President Trump told reporters Wednesday that he is "totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind." This marked the first time he had addressed the subject of domestic violence since former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter resigned last Wednesday after his two ex-wives publicly accused him of physical and verbal abuse.
Trump claimed Wednesday — more than a week after the allegations against Porter first broke — that "everyone knows" his feelings on domestic violence. "It almost wouldn't even have to be said," he added.
NEW: "I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind," President Trump says during White House meeting, giving his first personal condemnation of domestic violence since the controversy around Rob Porter began https://t.co/3u0JnrTPS9 pic.twitter.com/QIzTqnbsKb
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 14, 2018
Two days after Porter's resignation, the president implored people to remember that "[Porter] say he's innocent." The president notably did not make any mention of Porter's victims in those remarks, though he did say it was "obviously a very sad time" for Porter. Kelly O'Meara Morales
President Trump's longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, told The New York Times on Tuesday he paid $130,000 out of his own pocket to Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who told multiple media outlets ahead of the 2016 presidential election that she had an extramarital affair with Trump a decade earlier.
In a statement, Cohen told the Times that "neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction" with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. He also said neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign reimbursed him for the payment "either directly or indirectly," calling the $130,000 disbursement a "lawful" and "private transaction." The payment, first reported in January by The Wall Street Journal, was made shortly before the presidential election; after that, Daniels stopped cooperating with the media outlets. Trump has denied the affair.
Cohen said he had given a similar statement to the Federal Election Commission, which was investigating a complaint from the watchdog group Common Cause alleging that Cohen's payment violated campaign finance laws. The Times says Cohen would not answer questions about whether Trump knew he made the payment, what Cohen's motivation was to make the payment, and if he's paid any other women with similar stories. Catherine Garcia
Update 2:30 a.m. Wednesday: BuzzFeed News has obtained Cohen's full statement, which you can read below.
Full statement from Trump lawyer Michael Cohen on his payment to Stormy Daniels: pic.twitter.com/pG2SQkPJ9r
— Tarini Parti (@tparti) February 14, 2018
The Senate is in recess until 12:01 a.m. Friday, and because they failed to pass a spending bill, a government shutdown will start at midnight.
White House Office of Management and Budget spokesman John Czwartacki said federal agencies are "now being urged to review and prepare for a lapse" in spending after midnight. Congress was expected to vote Thursday on a two-year deal that includes a roughly $300 billion bump for military spending and domestic programs, as well as nearly $90 billion for disaster relief. This was stalled by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who refused to go along with his fellow senators to move to hold a vote, citing concerns about adding to the deficit.
The Senate plans on voting on the matter early Friday, but it's unclear how the bill will fare in the House, and leaders there are advising members to "prepare for late night or early morning votes." This will be the second government shutdown in less than a month. Catherine Garcia
Attorneys for President Trump have advised him against sitting down for an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, four people briefed on the matter told The New York Times.
Trump has publicly declared that he is open to speaking with Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump obstructed justice, but his lawyers fear he will make false statements, which could lead to Trump being charged with lying to investigators, the Times reports. They have reason to worry, the Times notes: During a deposition for a libel case Trump brought against journalist Tim O'Brien, he admitted while under oath he had previously lied about various subjects; Trump lost this suit.
While attorneys John Dowd and Jay Sekulow want Trump to avoid an interview, lawyer Ty Cobb thinks Trump should cooperate and has been dealing with Mueller in trying to set up an interview. Dowd and Sekulow both think that should Trump refuse the interview, Mueller would hesitate to subpoena him, the Times reports. If there is a subpoena for Trump to testify in front of a grand jury, it could go all the way to the Supreme Court. Trump is expected to make his decision on testifying under oath in the next few weeks. Catherine Garcia
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, announced Wednesday night that committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) made "material changes" to the controversial FBI-related memo he sent to the White House, with the "changes not approved by the committee."
On Monday, Republicans on the committee voted to make public a classified memo crafted by GOP staffers that reportedly accuses FBI and Justice Department officials of abusing surveillance laws to target Carter Page, one of President Trump's campaign advisers. The FBI said it has "grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact" the accuracy of the memo, and Democrats say the memo is misleading and could compromise intelligence sources.
In a letter to Nunes, Schiff said Democrats on the committee compared the memo that was made available to House members on Jan. 18 with the memo sent to the White House, and they are not the same document. "After reviewing both versions, it is clear that the majority made material changes to the version it sent to the White House, which committee members were never apprised of, never had the opportunity to review, and never approved," Schiff wrote.
It is "deeply troubling" that the White House has been "reviewing a document since Monday that the committee never approved for public release," he added, and the changes made by Nunes "do not correct the profound distortions and inaccuracies in your document," but they are "nonetheless substantive." Now, Schiff said, it's "imperative that the committee majority immediately withdraw the document that it sent to the White House." Catherine Garcia
Update 12:50 a.m. ET: A spokemsan for the Intelligence Committee's GOP majority pushed back on Schiff's letter, calling Monday's vote "absolutely procedurally sound" and dismissing the changes as "minor edits ... including grammatical fixes and two edits requested by the FBI" and committee Democrats.
— Kristina Wong (@kristina_wong) February 1, 2018
The former spokesman for President Trump's legal team plans on detailing to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators how Trump and people close to him crafted a press release about Donald Trump Jr.'s 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russians, three people familiar with the matter told The New York Times, notably including the detail that White House Communications Director Hope Hicks said Trump Jr.'s emails about the meeting "will never get out,"
Mark Corallo resigned as spokesman in July 2017, the same month the press release was written aboard Air Force One as Trump and his aides flew back to the U.S. from the G-20 summit in Germany. Hicks made the comment about the emails during a conference call, the three people told the Times, and Corallo was concerned she might be contemplating obstruction of justice. The press release said the meeting was "primarily" about Russian adoptions, but when Trump Jr.'s emails were made public it emerged he had been promised compromising information on Hillary Clinton.
The press release was written in response to questions sent by the Times, and it's one of about 12 subjects that Mueller reportedly wants to focus on during a one-on-one interview with Trump. Corallo received an interview request from the special counsel last week, the Times reports, and he has agreed to the interview. An attorney for Hicks denies the allegations. Catherine Garcia
Editor's note: This article originally misstated the resignation date for Mark Corallo. It has since been corrected. We regret the error.
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted Monday to release a secret memo that accuses senior FBI officials involved in the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election of misconduct, despite the Department of Justice warning that making the memo public would be "extraordinarily reckless."
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters the committee also voted against releasing a memo written by Democrats and denied a request by FBI Director Christopher Wray to brief the committee on the intelligence behind the memo. The document includes confidential information, and reportedly alleges that officials at the FBI misused their authority to obtain a secret surveillance order on President Trump's former campaign associate Carter Page. Republicans are using an obscure House rule that allows classified information to be made public, ignoring a letter sent to Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) from an assistant attorney general warning against the move. Democrats say the memo is misleading, and presents information with little to no context in order to undercut the Russia investigation.
In a statement, the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said it's clear "House Republicans' desire to protect President Trump has clouded their judgment and caused them to lose sight of what's at stake: the security and integrity of our elections." Trump now has five days to review the memo and decide if he should block its release. Catherine Garcia
Last June, President Trump ordered the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but backed off after White House Counsel Don McGahn refused to ask for Mueller's dismissal and threatened to quit, four people with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times.
Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump obstructed justice, and he learned about Trump's directive while interviewing current and former senior White House officials in recent months. McGahn, who also served as the Trump campaign's top attorney, told White House officials that if Mueller was fired, it would have a catastrophic effect on the presidency and would make people wonder if Trump was obstructing the investigation, the Times reports.
Trump told advisers and White House officials that he believed Mueller had three conflicts of interest that made him unqualified to serve as special counsel, the Times reports. Strike one was Mueller resigning his membership from the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, following a dispute over fees. Trump also took issue with Mueller working for the law firm that once represented his son-in-law Jared Kushner and Mueller being interviewed to return as FBI director one day before he was appointed special counsel. Trump's attorney, Ty Cobb, declined to comment to the Times. Read more about Trump's thoughts on Mueller, and his unsuccessful plan to dismiss Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia