Sweet and sour sources
"When you see 'anonymous source,' stop reading the story, it is fiction!" Trump tweeted Wednesday.
Unless the anonymous sources push a story with a narrative the president likes. In that case, Trump will jump on it. He might even use it to bludgeon federal law enforcement agencies. Like he did Tuesday night, after Fox News reported on a story from the conservative Daily Caller website.
The Caller item, attributed to "two sources briefed on the matter," said a Chinese-owned company operating in the Washington area had hacked the server Hillary Clinton had used as secretary of state and obtained nearly all of her emails.
"Hillary Clinton’s Emails, many of which are Classified Information, got hacked by China," Trump tweeted. "Next move better be by the FBI & DOJ or, after all of their other missteps (Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Ohr, FISA, Dirty Dossier etc.), their credibility will be forever gone!"
But the FBI, under the leadership that Trump chose more than a year ago, reiterated Wednesday what it has said before: "The FBI has not found any evidence the servers were compromised.” A bureau spokesman declined to comment on Trump’s call for the bureau to make a “next move.”
As Trump puts on display his love-hate relationship with "anonymous sources," it's worth recalling his history. In his days as an attention-seeking New York real estate figure, he was often an anonymous source about himself, when not inventing fictitious spokesmen to talk about him to gossip writers. He cited unnamed sources in promoting his false "birther" claims about President Barack Obama.
Trump will be Trump. Or "John Barron." Or "John Miller."
McGahn to be gone
White House counsel Don McGahn, who has been in the thick of legal turmoil over the Russia investigation, will be leaving in the fall after shepherding through the expected Senate confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Trump said.
The probability of his departure had been reported before, but Trump's announcement on Twitter caught McGahn by surprise, The Washington Post and other news outlets reported.
There have been persistent reports of tensions with McGahn, who successfully pushed back against a Trump plan to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. McGahn also underwent more than 30 hours of questioning by Mueller's investigators. Trump said he had authorized the cooperation and praised McGahn, who also has captained Trump's efforts to fill judicial vacancies with conservatives, as a "really good guy."
No replacement was announced. For more on the impact of McGahn's departure, see Newsday's story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
Hear no evil
The Trump-endorsed candidate for Florida governor, Rep. Ron DeSantis, won the GOP primary Tuesday night and stirred a racially charged uproar on Wednesday morning. Warning voters that his Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum, would damage the state, DeSantis said, “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up." Gillum is black.
Democrats decried DeSantis' comment as racist. The Fox News anchor who interviewed him later came back to tell viewers, "We do not condone this language." Trump, questioned by reporters, said he had "not heard" about the remark and praised DeSantis as an "extreme talent."
Born in the U.S.A.?
At least hundreds and perhaps thousands of Hispanic people with U.S. birth certificates who live near the Mexican border are being denied passports and in some cases getting locked up by ICE for deportation proceedings because the Trump administration says their documents — and their lifelong U.S. citizenship — may have been fraudulent, The Washington Post reports.
The government alleges that from the 1950s through the 1990s, some midwives and physicians along the Texas-Mexico border provided U.S. birth certificates to babies who were actually born in Mexico. One midwife told the Post she provided fake documents in two cases, but also helped deliver 600 babies in South Texas, many of them now being denied passports.
One man — a U.S. Army veteran, former Border Patrol cadet and now a state prison guard — said he received a letter from the State Department saying it didn't believe he was a citizen. Asked for documents such as evidence of his mother's prenatal care, a baptismal certificate and rental agreements from when he was a baby, he found some, but was still refused a passport renewal.
Friendly warning to Kim Jong Un
As nuclear negotiations with North Korea keep sputtering, a White House statement offered Kim Jong Un some kind words — the president believes that his relationship with Kim Jong Un is "a very good and warm one" — but also a warning: that suspended U.S.-South Korea military exercises could be resumed "instantly."
If Trump "so chooses. If he does, they will be far bigger than ever before," the statement said.
A series of Trump tweets blamed China for the lack of progress because of tensions in U.S.-Chinese relations over trade.
What else is happening:
- When Trump visited Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria last year, he said the known deaths were a fraction of those from Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast in 2005. The count of Maria's dead on the island was revised this week to 2,975, Trump maintained Wednesday that the federal government did a "fantastic job in Puerto Rico."
- Former Trump lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to tax evasion and campaign finance violations, is "resigned to the fact that he's going to go to jail for some time," a person familiar with his thinking told CNN.
- Trump said that trade talks between the U.S. and Canada to replace NAFTA appear to be on a path to a final deal by Friday. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed an accord could happen, "but it is only a possibility."
- A secret White House committee on marijuana policy is pushing federal agencies to come up with data showing the most significant negative trends” about marijuana and the “threats” it poses to the country, BuzzFeed reports. The aim is to combat growing support for marijuana and cast state legalization measures in a negative light.
- A USA Today/Suffolk University poll finds 55% of Americans say they have a lot or some trust in Mueller's Russia investigation to be fair and accurate, while 35% say they have a lot or some trust in Trump's denials of collusion.
- Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN that Trump called him after he delivered an emotional farewell to Sen. John McCain on the Senate floor, telling the South Carolina Republican he "did right by his friend." Graham said it angered him when Trump said "something bad about John," but he doesn't agree with "those who want me to say the only way you can honor John McCain is to fight Donald Trump and try to kick him out of office."