Unfiltered Political News

The Streaming Revolution

Everyone seems to be getting into video and music streaming these days with smart devices. It makes sense for this to occur because there are so many possibilities that exist when it comes to entertainment. The underground culture is finding that there is even more available now that they have access to the fire stick. There are videos that show how to jailbreak the firestick on YouTube. Consumers have access to this through the web and they really have everything that they need to take them into the underground world of entertainment.

This is considered part of the counterculture because it is something that many people know about but very few people are admitting that they know anything about it. Even Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, must clearly be aware that the Fire Stick is selling as well as it is because people are jailbreaking this and downloading Kodi. This is the app that, after a couple of modifications, allows people to access a world of entertainment where they can watch many of their favorite shows that come on HBO, Starz, Cinemax and the standard television channels. People are even able to see some movies that are still in theaters. This is what has made the Amazon
Fire Stick so popular in a short time frame. It has essentially wiped out most of the other streaming devices that were selling prior to the Inception of the Amazon Fire Stick. It is the underground culture that is making this happen.

When people look at the entertainment for the Fire Stick there is no mistake about it. It is a Sleek format that actually has background wallpaper for the shows and a number of different sources to select from. If one cloud Server is not working for a particular show the fire-stick automatically connects with another cloud server if it is jailbroken.

Many people that utilize this do not even know all of the ins and outs on how this technology works. They just utilize it because it is easy and allows them to save a ton of money. This is where the underground culture is becoming so much more geared towards saving money and sharing files with one another. It is just easier to entertain this way.

Trump lawyer urging restraint on Mueller is odd man out

President Donald Trump loves a killer, and he just added one more to his legal team with Joseph diGenova.

But the hiring of another veteran Washington scandal attorney who views special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as illegitimate is hardly good news for Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer who’s now left more isolated than ever in his pleas for cooperation with the Russia probe.

Trump’s legal team has been sending mixed messages for months about Mueller, with Cobb arguing that a go-along, get-along approach has the best chance of bringing about a rapid conclusion to the Russia investigation. That’s a sharp contrast with John Dowd, the president’s personal lawyer, who has urged Trump to resist a sit-down interview with the special counsel and made his biggest splash yet this past weekend by calling for the whole investigation to be shuttered.

The president’s lawyers aren’t just fighting amongst themselves. Their disagreement reflects Trump’s own divided views about how to handle a scandal that has overshadowed his first year in office. It’s also why the talk about Mueller being fired won’t go away – no matter how many statements Cobb issues from the White House saying that such a move is not being discussed and has never been under consideration.

The latest Trump lawyer dispute represents “a clearer manifestation of the two-track process that has been going on for some time: Pledge cooperation, and presumably give cooperation, by providing requested documents and making people available for interviews, while letting your surrogates attack Mueller & Company in hopes of ultimately closing down the probe,” said former Whitewater deputy counsel Sol Wisenberg.

Trump’s legal team is bigger than just Dowd and Cobb. At the White House, Cobb has been leaning on as many as five aides, including Steven Groves, who stepped down last August from his job as chief of staff to U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

There’s also Jay Sekulow, who has frequently used his live weekday talk-radio show to criticize the Russia investigation while also spearheading the president’s legal defense research on some of the constitutional questions at the center of Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation. Sekulow also contributes the work of four attorneys with ties to the nonprofit he runs, the American Center for Law & Justice.

Trump has also sought advice on the Russia scandal from his longtime lawyer Marc Kasowitz, a New York- based attorney who originally led the president’s response but stepped down last summer, and Fox News Channel host Jeanine Pirro, who Trump has also known for decades. Others who know the president say they try to get their legal advice to the president through the cable shows they know he watches.

“If he can watch TV, he knows how I feel,” Roger Stone, the GOP operative and longtime Trump political adviser, said in a recent interview.

Despite all the legal advice coming his way, a person familiar with Trump’s legal strategy said the president’s natural inclinations of swinging hard are starting to show – even as his lawyers continue to fight among themselves.

“There is no strategy in place here,” this person said. “This is the president, period. It is the president looking at his history of dealing with tight situations and public fights and how he feels most comfortably fighting those fights. This guy likes fights. And he trusts his own instincts. He trusts it above the instincts of his own lawyers. He trusts it above the instincts of his own communications team, whether inside or outside the White House.”

Trump’s attack-dog approach to the Mueller probe will get another potent voice with diGenova, a former federal prosecutor who once served as an independent counsel to investigate whether aides to President George H.W. Bush violated federal law by searching Bill Clinton’s passport files during the 1992 presidential campaign. He is slated to start later this week but has been channeling his inner Trump for months, calling former FBI director James Comey a “dirty cop,” blasting Mueller’s ethics and arguing that the whole Russia probe had dubious origins.

“There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn’t win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime,” diGenova said during a Fox News appearance in January. He added: “Make no mistake about it: A group of F.B.I. and D.O.J. people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime.”

The person familiar with Trump’s legal strategy said the addition of diGenova is a bad omen for Cobb, who was sent out on cleanup duty late Sunday with a one-sentence statement insisting a weekend’s worth of anti-Mueller comments from the president and Dowd should not be interpreted as signals that the special counsel’s job was in jeopardy.

“I don’t think he’s long for this team. It’s clear the president wants to be more aggressive,” this person said.

Indeed, about 12 hours after Cobb’s remark that the president “is not considering or discussing the firing” of Mueller, Trump took to Twitter with a Monday morning post suggesting the special counsel faced ethical challenges that merited closer examination.

“A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!” Trump wrote, echoing complaints he made in private last June to White House counsel Don McGahn in an order to fire Mueller.

McGahn ignored the president’s request, told senior colleagues he’d resign over it, and then shared details with the special counsel about the interaction when he was interviewed late December.

Cobb’s fate has been up in the air for months. Some Trump boosters were arguing late last year arguing that Cobb should be fired because he’d set up unrealistic expectations about when the Russia investigation will end.

But Cobb remains on the White House payroll, even though his workload has dwindled since last fall. That’s the byproduct of the Russia probe moving away from the document production he was in charge of and in assisting Mueller in arranging a spate of initial interviews with current and former White House aides, including McGahn and outgoing communications director Hope Hicks.

A defense lawyer working on the Russia case said Cobb had recently been marginalized by the other Trump attorneys working on the case.

“I don’t think he’s going to get fired or quit,” said this attorney. “I think the president kind of likes Ty and feels a little sorry for him.”

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Trump originally planned to put Cohn at CIA, but changed his mind

Former White House economic adviser Gary Cohn reached a tentative agreement with President Donald Trump to become his CIA director — but lost out on the role after Trump abruptly changed his mind.

Cohn, who resigned in early March amid a fight over tariffs, told associates at the time that he would consider rejoining the administration if Trump called and offered him “the right big job,” but he did not elaborate on what that job would be. In fact, according to three people close to the president, Cohn had already talked with Trump about taking the helm of the CIA, a job that suddenly opened up last week when Trump nominated his spy chief, Mike Pompeo, to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.

Trump, these people said, informally offered Cohn the position, telling him he thought he’d be a good fit for the job, and Cohn had agreed to take it. Trump long ago decided that Pompeo would replace Tillerson as secretary of state, and the president in recent weeks had bounced off his closest external advisers the idea of sending Cohn to the CIA. It is unclear why Trump decided to change course at the last minute, but last week he named Pompeo’s deputy Gina Haspel to the CIA role instead.

Two senior administration officials acknowledged that Trump discussed other positions with Cohn. But they did not specify any other position, and they said the president didn’t extend a formal offer.

Trump made clear his desire for Cohn to return in his public remarks about the departure of the former Goldman Sachs executive, a Democrat who served Trump as director of the National Economic Council. In his final public goodbye, Trump said of Cohn: “He’s going to go out, make another couple hundred million, and then he’s going to maybe come back.”

“You’re going to come back right?” the president asked.

The episode offers a window into Trump’s decision-making a little more than a year into his tenure. While he is growing more comfortable in the job, willing to follow his instincts and make unorthodox personnel choices, his decisions remain entirely unpredictable, leaving even his most senior advisers in a state of perpetual uncertainty.

Cohn has no background in intelligence but told associates he was interested in running the CIA or, potentially, serving as secretary of state. He was at one point the leading candidate to be chair of the Federal Reserve, but his standing cooled after he criticized the president’s equivocal response to a white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year.

Cohn has had multiple inquiries by private-sector companies, but he has not lined up his next job.

Cohn’s near-miss at the CIA came amid turmoil across the administration. The president remains unhappy with David Shulkin, his secretary of Veterans Affairs, and Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He announced last week that Larry Kudlow, the CNBC commentator and former Reagan economic adviser, would replace Cohn at the National Economic Council.

Cohn and the president began discussing other possible senior jobs in the administration when the NEC chair told Trump two months ago about his plans to resign, according to the two senior White House officials. Those discussions never reached the point of a formal offer, these people said, and Cohn announced on March 6 that he would leave the White House.

After the White House announced Cohn’s resignation, the president and Cohn continued having substantial discussions about other positions, the officials said. The officials declined to say which jobs were discussed and would not confirm or deny that the job as CIA director was one of the possibilities.

On March 13, Trump announced that he would nominate Pompeo, a former Kansas congressman, to replace Tillerson. He tapped Haspel, who has been with the CIA since 1985, to replace Pompeo as head of the spy agency.

One senior official said that while discussions between Cohn and Trump have not yet worked out, the former Goldman president may still rejoin the administration at some point. “As the president made clear, he and Gary continue to have a strong relationship and Gary could eventually return to serve in another senior role in the administration,” the official said.

“This is Gary Cohn’s last meeting of the Cabinet, with the Cabinet, and he’s been terrific,” Trump said in his farewell to his NEC director. “He may be a globalist, but I still like him. He’s seriously a globalist, there’s no question. But you know what? In his own way he’s a nationalist because he loves this country.”

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Dems under pressure to block Pompeo, Haspel

Senate Democrats are coming under pressure from the left to tank President Donald Trump’s latest Cabinet nominees, setting up a major test of unity for the party.

Trump’s choice of CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency and CIA chief Mike Pompeo to be the next secretary of state is fueling a fierce opposition campaign among liberal and civil rights groups. Activists sense an opening to derail Haspel’s bid and at least complicate Pompeo’s confirmation, given that the White House will need some Democratic support to pull the nominees across the finish line.

It’s not just Haspel’s previous role in the use of interrogation tactics tantamount to torture against CIA detainees. Pompeo has taken a highly hawkish stance on Iran and amassed a controversial record on Islam, fodder for the left’s campaign to persuade 15 Senate Democratic Caucus members who voted for him to be CIA director to oppose him as State Department chief.

With Senate Democrats still trying to heal a schism between moderates and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) over a banking deregulation bill, the Pompeo and Haspel confirmation fights offer the chance for a moment of reconciliation between the wings of the Caucus — or a further fracturing that finds vulnerable red-state incumbents on the GOP’s side.

It’s even unclear where Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a blue-state veteran who’s spent years fighting the legacy of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program, will end up. She faced an early jab from her liberal challenger to take a tougher line against Haspel and is now moving in that direction. Still, Feinstein and many in her party are not saying where they stand before confirmation hearings begin.

“Democrats are losing this opportunity to define a moral backbone for the party, to distinguish themselves on values,” said Faiz Shakir, national political director at the American Civil Liberties Union and a former Senate Democratic aide.

“Certainly, Trump loves torture — he’s said it, it ‘works.’ This is a clear opportunity to say, ‘That’s him and this is us.’ A complete break.”

One Democrat who supported Pompeo to lead CIA is already leaving the door open to opposing him as secretary of state. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a Foreign Relations Committee member, told POLITICO he has “some major concerns” about the bid.

“The intel position is so different than being the chief diplomat,” Kaine said in an interview last week. “And his track record as a House member was not pro-diplomacy, his track record was anti-diplomacy — and, I think, preferring war first. … That could exacerbate some major concerns I have about the president’s attitude.”

Another Senate Democrat on the Foreign Relations panel who backed Pompeo’s CIA nomination, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, also said in an interview that she wants to gauge his answers to budget and personnel questions before deciding how she’ll vote.

With Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) absent and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) opposed to Haspel and Pompeo, the Trump White House is likely to need Democratic votes to win confirmation. That means a handful of senators are in line for a maximum pressure campaign from the left.

The Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, was among 15 members of the minority to support Pompeo’s CIA nomination last year. He’s declining to tip his hand on Haspel, however, telling reporters late last week that “there’s going to be a lot of legitimate questions that need to be answered, and I hope that she will be as forthcoming as possible while protecting sources and methods.”

Liberal and civil rights groups would like to see Warner join Feinstein and other Democrats in asking for the declassification of CIA records on Haspel’s role in the George W. Bush administration’s use of brutal interrogation tactics, including waterboarding.

Warner said that “within the bounds of protecting sources and methods, yes, I want to see as much declassified as possible” about Haspel’s past activity. But that may not be enough for advocates who warn that the agency is unlikely to act without a more direct edict from the Senate.

“I don’t think CIA will agree to it if the committee doesn’t force the issue, and I don’t think the committee will force the issue unless Warner is willing to tell [Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard] Burr that it needs to happen,” Katherine Hawkins, an investigator for the Project on Government Oversight, said in an interview.

POGO joined more than two dozen liberal and civil liberties groups in a Friday plea for the Senate to declassify Haspel material. Amnesty International went further on Monday, urging Trump to withdraw her nomination and launch an investigation into her past.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who, along with Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), began pressing for the declassification of Haspel records last year, said Monday that “I believe there is a significant amount of her background that can be declassified without compromising sensitive, classified information.”

Feinstein raised alarms on the left last week by telling reporters that Haspel had been “a good deputy director,” citing a personal dinner with the three-decade agency veteran. But within days, after taking a hit from her California primary challenger Kevin de Leon, Feinstein was aligning with Wyden and Heinrich in pushing for declassification.

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short didn’t rule out giving lawmakers access to some material, telling CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday: “I’m sure that we’re going to want to provide as much information as necessary, without compromising any international secrets.”

Two other Democrats being watched by advocacy groups are Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, who opposed Pompeo for CIA but appeared open to Haspel last week, and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who last year shifted from yes to no on a Trump nominee involved in the Bush-era legal memos that cleared the use of the interrogation tactics.

Manchin, an Intelligence Committee member, changed his stance on Steven Bradbury’s nomination to be Department of Transportation general counsel after getting a personal appeal from McCain. Given that Manchin opposed Bradbury for a DOT role that’s not connected to national security, activists are hopeful that the red-state Democrat and frequent Trump ally will also nix Haspel.

“There’s no rational argument for opposing Bradbury’s nomination and not opposing Haspel’s,” Scott Roehm, Washington office director for the nonprofit Center for Victims of Torture, said in an interview.

Manchin has declined to indicate how he’ll vote on Haspel or Pompeo ahead of meetings with the nominees. Pompeo met on Monday with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who is eyeing a confirmation hearing as soon as April 12 if the nomination paperwork is in on time.

Another Senate Democrat the left is closely watching on the nominations: Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who told POLITICO in a Friday statement that “neither confirmation is a sure thing.”

Schumer told reporters on the day Pompeo and Haspel were tapped, however, that he’s not yet urging his caucus to come out in opposition. And if he doesn’t whip against the nominees, the grass-roots activists the party is counting on to come out in November are likely going to be disappointed.

“The short answer is no. There is no reason for any Democrats to vote to confirm either Pompeo or Haspel,” said Elizabeth Beavers, policy manager for the liberal group Indivisible.

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GOP leaders give Trump a pass on Mueller attacks

As far as Republican leaders on Capitol Hill are concerned, Donald Trump can say whatever he wants about Robert Mueller and his Russia probe — as long as he doesn’t fire him.

The president’s decision to go after the special counsel by name for the first time — and hire a lawyer who’s accused the FBI of conspiring against the president — has been met with a collective shrug by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

And there’s little to suggest that posture will change. Beyond Ryan’s spokeswoman reiterating on Sunday that Mueller’s investigators should “be able to do their job,” Republican leaders have remained silent as Trump escalated his attacks on the Russia investigation. The issue didn’t even surface at a House Republican Conference meeting or the Senate GOP leadership huddle on Monday evening.

And the leaders are expected to refrain from criticizing the president Tuesday at news conferences, even as they say they support an independent probe.

The muted reaction showed yet again that if Trump is trying to test the boundaries of his opposition to the Russia probe — some critics fretted during Trump’s weekend tweetstorm that a Saturday Night Massacre-like housecleaning might be in the offing — he’s unlikely to get much resistance from congressional Republicans until the deed is done.

“I don’t see the necessity of picking that fight,” said No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn of Texas. Cornyn said leaders have sent a back-channel message to the White House that Trump must not fire Mueller. But he seemed resigned to Trump’s deepening attacks on the special counsel: “I can’t control that. That’s his decision. I don’t think it’s helpful.”

GOP leaders “probably feel like they don’t need to say it,” added South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has been among the Republicans who have pushed back the hardest against Trump’s attacks. “You spend your capital on issues where you think you get the best return. And I don’t think anybody in our conference thinks Mueller is going to be fired. I don’t.”

It’s not exactly surprising that Republican leaders are once again shying from a conflict with the president. Ryan once fashioned himself as the moral compass of the Republican Party, but has tamped down his criticism of Trump since the election. His deputy, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), often makes the case that private conversations with Trump have a much better chance of persuading him than any public dispute.

McConnell, on the other hand, has always shied from publicly criticizing the president — and doesn’t appear likely to break that tradition now. He’s said nothing about Trump’s attack on Mueller over the weekend.

“I don’t know if they know what to say. What do you say? ‘Stop it’?’ said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho). “Trump is going to do what he’s going to do.”

GOP leadership allies argue they’ll gain nothing by rebuking Trump publicly and predict they’d probably only make him more angry and the situation worse if they were to speak out against him. They say they’re confident that Trump will not sack Mueller and have reassurances from the White House that the special counsel will be left alone.

“I would certainly hope that the president doesn’t intervene in any way or make it difficult for Mueller to complete his work,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 3 GOP leader. “I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m not a fan of when the president tweets. In this case I’m sure he’s venting some frustration. But I don’t think it’s constructive.”

That’s not going to be enough for Democrats. Some want Congress to immediately take up legislation to protect Mueller. Indeed, the party spent the entire weekend and Monday calling on Republicans to, essentially, grow a spine.

“Paul Ryan needs to be stronger and so does Mitch McConnell,” said House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff of California. “The president is testing the waters and… a muted reaction to what could be another Saturday Night Massacre is only an encouragement” to fire Mueller.

Some Republicans took to the Sunday morning TV shows to push back on Trump. Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) suggested on “Fox News Sunday” that if the president is innocent he and his lawyer needed to act like it, instead of attacking the special counsel like they have something to hide.

But most of the Republicans who criticized the president were the usual Trump critics, including Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who is not running for reelection, and Graham, who warned Trump that firing Mueller would be the end of his presidency.

Indeed, many House Republicans don’t want Ryan to criticize Trump. Even Rep. Brian Mast, a vulnerable Republican from Florida, said his leadership doesn’t need to be more vocal about protecting the Mueller probe, saying, “Nah, I think we’ve got enough work around here.”

Trump in recent months has ignored the advice of some allies suggesting he take a more aggressive stand against Mueller, listening instead to GOP lawmakers and lawyers advising that he not go after the special counsel. But that changed over the weekend, when Trump took to Twitter to accuse Mueller of filling his “team” with “hardened Democrats” and “some big Crooked Hillary supporters.”

On Monday, Trump hired prominent Washington attorney Joseph DiGenova, who has accused the FBI of trying to frame Trump.

“A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!” Trump tweeted on Monday morning.

Those comments came after another Trump lawyer, John Dowd, suggested Friday that Mueller end his investigation. The White House distanced itself from Dowd’s comments, but many in Washington viewed his remarks as a trial balloon to gauge how far Republicans would allow Trump to go in taking on Mueller.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee member, said, “I would hope that the president would stop commenting and tweeting on Mr. Mueller.”

But Collins said she doesn’t think Trump would move to fire Mueller because the probe is overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — who has pledged to protect the investigation absent any evidence of improper conduct. But Democrats warn that Trump could fire Rosenstein, too.

“It’s nice that Ryan says, ‘Don’t fire the special counsel.’ But … they’re almost encouraging” Trump, said House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). “They’re certainly not discouraging.”

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Congress closes in on massive spending bill

Congressional leaders and top White House officials are clearing the way for a massive $1.3 trillion spending bill, scrapping several last-minute attempts to tack on controversial policy riders ahead of a Friday deadline to fund the government.

Trump administration and Hill GOP sources say the new spending package is unlikely to include legislation shoring up Obamacare’s insurance markets. One White House official called it a “heavy lift” — even as President Donald Trump made a last-minute push Monday to include the provision in the legislation.

The president also asked GOP leaders over the weekend to include a short-term patch shielding Dreamers from deportation for 2.5 years in return for $25 billion in wall funding. But Democrats — whose votes are needed for passage — balked at the idea, and Republicans appear ready to drop it.

Roughly $900 million in transportation funding for a massive New York-New Jersey infrastructure project is also expected to get sidelined because of Trump’s veto threat on the so-called Gateway Project. Gone too are conservative demands to defund Planned Parenthood or cut off money to sanctuary cities that protect undocumented immigrants.

Congressional negotiators are rejecting pleas from both parties to load up the must-pass bill with other long-simmering policy items as they attempt to avert a third shutdown in three months. Lawmakers have just four days until funding runs dry.

Speaker Paul Ryan will outline the new spending bill in a rare House GOP Conference meeting Monday evening, just before the bill’s release. Aides cautioned that nothing is finalized until the legislation goes public.

The House will need to pass the funding bill by midweek to avoid a potential disaster in the Senate, where one senator can single-handedly provoke a shutdown if Congress veers too close to the deadline. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) proved that when his opposition closed the federal government for a few hours last month.

Negotiators spent much of Monday still haggling back and forth, with some aides cautioning that release of the bill text could be delayed into Tuesday.

The Senate and House, for example, still appeared at odds over whether to include House-passed legislation overhauling the Hill’s much-maligned sexual harassment policies. Some in the Senate took issue with the House bill, and negotiators appeared poised to ax the entire thing.

The fight over an Obamacare stabilization package also spilled over from the weekend, with Republicans still trading offers Monday afternoon.

A group of GOP senators and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday in a last-minute push to include the Obamacare subsidies, but were not optimistic.

“I’m trying to make sure we get stabilization payments because if we don’t, the insurance premiums are going to go up dramatically. And our Democratic friends are not being helpful,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said as he left McConnell’s office.

Trump has privately assured one of the bill’s chief authors, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), for weeks that he supports steadying Obamacare markets this fall. Without action, insurers warn that huge premium hikes would hit consumers just weeks before the 2018 elections.

Alexander said the House can add the insurance language on Monday night or the Senate could add it later this week with an amendment. But he was insistent the proposal’s supporters get a vote.

“My only goal is I want senators and congressman to have a chance to vote on it,” Alexander said. “This is going to be announced on Oct. 1, one month before the election. I want them to be accountable for a vote on an opportunity we all have to lose rates by 40 percent for people who are suffering.”

GOP leaders, however, have demanded new restrictions on abortion in Obamacare plans in exchange for propping up a law that they have long detested.

Republicans — led by Ryan — insist that the Obamacare money must prohibit federal funding of abortion, similar to the so-called Hyde Amendment that is attached to most spending bills.

Democrats — led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington — say they won’t allow it because doing so would prevent Obamacare payments from touching any insurance plan that covers abortion. That would pose a huge new hurdle in abortion access for mostly low-income women, they say. These are firm lines in the sand, according to their camps.

Democrats say the latest proposal is more harsh than Hyde because it would impose a three-year rolling ban on the funding, instead of the annual renewal, which has been re-upped every year since the mid-1970s. They say it could also allow the administration to broadly limit Obamacare insurance plans that cover abortion.

After weeks of back-and-forth, Democrats say GOP leaders were still pushing for that Hyde language as recently as Monday afternoon.

“The latest thing that they’re offering on this still has expanded Hyde. That is not going to fly. It also prohibits states from regulating short-term plans. Those two things are both complete nonstarters,” a senior Democratic aide said.

Pelosi has publicly voiced skepticism that any Obamacare compromise will make it into the spending bill.

“One of the regrets we have about the negotiation is that we thought there’d be a chance to have a health piece, like ‘reinsurance,’” Pelosi said Thursday, citing disputes over the abortion language.

Immigration has been another flash point in the spending talks. The White House pitched an offer directly to Democrats this weekend that would have granted two years of legal protections for the 1.8 million undocumented immigrants eligible under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, in exchange for $25 billion to build the wall.

But Democrats refused, insisting on a pathway to citizenship for the 1.8 million people who remain in limbo after Trump rescinded DACA.

White House officials are now eyeing $1.6 billion for a boost in border security, which would likely help staff up border and immigration agencies and fund more detention beds.

Trump may get his way on one item in the spending bill: blocking funding for the Gateway project.

Trump has threatened to veto the entire $1.3 trillion spending bill over $900 million that would be set aside for a long-planned railway under the Hudson River.

The move has infuriated New York and New Jersey lawmakers from both parties, from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). But Trump has refused to budge on the issue, despite personal lobbying from King during the president’s visit to Capitol Hill during a St. Patrick’s Day luncheon on Friday.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), has also pushed to include a bill to improve the FBI’s background check system in the wake of last month’s deadly shooting at a Florida high school.

Some House conservatives have said they’ll refuse to back the bill without also expanding the right to concealed carry. But Cornyn told reporters Monday he “can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be” included in the omnibus bill.

In the House, conservative Republicans are expected to oppose the bill in droves, balking at the $143 billion in new spending for both the Pentagon and domestic programs.

Several members in the House Freedom Caucus and the Republican Study Committee have demanded more conservative policy provisions, such as defunding Planned Parenthood and expanding the Hyde Amendment.

The lack of abortion restrictions in the omnibus is already causing a rift in the House GOP. In a Monday morning meeting, several staffers on the conservative Republican Study Committee pressed the GOP leadership aides in attendance on the lack of “pro-life” language in the spending bill.

Specifically, they called for defunding Planned Parenthood and extending the Hyde Amendment — something that the GOP leadership aides did not commit to, according to one GOP aide in the room.

“Rs control the House and Senate and White House. This still should reflect that,” the aide said. “There isn’t even a bone here.”

But Democratic votes are likely to be needed on any bill to fund the government through September, giving conservatives less leverage.

The omnibus is likely among the last major pieces of legislation to clear Congress before the midterm elections, and lawmakers have spent weeks lobbying leadership on a slew of personal priorities, ranging from expanding the powers of the Export-Import Bank to fixing the “grain glitch” in the GOP tax law.

“Anybody who sees a train leaving the station wants to hitch a ride,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday. “There’s a list this long.”

Jennifer Haberkorn and Heather Caygle contributed to this report.

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Underground Culture of Video Streaming

Millions of people are cutting their cable, and some older adults are wondering why the young millennials are doing this. There is a wide spectrum of entertainment available for homeowners to consider, but the generation gap between millennials and middle-aged adults may reveal something even bigger. What this shows is that millennials are much more aware of an underground culture that many seniors and middle-aged adults are not even aware exists.

This is obvious when people look at all of the streaming possibilities that are out there. For the longest time Roku and Apple TV were on the market as the streaming
devices to buy. Eventually Google would come along with Google Chromecast and add even more fun to the mix.

All of this made it easier for homeowners to cut their cable. They did not have to rely on any single Source because multiple sources of entertainment.

Lots of companies develop apps specifically for streaming on these devices. Television stations like HBO, CBS, ABC and NBC got into the mix and started adding streaming apps to the agenda as well.

Some of these companies even found ways to attract consumers by offering older shows that have been cancelled and were no longer available anywhere else other than through the app. This provided a great way for people to cut the cost of cable and enjoy some of their favorite shows.

As time progressed people would discover that it was going to be easier to stream shows from their mobile devices. This led to the underground culture of the Amazon Fire stick. On the surface it is just another app based device that looks like all of the other devices like Google Chromecast. Underneath, however, there is such a thing as a Fire Stick that is jailbroken. This is where the underground culture comes into play.

Millennials that have the ability to jailbreak these devices have access to another app called Kodi. This allows people to watch a ton of their favorite shows without having cable. In fact, most subscribers that had cable before will easily notice that there are more shows available through this free app than they could ever get if they only had cable. This is how the underground culture functions these days.

Why Trump Slayed His Own Masters of the Universe

Donald Trump swept into the White House on a promise to run the government like a business and stock his administration with titans of industry.

The partnership hasn’t worked out.

Just over a year into Trump’s presidency, those titans are leaving, driven out by a chief executive who doesn’t want to hear no, doesn’t trust anyone but himself and can’t stand to share the spotlight, even with those he once hailed as “the best people” on earth for these jobs.

Trump humiliated Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—the former chief executive of oil industry giant ExxonMobil, whom he once described as “the embodiment of the American dream”—firing him by tweet. He repeatedly rejected the advice of National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, driving the former president of Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs nuts with his stubborn insistence on tariffs and hastening Cohn’s exit.

And he went ice cold on Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, reportedly telling the Wall Street legend that his understanding of trade was “terrible,” as West Wing aides leaked stories about Ross dozing off in meetings. Remember those CEO councils Trump initially set up to get advice from America’s top executives? They shut down in August.

Trump’s penchant for publicly and privately torturing powerful leaders in his administration extends to military brass. National security adviser H.R. McMaster is likely on the way out, with chief of staff John Kelly, a retired four-star general, possibly to follow. But it is Trump’s break with his Masters of the Universe that undercuts most clearly a central premise of his appeal as a candidate: He knew what it took to be successful, and he would hire people in his own image. The breakup, say White House officials, outside experts and even the president’s close friends, was inevitable.

Trump for decades ran a private real-estate and branding empire in which he was the only star. He ran a personality-driven campaign in which he said and did whatever he wanted, a strategy that resulted in stunning primary wins and a general election victory that few saw coming. And now Trump is even more fed up with strong-willed advisers who tell him he shouldn’t declare trade wars, or take it so easy on Russia, or decide on a whim to stage a summit with a nuclear-armed North Korean dictator who, it turns out, might never have extended the invite in the first place.

Trump is simply returning to who he’s always been, a one-man reality show who prefers to be surrounded by admirers who will praise and fawn over him and confirm that all his instincts are correct and brilliant and certain to succeed. The wonder is that anyone is surprised.

“There is an enormous literature on narcissistic leaders who rise to power because of grandiosity and an overwhelming amount of self-confidence,” Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford’s business school, told me. “They don’t tend to get along well with other strong leaders. Trump doesn’t want anyone to stand in his way, and he certainly doesn’t want anyone who takes up any of his light or disagrees with him. He wants people who are willing to ingratiate themselves and flatter him. This is the way it was always going to be.”


When Trump hired Cohn away from Goldman Sachs, the president couldn’t stop bragging about what a coup he pulled off by landing one of the top executives from the bluest of blue-chip Wall Street firms. Never mind that Trump’s final campaign ad treated Goldman as part of a global cabal out to destroy America.

“As my top economic adviser, Gary Cohn is going to put his talents as a highly successful businessman to work for the American people,” the president said after the hiring. In July of last year, Trump said in a Wall Street Journal interview that he was thinking of nominating Cohn to be the next chair of the Federal Reserve, possibly the most powerful finance job on the planet.

Then it all came crashing down. Cohn sharply and publicly criticized the president’s equivocating response to a white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, leading to a tense Oval Office meeting, resignation threats and the end of Cohn’s Fed chances.

Things improved as Cohn helped drive through Trump’s signature tax-cut bill. But then the White House agenda moved on to trade, and Cohn began to push back hard against Trump’s instincts to slap giant tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. Things came to a head in an Oval Office meeting in January at which Cohn told the president his tariffs would crush consumers and industries that rely on imported metals.

“These are the facts; where are your facts?” Cohn said to Ross and Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro, two of the administration’s leading protectionists, according to people familiar with the meeting. Trump rejected Cohn’s facts and pushed ahead with tariffs, announcing them in a rushed manner with no actual policy ready to roll out.

Days later, Cohn said he was leaving. And Trump slipped in a parting jab. “He may be a globalist, but I still like him,” the president told reporters. “He is seriously a globalist. There’s no question.”

In Cohn’s place, Trump has hired former CNBC host and longtime Wall Street economist Larry Kudlow, who is also an avowed free trader and predicted during the campaign that Trump’s trade policies would tank the stock market. In early commentary, Kudlow has moved closer to Trump on trade, applauding the idea of cracking down on China. The former Reagan administration Office of Management and Budget official may yet prove to be just as aggressive as Cohn in resisting Trump’s mercantilist impulses. But the reason Trump hired Kudlow is mainly because he often says nice things about the president on television.

“Trump says he wants to be surrounded by a diversity of opinion, but he doesn’t really mean it,” Bill Galston, a former Clinton administration official now at the Brookings Institution, told me. “He certainly doesn’t want to be told that he’s wrong.”


Trump’s treatment of Tillerson was even more brutal than his clashes with Cohn.

Stories began to leak last fall that the president strongly disliked the ExxonMobil CEO, who had different ideas on dealing with Iran, Russia and North Korea. Tillerson, accustomed to being the unquestioned boss himself (after all, he had led a 75,300-employee corporation for 11 years), chafed at Trump’s unwillingness to listen to his ideas or keep him involved in top diplomatic priorities. It was as if Trump was ignoring the very attribute that observers said made Tillerson appealing in the first place: He had negotiated with many key world leaders already—and succeeded at it.

In late September, after Tillerson said he was working on a dialogue with North Korea about its weapons program, Trump immediately took to Twitter to tell the world his secretary of state shouldn’t bother. “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump tweeted, referring to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Shortly after this clash, reports emerged that at a July 20th meeting at the Pentagon, Tillerson referred to the president as a “fucking moron.” The secretary of state never denied the remark. He was then left twisting for months amid reports that he would soon be ousted.

The relationship cratered for good in recent days. While traveling in Africa, Tillerson said the U.S. and North Korea were “a long way” from direct negotiations on the nuclear program. A day later, Trump announced he would hold a summit with the North Korean leader and Tillerson admitted he had no idea the announcement was coming.

On March 13, with Tillerson just returning from Africa, Trump fired the secretary of state by tweet, announcing he would be replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo. He then also fired Tillerson’s chief spokesman for denying the White House line that Tillerson knew about the firing plans in advance. Trump’s pledge of running the nation like a business had totally gone off the rails.

“No board of directors at any big company would ever permit this type of treatment or this level of chaos,” says Pfeffer.

Following the split with Tillerson and Cohn, some officials inside the administration, on Capitol Hill and in corporate America increasingly fear that the president is entering a period in which he will cast aside any strong advisers—whether top executives or senior military officials—who disagree with him while increasingly making rash decisions on his own.

And they say his early hiring of former top executives with strong personalities never really worked because Trump didn’t care very much about what they had to say and didn’t want them taking high-profile roles.

“You never really could convince him of anything, and he doesn’t really listen to anyone but himself,” one senior White House official told me recently. “You need people around to make these alternate cases, but I don’t think he really wants that.”

Trump’s friends and defenders don’t really deny that the president is moving into a new phase of his presidency, one in which he will naturally be less inclined to rely on executives who have subject-matter expertise, like Cohn or Tillerson. The president is growing in confidence, these people say, and increasingly believes he is best served following his own instincts rather than relying on the savvy guidance of former top executives.

“I was not surprised that there have been a number of personnel changes in the White House beginning with the first year and continuing,” Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media and a Trump confidant, told me. “Understandably, the president’s been going through an adjustment period after he left business life and went into political life. In politics, he started out with people having great credentials but discovered that track record is a better criteria.”


The question now is what the White House will look like once all the business titans are gone.

The biggest fear in the economic world is that Trump will no longer have any real constraints on his desire to impose major tariffs both on U.S. allies and on sometime-adversaries like China.

Cohn managed to get carve-outs for allies Canada and Mexico in the recently announced steel and aluminum tariffs. But once he’s gone, Trump may feel free to be Trump.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman banker and movie producer, comes out of the business world and is generally in favor of free trade. But he’s viewed both inside the White House and outside as someone very disinclined to buck the president, privately or publicly.

With Cohn gone, the U.S. is now at greater risk of trade wars and the possible end of the North American Free Trade agreement, a development most economists believe would be catastrophic.

“I think we are already marching down that path, and it’s not at all clear what will restrain him,” Galston told me. “He is under the illusion that trade wars are easy to win, and there is no historical evidence to support that. And my fear is that rather than back down, his inclination will be to plunge forward and double down in the face of adversity.”

The other major risk is that the exodus of business minds spreads to military and national security advisers and anyone else in the president’s orbit who dares to express a contrary opinion or urge caution to a chief executive who believes his gut instincts turned him into the one of the most successful people in the world.

“I think all of these types of people will be gone soon, and all for the exact same reason,” says Pfeffer. “Trump has gotten to where he is by basically being who he is, and if you are a strong-minded person yourself and believe you have something substantial to contribute, you don’t want to stick around and keep getting run over by the boss.”

Ayanna Alexander contributed to this report.

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Donald Trump’s other attorney general problem

CHICAGO — Turn on any TV in Illinois and you’ll see ads from a slew of candidates for state attorney general who are vowing to battle a notorious tyrant, a racist fear-monger whom they view as a threat to democracy itself.

They’re talking about Donald Trump.

In the state’s first primary election of the Trump era, the president has turned the race to be Illinois’ top lawyer upside down, with the traditional focus on consumer protection, law enforcement and legislation taking a backseat to promises to fight tooth-and-nail against Trump.

The eight Democrats running for the party nomination in this solidly Democratic state have tapped Trump as the boogeyman in campaign material, debates and TV ads, promising to serve as the tip of the spear in a war against the White House.

“Sharon Fairley’s been taking on bullies and bigots her whole life,” says a narrator in one typical ad featuring Trump’s photo, “so she’ll stand up to Trump’s attacks on women, immigrants and people of color.”

In laying out his own case for the job, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti — who doubles as a cable news pundit on the subject of Trump — has framed his candidacy as a way to “stop Donald Trump in his tracks.”

“When he tries to undermine our health care or roll back environmental standards, my answer as attorney general will be: ‘See you in court, Mr. President,” Mariotti said in a video launching his bid. “If you’re angry as I am about a president who is disgracing our nation, please join our campaign for attorney general.”

Fairley, like several of her competitors, weaves her personal narrative into the Trump opposition, saying she takes issue with Trump’s criticisms of affirmative action. The policy, she says, may have factored into her acceptance into Princeton, but she notes she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering.

“I’m amongst the millions of people, women in particular, who have been demoralized by the policies of the Trump White House,” said Fairley, who is African-American and recently stepped down as the head of Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability. “So his comments on affirmative action? That’s personal to me. The racism? That’s personal to me.”

Her rivals make similar pitches. Nancy Rotering, the mayor of a Chicago suburb, blasts the president’s policies on guns and immigration and draws parallels to her own local gun-policy battles. Former CEO of Chicago Public Schools Jesse Ruiz says his motivation is rooted in his experience as the son of Mexican immigrants.

“I’ll fight corruption and abuse no matter where it comes from, even from Donald Trump,” he says in one ad.

While the Trump factor might have inspired the crowded Democratic field, a major driving force was pure opportunity. The job opened up after Attorney General Lisa Madigan last year announced she would retire after having a lock on the office for nearly 16 years.

That released an explosion of pent-up ambition from a wide range of contenders: former federal prosecutors, state lawmakers, imprisoned ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s defense lawyer, a national TV commentator and, perhaps most surprising, a former Illinois governor.

On the Republican side, the field is dramatically smaller and less Trump-focused — it consists of former Miss America and Harvard Law school graduate Erika Harold, who has significant party support, and Gary Grasso, a litigator and DuPage County Board member.

The chance to take on Trump in court is part of the reason Pat Quinn, who served as governor from 2009 to 2015, doesn’t view his candidacy as a step down.

Quinn, a Democrat who had a rough relationship with the party establishment as governor, called the attorney general’s post “the last line of defense for democracy. That’s definitely a powerful factor for me.”

Democrats competing in Tuesday’s primary also see the race as a chance to seize some of the national spotlight by bringing Illinois in line with other states in which the top legal officer has used the Trump resistance to catapult into prominence — California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra and New York’s Eric Schneiderman are models.

Fairley said she wants to see Illinois “driving the bus” nationally on more legal challenges to the White House, including on the environment.

Aaron Goldstein, a former Cook County public defender and Blagojevich’s trial lawyer, said he sees the position as a place to “resist tyranny.”

“He’s destroying our values, he’s destroying the Constitution. We’ve realized we can’t trust the legislature federally. It’s an individual in the attorney general’s office who can actually go into court and fight on behalf of all of us,” Goldstein said. “Lisa Madigan has done some of that, but, in my humble opinion, she’s been cautious. If I’m in office, I’m screaming from the rooftops every single day.”

Still, this is Illinois, which has its own fiercely parochial brand of politics and is struggling to emerge from decades of iron-fisted party-boss control.

Democrats are hellbent on keeping control of the attorney general’s office, which party leaders see as a line of defense against a Republican threat much closer to home: Gov. Bruce Rauner, who they say devastated the state’s social service infrastructure and has leveled relentless attacks on unions.

“It wasn’t necessary to look at what Trump is doing. We’ve got our own Trump in Bruce Rauner,” state Sen. Kwame Raoul said of entering the AG contest.

Raoul and Quinn are polling as front-runners.

But a late $1 million infusion to the campaign of state Rep. Scott Drury has the former federal prosecutor looming as a dark horse in the final days of the race. For Drury, the campaign is about taking on the local power structure, not Trump — specifically, House Speaker and Illinois Democratic Party Chairman Mike Madigan.

Madigan is “probably a bigger bully than Trump,” said Drury, who’s been entrenched in a personal grudge match with Madigan for years. “Look, Madigan’s been around for 40 years; no one’s willing to go against him. I’m not giving Trump any credit. He doesn’t have good qualities, but when you look at the way Madigan has run the House, you can say Trump is just trying to emulate Madigan.”

But even Drury can’t get away from the president’s shadow. In an ad funded by Fight Back for a Better Tomorrow — a political action committee whose donors are close allies of Madigan — Drury’s Democratic credentials are questioned, amid claims he “took thousands from Trump’s own donors.”

“Drury. He takes Republican money and votes with them,” the ad concludes, with a photo of Drury juxtaposed next to Trump and Rauner. “The last thing we need as attorney general.”

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For first time, Trump aims at Mueller

For 10 months, President Donald Trump and his team abided by a simple rule: Don’t go after special counsel Robert Mueller.

But this weekend, as he digested news that the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election was circling nearer to him and his family, Trump came closer than ever to abandoning his unspoken truce with Mueller, reigniting fears among Republicans that the president could fire the special counsel.

Cooped up in the White House without any public events on his schedule and cable news blaring, Trump unleashed a Twitter tirade that differed from past outbursts in one significant way: He mentioned Mueller directly. Before this weekend, Trump had only referenced Mueller by name once on Twitter, in a retweet.

Now, it appears, Mueller is fair game.

“The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime,” Trump tweeted Saturday night. On Sunday morning, he asked, “Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans?”

Some members of the special counsel’s team have donated to Democrats in the past, but it is false to claim that the entire team is made up of Democrats. Mueller himself is a Republican.

By Sunday afternoon, Trump had left the confines of the White House to visit his golf course in Virginia. Later Sunday, the White House said that there were no plans to fire Mueller.

“In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration,“ attorney Ty Cobb said in a statement, “the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”

Until this weekend, Mueller was the rare figure in Trump’s orbit who seemed off-limits. The president and his aides have taken pains to avoid attacking Mueller, even as they repeatedly stressed that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. “We’re going to continue to fully cooperate out of respect for the special counsel,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters last week.

Trump’s comments come after his lawyer, John Dowd, on Saturday urged Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to shutter Mueller’s investigation. Dowd reportedly first told The Daily Beast he was speaking in his capacity as Trump’s lawyer, but he later backtracked, insisting he was speaking only for himself.

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment. Sanders did not respond to questions about whether Trump would fire Mueller.

Firing Mueller would set off a firestorm in Washington, likely triggering a severe backlash against the president even among his Republican supporters in Congress.

“If he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency, because we’re a rule-of-law nation,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. The senator issued the same warning last summer after Trump raised the same alarms.

A person familiar with the president’s thinking on the Mueller probe told POLITICO on Sunday that Trump’s tweets over the previous 48 hours appeared to be a response to the firing of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, news of the Trump Organization subpoena, and what he’s been hearing from his friends outside his immediate circle of staffers and attorneys.

“We know he’s obsessed with this case. He’s been obsessed with it from Day One, since before the special counsel’s been appointed,” the person said. “We know he actually enjoys talking about it because it goes to his nature. It goes to what he knows best: a fight.”

The person downplayed the notion that Trump’s tweets are the result of a strategic push by the president’s lawyers and advisers to undercut Mueller.

“[Trump] trusts his own instincts. He trusts it above the instincts of his own lawyers. He trusts it above the instincts of his own communications team, whether inside or outside the White House,” the person said.

Meanwhile, Trump also suggested Sunday morning that McCabe, who was fired Friday, did not make memos of their conversations in person and that such documents, if they do exist, could be “fake.”

“Spent very little time with Andrew McCabe, but he never took notes when he was with me,” the president wrote on Twitter. “I don’t believe he made memos except to help his own agenda, probably at a later date. Same with lying James Comey. Can we call them Fake Memos?”

On Saturday, POLITICO reported that McCabe, like former FBI Director James Comey, felt the need to memorialize his conversations with the president before he was fired on Friday. The former top FBI official has also given the memos to Mueller’s team, as it continues to probe Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The president also continued his attacks on Comey, who is set to release a book soon.

“Wow, watch Comey lie under oath to Senator G when asked ‘have you ever been an anonymous source … or known someone else to be an anonymous source…?’ He said strongly ‘never, no.’ He lied as shown clearly on @foxandfriends.“

Seizing on a point made in conservative media, including by Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, Trump claimed that Comey lied under oath during his testimony to Congress last June. The former director’s testimony has receive renewed attention over reports that McCabe, who was fired for for unauthorized disclosure to the media, may have done so with Comey’s knowledge or blessing.

If Comey were to have authorized McCabe to speak to the media, it could contradict what the former director told Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) during his testimony.

“Director Comey, have you ever been an anonymous source in news reports about matters relating to the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?” Grassley, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, asked last summer, according to a transcript of the hearing.

“Never,” Comey responded.

The Iowa senator asked again: “Question two, relatively related, have you ever authorized someone else at the FBI to be an anonymous source in news reports about the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?”

“No,” Comey said.

While Trump has frequently blasted the Russia probe, he had steered clear of attacks on Mueller, even once calling him “an honorable man” in a Fox News interview.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said Sunday that the president may have a point when it comes to the number of Democrats on Mueller’s team, but he largely praised the special counsel for limiting leaks and for the detailed information included in the Feb. 16 indictment of 13 Russian nationals and other businesses for their alleged role in interfering with the election.

“It is odd the number of Democrats that he has put on board his team,” Lankford told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.” “That does raise some flags in some sense there.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer argued that the president is “floating trial balloons” to derail Mueller’s probe.

“The president is floating trial balloons about derailing the Mueller investigation,” the New York Democrat said in a statement. “Our Republican colleagues, particularly the leadership, have an obligation to our country to stand up now and make it clear that firing Mueller is a red line for our democracy that cannot be crossed.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” said the idea of Mueller being fired was something that needed to be condemned before it could happen.

“Members need to speak out now,” the California Democrat said of his colleagues in Congress. “Don’t wait for the crisis.”

Trump’s comments came at the end of a chaotic week that also saw the president fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and leave national security adviser H.R. McMaster dangling in the wind.

A defense lawyer working with a senior Trump aide on the Russia case said in an email that the president’s latest assault on Mueller “seems to me to be of a piece with the firing of Tillerson and the trash chute on which McMaster has been placed (not enough to just fire someone, you need to publicly humiliate them for a few weeks first), namely, Trump unshackled.”

“He appears to believe that — across the board — his instincts are better than those around him who have been exerting a moderating influence,” the lawyer added. “It’s no secret where Trump stands on Mueller and, so, no particular surprise that this is coming now. And, as at the White House more generally, there are always those — in this case, Dowd —who are ready to reaffirm his (worst) impulses and act on them.”

Josh Gerstein and David Cohen contributed to this report.

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