Trump's lawyers are arguing protesters had 'no right' to 'express dissenting views' at his campaign rallies
President Trump's lawyers are arguing that protesters at a March 2016 campaign rally had "no right" to "express dissenting views" from the then-candidate's, Politico reports. The protesters say they were violently ejected from the Louisville, Kentucky, rally by Trump supporters as Trump hollered "get 'em outta here" and "don't hurt 'em."
The lawsuit notes Trump "promised to pay the legal fees of those who — following Trump's urgings — removed the protesters."
Trump's lawyers claim that the First Amendment protected Trump's calls for his supporters to remove the protesters. "Of course, protesters have their own First Amendment right to express dissenting views, but they have no right to do so as part of the campaign rally of the political candidates they oppose," Trump's lawyers write.
A federal district court judge has raised questions about that line of thinking. The judge has also been skeptical of the argument that Trump didn't intend for his supporters to use force on the protesters.
But "even if Mr. Trump implicitly instructed the audience to remove the protesters by using force if necessary, his speech was still entirely lawful and protected under the First Amendment unless he advocated a greater degree of force than was necessary under the circumstances," Trump's lawyers argue. "Absent that type of unlawful advocacy, Mr. Trump cannot be held liable for incitement. It makes no difference whether the crowd reacted with unlawful violence beyond what Mr. Trump advocated." Jeva Lange
While meeting with Democrats on Wednesday, White House chief of staff John Kelly called some of President Trump's campaign stances on the border wall "uninformed," several people told CNN.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) confirmed the comment during an interview with Wolf Blitzer, and a person familiar with Kelly's meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said Kelly told them he was working on educating Trump on campaign vows and policy. "You make campaign promises but then you learn the reality of governing, which is difficult," Kelly said, per a lawmaker at the meeting.
The hour-long meeting ended without any sort of a deal regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigrants, but Kelly "indicated the president is motivated to have a fix," Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) said, and he will look into a bipartisan immigration bill Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) and Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) put together. "He didn't say he'd sign the bill, but he definitely indicated there would be a positive review," Grisham said. Catherine Garcia
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday 2,000 U.S. troops will remain in Syria, as there are "strategic threats" to the United States beyond the Islamic State.
"Iran has dramatically strengthened its presence in Syria...through its position in Syria, Iran is in a stronger position to extend its track record of attacking U.S. interests, allies, and personnel in the region," he said during remarks at Stanford University. U.S. troops were sent to northeastern Syria to assist Kurdish fighters battling ISIS militants, and although ISIS now has just a small presence in the country, Tillerson said there's concern of a revival. "We cannot repeat the mistake of 2011, where a premature departure from Iraq allowed al Qaeda in Iraq to survive and eventually become ISIS," he said.
Tillerson also said the U.S. continues to push for a peace deal in the country that would exclude Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Catherine Garcia
Stephen Bannon did the one thing he wasn't supposed to do during his House Intelligence Committee hearing
It apparently only took an hour and a half for Stephen Bannon to crack himself like an egg during his hearing with the House Intelligence Committee.
Axios reported Wednesday that Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, accidentally told congressional investigators about his time working for the Trump administration, despite the fact that he'd been instructed not to by the White House. Bannon was less than 90 minutes into his hearing, Axios claimed, when he mentioned discussions he had with White House officials about the infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower where Donald Trump Jr. tried to get opposition research on Hillary Clinton from a Russian lawyer.
The Trump Tower meeting "has become one of the most important focal points of the Russia investigation," Axios explained, given reports that President Trump himself helped draft a misleading statement responding to the news after the meeting was first revealed by The New York Times last July. The White House's involvement in the creation of that statement could illuminate whether the Trump campaign tried to collude with Russia and whether the White House lied about those attempts, Axios explained.
