Donald Trump returned to Washington on Sunday night after opening the Daytona 500 NASCAR race in Florida to attend the wedding of his senior aide Stephen Miller, held at the president’s own Trump International Hotel in DC in disregard of ongoing concerns about violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.
Over 1,100 Justice Department prosecutors and officials have meanwhile called for his attorney general, William Barr, to step down after it became clear he had intervened to push for a more lenient prison sentence for Republican political operative and Trump ally Roger Stone. The call follows a letter signed by nine US senators — including presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — demanding his resignation. California Senator Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor who grilled the attorney general following the Mueller investigation, also renewed her call for Mr Barr to step down.
The president has otherwise been belatedly defending his US-Mexico border wall after footage went viral of a section of it being blown down in strong winds two weeks ago, with Mr Trump now insisting this was the fault of wet concrete and not shoddy workmanship or cheap materials.
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Asked whether the president will be able to “make an issue” of Mr Bloomberg’s history of sexist comments recently outlined in a Washington Post story about the litany of harassment allegations made against the billionaire former New York mayor, Kellyanne Conway said “you don’t have to wait for an election to be offended”.
“The comments he’s made about women, the lawsuits — that is all fair game”, she said.
Given the president’s own rape allegations, lawsuits and complaints about his behaviour with women, Ms Conway said: “Please, first of all, I’ve been working by his side for four years. He’s the best boss I’ve ever had.”
Rudy Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas, who was indicted for campaign finance violations, could face fresh charges following a probe of his company Fraud Guarantee.
CNN reports that investigators are determining whether Parnas and other people involved with the company had duped investors about the its value and how they intended to use the money they received.
The investigation keeps the feds close to Mr Giuliani, who was paid $500,000 by the company around the time that Mr Parnas and Igor Fruman had worked with the president’s attorney over his campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.
Donald Ayer, the former deputy US Attorney General under George HW Bush, eviscerates Bill Barr’s legal doctrine in a stunning column for The Atlantic:
“Bill Barr’s America is not a place that anyone, including Trump voters, should want to go. It is a banana republic where all are subject to the whims of a dictatorial president and his henchmen. To prevent that, we need a public uprising demanding that Bill Barr resign immediately, or failing that, be impeached.”
Kamala Harris: ‘Barr needs to go’
The California senator and former presidential candidate has renewed her call for the Attorney General to step down over the handling of Roger Stone’s sentencing. Her tweet follows a call from nine senators, including presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as an open letter from 1,100 former Justice Department employees demanding William Barr resign.
Trump wanted to prioritise the killing of Osama bin Laden’s son, Hamza bin Laden, ahead of other high-priority targets presented to him by his top intelligence officials during his first two years in office, according to an NBC News report published on Sunday.
“He would say, ‘I’ve never heard of any of these people. What about Hamza bin Laden?'” one former official told NBC, with another Pentagon hawk saying it was “the only name he knew.”
The president was apparently more interested in assassinating the terrorist leader’s son than the current al-Qaeda chief, Ayman al-Zawahri, they said. Bin Laden Jr was finally killed in an airstrike in 2018 but Al-Zawahri remains alive.
“Despite intelligence assessments showing the greater dangers posed by Zawahiri… and the unlikelihood Hamza was in the immediate line of succession, the president thought differently,” ex-CIA officer Douglas London wrote in an analysis piece for Just Security. “He regularly demanded updates on Hamza and insisted we accelerate our efforts to go after him.”
London says Trump had an “obsession” with Hamza bin Laden and wanted a “name recognition” victory over the Islamist terror group in the Middle East.
This shot of a suburban yard sign is doing the rounds on Twitter and deserves a wider audience for the sheer Trumpland mania it encapsulates.
Couldn’t even keep it together for one commandment…
For balance, here’s Obama telling it like it is.
There’s a lot of love for the 44th president out there today, not least from House impeachment manager Hakeem Jeffries.
A Trump supporter named Bill Montanaray in a Confederate flag jacket is being ridiculed on Reddit for posing for pictures at the Timonium Bike Show in Baltimore, Maryland, last weekend with a man he assumed to be Hollywood star Keanu Reeves.
