Posts Tagged ‘Anthony Scaramucci’

The Democrats, not the president, have the real credibility problem

July 2, 2018

In the wake of the child separation fiasco, President Donald Trump doesn’t have a credibility problem — but his chief of staff and the Democrats do.

In March 2017, then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly appeared on television promoting child separation as a powerful deterrent to illegal immigration. However, as details emerged about the border situation, his close confidant and successor at DHS, Kirstjen Nielsen, claimed there was no such policy. The messaging was as incompetent and dishonest as the policy was cruel and immoral, and people should be held accountable.

By Anthony Scaramucci

Because President Trump was largely correct on the issue, he doesn’t face a credibility problem. There is no clean executive solution to border enforcement, and Congress is to blame for the ongoing illegal immigration crisis.

OUR VIEW:White House squanders credibility in family separation drama

Within 48 hours of gaining a full understanding of the situation, the president issued an executive order bringing families back together. However, that order is unlikely to pass legal muster. The 1997 Flores settlement says the government cannot detain immigrant families for more than 20 days. Due to a backlog of tens of thousands of immigration cases, the remaining options are immediate deportation without due process, which is illegal, or “catch and release,” which is ineffectual and unfair to law abiding American citizens.

Congress offers the best hope for a solution. President Trump is open to compromising on “zero tolerance” enforcement and providing a path to citizenship for “Dreamers” — immigrants brought into the country illegally as children — in exchange for border security funding, but Democrats see it more politically expedient to obstruct.

America must balance its role as a haven for the world’s huddled masses with law, order and security. The president wants to find common ground, but the “resistance” is peddling false narratives to avoid making a deal. The Democrats, not the president, have the real credibility problem.

Anthony Scaramucci, the founder and co-managing partner of SkyBridge Capital, was President Trump’s White House director of communications.


Kelly Loses White House Clout as Trump Blazes Own Path

March 29, 2018


By Jennifer Jacobs

  • Chief of staff out of loop for several key recent decisions
  • President and top aide at times now on different wavelengths
 Image result for John Kelly, Donald Trump, photos

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has lost some of his clout following recent missteps and wasn’t at President Donald Trump’s side for recent crucial decisions on staffing and policy moves, according to several senior aides.

Kelly wasn’t with the president last week when Trump abruptly decided to oust H.R. McMaster as national security adviser and replace him with John Bolton. Just two people were in the room for that decision: Trump and Bolton.

John Kelly

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

And Kelly is rarely on the line any more when Trump calls foreign leaders. Last week, when Trump spoke with President Vladimir Putin days before the U.S. decided to expel dozens of Russian diplomats, Kelly wasn’t on the call.

The chief of staff’s absence at those two key moments last week highlights his struggles in managing the White House for a president who has a penchant for unpredictability and often follows his own lead when making decisions. Kelly has seen his influence slip since a staffing controversy in February marred his credibility and damaged his image as an internal disciplinarian.

Even so, Trump has shown no recent signs that he wants to fire Kelly and has gone out of his way to publicly praise his chief of staff, including during a visit this month to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego where he told the audience Kelly is “doing a great job.”

Shulkin Phone Call

The chief of staff was in the loop on Trump’s decision to replace Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin with Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, the president’s physician, an aide said. Trump and Kelly discussed the move several times, including in the Oval Office on Monday, and Kelly delivered the news to Shulkin in a phone call Wednesday afternoon, the aide said.

The picture of Kelly’s role emerges from interviews with seven White House aides and five former staffers and outside confidants. All requested anonymity to discuss internal matters. The White House communications staff declined to comment for this story.

A retired four-star Marine Corps general who served as Trump’s first Homeland Security secretary, Kelly entered the White House last July with a level of authority aides say his predecessor Reince Priebus never possessed. He moved quickly to impose order — most notably by restricting access to the Oval Office for subordinates as well as the president’s many friends, unofficial advisers and confidants.

The Porter Fallout

Those efforts paid off on the policy side, most noticeably with the administration’s victory in getting Trump’s massive tax cut legislation passed by Congress and signed into law before the end of last year.

Yet since early this year, the White House has been gripped by turmoil. In February, Staff Secretary Rob Porter was fired after allegations of domestic violence surfaced, an episode that put the White House process for issuing security clearances under public scrutiny.

Aides say Kelly mishandled Porter’s departure, first by revising a statement that praised the aide after news reports surfaced that he’d been accused of domestic violence, and then by giving reporters an inaccurate timeline of the events leading up to Porter’s dismissal.

Lately, Kelly is less aware of what’s on Trump’s mind and what he’s planning to do next, according to several aides, with one describing the men as sometimes on different wavelengths. Trump doesn’t seek his input on staffing or policy decisions as much as he used to, and Kelly is no longer as successful in blocking access to former aides Kelly has described as disruptive.

Access for Ousted

The president once again speaks occasionally by telephone with Anthony Scaramucci, the communications director Kelly fired last summer and blacklisted from the White House grounds.

Fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is also a presence in Trump’s inner circle. Trump dined with Lewandowski and four others Monday night in the residence. Kelly, who has previously said he wouldn’t allow Lewandowski on the grounds unless he personally escorted him, wasn’t there. But he was aware of the dinner and briefed on the discussion on 2018 politics, aides said.

Kelly favors communications aide Mercedes Schlapp to be the new communications director to replace Hope Hicks, whose last day is Thursday. Trump has said he prefers policy aide Kellyanne Conway for the role, aides said.

Maintains Broad Authority

Still, Kelly has broad authority and is trying to rein in mass upheaval within the staff ranks.

He is overhauling the internal policy process, aides said. At the senior staff meeting on Wednesday morning, Kelly’s newly-named deputy chief of staff for policy coordination, Chris Liddell, announced the plan, which includes new short-term and long-term structures for handling policy and reacting to news of the day, aides said.

Kelly has told the staff that whenever possible, new White House hires need to already possess the necessary national security clearance to do the job. That directive is being carried out. For example, when George David Banks had to leave his National Economic Council post after he did not get clearance because of past marijuana use, the White House brought in Wells Griffith, an Energy Department official who already has a high security clearance.

But aides say they’ve seen signs Kelly’s grip has slipped. Trump’s impromptu March 1 announcement of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum had aides wondering whether the president consults with Kelly before all major decisions since the chief of staff appeared not to have advance warning.

Information Gap

In mid-March, Kelly promised subordinates that there would be no imminent personnel changes in the White House. A week later, Trump replaced McMaster.

Some members of the staff said they no longer take Kelly at his word as they once did. However, some aides argued Kelly’s assurances that day were true in the moment — but it later became untenable for McMaster to stay on amid the whirlwind of media speculation that undercut his credibility dealing with foreign counterparts.

Trump has told confidants that the White House is the opposite of “chaos” portrayed in the media — it’s in danger of stagnation. He views replacing McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Shulkin as the best way to speed up progress on his agenda. Trump has brooded this week about inaction in Congress, arguing that the White House has too many guardrails and rules impeding his goals, an aide said.

Emboldened President

Many White House aides retain confidence in the Kelly, according to senior officials. Although he has lost some credibility with the staff, there is no sense of urgency to see him replaced, in contrast to the eventual impatience among some aides for Priebus to go.

Kelly still has some leverage with Trump, but after more than a year in office the president has grown increasingly confident in the role and making more decisions unilaterally, they said.

There are no indications Trump is seriously considering a third chief of staff, though he has mused about replacements with friends.

But he is known for snap decisions. In February, he chastised Kelly on Twitter after the chief of staff said in a television interview that the president had “evolved in the way he looks at things.” The interview followed a meeting with Congressional Democrats in which he reportedly said Trump was “uninformed” during the 2016 campaign when he promised a wall spanning the length of the Mexican border.

Trump tweeted that his plans for the wall had “never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it.” Both McMaster’s and Tillerson’s departures were preceded by similar Twitter rebukes.

Kelly has told senior staff that although he doesn’t always agree with what the president wants to do, and Trump doesn’t always take Kelly’s advice, he expects to stay on the job.

— With assistance by Justin Sink, and Shannon Pettypiece

Includes video

Replacing Hope Hicks? She’s almost as charming…

March 1, 2018

Schlapp, the White House director of strategic communications, is being seriously considered for the hot seat that’s gone through five occupants since President Trump took office, sources told the Wall Street Journal.

Hicks was on that job for 196 days, following in the short-lived footsteps of Anthony Scaramucci, Sean Spicer, Jason Miller and Mike Dunke, according to the Washington Post.

Hicks’ stint was by far the longest.

Her potential replacement, Schlapp, 45, is the wife of American Conservative Union president Matt Schlapp. She’s the daughter of Cuban immigrants.


Steve Bannon Interview Raises New Questions About His Standing at White House

August 18, 2017

Less than three weeks ago, a similar interview with Anthony Scaramucci resulted in his ouster

Updated Aug. 17, 2017 6:19 p.m. ET

Steve Bannon’s standing as White House chief strategist took a hit after a liberal political magazine published an extended interview in which he referred to white supremacist groups as “clowns,” said President Donald Trump’s pro-business advisers were “wetting themselves” and—contrary to the president’s public positions—dismissed the potential for military action in North Korea.

People close to Mr. Bannon were concerned Thursday…


Bannon’s interview: A blunder or intentional ploy?


  • Some sources say Steve Bannon intentionally spoke to the American Prospect
  • The remarkable comments were reminiscent of what got Bannon into hot water earlier this year

Bridgewater, New Jersey (CNN) — White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is privately offering shifting and conflicting explanations for the strikingly candid interview that could further imperil his already shaky standing inside the West Wing.


