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April 13, 2018

President Trump was reportedly so enraged by an FBI raid of his personal attorney's office and hotel that he is now on the brink of firing Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general he appointed, as well as Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

"It's a matter of when, not if," an anonymous person who has been in talks with Trump this week told The Wall Street Journal.

Investigators seized files from Michael Cohen, Trump's longtime attorney, on Monday. The raid was conducted by Manhattan law enforcement, but was based on a referral from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether the Trump campaign was involved. Rosenstein is overseeing the special counsel investigation.

The Cohen raid indicated that Mueller's investigation is encroaching on Trump's inner circle, which reportedly angered the president greatly. It was "not good for the long-term relationship between the president and Sessions and Rosenstein," a source told the Journal.

The White House is reportedly seeking to build a case for the firing of Rosenstein and has asked allies outside of the administration to publicly attack the deputy attorney general and Mueller's probe. Trump's advisers have warned him that firing Rosenstein would be extremely risky and could cause a constitutional crisis. But the Journal's sources say Trump wants the top Justice Department officials gone anyway: "Eventually, it will happen," a source said.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Summer Meza

11:46 a.m.

As he gears up for the 2020 election, President Trump is ready for a challenge from one of his own.

Trump's re-election team has discussed the possibility that he will face a Republican primary challenger in 2020, The Associated Press reports. In particular, the two potential candidates they're keeping an eye on are Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

Both Kasich and Flake are leaving office soon and have discussed potential 2020 bids, with Kasich saying last month that he is looking at it "very seriously" because "we need different leadership," ABC News reports. Flake, meanwhile, has said that he hopes someone runs against Trump in the Republican presidential primaries, although he said in November that he doesn't necessarily see himself running, per CNBC. Both Kasich and Flake have made recent visits to New Hampshire, however, often a signal of forthcoming candidacy.

Trump's campaign plans to seek loyalty pledges from the GOP hoping to avoid a Republican challenge, per AP, and Politico reports that Trump's allies are trying to get the New Hampshire GOP to break from its usual tradition of remaining neutral in the state's primary. This would be so the Republican Party in the state can officially endorse Trump, and the president's team is also looking to get someone loyal to them as the state party's head. Interestingly, Kasich's team criticized this move, with strategist John Weaver saying it wouldn't impact the governor's decision on whether to run. Kasich came in second place to Trump in the 2016 New Hampshire Republican primary and CNN reports he refused to vote for him in the presidential election, writing in John McCain's name instead. Brendan Morrow

11:27 a.m.

Americans are mostly happy with how President Trump is handling border security, but they still want him to hit pause on building a border wall.

As a government shutdown looms closer, 57 percent of Americans say Trump should "compromise on the border wall to prevent gridlock," an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll released Tuesday found. Just 36 percent say Trump shouldn't compromise — it's likely Trump will listen to the minority.

Trump has said he'd only pass this year's spending bill if he gets $5 billion in border wall funding, but Democrats will so far only agree to $1.6 billion. Without a compromise or concession, the dispute would trigger a government shutdown starting Dec. 21.

Americans overwhelmingly want Trump to compromise to avoid the shutdown, with 71 percent of Democrats saying Trump should relent, per the poll. Still, 65 percent of Republicans think Trump should stand firm "even if it means a government shutdown," the poll shows. Trump has generally focused on catering to Republicans, suggesting he'll keep fighting for his $5 billion, NPR says.

The poll also shows 53 percent of Americans approve of Trump's "protection of the U.S. borders." Approval drops as Americans dig deeper into Trump's immigration policies, with only 36 percent approving of how Trump is handling "undocumented immigrants already in this country" and reuniting families separated at the border, the poll says.

NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist surveyed 1,075 adults via landline and cell phones from Nov. 28-Dec. 4 with a 3.7 percent margin of error. See more results at NPR. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:39 a.m.

The number of women in Congress is about to spike — but that's no thanks to Republicans.

Next year, the GOP will have just 13 women lawmakers in Congress, down from 23 last cycle. Republican congresswomen know that's a problem, but men leading the party are doing nothing about it, they tell Politico.

Last month's midterms were brutal for the GOP-held house, likely because suburban moms largely flipped to vote for Democrats, Politico says. Many Republican congresswomen, namely Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Rep. Diane Black (Tenn.), think the GOP can reel those suburbanites back in and regain a congressional majority. But they need to start catering to women first, they said.

In 2012, Black realized the National Republican Congressional Committee wasn't pushing hard to elect women. So she and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) started fundraising to push Stefanik, Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), and several other woman past primaries to win congressional seats. Only Stefanik won re-election this year, leaving Black feel "so disappoint[ed] I could just scream," she tells Politico.

