Former White House Chief of Staff Mark attended "secret meetings" Donald Trump held in the private residence of the White House, a top former aide said Friday on CNN.
Stephanie Grisham is uniquely positioned to understand the dynamics between the two halves of the White House during the Trump administration. When she served as White House press secretary and communications director, she worked in the West Wing under the chief of staff. But she then became chief of staff to First Lady Melania Trump, who has traditionally directed the East Wing, which is the White House's private residence.
Grisham explained her experience during an interview with CNN's Kasie Hunt.
"I would say that in my role as chief of staff — just kind for background for you guys for your viewers — I was always told about any meetings that were going to happen in the residence, mostly so I could give Mrs. Trump a heads-up that there would be people in her home," she explained. ""There were meetings taking place up there. I don't have visibility into what was discussed and all of the people who were there, but I can say that you know, Mark Meadows would have been there, as well as the legal team that was working on all of the bonkers little plans that you were actually talking about right before this segment."
She also said Melania Trump may have attended the meetings.
"She may or may not have been sitting in," Grisham said. "She was known for popping into meetings, so she probably knew what was going on as well."
Stephanie Grisham www.youtube.com
'Stop f-ing around': Kevin McCarthy lashes out at GOP members trying to extort him over speakership vote
On Friday, CNN reported that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has lost his patience with Republican House members demanding he appease them in return for electing him speaker down the line — and issued a threat to these members in a December meeting.
"The House Republican leader cast off his typically sunny demeanor during a December 8 meeting of the GOP conference to deliver a stern warning to his most raucous members: Quit trying to hold your vote for speaker over my head," reported Michael Warren and Melanie Zanona. "'He said, 'If any of you come to me and tell me that you're not going to vote for me unless I do something, I'm going to do exactly the opposite, even if I agree with you,'' said Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who was there at the time. A second Republican member told CNN McCarthy punctuated his threat with, 'I mean it.'"
Another unnamed GOP member put McCarthy's message bluntly: "He shifted from friendly mode to 'stop f***ing around and hurting the conference' mode."
Republicans are widely considered to be favorites to win control of the House in 2022, given Democrats' slim majority and the historical trend of the opposition party making gains in midterm years. However, analysts have observed McCarthy struggling to hold together his caucus, which could be an issue for his party accomplishing anything as a majority.
In particular, the far-right members of the caucus have been making demands of McCarthy in order to support him for speaker. Particularly prominent is Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who told McCarthy to kick Trump-skeptic Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) out of the caucus and strip moderate Rep. John Katko (R-NY) of his Homeland Security committee leadership — although much of this is now a moot point given Kinzinger and Katko are both retiring.
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Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday endorsed Jessica Cisneros' campaign to oust Rep. Henry Cuellar, a right-wing Democrat whose Texas home and office were raided this week as part of a sweeping federal investigation related to Azerbaijan and U.S. businessmen.
In an email, Ocasio-Cortez's (D-N.Y.) team pointed to reporting that "the Department of Justice's Public Integrity unit is involved with the investigation—a unit that handles cases involving elected officials including campaign finance and corruption cases."
"We don't know what this investigation may mean for this race, but we do know that Cuellar's campaign still has $2.3 million in the bank," the New York Democrat's campaign noted. "If we can't close the gap, Jessica could be outspent dramatically."
Ocasio-Cortez's endorsement of Cisneros—an immigration attorney and an outspoken supporter of Medicare for All and a Green New Deal—comes less than two months out from the Democratic primary in Texas' 28th Congressional District, a rematch of the 2020 contest that Cuellar narrowly won with the help of copious dark money and a boost from the Democratic establishment.
"Cuellar, the last anti-choice 'Democrat' in the House... had a 70% voting record of siding with Donald Trump" before Cisneros challenged him in 2020, Ocasio-Cortez's campaign team noted Thursday. "Last cycle, Jessica was massively outspent, but only lost by about 2,700 votes—a gap that can easily be closed with your support. We have a real opportunity to expand progressive leadership in Congress by electing Jessica this year."
According to ABC News, the FBI's search of Cuellar's home in Laredo, Texas as well as his campaign office was carried out Wednesday "as part of a wide-ranging federal probe relating to the former Soviet state of Azerbaijan and several U.S. businessmen."
"A federal grand jury in Washington is investigating the matter, but it's unclear if Cuellar is a target of the grand jury's probe," ABC reported.
News of the investigation—with which Cuellar has vowed to fully cooperate—drew fresh attention to the upcoming Texas primary contest and to Cisneros' progressive campaign.
"Been getting a lot of new followers tonight!" Cisneros tweeted following reports of the FBI raid.
Julián Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, wrote on social media Thursday that "Rep. Cuellar is entitled to a presumption of innocence of any wrongdoing."
"But the working families of TX-28 who need a champion in Congress," he added, "can't risk losing a Democratic seat because the incumbent is under a cloud of suspicion."