Father of the hide
Have they got their story straight yet?
Last month, when The New York Times revealed Donald Trump Jr.’s intriguing June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer, the first statement from Trump’s son left out a critical detail — that the Russians had dangled dirt on Hillary Clinton.
He soon fessed up when that was found out. But the president tried to keep his distance. Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said the president “didn’t sign off on anything” and “wasn’t involved” in drafting the first, misleading statement.
Except now he was involved, as press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged after The Washington Post reported it. “The president weighed in — as any father would,” Sanders said. She denied it was misleading.
President Trump’s contribution, according to the Phttp://www.amny.com/news/queens-tortoise-thief-charged-after-turning-himself-in-nypd-says-1.13902517ost, was misdirection — that the meeting was primarily about Moscow’s ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian children. He overruled advisers who said it was wiser to come clean than engage in deception that could be exposed. See Emily Ngo’s story for Newsday.
Suit: Trump behind Fox fakery
An ex-cop and former Fox News contributor charges in a lawsuit that the White House was partly behind Fox News’ reporting of a now-retracted story that a slain Democratic National Committee staffer may have leaked Democratic emails last year.
Rod Wheeler, who was hired by Trump supporter Ed Butowsky to investigate Seth Rich’s unsolved death, says Fox intentionally misquoted him and that the story was concocted to divert attention from the Russian hacking scandal. Butowsky told him, Wheeler alleges, that Trump personally previewed the story and pushed it, reports Newsday’s John Riley.
Former press secretary Sean Spicer admitted Tuesday that he met with Butowsky — though when Fox News ran the story, he told reporters that he didn’t know about it. Sanders said Tuesday, “The president had no knowledge of the story.”
The take-away: Cold War
Trump’s campaign-time expressions of desire for a thaw in U.S.-Russian relations have gone unfulfilled, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.
The new semblance of a Cold War goes on pretty much as it did before. Trump is expected any day to sign stepped-up sanctions set by the GOP-led Congress. Vice President Mike Pence, visiting former Soviet republics, denounced Russian “aggression” and “occupation” of Georgian territory.
Scouts’ honor, and Trump’s
Trump told Wall Street Journal interviewers last week that after he addressed the Boy Scout Jamboree, “I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them.”
The Scouts’ reaction: Huh?
The organization told Time magazine it was unaware of any such call and pointed to a statement three days later from Michael Surbaugh, the chief scout executive, offering “sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree.”
The Trump claim was in a transcript leaked to Politico Tuesday that included remarks not published by the Journal.
Hearing other voices too
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has cast doubt about another Trump claim about another purported phone call.
"Even the president of Mexico called me," Trump said the other day at the White House, crowing about slowed border crossings. "They said their southern border, very few people are coming because they know they're not going to get through our border, which is the ultimate compliment."
But the Mexican foreign ministry said in a statement that Nieto "has not recently spoken" over the phone to Trump. Rather, the statement said, they spoke July 7 at the G-20 summit in Europe, where Nieta told Trump something quite different: That "repatriations of Mexican nationals from the United States had fallen 31 percent between January and June 2017 in comparison to the same timeframe in 2016."
A top federal law enforcement official — the acting head of the Drug Enforcement Agency — emailed staff members over the weekend to say Trump had “condoned police misconduct” in his Long Island speech when he seemed to encourage unnecessary roughness with suspects.
“We have an obligation to speak out when something is wrong,” wrote acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg.
A DEA spokeswoman said the remarks were not a rebuke of Trump — just a statement “on our core values.”
Rosenberg is not a Trump appointee. Before joining the DEA during the Obama administration, he had served as chief of staff and senior counselor to now-fired FBI Director James Comey.
Sessions: Stick to the rules
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, addressing the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, said police must conduct themselves “in a lawful way” and he promised to prosecute any who violate use-of-force laws.
“Just as I am committed to defending law enforcement who lawfully have to use deadly force to defend themselves while engaged in their work, I will also … hold any officer responsible who violates the law,” he said.
The president of the group, Seattle Assistant Police Chief Perry Tarrant, said Sessions, in a private meeting, did not apologize for Trump’s comment — he called it a joke — but that he also understood the effect “on the very communities that we’re trying to build relationships with.”
No fandango for Scaramucci
TMZ caught up with Anthony Scaramucci outside Trump’s Washington hotel Tuesday and asked what’s next for the fired communications director. “Working on being the best person I can be,” he replied.
Is a turn on “Dancing with the Stars” in his future, as it might be for Spicer? Scaramucci smiled and said, “I don’t know how to dance.”
Spicer is still running the White House communications shop, but plans to leave in late August, Bloomberg News reported. A top candidate for the job is David Lapan, who served as chief of staff John Kelly’s spokesman at the Department of Homeland Security, CNN said.
What else is happening
- Trump recently told a group of golfing partners that he spends a lot of time at his Bedminster, New Jersey, club because “that White House is a real dump.” That nugget is part of a detail-rich study by Sports Illustrated of the president’s relationship with golf.
- The Justice Department is planning a new mission for its civil rights division — investigating and suing universities for admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, The New York Times reported.
- The Senate voted 92-5 on Tuesday to confirm Christopher Wray as FBI director, succeeding Comey. Wray has pledged to resist political interference.
- Step by step, Senate Republicans are moving further away from Trump, The Associated Press reports. Ignoring his demands to keep trying to pass a failed Obamacare repeal bill is just one of numerous examples.
- Trade measures aimed at forcing China to crack down on intellectual-property theft are in the planning stage, reports the Wall Street Journal (pay site).
- China’s official Xinhua News Agency chided Trump for his tweeted complaints that Beijing is doing “nothing for us” on the North Korean nuclear threat. “Emotional venting cannot become a guiding policy for solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula,” Xinhua said.
- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, striking a different tone than Trump’s tweets, said “We certainly don’t blame the Chinese for the situation in North Korea” and said the U.S. is willing to sit down and talk with Pyongyang if it stops its nuclear weapons program.
- J.K. Rowling, the “Harry Potter” author, apologized for tweets that erroneously accused Trump of refusing to shake the hand of a disabled boy. She specifically apologized to the youngster and his family, but not the president.