Senior FBI agent Peter Strzok has been dismissed from the bureau, his lawyer told The Washington Post on Monday.
Strzok was fired after the FBI's inspector general found he had sent text messages to FBI lawyer Lisa Page that revealed antipathy toward President Trump. In 2016, Strzok told Page "we'll stop" Trump from becoming president. Strzok was involved with the investigation into Russia's election interference, but he testified last month that his personal dislike for Trump did not influence his work; an internal investigation found no evidence otherwise. That hasn't stopped Trump from holding Strzok up as an example of the "illegitimate witch hunt" against him, however, as the president has claimed against evidence that the FBI has acted with bias against the Trump administration.
FBI disciplinary officials had decided Strzok, a 22-year veteran of the agency, should be demoted and suspended, but the bureau's deputy director ordered him fired Friday instead. The New York Times notes that "it is not clear why [Strzok] ... was dismissed at this time," given the text messages have been public knowledge for months. Strzok's attorney said his termination went against months of assurances that Strzok would not be punished beyond the agency's ordinary disciplinary standards. Read more at The Washington Post. Summer Meza
President Trump's 2020 re-election campaign is in full swing, and it's got some familiar faces on board.
Stephen Bannon, Trump's former campaign CEO and chief strategist, has rounded up the old gang, who are apparently just as loyal to the Trump agenda as ever, Vanity Fair reported Tuesday. Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, his deputy David Bossie, and former national security aide Sebastian Gorka are all ready to reprise their roles as Trump hopes to recapture the energy of his first run for office.
The recurring characters of the operation are back despite myriad falls from grace and personal blow-ups with the president, Vanity Fair reports. After Bannon was reported as saying negative things about Trump, the two became estranged, but Trump can't deny that his former chief strategist knows how to rally his base. Bannon said that they still don't speak to one another, but Lewandowski liaises while Bannon carries on with his MAGA strategizing.
Lewandowski and Bossie, on the other hand, are back in good standing in the White House, following a period of time when Chief of Staff John Kelly banned them from the West Wing. Trump has apparently sided with his old campaign buddies, inviting them back into the White House despite some very public blunders from each.
Trump's 2020 campaign style is so far echoing much of his 2016 campaign, with chants of "lock her up" still riling up crowds and calls to "build the wall" still relevant. Bannon admitted that things are different this time around, but thinks the same team can carry Trump to victory a second time. Only he and other Trump loyalists "understand Trump's message, understand Trump, understand the base," he said, and only they can "take him to the next level." Read more at Vanity Fair. Summer Meza
Republican party leaders were by and large not impressed with how President Trump declined to side with the U.S. intelligence community regarding Russian election interference while in Helsinki on Monday. Republican party members, meanwhile, think the president did a great job.
An Axios and SurveyMonkey poll published Thursday found that 79 percent of Republicans approve of how Trump handled his joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Just 18 percent of Republicans said they did not approve.
In stark contrast, 91 percent of Democrats disapproved of Trump's performance, with 7 percent saying they approved. Among independents, 62 percent disapproved and 33 percent approved. Axios additionally noted that 85 percent of Republicans see the topic of Russian interference as "a distraction," while 85 percent of Democrats say it's a "serious issue." Overall, more than half of those polled said they don't trust the Trump administration to prevent foreign interference in the 2018 elections.
President Trump values loyalty above nearly all else, but he's apparently willing to give Alabama Rep. Martha Roby (R) the benefit of the doubt.
Trump endorsed Roby on Friday, calling her a "consistent and reliable vote for our Make America Great Again agenda," despite her past questioning of Trump's morals.
Congresswoman Martha Roby of Alabama has been a consistent and reliable vote for our Make America Great Again Agenda. She is in a Republican Primary run-off against a recent Nancy Pelosi voting Democrat. I fully endorse Martha for Alabama 2nd Congressional District!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2018
After The Washington Post published a tape from Trump's 2005 appearance on Access Hollywood in which he bragged about sexually assaulting women, Roby withdrew her support for the then-presidential candidate. "I cannot look my children in the eye and justify a vote for a man who promotes and boasts about sexually assaulting women," Roby said.
Later, Roby seemed to come around to the man she had once called "unacceptable," eventually sitting down for a meeting with him in the Oval Office, reports Politico. She said she "looked the president in the eye and told him I was with him." Even though she was initially opposed to Trump, her aggressive effort to show him her newfound commitment to his administration has paid off — she reportedly called House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to thank him for helping spur the president's wholehearted endorsement in her upcoming primary battle. Summer Meza
President Trump is worried about staff holdovers.
Trump is becoming paranoid that officials who also worked for previous administrations are not sufficiently loyal to him, The New York Times reported Tuesday. "The Bushies in the White House are out to get me," he reportedly said of staffers who also worked for former President George W. Bush.
The Trump administration has seen a record-breaking number of departures and an incredibly high turnover rate, reportedly leaving Trump concerned that he can't trust the staffers who are left. Few of Trump's original team members remain, which has pushed the president to become increasingly isolated in the White House, preferring not to communicate much with his aides out of worry that they are secretly hoping for his downfall. Read more at Talking Points Memo. Summer Meza