Quick Takes: To Work for Trump, You Have to Pledge Loyalty

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* It’s beginning to sound pretty standard for Trump to query Justice Department employees about loyalty.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein visited the White House in December seeking President Donald Trump’s help. The top Justice Department official in the Russia investigation wanted Trump’s support in fighting off document demands from House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes.

But the President had other priorities ahead of a key appearance by Rosenstein on the Hill, according to sources familiar with the meeting. Trump wanted to know where the special counsel’s Russia investigation was heading. And he wanted to know whether Rosenstein was “on my team.”

The episode is the latest to come to light portraying a President whose inquiries sometimes cross a line that presidents traditionally have tried to avoid when dealing with the Justice Department, for which a measure of independence is key. The exchange could raise further questions about whether Trump was seeking to interfere in the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into potential collusion by the Trump campaign with Russia and obstruction of justice by the White House.

* Based on his history, I just assumed that Rep. Nunes had coordinated with the White House on his memo attacking the FBI. But now the question is out there.

The Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee refused to answer when a colleague asked him if he had coordinated his incendiary surveillance memo with the White House, The Daily Beast has learned.

During Monday’s contentious closed-door committee meeting, Rep. Mike Quigley, a Democrat, asked Nunes point-blank if his staffers had been talking with the White House as they compiled a four-page memo alleging FBI and Justice Department abuses over surveillance of President Trump’s allies in the Russia probe.

According to sources familiar with the exchange, Nunes made a few comments that didn’t answer the question before finally responding, “I’m not answering.”

* Here are some of the best tweets about the State of the Union.

* Finally, some of the commentary on Trump’s speech last night reminded me of my favorite Tracy Chapman tune.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .