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15 ноября, 08:51

Utah Rep. Love sues to halt vote count

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SALT LAKE CITY — Republican U.S. Rep. Mia Love sued Wednesday to halt vote counting in the Utah race where she is trailing her Democratic challenger by a razor-thin margin, saying her campaign must be allowed to issue challenges if they dispute the validity of mail-in ballots.In a contest where “every single vote is crucial,” the Love campaign claimed poll-watchers have seen a few cases where voter signatures on ballots accepted by election workers did not appear to match those on file in Democratic-leaning Salt Lake County.County attorneys pushed back in court documents, arguing state law gives the campaign no right to interrupt the vote count, and letting the campaign question signatures could violate voters’ rights by revealing who they cast their ballots for.Democratic challenger Ben McAdams, meanwhile, said the lawsuit “smacks of desperation,” and elections officials, not candidates, should decide what votes should count.Love’s campaign is “not accusing anyone of anything,” but they believe a few instances deserve more scrutiny, campaign attorney Robert Harrington said in a statement. Voting is done primarily by mail in Utah.County Clerk Sherrie Swenson, a Democrat, said Love’s campaign staff was granted access to observe the tallies but is not allowed to be interactive participants in the signature verification process. Results her office released Wednesday night sliced into McAdam’s lead, putting Love less than half a percentage point behind him. Her campaign manager Dave Hansen cheered the news, saying she is on a “path to victory.”A judge is set to hear arguments on Thursday.McAdams is leading Love by less than 900 votes as counting continued more than a week after Election Day. He is the mayor of Salt Lake County, where 85 percent of voters in the district live.President Donald Trump called out Love by name in a news conference last week where he bashed some fellow Republicans, saying she and others lost because they didn’t fully embrace him. His comments came despite the outcome of the vote being in doubt.Utah law allows challenges to a voter’s eligibility if they are suspected of trying to vote in someone else’s name, but it is unclear how that applies to mail-in balloting recently adopted by most counties in the state. Utah Elections Director Justin Lee declined to comment.Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine]]>

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15 ноября, 04:27

Trump’s Not Populist Enough

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The midterms suggest that President Donald Trump needs to double down on populism, just not the sort that’s been his signature to this point.Trump is both too populist and not populist enough. His populism is largely, although not entirely, a matter of style — combative, lacerating, emotive, unpredictable and grandiose.This sensibility is a central part of Trump’s appeal. It marks him as distinctive, impossible to domesticate to the ways of Washington, and firmly anti-establishment. It also puts the accent on his personality, which is a double-edged sword, at best.For every Trump voter that it lights up, it reminds a suburban woman why she hates his guts. The Democratic wave in the suburbs was mostly a function of a deeply felt personal revulsion toward the president. If Trump’s populism is always based foremost on Rally Trump and Twitter Trump, i.e., on the behavior pushing the suburbs away from him, there is no way for him to try to tamp down the yawning geographic and demographic vulnerability underlined by the midterms.Trump is different from other Republicans on trade and immigration, the issues at the core of his populism, but other than that, he has governed as a fairly typical Republican. His biggest legislative accomplishment during the first two years of his presidency was a tax cut out of Republican Central Casting.It would have been a disaster for the GOP’s morale if it had whiffed on the tax cut, after failing on Obamacare repeal. But in the midterms, the tax cut proved an electoral nullity, in large part because it was an answer to a question that voters weren’t asking.Trump knew that it didn’t resonate as an issue. “Hey, did you hear that I cut the corporate tax rate to 21 percent and created a 20 percent deduction for pass-through income?” wasn’t the messaging he was looking for.He showed an instinctual sense that he needed a genuine middle-class agenda. He talked of a fantastical middle-class tax cut about to be considered. And he insisted that Republicans would do a better job dealing with the problem of pre-existing conditions than Democrats, without offering any supporting policy.In the absence of any populist substance, Trump was thrown back on the caravan, and more caravan, and his usual mediagenic provocations. This created his characteristic stew of acrimony and hysterical overreaction by his opponents, which pushed both his supporters and opponents to the polls, and — with the exception of some key red-state Senate races — more of the latter than the former.Trump’s personality is never going to change, nor is he going to become the candidate of the suburbs, but small changes can make a difference. Trump’s relatively disciplined finale against Hillary Clinton in 2016 helped him get over the hump. Going into 2020, he needs a populism that is a little less stylistic and more substantive, and one that has crossover appeal to Trump’s working-class voters and suburbanites.It’s especially important to have a counter to the Democratic House, which isn’t going to be sending many bills to the president’s desk but will presumably be passing an exemplary progressive agenda on health care, college and wages in the runup to the 2020 election.It’s easy to see a Trump counter, in rough outline. One focus should be work. Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute has written a new book, “The Once and Future Worker,” that is a guide to new conservative thinking on how to support a healthy labor market. The Trump team should crib from it freely. A central idea in the book is a wage subsidy for low-wage work.Another broad category should be the cost of living, especially health care and college. Although you wouldn’t know it from the midterm campaign, conservatives do have proposals to deal with pre-existing conditions, even if few Republican candidates seemed aware of them. The thrust of the GOP health care agenda is to reduce costs to consumers, a theme Trump should emphasize. Hospitals are a key driver of health care spending and deserve much more critical scrutiny.It should be natural to take on the costs of higher education, driven in part by the unintended consequences of federal programs, and promote alternative means of training and accreditation besides four-year college. The higher-education establishment is obviously politically uncongenial to Republicans, and Trump, of all politicians, should want to promote the interests of young people entering the workforce without a four-year degree.As for Trump’s signature issue of immigration, it would go down easier in the suburbs if he began talking about E-Verify, which puts the focus on the employers who hire undocumented immigrants rather than the immigrants themselves.The problem is that these are relatively small-bore ideas that don’t lend themselves to Trump’s rhetoric of large claims and easy-to-understand villains. Taken together, it can be an agenda larger than its parts, but it will need to be thought through and can’t just be grabbed off the shelf.Even if last week’s results weren’t as encouraging to Trump as they appeared at first blush, he is still very much in the game. The Electoral College path is there — if he can hold the rest of his 2016 states, he can lose Pennsylvania and Michigan and still get over the top with Wisconsin. But unless some exogenous event boosts Trump’s standing to another level, he is dependent on Democrats once again nominating a candidate unacceptable to the white working class (and not particularly popular in the suburbs, either).Even then, it could be a near-run thing. Best to deepen and widen his populism in advance of what could be another effort to thread the electoral needle.Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine]]>

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15 ноября, 03:09

Khashoggi killing tests Trump’s love of sanctions

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A decision could come soon on whether to penalize U.S. ally Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi's murder.

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15 ноября, 03:01

CBC votes no confidence in Democratic Chair Perez

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The Congressional Black Caucus passed a vote of no confidence in Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez on Wednesday, the latest sign of lingering bad blood between lawmakers on Capitol Hill and the Democratic Party’s top official.According to CBC members, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, started a debate over the national party’s superdelegate policy, which led to a motion of no confidence in Perez, who took over the DNC in February 2017.CBC members described the debate as “heated” and “controversial.” CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) said members “felt that the DNC pitted them against their constituents.” “So now if they want to be a delegate, they have to run against their constituents who want to be delegates, and it’s an unfair proposition,” Richmond told POLITICO. “We don’t want to run against our constituents, so the caucus had made its position known. … It speaks for itself.” The DNC in August voted to dramatically diminish the power of superdelegates — elected officials and party activists who are free to vote for any candidate at the presidential nominating convention. The new rule bars superdelegates from voting on the first presidential nominating ballot at a contested national convention.The debate over superdelegates emerged during the 2016 Democratic primary between Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Critics of superdelegates say the elite roles in the nominating process favored establishment figures and gave elected officials too much power in selecting the presidential nominee.“An overwhelming majority of DNC members approved these historic reforms to strengthen and grow our party, increase transparency, and put our nominee in the best possible position to win in 2020,” said Adrienne Watson, a DNC spokeswoman. “As last Tuesday showed, when we empower our grassroots we succeed. We look forward to continuing our work with the caucus to build a strong and diverse party.” DNC officials note Perez has personally campaigned with some CBC members, including a trip to Houston with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Mississippi with Democratic Senate candidate Mike Espy.CBC members said some of them were wary about voting no confidence in Perez so quickly after voters across the country gave House Democrats the majority for the first time in eight years. “A lot of members said, ‘We don’t want to be put in position to run against the people who just voted for us,’” Rep. Al Lawson (D-Fla.) said. Richmond wrote a letter to Perez in August expressing the CBC’s opposition to the proposed reforms.“There should be enough room in the process to include the perspective of local party activists and officials, and members of Congress,” he wrote. “One group should not be harmed at the expense of the other. To add insult to injury, it appears that this is a solution in search of a problem. Unelected delegates have never gone against the will of primary voters in picking Democratic presidential nominees.”Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine]]>

