Giuliani claims Mueller team won’t indict president

Rudy Giuliani said Thursday that he has been told by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team that it does not have the authority to indict President Donald Trump, continuing the pressure campaign Trump’s allies and legal team have been pushing for months.

“I asked him specifically if they realized or acknowledged they didn’t have the power to indict. Both under the justice department memo, which gives them their power, in essence confines their power, and under the constitution,” Trump attorney Giuliani told Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” “One of his assistants said they acknowledged they had to be bound by justice department policies. Then the next day or the day after, they clarified it for [Trump attorney] Jay Sekulow who was with me at the meeting that they didn’t have the power to indict.”

Giuliani added that Mueller’s team told him the investigation would eventually produce a “memorandum and Continue reading “Giuliani claims Mueller team won’t indict president”

Trump rails against Russia probe on anniversary of Mueller investigation

President Donald Trump on Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment by labeling the probe the “greatest witch hunt in American history,” declaring his innocence and recycling his claim that Democrats are the party guilty of wrongdoing.

“Congratulations America, we are now into the second year of the greatest Witch Hunt in American History…and there is still No Collusion and No Obstruction,” the president wrote online. “The only Collusion was that done by Democrats who were unable to win an Election despite the spending of far more money!”

Trump’s characterization of the Mueller probe, charged with investigating allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, is one he has made loudly and often. His administration has called often for the investigation to be brought to an end and argued that it has proven fruitless thus far.

But despite claims from the Continue reading “Trump rails against Russia probe on anniversary of Mueller investigation”

Ethics office says Trump should have disclosed Stormy Daniels payment

The Office of Government Ethics on Wednesday said a payment made in 2016 by President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney to an adult film actress should have been included on the president’s financial disclosure form that was filed last year.

Trump’s most recent disclosure form, a 92-page document released Wednesday by the OGE, showed the president reimbursed attorney Michael Cohen in 2017 for his $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with Trump.

"In the interest of transparency, while not required to be disclosed as ‘reportable liabilities’ on Part 8, in 2016 expenses were incurred by one of Donald J. Trump’s attorneys, Michael Cohen," reads a footnote on page 45 of Trump’s form for the 2017 calendar year. "Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen in 2017."

Despite the president’s characterization of his disclosure related to Cohen’s Continue reading “Ethics office says Trump should have disclosed Stormy Daniels payment”

Novartis general counsel resigns over Michael Cohen payment

The general counsel for Swiss drugmaker Novartis has resigned, the company announced Wednesday, over his role in a consulting contract with President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney that has wrapped the company up in U.S. federal investigations.

Novartis’ CEO has previously acknowledged that “we made a mistake” in paying Trump attorney Michael Cohen $1.2 million as part of a yearlong contract aimed at understanding how the president might approach healthcare policy in the U.S. On Wednesday, Novartis general counsel Felix Ehrat said he would resign, effective next month.

"Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error,” Ehrat said in a statement released by the company. “As a co-signatory with our former CEO, I take personal responsibility to bring the public debate on this matter to an end."

Novartis’s payment to Cohen was funneled through Essential Consultants, an LLC controlled by Cohen through which Continue reading “Novartis general counsel resigns over Michael Cohen payment”

Nikki Haley blames Hamas for violence in Gaza

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Tuesday that the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was not to blame for deadly violence that erupted along the Gaza border, casting blame instead on Hamas and its backers in the Iranian government.

Addressing the UN Security Council, Haley said Hamas, the group that controls Gaza and is labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S., was behind the clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces that left more than 60 people dead. She bemoaned the “double standard” she said exists at the UN under which Israel shoulders the blame for violence she said was spurred by Hamas and Iran.

“Let’s remember that the Hamas terrorist organization has been inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move our embassy,” Haley said. “This is what is endangering the Continue reading “Nikki Haley blames Hamas for violence in Gaza”

Conway: Expect staff changes in wake of McCain leak

Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said Monday that she expects personnel changes in the White House in the wake of President Donald Trump’s latest outburst against leaks that have proven damaging to his administration.

The White House has dealt in recent days with fallout from a leaked remark from communications staffer Kelly Sadler, who responded to Sen. John McCain’s opposition to the confirmation of Gina Haspel to be CIA director by saying it “doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.” McCain (R-Ariz.) has been away from the Senate for weeks as he receives treatment for brain cancer.

Sadler reportedly called McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, after the news of the comment surfaced but has yet to make a public apology. White House spokespeople have not denied that Sadler made the remark but have declined to comment on it other than to say it is being dealt with internally.

On Monday, Continue reading “Conway: Expect staff changes in wake of McCain leak”

Trump calls for peace as deadly protests flare up in Gaza

President Donald Trump expressed hope for peace Monday in recorded remarks played at the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, an occasion marked in Gaza by protests and the use of deadly force by Israeli forces.

“We extend a hand in friendship to Israel, the Palestinians, and to all of their neighbors. May there be peace,” the president said in his video remarks. “May God bless this embassy. May God bless all who serve there. And may God bless the United States of America.”

The pomp and circumstance of Monday’s ceremony played out even as protesters at a Hamas-led demonstration in Gaza hurled projectiles at Israeli forces and lit tires on fire, choking the air with thick black smoke. At least 41 protesters were killed Monday, according to the Associated Press, and at least 772 injured. Coverage of the embassy event was juxtaposed on CNN and Continue reading “Trump calls for peace as deadly protests flare up in Gaza”

Mitt Romney calls pastor who will deliver blessing at Jerusalem embassy opening ‘religious bigot’

The evangelical pastor delivering a blessing at Monday’s opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem is a “religious bigot” who is unworthy of such an honorary role, Utah Senate hopeful Mitt Romney wrote on Twitter Sunday night.

“Robert Jeffress says ‘you can’t be saved by being a Jew,’ and ‘Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell,’” Romney, who is Mormon, wrote on Twitter Sunday night. “He’s said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem.”

Dallas pastor Jeffress, who leads Dallas’s First Baptist Church and is also a member of President Donald Trump’s evangelical adviser board, is well-known for sharply critical statements on faiths other than his own, including labeling the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints a “cult.”

Jeffress, on his church’s website, has also written that Continue reading “Mitt Romney calls pastor who will deliver blessing at Jerusalem embassy opening ‘religious bigot’”

Cindy McCain calls out White House aide who made snide remark about husband’s cancer

Sen. John McCain’s wife chastised a White House aide Thursday night who made a dismissive remark about the senator’s cancer diagnosis during an internal meeting.

“May I remind you my husband has a family, 7 children and 5 grandchildren,” Cindy McCain wrote on Twitter Thursday evening.

McCain (R-Ariz.), the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, released a statement Thursday announcing his opposition to the confirmation of Gina Haspel to be CIA director, writing that her “refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying.” Haspel’s record at the CIA, chiefly her supervision of a CIA “black site” prison where terrorism suspects were waterboarded, has proven controversial in her confirmation hearings.

Opposition to Haspel by McCain, who was himself tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, prompted White House communications aide Kelly Sadler to remark during a Thursday meeting that “it doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.” Sadler called McCain’s daughter, Continue reading “Cindy McCain calls out White House aide who made snide remark about husband’s cancer”

Kelly says he never seriously considered leaving the White House

White House chief of staff John Kelly told NPR in an interview that aired Friday that he has never considered leaving his position, despite frequent speculation to the contrary, and that his only regret is not taking on the key administration role earlier.

"In retrospect, I wish I had been here from day one," Kelly said in his interview. "I think in some cases in terms of staffing or serving the president that first six months was pretty chaotic and there were some people hired that maybe shouldn’t have."

"It’s not that things were a disaster that first six months but I believe they could have been better," the chief of staff continued.

