Trump wants his next press secretary to be a cable news ‘street fighter’ Brittany Shepherd and Hunter Walker Reporters•President Trump with White House press secretary Sarah Sanders after it was announced she will leave her position at the end of the month, June 13, 2019. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)WASHINGTON — With Sarah Sanders on her way out of the White House, President Trump is looking for a new press secretary and, as usual, he has his eye on cable news.Multiple sources in the president’s orbit told Yahoo News that Trump’s vision for Sanders’s replacement doesn’t involve returning to traditional White House press briefings. Instead, the sources said the president is looking for an aggressive defender to make regular television appearances. He also seems settled on having a woman fill the role: The list of top contenders to take the position is filled with five women who have on-air experience.“This is about how you can take control of the news cycle and represent the president. … What Trump ultimately wants as the press secretary is someone who’s going to be a loyalist and an attack dog to go out there and defend him,” one source close to the president said.Multiple sources named five women who are in the running for the press secretary. Stephanie Grisham, who has served as the primary spokeswoman for first lady Melania Trump, topped the list. Grisham did not respond to requests for comment.The sources were divided on whether Grisham would be open to moving from Melania Trump’s office to the West Wing; however, there was a consensus that the job was hers for the taking. A source close to the president said Grisham is “the best” fit for the position.“She’s defended Melania and shown that she’s definitely up for the street fighter aspect of this,” the source said of Grisham, who has aggressively responded to various rumors and stories about the first lady.A former Trump campaign adviser agreed with that assessment.“She’s got the inside support. FLOTUS loves her,” the ex-adviser said of Grisham. “She understands how to work with Trump and the media. She’s protected them.”The White House did not respond to requests for comment on this story.Stephanie Grisham, communications director for Melania Trump. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)Sanders, who is set to leave her post at the end of this month, transformed the role of the press secretary since coming onboard in mid-2017. Traditionally the position involved being the public face of the White House via a daily press briefing. However, under Sanders, the briefings went from multiple times a week to being virtually eliminated. Sanders stepped behind the podium in the White House briefing room only two times so far this year.Her last briefing was 95 days ago.In the absence of briefings, Sanders role has largely involved making appearances on television news programs to defend the president. All of the sources who discussed her replacement with Yahoo News indicated Trump wants a similar approach for her successor.“They haven’t had a briefing in 90-something days. It might be another 90 days. … This isn’t about a job at the podium,” the source close to the president said.Trump is a devoted cable news watcher who focuses on how he’s portrayed on television. So his ideal press secretary, a former campaign staffer said, would be “a figurehead … who appears on TV all the time.”“That’s the thing with Trumpworld. The only thing that matters if you’re a high-level person on the press or communications side is whether you’re good on TV,” the ex-staffer said. “At the end of the day, he only takes you seriously if you’re on TV.”Trump’s focus on television also has made him eager to have a woman fill the press secretary role. “It’s pretty clear the president wants a woman to do it,” the source close to Trump said. “He likes that imagery. He’s kind of settled in what he’s looking for.”The source suggested that the desire for a woman as press secretary meant that Tony Sayegh, a senior Treasury spokesperson who has been spoken of as a potential successor to Sanders, was unlikely to get the gig. Sayegh, who left his post on Thursday, has been the top spokesperson for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.Multiple sources said another man, Sanders’s current deputy Hogan Gidley, was also not in the running for the role due to opposition from other members of the administration.“Almost universally nobody wants Hogan to do it,” the source close to the president said. “That’s the common refrain, anybody but him.”Gidley did not respond to a request for comment.Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, left, and the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs for the Treasury Tony Sayegh. (Photo: Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images)Along with Grisham, the other women who are said to be in the running for the press secretary job are Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich, and former State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert. None of them responded to requests for comment. All of them have extensive television experience. Like Pavlich, both Ortagus and Nauert have worked at Fox News.Multiple sources said that Kupec was recently offered a position as a leading spokesperson on President Trump’s reelection campaign that would have been an ideal stepping stone to the press secretary role. However, Kupec turned down that position. The source close to the president cited this as a reason they were dubious Kupec would be interested in leaving her position at the Justice Department. They argued Kupec “likes the autonomy” that comes with being outside of the White House.“She gets the experience but isn’t necessarily labeled as a Trump person,” the source said of Kupec.Trump previously announced he would nominate Nauert to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations last December. However, Nauert ultimately withdrew from consideration amid reports she had employed a nanny who was not authorized to work in the United States. That issue could also be a roadblock to Nauert getting the press secretary job.State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)Ortagus and Pavlich don’t have that kind of baggage. The source close to Trump said the president “likes” Ortagus because she’s “a Fox person.” But while appearances on Fox News would definitely catch Trump’s eye, that might not be enough to secure the press secretary post.That source noted Sanders’s interactions with the press often included contentious interactions with reporters from major news outlets.“When’s the last time Sarah had an interview that was just a lay-up?” the source asked.Similarly, Trump would be looking for someone who had a body of work that extended beyond conservative media to replace Sanders.“This is a street fighter-type position over at the White House,” the source said. “This isn’t Fox News where everyone likes the president and it’s just presentation and delivery.”
Trump defends adviser Conway, won’t fire her over political comments By Susan Heavey•Trump says he will not fire adviser Kellyanne ConwayScroll back up to restore default view. By Susan Heavey WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Friday he would not fire White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, a day after a federal watchdog accused her of breaking U.S. law by making political statements in her official role and called for her ouster.”No, I’m not going to fire her. I think she’s a terrific person … She’s been loyal,” Trump told Fox News.Conway, 52, is a former political pollster and consultant who became Trump’s campaign manager in 2016. She was the first woman to have managed a winning U.S. presidential campaign.Now serving as counsellor to the president at the White House, Conway regularly defends Trump and attacks his rivals online and in television interviews, often on the White House grounds.On Thursday, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) cited Conway’s television comments and social media posts as violations of the Hatch Act https://osc.gov/Pages/HatchAct.aspx. The 1939 law bars executive branch employees from engaging in some political activities.The OSC, which is not connected to the office of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, is headed by Trump appointee, Henry Kerner, and is an independent agency that polices federal workers. One of its main missions is enforcing the Hatch Act.It said in a statement: „Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act on numerous occasions by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.”In recent months, Conway has criticized Democratic candidates Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders on Fox News and CNN.Trump, who is running for reelection in 2020, stopped short of telling Fox whether he would advise Conway to refrain from further political statements in her White House capacity.”She’s got to have the right of responding to questions. It really sounds to me like a free speech thing,” the Republican president told the conservative news outlet.Richard Painter, ethics counsel to former Republican President George W. Bush, rejected Trump’s argument, saying Conway could make political statements in a private capacity, but not in her official, taxpayer-funded role.”If she wants to go and shill for her favourite candidate … in her personal capacity on her own front lawn, she’s free to do so,” Painter said. „But in an official interview on White House property, she doesn’t have the right to do that.”The OSC called Conway a „repeat offender,” who „has shown disregard for the law.” The agency can make recommendations for dismissal, but it does not have the power to enforce them.The White House rejected the OSC recommendation and demanded its withdrawal, according to a letter released on Thursday.In one of the more unusual dynamics in Trump’s Washington, Conway is married to lawyer George Conway, who regularly criticizes Trump. On Wednesday, George Conway published a Washington Post opinion piece https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-latest-court-filing-is-an-invitation-to-begin-impeachment-proceedings/2019/06/12/339b08c8-8d29-11e9-8f69-a2795fca3343_story.html?utm_term=.f8e8bb7c4a2e that was highly critical of Trump.(Reporting by Makini Brice and Susan Heavey; Additional writing by David Morgan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Bernadette Baum)
Politics Trump faces storm after says OK to use foreign intel on opponentsSebastian Smith•US President Donald Trump says there is „nothing wrong” with listening to foreign governments offering dirt on his political opponents US President Donald Trump says there is „nothing wrong” with listening to foreign governments offering dirt on his political opponents (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB) Washington (AFP) – Donald Trump on Thursday reignited the political storm that has threatened to engulf his presidency by insisting he has the right to use dirt provided by foreign governments on political opponents without informing the FBI.In an interview aired late Wednesday by ABC News television, Trump was asked about taking help similar to the research offered by Russian operatives to his 2016 campaign about rival Hillary Clinton.”There’s nothing wrong with listening,” Trump said, adding that he’d only „maybe” contact the FBI if he „thought there was something wrong.”When ABC interviewer George Stephanopoulos pointed out that FBI Director Christopher Wray recently said that any foreign meddling in US elections should be reported, Trump responded: „The FBI director is wrong.”A torrent of criticism erupted Thursday, including from vital Republican ally Senator Lindsey Graham, who said the president had made „a mistake.””I believe that it should be practice for all public officials who are contacted by a foreign government with an offer of assistance to their campaign — either directly or indirectly — to inform the FBI and reject the offer,” Graham said.Senior Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer called Trump’s comments „shocking.””To say that it’s OK for foreign countries to interfere in our elections, with motives that are not what’s in the interest of the American people? Disgraceful,” he said.”Everybody in the country should be totally appalled,” the Democratic speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said.- ‘Ridiculous!’ -Trump defended himself Thursday, saying that his remarks had been taken out of context and that anyway he talks „every day” with foreign figures.”Should I immediately call the FBI about these calls and meetings? How ridiculous! I would never be trusted again,” he tweeted.However, Trump was referring in his tweet to conversations with allies like the leaders of France and Britain, and even Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.But on Wednesday Trump was asked about getting assistance from countries like Russia or China, which are seen by the US government as potentially dangerous competitors.The White House and Republicans argued that Trump was being unfairly singled out when the Democrats had been the ones to make use of the now infamous dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent, Christopher Steele, in 2016.Steele talked to Russian sources for the report which was paid for by a legal firm linked to Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.Filled with explosive and in some cases apparently completely erroneous claims about Trump’s links to Russia, the report was eventually handed over to US law enforcement, adding fuel to a massive official probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller.”The hypocrisy here knows no bounds,” Trump spokesman Hogan Gidley said, branding criticism of the president „absolutely ridiculous.”- Impeachment threat -According to Mueller, who completed his probe in April after nearly two years of exhaustive inquiries, Trump’s 2016 campaign had numerous contacts with Russians but the pattern did not amount to proof of a conspiracy with Moscow.Despite that, Democrats say that Trump’s behavior was suspicious enough to warrant further investigation in congressional committees. A loud minority of lawmakers is even pushing for impeachment.Trump’s interview with ABC came on the same day his son Donald Jr was grilled by US senators about his contacts with Russians.In June 2016, the younger Trump held a now-infamous meeting at Trump Tower that included his father’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, and a Russian lawyer offering dirt on Democratic nominee Clinton.Trump declared victory after the Mueller report was released but his latest comments have reignited the controversy just as his 2020 reelection campaign starts up in earnest.Trump will hold a rally with supporters in Florida to mark the official kick off on Tuesday.One of Trump’s fiercest Democratic opponents, House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff, called the president’s comments on taking foreign help „a dereliction of duty.””The Trump campaign sought such help in 2016, and their candidate just put out word they want more in 2020. It’s up to Congress to put a stop to it,” he said.