Why Trump’s Playboy Playmate sex scandal is just another ho-hum day in his presidency

Why Trump's Playboy Playmate sex scandal is just another ho-hum day in his presidency
Karen McDougal, the 1998 Playboy Playmate of the Year, at a Playboy event in Miami Beach on Feb. 6, 2010. (Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images)

 

Most politicians would have been swallowed up in scandal after new details emerged Friday of an alleged affair — with a Playboy Playmate, no less — that occurred the same weekend of a reported dalliance with a porn star.

Not Donald Trump.

In eight pages of handwritten notes published by the New Yorker, 1998 Playmate of the Year Karen McDougal recalled having sex with Trump in 2006, a few months after his wife, Melania, gave birth to their son, Barron.

McDougal said one of their sexual encounters took place at the same Lake Tahoe golf tournament where porn actress Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, says that she, too, had a tryst with Trump.

The president denies both affairs, but the women received money to keep the matters quiet.

Americans have known for years about Trump’s history of adultery, most famously his 1989 cheating on his first wife, Ivana, with his soon-to-be second wife, Marla Maples.

He won the presidency despite accusations of sexual harassment or assault by more than a dozen women, along with an “Access Hollywood” audiotape of Trump boasting that his star power allowed him to grab women by their genitals.

“If you assume someone is a devoutly religious, family-values person, something like this will absolutely destroy their reputation and level their career,” said Lara M. Brown, who runs the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University.

“If, on the other hand, you believe this is who they are going in, which, if you heard the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape or listened to interviews with Howard Stern, then this is more confirmation of your belief and your expectations.”

Billy Bush interviews Donald Trump on "Access Hollywood" at Trump Tower in New York City on Jan. 20, 2015.
Billy Bush interviews Donald Trump on “Access Hollywood” at Trump Tower in New York City on Jan. 20, 2015. (Rob Kim / Getty Images)

 

Also, Trump’s checkered New York business career — bankruptcies and alleged real estate swindles, among other things — inoculates him from some of the harm that a more conventional politician might suffer as details emerge on the hush money received by McDougal ($150,000) and Clifford ($130,000).

“His business reputation is not necessarily one of high character,” said Brown, an expert on political scandals.

Still, Trump is weathering a rough patch in his presidency, and the McDougal distraction is no help.

The White House’s apparent overlooking of domestic abuse allegations against former senior Trump aide Rob Porter could worsen Republicans’ troubled standing among women at a time when the #MeToo movement threatens to fuel GOP setbacks in November’s midterm election.

McDougal, who confirmed the authenticity of her notes in an interview with New Yorker writer Ronan Farrow, said she was speaking out in part because of the #MeToo movement.

“Every girl who speaks is paving the way for another,” she told the magazine.

Trump and McDougal met at a pool party at the Playboy Mansion, where Trump was taping an episode of his television show, “The Apprentice,” McDougal wrote in the notes. Their affair lasted nine months, she said.

The New Yorker article, citing previously undisclosed texts, emails and legal records, elaborates on a Wall Street Journal report in 2016 about a deal requiring her to keep quiet about the alleged affair.

It included the $150,000 payment to McDougal from American Media Inc., publisher of the National Enquirer, which never printed her story about Trump. David Pecker, chairman and CEO of AMI, is a close friend of the president.

In the supermarket tabloid world, suppressing a story as a favor to a friend or gossip source is known as “catch and kill.”

The National Enquirer published harshly critical articles on Hillary Clinton, but not Trump, during the presidential campaign. AMI denies paying anyone to protect Trump from damaging stories.

McDougal’s comments appeared to buttress the accounts of two other women who said Trump pursued them for sex in the early years of his marriage to Melania Trump. Both cases have sparked legal action against the president.

Trump lawyer Michael Cohen told the New York Times this week that he used “personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000” to Clifford just before the November 2016 election. In return, Clifford reportedly agreed to keep quiet about the alleged affair.

Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal attorney, in Washington on Sept. 19, 2017.
Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, in Washington on Sept. 19, 2017. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

 

The nonpartisan watchdog group Common Cause has filed a Federal Election Commission complaint saying the payment was an illegal campaign contribution, which Cohen denies.

Like Clifford, McDougal says she had sex with Trump at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in Lake Tahoe in July 2006.

The other woman, Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice,” has accused Trump of trying to force himself on her in 2006. She filed a defamation suit against him after he called her a liar.

