It has been more than a year since Donald Trump held his one and only full-fledged news conference as president.
.. President Trump took two questions, both from friendly news outlets, neither of which asked about the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, even though Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman was entering a guilty plea at that very time.
.. Please outline what role you played in drafting your son Donald Trump Jr.’s statement about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting? Did you say that the statement should describe the meeting as being “primarily” about adoption? What was your basis for saying that? When did you become aware of the meeting?
.. Are your taxes still being audited?
President Trump delivers a statement from Trump Tower after signing an executive order on the environmental review and permitting process for infrastructure projects.
President Trump is a selfish liar, and a vain one. Those traits, together, can cause chaos, as they did on Thursday, when, in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump undermined his own alibi for firing the F.B.I. director, James Comey
- Vice-President Mike Pence and other dependents repeated this story all day Wednesday, with Pence portraying the President as solemnly resolved to follow the best advice he had, and
- Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy press secretary, throwing in some smears of Comey, who she said had committed “atrocities” while at the F.B.I. and was disliked by its rank and file.
.. But, when Holt asked him about heeding Sessions and Rosenstein, Trump seemed to bristle. Could Holt think that he, Trump, needed to hear what anyone had to say—that he had his mind changed by subordinates?
.. “when I decided to just do it”—that is, to fire Comey: “I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story; it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.” His aides, needless to say, had spent the day saying that Comey’s firing had nothing to do with Russia.
.. Instead, it leaves open the possibility that some sort of public confession in which Comey would “admit his errors” might be an alternative, in terms of restoring “trust.”
.. Instead, in both the letter that Trump sent to Comey and in his interview with Holt, Trump claimed that he got something else from Comey: an assurance that he was not under investigation. Trump doesn’t bother to conceal that he regarded such an assurance as something of a condition of employment.
.. Trump would rather raise the possibility that he’d had an improper, if not actually illegal, conversation with Comey than leave anyone with the impression that he couldn’t instruct the people who worked for him to do anything he desired.
.. Trump seems to treat the idea of being investigated the same way that he regards the idea of losing money. He is not personally being investigated; he never personally declared bankruptcy—only some of his various businesses did.
.. McCabe added that he personally regarded serving with Comey as the honor of his life. Sanders countered that many F.B.I. officers of her acquaintance had told her the opposite, which she treated as definitive despite adding, with a note of pleased and oblivious self-contradiction, “And I don’t even know that many people in the F.B.I.!”
.. She answered questions about the propriety of the Trump-Comey dinner by seeming to cite lawyers she’d seen comment on television.
.. In a way, she is the perfect Trump spokesperson. Her incoherent answers revolved around the greatness of Trump and the perfidy of his enemies.
No president in the past 40 years has been known to regularly tape his phone calls or meetings because, among other reasons, they could be subpoenaed by investigators as they were during the Watergate investigation that ultimately forced President Richard M. Nixon to resign.
.. “For a president who baselessly accused his predecessor of illegally wiretapping him, that Mr. Trump would suggest that he, himself, may have engaged in such conduct is staggering,”
.. He denied that the president was threatening the former F.B.I. director. “That’s not a threat,” Mr. Spicer said. “He simply stated a fact. The tweet speaks for itself. I’m moving on.”
.. Mr. Trump suggested he was seriously thinking about canceling the briefings. “Unless I have them every two weeks and I do them myself, we don’t have them,” he said. “I think it’s a good idea.”
.. Every president in modern times has been frustrated with the news media at points, but they all preserved the tradition of the daily briefing, if for no other reason than to get their message out. Mr. Trump, with Twitter as his own trumpet, may feel less need for that.
.. Mr. Trump has long been said by allies and former employees to have taped some of his own phone calls
.. But the implicit threat to Mr. Comey was ripped from a familiar playbook that Mr. Trump relied on during the campaign to silence critics or dissent.
- he read aloud the mobile telephone number of one rival, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, from the stage at a rally and encouraged people to flood his phone with calls.
- he threatened on Twitter to tell stories about Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the co-hosts of the MSNBC show “Morning Joe,” after they criticized him.
- He also railed against the wealthy Ricketts family as it was funding anti-Trump efforts, threatening to air some unspecified dirty laundry.
while competing with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas for the Republican presidential nomination, he threatened to expose something unflattering about his opponent’s wife. “Be careful, Lyin’ Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!” he said.
.. Mr. Trump’s warning on Twitter to quiet Mr. Comey could be viewed as an effort to intimidate a witness for any current or future investigation into whether the firing of the F.B.I. director amounted to obstruction of justice.
“If this were an actual criminal investigation — in other words, if there were a prosecutor and a defense lawyer in the picture — this would draw a severe phone call to counsel warning that the defendant is at serious risk of indictment if he continues to speak to witnesses,” Mr. Buell said. “Thus, this is also definitive evidence that Trump is not listening to counsel and perhaps not even talking to counsel. Unprecedented in the modern presidency.”
.. This is not the first time an administration has challenged Mr. Comey’s version of a prominent conversation. During President George W. Bush’s administration, White House officials disputed Mr. Comey’s account of a hospital room standoff in which Mr. Bush’s top aides tried to pressure John D. Ashcroft, the ailing attorney general, to reauthorize a controversial surveillance program.
Mr. Comey, then the deputy attorney general, was eventually vindicated because the F.B.I. director at the time, Robert S. Mueller III, kept his notes from the encounter — a reminder that note-taking is steeped in the F.B.I. culture.
.. A couple of Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, Mr. Schiff and Representative Eric Swalwell of California, have said there is at least some evidence of collusion, but when Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, a Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, was asked last week if there was, she said, “Not at this time.”