Google Hor

advertisement

Political News

Inside the 24 hours that broke Sean Spicer

Sean Spicer came to the White House on Thursday completely unaware President Donald Trump was planning to meet with Anthony Scaramucci, a longtime Wall Street friend, and offer him the job of communications director. Other top aides, including Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, also had no clue.

But in Trump's White House, where rumors of staff shake-ups loom for months, it all happened quickly. By Friday morning, over the strenuous objections of senior aides, Trump had a new communications director. And Spicer had made a spontaneous decision to resign, offended by the whole turn of events. He had been blindsided by Trump before, but he took particular umbrage at this one.

Story Continued Below

The wham-bam events of the past 24 hours were exceptional even by Trump's standards: the dismissal of his top lawyer and the lawyer's spokesman, West Wing blowups between the president and his top aides, a press secretary fending off rumors about his possible demise without knowing the entire truth, all while new reports landed about Trump going on the attack against the special counsel investigating his White House.

What struck one adviser who speaks to Trump frequently is that the president seemed calm — like he had a plan in mind all along — but just hadn't shared it with many others.

"In the president's business, you don't have the luxury of time," said Vincent Pitta, a longtime Trump friend from New York. "And marketing and communications has always been very important to him."

The outgoing press secretary — who became a national celebrity for his contentious news briefings, inspiring Melissa McCarthy's "Saturday Night Live" impressions with a mobile podium — had tried to lower his profile, wary he was getting too close to the sun. Random passersby would honk and scream at him outside his house in Virginia while he talked on the phone.

"Just look at his great television ratings," Trump wrote in a statement, praising him upon his departure, even though Spicer had not delivered an on-camera briefing since June 20.

Sign up for POLITICO Playbook and get the latest news, every morning — in your inbox.

By signing up you agree to receive email newsletters or alerts from POLITICO. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Spicer thought he had succeeded in reducing his public footprint. One friend said he seemed to be returning to a more normal version of himself, with less stress and more positive things to say about other people. He had told friends he liked being away from the podium and working on longer-term issues, like tax reform, and had told others how well the White House was going to handle the issue under his stead. And he was coping relatively well with the stress of serving as both press secretary and communications director after Mike Dubke resigned in May.

Spicer had been spotted laughing and drinking with friends, colleagues and reporters at various events such as embassy parties and the Trump International Hotel. He seemed at peace with

...

Yes, Trump Could Pardon Himself. Then All Hell Would Break Loose

This week’s eye-popping constitutional question: Can President Trump pardon himself for criminal wrongdoing? With the Russia scandal swirling more intensely around the White House every week, the Washington Post reported Friday morning that the president might be considering pardoning himself and members of his family as a way of fending off legal consequences for whatever special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation turns up.

A self-pardon would be something new in American history — and just the kind of departure from prior norms that typifies Trump. The Constitution doesn’t specify whether the president can pardon himself, and no court has ever ruled on the issue, because no president has ever been brazen enough to try it. Among constitutional lawyers, the dominant (though not unanimous) answer is “no,” in part because letting any person exempt himself from criminal liability would be a fundamental affront to America’s basic rule-of-law values.

Story Continued Below

But as a practical matter, it’s not a panel of legal experts that will decide this issue. It probably won’t be a court, either. Instead, the answer will be fought out at the highest levels of American politics. And in real life, if the president signed a document with the words “I pardon myself”—which he certainly could—it’s impossible to know what would happen next.

Given the political firestorm that a self-pardon might provoke and the broader norm-smashing context of the Trump administration, an attempted self-pardon could do anything from keeping Trump out of jail to bringing down his presidency and landing him in the dock. Or it could do nothing at all—which would be troubling, too. All we can know for sure is that it would take our system, once again, into uncharted territory.

Here’s one possible scenario. Suppose the president announces a self-pardon, and Republicans in Congress follow the script they’ve used until this point: They express concern at the behavior but make no serious move to punish the president for it. The legal effect of the pardon would then go untested for years. A pardon is a shield against a prosecution, and in the absence of a potential prosecution it has no work to do. As long as Trump is president, there won’t be any prosecution to put it to the test, because a sitting president probably can’t be prosecuted for a crime. Again, this isn’t a certainty—the Supreme Court has made clear that a sitting president can be sued in a civil suit, as Bill Clinton was by Paula Jones—but the dominant view on the criminal side is that a President must be impeached and removed from office before he can be a criminal defendant. So while Trump remains president, an attempted self-pardon would be like an umbrella that hasn’t been taken out in the rain: We don’t know yet whether it works, or how well.

After Trump leaves office, the self-pardon would be tested only if the next administration were inclined to prosecute Trump. And this raises a potentially momentous but highly speculative question: How much might

...

Alabama agonizes over Trump attacks on Sessions

Alabama agonizes over Trump attacks on Sessions

President Donald Trump’s public attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the ongoing Russia investigation have struck a nerve in a state that elected the attorney general to the Senate four times.

'He could be the greatest attorney general in history if they would just let him,' said one local Republican.

By Jake Lahut

07/21/2017 01:59 PM EDT

Updated 07/21/2017 05:13 PM EDT

2017-07-21T05:13-0400

Donald Trump’s harsh criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rattling Alabama Republicans, who are considered among the president’s staunchest and earliest supporters.

There are few places where the president is more popular than Sessions’ home state. Mobile was the site of Trump’s first big stadium-style rally in 2015, an event so pivotal in his campaign that Trump returned there in December for another rally to thank local voters.

Story Continued Below

That ardor hasn’t faded: A February poll showed Trump’s approval ratings at 88 percent among Alabama Republicans, with a stratospheric 69 percent strongly approving of his performance.

But Trump’s public attacks on Sessions for recusing himself in the ongoing Russia investigation have struck a nerve in a state that elected the attorney general to the Senate four times.

Conversations with nearly three dozen local Republicans turned up fond memories of Sessions, the state’s former senator — and frustration that he would be so publicly undermined by Trump.

“When President Trump says that, it’s disparaging and unproductive,” said Jefferson County GOP Chair Sallie Bryant, who hails from the most populous county in the state. “[Sessions] is a great guy, and he’s one of the most honorable people I’ve ever known. I’ve never known him to do something that he didn’t think was constitutional.”

Sign up for POLITICO Playbook and get the latest news, every morning — in your inbox.

By signing up you agree to receive email newsletters or alerts from POLITICO. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Like Bryant, local GOP officials lined up to defend Sessions. Ozark Mayor Bob Bunting recalled that when his wife passed away on Christmas Eve in 2015, Sessions called just hours later to express his condolences and to check in on Bunting’s grandson, who now serves in the military.

“I was overwhelmed with that call, because nobody else out of Washington would ever call me in that way,” said Bunting. “That’s just the kind of person he is.”

Bunting, who considers himself a strong Trump supporter, was exasperated that Sessions’ decision to recuse himself was being used as a cudgel against him.

“And Trump expects the attorney general to not do the right thing for the country? Dear Lord,” he said. “He could be the greatest attorney general in history if they would just let him.”

Sessions, who offered his resignation to the president in May, said Thursday he intends to remain in his position for the time being.

Jackson County GOP Chair Ellen O’Conner felt torn between her support for Trump as an outsider and her admiration of Sessions' ideological consistency.

“I don’t know

...

Scaramucci, repeatedly denied a White House role, finally sees a reward

White House

The Wall Street financier and Trump donor was named Trump's communications director after being blocked for other West Wing roles.

By Ben White

07/21/2017 04:45 PM EDT

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and President Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon confronted Anthony Scaramucci in the West Wing on Friday morning, threatening to block the financier’s appointment as Trump’s communications director.

Scaramucci laughed it off, according to a person familiar with the exchange, because he knew something they didn’t: He already had the job.

Story Continued Below

For Scaramucci, the appointment completed a remarkable journey that saw him rumored for one senior administration job after another only to see the offers slip away amid internal opposition from Priebus and others.

