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Donald Trump made it clear at the beginning of his campaign that he wasn’t going to follow the normal rules or tone of politics. We’re keeping track of all the ways his presidency veers from the norm in terms of policy and rhetoric.
Day 321 Dec. 7
Former Fox News anchor accuses Trump of trying to kiss her in an elevator
A former Fox News anchor has accused President Donald Trump of trying to kiss her without permission during a meeting at Trump Tower in 2005 — an incident that occurred not long after Trump married his third wife, Melania, in a lavish ceremony at Mar-a-Lago.
Juliet Huddy, now a guest host for a radio show on WABC, made the allegations on “Mornin!!! with Bill Schulz,” where she described how Trump took her to lunch and tried to kiss her on the lips in the elevator after..
“He took me for lunch at Trump Tower, just us two,” Huddy said. “He said goodbye to me in an elevator while his security guy was there, and rather than kiss me on the cheek he leaned in to kiss me on the lips. I wasn’t offended, I was kind of like, ‘Oh my god’.”
Huddy said Trump referenced his attempt in a later TV appearance, saying “I hit on her but she blew me off.”
Huddy, who settled with Fox News in January over separate sexual harassment claims against Bill O’Reilly, said she didn’t realize at the time how inappropriate the president’s behavior was.
“Now I have matured I think I would say, ‘Woah, no’, but at the time I was younger and I was a little shocked. I thought maybe he didn’t mean to do it, but I was kind of making excuses. The elevator incident and the lunch was 2005 or 2006.”
At least 19 women have now accused Trump of sexual misconduct, with allegations ranging from groping and forced kissing to lewd comments. Trump and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders have both denied the allegations, calling all of the women liars.
Trump has not yet addressed Ms. Huddy’s credibility, but it presents a certain logical conundrum for the president, who has repeatedly touted Fox News as the only “real news” network. We’ll update if and when he decides how to respond.
Trump adviser dismissed as “coffee boy” sucks at making coffee, fiancée says
The Trump administration may be painting George Papadopoulos, the first campaign adviser to plead guilty to lying to the FBI, as a mere “coffee boy.” But according to his fiancée, the 28-year-old played a much bigger role than the Trump camp are making out.
Simona Mangiante told ABC News that Papadopolous had “set up meetings with leaders all over the world” for top campaign officials and was “constantly in touch with high-level officials,” including former advisers Steve Bannon and Michael Flynn.
All that work was also approved by the campaign, according to Mangiante. “He never took any initiative, as far as I know, [that was] unauthorized,” she said, adding that she had been instructed by lawyers not to share with reporters emails that could back up her story.
The Trump administration, however, has described Papadopolous as a “young, low-level volunteer” and a “liar,” while campaign adviser Michael Caputo has dismissed him as a “coffee boy.”
“I would love George to learn how to make a coffee, because it’s absolutely out of his skills,” Mangiante told ABC.
Papadopoulos, a former campaign foreign policy adviser to Trump, pleaded guilty in October lying to the FBI about his repeated attempts to set up meetings between Trump and Vladimir Putin during the campaign.
Mangiante said her fiancé was “very loyal to his country,” as he would demonstrate by cooperating with the FBI as “the first domino in the Russia investigation.”
— Tim Hume
Day 321 Dec. 6
Trump Jr. reportedly cites attorney-client privilege over call about Russia meeting
Donald Trump Jr. reportedly told the House Intelligence Committee Wednesday that his phone call with his father about his Trump Tower meeting with Russians linked to the Kremlin was protected by attorney-client privilege. Trump Jr. asserted the privilege because there were also lawyers on the call, the New York Times reports.
Trump Jr. also said he spoke to Hope Hicks, and not directly to his father, about crafting the misleading statement he released when the story was first breaking, according to CNN.
It was reported at the time that Trump Jr. had communicated directly with the president over the phone while Trump, along with Hicks and other members of his team, were flying back from the G-20 conference on Air Force One. What Trump knew, when, and what role he played in the statement are still largely unclear.
Though Trump Jr. met with House investigators about Russia for more than eight hours Wednesday, House Democrats say there’s a lot that he claimed not to remember.
Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, a Democrat on the committee, tweeted there were many “unanswered questions” after Trump Jr.’s testimony.
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California also said that while Trump Jr. acknowledged talking with his father, his assertion that the call was privileged wasn’t convincing.
“In my view there is no attorney-client privilege that protects a discussion between father and son,” Schiff said.
Republican Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas had a different take, telling reporters, “”From my perspective, all of our questions were answered.”
— Alexa Liautaud
Day 320 Dec. 5
Lawyers offer to accommodate Trump by taking depositions in between rounds of golf
Attorneys for Summer Zervos, a former contestant on the Apprentice currently suing the president for defamation, offered Tuesday to accommodate Trump’s busy schedule by taking depositions at Mar-a-Lago in between the president’s golf games.
Zervos — one of 16 women who have come forward against Trump — had previously accused the president of groping her and forcibly kissing her. After Trump said his accusers spouted “total fiction” and implied in an interview Hillary Clinton had persuaded them to step forward, Zervos sued Trump for defamation in New York State Supreme Court, arguing the president smeared her name through his repeated denials of the allegations.
In court Tuesday, Trump’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, argued the case should be dismissed because the “state court can’t exercise any control over the president under any circumstances.”
Kasowitz added that the dismissal is necessary to “[protect] the ability of the president to do his constitutionally-mandated job,” in essence arguing that fighting the case would prevent Trump from effectively legislating.
lIn response, Zervos’ attorneys volunteered to accommodate Trump so that he might balance the lawsuit alongside his presidential responsibilities.
“We can certainty ensure that we take a deposition down at Mar-a-Largo in between his playing golf,” one lawyer said.
— Alexa Liautaud
Russian lawyer confirms Trump Jr. asked for dirt on Hillary Clinton
When Donald Trump Jr. infamously met with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower during the campaign, he had a clear agenda: obtaining dirt on Hillary Clinton.
That lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, recently confirmed the reports before the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to documents obtained by NBC News.
Veselnitskaya told the Committee that there had been a misunderstanding about the nature of the meeting, and once she’d made it clear to Trump Jr. that she didn’t have any incriminating information about his father’s Democratic opponent, he “seemed to lose interest.”
“Today, I understand why it took place to begin with and why it ended so quickly with a feeling of mutual disappointment and time wasted,” Veselnitskaya wrote in response to questions posed by the Committee.
But Trump Jr.’s expectation of dirt on the Clintons wasn’t misguided as her testimony suggested.
When Rob Goldstone, a British publicist working on behalf of the the Alagarovs, a Russian oligarch family with Kremlin ties, arranged the meeting between Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya, he described her as a “Russian government lawyer” who could provide potentially damning information on the Clinton Foundation.
“I love it!” Trump Jr. wrote in reply.
Goldstone has since explained that he exaggerated the situation in order to lock down the meeting between Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya.
“If I”m guilty of anything, and I hate the word guilty, it’s hyping the message and going the extra mile for my clients,” Goldstone told the Sunday Times last month. “Using hot-button language to puff up the information I had been given.”
Veselnitskaya, in her statement to the Judiciary Committee, wrote that the true nature of the meeting was to discuss US sanctions on Russia, known as the Magnitsky Act, which was consistent with the narrative offered by a lawyer representing the Alagarovs. Veselnitskaya, in her statement, also called Goldstone’s alleged misrepresentation “roguish.”
— Tess Owen
Jeff Flake supports Trump’s party unity plan by donating to a Democrat
Republican Sen. Jeff Flake must’ve heard Donald Trump as the president boasted of party unity during an awkward photo-op Tuesday, but did he really hear him?
Apparently not. Because hours after sitting beside Trump, the senator from Arizona went against his party, literally writing a check that had the words “country over party” scribbled across its front. Oh yeah, and about that check: It was written for $100 to the campaign of Alabama Senate hopeful Democrat Doug Jones.
The check pits Flake against the candidate representing his party, Roy Moore, the former judge accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct and assault.
Flake has never donated to a Democratic candidate before, according to data from the Federal Election Commission, made public by government transparency website Open Secrets.
The move immediately drew praise online, with Walter Shaub, the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics under former President Barack Obama tweeting his support.
Earlier in the day, Flake had expressed his disappointment with Trump’s stance toward Moore, telling reporters he thought “the president is wrong here.”
“I think it will have negative impacts for the party in the long term,” Flake said.
High-profile Republican lawmakers initially came out in droves against Moore after allegations were published in the Washington Post that Moore acted sexually inappropriate with teenagers when was he was an assistant district attorney in his 30s.
