Washington is often referred to by insiders as “this town,” a joking term that alludes to the politicking and backbiting exhibited in the city. Wednesday was quite day for “this town,” featuring an apparent rogue cadre of Trump administration officials trying to restrain the president, the second day of hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a congressman auctioneering to drown out a protester, and Kim Kardashian West advocating for criminal justice reform. Here’s a recap of what happened in politics on Wednesday:
“Quiet resistance” within the White House
If President Trump was already paranoid about leakers in the administration, he has even more reason for concern today. The New York Times published an anonymous op-ed it says is by a senior official in the Trump administration, who wrote that there is a “quiet resistance” to the president within his own administration “working diligently” to block Mr. Trump’s “worst inclinations.” The op-ed claimed that a number of administration officials were working to restrain the president’s “half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions.”
Mr. Trump responded by blasting the anonymous op-ed as “gutless” and predicting that the “failing New York Times” and other news outlets would go out of business when he left office. He also tweeted “TREASON?” on Wednesday evening, presumably referring to the op-ed author.
This op-ed was published the day after The Washington Post released excerpts from Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear,” which contained explosive anecdotes about dysfunction within the White House. Mr. Trump suggested that Woodward might be a “Democratic operative” and that the publication of the book was timed to interrupt the Kavanaugh hearings. He also called for lawmakers to change libel laws, saying that the portrayal of him in the book was “literally opposite of fact.”
Day 2 of the Kavanaugh hearings
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee until well into Wednesday evening for his second day of confirmation hearings, answering mainly friendly questions from Republican members and testy interactions with Democratic members. Kavanaugh deflected on questions about whether he would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and his views on executive power. He said he could not say what his decisions would be on hypothetical future cases. However, he did assert that he owes his “loyalty to the Constitution,” and not to the president that nominated him. The hearing was interrupted intermittently by protesters.
Selling a protester to the highest bidder
There were two other noteworthy hearings on Wednesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the role of social media in politics. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg appeared at the Senate hearing, but Google declined to send a representative. Dorsey acknowledged that Twitter’s verification system needs an overhaul — including possible promotion of reporters’ tweets. Sandberg said Facebook needed to be more “vigilant” against foreign interference in American politics via social media.
Dorsey’s appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Committee included a moment of levity. When a protester began interrupting the hearing, Missouri Republican Rep. Billy Long drowned her out by using an auctioneering voice.
Keeping up with the unfairly imprisoned
Kim Kardashian West, the reality star and unlikely criminal justice crusader of our times, visited the White House for what was billed as a “listening session” on prison reform, and particularly about the clemency process. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were among the attendees at the meeting, along with other White House officials. Earlier this year, Kardashian West successfully lobbied for Mr. Trump to commute the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, who was serving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense. She is currently advocating on behalf of Chris Young, who was sentenced to life in prison on a three-strikes drug conviction.
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