The losses prompted Wagner to run for NRCC chair "in the hopes of leading a recovery," Politico writes. But House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy reportedly told her not to run, putting yet another man at the helm of the GOP's campaign efforts. Rep. Tom Emmer's (R-Minn.) comment that it was "a mistake" to push for female candidates didn't help matters. It's all led Stefanik to leave the NRCC, saying last week she'll start her own operation to get women elected — just like what Black and Wagner did six years ago, but a step further. Read more at Politico. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:24 a.m.

Americans are increasingly unhappy, a new CNN poll published Tuesday finds, with how President Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller are handling the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Approval for both has fallen since CNN asked the same questions in October:


(CNN)

Intriguingly, while each man's ratings vary along predictably partisan lines, Trump's performance in regards to the probe is a low point even for Republicans. GOP respondents ranked Trump well — often 80 percent support or higher — for his performance on other specific issues and for his presidency in general. But on the Russia probe, a bare majority of 51 percent approve of Trump, a record low.

See the full poll results here. The margin of error is +/- 3.8 percent. Bonnie Kristian

9:48 a.m.

The most notable quote of 2018 — the statement that is most emblematic of this chaotic, endless, maddening year — is Rudy Giuliani's "Truth isn't truth."

Such is the determination of Yale Law School librarian Fred Shapiro, who each December releases a 10-quote update to The Yale Book of Quotations. Shapiro's selection criteria are not concerned with whether the quotes are wise or admirable. (As NBC's Chuck Todd told Giuliani immediately after he uttered his winning line, its proper end is "to become a bad meme.") Rather, Shapiro's aim is to capture of the zeitgeist of the year — for better or worse.

Here are 2018's top three:

1. "Truth isn't truth." — Rudy Giuliani, interview on Meet the Press, Aug. 19.

2. "I liked beer. I still like beer." — Brett Kavanaugh, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee testimony on his Supreme Court nomination, Sept. 27.

3. "While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication." — Sanofi drug company, in a tweet responding to Roseanne Barr's blaming of their product Ambien in explaining a tweet that led ABC to cancel her show, May 30. [The Yale Book of Quotations via The Associated Press]

Read the rest of the list of 10 via The Associated Press. President Trump makes an appearance, as one would expect from "a very stable genius." Bonnie Kristian

9:45 a.m.

Allies of President Trump are making quite a bit of money from foreign governments and individuals looking to avoid further U.S. sanctions, The New York Times reported Monday. And Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani may soon be one of the beneficiaries.

Giuliani, the Times reports, attended a private event in July with the Democratic Republic of Congo's special envoy to the U.S. The African country's government reportedly paid $8 million to a firm, Mer Security and Communication Systems, with the intention of hiring American lobbyists to help them avoid additional sanctions. And now, Giuliani is reportedly exploring a deal to work in the DRC, potentially through that firm. Giuliani said that it's possible he pursues business in the country but that it would "only be security consulting."

This firm has already paid over $3 million to individuals connected to Trump, such as a former liaison for his campaign and the wife of a former campaign adviser.

Additionally, the Times reports that Trump allied-attorney Alan Dershowitz is currently advising an Israeli billionaire, Dan Gertler, who was sanctioned last year. Dershowitz has spoken with Trump at the White House about the Middle East but insists he never brought Gertler up.

Bryan Lanza, a former Trump campaign aide, also led expensive lobbying efforts for a Chinese tech company and a Russian conglomerate facing sanctions. Another Chinese tech company paid Lanza's company $70,000 a month for lobbying work. And a Trump fundraiser, Brian Ballard, was paid $125,000 a month in 2017 to lobby for a state-owned bank in Turkey looking to avoid sanctions.

The result of all of this, the Times writes, is that "sanctions targets who had not previously tried to win reprieve are sensing an opening." Read more at The New York Times. Brendan Morrow

9:18 a.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May traveled to the Netherlands on Tuesday in a bid to salvage her deal on Britain's exit from the European Union, reports The Associated Press.

May on Monday postponed a crucial parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal with the EU, saying it faced rejection. May is seeking concessions from European leaders, including on the question of how to keep goods flowing across the border of Northern Ireland in the U.K. and EU-member Ireland. British lawmakers want flexibility on that issue, a key sticking point.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that there was "no room whatsoever for renegotiation," but there is "room enough for clarification and further interpretations. The apparent impasse left no clear path forward for May's government ahead of the U.K.'s scheduled March exit from the European trading bloc.

The prime minister met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Netherlands, traveled to Germany to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel, and huddled with Juncker and EU Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels. Read more at The Associated Press. The Week Staff

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