“Ever since she reclaimed the gavel in January, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been her party’s unquestioned leader,” the Washington Post reports. “That perch has been bolstered this week as she has asserted herself as Democrats’ seasoned and pragmatic strategist following the conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.”
“From reassuring and reining in Democrats galled by Attorney General William Barr for issuing only a summary of the special counsel’s findings, to rallying her colleagues to fight the Trump administration’s efforts to gut President Barack Obama’s health-care law, Pelosi has taken charge.”
At a news conference, Speaker Pelosi criticized Attorney General William Barr for releasing a 4-page summary of the Mueller investigation rather than the special counsel’s entire report, calling it “condescending” and “arrogant,” Axios reports.
Said Pelosi: “No thank you Mr. Attorney General. We do not need your interpretation. Show us the report and we can draw our own conclusions. We don’t need you interpreting for us. It was condescending, it was arrogant and wasn’t the right thing to do. The sooner they can give us the information, the sooner we can make a judgment about it.”
After nine Republican lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee submitted a letter on Thursday calling on Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) to resign his chairmanship over the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, Schiff shot back, outlining a multitude of bad behaviors by the Trump campaign: “You might say that’s all okay. … but I don’t think it’s okay!”
“My colleagues may think it’s okay that the Russians offered dirt on the Democratic candidate for president as part of what is described as the Russian government’s effort to help the Trump campaign. You might think that that’s okay,” Schiff said. “My colleagues might think that’s okay, when that was offered to the son of the president who had a pivotal role in the campaign, that the President’s son did not call the FBI he did not adamantly refuse that foreign help, no instead that son said that he would ‘love’ the help of the Russians.”
He continued to outline efforts by Trump and his aides to “conceal” the purpose of the Trump Tower 2016 meeting, Paul Manafort’s contacts with Russian oligarchs, efforts to offer polling data to Russia, Trump’s calls for Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails and touched on Roger Stone and Michael Flynn’s various crimes.
“You might say, ‘that’s all okay,’ you might say, ‘that’s just what you need to do to win,’ but I don’t think it’s okay,” he said. “I think it’s immoral, I think it’s unethical, I think it’s unpatriotic, and yes, I think it’s corrupt and evidence of collusion. And I have always said that evidence of whether this amounts to proof of conspiracy was another matter …. But I do not think that conduct, criminal or not, is okay and the day we do think that’s okay, is the day we will look back and say that is the day America lost it’s way.”
“President Trump said he asked a group of U.S. senators to create a health-care plan to replace Obamacare, as his administration seeks to have the law signed by his predecessor invalidated in court,” Bloomberg reports. Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Rick Scott (R-FL) are developing the plan.
Said Trump: “They are going to work together, come up with something that’s really spectacular. Maybe we’ll even get support in the House from Democrats.”
He added: “But it’s going to be far better than Obamacare.”
President Trump said that he’s overruled his administration officials on zeroing out funding for the Special Olympics in their budget proposal, The Hill reports. Said Trump: “The Special Olympics will be funded, I just told my people.”
Washington Post: “The decision is ultimately up to Congress, which has chosen to fund the program the previous two years despite the Trump administration’s requests to end funding.”
Trump still doesn’t understand how government works. He and his people proposed to cut the funding, but Congress is the one that does the funding of government programs. Not the President. He can propose cuts, which he did, but he cannot restore funding, as he said he was doing today.
Washington Post: “The U.S. economy grew 2.2 percent in the final quarter of last year, the Commerce Department said Thursday, less than the 2.6 percent the government initially estimated and another sign the economy is slowing.”
“President Trump, however, has focused on how fast the economy grew all of last year. Trump has been touting 3.1 percent growth in 2018. Officially, the Commerce Department said Thursday the economy grew 2.9 percent last year, slightly below Trump’s claim.”
New York Times: “Trump’s re-election could hinge on whether he is right about the economy, and nearly every other forecaster is wrong… But if he is wrong and the economy cools, Mr. Trump will have no one to credibly blame — and few places to turn for another jolt of stimulus if the United States slides into an economic contraction or recession.”
