Gingrich, Stone Extol Trumpism

 

A new book by Roger Stone and a lecture by his fellow Trump advisor Newt Gingrich this week provide revealing insights about the president and his recent actions.

Stone's book, The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated A Revolution, complements Gingrich's lecture this week at the Heritage Foundation in sharing information useful to Trump's friends and foes alike at this pivotal early stage of his presidency.

Jim DeMint with Newt Gingrich at Heritage Foundation Jan. 30, 2017 JIP photoThe book and lecture deliver for the most part highly positive portrayals of Trump.

"I have zero doubt that the man in charge of the Trump presidency is Trump," Gingrich said, for example. "And that will not change." The lecture series was sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, whose President Jim DeMint is shown in our Justice Integrity Project photo at the lectern Jan. 30 introducing Gingrich, who is standing at right awaiting his speaking turn.

These portrayals of Trump help provide valuable insight into his remarkable victory and his current controversies. That story cannot be understood in the traditional Republican vs. Democrat, right vs. left framework. Those simplistic divisions minimize the vast financial, cultural, religious, and other personal motivations in play for Trump, his backers, and their critics. 

Regular readers here know that we see Washington as a house of mirrors where well-financed puppet masters use an array of controlled officials, institutions and propaganda to achieve their goals with relatively superficial public scrutiny. The power brokers operate from such playbooks as Machiavelli's The Prince, a pamphlet first circulated in the early 1500s that showed rulers and their advisors how to gain power via ruthless methods, not piety.  

In such environments and with the stakes so high now, all information is valuable from insiders, even if much of it is advocacy and some is fragmentary.   

Roger Stone Making of the PresidentIn the preface of Stone's book, he describes how he met Trump in 1979 via Trump's powerful attorney Roy Cohn, the young real estate mogul's mentor and friend.

Most people don't know anything about these relationships.

Even fewer would know Stone's role as a fund raiser for the 1980 presidential campaign of California Gov. Ronald Reagan — or the precise identities of Cohn's oft-notorious clientele. Cohn's clients included Genovese leader Tony Salerno, the underboss of one of New York's major Mafia families and a top figure in the region's concrete supply business.

As Stone recounts: Cohn finished a meeting with Salerno and then heard Stone's fund-raising pitch on behalf of Reagan. Cohn then arranged an introductory meeting with his client Trump to help the Reagan campaign.

Stone puts a positive glow on the anecdote and proceeds to describe his close appreciation for Trump's talents.

Such admiration prompted Stone to encourage Trump to run for president beginning in the late 1980s. Stone was an advisor early in Trump's 2016 campaign but left in mid-2015 to publish hard-hitting books attacking first the Clintons and then the Bush family. His books combined in rare fashion reporting, scholarship, and partisan insider opinion, as reflected in their two titles: The Clintons' War on Women and Jeb! and the Bush Crime Family.

What's happening in the nation's capital across the board is too important and complex for normal commentary. Today's column summarizes key points of the Stone and Gringrich commentaries. These are amplified below by an extensive appendix of links to the Stone book, Gingrich lectures about Trump, and recent major news developments.

(I explored these themes during an hour-long interview Feb. 1 on The Phil Mikan Show in Connecticut, which broadcasts over WLIS-AM and WMRD-AM.)

Trump's methods and goals have created global headlines since his inauguration Jan. 20. To begin this overview, we start with the Gingrich lecture at the Heritage Foundation headquarters overlooking the U.S. Senate buildings in the nation's capital.

Gingrich on 'Trump and Trumpism'

The Trump White House team has such an ambitious agenda it’s “constantly on offense,” Gingrich told the conservative audience Jan. 30 in the seventh lecture of his series “Trump and Trumpism.”

Newt Gingrinch Heritage Foundation Jan. 30, 2017 “If they were more thoughtful they’d only get about 10 percent done,” Gingrich said of Trump. “He has to keep the system off-balance.”

Gingrich (shown in our photo from the talk) held the top U.S. House of Representatives post of speaker from 1995 to 1998 after leading Republicans to victory in the 1994 mid-term elections with his demand that the public impose on lawmakers a "Contract for America."

Formerly a history professor before representing an Atlanta suburb in the House, he is now a consultant, political commentator and author, with 29 books under his name.

DeMint, the Heritage Foundation president, is a Republican former U.S. senator and House member from South Carolina. In his introduction Monday evening, DeMint said he learned much of what he knows in politics from Gingrich and President Reagan.

Gingrich's talk focused mostly on Trump's energy, intelligence, wit, patriotism and other positive qualities.

Newt Gingrich (takes audience question) at Heritage Foundation, Jan. 30, 2017 JIP Photo"Trumpism," he said, "is really about understanding 'Americanism' — folks who have been left behind."

Yet Gingrich (shown in my photo awaiting a question from a man in the front row) spiced up his talk insider-style political analysis to an overwhelmingly conservative audience of about 60 persons.

He suggested, for example, that Trump this week moved up his announcement of U.S. Circuit Court Judge Neil Gorsuch as nominee to the Supreme Court from Thursday to Tuesday for a political reason: to reduce news attention on the protests over his administration's new restrictions on travel from seven North African and Middle Eastern nations.

Gingrich intends to collect his lectures into a book to be published in June. Beyond the specifics of his comments, the Heritage Foundation venue and its evolving history help illustrate Trump's ascendancy. Edwin Meese III, President Reagan's attorney general from 1985 to 1988, serves as a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and attended the lecture. He stayed long afterwards to chat with attendees.

The foundation represents the conservative establishment. It boasts that it is the nation's most influential conservative think tank as well as one of the largest, with 275 employees.

But, as most notably reported in The Hill newspaper by Jonathan Swan in Billionaire father and daughter linked to Trump shake-up, the foundation has evolved through the years to encompass the funding and energies of Tea Party and alt-right proponents.

Swan reported that Rebekah Mercer is a member of the Heritage Foundation's board and an executive committee member of the president-elect's transition team. She and her more reclusive father Robert Mercer, a hedge fund magnate, have been major backers of Trump's campaign, that of Texas senator Ted Cruz, and such key Trump aides as White House advisors Stephen K. Bannon and Kellyanne Conway.

The Mercer family has also helped fund such related media enterprises as the alt-right outlet Breitbart News (led by Bannon until Trump's victory) and the work of author, film director and conservative gadfly Peter Schweizer, whose 2015 best-seller Clinton Cash mixed reporting, innuendo and advocacy into an effective attack on the 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Roger Stone and 'The Making of the President 2016'

Republican consultant Roger Stone draws on an even longer and closer relationship with Trump than does Gingrich.

As noted above, in the preface to The Making of the President 2016, Stone describes his 1979 meetings with Cohn and Trump. By that time, he had been an aide in the Nixon White House and a political consultant with a reputation for rough and largely effective tactics. On Stone's blog, TheStoneZone, he recounts his first meeting with Trump illustrated with a photo of them:

Following Cohn’s advice, I went to see Donald Trump. At the appointed hour, Norma Foederer, Trump’s longtime gatekeeper and assistant, ushered me into Trump’s office.

Roger Stone and Donald Trump“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Trump,” I said. “Please call me Donald,” the mogul said with a smile. Trump was interested in politics just as he was interested in sports. He was savvy in the use of legal political money and employed a platoon of lobbyists over the years. He had a low regard for [incumbent Democratic President Jimmy] Carter and, as he put it, “this George Bush is a dud.”

“You see, Reagan’s got the look,” he said. “Some guys have the look. Sinatra. JFK. And your man, Reagan. People are hungry for a strong leader, as Carter looks vacillating and weak.” Trump asked quite a few questions about polling and agreed to join the Reagan finance committee, raising $100,000, split between himself and his father.

Once The Donald was on board, I heard from him constantly. He wanted the latest polling and wanted to see poll results between Reagan and Carter. Trump would ask in every call “What’s your path to 270?” I would go through the battle-ground states. We became friends.

Let's fast forward to the 2016 campaign. By Stone's account:

Trump was repeatedly implored by state Republican leaders to run for governor or mayor. In 2006, for example, the New York State Senate Republican’s wily leader Joe Bruno convinced the New York State Independence Party, which controlled a valuable ballot position, to announce that they would cross-endorse Donald Trump for Governor if he would seek the Republican nomination. It was a hot story for twenty-four hours, until The Donald threw cold water on it. “I always thought he should have let it run a while,” said Bruno, “but now I understand the job was too small for him."

"His timing of running [for president] in 2016 allowed him to take unique advantage of a perfect storm when it comes to voter disenchantment and the widespread belief that the system is rigged against the little guy. Sure, he’s sometimes crude but his voters love it. It’s like sticking your thumb in the eye of the establishment who have run the country into the ground,” said the ex-prizefighter....

Jeb! and the Bush Crime FamilyWhile the rest of the country may have been fooled by his genius, I, in fact, knew that he had quietly trademarked the phrase “Make America Great Again” with the US Patent and Trademark Office only days after Romney’s defeat. He told me on New Year’s Day 2013 that he was running for president in 2016. When I pointed out that some in the media would be skeptical that he would actually run based on his previous flirtations with public office, he replied, “That will disappear when I announce.” And so it did.

Stone, following his start in politics working for Nixon's 1968 campaign and White House, has acquired a reputation as a controversial but well-connected political operative and author.

His previous four books were combative treatments of Lyndon Johnson, the Clintons and the Bushes, as well as a decidedly mixed portrayal of Nixon. Whatever one might think of Stone's counsel, tactics and conclusions, he holds a rare if not unique historical role in Trump's ascension especially. That makes this new book a must-read.  

Stone's most recent previously published book — Jeb! and the Bush Crime Family has been re-released as The Bush Crime Family. His co-author was Saint John Hunt, son of the late CIA operatives E. Howard Hunt and Dorothy Hunt.

First released a year ago, the Bush book was a remarkably hard-hitting exposé that surely played a role in undermining the Jeb Bush presidential campaign, which had raised more than $100 million in donations from GOP elites but failed to catch on with primary voters. Jeb Bush, a former Florida governor, abandoned his campaign in March following election reverses. Stone's book linked the Bushes to financial scams, narcotics trafficking, murder conspiracy, sexual perversion and other sordid activities.

Only a few months previously, The Clintons' War on Women, co-authored by Stone, had appeared, promoted this way:

Roger Stone Hillary Clinton "War on Women" Cover"Hillary Clinton is running for president as an 'advocate of women and girls,' but there is another shocking side to her story that has been carefully covered up — until now. This stunning exposé reveals for the first time how Bill and Hillary Clinton systematically abused women and others — sexually, physically, and psychologically — in their scramble for power and wealth.

"In this groundbreaking book, New York Times bestselling author Roger Stone and researcher and alternative historian Robert Morrow map the arc of Bill and Hillary’s crimes and cover-ups. They reveal details about their actions in Arkansas, during Bill Clinton’s time in the White House, about who really ordered the deadly attack on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, during Hillary’s tenure as secretary of state, about their time at the Clinton Foundation, and during Hillary’s current campaign for president.

"This is the first book to shed light on the couple’s deeply personal violations of the people they crushed in their obsessive quest for power. Along the way, Stone and Morrow reveal the family’s darkest secrets, including a Clinton family member’s drug rehab treatment that was never reported by the press, Hillary Clinton’s unusually close relationship with a top female aide, and a stunning revelation of such impact that it could strip Bill Clinton of his current popularity and derail Hillary’s push to be the second Clinton in the White House."

David Brock book Kill the MessengerThe Bushes, Clintons and others have for the most part ignored such allegations. At times, they have denied specifics and at other times have mounted counter-attacks on muckraking authors and their sources.

For example, Media Matters founder David Brock published in 2015 the pro-Clinton book Killing the Messenger: The Right Wing Plot To Derail Hillary and Hijack Your Government.

Brock was very familiar with rough tactics.

He had started his career as a conservative political operative who was well-funded by right wing moguls to attack Clarence Thomas accuser Anita Hill — including in The Real Anita Hill: The Untold Story (1993) — and the Clintons before he switched to advocating on behalf of Democrats. He documented his shift in the book his best-selling 2002 memoir Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative. He went on to found the pro-Democratic Media Matters commentary site and American Bridge, a political action committee with similar pro-Democratic goals.

None of that worked in the November elections, obviously.

As one irony, Brock had launched his Killing the Messenger at the home of the prominent Democratic lobbyist Anthony Podesta, brother of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Both Podesta brothers were victimized by a phony smear campaign during the 2016 elections called "Pizzagate" whereby anti-Clinton propagandists falsely claimed that the brothers were complicit in a scheme with other Democrats to abuse children kept hostage in abandoned subway tunnels accessible via a pizza parlor in the nation's capital.

That malicious and preposterous story was among many that achieved wide traction among the gullible before the November elections thanks to the increasingly chaotic media environment of 2016.

For perspective, there are no abandoned subway tunnels in Washington near the pizza parlor. Neither have there been reports of victims or other complaints, much less credible suspicions that the Podesta brothers did anything to justify such an outrageous smear.

I make no further attempt today to examine the truth of the many claims in these books and lectures. The blog format does not lend itself to such a point-by-point exercise, especially at the end of such a long column as this.

But I shall mention my attendance at David Brock's invitation to his book launch party at Anthony Podesta's home in northwest Washington, D.C. In the same spirit of research, I have purchased copies of all of Stone's five books. These including his latest, scheduled for delivery shortly.

Also, I know his co-authors Rob Morrow (an iconoclast who presided as head of his Texas county's Republican party for several months last year) and Saint Joint Hunt, and have met more briefly Trump, the Clintons and a number of their colleagues and critics.

By phone, the late Roy Cohn once helped me out by describing on my newspaper deadline the circumstances whereby his client Carmine Galante, one of the top New York Mafia bosses four decades ago, won a surprise release from prison. That release (due to a clerical mistake) was much to the astonishment of both legal experts and those of us reporting on the case. "What's with this judge?" a New York Daily News reporter asked me at the time. "Is he on the take?"

My more important point is that the issues Gingrich, Stone and the others are describing are extremely important — but we need multiple sources of information even to begin to establish credibility on any one matter. In these matters, the same person could be a courageous truth-teller on most matters, and a propagandist on others.

Generally speaking, many serious financial, sexual and national-loyalty scandals occur with only occasional and often selective exposure. Perpetrators come from both major parties and all points on the political spectrum. 

Looking Ahead

Why doesn't the public know more about what's important in public life? There are many good reasons. Here are a few.

First, we have allowed ourselves to be split into opposing camps where we rely far too much on news and commentary created by kindred spirits. That leads to greater partisanship and less accountability.

Phil MikanSecond, few realize the pervasiveness of propaganda in modern life. Much of it remains hidden, including by the full range of institutions: government, private companies, academia and the media.

In response, each of us must become a researcher, a member of the media, and a witness to history, as I described to radio host Phil Mikan (shown in a file photo) and his Phil Mikan Show audience in Connecticut this week via WKUS and WMRD.

We each need to foster such discussion — whether at home, at work, or in our communities — to test and share our perceptions. The more the better. The stakes are high. Everyone is going to be affected soon by decisions being made right now, whether we like it or not.

 

 
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Roger Stone Bio

Roger Stone is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Man Who Killed Kennedy. He is an American political consultant and strategist who played a key role in the election of Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush. He was also instrumental in the 2000 Florida recount responsible for the election of George W. Bush.

 

Roger Stone and The Making of the President 2016

Update: 

Huffington Post, Trump Advisor Roger Stone Launches Into Vulgar Twitter Rant, Suggests Back Channel To Assange During Clinton Leaks, Alex Mohajer, March 5, 2017. Renowned Republican strategist and long-time Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone (shown in a file photo) launched into an inexplicable, vulgar tirade against multiple users of the social media website Twitter on Saturday night, using offensive off-color comments, misogynistic slurs, and at one point suggesting that he had a “perfectly legal back channel” to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who “indeed had the goods” on Hillary Clinton.

Roger StoneTwitter users are speculating that the tweet constituted an admission by Stone in collaborating with the controversial Assange and an enemy nation to sabotage the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. Some of the tweets have been deleted, but by midnight on the west coast, “Roger Stone” was trending on Twitter. According to the New York Times, Mr. Stone is one of a growing number of Trump advisers and allies now being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for alleged contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election.

Breitbart, Roger Stone: In Speech Trump Must Stick to Agenda, Make One Good Reference to ‘Fake News,’ Neil Mccabe, March 3, 2017. One of the political mentors of President Donald Trump told Breitbart News Monday the president needs to stay focused on his program in his first address to a joint session of Congress. “He needs to stick to the agenda,” said Roger Stone, who was one of the first advisers to join Trump’s campaign and remains one of his closest confidantes.

“Avoid back-and-forth with his critics — just stick to the agenda — and make at least one good reference to fake news,” Stone said. Less than two months in, Stone said he is impressed by Trump’s performance in the White House. “I think he is doing great.”

Stone spoke to Breitbart News at a guest-listed book signing for his latest work: The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution at Washington’s Hay-Adams Hotel. The diverse crowd of well-heeled men of influence, conservative operatives, and Capitol Hill staffers was a pretty strong signal that it is very important in Washington that Stone knows you bought his book. The event was organized by David Urban, the man who led Trump’s campaign in Pennsylvania.

NBC Today Show, Former Trump Adviser Roger Stone: I Had No Contacts With Russian Officials, Matt Lauer, Feb. 16, 2017.  Speaking to Today about the controversy surrounding the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, former adviser to President Trump, says “categorically, positively not” when asked if he had regular contacts with Russian officials during the campaign. Regarding reports of turmoil behind the scenes in the Trump White House, Stone points to a division between people loyal to Trump and to the Republican Party.  

WND (WorldNetDaily), How it happened: ‘The Making of the President 2016,’ Myra Adams, Feb. 1, 2017. Myra Adams analyzes new account by ‘political bomb-thrower’ Roger Stone. Months ago when Roger Stone told me the title of his 2016 presidential campaign book, The Making of the President 2016, I immediately asked if Teddy White’s heirs had copyrighted that famous title. (For those unfamiliar, in 1961 Theodore White broke political ground with his best-selling insider campaign book, The Making of the President 1960. White’s success prompted him to write a series with the same name for the presidential campaigns of 1964, 1968 and 1972.)

President Donald Trump officialIn response to my question, Roger said that the iconic title was “not copyrighted.” Then I complimented him on the marketing savvy of selecting himself to be Teddy White’s successor.

Stone’s The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution was released on Jan. 31. Fast-paced Amazon pre-sales are not surprising considering that for over 40 years the author has been at one time or another a close friend and confidant, employee, chief political adviser, outside adviser, political bomb-thrower and behind-the-scenes man to the newly minted president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

Since Stone is an acquaintance of mine, I have conducted several interviews with him on RedState and here on WND – starting with the Clintons’ War on Women book interview on Sept. 7, 2015.

In fact, writing this review of Roger’s new book prompted me to go back and read his prescient statements from a Feb. 29, 2016, interview titled, “Why Stone is the Man to Watch in a Trump vs. Clinton Race.” Here is a key sentence that encapsulates why Stone’s book is worth reading:

“Roger proudly told me that he ‘started 2016 with two goals – defeat Hillary Clinton and elect Donald Trump president of the United States.’”

To that I say, “Roger, Mission Accomplished.”

In the same interview, I wrote, “What makes Stone such a tour de force is his ability to impact the campaigns of both candidates.” (I recently discovered this quote appears on the book’s back cover.) In The Making of the President 2016, you can read how Stone did exactly that. But, given the extent of Roger’s impact on both campaigns, surprisingly, the book is less about the role of Roger Stone and much more about “how Donald Trump orchestrated a revolution,” the subtitle of the book.

 

Roger Stone: The Making of a President

Breitbart, New book published today: Roger Stone’s ‘The Making of the President 2016’: How Donald Trump Rode the Wave of Alternate Media to Become President, Jan. 31, 2017. On Nov. 8, 2016, Donald John Trump was elected the forty-fifth President of the United States. This is a singular accomplishment that can only be attributed to the talent, energy, and foresight of Donald Trump himself. Trump’s sprint across eight states in the closing days led to the greatest upset since 1948, when President Harry S Truman barnstormed across the country by train, breaking all railroad speed regulations, making six or seven stops per day, and ensuring his victory over New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey.

From Roger Stone (shown in a portrait): The physical energy that Trump expended going down the stretch was indeed Herculean. There is no question that his final push into Wisconsin, Michigan, and returning to western Pennsylvania, was an act of pure will that, while Clinton was already celebrating, propelled him to victory. The 2016 election was the first in which the mainstream media lost its monopoly over political media coverage in the United States. The increasingly vigorous alternative media, whose reporting standards are superior to the networks and the cable news behemoths, is where more and more voters are getting their information.

Roger StoneTrump’s skillful courting of the conservative media, like The Daily Caller, Breitbart News, WND, and InfoWars, made Trump the first presidential candidate to reach these disaffected and highly motivated Americans effectively. At the same time, Trump’s relentless attacks on the media as “unfair” and “dishonest” came right out of the Nixon playbook, where both Nixon and Trump exploited the resentment of the biased media, so hated by their supporters.

Trump’s willingness to challenge openly the media outlets that went after him kept them somewhat honest in their coverage of his campaign but the relentless cable news networks’ attacks on him were unlike anything I have seen in the nine presidential campaigns in which I worked. The media dropped all pretext of objectivity. Their motives and tactics were naked.

Most of this would largely backfire. American voters have finally become hip to the fact that the media and the political establishment work hand-in-glove to conceal many facts from the American people. The voters no longer believe the media.

Donald Trump is his own strategist, campaign manager, and tactician, and all credit for his incredible election belongs to him. I’m just glad to have been along for the ride. I wanted him to run for President since 1988 and had served as chairman of his Presidential Exploratory Committee in 2000, as well as serving as a consultant to his 2012 consideration of a candidacy.

I have worked for Trump with the Trump Organization, the Trump Shuttle, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, and several political explorations over a forty-year period. He is perhaps the greatest salesman in US history, with the spirit of a promoter and the infectious enthusiasm of an entrepreneur who likes making money and winning.

Roger Stone FoxTrump waged the first modern “all communication” campaign, eschewing polling, expensive television advertising, sophisticated analytics, and all of the traditional tools of a modern presidential campaign.

At the same time, Trump’s campaign was centered around a “set piece rally,” just as Richard Nixon’s campaign had been. That Trump ran as the candidate of “the Silent Majority,” appealing to forgotten Americans, running as the law and order candidate and in the end, the peace candidate, was not accidental. Trump’s campaign was much like Nixon’s. He understood that politics is about big issues, concepts, and themes, and that the voters didn’t really care about wonkish detail. If they had, then Newt Gingrich would have been president.

Although there are similarities between Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 and Trump’s ascendancy to the presidency, Trump’s election is less an ideological victory and more a manifestation of a genuine desire for a more competent government. Like Nixon, Trump is more pragmatic, interested in what will work, as opposed to what is philosophically pure. He’s tired of seeing America lose. He is exactly the cheerleader the country needs.

