Trump Signals Consequences for Michael Cohen Over Secret Recording

President Trump lashed out at his longtime lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, on Saturday, suggesting that there could be legal consequences for Mr. Cohen’s decision to record a discussion

.. “Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) — almost unheard of,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client — totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!”

.. advisers say has become more unwilling than ever to listen to advice

.. Mr. Trump signaled open warfare on Mr. Cohen, a longtime fixer he had until now tried to keep by his side.

.. While the president suggested on Saturday that Mr. Cohen’s recording may have been illegal, New York law allows one party to a conversation to tape it without the other knowing.

.. Mr. Trump himself also has a history of recording phone calls and conversations.

.. A person familiar with the discussions said that once The Times approached Mr. Giuliani, the president’s legal team chose not to assert attorney-client privilege over the recording.

.. John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, mostly stayed away from Mr. Trump.

Mr. Bolton wrote down four bullet points aboard Air Force One that he believed were relevant, including that Mr. Trump should acknowledge that he believed the intelligence agencies’ findings on the Russian meddling. He relayed them to the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders

.. Trump has surveyed almost everyone he has talked to about his performance in Finland, but few told him just how poorly it had gone. Aides suggested different options for “changing the narrative,” without seeming to realize that a simple story would not suffice.

.. Mr. Trump ultimately came up with his own solution: He would say he had left out a word in the news conference with Mr. Putin

.. Ivanka looked for ways to push the narrative away from Russia.

.. She said her worker retraining announcement with her father later in the afternoon at the White House could provide a pivot toward a new story.

.. Kellyanne Conway, pointed out that Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, and two other administration intelligence officials would appear at a national security conference in Aspen

.. Privately, Mr. Trump’s advisers have suggested that Mr. Cohen had done things that Mr. Trump was unaware of. The recording makes that harder to accept.

On his way to the New Jersey golf club, the president ignored several questions from reporters about why his campaign would have denied knowledge of the payments if he was on tape discussing them with Mr. Cohen.

It Just Got Harder to Fire Mueller

It’s just become trickier for President Trump to fire Robert Muelleranytime soon. Doing so during the Supreme Court confirmation process for Brett Kavanaugh — which is likely to last for at least two months — would create a set of problems for Trump that didn’t exist before.

One, Trump clearly loves making Supreme Court nominations. They allow him to look presidential and to be bathed in praise by other Republicans. If he were to fire Mueller — the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the election — anytime in the coming weeks, the confirmation process would immediately lose its normalcy. It would be dominated by discussion of Mueller’s Russia investigation, which Trump loathes and makes him look like the opposite of a normal president.

Two, firing Mueller could damage the Republicans’ chances of holding Congress in this year’s midterms.

.. the Supreme Court nomination has some real political advantages for Republicans. It unifies their base voters and reminds them of reasons to turn out. And it turns the discussion away from Trump, who remains unpopular.

.. Finally, firing Mueller could damage Kavanaugh’s chances of confirmation. As I’ve written before, I would be very surprised if any Senate Republicans defected. But their margin for error is virtually zero. Losing a single senator could defeat the nomination. And the circus that would accompany the firing of Mueller could certainly imperil one vote.

Donald Trump Explains Wiretapping and Twitter to Tucker Carlson

CARLSON:  So, 51,000 people retweeted that.  So a lot of people thought that was plausible, they believe you, you’re the President — you’re in charge of the agencies.  Every intelligence agency reports to you.  Why not immediately go to them and gather evidence to support that?

TRUMP:  Because I don’t want to do anything that’s going to violate any strength of an agency.  We have enough problems.

And by the way, with the CIA, I just want people to know, the CIA was hacked, and a lot of things taken — that was during the Obama years.  That was not during us.  That was during the Obama situation.  Mike Pompeo is there now doing a fantastic job.

.. I don’t honestly understand how or why pushing for that investigation would “violate any strength of an agency.”

It doesn’t. The one and only think Trump does well is turn a conversation into spaghetti so that by the time you get to the end of an answer, you’re not even sure what the question was.

.. if you watched the Bret Baier and what he was saying and what he was talking about and how he mentioned the word wiretap, you would feel very confident that you could mention the name.

.. So: Bret Baier mentioned the word “wiretap.” That gave Trump the confidence that he could tweet that he was wire-tapped by the former president.

.. You had great press all week, bipartisan, and then you let off this tweet, and immediately, people say —

TRUMP:  No, it wasn’t that tweet.  They had other things —

CARLSON:  You can’t back up what you say.

TRUMP:  Excuse me.  I had a very successful night.  Joint session, it was very successful.  I got reviews even from people that I would never think I was going to get good reviews.  I got great reviews.

.. I have my own form of media.

.. I mean, let’s see whether or not I prove it.  I just don’t choose to do it right now.  I choose to do it before the committee, and maybe I’ll do it before the committee.  Maybe I’ll do it before I see the result of the committee.  But I think we have some very good stuff.

.. if they’re not going to do me the honor and the public the honor of spreading my word accurately as it was meant

.. No matter what you do, no matter how good — no matter how great it is, they don’t report it in a positive fashion.

,, I probably wouldn’t be here — I’m not talking about Twitter, because it’s really Twitter, Facebook, and lots of other things, OK.  But I might not be here talking to you right now as President if I didn’t have an honest way of getting the word out. 

Donald the Menace

But it also reflected a cold view of the incentives the new administration would face: as working-class voters began to realize that candidate Trump’s promises about jobs and health care were insincere, foreign distractions would look increasingly attractive.

.. But the war with China will, it seems, have to wait. First comes Australia. And Mexico. And Iran. And the European Union. (But never Russia.)

.. There was also a curious contrast between the response to Iran and the response to another, more serious provocation: Russia’s escalation of its proxy war in Ukraine. Senator John McCain called on the president to help Ukraine. Strangely, however, the White House said nothing at all about Russia’s actions until Nikki Haley, the United Nations ambassador, issued a condemnation late Thursday night to the Security Council. This is getting a bit obvious, isn’t it?

.. Peter Navarro, head of Mr. Trump’s new National Trade Council, accused Germany of exploiting the United States with an undervalued currency. There’s an interesting economics discussion to be had here, but government officials aren’t supposed to make that sort of accusation unless they’re prepared to fight a trade war. Are they?

.. No, what we’re hearing sounds like a man who is out of his depth and out of control, who can’t even pretend to master his feelings of personal insecurity. His first two weeks in office have been utter chaos, and things just keep getting worse — perhaps because he responds to each debacle with a desperate attempt to change the subject that only leads to a fresh debacle.