"President Trump's personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, has some explaining to do," says Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. On Monday night, the Post reported that Trump had personally dictated the statement put out on behalf of his son Donald Trump Jr. about a meeting Trump Jr. agreed to in June 2016 with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, also attended by White House adviser Jared Kushner and then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
The president, flying back from Germany on Air Force One and overriding the tell-everything plan concocted by his advisers, reportedly worked with Trump Jr. to write a statement to The New York Times insisting that the meeting was "primarily" about adoption and "was not a campaign issue," when in fact it was arranged to discuss alleged Russian opposition research on Hillary Clinton. The problem for Sekulow, Blake notes, is that in several TV interviews he unequivocally denied that the president had anything to do with Trump Jr.'s statement.
On June 12, Sekulow told George Stephanopoulos that the Times' June 11 report was "incorrect," and "the president didn't sign off on anything. He was coming back from the G-20, the statement that was released on Saturday was released by Donald Trump Jr. and, I'm sure, in consultation with his lawyers. The president wasn't involved in that." He then told CNN's New Day that "I wasn't involved in the statement drafting at all, nor was the president." On June 16, he told Chuck Todd on NBC's Meet the Press: "I do want to be clear that the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement. It came from Donald Trump Jr."
"I do want to be clear the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement" -- Jay Sekulow, Trump's lawyer, apparently lying pic.twitter.com/DMukqu6uIU
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) August 1, 2017
Sekulow issued the Trump administration's response to the Post's inquiries, too, responding to a detailed list of questions about Trump's involvement in the statement-drafting with one sentence: "Apart from being of no consequence, the characterizations are misinformed, inaccurate, and not pertinent." Norm Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, suggests Sekulow's past statements could "be grounds for serious sanctions by the bar," but they could also involve him deeper in the Russia investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Peter Weber
GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham seems to have made up his mind about Christine Ford's testimony before it even happens
Christine Ford isn't expected to testify about her sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until Thursday — but Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) already seems to have made up his mind.
"You can't bring [her allegation] in a criminal court; you would never sue civilly; you couldn't even get a warrant," Graham said on Fox News Sunday. "What am I supposed to do? Go ahead and ruin this guy's life based on an accusation?"
"Unless there's something more, no I'm not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh's life over this," Graham continued, before adding that Ford "should have her say" and will be "respectfully treated." Watch Graham's full interview below. Bonnie Kristian
U.S. Ambassador the United Nations Nikki Haley broke with President Trump and many of his supporters Sunday to argue that Christine Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, "deserves respect and deserves to be heard."
"Accusers go through a lot of trauma. Some handle it one way and some handle it another way," she said on CNN's State of the Union, answering a question about Trump's tweeted response to Ford. "Regardless, it’s not something we want to do to blame the accuser or try and second-guess the accuser. We don’t know the situation she was going through 35 years ago. We don’t know the circumstances."
Haley argued for a responsible but swift examination of Ford's claim by the Senate for the sake of both families involved. Watch an excerpt of her comments below, or read them in full here. Bonnie Kristian
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared on Fox News Sunday to talk trade war, Iran, and Friday's report that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has proposed ousting President Trump from office using the 25th Amendment.
"To the extent one wants to call this a trade war, we are determined to win it," Pompeo said of Trump's escalating tariffs on Chinese imports. He ignored a question from host Chris Wallace about how long the administration would maintain this course, repeating, "We're going to win it. We're going to get an outcome which forces China to behave" in accord with "fundamental principles of trade around the world, fairness, reciprocity."
Though Pompeo, like Trump, has cast U.S. tariffs as a punishment for poor behavior from Beijing, the cost of the taxes is absorbed by American consumers, not Chinese producers. China's trade surplus with the United States has hit record highs since Trump's tariff scheme began.
Turning to Iran, Pompeo pushed back on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's angry response to Saturday's attack on an Iranian military parade. "When you have a security incident at home, blaming others is an enormous mistake," Pompeo argued, calling for Tehran to focus on domestic security "rather than causing insecurity around the world."
And he slammed those, allegedly including Rosenstein, who have considered undermining the Trump administration from within. "If you can't be on the team, if you're not supporting this mission," Pompeo charged, "maybe you've got something else to do."
Watch Pompeo's full interview below. Bonnie Kristian
At least 44 people have died since Hurricane Florence made landfall in the Carolinas more than a week ago, and though the catastrophic rains have finally ceased, flooding continues to hit North Carolina especially hard.
The Cape Fear River will crest this wkd. while the Lumber River will crest again. The Neuse will rise until Mon. Additionally, new areas are flooding with little warning. Due to this, travel isn’t recommended south of US 64. See flood levels https://t.co/xPLtIKVMoY #FlorenceNC pic.twitter.com/ATypLvVZTm
— NCDOT (@NCDOT) September 21, 2018
As some rivers continue to rise, tens of thousands remain without power, and many roads are still submerged or covered in debris. "I know we sound redundant, but it bears repeating," tweeted South Carolina's emergency management department. "Turn around, don't drown!"
Floodwaters have receded from Interstate 40, leaving behind a glut of dead fish. See firefighters hosing fish off the blacktop below. Bonnie Kristian
— USA TODAY Video (@usatodayvideo) September 23, 2018
A new ad for Democrat David Brill, who is challenging Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) for his seat, features six people in diverse occupations arguing Gosar is "absolutely not working for his district." The twist: They're all Gosar's siblings, and they're encouraging Arizonans to vote their brother out of office.
Gosar responded on Twitter Saturday:
Not one of my siblings lives in Arizona and my opponent's policies are out of sync with what Arizona wants and the country needs. I will not be deterred from fighting for our conservative values regardless of these attacks. #az04 #MAGA2018
— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) September 22, 2018
My siblings who chose to film ads against me are all liberal Democrats who hate President Trump. These disgruntled Hillary suppporters are related by blood to me but like leftists everywhere, they put political ideology before family. Stalin would be proud. #Az04 #MAGA2018
— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) September 22, 2018
On a lighter note than linking his siblings to a genocidal dictator, Gosar joked he must be "Mom's favorite," as his mother supports his campaign. Thanksgiving is gonna be so awkward this year. Bonnie Kristian
The Trump administration on Saturday proposed a rule change that would make it more difficult for immigrants to receive visas and green cards if they are deemed likely to use public assistance programs.
"Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially," said Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a statement arguing the rule would "promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers."
The proposal will define a threshold for a total amount of assistance from programs like public housing and food stamps, and using assistance above that line will be "a heavily weighed negative factor" in the consideration of immigration status change applications, DHS said. The new rules could take effect before the end of the year.
Critics say the proposal is less about frugality than restricting immigration, and legal challenge is expected. "Today's announcement by the Trump administration is a backdoor, administrative end-run to substantially reduce legal immigration that, if implemented, will hurt our entire country," Todd Schulte of FWD.us told CNN. "This policy will cost the United States in the long run by limiting the contributions of hardworking immigrants who could become legal residents, and no one is better off because of it." Bonnie Kristian
Social media users responded over the weekend to President Trump's tweeted claim that if Christine Ford's alleged assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh were "as bad as she says," she'd have reported it immediately.
Using the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport, launched by actress Alyssa Milano, survivors explained why they kept silent after suffering sexual abuse:
#WhyIDidntReport. The first time it happened, I was 7. I told the first adults I came upon. They said “Oh, he’s a nice old man, that’s not what he meant.” So when I was raped at 15, I only told my diary. When an adult read it, she accused me of having sex with an adult man.
— ashley judd (@AshleyJudd) September 21, 2018
I was 17. Raped by a friend. I was confused. In denial. Afraid. His parents were richer & better connected than my parents. He was a "good" student. Ppl liked him. The only friend I told--responded w: "He wld never do that." I didn't think anyone would help me. #WhyIDidntReport https://t.co/YbCuIMg07M
— Abigail Hauslohner (@ahauslohner) September 21, 2018
I was 9 years old. A man took me away from everyone else at a birthday party and stuck his hand down my pants. He asked me if I liked it. I thought I had done something wrong. #WhyIDidntReport
— Karen Tumulty (@ktumulty) September 22, 2018
I did, it didn’t matter, I was dismissed, disparaged, & I still get blamed #WhyIDidntReport
— Daryl Hannah (@dhlovelife) September 21, 2018
It is particularly difficult for sexual assault victims to report misconduct by those in positions of power, Laura Palumbo of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center told USA Today. And the assault is "not just something that affects their life in the short-term," Palumbo said. "It also affects their life in the long-term." Bonnie Kristian