He knew it all along
First of all, Donald Trump doesn’t want you to think he was surprised in the least that Republican Roy Moore lost to Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama.
“The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!”
So don’t blame Trump for standing on the sidelines when other Republican leaders were desperately trying to cook up a way to knock Moore off the ballot for senator after the stories about his over-fondness for teen girls. Or for stepping back in thinking that 2016 Trump magic would drag Moore across the finish line.
Who was at fault?
Maybe Moore. “If last night’s election proved anything, it proved that we need to put up GREAT Republican candidates,” he tweeted.
Maybe the Republicans who abandoned Moore. “They’re very happy with the way it turned out,” said a not-so-happy Trump.
There may be others to blame too. But don’t blame Trump — he saw it coming.
King: Bannon is bananas
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) pinned the Alabama debacle on Trump’s ex-chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who went against the president to push for Moore in the Republican primary. Bannon deemed Moore was a better fit for his hard-right nationalist agenda.
“After Alabama disaster GOP must do right thing and DUMP Steve Bannon. His act is tired, inane and morally vacuous,” King tweeted. That was just a warm-up for King’s appearance on CNN. (Video here.)
“This guy does not belong on the national stage. He looks like some disheveled drunk who wandered onto the political stage,” King said. “He sort of parades himself out there with his weird, alt-right views he has, and to me it’s demeaning to the whole governmental and political process.”
There was no word from Long Island’s other Republican congressman, Lee Zeldin. Bannon is scheduled to headline a fundraiser for Zeldin in Manhattan Thursday.
See Yancey Roy and William Murphy’s story for Newsday.
Mueller’s boss: Not a ‘witch hunt’
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, was unmoved by Republican complaints that special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe team was infected with anti-Trump bias.
Mueller’s investigation is not on “a witch hunt,” Rosenstein said, and the special counsel has managed the case “appropriately.” He said he saw no cause to fire Mueller, and if ordered to do so, “I would not ... unless he’s violated his duties.
The No. 2 Justice Department official was questioned about an FBI agent Mueller removed from his team in July after learning of text messages from 2016 in which Trump was described as an “idiot” and a “loathsome human.” Rosenstein said Mueller’s action was “a testament to his integrity and situational awareness.”
Tax bill ticktock
Looking for a win, Trump said “it’s very important for the country to get a vote next week” on the tax overhaul plan as final negotiations approach a conclusion.
Senate and House Republican leaders said they have an agreement in principle, but not all the details were known, including the fate of state and local tax deductions important to New York.
Reports citing legislative aides said filers would be able to deduct a total of $10,000 for property and income taxes. One report included sales taxes as well. The emerging legislation would slash the corporate rate to 21% from 35% and shave the top personal rate to 37% from 39.6%, the reports said.
See Tom Brune’s story for Newsday.
Omarosa is off the show
Omarosa Manigault Newman, fired as a first-season star on “The Apprentice” and hired by Trump for the White House Office of Public Liaison, is leaving the job.
Chief of staff John Kelly wanted her out, The Washington Post reported. She has been one of the highest-profile African-Americans on the presidential staff.
Manigault — regarded inside the White House as a polarizing figure who interrupted meetings, subverted chains of command and erupted at aides she didn’t like — did not “go quietly,” the Post said.
Trump said goodbye with a tweet: “Thank you Omarosa for your service! I wish you continued success.”
What else is happening:
- Jones, the Alabama senator-elect, said he got a “very gracious” call from Trump congratulating him on his upset victory and an invitation to visit the White House.
- The Trump administration is giving up on two nominees for federal judgeships after Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley told them to rethink the choices. One called transgender children evidence of “Satan’s plan;” the other forgot to mention he was married to a White House staffer.
- If you can’t denuke ‘em, confuse ‘em. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday the United States was “ready to talk anytime North Korea would like to talk.” But a White House official said Wednesday there will be no talks until Pyongyang “fundamentally improves its behavior.”
- In the latest fallout from Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for the United Nations to replace Washington as a Mideast mediator.
- The average price of a Trump-branded condo in Manhattan — $2.6 million — has fallen below the average condo price in the borough — $3.1 million — for the first time, amNewYork reports.
- Evangelical leader Mark Burns, who visited the Oval Office Monday, said he gave Trump a whack on his upper back and then called out: “Security, please don’t shoot me! He had a spider on his back.” Trump’s only comment was “Well, did you kill the spider?” according to The Washington Post. He did.