Sources close to Bannon first said the chief strategist did not know he was being interviewed when he spoke over the phone with Robert Kuttner, the co-editor of The American Prospect. But the same sources now say the chief strategist granted the interview as part of a ploy to distract from the criticism President Donald Trump has been facing over his response to the violence in Charlottesville sparked by a white supremacist rally.
“Bannon knew full well this would distract from criticism,” a source familiar with Bannon’s thinking said.
A second source familiar with Bannon’s thinking said the chief strategist was trying “to divert attention from Charlottesville criticism” by offering the controversial comments to the American Prospect reporter, knowing the comments would grip headlines.
Bannon has declined to comment and did not respond to CNN’s inquiry asking about the conflicting accounts.
Bannon’s remarks may have served to momentarily divert attention from the President’s controversial response to the violence in Charlottesville, but his comments also offered damaging insight into the divisions inside the Trump administration and showed the chief strategist undercutting the President on the most significant national security issue facing the administration.
While Trump promised to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea should the rogue regime continue to threaten or attempt to strike the US or its allies, Bannon dismissed North Korea as a “sideshow” to the larger economic conflicts between the US and China and argued there is “no military solution” to the crisis.
The remarkable comments were reminiscent of what got Bannon into hot water earlier this year, when a narrative began to set in that he was effectively running the White House.
Bannon also offered unprompted criticism of fellow advisers to the president, including National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, whom Bannon placed among those he is fighting “every day” to push a harder line on international trade issues.
Those comments in particular could land Bannon in trouble with the President and his recently-installed chief of staff John Kelly, who just two weeks earlier ousted White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci after he badmouthed colleagues in vulgar terms to The New Yorker.
Scaramucci later said he did not believe his conversation with The New Yorker reporter had been on the record, and later conceded he made a mistake.
Robert Kuttner, the Prospect editor who interviewed Bannon on Tuesday, wrote in his article that “the question of whether the phone call was on or off the record never came up.”
“This is also puzzling, since Steve Bannon is not exactly Bambi when it comes to dealing with the press. He’s probably the most media-savvy person in America,” Kuttner wrote.
Bannon, the former Breitbart chief, is known for being particular media savvy and — like other experienced Washington hands — knows that all conversations with reporters are on the record unless an agreement is reached beforehand.

Scaramucci warns Trump to beware ‘enemy within’ White House

August 14, 2017

Short-lived communications chief likens himself to Pulp Fiction’s Mr Wolf, called in to clean up dysfunctional White House

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and indoor

Anthony Scaramucci interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on ABC TV. Photograph: Lou Rocco/Getty Images


Anthony Scaramucci has claimed that Donald Trump is still fighting an “enemy within” the White House and warned the president to change his strategy if he wanted to bring in his own agenda.

In his first television interview since his short-lived reign as Trump’s communications chief, Scaramucci said the president had done “way better” than he was given credit for in his first seven months in his office.

But asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday if Trump was fighting “an enemy within”, Scaramucci said: “I think there are elements inside of Washington, also inclusive of the White House, that are not necessarily abetting the president’s interests or his agenda. I absolutely believe that, yes.”

Asked to name names, Scaramucci said he had done so – referring to his foul-mouthed outburst against former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon which cost the former banker his job after only 10 days.

“There’s been some strategic changes and my guess is there’ll be more strategic changes. I think the president is getting his arms around the fact that if he wants to prosecute his agenda he’s got to bring in loyalists to him … He’s got to bring in a different strategy to the one he’s been deploying.

“He’s done a tremendous amount. He’s done way better in terms of progress as president than has been prominently displayed and one of my heartbreaks is that I wasn’t able to effectively communicate that to the American people.”

Scaramucci, who refers to himself as The Mooch, then likened himself to the character in the film Pulp Fiction who is called in to clean up the mess of a killing.

“Listen, I saw it more as like Mr Wolf from Pulp Fiction. You know, I really did get a directive from the president. I had a mutual understanding with him. And I was probably running too hard and acting more like a corporate CEO than I was say a political operative, and that is my mistake. And I have to own that.”

But he said the odds were stacked against him succeeding in the role. “There were leaks and there was a repetitive process to try to dislodge me. I made an unforced error. That made it easy to dismiss me,” he said.

Scaramucci said he had underestimated his enemies and warned the president not to make the same mistake.

“The president is not a representative of the political establishment class,” he said. “And so for whatever reason, people have made a decision that they want to eject him.

“It’s almost like he’s opened up the door now for America’s CEOs and America’s billionaires to enter the Washington political system. I see it as a strong CEO that’s now the American president that’s making counterintuitive decisions that may not be liked by the members of the media, but may be in the best interests of the people of the United States.”

However, he also implied that Bannon was one of those trying to undermine the president.

“At the end of the day, I think the president has a very good idea of who the leakers are inside the White House. The president has a very good idea of the people that are undermining his agenda that are serving their own interests,” Scaramucci said.

Read the rest:

Why are Nazis In America?

August 14, 2017

The ‘Last Week Tonight’ host didn’t hold back Sunday night.


This weekend, the nation was fixated on the horrifying display of hate in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a group of neo-Nazis held court armed with tiki torches, military cosplay, guns, clubs, and an outrageous sense of entitlement.

These preppy fascists were said to have congregated on the University of Virginia campus to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, but really, most of these whiny brats couldn’t tell you the first thing about the Confederate general. They came to instigate outrage, and violence. And when all was said and done, a suspected white nationalist was arrested for allegedly plowing his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring at least another 19 people.

“It was truly a weekend of horrifying images. We saw Nazi flags and marchers carrying torches—tiki torches, by the way, because nothing says ‘white nationalist’ like faux Polynesian kitsch,” said John Oliver.

The Last Week Tonight host opened his program Sunday evening by addressing the events in Charlottesville—including President Donald Trump’s rambling, insufficient reaction to the tragedy, with the commander-in-chief refusing to denounce white nationalists, slipping in President Barack Obama’s name, imploring Americans to “cherish our history” (see: Robert E. Lee’s statue), and condemning hate “on many sides.”

“We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence—on many sides. On many sides,” declared Trump from his Bedminster golf club.

“Wait… on many sides?!” exclaimed Oliver. “This was a white nationalist rally—you have to call that out by name. There aren’t many instances in modern American politics where you can honestly think, ‘That guy really should have mentioned the Nazis,’ but this is emphatically one of them. It’s like a reverse Godwin’s Law: if you fail to mention Nazism, you lose the argument.”

And, after “having made a wild false equivalence between Nazis and people who oppose Nazis,” Trump attempted to clear his own name, saying, “It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”

But this rally did have plenty to do with Donald Trump—according to the white nationalists who participated in it. In addition to white nationalists chanting things like “Heil Trump,” David Duke, a former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan (whose presidential endorsement candidate Trump famously refused to disavow for several days), was interviewed in Charlottesville by a reporter.

“We are determined to take our country back. We’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believe in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump,” said Duke.

“I’ve gotta say, David Duke and the Nazis really seem to like Donald Trump, which is weird because Nazis are a lot like cats: If they like you, it’s probably because you’re feeding them,” said Oliver, adding, “And that kind of connection there is something that anyone in their right mind would want to immediately and repeatedly disavow, and it’s not like Trump wasn’t given the opportunity.”

Yes, Trump was repeatedly asked to condemn the white nationalists in Charlottesville, many of whom took to the streets in his honor, as he exited his Bedminster press conference. “How do you respond to white nationalists who say they’re participating in Charlottesville because they support you?” one reporter asked. “Do you want the support of these white nationalist groups who say they support you, Mr. President?”

The questions fell on deaf ears.

“Here’s the problem with that: A non-answer in a moment like this is an answer,” said Oliver. “And look, don’t take that just from me. White nationalists seemed pretty clear about the message Trump had sent to them with his response.”

Indeed, neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer ran a piece on Saturday praising President Trump’s vague speech. “Trump comments were good… He said he loves us all. Also refused to answer a question about white nationalists supporting him. No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him,” they wrote.

“And look, maybe Trump will eventually take a second swing at personally condemning the white nationalists. Maybe he has since we’ve taped this show. But even if he does, it’ll be too late. Because his first response is who he is. And the truly infuriating thing is how predictable this was,” offered Oliver.

“It simply doesn’t get easier than disavowing Nazis. It’s as much of a presidential gimme as pardoning a fucking turkey. It is almost impossible to screw it up. But that’s exactly what happened,” the comedian continued. “So there is clearly no point waiting for leadership from our president in moments like this, because it is just not coming, which means we will have to look to one another, because incredibly, in a country where previous presidents have actually had to defeat Nazis, we now have one who cannot even be bothered to fucking condemn them.”


‘Why are these Nazis able to come into our city?’ Charlottesville left in shock after day of violence

At the scene where a suspected far-right extremist mowed down anti-fascist protesters in Charlottesville, local resident Anna Quillom spent Sunday laying dozens of carnations along the street.

“I grew up here but this doesn’t feel like my home anymore. The lid’s come off it,” said Miss Quillom, 36, who runs wine tours in the historic college town. Welling up with tears, she added: “It was the best place in the world, inclusive, everyone cares about each other. Why are these Nazis able to come into our city?”

Nearby, at a makeshift memorial, a sign read “No Place For Hate!” A red shoe, lost by one of the victims, had been stuffed with roses.