But Trump’s support for Moore has forced the GOP to backtrack on its stance. On Monday the RNC, which had pulled financial support after reports of Moore’s misconduct first circulated, announced it was helping Moore win the race.
The Alabama Senate special election is scheduled for Dec. 12.
— Alexa Liautaud
The Trump family’s finances are now in Mueller’s crosshairs
Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has crossed the president’s bright red line.
Mueller’s investigators issued a subpoena for Trump’s records with Deutsche Bank several weeks ago, according to German newspaper Handelsblatt. Deutsche Bank confirmed to Bloomberg Tuesday that the bank is cooperating and handing over records. Trump’s real estate empire owes the bank some $300 million.
Mueller’s move in seeking the financial records disregards the hard line Trump tried to establish in July: In an interview with the New York Times, Trump said that any further investigation into his family’s personal finances would be “a violation.”
Deutsche Bank is hopeful that sharing its cooperation with Mueller’s investigation will end scrutiny from Democratic lawmakers, who have been clamoring for more transparency in how the bank is handling the loans, an unnamed executive told Bloomberg. Deutsche Bank’s Russian offices have deep ties to the state and have long been involved in expatriating Russian money.
Even as the investigation has escalated, Trump’s remained dismissive of it. On Monday, before leaving on a trip to Utah, he again defended Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday and is now cooperating with Mueller’s investigators. He also reiterated that his former election rival Hillary Clinton should be under investigation, not him.
Trump has had plenty to say about these other aspects of the probe, but he hasn’t made a peep about the Deutsche Bank subpoena, even though it was several weeks ago.
Day 319 Dec. 4
Behold all the garbage food Trump scarfed on the campaign trail
Heading into the presidential debates last year, Donald Trump’s longtime doctor predicted the 70-year-old would go on to be the “healthiest president in history,” and new details have emerged that show what Trump did on the campaign trail to earn that glowing assessment.
The Washington Post got an advance copy of “Let Trump Be Trump,” the new book by campaign advisers Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, and reported that a typical meal for the then-GOP nominee followed a strict formula: “Two Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fish, and a chocolate malted.”
You don’t need to be wealthy like Trump to get this food; you just need a capacity for 2,672 calories, 117 grams of fat, and 3,556 milligrams of sodium.
While Trump & Co. have sometimes struggled to articulate on key issues like the travel ban and Native American history, he had clear parameters for himself and his team when it came to food on the campaign trail. Lewandowski and his co-author write, “On Trump Force One there were four major food groups: McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, pizza, and Diet Coke.”
Here are some of Trump’s other food “secrets”:
- Besides the potentially carcinogenic effects of the well-done steaks he insists upon, Trump puts ketchup on top.
- He’s crafty when it comes to the grease from KFC buckets: Note the napkin layer between his two plates.
- He’s also big on foods that don’t exist. (If it’s not real, neither are the calories?) Favorite presidential non-foods range from McDonald’s “Fish Delight” sandwich to Latin America’s least-existing, most-favorite treat, the taco bowl:
— Josh Marcus
Day 319 Dec. 4
Trump is attending a civil rights museum opening in Mississippi
President Donald Trump will reportedly attend the opening of a civil rights museum in Mississippi on Saturday, according to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.
Trump will head to Jackson to visit the museum that chronicles the Jim Crow era, as well as the history of the Ku Klux Klan.
Trump has a notoriously turbulent relationship with minority groups. After Heather Heyer was killed by a white supremacist, Trump equated racist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, with leftist counterprotesters.
“I think there is blame on both sides,” Trump said in Manhattan’s Trump Tower back in August. “You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.”
Just last week, Trump referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” at an event honoring Native American code talkers who served in World War II. Warren has, in the past, claimed to have Native American heritage.
The opening of the museum will put Trump in close proximity to Alabama just days before its Senate special election. The contest is a controversial, dramatic one that pits Democrat Doug Jones against accused sexual predator Roy Moore, the GOP candidate. Despite allegations that Moore molested multiple teenage girls, Trump tacitly supported Moore before throwing his full endorsement behind the candidate on Monday.
— Rex Santus
Trump goes all in on alleged child molester Roy Moore
Donald Trump gave Roy Moore a full-throated endorsement Monday, despite the Alabama Republican Senate candidate facing multiple accusations of sexual assault against teenage girls.
Ignoring the mounting allegations, Trump said it’s important to elect Moore in the Dec. 12 special election because of “tax cuts.”
