Regrets? Chris Christie Has a Few.

TRENTON—Chris Christie had some thoughts on how I should write this article.

“You should break out of leading with ‘the most unpopular governor in galactic history’ and all this other shit that everybody hits F2, F3, F4 [on and] bang, bang, bang, the paragraphs flip in,” the outgoing New Jersey governor said on a recent afternoon, tapping his conference room table like a keyboard. “You should do something different.”

Christie had spent almost three hours reminiscing on his meteoric political rise, the bridge saga, his failed 2016 campaign and his controversial Donald Trump endorsement, his subsequent White House adventures and some of his more infamous misadventures, like sitting on a beach he had ordered closed and being caught by a photographer’s long-lens camera.

So, with 68 days left in his governorship and the interview winding down, he urged me to forget all that and focus on the good things Continue reading “Regrets? Chris Christie Has a Few.”

Kushner still waiting on permanent security clearance

Jared Kushner is still working with an interim security clearance 10 months into President Donald Trump’s administration, according to White House officials and others with knowledge of the matter.

The top adviser and Trump son-in-law, who joined Trump for part of his Asia tour this month, has continued to work on sensitive foreign policy issues and other matters while his application for a permanent clearance remains under review, these people said.

On Thursday, Sens. Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein—who jointly oversee the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Russia probe—requested documents from Kushner including “transcripts from other committee interviews, additional documents from previous requests, communications with (former national security adviser) Michael Flynn and documents related to his security clearance.”

Grassley and Feinstein said Kushner, citing confidentiality, declined to produce documents connected to his security clearance application, which includes a form that has been repeatedly amended to list Kushner’s contacts with foreign officials.

Continue reading “Kushner still waiting on permanent security clearance”

Inside the ‘Lewandowski embassy’

Corey Lewandowski has a new base of operations in Washington: an elegant, century-old rowhouse that resembles his own version of the “Breitbart Embassy.”

Just as Steve Bannon does at the rowhouse a dozen blocks away where Breitbart News sometimes holds meetings and hosts parties, Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, stays upstairs when he’s in town, according to five people familiar with the arrangement. The lower floors serve as his workspace, as well as the offices of Turnberry Solutions, a lobbying firm started this summer by another Trump campaign veteran.

Lewandowski has said he has nothing to do with Turnberry, but the firm lists the rowhouse’s address on all of its lobbying disclosures, and a Turnberry nondisclosure agreement recently sat on a desk in the front room. Signs of Lewandowski’s presence also abounded when a POLITICO reporter visited the house last month, including framed copies of articles about Lewandowski Continue reading “Inside the ‘Lewandowski embassy’”

Trump faces wrenching call on Moore

President Donald Trump is returning from Asia to a political maelstrom in the United States — one that could force him to decide whether to push out Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a Hail Mary attempt to save the Alabama Senate seat Sessions once held.

Trump spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from Asia last week and the Senate leader made an urgent plea: Please help push Moore out of the contest. On Monday, as a new female accuser emerged, the Republican leader discussed the Alabama situation with White House chief of staff John Kelly and Vice President Mike Pence. The conversation centered on tax reform, but the Republican leader also proposed a dramatic idea: that Sessions run as a write-in candidate or be appointed to the seat he held for two decades.

White House officials plan to convene a meeting to talk through their options soon, and Trump Continue reading “Trump faces wrenching call on Moore”

GOP megadonor Adelson publicly breaks with Bannon

Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, the GOP’s most prominent mega-donor, is publicly breaking with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon over his efforts to oust Republican incumbents in 2018.

“The Adelsons will not be supporting Steve Bannon’s efforts,” said Andy Abboud, an Adelson spokesman. “They are supporting Mitch McConnell 100 percent. For anyone to infer anything otherwise is wrong.”

The public pronouncement comes about a month after Adelson met with Bannon in Washington.

Bannon has been huddling with major Republican contributors across the country in hopes of building a war chest to take on party lawmakers. Bannon aides said they were not surprised by the news, given that Adelson has a long track record of generously backing establishment causes. They said they never expected Adelson’s financial support.

The former White House chief strategist appeared before the Zionist Organization of America annual dinner on Sunday night. ZOA is Continue reading “GOP megadonor Adelson publicly breaks with Bannon”

White House bracing for another staff shakeup

The White House is bracing for another staff shakeup upon President Donald Trump’s return from Asia, with senior-level staff moves that could further consolidate chief of staff John Kelly’s power in the West Wing.

Deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn — a former top Jeff Sessions Senate aide who played a central role during the presidential transition — is expected to be reassigned to the Commerce Department or another federal agency, according to multiple administration officials and outside advisers familiar with plans for the staff change.

Dearborn’s portfolio over the past year has covered high-level assignments, including helping to organize the president’s schedule. But that job has since been passed to another deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin, while Dearborn has become increasingly marginalized internally since Kelly’s arrival in late July.

Dearborn’s departure would make him the latest in a growing conga line of West Wing aides who started on Continue reading “White House bracing for another staff shakeup”

Senate tax bill expected to delay corporate rate cut until 2019

The Senate tax reform bill expected today will likely include a delay in the implementation of a lower corporate tax rate until 2019, two people familiar with the mater said.

The change from the House bill, which would institute a 20 percent corporate rate in 2018, is likely to upset President Donald Trump and the White House, which wants the change to happen as soon as possible.

The effort to reduce the corporate rate is the centerpiece of the GOP plan to lower tax rates and spur faster economic growth. But the Senate is trying to limit the revenue impact to allow a bill to pass with just 51 votes and avoid a possible Democratic filibuster.