Time: “More than politics is at stake in how Barr handles the close of the Mueller probe. The reputation of the Department of Justice, attacked on the one hand for two years by the President who leads it and on the other by Democrats with oversight authority on Capitol Hill, hangs on the Attorney General. So too does the balance of power between the White House and Congress…. What’s clear is that Barr is making history. He alone will decide, on the basis of his experience, beliefs and personality, how this consequential chapter of the Trump presidency plays out.”
“In normal circumstances, Attorney General is one of the most difficult jobs in government… And these are not normal circumstances. Barr inherited an agency battered by the President, beset by scandals and facing challenges ranging from the Mueller report to criminal-justice reform and immigration enforcement… The Attorney General, who had to be talked into taking the job, will have a big role in shaping the presidency of the man who hired him.”
“Trump’s longtime fixer and personal attorney told lawmakers earlier this month that Trump submitted a false insurance claim regarding a fresco on the ceiling of Melania Trump’s bathroom,” the Washington Post reports.
“Lawmakers are looking into Cohen’s claim, which would be the first example of insurance fraud that has surfaced following his public testimony that Trump often exaggerated his personal wealth in financial documents provided to banks and insurers.”
“The still-secret report on Russian interference in the 2016 election submitted by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, last week was more than 300 pages long, a length that raises new questions about Attorney General William Barr’s four-page summary,” the New York Times reports.
“The total of 300-plus pages suggests that Mr. Mueller went well beyond the kind of bare-bones summary required by the Justice Department regulation governing his appointment and detailed his conclusions at length. And it raises questions about what Mr. Barr might have left out of the four dense pages he sent Congress.”
“Democrats, who like all other lawmakers have not seen the report, have all but accused Mr. Barr of covering up damaging information it contains.”
“When Donald Trump wanted to make a good impression — on a lender, a business partner, or a journalist — he sometimes sent them official-looking documents called ‘Statements of Financial Condition,’” the Washington Post reports. “These documents sometimes ran up to 20 pages. They were full of numbers, laying out Trump’s properties, debts and multibillion-dollar net worth.”
“But, for someone trying to get a true picture of Trump’s net worth, the documents were deeply flawed. Some simply omitted properties that carried big debts. Some assets were overvalued. And some key numbers were wrong.”
“Tensions are escalating between President Trump and Puerto Rico’s governor over disaster relief efforts that have been slow in coming for the still-battered island after Hurricane Maria,” CNN reports. Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said he would not sit back and be bullied by the White House.
Said Rosselló: “If the bully gets close, I’ll punch the bully in the mouth. It would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage.”
Politico: “In a matter of days the special counsel has downshifted from investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election to the managerial tasks involved in packing up papers, disbanding staff and handing off cases. Almost everything left to argue in court — like Wednesday’s hearing involving a mysterious foreign company fighting a Mueller subpoena — has been given to career prosecutors in permanent offices.”
“In a series of private meetings and conversations with Trump over the past few months, Senate Republicans have pleaded with him not to impose a new round of tariffs on foreign automakers — fearing they could debilitate Trump-backed states and cast the economy into a recession ahead of the 2020 election. But Trump isn’t heeding the warnings so far,” Politico reports.
“Behind closed doors, GOP senators push back on Trump consistently when he brings up existing tariffs on steel and aluminum or potential tariffs on automakers, according to Republican senators. But Trump doesn’t back down from his position: He says the threat of tariffs gets the attention of trading partners — like China — who need to permit more imports of American products.”
Daily Beast: “Just months after President Trump took office, the federal government signed a contract to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jet fuel from a university run by one of the president’s top political supporters.”
“The Pentagon’s energy-procurement arm inked the contract, valued at nearly $900,000, with a company called Freedom Aviation on May 9, 2017, and has purchased more than $400,000 in turbine fuel from the company since then. Freedom Aviation is wholly owned by Liberty University, a conservative school in Lynchburg, Virginia, led by high-profile Trump supporter Jerry Falwell Jr.”
An attorney for Ivanka Trump was reportedly involved in reviewing Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Vanity Fair reports. Emails show that Abbe Lowell urged President Trump’s former personal lawyer to emphasize in his remarks that his client was not involved in a deal to construct a Trump Tower in Moscow.