Day: February 16, 2017

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Reports: Robert Harward turns down Trump's offer of national security adviser


The president is trying to woo the retired military officer into joining his administration. (Wikipedia Commons)

Retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward has turned down President Trump’s offer to take over as national security adviser, according to multiple reports Thursday.

But, according to the Financial Times, Trump is attempting to convince Harward to change his mind.

Mike Flynn resigned from the job earlier this week after controversy broke out over his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the transition period.

Earlier on Thursday, Trump told reporters at a White House press conference that his decision to fire Flynn was easier to carry out because he had an “outstanding” candidate to hire.

“Harward is conflicted between the call of duty and the obvious dysfunctionality,” a source told Financial Times.

President Trump unleashed

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Trump’s aggressive stance toward the media and freewheeling campaign style is back.

02/16/17 1:18 PM

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Shep Smith defends media against Trump


Fox News anchor Shepard Smith went off-script during his Thursday afternoon show to defend reporters after President Trump lambasted the media at a press conference earlier in the day.

“It’s crazy what we’re watching every day. It’s absolutely crazy. [Trump] keeps repeating ridiculous, throwaway lines that are not true at all and sort of avoiding this issue of Russia as if we’re some kind of fools for asking the question. Really? Your opposition was hacked and the Russians were responsible for it and your people were on the phone with Russia on the same day it was happening and we’re fools for asking the questions? No, sir. We are not fools for asking these questions and we demand to know the answer to this question,” Smith said.

“You owe this to the American people. Your supporters will support you either way. If your people were on the phone with her, what were they saying? We have a right to know – we absolutely do,” Smith added. “And that you call us fake news and put us down like children for asking these questions on behalf of the American people is inconsequential. The people deserve that answer at very least.”

Smith also defended CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta, who Trump went after during a lengthy press briefing on Thursday afternoon.

On Wednesday, Acosta had claimed the “fix was in,” referring to Trump’s only wanting to call on outlets that ran favorable coverage of his administration.

Today, Acosta started his question with, “I don’t hate you,” a line Trump was not impressed with.

“Your ratings aren’t as good as some of the other people that are waiting,” Trump replied.

“They’re pretty good right now, actually, Mr. President,” Acosta responded.

In private meeting, Trump signals support for Ex-Im Bank

Also from the Washington Examiner

According to Rep. Cramer, Trump said, “you know, I wasn’t a real believer until I talked to some of the job creators who use it [Ex-Im].”

02/16/17 4:16 PM

President Trump unleashed

Top Story

Trump’s aggressive stance toward the media and freewheeling campaign style is back.

02/16/17 1:18 PM



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Media's soul-search not complete


President Trump’s meandering press conference Thursday afternoon left beltway journalists sputtering to explain what unfolded.

The president’s remarks wandered everywhere from ISIS, to jobs, to, of course, the news media, eliciting stunned reactions from the audience.

Trump engaged in heated exchanges with assembled reporters, at one point interrupting CNN’s Jim Acosta to downgrade his network from “fake news” to “very fake news.”

We can all agree that it is not normal for the president of the United States to conduct himself this way. Whether you think that’s good or bad is not the point.

The conference was dramatic, unpredictable, unprecedented and kind of funny. In other words, it was vintage Trump.

After the presser, Business Insider’s Oliver Darcy reported that Jake Tapper said on CNN, “A lot of Americans are going to watch that and think: ‘That guy is not focused on me. I don’t know what he’s focused on.'”

I wouldn’t be so sure.

The president’s performance was plucked from his campaign playbook, embracing again the same style that so many people in the chattering class confidently claimed for months would cost him the election.

They were wrong — and I’m not convinced they’ve learned either.

Democrat invites Trump to tour NSA after he called it 'un-American'

Also from the Washington Examiner

Dutch Ruppersberger wrote he thinks it’s “critical” for the president to witness the work of the agency.

02/16/17 4:07 PM

In the immediate aftermath of the election, still-stunned members of the media pledged to be better. Their reaction Thursday afternoon leaves much to be desired.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with the press calling that news conference what it was. But it’s critically important for reporters to remember their reactions will not reflect those of others.

The Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito tweeted during the presser, “Listening to DJT press conf., in middle of PA and watching press on my twitter is like parallel universe — people think he is doing well.”

The Daily Beast’s Matt Lewis tweeted a text a friend from “out west” sent to him during the news conference that read in part, “I’m at gym. Everyone watching press Conference. They are laughing and consistently say he is eating them up.”

