NFL caves to Trump

The National Football League will now punish teams if players kneel during the national anthem, handing a win to President Donald Trump who had demanded consequences for the mostly African-American players using the gesture to protest racism.

Players will no longer be required to be on the field during the anthem, the NFL announced on Wednesday, but those who are will be required to stand. Demonstrations such as kneeling will result in a fine against the demonstrator’s team.

“A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem,” the new policy said. The statement goes on to say that the league commissioner “will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”

The NFL’s move marks a clear culture war victory Continue reading “NFL caves to Trump”

NFL caves to Trump

The National Football League will now punish teams if players kneel during the national anthem, handing a win to President Donald Trump who had demanded consequences for the mostly African-American players using the gesture to protest racism.

Players will no longer be required to be on the field during the anthem, the NFL announced on Wednesday, but those who are will be required to stand. Demonstrations such as kneeling will result in a fine against the demonstrator’s team.

“A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem,” the new policy said. The statement goes on to say that the league commissioner “will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”

The NFL’s move marks a clear culture war victory Continue reading “NFL caves to Trump”

Trump signs an Alabama football, and drama ensues

When Cliff Sims cleared out his desk in the White House press office earlier this month, his colleagues immediately thought of the football incident – an odd and ultimately trivial episode that nonetheless attracted the attention and frustration of the chief of staff.

In April, when President Donald Trump invited members of the University of Alabama football team to the White House to celebrate their national championship win, Sims—an Alabama grad—surprised his colleagues by popping unannounced into the Oval Office, pigskin in hand, as Trump was posing for pictures with head coach Nick Saban and others.

Sims, whose title was special assistant to the president and director of White House message strategy, explained that he needed to get the ball signed as a gift for Republican Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, at the request of the university. Sims dropped the ball off with another White House staffer and left the room.

Continue reading “Trump signs an Alabama football, and drama ensues”

Trump’s judges, U.S. attorneys overwhelmingly white men

President Donald Trump’s picks for top prosecutors and judges are overwhelmingly white men, according to an analysis released by the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

The report slams Trump for what the Democrats describe as “degradation of the judicial nominations process, the lack of diversity among President Trump’s nominees, and this administration’s commitment to nominate ideological, often-unqualified candidates.”

The report found that just 8 percent of Trump’s nominees for U.S. attorney positions are women, and just 8 percent are people of color. The report found a similar, if slightly less stark, trend when it comes to judgeships: 25 percent of Trump’s district court nominees and 19 percent of his circuit court nominees are women; 8 percent of Trump’s district court nominees and 11 percent of his circuit court nominees are people of color.

The report contrasts the numbers with former President Barack Obama, who Continue reading “Trump’s judges, U.S. attorneys overwhelmingly white men”

Trump campaign veteran leaving White House communications office

Another desk is being vacated in the ever-churning White House communications department.

Cliff Sims, a special assistant to the president who oversees White House message strategy, is expected to take a position at the State Department as a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the coming weeks.

“Cliff worked on communications for Pompeo’s confirmation and did an outstanding job, which led to Secretary Pompeo offering him that position,” said a person close to Pompeo.

Sims was officially offered the post on Monday and is expected to begin as soon as possible, the source said. The White House press office did not respond to a request for comment on the personnel change.

"The State Department will greatly benefit from Cliff’s expertise," Richard Grenell, the new U.S. ambassador to Germany, said in an email.

A Trump campaign veteran, Sims founded the conservative Alabama political blog Yellowhammer News before Continue reading “Trump campaign veteran leaving White House communications office”

After a week of challenges, Trump reaches for silver linings

President Donald Trump may be historically unpopular. He may be under the shadow of a sprawling federal investigation that has already led to guilty pleas from some of his top associates. And he may be facing increasing questions about a $130,000 payment to a porn star with whom he allegedly had an extramarital affair.

But on Friday, before die-hard supporters at the National Rifle Association convention in Dallas, Trump found silver linings wherever he could: in tough questioning of the special counsel’s team by a federal judge, in praise from rapper Kanye West and, once again, in reliving his 2016 election victory.

“We have great love going on,” Trump told the crowd, which repeatedly interrupted his speech with long ovations. “We had a great time, and I think we’re doing better now than ever before.”

For Trump and his supporters, reality is not about to get in the way Continue reading “After a week of challenges, Trump reaches for silver linings”

Pence doctor resigns after Jackson debacle

Vice President Mike Pence’s physician has resigned, the latest fallout from the collapse of Ronny Jackson’s nomination for secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Dr. Jennifer Peña, who like Jackson is a military physician detailed to the White House, was among those who detailed claims of professional misconduct against Jackson to senators considering his nomination, according to a person familiar with the events.

“The Vice President’s office was informed today by the White House Medical Unit of the resignation. Physicians assigned to the Vice President report to the White House Medical Unit and thus any resignation would go entirely through the Medical Unit, not the Vice President’s office,” Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said in a statement.

Peña claimed in memos that Jackson may have violated Karen Pence’s patient privacy rights by sharing details of a medical incident involving the second lady to chief of staff John Kelly. The memos were first reported Continue reading “Pence doctor resigns after Jackson debacle”

‘He can’t just lie his way out of every single box’

Over his decades in real estate, Donald Trump was seemingly able to get away with anything, emerging from each consecutive bankruptcy and scandal ever more famous and with his brand ever more marketable.

As a candidate, he declared he could shoot someone in the middle of New York’s Fifth Avenue and not “lose any voters.”

But as president, Trump is running up against the limits of saying or doing whatever he wants.

The revelation by Rudy Giuliani that his client reimbursed his longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen for a $130,000 hush money payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels contradicted Trump’s own previous denials that he knew anything about the deal — and, despite Giuliani’s intent to tamp down concerns that the October 2016 payment violated campaign finance laws, raised a whole new set of questions about whether Trump failed to disclose a personal loan.

“As long as they believe Continue reading “‘He can’t just lie his way out of every single box’”

Spicer to talk about Comey book on Hannity show

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer is slated to appear on Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show on Friday night to rebut passages from former FBI Director James Comey’s explosive new book, a person familiar with the program schedule said.

The book, “A Higher Loyalty,”an advance copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, contains one scene with Spicer, in which Comey and three other intelligence chiefs traveled to Trump Tower in January 2017 to brief President-elect Donald Trump and his team on the intelligence community’s conclusions that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 election.

Comey writes that Trump attended the meeting with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, then-chief of staff Reince Priebus, Spicer and then-national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Comey details that after the briefing, the Trump team “had no questions about what the future Russian threat might be.”

“Nor did they ask how the United States might Continue reading “Spicer to talk about Comey book on Hannity show”

Fact-check: Comey didn’t say he reopened Clinton investigation because of poll numbers

As FBI director, James Comey reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server days before the 2016 election because of poll numbers, the White House said on Friday, repeating an assertion that doesn’t square with a passage in Comey’s new book.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders leveled several broadsides against the former bureau director at a White House briefing, responding to reporters’ questions about decisions related to the Clinton investigation by saying, “Now he claims it was based because of poll numbers.”

The comment appeared to be part of a coordinated Republican effort to undermine Comey’s reputation for integrity upon the release of his new book, “A Higher Loyalty.”

The Republican National Committee sent an email quoting a tweet from political analyst Nate Silver, who wrote: “If Comey’s decision to release the letter on Oct. 28 was influenced by his interpretation of the polls, that really ought to Continue reading “Fact-check: Comey didn’t say he reopened Clinton investigation because of poll numbers”

Trump may try to claw back as much as $60 billion from spending bill

The White House is ignoring warnings from worried Hill Republicans and moving ahead with plans to cut billions of dollars from the massive spending bill that Congress passed in late March, after President Donald Trump has spent weeks grousing about the legislation.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney — himself a former congressman — is taking the lead on developing the rollback proposal, according to eight current and former administration officials and Republicans close to the White House. The White House expects to release it around May 1, according to one administration official.

These officials anticipate the White House could propose slashing anywhere from $30 billion to $60 billion dollars from the $1.3 trillion dollar spending bill passed for this year — even as Republican lawmakers are openly asking the president not to re-open the negotiations.

“The president is frustrated with omnibus. I also know that his Continue reading “Trump may try to claw back as much as $60 billion from spending bill”

Trump vows to ‘fight back’ against Mueller probe

President Donald Trump on Wednesday pledged that he will continue to “fight back” against special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe and insisted that reports of chaos inside the White House are “fake news.”

Other Republicans are following Trump’s lead, increasing their attacks on the Department of Justice and the FBI as investigations reach deeper into the president’s inner circle. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) threatened on Tuesday night to impeach deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and FBI director Christopher Wray over what he sees as a lack of cooperation into Republicans’ investigation into possible bias at the FBI.

The increasingly fiery rhetoric is alarming other lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. A bipartisan piece of legislation to protect Mueller against a potential ousting is set to be released in the Senate on Wednesday.

The roiling controversy comes as the White House debates how to react Continue reading “Trump vows to ‘fight back’ against Mueller probe”

White House has no plan for countering Comey

Former FBI Director James Comey is about to return to the national spotlight with the release of his memoir next week — but the White House is doing little to prepare for the onslaught, according to two officials.

These officials said it’s understood within the West Wing that laying out an advance media strategy is largely a futile exercise since President Donald Trump could blow up any prepared talking points with a single tweet.

Instead, senior aides are hoping Trump’s trip to South America and subsequent summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago will provide a distraction, as well as an opportunity for the president to appear above the fray.

The nitty-gritty of preparing talking points and rapid response is being outsourced to the Republican National Committee, which also handled much of the rebuttal when Comey testified on Capitol Hill in June. There is no blitz attack planned Continue reading “White House has no plan for countering Comey”

Trump thrives in areas that lack traditional news outlets

President Donald Trump’s attacks on the mainstream media may be rooted in statistical reality: An extensive review of subscription data and election results shows that Trump outperformed the previous Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, in counties with the lowest numbers of news subscribers, but didn’t do nearly as well in areas with heavier circulation.

POLITICO’s findings — which put Trump’s escalating attacks on the media in a new context — were drawn from a comparison of election results and subscription information from the Alliance for Audited Media, an industry group that verifies print and digital circulation for advertisers. The findings cover more than 1,000 mainstream news publications in more than 2,900 counties out of 3,100 nationwide from every state except Alaska, which does not hold elections at the county level.

The results show a clear correlation between low subscription rates and Trump’s success in the 2016 election, both against Hillary Clinton Continue reading “Trump thrives in areas that lack traditional news outlets”

Trump blames Putin for backing ‘Animal Assad’

President Donald Trump on Sunday leveled his most direct criticism yet at Vladimir Putin, taking to Twitter to say the Russian president bears responsibility for a deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria, even as Trump weighs ending the U.S. presence in the war-torn country.

“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria,” Trump wrote in a pair of tweets Sunday morning. “Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price … to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!”

The tweets came after reports that a chemical attack left dozens of Syrians dead in a rebel-held town. The U.S. and other United Nations member states have called for an emergency meeting Continue reading “Trump blames Putin for backing ‘Animal Assad’”

Pence heading to Nevada to raise money for Sen. Dean Heller

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Las Vegas next week to do fundraising for Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents, as the vice president continues his intense campaigning ahead of the midterm elections.

The April 13 fundraiser costs $1,000 to attend, and $10,000 for a photo reception, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO. Pence’s office confirmed that he would be making the trip.

The trip is part of the vice president’s push to help Republicans ahead of what is shaping up to be a bruising 2018 midterm cycle. Pence already has held a mix of official and campaign events in West Virginia, North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan in recent months.

As the White House accepts that it will accomplish little legislatively between now and November, Pence’s focus is squarely on the midterms. He is intensely sought as a fundraiser, Continue reading “Pence heading to Nevada to raise money for Sen. Dean Heller”

Trump sharpens attacks against his favorite targets

President Donald Trump was unsparing in his Twitter-based attacks on Monday, calling the Justice Department and FBI an “embarrassment to our country,” slamming the news media, taking on retail giant Amazon, and blaming Democrats for a “dead” DACA program.

The outburst came as Trump returned to Washington in what is expected to be a relatively quiet week, with Congress away and few major events scheduled. Some in the White House viewed the attacks as an outgrowth of that unfilled time.

“He definitely seems to have that anxiousness that comes with boredom,” one White House official said.

Even the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, which Trump attended briefly on Monday, did not seem to brighten his mood. While there, he told reporters that Democrats missed an opportunity on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and “now people are taking advantage of DACA, and that’s a shame.”

Trump opened Continue reading “Trump sharpens attacks against his favorite targets”

Trump want ad: Fox News stars and loyal companions

Personal chemistry and Fox News panache can take you a long way with President Donald Trump.

That may have once meant handwritten notes and surprise phone calls to praise a performance. But now, for some, it means positions of power at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

A weeks-long administration shake-up, which on Wednesday saw the ouster of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, has been marked by the elevation of figures who enjoy warm personal chemistry with Trump or are regular defenders of the president on his favorite television network — or both.

“Now that he’s been in the job for over a year and has his sea legs, he feels much more confident to bring in people that he likes and that he trusts,” said Ron Bonjean, who served as a communications adviser to Trump’s transition team and helped guide Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch through confirmation Continue reading “Trump want ad: Fox News stars and loyal companions”

Trump’s governing strategy: Overpromise, underdeliver

“The final key to the way I promote is bravado,” Donald Trump wrote in his 1987 book, “The Art of the Deal.” “I play to people’s fantasies.”

What was true of Trump the flamboyant Manhattan real estate magnate is now true of Trump the president of the United States. From big, beautiful border walls to “total and complete” Muslim bans, Trump has made a habit of sweeping promises that net headlines, only to deliver more modest results.

Sometimes, it’s because Trump’s rhetoric meets the reality of policymaking or the courts. Other times, it’s because Trump is making a grand opening bid in negotiations. And often he just loses interest. But Trump’s habit of overpromising and underdelivering has created a credibility gap unknown to the presidency in the modern era.

Trump, for example, promised a “big, beautiful wall” on the campaign trail, to be financed by Mexico. But a Continue reading “Trump’s governing strategy: Overpromise, underdeliver”

Trump talked out of shoving government into a shutdown

For a few hours Friday, Washington peered over the brink.

President Donald Trump had stunned even his closest advisers earlier in the day by tweeting that he was “considering a VETO“ of a $1.3 trillion spending package.

And only after a hard press from administration officials and congressional leaders did Trump grudgingly sign the bill “as a matter of national security.“

"There are a lot of things that I’m unhappy about in this bill," he said at a news conference. "There are a lot of things that we shouldn’t have had in this bill."

Trump said he swallowed his objections because of its funding boost for national defense and the military.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chief of Staff John Kelly were key in convincing Trump not to veto the legislation, according to a source familiar with conversations between congressional leaders and the president.

Speaker Paul Ryan Continue reading “Trump talked out of shoving government into a shutdown”