Like Truman’s whistle-stop events, Trump rallies became the focal point of his entire campaign, amplified by the cable news networks that carried his rally speeches around the clock. He drew enormous crowds and voters found him funny and genuine. All the while, his trusted press aide Hope Hicks was booking as many one-on-one interviews into his schedule as humanly possible. There was literally a time when you could not turn on the television without seeing and hearing Donald Trump. The cable networks of course did it for the ratings. The fact that Trump was unrehearsed, un-coached, and unhandled, meant that voters found him refreshing and authentic.

StoneZone.com, "The Trump Connection" Excerpt from The Making of a President 2016, Roger Stone, Feb. 1, 2017. I met Donald Trump through Roy Cohn, the legendary mob and celebrity lawyer, who was an attorney and advisor to the young real estate mogul. In 1979, I signed on to run Ronald Reagan’s campaign for president in New York, among other northeastern states. I was given a card-file that supposedly held Governor and Mrs. Reagan’s “friends in New York” who might be solicited for help. Among them was a card for Roy M. Cohn, Esq. with the law firm of Saxe, Bacon and Bolan. I called Cohn’s office to make an appointment.
 
Roger Stone and "The Making of a President 2016"When I arrived at Cohn’s brownstone law firm on the Upper East Side, I cooled my heels for about an hour in the waiting area. Finally, I was told to go to a second floor dining room where Mr. Cohn would meet me. He was wearing a silk dressing gown. His heavy-lidded eyes were bloodshot, most likely from a late night of revelry. Seated with Cohn was his client, a heavy-set gentleman who had been meeting with Cohn.
“Meet Tony Salerno,” said Roy.

I was face-to-face with “Fat Tony” Salerno, at that time the boss of the Genovese crime family. In October 1986, Fortune magazine would call the seventy-five-year-old Salerno America’s “top gangster in power, wealth, and influence.”

It’s true that as a New York developer, Donald Trump bought concrete from a mob-connected company controlled by Salerno. On the other hand, the State of New York, the City of New York, and most major developers bought their concrete there as well, the reason being their excellent union relationships. The company had a virtual monopoly on concrete, with the state and federal government among their biggest customers. The company was properly licensed to do business in New York State.

After Salerno left, we got down to brass tacks and I pitched Cohn on helping Governor Reagan in New York State. Roy was nominally a Democrat, the son of a legendary Tammany judge, and a quiet power in the New York City Democratic Party.

He was so feared because of his viciousness in the courtroom, that most plaintiffs settled immediately when they learned that Cohn was opposing counsel. Trump used this power with Roy as his attorney.
“So how can I help you, kid? This Jimmy Carter is a disaster. I told Stanley Friedman and Meade Esposito that the peanut farmer was no goddamn good,” Cohn exclaimed. “Ronnie and Nancy are friends from the 1950’s when I was working for Joe McCarthy, the poor dumb drunk son-of-a-bitch. Ronnie stood up to the Commies in Hollywood and was a personal favorite of J. Edgar Hoover.”

I told Cohn I needed to start a finance committee, locate and rent a headquarters, have phones installed, and launch a legal petition-gather¬ing effort to put Reagan delegates’ names on the New York Republican primary ballot. Cohn stared out a picture window, then suddenly said, “What you need is Donald Trump. Do you know Donald Trump?” I told the beady-eyed lawyer I only knew Trump from the tabloids. Cohn said he would set up a meeting immediately but Donald was very busy and would only give me a limited amount of time.

Roy also told me that I had to go to Queens first to meet with Donald’s father, Fred Trump. “Fred is a personal friend of Barry Goldwater and has been generous to conservative and Republican candidates and causes. I guarantee you he likes Reagan,” said the twice-indicted attorney. Cohn arranged for me to meet Fred Trump who was a gracious gentleman at a diner in Queens. Roy was right, he liked Reagan.

In 1989, I was working for Donald Trump as a lobbyist in Washington handling currency transaction rules that his casinos were subject to. I believed I had worked out regulatory language acceptable to the regulators, subject to Donald’s approval. I called Donald at his office asking if I could jump what was then the Eastern shuttle from DC to New York and meet him at noon in his Manhattan office.

Donald told me he couldn’t meet because he was leaving for Atlantic City with a group of his executives by helicopter. I convinced him to wait for me, sending the executives on ahead and having the chopper return to pick up Trump and bring him to Atlantic City later. Shortly after I was ushered into Donald’s office, his ashen-faced assistant Norma Foederer told Donald that New Jersey State Police Superintendent Clint Pagano was on the phone. Trump put him on the speaker.

“I’m sorry to say that the helicopter your company chartered crashed in the pinelands and everyone aboard was killed.” “Are you certain?” Trump asked. “One hundred percent,” said the veteran cop.
The women at the Trump Organization were openly weeping with Trump losing Steve Hyde and Mark Etess, his two top gaming executives. Hyde was a Mormon with twelve children and a pleasure to work with when I represented the casino company on a few issues.

Donald had Norma place calls to the widows. He spoke to each of them and, in some cases, Trump’s call about their husband’s death was their first news of the cataclysmic event. While Trump may have booked other appointments after mine, I know that his life was spared to save our Republic and restore our economic vitality.

I still have a letter Norma Foederer, for many years Donald’s executive assistant, wrote to me after this awful day. “I tremble to think what would have happened if you hadn’t called and he hadn’t changed his schedule that day," she wrote.

This was the point at which I realized that God had spared Donald for a higher purpose. This was the point that I realized he would be President. This is when I realized Donald Trump was destined to save our country.

 

Gingrich Lecture Series "Understanding Trump & Trumpism" at Heritage Foundation (Reverse Chronological Order)

Newt Gingrich (takes audience question) at Heritage Foundation, Jan. 30, 2017 JIP PhotoAuthor, consultant and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) takes an audience question at the Heritage Foundation on Jan. 30, 2017 (Justice Integrity Project photo)

Part 7: Trump is at the Heart of Trumpism, Jan. 28, 2017. Newt concludes his series at The Heritage Foundation by focusing on the heart of Trumpism, Jan. 30, 2017.

Part 6: The Inaugural, The Campaign, and Making America Great Again. Newt focuses Part 6 of his series on President Trump’s inaugural and first week in office, Jan. 25, 2017.

Part 5: After the Inaugural. Newt continues with his series on the Monday following the inauguration of President Trump, Jan. 23, 2017.

Part 4: On the Eve of the Inaugural. Newt continues his series on the eve of the inauguration of President-elect Trump, Jan. 19, 2017.

Part 3: A Trumpian Balanced Budget. Newt focuses Part 3 of his series on creating a Trumpian balanced budget, Jan. 17, 2017.

Part 2: Ahead of Schedule and Under Budget. Newt continues his series with Part 2, “The Trump Way: Ahead of Schedule and Under Budget,” Jan. 10, 2017.

Part 1: The Phenomenon of Trumpism begins Newt's series hosted by The Heritage Foundation, Dec. 13, 2016.

 

Gingrich Family In The News

Politico, Gingrnch, Giuliani to Lead Group Pushing Trump Agenda, Alex Isenstadt, Jan. 30, 2017. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will co-chair a newly-formed outside group that is devoted to promoting President Donald Trump’s agenda. Gingrich said in an interview he would help to oversee Great America Alliance, an independent, pro-Trump political nonprofit. It will also be co-chaired by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who, like Gingrich, was an early and outspoken Trump supporter.

Newt Gingrinch Heritage Foundation Jan. 30, 2017 The organization will advocate for Trump’s policy priorities, including his Supreme Court pick, which Trump says he will announce Tuesday evening. “My interest is in communicating the things that he wants to get done,” Gingrich said. He pointed to economic and infrastructure as two areas where the group would focus some of its efforts. “We can be pretty effective,” he said.

