Trump wages war against New York

Even in the West Wing, all politics is local.

President Donald Trump — raised in Queens, made in Manhattan — in the past week is finding his latest targets back home, turning New York political leaders into liberal punching bags that offer him familiar and useful foils ahead of the midterm elections.

It’s an old political playbook — attack elite, liberal New York, and the heartland loves you — but it’s also personal for Trump, whose relationships with some of New York’s political leaders go back generations.

On Monday, the president deliberately attacked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is fighting for his third term, as a presidential wannabe. He told attendees at a fundraiser in Utica that Cuomo once promised he would “never run for president against” him and then urged him to get in the race. “Oh, please do it,” Trump goaded. “Anybody who runs against Trump suffers. Continue reading “Trump wages war against New York”

Bannon attempts his political comeback

Steve Bannon is attempting a political resurrection, launching a 25-person pro-Trump rapid-response and polling operation that is framing the midterms as an up-or-down vote on the president’s impeachment.

The former White House chief strategist has started Citizens for the American Republic, an outside political group that intends to advise surrogates, generate talking points, and flood the TV and radio airwaves ahead of a perilous midterm election.

As part of the campaign, Bannon — a former Hollywood producer who’s made several conservative films — will soon release a new documentary, “Trump@War,” which he plans to release in September on the two-year anniversary of Hillary Clinton’s now-infamous speech in which she referred to Trump supporters as “deplorables.” The slickly produced movie depicts the president in deeply flattering terms, casting him as a populist hero who’s followed through on his campaign promises and defied a long line of liberal critics.

It notably Continue reading “Bannon attempts his political comeback”

‘People are terrified’: Trump staffers live in fear of Omarosa’s next tape

A daily trickle of revealing internal conversations between staffers. Growing anxiety about what one might have once said. No sense of how long it will go on.

Omarosa Manigault Newman’s slow release of secretly taped conversations from inside the Trump campaign and White House is having the same effect on staffers as the daily dumps from WikiLeaks had on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, when chairman John Podesta’s emails were trickled out during the final stretch of the race.

“People are terrified,” one former Trump aide said of the tapes. “Absolutely terrified.”

On Tuesday, the fifth day of her one-woman news cycle, Manigault Newman released a taped conversation from the 2016 campaign, in which former spokeswoman Katrina Pierson and another African-American Trump adviser, Lynne Patton, discussed the possible existence of an N-word tape.

“He’s said it,” Pierson says on the recording. “He’s embarrassed.”

The latest reveal indicates that Manigault Continue reading “‘People are terrified’: Trump staffers live in fear of Omarosa’s next tape”

Omarosa claims to have secretly recorded Jared and Ivanka

She says she’s got Javanka on tape, too.

Jilted ex-“Apprentice” star and former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman has told friends and associates that she has tapes of private phone calls from first daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, according to two sources with whom she has discussed the recording.

She claims her stash of recordings — which she is dribbling out to keep the publicity machine going around the release of her new book “Unhinged” — includes a condolence call she received from the couple the day after she was fired by chief of staff John Kelly last December.

Both Trump and Kushner can be heard wishing Manigault Newman the best and telling her they had no idea her head was on the chopping block, according to the people with whom she has discussed the call.

Manigault Newman’s claim about the new tape provides additional confirmation Continue reading “Omarosa claims to have secretly recorded Jared and Ivanka”

Omarosa claims to have secretly recorded Jared and Ivanka

She says she’s got Javanka on tape, too.

Jilted ex-“Apprentice” star and former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman has told friends and associates that she has tapes of private phone calls from first daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, according to two sources with whom she has discussed the recording.

She claims her stash of recordings — which she is dribbling out to keep the publicity machine going around the release of her new book “Unhinged” — includes a condolence call she received from the couple the day after she was fired by chief of staff John Kelly last December.

Both Trump and Kushner can be heard wishing Manigault Newman the best and telling her they had no idea her head was on the chopping block, according to the people with whom she has discussed the call.

Manigault Newman’s claim about the new tape provides additional confirmation Continue reading “Omarosa claims to have secretly recorded Jared and Ivanka”

Trump rails against China during dinner with executives

Over a dinner of beef tenderloin and lobster tail at his private golf club in Bedminster, N.J., President Donald Trump on Tuesday night unleashed a rant about China as corporate executives listened on.

The president entertained a group of 15 CEOs and senior White House staff at a dinner in the middle of his annual working vacation on Tuesday night. The dinner was billed as “an opportunity for the president to hear how the economy is doing…and what their priorities and thoughts are for the year ahead.”

But Trump spent a good portion of the dinner sharing his own thoughts, specifically about China.

Trump told the executives that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt One Road Initiative,” China’s economic plan that has the potential to disrupt trade worldwide, was “insulting” and that he didn’t want it, according to a person in the room. Trump said he Continue reading “Trump rails against China during dinner with executives”

Trump leans on his old New York playbook in Mueller dealings

It was the summer of 1980, and Donald Trump, a rising star in New York City real estate, trekked to Brooklyn to sit down with the Organized Crime Strike Force.

The still-lanky developer arrived alone, with no attorneys by his side, and willingly submitted himself to all of the investigators’ questions.

The FBI investigation involved a person Trump needed to ensure the speedy construction of Trump Tower: John Cody, a union boss who was being investigated for suspected mob ties. The FBI subpoenaed Trump after getting a tip that the developer had promised Cody’s supposed girlfriend a luxury apartment spread in his signature tower.

In going it alone with the investigators, according to Trump biographer Wayne Barrett, the future president tried to recast himself not as an adjunct to Cody’s scams but as a victim himself of a shakedown.

Now, as Trump continues to push to sit down with special Continue reading “Trump leans on his old New York playbook in Mueller dealings”

The real lesson Trump learned from Charlottesville

The content of President Donald Trump’s dig at basketball superstar LeBron James might have been standard Trump fare — questioning the intelligence of a prominent African-American who has been critical of him — but the timing of the tweet made it stand out on Friday night.

The post landed almost exactly a year after the deadly clash between white nationalists and Black Lives Matter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, when the president refused to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis outright.

That moment temporarily left Trump on an island, abandoned by Republicans on the Hill and corporate executives who had previously played nice with the president on his business councils, and was a low-water mark of his presidency — one that, according to presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, “puts him in the dung heap of presidents who are completely insensitive of race in the United States.”

If that proves to be the Continue reading “The real lesson Trump learned from Charlottesville”

‘Everyone talked with Woodward’: Trump White House braces for new book

Bob Woodward, the legendary Washington Post journalist, was sitting on the couch in press secretary Jay Carney’s office, presenting Obama administration officials with an offer they couldn’t refuse.

It was 2011, and Woodward was working on a book chronicling President Barack Obama’s debt-ceiling negotiations. He pulled out a secret memo written by Peter Orszag, the former budget director, that Woodward had obtained and which held potentially damaging revelations about the administration.

Participating in his project, Woodward said, would give people like Carney the opportunity to respond to such memos. Woodward then pointed to a safe that is kept in the press secretary’s office, which holds classified documents. “I’d like access to everything, including what’s in there,” he said, “some of which I might have already.”

The impression he left on the people in the room that day, according to a person familiar with the episode, was that they didn’t Continue reading “‘Everyone talked with Woodward’: Trump White House braces for new book”

Why Trump won’t cancel the Putin summit

President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin has all the makings of a political disaster.

Millions of Americans believe Putin has some sinister influence over Trump. The Justice Department just indicted a dozen Russian military hackers for meddling in the 2016 election. Commentators and congressmen are demanding that Trump cancel Monday’s sit-down.

And yet the howls of outrage only seem to have made Trump dig in deeper. To some of the president’s allies, the politics of seeing Putin could actually be a positive, at least within Trump’s hard-core base, which polls show has been warming up to the Russian leader and which largely writes off questions about Trump’s Russia ties as fake news.

That attitude was on clear display Saturday on Fox News, when Trump’s top media ally, Sean Hannity — who flew to Helsinki on his private jet last week — made the on-air case for why Continue reading “Why Trump won’t cancel the Putin summit”

Trump’s Turnberry getaway: A little golf, a lot of promoting

GLASGOW — President Donald Trump did not let the pressure of his high-stakes meeting with Russian President Vladmir Putin stand in the way of his typical Saturday routine: Tweeting followed by golf on a Trump-branded course.

“The weather is beautiful, and this place is incredible!” Trump tweeted Saturday morning, promoting his own money-losing property in Turnberry.

Trump did not plug his business from the official government account of the President of the United States, which he does not use. Instead, he gave the property a boost from his personal account, from behind the walls of his private club.

To ethics experts who criticized the president’s use of his office to promote his business, the account he uses marks a distinction without a difference. But it was the latest sign of Trump bending the presidency to fit the old lifestyle he misses — even down to sticking with his own Continue reading “Trump’s Turnberry getaway: A little golf, a lot of promoting”

Mueller injects new drama into Trump’s European whirlwind

WINDSOR CASTLE — The Range Rover inched slowly along the gravel path toward the castle, delivering President Donald Trump to the regal encounter he’d been anticipating for days: a meeting with the Queen of England strictly devoted to pomp and circumstance, a refreshing break for Trump from days of tense arguments about NATO budgets.

But as the honor guard performed the national anthem and gave Trump a royal salute, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein created a most unceremonious — and undermining — split-screen moment, announcing the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for computer hacking that hobbled Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

It wasn’t the first time the Russia saga had interrupted Trump’s royal treatment in a foreign kingdom: His visit to Saudi Arabia last year was marred by new disclosures, just as he was departing, about possible collusion between Trump associates and Russia and Trump’s reasons for firing former FBI Continue reading “Mueller injects new drama into Trump’s European whirlwind”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders adopts the mantle of grievance

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who often has the impossible job of speaking on behalf of an improvisational president, on Monday gave herself an easier gig: She presented herself as the spokeswoman for civility.

In her first press briefing in a week – she had not fielded questions since President Donald Trump caved on his signature “zero-tolerance” immigration stance and signed a hastily drafted executive order ending family separations at the border – Sanders first chose to address a personal experience from over the weekend, when she was asked to leave a restaurant, the Red Hen, in Lexington, Va., because of the staff’s disagreement with the policies she helps promote.

“I was asked to leave because I work for President Trump,” she said, careful not to personally attack the restaurant owner as she read from a prepared statement. “We are allowed to disagree but we should be able to do so Continue reading “Sarah Huckabee Sanders adopts the mantle of grievance”

Nielsen becomes face of Trump’s border separations

Kirstjen Nielsen, President Donald Trump’s secretary of Homeland Security, emerged on Monday as the face of the administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy – though internally, she is not seen as a supporter.

Nielsen made a rare and hastily arranged appearance in the White House briefing room on Monday afternoon, where she defended the separation of nearly 2,000 children from their parents. Sounding alternately animated and defensive, Nielsen said the administration would “enforce every law we have on the books,” even if it meant breaking up parents and their kids.

White House chief of staff John Kelly advised Nielsen against doing the press conference, but she charged ahead anyway, according to a senior administration official. She placed blame for some of the heart-rending scenes captured by the news media squarely on Congress and charged that kids are being warehoused because lawmakers have shirked their responsibility to close loopholes in current immigration Continue reading “Nielsen becomes face of Trump’s border separations”

Where Jared’s words came from

Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer is often referred to as “Bibi’s brain,” for his close relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But according to a new book, he might sometimes play the role of “Jared’s brain,” too.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Jared Kushner was widely credited for the content and unusual style — a rare-at-the-time teleprompter moment — of his father-in-law’s speech in front of the hard-line Jewish lobbying group AIPAC.

But writer Emily Jane Fox, whose book “Born Trump” is set for release Tuesday, writes that it was Dermer who essentially dictated the speech for Kushner, who then loaded it into the teleprompter for Trump.

On a call with Kushner ahead of the speech, Fox writes, Dermer “talked for a solid hour about the U.N., about Iran, about hard lines and language that was very important to the Israelis, and about many people who would be Continue reading “Where Jared’s words came from”

‘He’s very pumped’: Kushner basks in glow of winning World Cup bid

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, hasn’t solved peace in the Middle East yet.

Any tangible progress on his lofty goal of modernizing the federal government has been too slow to register.

Saddled with intractable, long-term problems to fix at home and abroad — as well as a draining off-again, on-again relationship with his security clearance — the president’s son-in-law has struggled, in his life as a senior White House official, to demonstrate his own concrete accomplishments.

That’s what made Wednesday morning a little sunnier than most of the days spent working in the West Wing.

Kushner has been telling associates he is thrilled about the U.S. winning its joint bid with Canada and Mexico to host the World Cup in 2026 — in part because he sees it as a legitimate diplomatic win that he can claim some credit for. “He’s very pumped,” said one person familiar with his Continue reading “‘He’s very pumped’: Kushner basks in glow of winning World Cup bid”

Trump White House advertises at a Hill job fair amid staff exodus

The White House – which has been having trouble filling positions as it bleeds staffers – is now trying to find recruits at a conservative job fair on the Hill.

“Interested in a job at the White House?” is the subject line of an email that was blasted out widely to Republicans on the Hill late Wednesday advertising the upcoming event.

It promises that “representatives from across the Trump administration will be there to meet job seekers of every experience level.” A person familiar with the planning said that Johnny DeStefano, who oversees the White House personnel department, and Sean Doocey, a deputy assistant to the president for presidential personnel, are expected to be on hand, among other officials from the West Wing.

The flyer lists positions open in the White House as well as a handful of government agencies including Defense, Interior, Commerce, Homeland Security, Health & Continue reading “Trump White House advertises at a Hill job fair amid staff exodus”

White House aide Steven Cheung leaves communications staff

As the White House communications department undergoes its snail’s-pace overhaul, another top staffer has left the building.

Special assistant to the president and director of rapid response Steven Cheung’s last day of work was Friday, according to multiple people briefed on his departure. President Donald Trump was abroad along with most of his senior staff, but Cheung’s last day still marked a low-key end of an era of sorts: he was one of the last remaining campaign-era Trump aides still working on the White House campus.

Cheung was known as the rare aide in the White House who was often in the room, but kept his head down. Unlike many of his colleagues, he never turned himself into a household name.

“Steven has been a part of Trump world for over 700 days,” said Bryan Lanza, a former Trump campaign aide. “He deserves a gold watch.”

Lanza recalled surviving Continue reading “White House aide Steven Cheung leaves communications staff”

Meet the guys who tape Trump’s papers back together

Solomon Lartey spent the first five months of the Trump administration working in the Old Executive Office Building, standing over a desk with scraps of paper spread out in front of him.

Lartey, who earned an annual salary of $65,969 as a records management analyst, was a career government official with close to 30 years under his belt. But he had never seen anything like this in any previous administration he had worked for. He had never had to tape the president’s papers back together again.

Armed with rolls of clear Scotch tape, Lartey and his colleagues would sift through large piles of shredded paper and put them back together, he said, “like a jigsaw puzzle.” Sometimes the papers would just be split down the middle, but other times they would be torn into pieces so small they looked like confetti.

It was a painstaking project that was the Continue reading “Meet the guys who tape Trump’s papers back together”

Conway describes Trump summit prep as ‘intense’ – but won’t say what that means

Before his 1987 summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, President Ronald Reagan met daily with his national security adviser, twice convened State Department specialists in the Situation Room, studied personality profiles, and watched Russian movies.

But any sense of how President Donald Trump is preparing for the historic June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – now less than a week away – is much less clear.

When pressed on the president’s prep regimen, one of his top advisers on Wednesday insisted Trump has been preparing extensively, but offered few details that helped explain what, exactly, that entails.

“This president prepares in many different ways for many different major summits,” Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, said at a breakfast with reporters Wednesday morning, hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “He’s been quite active on the international stage with these foreign trips.”

Trump, known to prefer Continue reading “Conway describes Trump summit prep as ‘intense’ – but won’t say what that means”