Rudy to the rescue
Donald Trump wouldn’t grant Rudy Giuliani’s wish to become secretary of state, but the president has signed him up for another job — to get special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation off his back.
“I hope we can negotiate an end to this for the good of the country, and because I have high regard for the president and for Bob Mueller,” Giuliani told The Washington Post.
Before his two terms as New York City mayor, Giuliani was the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan. During the 2016 campaign, he was a leading Trump surrogate. The president, a notoriously difficult client, has been struggling to reinforce his legal team since John Dowd resigned last month.
Giuliani said he has advised Trump that Mueller “should be allowed to do his job.”
Trump was told by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last week that he’s not a target of Mueller’s investigation or the probe of his lawyer Michael Cohen, Bloomberg News reported. That doesn’t guarantee he won’t become one.
Trump on Wednesday played down, but didn’t put to rest, rumblings he wanted to fire Mueller and Rosenstein. See Newsday’s story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
Whether Trump is a target or not, some of his legal allies worry that Cohen — if he faces criminal prosecution and the prospect of long prison time — will try to help himself by offering prosecutors something on Trump, Politico reports.
Neither Jay Goldberg, who spoke to The Wall Street Journal, nor Alan Dershowitz, interviewed by Politico, spelled out what that something could be.
Cohen — who bragged last summer “I’m the guy who would take a bullet for the president” — has been his longtime fixer, playing a key role during the campaign in silencing stories from women who said they carried on adulterous affairs with Trump.
Blaming his new legal predicament, Cohen has dropped a pair of libel lawsuits sparked by unverified reports in the Christopher Steele dossier that he secretly met Russian operatives in Europe in 2016 to “clean up the mess” from disclosures of other Trump associates’ reported ties to Russia.
Moscow’s favorite channel?
Mueller’s prosecutors told a judge Thursday that their interest in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort stemmed in part from his suspected role as a “back channel” between the campaign and Russians intent on election meddling.
The disclosure by U.S. prosecutors came Thursday during a hearing on whether Mueller exceeded his authority in indicting Manafort for financial crimes including money laundering.
Janison: Truth, dare, Obamacare
For four congressional election cycles starting in 2010, Republicans ran on the promise to repeal Obamacare. Then they got a Republican president and couldn’t pull it off. Do they still want to campaign on that issue in 2018?
The Republicans can try selling the point that people with rising premiums should keep looking back to Obama for blame. Democrats can say that the GOP, by whittling away on the edges, has made the current system worse for some people. See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.
Haley won’t stand in shade
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s refusal to take the fall for White House zigzags on new Russia sanctions — “I don’t get confused” — was a signal that, unlike others in the Trump administration, she won’t quietly suffer public humiliation, Politico writes.
Haley is far from the first Trump aide who has spoken on the administration’s behalf, only to be undermined by the president. Asked Wednesday about the state of their relationship, she replied: “Perfect.”
CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s chances of winning confirmation as secretary of state are looking better with his first endorsement from a Democratic senator, North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp.
Her support makes it easier for Trump’s nominee to get by without support from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) so long as no other Republicans defect. The Trump administration is still leaning on red-state Democrats like Heitkamp.
What else is happening
- The Justice Department’s inspector general has sent a criminal referral about fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington to consider whether prosecution is warranted for allegedly lying to bureau officials. McCabe has been a Trump target.
- Former FBI Director James Comey told CNN that he could potentially be a witness against McCabe. Trump is delighted, tweeting, “James Comey just threw Andrew McCabe ‘under the bus.’ Inspector General’s Report on McCabe is a disaster for both of them! Getting a little (lot) of their own medicine?”
- The Justice IG’s pending final report is expected to address whether active and retired FBI agents in New York leaked information about Clinton investigations. Law enforcement officials have previously told Reuters the information was leaked to Giuliani, who discussed the contents on Fox News.
- When Giuliani was U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Comey was an underling. In his book, Comey described Giuliani as a self-aggrandizing publicity hound. “Rudy was the star at the top and the successes of the office flowed in his direction. You violated this code at your peril,” Comey wrote.
- Trump’s effort to crack down on sanctuary cities lost another round Thursday. A federal appeals court in Chicago upheld a nationwide injunction against withholding federal grants to punish cities that don’t cooperate with immigration enforcement.
- A Washington Post profile of Dr. Ronny Jackson, Trump’s nominee for secretary of Veterans Affairs, recounts how he ingratiated himself with three presidents as a White House physician, and why George W. Bush nicknamed him “Scrote.”