So this is a little...curious. Sopan Deb asks, “Anyone else skeptical Elijah Cummings actually said this?” Or as Noah Rothman tweets, “You've got to be freaking kidding me.” In a partial transcript posted in The New York Times of President Trump’s interview with the paper’s Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, the president is quoted as saying: “Elijah Cummings [a Democratic representative from Maryland] was in my office and he said, ‘You will go down as one of the great presidents in the history of our country.’” Cummings has since clarified, “I said IF he stops being divisive and harmful.”
What else did we learn? The interview covered a range of topics, including, as Haberman tweets, “Trump on Rice, O'Reilly, infrastructure, health care, Syria.” And, as Jennifer Epstein tweets: “When did Trump last take the subway @glennthrush asks the president. The answer: more than half a century ago.” David Holmes notes, “Of course the 1st thing Trump says about why the Susan Rice story is big is ‘Her performance was horrible on TV.’" Say what you will about the contents of the interview, but as SP Sullivan points out, it was “Very generous of the president to sit down with the failing New York Times.” Says Rothman, “You couldn't write this dialogue. Stop what you're doing and read this.”
As for the finished article, Thrush and Haberman’s Trump, Citing No Evidence, Says Susan Rice May Have Committed a Crime is at 33,000+ shares. Steven Rich gives us an alternate headline: “Area man who would have access to evidence refuses to release any evidence.” Many highlighted Trump’s assessment of Bill O’Reilly: "I don’t think Bill did anything wrong,” Says David Lynch, “I'm old enough to remember when presidents didn't pronounce on individual guilt and innocence.” And Lesley Chesterman has a request: “Where do you download that emoji of hitting your head against a brick wall? Much needed these days.”
Gen. McMaster bans President Bannon
The big news yesterday was that Steve Bannon has been removed from his National Security Council role. In response to Peter Baker’s headline in The New York Times, Trump Removes Stephen Bannon From National Security Council Post, Kevin Donahue says, “Thank you, Gen. McMaster.” Bradd Jaffy notes that, according to the Times article, “Trump did not enjoy the whole ‘President Bannon’ thing.” Says Eric Geller, “If Bannon ever goes, this will be why.” Stryker McGuire tweets, “Banning Bannon story is so good on so many levels, incl: where does it leave alt-right bankroller Rebekah Mercer”
Glad you asked. We have since learned that Republican mega-donor Rebekah Mercer urged Bannon not to resign, according to reporting from Eliana Johnson, Kenneth Vogel and Josh Dawsey at POLITICO. As Christina Wilkie highlights, “Bannon threatened to resign from the WH, but GOP mega-donor Bekah Mercer urged him to stay for ‘the long-term play.’”
As for Bannon’s plans? It’s “GAME ON,” according to Jonathan Swan, who reports in Axios that Bannon has told associates: “I love a gunfight.” As Emily Flitter explains, “In this case ‘gunfight’ seems to mean saying nasty things about your opponent to journalists. Tweets Oliver Darcy, “Bannon ally to @jonathanvswan: ‘I see some bad press in [Jared's] future.’” Jonathan Taplin sums it up: “War of all against all.”
Breaking news this morning, as reported by Josh Dawsey and John Bresnahan in POLITICO, Devin Nunes will step aside from Russia probe. With Congressmen Conaway, Gowdy and Rooney taking over, John McQuaid says, “The job of undermining the House Russia investigation is now in more competent hands.” Tweeting in response to Emmarie Huetteman’s piece in The New York Times, Devin Nunes to Step Aside From House Russia Investigation, Shane Kite gets a little hashtaggy with, “#HopelesslyConflicted #DevinNunes 2 #StepDown From #House #TrumpRussia #Probe; #SelfInflicted#WhiteHouse #Collusion.”
Meanwhile, at The Daily Beast Tim Mak reports, House Ethics Committee Launches Investigation of Devin Nunes for Spilling Secrets. And that’s not all from Mak. As Josh Rogin tweets, “Today, @timkmak's nickname is ‘Raisin Bran’ because he's got two scoops!” The other is listed under the heading “Hear No Evil.” That’s House Intelligence Republicans Boycott Briefing From FBI’s Russian Double-Agent, in which Mak writes, “Republicans boycotted a Wednesday briefing on Russian intelligence methods organized by Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, who had hoped the committee’s members could gather in a bipartisan manner to hear non-controversial testimony from an expert.” Hmmm…“Every GOP on the House Intel Committee skipped a briefing from the FBI's Russian double agent,” tweets Khatya Chhor.
Also making news today:
In A father bids farewell to twin toddlers after Syria attack, Sarah El Deeb of AP News illustrates the human toll of Tuesday’s attack. Says Gina Harkins, “Absolutely heart-wrenching: This man lost his twin babies, wife, 2 brothers, 2 nephews & niece in #Syrian attack.” “Steel yourself,” says Corbett Smith. “Just gut-wrenching.” Adds Martin Swant, “If the crisis in Syria feels impossible to relate to, read this heartbreaking story about a dad losing everything.”
Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post will be “UPDATING ALL DAY” on Senate poised for historic clash over Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, as Democrats have blocked the nominee and the GOP now moves to change the Senate rules to ensure Gorsuch will be confirmed.
In The Wall Street Journal, Alejandro Lazo details the “Anatomy of a deportation,” as Tamara Audi puts it, in his piece, After 20 years in U.S., Indiana Restaurant Owner Is Deported.
White House aides are clashing with GOP leaders over flailing Obamacare push, report POLITICO’s Rachael Bade and Josh Dawsey, who quote a source familiar with Wednesday's meeting between top Trump aides and House Republican leaders as saying, "They were in total meltdown, total chaos mode.” Paul Volpe highlights, “Tense meeting at the White House, with Reince suggesting Ryan speakership rides on health care win.”
And finally, “in today's ‘finance is weird’ edition,” as Shira Ovide puts it, Spotify Finally Readies an IPO...That’s Not an IPO, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Maureen Farrell. Leila Abboud calls it a “Fascinating scoop from WSJ.”