Nikki Haley says she won’t run. A new poll suggests she should.

A conservative anti-Trump organization has good news for Nikki Haley’s 2020 presidential aspirations — even if she professes not to have them.

Haley is the strongest potential primary challenger to President Donald Trump, according to a poll funded by the group Defend Democracy Together.

The survey, which polled likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa as well as Republican primary voters in New Hampshire, found that nearly half — 47 percent — would consider another option to Trump in 2020. Of those polled, Haley topped the list among the probable early state voters, with 52 percent saying they would consider her as an alternative to Trump. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who announced on Tuesday that she is resigning her position at the end of the year, also had the smallest percentage of respondents — 25 percent — say they would not consider her at all.

“There’s a universe Continue reading “Nikki Haley says she won’t run. A new poll suggests she should.”

Nikki Haley flips the script on Trump

Rumors circulated for months that President Donald Trump was poised to fire his secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, before he finally did so in March. The same was true of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, whom Trump ultimately dismissed later the same month. And Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin hung by a thread for weeks before the president fired him with a tweet.

United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley flipped the script on Tuesday, working closely with the president on a resignation announcement that was kept secret from most White House aides. The move allowed the president to maintain control the news cycle – and allowed Haley to leave on good terms with the boss, something that has proved a challenge for many of her former colleagues.

In the Oval Office, with Haley by his side, Trump told reporters that Haley had notified him six months ago that she was Continue reading “Nikki Haley flips the script on Trump”

Trump turns to Hannity and Gingrich ahead of midterms

President Donald Trump huddled Wednesday with Fox News host Sean Hannity and former Speaker Newt Gingrich, according to two people familiar with the plans, a meeting that was originally set to discuss midterm strategy.

The meeting took place at the White House as Trump prepares a four week push to help Republicans keep control of Congress. Gingrich, who led the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress, penned an expansive memo for the president detailing how to hold onto majorities in the Senate and the House, one of the people familiar with the plans said.

The former speaker is best known as the architect of the “Contract with America,” the government-shrinking rubric that was a key part of the GOP’s successful midterm strategy that year, when the Republicans picked up 54 House seats and eight seats in the Senate during President Bill Clinton’s first term. One of the pillars of that approach Continue reading “Trump turns to Hannity and Gingrich ahead of midterms”

Kavanaugh’s alma mater of Yale becomes base of elite opposition to him

When Yale Law School put out a press release this summer congratulating Brett Kavanaugh, class of 1990, on his nomination to the Supreme Court, hundreds of students and alumnae expressed outrage.

In an open letter, they blasted the institution for praising Kavanaugh’s professionalism and service to the law school while overlooking what they described as “the true stakes of his nomination.”

“Is there nothing more important to Yale Law School than its proximity to power and prestige?” they wrote, describing Kavanaugh’s nomination as an “emergency” and a threat to “democratic life.”

The law school, among the nation’s most prestigious, had issued similar pro-forma statements congratulating other prominent alumni on their accomplishments, including Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor when she was nominated to the high court by President Barack Obama in 2009.

But the protest elicited by the anodyne statement about Kavanaugh’s nomination was a preview of what Continue reading “Kavanaugh’s alma mater of Yale becomes base of elite opposition to him”

Top White House policy aide Bremberg to leave

Domestic Policy Council Director Andrew Bremberg is leaving the White House at the end of the year, three sources familiar with his plans told POLITICO.

Bremberg, who has been with the administration since President Donald Trump’s election, will be nominated as the next ambassador to the United Nations Mission in Geneva, an administration official and two people close to the White House said.

The organization represents the U.S. on a range of international issues including public health, trade and economic development. It does not currently have a permanent ambassador.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The move ends a nearly two-year tenure for Bremberg atop the president’s Domestic Policy Council, where he played a central role in the White House’s broad deregulation effort and was involved in coordinating the GOP’s major policy initiatives — including its failed attempts to repeal Obamacare.

Yet it’s Continue reading “Top White House policy aide Bremberg to leave”

Trump stays away from Senate Kavanaugh fight

As the Senate prepares for Thursday’s blockbuster hearing to decide the fate of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a key player has been missing from efforts to lobby undecided GOP senators — President Donald Trump.

More than a dozen Republican senators said in interviews Tuesday that they haven’t heard anything from Trump. And they think that’s just fine.

Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the number three Senate Republican, said he was “not aware” of any personal outreach to undecided senators on Kavanaugh.

“It’s probably better to see him let the process play out. We’ve got members who want to come to their own conclusions, make their own decisions, and sometimes it’s better that happens independent of the White House,” Thune said.

“I have had no conversations with the president and I’ve never had any conversation with my staff that would indicate the involvement of the president,” added Judiciary Committee Continue reading “Trump stays away from Senate Kavanaugh fight”

Conservative legal insiders have skin in Kavanaugh fight

Brett Kavanaugh isn’t the only prominent conservative whose reputation is threatened by allegations of sexual misconduct lodged against the Supreme Court nominee.

White House aides and allies who vouched for Kavanaugh’s squeaky clean public image and encouraged President Donald Trump to choose him for the highest court have a lot to lose, too — including the president’s trust, which has allowed them to wield enormous influence over his nominations to the federal bench.

They include Federalist Society executive director Leonard Leo, Ethics and Public Policy Center president Ed Whelan, and White House counsel Don McGahn, all of whom were longtime personal friends of the judge before Trump tapped him to replace outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy in July. All three personally attested not only to Kavanaugh’s legal chops but to his character as well.

Deeply invested in Kavanaugh’s nomination, all three have doubled down on their bet — raising the personal Continue reading “Conservative legal insiders have skin in Kavanaugh fight”

Trumpworld divided on Rosenstein — not whether to fire him, but when

Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham, once a top recruit to serve as White House press secretary, was early out of the gate on Friday with urgent advice for the president.

“Rod Rosenstein must be fired today,” she tweeted, after the New York Times reported that the deputy attorney general had floated the idea of wearing a wire in the Oval Office and removing the president from office by invoking the 25th Amendment.

Ingraham, one of the 47 feeds that President Donald Trump follows on Twitter, tagged his handle in her tweet to make sure he didn’t miss her edict.

The “fire Rosenstein” sentiment — one she eventually deleted with no explanation — was publicly shared by Fox News colleagues and Trump pals like Judge Jeanine Pirro, as well as other close allies with the president’s ear, who did not walk back their comments.

But Trumpworld is no monolith — despite Continue reading “Trumpworld divided on Rosenstein — not whether to fire him, but when”

PR firm helped Whelan stoke half-baked Kavanaugh alibi

It turns out that the Keystone Cops detective work by conservative legal activist Ed Whelan — which set Washington abuzz with the promise of exonerating Brett Kavanaugh, only to be met by mockery and then partially retracted — was not his handiwork alone.

CRC Public Relations, the prominent Alexandria, Virginia-based P.R. firm, guided Whelan through his roller-coaster week of Twitter pronouncements that ended in embarrassment and a potential setback for Kavanaugh’s hopes of landing on the high court, according to three sources familiar with their dealings.

After suggesting on Twitter on Tuesday that he had obtained information that would exculpate Kavanaugh from the sexual assault allegation made by Christine Blasey Ford, Whelan worked over the next 48 hours with CRC and its president, Greg Mueller, to stoke the anticipation. A longtime friend of Kavanaugh’s, Whelan teased his reveal — even as he refused to discuss it with other colleagues Continue reading “PR firm helped Whelan stoke half-baked Kavanaugh alibi”

Kavanaugh saga sets Washington rumor mill on fire

It is the tweet that launched a thousand rumors.

On Tuesday evening, Ed Whelan, a conservative activist and legal commentator, posted a remarkable claim about the charge of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“By one week from today, I expect that Judge Kavanaugh will have been clearly vindicated on this matter,” Whelan wrote. “Specifically, I expect that compelling evidence will show his categorical denial to be truthful. There will be no cloud over him.”

In a follow up tweet, he added for good measure: “Senator [Dianne] Feinstein will soon be apologizing to Judge Kavanaugh.” Feinstein is the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee and the first senator to learn about the accusation against Kavanaugh.

