Reporters from national news outlets were mystified today as presidential spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders talked about concern in the White House over a “brain drain” of senior staff in the new year.
“She said the White House was concerned that many senior aides were talking about leaving this year, but no one could figure out how that connected to a brain drain,” said Major Garrett, chief White House correspondent for CBS News.
Jake Tapper, chief Washington correspondent for CNN, said he was equally mystified by the comment even though he knows of “a lot of senior staff” who plan to leave.
Sanders’ comment left reporters so confused that the White House press office was flooded with calls after the briefing, but no one was able to get clarification about a brain drain.
“I’ve been working all of my sources for the past four hours and no one can think of a single person whose exit would represent a loss of institutional knowledge,” said Mark Landler of The New York Times.
Michael Abramowitz of The Washington Post thought Sanders was making a joke at first and only realized she was serious after the briefing was over. “We were all standing around trying to figure out what the joke was—it’s Trump, after all. He has a weird sense of humor—and then Carol Lee of NBC said, ‘Shit, I think she’s serious!’ That’s when everyone started calling their sources and asking who in the White House fits the description of being smart and whose deep institutional knowledge would represent a loss of wise counsel to the president. No one could think of anyone.”
“I guess once people actually start leaving, we’ll get a sense of who they’re talking about,” said Tapper. “But as of right now, the idea that there’s anyone in the White House whose leaving would cause a brain drain makes no sense. Maybe it was a joke after all. It’s Trump, you know. He has a weird sense of humor.”
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After a series of high-profile departures from his White House team, President Trump is increasingly relying on the advisor he said he would use most on the campaign trail: his “big, beautiful brain.” “I rely on myself first of all,” Trump said while campaigning for president in 2016. “I have a very big brain. You don’t have to feel bad. It’s not your fault.” But now aides are wondering if Trump’s brain will be the next member of his team to go. “After the departures of Mike Flynn, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Anthony Scaramucci, Steve Bannon, Jon Porter, and now Hope Hicks and Gary Cohn, there’s a concern that Trump’s brain is ready to jump ship as well,” said one White House aide who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the topic. More.
President Donald Trump said it was a mark of his intelligence that he allowed a reporter—Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff—to have unfettered access to White House staff for a year. “I’m, like, really smart for letting him act as a fly on the wall while my administration settled into the task of governing the country over the past year,” Trump said. The president pointed out that he’s a good read of character and knows who should and who shouldn’t get access to his staff. “No one knows people better than I do,” he said. “To be a billionaire, TV star, and now president, you need to be able to size people up and know who should and who shouldn’t be talking to your top staff day after day with the aim of writing a tell-all book.” More.
President Donald Trump spoke at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland today to show that there are still men who are willing to stand with him at a podium, and there are probably some women willing to do it, too. “As you can see by the people who are standing behind me at this moment, there are, and I expect will remain, men and probably women who are willing to associate their physical body with mine in a way that we expect from our elected leaders,” Trump said. More.
President Donald Trump said no one respects freedom of the press more than he does but if outlets such as CNN and NBC continue to produce fake news, he’s going to be forced to take action to ensure the news Americans receive is real. “It’s not something I want to do,” he said at a press briefing today. “Believe me. I want our press to be so free and so good. In fact, I think my policy on the press is more fair than Obama’s. I’m not sure what his policy was, but I hear it wasn’t so good, frankly, And mine is better. That’s what I’m told. I’m just saying.” Trump said he’s looking into how to “open up” the press so it’s more accountable to truth. “Are they running fake stories about Russian collusion?” he said. More.
In a move to further push right-wing ideas into mainstream culture, a company is using funds from the conservative billionaire Koch brothers to buy a portfolio of storied magazines that no one under 50 reads! The magazines, Time and Sports Illustrated, among others, have played pivotal roles in the evolution of American journalism, but will now be used to inject a radical right-wing ideology directly into the blood stream of two million Americans who don’t realize they still receive the magazines in their mailbox each month except for when the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue comes out. “I am disgusted and concerned that magazines I didn’t know I still get will become nothing more than delivery vehicles for the detested ideology of the Koch brothers,” says Tom Blantner, 72, a long-time subscriber of the magazines who thought he discontinued them 10 years ago. More.
