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September 18, 2017

In recent days, a New York Times reporter happened to be seated next to Ty Cobb and John Dowd, two of President Trump's top lawyers handling the investigation into Russian election interference and the Trump campaign, during lunch at a popular Washington, D.C., steakhouse, and Cobb was overheard alluding to the tensions with White House Counsel Don McGahn, The New York Times reported Sunday night.

Cobb discussed an unidentified White House lawyer he believes to be "a McGahn spy," suggested he would like access to "a couple of documents locked in a safe" in McGahn's office, and spoke of a colleague he blamed for "some of these earlier leaks" who also "tried to push Jared out," apparently affirming earlier reporting that some of Trump's legal team wanted the president's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner to step down, the Times recounts. After the Times contacted the White House for comment, McGahn "privately erupted" at Cobb, the Times adds, citing "people informed about the confrontation," and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly "sharply reprimanded" Cobb for being indiscreet. Cobb and Dowd told the Times they have nothing but respect for McGahn and his skills, noting that his job is different than theirs.

The tensions all stem from the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and how best to respond. Cobb reportedly wants to turn over as many requested documents and emails as possible to end the investigation quickly; McGahn also advocates cooperating but is apparently concerned about preserving executive power and prerogatives and believes Cobb is naive to believe he can protect Trump from Mueller, who has hired 17 prosecutors. The Times then drops in this little tidbit:

Tension between the two comes as life in the White House is shadowed by the investigation. Not only do Mr. Trump, Mr. Kushner, and Mr. McGahn all have lawyers, but so do other senior officials. The uncertainty has grown to the point that White House officials privately express fear that colleagues may be wearing a wire to surreptitiously record conversations for Mr. Mueller. [The New York Times]

You can read more about the internal White House tensions, legal and otherwise, at The New York Times. Peter Weber

1:47 p.m. ET

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday became the third member of the Trump administration to have trouble dining out this week.

Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller was heckled while eating at a Mexican restaurant. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen left a different Mexican establishment after about a dozen protesters surrounded her table yelling "shame." And Sanders was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant by its owner.

The incident was first noted online by a social media user claiming to have been her server and later confirmed by Sanders herself:

Since the story broke, The Red Hen's Facebook and Yelp pages have been flooded with predictably political reviews both for and against the owner's decision. "I live in the Midwest and have already heard what you did to Mrs. Sanders and her party," wrote one reviewer. "What a total disgrace you are! Talk about Nazis!!"

"We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone," snarked another. "No shirt, no truth, no service..." Bonnie Kristian

1:16 p.m. ET

Former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee posted a tweet Saturday morning in which he suggested House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is in league with the MS-13 gang, a favorite subject of President Trump and his allies when talking immigration policy:

Huckabee's comment appears to come in response to Pelosi's pushback on Trump's repeated use of the word "animals" to describe gang members: Pelosi said she believes the label is inappropriate because it ignores the basic human dignity and "spark of divinity" in every person. Trump has said this means she "loves MS-13."

The tweet promptly came under fire on Saturday:

As The Washington Post's Dave Weigel noted, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is actually responsible for electing Democrats to the House, and its "chairman (Ben Ray Lujan) and executive director (Dan Sena) are both Hispanic." The president will be a guest on Huckabee's TV show Saturday night. Bonnie Kristian

12:43 p.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Implementation of President Trump's hastily crafted executive order reversing his administration's policy of separating families at the border reportedly has the executive branch in chaos. "It was policy based on a PR-messaging impulse," light on detail and heavy on speed, a source familiar with administration discussions told Politico.

Trump originally wanted to make comprehensive immigration law by fiat, a Friday night Washington Post story says, but was told by government attorneys that was not possible (or, as one unnamed official put it, "a pretty insane idea"). He then demanded the order on family separation be crafted in less than one day to quell public uproar, a quick solution Politico reports has left the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and Defense unsure of how to proceed.

Especially uncertain, says ABC News, is how to reunite families already separated. All migrant children in the care of Customs and Border Protection have been returned to their families, but up to 3,000 are still held by the Department of Health and Human Services, and some have been shipped clear across the country.

"It's devastating because I already know when I meet [clients] for the first time, and they start telling me that they are [a] parent, that I'm not gonna have the answers that they want in any time that they should have," Texas immigration lawyer Erik A. Henshaw told ABC. "I don't know if I'll find them during their case. I don't know if it'll happen when you get to immigration proceedings. I don't know if you're going to be deported or removed and have never actually found and/or had contact with your child." Bonnie Kristian

12:10 p.m. ET

Katie Arrington, the South Carolina state representative who defeated Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) in his GOP primary race this month, has been seriously injured in a car crash, her campaign announced Saturday.

Arrington was riding with a friend when their vehicle was struck by another driver going the wrong way on the highway. The driver of the other car did not survive. Arrington is expected to remain hospitalized for several weeks to undergo multiple surgeries.

"My thoughts and prayers are with Representative Katie Arrington of South Carolina, including all of those involved in last nights car accident, and their families," President Trump tweeted Saturday morning. Bonnie Kristian

11:07 a.m. ET
Steven Senne/The Associated Press

A.J. Baker, the adult son of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), has been accused of sexual assault by a woman who shared a flight with him Wednesday.

"On June 20, the crew of flight 1354 were notified of an incident between customers shortly before landing in Boston," said the airline, JetBlue. "The aircraft landed at approximately 11 p.m. local time where it was met by local authorities."

The "matter is being handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office," said Massachusetts State Police. Baker's attorneys said he "is fully cooperating and looks forward to a resolution of this matter." Bonnie Kristian

10:44 a.m. ET
Jung Yeon-Je/Getty Images

The Pentagon announced Friday it has come to an agreement with South Korea to indefinitely suspend two more joint training exercises. The two countries previously announced the suspension of "large-scale" military exercises following President Trump's promise to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to stop "provocative, inappropriate, and expensive" war games.

"To support implementing the outcomes of the Singapore Summit, and in coordination with our Republic of Korea ally, Secretary Mattis has indefinitely suspended select exercises" that were scheduled for this summer, said chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White.

"This includes suspending Freedom Guardian, along with two Korean Marine Exchange Program training exercises scheduled to occur in the next three months," she continued. "In support of upcoming diplomatic negotiations led by Secretary Pompeo, additional decisions will depend upon the DPRK [North Korea] continuing to have productive negotiations in good faith." Bonnie Kristian

10:27 a.m. ET

President Trump referenced a Drudge Report headline on Twitter Saturday morning to claim his administration has handled migrant detention better than their predecessors:

While Trump is correct that some recently circulated photos of immigrant children kept in cages with mylar blankets show unaccompanied minors detained by the Obama administration several years ago, more recent footage reveals Trump's own administration housed some children separated from their families the same way. Moreover, illegal immigration to the U.S. has been declining for two decades.

Others of the president's Saturday morning tweets and retweets touched on favored topics including the economy, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, the media, and manufacturing. Bonnie Kristian

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