So much to lose
The midterm elections, six months away, are very much on Donald Trump’s mind.
It’s not just about the fate of his legislative agenda if Republicans lose their majorities in Congress. Democratic control could mean unrestrained investigations on Russia and other potential Trump administration scandals.
Trump weighed in via Twitter on Tuesday’s West Virginia Senate primary, warning Republican voters against choosing Don Blankenship, a coal baron who went to prison for violating safety standards after a 2010 explosion at a company mine killed 29 people.
Blankenship, who calls himself “Trumpier than Trump,” has been rising in the polls. Tweeted Trump: “Blankenship ... can’t win the General Election in your State ... No way!”
The midterms also figured in a new Trump accusation against special counsel Robert Mueller.
“Is this Phony Witch Hunt going to go on even longer so it wrongfully impacts the Mid-Term Elections, which is what the Democrats always intended? Republicans better get tough and smart before it is too late!”
Will Trump find a happy place?
Republicans came into 2018 fearing that Trump’s unpopularity would be a drag on their candidates. A new CNN poll gives them a glimmer of hope.
Though Trump’s approval rating — 41% — matches historic lows for a president in office this long (a tie with one-termer Jimmy Carter), 57% of Americans say things are going well in the country today. That’s up sharply from 49 percent in February, and the highest positive feeling since January 2007.
CNN notes the last two years the House changed hands, Americans had a much dimmer outlook for the country: Just 27% said things were going well in June 2010, and in May 2006, that stood at 46%.
Whatever floats your gloat
Schneiderman has been a longtime antagonist of Trump as both businessman (he won a settlement in the Trump University case) and president (he filed more than 100 suits against actions of the Trump administration).
His office is also a backstop in case Trump thwarts special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation because potential violations of state law are beyond Trump’s federal executive authority, including the pardon power.
But Schneiderman’s departure is unlikely to change that. Also of note: The co-author of The New Yorker story about four women accusing him of physical abuse is Ronan Farrow. That’s the same Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who exposed Trump’s alleged extended affair with Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal. Hear anyone crying “fake news”?
The lady comes in first
The president’s poll standing is a distant second to first lady Melania Trump. The CNN poll found 57% of Americans say they have a favorable impression of her, up from 47% in January.
Now she’s taking a higher profile. With a speech from the White House Rose Garden, she launched a public awareness campaign to help children, calling it “Be Best.” It’s aimed at boosting the social and physical well-being of children and reducing “destructive and addictive behavior” on social media and beyond.
The cyberbullying focus is one some White House aides wish she had avoided, given it’s a reminder of Trump’s Twitter habits, according to The Washington Post.
Trump embraced his wife after the speech and kissed her cheeks five times in a rare public display of affection, The Associated Press noted. Allegations about Trump extramarital affairs have brought added scrutiny on the state of the first couple’s relationship.
Janison: Rogues gallery
Time spent on the wrong side of the law, or associating with characters who have been, won’t necessarily put you on the wrong side of Trump. His bigger issue is: Who can he trust?
A couple of years ago, reminiscing about the late Brooklyn Democratic boss Meade Esposito, who was convicted of corruption, Trump said: “Meade was great ... in his own way ... a very, very honest guy. When he gave you his word on something, it was done.”
Now, with his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen, who grew up among relatives’ mob connections, under investigation and a potential witness against Trump, the matter of who the president’s friends are, and why, and on what terms, is back in the spotlight. See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.
Deal or no deal? Iran verdict due
Trump tweeted he will announce at 2 p.m. Tuesday whether he has decided to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
Trump has long criticized the multinational deal to curb Iran nuclear weapons development as being “weak” and the “worst deal ever.”
European allies — including France, Britain and Germany — appealed to Trump to remain in the deal. British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson appeared on “Fox & Friends” Monday to try to talk to Trump through one of his favorite television shows.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged Trump to walk away from the agreement. See Newsday’s story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
Giuliani fatigue setting in?
Trump is starting to think it’s not a good idea for Rudy Giuliani to give media interviews, The Associated Press reports.
Trump is blaming the former New York mayor’s off-message theatrics as his new personal lawyer for breathing new life into the Stormy Daniels story, and more, the report said.
Even Trump’s Fox News BFF Sean Hannity is hearing his wrath over his interview Wednesday night with Giuliani.
Seeming stunned after Giuliani revealed that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the Daniels hush-money payoff, Hannity’s follow-up question referred to money getting “funneled” through a law firm. Trump thinks that word has illegal connotations, AP said.
Giuliani, speaking to Politico, pushed back against the notion that the president is down on his performance heading up his personal legal team. “If I’m not up to it, I don’t know who is,” the former New York mayor said.
Giuliani told The Wall Street Journal that the legal advisers hope to decide by May 17 — the one-year anniversary of Mueller’s appointment — whether Trump should testify. “Every day we swing a little different,” he said.
What else is happening
- Trump touted his CIA nominee Gina Haspel, whose Senate confirmation hearings begin this week. He said Democrats oppose her “because she is too tough on terror.” See Figueroa’s story for Newsday.
- Giuliani on Sunday left open the possibility that other women besides Daniels who made allegations involving Trump could have been paid off by Cohen. Asked about that Monday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “I’m not aware of any other activity” — but ask Trump’s lawyers.
- Trump has decided not to go to the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem next week, but he’s sending daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan is leading the U.S. delegation.
- The president’s latest tweet storm against the Mueller investigation contained a vague threat: “just wait ‘till the Courts get to see your unrevealed Conflicts of Interest!”
- Mick Mulvaney’s zeal in dismantling the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which he heads, is admired in vivid terms by White House legislative affairs director Marc Short. “He’s like a mosquito in a nudist colony,” Short told The New York Times.
- The Trump administration plans to take a tougher approach to some families who enter the U.S. illegally by separating parents from their children. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said.