Zuckerberg Faces Congress

Wednesday, April 11, 2018Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 8.44.29 AM

Good Wednesday morning,
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • In a hearing held in response to revelations of data harvesting by Cambridge Analytica, Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook chief executive, faced questions from senators on a variety of issues, including privacy and the company’s business model.

  • President Trump and his advisers weighed a more robust retaliatory strike against Syria than last year’s missile attack, reasoning that only an escalation of force would look credible and possibly serve as a deterrent against further use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians.

  • In early December, Mr. Trump, furious over news reports about a new round of subpoenas from the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, told advisers in no uncertain terms that Mr. Mueller’s investigation had to be shut down. Mr. Trump ultimately backed down after Mr. Mueller’s office told the White House the reports were inaccurate.

  • The F.B.I. agents who raided the office of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer on Monday were looking for records about payments to two women who claim they had affairs with Mr. Trump, and information related to the publisher of The National Enquirer’s role in silencing one of the women.

  • Mr. Trump will not attend the Summit of Americas this week as originally planned, the White House announced on Tuesday, citing the crisis in Syria.

— The First Draft Team

At the White House, Trump Takes Selfies and Seethes Over Mueller

By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS AND MAGGIE HABERMAN
The raids on Monday on President Trump's longtime personal lawyer have sent the president to new heights of outrage about the special counsel's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The raids on Monday on President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer have sent the president to new heights of outrage about the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Doug Mills/The New York Times

Outside the White House, President Trump grinned for selfies with Alabama’s Crimson Tide, telling the college football champions that they had beaten their rivals so brutally, “you flat-out made them quit” — a feat he said he knew something about himself.
Inside the White House, Mr. Trump — furious after the F.B.I. raided his longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen — spent much of the day brooding and fearful and near what two people close to the West Wing described as a “meltdown.”
Mr. Trump’s public and private wrath about the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election are nothing new. But the raids on Monday on Mr. Cohen’s Rockefeller Center office and Park Avenue hotel room have sent the president to new heights of outrage, setting the White House on edge as it faces a national security crisis in Syria and more internal staff churn.
On Tuesday, top White House aides described themselves as deeply anxious over the prospect that the president might use the treatment of his lawyer as a pretext to fire Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel.
Read more »

Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s longtime fixer and lawyer. A federal investigation poses a legal threat to him and possibly his client.

Michael Cohen, ‘Ultimate Trump Loyalist,’ Now in the Sights of the F.B.I.

By MIKE MCINTIRE, JIM RUTENBERG AND MAGGIE HABERMAN

A series of disclosures have revealed the unusual range of Michael D. Cohen’s portfolio, and a federal investigation poses a legal threat to him and possibly his client, the president.

President Trump on Tuesday in the Oval Office. The general understanding has been that the president himself cannot directly fire the special counsel and that he would instead have to order the deputy attorney general to do so.

With Scant Precedent, White House Insists Trump Could Fire Mueller Himself

By CHARLIE SAVAGE

There is little precedent supporting the notion that the president has lawful authority to bypass the acting attorney general and directly fire Mr. Mueller, legal scholars said.

The conservative donor Robert Mercer invested $15 million in Cambridge Analytica, where his daughter Rebekah is a board member.

Facebook Fallout Deals Blow to Mercers’ Political Clout

By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE AND DAVID GELLES

Rebekah and Robert Mercer, the conservative donors behind Cambridge Analytica, are trying to limit damage to their nascent empire and deflect scrutiny from their business endeavors.

The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to justify Scott Pruitt’s extraordinary and costly security measures.

E.P.A. Assesses Threats on Twitter to Justify Pruitt’s Spending

By ERIC LIPTON, LISA FRIEDMAN AND KENNETH P. VOGEL

The effort seeks to support the agency administrator’s first-class travel and 24-hour security detail, even on a personal trip to Disneyland.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, during a hearing on Tuesday. “It would be suicide for the president to want to talk about firing Mueller,” Mr. Grassley, who is also the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said on Fox Business Network.

Republicans Offer Tough Talk, but No Action, on Setting Safeguards for Mueller

By NICHOLAS FANDOS

Democrats, for their part, huddled behind closed doors to plot possible responses in case the president moved to dismiss the special counsel or the deputy attorney general.

The F.B.I. on Monday raided the office and the hotel room of Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer.

Warrants and Privilege: Legal Questions About the Raids on Trump’s Lawyer

By CHARLIE SAVAGE

The president has suggested that the Justice Department infringed on confidential communication with his lawyer. But exactly what communication between a lawyer and a client is privileged?

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, during the first day of congressional hearings this week. He has promised that the company was working to prevent the improper harvesting of user data.
FACT CHECK

Fact Check: What Mark Zuckerberg Said About Facebook, Privacy and Russia

By SHEERA FRENKEL AND LINDA QIU

We fact checked what Facebook’s chief executive is telling lawmakers in congressional hearings about the social network’s responsibilities to users and more.

President Trump’s friendly visit with Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar at the Oval Office on Tuesday was a remarkable turnaround for Mr. Trump.

Trump Now Sees Qatar as an Ally Against Terrorism

By PETER BAKER

Last year, he denounced the Persian Gulf state as a “funder of terrorism.” But on Tuesday, the president hosted Qatar’s emir at the White House and praised him as a “great friend.”

Amherst College in Massachusetts confirmed that it was among the institutions that received the recent letter from the Justice Department.

Justice Department Opens Inquiry Into College Early Admissions

By ERICA L. GREEN

The department’s Antitrust Division is looking into the way colleges and universities use the early decision application process, possibly with an eye on collusion.

Thomas P. Bossert, President Trump’s homeland security adviser, during a briefing at the White House in August.

Thomas Bossert, Trump’s Chief Adviser on Homeland Security, Is Forced Out

By MARK LANDLER

The departure of Mr. Bossert coincided with the arrival of John R. Bolton as the president’s national security adviser.