Bannon declined to elaborate on his accidental disclosure, repeatedly invoking executive privilege. He additionally faced tough questioning from Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) about comments he'd made in Michael Wolff's book, Fire and Fury, where he'd claimed the Trump Jr. meeting was "treasonous." Read more about Bannon's rocky testimony at Axios. Kelly O'Meara Morales
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 26,000 points Wednesday, CNN Money reported, marking a historic first for the market index. The Dow had first passed the 26,000-point threshold Tuesday, but Wednesday was the first day that it sustained those gains at market close.
Overall, the index spiked 323 points over the course of Wednesday's trading, ending the day at 26,115.65 points. The 1.3 percent bump was spurred by "stronger-than-expected quarterly results from some of the biggest U.S. companies," CNBC explained. Kimberly Alters
During Wednesday's press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders summarily dismissed the ongoing Russia investigation as a "hoax."
Asked by The Wall Street Journal's Michael Bender whether President Trump was "prepared" for the reported escalation in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, Sanders did not mince words. "We've been dealing with this hoax for the better part of a year," she said. "If we have to endure the ridiculousness for another month we can certainly handle it."
Sanders on the Russia investigation: "I think we've been dealing with this hoax for the better part of a year. If we have to endure the ridiculousness for another month, we can certainly handle it" https://t.co/t3C0nMFPSx
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) January 17, 2018
Sanders did stress to reporters that the White House intends to be "fully cooperative" with Mueller's team, but she claimed the ongoing intrigue was unfair to the public. "Do the American people deserve [this investigation]? No, I don't think they do," she said.
On Tuesday, it was revealed that Stephen Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, had been subpoenaed by Mueller to appear before a grand jury. Bannon agreed Wednesday to interview with Mueller, where he is expected to answer questions about his time working in the White House last year. Kelly O'Meara Morales
Republican senator jokes that the incessant squabbling in Washington is 'why the aliens won't talk to us'
The search for extraterrestrial life has hit a new roadblock: congressional decorum.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) vented to reporters Wednesday that politicians on Capitol Hill act like middle schoolers. The immaturity is hindering our other-worldly ambitions, he joked: "That's why the aliens won't talk to us."
"That's why the aliens won't talk to us," Sen. John Kennedy says of the Trump/shithole/DACA news cycle. "They look at us and say, ‘These people... they're 13 year olds.'"
— Haley Byrd (@byrdinator) January 17, 2018
HuffPost's Igor Bobic noted that Kennedy also compared the state of American politics to The Jerry Springer Show — which The Guardian once wrote "has delivered more on-air fights, ranting white supremacists, adulterous strippers, and transphobia than anything else on television." Kelly O'Meara Morales
Michael Wolff, the author of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, is not exactly well liked by President Trump these days. Wolff's book, which made public scandalous stories about the White House, has been blasted as "phony" and "fake" by Trump, who doesn't reserve kind words for Wolff either ("mentally deranged," "totally discredited").
One can't help but wonder, though, if Trump would have had the same reaction to the book if Wolff had used its original working title, The Great Transition: The First 100 Days of the Trump Administration. Whether or not Wolff really ever thought he would use that title, it nevertheless helped him slip into the White House without causing alarm. "In part due to that title, Wolff was able to exploit an inexperienced White House staff who mistakenly believed they could shape the book to the president's liking," Bloomberg Politics writes.
Wolff told Trump during [a phone call] that he wanted to write a book on the president's first 100 days in office. Many people want to write books about me, Trump replied — talk to my staff. Aides Kellyanne Conway and Hope Hicks listened to Wolff's pitch in a West Wing meeting the next day, but were noncommittal.
Several aides said Hicks later informally endorsed talking with Wolff as long as they made "positive" comments for the book, which they said Wolff told them would counter the media's unfair narrative. [Bloomberg Politics]
Well, here's how that has gone over. Regardless, the White House is reportedly cooperating with authors on at least two other books about its inner workings, including Ron Kessler and a joint project between Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. Jeva Lange