 A mourner lays flowers at a makeshift memorial at the scene of where a car plowed into counter-protesters in Charlottesville
 A mourner lays flowers at a makeshift memorial at the scene of where a car plowed into counter-protesters in Charlottesville CREDIT: JUSTIN IDE/REUTERS

Charlottesville, a town of 47,000 with a university very much at its heart, was shattered by Saturday’s events when hundreds of racist extremists descended and violence erupted.

In the high street, dotted with book and antique shops, people appeared stunned….

Read the rest:

Trump Pressed to Disavow White-Nationalist Groups After Virginia Attack

August 14, 2017

Charlottesville violence shines a light on groups that have backed the president

Charlottesville residents on Sunday viewed a street memorial for the victim of Saturday's attack on those protesting a white-nationalist demonstration.
Charlottesville residents on Sunday viewed a street memorial for the victim of Saturday’s attack on those protesting a white-nationalist demonstration. PHOTO: SCOTT P. YATES FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL


Aug. 13, 2017 7:53 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump, in the wake of deadly weekend violence at a white-supremacy rally in Virginia, is facing pressure to break decisively with such nationalist groups that largely backed his campaign and presidency, or risk a fraying of his fragile governing coalition.

The rally erupted in violence in Charlottesville on Saturday, and a woman was killedwhen a driver allegedly mowed down a group that had gathered to counter messages from the white nationalists, some of whom were self-described Nazi sympathizers. Dozens were injured in the car attack; later, two state troopers monitoring the demonstrations were killed when their helicopter crashed.

The president initially said the altercations came from “many sides” of the event, which leaders from both parties said seemed to improperly spread blame equally between the white nationalists and the counterprotesters.

Then on Sunday the White House issued a statement saying Mr. Trump “condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred and of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.”

Mr. Trump’s eldest daughter, White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump, said in a tweet Sunday: “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazis.”

White nationalists flocked to Mr. Trump early in his candidacy and even before then, when he became a central figure in falsely questioning whether former President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. During his presidency, such fringe groups have become increasingly vocal.

For example, Mr. Trump’s Saturday comments were cited on the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer as evidence of “no condemnation at all” of such groups by the president.

That dynamic is causing friction between Mr. Trump and many leaders of the Republican Party whom Mr. Trump now needs to advance his agenda in Congress.

“I would urge the president to dissuade these groups that he’s their friend,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) told “Fox News Sunday.”

Pointed condemnations of such groups also came Saturday from GOP leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan as well as Senate conservatives such as Ted Cruz of Texas and Orrin Hatch of Utah.

“We should call evil by its name,” Mr. Hatch said on Twitter. “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”

Other Republicans sought a middle ground between denouncing their party leader and seeming unwilling to single out racists and neo-Nazis.

“I stand with President Trump and leaders from both parties condemning these actions and encourage Americans to stand together in opposition to those who encourage hate or promote violence,” said Sen. Luther Strange of Alabama.

The Virginia clash has also re-focused attention on the White House role of Steve Bannon, who helped steer Mr. Trump’s election victory. Mr. Bannon joined the campaign from Breitbart News, which he once described as a “platform for the alt-right.”

The alt-right is shorthand for the “alternative right,” a loose agglomeration of groups with far-right ideologies, some of which embrace the tenets of white supremacy, while others consider themselves rebels against mainstream Republicans.

Over the past seven months, Mr. Bannon has fallen in and out of favor with the president, advisers to Mr. Trump have said, and in the wake of the Charlottesville episode, some of Mr. Trump’s supporters want to see his influence curtailed.

Anthony Scaramucci, who did a brief stint as White House communications director, appeared on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday and decried what he called the “Bannon-bart influence” in the White House, a mashup of Mr. Bannon’s name and the news site he used to run.

“I think the president knows what he’s going to do with Steve Bannon,” said Mr. Scaramucci.

Mr. Bannon declined to comment.

Throughout history, race has proved the most combustible domestic issue presidents have confronted.

In the modern era, John F. Kennedy faced down Southern insistence on segregated schools, while his successor, Lyndon Johnson, ushered in landmark civil-rights legislation. Mr. Obama, as the first black president, entered office with hopes of bridging the gap between the races only to find divisions hardening over his two terms.

Many white nationalists made themselves known at Mr. Trump’s rallies last year, although some took pains to conceal their affiliation for fear that it would embarrass his campaign. At a convocation of white nationalists in Tennessee last year, various attendees identified themselves as Trump campaign volunteers but said they kept secret their affiliation even from some fellow supporters.

“White nationalists were suspicious of candidate Trump in the early part of his campaign, but they were won over by a steady stream of signaling from the campaign, and later from the administration,” said J.M. Berger, who studies extremist ideologies and is a fellow with the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism—The Hague.

Now, though, white nationalist groups are closely watching Mr. Trump’s response to the crisis. They say they weren’t the ones to start the fighting.

Jared Taylor, editor of the white nationalist website American Renaissance, said that virtually all the violence between such groups were caused by counterprotesters.

“Whenever these confrontations take place, it’s where pro-white groups try to have a rally,” said Mr. Taylor, who said he wasn’t at the Charlottesville demonstration. “You will notice that pro-white groups never make a fuss or demonstrate when other groups have meetings that stand for things they abhor.”

David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, in response to a Trump tweet Saturday calling for unity and condemning “hate,” tweeted in reply: “I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”

As a candidate, Mr. Trump’s campaign said it didn’t rely on white nationalists to win. “The President has never considered this fringe to be part of his coalition,” said Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign aide.

But some critics said that, as a candidate, he didn’t denounce such supporters in unequivocal terms. They also said messages from the campaign seemed aimed at a white nationalist audience.

In a CNN interview in early 2016, Mr. Trump was asked about Mr. Duke’s expressions of support. “I don’t know anything about David Duke,” he said. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.”

In subsequent interviews and media appearances, he renounced the support of white supremacists and Mr. Duke in particular.

“David Duke is a bad person who I disavowed on numerous occasions over the years,” Mr. Trump said on MSNBC in March 2016.

Democrats, for their part, saw the Virginia episode as evidence of the Trump-era Republican Party as beholden to extremists.

“The President’s talk of violence ‘on many sides’ ignores the shameful reality of white supremacism in our country today, and continues a disturbing pattern of complacency around such acts of hate,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said in a statement.

With images from Charlottesville dominating cable TV coverage, Mr. Trump is at a crossroads, Mr. Berger said.

“So the next few days will be crucial,” he said. “President Trump is facing substantial political pressure to make a stronger statement about white nationalist violence.”

Write to Peter Nicholas at

Appeared in the August 14, 2017, print edition as ‘Virginia Clash Tests Trump.’


Ex-Fox News executive ‘being considered for White House communications job’

August 2, 2017

Bill Shine would be walking into a controversy-ridden White House

By Alexandra Wilts Washington DC

The Independent 

Donald Trump is reportedly considering Bill Shine, a former Fox News executive, for a role on his press team, a day after the humiliated Anthony Scaramucci was removed as White House communications director.

Mr Shine – who was forced out of Fox News following allegations that he covered up incidents of sexual harassment against anchor Bill O’Reilly and former chief Roger Ailes – is said to have spoken with White House officials about taking a position on the communications team. Mr Shine has denied all wrongdoing regarding the allegations, as did Mr Ailes, who died in May.

Whether or not Mr Shine would have such a high-profile position as Mr Scaramucci is unclear.

The New York Times reported the administration was considering a behind-the-scenes role for Mr Shine.

While he has no background in politics beyond cable news, Mr Shine counts Fox News host Sean Hannity as one of his allies. An informal advisor to Mr Trump and one of his most loyal on-air supporters, Mr Hannity dined with Mr Shine, the President and the first lady at the White House last week.

If selected to join the communications team, Mr Shine would be walking into a controversy-ridden White House that is seen as chaotic and out-of-control by many observers. Staff has seen several changes over the last month, all of which culminated in the firing of Mr Scaramucci on Monday – a move that has left Washington still reeling.

Mr Scaramucci turned the White House upside down during the 10 days he worked for the US President – who the former New York financier declared he reported directly to, without the interference of intermediaries such as Mr Trump’s then-chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

Upon resigning in July, ex-Press Secretary Sean Spicer reportedly told Mr Trump that hiring Mr Scaramucci as communications director would be a big mistake.

Less than a week later, Mr Scaramucci, whose tough-talking persona was viewed to be similar to Mr Trump’s, told a New Yorker reporter that Mr Priebus was a “paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac” and accused him of leaking information to journalists. On Friday, Mr Trump announced that John Kelly, his then-Secretary of Homeland Security, would replace Mr Priebus as White House Chief of Staff.

Mr Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, is believed to have been selected to help bring discipline to the White House, and it appears that his first order of business was to get rid of “the Mooch”, as Mr Scaramucci likes to be called.

Mr Trump is said to have removed Mr Scaramucci at the request of Mr Kelly, who was sworn in as White House Chief of Staff on Monday.

In a statement announcing Mr Scaramucci would be leaving his role, the White House said: “Mr Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team.”

During a briefing following the firing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also told reporters that Mr Trump “certainly felt that Anthony’s comments were inappropriate for a person in that position,” referring to his remarks made to the New Yorker journalist.

She also later added: “As I think we’ve made clear a few times over the course of the last couple of days to several of you individually, but General Kelly has the full authority to operate within the White House, and all staff will report to him.”

