinner in a very public place with his Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, the one who has the power to fire Mueller. The photo of them eating was on social media very quickly, and widely seen as a FUCK YOU from Sessions to the President).
Oh, speaking of Sessions:
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has been investigating a period of time last summer when President Trump seemed determined to drive Attorney General Jeff Sessions from his job, according to people familiar with the matter who said that a key area of interest for the inquiry is whether those efforts were part of a months-long pattern of attempted obstruction of justice.
In recent months, Mueller’s team has questioned witnesses in detail about Trump’s private comments and state of mind in late July and early August of last year, around the time he issued a series of tweets belittling his “beleaguered” attorney general, these people said. The thrust of the questions was to determine whether the president’s goal was to oust Sessions in order to pick a replacement who would exercise control over the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and Trump associates during the 2016 election, these people said.
But that’s not all in the L’Affaire Russe front — here’s another story — Katy Tur and Carol E. Lee at NBC News: Mueller Asking If Trump Knew About Hacked Democratic Emails Before Release.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is asking witnesses pointed questions about whether Donald Trump was aware that Democratic emails had been stolen before that was publicly known, and whether he was involved in their strategic release, according to multiple people familiar with the probe.
Mueller’s investigators have asked witnesses whether Trump was aware of plans for WikiLeaks to publish the emails. They have also asked about the relationship between GOP operative Roger Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and why Trump took policy positions favorable to Russia.
The line of questioning suggests the special counsel, who is tasked with examining whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, is looking into possible coordination between WikiLeaks and Trump associates in disseminating the emails, which U.S. intelligence officials say were stolen by Russia.
…In one line of questioning, investigators have focused on Trump’s public comments in July 2016 asking Russia to find emails that were deleted by his then-opponent Hillary Clinton from a private server she maintained while secretary of state. The comments came at a news conference on July 27, 2016, just days after WikiLeaks began publishing the Democratic National Committee emails. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said.
Exhibit A in: The collusion was right out in the open!
More from yesterday? Yes!
Yesterday (as well as Tuesday) was a very very very bad day for Kushner. He lost his security clearance making him useless. And this, as explained by Caitlin MacNeal at TPM:
“Two major loans to the Kushner Companies for real estate projects came after Jared Kushner, a senior adviser in the Trump administration, met with officials from those financial institutions at the White House… [Kushner] met with Joshua Harris, one of the founders of Apollo Global Management, several times at the White House early last year… In November, Apollo lent the Kushner Companies $184 million to refinance a mortgage on a building in Chicago, per the New York Times. …Kushner met with Michael Corbat, chief executive at Citigroup, in the spring of 2017 at the White House… After that meeting, Citigroup lent Kushner Companies $325 million to finance buildings in Brooklyn, the Times reported.”
Naughty boy, Jared.
And finally, Ben Carson, Secretary of HUD:
Senior White House aides are furious about a series of negative stories about frivolous spending at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and have taken a more hands-on role in trying to stem the tide of negative news, sources with knowledge of the situation tell CNN.The decision to assert more control comes a day after reports that the former chief administrative officer at HUD filed a complaint saying she demoted after refusing to spend more than was legally allowed to redecorate Secretary Ben Carson’s new office.The former staffer, Helen Foster, said she was told to “find money” beyond the legal $5,000 limit for redecorating. In one instance, she says a supervisor said that “$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair.”HUD also spent $31,000 last year to replace a dining room set in Carson’s office, according to federal records and a whistleblower. A department official said that the dining set in the secretary’s dining room at HUD headquarters was replaced because it was in a state of disrepair.The sources told CNN that the stories infuriated top White House aides, who have had to deal with a sting of stories about questionable behavior and spending by Cabinet secretaries.
So…. that was yesterday. It was exhausting.