Loose lips are his medi-sin
Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have this in common: They’ll go to extremes to guard their medical privacy.
Kim brought a secure private toilet to and from his recent summit with South Korea’s leader so no one could glean intel about his health from what he left behind.
For Trump, it meant seizing his records from the Manhattan office of Dr. Harold Bornstein, his private physician for 35 years, after he blabbed to The New York Times that the president takes Propecia, a hair-growth drug.
Bornstein told NBC News that on Feb. 3, 2017 — two days after the story appeared — Trump’s longtime bodyguard, Keith Schiller, showed up, along with Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten and another “large man.”
Bornstein — who famously wrote a letter for Trump in 2015 declaring he would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency” — called it a “raid.”
No, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at her briefing — it was just “standard operating procedure for a new president.” Which doesn’t explain why it occurred two weeks after Trump took office, why a Trump business lawyer was involved or why typical protocols for transferring such records seem to have been ignored.
Bornstein said he is telling his story now to celebrate the downfall of Dr. Ronny Jackson, who became Trump’s White House physician. The incident left him feeling violated, “frightened and sad,” he said. Sounds like he wants to start an #MDtoo movement.
Separately, Bornstein came clean to CNN on why the language in his letter, which extolled Trump’s “physical strength and stamina” as “extraordinary,” was so over the top and, well, Trumpian.
Trump “dictated the letter and I would tell him what he couldn’t put in there,” Bornstein said. He said Trump read out the language while the doctor and his wife were driving across Central Park.
Previously, Bornstein has insisted he wrote it. Now, he calls it “black humor.”
Eek! A leak!
Trump had his “witch hunt” tweets ready following the news of more than 40 questions that special counsel Robert Mueller wants to put to him, reports Newsday’s Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
“No questions on Collusion. Oh, I see ... you have a made up, phony crime, Collusion, that never existed, and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice!”
Actually, the list published by The New York Times does include such questions as whether Trump had knowledge about “any outreach by his presidential campaign ... to Russia about possible assistance to the campaign.” There are obstruction-of-justice inquiries, too.
Trump also called it “disgraceful” that the questions “were ‘leaked’ to the media,” but he didn’t suggest who leaked it. The Times said the list was compiled by Trump’s lawyers from questions read to them by Mueller’s office. That document “was provided to The Times by a person outside Mr. Trump’s legal team,” the report said.
Janison: Truth or consequences
Trump gets away on an everyday basis with dodgy allegations, fact-challenged stories and conspiracy theories. That makes it hard to imagine he will suddenly reply with candid accuracy to factual questions posed by Mueller.
The queries that Mueller put to team Trump were mostly predictable, and give the president the advantage of being able to prepare — and even crowdsource — his answers if he chooses. Yet it still looks like a minefield for the president, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
He’ll take his Mueller time
Trump recently brought Rudy Giuliani onto his legal team to try to pressure Mueller to wrap up his investigation. It doesn’t seem to be working.
Mueller’s lawyers said in federal court in Washington they want two more months before a sentencing hearing for Michael Flynn, the fired national security adviser-turned-cooperating witness, “due to the status of the special counsel’s investigation.”
Politico writes former prosecutors and Justice Department lawyers find it notable that Mueller hasn’t yet summoned Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who was deeply involved in the campaign. They see it as a “don’t poke the bear until you have to” strategy.
Rosenstein to Hill GOP: Back off
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein called out as cowards House Republican allies of Trump who have drafted articles of impeachment against him, accusing of him of political bias in the investigations he oversees.
“I can tell you there have been people who have been making threats privately and publicly against me for quite some time, and I think they should understand by now, the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted,” Rosenstein said.
The drafters of impeachment papers “can’t even resist leaking their own drafts” and lack “the courage to put their name on it,” said the No. 2 Justice Department official, who has also been a frequent Twitter target of Trump.
They don’t get tense
Sloppy language, misspellings, botched titles, factual errors and bad grammar have been endemic in communications from the Trump White House. In one notorious case, the official schedule misspelled British Prime Minister Theresa May’s name as Teresa May — which happened to be the name of a porn actress in her country.
A goof on Monday night caused international consternation — a statement from Sanders that “Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program.” The “has” was eventually corrected to the past tense — “had” — as in: “Iran had a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program.”
Sanders’ retort Tuesday: The Iran deal itself was a bigger mistake than the “typo.”
What else is happening
- A lobbyist friend of EPA chief Scott Pruitt played a key role in arranging his trip to Morocco in December, which cost taxpayers more than $100,000, The Washington Post reported. The lobbyist, who went along, later won a $40,000-a-month contract from the Moroccan government.
- A story from the Trump-allied National Enquirer ripping Michael Cohen could be a sign that the president is turning against his former lawyer, CNN reported, citing a source close to Trump. Does Cohen think he was being sent a message? “What do you think?” he said.
- Cohen was hit last month with $185,000 in new warrants from New York State for unpaid taxes on his taxicab companies, bringing his total arrears to $282,000, Bloomberg News reports.
- Trump met Tuesday with the crew and passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 — piloted to a safe landing after an engine explosion blew out a window two weeks ago — and hailed their “tremendous bravery,” Newsday’s Figueroa reported. One passenger died from the initial blast.
- Shake those foggy bottoms: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meeting with his department’s employees, said he wanted to bring back their “swagger.” Morale was a wreck under Rex Tillerson.
- Trump said it’s likely a location and date for his meeting with Kim Jong Un will be announced “over the next couple of days.”