* In case you were wondering whether Senate Republicans would do anything to hold this president accountable, you got an answer today.
Two Republican senators have called for the investigation of Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who compiled a dossier on alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
In a letter to the US justice department, Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham claimed there was reason to believe that Steele had misled US authorities over his contacts with journalists and called for him to be investigated.
The letter, the first criminal referral from Congress since it started investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, comes at a time when Republicans are seeking to divert those investigations from scrutinising Donald Trump’s links to Russia to focus instead on whistleblowers, the FBI, and the special counsel investigating the issue, Robert Mueller.
* I recommend that you take a few minutes and listen to what Michael Wolff had to say about Donald Trump and the people who work for him.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 5, 2018
In Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, author Michael Wolff wrote that when Trump finally addressed the August 2017 [Charlottesville] rally—saying “racism is evil” and that the KKK and other groups that cause violence around it “are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans”—it was “a reluctant mini-grovel,” and the president “was clearly reading forced lines.”
After his KKK remarks, Trump got on Marine One and spewed his actual beliefs while traveling.
“Privately, he kept trying to rationalize why someone would be a member of the KKK—that is, they might not actually believe what the KKK believed, and the KKK probably does not believe what it used to believe,” Wolff wrote. “And, anyway, who really knows what the KKK believes now? In fact, he said, his own father was accused of being involved with the KKK—not true. (In fact, yes, true.).”
As Wolff notes, Trump’s father, Fred Trump, was arrested after a KKK riot in Queens, New York, in 1927.
* John Harwood reminds us how far down the rabbit hole we’ve traveled.
In the first month of Barack Obama’s second year in the White House, Fox News highlighted a controversy: a photograph showed his feet on the historic Resolute Desk.
“Is President Obama disrespecting the Oval Office?” the Fox website asked.
In the first month of Donald Trump’s second year, he has called for the imprisonment of political opponents and taunted North Korea’s nuclear-armed leader with threats of annihilation. In a new book informed by extensive White House access, top officials described the president with words like “crazy” and “stupid,” depicting Trump as an immature 71-year-old incapable of maintaining attention long enough to process new information or even conduct a serious conversation.
The contrast underscores two things at once: the triviality of attacks on how Obama handled his presidential duties and the gravity of questions about Trump’s fitness to handle them now.
* Trump is hosting a meeting at Camp David this weekend for Republican Congressional leaders and his cabinet to discuss 2018 legislative priorities. For cabinet members, take a look at who is missing from the guest list.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) January 5, 2018
Is Sessions on his way out?
* Apparently EPA chief Pruitt is chomping at the bit.
Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, has told friends and associates that he’s interested in becoming attorney general, according to three people familiar with the internal discussions.
With rumors swirling that Jeff Sessions could depart the administration and two members of the House Freedom Caucus calling on the former Alabama senator to resign, Pruitt is quietly positioning himself as a possible candidate for the job.
I would simply note that a move to get rid of Sessions would bring in someone who wouldn’t recuse themselves from the Russia investigation—setting up the possibility for them to fire Mueller.
* This is my pick for tweet of the day:
* Here’s something to look forward to:
Inbox: President Barack Obama will be Letterman’s first guest on his new Netflix talk show January 12. Obama’s first television talk show appearance since leaving office. (Netflix handout photo) pic.twitter.com/TyE38LxReU
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) January 5, 2018
* Finally, we’re coming up on an important anniversary.
On January 21, 2017, three million people boarded buses, made amazing signs, and took to the streets as part of the largest protest in American history!
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) January 5, 2018