President Trump told ABC News that he wouldn’t commit to calling the FBI if a foreign power offered damaging information on a political opponent.
Said Trump: “I think you might want to listen. There’s nothing wrong with listening. It’s not an interference, they have information. I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong I’d go maybe to the FBI. If I thought there was something wrong.”
When told FBI Director Christopher Wray said campaigns should contact the bureau if contacted by a foreign entity, Trump said: “The FBI director is wrong.”
Jonathan Chait: “Trump continues to show every sign of hoping and expecting to benefit from foreign collusion in 2020. In May, he intended to send Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to pressure the government to supply dirt on Joe Biden. He and his ally, Mitch McConnell, are blocking measures (including ones with bipartisan support) to help safeguard elections against foreign attacks and social media propaganda.”
“His message to Russia, or any other government that wants a close relationship with him, is obvious: do anything you can to help me win.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) “says that if she’s elected president, her administration’s Department of Justice would likely pursue criminal obstruction of justice charges against a former President Trump,” NPRreports. Said Harris: “I believe that they would have no choice and that they should, yes.”
She added: “There has to be accountability. I mean look, people might, you know, question why I became a prosecutor. Well, I’ll tell you one of the reasons — I believe there should be accountability. Everyone should be held accountable, and the president is not above the law.”
President Trump “asserted executive privilege to shield documents about the administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, a move meant to try to undercut an expected vote by a House panel to hold his attorney general and commerce secretary in contempt for failing to turn over the materials to lawmakers,” the Washington Postreports.
Axios: “The House Oversight Committee is preparing to vote to hold Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt Wednesday for refusing to turn over subpoenaed materials. The committee is investigating whether the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census was politically motivated, a controversy that could have major implications for future federal funding and redistricting.”
“Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), the only Republican in Congress to come out in favor of starting impeachment proceedings against President Trump, broke with his party again on Wednesday with a committee vote to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt,” The Hill reports.
“Hope Hicks, a top aide to President Trump during his 2016 campaign and his first year in the White House, has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next Wednesday,” the Washington Post reports.
“Hicks will be the first former Trump aide to go before the committee investigating whether Trump tried to obstruct a probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. But Hicks might not answer many of the panel’s questions, citing the president’s assertion of executive privilege on events that occurred inside the White House.”
Daily Beast: “According to individuals working with the Mexican government, Kushner served as both a source of comfort and a backchannel during a months-long process that was filled with threats of devastating tariffs and accusations that the country wasn’t doing enough to stem the tide of immigration to the U.S’s southern border.”
“Tapping on Kushner for clarity has become a semi-official policy in the top ranks of the offices of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard… One person familiar with the bilateral interactions said that senior Mexican officials had sought aggressively to cultivate Kushner as a primary contact and possible ‘good cop’ since at least early 2017.”
Margaret Hunter, the wife of longtime Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) who was co-indicted with her husband last summer, “has agreed to change her plea of not guilty and is scheduled to appear in federal court Thursday morning,” the San Diego Union Tribune reports.
“Both Hunter and wife were indicted in August on 60 criminal counts related to what prosecutors allege was a yearslong misuse of campaign donations to the congressman’s re-election fund.” The congressman’s attorney declined to discuss whether she might be cooperating with the prosecution. The Congressman, showing true chivalry, blamed his wife for the illegal spending back when they were both first indicted. So I wonder if she is now taking the bullet for the both of them.
Michael Flynn, who abruptly fired his legal team last week, “has hired former prosecutor turned defense lawyer—and vocal critic of Robert Mueller’s special counsel team—Sidney Powell to represent him,” the Federalist reports.
“Flynn’s firing of his former attorneys… comes at a strange time, and following several significant developments, raising speculation about Flynn’s intentions.”
David Kurtz: “Looks like Mike Flynn is putting all his marbles on a presidential pardon.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) told CNN it appears Democrats are “sitting on their hands” when it comes to impeachment, reflecting the unease from an outspoken bloc of members who want Democrats to take a tougher stance against President Trump.
When asked if she was satisfied with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s approach and opposition to beginning the impeachment process, Ocasio-Cortez said: “Personally, I am not.”
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), a lead architect of the GOP tax bill, suggested the tax cuts may not fully pay for themselves, contradicting a promise Republicans made repeatedly while pushing the law in late 2017, the Washington Post reports. Pressed about what portion of the tax cuts were fully paid for, Brady said it was “hard to know.”
“The federal government’s deficit typically shrinks during strong economic times, but the deficit is up nearly 40 percent so far this fiscal year, according to the latest Congressional Budget Office report released Friday.”
“House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer led the charge this week in pushing the first pay raise for members of Congress in a decade. But now he’s paying for it,” Politico reports. “The No. 2 House Democrat is taking fire from across the caucus after trying to enact the salary hike, a move some vulnerable Democrats fretted would be politically disastrous and could even cost them their seats next year.”
“Hoyer is now waging war on multiple fronts — an ugly public relations battle, a fraught fight with Republicans, and fierce criticism within his own party, including some close allies — in an effort to give lawmakers a cost-of-living boost.”
“President Trump appears to be having second thoughts about his choice of Patrick Shanahan as his next secretary of defense and asked several confidants in France last week about alternative candidates,” NBC News reports.
“Representatives of at least 22 foreign governments appear to have spent money at Trump Organization properties, an NBC News review has found, hinting at a significant foreign cash flow to the American president that critics say violates the U.S. Constitution.”
“The extent and amount of foreign spending at Trump’s hotels, golf clubs and restaurants is not known, because the Trump Organization is a private company and declines to disclose that information.”