‘Boss, I miss you so much’
Live and untethered on a call-in with “Fox & Friends” Thursday morning, Donald Trump pulled Michael Cohen closer and pushed him away.
Yes, Trump said, “He represents me like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal.” But Cohen only performed a “tiny, tiny little fraction” of his overall legal work and “Michael is really a businessman.”
Cohen’s more than that. He’s a lawyer/fixer/businessman who doesn’t think he’s been treated right by a client he boasted he would “take a bullet” for. The Wall Street Journal (pay site) reports Cohen was so starved for the president’s attention that he made a public show last year of dining with a prominent Trump antagonist, billionaire Mark Cuban.
Trump noticed and called Cohen to complain. The lawyer told the president he was just imploring Cuban “to respect you,” later adding: “Boss, I miss you so much. I wish I was down there with you.”
Among the jobs Cohen hoped for but didn’t get was White House chief of staff, the Journal said. It was but one episode in a history of slights and wounded feelings.
For now, Cohen has the Fifth Amendment to hold close while prosecutors consider whether to charge him — a prospect that poses peril for Trump.
Bounds of privilege
Trump’s acknowledgment that Cohen represented him in the Daniels case was a first. So was an indirect acknowledgment of the $130,000 payment.
And New York prosecutors quickly seized on his comment that Cohen did a “tiny” amount of his legal work to argue materials seized in FBI raids on Cohen “are unlikely to contain voluminous privileged documents” relating to the president.
But lawyers for Cohen and Trump scored a win when Manhattan U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood said a special master she appointed — not a government “taint team” — will take the lead in sorting out the materials to determine which should be protected as confidential by attorney-client privilege.
Executive grievance time
On Fox, Trump ranted and raged at “leaking, lying” James Comey — pronouncing the former FBI director “guilty of crimes.” Having urged criminal investigations of Comey and others he regards as enemies, Trump said, “I’m very disappointed in my Justice Department.”
The department “should be looking at that kind of stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia,” he said. The president said he has held himself back because of the “witch hunt” — meaning the Russia investigation — “but at some point, I won’t.”
A bipartisan majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a bill to protect the position of special counsel held by Robert Mueller from any Trump attempt to shut it down. But the measure is not likely to get a full Senate vote. See Newsday’s story by Tom Brune.
Janison: Every which way
Nothing is more consistent about Trump than his contradictions.
They were on display as he simultaneously boosted and said things that undercut his now-withdrawn nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary. There was more of the same — meaning differences with himself — on “Fox & Friends.” See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.
Both ways on Korea
The historic meeting between leaders of North and South Korea led the news early Friday. Trump hedged his tweets by both acting as braggart-in-chief for the results and also saying we don't know the real outcome in terms of the nuclear program.
The doctor is out
Dr. Ronny Jackson pulled his name from consideration as Trump’s secretary of Veterans Affairs Thursday morning. Whether he can hang on in his current job as White House physician over the long run is an open question.
With a previous promotion to two-star admiral still pending, Senate Democrats say the allegations of professional and personal misbehavior against Jackson still need to be investigated, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said it would be “smart” to have an inspector general review the case.
Ivanka Trump tweeted a vote of confidence for Jackson: “We are grateful for his long and distinguished service to our Nation and look forward to continuing to see his warm smile each day at the White House!” See Figueroa’s story for Newsday.
An intervention by ‘Friends’
Trump looks to Fox News Channel’s morning show as a platform and a source of inspiration for his tweets. So why not therapy too?
As Trump veered off on tangents against “fake news” CNN, co-host Brian Kilmeade tried to steer him back. “Don’t worry about them,” Kilmeade said at one point. Later: “I’m not your doctor, Mr. President, but I would — I would recommend you watch less of them.”
Trump agreed, for a fraction of a second.
“I don’t watch them at all. I watched last night.”
Sounds like one session won’t be enough. After Trump’s third “no collusion” protest, Kilmeade signaled his 30 minutes were up. “We could talk to you all day, but it looks like ... you have a million things to do,” Kilmeade said.
What else is happening
- Trump said on “Fox and Friends” that he gave his wife, Melania, a card and flowers for her 48th birthday — and that’s all. “You know, I’m very busy to be running out looking for presents,” he said. Mr. President, why not just order her something from, say, Amazon? Oh. OK. Never mind.
- Trump also denied he ever told Comey that he didn’t stay the night in Moscow when he went to the 2013 Miss Universe pageant — an alibi to the unverified story of a hotel-room encounter with two prostitutes. Comey’s version is supported by his memos from two separate meetings with Trump.
- Mike Pompeo was confirmed as secretary of state on a 57-42 Senate vote and quickly sworn in. The White House put out photos Thursday of Pompeo’s Easter weekend meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
- EPA chief Scott Pruitt told House hearings that ethics allegations against him were aimed at undermining Trump’s agenda. He admitted, contrary to past denials, that he knew about raises given two aides without White House approval. He blamed career employees for instances of excess spending.
- Trump will have a “working visit” in the United Kingdom with Prime Minister Theresa May on July 13, the White House announced.
- A Spanish farm woman has become an internet sensation because some think her face bears a startling resemblance to Trump’s. See two photos of Dolores Leis Antelo in this story from Spain’s La Voz de Galicia.