“The White House signaled on Thursday that President Trump would allow a secret memo written by Republican congressional aides to be made public, despite fears from some in the West Wing that it could prompt the resignation of the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, and lead to another crisis for the administration.
“Mr. Trump, who had a brief window to block the memo’s disclosure on national security grounds, was expected to tell Congress on Friday that he had no objections and would probably not request that any of its substance be redacted, according to a senior administration official.
“The president’s eagerness to see the document made public pitted him against his own top national security officials, who have warned that it omits crucial context and that its release would jeopardize sensitive government information. The memo is said to accuse federal law enforcement officials of abusing their authorities in seeking court permission to surveil a former Trump campaign adviser.” (New York Times)
Meanwhile, on Friday morning, Trump tweeted: “The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans - something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. Rank & File are great people!” (Twitter)
WHAT TRUMP SAID. “Trump told aides and confidants he believed the memo would vindicate his claim early last year that the expansive Russia investigation overseen by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III was a ‘witch hunt.’ He had long expressed frustration, both publicly and privately, with his Department of Justice and, specifically, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who is supervising Mueller’s work.
“The president said he thought the release of the memo would help build a public argument against Rosenstein’s handling of the case, according to people familiar with the discussions. Trump suggested to aides and confidants that the memo might give him the justification to fire Rosenstein—something about which Trump has privately mused—or make other changes at the Justice Department, which he had complained was not sufficiently loyal to him.” (Washington Post)
RNC MEETING. “Trump delivered remarks to the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting Thursday night at Trump International Hotel … his second speech to members of his own party in the same day. … The president criticized Democrats and the ‘haters’ who still watched his State of the Union address two nights earlier. The president said he is trying to push a deal on immigration, but Democrats are stonewalling on a deal over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. ‘The Democrats are AWOL. They’re missing in action,’ Mr. Trump said.
“Mr. Trump said all Democrats do is resist, taking a jab at the ‘resist’ movement opposing him. The president also mentioned how well he thought his State of the Union address had gone Tuesday night, saying even the ‘haters’ gave good reviews in ‘fake’ polls.’” (CBS News)
Trump also “tore into Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a GOP rival and potential 2020 primary challenger. … The president mocked Kasich, who is being termed-out of office and fell short in the 2016 GOP primary, and described him as one of his loudest and most relentless critics.
“At one point in the meeting, Trump brought onstage Bob Paduchik, who the president selected to serve as Republican National Committee co-chair after overseeing Trump’s successful 2016 campaign in Ohio. One person who was in attendance recalled the president heaping praise on Paduchik for helping him win the critical swing state, where he’d faced opposition from the governor. The president recounted the Ohio campaign and how he ultimately won the state.” (Politico)
Meanwhile, “media was escorted out of the RNC’s meeting.” (Politico)
WORTH NOTING. “Ada Fisher, a Republican National Committeewoman from North Carolina, says it’s ‘racist’ to seek to bar immigrants from Africa and Haiti. Fisher complained about … Trump’s reported ‘shithole countries’ comment during a private breakfast for committee members.” (CNN)
IOWA SPIN. “‘Reagan was my all-time favorite in my lifetime,’ said Iowa Republican National Committeeman Steve Scheffler of the iconic conservative president. ‘At least until now.’
“The RNC, and the vast majority of the GOP base, stood by Trump through the enormously controversial Comey firing and his equivocating responses on racist activity in Charlottesville, though the RNC passed its own resolution condemning white supremacy. But signs of a strong economy and the passage of a top Republican legislative achievement have made the party more enthusiastically dedicated to this unpopular president than ever.” (McClatchy)
MAINE. The Maine Republican Party’s “executive director says he’s paying back thousands of dollars he owes in state income taxes. Maine Revenue Services has placed a pair of tax liens totaling about $11,300 against Jason Savage for not paying income taxes in 2013 or 2014.” (AP)
TRAIN CRASH. The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating an Amtrak train crash in Virginia carrying dozens of Republican congressmen, said it appears to have been an accident. (AP)
What We're Following See More »
Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is expected to plead guilty to a raft of new tax and fraud charges filed against him by special counsel Robert Mueller on Thursday. Gates is expected to cooperate with Mueller's investigation.
Robert Mueller announced new charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort advisor Rick Gates. "The new indictment contains 32 counts, including tax charges." The pair had been indicted on 12 charges in October. Since then, Gates's attorneys have asked to be excused from the case.
The FBI has reported that it failed to respond to a warning from "a person close to" Nikolas Cruz, the teen accused of killing 17 people at Parkland High School on Thursday. "It was the second time the FBI apparently failed to follow up on Cruz." On the first occasion, it failed to properly investigate Cruz after it was reported to them that he left the following comment on a Youtube video: "Im going to be a school shooter."
Florida Governor Rick Scott called on FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign following revelations that the FBI had failed to adequately investigate multiple warnings about Parkland High School gunman Nikolas Cruz. “The FBI’s failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable,'" said Scott. '...We constantly promote ‘see something, say something,’ and a courageous person did just that to the FBI. And the FBI failed to act.'" According to an FBI statement, the FBI failed to inform local offices of information regarding "Cruz's desire to kill people, erratic behavior, disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting."