John T. Bennett

East Jerusalem Should Be Palestinian Capital, Abbas Insists
Israelis reject that notion showing Trump how tough a peace pact will be

Updated at 7:44 a.m. President Donald Trump continued to press for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal during a stop in Bethlehem, but comments by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas showed just how difficult such a pact will be.

As Trump said Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu have assured him they want to “work towards that goal in good faith,” the Palestinian leader laid down a key marker for potential talks that his Israeli counterparts have rejected in the past.

Lawmakers React to Latest Trump-Russia Bombshell: ‘What Now?!’
Report: President asked two top intel officials to deny collusion with Moscow

BY JOHN T. BENNETT, LINDSEY McPHERSON AND REMA RAHMAN

Lawmakers on Monday evening seemed resigned to yet another bombshell report suggesting President Donald Trump attempted to interfere with a federal investigation aimed at, in part, determining whether there was collusion between his campaign and the Russia government.

No Apology for Israel Over Trump’s Disclosure to Russians
Tillerson: ‘I don’t know that there’s anything to apologize for’

President Donald Trump does not plan to apologize to Israeli leaders for disclosing sensitive intelligence provided by the Jewish country to senior Russian diplomats.

Asked by reporters Monday on Air Force One if Trump will apologize to Israeli leaders for sharing password-only classified intelligence about an Islamic State plot to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson replied: “I don’t know that there’s anything to apologize for.”

‘Law and Order’ President Meets Ultimate Lawman
Should Trump be concerned? ‘Absolutely,’ GOP strategist says

Donald Trump is fond of describing himself as a “law-and-order” president. Suddenly, however, the fate of his presidency could be decided by a man who embodies that characterization: Robert Mueller, a true lawman’s lawman.

The irony is thicker than a column on the White House’s North Portico. And for Trump, his party and the republic, the stakes could not be higher.

Report: Trump Told Russians Comey Firing Relieved ‘Great Pressure’
Close WH aide to president allegedly a person of interest to FBI

President Trump reportedly told senior Russian officials that firing FBI Director James Comey relieved “great pressure” on him because of allegations of nefarious ties between his campaign and Russia. And another report places a senior White House official as a “person of interest” in the bureau’s ongoing investigation.

“I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job,” the New York Times reported Friday, citing a document that summarizes his Oval Office meeting earlier this month with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Moscow’s ambassador to Washington.

What to Watch for During Trump's First Global Outing

White House correspondent John T. Bennett talks about President Trump's first big overseas trip -- five nations, nine days and plenty of chances to make big deals or huge mistakes....
Trump Denies Pressuring Comey to End Flynn Probe
President repeats claims investigation is a witch hunt

By JOHN T. BENNETT and JOE WILLIAMS

President Donald Trump denied pressing former FBI Director James B. Comey to drop a criminal investigation of his first national security adviser, and said his campaign did not collude with Russia.

Trump: Special Counsel Part of Biggest ‘Witch Hunt’ in U.S. History
On Wednesday, POTUS said ‘no politician in history has been treated worse’

Bill and Hillary Clinton complained of a “vast right-wing conspiracy” during the 42nd presidency. Donald Trump increasingly portrays the 45th as plagued by the biggest “witch hunt” in American history.

Trump had been uncharacteristically silent on Twitter since the New York Times reported Tuesday evening that then-FBI Director James Comey had crafted a memo detailing a Feb. 14 conversation during which the president allegedly asked him to drop a criminal probe of the national security adviser he had fired the day before, Michael Flynn.

Cloud of Scandals Follow Trump Overseas
Lawmakers warn of stalled domestic agenda

A cloud of scandal and uncertainty will follow Donald Trump to five countries on his first overseas trip as president beginning this weekend. And it could only grow more ominous by the time he returns.

When Trump boards Air Force One on Friday, he will leave behind a growing pile of smoldering scandals, mostly of his own creation.

With Turkey’s Erdogan, Transactional Trump on Display
U.S. president talks deeper ties on trade, countering ISIS

By midafternoon Tuesday at the White House, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had already spent several hours there in a visit largely overshadowed by Capitol Hill’s grappling with the consequences of President Donald Trump’s recent interactions with Russian officials.

The bilateral meeting between the two heads of state was mostly background music amid a new controversy White House officials scrambled to tamp down: Trump’s apparent disclosure of a classified Islamic State plot to Russian officials last week in the Oval Office. But when the two leaders appeared together, the U.S. president made clear he has no intention of distancing himself from a Middle Eastern leader many lawmakers and experts warn is a dictator-in-the-making.

