FROM Peter Baker
Will Sessions appoint a special counsel? News broke yesterday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering whether to appoint a special counsel to investigate President Trump’s political rivals, including an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. The report raises questions about whether the Justice Department is operating independently from the Trump Administration.
White House calls George Papadopoulos a liar, Republicans silent The newest name in Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia investigation is George Papadopoulos. During last year's campaign, candidate Donald Trump introduced Papadopoulos, one of five new foreign-policy advisors as "an oil and energy consultant, excellent guy." Yesterday, it was announced that Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and that he was helping in the investigation. The President tweeted that he was a "young, low-level volunteer named George who has already proven to be a liar." Today, Papadopoulos's attorney, Jay Sekulow defended him , saying it was unclear from the documents what his actual involvement was. Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for the New York Times , the president is trying to change the subject and the conservative media is going along with it.
Israel curbs diplomatic ties after UN vote Four days after the United Nations Security Council voted to condemn Israeli settlements in disputed territories, Israel's government is responding defiantly. Israel has curbed ties with the countries that supported the resolution, and announced plans for building thousands of new settlement homes in East Jerusalem. Prime Minister Netanyahu addresses the UN vote at his weekly cabinet meeting Peter Baker, Jerusalem bureau chief for the New York Times , looks at the diplomatic fallout from the UN resolution.
Is the White House Press Corps Really Necessary? Veteran White House reporters say the vague promise that the president will take questions in the briefing room has become all too common. But that moment seldom comes, and social media has made it easier than ever for presidents to master the art of avoiding reporters and controlling the message. With the latest White House Correspondents' Dinner scheduled for this weekend, what are the consequences for democracy when spin trumps journalism? President Obama addresses the press, November 3, 2010 Official White House photo by Pete Souza
Obama Chides the Media During every presidency, relations between the news media and the White House are subject to strain. At an awards dinner for political reporters last night, President Obama had some pointed comments about the current state of journalism -- especially when it comes to this year's presidential campaign. We hear the latest example.
Terrorism: Diplomacy and Politics In the aftermath of the attacks on Paris, France wants a "grand and single coalition" against ISIS — including the US and Russia. That may be easier said than done . Prime Minister Cameron has agreed to join in conducting airstrikes against ISIS if Parliament approves; and President Putin was in Tehran for talks with Iran's Supreme Leader, who tweeted continued support for Syrian President al-Assad. But President Obama, despite facing increased calls for greater involvement, says he will only be willing if Russia abandons Syria's Assad regime. Meantime, intelligence agencies say the real threat to America is not from overseas, but from home-grown sympathizers -- especially as anti-Islamic rhetoric increases. Will US politics and diplomacy matter if Muslim countries don't lead the charge against ISIS on their own?
The Complicated Relationship between Bush and Cheney The relationship between George W. Bush and Dick Cheney was central to a tumultuous time in US history, including two wars, Hurricane Katrina and the Great Recession. Days of Fire : Bush and Cheney in the White House, traces the evolution of that relationship. David Frum, who wrote speeches for Bush, calls the book the best draft of history we'll have "until the archives are opened." Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for the New York Times, is author of the 800-page work based on hundreds of interviews, including two long and detailed sessions with the former Vice President.
US Plan Would End Combat in Afghanistan by 2014 President Hamid Karzai said yesterday he wants the US military to reduce both the visibility and intensity of its presence in Afghanistan. Today a spokesman said that was not intended as a vote of "no confidence" in General David Petraeus. But at the same time, the Obama Administration is planning to transfer duties to Afghan forces and withdrawing from combat by 2014. We hear more from Peter Baker, White House correspondent for the New York Times , and Professor Christine Fair of Georgetown University.
Obama and Emanuel: Great Team or a Mismatch? White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters today that the President will have an announcement tomorrow . Nobody now doubts the announcement will be that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is leaving the White House to run for Mayor of Chicago.
Obama and Emanuel: Great Team or a Mismatch? Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is stepping down, and Rahm Emanuel wants the job. President Obama is expected to announce his Chief of Staff's departure tomorrow. Emanuel has been the "get-it-done insider" to Obama's "visionary outsider," praised for legislative successes and scapegoated for defeats. But along the way, Emanuel has angered conservative Republicans, who think Obama has gone too far, and alienated liberal Democrats who say he hasn't gone far enough. Will his departure unite a divided White House? Who will be next? What are his chances at home in Chicago?
Obama Sounds Campaign Note in Press Conference At his first news conference in three months, President Obama today defended the war in Afghanistan, said his efforts at Middle East peace are worth the risk of failure and blamed Republicans for creating an economic crisis and then deciding to sit on the sidelines while Democrats tried to fix it. He also addressed the November elections. Peter Baker is White House correspondent for the New York Times .
War and Peace in the Graveyard of Empires Last week, President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, as he concluded a series of strategy sessions on the eight-year old war in Afghanistan. Efforts to defeat the Taliban, create a credible government and help the civilian population are failing. The countryside is so dangerous that aid workers can't leave the capital city to advise farmers on growing crops. General Stanley McChrystal wants to add 40,000 troops to the 68,000 already there, to fight the Taliban and to establish effective civilian government. It could take decades to control corruption, establish a justice system and prop up the economy at the cost of billions of American dollars and thousands of lives. What are the alternatives? What are America's goals? We look at the options.
Can Bipartisanship Survive the Stimulus Bill? President Obama went to Capitol Hill today to persuade Republicans to support his stimulus bill. Before he even got there, House GOP leaders told members to vote “no.” After his first meeting, Obama reiterated that “we cannot afford delay, calling extraordinary times that call for “swift and extraordinary action.”
House Republicans Say No Deal to Obama Stimulus Plan Polls show that everybody wants to fix the economy, but grassroots partisans don’t agree about how to do it, and that’s reflected in Washington. President Obama went to Capitol Hill today but, even before he got there, House Republican leaders called for a “no” vote on his stimulus package , and the President’s much publicized courting of John McCain appears less than successful. The Arizona Senator called the plan “just the old spending practices of liberal Democrats.” Is the Obama plan the best way to create jobs or a grab-bag of special interest giveaways? Does it properly balance tax cuts and spending?
From Making History to Governing the White House An African-American rode to the White House yesterday on what pollsters call "a storm of voter dissatisfaction" and the promise of change. The challenge facing Barack Obama is to transform his iconic status into effective leadership on war, the economy, health care and global warming. We talk about how he mobilized a diverse coalition of blacks, Latinos and whites, including young people across ethnic lines. What's the reaction from those African-Americans who thought it would never happen? What's left of the Republican Party? Will fellow Democrats help or hinder the Obama Administration?
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?
Janesville and the American Dream Janesville, Wisconsin is the hometown of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. But he couldn’t prevent the closing of the General Motors factory after 100 years. On this Memorial Day rebroadcast of To the Point, we hear what’s happened to what once was a model of American middle-class unity.