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Trump had it in for Comey from ‘Day One’ over ‘soap opera’ style, Priebus says



When President Trump ousted James Comey from the helm of the FBI last May, it triggered a political cataclysm – with charges flying of obstruction of justice and the appointment soon after of a special counsel who’s since brought charges against numerous Trump associates.

But in a newly published interview, former chief of staff Reince Priebus said Trump was considering firing the FBI director from “Day One,” weary of his “soap opera” approach to investigations.

“He had thought about getting rid of Comey weeks before the inauguration,” Priebus told journalist Chris Whipple for an updated version of his book, “The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency.” “It wasn’t just a subject that came up out of the blue. The president had been wrestling with this from Day One.”

Fox News obtained an advance copy of the book, due out in early March. An adapted passage of “The Gatekeepers” was published last week in Vanity Fair, but did not include the Comey comments.

In the new chapter on the Trump administration, Priebus and others shed light on how Trump arrived at what some consider the most fateful moment of his presidency so far.

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, left, walks with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus before a lunch with President Donald Trump and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the White House in Washington, Monday, April 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon spoke extensively about their time at the White House for a new edition of ‘The Gatekeepers.’


Priebus told Whipple that Trump’s issue with Comey had more to do with his alleged showboating than the Russia investigation (though the book notes it was Comey who briefed the new president on the controversial dossier containing salacious and unverified allegations against him). 


“I’m just telling you I know what he thinks,” Priebus said. “It’s not the fact that they’re having an investigation on the Russia stuff—although he hates that. But what he hated even more is that he believes Comey takes a normal investigation and turns it into a daily soap opera.”

‘It wasn’t just a subject that came up out of the blue. The president had been wrestling with this from Day One.’

– Reince Priebus, on Comey’s firing

Comey, who surely will have scores to settle in a forthcoming book of his own, has been battered by both Trump and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton ever since Trump’s upset win.

Clinton continues to partially blame Comey for announcing the bureau was revisiting her email investigation in the final days of the race, only to close it.

Priebus said the final straw for Trump came after Comey’s Senate Judiciary Committee testimony in early May 2017. Whipple’s account points to Comey’s comment during that hearing that he felt “mildly nauseous” at the notion he could have swayed the 2016 election.

“That’s when it got kicked into high gear,” an unnamed Trump confidant was quoted saying.

According to that source, Trump came back from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., and said, “We have to get rid of Comey.”

Trump reportedly was resolute, saying: “I’m doing this, so don’t try to talk me out of it.”

The book, and passage published last week in Vanity Fair, describes the ensuing chaos at the White House, with Priebus and others trying to stall the firing to no avail. According to the account, Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided to resign, but Priebus confronted him and pleaded with him not to.

According to Whipple, Sessions delivered a resignation letter, but Priebus said he convinced Trump to return it.

Sessions’ resignation threat, which apparently followed a humiliating dressing-down by the president, had emerged in published reports before, though not in this level of detail.

Amid a present-day firestorm over White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s handling of Rob Porter – the staff secretary who resigned earlier this month following allegations of domestic abuse – the book also includes some revealing comments from former chief strategist Steve Bannon about the man who ultimately replaced Priebus.

While much has been written about Kelly’s job being in danger amid the Porter fiasco, Bannon suggested the president’s late father – and his late father’s expectations for his own son – are embodied in the retired general.

“Kelly is Fred Trump talking from beyond the grave to his son,” Bannon told Whipple for the book. “John Kelly is the man Fred Trump always wanted Donald Trump to be. Gary Cooper—no brag, just the facts, no self-promotion, an American hero.”

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Tennessee to resume vaccine outreach efforts after ‘pause’ prompted by GOP backlash



Tennessee’s top health official said Friday that the state is resuming its vaccination advocacy efforts after a “pause” to review marketing materials geared toward teenagers promoting inoculations against Covid-19, an initiative that provoked outrage among conservative politicians.

The scaling back of its vaccination outreach drew national attention when Tennessee’s top vaccination official, Dr. Michelle Fiscus, a pediatrician, was fired last week after she said Republican lawmakers disapproved of her promoting Covid vaccines to eligible children.

On Friday, state Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey declined to discuss Fiscus’ departure, but addressed the larger issue with reporters, saying “there was a perception that we were marketing to children, and that totally was against our view of parental authority.”

“The reason we paused is because we wanted to leave no room for interpretation about where we are shooting: We are shooting to get the message to parents,” she said, adding “we strongly believe that parents are the best decision makers when it comes to medical decisions for their children.”

In June, Republican lawmakers rebuked the health department for how it targeted online posts toward children, including a digital graphic that had a photo of a child with a Band-Aid and the words, “Tennesseans 12+ are eligible for vaccines. Give COVID-19 vaccines a shot.”

The Tennessean, citing emails and an internal report, first reported last week that the state would halt all adolescent vaccine outreach, for all diseases. The newspaper also found that the health department had deleted some pro-vaccine posts on Facebook and Twitter and instructed employees to stop all vaccine-related posts aimed at teens before halting vaccine outreach posts altogether — and not only those related to the Covid vaccine.

The series of moves drew condemnation from state Democrats, who also blamed “anti-vaccine lawmakers from the controlling party” for removing Fiscus.

“A well respected member of the public health community was sacrificed in favor of anti-vaccine ideology,” state Sen. Raumesh Akbari, who represents Memphis, said in a statement. “This disgraceful hatchet job is going to endanger the lives of unvaccinated Tennesseans at a time when we have a safe and reliable way to protect our families from this virus.”

In an email to NBC News last week, Department of Health spokesman Bill Christian did not comment specifically on the reports that the state had halted all immunization outreach to minors, but said that the department “wants to remain a trustworthy source of information to help individuals, including parents, make these decisions.”

Fiscus said in an interview on MSNBC last week that her job was to roll out the Covid vaccine “across the state and to make sure that that was done equitably and in a way that any Tennessean who wanted to access that vaccine would be able to get one.” Her husband came forward to say she had received a dog muzzle at work only days before she was ousted.

She also said tension with GOP lawmakers escalated when she publicized a document on Tennessee’s “Mature Minor Doctrine,” a state Supreme Court ruling from 1987 that states Tennesseans ages 14 to 18 may be treated “without parental consent unless the physician believes that the minor is not sufficiently mature to make his or her own health care decisions.”

As the controversy mounted, Piercey had left the state on a vacation to Greece.

She said Friday that there may be “fringe and nuanced” situations in which a Covid vaccine may need to be given to a minor without parental permission, which The Tennessean reported contradicts a claim from Republican lawmakers who said the health commissioner had previously agreed to stop such a practice.

The fight over the vaccination of children in Tennessee comes as Piercey and public health officials have painted a grim picture with the surge in Covid cases and positivity rates — coinciding with much of the rest of the country — and said there’s been a 200 percent increase in Covid cases since July 1. About 97 percent of all hospitalizations are among the unvaccinated, and the state has struggled with a lagging vaccination rate, she added.

“We’re certainly going in the wrong direction for hospitalizations,” Piercey warned.

Antonio Planas contributed.

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Brexit outrage: Boris urged to hit back after Baroness Hoey exposes EU punishment plans



BREXITEER outrage has erupted after Baroness Kate Hoey exposed attempts by the Republic of Ireland to worsen the ongoing rift between the EU and the UK.

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Trump 2017 inaugural committee chairman to be released on bail pending trial



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