President Trump told reporters that if Mexico “does not make progress on stemming the flow of drugs and migrants into the United States within the next year, he will impose tariffs on cars and close the border,” the Washington Post reports. “Trump had previously said he would close the border, or at least large sections of it, this week if Mexico does not halt illegal immigration into the United States.”
Trump must not know that both NAFTA, which is still in effect, and his new USMCA agreement, forbids tariffs on cars.
We learned Wednesday night and Thursday morning that special counsel Robert Mueller sent summaries of his work to Attorney General William Barr, presumably for public release. However, government sources told the New York Times that those summaries contained “sensitive information, like classified material, secret grand-jury testimony and information related to current federal investigations that must remain confidential.”
Law professor Jed Shugarman notes that members of the Mueller team, talking to the Washington Post, flatly contradicted this assertion. Those sources say the summaries were written “so that the front matter from each section could have been released immediately… It was done in a way that minimum redactions, if any, would have been necessary, and the work would have spoken for itself.”
Three government officials have told NBC News that a dispute within the special counsel’s office on the facts and the law was one factor behind Robert Mueller’s decision not to make a call on the obstruction question.
“The lawyers and FBI agents on Mueller’s team could not reach an agreement about whether Trump’s conduct amounted to a corrupt — and therefore illegal — effort to impede the probe… As a result, Barr, after consulting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, stepped in to clear the president, saying the evidence did not amount to a prosecutable case of obstruction of justice.”
“At least one faction within the office says their intent was to leave the legal question open for Congress and the public to examine the evidence… It’s not clear how Mueller himself feels about the matter.”
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) told Politico that he was going to issue a subpoena to get the Mueller report in “short order.” He also said it was “very likely to be necessary” to call Robert Mueller to testify.
Just fucking do it Nadler.
Politico: “House Democrats want to see everything related to the special counsel’s nearly two-year-old investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election. But their open-book demands stand at odds with the Justice Department’s desire to black out sensitive areas throughout Mueller’s 400-page submission.”
“The high-stakes chess match will play out on both political and legal grounds, and so far neither side has yet to show any signs of compromise.”
“As a result, the battle could spill into the courts, setting up a protracted legal confrontation that inevitably causes waves in the thick of the 2020 White House race. For President Donald Trump, the possibility of freshly unveiled Mueller bombshells dropping while he runs for reelection could be devastating. But Democrats are in a tough position: pursuing their legal challenge at all costs could feed the Trump-approved narrative that they’re overzealous, but giving up risks angering their own Trump-hating base.”
“I’m reluctant to comment on another person’s faith, but I would say it is hard to look at this president’s actions and believe that they’re the actions of somebody who believes in God. I just don’t understand how you can be as worshipful of your own self as he is and be prepared to humble yourself before God. I’ve never seen him humble himself before anyone.”
— Pete Buttigieg, in an interview with USA Today, when asked if President Trump is a Christian.
President Trump “is likely to announce plans for a future summit meeting with President Xi Jinping of China where the two will resolve remaining trade issues and sign a final agreement between the United States and China,” the New York Times reports.
“The arrest of a Chinese woman who carried a malware-laced device into Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s Florida resort, has exposed porous security at the private club and escalating tensions between Secret Service agents and the resort’s staff members, who vet guest lists and allow people onto the sprawling grounds,” the New York Times reports.
“At times neither side has had full clarity on who was entering Mar-a-Lago. Secret Service agents must rely on club receptionists and other employees to crosscheck visitors.”
“Her arrest revealed gaps in Mr. Trump’s security as well as the challenge of protecting a president who spends less time at the remote, fortified Camp David and more time at his busy resort with sometimes hundreds of guests. The normally tight-lipped Secret Service was so disturbed by the breach that it issued an unusual statement that effectively blamed the Mar-a-Lago staff for not tightly tracking the comings and goings of guests.”
“President Trump has told confidants he wants Herman Cain on the Federal Reserve board, but will wait until his background check is completed before making the formal announcement,” Axios reports.
“The administration did not conduct a thorough vetting of Trump’s most recent Fed pick, Stephen Moore, and they’ve had to weather stories about back taxes owed by Moore and that he had failed to pay alimony to his ex-wife.”
The Atlantic: “Tricia Newbold set an important mark when she became the first official currently serving in Donald Trump’s White House to take accusations of wrongdoing to Congress—and to put her name publicly behind them.”
“But Democrats on Capitol Hill say that beyond Newbold, a small army of whistle-blowers from across the government has been working in secret with the House Oversight Committee to report alleged malfeasance inside the Trump administration. Lawmakers and aides are reluctant to discuss information they have gleaned from anonymous government tipsters in detail. But the list of whistle-blowers who either currently or previously worked in the Trump administration, or who worked closely with the administration, numbers in the ‘dozens.’”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) “blocked a resolution calling for special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to be released to Congress and the public,” Axiosreports.
“This is the 5th time that Republicans — led by Paul and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — have blocked the resolution, which passed unanimously in the House last month. Paul has argued in favor of an amendment calling for the release of communications between Obama-era intelligence officials that he says could shed light on potential “misuse of power” leading up to the launch of the Trump-Russia investigation.”
“A group of Republicans in the Georgia state assembly unveiled a bill earlier this week that could open the door to imposing regulations on members of the free press that include fining reporters who refuse to turn over recordings to subjects of interviews,” CNN reports.
“The bill, sponsored by Georgia state GOP Rep. Andrew Welch and other Republican lawmakers, looks to establish a ‘Journalism Ethics Board’ that could create ‘canons of ethics’ and new regulations for journalists in the state… The bill states journalists and news organizations ‘may be investigated and sanctioned for violating such canons of ethics’ by the board, should it become law.”
Mike Littwin: “When Michael Bennet’s office called to say he had a big announcement to make, I assumed he would be confirming what everyone already knew — that the Colorado senator would be joining John Hickenlooper and the rest of the ever-expanding Democratic field running for president. And, also, that though he understood he would be a long shot, he figured at this point, without a clear favorite, that it could leave an opening for someone like him — the umpteenth senator to announce.”
“When Bennet got to the phone, that is, in fact, what he did say. But it wasn’t all he said or nearly the most important thing he said and definitely not the most scary thing he said.”
“Which was this: Just as he had finally become comfortable with his decision to run, he went to get a physical and received very discomfiting news from his doctor — he has prostate cancer.”
Washington Post: “During a Republican retreat at Camp David last year, President Trump seemed particularly enthralled as Gary Cohn, then his chief economic adviser, delivered a briefing on infrastructure. The president impressed the assembled lawmakers with his apparent interest in the presentation, nodding along and scribbling furious notes.”
“But Trump’s notes ‘had nothing to do with infrastructure,’ journalists Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer write in their new book, The Hill to Die On. Instead, Trump had scrawled ‘Sloppy Steve’ atop his index card, followed by ‘copious notes’ criticizing Stephen K. Bannon, his former chief strategist whom he had fired several months earlier.”
“‘As Cohn had detailed his plans to rebuild America’s roads, the president was writing down how he wanted to trash Steve Bannon the next time someone asked him about it,’ the authors write, in one of buzzy scenes that pepper the book.”
Kris Kobach, who President Trump is considering appointing as his administration’s “immigration tsar,” suggested on Fox Business creating “camps” for asylum seekers in the United States.
Said Kobach: “Create processing towns that are confined, and so when someone comes in and falsely claims asylum, we don’t release them for six months onto the streets of the United States.”
He added: “We process them right there, in that camp, where they have the three square meals, they’re living in a nice mobile home, and then as soon as they’re done, as soon as the claim is rejected, they’re on the next plane back home.”