Bannon's Mueller Meeting Looms Large for Trump
Five months after his White House exit, Steve Bannon remains at the center of the fire and fury surrounding Donald Trump.
The former chief strategist has been subpoenaed to meet later this month with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the latest in a parade of former Trump confidants who've been ensnared in Mueller's Russia meddling probe.
Bannon doesn’t plan to invoke executive privilege, begging questions about whether he'll repeat or expand on comments he's quoted as making in Michael Wolff’s tell-all book.
“Fire and Fury,” which quotes Bannon speaking disparagingly about Trump and his family, prompted the president to publicly and dramatically sever his relationship with the former aide. Jennifer Jacobs takes a closer look at how Wolff gained so much White House access.
Among her findings: Wolff's pitch included a working title — “The Great Transition: The First 100 Days of the Trump Administration” — that signaled a sympathetic view.
With a Mueller meeting on the horizon, Bannon — and what he has to say about his time in Trump World — is likely to remain central to the president’s fate.
Shutdown bandaid | It looks like the U.S. Congress’s latest strategy to avert a government shutdown might be the same as its last: Kick the can down the road. House Republicans are coalescing around a short-term funding extension through Feb. 16 that doesn’t address immigration issues and other Democratic demands as a way to keep the government running past Friday.
Turkish dismay | Turkey says the deployment of a U.S.-backed Kurdish force over the border in northern Syria could irreparably damage ties between the two NATO members. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned for months of an offensive against the Syrian Kurds, who in Turkey’s view are tied to the PKK, the group that’s battled for autonomy since the 1980s. Shelling yesterday, along with warnings an assault will be wide-ranging, stoked concern conflict is imminent.
Olympic breakthrough | Negotiations between the two Koreas yielded a surprise today — the possibility of holding Olympic-related events in North Korea. With just over three weeks until the start of South Korea’s Pyeongchang games, it may be too late for sports to be played in North Korea. But the discussions point to a temporary truce — even as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the threat of war on the Korean Peninsula continues to grow.
A list of worries | What keeps the world’s global elite up at night? Climate change, cyberattacks and a “deteriorating geopolitical landscape” since Trump’s election top the list, the World Economic Forum said ahead of its meeting next week in Davos, Switzerland. Less likely, but equally nightmarish: Fleets of AI-controlled pirate drone ships that decimate the ocean’s fish stocks.
The costs of Catalonia | The separatist crisis is proving to be a millstone around the neck of the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. As Esteban Duarte reports, he’s slumped to a historic low in opinion polls as party officials begin to talk about replacing him. But with no major elections in 2018, he may still have a year to turn things around.
And finally... It must have been music to Trump’s ears — the 71-year-old president has “great genes” and is “fit for duty,” White House physician Ronny Jackson said yesterday after his examination of the commander-in-chief last week amid criticism he may be unfit for office. “I told the president that if he had a healthier diet over the last 20 years, he might live to be 200 years old.”
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