Signup to receive the Early Edition in your inbox here.
Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.
The meeting between the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. and Russians at the Trump Tower in June 2016 was “treasonous,” Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon was quoted as saying in a book written by Michael Wolff entitled “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” The Trump Tpwer meeting took place after an intermediary offered damaging material about presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and attendees included Trump Jr., the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, David Smith reports at the Guardian.
An excerpt from the book revealing details about Trump’s presidential campaign, the atmosphere within the Trump administration and Steve Bannon’s role, is provided by Michael Wolff at the New York Magazine.
Bannon “lost his mind” when he left the White House, Trump said in a statement yesterday responding to Bannon’s comments, the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Wolff’s book “trashy tabloid fiction” that is “filled with false and misleading accounts.” Eli Stokols reports at the Wall Street Journal.
“Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue,” Trump’s statement also said, and the acrimonious break between the president and Bannon could have implications for the struggle for influence within the Republican establishment. Jordan Fabian and Jonathan Easley report at the Hill.
Lawyers for Trump sent Bannon a cease and desist letter yesterday, accusing Bannon of breaching the employment agreement he signed with the Trump campaign and demanding that Bannon refrain from further disclosure of confidential information and disparagement of Trump and his family members. John Santucci reports at ABC News.
The White House has been angered by Bannon’s quotes to Wolff and, according to White House sources, Trump personally dictated key parts of the statement denouncing Bannon. Lachlan Markay, Asawin Suebsaeng and Sam Stein report at The Daily Beast.
Trump has been agitated by the ongoing Russia investigations, the probes have dragged on longer than Trump’s lawyers had initially told the president and a source close to the White House said that Bannon had crossed a clear line when he made personal comments about the president’s family. Kevin Liptak and Dana Bush report at CNN.
The ten most explosive revelations from Wolff’s book are provided by the BBC.
Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort filed a lawsuit against special counsel Robert Mueller yesterday, arguing that the Justice Department had had exceeded its legal authority when the acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein ordered Mueller to investigate links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, an order which gave Mueller a “carte blanche to investigate and pursue criminal charges in connection with anything he stumbles across while investigating.” Spencer S. Hsu and Matt Zapotosky report at the Washington Post.
Manafort’s lawsuit asks for the federal judge to throw out Rosenstein’s order, to dismiss the indictment against Manafort and bar Mueller from pursuing similar investigations. Del Quentin Wilber reports at the Wall Street Journal.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has signaled his willingness to have the founders of the opposition research firm Fusion G.P.S. testify publicly about the controversial dossier they commissioned alleging connections between Trump and Russia, the Senator’s comments follow an opinion piece written by the founders in the New York Times which accused the Republicans of spinning conspiracy theories about their firm, the dossier and leaking selective details from their closed-door testimonies. Kyle Cheney reports at POLITICO.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) met with top federal law enforcement officials yesterday to discuss the dossier compiled by former British Intelligence officer Christopher Steele and commissioned by Fusion G.P.S., the meeting was held following a request by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray. The House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said in a statement after the meeting that he believes the House Intelligence Committee has “reached an agreement with the Department of Justice that will provide the committee with access to all documents and witnesses we have requested,” Karoun Demirjian and Matt Zapotosky report at the Washington Post.
The government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (C.R.E.W.) filed a lawsuit yesterday against the Justice Department for its decision to reveal anti-Trump private text messages between two F.B.I. agents, which have been seized on by Republicans as evidence of bias within Mueller’s team. Morgan Chalfant reports at the Hill.
The founder of Fusion G.P.S. have spun a “sob story” and their op-ed did not provide a single example “of something that proves the dossier’s claim of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.” The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes, referring to the opinion piece written by the founders earlier this week.