All three women say their interactions with Trump included encounters in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel. All three also say they were escorted to the bungalow by Keith Schiller, a longtime Trump bodyguard who left his job in September as the director of Oval Office operations and deputy assistant to the president.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a University of Pennsylvania expert on politics and media, said the McDougal and Daniels cases were likely to have minimal political impact on Trump, whose most loyal supporters have ignored all manner of controversial statements and behavior by the president.

“Both instances in the news right now are consensual,” she said. “So it’s easy for voters to say, ‘That’s Melania’s concern, not the voters’ concern’ unless there are legal implications, which could be violating the campaign finance laws.”

Porn actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, at the Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas on Jan. 27.
Porn actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, at the Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas on Jan. 27. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

 

Scott Basinger, another expert on political scandal, suggested Trump is also shielded by the us-versus-them tribalism of the country’s politics and the support of Christian conservatives who might have been expected to respond with outrage, or at least disappointment, at his sordid conduct.

“They’ve said pretty explicitly that they’re going to give him a mulligan on his personal life and anything that happened before he became president is not of interest to them,” said Basinger, who teaches at the University of Houston.

“As long as people believe he can deliver judges like Neil Gorsuch” — Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court — “they’re willing to overlook everything else.”

Whether the first lady is willing to overlook reports about her husband’s sex life is another matter.

On Friday, Melania Trump broke with protocol and did not walk with her husband across the South Lawn to Marine One, driving separately to Joint Base Andrews for the flight to Florida.

She canceled her recently scheduled trip with the president to Davos, Switzerland, declined to ride in his limo from the White House to the Capitol for the State of the Union address and has been seen swatting his hand away from hers — fueling chatter on the state of their marriage.

Twitter: @finneganLAT

Twitter: @markzbarabak

Trump Says Florida Students Should Have Done More To Prevent Deadly Shooting

Alana Horowitz Satlin

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HuffPost
Trump Says Florida Students Should Have Done More To Prevent Deadly Shooting
President Donald Trump on Thursday responded to the massacre at a South Florida high school by suggesting students and the surrounding community could have done more to prevent the attack.
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President Donald Trump on Thursday responded to the massacre at a South Florida high school by suggesting students and the surrounding community could have done more to prevent the attack.

Negotiations on DACA have begun. Republicans want to make a deal and Democrats say they want to make a deal. Wouldn’t it be great if we could finally, after so many years, solve the DACA puzzle. This will be our last chance, there will never be another opportunity! March 5th.

So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!

At least 17 people were killed and 15 injured after a troubled former student opened fire on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, police said. Nikolas Cruz, 19, had been expelled from the school the previous year for “disciplinary reasons,” and many of his former classmates told media on Wednesday that he displayed problematic behavior.

“Honestly a lot of people were saying it was going to be him,” one student told CBS Miami. “We actually, a lot of kids threw jokes around like that, saying that he’s the one to shoot up the school, but it turns out everyone predicted it. It’s crazy.”

A former teacher, Jim Gard, told the Miami Herald that Cruz reportedly wasn’t allowed to carry a backpack on the school campus, and that “there were problems with him last year threatening students.”

Contrary to Trump’s tweet, it does appear that authorities were aware of Cruz’s behavior before the attack. A former neighbor told The New York Times that Cruz’s late mother called the police on her two sons on multiple occasions, though she stressed that she didn’t think the boys were violent. Broward County Mayor Beam Furr told CNN that Cruz had been treated at a mental health clinic in the past and  was somewhat on officials’ radar.

“It wasn’t like there wasn’t concern for him,” Furr said.

Trump’s tweet failed to acknowledge the role that Florida’s lax gun laws played in the shooting. Barring institutionalization, it’s extremely difficult to keep someone with a history of mental illness from buying a gun in Florida. The accused killer legally purchased the AR-15-style rifle used in the slaughter, his family’s attorney said.

The president also ignored the fact that he actually made it easier for people with mental health issues to buy guns by revoking an Obama-era gun regulation last year.

0:42
6:23
No mention of guns in President Trump’s statement on Florida school shooting
  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

Courtesy: Yahoo News

Stormy Daniels Says Trump Lawyer Breached Agreement, So She’s Free To Talk

Antonia Blumberg

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HuffPost

Watch news, TV and more on Yahoo View.

Former adult film actress Stephanie Clifford says she is ready to tell her story after the president’s lawyer reportedly breached a nondisclosure agreement preventing her from speaking publicly about her alleged affair with President Donald Trump.

The actress, who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels, said through her manager on Wednesday that attorney Michael Cohen invalidated their agreement when he acknowledged on Tuesday that he’d paid her $130,000 in a “private transaction” just before the 2016 presidential election.

“Everything is off now, and Stormy is going to tell her story,” manager Gina Rodriguez told The Associated Press.

The alleged affair between Clifford and Trump made headlines in January when In Touch Weekly revealed excerpts of a previously unpublished 2011 interview with the actress.

The interview appeared to validate a Wall Street Journal report that Trump’s lawyer arranged a $130,000 payment to Clifford in October 2016 to buy her silence about the relationship. Trump’s legal team and Clifford initially denied both the affair and the payment.

But on Tuesday, Cohen acknowledged to The New York Times that he’d paid Clifford $130,000 out of his own pocket ― although he would not address why he made the payment or whether Trump was aware at the time.

“Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,” Cohen told the Times. “The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.”

Another article published Tuesday at The Daily Beast reported that Cohen is shopping a book proposal about Trump that would discuss Clifford’s story.

In the wake of these reports, Rodriguez said her client is now free to speak publicly about her alleged relationship with Trump and will soon announce how and when she will do so.

Rodriguez, Clifford and the White House press office did not respond to requests for comment.

In 2011, In Touch said, Clifford told the tabloid she’d had sex with Trump in his Lake Tahoe hotel suite in the summer of 2006, the year after Trump had married his third wife, Melania Knauss, and just months after she gave birth to their son, Barron.

Clifford described the sex as “textbook generic,” according to the magazine, and added, “I actually don’t even know why I did it, but I do remember while we were having sex, I was like, ‘Please, don’t try to pay me.’”

An attorney for Clifford released a statement on her behalf in January denying that the affair happened. But the actress has evaded direct, public questions about whether she had a sexual relationship with Trump.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

Courtesy: Yahoo News

Trump showers praise on former aide accused of domestic violence

It was Trump’s first comment on the allegations against Rob Porter, who has been one of his most trusted staffers until this week. Porter resigned after allegations that he abused two former wives.

Rob Porter giving a document to President Trump

US President Donald Trump on Friday praised former aide Rob Porter for his “good job” at the White House.

Trump stressed that Porter, who is facing allegations of domestic violence by his two former wives, had maintained his innocence.

“He says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

“It’s obviously a tough time for him. He did a very good job in the White House. And we hope he has a wonderful career,” Trump added. “But we absolutely wish him well.”

Trump, however, did not express any sympathy for Porter’s former wives, who earlier this week went public with their allegations, providing graphic accounts of the verbal and physical abuse.

Read moreOpinion: One year of Donald Trump — time for a sober examination

White House inaction in question

The scandal has rocked the White House, with Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly offering to resign his post over his handling of the allegations.

Porter resigned on Wednesday amid questions about why it took so long for White House to act after the accusations came to light.

Some senior White House officials were generally aware of the allegations before Trump found out from a report in the Daily Mail, Reuters news agency reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.

Responding to the report, Kelly initially defended Porter, calling him a man of “integrity.”

Read moreOpinion: Steve Bannon’s demise is not the end of Trumpism

Kelly later said in a statement he was shocked by “new” allegations against Porter, and stressed that domestic violence is unacceptable.

White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah on Thursday said Kelly was not “fully aware” of the extent of the allegations against Porter until photographs of one of his former wives with a black eye emerged.

But he conceded the situation could have been better handled.

“It’s fair to say we all could have done better over the last few hours or last few days in dealing with this situation,” Shah said on Thursday.

Read moreWhy Donald Trump’s immigration deal is a hard sell

Former Trump-aide Rob PorterRob Porter was yet to get a security clearance for his White House job

Pending security clearance

Porter had regular close contact with Trump as staff secretary. His job involved reviewing all documents signed by the president, from legislation to executive orders.

The Harvard law School graduate somehow managed to carry on in the high-profile position which involved access to classified information despite not having a mandatory security clearance.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was still conducting his background check as required for the clearance.

Jennie Willoughby, one of Porter’s ex-wives, said in an interview with a US broadcaster on Friday that she told the FBI during Porter’s background check that he had been abusive toward her.

“Of course, I was part of the background check and I was completely honest with my experience of the marriage, including telling the police instances of abuse or police contact,” said Willoughby.

Second aide resigns

Reflecting the widening  scandal, a second White House staffer resigned late on Friday over domestic abuse claims.

David Sorensen, a speechwriter, stepped down after his wife said he was abusive. Sorensen denied the claims, but said he didn’t want the matter to become a distraction..