That people outside the beltway perceive Trump differently than Acela corridor journalists should not need to be repeated every single time he behaves like Trump.

Trump leaves the door open on DACA: 'I find it very hard doing what the law says'

Also from the Washington Examiner

Trump seemed to hint that he might continue DACA enrollment.

02/16/17 3:58 PM

Before making assumptions about how the president’s style will play with the public, reporters should consider how it played with the public in 2016.

Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

President Trump unleashed

Top Story

Trump’s aggressive stance toward the media and freewheeling campaign style is back.

02/16/17 1:18 PM



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Trump tells Jewish reporter to sit down and be quiet after question about rising anti-Semitism


President Trump told a Jewish reporter to sit down and be quiet Thursday after the journalist asked whether he planned to address recent reports showing a notable uptick in anti-Semitism.

“Bomb threats have been made against Jewish Centers all across the country the last couple of weeks,” Ami Magazine’s White House Correspondent Jake Turx began to ask during a press conference in the White House. “There are people committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to– “

“He said he was going to ask a very simple, easy question, and it’s not. It’s not a fair question,” Trump said, interrupting Turx mid-sentence. “Okay, sit down. I understand the rest of your question.”

“I am the least anti-Semitic person you have ever seen in your entire life,” Trump added. “I am the least racist person.”

Turx tried to follow up on his original question, but he was rebuffed each time with an order to be “quiet.”

“See? He lied about he was going to get up and ask a very straight and simple question. So, you know, welcome to the world of the media,” Trump said. “I hate the charge. I find it repulsive. I hate even the question because people who know me, and you heard [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] yesterday … he said, ‘I’ve known Donald Trump for a long time,’ and then he said, ‘Forget it.'”

“So you should take that instead of having to get up to ask a very insulting question like that,” he added.

Turx, for his part, maintains that he in no way meant to imply that Trump was responsible for the uptick in anti-Semitism. Rather, he meant only to ask the president for his thoughts on the matter.

“President Trump clearly misunderstood my question. This is highly regretful and I’m going to seek clarification,” Turx said later on social media.

Wisconsin Democrat warns GOP about making senator's sexuality a campaign issue

Also from the Washington Examiner

“For their base it helps … but I don’t think that’s a winning general election strategy,” Mark Pocan said.

02/16/17 4:39 PM

The sad thing is that this was plainly evident from Turx’s questioning. It’d do the president some good to listen more closely next time, and to resist the urge to assume the intentions of others.

President Trump unleashed

Top Story

Trump’s aggressive stance toward the media and freewheeling campaign style is back.

02/16/17 1:18 PM



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Cummings: 'No idea' why Trump would 'make up a story about me'


Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said Thursday he has “no idea” why President Trump said that he didn’t want to meet with the new president, and said that claim was completely made up.

President Trump was asked during a press conference Thursday if he would meet with any members of the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss issues such as crime or education. Trump responded that he was going to meet with Cummings on addressing high drug prices, but the Maryland lawmaker backed out because Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked him to.

“I have no idea why President Trump would make up a story about me like he did today,” Cummings said. “Of course, Sen. Schumer never told me to skip a meeting with the president.”

“I was actually looking forward to meeting with the president about the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs,” he said.

Cummings was working with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on a proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices, an idea Trump likes.

“My goal was to finalize our proposal to allow [the Department of Health and Human Services] to negotiate lower drug prices so I could present it to the president,” Cummings said.

A report in Politico noted that the meeting was never officially scheduled.

President Trump unleashed

Top Story

Trump’s aggressive stance toward the media and freewheeling campaign style is back.

02/16/17 1:18 PM



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Trump: 'I would love to meet with the black caucus'


President Trump said Thursday he would “love” to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus.

April Ryan, the Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks, asked the president during a White House press conference if he will include the Congressional Black Caucus as he crafts his “urban agenda, inner city agenda.”

“Well I would. I tell you what: Do you want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?” Trump asked.

“No, no, no,” Ryan said, “I’m just a reporter. I know some of them, I’m sure they’re watching right now.”

Trump continued: “Set up the meeting. Go set up the meeting. I would love to meet with the black caucus. I think it’s great, the Congressional Black Caucus, I think it’s great.”

The president complained about a meeting between him and Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings not happening.

