“White Hot”

Thursday, May 11, 2017
Demonstrators in front of the White House during a protest Wednesday over the firing of FBI Director James Comey. Credit:Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
“White Hot”: That was Trump’s reported mood in the days before Comey’s firing

Ivanka’s Bestseller: Her book “Women Who Work” debuts at No. 4 in the NYTimes’ advice category

A Timeline, for Posterity: Yes, the past day has been surreal

Kate Bennett

What the White House is Talking About:
President Trump is expected to sign an Executive Order today forming a commission on (wait for it) preventing voter fraud and election tampering. 

What the White House Press Corps is Talking About:
Sean Spicer, benched? The will-he, won’t-he suspense surrounding whether the WH press secretary will be replaced at the briefing podium by Sarah Huckabee Sanders is basically like waiting for the season finale of “The Bachelor.” Or maybe “The Apprentice.” Buzz is that Sanders has done well — and she has — filling for Spicer on two occasions, Trump has taken notice and might indeed give her a shot.

“White Hot”:
CNN reports Trump was in super-angry mode leading up to his firing of James Comey. 

POTUS Bought a Big Chandelier, Gets Extra Scoop of Vanilla:
The big TIME magazine cover story out today is worth your time, if only for the peek inside the living habits of the president. Two parts in particular caught my eye. 1) The White House staff know Trump’s eating habits. He drinks Diet Coke, likes Thousand Island dressing and gets an extra scoop of vanilla ice cream on his chocolate cream pie; guests only receive one. Mike Pence, also at the meal, didn’t have pie. He had a fruit plate. 2) Trump apparently purchased his own massive, sparkly chandelier for his private dining room — the one just off the Oval Office — where he spends a lot of his time watching TV on a big screen. 

Image credit: Screen shot, Time.com
You can see the chandelier in the mirror reflection in this photo from the story, taken by Benjamin Rasmussen. Also, there it is in the picture Dan Scavino posted last week of Trump and his advisers celebrating the House passage of the healthcare bill 
Image credit: Benjamin Rasmussen for TIME magazine
Image credit: @Scavino45/twitter

Buy A Piece of Jacqueline Kennedy’s Private Collection:
If I had a lot of money — and I don’t — I would do my best to buy this Cartier Tank watch once owned by Jackie Kennedy. It’s up for auction at Christie’s on June 21 and is estimated to sell for $60,000-120,000 but may actually fetch much more. Her brother-in-law gave Jackie the watch in 1963 while she was first lady, and it’s personalized with an engraving on the back. I’m obsessed. The Tank is arguably Cartier’s most iconic ladies’ watch. 

Image credit: Courtesy of Christie’s

Imma Leave This Here:
Because the headline speaks for itself. But you should also read on

Image credit: CNNPolitics.com

I Tweeted Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ Dress Designer, Got Attacked By Trump Army Twitter:
Yesterday I tweeted that Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ dress appeared to be the “Jane” by Lilly Pulitzer, a cute $168 navy number with gold details. I was then relentlessly attacked by people on the Twitter machine, accusing me of sexism, misogyny and being a fake-news liberal. So, yeah, that happened. My favorite insult was this one; I’ve actually always been self-conscious of my chin, so it landed. 

Image credit: (l) Getty Images; (r) saksfifthavenue.com

Ivanka Trump’s Book A Verified Bestseller: 
“Women Who Work,” though roundly panned by critics, will reportedly debut this week at No. 4 on the New York Times’ Best Seller list in the Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous category. 

Hunter Schwarz

What Washington is Talking About:
For the sake of not repeating myself, let’s say it’s the Wizards’ and Caps’ respective losses last night to the Celtics and Penguins.

What America is Talking About:
Again, for the sake of not repeating myself, let’s say it’s the removal of a statue of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis in New Orleans.

What Salt Lake is Talking About:
The Mormon Church announced this morning that effective January 1, 2018, its young men aged 14-17 will no longer participate in Boy Scouts. Nearly 1 in 6 Scouts is Mormon.

A Timeline of the Past 24 Hours, For Posterity:
The past day has been wild. It’s felt like a dream, at times, a barrage of surreal images and constant post-Comey-firing updates. Of course the big scandal of President Trump’s administration would be because he fired someone — as if all those seasons of “The Apprentice” were merely foreshadowing for this week. But it wasn’t a TV-ready “You’re fired!,” it was a passive-aggressive letter released when the guy was on the other side of the country.

I’ve been taking notes on how things are unfolding. Below is a time-stamped diary of what went down and when:

Wednesday, 11:05 a.m. — I send out the first draft of COVER/LINE to my editors. Had to cut half of what I was planning on putting in for space reasons. GQ’s profile of The Rock is open in a tab somewhere, buried. Maybe I’ll have time to read and include before we hit send? But maybe not…

11:11 a.m. — The Russian Embassy tweets a pic of Trump with their ambassador. Reporters from the US are not allowed in, just Russian state media.

