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Ivanka seeks the presidency – and other big claims from explosive new book

In his book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Michael Wolff reports on clashes between Trump and his inner circle

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Ivanka seeks the presidency – and other big claims from explosive new book” was written by Martin Pengelly, for The Guardian on Wednesday 3rd January 2018 20.37 UTC

The publication on Wednesday of excerpts from a new book on the Trump administration, first by the Guardian and then by New York magazine, brought to light a host of explosive reports of internecine fighting and organisational chaos at the heart of the US presidency.

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by the former Guardian columnist and Rupert Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff, will be published in full next Tuesday. In December, he told the Guardian that in his approach to researching the book he had been “not particularly hostile”.

“That allowed me to get them to be relatively open,” he said.

Among other things, the book reveals that former Trump campaign chair and White House strategist Steve Bannon believes an infamous June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Russians offering incriminating information about Hillary Clinton at Trump Tower was “treasonous”, “unpatriotic” and “bad shit”.

Bannon also reportedly believes that Donald Trump knew of the meeting and met the Russians involved – the president has denied this – saying: “The chance that Don Jr did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the 26th floor is zero.”

Wolff also reports a conversation between the president-elect and Rupert Murdoch about immigration policy that allegedly led the media mogul to label Trump “a fucking idiot”.

The revelations drew a remarkably forceful White House statement, in which Trump said: “When he was fired he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”

By any standard, Wolff’s book has had an extraordinary impact for an as yet unpublished work.

Here are some other highlights:

  • The president’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, reportedly made a deal about which of them would one day run for president. Wolff writes: “The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump.”
  • Of Bannon’s activities after leaving the White House, Wolff writes: “Bannon was telling people something else: he, Steve Bannon, was going to run for president. The locution, ‘If I were president …’ was turning into, ‘When I am president …’” Wolff also writes that Bannon has courted top Republican donors, “doing his best, as he put it, to ‘kiss the ass and pay homage to all the gray-beards’”.
  • Infighting among staff reportedly often featured a group including Kushner, Ivanka and the economics adviser Gary Cohn against a faction led by Bannon. Wolff quotes Richard Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, as saying: “It is a war between the Jews and the non-Jews.”
  • Wolff writes that Thomas Barrack Jr, a billionaire who is one of the president’s oldest associates and was reportedly wanted by Trump to be his chief of staff, allegedly told a friend: “He’s not only crazy, he’s stupid.” On Wednesday, Barrack denied saying that.
  • Asked by Fox News chief executive Roger Ailes what Trump had “gotten himself into with the Russians”, Wolff writes, Bannon answered: “Mostly, he went to Russia and he thought he was going to meet Putin. But Putin couldn’t give a shit about him. So he’s kept trying.”
  • In discussing whom to appoint as Trump’s national security adviser, Wolff writes, Ailes promoted the former United Nations ambassador John Bolton, whom he reportedly called “a bomb thrower” and “a strange little fucker”. Bannon, however, reportedly counselled that Bolton’s moustache would be “a problem”.
  • No one in the Trump campaign expected to win the presidency, Wolff writes, and most including Trump saw his run as leverage for careers in television or politics. Melania Trump, Wolff claims, was horrified by the prospect of victory. When on election night it became clear Trump could indeed beat Clinton and take the White House, according to the book “Melania was in tears – and not of joy”. The first lady’s communications director rejected that account and said: “The book is clearly going to be sold in the bargain fiction section.”
  • Trump’s first Muslim travel ban, issued to chaos and protest at airports across the US, caused consternation among White House staff. Bannon reportedly said the ban was published late on a Friday precisely to anger and provoke liberals, “so the snowflakes would show up at the airports and riot”.
  • Trump reportedly argued with the Secret Service over whether he could have a lock on his bedroom – “the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms”, Wolff writes – and told housekeeping he would strip his own bed and leave his shirts on the floor. Wolff also says the president, who is known to fear being poisoned, told no one to touch his toothbrush.
  • Kushner reportedly offered to marry the TV hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough – then lunch dates for Trump, now regular critics – because he said he was “an internet Unitarian minister”.
  • Disloyalty among the president’s staff was reportedly mirrored by the president himself. Wolff says Trump called Bannon disloyal and scruffy, Priebus weak and short, Kushner a suck-up, press secretary Sean Spicer stupid and adviser Kellyanne Conway a crybaby. Jared and Ivanka, the president reportedly said, should never have come to Washington.

The Guardian obtained a copy of Fire and Fury from a bookseller in New England.

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Boris Johnson attacks Labour in row over cancelled Trump visit

Foreign secretary says Jeremy Corbyn and London mayor putting US-UK relations at risk after president cancels embassy trip

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Boris Johnson attacks Labour in row over Donald Trump’s cancelled visit” was written by Peter Walker and Heather Stewart, for The Guardian on Friday 12th January 2018 18.54 UTC

Downing Street has accused Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan of jeopardising relations with America for telling Donald Trump he is not welcome in Britain, after the US president called off a planned visit to London in the face of likely mass protests.

In a move that reinforces Theresa May’s determination to remain publicly close to Trump, despite accusations of racism and his liaisons with the far right, Downing Street backed an accusation from the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, that Labour was risking transatlantic ties.

After Trump confirmed in the early hours of Friday that he would not come to officially open the new US embassy, Khan, the London mayor, said the president was not welcome in the city and had “finally got that message”.

Corbyn previously called for people to protest when Trump attended the embassy opening to send the president “a clear message” on actions such as his retweets of the far-right Britain First group.

Johnson tweeted : “The US is the biggest single investor in the UK – yet Khan & Corbyn seem determined to put this crucial relationship at risk. We will not allow US-UK relations to be endangered by some puffed up pompous popinjay in City Hall.”

The comment initially seemed to take No 10 by surprise and a spokesman initially dismissed the idea that Khan had damaged relations: “No, the US and the UK are natural resilient strong partners and allies and we do more together than any two countries in the world.”

But soon afterwards, Johnson’s comments were endorsed. A Downing Street source said: “Boris expresses himself in his own inimitable way – but we agree that any risk to the crucial US-UK relationship is not in our country’s best interests.”

Trump tweeted that he would not visit to open the embassy, saying the decision was because Barack Obama had sold the previous building in Grosvenor Square “for peanuts” and built an expensive replacement in a poor location in south London. In fact, the move was first planned when George W Bush was president.

Trump is still due to make a state visit to the UK, following an invitation made by May when she visited him shortly after his inauguration. This has been placed on hold, again seemingly due to the threat of protests.

Khan said: “It appears that President Trump got the message from the many Londoners who love and admire America and Americans but find his policies and actions the polar opposite of our city’s values of inclusion, diversity and tolerance.

“His visit next month would, without doubt, have been met by mass peaceful protests. This just reinforces what a mistake it was for Theresa May to rush and extend an invitation of a state visit in the first place.”

The London mayor, who has previously criticised Trump over his comments on terror attacks and immigration policy targeting Muslims, will reiterate his opposition in a speech on Saturday.

Populist movements are “playing on people’s worst fears and creating space for extreme views on immigration, diversity and equality”, Khan is due to tell the Fabian Society’s annual conference. “We’ve seen the impact of this in the US and we cannot allow this narrative to take hold in Britain.”

A Downing Street spokesman said there had never been a confirmation that Trump would open the embassy: “As we’ve said a number of times, a state visit invitation has been extended and accepted, and we will confirm the details in due course.”

He said May and Trump enjoyed a good relationship, adding: “The US is one of our oldest and most valued allies, and our strong and deep partnership will endure.”

The president’s complaints about the new embassy building were contradicted by the US ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, who was appointed by Trump.

Writing in London’s Evening Standard newspaper, Johnson said the move from central London to Nine Elms, next to Battersea, was forced by security concerns after 11 September. The new building was the most advanced US embassy in the world and “did not cost the US taxpayer a cent”, he said, being financed by the sale of the old site and other London properties.

It had been expected that Trump would use the embassy visit to hold meetings with May. Officials had been examining plans for him to meet the Queen without a full-blown state banquet.