“I actually thought I had a meeting with Congressman Cummings and he was all excited,” Trump said.

That meeting never occurred, Trump said. “He probably was told by Schumer or somebody like that, some other lightweight, he was probably told — he was probably told, don’t meet with Trump. It’s bad politics. And that’s part of the problem in this country.”

Appeals court to review constitutionality of CFPB's structure

Also from the Washington Examiner

A federal appellate court announced Thursday that it would review a decision finding that the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional, temporarily undoing an earlier decision that said the president is allowed to fire the agency’s director at will.

The United States Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit said that the full court would rehear the case, PHH Corporation, et al v. CFPB, which has major implications for the future of consumer financial regulation under the administration of President Trump. In October, a three-judge panel had ruled that the bureau’s single-director set-up was unconstitutional.

The bureau’s current director, Richard Cordray, is an Obama appointee who has

02/16/17 2:29 PM

Trump attacks 'out of control' media

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“Many of our nation’s reporters and folks will not tell you the truth,” Trump said.

02/16/17 1:18 PM



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Two Democrats vow to vote for Pruitt to head EPA


Two Democrats have vowed to vote for President Trump’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, both from conservative fossil-fuel producing states, said they are going to vote for the nominee despite a last-ditch effort by Democrats to stall a final floor vote on Pruitt’s confirmation.

“Once Mr. Pruitt is confirmed to lead EPA, I’ll work to make sure EPA focuses on smart regulation and works with states and local communities to address issues like the unworkable Waters of the U.S. rule and the punitive final Clean Power Plan rules,” Heitkamp said.

She has said that the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s far-reaching climate rule, was unfairly hard on her state, which is the largest oil producer in the upper Midwest through fracking. The carbon dioxide reductions the EPA called for North Dakota to achieve were higher than any other state.

“Though I have concerns about his commitment to a comprehensive energy strategy that includes renewables and his commitment to reduce emissions to protect our air and water, I’ll work to hold Pruitt accountable and make sure North Dakota’s interests are heard,” Heitkamp added.

Manchin’s office said he plans to vote for Pruitt.

White House to conduct close review of intelligence agencies

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New York hedge fund manager Stephen Feinberg will lead the effort.

02/16/17 10:21 AM

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Broad ideas, but no details on Obamacare repeal in GOP meeting


Republicans still haven’t pinned down specifics around Obamacare repeal and replace as they depart for a week-long President’s Day recess.

Lawmakers emerging from a meeting of Republicans Thursday morning said they heard only general ideas from leadership and from Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, more evidence of the difficulty Republicans face as they try to reshape the Affordable Care Act in ways that are both legislatively possible and politically tenable.

“I think there’s a roadmap,” said Bill Huizenga, R-Mich. “Whether we are going to be taking a six lane highway or a four lane highway, I don’t think that’s been determined yet.”

It was House Republicans’ first meeting with Price, a former representative, in his new role as Health and Human Services Secretary. Price has said he would help change the healthcare law through administrative changes, but didn’t detail more actions beyond the marketplace changes his agency proposed this week, members said. Nor did leadership offer any specifics about the elements that will be in a repeal and replace bill or how much it will cost.

“There were no numbers at this point,” said Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas. “One of the things we need to do is get legislative text.”

One thing is clear: Republicans involved in crafting Obamacare changes have moved firmly into the camp of doing repeal and replace in one legislative vehicle, allowing them to bypass Democrats in the process. They plan to use a budget reconciliation bill which requires just a simple Senate majority to pass.

“We’re trying to get as many replacement ideas into the reconciliation bill as possible,” said a staffer who was in the room.

At the Thursday meeting, leadership laid out the fundamental ideas they want to include in a repeal and replace bill. Those include refundable tax credits to help some people buy private plans, Medicaid reforms, funding high-risk pools and expanding the use of tax-free health savings accounts.

But the ongoing challenge is in the details: How to structure the health benefits, how to pay for them and how to get an often-divided Republican conference on board with it all.

Trump immigration protest shuts down a handful of restaurants in the Pentagon

Also from the Washington Examiner

The “Day Without Immigrants” strike was meant to protest President Trump’s immigration policies.

02/16/17 11:34 AM

Sources say Republicans are working closely off House Speaker Paul Ryan’s healthcare plan, and are checking with the Congressional Budget Office on how its different elements would score. But that process takes time, and markups on legislation won’t begin until March.

