Obstruction Inquiry

Friday, January 5, 2018Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 9.57.28 AM

Good Friday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • The special counsel’s investigation has uncovered several incidents involving President Trump that raise questions about whether he obstructed justice. Mr. Trump is said to have instructed the White House’s top lawyer to stop Attorney General Jeff Sessions from recusing himself, with the expectation that Mr. Sessions would shield him.

  • Stephen K. Bannon is confronting a dire fate for a publicity-hungry provocateur — political irrelevance — as some of his most important backers recoil after his reported criticisms of the president and his family.

  • Federal prosecutors will be given discretion to more aggressively enforce marijuana laws, threatening to undermine the legalization movement at the state level.
  • Four days after legal marijuana sales began in California, lawmakers and leaders of the cannabis industry vowed legalization would proceed.
  • The move by the Trump administration to allow drilling in nearly all waters off the American coastlines would give the energy industry sweeping access to more than a billion acres, dealing a blow to President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy.
— The First Draft Team

Trump Closes His Voter Fraud Panel, but He Isn’t Happy About It

By MICHAEL WINES AND MAGGIE HABERMAN
Voters in the 2016 presidential election in the Bronx, New York. A voter fraud commission, formed shortly after the president's inauguration, was disbanded on Wednesday.

Voters in the 2016 presidential election in the Bronx, New York. A voter fraud commission, formed shortly after the president’s inauguration, was disbanded on Wednesday. Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which was disbanded this week by the White House, grew out of a presidential tweet.
“I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD,” President Trump wrote on Jan. 25, just days after his inauguration, repeating a claim he had made that millions of illegal immigrants had voted improperly in the last presidential election and swung the popular vote in Hillary Clinton’s favor.
On Wednesday the president closed the inquiry, which after eight months of efforts had found no evidence of electoral fraud and had been widely discredited and enmeshed in controversy after controversy. Its epitaph too was marked by a follow-up missive typed out on Thursday morning by @realDonaldTrump.
“System is rigged,” Mr. Trump wrote, blaming Democratic obstructionism for preventing the commission from getting to the bottom of his claim. Others paint a different picture: Riven by partisan politics, ensnared in lawsuits over its lack of transparency and repeatedly humbled by gaffes, the panel not only had lost any public credibility, but had suffered an erosion of support even in Mr. Trump’s inner circle.
 Read more »

Trump, Citing Pakistan as a ‘Safe Haven’ for Terrorists, Freezes Aid

By MARK LANDLER AND GARDINER HARRISProtesting President Trump’s Twitter messages about Pakistan in Karachi this week. Mr. Trump said on Monday that the country had “given us nothing but lies & deceit.”

The United States has provided billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan, but the Trump administration says it is not doing enough to confront terrorist networks operating there.

In a long journalism career, Michael Wolff has gone from New York Times copy boy to overnight sensation at age 64.

Michael Wolff, From Local Media Scourge to National Newsmaker

By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM

A journalist who loved to needle the Manhattan elite enrages the president with his insider account of the year he spent reporting from the West Wing.

President Trump met Thursday at the White House with Republican senators, including, from left, John Cornyn of Texas, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Senators and Trump Inch Toward DACA Deal, but a Wall Divides Them

By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

Democrats and Republicans remain divided over the shape and scope of a package that would restore protections for young unauthorized immigrants and bolster border security.

A researcher examined bleached coral at Zenith Reef, in the northern section of the Great Barrier Reef, in November 2016.

Global Warming’s Toll on Coral Reefs: As if They’re ‘Ravaged by War’

By KENDRA PIERRE-LOUIS AND BRAD PLUMER

Mass bleaching of coral reefs, once virtually unknown, now happens every six years on average, new research finds. The reefs don’t have time to recover.

A Pfizer laboratory in Cambridge, Mass. Pifzer, Apple, Cisco, Microsoft and Oracle account for about one-third of the $235 billion in taxes that an analyst estimates American companies will have to pay on repatriated overseas profits.

Companies Warn of Hits From Tax Cuts. Don’t Be Fooled.

By JESSE DRUCKER

Companies are expected to report billions of dollars in short-term losses stemming from the new tax law. But they are a prelude to much larger profits.

When he signed the executive order in October calling for the new rules, President Trump said they would provide millions of Americans with relief from “the disaster of Obamacare.”

Trump Proposes New Health Plan Options for Small Businesses

By ROBERT PEAR

The Trump administration proposed rules that could expand access to lower-cost insurance exempt from some requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

President Trump is furious about Michael Wolff’s account of his time in office and about Stephen K. Bannon’s comments, according to advisers.

After Trump Seeks to Block Book, Publisher Hastens Release

By PETER BAKER

Defying the president’s demand, the publisher of “Fire and Fury,” by Michael Wolff, announced that it would move up the book’s release to Friday morning.

A television in Seoul, South Korea, in December featuring President Trump and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea. The United States, the South’s key ally, views Seoul’s overture to the North with deep suspicion.

As North and South Korea Begin to Talk, Trump Watches From Sidelines

By MARK LANDLER

The Trump administration doesn’t oppose diplomatic talks on the Korean Peninsula but worries the North will try to drive a wedge between the United States and South Korea.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
David French in National Review:
“Today represents a perfect example of addition by subtraction. Trump did well in rejecting Bannon.”
While some at Breitbart and even Stephen K. Bannon himself wanted to play down the rift between him and President Trump, Mr. French at National Review reveled in the new split. He says that he is hopeful that with Mr. Bannon on the outs, the administration will reject its “incoherent, destructive nationalist-populist ideology.” Moreover, Mr. French says he hopes that with figures like Mr. Bannon out of the way, there will be “space for better men and women to rise.” Read more »
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From the Left
John Cassidy in The New Yorker:
“The overall portrait that Wolff draws of a dysfunctional, bitterly divided White House in the first six months of Trump’s presidency, before the appointment of John Kelly as chief of staff and the subsequent firing of Bannon, has the whiff of authenticity about it — and it echoes news coverage at the time.”
Some of the reactions to Michael Wolff’s book have been skeptical of his sourcing. For Mr. Cassidy, even if some of the anecdotes are “impossible to confirm but damning if true,” the larger sense one gets from the book is accurate.
Read more »
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