Credit: @RusEmbUSA/Twitter

The ambassador, Kislyak, is toxic. US intelligence consider him a top spy recruiter in Washington for Russia, which Moscow denies…

11:28 a.m. — The press pool is called into the Oval Office to take photos of what they expect will be Trump with Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs. The photos will be the first of Trump taken by the press since Sunday. They walk into the room, and instead of Trump + Lavrov, it’s Trump + Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s Secretary of State…

Credit: Molly Riley/Pool/Getty Images

12:04 p.m. — COVER/LINE goes out. Didn’t get to add any The Rock stuff. I’ll get to it this afternoon and put it in tomorrow, I tell myself…

12:50 p.m.  Sources tell CNN that Comey went to the DOJ for more resources for the Russia investigation last week. DOJ denies the story…

1:48 p.m. — The sliding door to the briefing room opens. There’s four people, then Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy press secretary, and a man behind her who slides the door shut as she takes the lectern. Spicer’s not there. He’s “on reserve duty for the rest of this week,” SHS says, but sources are saying that Spicer’s actually been sidelined and Sanders is trying out for his job.
“Light crowd,” she deadpans. There’s light, scattered laughter.

Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

She opens with a list of announcements, all of which no one cares about until she gets to Comey.

“The President, over the last several months lost confidence in Director Comey,” she says.

SHS is so much more pleasant on the ears than Spicer. She’s still ducking and dodging and spinning, but it’s not so aggressive. She’s not cutting off reporters or scolding them for raising their hand.

She says Trump has wanted to fire Comey since he took office. I start looking through transcripts of interviews with administration members in January. Reince Priebus, January 15, on ABC: “Trump has confidence in Director Comey,” he said. “There’s no plans at the moment” to remove Comey from his job until his term is over. Hmmm…

1:01 p.m. — CBS has an interview with Putin. And he’s in a uniform, I guess? A hockey uniform? Yes, a full hockey uniform. He’s in Sochi to play a hockey game, because of course he is, and CBS has an interview. Comey’s firing will have “no effect” on U.S.-Russia relations, he says…

Credit: CBS

1:08 p.m.  Betsy DeVos is giving a commencement address and it isn’t going so well. It’s at Bethune-Cookman University, home of the mighty fighting Wildcats, a historically black college in Daytona Beach, Florida. Grads stand and turn their backs. Some are booing…

2:05 p.m. — Quinnipiac’s out with a new poll. Trump has a 36% approval rating, and who knows what it’ll be after this week. Ouch. They asked people what word comes to mind when they think of Donald Trump.
No. 1 is “idiot”
No. 2: “incompetent”
No. 3: “liar”
No. 4 looks like the first positive one. It’s “leader.” I guess it could also just be a neutral description, so maybe not the first positive one?
No. 5: “unqualified”
No. 6, another descriptor: “president”
No. 7, finally a 100% positive one: “strong”…

4:03 p.m. — Jake Tapper reports sources close to Comey say there were two reasons he was fired: 1. Comey never provided the President with any assurance of personal loyalty. 2. The FBI’s investigation into possible Trump team collusion with Russia in the 2016 election was accelerating…

4:53 p.m. — Perez Hilton faved a tweet of mine. Everyone is watching this…

6:44 p.m. — I have a friend in town and we go to Tortilla Coast (the one on P St. that Paul Ryan didn’t work at). The food is mediocre and the service is slow, but it’s happy hour and there are quesadillas. We talk about all the Comey firing memes: Spicer hiding in the bushes and Anderson Cooper’s now-iconic eye roll…

Credit: (l) the internet, (r) CNN

7:44 p.m. — Inbox: Chaffetz calls on the DOJ to expand its investigation to now include Comey’s firing…

8:38 p.m. — I go to a birthday party for a friend of a friend at Dacha. I don’t know anyone there and I’m trying to be present and friendly, but every time my phone buzzes, it’s the only thing I can think about. Is it an email? @realDonaldTrump? Has Hillary finally tweeted? Yes, no, and no. I feel like I’m being a jerk, but I can’t put it away…

11:25 p.m. — I guess should probably read that The Rock profile now…

Thursday, 6:10 a.m. — It’s raining today. ABC reports Trump today is finally going to launch his commission on voter fraud….

8:43 a.m. — I read through the Post. The photo on the front page was taken by the Russians…

Credit: Hunter Schwarz

There are also new interviews with Trump out in Time and in the Economist, where he said he came up with the phrase “prime the pump” “a couple of days ago”…

9:28 a.m. — Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, tweets that Trump should nominate Merrick Garland, Obama’s failed Supreme Court nominee, to replace Comey. I click the tweet to make sure it’s not a parody account or something. It’s not…

10:43 a.m. — Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe is testifying before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee. He says he can’t comment on conversations between Comey and Trump, and says, “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date.”

11:25 a.m. — I send the first draft of COVER/LINE to our editors, hoping nothing breaks in the next hour. Trump hasn’t tweeted in 15 hours. He should be sitting down with NBC’s Lester Holt right about now…

Street Art Sighting:
Ahead of Trump’s visit to Vatican City in two weeks, this mural of him in devil horns kissing a haloed Pope popped up in central Rome:

Credit: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

Send me your pics of political street art to coverlinehunter@cnn.com, tweet me @hunterschwarz, or tag @cnncoverline on Instagram.

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COVER/LINE is where politics meets pop culture. From CNN’s Hunter Schwarz and Kate Bennett, this daily newsletter is the must-read lunch date in Washington and beyond.
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