Not to be outdone by his horrible Tuesday, President Donald Trump had a really bad Wednesday. For the sake of maintaining order amid the chaos, we’ll go through it chronologically.
1) Comey is summoned by Burr, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
In a rare show of backbone, North Carolina’s own Richard Burr summoned former FBI director James Comey to testify about his interactions with the president and that memo he reportedly sent that informed his colleagues at the bureau that Trump wanted him to drop the investigation into Mike Flynn.
From the INDY:
2) Former FBI director tapped to lead inquiry into Trump’s alleged ties to Russia.
It appears the Trump-Russia investigation got a kick in the pants after a pair of damning news stories that suggested that Donald Trump not only divulged sensitive intelligence to the Russians that could potentially jeopardize the U.S.’s relationship with Israel but that he also allegedly asked then-FBI director James Comey during a February meeting to end the investigation into Mike Flynn.
Comey has, according to a news release issued today, been summoned by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Former FBI director Robert Mueller, a man characterized as “unblemished” by his peers, was named special counsel to oversee the Trump, Russia inquiry. From The New York Times:
Rosenstein said in a statement that “it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authorities and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter.”
The Justice Department appointed Robert S. Mueller III, a former F.B.I. director, as special counsel on Wednesday to oversee the investigation into ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russian officials, dramatically raising the legal and political stakes in an affair that has threatened to engulf Mr. Trump’s 118-day-old presidency.
The decision, by the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, came after a cascade of damaging developments for Mr. Trump in recent days, including his abrupt dismissal of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and the subsequent disclosure that Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey to drop the investigation of his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.
In response, the White House offered an uncharacteristically measured statement.
3) A source says Trump knew about Flynn’s troubles months ago.
“As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly. In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country.”
Apparently, Mike Flynn told the Trump camp about his legal troubles several weeks before the inauguration. Trump the retired general his national security adviser anyway.
From the Times:
4) Audio from nearly a year ago reveals top Republican saying Trump maybe took money from Putin.
Michael T. Flynn told President Trump’s transition team weeks before the inauguration that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign, according to two people familiar with the case.
Despite this warning, which came about a month after the Justice Department notified Mr. Flynn of the inquiry, Mr. Trump made Mr. Flynn his national security adviser. The job gave Mr. Flynn access to the president and nearly every secret held by American intelligence agencies.
Mr. Flynn’s disclosure, on Jan. 4, was first made to the transition team’s chief lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, who is now the White House counsel. That conversation, and another one two days later between Mr. Flynn’s lawyer and transition lawyers, shows that the Trump team knew about the investigation of Mr. Flynn far earlier than has been previously reported.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said (joked?) that he believed Trump took money from Vladimir Putin, and The Washington Post got the tape.
5) Trump is Trump, will always be Trump.
A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.
This morning on Twitter …
In news unrelated to Trump’s nightmare …
1) The state House votes to Raise the Age.
It’s possible North Carolina won’t be the only state to automatically prosecute sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds as adults for much longer. Bipartisanship actually exists. From the INDY‘s Erica Hellerstein:
2) Turns out that more than a hundred thousand people would lose their food stamps under the state Senate’s budget.
Last month, North Carolina distinguished itself by being the last state in the country to prosecute all sixteen-and-seventeen-year-olds as adults, after New York nixed a similar restriction. Now, it seems the state could actually be on track to rid itself of that dubious honor.
This afternoon, the House voted 104–8 to approve a bill that could effectively divert most teenagers from the adult court system. HB 280 would raise the age of juvenile prosecution in the state so that sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds would no longer be tried as adults. That practice, juvenile justice advocates have long argued, is costly and ineffective and actually increases the likelihood that youthful offenders will wind up back in the criminal justice system.
In a rare moment of bipartisanship, HB 280 has a range of unlikely supporters, including Republican U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, the ACLU, and the conservative John Locke Foundation. It was sponsored by three Republicans and one Democrat, Duane Hall of Raleigh. Although similar legislation has passed the House before, this year’s bill has the support of the N.C. Sheriffs’ Association and the N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin.
From the N&O:
3) Ikea is coming to Cary.
An estimated 133,000 people in North Carolina would lose access to government food assistance programs under a provision tucked into the Senate budget approved last week.
The provision changes the state’s eligibility requirements for the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP – commonly known as food stamps. The change wouldn’t save the state any money because funding comes from the federal government, but Republican Sen. Ralph Hise of Mitchell County says the change would make the system more fair.
Bizarre furniture for all!
From the N&O:
We’ll leave you on a sad note. Grunge icon Chris Cornell died Wednesday at fifty-two.
After months of rumors, Sweden-based furniture retailer IKEA said Thursday that it is coming to Cary.
IKEA’s first Triangle store will be built on a 15-acre portion of the Cary Towne Center site off Interstate 40, if a development plan and rezoning request are approved by the Cary Town Council. It would be the second North Carolina location for IKEA, after one in Charlotte that opened in 2009. The next closest IKEA is in Woodbridge, Va., south of Washington, D.C.