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Air war may be next front in fight to silence Stormy Daniels

Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, arrives at a

Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, arrives at a strip club on Friday, March 9, 2018, in Pompano Beach, Fla. Credit: Getty Images North America / Joe Raedle

Classified XXX

It wouldn’t be the first time a president’s lawyers went to court to try to stop a news organization from baring secrets.

In 1971, The New York Times began publishing secrets from the Pentagon Papers on U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. President Richard Nixon’s administration got a court to temporarily stop the reports. But the U.S. Supreme Court, rejecting national security arguments, ultimately upheld the right of newspapers to publish the classified material.

Which brings us to alarm in Donald Trump’s circles over CBS’ “60 Minutes” plan next Sunday to air an interview with Stormy Daniels, BuzzFeed reports. It is not, so far as we know, a national security case.

The porn actress has been seeking to get out of a hush-money deal in which she took $130,000 to stay mum about her story of a 2006-2007 affair with Trump. BuzzFeed said Trump’s personal lawyers are considering seeking a court injunction to try to keep the interview off the air.

The legal arguments they could use aren’t clear, the report said. And while Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and associates have been waging a legal battle with Daniels to enforce the hush agreement, they have not followed through on past threats against news organizations over stories about Trump’s sexual conduct.

Fight the NRA? Another day

Trump’s plan to make schools safer from gun violence puts off action on one of the ideas that drew the fiercest resistance from the NRA — raising the minimum age for gun purchases from 18 to 21.

The president had voiced favor for the idea, but hosted NRA leaders opposed to it at the White House. So Trump is going to pass that question to a Commission on School Safety he will establish to be headed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Only two weeks ago the president told two senators in a public forum that they didn't include the age change because they were "afraid of the NRA." 

In the meantime, he’s going ahead with a plan — opposed by several participants in his recent White House listening sessions — to offer federal funds to states that provide teachers with firearms training. That, of course, is more NRA-friendly.

Officials said Trump also will push Congress to pass a bipartisan bill that aims to bolster the federal background check system used for gun purchases.

For more details, see Laura Figueroa Hernandez’s story for Newsday.

Janison: Trumpism travels

Strong showings by populist and far-right parties in Italy’s elections last week show Trump-style nationalism continuing to make gains in Europe, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

The election results are believed to pose a bigger threat to the European Union than the UK’s Brexit vote, and to signal there will be more pressure for tougher policies toward migrants.

Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has been touring Europe to meet with the like-minded. Speaking to France’s far-right National Front party Saturday, he urged members to “wear it as a badge of honor” when they are denounced as “racists,” “xenophobes” and “nativists.”

Getting off the boos

Trump administration officials said Sunday the president won’t make any concessions to North Korea before he meets with Kim Jong Un at a time and place to be determined.

Not a concession: Trump’s newly circumspect behavior toward “Rocket Man.” The president admonished a rally crowd in Pennsylvania not to boo when he mentioned the North Korean dictator’s name.

“No, it’s very positive,” Trump said to quiet them. “After the meeting you may do that, but now we have to be very nice, because let’s see what happens.” (Trump did encourage his audience to jeer the news media.)

Democrats on the Sunday shows said they hoped Trump will succeed in the nuclear talks, but fear he won’t be well prepared. “I am very worried that he’s going to go into these negotiations and be taken advantage of,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

See Newsday’s story by Figueroa and David M. Schwartz.

Head in the mushroom clouds

Amid prospects of talks with North Korea, it’s worth recalling Trump’s 1984 offer to help the Reagan administration make a nuclear arms deal with the Soviet Union.

“Some people have an ability to negotiate,” he told The Washington Post then. “It would take an hour-and-a-half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles. ... I think I know most of it anyway.”

Help wanted

The White House has openings for a top economic adviser, now that Gary Cohn is leaving, and a communications director to take the place of Hope Hicks.

The Wall Street Journal (pay site) reports Chris Liddell, a former Microsoft Corp. and General Motors Co. executive, is under consideration for Cohn’s job. Also in the mix: Kevin Warsh, a former Federal Reserve governor, and Peter Navarro, the trade adviser who was a victor over Cohn in the battle over steel and aluminum tariffs.

The candidates to be Trump’s fourth communications chief include Mercedes Schlapp, a veteran of the George W. Bush administration, and Tony Sayegh, assistant secretary for public affairs at the Treasury Department, according to Politico.

Javanka adjusts

Amid reports of tensions in the relationship, Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump told The Washington Post that she and husband Jared Kushner have accepted chief of staff John Kelly’s moves to make their advisers’ roles fit in with a more orderly management structure.

“He is a very family-oriented person and made it clear he doesn’t want to get in the way of that,” she said of Kelly. “But he also needs to make sure that in our role as advisers, we go through the process, and we respect that and have embraced that.”

The Post reports Kelly has griped to colleagues about what he views as her “freelancing” on “pet projects” that aren’t the designated top priorities. She argues the issues she champions are policies her father campaigned on.

What else is happening

  • Trump’s Sunday morning tweetstorm included an attack on The New York Times and its reporter Maggie Haberman for a story that a former Bill Clinton impeachment lawyer was considered for his legal team. The Times stood by its story. See Schwartz’s report for Newsday.
  • The Trump and Kushner family real estate businesses are doing more business with each other, The New York Times reported. The Kushners are in discussions to have the Trump Organization manage their Jersey Shore development.
  • Kushner’s liberal-leaning brother Joshua donated $50,000 to the national gun control rally being organized by survivors of the mass shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Axios reported.
  • CIA Director Mike Pompeo reiterated that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim his government did not meddle in the 2016 election is “false.”
  • DeVos said on “60 Minutes” that she is revising Obama-era guidance in order to better protect students at colleges who are accused of committing sexual assault.
  • White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah said on ABC’s “This Week” that he believes that Trump still “intends to” meet with Russia investigation special counsel Robert Mueller under oath.

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