President Donald Trump took off on Friday afternoon, embarking on his first foreign trip as president — and almost as soon as he was wheels up to Saudi Arabia the bombshells started going off.
The New York Times reported that Trump boasted to Russian officials that in firing FBI Director James Comey he had dispatched a “nut job” and that his ouster took “great pressure” off of him. The Washington Post, meanwhile, reported that the federal investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia includes a current White House official as a “significant person of interest.”
“The two stories come after a week of damning revelations about the Trump White House, which is now engulfed in scandal and facing a special prosecutor,” POLITICO’s Matthew Nussbaum reports. “Trump admitted last week that he fired Comey in part because of the Russia investigation, blowing up the White House message that the firing was based on a Department of Justice recommendation.”
Meanwhile, President Trump has expressed regret about firing former national security adviser Michael Flynn, POLITICO’s Josh Dawsey reports. “Trump has grown obsessed with defending the tough-talking 58-year old general, repeatedly telling aides and associates in private that Flynn was a “good man.” One adviser close to Trump said he’s heard Trump defend the general using the exact words described in reports of memos written by former FBI director James Comey recording his conversations with the president — and that Trump has told people inside the White House he wished the investigation would go away.”
Elsewhere in Trump’s orbit:
COMEY ONE, COME ALL: Former FBI Director James Comey has agreed to testify — in public — to the Senate Intelligence Committee after Memorial Day.
SUBSIDY SUBMARINED?: President Trump has told associates that he would like to end payments of key Affordable Care Act subsidies — a move that could destabilize the law’s marketplaces.
NEC SHIFT: Kenneth Juster, a deputy director of the National Economic Council and an adviser to Trump on international economic affairs, is expected to be removed from the council “imminently.”
MAYBE DOCUSIGN?: President Trump’s lawyer didn’t want him to sign his 2016 Financial Disclosure, just submit it. (The Associated Press)
BYE, JIM: Jim Donovan, President Trump’s pick to be the no. 2 at the Treasury Department, has withdrawn his nomination. He was expected to play a critical role in helping shape the administration’s tax reform policy through Capitol Hill.
POTUS POTPURI: Foreign leaders are being given various instructions for how to deal with President Trump on his trip, including advice to keep it short and know that he has a short attention span and likes to focus on wins (The New York Times)
CALL HER AMBASSADOR: Callista Gingrich has been formally nominated as President Trump’s ambassador to the Vatican.
TRAVELING TO (MC)FAR LAND: President Trump also formally nominated deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland to be the ambassador to Singapore.
And there you have it. You’re caught up on the Trump administration. Happy Friday.