Like talking to a wall
He won’t stop tweeting, so don’t ask him.
“The FAKE MSM [mainstream media] is working so hard trying to get me not to use Social Media. They hate that I can get the honest and unfiltered message out,” he tweeted Tuesday.
Actually, the pleas have come from White House aides, outside advisers, Republicans in Congress and supporters. He’s tuned them out.
Trump’s recent Twitter tirades -- attacking London’s mayor, second-guessing Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ strategy to get a travel ban past the courts and contradicting the Justice Department’s arguments for it -- have upset aides’ plans to regroup, The Associated Press reported.
His broader pattern of resenting and rejecting advice threatens to leave him more isolated and vulnerable.
Yahoo reports top lawyers with at least four major law firms rebuffed overtures to represent Trump in the Russia investigation -- in part over concerns that he wouldn’t listen to their counsel. (Another reason: fear he’d resist paying their bills.)
Meanwhile, press secretary Sean Spicer Tuesday put to rest -- maybe -- the question of how seriously Trump’s tweets should be taken.
“They are official statements by the president,” Spicer said.
That contradicted aides such as Sebastian Gorka, who said Monday: “It’s not policy, it’s social media. . . . Please understand the difference.”
With Justice, no peace
The relationship between Trump and Sessions has become so tense that the attorney general at one point recently even suggested he could resign, ABC News reported.
Trump blew up in March when Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation because of his own contacts with officials from Moscow. The president blames Sessions for the expansion of the criminal probe, now in the hands of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
When Spicer was asked Tuesday if the president still has confidence in his attorney general, he responded that he could not say. “I have not had that discussion with him [Trump],” Spicer said.
A twist: Terrorists hit Iran
The White House had not yet reacted early Wednesday to reports out of Tehran where gunmen and suicide bombers attacked Parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini, leaving at least 12 dead and 30 injured. ISIS, which is fighting Iran-backed Shia loyalists elsewhere, took credit.
Cleanup on aisle DJT
Trump’s most troublesome Twitter misadventure Tuesday was a boast that he had spurred Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to cut off relations with Qatar, which has been accused of funding extremists. (As has Saudi Arabia.)
The problem? Qatar is home for a U.S. air base that includes the U.S. Central Command’s forward headquarters in the Middle East, as well as 10,000 American troops. Hours after Trump’s tweet, the Pentagon and State Department issued statements of gratitude to Qatar. See Emily Ngo’s story for Newsday.
Take-away: Two bits for Qatar
Trump’s tweet bashing Qatar was a head-scratcher, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
Less than three weeks ago, Trump was pitching Qatar’s ruler on buying U.S. military equipment, and the Trumps have done business and pursued more with the Gulf nation. Ivanka Trump told a trade magazine two years ago that the Trump Hotel Collection was looking at opportunities there.
Um, what kind of luck?
Reporters got a chance to ask Trump if he had a message for James Comey ahead of the fired FBI director’s testimony Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee on how the president pressed him to drop the Russia investigation.
“I wish him luck,” Trump said.
Don’t expect a Hallmark card to follow.
Comey is expected to dispute Trump’s claim that he told him three times he was not under investigation, several reports said. The New York Times reports that after one encounter, Comey told Sessions that he didn’t want to be left alone again with Trump.
Trump also asked Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats in March if he could intervene with Comey to lay off fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, The Washington Post reports. Coats is scheduled to testify before the Senate panel Wednesday.
A pro-Trump group has bought ads to run Thursday ripping Comey as “another D.C. insider only in it for himself.”
Meanwhile Trump announced that he will name Christopher Wray, a lawyer in private practice who served in the Justice Department under President George W. Bush, to succeed Comey at the FBI.
While Trump is still looking for lawyers, Mueller is assembling a prosecution team for the special counsel’s office with decades of experience going after everything from Watergate to the mob to Enron, Politico reports.
They include Andrew Weissmann, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal fraud unit. He was also a general counsel for the FBI and a prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York for more than 25 cases involving members of the Genovese, Colombo and Gambino crime families.
Is Mexico off the hook?
Meeting with GOP congressional leaders, Trump floated the idea of covering his proposed Mexico border wall with solar panels -- and selling the electricity that would be generated to pay for the construction cost.
During his campaign, Trump insisted he would make Mexico pay for the wall.
Trump told the lawmakers that they could talk about the solar-paneled wall as long as they said it was his idea, according to Axios. But in April, The Associated Press reported the idea was part of a proposal by one of the bidders asked to propose designs.
A Trump cabinet member has gone public with her frustration at getting White House approvals to hire key staff, 4½ months after the inauguration.
“We’re not even staffed up to where we need to be or where we were, to do a lot of our regular activities,” said Linda McMahon, the Small Business administrator and former wrestling CEO.
“A lot of the staffing that I’m talking about does have to have White House approval. . . . There’s been some bottleneck, you know,” she told Politico’s Off Message podcast.
What else is happening
- Eric Trump’s annual charity golf event to fight childhood cancer began as a low-overhead affair. But from 2011 on, the Trump Organization took much bigger cuts for using its courses, and funds were diverted to other charities aligned with Trump business interests, according to Forbes Magazine.
- The second presidential son bewailed the treatment of his father by purportedly immoral critics whom he called "not even people." The remarks were elicited in a Sean Hannity interview.
- Reality Leigh Winner, the contractor accused of leaking classified information about Russian hacking of U.S. election systems, posted anti-Trump tweets in recent months, including one calling him an “orange fascist,” CNN reported.
- The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner of Virginia, told USA Today that Russian attacks on election systems were “much broader” and targeted more states than those detailed in the leaked report.
- Trump blindsided his national security team and dismayed NATO allies when he cut a commitment to mutual defense from his May 25 speech in Brussels. Politico reports these were the deleted words: “We face many threats, but I stand here before you with a clear message: The U.S. commitment to the NATO alliance and to Article 5 is unwavering.”
- Trump has a habit of promising big announcements on policies, such as a tax overhaul in “two weeks,” but many more weeks go by without them, Bloomberg News writes.
- In an aside during his meeting with GOP congressional leaders, Trump joked that son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has “become more famous than me.” He used the same line in January about Comey. Just a coincidence. So far.