Apr 24, 2019

Trump's "run out the clock" legal strategy

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facing a multi-front war in the post-Mueller world, President Trump is turning to litigation strategies that he long used in business — resist, delay and sue.

What they're saying: "Trump can run out the clock by taking a hardline position," a source familiar with the president's legal strategy told me. "The president thinks it's in his political interest to keep the fight going, and make it harder for the Democrats to have a coherent message."

Trump told the WashPost's Robert Costa yesterday that he is opposed to current and former White House aides providing testimony to congressional panels.

  • "There is no reason to go any further, and especially in Congress where it’s very partisan — obviously very partisan," Trump said.

The day before, the Trump Organization sued House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) to block a subpoena that seeks years of the president's financial records.

  • The suit amounts to Trump, the leader of the executive branch, asking the judicial branch to stop the legislative branch from investigating him. (AP)

Bloomberg's Tim O'Brien, who was sued by Trump in 2006, told me:

  • "This completely comports with Trump's approach to business and life."
  • "Roy Cohn taught him how to weaponize the legal system when he was still in his late 20s — nearly 50 years ago."

"Trumpian extreme" ... Matt Miller, a former Obama Justice Department official, told me Trump's "legal position here is quite weak, and the White House counsel and DOJ must know they will lose."

  • "But he's trying to drag everything out in hopes the political salience of each scandal dies out by the time the courts enforce subpoenas."
  • "It's a typical administration strategy, but taken to the Trumpian extreme, where they don't even turn over the things administrations have always turned over in the past."

Go deeper: Trump's torch-it-all strategy

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Trump campaign has invested most of its advertising budget to date on Facebook, testing thousands of versions of ads per day to maximize its spending.

But behind the scenes, a source familiar with the campaign tells Axios, the thinking has shifted: "As everyone can see, we still have strong spending on Facebook, but the percentage of our total media budget [on Facebook] is shrinking."

Trump's revenge tour has the House in its sights

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/Getty Contributor

In the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections — buoyed by Republican control of both chambers — President Trump viewed campaigning for the House as a lower-tier priority and instead poured his energy into rallying for the Senate.

But after the GOP reckoning in 2018, and experiencing firsthand how damaging a Democratic-led House has been to him, Trump is now personally invested in helping Republicans regain the majority in November, several people familiar with his thinking tell Axios.

Pelosi warns U.S. allies against working with China's Huawei

Nancy Pelosi, Feb. 16. Photo: Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday cautioned U.S. allies against allowing Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to develop their 5G networks, arguing at the Munich Security Conference that doing so is akin to “choosing autocracy over democracy," CNBC reports.

Why it matters: Pelosi's hawkish stance marks a rare area of agreement with the Trump administration, which believes Huawei is a national security threat because the Chinese government may be capable of accessing its equipment for espionage.

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