Eye on 45

A rundown of news out of the White House and Congress

In the CN&R’s last installment of Eye on 45 in January, President Trump and onetime Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon were sparring, three women who allege they’d been sexually harassed by Trump called on Congress to launch an investigation, and new Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon attorney, voted to scrap net neutrality. Here’s a snapshot of the past month:

Jan. 4: ABC News reports that the president’s attorney sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bannon that accused him of violating the terms of a confidentiality agreement. The letter charged that Bannon had made disparaging and defamatory comments—likely referring to him having described Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting with Russians at Trump Tower as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” in a book by Michael Wolff.

Meanwhile, Trump’s attorney also went after Wolff over the then-forthcoming publication of that book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, alleging that it contains libelous content. In response, the author told news site Axios he’d taped his interviews with White House staff, including Bannon.

The same day, The New York Times reports that the Trump administration announced a plan to open coastal waters of California to new offshore gas and oil drilling.

Jan. 5: The New York Times reports that Trump pressured his lawyer to attempt to stop Attorney General Jeff Sessions from recusing himself from overseeing the Russian investigation, because he expected Sessions to protect him.

Meanwhile, NBC reports that author Wolff stands behind his reporting. Wolff noted that he was on the record while talking with Trump. Further, Wolff said those inside the White House described the president as being “like a child. And what they mean by that is he has a need for immediate gratification. It is all about him.”

Jan. 6: Axios reports that POTUS doesn’t begin his workday until mid-morning, typically around 11 a.m. And according to his private schedule, he’s taking fewer meetings than during his early days. The changes are based on his desire to have more “executive time,” aka more alone time to watch TV and tweet.

On the same day, amid questions about his mental fitness, Trump referred to himself as a “very stable genius.”

Jan. 7: The embattled Bannon releases a statement expressing “regret” about not responding sooner to what he characterized as “inaccurate reporting regarding Don Jr.”

Jan. 8: Special Counsel Robert Mueller communicated with Trump’s attorneys in December regarding his intent to seek to interview the commander-in-chief. The move triggered “discussions among Mr. Trump’s lawyers about the perils of such a move,” according to The New York Times.

The same day, the Times reports that Bannon stepped down as executive chairman of Breitbart News, the far-right media outlet he led prior to joining the Trump campaign in 2016.

Jan. 9: Several major banks convicted of manipulating global interest rates were let off the hook for millions of dollars in fines. This includes Deutsche Bank, an institution Trump is personally indebted to, to the tune of at least $130 million, reports International Business Times.

Jan. 11: The day The New York Times reports Trump’s now-notorious comments about Haiti and certain African nations being “shithole countries.”

Jan. 16: Despite having high cholesterol and being a single pound shy of being classified as obese, Trump receives a clean bill of health from the White House doctor.

Jan. 18: One of Trump’s private lawyers, Ty Cobb, tells CBS News that POTUS is “very eager” to speak with Mueller. He also said he expected the investigation to be wrapped up in about a month to six weeks, reports The Hill.

Jan. 22: A three-day government shutdown ends with Congress voting aye on a short-term spending bill to keep things running for the next three weeks. Democrats’ approval was gained when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to continue negotiations over the fate of the dreamers.

Jan. 23: The New York Times reports that Mueller’s investigative team has interviewed Sessions.

Jan. 24: When questioned during a press conference about whether he was going to speak with Mueller, POTUS says, “I’m looking forward to it, actually.”

Jan. 25: The New York Times reports that, back in June, Trump ordered White House counsel to fire Mueller. In response, Donald McGahn, the attorney in question, refused to do so and threatened to resign.

Jan. 29: Politico reports that the Trump administration told Congress that sanctions against Russia that had been approved over the summer but not yet implemented were no longer necessary because the effort was already “serving as a deterrent.”

Feb. 1: During a meeting at the White House, the president asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—the Justice Department official overseeing the Mueller investigation whose work relies on independence—whether he was “on my team,” reports CNN. The inquiry is along the lines of what Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired when he wouldn’t convey his allegiance.

The same day, the president tweets that the ratings for his State of the Union speech was “the highest number in history.” It wasn’t. George W. Bush’s post-9/11 speech had more viewers, as did Bill Clinton’s first such speech.

A poll conducted by Monmouth University reveals that 71 percent of respondents say Trump should be interviewed by Mueller. A higher percentage—82 percent—said that the interview should be conducted under oath.

Feb. 2: The president allowed for the release of a GOP memo that that alleges a bias against him at the FBI and the Department of Justice. However, the document failed to back up such claims, legal experts and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said. Meanwhile, Democrats sought the release of their own memo aimed at countering such claims.

Feb. 5: POTUS takes a swipe at Democrats who did not clap during his State of the Union speech. “Can we call that treason?” he asked. “Why not? I mean, they certainly didn’t seen to love our country very much.”

Meanwhile, on Wall Street, the Dow dropped nearly 1,600 points before rising a bit and ending the day at a drop of 1,175 points—the biggest decline in seven years.

In addition, The New York Times reports that the president’s lawyers have advised him to refuse to be interviewed by Mueller.

Feb. 7: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in an interview with Fox News, says that Russia is already attempting to interfere with the upcoming midterm elections.

Feb. 8: During an interview with NBC News, the Department of Homeland Security’s chief cybersecurity official confirmed that Russia hacked into the voter registration roll in several states. However, the agency did not see evidence of tampering.

Feb. 9: After a second government shutdown in three weeks, Trump signs a budget deal that includes hundreds of billions in increased spending.

Feb. 12: The White House releases a proposed budget that would add $7 trillion to the deficit over the next decade and would drastically cut programs for the poor, disabled and elderly.

Feb. 13: Longtime personal Trump attorney Michael Cohen told The New York Times that he used $130,000 of his own money in 2016 to pay porn star Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels). Clifford says she had an affair with the president in 2006, shortly after his wife, Melania, had given birth to son Barron. The payment was ostensibly for her silence, though Cohen would not confirm that. His comments follow allegations that the payment had violated campaign finance laws.

Feb. 15: In a tweet responding to the mass shooting in which 17 people, mostly students, died at a Florida high school, the president appeared to lay blame on those who knew the shooter. “So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed …. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!” he wrote.

Feb. 16: The Department of Justice announces that the agency has indicted 13 Russians who attempted to influence the 2016 general election. The indictments counter Trump’s narrative that Russian interference is “fake news.”

Feb. 18: In response to the announcement, Trump, during a weekend at his private Mar-a-Lago estate, goes on an epic “tweetstorm” in which he attacks Democrats, the FBI, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, among others. Noticeably absent as a target of his wrath: Russia.