Great America Alliance is one of several outside groups that will support Trump’s policies. Another group that formally launched on Monday, America First, will be overseen by two senior Trump campaign aides, Brad Parscale and Nick Ayers. A third organization, 45Committee, has begun airing TV commercials that promote Trump’s cabinet picks. Great America Alliance will also be run by two Republican strategists, Ed Rollins and Eric Beach. The two previously led Great America PAC, a super PAC that spent over $22 million in support of Trump’s presidential candidacy.

In a memo, Beach outlined plans to spent around $80 million over the course of 2017 on a variety of anticipated policy battles. He left open the possibility that the group could pressure GOP members of Congress who opposed the president’s plans.

“Our organization will aggressively promote President Trump’s agenda and help make sure the promises made to the American people during the campaign are kept by Congress,” said Beach. “This will be our top priority and we will oppose all efforts to obstruct these goals, regardless of partisanship.”

Newsmax, Callista Gingrich Eyed as Potential US Ambassador to Vatican, Staff report, Jan. 26, 2017. The wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is under consideration by President Donald Trump to serve as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. Gingrich told The New York Times that Callista Gingrich is being considered for the post but would not provide any more details.

Trump has known the Gingriches for several years. The couple belongs to his golf club in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Cascades, Va. They’ve also been to his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., reports the Times. Gingrich, who served as House speaker from 1995-1999, was one of Trump’s finalists to be his vice presidential running mate. Trump ultimately chose Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for that role.

The Times reports that William Simon Jr., a friend of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, is also in the running for the Holy See ambassadorship.

Salon, Newt Gingrich wants to fire federal employees who voted for Clinton, Sophia Tesfaye, Jan. 20, 2017. "There won’t be any real cooperation until we change federal law so we can fire them.” President-elect Donald Trump is set to assume control of the White House in a manner of hours, and his longtime adviser Newt Gingrich is giddy about reported plans to cut $10.5 trillion out of the federal government over 10 years by gutting federal agency budgets by as much as 10 percent while slashing 20 percent from the federal workforce.

The Trump transition team has reportedly met for months with career officials in the White House to outline a plan for massive cuts to the federal workforce. The plan, modeled after a budget championed by the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, essentially calls for cutting nearly all of the government’s discretionary spending. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is so excited by the prospects that Trump will finally be able to deliver the extremely right-wing restructuring of the federal government he’s championed for decades.

“I would say by one week after the inaugural, it will be very interesting to look at how many things have changed,” Gingrich recently said at a Heritage Foundation event. Gingrich predicted that “Trumpism produces a balanced budget largely as a consequence of its policies rather than by focusing on the balance itself.” The only risk, Gingrich later noted to the New York Times, is that entering the White House and instantly slashing a federal agency’s permanent staff will likely lead employees “to find ways to sabotage each new cabinet secretary as soon as they walk through the door.”

Offering perhaps the most nakedly political argument for firing federal employees, Gingrich said, “all those bureaucrats overwhelmingly voted for Clinton. There won’t be any real cooperation until we change federal law so we can fire them.”

About Newt Gingrich

From Gingrich Productions, is a multimedia production company based in Washington, DC, featuring the work of Newt and Callista Gingrich. Together, Newt and Callista host and produce historical and public policy documentaries, write books and newsletters, give speeches, record audio books, produce photographic essays, and make television and radio appearances. Gingrich Productions also offers strategic planning, consulting, and training for organizations seeking to solve public policy concerns. We have unique strengths and experience in health, learning, national security, and politics. We also help develop messaging with an emphasis on earned and social media.

Newt Gingrich is well-known as the architect of the “Contract with America” that led the Republican Party to victory in 1994 by capturing the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in forty years. After he was elected Speaker, he disrupted the status quo by moving power out of Washington and back to the American people. Under his leadership, Congress passed welfare reform, the first balanced budget in a generation, and the first tax cut in sixteen years. In addition, the Congress restored funding to strengthen defense and intelligence capabilities, an action later lauded by the bipartisan 9/11 Commission.

Today, Newt Gingrich is a Senior Advisor at Dentons, the world’s largest law firm with more than 6,500 lawyers in 50 countries and offices in more than 125 cities. He advises the firm’s world-class Public Policy and Regulation practice. He is also a Senior Scientist at Gallup.

From May 2011 to May 2012, Newt Gingrich was a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, winning the South Carolina and the Georgia primaries. The campaign was especially notable for its innovative policy agenda, its effort to bring new coalitions into the Republican fold, and for Newt’s debate performances. His $2.50 a gallon energy plan set off a nationwide discussion about the use of America’s energy resources.

But there is a lot more to Newt Gingrich than these remarkable achievements. As an author, Newt has published twenty-nine books including 14 fiction and nonfiction New York Times best-sellers.

Non-fiction books include his latest, Breakout, in addition to A Nation Like No Other, Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny, To Save America, Rediscovering God in America, 5 Principles for a Successful Life, Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less, Real Change, A Contract with the Earth, Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America, To Renew America, Lessons Learned the Hard Way, Saving Lives & Newt and Callista GingrichSaving Money, Window of Opportunity, and The Art of Transformation. He is also the author of a series of historical fiction books including, Gettysburg, Grant Comes East, Never Call Retreat: Lee and Grant the Final Victory, 1945, Pearl Harbor, Days of Infamy, To Make Men Free, To Try Men’s Souls, Valley Forge, and Victory at Yorktown. These novels are active history studies in the lessons of warfare based on fictional accounts of historical wartime battles and their aftermaths. His latest novel, Treason, is the sequel to Duplicity and is a thriller of Washington intrigue and international terrorism.

Newt and his wife, Callista (shown together), host and produce historical and public policy documentaries. Recent films include A City Upon A Hill, America at Risk, Nine Days That Changed The World, Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny, Rediscovering God in America, Rediscovering God in America II: Our Heritage, and We Have the Power.

 

Related Trump Transition News Coverage

Power Brokers

The Hill, Billionaire father and daughter linked to Trump shake-up, Jonathan Swan, Aug. 17, 2017. Donald Trump’s dramatic staff shake-up on Wednesday revealed the growing influence wielded on his campaign by a Republican megadonor duo. The fingerprints of Robert Mercer, a New York hedge fund billionaire, and his middle daughter, Rebekah, can be seen all over the new Trump staffing appointments and other decisions being made by the GOP presidential nominee.

Rebeka  MercerThe Mercers, who previously put $13.5 million into a super-PAC supporting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's presidential bid, have recently converted the group into the Defeat Crooked Hillary PAC, targeting Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Robert Mercer has reportedly made a “substantial” additional investment of at least $1 million in the new super-PAC, which has already spent $500,000 on digital ads attacking Clinton in eight battleground states. Additionally, he and particularly Rebekah have become influential figures in Trump World in the past few months.

Rebekah Mercer (shown in a file photo) “lives in a beautiful apartment in one of Trump's buildings on the Upper West Side [of New York City] overlooking the Hudson River,” a source who knows her told The Hill. A Heritage Foundation trustee and director of the Mercer Family Foundation, Rebekah takes the lead on the details of the Mercers’ political operation, while her father provides the funds.

She’s known as a hands-on operator who won’t open up the Mercer checkbook without strict conditions about which vendors are used and which consultants are hired. Now loyal to Trump, the Mercers were furious when Cruz didn’t endorse the nominee at the Republican National Convention last month. And because they are among the few mega-donors to get fully behind Trump, they now increasingly have his ear.

