John T. Bennett

Passion play: Trump drags FBI ‘lovers’ Strzok and Page into 2020 race
Lindsey Graham joins president in making former feds ‘central figures’

This time, Donald Trump was less animated while dramatizing the pillow talk. But the president still went there Tuesday night, eager to turn two former FBI employees into characters in the 2020 campaign narrative he’s building. And some of his congressional GOP allies are happy to help.

“I love you so much, Lisa. Please, Lisa! Lisa, I’ve never loved anyone like you. We won’t allow this to happen to our Lisa,” Trump told an arena full of supporters in Hershey, Pennsylvania. “Please tell me you love me, Lisa! I love you, Peter. I love you! I love you like I’ve never loved anyone!”

With scores to settle, Trump slams ‘crooked bastard’ Schiff over impeachment
President calls abuse of power, obstructing Congress articles ‘impeachment lite’

ANALYSIS — President Donald Trump went to Hershey, Pennsylvania, with a few scores to settle hours after House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment they appear poised to pass next week.

For more than an hour, Trump railed against House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff and Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a throng of supporters inside the Giant Center booed, cheered and laughed — depending on the insult of the moment. He dubbed Schiff a “dishonest guy” and a “crooked bastard” and claimed the speaker has “absolutely no control” over a caucus that has lurched dramatically to the left.

Trump thumbs nose at impeachment, Dems by hosting Putin’s top diplomat
Russia expert on Oval meeting: ‘It could either enable or obstruct progress on Ukraine’

As President Donald Trump live-tweeted his reaction to House Democrats’ impeachment articles, his spokeswoman vowed he would “continue to work on behalf of this country.” Hours later, that business included huddling privately with Vladimir Putin’s top diplomat in the Oval Office.

Trump essentially thumbed his nose at Democrats as they continued linking his July 25 telephone conversation with Ukraine’s president to an alleged affinity for Russia’s as he hosted Sergey Lavrov, Putin’s minister of foreign affairs. If Lavrov steps foot in the Oval Office, it’s a safe bet there is a controversy nearby.

White House tells Dems it won’t cooperate with Judiciary impeachment hearings
Top lawyer tells Congress to end proceedings

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone signaled to House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler Friday that President Donald Trump will not have his attorneys take part in his panel’s remaining impeachment hearings.

“As you know, your impeachment inquiry is completely baseless and has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness,” he wrote in a brief letter that never states the White House will not participate but makes Trump’s feeling about the probe clear.

At Trump White House, that elusive China trade deal is always ‘close’
On Oct. 11, president saw final deal in a few weeks. Eight weeks later, talks drag on

ANALYSIS — A trade agreement with China that President Donald Trump boastfully announced nearly two months ago remains stalled, despite a top White House economic adviser’s Friday pledge that a final deal is “close.”

On Thursday, the often-verbose president was notably succinct when a reporter asked about the on-again/off-again/on-again China trade negotiations, including whether he would follow through on a threat to slap 15 percent tariffs on $160 billion worth of Chinese-made items on Dec. 15.

Trump jokes about White House ‘Russian Room’ at UN lunch
‘We’ll take care of that,’ US president tells Moscow’s ambassador to UN

President Donald Trump just can’t help himself sometimes — not even when it comes to Russia, the country that has dogged his entire presidency.

Amid an impeachment scandal related to his dealings with Ukraine — which the Kremlin invaded in 2014 — Trump dropped a quip Thursday about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s homeland.

White House says it’s ready for impeachment votes and trial
However, one Trump aide says: ‘We don’t know if Pelosi has the votes or not’

President Donald Trump and senior aides reacted to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement that articles of impeachment are coming by essentially calling for a vote and a Senate trial.

The White House messaging is similar to that used by President Bill Clinton and his aides in 1998: pressing lawmakers to expedite the impeachment process and Senate trial so Washington can focus on other matters.

A tale of two days — and tones — for Trump as he wraps wild NATO meeting
As president urges alliance to ‘get along with Russia,’ GOP chairman warns relations between two countries are at ‘low point’

ANALYSIS — President Donald Trump shifted from an aggressive and attacking offense on the first day of a NATO summit in London to a more defensive posture on its second and final day.

Trump resorted to name-calling Wednesday as he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau renewed their on-again/off-again feud. The president called Trudeau “two-faced” after the Canadian prime minister was caught on a hot mic Tuesday evening mocking his American counterpart for delaying other leaders by holding lengthy question-and-answer sessions with reporters that altered the agenda.

Trump has a new NATO foil: Canada’s ‘two-faced’ Justin Trudeau
U.S. president continues to embrace Turkey's Erdogan as other leaders keep their distance

France’s Emmanuel Macron was first. Now President Donald Trump is feuding at a NATO summit in London with Canada’s Justin Trudeau, calling him “two-faced.”

But in keeping with his contrarian foreign policy approach, Trump told reporters Wednesday he thinks Turkey’s hardline leader, Recep Erdogan, is doing a “great job.”

Broken bromance: Trump and Macron clash in lengthy bickerfest at NATO summit
‘They decided not to be compliant with NATO,’ French leader snaps at U.S. president about Turkey

ANALYSIS — One of the world’s most unlikely world leader bromances appears to be over.

President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron clashed Tuesday in a remarkable question-and-answer session with reporters that was broadcast around the globe. From U.S.-French trade to Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria and the Islamic State’s posture there to a clear disagreement about the role of NATO, the two leaders who once wooed one another jousted and interrupted one another for nearly 45 minutes during an alliance meeting in London.

Trump relishes in casting France’s Macron as new bad boy of NATO
US president acknowledges impeachment probe casts ‘cloud’ over his diplomatic efforts

Casting Emmanuel Macron as the bad boy of NATO, President Donald Trump kicked off a two-day alliance meeting by sounding off on everything from the French president’s “insulting” comments, his own impeachment and a possible Mike Pompeo Senate bid to an ally’s crucial elections and beyond.

During a 50-minute gaggle with reporters during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the Trump appeared to revel in putting heat on Macron as their relationship continues to sour. Unprompted by reporters, he dinged Macron over his country’s unemployment rate and sputtering economy and offered something of a warning to France as he — in a complete 180-degree shift — became the NATO alliance’s defender.

Impeachment cloud to follow Trump across pond for ‘celebratory’ NATO meeting
‘The politics of this alliance are so difficult,’ former State Department official says ahead of talks

Donald Trump’s attendance this week in London for a summit with world leaders comes with a cloud of scandal and controversy hanging over the American president.

White House aides say Trump will use the two-day NATO summit Tuesday and Wednesday to continue pressing member nations to pay more into the alliance’s coffers. He also will urge his counterparts to do more to counter what one U.S. official described as China’s attempts to infect NATO soil with “cheap money” and “cheap investment” that aims to “trap nations in debt, and thus bring diplomatic concessions.”

Trump says Democrats are ‘getting killed in their own districts’ over impeachment
POTUS accuses opposition party of trying to humiliate him with Judiciary hearing while he’s on foreign soil

Accusing House Democrats of trying to humiliate him while on foreign soil, President Donald Trump predicted voters will punish the party in November for their impeachment inquiry.

“They’re getting killed in their own districts,” Trump said Monday morning as he left the White House for a two-day NATO summit in London. “I think it’s going to be a tremendous boon for Republicans. Republicans have never, ever been so committed as they are right now, and so united. It’s really a great thing in some ways.”

Buoyed by polls, Trump paints impeachment as probe of all conservatives
House Dems are investigating president 'because I'm fighting for you,' he says in Florida

ANALYSIS Donald Trump strode onstage Tuesday night in Florida — king of the battleground states — and began slinging “Make America Great Again” caps into the crowd. Minutes later, the president prompted a new “Bullshit!” chant and a familiar one: “Lock her up!”

But perhaps no moment was more telling about his emerging reelection message than what he told the crowd inside Sunrise’s BB&T Center about House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

Trump uses turkey pardoning event to mock Adam Schiff, impeachment process
‘Unlike previous witnesses, you and I have actually met,’ POTUS tells ‘Bread’ and ‘Butter’

President Donald Trump on Tuesday used the annual pre-Thanksgiving presidential turkey pardoning to mock the House Democrat who oversaw the first step in his party’s impeachment proceedings.

Before giving a white bird named “Butter” a full pardon, Trump warned he is slated to appear “in Adam Schiff’s basement on Thursday.” That was a continuation of the president’s criticism of the Intelligence Committee chairman for holding closed-door depositions with current and former Trump administration officials in a secure room on the bottom floor of the Capitol Visitor Center.

Trump honors Conan, the military K-9 that cornered ISIS leader in raid
The commander in chief hosted the Belgian Malinois at the White House on Monday

President Donald Trump dismissed Navy Secretary Richard Spencer but Conan, the military K-9 who cornered former ISIS leader Abu al-Baghdadi, will stay on the job.

As he walked back to the Oval Office with the four-legged guest of honor, the president was asked if he ordered Defense Secretary Mark Esper to fire then-Navy Secretary Richard Spencer over his handling of a Navy Seal’s disciplinary process. “Yes, I do,” Trump replied, though not a clear answer to the question.

In wild Fox News interview, Trump again shows his obsession with 2016 election
President repeats false assertion about ‘Steele dossier,’ says impeachment is backfiring on Democrats

ANALYSIS — For Donald Trump, it may always be 2016.

The president is running for reelection in 2020, but a wild Friday morning television interview showed anew just how laser-focused he remains on things that happened — and that he and right-wing lawmakers and commentators claim went down — three years ago.

Trump comes out swinging, but Fiona Hill fights back in dramatic impeachment finale
Kyiv embassy official says he had ‘never seen anything like’ Sondland cafe call with U.S. president

Donald Trump came out swinging Thursday morning, but two witnesses who testified for hours in the impeachment inquiry pulled no punches as they overshadowed the president’s morning attacks.

Testimony by Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council Russia expert, and David Holmes, an official in the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, further undercut several contentions pushed by Trump, GOP lawmakers and the president’s surrogates. Hill, for instance, dismissed a conspiracy theory rejected by American intelligence agencies but espoused by Trump and other Republicans that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.

Teflon veep: Pence emerges largely unscathed as Sondland, Dems say he knew of quid pro quo
Trump’s No. 2 has left it to surrogates like Jim Jordan and Marc Short to swat away allegations

Lawmakers and witnesses this week repeatedly brought up Vice President Mike Pence during public impeachment hearings, but President Donald Trump’s No. 2 has emerged mostly unscathed.

Wednesday was a rough one for Trump, with testimony from a top U.S. diplomat implicating him in a quid pro quo. But no House Democrat during the public sessions has suggested articles of impeachment against Pence.

Trump’s relationships and other takeaways after Gordon Sondland’s testimony
‘The Gordon problem’: Ambassador quips ‘that’s what my wife calls me’ during an odd day in Washington

ANALYSIS — Donald Trump stuck to the script Wednesday, one he personally wrote on an Air Force One notepad in black marker.

As the president gestured with his hands as he spoke to reporters, the pad in his left hand tilted toward journalists assembled on the White House’s South Lawn. His movements revealed the notes, writing in large letters with what appeared to be a thick black marker. (A White House official confirmed it was the president’s handwriting on the white page.)