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October 12, 2017
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The White House has insisted repeatedly that it has "nothing to hide" in the face of multiple investigations into potential collusion with Russia — and the administration is apparently willing to put its man where its mouth is. President Trump's lawyers are contemplating enabling a direct sit-down with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Politico reported Thursday, who is leading the probe into Russian election meddling and the Trump administration's potential ties to it.

"The White House believes such an interview could help Mueller wrap up the probe faster and dispel the cloud of suspicion over Trump," Politico explained. But putting the mercurial commander in chief in front of Mueller is a fraught gamble:

A meeting with Mueller could bring serious risks for Trump — exposing him to questions about everything from potential obstruction of justice over his firing of FBI Director James Comey to what Trump might know about Kremlin support for his presidential campaign.

But the official suggested that the White House has no reason to stonewall Mueller.

[...] But even if he has nothing to hide, Trump's unpredictable nature and willingness to bend the facts poses headaches for his legal team as it strategizes for a possible sit-down with Mueller. One angry or untrue statement could have devastating political and legal consequences for the president. [Politico]

Lying to Mueller or a member of his team would be illegal, Vox notes, though Trump said earlier this year that he was "100 percent" willing to testify under oath about the Russia scandal. Trump's personal lawyer, John Dowd, initially declined to comment to Politico on the story, but sent an email after the article was published saying it was "totally false!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" without directly identifying any false assertions.

Read more about Trump's theoretical testimony at Politico, including similar situations involving former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Kimberly Alters

3:36 a.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court allowed a lower-court ruling to take effect that will require nonprofit advocacy groups to disclose the names of political donors at least through the 2018 midterm elections, handing a win to campaign finance reformers and a loss to Crossroads GPS and other nonprofits that specialize in using secret "dark money" donations to influence political campaigns.

Last month, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington, D.C., had sided with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) against Crossroads GPS, an influential conservative group, and threw out a decades-old Federal Elections Commission (FEC) rule shielding donors to political nonprofits. With the Supreme Court denying Crossroads GPS's request for a stay, "we're about to know a lot more about who is funding our elections," said CREW executive director Noah Bookbinder.

"With less than 50 days before this fall's congressional elections, the ruling has far-reaching consequences that could curtail the ability of major political players to raise money and force the disclosure of some of the country's wealthiest donors," The Washington Post reports. "The change could affect heavyweight groups across the political spectrum, including the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity on the right and the League of Conservation Voters on the left." Conservatives were the ones complaining on Tuesday, characterizing Howell's ruling as an ill-timed incursion on free speech.

Starting Wednesday, the nonprofit advocacy groups will have to release the names of donors who contribute more than $200 annually for the purpose of influencing a federal election. Crossroads GPS will likely appeal the ruling, and the FEC will write a new rule for nonprofits, but neither of those will be in effect before the 2018 elections. The Supreme Court said Chief Justice John Roberts had referred the request for a stay to the court, which is divided 4-4 along ideological lines. The statement did not elaborate. You can read more at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

2:03 a.m. ET
iStock

In the middle of a busy Washington, D.C., neighborhood, a garden is growing.

The GroW Garden was launched by George Washington University students in 2009, and in recent years, most of the produce has been donated to Miriam's Kitchen, an organization that aims to end homelessness. Depending on the time of year, the garden is overflowing with tomatoes, zucchini, squash, Swiss chard, and various herbs. Every week, a vegetable delivery — sometimes as much as 40 pounds — is brought straight from the garden to Miriam's Kitchen, where the produce is then given to people living in permanent supportive housing. The rest is prepared for homeless people who eat at a nearby church.

Recently, the students switched things up and started growing vegetables based on what Miriam's Kitchen specifically needs. Anything that doesn't go to Miriam's Kitchen is donated to George Washington University's on-campus food pantry. Senior Isabelle Moody told WTOP-FM the garden helps students understand the issue of food insecurity and "think about what exists beyond GW's bubble." The garden is "really special," senior Elizabeth Ferrante added, due to the way "that it connects people." Catherine Garcia

1:59 a.m. ET
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

As President Trump was leaving a Sept. 12 Congressional Medal of Honor Society event in the White House, Epoch Times photojournalist Samira Bouaou broke protocol by entering a restricted area and handing Trump a purple folder. "Trump accepted the folder and appeared to open it briefly as he departed before quickly shutting it," The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing several news photographers who witnessed the event. "It was not clear what was inside the folder. Photographers who asked Bouaou afterward why she did it and what the folder contained said she declined to provide details."

White House Press Secretary has discussed Bouaou's folder situation with the White House Correspondents' Association executive board, and the White House has reviewed the incident, but nobody will say anything about it on the record. One White House official told the Post that the matter has been "dealt with." Bouaou, who had recently received a Secret Service pass to attend White House briefings and other events, has not been seen at the White House since the encounter, other photographers say.

The Epoch Times, launched in New York in 2000 by a group of Chinese Americans, is believed to have close ties to the Falun Gong spiritual group, an affiliation the newspaper denies. Falun Gong and the Epoch Times are both banned in China. Ming Xia, a political science professor at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, tells the Post that the newspaper's part-time journalists "support the Falun Gong because they are Falun Gong practitioners. ... They are not professional journalists and they do not follow the protocols professional journalists abide by. That's how they can be very pushy and aggressive." Xia said the Falun Gong is eager to exploit Trump's hardline stance on Beijing. Peter Weber

1:16 a.m. ET

A Southern California surgeon who appeared on Bravo's 2014 reality show Online Dating Rituals of the American Male and was once named Orange County's Most Eligible Bachelor stands accused of drugging and raping two women, with prosecutors saying there are likely other victims out there.

On Tuesday, prosecutors alleged that Dr. Grant William Robicheaux, 38, of Newport Beach, and his girlfriend, Cerissa Laura Riley, 31, of Brea, drugged and raped two women in 2016. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas described Robicheaux and Riley as being "clean-cut, good-looking people," and said they went looking for women at bars and festivals. One of the victims contacted police in April 2016 after she was allegedly raped, and on Oct. 2, 2016, one of Robicheaux's neighbors called police when he heard a different woman screaming for help from inside his house.

The Los Angeles Times reports that during subsequent search warrants, police found cocaine, MDMA, GBH, and illegal unregistered weapons inside Robicheaux's house, as well as several videos, including one showing sex acts with a victim. The investigation was turned over to prosecutors from Newport Beach police on Sept. 6, charges were filed Sept. 11, and Robicheaux and Riley were arrested Sept. 12; both are now free on $100,000 bail. They face multiple felony counts, including rape by drugs and oral copulation by anesthesia. The Times asked a Newport Beach police spokesperson why it took so long for the arrests to be made, and was told the "evidence initially did not meet the standard to make an arrest." Catherine Garcia

12:49 a.m. ET

Are you confused about what's going on with the proposed Senate testimony of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who says Kavanaugh tried to rape her in the early 1980s? It is a complicated and fluid situation, but CNN's Chris Cuomo broke out the whiteboard on Tuesday night to outline the facts and game out the possible outcomes. For starters, Cuomo said, he doesn't see Kavanaugh and Ford testifying about the alleged incident on Monday, as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) proposed.

"This is about politics," Cuomo said. The FBI can — if President Trump allows it — and should investigate Ford's allegations, and Kavanaugh should want the feds to clear his name, Cuomo said. An FBI probe would bring a delay, and "if it doesn't happen, if there is no FBI, if the president doesn't allow it, Monday goes away and this is a done deal," he predicted. Why? Republican voters and Trump's base showed in 2016 they were willing to overlook or discount credible sexual assault accusations by several women against Trump, Cuomo said, and given the choice between "a generation of jurisprudence and having the rules of society reflect what they like, versus this woman and her accusation — if they swallowed so many like a bowl of ice cream, what do you think they'll do with just one?" Trump, for what it's worth, seems to agree with Cuomo's assessment. Peter Weber

12:21 a.m. ET
Pyeongyang Press Corps/Getty Images

In a joint statement released Wednesday after their two-day meeting in Pyongyang, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to establish buffer zones along land and sea borders and create a joint military committee that will work to ease tensions and prevent any accidental clashes.

Moon said Kim agreed to let international experts watch as North Korea permanently dismantles a missile engine test site and launch pad, and said if the United States takes corresponding measures, he will take additional steps toward denuclearization, including shutting down North Korea's main nuclear complex.

The two Koreas have also agreed to cooperate in sports events, like the 2020 Summer Olympics, and will try to get the rights to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympics. Kim vowed to visit Seoul "in the near future," and if he does make the trip, he will become the first North Korean leader to visit since the division of the Korean peninsula in 1945, The Associated Press reports. Catherine Garcia

September 18, 2018
AP Photo/Eric Gay

Texas Republicans got a big boost on Tuesday as retired game warden Pete Flores beat former U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego (D) in a special state Senate election in a San Antonio district that last elected a Republican in the the 1870s. Flores will serve out the rest of the term of former state Sen. Carlos Uresti (D), until 2021, giving Texas Republicans 21 seats in the Senate and virtually ensuring a 19-seat supermajority in the next legislative session. Uresti resigned in June after being convicted of 11 felonies related to a business venture. Gallego conceded at 9 p.m., when unofficial results had him losing by 6 percentage points, 53 percent to 47 percent.

Flores was boosted by strong support from all top Texas GOP elected officials and Republican enthusiasm. Turnout was low, but not for a special election, the San Antonio Express-News reports. The last Republican to represent Texas' Senate District 19 was Andrew Phelps McCormick, who left office in 1879. Flores will be the first Hispanic Republican ever to serve in the state Senate. Peter Weber

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