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Audio was leaked of Jared Kushner addressing White House interns and we don’t blame you if you have a hard time figuring out who is and isn’t an intern. If we can’t have Kid Rock for Senate, at least let us have Martin Shkreli for White House communications director. And Donald Trump needs to find a new communications director. Given his staffing choices to date, we can only assume the two top finalists are someone convicted of phishing for passwords on America Online in the 1990s and a metal chair being scraped across an empty auditorium floor. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, August 1st, 2017:
REALLY NICE DAD ENTANGLES CHILD IN CONSPIRACY - WaPo: “President Trump’s advisers discussed how to respond to a new revelation that Trump’s oldest son had met with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign — a disclosure the advisers knew carried political and potentially legal peril. The strategy, the advisers agreed, should be for Donald Trump Jr. to release a statement to get ahead of the story. They wanted to be truthful, so their account couldn’t be repudiated later if the full details emerged. But within hours, at the president’s direction, the plan changed. Flying home from Germany on July 8 aboard Air Force One, Trump personally dictated a statement in which Trump Jr. said that he and the Russian lawyer had ‘primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children’ when they met in June 2016, according to multiple people with knowledge of the deliberations. The statement, issued to the New York Times as it prepared an article, emphasized that the subject of the meeting was ‘not a campaign issue at the time.’” [WaPo]
REPUBLICANS EYE NOVEL, ‘DON’T-MAKE-THINGS-WORSE’ STRATEGY ON HEALTH CARE - Susan Cornwell: “The chairman of the U.S. Senate health committee on Tuesday urged U.S. President Donald Trump to drop his threat to cut government subsidy payments to insurers that make Obamacare plans affordable and allow the payments through September. Republican Senator Lamar Alexander said his committee would begin bipartisan hearings on stabilizing the individual health insurance market the week of Sept. 4 and urged fellow lawmakers to fund the cost-sharing subsidies for one year.” [Reuters]
If they mean it, here’s a good place to start. “Congressional Republicans created the circumstances giving Trump the unilateral authority to upend the health insurance system, and inaction by those same lawmakers allows him to continue making ― and possibly, any day now, executing ― his cynical plan. Crucially, Trump’s threat to the insurance market would be completely defused if Congress explicitly ordered the federal government to pay what it owes and authorized the spending.” [HuffPost’s Jeffrey Young]
SENATE CONFIRMS NEW FBI DIRECTOR FOR TRUMP TO FIRE - Hope you enjoy intimate, menacing dinners alone with the president, Christopher Wray. Julia Edwards Ainsley: “The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed former Justice Department lawyer Christopher Wray as FBI chief, nearly three months after the agency’s previous director, James Comey, was fired by President Donald Trump. Wray, who was confirmed by vote of 92-5, will take charge of the country’s top domestic law enforcement agency during a federal probe into allegations of collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia.″ [Reuters]
EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS IS GROSS - David Folkenflik: “The Fox News Channel and a wealthy supporter of President Trump worked in concert under the watchful eye of the White House to concoct a story about the death of a young Democratic National Committee aide, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday…. The first page of the lawsuit quotes a voicemail and text from Butowsky boasting that Trump himself had reviewed drafts of the Fox News story just before it went to air and was published.″ [NPR]
HuffPost Hiccup: Yesterday we accidentally called Mooch the former White House chief of staff when he’s actually the former communications director. Maybe an extra week at the job and we would’ve gotten it down pat.
