Nuts to you, and to you
The aftershocks from the president's three-minute tongue-lashing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders for pursuing Trump investigations reverberated for a second day.
Describing Wednesday's scene as a Trump "temper tantrum," Pelosi said, “I wish that his family or his administration or his staff would have an intervention for the good of the country.” Asked whether she is concerned about Trump’s well-being, she replied, “I am,” and said, "Maybe he wants to take a leave of absence."
Trump tossed Pelosi's insinuations right back at her. “She’s a mess,” Trump told reporters at a news conference Thursday afternoon. "I watched Nancy and she was all crazy yesterday,” he declared. "She’s not the same person. She's lost it."
Trump said he was "extremely calm … knowing they would say I was raging." He went around the room asking five top aides present at Wednesday's encounter to back up his account. “Very calm — I’ve seen both and this was definitely not angry or ranting," said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Trump also revived a line he has used before to dismiss questions about his mental fitness: “I’m an extremely stable genius.”
Pelosi tweeted back: “When the ‘extremely stable genius’ starts acting more presidential, I’ll be happy to work with him on infrastructure, trade and other issues." For more, see Tom Brune's story for Newsday.
Herd of goads
Pelosi suggested the White House is “crying out” for the Democrats to launch impeachment hearings — the idea being it would help Trump politically.
Her remarks are part of a calculated campaign by the speaker to pair ever-tougher public comments about Trump with private calls for House Democrats to avoid being goaded into impeachment, The New York Times reported. She has told them privately that Trump thinks he would come out ahead if he is impeached by the Democratic-controlled House and then acquitted in the Republican-led Senate, according to The Washington Post.
Said Trump: "I don't think anyone wants to be impeached."
Janison: No big deal
It's not just that Trump can't seem to close a deal, writes Newsday's Dan Janison. At times he doesn't try to seriously negotiate.
Such was the case as he ditched the talks with Democrats for an infrastructure plan that, in his third year, looks even more out of reach than when he took office. So does the money he wants for a border wall. A top priority on the world trade front — a pact with China — remains beyond his grasp.
Keep draining that swamp
A banker who prosecutors say tried to buy himself a senior post in the administration by approving $16 million in risky loans to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was arrested Thursday on a financial institution bribery charge.
Stephen M. Calk, 54, is a former CEO of The Federal Savings Bank based in Chicago. Federal prosecutors said that while Manafort's loans were pending approval, Calk gave him a ranked list of government positions he wanted, starting with secretary of the treasury, followed by deputy secretary of the treasury, secretary of commerce and secretary of defense, as well as 19 ambassadorships in London, Paris, Berlin and Rome.
Manafort lobbied Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to consider Calk for secretary of the army, according to emails from the weeks leading up to the 2016 election shown to jurors at Manafort's tax evasion and bank fraud trial last year. Kushner responded, "On it!" and Calk was interviewed for the post of undersecretary of the Army. He didn't get it.
Relief for trade war ag-ony
Trump is delivering another $16 billion in aid to farmers hurt by his trade war with China, an effort to relieve the economic pain among his supporters in rural America. The bailout comes atop $11 billion in aid Trump provided farmers last year.
China's retaliatory tariffs have priced American agricultural exports out of the market of the world's most populous nation. Trump told the farmers in attendance at the White House announcement, including an Idaho potato farmer wearing a red “Make Potatoes Great Again” cap, that he was “honored to have done this for you."
Kellyanne Conway is carrying on her own feud with Pelosi.
After Trump told the Democrats there would be no discussions about infrastructure so long as they were investigating him and stalked out of the room. Conway asked Pelosi if there was something she wanted to say to the president.
According to Conway, a senior counselor to Trump, Pelosi shot back: “I don’t — I talk to the president, I don't talk to staff.” Conway said her rejoinder was: "How very pro-woman of you."
Conway was still complaining Thursday: “She treats me like I'm either her maid or her driver or her pilot or her makeup artist and I'm not.”
Pelosi, in her weekly news conference Thursday, wouldn't answer questions about Conway. “I'm not going to talk about her,” she told reporters.
Trump tries to bulldoze a wall
Trump has personally and repeatedly urged the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to award a border wall contract to a North Dakota firm whose top executive is a GOP donor and frequent guest on Fox News, four administration officials told The Washington Post.
Fisher Industries, led by Tommy Fisher, sued the U.S. government last month after the Army Corps rejected its bid to install barriers along the southern border, a contract potentially worth billions of dollars.
Trump’s repeated attempts to influence contracting decisions is contrary to what is normally a staid legal and regulatory process designed to protect the U.S. government from accusations of favoritism, the Post reported. Procurement rules thatrequire government agencies to seek competitive bids, free of political interference.
What else is happening:
- Trump's state visit to the U.K. next month is going to be a family vacation, London newspapers reported. He plans to bring all four of his adult children — Ivanka, Donald Jr., Eric and Tiffany — so they can get to hang out with the royal family.
- Elizabeth Warren had a lucrative legal-consulting sideline during her years as an Ivy League law professor, collecting fees of up to $675 an hour while working on 56 cases, The Washington Post reported. The 2020 contender's past clients included people with asbestos disease and a company facing possible liability over ruptured breast implants.
- Democratic 2020 contender Pete Buttigieg accused Trump in a Washington Post interview of using his "privileged status to fake a disability" and dodge the draft during the Vietnam War" so that "somebody could go to war in his place." Buttigieg served in Afghanistan as a Navy intelligence officer
- The president and first lady Melania Trump made an unannounced visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday to pay respects to the fallen. Trump will be headed to Japan for the holiday weekend.
- The Senate passed a long-overdue $19 billion disaster aid bill on a partisan vote on Thursday after Trump backed off a demand to include $4.5 billion for border security.
- Former Trump aide Hope Hicks, subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee, refused to answer committee interviewers last year when they asked if Trump and his family members ever had her lie for them, according to a member of the panel, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif).