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Trump calls Northam controversy ‘pretty sad,’ stops short of demanding governor’s resignation

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Trump calls Northam controversy 'pretty sad,' stops short of demanding governor's resignation

In an exclusive interview with Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle,” President Trump sounded a note of pity for the “pretty sad” controversy surrounding embattled Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, but stopped short of calling for his resignation.

Trump’s comments came as the clamor for the resignation of Virginia’s top two politicians seemed to die down Monday, with some black community leaders forgiving Northam over the blackface photograph in his medical school yearbook page, and calling for a fair hearing for Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax on the sexual assault allegations against him.

“I watched his news conference — it was pretty sad,” Trump said, referring to Northam’s remarks to reporters earlier in the month. At the hastily arranged event, Northam denied that he appeared in the 1984 blackface photograph, contradicting his previous statements.

But he acknowledged that he had darkened his face when he dressed as singer Michael Jackson as part of a talent contest that same year. And hen asked if he still able to perform the Moonwalk — Jackson’s signature dance move — Northam paused to look at the space next to him as if he was about to attempt the move, before his wife Pamela said it was “inappropriate circumstances.”

“I felt sorry for his wife — his wife saved him,” Trump told host Laura Ingraham. “He was gonna try to imitate Michael Jackson with the Moonwalk. Nobody can imitate Michael Jackson with the Moonwalk. It was a pretty bad situation.”

FILE- In this Sept. 25, 2018, file photo, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax gestures during remarks before a meeting of the Campaign to reduce evictions at a church meeting room in Richmond, Va. Two women have accused Fairfax of sexually assault. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

FILE- In this Sept. 25, 2018, file photo, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax gestures during remarks before a meeting of the Campaign to reduce evictions at a church meeting room in Richmond, Va. Two women have accused Fairfax of sexually assault. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Still, Trump added, it was not necessary for Northam to step aside.

“Let them figure out what to do,” Trump said, referring to Virginians.

Trump called Virginia a “Democrat state” where he did “very well” in the 2016 elections and hinted that the state is “ready to flip over” to the GOP side in 2020.

“African-Americans are comign to the Republican Party like nobody can believe,” Trump said.

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Meanwhile, at least one lawmaker says he will try to pursue impeachment of Fairfax after two women accused him of sexual assault in the 2000s. Fairfax has vehemently denied the claims and called for authorities, including the FBI, to investigate.

As the scandals engulfing Virginia’s top three elected Democrats developed, it became increasingly clear that it could look bad for the party if Fairfax were summarily pushed out and the two white men managed to stay in power.

“The sort of irony that makes your head spin is that Herring and Northam are in trouble for behavior related to Virginia’s racial past. And yet it may be the only African-American statewide officeholder who, at the end of the day, gets in trouble,” said Quentin Kidd, a political science professor at Virginia’s Christopher Newport University. “This may get worse and more uncomfortable before it gets better — if it does get better.”

Northam on Sunday vowed to remain in office because “there’s no better person” to help the state “heal” from the multitude of scandals rocking its leadership than a doctor with his medical school credentials.

In the same interview with “CBS This Morning,” Northam suggested that Fairfax should resign if the two sexual-assault allegations leveled against him are proven true.

Northam also intimated that the state’s Democratic attorney general, Mark Herring, should consider stepping aside because he admitted to dressing in blackface in college.

“I’m a leader,” Northam told host Gayle King. “I’ve been in some very difficult situations, life-and-death situations, taking care of sick children. Right now, Virginia needs someone that can heal. There’s no better person to do that than a doctor.”

Fox News’ Laura Ingraham and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump’s a Russian asset

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McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump’s a Russian asset

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said in an interview Tuesday that he believes it is possible that President Trump is a Russian asset and thinks “that’s why we started our investigation.”

McCabe has said in the past that the FBI had a good reason to open up a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was working with Russia and a possible national security threat.

The former official was on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” when he was asked if he believes Trump may still be a Russian asset. He said he’s “anxious” to see the conclusion of special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation.

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He was also asked if he believes Trump is fit to serve and said it is not up to him to make the determination.

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Gowdy challenges McCabe’s claim congressional leaders didn’t object to Russia counterintelligence probe

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Gowdy challenges McCabe's claim congressional leaders didn't object to Russia counterintelligence probe

Former congressman and Fox News contributor Trey Gowdy disputed former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe’s claim Tuesday that congressional leaders didn’t object to the bureau’s counterintelligence investigation over President Trump’s Russia ties.

“The reason he’s doing it this way is that [Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.] and [former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.] are not allowed to discuss anything that’s said in a ‘Gang of Eight’ meeting and McCabe knows that,” Gowdy said on “The Story with Martha MacCallum.” “So he can level the accusation and Devin and Paul cannot refute him.” Nunes chaired the House Intelligence Committee from 2015-19.

McCabe, in an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday morning, said no members of the “Gang of Eight,” a bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders, including Nunes and Ryan, objected to the investigation.

“I told Congress what we had done,” McCabe told Savannah Guthrie.

“Did anyone object?” Guthrie asked.

“That’s the important part here, Savannah,” McCabe replied. “No one objected. Not on legal grounds, not on constitutional grounds and not based on the facts.”

DAN BONGINO: MCCABE FINDS IMPETUS OF TRUMP PROBE ‘INARTICULABLE’

Gowdy, formerly a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said he believed McCabe wasn’t telling the truth and that Nunes and Ryan did not know about a second investigation.

“There were three investigations into a duly elected president. The Peter Strzok one from July of 2016 and then McCabe started a counterintelligence [probe] and if he’s telling the truth, started a criminal probe into the president of the United States,” Gowdy told Martha MacCallum.

“I listened to Devin and Paul quiz the [Justice Department] and the FBI for hours on multiple occasions about the one counterintelligence investigation, we all knew about it. I find it stunning that they would know about a second one and not say a single solitary word.”

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Gowdy also addressed former FBI Director James Comey’s May 2017 firing and McCabe’s belief that the president was trying to shut down the Russia investigation.

“If thinking that Jim Comey is not a good FBI director is tantamount to being an agent of Russia then just list all the people that are agents of Russia. [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer, [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, [Deputy Attorney General] Rod Rosenstein…,” Gowdy said.

Fox News’ Martha MacCallum contributed to this report.

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Trump, Giuliani deny president tried obstructing Michael Cohen investigation

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Trump, Giuliani deny president tried obstructing Michael Cohen investigation

President Trump’s attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, denied a New York Times report that Trump asked then-Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker whether U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, a presidential ally, could be put in charge of the investigation into alleged wrongdoing by Trump’s onetime personal attorney Michael Cohen.

“The president said today he had no such conversation with the acting AG, and I believe Mr. Whitaker issued a statement to the same effect,” Giuliani said in a statement late Tuesday. “The rest of the piece is just a regurgitation of previously refuted obstruction theories. They all fail as obstruction because as [Harvard Law] Professor [Alan] Dershowitz’s recent book and many other authorities make clear, all of the alleged actions were within the president’s sole discretion under Article II of the U.S. Constitution.”

The Times report said that Whitaker told Trump that he could not put Berman in charge of the Cohen investigation because he had already recused himself from that matter. The paper claimed that Trump “soured” on Whitaker and “complained about his inability to pull levers at the Justice Department that could make the president’s many legal problems go away.”

Trump denied the story at the White House Tuesday afternoon, referring to the Times report as “more fake news” and saying that he had a “very good” relationship with Whitaker, who was replaced last week by William Barr.

“I have a lot of respect for Mr. Whitaker. I think he’s done a great job,” Trump said. He said Whitaker was “a very fine man, and he should be given a lot of thanks by our nation.”

Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec referred to testimony Whitaker gave to the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month.

WHITAKER CALLS TIME ON DEM CHAIRMAN: ‘YOUR 5 MINUTES IS UP’

“Under oath to the House Judiciary Committee, then-Acting Attorney General Whitaker stated that ‘at no time has the White House asked for nor have I provided any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel’s investigation or any other investigation,'” Kupec said. “Mr. Whitaker stands by his testimony.”

Berman was named acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York in January 2018 by the AG at that time, Jeff Sessions. Berman was appointed to the position indefinitely by the panel’s judges three months later.

Prosecutors in the Southern District say Trump directed Cohen to make illegal hush-money payments to two women — adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal — in order to keep them quiet about alleged sexual encounters with them dating back more than a decade and coming soon after he’d married his current wife, Melania. Cohen is scheduled to report to prison next month to begin a three-year sentence after pleading guilty this past August to campaign finance and other violations.

Cohen is also scheduled to appear before the House Intelligence Committee on Feb. 28. His attorney, Lanny Davis, has said that Cohen also plans to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Oversight Committee before the end of this month. In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying under oath to the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

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Fox News’ John Roberts and Jake Gibson contributed to this report.

Click for more from The New York Times.

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