John T. Bennett

Trump Vows to Sign Compromise Prisons Bill
President made similar promise on immigration, then helped sink bipartisan measure

President Donald Trump on Friday did little to help resolve lawmakers’ standoff over differing House and Senate prison overhaul bills, opting against using his bully pulpit to pressure either side.

Instead, Trump gave both sides leverage when he said his administration “strongly supports these efforts,” referring to each chambers’ bill. The remark was something of a shift for the president. Previously, his administration has voiced support for a measure awaiting House floor action but been cooler to a Senate version that includes proposed sentencing changes.

Analysis: Giuliani Escalates Effort to Erode Legitimacy of Mueller Probe
Trump lawyer attacks Sessions, Comey and casts president as victim of ‘crimes’

Former FBI Director James Comey is a “proven liar” and Attorney General Jeff Sessions “didn’t step up” to shut down an “unjustifiable investigation.” Those were just two of the claims made Friday by Rudy Giuliani, one of President Donald Trump’s lawyers, as he continued an escalating effort to erode the legitimacy of the Justice Department’s Russia probe.

As Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his team continue their probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, possible coordination with the Trump-Pence campaign, and whether the president obstructed justice, Giuliani — joined by Trump and others — are executing a strategy intended to raise doubts about the necessity of the investigation, whether Mueller and the FBI are out to get Trump, and the special counsel’s tactics.

Trump Breaks With New Security Adviser Bolton on North Korea Plan
Records appear to contradict president’s claim that no U.S. official has ever negotiated with China

President Donald Trump on Wednesday broke with his national security adviser, denying that his administration is following the U.S. playbook in Libya — which led to the ouster and death of itsleader at the time — as it prepares for talks with North Korea.

“The Libya model is not a model we have at all with North Korea,” the president told reporters. “With [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un, he’d be there, running his country.

Trump Wants Full Border Wall Funding This Year
At event on sanctuary cities, president attacks California officials

President Donald Trump has threatened a government shutdown unless Congress hands him more funding for his proposed southern border wall. Now he’s demanding full funding for the project this year.

Trump said he will attempt to secure full funding for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall during the next congressional appropriations process. That would mean he will demand both chambers approve up to $25 billion for the U.S.-Mexico border barrier, a figure pitched earlier this year by senior White House officials.

No Word From Kim on Canceling Nuke Summit, Trump Says
U.S. president: 'We haven't seen anything. We haven't heard anything.'

Updated 12:54 p.m. | President Donald Trump on Wednesday said his administration has received no official notification from the North Korean government about canceling a summit with Kim Jong Un over the dictator’s nuclear arms and long-range missile programs.

“We haven't been notified at all, we’ll have to see. We haven’t seen anything. We haven’t heard anything,” the president said. “We will see what happens.

Trump Call to Curb August Recess Picks Up Steam
Republican senators seem eager to keep Democrats off campaign trail

President Donald Trump did most of the talking Tuesday during a lunch-hour meeting with Senate Republicans, but lawmakers said he did not prod them to cancel their August recess. He did not have to. 

That’s because the idea appears to be gaining steam for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the large number of Democratic incumbents running for re-election could find themselves off the campaign trail and in Washington at a prime time for campaigning.

Will Any of House Legislative Push Make It to Trump’s Desk?: What You Need to Know
Connecting Congress and the White House at the intersection of politics 

The House is suddenly very busy with a farm bill, prison reform measure, the national defense authorization bill and more. But the White House seems to have different priorities, says correspondent John T. Bennett. Here are the realities at the other end of Pennsylvania when considering the likelihood of such measures getting enacted. ...
Trump Renews Call for Cop Killers to Get Death Penalty
Using campaign-trail rhetoric, Pence vows to ‘make America safe again’

President Donald Trump on Tuesday renewed his call for individuals convicted of killing police officers to receive the death penalty, but his White House has yet to produce a proposal to turn his campaign pledge into policy.

During the 2016 presidential election, candidate Trump often vowed, if elected, to sign an executive order that he contended would force convicted cop killers to be put to death. He renewed that call in December. But he has yet to sign such an executive action and his administration has yet to send Congress legislative language on the matter.

Lawmakers Concerned About Trump’s Pledge to Save China’s ZTE
Schumer claims U.S. president’s help would ‘make China great again’

Members from both parties reacted skeptically Monday to President Donald Trump’s intention to help troubled Chinese telecommunications company ZTE, saying they were concerned he was reversing his pledge to get tough on Beijing.

Trump campaigned, in part, on altering the United States’ trading relationships with the rest of the world, taking a particularly hard line against China and its practices. In 2011, he went so far as to say “China is raping this country.” So a Sunday tweet by the president raised eyebrows when he announced an effort with Chinese President Xi Jinping to “give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast.”

Behold the Ever-Shrinking Trump-GOP 2018 Agenda
Sanders lists only an immigration bill on White House’s wish list

The White House’s wish list once comprised a sweeping infrastructure measure, overhauling the federal welfare program, another try at tax cuts and an immigration bill. But now, only the final item makes the list with the midterm elections fast approaching.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders essentially drove a dagger through the other items Friday, listing only an immigration bill when asked to lay out the White House’s 2018 legislative agenda.