Lawmakers Take More Aggressive Stance After Latest Trump Allegations
Leahy: ‘When I was a prosecutor it would be called obstruction of justice’

By JOHN T. BENNETT and NIELS LESNIEWSKI

Congressional Democrats warned President Trump may have obstructed justice by allegedly asking then-FBI Director James Comey to drop a probe of a former White House official, charges the the White House denies.

White House Shifts Talking Points Again on Russia Disclosure
National security adviser fits reaction to Trump tweets

The White House on Tuesday injected yet another twist into its efforts to defend President Donald Trump after he admitted to disclosing highly classified information with senior Russian diplomats.

One of Trump’s top aides on Tuesday defended Trump’s sharing classified information about an Islamic State plot with Russian diplomats, saying it was “wholly appropriate” given the conversation. Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the president’s national security adviser, also contended Trump was unaware about the source of the information.

Trump Appears to Confirm Report He Gave Russians Classified Info
After partial denials from aides, president claims ‘absolute right’ to share data

President Donald Trump appeared to confirm a report that he discussed highly classified information with senior Russian officials last week, contradicting some of his top aides while claiming an “absolute right” to do so.

Around 7 p.m. Monday, the president dispatched National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to partially deny a Washington Post report that he revealed highly classified information about Islamic State plot involving laptop computers and passenger airliners gleaned by a U.S. ally to senior Russian officials. McMaster told reporters the article “as it came out tonight, is false.” He said no intelligence sources or methods were disclosed — something not alleged in the Post article.

Senators React With Alarm, Caution to Report That Trump Revealed Classified Info
President's top security adviser: ‘I was in the room, it didn’t happen’

By JOHN T. BENNETT, NIELS LESNIEWSKI and JOE WILLIAMSCQ Roll Call

Some senators expressed shock — while others reacted cautiously  — to a report Monday evening alleging that President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information about Islamic State plots gleaned by a U.S. ally to senior Russian officials. 

Trump Feels ‘Very Strong’ About House Health Bill
White House still won't deny president is recording conversations

The White House fired a shot across the Senate’s bow Monday, signaling President Donald Trump feels “very strong” about the health overhaul passed by the House.

Several Senate groups, including one composed of Republicans and Democrats, are holding talks about how to alter the House measure or craft an entirely new bill. But just as senators return to Washington to get back to work, Press Secretary Sean Spicer walked a tightrope about what Trump wants them to pass.

White House Won't Deny Trump is Taping Oval Office Conversations
President has ‘nothing to add’ to tweet threatening Comey with ‘tapes’

The White House on Friday declined to deny that President Donald Trump is recording conversations he is having in the Oval Office.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer began his back-and-forth with reporters Friday by saying Trump told him he has “nothing to add” to a morning tweet in which he suggested he has “tapes” of private conversations with James Comey, the former FBI director whom he fired on Tuesday. The president threatened to release them should Comey talk to the media.

Trump Threatens Fired FBI Director Comey With ‘Tapes’
President signals he might have recordings of their private conversations

Updated at 12:34 p.m. President Donald Trump threatened former FBI Director James Comey on Friday, suggesting he might have recorded their private conversations and is prepared to release them if Comey talks to the media.

In an extraordinary tweet, even by Trump’s standards, the president wrote: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

Trump Contradicts Aides on Comey Firing
No. 2 White House spox didn't talk to president about matter until Thursday

President Trump on Thursday contradicted some of his top aides by revealing he was going to fire FBI Director James Comey no matter what senior Justice Department officials recommended.

“I was going to fire Comey,” Trump told NBC News in an interview. “Regardless of the recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”

Republican Leaders Lose Argument to Trump Over Voter Fraud
President pushes through commission to investigate his claims from 2016

President Donald Trump will establish a new federal commission Thursday to investigate his claims that up to 5 million illegal immigrants cast votes in November and cost him a popular vote victory over Hillary Clinton.

By doing so, the president will ignore pleas from his own party to drop the matter.

With Comey Ouster, Trump Joins Select Group of Presidents
Most presidents who took such action fought mightily with Congress

President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James B. Comey is far from the first time a chief executive has removed a potential threat. But the move puts the 45th president in a class that includes several presidents who ran into choppy waters with lawmakers.

Presidential historians say it is too soon to predict whether Comey’s dismissal will contribute to lawmakers reprimanding Trump. In fact, several said it is possible the termination will have no negative effect on the president’s ability to enact an agenda that includes a health care overhaul, tax cut package, massive infrastructure rebuild, and a bolstering of the military, among other items.