Trump prepares to bypass Congress to take on Iran


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The Trump administration and its domestic political allies are laying the groundwork for a possible confrontation with Iran without the explicit consent of Congress — a public relations campaign that was already well under way before top officials accused the Islamic Republic of attacking a pair of oil tankers last week in the Gulf of Oman.

Over the past few months, senior Trump aides have made the case in public and private that the administration already has the legal authority to take military action against Iran, citing a law nearly two decades old that was originally intended to authorize the war in Afghanistan.

In the latest sign of escalating tensions, National Security Adviser John Bolton warned Iran in an interview conducted last week and published Monday, “They would be making a big mistake if they doubted the president’s resolve on this.” Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan announced on Continue reading “Trump prepares to bypass Congress to take on Iran”

In Pat Cipollone, Trump finds a lawyer he likes


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During the 21 months of Don McGahn’s stormy tenure at the White House, he would often tell colleagues, half joking: “It’s a good week if I don’t get called into the Oval.”

Pat Cipollone, McGahn’s successor as White House counsel, doesn’t engage in the same sort of gallows humor — if only because, through what allies say is good personal chemistry with his mercurial boss and critics counter is a willingness to enable his worst instincts, he’s managed to stay on the good side of a president who fondly calls him “Mr. Attorney.”

In six months on the job, Cipollone has turned the White House Counsel’s Office into a central hub of activity and made himself a constant presence in the Oval Office. A 53-year-old former corporate lawyer with an affable style, he has also made enough of an impression on Trump that the president has begun asking

Continue reading “In Pat Cipollone, Trump finds a lawyer he likes”

Trump judicial nominee withdraws amid GOP opposition


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Michael Bogren, a Trump judicial nominee, is withdrawing from consideration amid a Republican backlash, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

Bogren, who was nominated to the District Court for the Western District of Michigan, faced growing opposition from Republican senators. Three Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee — Josh Hawley of Missouri, Ted Cruz of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina — said they would oppose his nomination and more were expected to emerge. He also faced criticism from conservative advocacy groups like the Judicial Crisis Network, Heritage Action for America, and Conservative Action Project.

Bogren’s withdrawal is a rare and embarrassing setback for the White House, which has had little trouble getting the GOP-controlled Senate to confirm President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees.

Bogren and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At issue was a brief Bogren signed off on while Continue reading “Trump judicial nominee withdraws amid GOP opposition”

Mexico crisis shows the limits of Trump’s brinksmanship


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You might say it’s The Art of the Deal.

First, spark a crisis by threatening harsh consequences if hazy, unspecified demands aren’t met.

Then, torque up the suspense as an artificial deadline approaches, while nervous observers warn of the dire consequences of going over the cliff.

And finally, cut a vague, imperfect or constitutionally questionable deal at the last minute, claiming victory and savaging the critics.

This is the pattern, well-worn by now, of President Donald Trump’s negotiations with a host of adversaries, real or perceived — and it’s getting eerily familiar in Washington.

This past week, Trump’s threat was to impose a series of escalating tariffs on Mexican goods entering the United States, and his demand was that Mexico curb a surge of migrants coming largely from Central America.

But it might as well have been the government shutdown — the result of Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion Continue reading “Mexico crisis shows the limits of Trump’s brinksmanship”

Republicans ready to quash Trump immigration pick


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Ken Cuccinelli has spent years attacking Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans. Now, it’s time for payback.

President Donald Trump wants Cuccinelli, who most recently led the anti-establishment Senate Conservatives Fund, to be director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. But there may be nobody in Washington whom McConnell and his allies would take more pleasure in defeating, and the bottom line is Cuccinelli has little chance of getting approved for the job, Republican senators say.

“He’s spent a fair amount of his career attacking Republicans in the Senate, so it strikes me as an odd position for him to put himself in to seek Senate confirmation,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who ran the GOP’s campaign arm for two election cycles. “It’s unlikely he’s going to be confirmed if he is nominated.”

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the GOP’s chief vote-counter, called the bid “a longshot,” Continue reading “Republicans ready to quash Trump immigration pick”

Republicans ready to quash Trump immigration pick


This post is by Eliana Johnson from Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories


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Ken Cuccinelli has spent years attacking Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans. Now, it’s time for payback.

President Donald Trump wants Cuccinelli, who most recently led the anti-establishment Senate Conservatives Fund, to be director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. But there may be nobody in Washington whom McConnell and his allies would take more pleasure in defeating, and the bottom line is Cuccinelli has little chance of getting approved for the job, Republican senators say.

“He’s spent a fair amount of his career attacking Republicans in the Senate, so it strikes me as an odd position for him to put himself in to seek Senate confirmation,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who ran the GOP’s campaign arm for two election cycles. “It’s unlikely he’s going to be confirmed if he is nominated.”

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the GOP’s chief vote-counter, called the bid “a longshot,” Continue reading “Republicans ready to quash Trump immigration pick”

Nikki Haley begins experiment in political life after Trump


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Of the many senior officials to leave the Trump administration over the past two years, few have exited on better terms than former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley. Before her departure last December, President Donald Trump feted Haley with an Oval Office photo-op and declared that his U.N. diplomat “has been very special to me.”

And while many former Trump officials, from former White House chief of staff John Kelly to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, have kept a low profile in the private sector, Haley is charting a different course. She is emerging as a fundraiser and surrogate for 2020 Republican Senate candidates, and next month will begin zigzagging across the country to campaign for a trio of GOP senators.

By remaining a loyal Republican soldier on good terms with the president — a forthcoming memoir is not expected to Continue reading “Nikki Haley begins experiment in political life after Trump”

Mueller remarks put Barr back into harsh spotlight


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Moments after Robert Mueller gave brief concluding remarks about his Russia probe on Wednesday, the former Republican New Jersey governor and sometime Trump adviser Chris Christie declared that the special counsel’s statement “definitely contradicts what the attorney general said when he summarized Mueller’s report.”

Christie wasn’t alone. The Democratic House Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff called Mueller’s statement a “direct rebuke of Attorney General William Barr,” arguing that Barr had “deliberately and repeatedly misled the American people.” And while she didn’t mention Barr by name, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was “greatly disappointed with the Department of Justice for their misrepresentation of the Mueller report.”

Even though Mueller’s remarks focused on his findings about Russian election meddling and whether President Donald Trump obstructed his probe, it was clear that he had also thrown the klieg lights back on to his old friend Barr — rekindling anger Continue reading “Mueller remarks put Barr back into harsh spotlight”

Trump administration pressure on Iran strains Bolton-Pompeo relationship


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Rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran are also magnifying strains among President Donald Trump’s top foreign policy advisers: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton.

Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the mullahs in Tehran has exacerbated fissures between the two men over the tight control Bolton has tried to exert over the national security decision-making process — and introduced new ones over the direction of U.S. policy.

Pompeo and his special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, have indicated that the administration’s goal in squeezing Iran is renewed negotiations with Iranian regime, according to two sources familiar with their thinking — something Trump has expressed a desire to do. But Bolton is a deep skeptic of the value of negotiating with adversaries who, before joining the White House, called publicly for regime change in Tehran.

While Pompeo has worked to carry out the president’s Continue reading “Trump administration pressure on Iran strains Bolton-Pompeo relationship”

‘Get Scavino in here’: Trump’s Twitter guru is the ultimate insider


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Shortly after President Donald Trump announced plans to yank U.S. troops out of Syria last December, a group of lawmakers came to the White House to talk him out of the idea, which critics called a threat to national security.

Trump responded by calling in the man who oversees his Twitter account.

“Get Dan Scavino in here,” Trump called out in the middle of the meeting earlier this year. In walked a man in his early forties with close-cropped brown hair.

“Tell them how popular my policy is,” Trump instructed Scavino, who, according to two people with knowledge of the exchange, proceeded to walk lawmakers through the positive reaction he had picked up on social media about Trump’s Syria decision.

The sudden pivot from geostrategy to retweets and likes surprised the lawmakers. It was a remarkable moment given that not long ago Scavino was managing Trump’s golf club. But Continue reading “‘Get Scavino in here’: Trump’s Twitter guru is the ultimate insider”

Trump to unveil new immigration plan on Thursday


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President Donald Trump on Thursday will unveil a new immigration proposal designed to move the United States to a system that would admit immigrants based on merit and not family ties, as well as boost security at the southern border.

But there are already signs the plan — Trump’s second one on immigration in two years — is unlikely to get the support from a Congress that has wrestled with the issue for years. The plan, drafted largely by the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, would not change the overall number of immigrants allowed in the United States legally or address the illegal immigration population.

On Thursday afternoon at the White House, Trump will deliver the broad outlines of a offering, which is aimed in part at countering the perception that he is anti-immigrant.

“During the last couple years I’ve heard a lot of people try to explain Continue reading “Trump to unveil new immigration plan on Thursday”

Trump to unveil new immigration plan on Thursday


This post is by Eliana Johnson from Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post





President Donald Trump on Thursday will unveil a new immigration proposal designed to move the United States to a system that would admit immigrants based on merit and not family ties, as well as boost security at the southern border.

But there are already signs the plan — Trump’s second one on immigration in two years — is unlikely to get the support from a Congress that has wrestled with the issue for years. The plan, drafted largely by the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, would not change the overall number of immigrants allowed in the United States legally or address the illegal immigration population.

On Thursday afternoon at the White House, Trump will deliver the broad outlines of a offering, which is aimed in part at countering the perception that he is anti-immigrant.

“During the last couple years I’ve heard a lot of people try to explain Continue reading “Trump to unveil new immigration plan on Thursday”

White House could delay auto tariff decision


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President Donald Trump is expected to delay a decision to impose tariffs on autos and auto parts, according to a source with direct knowledge of the issue.

Administration officials fear that imposing duties on autos would hurt talks with China as well as potential trade negotiations with Japan and the European Union, the source said Wednesday.

The White House also worries that such tariffs could derail efforts to get the new NAFTA deal passed in Congress, as many lawmakers who have foreign automakers’ plants in their districts have called on the president to not impose such tariffs.

“Trump and the White House have realized that with tariffs, the way in is easy but the way out is hard,” said one former senior administration official.

The White House declined to confirm reports that the tariff decision would be delayed. Bloomberg first reported, citing administration officials, that Trump could put off Continue reading “White House could delay auto tariff decision”

Inside Jared Kushner’s two missions impossible


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As President Donald Trump launches his re-election bid, his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, is waging dual campaigns of his own, preparing to sell ambitious fixes to two of the most stubborn problems of the past 50 years.

With a headlong plunge into immigration reform and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Kushner is presenting his political inexperience as an asset, telling lawmakers he is free of preconceived notions that stymied previous attempts. His air of breezy self-assurance in the private meetings he is conducting to tease his plans at times astounds the battle-scarred veterans of past such efforts. Critics complain, too, that his briefings are often woefully short on detail.

Kushner has been talking up his immigration plan with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation, which detractors have derided as laughably simplistic. In the version he debuted to lawmakers on Tuesday, the slides showed circles placed next to each other representing Continue reading “Inside Jared Kushner’s two missions impossible”

Trump’s new nickname for Pete Buttigieg: ‘Alfred E. Neuman’


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President Donald Trump dismissed Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Friday in a single sentence.

“Alfred E. Neuman cannot become president of the United States,” the president told POLITICO in a 15-minute telephone interview, when asked what he thought of the South Bend, Ind., mayor. Neuman’s freckled, gap-toothed face and oversized ears have for decades graced the cover of the humor magazine Mad.

Buttigieg, the first openly gay major presidential candidate, has rocketed up the ranks of Democrats hoping to defeat Trump in 2020 and has basked in glowing press coverage and magazine cover stories in recent weeks.

Trump, who made his remarks in an interview that stemmed from POLITICO’s inquiries for a separate story, has taken a few shots at Buttigieg as he’s risen in the polls, including at his recent rally in Florida.

"We have a young man, Buttigieg. Boot-edge-edge. They say ‘edge-edge,’” Trump said, enunciating the Continue reading “Trump’s new nickname for Pete Buttigieg: ‘Alfred E. Neuman’”

Trump: Biden 2020 reminds me of Trump 2016


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President Donald Trump sees parallels between Joe Biden’s early surge to the front of the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential field and his own runaway success in the 2016 Republican primaries.

In an interview with POLITICO on Friday afternoon, Trump cast the former vice president as a clear, if flawed, front runner, noting that Biden had recently flubbed the name of Britain’s prime minister. And he compared Biden’s early success in a heavily crowded field to his own entry and rapid ascent in the 2016 Republican campaign.

“I look at it like my race” in 2016, the president said in a phone interview, predicting that Biden will remain at the head of the pack of 22 Democrats running for president.

Recalling his June 2015 campaign announcement at Trump Tower, he boasted, “If you remember, from the day I came down the escalator until the end of the primaries, I was Continue reading “Trump: Biden 2020 reminds me of Trump 2016”

Trump campaign mum on foreign meddling policy


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FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday said that if any 2020 presidential campaign is contacted by a foreign agent, it’s “something the FBI would want to know about.”

But would President Donald Trump’s campaign alert the feds if approached by a potential election meddler? It won’t say.

The Trump campaign did not respond to numerous inquiries about whether it has implemented a policy about foreign interference — including the use of information stolen or hacked by a foreign power and whether aides must formally report outreach from foreigners. Several Democratic campaigns, by contrast, have announced policies on the subject.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report documented “numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign,” and argued that Trump’s campaign “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.” But Mueller found no criminal conspiracy between the campaign and the Kremlin, and Trump Continue reading “Trump campaign mum on foreign meddling policy”

Surprised advisers downplay Trump’s tweet about Mueller testimony


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When President Donald Trump contradicted his own attorney general and declared on Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller “should not testify” before Congress, he caught his inner circle by surprise.

A day later, more than a dozen people from Trump’s close orbit downplayed in interviews the prospect that the president’s weekend tweet about Mueller should be taken as an official warning.

Trump does not actually intend to assert executive privilege and block the special counsel from testifying as soon as next week, they said, before the one House committee with the power to begin impeachment proceedings against the president.

Like so many other controversies ignited by Trump’s social media feed, this one may be more bluster than live-wire legal showdown.

“He is not signaling anything other than, as an innocent man so found by Mr. Mueller, he just wants this over. He’d like to govern. That’s all he’s saying,” Joe Continue reading “Surprised advisers downplay Trump’s tweet about Mueller testimony”

How Bill Barr became a GOP heartthrob


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Bill Barr didn’t want to work for President Donald Trump.

At age 68 and semi-retired for a decade, the attorney general resisted three efforts over two years to recruit him into Trump’s fold. When approached in late 2018 for his current job, Barr recommended other candidates instead. Anybody but him. Only when the White House came back yet again did he relent.

Soon after Trump finally landed him, it didn’t seem to be a love affair in the making. At Barr’s Senate confirmation hearings in January, Barr talked at length about a decades-long friendship with special counsel Robert Mueller, describing his investigation as “vitally important” and assuring lawmakers that ”on my watch, Bob will be allowed to finish his work.”

“Enjoy your life,” Trump told Barr at a White House press conference shortly thereafter.

Now that Barr has provided him with political cover from Mueller’s report, Trump is lavishing

Continue reading “How Bill Barr became a GOP heartthrob”

Trump orders boycott of White House Correspondents’ Dinner


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The White House on Tuesday ordered administration officials to boycott the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, an annual fundraising gala attended by the White House press corps and scheduled for this Saturday.

The message was conveyed to agency chiefs of staff on Tuesday morning by White House Cabinet Secretary Bill McGinley, who indicated that the order was coming from the president himself. Trump has already announced he will be holding a political rally in Green Bay, Wisc., Saturday night, calling the dinner “so boring and so negative.”

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine