Week In The News: Iowa Campaigns, Call For Conway's Removal, Trump And Foreign Intel
With Kimberly Atkins
President Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that there’s nothing wrong with accepting campaign dirt on political opponents from foreign actors.
Two tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. released a video purporting to show Iranians removing a mine after the explosion. Iran has disputed the accusations. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke Thursday, but offered no evidence to back up the claim of Iran’s involvement.
President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden traded barbs, insults and even name-calling on the campaign trail in Iowa.
Also: A federal watchdog seeks Kellyane Conway’s firing, and Sarah Sanders is set to leave the White House.
The roundtable takes it all up.
John Harwood, CNBC editor at large covering Washington. (@JohnJHarwood)
Brianne Pfannenstiel, chief politics reporter for the Des Moines Register covering the Iowa caucuses in 2020. (@brianneDMR)
Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)
From The Reading List
Des Moines Register: “Trump stays focused at West Des Moines fundraiser, even as rival Biden taunts from Davenport” — “President Donald Trump kept his focus on his administration’s record at a Republican Party of Iowa fundraiser Tuesday night, even as his chief Democratic rival Joe Biden simultaneously lobbed attacks from a campaign rally in Davenport.
“‘The Republican Party is the party of the American family, the American worker, the American farmer and the American Dream,’ Trump said, reading from a teleprompter. ‘We believe in the Constitution and the rule of Law. We believe in the dignity of work and the sanctity of life. We believe that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the true American way.’
“Trump spoke in front of a crowd of about 700 people who paid between $250 and $500 to attend the party fundraiser.
“Though he refrained from attacking Biden Tuesday night, Trump levied a slew of insults at him earlier in the day — first from the South Lawn of the White House and again at an official presidential trip to a Council Bluffs ethanol plant.”
Politico: “Republicans lash Trump for being open to foreign oppo” — “Soon after Donald Trump sparked his latest all-consuming controversy, Lindsey Graham spoke to the president and urged him to rethink his willingness to use foreign opposition research against his political opponents.
“‘The law is pretty clear. You can’t take anything of value from a foreign government,’ Graham said he told Trump. ‘He says, “I didn’t say I did.” I said: “Sitting down and talking to somebody’s not a crime, but it’s probably not a good idea. … I don’t agree with you.”‘ ”
“Asked whether Graham’s comment got through to the president, the South Carolina Republican replied: ‘He understands where I’m coming from.’
“As a close Trump ally, Graham’s exchange punctuated the alarm that senior Republicans have with Trump’s comments that he’d likely take foreign dirt if offered and would ‘go maybe to the FBI, if I thought there was something wrong.’
“Many Senate Republicans are now moving swiftly to distance themselves from Trump’s willingness to use foreign opposition research against his political opponents, even as Trump dug in further on Thursday on Twitter.”
Washington Post: “Federal watchdog agency recommends removal of Kellyanne Conway from federal office for violating the Hatch Act” — “The Office of Special Counsel on Thursday recommended the removal of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway from federal office for violating the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from engaging in political activity in the course of their work.
“The report submitted to President Trump found that Conway violated the Hatch Act on numerous occasions by ‘disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.’ The agency described her as a ‘repeat offender.’
“The decision about whether to remove Conway is up to Trump. A senior White House official said Thursday the president is unlikely to punish Conway and instead will defend her. The White House counsel immediately issued a letter calling for the agency to withdraw its recommendation that Conway be removed — a request the Office of Special Counsel declined.”
New York Times: “Sarah Huckabee Sanders Leaving White House at the End of the Month” — “Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary who fiercely defended President Trump through one of the most tumultuous periods in American politics and presided over the end of the daily White House news briefing, will step down at the end of the month.
“President Trump announced her departure on Twitter, the means of communication that came to supplant the role that a White House press secretary played in previous administrations, and he expressed hope that she would run for governor in her home state of Arkansas.
“Ms. Sanders informed her staff about an hour before the president’s tweets that she would be leaving. No successor was immediately announced, but the next press secretary will take over just as Mr. Trump is heading into the thick of a re-election campaign that will determine the fate of his presidency.”
Allison Pohle produced this hour for broadcast.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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