That man was very much not Reeves but the MAGA loon apparently didn’t look twice, cheeringly brandishing Keep America Great signage and uploading the resulting snaps onto Facebook.
The lookalike, actually an antique motorcycle restorer named Nick German, was not happy.
Darren Richman has more on a ludicrous misunderstanding for Indy100.
The commander-in-chief has no official engagements today but is still spending his Presidents’ Day indoors griping about the House Democrats making him only the third in American history to get impeached.
Here’s a little more on someone who was far better at the job than the current incumbent.
Fresh from brawling with Trump on Twitter last week, the New York billionaire is following up on the former vice president’s attack on “Bernie Bros” and their aggressive messaging online.
Here’s John T Bennett to dig into the president’s wildly optimistic recent claims about African American poverty rates. Unsurprisingly, the data doesn’t support his conclusions.
In the last hour, Trump has been retweeting pictures and clips from yesterday’s NASCAR jaunt as though it were a North Korean rally and wishing the nation a happy (if mispelled) Presidents’ Day.
Darren Richman crunches the numbers on the commander-in-chief’s expensive habit, which the American public are paying through the nose for.
Arkansas GOP representative and Trump ally Tom Cotton has been telling Maria Bartiromo on Fox News the coronavirus could be a Chinese biochemical weapon gone wrong – a suggestion as unfounded as it is implicitly racist but worth dwelling on here as an indicator of the sort of toxic contagion being spread around the Trumpist right-wing media ecosystem.
Here’s Jon Sharman with the latest on the race for the nomination to take on Trump in November.
Over the weekend, Joe Biden called on Bernie to take responsibility for his supporters’ “vicious, malicious” behaviour after they threatened members of Nevada’s Culinary Workers Union online for not supporting their man’s Medicare for All proposal.
“He may not be responsible for it, but he has some accountability,” Biden said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “If any of my supporters did that, I’d disown them. Flat disown them.”
The front-runner meanwhile picked up the endorsement of ex-New York mayor Bill de Blaio and was accosted by a topless animal rights protester in Carson City, Nevada…
“I love my husband. I’m faithful to my husband. Onstage we usually just go for a hug,” Mayor Pete said on CNN’s State of the Union.
“I love him very much. I’m not going to take lectures on family values from the likes of Rush Limbaugh.”
Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar meanwhile announced she has made an impressive $12m (£9.2m) in fundraising since she unexpectedly secured third place in last week’s New Hampshire primary.
The president’s daughter arrived in the UAE on Saturday to take part in the Global Women’s Forum in Dubai, also meeting crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
But a picture of her wearing a hijab has left her father;s supporters conflicted about the gesture, some of whom have accused her of showing “fake support” for Muslim women.
Greg Evans has more on this for Indy100.
The president ’s envoy to Germany has issued a thinly veiled threat over British prime minister Boris Johnson’s decision to allow Huawei access to the 5G network, claiming it will “jeopardise” US-UK intelligence sharing.
As world leaders meet at the annual Munich security conference, the US ambassador to Germany warned countries not to follow the UK as Berlin considers its position on Huawei’s access to its network.
Richard Grenell said: “Donald Trump just called me from AF1 [Air Force One] and instructed me to make clear that any nation who chooses to use an untrustworthy 5G vendor will jeopardise our ability to share intelligence and information at the highest level.”
Here’s Ashley Cowburn’s report.
Brad Parscale, masterminding the president’s re-election campaign online, is being mocked on Twitter after posting a dramatic photograph of Air Force One arriving at the Daytona Speedway yesterday – only for it to be revealed the image was actually from 2004 when George W Bush was aboard, not Trump.
Here’s Kate Ng’s report.
Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway was on Fox News Sunday to discuss Trump’s running beef with Democratic 2020 rival Michael Bloomberg.
Conway told Chris Wallace that Trump was “toying with people” by contradicting his own stance on the former New York City mayor’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy, calling the measure “racist” last week after previously branding it “tremendous” in 2016.
Bloomberg, for his part, has been comparing Trump to movie bullies Regina George and Biff Tannen from Mean Girls and Back to the Future respectively.