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Morning Briefing: The Weekend Brought Only More Bad News for the White House

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | June 12, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | June 12, 2017 |

— The big development over the weekend is that Jeff Sessions — further embroiled in the Russian controversy after the James Comey hearing — opted against testifying in an open hearing in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and will instead testify tomorrow in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee in what is believed to be a closed session. Sessions is clearly scared of something getting out, and the last thing he wants to do is piss off Trump, who already resents him for getting him into this mess by recusing himself and setting the DOJ up to appoint a special prosecutor. If Sessions even confirms that he left Comey alone with Trump, it could look bad for both Trump and Sessions. A growing number of Republicans are uneasy with Sessions’ involvement with Russia.

Update: Sessions has reversed course and will testify tomorrow in a public hearing. Should be good for ratings, huh, Trump?

— Speaking of Mueller, it does appear that several on the far right are laying the groundwork to fire the special prosecutor. Politically speaking, I don’t know how that wouldn’t be the nail in the coffin of the Trump presidency.

— Firing Mueller, in fact, might give the GOP the leverage they need to get rid of Trump. According to Axios, they’d be much happier with a President Pence:

Beyond his base voters, Trump has an even bigger potential problem looming with his base in Congress. While Republican lawmakers won’t say it publicly, it’s widely known if they could pick between President Pence and President Trump, the Vice President would win 90% of the vote among the GOP.

— There’s further proof of that in the fact that the Republicans — despite pressure from The White House — have refused so far to back Trump’s attacks on James Comey, according to Politico:

Across national news shows on Sunday, Republican lawmakers showed varying degrees of concern about Trump’s handling of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and his decision to fire Comey in the midst of that probe. Though many contended the reaction to Comey’s testimony was overblown, most said Trump had acted improperly — even if it was out of naivete and not malice.

— That same Axios piece confirms what many Republicans have been saying behind closed doors: That they are terrified that the House will flip in 2018.

What Republicans fear: a downward spiral in which the Russia distractions make it harder to pass Trump’s agenda, new talent won’t come into the West Wing, top-shelf potential challengers are reluctant to run as Republicans in 2018, the House flips, and article of impeachment become a real risk.

Their worst fear is our ideal scenario.

— Meanwhile, D.C. and Maryland are now gearing up to sue the Trump Administration for violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.

The lawsuit, a signed copy of which Racine and Frosh provided to The Washington Post on Sunday night, alleges “unprecedented constitutional violations” by Trump. The suit says Trump’s continued ownership of a global business empire has rendered the president “deeply enmeshed with a legion of foreign and domestic government actors” and has undermined the integrity of the U.S. political system.

The lawsuit comes days after the Department of Justice basically said that Trump is not violating the Constitution by repeatedly accepting payments from foreign governments at Trump owned properties.

— Elsewhere, the latest rumor is that Reince Priebus now has until the 4th of July to clean up the White House or he will be fired. This threat, however, has been looming over the Chief of Staff since the beginning of the Trump Presidency, and it’s unclear if Trump will ever follow through on the threat. Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie are seen as potential replacements, although both would probably be disastrous for Trump. Then again, Trump does have a propensity for shooting himself in the foot.

— Finally, word is that Donald Trump will not be visiting the UK this year, after all, as he had previously planned. He apparently fears wide-scale protests, which is understandable after he went after the London mayor on Twitter last week.