Giving his version of his Russia contacts for the first time, Jared Kushner says in an 11-page statement to congressional committees that he had "hardly any" contacts with Russians during the campaign, and regarded the meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower as "a waste of our time."
"[I]n looking for a polite way to leave and get back to my work," he says in the statement, "I actually emailed an assistant from the meeting after I had been there for ten or so minutes and wrote 'Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting.' I had not met the attorney before the meeting nor spoken with her since. I thought nothing more of this short meeting until it came to my attention recently."
That's the most colorful passage in the statement, released by Kushner this morning ahead of his 10 a.m. appointment with staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and his meeting tomorrow with the House Intelligence Committee. Both sessions are behind closed doors.
Donald Trump Jr., who appeared short of experienced advisers with his email release and multiple statements about the Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer, is getting help from Washington stalwart Fred Fielding ahead of this week's Capitol Hill appearance.
Fielding was White House counsel to Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, and deputy counsel in the Nixon White House. He has been part of the Trump Sr. legal team, and was introduced at a news conference with the President-elect at Trump Tower in January, where he was described as helping work on conflicts-of-interest issues as Trump turned over control of his business to his sons.
Be smart: The addition of Fred Fielding shows that Don Jr., who apparently didn't recognize the seriousness of what he faced, now does.
Maggie Haberman's review ("Communications Chief Cultivates Trump on TV"):
Others who have gone on television to deliver Mr. Trump's message — [incoming press secretary Sarah Huckabee] Sanders; her predecessor, Sean Spicer; and Mr. Priebus — have deferred their views and personalities in the service of Mr. Trump. Mr. Spicer in particular struggled to please a boss he never understood well, and whose trust he did not have.
By contrast, Mr. Scaramucci — a political donor and television talking head and affably affluent with an accent held over from his native Long Island — toggled between subordinating to Mr. Trump and maintaining a hint of his own appeal.
Scaramucci to John Dickerson on CBS' "Face the Nation," on health care: "I don't know if he's going to get what he wants next week. But he's going to get what he wants eventually. Because this guy always gets what he wants. OK? What I know about President Trump is that ... he's got very, very good karma."
Anthony Scaramucci, incoming White House communications director, to Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday":
"I'm in the Oval Office with the president last week, we're talking about that. He brought that up ... [H]e said ... he doesn't have to be pardoned. There's nobody around him that has to be pardoned. He was just making the statement about the power of pardons."
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi today will unveil their "Better Deal" economic agenda in Berryville, Va. — a beyond-the-Beltway, classic exurban swing area.
An opening plank ... "Cracking Down on Corporate Monopolies and the Abuse of Economic and Political Power"
Prevent big mergers that would harm consumers, workers, and competition.Require regulators to review mergers after completion to ensure they continue to promote competition.Create a 21st century 'Trust Buster' to stop abusive corporate conduct and the exploitation of market power where it already exists.
"How smugglers use trucks with sometimes deadly results," by AP's Michael Tarm:
The CEOs of 70 of the largest U.S. health care companies cumulatively have earned $9.8 billion in the seven years since the Affordable Care Act was passed, and their earnings have grown faster than those of most Americans, according to an analysis of federal financial documents by Axios' Bob Herman.
From today's "Harder Line" energy column by Axios' Amy Harder: "Fossil fuels accounted for 81% of the world's energy consumption in 1987. Thirty years later it's still 81%."
The sheer attention Trump absorbs — on Twitter, on television, in culture, and in the anxious dreams of American citizens and the country's allies and enemies — draws away the lifeblood of everything from the launch of new apps to new social movements. Attention is the currency not just of American attention-seekers from Kim Kardashian to Amazon, but also of the other great geniuses of attention-seeking over the last decade: terror groups like ISIS, and opponents of the postwar social order like Julian Assange. Trump hoards attention. ...
For some domestic and global players, this distraction is a nice environment in which to get things done. "The news cycle is so fast and so overloaded that the silver lining is that some of the negative narratives tend to dissipate much more quickly than before," said Matthew Hiltzik, a veteran New York corporate and crisis communications consultant. "There are certain clients who prefer not being covered and so that helps!"
P.S. The Atlantic gets top-of-Style-section treatment in the WashPost ... "A magazine makes itself profitable — and 'vital,'" by media columnist Margaret Sullivan: "[M]ore than 80 percent of its revenue [comes] from digital sources, live events and even a consulting business. ... Just weeks ago, the magazine published an 8,300 word piece, 'My Family's Slave,' that went viral, garnering nearly 12 million views, and prompting arguments and conversations across America.
"That kind of thing has happened with other ambitious cover stories: Jeffrey Goldberg's 'The Obama Doctrine' about the 44th president's foreign policy; with Ta-Nehisi Coates's landmark 'The Case for Reparations,' with Graeme Wood's 'What ISIS Really Wants.'" (Disclosure: Atlantic Media founder and owner David Bradley and Katherine Bradley of CityBridge Foundation are investors in Axios.)
New York mag cover story, "Donald Trump Is Not Invited to the Wedding: Joe, Mika, and their star-crossed relationship with the president," by Olivia Nuzzi:
Scarborough and Brzezinski said the White House is misrepresenting their motivations, though they didn't rule out that Scarborough might be interested in running for president in the future. "It was never mentioned, never discussed, and anyone who ever said it is a liar," Scarborough said. "No ambiguity there at all. I'm happy right where I am with Mika, music, and 'Morning Joe'," which he calls his "three M's." Fulfilling a lifelong dream, Scarborough is now performing and recording dad-rock; his first EP, 'Mystified,' ... was released last month ...
Because Joe and Mika are perhaps the only masochists alive who operate on this schedule and spend this much time together (a 6–to–9 a.m. show; up as late as 10 p.m., crisscrossing the Northeast corridor for meetings, events, and speeches), it can feel as though they exist in their own private universe. Except they don't. Between them breathes a sprawling web of three ex-spouses and six children, ranging in age from 9 to 29 ...
It has historically been a preoccupation for them, then, to keep the matter of their relationship and its inconvenient origins out of the press, which they achieved with near-total success — something one New York tabloid veteran told me was astonishing and "a lesson for everyone" in how to "tame the gossips." "I think of the gossip world as extremely transactional, and they were very good at dealing with it," the veteran told me. "They are total operators: They weren't above trading one item for another. They took their own PR into their own hands."