Administration Denies Notion Jerusalem Embassy Isolates U.S. in Region
Trump to address Monday’s opening ceremony via video, official says

Senior administration officials on Friday dismissed the notion that President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has isolated the United States in the region.

The officials also told reporters on a morning conference call that an ample number of U.S. lawmakers are expected to attend a Monday afternoon event at the Jerusalem facility to mark its official opening. They did not, however, name names.

Expect a Full-Throated Push to Confirm Haspel as Next CIA Chief 
 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's top priority for the months leading up to the midterm elections is to get as many of President Donald Trump's nominees for courts and bureaucratic posts approved. Gina Haspel, the current deputy director of the CIA, has been tapped to lead the agency — White House correspondent John T. Bennett says look to her allies on the Hill and at the White House to make a robust case for her confirmation ahead of her May 9 hearing before the Senate ...
Analysis: 3 Contradictions From Trump Team on Stormy Daniels Payment
What did the president know? When did he know it?

President Donald Trump and one of his new attorneys admit he reimbursed his longtime fixer for a payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, a striking reversal from what the president said just a few weeks ago. But team Trump’s attempts to clear up the matter is full of contradictions.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, now one of the lead attorneys on Trump’s personal legal team, told Fox News on Wednesday night the president repaid fixer and attorney Michael Cohen for $130,000 he transmitted to Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) in return for her silence about an alleged sexual encounter when Trump was a reality show star.

Ty Cobb to Leave White House Post Overseeing Mueller Response
Lawyer’s departure signals Trump may be seeking a more aggressive strategy

Updated 2:46 p.m. | Ty Cobb, the lawyer President Donald Trump brought in to lead the White House’s response to the Justice Department’s Russia probe, is retiring. His departure marks the latest in a string as the president shakes up his legal battalion.

“For several weeks Ty Cobb has been discussing his retirement and last week he let Chief of Staff [John F.] Kelly know he would retire at the end of this month,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. She later confirmed he will be replaced by  Clinton impeachment lawyer and George W. Bush White House veteran Emmet Flood.

Pompeo Vows ‘Tough Diplomacy,’ Return of State’s ‘Swagger’
Trump cryptically touts U.S. activities that are ‘not even a glimmer in your eye’

Flanked by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promised Tuesday to conduct “tough diplomacy” and told employees at the agency he wants to restore its “swagger.”

Trump and Pence made the short trek to Foggy Bottom on Wednesday morning for a ceremonial swearing-in of Trump’s second secretary of State. The president hailed Pompeo’s experience — as well as his own business school performance — while cryptically alluding to unspecified “things” the U.S. government is doing around the globe.

White House Mum About Trump’s Unprecedented Call for Senator’s Resignation
President claims he knows ‘things’ about Tester but shares no details

Historians and analysts say President Donald Trump’s call for a sitting United States senator to resign over a dispute about a nominee is unprecedented — yet, White House officials are mum about the provocative move.

Two days after Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the former White House doctor, withdrew his nomination to be Veterans Affairs secretary due in part to allegations from whistleblowers released by Sen. Jon Tester’s office, Trump used a Saturday morning tweet to demand the Montana Democrat leave office. Later that night, he threatened Tester with information he said would end the senator’s political career.

Trump and House Leadership at Odds on Legislative Agenda Heading Into May
 

President Donald Trump maintains that border security, infrastructure and reducing the U.S. military’s global footprint are top priorities for Congress in the months leading up to the midterm election. But White House correspondent John T. Bennett says none of those issues were on House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s to-do list....
White House: Kelly Not In Running for Veterans’ Affairs Nomination
‘No change’ in Afghanistan strategy despite GOP senator’s claim

Donald Trump is not considering nominating chief of staff John Kelly, a retired Marine, for the top job at the embattled Department of Veterans’ Affairs, says the president’s top spokeswoman.

A day after a report surfaced, citing eight former or current White House staffers, that Kelly once called Trump an “idiot” and has frequently questioned the chief executive’s intelligence in front of other staffers. The White House pushed back against the NBC News report with force, with Kelly calling it “total BS” in a statement released shortly after the article was published online.

Trump Slams Leak of Mueller Questions as ‘Disgraceful’
Experts dispute president’s contention that questions miss on Russia collusion

President Donald Trump denied Tuesday that he obstructed justice and lambasted the publication of questions special counsel Robert S. Mueller III allegedly wants to ask him as “disgraceful.”

Trump Pushes DMZ as Kim Summit Site, Bashes U.S. Immigration Laws
Former reality TV star envisions ‘great celebration’ after deal with North

President Donald Trump doubled down Monday on his proposal to hold his potential summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un inside the Demilitarized Zone along that country’s border with South Korea.

During a joint news conference with his Nigerian counterpart, Trump said the DMZ’s “Peace House” on South Korean soil and Singapore are candidates to host the potential summit. Trump revealed his interest in the former, saying it would allow for a “great celebration” should the two leaders strike a deal.