Committee leaders were tight-lipped about details, and instead laid out the general principles they’re working with. But they promised legislation will be ready at some point after they return from recess.

“No decisions have been made,” said Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas. “We’re going to come back ready to legislate.”

White House to conduct close review of intelligence agencies

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New York hedge fund manager Stephen Feinberg will lead the effort.

02/16/17 10:21 AM



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Democrats demand briefing on Flynn's contact with Russia, phone transcripts


Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who is also ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, sent a letter on Wednesday to Michael Dempsey, the acting director of national intelligence, asking for a "comprehensive intelligence briefing" by Feb. 28. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Two top House Democrats are demanding an intelligence briefing on former national security adviser Mike Flynn’s relationship with Russia by the end of the month.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who is also ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, sent a letter on Wednesday to Michael Dempsey, the acting director of national intelligence, asking for a “comprehensive intelligence briefing” by Feb. 28.

The two lawmakers specifically asked for information on Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials and unredacted transcripts of conversations he had with Russian officials.

Flynn resigned from his job as the administration’s national security adviser on Monday over allegations he had discussed sanctions with Russian officials ahead of President Trump’s inauguration, and then had kept Vice President Mike Pence in the dark when asked.

Pelosi and Schiff asked that the briefing be open to House and Senate leadership as well as all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees.

The briefing will supplement the bipartisan inquiry into Russian influence of the U.S. election.

“While we fully expect that the committee’s inquiry will contribute to our full understanding of the Russian intervention, the severity and urgency of the counterintelligence threat from Moscow demands more immediate attention,” the letter said.

For GOP, another day in Trump whirlwind: Confusion, defiance and a nagging fear

Top Story

I spent much of Wednesday talking and corresponding with Republicans in various states of anxiety about the latest revelations concerning the Trump campaign and Russia. Some put more credence in the allegations than others. All thought the leaks of national security intercepts behind the news stories were outrageous, and that the leakers should be punished. But even for those most inclined to support President Trump, there was still a nagging fear that the stories might be true.

A former government official was the most alarmed. We talked in the morning, not long after he read the much-discussed New York Times story headlined, “Trump Aides Had Contact With Russian Intelligence.

02/15/17 11:03 PM

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GOP lawmaker tells colleagues to investigate Flynn and leaks


A Republican Florida congressman encouraged his colleagues to investigate both retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn’s connections to Russia and the leaks from the intelligence community that brought him down.

Rep. Brian Mast said on CNN said Thursday the American people deserve both investigations, and his colleagues shouldn’t let partisan politics get in the way of that.

“It’s absolutely fair for people to ask questions, for people to expect that we go through the process of intelligence and oversight (committees) to look at all these issues and see what’s going on here,” Mast said.

Flynn resigned Monday after reports surfaced that the White House knew for weeks that he had not told Vice President Mike Pence the full truth about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. That information was leaked to the press from the intelligence community because Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak were reportedly monitored through regular intelligence gathering on the Russian ambassador.

However, Republicans have been concerned about the intelligence community releasing information to bring down someone in an administration who has feuded with the intelligence community for months. Mast said that’s a viable concern.

“That is an important part of it because that can undermine the internal workings of our national security, and that is very important,” he said.

But, Mast also encouraged President Trump to be a bit more conspicuous in what he wants to say publicly about the American relationship with Russia.

He pointed to President Obama’s infamous “red line” statement about the Syrian civil war that ended up haunting the Democrat’s final years in office after he backed away from that public statement. Mast encouraged Trump to keep more diplomatic conversations private.

“If he puts something out there that he can’t walk back from, that’s not what we’re looking for,” he said.

Mattis shoots down idea of military collaboration with Russia in Syria 'right now'

Also from the Washington Examiner

He said he believes Russia interfered in the election.

02/16/17 9:19 AM

For GOP, another day in Trump whirlwind: Confusion, defiance and a nagging fear

Top Story

I spent much of Wednesday talking and corresponding with Republicans in various states of anxiety about the latest revelations concerning the Trump campaign and Russia. Some put more credence in the allegations than others. All thought the leaks of national security intercepts behind the news stories were outrageous, and that the leakers should be punished. But even for those most inclined to support President Trump, there was still a nagging fear that the stories might be true.

A former government official was the most alarmed. We talked in the morning, not long after he read the much-discussed New York Times story headlined, “Trump Aides Had Contact With Russian Intelligence.

02/15/17 11:03 PM



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