Now the telegenic Scaramucci, a fast-talking fixture on the international circuit from Davos, Switzerland, to his own lavish hedge fund conference in Las Vegas, is at the center of power in the chaotic Trump White House. He is now charged with repairing a toxic relationship between the press and a president who regularly rips what he calls the “fake news media.”

At a White House briefing on Friday, Scaramucci—widely referred to as “The Mooch”—spoke repeatedly of his “love” for the president, to whom he said he will report. “I think there has been at times a disconnect between the way we see the president and how much we love the president and the way perhaps some of you see the president,” he said.

Invoking Wall Street lingo, he added that there might an “arbitrage spread between how well we are doing and how well some of you guys think we are doing and we are going to work hard to close that spread.”

Sign up for POLITICO Playbook and get the latest news, every morning — in your inbox.

By signing up you agree to receive email newsletters or alerts from POLITICO. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Scaramucci said he hopes that press secretary Sean Spicer – who resigned Friday after registering his own opposition to Scaramucci’s appointment – will go on “to make a tremendous amount of money.” He also repeatedly expressed his desire to work closely with Priebus, who he said he’d been “personal friends” with for years. “We are a little bit like brothers where we rough each other up once and a while,” he said, noting that he once offered Priebus a job at his hedge fund firm.

He said deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be elevated to replace Spicer, who will leave in August. “The Navy S.E.A.L.s will tell you that if you want to eat an elephant, you’ve got to do it one bite at a time and Sarah and I will do that together,” he said.

People who know Scaramucci say he could be a good fit for this new challenging role. A relentless networker who emerged as a major conduit of Wall Street cash to GOP candidates in recent years, Scaramucci generally likes and respects reporters

...

White House seeks to downplay discord at first briefing after shake-up

White House seeks to downplay discord at first briefing after shake-up

Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders arrives to speak to members of the media in the Brady Press Briefing room of the White House on July 21 followed by Anthony Scaramucci. | Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

The White House sought to use its first on-camera briefing in weeks Friday to downplay internal discord after a press shop shake-up, and President Donald Trump said in a statement that he was "grateful" to outgoing White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

By Madeline Conway and Louis Nelson

07/21/2017 02:09 PM EDT

Updated 07/21/2017 03:40 PM EDT

2017-07-21T03:40-0400

The White House sought to use its first on-camera briefing in weeks on Friday to downplay internal discord after a press shop shake-up, and President Donald Trump said in a statement that he was "grateful" to outgoing White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

In the statement read by principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump wished success to Spicer — who resigned hours earlier in protest of the decision to bring on Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director — and applauded his outgoing aide's "great television ratings."

Story Continued Below

Scaramucci also praised Spicer and said he and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who reportedly also opposed his hiring, are like bickering brothers with no real friction between them.

Here are the key moments from the briefing by Sanders, who will now take over Spicer's job, and Scaramucci.

Get breaking news when it happens — in your inbox.

By signing up you agree to receive email newsletters or alerts from POLITICO. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Scaramucci and Priebus are like squabbling brothers , the new communications director said.

"There's been some speculation in the press about me and Reince, so I just want to talk about that very quickly. Reince and I have been personal friends for six years. We are a little bit like brothers, where we rough each other up once in a while, which is totally normal for brothers. There's a lot of people in here that have brothers, and so you get that. But he's a dear friend," he said.

He said it was Priebus who first brought him into politics and recalled that he had once asked the chief of staff to join his hedge fund, SkyBridge Capital. He also said Priebus was consulted before he was hired.

"I would love to have Sean here," Scaramucci said of Spicer, insisting there was no "friction."

"OK, so his attitude is, if Anthony's coming in, let me clear the slate for Anthony, and I do appreciate that about Sean, and I love him for it," he continued. "But I don't have any friction with Sean."

He also said he had no issues with Priebus, though he said "we can all live" with a "little bit of friction" in the White House.

Scaramucci would not commit to on-camera briefings .

"If she supplies hair and make-up, I will consider it, okay? But I

...
You are here: Asian-Americans Home Politics