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Joe Arpaio to run for Arizona Senate seat

  • Ex-sheriff was pardoned by Donald Trump for racial profiling conviction
  • Republican, 85, to run as ‘a big supporter of President Trump’
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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Joe Arpaio, pardoned racial profiler, to run for Arizona Senate seat” was written by Ben Jacobs and Lauren Gambino in Washington, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 9th January 2018 22.31 UTC

Controversial former sheriff Joe Arpaio announced on Tuesday that he would run for the United States Senate in Arizona.

Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio in 2017 after he was convicted of contempt of court for violating a federal court order to stop racial profiling against Hispanics.

Who is Joe Arpaio? A look at the controversial Arizona sheriff

While in office for 24 years, Joe Arpaio, 85, called himself America’s toughest sheriff.

He boasted that he fed his prisoners more cheaply than the sheriff’s department dogs – just two meals a day for the humans, with stale bologna sandwiches a staple.

Anti-immigration voters loved his tactics of sweeping Latino-majority neighborhoods, rounding up anyone suspected of being in the US illegally or failing to show papers on demand.

Arpaio called his department’s sprawling jail a concentration camp, where male inmates were forced to wear pink underwear and striped uniforms and live in tents under 140F (60C) desert sun.

The sheriff ran chain-gangs of male and female inmates, shackled by the ankle and marched out to collect trash from highways and desert, or to bury​ the destitute.

He lost his bid for a seventh term as sheriff in 2016, ​losing​ to a Democrat who benefited from a surge of Latino voters to the polls and later shut down the outdoor jail section known as Tent City.

After a five-year “birtherism” investigation, during which Arpaio sent investigators to Hawaii, he still claimed in 2016 that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is “fake, fake”.

In July 2017, Arpaio was convicted on a federal charge of contempt of court after failing to heed numerous court orders to stop traffic patrols that targeted Latinos as part of his infamous anti-immigration crackdowns. He was facing up to six months in federal prison but before he could be sentenced, Donald Trump issued him with a presidential pardon.

In an interview with the Washington Examiner, the 85-year-old said that he was running as “a big supporter of President Trump”. Arpaio had long been known for his draconian views on illegal immigration and his harsh treatment of prisoners and undocumented immigrants detained while awaiting deportation or transfer to other jurisdictions.

He was also an enthusiastic believer in so-called birtherism, the long-running campaign by some hardline conservatives, with Donald Trump as their cheerleader, to convince the public inaccurately that Barack Obama was not born in the USA and therefore was not eligible to be president.

Arpaio served six terms as sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, the state’s largest jurisdiction, near Phoenix and the Mexico border, before losing his re-election bid in 2016.

Self-anointed as “America’s toughest sheriff”, he gained notoriety during his 24-year tenure for detaining hundreds of undocumented immigrants in a sprawling jail known as Tent City and forcing them to wear pink underwear. The sheriff courted controversy and media attention – calling his own jail a “concentration camp”, serving inmates just two meals a day and selling replica pink underwear to the public – as he became a national figurehead for the virulent xenophobia Trump embraced in his presidential campaign.

Trump’s decision to pardon the polarizing sheriff drew condemnation from both of the state’s Republican senators, as well as Democrats and Latino and immigrant advocacy groups. Arpaio is the only person so far to have received a presidential pardon from Trump.

The populist and polarizing former sheriff joins a crowded Republican field in the race to succeed vocal Trump critic Jeff Flake, who announced he would not seek re-election. The former sheriff has a complicated history with Flake. He is currently facing a malicious prosecution suit from Flake’s son, who alleges Arpaio prosecuted him for animal cruelty in an attempt to embarrass the Republican senator.

Currently, Kelli Ward, a former state senator who has been vocally backed by former White House aide Steve Bannon, is running for Flake’s seat and is expected to be joined by Martha McSally, a two-term congresswoman who was also the first woman to fly in combat. McSally is an establishment favorite who has won multiple tough races in her Tucson-based swing district.

The winner of the Republican primary is likely to face Democratic congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema in the November general election.

On Tuesday, Flake told reporters: “I won’t be supporting Joe Arpaio.” Of the sheriff’s bid, the Arizona senator joked: “Write about it fast because it won’t last long.”

The Senate race is expected to be one of the most competitive in 2018 and a must-win for Democrats if they are to have any chance of winning control of the Senate in the midterms.

Tom Perez, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, said:

“Joe Arpaio is one of our nation’s most notorious agents of racism and bigotry,” Perez said in a statement on Tuesday. “He has spent his career tearing apart immigrant families and devastating Latino communities.”

As head of the justice department’s civil rights division, Perez sued Arpaio in 2012, alleging long-standing racial profiling of Latinos.

Asked about the criticism on Fox News Radio, Arpaio said it was “an honor to know he is going after me”.

“He better worry about his own party and not target me,” Arpaio said. “Let him target me, that’s okay, he has been doing it all along anyway.”

Critics of Arpaio says his entry in the Senate race could animate Latino voters.

“If Republicans rally behind this monster, they will turn out Latino voters like never before – in Arizona and across the country,” Cristóbal Alex, president of Latino Victory Fund, a progressive political action committee, told the Guardian.

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Steve Bannon: Donald Trump Jr was not ‘treasonous’ – I meant Paul Manafort

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Steve Bannon: Donald Trump Jr was not ‘treasonous’ – I meant Paul Manafort” was written by Jon Swaine, for theguardian.com on Sunday 7th January 2018 19.25 UTC

Steve Bannon on Sunday withdrew his allegation that Donald Trump Jr committed treason, as he expressed regret over his role in the controversy around an explosive book about the White House.

The Guardian revealed last week that Bannon, formerly Trump’s chief strategist, said a Trump Tower meeting between Trump Jr and Russians during the 2016 presidential election campaign was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”.

In his statement given to the Guardian and other outlets on Sunday, Bannon did not apologise for any of his remarks to the author Michael Wolff, which included strident criticisms of the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump – whom he called “dumb as a brick” – and her husband, Jared Kushner.

But he said he should have been quicker to clarify that his remarks about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower referred to Trump’s then campaign chairman, who was also present.

“My comments were aimed at Paul Manafort, a seasoned campaign professional with experience and knowledge of how the Russians operate,” Bannon said. “He should have known they are duplicitous, cunning and not our friends. To reiterate, those comments were not aimed at Don Jr.”

Declaring Trump Jr to be “both a patriot and a good man”, Bannon added: “I regret that my delay in responding to the inaccurate reporting regarding Don Jr has diverted attention from the president’s historical accomplishments in the first year of his presidency.”

In the Wolff book, Bannon is also quoted as saying the inquiry into Russian election interference led by special counsel Robert Mueller would “crack Don Jr like an egg on national TV”.

Bannon issued his statement after coming under sharp criticism from Trump and his allies and losing the support of major Republican donors.

Following the publication of the remarks in Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, the president claimed Bannon had “lost his mind” when he was fired from the White House last summer. Trump also lambasted Bannon on Twitter as “Sloppy Steve” who “cried when he got fired and begged for his job” and “has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone”.

In an interview with CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Stephen Miller, a senior White House official, described Bannon’s statements as “grotesque” and “out of touch with reality”.

Trump Jr agreed to the meeting with Russians including Natalia Veselnitskaya, a well-connected lawyer, after being promised documents that would “incriminate” Hillary Clinton, his father’s Democratic opponent.

The meeting, which was also attended by Kushner, is being investigated by Mueller, who is looking into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow during the election campaign.

US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, ordered a covert operation to help Trump win.

“There was no collusion and the investigation is a witch hunt,” Bannon said. “I regret that my delay in responding to the inaccurate reporting regarding Don Jr has diverted attention from the president’s historical accomplishments in the first year of his presidency.”

The statement issued also contained an extraordinary explanation for Bannon’s remark that the Trump Tower meeting had been “treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit”.

He said: “My comments about the meeting with Russian nationals came from my life experiences as a naval officer stationed aboard a destroyer whose main mission was to hunt Soviet submarines to my time at the Pentagon during the Reagan years, when our focus was the defeat of ‘the evil empire’, and to making films about Reagan’s war against the Soviets and Hillary Clinton’s involvement in selling uranium to them.”

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