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Trump administration officials fear the White House counsel is enabling the president’s worst impulses

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President Donald Trump’s new White House counsel has pleased his boss by finding legal justifications for some of his worst instincts, instead of tapping the brakes like his predecessor.

Pat Cipollone took over for Don McGahn six months ago, and he’s turned his office into a central hub in the White House and ingratiated himself with the president, who fondly calls him “Mr. Attorney,” reported Politico.

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The 53-year-old former corporate lawyer — part of the so-called “Catholic mafia” that’s gained influence in the Trump administration — is godfather to one of Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s children, and she recruited Cipollone to help Trump prepare for a 2016 debate, and the two “just clicked,” according to one of the attorney’s friends.

Cipollone’s personal chemistry with the president, and his willingness to green-light some of Trump’s dubious policies, has given him newfound power.

Trump critics — both outside and within the administration — are concerned that the White House counsel has abdicated his role in restraining an impulsive president with little understanding or respect for constitutional and political norms.

“One of the best ways to act as a restraint is to raise legal concerns or to play up the economic or political consequences of a decision,” said a former White House official, who said McGahn sometimes angered Trump by pointing out those consequences.

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Cipollone has mapped out legal paths for the president to follow in declaring a national emergency at the southern border, imposing tariffs on Mexico or restricting the use of fetal tissue in medical research, Politico reported.

McGahn, an election lawyer, was mostly concerned with getting conservative judges — and his friend Brett Kavanaugh — confirmed, but Cippolone has beefed up staff in his office, to about 40 now from a low of around 25, and has essentially treated Trump as his client, according to critics.

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“With this president, it’s not about what the org chart looks like, it’s about how close you are to the president,” said a White House official. “But Don didn’t care about that. For Don it was, ‘I’m going to get my judges done and I’m going to make no friends in the process. I don’t care whether the president thinks I am his guy.’”

Cippolone and his office’s attempts to fight off congressional investigations have drawn condemnation from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other top Democrats, although some legal experts say those efforts aren’t particularly unusual.

“White House counsels have generally followed a fairly hostile approach to congressional inquiries touching on White House staff,” said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University.

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Trump’s personal lawyers, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, have adopted Cippolone’s argument that lawmakers have no “legitimate legislative purpose” to subpoena documents they have demanded to investigate the president and his family.

A district court judge, however, shot down that claim last month in a lawsuit filed by Trump’s personal legal team against the president’s longtime accounting firm, which was ordered to comply with congressional subpoenas.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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‘There’s an awful lot of really good Republicans out there’: Joe Biden at Cape Cod fundraiser

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Former Vice President Joe Biden defended Republican lawmakers in DC as "decent people" during a campaign fundraiser held at Cape Cod.

"There’s an awful lot of really good Republicans out there," Biden argued, according to Washington Post reporter Matt Viser.

"I get in trouble for saying that with Democrats, but...every time we ever got in trouble with our administration, remember who got sent up to Capitol Hill to fix it? Me," he said.

”Because they know I respect the other team. I do. They’re decent people," Biden claimed. "They ran because they care about things, but they’re intimidated right now.”

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Neo-Nazi ‘Atomwaffen Division’ holding live-fire militia training exercises at ‘The Base’: report

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One sign of the growing white nationalist crisis in America is a new outreach effort for paramilitary training.

"A neo-Nazi group focused on providing paramilitary-style training to far-right extremists has been conducting a massive recruitment drive and claims to have already conducted live-fire training with its members," Vice News reports.

"The Base, which is connected to extreme-right groups the Atomwaffen Division and the Feuerkrieg Division, has been promoting its growth on social media with photos announcing its presence in major cities across North America, including New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle, and in Europe, South Africa, and Australia," Vice reported. "The images often include a small contingent (typically one to three) of masked, camo-clad men holding weapons standing in front of The Base's flag, a black flag with three white lines running down the centre."

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Oklahoma police searching for man who shot Taco Bell employee in dispute over the drive-thru

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Police are searching for a man who allegedly shot a Taco Bell employee early Saturday morning.

"The employee was shot in the leg after asking the customer to pull forward in the drive-thru," KFOR-TV reported Saturday. "The customer argued, but eventually pulled forward, and that’s when he pulled out a gun and shot the employee."

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