Feb 25, 2017

Trump's self-inflicted wounds

Mike Allen, author of AM

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

A day after word that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked the FBI to talk to the media to clarify reports about Trump campaign aides' contact with Russians, another doozy — one that's likely to increase congressional interest, and perhaps lead to an independent, 9/11-style commission:

Today's WashPost lead story, "Key officials were asked to rebut Russia report: White House arranged calls to media," by Greg Miller and Adam Entous: "The Trump administration has enlisted senior members of the intelligence community and Congress in efforts to counter news stories about Trump associates' ties to Russia ... Acting at the behest of the White House, the officials made calls to news organizations last week."

  • Presidential historian Michael Beschloss to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, on parallels from history: "The obvious example — and I hope this does not turn out to be this — but Richard Nixon was driven out of office because he tried to stop the investigation of the Watergate ... What the Post story is suggesting tonight is that there was an effort to enlist big members of Congress and also big members of the intelligence community to call reporters and say, essentially ... 'There's not much to the story.'"
  • More Beschloss: "It's not too bright, because for reporters to get calls from intelligence officials, and high officials in Congress who're supposed to be investigating this, the natural question that they would ask — and they obviously did — was: 'Who got you to do this? Was it the White House?' ... It's like if they did not want a 9/11 commission, they are going to be perhaps compelled to do it by essentially their own actions. ... Amazing to watch — what a story."
  • On the spot, once again ... FBI Director Jim Comey! AP Justice Department reporter Eric Tucker: "Comey is facing new political pressure as White House officials are encouraging him to follow their lead by publicly recounting private FBI conversations ... It's an unusual position for a crime-fighting organization with a vaunted reputation for independence and political neutrality."

Also this morning, another arena of tension between Trump officials and their own bureaucracy:

Wall Street Journal lead story, "Trump Rejects Report on Travel Ban: Tension with career staff rises," by Shane Harris: "An intelligence report by the Department of Homeland Security contradicts the White House's assertion that immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries pose a particular risk of being terrorists."

  • A senior administration official: "The president asked for an intelligence assessment. This is not the intelligence assessment the president asked for."
  • "The official said intelligence is already available on the countries included in Mr. Trump's ban and just needs to be compiled."
  • See the three-page document here, posted by AP. Homeland Security press secretary Gillian Christensen called it "commentary from a single intelligence source."

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Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser criticized federal police in a tweet Monday night for using munitions earlier in the day "on peaceful protestors in front of the White House, an act that will make the job of (DC Police Department) officers more difficult." "Shameful!" she added as she urged residents to go home and stay safe.

3 hours ago - World

The world watches America burn

Newspaper front pages via the Newseum

The world is watching the grief and anger, violence and pain in America's streets.

The big picture: The U.S. accounts for nearly one-third of the world's deaths from COVID-19. The killing of a black man, George Floyd, by police has sparked days of protest and nights of chaos in America's major cities.

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President Trump walked to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, located just steps away from the White House across Lafayette Park, on Monday night as protests linked to the murder of George Floyd raged across the capital and cities around the country.

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