The RNC and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) “will kick off a 12-day campaign tour to support expanding Republican majorities in the 2018 midterms. The message he will take across the country is clear: Remember Justice Kavanaugh.
“Graham will campaign to boost Republican candidates in the following states: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee.” (release)
SHOUTING MATCH. “The White House chief of staff and the national security adviser got into a profanity-laced argument about immigration outside the Oval Office early Thursday morning, two people briefed on the altercation said, prompting the chief of staff to leave the White House complex and not return for the rest of the day.
“The blowup between John F. Kelly, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, and John R. Bolton, his national security adviser, was loud enough to be overheard by several officials in the West Wing. It erupted as the president—disappointed by new government data showing that his restrictive immigration policies have failed to discourage migrants from seeking entry into the United States—is grasping to resolve a problem that has bedeviled his administration.” (New York Times)
GOP ON KHASHOGGI. “Hard-line Republicans and conservative commentators are mounting a whispering campaign against Jamal Khashoggi that is designed to protect President Trump from criticism of his handling of the dissident journalist’s alleged murder by operatives of Saudi Arabia—and support Trump’s continued aversion to a forceful response to the oil-rich desert kingdom.
“In recent days, a cadre of conservative House Republicans allied with Trump has been privately exchanging articles from right-wing outlets that fuel suspicion of Khashoggi, highlighting his association with the Muslim Brotherhood in his youth and raising conspiratorial questions about his work decades ago as an embedded reporter covering Osama bin Laden, according to four GOP officials involved in the discussions who were not authorized to speak publicly.” (Washington Post)
CHRISTIE. "Do not expect to see" former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) "run for president in 2020 or 2024." Speaking publicly—to "more than 300 students, supporters, and past and present lawmakers in the Eynon Ballroom located at Rowan University in Glassboro"—Thursday for the first time since leaving office, he said "he currently does not see a road for him that would lead him to the White House. ... As for the Democrats, he said to keep an eye on former two-term Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick."
Christie: “My theory for 2020 is no person whose business address is Washington D.C. will be able to beat Donald Trump. Donald Trump has made the American people so angry at Washington, that any United States Senator who is running, including one of our own, they can’t win in my view.” (NJ.com)
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The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel has "released a memorandum Wednesday defending the legality of President Trump appointing Matthew G. Whitaker as acting attorney general — rejecting criticism from some lawyers that the move violates the Constitution. The 20-page states that "past practice, court rulings, and legal analysis show that the Whitaker appointment is legal. In particular, it says the scenario is expressly authorized by the 1998 Vacancies Reform Act. ...The legal opinion also concludes that even if Trump had fired Sessions, he could have replaced him with a non-Senate confirmed government employee for a period of up to seven months."
A new organization of prominent conservative lawyers, called Checks and Balances, is warning that President Trump has undermined the rule of law, and "are urging their fellow conservatives to speak up." The group was organized by George T. Conway III, a "conservative lawyer and the husband of President Trump’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway." It also includes "Tom Ridge, a former governor of Pennsylvania and secretary of homeland security in the Bush administration; Peter D. Keisler, a former acting attorney general in the Bush administration ... and Lori S. Meyer, a lawyer who is married to Eugene B. Meyer, the president of the Federalist Society."
The White House announced Tuesday night that retired Gen. John Abizaid, the longest-serving commander of Central Command, has been nominated as the next ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Abizaid currently serves as the first Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Previously, he held the Distinguished Chair of the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy at West Point.