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PLEASE DON’T PROMOTE EXTRAJUDICIAL VIOLENCE, NOT-INSANE PERSON WARNS - Ryan J. Reilly: “The acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration has joined law enforcement leaders in condemning President Donald Trump’s endorsement of police brutality in a speech to police officers last week. Chuck Rosenberg, the DEA’s acting chief, sent an email to his entire workforce on Saturday expressing concern that Trump, his boss, had ‘condoned police misconduct regarding the treatment of individuals placed under arrest by law enforcement.’ ‘In writing to you, I seek to advance no political, partisan, or personal agenda. Nor do I believe that a Special Agent or Task Force Officer of the DEA would mistreat a defendant. I know that you would not,’ Rosenberg wrote.” [HuffPost]
MITCH MCCONNELL: UNWAVERING INSTITUTIONALIST - Right back to his regular habits following his health care defeat. Elana Schor: ”Senate Republicans are sticking to their plans to pass a tax bill with 50 Republican votes, despite Democratic pleas not to be sidelined as they were on health care. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday reaffirmed the GOP’s long-standing intention to shield any tax overhaul from a likely Democratic filibuster by using the procedural protections of budget reconciliation. In explaining his decision to reporters, the Kentucky Republican cited a Tuesday letter from 45 Democratic senators urging Republicans not to use reconciliation and vowing to oppose a tax plan that adds to the deficit or cuts the annual bill of the richest 1 percent of taxpayers. ‘We will need to use reconciliation’ for taxes in the wake of Democrats’ statement that they are ‘not interested in addressing’ Republican priorities, McConnell said.” [Politico]
TRUMP INTERVIEW WITH WSJ PUBLISHED - Even money says the Boy Scouts chief never said that. Josh Dawsey and Hadas Gold: “President Donald Trump called his son-in-law a “good boy” while thanking Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker for a positive editorial about Kushner and said the leader of the Boy Scouts told him his jamboree speech was ‘the greatest speech ever made to them.’ The comments, made to the Wall Street Journal and obtained in a transcript by POLITICO, show Trump holding forth at length with Baker and engaging in a familiar back-and-forth. Baker, according to the transcript, asked many of the questions and took the lead byline on the main piece about the interview as well, an unusual step for the editor in chief of a paper with a large White House reporting staff.” [Politico]
Trump upset the president’s house isn’t gold-plated. ”Chatting with some members before a recent round of golf, he explained his frequent appearances: ‘That White House is a real dump.’” [Golf’s Alan Shipnuck]
WEED! - This is really going to make Richard Shelby’s screenings of “Wizard of Oz” set to “Dark Side of the Moon” so much better. Taryn Finley: “Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ.) has introduced a bill to legalize marijuana in the U.S. and combat the racial injustices surrounding it. The senator announced his plans for the Marijuana Justice Act on Tuesday. The bill would remove weed, which is currently a Schedule 1 drug ― from the list of controlled substances. It also would cut federal funding for states where people of color and low-income individuals are disproportionately arrested or incarcerated in order to motivate those states to change their laws.” [HuffPost]
JARED KUSHNER REALLY DOES HAVE A VOICE - Ashley Feinberg: “While the recording doesn’t catch the entirety of the question, it appears to have centered on how Kushner plans to negotiate peace between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as why he believes he’ll be successful where every other administration has failed. He doesn’t directly answer either question, but he does reveal that, in his extensive research, he’s learned that ‘not a whole lot has been accomplished over the last 40 or 50 years.’ He also notes that he’s spoken to ‘a lot of people,’ which has taught him that ‘this is a very emotionally charged situation.’” [Wired]
‘THE FAKE TRUMP TOWER’ - Dan Alexander: “The fake Trump Tower will sit on the same 15-acre site and use the same Trump-approved design. Timothy Barton, a Texas developer who worked on Trump projects for years, sits with [Developer George] Ramishvili, seemingly ready to dive in. The interior will reflect the same decor Ivanka Trump had envisioned. The Georgian government might name the road near the place after Donald J. Trump – the partners have already discussed the building project with the country’s prime minister. And on this night, in this club, itself a replica of what fake Trump Tower will look like, Ramishvili, Barton and the Georgian’s New York-based business partner, Giorgi Rtskhiladze, focus on coming up with a name that says Trump–without quite saying Trump.” [Forbes]
MOOCH UPDATE - Can’t wait for his job applications where he vows to fire all of his would-be employer’s employees. Judy Kurtz: “One day after being ousted as White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci told TMZ that the next move for him is ‘working on being the best person I can be.’ ‘I want chief of staff Kelly to have an unbelievable opportunity inside the White House,’ Scaramucci told TMZ on Tuesday, after losing his administration job in just 10 days. His departure came on the same day that former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly assumed his new role as President Trump’s chief of staff. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a Monday statement that Scaramucci ‘felt it was best to give chief of staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team.’” [The Hill]
BUILD THE WALL, SLOPPILY - Knowing Trump, he’ll probably specifically demand that part of the wall is constructed atop an Indian burial ground, too. Elliot Spagat: “The Trump administration said Tuesday that it will waive environmental reviews and other laws to replace a stretch of border wall in San Diego, moving to make good on one of the president’s signature campaign pledges…. The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement it will publish in ‘the coming days’ in the Federal Register a notice exempting the government from the National Environmental Protection Act, which calls for extensive reviews of environmental impacts, and a host of other laws on 15 miles of border extending east from the Pacific Ocean. It will mark the sixth time that the department has exercised that authority since 2005 and the first time since 2008.” [AP]
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s the Night King from “Game of Thrones” partying down to Drake.
YES - Tom Porter :“Disgraced former pharmaceuticals executive ‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli has put himself forward as an unlikely candidate for the recently vacated White House communications director job. Shkreli, who is currently on trial for securities fraud in New York, wrote on his Facebook page amid the fallout from Scaramucci’s firing, ‘In for comms director.’ Shkreli is currently awaiting the verdict of his trial, in which he stands accused of using funds from a pharmaceuticals firm he ran to pay off investors in his failing hedge fund.” [Newsweek]
- Jay-Z called Coldplay’s Chris Martin a modern Shakespeare. Don’t shoot the messenger.
- Jaden Smith quotes overlaid onto emo Brandon Stark are perfect.
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