PALO ALTO, Calif.—A major symposium on the presidency of Donald Trump erupted into a heated discussion yesterday as some of the United States’ most distinguished professors of political science disagreed over whether President Trump is an utter moron or an absolute idiot. Benjamin Heitzberg, professor emeritus of political science at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, said Trump burst from the starting gate as an utter moron by targeting an entire religion in his immigration ban. “The United States has become a great nation in part because it’s been a beacon of hope for people the world over to come here and realize their full potential,” said Heitzberg, who last year was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the International Society of Political Scientists. “Only an utter moron would purposefully damage one of the country’s greatest intangible assets.” More.
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders says President Trump “has no problem” tending to the country’s needs in the “several hours a day” when he’s not tweeting and in fact on most days has plenty of spare time to read briefing papers. “I don’t know how many hours a day Barack Obama worked, but I doubt he worked harder or more effectively than President Trump during the many, many hours he’s not tweeting,” Sanders said at a briefing today. The White House released a log that shows President Trump spends about three hours a day “on serious matters of critical importance to the United States,” with an additional two to three hours a day on what is described as “media analyses and assessments.” More.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says she understands President Donald Trump more than other people, including Sean Spicer, her predecessor, because, like Trump, she has relied on her dad to clear obstacles in front of her so that she could get to where she is without having to compete for it. “I guess you could say the President and I have a bond,” says Huckabee-Sanders, 34. “His dad handed over the keys to a successful company to him so that he didn’t have to build that company from scratch. My dad leveraged his connections as a governor and a two-time presidential candidate to get me a top position with the Republican National Committee so I didn’t have to open doors on my own.” More.
White House communications chief Kellyanne Conway says it’s unfair of the media not to take into account all the infantile thoughts and memes that President Trump could have tweeted but didn’t during his five months in office. “Have there been adolescent thoughts he’s tweeted that probably should have stayed in his head?” Conway told reporters at the White House today. “Of course. But there have been far more that he hasn’t tweeted, including some that were particularly beneath the dignity of the president.” Conway gave as an example a meme Trump had been thinking about tweeting but didn’t even though it was particularly juvenile. “I was with him when he said he wanted to share this stupid video that he liked a lot,” she said. “But he decided not to and I think that speaks a lot to the kind of man, the kind of president he is.” More.
The CNN executive who got body slammed by Donald Trump in the viral wrestling video says the fight didn’t end when the video ended; it ended after an additional round of fighting in which Trump didn’t fare quite so well. The executive, who asked to remain anonymous so he could speak frankly, said he hit Trump with a leapfrog body guillotine, in which he ran up to Trump from behind, jumped on his back, and hopped over his head, forcing Trump down onto the ground. “It was a dirty move but the President fights dirty,” said the executive. More.
Pence Not Allowed to Meet Alone With Trump Any More After What His Mouth Was Caught Doing in Last Cabinet Meeting
The staff of Vice President Mike Pence have extended his rule about never meeting alone with women to include Donald Trump out of fear he’ll act inappropriately with the president. ‘This is just a cautionary measure that we decided should be in place after we caught the vice president’s mouth acting inappropriately with the president during the last cabinet meeting,” says Pence’s chief of staff, Nate Avers. The last cabinet meeting was held the day Congress passed its sweeping tax reform bill and Pence was caught on camera using his mouth on Trump in a way that made onlookers blush. “I’m deeply humbled to be your vice president and to be able to be here,” the vice president’s mouth was caught saying. “I want to thank your outstanding team. I want to thank you for seeing through the course of this year an agenda that truly is restoring this country. More.
Republican voters across the country say the tax returns of Donald Trump that no one has seen make it clear he will personally take a big financial hit once he signs tax reform into law. “You’ve got to hand it to the president,” said Joe Carter, a retired accountant in Biloxi, Miss. “Based on the tax returns he’s refused to share with the American people, he’ll lose millions of dollars from the bill that he himself is going to sign. What a selfless act on the part of our president. Not too many people would of that, but he’s doing that for us.” Since the race between Richard Nixon and John F, Kennedy in 1959, presidential contenders have made their tax returns available so the public can get a picture of their finances and analysts can determine if the laws they sign as president benefit them personally. More.
President Donald Trump this morning says hell probably lie about it, although he’s not sure if he’ll use the lie he’s been planning to use or a different lie, including one he hasn’t thought of yet. “We’ll see how it goes when we get to that point,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “One thing I think I’ve made clear is, I don’t like to give away my plan. I like to keep people guessing.” Trump said he will probably lie later this week given the decision he made last week. “You know, we have to deal with the fake news like you wouldn’t believe,” he said. “I’m just going to see what the expedient thing to say is, and, frankly, I don’t know what that will be yet—or maybe I do. Maybe I don’t want to tell you.” He said part of what he says might be truthful. “Maybe there’s an expectation I’ll lie completely,” he said. “We just don’t know, but there could be some truth to what I say. More.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says the trial balloons he’s been floating about retiring after tax reform passes have nothing to do with his plans to run against Donald Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination. “I am not planning and will not plan to offer Republican voters an alternative to the crazy man in the White House today,” Ryan said. Ryan said there’s no truth to the rumor that he would seek to give an alternative to Republican voters who don’t want to see Trump reelected but also don’t want to see a Democrat take the White House. “I know there’s speculation that I would put myself out there as a safe vote for Republicans who don’t want another Roy Moore-type debacle in 2020, but that is not the case,” he said. More.
President Donald Trump is expected to blame his 2016 Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton later today. An administration official this morning said the President will be saying it’s Clinton’s fault and that Clinton’s actions raise questions. “Let’s not forget that questions remain unsettled over what Clinton did and what she didn’t do,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak candidly about the President’s intentions. The official said Trump plans to assign the blame to Clinton and will likely point to unanswered questions as well. “He will be clear that the Democratic nominee he ran against is at fault, but whether he will pivot to unanswered questions in her past isn’t clear,” the official said. “We’re talking about the President. He goes off script sometimes.” More.
President Donald Trump today called on his former Democratic opponent for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, to step down. “Witch hunt against DT most unfair ever,” the president wrote on Twitter early this morning. “Where’s investigation into Dem/HC Russia collusion?! Clinton needs to step down NOW!!” Reached while walking her dog with her family in the woods outside of Chappaqua, N.Y., Hillary Clinton said she had no comment.Trump reiterated his call for Clinton to resign at a press briefing later in the morning. “Where are the calls from the fake media for Hillary Clinton to resign?” he said. “She needs to be investigated. She will be investigated. We know about the corruption, the uranium deal that let the Russians buy a quarter of our uranium here in the United States, and the money that went into her sex-harasser husband’s phony foundation.” More.
Corporations and wealthy individuals say they’ll pour their millions of dollars in cuts they stand to get from tax reform into the reelection fight of Republicans whose seats are now at risk from angry middle-class voters whose tax increases will pay for the bill. “We told the GOP they needed to pass tax cuts for the wealthy or they could forget about calling us again for political contributions,” says one billionaire who stands to save millions from tax cuts. “Now that they’re poised to deliver, we understand they need help. There are a lot of people who will want to retaliate by voting out of office anyone who voted for the tax cuts. What we’re saying is, we’re putting our new money where our mouth is.” According to polls, voters are angry that they’re facing tax hikes to pay for the cuts to corporations and the wealthy. One voter who responded to a poll was so angry she couldn’t see straight. More.
Republican lawmakers in the Senate say they urgently must pass tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy before the end of the year because of pressure coming from Russia Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. “Would it be better to slow down and better think through our tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy? Of course,” says John Thune (R-S.D.), the Senate whip. “Right now our own analysis is showing a $1 trillion addition to the budget deficit even after projected growth in the economy. So, if we had more time we could craft changes that address that and still give our wealthy donors what they want. Unfortunately, time is a luxury we don’t have.” That’s because Mueller’s investigation is winding down. More.
Fox News this morning highlighted a White House poll showing President Donald Trump with an approval rating of 111 percent, almost triple what an aggregate of recent national polls are showing. “The latest poll out of the White House makes clear that President Trump is not only popular throughout the country, he’s the most popular president ever, despite Democrats’ effort to thwart his agenda and paint him as a divider rather than a uniter,” Fox News host Sean Hannity said.The poll, which the White House released this morning, shows the president’s approval rating increasing from 106 percent last quarter to 111 percent, a five percentage point jump that the White House says is due to the president’s effort to eliminate wasteful and unlawful health care subsidies for low-income households and to stop people who’ve been victims of bank fraud from filing frivolous lawsuits against financial institutions. More.