President Trump, in a fiery interview with Fox & Friends, blasted former FBI Director James Comey as a “liar and a leaker” who is “guilty of crimes” — while issuing a stern warning to the Justice Department about the Russia probe.
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) April 26, 2018
Trump said he tries to “stay away” from the Justice Department’s affairs, “but at some point I won’t.” He added: “I love the FBI and the FBI loves me. But the top people at the FBI were crooked.”
Not every day that the president threatens to obstruct justice live on national television. https://t.co/nEBHFa2sEx
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) April 26, 2018
Trump also admitted that Michael Cohen did legal work on his behalf to reach a non-disclosure agreement with Stormy Daniels, who was paid $130,000 just before the 2016 election, The Hill reports. Said Trump: “Like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me and you know, from what I see, he did absolutely nothing wrong.”
Trump previously said he had no knowledge of the payment Cohen made as part of the agreement.
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) April 26, 2018
“I don’t watch them at all. I watched last night.” — President Trump, in a Fox & Friends interview, insisting that he doesn’t watch CNN.
David Graham on the conclusion to Donald from DC’s call in: “The hosts also asked Trump to weigh in on a series of supportive tweets by Kanye West on Wednesday. He attributed West’s comments to dropping black unemployment, and suggested that the GOP could win over African American voters. “People don’t realize, if you go back to the Civil War the Republicans really did the thing. Lincoln was a Republican,” he said, citing an extremely well-known fact.
As the interview reached its end, the hosts tossed the president a softball, asking him how he’d grade his performance. His grade was predictable—A+—as was the meandering nature of his answer. He didn’t miss the chance to bring up Hillary Clinton and the 2016 election. He noted his Electoral College triumph, but said, “I would rather have the popular vote because it’s, to me, it’s much easier to win the popular vote.” Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.
Finally, Kilmeade stepped in to politely cut Trump off and to offer him a graceful closing. “We could talk all day but looks like you have a million things to do,” Kilmeade said, and brought the interview to an end. Trump has only one event listed on his public schedule for the day.”
— Daily Intelligencer (@intelligencer) April 26, 2018
White House physician Ronny Jackson “has withdrawn himself from consideration to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs following numerous allegations of professional misconduct, including that he had wrecked a government vehicle after getting drunk at a Secret Service going-away party,” the Washington Post reports. In a statement, Jackson called the allegations against him “completely false and fabricated.”
Axios: “Trump told Fox & Friends that he knows who he’s going to nominate next, though he refused to provide a name. He said it was someone with ‘political capabilities.’”
A new Fox News poll finds that 56% think it’s likely that special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe will find President Trump committed criminal or impeachable offenses. And even though 64% feel confident Mueller is treating the White House fairly, 71% think it’s likely Trump will fire Mueller before the investigation is complete.
Meanwhile, Democrats are leading in the three GOP Senate seats they need for a majority. From a new Axios/Survey Monkey poll:
ARIZONA: Kyrsten Sinema (D) 51%, Martha McSally (R) 42%; Sinema (D) 51%, Kelli Ward (R) 43%; Sinema (D) 56%, Joe Arpaio (R) 32%
NEVADA: Jacky Rosen (D) 50%, Dean Heller (R) 44%
TENNESSEE: Phil Bredesen (D) 48%, Marsha Blackburn (R) 47%
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 25, 2018
Los Angeles Times: “Republicans are on the verge of turning in at least 830,000 signatures for an initiative to repeal the gas tax increase. Even before they know for sure it will appear on the November ballot, the party’s candidates up and down the state already are acting to direct voter anger over higher fuel prices at Democrats who boosted the levies.”
“Democrats say they are not worried, because the gas tax is paying for much-needed road and bridge repairs. The thinking is that President Trump’s policy decisions will be a bigger factor for voters.”
Playbook: “This is a big deal. Why? Because Republicans think they can juice voter turnout if they include this measure on the ballot in November. California is very blue, but there are 14 Republicans from the Golden State in the House.”
First Read: “Yes, it’s chaos and controversy, which we’ve constantly chronicled here. But it’s also a matter of competency. According to this month’s NBC/WSJ poll, a majority of Americans – 56% – said that Trump’s administration isn’t competent, including 39% who said it isn’t competent at all. By contrast, 43% said it was competent, including 16% who said ‘very competent.’”
“To put those numbers into perspective, 50% of American said Barack Obama’s administration was competent in June 2014 (so after the Obamacare website crash during his second term), and 53% said George W. Bush’s administration was competent in March 2006 (after Hurricane Katrina).”
“So for all the potential dangers to Trump’s presidency – the Russia investigation, historically low approval ratings, Democrats possibly winning the House (and Senate) in November – the biggest could very well be the competency question… That’s a big problem.”
3 big takeaways from Scott Pruitt’s tense hearings on Capitol Hill https://t.co/WxRMFWGIa7
— Vox (@voxdotcom) April 26, 2018
Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “This week, we’re adding 10 new districts to our list of competitive seats. We’re also making four other ratings changes that make some races already listed in our ratings more competitive.”
“Overall, our House outlook remains the same: Democrats are about 50-50 to win the House. What these ratings change do is make clear that in the event of a big wave, there are some districts that might not seem competitive on paper that could flip, particularly because a deep bench of Democratic candidates is in place to capitalize on a potentially great environment in the fall. That’s where one could see Democrats picking up substantially more than the 23 net seats they need to win House control. However, the Democratic wave could fail to materialize, and Democratic gains could be limited to the teens. At this juncture, the range of possibilities in the House is wide.”
“We realize that may be an unsatisfying and overly cautious assessment, but that’s where we’re at right now with the election still half a year away.”
“The Senate on Thursday easily confirmed Mike Pompeo as the nation’s 70th secretary of state, elevating the current C.I.A. director and an outspoken foreign policy hawk to be the nation’s top diplomat,” the New York Times reports.
“His agenda is already packed, with crucial deadlines in the coming weeks involving Russia, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela. And he must face these challenges while trying to a repair a State Department damaged under the tenure of Rex W. Tillerson, his predecessor, and with crucial alliances frayed during the Trump presidency.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved a bill that would prevent Trump from firing Robert Mueller, but it's largely a symbolic move https://t.co/3RjdF3TiQs
— Daily Intelligencer (@intelligencer) April 26, 2018
Manhattan federal prosecutors seized as many as 16 cell phones when the FBI raided the home, office and hotel room of President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, the New York Post reports.
The Senate Ethics Committee said that Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) “who avoided conviction in a federal corruption trial last year, violated federal law and Senate rules in accepting unreported gifts from a friend and political ally whom Menendez used his office to assist,” the Washington Post reports.
“In a four-page ‘letter of admonition,’ the six members of the panel ordered Menendez to pay back the gifts he received from Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor, and said that he is ‘hereby severely admonished.’
Trump alternates between rewarding Michael Cohen for his canine loyalty and humiliating him for sport. Here's a cringe-inducing example of the latter. https://t.co/5Z0dTwqPWO
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) April 26, 2018
The Wall Street Journal runs a must-read profile of President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen:
“After saying he’d attend Mr. Cohen’s son’s bar mitzvah in 2012, Mr. Trump was late, and the blessings were delayed, according to an attendee. After Mr. Trump arrived, he gave a speech, telling guests he hadn’t planned to come, but he relented after Mr. Cohen had repeatedly called him, his secretary and his children begging him to appear, the attendee said. The guests laughed because “everyone knew it was very realistic-sounding,” the attendee added.
Mr. Cohen found himself on the outside during the presidential transition… He tried to find a role for himself by building bridges between Mr. Trump and the business community, but never got traction, this person said. During the inaugural festivities, Mr. Cohen and his guests weren’t given priority access to the festivities… the hurt was visible on Mr. Cohen’s face: “He was always just at the edges.””
“I think at some point we are going to find out, if in fact, the client in connection with the settlement was, in fact, Mr. Broidy. I’m going to leave it at that.” — Attorney Michael Avenatti, interviewed on Morning Joe, suggesting that the $1.6 million hush money payment to a Playboy model who became pregnant during an affair and then had an abortion was not for GOP donor Elliot Broidy since he “was not disclosed in open court as one of Michael Cohen’s clients.”
When #ACA was passed, creating a "public option" to compete w/private health insurers was a top liberal priority, but it died in Senate. Now, some Ds are proposing a "public option on steroids." https://t.co/BlypvjRiPn
— Ronald Brownstein (@RonBrownstein) April 26, 2018
I’m old enough to remember when Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton’s staff of being corrupt when they asserted their 5th amendment rights.
“Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, filed a declaration in federal court on Wednesday asserting his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in the ongoing lawsuit filed against him by porn star Stormy Daniels.
“Based on the advice of counsel, I will assert my Fifth Amendment rights in connection with all proceedings in this case due to the ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI and U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York,” Cohen said in the court filing.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) dismissal of House Chaplain Rev. Patrick Conroy earlier this month has stirred up outrage and wide-ranging speculation, according to a Thursday afternoon Washington Post report. In Ryan’s original press release, the ouster was painted as a voluntary resignation; only in recent days have details fully emerged confirming that it was a firing, according to the Washington Post.
A letter from a bipartisan group of lawmakers is reportedly circulating currently, collecting signatures to request more information from Ryan about the dismissal.
According to the Hill, unnamed sources are guessing that Ryan fired Conroy over as wide a range of issues as voicing disquiet with the GOP tax bill to a prayer to inviting a Muslim to deliver one day’s opening invocation. Conroy has been the House chaplain since 2011 and, as a Jesuit, is only the second Catholic ever to hold the post.
— Lorraine Devon Wilke (@LorraineDWilke) April 26, 2018