In The Past 24 Hours Or So

Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News

  • According to the new book “Sinking In The Swamp,” when Wisconsin native Reince Priebus was his White House chief of staff, the president peppered him with questions about Wisconsin’s state animal, the badger, during briefings about foreign and domestic policy. Trump was obsessed with Wisconsin’s association with badgers, and he often asked Priebus to explain how the short-legged mammals behaved, what they ate and whether they were dangerous. 

The President would “stare at Priebus as the aide struggled for sufficiently placating answers,” they added, “all the while trying to gently veer the conversation back to whether we were going to do a troop surge in Afghanistan or strip millions of Americans of healthcare coverage.”

  • President Trump appeared Thursday to link his administration’s policies toward New York to a demand that the state drop investigations and lawsuits related to his administration as well as his personal business and finances. Trump Tweeted: “I’m seeing Governor Cuomo today at The White House. He must understand that National Security far exceeds politics. New York must stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits & harrassment,(sic) start cleaning itself up, and lowering taxes. Build relationships, but don’t bring Fredo!” 
  • Hope Hicks will return to the White House after a nearly two-year absence. President Trump’s former communications director will return as an aide to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Some believe that the actual reason why Hicks is being brought back to the White House is due to Trump’s declining mental state.
  • At an appearance at Drew University, Trump’s former chief of staff John Kelly explained his misgivings about Trump’s behavior regarding North Korea, immigration, and Ukraine. Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, said that Vindman is blameless and was simply following the training he’d received as a soldier; migrants are “overwhelmingly good people” and “not all rapists”; and Trump’s decision to condition military aid to Ukraine on an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden upended long-standing U.S. policy.
  • Jessie Liu, the former U.S. attorney, resigned from the Trump administration Wednesday, two days after President Trump abruptly withdrew her nomination for a top job at the Treasury Department. Liu had headed the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., which oversaw several cases that originated from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including prosecutions of longtime Trump associate Stone and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
  • President Trump’s former personal assistant, John McEntee who was reportedly escorted out of the building in 2018 for a reputed tax-and-gambling problem, will oversee the Presidential Personnel Office. McEntee is expected to head up the office tasked with vetting presidential appointments and recruiting candidates to work across various White House agencies. The office is also responsible for thousands of lower-level appointees.
  • Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced Thursday that the US and the Afghan Taliban “have negotiated a proposal for a seven day reduction in violence.”
  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said the U.S. government would not furnish any information for a database of companies operating in Israeli-controlled territories that the United Nations’ human rights office released, and said the compilation hurts peace efforts in the Middle East.
  • The Pentagon is moving $3.8 billion from various weapons programs to pay for President Trump’s southern border wall, according to a notice sent to Congress on Thursday.
  • An environmental group is trying to block one of President Trump’s most far-reaching environmental rollbacks from taking effect, arguing the administration has not provided proper access to public documents on a new rule that would limit the scope of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 

NEPA requires agencies to evaluate how pipelines, highways and some oil and gas development affects the environment and nearby communities. The law has been a repeated target of President Trump, who has vowed to speed the construction of fossil fuel infrastructure and eliminate barriers to construction projects. Trump’s changes would limit the breadth of the law, excluding some projects from undergoing NEPA review.

  • President Trump said Thursday he may end the practice of having national security and foreign service staff listen in on his calls with foreign leaders after a July call with the president of Ukraine triggered his impeachment in the House. Trump complained extensively about Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in the House impeachment inquiry, during a radio interview with Geraldo Rivera, accusing him of being “insubordinate” by raising concerns about the president’s conduct on the July 25 call. Top White House and national security officials typically listen in on presidential phone calls to keep everyone on the same page and create a record of the conversation.
  • The Senate passed a war powers resolution Thursday that constrains President Donald Trump’s ability to authorize military strikes against Iran. The resolution from Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine received bipartisan support. It passed 55–45 with eight Republicans voting with Democrats in favor. However, Trump has signaled he will veto the resolution, and there are not enough votes in Congress to override the veto.
  • President Trump on Thursday announced the nominations of two officials to become the deputy chiefs of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Energy Department. Douglas Benevento will be nominated as the EPA’s deputy administrator and Mark Menezes will be nominated to be the deputy energy secretary.
  • Senate Republican sources expect President Trump to withdraw his nomination of Judy Shelton to serve on the Federal Reserve Board following bipartisan resistance on Capitol Hill. The White House has not made a final decision since Trump would first need to sign off on the reversal, but Republican sources say it would be “desirable” for her to withdraw from consideration and that her nomination is “trending” in that direction.
  • Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell of the District of Columbia on Thursday released a public statement in defense of the federal trial judge overseeing Roger Stone’s sentencing next week, a rare move after President Donald Trump criticized the judge.

“The Judges of this Court base their sentencing decisions on careful consideration of the actual record in the case before them; the applicable sentencing guidelines and statutory factors; the submissions of the parties, the Probation Office and victims; and their own judgment and experience,” Howell said. “Public criticism or pressure is not a factor.”

While the statement does not name her directly, it’s a clear defense of U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia, who is presiding over Stone’s case.

  • President Trump has rehired his former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former press secretary Sean Spicer almost three years after both men unceremoniously departed the White House. Priebus and Spicer will each join the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. 
  • In November of 2019 when Trump was asked in an interview with Bill O’Reilly, “Giuliani’s your personal lawyer, so you didn’t direct him to go to Ukraine and do anything or put any heat on them?” Trump responded, “No, I didn’t direct him.” On Thursday, during an interview with Geraldo Rivera, he was asked, “Was it strange to send Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine – your personal lawyer. Are you sorry you did that?” Trump replied, “Not at all.” 
  • President Trump will be the guest of honor at a Saturday fundraiser at the palatial Palm Beach estate of billionaire Nelson Peltz. Trump’s fellow guests: donors who gave $580,600 per couple to support the president’s reelection, making it the most expensive such fundraising event since Trump took office. The dinner, taking place just a few miles from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, shows how enthusiastically Trump has embraced big-dollar fundraising in his bid for a second term — a dramatic about-face from 2016, when he criticized the influence of wealthy donors on the politicians who court them.

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