The president, who himself has been accused of sexual misconduct, added that a vote for Democratic candidate Doug Jones would undermine the country’s economy and security.
Many prominent Republicans have called for Moore to step aside, citing the credible accounts given by the victims of the alleged historic assaults.
Trump’s backing comes a day after a CBS News poll found 71 percent of Alabama Republicans believe the allegations against Moore are false.
Moore, who is battling Jones for the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is ahead by six points, according to the same poll.
— David Gilbert
Day 319 Dec. 4
Billy Bush on pussy grab tape: “Of course he said it”
Billy Bush, the man Trump bragged to about grabbing women “by the pussy,” pushed back Sunday against the president’s reported attempts to deny the comments.
“Of course he said it,” the former TV host wrote in an editorial, following recent reports Trump had claimed the infamous 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape that resurfaced in October 2016 was fake.
In the New York Times op-ed, Bush accused the president of “indulging in some revisionist history” by privately telling people he did not believe the voice on the tape was him.
“This has hit a raw nerve in me,” he wrote.
Bush added that when Trump made the comments, he and the other men present laughed along, as if they were “listening to a crass standup act.”
But he has since become aware of complaints about Trump’s behavior made by 20 woman – including one who claimed Trump had touched her crotch through her underwear in a nightclub in the 1990s.
“That makes the “grab ’em by the pussy” routine real,” Bush wrote. “I believe her.”
Bush lost his NBC job when the tape resurfaced during the 2016 election campaign.
Recorded on a hot mic when Trump was a guest on Bush’s show, Trump boasted about being able to kiss and grope women because of his fame.
“I just start kissing them. And when you’re a star, they let you do it… You can do anything,” he said.
Trump apologized for the tape at the time, dismissing it as “locker room talk.”
Day 316 Dec. 1
Trump is holding a pep rally for Roy Moore in Floribama
President Trump is doing everything he can to get Alabama Republican Roy Moore elected to the Senate. That is, everything except going to Alabama to campaign for Moore, whom five women have accused of pursuing sexual relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in the 30s.
But next week, Trump is planning to do the next best thing: hold a political rally in Pensacola, Florida, a mere 25 miles from the Alabama border and solidly in the Mobile, Alabama TV market.
Despite Trump’s now frequent tweets attacking Moore’s Democratic challenger, Doug Jones, the president isn’t specifically campaign for Moore, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “The President is not planning any trip to Alabama at this time,” she said earlier this week. “Frankly, his schedule doesn’t permit him doing anything between now and Election Day.”
But the rally is scheduled just four days before Alabama’s Dec. 12 special election to fill the seat left vacant when Jeff Sessions was appointed attorney general.
In total, eight women have come out with accusations against Moore ranging from sexual misconduct to sexual assault. Of the five women who were teenagers at the time, two of them were 14 — under the legal age of consent in Alabama at the time.
Trump’s vocal support of Moore has made him an outlier among the national Republican leadership. Both Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican House Majority Leader Paul Ryan have said they believe Moore’s accusers and that he should stand down.
— Michael Learmonth
Trump leaned on top Republicans to shut down Russia probe
Donald Trump pressed senior Republicans to wind up a probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, according to a bombshell New York Times report.
Among those Trump reportedly leaned on was Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee handling the investigation.
Burr told the newspaper the president had said “something along the lines of, ‘I hope you can conclude this as quickly as possible.’” Burr replied: “When we have exhausted everybody we need to talk to, we will finish.”
Trump also reportedly told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Roy Blunt, another member of the intelligence committee, to wrap it up quickly.
The panel is one of several official investigations into claims that Moscow sought to swing the U.S. election in Trump’s favor.
The newspaper described Trump’s comments to the senators as “a highly unusual intervention from a president into a legislative inquiry involving his family and close aides,” and quoted California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein as saying Trump’s “inappropriate” approaches constituted a breach of the separation of powers.
But White House spokesman Raj Shah denied the president had acted improperly, saying Trump had not “attempted to apply undue influence on committee members.”
Trump has called Russian collusion allegations a “made-up story” concocted by the Democrats as an excuse for losing the election. He has previously made a number of comments easily interpreted as pressuring key figures to drop their scrutiny of Russian meddling.
Just days after he fired FBI Director James Comey, Trump told NBC News he asked Comey whether he was under investigation – an approach legal experts told the network was improper.
In June, Trump publicly denied he had obstructed the FBI probe into the issue.
— Tim Hume