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15 ноября, 02:43

What are the risks of the Amazon deal? Ask Scott Walker.

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Opponents of Amazon’s public giveaways say those governing Virginia and New York should take heed.

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15 ноября, 02:40

Brown, Zinke mend fences at site of deadly California fires

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Federal and California officials put aside their quarrel over the cause of state's deadliest-ever wildfire Wednesday as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke joined Gov. Jerry Brown to tour the area north of Sacramento devastated by the disaster.Speaking to reporters after viewing the incinerated ruins of an elementary school in the fire-ravaged town of Paradise, Zinke and Brown emphasized cooperation and refrained from casting blame for the fires — a marked departure from Donald Trump’s recent statements faulting California.Minutes before Brown spoke, Trump tweeted that he'd spoken to the Democratic governor and “we are with him, and the people of California, all the way!” That was a notable change from exchanges between the Trump administration and California in recent months. As recently as Saturday, Trump tweeted that California was guilty of "gross mismanagement," and he threatened to cut off federal funding. “He’s pledged the full resources of the federal government,” Brown said of Trump, adding that “now is the time for solidarity and understanding, and let’s learn how to do this together in the best way we can.”Zinke deflected questions about Trump’s critiques as well as his own charges of mismanagement in California.“There’s a lot of reasons for fires. Now is not the time to point fingers,” Zinke said, calling metastasizing wildfires not an exclusively state or federal matter but, "an American issue of managing our forests," and noting that the soaring federal price tag for massive fires had reached $870 million.“This is a national issue, and certainly California being an economic powerhouse, very populous and influential, when something of this nature happens in California people pay attention,” he said in response to a question about Trump singling out California."We have to work together to manage our forests," Zinke said, because “this is unsustainable.”Brown also pointed to a multitude of factors that produced the “war zone” the two had just visited, shrugging off questions about the administration's comments or the possibility that a state utility's equipment had ignited flames.“It’s not one thing: It’s people, it’s how people live, it’s where they live, it’s the changing climate,” Brown said.Trump's previous comments blaming California’s catastrophic wildfires on the state’s forestry practices were sharply condemned as both inaccurate and cruel, especially as the death toll from the fire rose and emergency crews struggled to contain the flames. As of Wednesday afternoon, the death toll from the Camp Fire in northern California had reached 48, with dozens of people — many elderly — still listed as missing. Trump subsequently met California’s request for federal assistance, and Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Service, lauded the federal government for being "fully engaged with us," and he praised the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the White House.But Wednesday's united front belied Zinke's record of echoing and amplifying Trump’s criticism. In an interview with Breitbart News last year, he excoriated “environmental terrorist groups” that “close off roads, refuse to have firebreaks, refuse to have any timber harvest.”And in a September Sacramento Bee op-ed he authored with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, he complained that “[f]or too long, our forest management efforts have been thwarted by lawsuits from misguided, extreme environmentalists. The time has come to act without flinching in the face of threatened litigation."While environmentalists, rural officials and the timber industry have long sparred over the economic and ecological impact of curtailed logging — with some challenges successfully halting or delaying harvests — there is little evidence that legal disputes have substantially increased wildfire risks. A 2010 Government Accountability Office study found that just two percent of Forest Service decisions dealing with fuel reduction were litigated.“The changing dynamic on the ground here in California is that a very large core group of environmental organizations understand that we do have to go in and thin the forests, that reducing the fuel load is important,” said Rich Gordon, a former state assemblyman who leads the California Forestry Association.Gordon acknowledged that California has “the strictest timber harvest rules in the world” but he noted that major environmental groups backed a sweeping wildfire prevention bill this year that enables more timber-clearing and allocates $1 billion for forest management. Far more consequential than forest stewardship, forestry experts say, has been climate change’s role in raising temperatures, reducing precipitation and extending a fire season that once ran from mid-summer to early fall into a year-round hazard. Scientists and state officials have repudiated Trump’s faulting state mismanagement by noting that much of the state’s forestland is federally managed and that the current fires have ignited in grass and chaparral.“Really what we’re in the middle of is a transformation of our landscape by climate change,” said LeRoy Westerling, an expert on forestry and wildfire management at the University of California, Merced, whereas the federal government’s response has been “‘oh, ignore the climate change — let’s just jump in there and use it as an excuse to log our last wilderness areas.”Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine]]>

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15 ноября, 02:30

Avenatti arrested in domestic violence case

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Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti was arrested Wednesday in Los Angeles and booked on a felony domestic violence charge, Los Angeles police confirmed.Avenatti, an anti-Trump fixture on the cable news circuit who is exploring a 2020 run for president, was arrested at 2:05 p.m. on the 10000 block of Santa Monica Boulevard, police said.The attorney held a brief news conference late Wednesday after he was released from jail. "I have never struck a woman. I never will strike a woman. I’ve been an advocate for women’s rights my entire career and I’m going to continue to be an advocate,” Avenatti told reporters. “I’m not going to be intimidated from stopping what I am doing.” Avenatti welcomed an investigation, saying he expected to be “fully exonerated.”Earlier, Tony Im, a public information officer for the Los Angeles Police Department, said Avenatti was booked on a charge of felony domestic violence with injuries. Avenatti’s bail was set at $50,000. Police wouldn’t provide more details of the incident.The explosive development comes as Avenatti has spent months laying a foundation for a White House bid, and as the brash, in-your-face attorney threatened or brought legal action against the Trump administration on multiple fronts.Before his release from jail, Avenatti released a statement through his law office denying all abuse allegations. “I wish to thank the hard working men and woman of the LAPD for their professionalism they were only doing their jobs in light of the completely bogus allegations against me,” he said. “I have never been physically abusive in my life nor was I last night. Any accusations to the contrary are fabricated and meant to do harm to my reputation. I look forward to being fully exonerated.”The Los Angeles Times reported the allegations were made by a woman who had “visible injuries.”With Avenatti still in police custody, both his ex-wife and his estranged wife released separate statements through Avenatti’s law firm. “My client states that there has never been domestic violence in her relationship with Michael and that she has never known Michael to be physically violent toward anyone,” an attorney for Lisa Storie-Avenatti said in a statement. “My client requests that the media respect her privacy and that of the parties’ young son.” “I’ve known Michael for the last 26 years, we met when he was 21 years old and we were married for 13 years,” said Christine Avenatti-Carlin in a statement. “Michael has always been a loving, kind father to our two daughters and husband. He has never been abusive to me or anyone else. He is a very good man.” Avenatti, who is in the midst of a contested divorce from Lisa Storie-Avenatti, has campaigned across 20 states since July, speaking to large crowds and selling out fundraising dinners, including in Iowa. Avenatti has attempted to position himself as the Democrats’ answer to Donald Trump, calling on the Democratic field to “hit harder” against the president. On Saturday, Avenatti revealed he represented a man who was seeking to bring charges against Fox News host Tucker Carlson after an incident in a Virginia restaurant.Since Avenatti began ramping up his 2020 ambitions, he’s faced various controversies, from getting into verbal scrums with Donald Trump Jr. over Twitter to facing a backlash over comments he made, according to Time, that the person to run against Trump “better be a white male.” Avenatti said he was taken out of context, saying: “It’s a f------ outrage.” Last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee referred Avenatti and his client Julie Swetnick to the Justice Department for an investigation into false statements after she leveled sexual misconduct allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, then a Supreme Court nominee.Avenatti also faced his share of troubles in civil court. As part of their divorce case, his second wife sought $215,643 a month in family support. And in October, a Los Angeles judge issued an order saying Avenatti must pay $4.85 million to a former law colleague who claimed he was owed millions of dollars in profit. At the time, Avenatti told POLITICO there was nothing in his past that would rule out a potential run for president. He even launched a political PAC and released his first ad.“There’s all kinds of things I would not have done. Do I think any of them are disqualifying? No. Do I think any of them are disqualifying in the age of Donald Trump? Absolutely not,” he said. “But look, I’m a real guy. I’m a genuine guy. But if I decide to do it and some of these things come out, I’m going to own them.”Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine]]>

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15 ноября, 01:53

Flake to oppose Trump's judicial picks to protect Mueller

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Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) vowed Wednesday to oppose President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees until GOP leaders allow a vote on legislation protecting special counsel Robert Mueller’s job.Flake announced his move during a failed attempt to get unanimous consent for a vote on the bill designed to shield Mueller from being fired by Trump. His gambit promises to make trouble — but not an insurmountable amount — for fellow Republicans as they churn ahead with a blistering pace of confirming Trump’s judges. The party has only a one-vote majority in the Judiciary Committee and a 51-49 advantage on the Senate floor.The Arizona Republican, who last week declined to rule out a run in a 2020 GOP presidential primary, took aim at Trump for dismissing the Russian electoral meddling that Mueller is charged with investigating. “Our president has been so incurious that at times over the past two years he has been eager to accept [Vladimir] Putin’s denials at face value,” Flake said on the floor, speaking alongside Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).But Flake’s bid to play hardball has a quick expiration date since he's retiring at the end of the year. Twenty judicial nominees are currently waiting for a vote in the Judiciary panel, in addition to another nominee still awaiting a hearing, and 32 nominees have already cleared committee but not yet gotten a floor vote.Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) objected on the floor to Flake’s request for a vote on the Mueller protection legislation. McConnell can seek to bring nominees straight to the floor without a favorable verdict from the Judiciary Committee — although such moves are rare. And with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a tie, it’s possible to confirm the nominees already teed up for a floor vote without Flake’s support.Even so, Flake’s move raises the stakes of debate on a Mueller protection measure that cleared the Judiciary panel in April but has stalled without a floor vote as McConnell reiterates doubt that the special counsel’s job is in danger. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said he'll push for the Mueller bill to get added to spending legislation that must pass to keep the government open past Dec. 7, but it's unclear whether Democrats have enough leverage to extract that concession."There has to be a viable strategy, because there's enough support for protecting the special counsel that I think ... there will be a way to do it," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who added that fellow Democrats are "still thinking through" how best to force consideration of the bill.Democrats appear to have their work cut out for them. Trump's ouster of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is perceived by many of the president’s critics as a pretext to ending Mueller's probe. But it also hasn’t appeared to shake the GOP consensus that the special counsel is safe to finish his investigation into Russian interference and any alleged wrongdoing by Trump.Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, one of the lead Republican authors of the Mueller protection bill, said Wednesday that he didn't foresee Sessions' ouster heightening the "threat of Mueller being prevented from finishing his business."At a press conference after their floor remarks, Flake and Coons said that they would consider joining the push to add the Mueller protection bill to a must-pass spending bill. Flake acknowledged that he had less power given that Pence could break a tie during floor votes but reiterated the importance of opposing nominees in committee."There's such a slim margin on the floor and some members are sticklers for precedent," he said. "You don't want to get in the habit of nullifying a committee action."Flake said that he was also speaking to fellow GOP members about taking similar actions against judicial nominees whose floor votes are pending and predicted that if the Senate votes on the bill, it will "pass overwhelmingly." The Arizona Republican also joined Coons and many other Democrats in calling for Sessions' replacement, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, to recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation.Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine]]>

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15 ноября, 01:23

Mueller delays sentencing for ex-Trump aide Gates over ongoing cooperation

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The delay stands in contrast to two other high-profile former Trump officials who are moving toward sentencing in the Mueller investigation.

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15 ноября, 01:08

Christie: White House hasn’t contacted me about attorney general job

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a longtime ally of President Donald Trump, said Wednesday he has not been contacted by the White House about the possibility of being nominated for attorney general.“No,” Christie told reporters after an event in Atlantic City, according to audio of the exchange. “No, I read the papers. I know the position’s open. No one needs to tell me.”Christie is reportedly under serious consideration for the position in the wake of Jeff Sessions' forced resignation. Christie has been clear in the past that he desires the job and has turned down other cabinet positions. The Republican, who left office in January after hitting a two-term limit, is now an attorney in private practice and a political analyst for ABC News. He has moved toward the front of the line for the attorney general job since Sessions was pushed out after it became clear several other potential nominees were not interested in the position.POLITICO reported last week that Trump has said privately he believes Christie, the first prominent Republican to back his presidential bid, has patiently waited his turn after being passed over for the job during the post-2016 election transition.Christie played coy when asked if he would accept the nomination if asked.“Listen, the only person I owe that answer to is the president of the United States if the question is asked and, if he asks, I’ll answer like I always do,” Christie said.A former U.S. attorney who ran a losing campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, Christie said he had “been through this dance before,” noting he was considered for the vice presidency in 2012 and 2016, and “for a whole bunch of different positions in this administration.” He also chaired Trump's transition team before 2016 election, but was removed from that role within days of the president's victory. Still, he has remained close to Trump.“I’ve got nothing more to say about it. I love my life the way I have it right now. I’m more relaxed than I’ve been in 16 years,” Christie said, noting he has a lot of time to spend with his wife, Mary Pat.But he also said, “I love my country and I’ve always been willing to serve.”“I don’t think you ever say ‘never’ to a president,” Christie said. “If a president calls, you take the call and you listen. If it works for you, you say, ‘yes.’ If it doesn’t work for you, you say, ‘no.’”The attorney general post opened a week ago after Sessions submitted his resignation at the president's request. Trump has appointed Sessions' chief of staff, Matt Whitaker, to take the job on an acting basis. Whomever replaces Sessions permanently will inherit oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into 2016 Russian election interference. Trump has called the investigation a "witch hunt" and has indicated he wants an attorney general who will carry out his wishes as it relates to the probe, while Democrats say he has sought to obstruct the investigation by pressuring senior Justice Department officials.Christie, like Sessions, could be conflicted, given his role on the transition team. And while many observers say there are few people better qualified to manage the Mueller probe to Trumps’ liking, the former governor has taken pains to defend the special counsel.“I’ve always found Bob Mueller to be a person of integrity and honesty, and a hard worker,” Christie said. “And I think he deserves great credit for the fact there’s really almost no leaking out of that operation. As somebody who was U.S. attorney for seven years, I know that takes leadership from the top to make sure you don’t have leaking — especially something as high-profile as this. So I think Bob deserves credit for all those things.”Christie said he previously “cautioned” that special counsel inquires tend to take a long time and “wind up going to areas that are beyond their scope,” which he says Mueller has done.“There are dangers with it, but that would be true no matter whom you put in as special counsel, I imagine, and not because of Bob,” Christie said. “I have not changed my view about Mueller at all. I haven’t from the time he first got appointed.”Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine]]>