Daily briefing: Republicans fret over Trump’s resistance to special counsel

The spotlight isn’t just on President Trump; we’re listening to the world. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, an ally who was dismissed by the president after a failed presidential run, said on Tuesday…

Daily briefing: Republicans fret over Trump’s resistance to special counsel

The spotlight isn’t just on President Trump; we’re listening to the world. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, an ally who was dismissed by the president after a failed presidential run, said on Tuesday that he’d “strongly advise” Trump to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replace him with “a strong leader.” Christie’s visit to the Hill came a day after the president’s director of legislative affairs said the president still has “full confidence” in Sessions, but Christie, echoing his former boss, suggested it was time for Trump to look for someone who’d “bring stability and calm to the Department of Justice.”

Speaking of upheaval, this week will bring plenty: House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes announced Monday that he’ll join the task force investigating Russian election interference. Former acting attorney general Sally Yates testified before a Senate committee today and said she’s “110 percent confident” Trump fired her out of spite. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis offered his vote of confidence for his fellow top diplomat, James Mattis, saying “in general, General Mattis is someone I have tremendous confidence in,” and adding that the relationship is “absolutely one of the best” he’s ever had.

Meanwhile, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is defending the president’s ongoing Russia-related legal battles, noting, “we don’t comment on ongoing investigations,” noting that the Supreme Court ruled that a president can’t be subpoenaed in a private matter. After vowing to meet with Special Counsel Robert Mueller regarding his inquiry into possible collusion between the president’s campaign and Russia, Trump then backed away, describing it as a “joke” earlier this week.

Republican senators are starting to worry about Trump and his lawyers’ resistance to turning over communications with the president’s lawyers. They’re arguing that that a growing maze of hypotheticals raises concerns and undermines the special counsel’s ability to do his job. “It just looks pretty clear to me,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said, “that he doesn’t want to cooperate.”

Democratic members of the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday agreed that the Trump administration ought to take a more expansive view of executive privilege, saying that while past administrations have honored a narrower view of privilege, such as President George W. Bush’s decision to allow the release of details about the interrogation of terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah, “this president, and the attorney general, are changing the rules of the game.” This debate should unfold over the next several weeks, but Democrats are lobbying more closely to lighten up on his lawyers’ noncompliance.

As soon as we dig into our archives today, we’ll find the director of the FBI says before Congress that the Trump campaign’s aides had contact with Russians who were under US jurisdiction. Also, the National Park Service says that in emails retrieved from a laptop on which senior Trump adviser Carter Page is mentioned, he also mentions his family connections to the Russian government. Also: Senate Intelligence Committee member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) urged Sessions to produce e-mails on his laptop computer that are related to the investigation.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has a hearing with the head of Facebook’s Washington office today, and over the next two weeks the committee is expected to question high-level executives from Twitter and Google. Separately, the House Energy and Commerce Committee released transcripts of its interview with Google’s top lawyer this morning. The committee will also meet with Twitter’s head of U.S. public policy tomorrow.

Both Zuckerberg and Weisburg agreed that Facebook needs to enhance its use of “privacy settings” to allow users to filter their content better. They acknowledged that privacy settings on Facebook will continue to evolve, but also said that users have the ability to choose what they share and monitor what happens to that information after.

We’ll post our daily briefing again this morning on the actions Facebook and Twitter took to manage fake news and other election content ahead of the 2016 election. If you’d like to sign up to receive it, but have not yet done so, click here.

Leave a Comment