Politics Feud Between Trump Advisers Underscores a White House Torn by Rivalries

06:15  12 november  2019
06:15  12 november  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

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WASHINGTON — A long-simmering feud within the White House broke into the open on Monday as a lawyer for John R. Bolton, President Trump ’s former national security adviser , filed a motion But the legal schism underscored a broader rift between Mr. Mulvaney, who facilitated Mr. Trump ’s effort to

A feud with the first lady's office cost a senior national security adviser her job in the White House after she sparred with East Wing staff and other key members of the Trump administration.

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s chief of staff and former national security adviser clashed in court on Monday. Two new books describe how top aides to the president secretly plotted to circumvent him. And nearly every day brings more testimony about the deep internal schism over the president’s effort to pressure Ukraine for domestic political help.

John R. Bolton wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a building: John R. Bolton, President Trump’s former national security adviser, in April.© Tom Brenner for The New York Times John R. Bolton, President Trump’s former national security adviser, in April.

In the three years since his election, Mr. Trump has never been accused of running a cohesive, unified team. But the revelations of recent days have put on display perhaps more starkly than ever the fissures tearing at his administration. In the emerging picture, the Trump White House is a toxic stew of personality disputes, policy differences, political rivalries, ethical debates and a fundamental rift over the president himself.

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WASHINGTON — When Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, went on television on Thursday morning to compare himself and his adversary, Reince Priebus, the chief of staff, to Cain and Abel

The fault lines were most clearly evident on Monday when Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, abruptly withdrew his effort to join a lawsuit over impeachment testimony after a sharp collision with his onetime colleague John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser. Mr. Mulvaney retreated only hours after a lawyer for Mr. Bolton and his former deputy, Charles M. Kupperman, went to court arguing that his clients wanted nothing to do with the staff chief because they had vastly different interests.

In withdrawing his motion, Mr. Mulvaney indicated that he would now press his own lawsuit to determine whether to comply with a subpoena to testify in the House impeachment inquiry. But it left him at odds with the president, who has ordered his team not to cooperate with the House, an order Mr. Mulvaney has essentially refused to accept as other administration officials have until he receives separate guidance from a judge.

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A political clobbering, bickering aides and now a public grenade launched across the White House by the first lady have placed President Donald Trump in a position he loathes: backed into a corner.

President Trump , in a long, combative exchange with reporters at Trump Tower, insisted that he did nothing wrong on Saturday when he declined to specifically condemn Nazi and white supremacist groups.CreditCredit Al Drago for The New York Times.

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Mr. Mulvaney’s lawyers emphasized that he was not trying to oppose Mr. Trump, maintaining that he was actually trying to sue House Democrats, and an administration official who insisted on anonymity said there was “no distance” between the president and his chief of staff. Still, Mr. Mulvaney hired his own lawyer instead of relying on the White House counsel, and he consciously made clear that he was open to testifying if left to his own devices.

The situation underscored the longstanding enmity between Mr. Mulvaney and the counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, who have repeatedly been at odds throughout the impeachment inquiry, according to four administration officials briefed on the events.

Mr. Mulvaney, who has been left with an “acting” title for more than 10 months and therefore insecure in his position, is said to see Mr. Cipollone as angling for his job as chief of staff. People close to Mr. Cipollone deny that and say he is not interested, although they acknowledged that there were previous discussions with Mr. Trump about such a shift.

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The fierce internal White House battle between two of President Trump ’s top aides shows no signs of letting up. H.R. McMaster has been the target of a sustained campaign to oust him as national security adviser over claims he’s not a Trump loyalist or believer in an “America First” foreign policy.

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Hoping to bolster his own place in the White House, Mr. Mulvaney has recommended to Mr. Trump that he hire Mark Paoletta, the general counsel at the Office of Management and Budget, where Mr. Mulvaney is still technically the director, according to people familiar with the maneuvering. Mr. Paoletta would not displace Mr. Cipollone but would give Mr. Mulvaney an ally on the legal team as the impeachment battle plays out.

Another person familiar with the latest moves said that Mr. Paoletta was considered, but that West Wing officials decided they were pleased with the hiring of Pam Bondi, a former attorney general of Florida, and Tony Sayegh, a Republican strategist, both of whom began full time this week.

The latest personnel struggle echoed an attempt by Mr. Mulvaney several weeks ago to hire former Representative Trey Gowdy, a fellow South Carolina Republican, to join the president’s legal team. Mr. Cipollone and others were said to take issue with the idea, concerned it was an effort by Mr. Mulvaney to run his own legal team. Mr. Cipollone told allies he had no such concerns, but eventually, Mr. Gowdy bowed out, facing an issue with a ban on former House members lobbying Congress.

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Despite his own tenuous job status, Mr. Mulvaney has privately told associates in recent days that there is no easy way for Mr. Trump to fire him in the midst of the impeachment fight, the implication being that he knows too much about the president’s pressure campaign to force Ukraine to provide incriminating information about Democrats.

The court fight between Mr. Mulvaney and Mr. Bolton on Monday brought their long-running feud into the open. Mr. Mulvaney was among those facilitating the Ukraine effort, while Mr. Bolton was among those objecting to it. At one point, according to testimony in the impeachment inquiry, Mr. Bolton declared that he wanted no part of the “drug deal” Mr. Mulvaney was cooking up, as the then national security adviser characterized the pressure campaign.

Their clash was just one of many inside Mr. Trump’s circle spilling out into public in recent days. The legal conflict on Monday came just a day before Nikki R. Haley, the president’s former ambassador to the United Nations, plans to publish a memoir accusing Mr. Trump’s former secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, and former chief of staff, John F. Kelly, of conspiring behind his back while in office. Her account in effect is a mirror image of another book coming out this month by an anonymous senior administration official describing how concerned aides mounted their own internal resistance to Mr. Trump.

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As Mr. Trump ’s White House advisers jostle for position, the president has turned to another group of advisers — from family, real estate, media, finance and politics, and all outside the White House gates — many of whom he consults at least once a week.

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Mr. Kelly disputed Ms. Haley in a statement on Sunday and Mr. Tillerson added his own refutation on Monday. “During my service to our country as the secretary of state, at no time did I, nor to my direct knowledge did anyone else serving along with me, take any actions to undermine the president,” Mr. Tillerson said in a statement.

While he offered Mr. Trump frank advice, he said, once the president made a decision, he did his best to carry it out. “Ambassador Haley was rarely a participant in my many meetings and is not in a position to know what I may or may not have said to the president,” Mr. Tillerson added.

Mr. Tillerson was never enamored of Ms. Haley when they were both in office, seeing her as a rival trying to upstage him and run foreign policy from her perch at the United Nations. Ms. Haley’s portrayal of herself fighting off Mr. Trump’s internal enemies was met on Monday with scoffs from several administration officials, who said they were aware of little evidence to back up her self-description. But a former senior administration official who witnessed some of the interactions Ms. Haley had with the president described her as heavily involved with policy.

The books are being published at the same time new transcripts are released by the House documenting how Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and a coterie of allies, including Mr. Mulvaney, sought to sideline career diplomats and other foreign policy officials who warned against enlisting Ukraine to help the president’s personal political interests.

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The dispute pitted one part of Mr. Trump’s administration against another in a struggle over foreign policy that now has the president on the precipice of being impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.

The lawsuit that Mr. Mulvaney sought to join was filed by Mr. Kupperman, a longtime associate of Mr. Bolton’s, asking a court to decide whether Mr. Kupperman should obey the president’s dictate to stay silent or a House subpoena to testify.

While not technically a party to the lawsuit, Mr. Bolton, who left his post in September after clashing with Mr. Trump, is represented by the same lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, and is taking the same position as Mr. Kupperman in waiting for the court to decide whether he should testify or not.

Mr. Mulvaney’s effort to join the lawsuit late Friday night stunned many involved in the impeachment debate because he still works for the president. Mr. Mulvaney did not ask Mr. Bolton or Mr. Kupperman for permission to join the lawsuit, nor did he give them a heads up. Mr. Bolton and his team considered it an outrageous move because they were on opposite sides of the Ukraine fight and did not want their lawsuit polluted with Mr. Mulvaney.

Not only did the motion filed Monday by Mr. Bolton’s camp seek to keep Mr. Mulvaney out of the lawsuit, it even advanced an argument that the acting chief of staff may have to testify before House impeachment investigators. The motion noted that in a briefing with reporters last month, Mr. Mulvaney appeared “to admit that there was a quid pro quo” before later trying to take back the admission, meaning that he might not have the right to defy a House subpoena since he had already discussed the matter in public.

“Accordingly, there is a serious question as to whether Mulvaney waived the absolute testimonial immunity claimed by the president,” the motion said.

Mr. Mulvaney’s lawyers rejected that. “The idea that Mr. Mulvaney has somehow waived broad immunity by speaking about this” at a briefing “doesn’t have any legs,” Christopher C. Muha, one of the lawyers, told the judge in the case on Monday afternoon, according to a transcript of a conference call released by the court.

Nonetheless, Judge Richard J. Leon, of the United States District for the District of Columbia, indicated at the end of the call that he was inclined to reject Mr. Mulvaney’s request to join the suit. Mr. Mulvaney then withdrew it and said he would file his own separate action.

The motion filed by Mr. Bolton’s camp noted that Mr. Kupperman does not take a position on who is right, the president or Congress, and “will remain neutral on the merits of the constitutional issue,” while Mr. Mulvaney “has made it clear that he supports the executive” branch interpretation.

Peter Baker reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York. Michael S. Schmidt contributed reporting from Washington.

Conway and Haley get into heated feud: 'You'll say anything to get the vice-presidential nomination' .
George Conway and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley got into a heated back-and-forth on Twitter on Monday she knocked the conservative lawyer and husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway for his recent criticism of a Republican lawmaker amid the House's impeachment inquiry."This is absolutely uncalled for and disgusting. What is wrong with people? George Conway is the last person that can call someone "trash," Haley tweeted on Monday afternoon. Her tweet also featured an article published by Townhall, titled "George Conway: Let's Face It, This Elise Stefanik Character Is 'Trash.

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