Report: Trump claiming fake tape
As President Donald Trump continued to boost Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore amid sexual misconduct allegations, the president has suggested that the famed “Access Hollywood” tape released during the 2016 campaign is inauthentic, according to The New York Times.
The report says Trump sees the Moore allegations as an echo of his own battles with accusers who came forward after the tape emerged, in which Trump boasted about grabbing women’s private parts.
Or did he?
According to the Times, Trump suggested to a senator earlier this year that the tape “was not authentic, and repeated that claim to an adviser more recently.”
This would be a new argument. Shortly after the tape was made public, Trump apologized and said it was locker-room talk. Billy Bush, the former “Access Hollywood” host who was on the recording too, also did not suggest that the tape was a fake during his apology tour.
Trump boosts Moore and deniers
Sunday’s comments were the latest lifeline Trump has thrown to Moore and deniers everywhere when he tweeted that the GOP Senate candidate would still be a better choice than a Democrat.
“The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on the Border, Bad for our Military,” Trump tweeted Sunday morning. “Jones would be a disaster!”
Moore is beset by sexual misconduct allegations, including by a woman who said Moore assaulted her when she was 14 years old.
Et tu, Ivanka?
Trump didn’t mention Moore by name, instead choosing to attack his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones. But the president’s still clearly going against calls from other GOP leaders to drop the former sheriff, including Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell. Other high-profile Republicans who have backed away from Moore’s candidacy and called the women accusing him credible include Vice President Mike Pence and the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump.
Trump reportedly groused when Ivanka castigated Moore, saying there was “a special place in hell for people who prey on children,” three staff members who heard his comments told the Times.
“Do you believe this?” Mr. Trump asked several aides in the Oval Office.
Janison: Hot Turkey leftovers
Newsday’s Dan Janison reports that Trump’s shows of political coziness with the Turkish president add an extra layer of intrigue to foreign affairs — from the Kurds, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and Preet Bharara.
On Friday, the two leaders spoke by phone.
Errant Flynn flipping?
Flynn might be cooperating with prosecutors or negotiating a deal for himself after his lawyers notified the president’s legal team that they could no longer discuss the special counsel’s investigation, according to The New York Times.
Dems’ House cleaning
Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi defended Rep. John Conyers Jr. as an icon Sunday before she backtracked and the longest-serving lawmaker stepped aside from his Judicial Committee post over accusations he sexually harassed former aides.
What else is happening
- Trump ripped CNN International on the same day that Putin signed a law that allows the Russian government to list foreign news outlets as foreign agents.
- Trump says he turned down an interview and photo shoot for Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” issue because the magazine said he’d only “probably” get the title. Time disputed Trump’s account, tweeting that the president “is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year.”
- Trump tweeted thanks and link to a far-right website that traffics in conspiracy theories and white nationalism.
- Jared Kushner, Trump son-in-law and senior adviser, has seen his responsibilities and public role diminished under Chief of Staff John Kelly, says The Washington Post.
- Special counsel Robert Mueller is not perfect.
- Trump named White House budget director Mick Mulvaney as acting chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Friday, setting up a legal fight over the bureau’s leadership.