The Washington Post on Tuesday reported that last year, President Trump asked Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe whom he voted for in the 2016 election. McCabe was then the bureau's acting chief, and the alleged conversation is reportedly of interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
But if you ask Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, it's really not a big deal — and hey, who knows if it really happened anyway. During Wednesday's briefing, ABC News' Cecilia Vega asked Sanders if Trump "[made] a habit" of asking federal employees whom they voted for. When Sanders replied that Trump and McCabe "have had limited and pretty non-substantive conversations," Vega fired back: "But that's kind of a yes or no question. He did or didn't ask." Sanders shrugged and replied, "I wasn't in the room, I don't know what was discussed."
Reporter: Does Pres. Trump ask career government officials their voting habits? @PressSec: "Not that I'm aware of."
Reporter: Did he ask McCabe how he voted?@PressSec: Trump and McCabe "have had limited and pretty non-substantive conversations." https://t.co/u7r11RRt0P pic.twitter.com/YFls9rj6J6
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 24, 2018
Later in the briefing, another reporter called the reported conversation between Trump and McCabe "the leading story of the day." Sanders disagreed: "I very seriously doubt that any person in America would list that as an issue they care about."
"All of the polling any person in here would take -- I very seriously doubt that any person in America would list that as an issue they care about," @PressSec says on President Trump reportedly asking Andrew McCabe who he voted for in 2016 election https://t.co/u7r11RRt0P pic.twitter.com/o8F4LgHQvU
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 24, 2018
The conversation between McCabe and the president reportedly occurred last May, shortly after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, and The Washington Post reported that Mueller is interested in its contents. McCabe thought the question about his political leanings was "disturbing," the Post reported. Kelly O'Meara Morales
On Tuesday, American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp appeared on CNN's New Day and tried very hard to avoid talking about President Trump's alleged affair with an adult film star.
CNN's Alisyn Camerota began by asking Schlapp about a recent report that alleges that President Trump's campaign tried to cover up the tryst, which allegedly took place in 2006 when he was married to wife Melania, with campaign money. Schlapp responded: "I don't really have many thoughts on this, Alisyn. I don't even know what we know."
Schlapp then tried to claim that the report came out of "a gossip publication," referring to a lengthy interview the woman gave to InTouch Weekly. Camerota pointed out in response that the original story about the affair was published by The Wall Street Journal. "Do you think The Wall Street Journal is legit?" she asked.
Schlapp admitted that the Journal is credible, but spun back to referencing InTouch Weekly. "We're going to really talk about about an article by InTouch magazine on facts we don't even know to be true? We are all better than this," he said.
That's when Camerota struck: "Matt, so conservatives don't care anymore about extramarital affairs?" Watch a clip of the interview below, or watch the full segment at Mediaite. Kelly O'Meara Morales
Former Bush official defends Trump's reportedly vulgar comments about Haiti by dissing the country's beaches
On Friday, American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp went on Fox News to offer a tenuous defense of President Trump's reported characterization of Haiti and several African states as "shithole countries." Schlapp, the former political director for former President George W. Bush, chose to back the president by ... disparaging the quality of Haiti's beaches.
Schlapp began by noting that Trump denied making the vulgar remarks entirely, before pivoting to his creative defense of the president's alleged comments. "Here are the facts. The facts are: I don't know anybody who has spent two weeks on the beach in Haiti."
Schlapp then moved on to blame the Democrats who were in the meeting — a bipartisan summit on immigration reform — for stirring up the controversy. "The president learned a lesson," Schlapp declared: "When the Democrats and their staff are in the Oval Office, they're gonna say and leak anything to harm you politically, and they did that."
Fox News' Sandra Smith pointed out in response that the Democrats were not lying about what the president said. "To be clear, Matt, Fox News has confirmed his choice of words in that meeting," she said.
For the record: Here are some pictures of Haiti's beaches. Kelly O'Meara Morales
Editor's note: This post originally mischaracterized Schlapp's relationship to Fox News. It has since been corrected. We regret the error.
Former chief strategist Stephen Bannon on Sunday issued an apology to Donald Trump Jr. for critical comments reported in Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. The president's son "is both a patriot and a good man," Bannon said, declaring himself "unwavering" in his support for President Trump, "the only candidate that could have taken on and defeated the Clinton apparatus."
The apology alluded to Cold War conflict to declare Russians "duplicitous, cunning, and not our friends," though Bannon maintained there was "no collusion" between the Trump team and Russian election meddling attempts. The statement is similar to one multiple sources say Bannon planned to make before President Trump issued a statement vehemently attacking "Sloppy Steve" Bannon by claiming he has "lost his mind."
Wolff's book sees Bannon calling Trump Jr. "treasonous" and "unpatriotic" in connection to the campaign-era meeting he had with a Kremlin-linked lawyer. Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, who has been indicted in connection with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing Russia probe, was also present at the meeting, and Bannon's Sunday statement said the negative remarks were actually aimed at him. Bonnie Kristian
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched an investigation into Kushner Companies, the real estate empire belonging to the family of Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
The previously unknown probe reportedly began this past May and focuses on the company's use of the EB-5 visa program, which awards green cards to immigrants who invest at least $500,000 in eligible U.S. businesses. It is not clear what investigators may believe was improper in Kushner Cos. use of the visa; a representative of the company denied all wrongdoing.
"Before taking office, Mr. Trump told top aides to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals," the Times story says. "People close to him estimate that Mr. Trump spends at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television, sometimes with the volume muted, marinating in the no-holds-barred wars of cable news and eager to fire back."
Trump has long been known to begin his days with an early TV viewing session, usually featuring Fox & Friends, which he regularly live-tweets. His advisers have reportedly begged him to watch less, a plea that has fallen on very deaf ears if the Times story is correct. Were he not president, Trump's viewing habits would be less remarkable: The average American watches about four hours of television per day, and those over 65 (Trump is 71) average seven hours, which is reasonable if you are retired and not the most powerful person in the world.
President Trump's daughter and senior White House adviser, Ivanka Trump, is scheduled to visit Hyderabad in late November, and the southern Indian city is reportedly preparing for the occasion by hiding away its beggar population.
Local police are sweeping the streets for beggars, V.K. Singh, the city's director general of prisons, told CNN. "It's a permanent drive," he added. "The government, since 30 years, have been trying to figure out what to do about them" because there "is a mafia or a network behind this who force people to beg or kidnap some children and force them into begging."
Police representatives denied that the round-ups are connected to Trump's visit — begging has been illegal in the city since 1977 — and maintained that though the beggars have been held in the same location as prisons they are not in the prisons themselves. "All the facilities are there — security, medical, food," said A. Narasimha, an officer in the prisons department, "and all the basic amenities are being made to take care of the inmates." One of the structures to house the beggars is called "Hermitage of Happiness." Bonnie Kristian
The World Health Organization (WHO) came under intense criticism Saturday for its decision to name Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe as the organization's newest goodwill ambassador. The position is mostly symbolic, but the 93-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, is widely considered a dictator, and his government stands accused of gross human rights violations.
"The decision to appoint Robert Mugabe as a WHO goodwill ambassador is deeply disappointing and wrong," said Dr. Jeremy Farrar of Wellcome Trust, a prominent British health charity. "Robert Mugabe fails in every way to represent the values WHO should stand for."
WHO's Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Mugabe was chosen because his government "places universal health coverage and health promotion at the center of its policies to provide health care to all," but outside observers say the Zimbabwean health-care system is in "a shambolic state" with hospitals lacking "the most basic necessities."