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Donald J. Trump White House Page 39
By Kim Bellware

Among the guests at the Trump International Golf Club Super Bowl party Sunday night in West Palm Beach, Fla., its host, President Trump, was an unusually conspicuous presence. In an Instagram video taken by a guest and later shared with the Miami Herald, other attendees — including members of the first family — are seen standing calmly with hand over heart as “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays. The 20-second clip using the front-facing-camera mode shows Trump doing neither. Instead, the president is seen fidgeting, pointing around the room, straightening his jacket and at one point waving his fingers in the air as if conducting an invisible orchestra. Trump’s behavior during the national anthem cut against his frequent claim that his respect for the song, the flag and the military is superlative — and incidentally, this occurred on the biggest night for the National Football League, an organization whose players Trump has openly criticized as unpatriotic. In 2018, Trump called for consequences for players who don’t stand during the national anthem: “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem. Or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.” It was unclear who took the video Sunday. In the clip shared with the Herald, the face of the person holding the phone is blurred. It is also unclear if the golf club has a social media policy, but members and guests of Trump’s various clubs have for years tagged their locations in posts that often include the president or members of his family.

By Reed Richardson

President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly attacked athletes who protest police brutality by taking a knee during the national anthem, was caught on video at his Super Bowl LIV watch party at Mar-A-Lago joking around, playfully pointing his finger at other guests, and waving his arms in the air pretending to conduct the band during the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” The president’s actions on Sunday night were captured on a video by a fellow Mar-A-Lago party attendee — a real-estate agent for a Russian-American firm — and posted on Instagram, and was subsequently re-published by the Miami Herald. Trump’s casual, jokey behavior in the clip stands in stark contrast to everyone else visible, including First Lady Melania Trump, who stand still during the anthem, most with their right hand over their hearts. Notably, Trump’s highly informal conduct comes at the same moment that conservatives are blasting Beyoncé and Jay-Z for remaining seated during the national anthem at Super Bowl LIV. Trump, of course, has a long history of angrily lashing out at kneeling athletes like Colin Kaepernick for, as he sees it, disrespecting the anthem and flag, at times calling for them to be immediately fired, saying NFL owners should “get that son of a bitch off the field.” He’s also strongly suggested anyone who doesn’t show proper respect during the “Star-Spangled Banner” might be worthy of deportation, saying in 2018: “You have to stand proudly for the National Anthem, or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.” Tha hypocrisy was too much to take for online critics, who quickly fired back at Trump.

Trump, says a source, wants Bolton to be criminally investigated for possibly mishandling classified information. Romney, Schiff, and Nadler are also in West Wing crosshairs.
By Gabriel Sherman

With Senate Republicans on track to acquit Donald Trump on Wednesday, Washington is bracing for what an unshackled Trump does next. Republicans briefed on Trump’s thinking believe that the president is out for revenge against his adversaries. “It’s payback time,” a prominent Republican told me last week. “He has an enemies list that is growing by the day,” another source said. Names that came up in my conversations with Republicans included Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Mitt Romney, and John Bolton. “Trump’s playbook is simple: go after people who crossed him during impeachment.” Several sources said Bolton is at the top of the list. Trump’s relationship with Bolton was badly damaged by the time Bolton left the White House in September. Trump has since blamed his former national security adviser for leaking details of his forthcoming memoir that nearly derailed the impeachment trial by pressuring Republicans to call witnesses. In the book Bolton reportedly alleges Trump told him directly that Ukraine aid was tied to Ukraine announcing investigations into the Bidens (Bolton has denied being a source of the leak).