Kelly conceded that his job comes with “times of great frustration” mostly stemming from reporting about the administration that he views as unfair treatment of himself and “others that I think the world of.”

President Continue reading “Kelly says he never seriously considered leaving the White House”

Pence calls Cohen’s scrutinized business relationships a ‘private matter’

Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that he had no knowledge of business relationships President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney developed after Trump’s election and characterized the issues as a "private matter."

Michael Cohen, an increasingly central figure in the swirling controversy surrounding the president, has come under fire this week amid allegations that he made millions off of business relationships with companies that included AT&T, Novartis and Columbus Nova, a company linked to Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch sanctioned by the U.S. last month. Both AT&T and Novartis have said they were questioned by investigators from the office of special counsel Robert Mueller about their respective payments to Cohen.

“Well, what I can say is that that private matter is something I don’t have any knowledge about,” Pence told NBC News’s Andrea Mitchell. “I think the White House issued a statement saying the same.”

The allegations Continue reading “Pence calls Cohen’s scrutinized business relationships a ‘private matter’”

Pence on Mueller probe: ‘It’s time to wrap it up’

Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday morning that special counsel Robert Mueller should end his probe into allegations of collusion between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Russian government “in the interest of the country.”

But despite prodding from the vice president and others in Trump’s orbit, Mueller’s probe, approaching its one-year anniversary, has shown no outward signs of winding down amid significant public speculation on whether the president will sit for an interview with the special counsel’s team.

“You know, our administration has been fully cooperating with the special counsel and we’ll continue to. What I think is that it’s been about a year since this investigation began,” the vice president told NBC News’s Andrea Mitchell. “We’ve fully cooperated in it and in the interest of the country, I think it’s time to wrap it up. And I would very respectfully encourage the special counsel and his Continue reading “Pence on Mueller probe: ‘It’s time to wrap it up’”

Trump: Summit with Kim won’t be held at Korean DMZ

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that his planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will not be in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, the location he expressed a preference for last week.

Trump told reporters at the White House that the date and location of his meeting with Kim, which he has previously said has already been decided, will be released within the next three days.

“We’re just working arrangements,” the president said.

At a press conference last week, Trump suggested that the heavily fortified border that separates the Korean peninsula would be an especially symbolic location for his planned meeting with Kim, which, if it happens, would be the first known meeting of a sitting U.S. president and North Korean leader. Singapore is also under consideration as a meeting place for Trump and Kim, the president said last week.

"There’s something that I Continue reading “Trump: Summit with Kim won’t be held at Korean DMZ”

Trump announces that 3 Americans have been freed from North Korea

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has secured the release of three Americans held as prisoners in North Korea and is flying home with them, President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning.

"I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting," the president wrote. "They seem to be in good health. Also, good meeting with Kim Jong Un. Date & Place set."

The president added in a second post that he would personally meet Pompeo and the three released prisoners upon their arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, scheduled for 2 a.m. Thursday.

The release of the three men comes amid larger negotiations over a planned meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. That their release could Continue reading “Trump announces that 3 Americans have been freed from North Korea”

Trump suggests pulling credentials from ‘corrupt’ media

President Donald Trump complained Wednesday that his administration receives overwhelmingly negative coverage from network news outlets and floated the idea of pulling credentials from outlets whose reporting is deemed unfair by the White House.

Trump cited a study from the right-leaning Media Research Center that showed 91 percent of the coverage of Trump’s administration from network news outlets through the first four months of 2018 was negative. In a Wednesday morning tweet, Trump said the negative reporting about his administration is “fake.”

“The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake),” the president wrote online. “Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?”

Trump has complained often about the media and has on multiple Continue reading “Trump suggests pulling credentials from ‘corrupt’ media”

Pompeo in North Korea: ‘We have been adversaries. Now we are hopeful that we can work together.’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed hope to North Korean leaders on Wednesday that their nation will have “have all the opportunities your people so richly deserve” should efforts to denuclearize the Korean peninsula succeed.

