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President communes with his now-BFFs from the GOP Congress

President Donald Trump speaks at a meeting of

President Donald Trump speaks at a meeting of Republican lawmakers in White Sulphur Springs, W.V., on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. Credit: Getty Images / Alex Wong

Absolutely fabulist

President Donald Trump returned to fevered self-promotion Thursday in an appearance at a GOP lawmaker retreat in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) became the focus of his oddest claim.

“Orrin is — I love listening to him speak. ... He actually once said I’m the greatest president in the history of our country and I said, ‘Does that include Lincoln and Washington?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘I love this guy.’ ”

Hatch, as expected, confirmed saying no such thing, with a spokesman offering only that the senator “has said that he would like to work with the president to make this the greatest presidency in history for the American people.”

Trump said he has “kept far more promises than we’ve promised.”

Carson’s ‘home’ team

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson had his son help organize an agency “listening tour” in Baltimore despite warnings about ethics rules, The Washington Post reported.

Ben Carson Jr. and his wife were inviting people with whom they potentially had business dealings, according to documents cited in the story. HUD’s deputy general counsel expressed concern in a memo that the secretary “may be using his position for his son’s private gain.”

The memo is their M.O.

Trump, by late Thursday, cleared the way for release of a memo crafted by congressional Republicans that’s expected to question the FBI surveillance of Russia-connected campaign operative Carter Page.

A party-line fight ensued in recent days, intensified by intelligence officials warning that the release could jeopardize national security and highlighting Trump’s lack of desired executive control over his Justice Department. Release was finally expected on Friday.

Falling short again

Rather than tell it like it is, Trump once again tweeted it as he’d like it to be.

Back on Twitter Thursday after a few days’ hiatus, the president falsely claimed that the television audience for his State of the Union address was “the largest in history.”

In the real world, the 45.5 million households that tuned in on Tuesday fell short of President George W. Bush’s speeches in 2002 and 2003 — 51.8 million and 62 million, respectively — and President Barack Obama’s 2010 total of 48 million.

Nobody at the White House was explaining the thought process behind the ratings-vexed Trump’s fake news.

What else is happening

  • Michelle Obama told TV host Ellen DeGeneres: “We have to be an openhearted nation and that’s who we are. ... So, let’s just keep living our lives like that every single day and forget what they’re saying in Washington.”
  • Veteran congressional members are fleeing due to “dysfunction, perilous electoral prospects, term limits on committee chairmen and an increasingly rightward tilting party with a president widely seen as erratic at its helm,” as per one analysis.
  • Trump’s immigration framework as described this week got very mixed reviews at the conclave of his fellow Republicans.
  • For a second year, Trump’s infrastructure plan details are still awaited.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be stripped of authority in lending discrimination cases.

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