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) When President Bill Clinton was acquitted by the Senate following an impeachment trial in 1999, he apologized to the American public for his conduct. When President Donald Trump is almost assuredly acquitted on Wednesday in his own impeachment trial, he will take a victory lap. As CNN's Jeremy Diamond has reported, Trump is expected to claim the lack of votes in the Senate for his removal as a vindication of what he has been saying all along: That the entire Ukraine story is an attempt by partisan Democrats to overturn the 2016 election and unduly influence this November's race as well. "I don't see the President making a big statement one way or another that would indicate anything different than what he's been saying for many months," one Republican close to Trump told Diamond. Peter Baker made a similar point in The New York Times, writing: "Now Mr. Trump, who has said that the Constitution 'allows me to do whatever I want' and pushed so many boundaries that curtailed past presidents, has little reason to fear the legislative branch nor any inclination to reach out in conciliation." As did Axios' Jonathan Swan: "Everything we've heard from Trump's aides over the last month suggests he will give less and less credence to voices urging caution....Per a senior White House official, Trump feels every major gamble he's taken has succeeded despite advisers who were Chicken Littles." In short: If you thought the first three years of Trump's presidency was as far as he was willing to stretch norms of what a leader can say or do, well, buckle up. While the average person might see the last few months -- in which a series of revelations have come to light that make clear that Trump acted inappropriately in asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter -- as a moment in which the President might reflect on how he behaved and, if not apologize, then consider changing his conduct, Trump sees none of that. He has long viewed himself as a victim of an unfair system, biased against him for, well, whatever reason makes the most sense to him at the moment. Usually his ire fell on snobs and "elites."

By Robert Costa and Mike DeBonis

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), a moderate who is friendly with the White House, on Monday asked his colleagues to consider censuring President Trump as the Senate moves toward votes on impeachment. “I do believe a bipartisan majority of this body would vote to censure President Trump for his action in this matter. Censure would allow this body to unite across party lines,” Manchin said in a speech on the Senate floor. “His behavior cannot go unchecked by the Senate and censure would allow a bipartisan statement condemning his unacceptable behavior in the strongest terms.” It is an effort that could put pressure on some Republican senators as they mull whether to reprimand Trump in coming weeks, even if they vote Wednesday to acquit him on the House’s two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. But Manchin’s proposal will face obstacles as lawmakers in both parties resist the idea and hew to their leadership’s position on how to respond to Trump’s conduct. Manchin has prepared a censure resolution for fellow senators to review in coming days, which would be a less severe rebuke than removal from office for Trump’s involvement in pressuring Ukraine to investigate a domestic political rival, former vice president Joe Biden. “What the president did was wrong,” Manchin said in his speech.

By Katelyn Polantz, Marshall Cohen and Sara Murray, CNN

(CNN) The Justice Department has released another 300 pages of notes from major witness interviews in former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. The documents, include memos -- called 302s by the FBI -- from Andrew McCabe, Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Rick Gates, Michael Cohen and Steve Bannon. This is the fifth time CNN has gotten documents like these from the Justice Department regarding the Mueller investigation, as part of a lawsuit in conjunction with BuzzFeed News. So far, the previous releases have fleshed out details that Mueller summarized in his final report regarding the actions of President Donald Trump and his campaign. The memos have revealed, for instance, how top Trump campaign officials witnessed the President and other Trump campaign officials pushing for the release of stolen Democratic emails and supported a conspiracy theory that Ukraine hacked the Democrats in 2016. The memos were typed up by agents or prosecutors after they questioned each witness. The Justice Department has kept many of the memos heavily redacted as they continue to release them this year.

Highly redacted Kushner memo reveals nothing
The Justice Department released, for the first time, notes from Mueller's team of their interview with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner. But the five-page document is almost completely redacted, revealing nothing more about Kushner's role in the Russia scandal. There are a few snippets of text visible in the memo. "A few weeks after the election [REDACTED] Kushner, Flynn and Kislyak met together at Trump Tower," an apparent reference to the December 2016 meeting between senior Trump aides and then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The rest of that section is fully redacted, even though several pages of the Mueller report delve into the details of the meeting.

By Max Boot

Forget “Saturday Night Live.” The best comic relief on television this weekend was Jared Kushner’s performance on Fareed Zakaria’s CNN show. The 39-year-old senior adviser to President Trump was contemptuous of John Kelly, John Bolton, Rex Tillerson and other former officials with decades of experience in fields such as business, the military and government who have been scathing in their recollections of the Trump administration. “What I have seen is that the cream has risen and — I’m not going to say what the word is — but that has sank,” Kushner said, adding that Trump has “cycled out a lot of the people who didn’t have what it took to be successful here and a lot of the people who have come in and been excellent are not out there complaining and writing books because they’re too busy working.” Presumably Kushner thinks that he is emblematic of the “cream” that has risen to the top. He must be one of the “excellent” people who have what it takes “to be successful here” — although what that is beyond having married the boss’s daughter remains a mystery. He is the living embodiment of football coach Barry Switzer’s scathing quip: “Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.” Kushner has spent his entire career working for his father and his father-in-law. As a real estate developer, he was primarily known for overpaying for an office building located at 666 Fifth Avenue and for buying and destroying the spunky New York Observer. He arrived at the White House with no obvious qualifications and so many conflicts of interest that he did not qualify for a security clearance until Trump overrode the concerns of career professionals.

By Jonathan Chait

Toward the end, the impeachment trial’s strategic purpose narrowed into an obsessive quest to produce evidence. Democrats have defined victory not as removal, but as winning a procedural vote to allow more testimony, especially by John Bolton. The House managers have designed their arguments not to reinforce Trump’s guilt but to underscore the need for more testimony. They seem to have given little attention to the question of whether such a victory would actually serve their larger strategic purposes at all. Republicans may have succeeded in blocking all new evidence and driving toward the rapid conclusion they seek, bu the tactical victory may well become a strategic defeat. If the several days that have passed since the Bolton revelation have proved anything, it is just how uninterested Republicans are in holding Trump to account for his misconduct. Initially, even Trump’s staunchest supporters conceded that pressuring Ukraine to investigate Trump’s rivals would be, if true, unacceptable. (Lindsey Graham: “very disturbing”; Steve Doocy: “off-the-rails-wrong.”) As evidence of guilt accumulated, their denial that this unacceptable conduct took place narrowed to a tiny, highly specific claim: No witness testified that Trump personally ordered them to carry out a quid pro quo. Bolton is the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle.


The Trump administration on Thursday signed its long-promised regulation to remove millions of miles of streams and roughly half the country’s wetlands from federal protection, the largest rollback of the Clean Water Act since the modern law was passed in 1972. The move delivers a major win for the agriculture, homebuilding, mining, and oil and gas industries, which have for decades sought to shrink the scope of the water law that requires them to obtain permits to discharge pollution into waterways or fill in wetlands, and imposes fines for oil spills into protected waterways.

Those industries had fiercely fought an Obama-era regulation that cemented broad protections for headwater streams, which are at the beginning of the river network, as well as certain wetlands. President Donald Trump, whose golf courses and other businesses had fought with regulators over Clean Water Act permits, has lambasted that rule as "disastrous" and his administration repealed it last year.

Here are six things to know about the new regulation, known as the Navigable Waters Protection Rule:

1) It goes beyond overturning Obama to erase protections that have been in place for decades
The Trump administration has made a point of rolling back environmental rules put in place by its predecessor, accusing the Obama administration of federal overreach. But the new regulation goes much beyond repealing the Obama-era rule, unwinding the previous rules that have been in place to protect headwater streams and wetlands since the 1970s and ‘80s.

2) It drew complaints from EPA's own advisers
The Trump administration issued the rule despite concerns raised by EPA’s outside scientific advisers, who issued a draft report in late December that said the proposed version of the rule was “in conflict with established science … and the objectives of the Clean Water Act.” The criticism was particularly notable given that the majority of the board members were handpicked by the Trump administration.