Stephen Bannon, the Trump campaign’s newly appointed CEO, is “tied at the hip” with Rebekah Mercer, said a source who has worked with the Mercers in their political activities. The Mercers are united with Bannon in their deep opposition to Clinton. They worked with Bannon and provided funds for the "Clinton Cash" movie, based on the book by Peter Schweizer.

White House Decision-Making

Washington Post, Steve Bannon’s first major play is shaping up as a full-blown fiasco, Greg Sargent, Feb. 2, 2017. Steve Bannon got his Time magazine cover Thursday, and the accompanying piece offers an account of his astonishingly rapid consolidation of power inside the Trump White House. As the article details, Bannon’s fingerprints are all over Trump’s new immigration ban, making this a test case of sorts as to what the disruptions that Bannon (shown in a file photo) and President Trump promised will produce in the real world.

Stephen BannonBannon, Time reports, continues to relish the massive blowback unleashed by Trump’s executive order — which bans refugees and migrants from seven Muslim-majority countries — as proof that he is doing something right. He’s shaking the elites to their core (he didn’t even attend the exclusive Alfalfa Club dinner!!!), which, he crows, heralds the birth of a “new political order.”

But, for all of Bannon’s bravado, the better interpretation of what’s going on is that Bannon’s first major effort to translate Trumpism into policy reality is a full-blown disaster.

Global Affairs

Washington Post, Trump administration sanctions Iran on missile test, Carol Morello and Anne Gearan​, Feb. 3, 2017. The sanctions are the first action taken by the Trump administration since the vow to put Iran “on notice.” The sanctions were imposed on several Iranian officials and entities involved in procurement of material for the missile testing, which the administration said was not part of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Earlier Friday, Iranian officials responded to the Trump administration by calling the warnings and reports of new sanctions “provocative.” Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, posted on Twitter that Iran is “unmoved by threats.” The comments from Iran came before the official announcement of new sanctions but reflected the escalating tensions between the two sides over the past few days. A senior Iranian cleric, Ahmed Khatami, said Friday that if the White House expanded sanctions on Iran, it would be “a clear violation of the nuclear deal.”

“This is not the first time that an inexperienced person has threatened Iran,” Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying Thursday. “Iran does not need permission from any country to defend itself.” Speaking to reporters, Velayati brushed off what he called Trump’s “baseless ranting” and pledged that missile tests would continue as Iran sees fit.

​Huffington Post, A Reckless Slide Toward War With Iran, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (Connecticut Democrat), Feb. 3, 2017. Since the inauguration, the White House has taken several ham-handed escalatory steps that bring into question whether Trump and his most radical advisors are begging for war with Iran. This would be a disaster of epic scale, perhaps eclipsing the nightmare of the Iraq War.

President Donald Trump officialRepublicans and Democrats need to start viewing President Trump’s actions and words as a possible accidental or intentional prelude to major conflict, and taking steps to counter this dangerous slide to war.

The descent began with last Friday’s executive order barring Iranian citizens from entering the United States. Potentially the most dangerous result of the order was to empower the most hardline clerics in Iran — threatening not just our own security, but our ally Israel’s as well.

The danger of including Iran comes in the message it sends to Iranians and its potential to tip the political balance inside Iran to forces that are deeply antithetical to the United States and Israel – the kind of people who actually could start World War III.

The Iranian people, especially the growing numbers of young people in the country, do not hate the United States. They regularly get fed anti-American garbage by the regime, but the young men and women who will inherit Iran largely admire America. This tilt toward the West is what caused the relative moderate Hassan Rouhani to be elected president. It is also what brought Iran to the negotiating table, resulting in the landmark nuclear agreement committing Iran to give up its pathway to a nuclear weapon.

Huffington Post, Don’t Let Flynn’s Dangerous Fantasies Drive Us To War With Iran, William Hartung, Feb. 3, 2017. Even as rumors were flying that Mike Flynn had been outmaneuvered by Steve Bannon in the fight to see who would have the most influence over a Trump foreign policy, Flynn made a cameo appearance at yesterday’s White House press briefing to speak on his favorite topic: Iran. In his brief remarks -- barely a minute long -- Flynn denounced what he described as “Iran’s destabilizing behavior across the entire Middle East” and said that the Trump administration was “officially putting Iran on notice.”

On notice for what? Trump officials wouldn’t say exactly, but when asked if the U.S. would take military action, a senior administration official said “we are considering a whole range of options.” 

Flynn’s remarks were prompted by two events - an unsuccessful Iranian test of a medium-range ballistic missile and a missile attack on a Saudi ship by Houthi forces in Yemen. Neither event poses an imminent threat to the United States or its allies in the region. Iran’s missile test may be controversial, but it does not violate its commitments under the multi-party agreement that curbs Tehran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon. And despite Saudi and Trump administration suggestions to the contrary, the Houthis are an indigenous movement with longstanding political and economic grievances, not a proxy force directed by Iran. Threatening military force over either of these events is dangerously counterproductive.

Roll Call, Grassley Outlines Timeline for Confirming Trump’s SCOTUS Nominee, Niels Lesniewski, Feb. 3, 2017. Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley is laying out his plan to get Judge Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court before the Easter recess. The Republican from Iowa has a roughly six week timeline for getting Gorsuch, the 10th Circuit appellate judge from Colorado who was named Tuesday night by President Donald Trump, as his choice to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the highest court.

Neil Gorsuch“I’m not saying absolutely six weeks because you always try to be accommodating to the minority as long as they are reasonable, and so we have to work things out, but it kind of works out to be about six weeks,” Grassley said in an interview with Roll Call. He anticipates only one day of the senators questioning Gorsuch (shown in a file photo) in full view of the klieg lights and television cameras, with three days of hearings overall.

Grassley said in the interview that he had a “very excellent” relationship with Feinstein, who replaced Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont as ranking member this Congress with the Vermonter moving over to lead the minority on Appropriations. Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York has already set forth that Gorsuch should need 60 votes to be confirmed. “Requiring 60 votes has always been the right thing to do on Supreme Court nominations, especially in these polarized times, but now — in this new era of the Court, in this new Administration — there is an even heavier weight on this tradition,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.

Washington Post, Trump to order financial regulatory rollbacks starting with Dodd-Frank, Fred Barbash and Renae Merle, Feb. 3, 2017. The administration would also move against a regulation, known as the “fiduciary rule,” designed to force retirement advisers to work in the best interest of their clients. The actions represent the first effort by President Trump, who has packed his administration with Wall Street veterans, to unravel Obama's landmark response to the 2008 financial collapse.  

Travel 'Ban'

Washington Post, More than 100,000 visas revoked due to travel ban, Justice lawyer says, Rachel Weiner and Justin Jouvenal​, Feb. 3, 2017. An attorney from the Justice Department’s Office of Immigration Litigation provided the figure during a court hearing on the case of two Yemeni brothers who arrived Saturday at Dulles International Airport in Virginia and were quickly put on a return flight to Ethiopia.  

Media

White House Chronicle, A Primer for Steve Bannon on the Media, Llewellyn King, Feb. 3, 2017. No, Steve Bannon, counselor to President Trump (and shown in a file photo), the media is not the opposition. Nor is it a monolithic structure acting at the behest of some unseen hand, in conspiratorial unison.

I am of the media and have been for 60 years. In fact, long before it was known collectively as the media.

Stephen K. Bannon Times Cover February 2017We are an irregular army, an array of misfits, disciplined by deadlines and little else. We eat irregularly, are sustained on coffee and, at times, something stronger. We love what we do and we do it in the face of shifting threats, from death on the front lines of war, to the excesses of owners and the difficulty of making a living at it. We do the same job and do our best, whether it is for the smallest newspaper, newsletter or some great news outlet, like The Washington Post. John Steinbeck said, “No one does less than his best, no matter what he may think about it.” So do we.

Why, then, is the media seen as monolithic, conspiratorial and of one mind? I will suggest it is because of an immutable law of the work that is beyond explanation, but is indestructible and essential: news judgment. It is to journalism what perfect pitch is to musicians. You have it or you do not; and while it can be cultivated, it cannot be inculcated.

We are the messengers, but we do not write the message. Our essential job is to keep a wary eye on authority: Here’s looking at you, Steve.

White House Staff

Washington Post, Trump’s new campaign chief likely to amplify his nationalist message, Karen Tumulty and David Weigel, Aug. 17, 2016. Breitbart News, the website run by Donald Trump’s new campaign chief executive, Stephen Bannon (shown at a National Press Club panel in 2013), has become a champion of Trump’s candidacy in part because Bannon believes it represents a cause much bigger than a political race. Bannon sees Trumpism as part of a global movement that will continue no matter who is sitting in the Oval Office next January, those close to him say.

Supreme Court Appointment

Washington Post, Senate committee approves 2 Cabinet nominees with no Democrats present, Kelsey Snell, Ed O'Keefe and Sean Sullivan, Feb. 1, 2017. The GOP move comes after Democrats walked out of hearings on Tuesday, denying Republicans the necessary votes to approve Trump’s nominees for a vote in the full Senate. Democrats planned to replicate that approach Wednesday to slow consideration of Trump’s pick of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

Neil Gorsuch“Yesterday, rather than accept anything less than their desired outcome, our Democrat colleagues chose to cower in the hallway and hold a press conference,” Hatch said Tuesday in a statement. Republicans fumed Tuesday after Democrats walked out of the scheduled committee votes and used other committee rules to slow consideration of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as Attorney General.

There is [nothing] Democrats they can do to prevent final confirmation of any of Trump’s picks but ... focus their energy Wednesday on slowing or disrupting committee action on Trump’s picks to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Justice even as Republicans took s

Trump’s selection of Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court was met with fierce resistance from some Democrats, though it’s unclear whether they will have the 60 votes needed to block his confirmation. Republican leaders said they hoped to vote on Gorsuch in April before the two-week Easter recess.

President Trump, Judge Neil Gorsuch, wife Louise Gorsuch (NBC News)

President Trump announces Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, with his wife Louise Gorsuch (NBC News Photo)

NBC News, Trump Nominates Federal Appeals Court Judge Neil Gorsuch to Supreme Court, Pete Williams, Jan. 31 2017. President Donald Trump said Tuesday night that he will nominate Neil Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge in Denver, to succeed Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court. Gorsuch, who currently serves on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, was appointed in 2006 by George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate on a voice vote.

Trump made the announcement in a prime-time event from the East Room of the White House, after a day of speculation. The president called the power to nominate Supreme Court justices the most important one behind national defense. "Millions of voters said this was the single most important issue to them when they voted for me for president," Trump said. He said Gorsuch possesses "outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline."

A widely respected judge, he had the backing of two conservative legal groups that advised former President Barack Obama and included his name on a list of potential nominees.

Washington Post, Trump picks Neil Gorsuch, judge seen as similar to Scalia, for Supreme Court, Robert Barnes, Jan. 31 2017. Nominee is favorite of conservative legal establishment President Trump selected Colorado federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee on Tuesday, opting in the most important decision of his young presidency for a highly credentialed favorite of the conservative legal establishment to fill the opening created last year by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Gorsuch prevailed over the other finalist, Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, also a federal appeals court judge, and Trump announced the nomination at a televised prime-time event at the White House.

U.S. Supreme Court SealTrump broke tradition by entering the White House ceremony by himself, rather than alongside his nominee. He declared that after “the most transparent” judicial selection process in history, he had delivered on a campaign promise to “find the very best judge in America” for the court.

Gorsuch, 49, said he would strive to be independent and impartial, and that he would “follow the law” to its rightful outcome. A judge who personally agrees with the outcome of every case, Gorsuch said, is probably a “bad judge.”

Gorsuch and Hardiman, 51, emerged from a list of 21 as Trump’s most likely choices. A third person on the shortlist — U.S. Circuit Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of Alabama — saw his chances diminish as some Senate Republican leaders have said his confirmation would be difficult. By comparison, Gorsuch was confirmed a decade ago to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver on a voice vote.

Huffington Post, Donald Trump Is Treating His Supreme Court Decision Like ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ The two judges in the running are headed to the capital, Cristian Farias, In a move that should surprise no one, President Donald Trump is reportedly bringing the two expected finalists for Justice Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court seat to Washington to create a sense of intrigue ahead of Tuesday’s primetime reveal.

Donald Trump One Rose To Give Satirical photoOr “to build suspense,” as CNN’s Pamela Brown put it in her report on Tuesday. “This is all an extraordinary measure ... to keep the selection private ahead of tonight’s announcement,” Brown said of what increasingly looks like a piece of political theater. (One satirist compiled the photo entitled "He has only one rose to give.")

Finalists Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman ― both of whom are highly respected in conservative circles ― are either in Washington or en route for the 8 p.m. announcement, according to CNN. Trump has already said he’s made his choice. So is the purpose of this arrangement to give the president one last sit-down with the nominee just to make sure?

Under normal circumstances, a president’s choice for the Supreme Court is shrouded in secrecy. The chief executive meets with the candidates in the days leading up to the nomination and may not make a decision until moments before the announcement. But there’s no precedent for this kind of spectacle, and no apparent reason for bringing both candidates to town for the announcement. The White House has announced the event will be broadcast live on Facebook.

Trump Immigration Controversies

Washington Post, On call with Australian prime minister, Trump badgers and brags, Greg Miller and Philip Rucker, Feb. 1, 2017. ‘This was the worst call by far’: Trump badgered, bragged and abruptly ended phone call with Australian leader. President Trump blasted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refu­gee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials. About 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump suddenly ended it. At one point, Trump informed Turnbull that he had spoken with four other world leaders that day — including Russian President Vladi­mir Putin — and that “this was the worst call by far.”

“This is the worst deal ever,” Trump fumed as Turnbull attempted to confirm that the United States would honor its pledge to take in 1,250 refugees from an Australian detention center. Australia is seen as such a trusted ally that it is one of only four countries that the United States includes in the “Five Eyes” arrangement for cooperation on espionage matters. Members share extensively what their intelligence services gather and generally refrain from spying on one another.

Sally Yates

Washington Post, Trump fires acting attorney general who refused to defend immigration ban, Matt Zapotosky, Sari Horwitz and Mark Berman, Jan. 30, 2017. White House says ousted official had ‘betrayed’ the Justice Dept. President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night, after Yates ordered Justice Department lawyers Monday not to defend his immigration order temporarily banning entry Dana Boenteinto the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world.

In a press release, the White House said Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.” The White House has named Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as acting attorney general. Boente (shown in an official photo) told the Washington Post that he will agree to enforce the immigration order.

Justice Department logo

Washington Post, Acting attorney general orders Justice Dept. not to defend immigration order, Mark Berman and Matt Zapotosky​, Jan. 30, 2017. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, said she is not convinced that the travel order is lawful. President seeks to play down effects of executive order amid upheaval,

It was not immediately clear who would defend the president’s order in the Justice Department’s place. Trump blamed “big problems at airports” on other factors, including demonstrators and an airline’s technical problems. Former president Barack Obama became the latest high-profile voice to weigh in on the issue, offering his first public criticism of his successor while backing the protests.

Washington Post, Angry Republicans lash out at Trump for not consulting them on travel ban, Sean Sullivan and Kelsey Snell​, Jan. 30, 2017. The disarray underscored the increasingly strained relationship between the new president and congressional Republicans, with some key GOP aides saying they felt the administration was moving too swiftly and without respect for critical protocol for vetting executive actions that have been in place for decades. After travel ban, Democrats all but abandon their promise to find common ground with Trump. President Trump’s temporary ban on refugees and other foreigners has significantly deepened fissures in his already fragile relationship with congressional Republicans, as GOP leaders on Capitol Hill complained angrily Monday that they were not consulted before the order was issued.

Bob CorkerAt least a dozen key GOP lawmakers and aides said Trump’s order took them by surprise, even as the White House insisted that it collaborated with Congress. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s political team sought to reassure donors and other supporters that the temporary ban on travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries does not amount to a “religious test.” And a steady stream of Republican lawmakers released carefully tailored written statements expressing concerns about the order.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) (shown in an official photo) said Monday that he was not briefed before the order was signed.

President Donald Trump officialWashington Post via Richmond Times-Dispatch, President seeks to minimize impact of his immigration order in a series of tweets, Mark Berman, Brady Dennis and Jerry Markon​, Jan. 30, 2017. Trump blamed “big problems at airports” on other factors, including demonstrators and an airline’s technical problems. Critics remain concerned over the exact limits of the ban's scope, legal questions about its constitutionality and whether the Trump administration will comply with orders from federal judges to temporarily halt the travel ban.

President Trump continued Monday to adamantly defend his immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for migrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world. In a series of tweets, Trump sought to minimize its impact on travelers following confusion, angst and two days of protests that have erupted across the country since he signed the order. His comments came after White House officials, responding to the widespread uncertainty about the order, held a briefing with reporters Sunday evening to argue that the order’s rollout was “a massive success story.”

Earlier that day, Trump sought to clarify the exact reach of his ban, saying in a statement that his action “is not a Muslim ban.” But questions remain over the exact limits of its scope, legal questions about its constitutionality and whether the Trump administration will comply with orders from federal judges to temporarily halt the travel ban. Intense protests cropped up in airport terminals from coast to coast on Saturday and Sunday, meaning both weekends of Trump’s presidency so far have been marked by heavy public demonstrations against him.'

[Trump and his aides keep justifying the entry ban by citing attacks it couldn’t have prevented]

Roll Call, Trump Immigration Order Aggravates Nomination Wars, Niels Lesniewski, Jan. 30, 2017. The Senate should buckle up for a rough week. The bipartisan concern and outrage over President Donald Trump's executive order restricting access of immigrants from seven countries has likely ended any chance there will be smooth confirmation of additional members of the president's national security team.

Washington Post, Trump’s hard-line actions have an intellectual godfather: Jeff Sessions, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, Jan. 30, 2017. The quiet senator from Alabama — Trump’s nominee for attorney general Justice Department log circular— has become a singular power in the new Washington, with his aides and allies accelerating the president’s most dramatic early moves, including the controversial travel ban.

Washington Post, Obama, in a rare move for an ex-president, breaks silence to criticize Trump on immigration, Juliet Eilperin, On Jan. 18, President Barack Obama told reporters in his final news conference that he would comment on his successor’s actions only at “certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake.”

He managed to stay quiet for less than two weeks. Obama, who is still on vacation with his family after leaving office this month, issued a statement through his spokesman Monday encouraging Americans to publicly protest President Trump’s move to ban citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries — as well as refugees from across the globe — from entering the United States.

He also contested Trump’s claim that Friday’s executive order was based in part on decisions made during his administration, including identifying the same seven countries as harboring terrorism threats and slowing the processing of visas for Iraqis after evidence surfaced that two Iraqis seeking resettlement had been linked to terrorist activity in their homeland. “With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before, the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion,” Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said in a statement.

Koch Disapproval?

Washington Post, Conservative Koch network could serve as potent resistance in Trump era, Matea Gold and James Hohmann, Jan. 30, 2017. In their first formal break with the administration, top network officials condemned the travel ban on some refugees and immigrants, calling it “the wrong approach.”

The weekend gathering of wealthy donors who help finance the conservative Koch network was supposed to serve as a celebration of the policy victories within reach now that Republicans control Washington: a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a rollback of environmental regulations, perhaps even a corporate tax overhaul.

But with President Trump already embroiled in chaos and controversy, the conservative financiers assembled at a desert resort here were also forced to contend with a new uncertainty: whether the new president will be an ally or an obstacle.

In their first formal break with the administration, top network officials on Sunday condemned Trump’s travel ban on some refugees and immigrants, calling it “the wrong approach.” Some here expressed alarm that Trump has staked out positions anathema to the network’s libertarian principles, targeting individual companies that produce goods abroad and indicating possible support for a border tax on imports. And the network’s chief patron, billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, who pointedly declined to back Trump in the presidential campaign, warned in stark terms of the potential perils of the anti-establishment mood that gave rise to Trump.

Protests Against Trump

Washington Post, More companies back away from Donald Trump under pressure from customers, James Hohmann, Feb. 3, 2017. Companies are caught between a rock and a hard place, with President Trump on one side and their customers on the other. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick quit President Trump’s 15-member council of business leaders yesterday, and Disney CEO Bob Iger let it be known that he won’t attend a meeting at the White House today because of a scheduling conflict. Nordstrom announced last night that it will stop selling Ivanka Trump’s name-branded line of clothing and shoes after an extended boycott by an anti-Trump activist group called “Grab Your Wallet."

The retailer said the first daughter’s products are being dropped because of poor sales. In early December, Nordstrom had 71 Ivanka items for sale on its web site. Right now, just four are left. And they’re all being sold at a clearance discount. We’ve obviously written a lot about companies bending to pressure from Trump, especially defense contractors like United Technologies, Boeing and Lockheed. But firms that depend on retail sales will perhaps care more about pressure from their customers than from White House heavies.

Trump White House Escalates Anti-Iran Rhetoric

 

The Intercept, Press Secretary Sean Spicer Falsely Accuses Iran of Attacking U.S. Navy Vessel, an Act of War, Zaid Jilani and Alex Emmons, Feb. 2, 2017. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer asserted at Thursday’s press briefing that Iran had attacked a U.S. naval vessel, as part of his argument defending the administration’s bellicose announcement that Iran is “on notice.”

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday said he was  “officially putting Iran on notice” following the country’s ballistic missile test and an attack on a Saudi naval vessel by Houthi rebels in Yemen (the Houthis are tenuously aligned with Iran’s government but are distinct from it).

The White House press corps wanted to know what being put “on notice” entailed, and Spicer responded by claiming that Iran’s government took actions against a U.S. naval vessel, which would be an act of war. “I think General Flynn was really clear yesterday that Iran has violated the Joint Resolution, that Iran’s additional hostile actions that it took against our Navy vessel are ones that we are very clear are not going to sit by and take,” he said. “I think that we will have further updates for you on those additional actions.”

Major Garrett of CBS News quietly corrected him, saying “a Saudi vessel,” and Spicer then responded almost inaudibly: “Sorry, thank you, yes a Saudi vessel. Yes, that’s right.” He did not in any way address his false claim that it was an Iranian attack, however.

Australian Bashing On Immigrants

Washington Post, On call with Australian prime minister, Trump badgers and brags, Greg Miller and Philip Rucker, Feb. 1, 2017. ‘This was the worst call by far’: Trump badgered, bragged and abruptly ended phone call with Australian leader. President Trump blasted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refu­gee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials.

Australian flagAbout 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump suddenly ended it. At one point, Trump informed Turnbull that he had spoken with four other world leaders that day — including Russian President Vladi­mir Putin — and that “this was the worst call by far.”

“This is the worst deal ever,” Trump fumed as Turnbull attempted to confirm that the United States would honor its pledge to take in 1,250 refugees from an Australian detention center. Australia is seen as such a trusted ally that it is one of only four countries that the United States includes in the “Five Eyes” arrangement for cooperation on espionage matters. Members share extensively what their intelligence services gather and generally refrain from spying on one another.

 

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