“I didn’t want the White House to have to deal with this distraction. It should be able to focus on continuing President Trump’s historic accomplishments for the American people,” he told the Associated Press.

ap/bw (Reuters, AP, dpa)

Watch video01:25

Wife dumps husband over Trump

COURTESY: DW

Trump ‘unable’ to declassify key Democrat memo

US President Trump has said he won’t declassify a memo written by Democrats refuting Republican claims the FBI was biased against Trump’s 2016 campaign. Trump called the memo “very political and long.”

USA Donald Trump Rede zur Lage der Nation (Getty Images/W. McNamee)

The White House, citing national security concerns, on Friday notified the House Intelligence Committee that President Donald Trump was “unable” to declassify a key memo drafted by Democrats.

The memo challenges Republican allegations contained in the recent so-called ‘Nunes memo’ of abuse of surveillance powers in the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.

White House counsel Don McGahn wrote in a letter to the committee that the Democrats memo contained “numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages” and asked the Democrats to revise the memo with the help of the Justice Department (DoJ).

President Trump meanwhile tweeted that the Democrats had “sent a very political and long response memo” allegedly designed to “blame the White House for lack of transparency” and stressing that the Democrats knew the original document could not be released in full. He added that it would need “to be heavily redacted” before being released in any form.

The Democrats sent a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods (and more), would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency. Told them to re-do and send back in proper form!

McGahn meanwhile stated earlier that Trump was still “inclined” to release the memo in the interest of transparency if revisions were made.

Watch video05:50

Former FBI assistant director comments on memo release

Trump taking aim at the FBI

The president has recently ratcheted up his criticisms of the FBI’s handling of probes into Hillary Clinton’s email server, and has called the House Intelligence Committee’s investigations into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election a witch hunt.

He has also reportedly been seeking ways to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the only person empowered to dismiss the man undertaking the investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller — and hence derail, or seriously impede, the probe.

Andrew McCabe, a former deputy director of the FBI, for example was reportedly pushed out of the bureau last week, over reported accusations of partiality.

FBI special counsel Robert Mueller (picture-alliance/abaca/O. Douliery)FBI special counsel Robert Mueller

War by memo

The release last week of the ‘Nunes memo’ increased speculation that Trump would try to oust Rosenstein.

Republican House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes’s memo — which was declassified by Trump last week — attacked Rosenstein for his role in obtaining wiretap warrants on a member of the Trump campaign with several Russian contacts. The memo described this as an abuse of power.

Congressional Democrats and Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan have said it shouldn’t be used to undermine the special counsel.

But Democrats on the committee then produced a memo they said would refute some of the claims made in the Nunes document, which they argue was misleading and sought to undermine the Mueller investigation.

Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand (picture alliance/AP/J.L. Magana)Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand

DoJ No. 3 quits

It comes after reports Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand will leave the DoJ after only nine months on the job. An anonymous source confirmed to The Associated Press later on Friday that the department’s number 3 will join the executive board of Walmart, although this has not been officially confirmed.

National security expert Brand was appointed by Trump in May 2017 and has been working directly below Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from involvement with the Mueller investigation due to his work for the Trump campaign, in effect making Brand next in line if Trump decided to sack Rosenstein.

Watch video01:44

FBI challenge White House over secret Memo

jh/bw (AFP, AP, dpa)

COURTESY: DW

Despite Trump’s tough talk, trade gap widens to 9-year high

Paul Wiseman, AP Economics Writer
Associated Press
1:00
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Despite Trump’s tough talk, trade gap widens to 9-year high

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to overturn U.S. trade policy and bring down the country’s massive, persistent trade deficits.

After a year in the White House, he still has a lot of work to do.

The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that the U.S. trade deficit in goods and services rose 12 percent to $566 billion last year, biggest since 2008. A record $2.9 trillion in imports swamped $2.3 trillion in exports last year.

The deficit in the goods trade with China — frequently accused of unfair trading practices by the White House — hit a record $375.2 billion in 2017. The goods gap with Mexico climbed to $71.1 billion.

“Trump’s trade team has not been able to stem the flood of imports into the country yet,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank.

The trade gap grew even though the U.S. dollar dropped nearly 7 percent last year against the currencies of its major trading partners, a move that gives U.S. companies a price edge in foreign markets and makes imports pricier in America.

Dean Baker, senior economist at the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research, says it takes time for a weaker dollar to have an impact on the trade balance.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the trade deficit “ultimately will be reduced” by a combination of new or renegotiated trade pacts and a crackdown on abusive foreign trade practices. He cited the administration’s decision last month to impose tariffs on cheap Chinese solar panels and South Korean washing machines. But Ross said “it is not practical to set an exact deadline” for narrowing the trade gap.

Countries run trade deficits when they buy more products from other countries than they sell and run surpluses when they export more than they import. The United States has not turned a trade surplus since 1975, when Gerald Ford sat in the White House and “Jaws” ruled the box office.

Why hasn’t Trump been able to begin rebalancing America’s lop-sided trade relationship with the rest of the world? Economists and trade analysts offer several explanations:

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THE FLIP-SIDE OF GOOD TIMES

Trump likes to boast about the American economy’s strength. Economic growth rose to 2.3 percent last year from 1.5 percent in 2016, despite getting off to a slow start in 2017. The unemployment rate is idling at a 17-year low 4.1 percent. Wages finally seem to be growing.

But when it comes to trade, there’s a flip-side to good times: “A stronger economy will draw in more imports” as confident consumers seek out foreign products, says Bernard Baumohl, chief economist at the Economic Outlook Group.

Recent history shows that the trade deficit tends to grow when times are good and shrink when they turn bad. The trade gap hit a record $762 billion in 2006 toward the end of a six-year economic expansion. It dropped to $384 billion in 2009, in the depths of the Great Recession as American consumers hunkered down and bought fewer imports.

“If the goal is to reduce the trade deficit, we know how to do that — just send our economy crashing and we won’t be able to afford to import as much,” says Bryan Riley, director of the conservative National Taxpayers Union’s Free Trade Initiative.

___

TOUGH TALK, LITTLE ACTION

On the campaign trail, candidate Trump talked tough on trade. He threatened to slap big tariffs on Chinese and Mexican imports and said he’d tear up trade treaties and sanction China for manipulating its currency.

He’s been more cautious since taking office.

Yes, he withdrew from an Asia-Pacific trade pact negotiated by the Obama administration.

But he abandoned plans to label China a currency manipulator. His attempt to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico — which he labeled a job-killing “disaster” — has bogged down amid resistance from Ottawa, Mexico City and U.S. businesses and farmers that enjoy NAFTA’s market-opening benefits.

U.S. investigations into whether cheap aluminum and steel imports threaten U.S. national security, which could lead to trade sanctions, have been delayed by pressure from U.S. companies that consume steel and aluminum.

“It’s not surprising that the deficit is up because in Year One there has been a wide gulf between Trump’s fiery trade rhetoric and action,” says Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch and a critic of NAFTA and other trade deals. “So the same failed trade policy Trump attacked as a candidate is still in place.”

SAILING AGAINST STRONG ECONOMIC CURRENTS

Even if Trump began aggressively taxing imports and strong-arming other countries into meeting his demands to buy U.S. exports, he still likely would find it hard to make a big dent in America’s trade deficit.

“Trade deficits are generally not susceptible to manipulation through trade policy,” says Phil Levy, senior fellow on the global economy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Levy notes that Germany runs a big trade surplus and France a deficit even though both operate under the European Union’s common trade rules.

Instead, trade deficits are the consequence of bigger economic forces. The United States spends more than it saves. Just look at budget deficits in Washington and credit-card balances in American households. When you spend more than you produce, imports fill the gap.

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Follow Paul Wiseman on Twitter at https://twitter.com/PaulWisemanAP

Courtesy: AP/Yahoo News

6 tortured arguments Republicans are making about the Nunes memo

 February 5 at 11:33 AM 
 2:09
Lawmakers react to release of GOP memo

Lawmakers from both parties weighed in on the Feb. 2 release of a disputed GOP memo alleging surveillance abuses by the FBI. 

If your case is only as strong as your weakest argument, then the Nunes memo is as big a flop as its critics allege.

Whatever you think about the memo or the issues that underlie it, its most ardent proponents — including Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) himself — have spent the three days since its release making some rather strained, counterfactual and even historically inaccurate arguments.

Below are a few of them that jumped out.

1. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) to Fox News on Friday night: “I would say that this is far bigger than Russia or Donald Trump, or even the Mueller probe. This is the first time in American history that politics has weaponized the FBI.”

In defense of Gaetz, who is 35 years old, he did not live through any part of J. Edgar Hoover’s nearly five decades in charge of the FBI and its predecessor.

But even before Hoover, what was then called the Bureau of Investigation was founded by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 to assist in Roosevelt’s trust-busting efforts. As the FBI’s own website says today, the bureau “was not yet strong enough to withstand the sometimes corrupting influence of patronage politics on hiring, promotions, and transfers.” By the 1920s, the FBI’s website recalls, it “had a growing reputation for politicized investigations. In 1923, in the midst of the Teapot Dome scandal that rocked the Harding Administration, the nation learned that Department of Justice officials had sent Bureau agents to spy on members of Congress who had opposed its policies.”

Hoover took over the bureau in 1924 on the promise to reform it. That … didn’t exactly happen. And for anybody who needs a refresher, read up on what the Church Committee found in the 1970s.

2. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Nunes to “Fox and Friends” on Monday: “As far as we can tell, Papadopoulos never even knew who — never even had met with the president.”

There is a photo of then-Trump adviser George Papadopoulos at a March 2016 meeting with Trump. It was put out by Trump’s own Twitter account. And according to a New York Times report, Trump even asked Papadopoulos questions.

Trump also told The Washington Post’s editorial board in an interview that Papadopoulos was an “excellent guy.”

 1:19
Trump on Papadopoulos: ‘He’s an excellent guy’

When President Trump met with The Washington Post editorial board he listed the members of his foreign policy team, calling Papadopoulos “an excellent guy.” 

3. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.): “Finally, there needs to be a discussion as to whether the Mueller investigation is truly needed, seeing that the main premise that launched the investigation turned out to not be credible and was both directed and funded by political opponents.”

Finally, there needs to be a discussion as to whether the Mueller investigation is truly needed, seeing that the main premise that launched the investigation turned out to not be credible and was both directed and funded by political opponents.

This argument is directly contradicted by the Nunes memo itself. As The Post’s Karen Tumulty and Rosalind S. Helderman detailed Friday, the memo says, “The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok.” This refers to Papadopoulos telling an Australian diplomat in London that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton — a conversation that was later reported to American authorities — and it happened three months before the FISA application to monitor Carter Page.

In other words, the memo confirms the investigation was launched months before the thing Duncan alleges was the “main premise” for its launch.

4. Nunes to Fox News on Friday: “I don’t believe that somebody like Mr. Page should be a target of the FBI, especially using salacious information paid for by a political campaign like this dossier. …”

To say that the FISA application to monitor Page was faulty and didn’t disclose enough is one thing; to argue that Page didn’t merit being monitored is quite another.

In 2013, for example, the FBI interviewed Page after Russian spies had attempted to recruit him. What’s more, two days after Nunes said this, Time magazine reported that Page had boasted in a 2013 letter that he had served as an informal adviser to the Kremlin.

The dossier included a number of unverified claims, including about Page, but there was plenty of other information out there that clearly made him of-interest to the FBI and U.S. intelligence. He had been on their radar for years, in fact. Nunes seems to be arguing rather strangely that Page is just a guy who was railroaded for no reason, but that ignores lots of publicly known evidence.

5. More Gaetz: “We do know what Andrew McCabe said, and he’s no, you know, talking head for the Republican Party. And Andrew McCabe said, but for this dossier, there never would’ve been a FISA memo. … That is a verifiable fact.”

This may be a verifiable fact, but it hasn’t been verified yet — not hardly. As I wrote Saturday, McCabe’s exact comments to the House Intelligence Committee in December are disputed by Democrats, and the memo didn’t provide a direct quote.

There have been plenty of calls for an exact transcript of what McCabe, who was then the deputy FBI director, said to the committee. Until we see that, though, we’re relying on a partisan document that for some reason opted not to quote him.

6. Nunes on “Fox and Friends”: “If Papadopoulos was such a major figure, why didn’t you get a warrant on him? … Being drunk in London and talking to other diplomats saying you didn’t like Hillary Clinton, I think it’s kinda scary that our intelligence agencies would take that and use that against an American citizen.”

Yet again, Nunes seems to be not just raising concerns about the FISA application, but suggesting a key player — in this case, Papadopoulos — is being railroaded.

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Unfortunately, his summary of events is woefully slanted. Papadopoulos’s comments didn’t raise red flags with the Australian diplomat because he said he “didn’t like Hillary Clinton;” they raised red flags because he claimed to have knowledge that the Russians had dirt on Clinton.

That would later be revealed to be more than just idle chatter and the ramblings of an inebriated adviser. Dirt on Clinton was also promised in exchange for Donald Trump Jr. setting up that June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, after all.

Amber Phillips contributed to this report.

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