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Scary moment: CNN's Don Lemon went off the air in New York City late last night after a caller phoned in a bomb threat indicating “there were five devices in the building, according to a law enforcement source,” CNN reported. The NYPD investigated and gave the all clear after nothing was found. After the threat, Trump tweeted, presumably coincidentally, "FAKE NEWS -- THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE."
The scene outside CNN's New York offices last night:
At the White House
A CALL WITH RUDY GIULIANI ON THE ACELA CORRIDOR: Most phone calls overheard on Amtrak's Acela line en route from New York to Washington (or vice versa) are kind of embarrassing for one or both people having them.
But on Thursday, when I reached President Trump's lawyer (and renowned tweeter) Rudy Giuliani, little did I know that I had the good fortune of sitting across from two former white-collar criminal prosecutors. Like any good neighbors, they eavesdropped on my chat. And after my call with Mr. Mayor concluded, they offered some insights on what he said about Robert Mueller's Russia probe and some of its key figures.
Giuliani pronounced himself “disgusted” by the Mueller team's tactics, complained about the length of time it took to complete written answers to questions from the special counsel's team and said Mueller's probe was essentially out of control.
“I think he crossed the line a while ago. I think it’s a situation badly in need of supervision,” Giuliani said. He's “the special prosecutor of false statements.”
Two key court filings are due from Mueller today: one outlining what prosecutors think former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort lied about and another related to longtime Trump fixer Michael Cohen. That's after a sentencing memo released earlier this week suggesting no jail time because of extensive cooperation by ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Here's what Rudy told me, and what the lawyers had to say about it:
On how to respond to the Mueller probe: “I mean I actually don’t think I can discuss that right now. But [our response is] not formulated and it's not public and we still have a lot of options that we’re considering,” Giuliani said.
When does he think the Mueller probe will end? “There’s no strict time limit on it. I think they are possibly done by the end of the year.”
- On the Flynn filing: “There's no evidence that links the president to anything . . . they never would have accelerated his sentence if they were going to use him against Trump . . . his credibility is much easier to attack if he’s already gotten a sweet deal as opposed to at least being exposed to an amount of time in prison.”
- [The lawyers respond: He's right — a person who pleads guilty to making false statements to law enforcement is not a great witness, unless corroborated by independent evidence . . . and Flynn's 19 interviews [with Mueller's team] could be about anything.]
- On Manafort:"Well, the concern for Manafort is the horrible way in which he’s being treated. It’s a travesty — he’s in solitary confinement still and they’re still hounding him with questions. It doesn’t sound like America . . . And that also risks putting undue pressure on someone. They seem to have no sensitivity to that — no real guidepost to getting the truth,” Giuliani told me.
- On staffing up the White House Counsel's Office: New W.H. counsel Pat Cipollone “is a good friend — and he is working on that and he is talking to people and has plans to expand the size of the counsels office . . . But that's in anticipation of what the Democrats have threatened with regards to other matters and investigations,” Giuliani said.
- On the president's mood: “I’ll tell you, he seemed good this morning. I'm going over for the Hanukkah party later,” he said. “He has it segmented and he's accomplished a hell of a lot. But I keep wondering how much more he could do if he wasn't interrupted by these things,” Giuliani said.
- 'Miraculous': “I think he’s absolutely miraculous that he can do what he does. But it’s because he has this ability to compartmentalize . . . I do know the times I have to call him out of meetings. It could have taken me two days if he was a normal client to answer Mueller's questions but it took us two, three weeks,” Giuliani said of Trump's written responses to Mueller's questions.
- [The lawyers said: The person making a big distraction out of this is not Bob Mueller — it's Rudy. It makes you wonder if all of the turmoil is benefiting Trump politically.] <
- 'Disgusted': Giuliani was extremely critical of the timing of Mueller's court filings, pointing to two major releases when Trump was on his way to Helskini and to the G-20 summit last weekend. “There's no sensitivity with what the hell they’re doing. I'm sort of disgusted with them. I hope they finish and get out of town and we’ll deal with whatever they leave behind."
- [The lawyers: Mueller's Flynn sentencing memo came out a month after the election, which does not violate Justice Department guidelines.]
- What would Rudy do differently? “I would have written my report by now. I would have written it six months ago. The delay it's causing is hurting the country — it's making it more difficult to conduct the business of the United States,” Giuliani said
- [The lawyers: The average time of an investigation is 18 months. Mueller is traveling at "lightspeed,” one of the lawyers told me.]
House Republicans reached an agreement with former FBI diretor James Comey to testify today and former attorney general Loretta Lynch. They plan to release a report about FBI behavior before ceding the majority. Trump tweeted this this morning;
Robert Mueller and Leakin’ Lyin’ James Comey are Best Friends, just one of many Mueller Conflicts of Interest. And bye the way, wasn’t the woman in charge of prosecuting Jerome Corsi (who I do not know) in charge of “legal” at the corrupt Clinton Foundation? A total Witch Hunt...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2018
Trump also went after Mueller and his deputy, Andrew Weissman:
....Will Robert Mueller’s big time conflicts of interest be listed at the top of his Republicans only Report. Will Andrew Weissman’s horrible and vicious prosecutorial past be listed in the Report. He wrongly destroyed people’s lives, took down great companies, only to be........— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2018
MAKING THE PRESIDENT'S BED: Victorina Morales has made Trump's bed, washed his boxers and cleaned his toilet. She's also an undocumented immigrant who entered the country illegally and got a job as a housekeeper at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.
Yesterday, Morales went public to the New York Times, telling Miriam Jordan that “We are tired of the abuse, the insults, the way he talks about us when he knows that we are here helping him make money. We sweat it out to attend to his every need and have to put up with his humiliation.”
- 'Why wouldn't he figure it out?' There's no evidence that Trump knew about Morales's immigration status — or that of the other undocumented workers she said his company employs — but Morales thinks it's quite possible.
- Sounds familiar: Despite the president's “America First” proclamations, yesterday's Times story is but one of several that have detailed his business's reliance on foreign workers.
- In February: Vox published an analysis of the workforce at three Trump properties that found the Trump Organization had 144 openings for seasonal jobs, yet just one went to a U.S. worker.
- In 2017: During “Made in America Week,” Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club applied to hire 70 foreign workers, The Post's David A. Fahrenthold reported.
- In 1980: “Trump employed a crew of 200 undocumented Polish workers who worked in 12-hour shifts, without gloves, hard hats or masks, to demolish the Bonwit Teller building on Fifth Avenue, where the 58-story, golden-hued Trump Tower now stands,” The Times reported last year. “The workers were paid as little as $4 an hour for their dangerous labor, less than half the union wage, if they got paid at all.”
- Read more: “He’s a U.S. soldier deployed on the southern border — and an unlawful immigrant,” from The Post's Alex Horton.
We were approached by the two women through their lawyer. Viki Morales said she knew she risked being fired or deported, but didn’t want to stand by as President Trump made “insulting” comments about the people cleaning his house. https://t.co/6ppp88sGR5— Kim Murphy (@kimmurphy) December 6, 2018
In the Agencies
WHITE HOUSE CLOSE TO A DECISION ON NEXT AG: Trump has reportedly zeroed in on former attorney general William P. Barr as his top choice to lead the Justice Department. Barr, who served under President George H.W. Bush, would return to his post as the department presses forward with the Mueller investigation — even though Barr has publicly expressed doubts about the probe's legitimacy. The Post's Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Josh Dawsey broke the news. Here's more from their story:
- The resume: “Barr, 68, a well-respected Republican lawyer who served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under [Bush], has emerged as a favorite among a number of Trump administration officials, including senior lawyers in the White House Counsel’s Office.”
- A decision — and perhaps a fight — looms: “Administration officials are preparing for the likelihood that Barr’s nomination will be announced in the coming days . . . Given the political fights enveloping the Justice Department, any attorney general nominee is likely to face tough questions at their Senate confirmation hearing.”
- Doubting Bill:"Barr’s past commentary has played down the severity of the allegations against Trump — on both the collusion and obstruction-of-justice fronts — and he has also suggested the Clintons should be in more trouble,” The Post's Aaron Blake reported.
- Family business: “The Trump administration’s point person on the opioid crisis, Mary Daly, is quite familiar with [Barr] . . . Barr is Daly’s dad,” The Post's Colby Itkowitz reported.
On The Hill
CONGRESS KICKS THE CAN ON A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: Congress sent Trump a short-term spending bill that delays the threat of a partial government shutdown for now, but sets the stage for a high stakes fight days before Christmas with a new Dec. 21 funding date.
- Where there's a wall there's a way: Trump and Democrats now have about two weeks to "resolve their standoff over funding for the wall, which is holding up action on spending bills to fund the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies," The Post's Erica Werner reported. “If the dispute is not resolved, funding for those agencies will expire, causing them to begin to shut down and furlough workers in the middle of the holiday season.”
Tick tock: Trump is asking for $5 billion to fund the wall along the southern border and, as the sun sets on their control of the House, "Republicans know it’s their last shot to get Trump the money for the wall that was the signature promise of his presidential campaign. Trump long claimed Mexico would pay for the wall, but he is now asking it be funded by U.S. taxpayers," Werner wrote.
Doubling down — and then some: “Trump is showing no signs of backing off his demand for wall money. Instead, in a tweet this week, he returned to an earlier demand of $25 billion for the wall.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), the No 2. Senate Republican: Cornyn said he can't believe Trump would accept the Democrats' lowball offer of $1.6 billion, the current level of funding. “He wants money for border security, and we’re not going to give him anything other than current level of funding? I can’t see how in the world that would be acceptable.”
In the Media
Some late-breaking news and weekend reads:
- Former Fox News anchor assumes the mantle: Trump to Pick Nauert to Replace Haley as UN Ambassador, Sources Say by Jennifer Jacobs and Nick Wadhams
- What Chuck Grassley is reading: McConnell tells White House little chance of Senate vote on criminal justice bill by Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey via The Post
- Some counter-programming: On the Front Porch, Black Life in Full View by Audra D.S. Burch via The New York Times
- What Baby Boomers should read: Millennials Didn't Kill the Economy. The Economy Killed Millennials by Derek Thompson via The Atlantic
- If you want to read what Michelle Obama's reading: Michelle Obama: By the Book via The New York Times
Read this thread from a Capital Gazette reporter:
1. Today I did the annual story on holiday decorations at the Governor's residence. I've done it every year, for years. A very light but very fun story. Every year my reporting partner was Wendi Winters. This year, it was Selene. Wendi was murdered in June. https://t.co/hDlixzieht— Joshua McKerrow (@joshuamckerrow) December 7, 2018