“For decades, we have been adversaries,” Pompeo, who arrived Wednesday morning in North Korea, said, according to a Washington Post report. “Now we are hopeful that we can work together to resolve this conflict, take away threats to the world and make your country have all the opportunities your people so richly deserve.”

Pompeo’s visit to North Korea is his second in recent weeks amid preparations for a planned meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The sudden flurry of diplomatic activity between the two nations – who do not technically have diplomatic ties – marks a sharp departure from decades of chilly relations marked mostly by threats from Continue reading “Pompeo in North Korea: ‘We have been adversaries. Now we are hopeful that we can work together.’”

Trump says Pompeo headed to North Korea to prepare for Kim Jong Un summit

President Donald Trump revealed on Tuesday afternoon that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was flying to North Korea, where he will continue preparations for Trump’s planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"At this very moment, Secretary Pompeo is on his way to North Korea in preparation for my upcoming meeting with Kim Jong Un. Plans are being made, relationships are building," Trump said during remarks that were otherwise focused on his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal. "Hopefully, a deal will happen. And with the help of China, South Korea, and Japan, a future of great prosperity and security can be achieved for everyone."

Pompeo’s trip to North Korea is his second in recent months and his first since being confirmed as secretary of state. Pompeo also traveled to North Korea earlier this year, a trip that was secret at Continue reading “Trump says Pompeo headed to North Korea to prepare for Kim Jong Un summit”

Pelosi’s message to Dems who criticize her while campaigning: ‘Just win, baby’

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday she is unbothered by Democrats campaigning in swing districts by pledging not to support her for speaker.

Her message to such candidates, channeling iconic former Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis: “Just win, baby.”

Pelosi (D-Calif.), in an interview with POLITICO Playbook authors Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman, was bullish on the chances for her party to take over the majority in the House when voters go to the polls for this November’s midterm elections.

She said she was undeterred by the seemingly growing trend of Democratic candidates who have either pledged not to support her for the party’s leadership or who have been conspicuously noncommittal about their support for Pelosi.

“I think if they have to do that to win the election, I’m all for winning,” she said. “I think many of them are saying we need new leadership. I don’t Continue reading “Pelosi’s message to Dems who criticize her while campaigning: ‘Just win, baby’”

Trump to discuss trade, North Korea with Xi

President Donald Trump will speak Tuesday with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump announced on Twitter, a conversation that will follow a meeting earlier Tuesday between Xi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“I will be speaking to my friend, President Xi of China, this morning at 8:30,” Trump wrote online. “The primary topics will be Trade, where good things will happen, and North Korea, where relationships and trust are building.”

Trump’s call with Xi comes on the heels of a visit by Kim to China, his second in recent weeks. The New York Times reported Tuesday that China’s state-run broadcaster had announced a meeting between Kim and Xi in Dailan, China, a city near the North Korean border. The Chinese broadcaster reported that Kim arrived in China Monday and departed Tuesday.

The U.S. president said last week that a time and location for his planned meeting with Continue reading “Trump to discuss trade, North Korea with Xi”

Before Trump’s nuclear deal decision, Iranian president says his country could ‘face some problems’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that his nation could “face some problems” in the months ahead but will withstand a possible move by U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw from a nuclear agreement reached in 2015.

Trump will announce his plans for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal, Tuesday afternoon. He has hinted strongly that he will withdraw the U.S. from the deal, which was negotiated and signed by Iran and the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.

"It is possible that we will face some problems for two or three months, but we will pass through this,” Rouhani said Tuesday in Tehran, according to the Associated Press.

While international monitors have found Iran to be in compliance with the deal, Trump has complained that the agreement does not do enough to address other Continue reading “Before Trump’s nuclear deal decision, Iranian president says his country could ‘face some problems’”