Here’s the photo of a very white summer intern class the White House didn’t release

Past group photos of White House interns under President Donald Trump have drawn criticism for showing a group of overwhelmingly white young people. This summer, the White House didn’t make much progress on diversity — they just didn’t release the photo.

A group picture with President Donald Trump showed the summer 2017 class was very white and very male. In the fall 2017 picture, observers pointed out one of the interns seemed to be making a white power gesture. (He denied it.) And the spring 2018 class was, again, very white(although with more female interns represented).

The White House appears not to be in a hurry to put out its summer 2018 intern picture, but Vox obtained a copy.

The photo of 128 summer interns surrounding President Trump gives an overall impression of a sea of white faces, with those who appear to be people of color dramatically outnumbered. That’s despite the fact that almost half of millennials in the United States are minorities.

The White House’s summer internship program this year ran from May 30 to August 10, and the photo, which has appeared on at least one now-former intern’s Instagram account, has yet to be released. Last year, members of the media were invited into the summer 2017 photo op, with the Associated Press capturing video of the picture being taken. This year, the spring 2018 class picture was distributed by the White House as one of its photos of the week.

But the summer internship program has been over for two and a half weeks, and the White House has yet to distribute it, as its photo of the week or otherwise. The White House did not immediately return a request for comment on the photo, its release, and the diversity of its intern class.

[Vox]

Trump says WH lawyer McGahn isn’t ‘a John Dean type ‘RAT”

President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that White House lawyer Don McGahn isn’t “a John Dean type ‘RAT,'” making reference to the Watergate-era White House attorney who turned on Richard Nixon.

Trump, in a series of angry tweets, blasted a New York Times story reporting that McGahn has been cooperating extensively with the special counsel team investigating Russian election meddling and potential collusion with Trump’s Republican campaign.

“The failing @nytimes wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White House Councel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel, he must be a John Dean type ‘RAT,'” Trump wrote, misspelling the word “counsel,” as he often does. “But I allowed him and all others to testify – I didn’t have to. I have nothing to hide……”

The New York Times said in a tweet that it stands by the story.

Trump’s original legal team had encouraged McGahn and other White House officials to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller, and McGahn spent hours in interviews.

Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Trump didn’t raise executive privilege or attorney-client privilege during those interviews because his team believed — he says now, wrongly — that fully participating would be the fastest way to bring the investigation to a close.

“The president encouraged him to testify, is happy that he did, is quite secure that there is nothing in the testimony that will hurt the president,” Giuliani said.

McGahn’s attorney William Burck added in a statement: “President Trump, through counsel, declined to assert any privilege over Mr. McGahn’s testimony, so Mr. McGahn answered the Special Counsel team’s questions fulsomely and honestly, as any person interviewed by federal investigators must.”

Trump, in his tweets, continued to rail against the Mueller investigation, which he has labeled a “witch hunt.”

“So many lives have been ruined over nothing – McCarthyism at its WORST!” Trump wrote, referencing the indiscriminate and damaging allegations made by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s to expose communists.

“Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!” he later tweeted.

Dean was White House counsel for Nixon, a Republican, during the Watergate scandal. He ultimately cooperated with prosecutors and helped bring down the Nixon presidency, though he served a prison term for obstruction of justice.

Dean, a frequent critic of the president, tweeted Saturday night in response to the Times story: “McGahn is doing right!” He later wrote, “Nixon, generally very competent, bungled and botched his handling of Watergate. Trump, a total incompetent, is bungling and botching his handling of Russiagate. Fate is never kind to bunglers and/or botchers! Unlike Nixon, however, Trump won’t leave willingly or graciously.”

Critics of the president have recently compared his decision to target the security clearances of critics and those involved in the Russia investigation to the “enemies list” created by the Nixon White House to keep track of political opponents they intended to target with punitive measures.

[PBS]

Justice Department steps in to block whistleblowers from seeing Trump’s Washington DC hotel financial records

According to an Associated Press report, Justice Department lawyers stepped in late Friday and asked a judge to hold off on letting outsiders review financial data related to President Donald Trump’s hotel in Washington D.C.

In response to a ruling by U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte, who is based in Maryland, to allow a lawsuit demanding access to the records to go forward, the Justice Department asked for a stay while they appeal his decision to a higher court in Richmond, Virginia.

According to the report, allowing the case to go forward could “potentially unearth financial records such as Trump’s income tax returns.”

Plaintiffs in the case indicated they are seeking “information from the hotel, a Trump hotel steakhouse, and the General Services Administration as well as the president’s financial records.”

Justice Department lawyers objected by stating the “public interest is decidedly in favor of a stay because any discovery would necessarily be a distraction to the President’s performance of his constitutional duties.”

In response, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine issued a statement saying: “After winning two major rulings in this case already, we anticipated President Trump’s most recent motion. Nonetheless, our case is still moving forward. We are on track to propose a schedule for discovery by September 14, and we hope to request relevant documents shortly thereafter.”

Whistleblowers are hoping to use discovery to make a case for the president violating the emoluments clause, banning Trump from profiting off of his presidency.

[Raw Story]

Omarosa releases tape of Lara Trump offering her hush money

Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman on Thursday shared a recording of a conversation in which President Trump‘s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, offers her $15,000 a month to work on the president’s campaign after she was fired from the administration.

The recording, played on the air by MSNBC, reveals Lara Trump, an adviser for the president’s  campaign, discussing the flexible terms of a role for Manigault Newman. The conversation reportedly took place on Dec. 16, 2017, just days after Manigault Newman was fired from the White House.

On the recording, Lara Trump mentions a New York Times story that suggests Manigault Newman could have more to say about her time in the White House following her departure.

”They wrote about you. It sounds a little like, obviously, that there are some things you’ve got in the back pocket to pull out,” Lara Trump says on the recording.

“Clearly, if you come on board the campaign, like, we can’t have … Everything, everybody positive, right?” she adds.

Lara Trump goes on to describe the terms of Manigault Newman’s position, which she suggests would include some speaking engagements and would allow the former aide to work from Washington, D.C., or New York City, depending on her preference.

Lara Trump adds that the campaign would offer Manigault Newman a salary of $15,000 a month, which is a comparable amount to what she made in the White House.

The audio appears to confirm Manigault Newman’s claim in her new book that she was offered a job by the Trump campaign after leaving the White House. She alleges the payment amounted to hush money.

Lara Trump issued a statement shortly after the recording aired asserting that she offered Manigault Newman a job because the Trump family was concerned about her dismissal and “cared about her personally.”

[The Hill]

Trump campaign files for arbitration against Omarosa over confidentiality breach

President Trump‘s campaign has filed for arbitration against former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, alleging she violated a non-disclosure agreement by publishing a tell-all book.
A Trump campaign official said in a statement it filed a claim with the American Arbitration Association in New York City against Manigault Newman “for breach of her 2016 confidentiality agreement with the Trump Campaign.”
The legal action ramps up the feud between Trump and his former adviser, who has engaged in a days-long media tour to promote her new book “Unhinged,” in which she assails the president as a racist and an incompetent leader.
The book draws upon her time on Trumps’ 2016 campaign and in the White House.
Manigault Newman has also released secret audio recordings of Trump, White House chief of staff John Kelly and Trump associates Katrina Pierson and Lynne Patton that she says back up explosive claims in her book.
Manigault Newman, who was fired from the White House in 2017, has admitted she signed a confidentiality agreement with Trump’s 2016 campaign. She also claims she was offered $15,000 per month and a job with Trump’s reelection campaign in exchange for signing a new non-disclosure agreement that guaranteed her silence.
She did not take the offer. Her book is set to be officially released on Tuesday. 
Manigault Newman has caused a headache for the White House by making a series of explosive claims about Trump, including that he used the n-word on the set of “The Apprentice,” which the president has denied.
Trump has sought to undercut Manigault Newman’s credibility by attacking her and rebutting her claims. But by doing so, the president has drawn criticism for his scorched-earth approach.
The latest example came on Tuesday morning, when Trump called Manigault Newman, who was once the highest-ranking African-American in the White House, “that dog.”
“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!” Trump tweeted.

White House: It’s ‘common’ for government employees to sign NDAs

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday would not say whether she’s signed a nondisclosure agreement since joining the Trump administration, but asserted it’s “common” for government employees to sign such documents.

“I’m not going get into the back and forth on who has signed an NDA here at the White House,” Sanders said at a press briefing when asked whether she’s signed such a document.

“I can tell you that it’s common in a lot of places for employees to sign NDAs, including in government, particularly anyone with a security clearance,” she added.

The question about requiring White House staffers to sign nondisclosure agreements has emerged as a point of contention as former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman has published a new book filled with explosive claims about her time on the Trump campaign and as an aide in the Trump administration.

In her book released Tuesday, “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House,” Manigault Newman alleges President Trump is a racist, a misogynist and a narcissist, and claims he repeatedly used the N-word on the set of “The Apprentice.”

Trump has lashed out at Manigault Newman in response, calling her a “dog” and a “lowlife.

The Trump campaign escalated the president’s war with Manigault Newman earlier Tuesday when it filed for arbitration, alleging she violated a nondisclosure agreement.

The campaign claims that by publishing the book, Manigault Newman violated the terms of a 2016 confidentiality agreement she signed with the campaign.

Asked Tuesday why compelling Manigault Newman to defend herself and potentially pay damages is necessary, Sanders said she could not speak on behalf of the campaign. However, she re-asserted that it’s “very normal” to require staffers to sign NDAs, arguing that “this White House is certainly no different” from past administrations.

Manigault Newman has acknowledged she signed a confidentiality agreement with the 2016 campaign but has denied signing a similar agreement upon leaving the White House.

The White House has in recent days confirmed its practice of requiring West Wing staffers to sign nondisclosure agreements, despite concerns from watchdogs that such documents are unenforceable and uncommon for public employees.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway confirmed the existence of the agreements during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” defending them as needed to ensure privacy.

“We’ve all signed them in the West Wing,” she said. “We have confidentiality agreements in the West Wing, absolutely we do.  And why wouldn’t we?”

After Trump tweeted that Manigault Newman signed a nondisclosure agreement, the American Civil Liberties Union called the practice unconstitutional, saying Trump was attempting to “muzzle federal employees.”

[The Hill]

Reality

Requiring public employees and contractors to sign an SF312 security clearance is one thing, a non-disclosure agreement for all employees to silence critical speech is another and is clearly unconstitutional.

White House: It’s in ‘Public Interest’ for Staff to Skirt Ethics Rules to Meet With Fox News

It is “in the public interest” for the White House’s top communicator to be excused from federal ethics laws so he can meet with Fox News, according to President Donald Trump’s top lawyer.

Bill Shine, Trump’s newly minted communications director, and Larry Kudlow, the White House’s top economist, who worked at CNBC before his White House post, have both been excused from provisions of the law, which seeks to prevent administration officials from advancing the financial interests of relatives or former employers.

“The Administration has an interest in you interacting with Covered Organizations such as Fox News,” wrote White House counsel Don McGahn in a July 13 memo granting an ethics waivers to Shine, a former Fox executive. “[T]he need for your services outweighs the concern that a reasonable person may question the integrity of the White House Office’s programs and operations.”

Kudlow, a former CNBC host, received a similar waiver allowing him to communicate with former colleagues.

Including Shine and Kudlow, the White House has granted a total of 20 waivers to provisions of various federal ethics laws and the ethics pledge that President Trump instituted by executive order the week he took office. Federal agencies have granted many more such waivers.

The news media has been a particular object of those waivers. Early in the administration, after The Daily Beast questioned the propriety of then-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s communications with employees of Breitbart News, the pro-Trump outlet he led before and after his White House tenure, the White House issued a blanket ethics waiver allowing all senior West Wing appointees to freely communicate with the press.

That move was widely seen as an effort to retroactively cover Bannon for previous meetings that would’ve otherwise run afoul of ethics rules—a move that may itself have constituted a violation of those rules.

Kudlow, a former CNBC host, received a similar waiver allowing him to communicate with former colleagues.

Including Shine and Kudlow, the White House has granted a total of 20 waivers to provisions of various federal ethics laws and the ethics pledge that President Trump instituted by executive order the week he took office. Federal agencies have granted many more such waivers.

The news media has been a particular object of those waivers. Early in the administration, after The Daily Beast questioned the propriety of then-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s communications with employees of Breitbart News, the pro-Trump outlet he led before and after his White House tenure, the White House issued a blanket ethics waiver allowing all senior West Wing appointees to freely communicate with the press.

That move was widely seen as an effort to retroactively cover Bannon for previous meetings that would’ve otherwise run afoul of ethics rules—a move that may itself have constituted a violation of those rules.

[The Daily Beast]

Despite claims, Trump commission did not find widespread voter fraud

The now-disbanded voting integrity commission launched by the Trump administration uncovered no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud, according to an analysis of administration documents released Friday.

In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who are both Republicans and led the commission, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said the documents show there was a “pre-ordained outcome” and that drafts of a commission report included a section on evidence of voter fraud that was “glaringly empty.”

“It’s calling into the darkness, looking for voter fraud,” Dunlap, a Democrat, told The Associated Press. “There’s no real evidence of it anywhere.”

Republican President Donald Trump convened the commission to investigate the 2016 presidential election after making unsubstantiated claims that between 3 million and 5 million ballots were illegally cast. Critics, including Dunlap, reject his claims of widespread voter fraud.

The Trump administration last month complied with a court order to turn over documents from the voting integrity commission to Dunlap. The commission met just twice and has not issued a report.

Dunlap’s findings received immediate pushback Friday from Kobach, who acted as vice chair of the commission while Pence served as chair.

“For some people, no matter how many cases of voter fraud you show them, there will never be enough for them to admit that there’s a problem,” said Kobach, who is running for Kansas governor and has a good chance of unseating the incumbent, Jeff Colyer, in the Republican primary Tuesday.

“It appears that Secretary Dunlap is willfully blind to the voter fraud in front of his nose,” Kobach said in a statement released by his spokesman.

Kobach said there have been more than 1,000 convictions for voter fraud since 2000, and that the commission presented 8,400 instances of double voting in the 2016 election in 20 states.

“Had the commission done the same analysis of all 50 states, the number would have been exponentially higher,” Kobach said.

In response, Dunlap said those figures were never brought before the commission, and that Kobach hasn’t presented any evidence for his claims of double voting. He said the commission was presented with a report claiming over 1,000 convictions for various forms of voter misconduct since 1948.

“The plural of anecdote is not data,” Dunlap said in his Friday letter to the shuttered commission’s leaders.

Pence’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Dunlap said he is unsure whether the administration has released all relevant documents, and said the matter is in litigation. He said he was repeatedly rebuffed when he sought access to commission records including meeting materials, witness invitations and correspondence.

Dunlap released his findings on a website .

Emails released by Dunlap and promoted by the nonprofit American Oversight, which represented Dunlap, include examples of Republican voting integrity commissioners emailing each other as they worked on information requests without including Democrats.

“Indeed, a very few commissioners worked to buttress their pre-ordained conclusions shielded from dissent or dialogue from those commissioners not included in the discussions,” Dunlap said in his Friday letter.

In a June 2017 email, commissioner Christy McCormick unsuccessfully tried to suggest that the commission hire a statistician she knew. “When I was at DOJ, we had numerous discussions that made me pretty confident that he is conservative (and Christian, too),” said McCormick, in reference to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The emails also show some commission members had planned to ask for an interstate database used to identify duplicate voter registrations, as well as lists of individuals deemed ineligible for federal jury service due to death, relocation, convictions or lack of citizenship. It wasn’t clear in the emails whether or not such requests ended up being fulfilled, Dunlap said.

In two November 2017 emails, Republican commission member and election lawyer J. Christian Adams emailed all members and said there hadn’t been any prosecutions for double voting or any non-citizen voting in years. “Understanding the extent of un-prosecuted and known election crimes can inform the commission’s recommendations,” Adams said.

Adams also called for U.S. Customs and Immigration Services to obtain metadata from citizenship applications as well as a list of individuals removed from the U.S. due to their unlawful participation in elections.

“Many applicants note they have been registered to vote and are voting,” Adams said.

[Associated Press]

Mike Pence Defends White House Banning CNN Reporter From Press Event

Vice President Mike Pence stood by the White House’s decision to ban a CNN reporter from a press event last week, citing the need to maintain “decorum.”

“This administration believes in the freedom of the press,” Pence told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo in an interview airing Sunday. “But maintaining the decorum that is due at the White House… is an issue that we’ll continue to work forward.”

The White House was hit with intense backlash from dozens of journalists and media outlets on Wednesday after it disinvited CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, representing five television networks as the day’s chosen pool reporter, from a press event.

Collins was told by the White House that at a brief gathering earlier in the day, she had asked President Donald Trump “inappropriate” questions and had refused to leave the Oval Office, according to CNN. Collins and other reporters present at the time disputed the White House’s claim.

Several cable news networks, including Fox News, issued statements expressing solidarity with CNN and calling for reporters’ full access to press events.

Despite Trump’s repeated attacks on the press, including falsely accusing outlets of publishing “fake news” and calling journalists the “enemy of the people,” Pence told Bartiromo that the administration has provided “extraordinary access to the media.”

“The president answers so many questions in so many different settings, and I can assure that we’ll continue to do that,” Pence said.

While Trump occasionally takes impromptu questions from reporters at various gatherings, he hasn’t held a solo press conference since February 2017.

Pence deflected when asked by Bartiromo whether shutting out Collins was like shutting out “everybody” from the press event.

“I would leave that decision to the White House staff,” he said. “We’ll make sure that every network, every major news organization, continues to have access because we stand for the freedom of the press in this White House.”

Trump and New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger, meanwhile, found themselves offering vastly different takes on a meeting they had earlier this month at the White House that focused on journalistic matters.

The president tweeted on Sunday that they spent “much time” discussing “the vast amount of Fake News being put out,” his erroneous phrase for stories that displease him.

But Sulzberger, in a statement to HuffPost, said his “main purpose for accepting the meeting was to raise concerns about the president’s deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric.” He said he told Trump “directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous.”

[Huffington Post]

Reality

Here is a list of over 300 times Trump has not held the same decorum he wants the press to be held to:

http://www.stopthedonaldtrump.com/category/unpresidential/attack-the-press/

Trump policy shop filters facts to fit his message

President Donald Trump’s appointees in the health department have deleted positive references to Obamacare, altered a report that undermined the administration’s positions on refugees and added anti-abortion language to the strategic plan — part of an ideological overhaul of the agency’s research office.

While every administration puts its imprint on the executive branch and promotes ideas that advance its own agenda, this one has ventured several steps further — from scrubbing links to climate change studies from an Environmental Protection Agency website to canceling an Interior Department study on coal mining risks and suppressing reports on water contaminationand the dangers of formaldehyde.

Inside the Health and Human Services policy research shop, staffers say the political pressures to tailor facts to fit Trump’s message have been unprecedented.

Several pointed to embarrassments such as PolitiFact grading a lawmaker’s statement, based on the agency’s May 2017 report on Obamacare premium hikes, as “false,” and concluding the study had serious methodological problems.

Another report suggesting that millions more people would get health coverage if Obamacare were rolled back — a finding at odds with nearly every independent analysis — was widely mocked and produced over the objections of career staff at the office of the assistant secretary for planning and evaluation, known as ASPE, say several sources.

“The heartbreaking part is that ASPE is the source of the evidence and the science for how decisions are made,” said a former senior official, who worked under both Republican and Democratic administrations. “It’s just another example of how we’re moving to a post-fact era.”

The office has been especially vulnerable to political pressure because its leadership remains in flux. The University of Minnesota health economist tapped to lead the office by Trump has been dogged by questions about his financial entanglements, leaving his nomination in limbo for more than a year. The acting head of ASPE was recently reassigned to a regional office, and the top deputy altered McKinsey-produced data to make it more favorable to the Trump administration, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the changes.

“I find the attack on the integrity and the culture of the office to be disturbing,” said Richard Frank, a Harvard health economist who ran ASPE as an Obama administration political appointee. “This is really a departure to an office that has a 50-year history to it.”

HHS officials vigorously disputed portrayals of the office as ideologically driven.

“I reject the premise of your question and allegation,” said spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley. “Secretary [Alex] Azar has made very clear that HHS is a science- and evidence-based organization and it will operate accordingly.”

Oakley said the 120-person office has been refocused to work on Trump administration priorities like drug pricing and the opioid epidemic. Two staffers say those topics are regarded as safer ground because they are not part of the health care culture wars. Under Azar, who assumed leadership of the agency about six months ago — after most of these incidents occurred — the office has produced a six-page research brief on drug pricing, which published this week, and two studies on the opioid epidemic. Oakley said more reports are coming.

But the group’s morale and role remain diminished, as key staff and teams have dwindled; there are just three staffers working on analyzing health coverage, down from about a dozen at the end of the Obama administration, said a staffer.

Republican health policy analyst Lanhee Chen, who served as an HHS senior counselor in the George W. Bush administration, scoffed at the notion that this policy shop is more partisan than the one that preceded it.

“I don’t believe the Trump administration ASPE has put out reports that are any less analytically or methodologically rigorous than those of the Obama administration ASPE,” Chen said. “Those who express concerns regarding the quality of reports ‘falling off’ are probably using that argument as a cover for the fact that they disagree with the findings of the reports.”

Chen said he regards the policy shop as a vehicle to advance administration policy, “so in that sense, methodological rigor has not necessarily been a metric I have used to evaluate their reports. That’s why we have studies from academics and analysts outside of government.”

This story is drawn from interviews with nine individuals with knowledge of ASPE operations, most of whom asked for confidentiality to speak freely, as well as with outside observers.

Shift in office’s focus

ASPE historically has been used to investigate the impact of HHS policies and help shape future strategy, and under the Obama administration, it focused closely on the expansion of health insurance coverage and the Affordable Care Act — issues on which Barack Obama had campaigned heavily and made central to his presidency. The office published 43 reports on the ACA’s effects on rural hospitals, women’s health and other discrete corners of health care between January 2015 and January 2017 alone, generally extolling the effects and sometimes overlooking the drawbacks.

For instance, one 2016 study on choosing health plans in the ACA market was criticized for slanting its findings.

[Politico]

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