Whelan, who is president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, has since remained cryptically tight-lipped. But his tweet, along with the perception that he is a sober-minded Continue reading “Kavanaugh saga sets Washington rumor mill on fire”

Kavanaugh accuser has not yet agreed to attend hearing

The woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her decades ago has not yet confirmed her appearance at a public hearing the GOP is planning next week, a top Republican senator said Tuesday.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said that his staff has reached out to Christine Blasey Ford’s camp several times since the California-based professor came forward with her story of a high-school-era assault by President Donald Trump’s high court pick. Although Ford’s lawyer said that her client would be open to “a fair proceeding,” it remains unclear whether she would agree to a planned hearing on Sept. 24 that Republicans have set up to help save Kavanaugh’s nomination.

The lack of response so far “kind of raises the question, do they want to come to the public hearing or not,” Grassley told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday.

Republicans have billed Continue reading “Kavanaugh accuser has not yet agreed to attend hearing”

Kavanaugh faces his #MeToo test to reach Supreme Court

Brett Kavanaugh and the Trump White House had prepared for a moment like this.

In his opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Supreme Court nominee praised his mother as a trailblazing prosecutor. He said he’s grateful for Title IX, the law intended to give women and girls equal access to sports programs that receive federal funds. And he drew attention to the fact that a majority of his law clerks have been women.

Long before Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) referred a letter allegedly detailing a high school sexual assault to the FBI last week, and long before the accuser came forward Sunday just days before a Senate committee vote on the nomination, Kavanaugh and his allies had been working to inoculate him against charges that he might be hostile to women.

Republican veterans of Supreme Court confirmations say Anita Hill’s allegations against Clarence Thomas during his 1991 Continue reading “Kavanaugh faces his #MeToo test to reach Supreme Court”

Trump could impose tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods next week

President Donald Trump plans to proceed with duties on roughly $200 billion more worth in Chinese goods as soon as Monday, a senior administration official confirmed Saturday, escalating what has already become a protracted trade battle between the world’s two largest economies.

The White House could announce on Monday or Tuesday that it will slap a 10 percent tariff rate on the $200 billion list of goods, the official told POLITICO. But those tariffs could reach as high as 25 percent, as Trump proposed last month increasing the tariff rate.

“We’ll start at 10,” the official said.

The administration has threatened these set of tariffs for months as punishment for China’s policies that have resulted in intellectual property theft or mandated technology transfers on U.S. companies doing business there. A public comment period on Trump’s latest set of tariffs formally ended last week, clearing the way for the president Continue reading “Trump could impose tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods next week”

Sexual assault allegation roils Kavanaugh confirmation fight

Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans on Friday released a letter from 65 women who knew Brett Kavanaugh during his high school years calling him "a good person" — escalating their defense of the Supreme Court nominee as a decades-old sexual misconduct allegation surfaced.

Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowa) office circulated the pro-Kavanaugh letter less than 48 hours after the committee’s top Democrat, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, referred the allegation against the nominee to the FBI. Feinstein, who declined to say when she first became aware of the accusation, said she had "honored [a] decision" by the woman making the charges to maintain confidentiality. But the senator’s handling of the matter has stoked already-fierce partisan tensions over a confirmation the GOP is still pushing to wind up by the end of this month.

The woman leveling the charge against Kavanaugh attended a nearby high school at the same time as the nominee. Continue reading “Sexual assault allegation roils Kavanaugh confirmation fight”

Trump’s FEMA administrator under investigation over use of official cars

FEMA administrator Brock Long is the target of an ongoing Department of Homeland Security inspector general investigation into whether he misused government vehicles during his commutes to North Carolina from Washington, according to three people familiar with the matter, including current and former administration officials.

The actions by Long, the U.S. government’s lead disaster official as the country braces for Hurricane Florence, have been called into question by the inspector general over whether taxpayers have inappropriately footed the bill for his travel, an issue that has tripped up a number of current and former top Trump administration officials.

Long’s travel habits triggered a clash between him and his boss, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in recent weeks, clouding their relationship just as senior aides close to President Donald Trump prepared for hurricane season – a task that’s attracted extra scrutiny in the wake of the disaster that befell Puerto Continue reading “Trump’s FEMA administrator under investigation over use of official cars”

GOP senators: No Sessions replacement could get confirmed

Senate Republicans are in a jam when it comes to Jeff Sessions.

While resigned to President Donald Trump firing the attorney general after the midterm elections, they suspect that perhaps only a sitting senator could win confirmation as Sessions’ successor — that is, someone they could trust not to interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. But no one from their ranks seems to want the job.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said any new nominee must pledge to protect the Mueller investigation, and that it would help if that person were “somebody from the body or someone who has had experience … or somebody you know personally, you know what you’re getting.” But he said it’s not going to be him, despite private belief among his colleagues he’s eyeing the job.

“No. I like being a senator. There are plenty of more qualified people than me. Bunches Continue reading “GOP senators: No Sessions replacement could get confirmed”

‘It will make him crazy’: Anonymous anti-Trump screed backfires

Many Republicans on Capitol Hill and in the White House privately agree with the Trump administration official who went rogue in the New York Times.

They also say the anonymous anti-Trump screed was a tremendous setback when it comes to curbing the president’s worst impulses.

Republicans have been laboring to fund the government, push for free trade and reassure allies in the face of President Donald Trump’s penchant for conflict over the border wall, trade deficits and foreign policy. But people working on those matters said Thursday that the Times piece only amps up the president’s paranoia by handing him proof that members of his own team are working against him, according to interviews with more than a dozen Republicans, including nine senators.

“It kind of reinforces his message out there that there’s a bunch of folks here embedded in the Washington bureaucracy that are out to get him. I’m Continue reading “‘It will make him crazy’: Anonymous anti-Trump screed backfires”

‘I forget he’s even there’: Bill Shine lays low in the West Wing

Bill Shine, the White House communications director, has been on the job for almost two months. But he has yet to set up a voicemail greeting on his government-issued phone, still jokes that he doesn’t know his way to the nearest bathroom in the West Wing, often has to step out of meetings when classified information is being discussed for lack of proper security clearances, and claims he doesn’t even have a permanent office.

When a reporter spotted him behind his desk and, pointing to his nameplate on the door, commented on the fact that he had finally procured an office, Shine replied: “It’s not an office, it’s just a sign.”

The “I just got here” schtick is markedly different from the way other newcomers have behaved when joining the Trump administration carrying high expectations of turning things around.

Shine’s method appears to be to elongate his grace period, Continue reading “‘I forget he’s even there’: Bill Shine lays low in the West Wing”

Top 2008 campaign aides shut out of McCain funeral

John McCain’s funeral will spotlight some of the late senator’s political rivals – but some of his closest campaign aides are being excluded from the proceedings.

Three of the most prominent members of his 2008 presidential campaign – campaign manager Steve Schmidt, senior adviser Nicolle Wallace, and longtime strategist John Weaver — were not invited to any of McCain’s services, according to three people familiar with the guest list.

It’s not clear whether McCain ordered the snubbing of formerly high-ranking aides before his death. The McCain family has carefully organized all of the funeral proceedings, which begin Thursday in Arizona and conclude Saturday at the National Cathedral. Invitations were extended on Monday with RSVPs from invitees requested by Tuesday, according to one of the people familiar with the proceedings.

Tucker Bounds, a former McCain campaign aide and a spokesman for the team organizing the memorial services, declined to comment.

After Continue reading “Top 2008 campaign aides shut out of McCain funeral”

Trump-friendly think tank struggles to weed out racism from its ranks

It took just 80 minutes after racially incendiary emails started flying for the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank, to shut down an email Listserv connecting hundreds of high-profile conservatives.

The emails that sparked the controversy began ricocheting midday Tuesday in response to a plea from Darren Beattie, a recently fired speechwriter for President Donald Trump, for “those on this list with media influence” to come to his defense. The White House over the weekend dismissed Beattie after CNN revealed that he had spoken alongside white nationalists at a conference in 2016.

Charles Johnson, an alt-right provocateur and Trump loyalist, was the first to respond.

“Beattie’s offense is that he spoke at an event where — gasp! — there were white nationalists afoot!” Johnson wrote the group. “Heaven forbid that some thinkers — like the American founders who favored our country be majority white — think that the U. Continue reading “Trump-friendly think tank struggles to weed out racism from its ranks”