Any new member of the communications team would be on the front lines defending Mr Trump’s directives and decisions – a job made more difficult by the President’s social media use and off-the-cuff communication style. Mr Trump’s press secretaries have also constantly battled questions from the media related to ongoing investigations into possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government.

Names that have been floated to fill the role of White House communications director include Kellyanne Conway, currently a counsellor to the President, and Laura Ingraham, a conservative radio host and commentator.

During his profanity-laced discussion with the New Yorker, Mr Scaramucci suggested he was considering Mr Shine for a position.

“Oh, Bill Shine is coming in,” Mr Scaramucci told reporter Ryan Lizza, apparently in an impersonation of Mr Priebus, adding, in colourful language, that Mr Priebus would likely try to leak that information.

Trump Fires Reince Priebus, Brings in Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to be White House Chief of Staff

July 29, 2017

President Donald Trump on Friday removed his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and tapped Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly for the job.

The stunning shakeup is the latest chapter in the West Wing drama that has unfolded publicly in recent days. White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci attacked Priebus in profane terms in an interview on Thursday, predicted he would soon be out of a job, and pledged to crack down on leaks that Scaramucci suspected had come from Priebus.

But what may have ultimately doomed Priebus is the failure of congressional Republicans to repeal Obamacare.

Image result for Reince Priebus, photos

Reince Priebus, White House chief of staff. Pool/Getty Images

Priebus, former chairman of the Republican National Committee during last year’s presidential campaign, led the White House effort on Capitol Hill to get rid of Obamacare, and his fate was largely tied to that, a source close to the White House told NBC News.

“He failed,” the source said.

The Republicans’ inability to undo the Affordable Care Act — one of Trump’s central campaign promises — was the “final straw for Priebus,” another person close to the administration told NBC.

He resigned privately on Thursday, a source close to Priebus said.

“The president wanted to go in a different direction. I support him in that, and, like I said a couple weeks ago, I said the president has a right to change directions,” Priebus said in an interview on CNN.

He added that there is no “ill will” between him and the president and that he even discussed possible replacements with Trump.

“I will continue to serve as a strong supporter of the president’s agenda and policies,” Priebus said in a statement shortly after the news broke Friday evening.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Friday that the change had been under discussion for about two weeks.

After announcing Kelly, Trump tweeted thanks to his outgoing adviser “for his service and dedication to his country.”

Presidents typically cycle through multiple chiefs of staff during their time in office. But Priebus’ tenure of 190 days is one of the shortest in history. His resignation comes one week after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced he will leave his post in August.

Spicer, like Priebus, worked at the R.N.C. during the 2016 presidential race. Scaramucci’s appointment ultimately pushed Spicer to resign, a source said.

Sanders told reporters that Scaramucci’s role and interview did not factor into Priebus’ departure.

Kelly, who starts his new job on Monday, is a retired four-star Marine general whom Trump frequently credits for dramatically reducing the number of undocumented immigrants coming into the U.S. from Mexico. He called Kelly “a true star” in a tweet announcing his appointment as chief of staff.

“I have been fortunate to have served my country for more than 45 years – first as a Marine and then as the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security,” Kelly said in a statement. “I am honored to be asked to serve as the Chief of Staff to the President of the United States.”

Trump has placed a disciplined and respected military leader in one of the most important jobs in the White House. The chief of staff typically serves as the gatekeeper to the president and plays a large role in staffing and policy decisions in the West Wing.

But Kelly’s appointment may also reflect the president’s deep concerns over White House leaks. In an interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press” in May, Kelly said leaking intelligence information is “darn close to treason.”

John F. Kelly
 ‘Close to Treason’ DHS Sec. Kelly Calls Out Intel Leaks 1:19

Trump gushed over Kelly’s record at an event in New York on Friday afternoon.

“I want to congratulate John Kelly, who has done an incredible job of Secretary of Homeland Security. Incredible. One of our real stars. Truly, one of our stars. John Kelly is one of our great stars,” the president said.

Trump also tweeted at Priebus to thank him for his service.

Includes videos:

I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. He is a Great American….

…and a Great Leader. John has also done a spectacular job at Homeland Security. He has been a true star of my Administration

I would like to thank Reince Priebus for his service and dedication to his country. We accomplished a lot together and I am proud of him!

Ken Starr: Trump Needs a Lesson From Nixon and Reagan

July 28, 2017
‘Profoundly misguided’ attacks on Jeff Sessions threaten our rule of law, Starr writes
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2017 10:15 AM CDT

President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


(NEWSER) – Kenneth Starr headed the investigation that ultimately led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment. That’s an important fact to remember given that Starr says President Trump’s recent attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions are “one of the most outrageous—and profoundly misguided—courses of presidential conduct I have witnessed in five decades.” In a Washington Post editorial, Starr not only calls for Trump to “stop the wildly inappropriate attacks”—which began when Trump criticized Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Trump’s campaign as “very unfair to the president”—but also blasts his comments as “inimical to our foundational commitment as a free people to the rule of law.”

An attorney general “needs to step aside on matters where his own independence of judgment has potentially been compromised,” Starr writes. It’s part of the job: to be loyal to the Constitution, not the president, and to ensure laws are enforced without political considerations. This requires “courage on the part of the attorney general and a willingness by the president to listen respectfully to what he may well not want to hear,” Starr writes. He cites historical examples, including the time Ronald Reagan accepted his attorney general’s judgment that a legislative veto was unconstitutional, even though Reagan saw it as a political blow. “It was a matter of trust,” Starr writes, noting there appears to be none of that today. Read his piece in full.


Kenneth Starr: Mr. President, please cut it out

President Trump walks back to the Oval Office after speaking in the Rose Garden. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post
July 26 at 6:54 PM

Kenneth W. Starr, a former U.S. solicitor general and federal judge, served as independent counsel in the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky investigations during the Clinton administration.

Mr. President, please cut it out. Tweet to your heart’s content, but stop the wildly inappropriate attacks on the attorney general. An honorable man whom I have known since his days as a U.S. attorney in Alabama, Jeff Sessions has recently become your piñata in one of the most outrageous — and profoundly misguided — courses of presidential conduct I have witnessed in five decades in and around the nation’s capital. What you are doing is harmful to your presidency and inimical to our foundational commitment as a free people to the rule of law.

The attorney general is not — and cannot be — the president’s “hockey goalie,” as new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci described Sessions’s job. In fact, the president isn’t even his client. To the contrary, the attorney general’s client is ultimately “We the People,” and his fidelity has to be not to the president but to the Constitution and other laws of the United States. Indeed, the attorney general’s job, at times, is to tell the president “no” because of the supervening demands of the law. When it comes to dealing with the nation’s top legal officer, you will do well to check your Twitter weapons at the Oval Office door.

A rich history buttresses my uninvited but from-the-heart advice. In the wake of President Richard Nixon’s resignation, the colorful Sen. Sam Ervin (D-N.C.) — a hero of the long Watergate ordeal — held hearings on a newly minted proposal to create an independent Justice Department, along the lines of other independent agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission. The idea was simple: Especially in the wake of the Nixon-era scandals infecting it, the department should, to the fullest extent possible, be insulated from raw political considerations in the enforcement of the nation’s laws.

Although nobly intended, Ervin’s reform proposal went nowhere. But along the way, a national civics lesson unfolded. One of the “teachers,” so to speak, was Ted Sorensen, President John F. Kennedy’s legendary speechwriter. In the hearings on the proposal, Sorensen spoke eloquently about the need for the president to have trust in the attorney general but at the same time for the attorney general to remain at arm’s length in providing honest legal guidance to the president.

This represents a paradox. As a member of the president’s Cabinet, the attorney general needs to be a loyal member of the president’s team, yet at the same time he must have the personal integrity and courage to tell the president what the law demands — and what the law will not permit. That’s especially true with respect to enforcing the nation’s criminal laws, and why — rightly — the attorney general needs to step aside on matters where his own independence of judgment has potentially been compromised.

That’s the key to solving the paradox. Independence of judgment, as opposed to blind loyalty, characterizes great attorneys general. An example from the Reagan years illustrates the point: Attorney General William French Smith sat down one-on-one with President Ronald Reagan and advised him that one of the administration’s favorite tools — the legislative veto, which was a congressional contrivance used to strike down agency regulations — violated our system of separation of powers and was thus unconstitutional.

In coming to that wildly unpopular position, Smith (I was his chief of staff at the time) had been persuaded by the department’s chief constitutional lawyer, Ted Olson. Having determined that Olson — and the entire Office of Legal Counsel — was spot on in its analysis, Smith outlined the department’s thinking in his session with Reagan in the White House residence. Reagan listened intently and immediately accepted his attorney general’s advice. No taking the matter “under advisement” or consulting with White House lawyers. As with Kennedy and his younger brother, Bill Smith and the president were close personally and politically. What the attorney general said, the president accepted. It was a matter of trust.

How to manage the paradox — loyalty to the president leavened by rock-ribbed integrity of judgment? It comes down to courage on the part of the attorney general and a willingness by the president to listen respectfully to what he may well not want to hear.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once opined that in our life as a society ruled by law, a page of history is worth a volume of logic. Experience teaches that even a 21st-century “drain the swamp” president would do well to tweet a little less and listen a little more to the voices of the past — bringing back to mind what President Abraham Lincoln elegantly described as “the mystic chords of memory.”

Mr. President, for the sake of the country, and for your own legacy, please listen to the growing chorus of voices who want you to succeed — by being faithful to the oath of office you took on Jan. 20 and by upholding the traditions of a nation of laws, not of men.