3) Half the country's wetlands could lose protection
Wetlands, the in-between zone separating water and land, serve a crucial role in soaking up flood waters, filtering pollution and providing habitat to fish and wildlife. Despite a goal by President Ronald Reagan to have "no net loss" of wetlands, the U.S. has drained or filled in the lion's share of its marshes and bogs, and is continuing on a downward trend.

Hacked Twitter messages raise legal questions over Cambridge Analytica, undeclared foreign lobbying, and links between Julian Assange and the Brexit and Trump campaign teams.
By Nico Hines

NEW YORK—The man who bankrolled the campaign for Britain to quit the European Union boasted about a backchannel to WikiLeaks after Brexit leader Nigel Farage’s secret meeting with Julian Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, according to private Twitter messages that have been leaked online. The messages hacked from Farage’s biggest financial backer, Arron Banks, also raise legal questions over the involvement of Cambridge Analytica in the Brexit referendum, undeclared lobbying efforts in the U.S. on behalf of a foreign power, and a breach of data-protection law by pro-Brexit campaigners. Banks also joked about being a “full agent” of the Russian state a couple of weeks after Trump was elected president. Brexit campaigners and Trump staffers became close in 2016 as the two upstart campaigns shocked mainstream politicians and won unexpected victories at the ballot box. The House Intelligence Committee heard in 2018 that Farage may have been used as a conduit between the White House and WikiLeaks, which the CIA has described as a “hostile intelligence service” aided by Russia. Two weeks after meeting Trump in Washington, D.C. in February 2017, Farage was spotted leaving Ecuador’s embassy in central London. The Brexit Party leader, who previously led the anti-European Union UK Independence Party (UKIP), later claimed he was only there to set up an interview with Assange for a British radio network. According to the hacked Twitter messages, which have been posted online by New York-based website Cryptome, Banks claimed his colleague emerged from the meeting in March 2017 confident that a new WikiLeaks data dump was on the horizon. The day after the meeting, Banks sent a private Twitter message to a friend. “I had a drink with nigel,” he wrote. “He had an interesting time with wiki leaks.” On the same day, Banks wrote to a Guardian columnist: “You will have plenty of new material soon ! Wiki leaks specialise.” Farage has previously denied to The Daily Beast the allegation that he provided data to WikiLeaks, which published damaging messages hacked from Hillary Clinton’s private email account during the 2016 presidential election. A spokesperson for Farage did not respond to a request for comment for this report.

How Donald Trump’s best friend in Britain—another big fan of Vladimir Putin—put his party at the service at WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange.
By Nico Hines

LONDON—When Julian Assange sought refuge in 2011 at an embassy in the heart of London, only one of Britain’s political parties was willing to offer support to the exile in their midst. Nigel Farage’s U.K. Independence Party, which seemed a fringe movement at the time but became the driving force behind Brexit, swung into action and campaigned against the demand that Assange be returned to Sweden for a police interview on allegations of rape. Farage and his UKIP colleagues have spoken out publicly in support of Assange numerous times since 2011, but leaked emails seen by The Daily Beast reveal the true extent to which the party apparatus tried to assist the founder of WikiLeaks, which the head of the CIA has since described as a “hostile intelligence service” that cooperated with Russian agents. The episode raises further questions about links between Farage, Assange and the Russian government. Farage, who is also a favored friend of U.S. President Donald Trump, was spotted emerging from a meeting with Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in March. Internal UKIP memos reveal the relationship went back much further: Assange and his lawyer were given the opportunity to contribute directly to speeches given by UKIP on the floor of the European Parliament while branches of the party in and around London were told to send activists to protest against Assange’s proposed judicial surrender to the authorities. “We need bodies,” read an email request sent to local UKIP associations asking them to send two or three people each as an “astroturf” protest against Assange’s plight when he appeared in court in London in January 2011. Farage and his UKIP colleagues also reportedly met privately with Assange’s lawyer Mark Stephens, who was repeatedly offered the chance to help craft the party’s words on the case, according to the leaked emails.

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