Today's theme, dear reader, is tranquility. I kid! Actually, it's gang warfare -- with side orders of fake sharks, lame meetings and deleted tweets. Anyway, let's get started ...
1. Helpful!: "President Donald Trump has the power to pardon his family and staff, but perhaps not the power to pardon himself," per "Who President Trump can pardon, and who he can't," a Marketwatch post this morning by Robert Schroeder. "Questions about who Trump has the power to pardon began swirling in the wake of a Washington Post report last week that the president's lawyers are examining those powers, as a way to undercut special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the presidential election. On Saturday, Trump said presidents have 'complete power' to issue pardons."
+ ICYMI, that assertion came (of course) via tweet:
While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us.FAKE NEWS— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017
2. Jared Kushner's latest strategy for defending himself against accusations of collusion? Be relatable! Per a Vice News post this morning by David Gilbert headlined "Kushner wanted an 'excuse' to get out of that Russia meeting":
Jared Kushner has given his first public account of four meetings he had with Russian officials during President Trump's 2016 election campaign and transition. In an 11-page statement given to the Senate and House intelligence committees, the president's son-in-law denies any collusion. Part of Kushner's statement addresses the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Kremlin-linked lawyer organized by his brother-in-law Donald Trump Jr. In it, Kushner says the meeting was such "a waste of our time" that he emailed an assistant just 10 minutes after arriving and asked "Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting."
We can all sympathize with being stuck in an annoying meeting, amirite? Ergo, Kushner is innocent. Case closed.
3. Meanwhile, calm down, people! Michael Phelps did not collude with a great white shark. He just had an annoying meeting with a virtual great white shark. See "Phelps' Shark Week special faces backlash for use of CGI," via Fox News.
4. Sometimes attempted distraction-avoidance is really distracting.
Full transparency: I'm deleting old tweets. Past views evolved & shouldn't be a distraction. I serve @POTUS agenda & that's all that matters— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) July 22, 2017
Bloomberg News has the backstory in a post headlined "Scaramucci Purges Twitter Messages to Avoid Being a 'Distraction'." Justin Sink writes,
Anthony Scaramucci has purged his Twitter account of previous criticisms of President Donald Trump, saying he didn't want to be a "distraction" for the White House in his new role as communications director with messages that reflect prior political views. Among the missives that disappeared into the digital ether on Saturday were a post referring to Trump's campaign as a "spectacle," another in 2012 imploring Democrat Hillary Clinton to run for president and a tweet calling Trump ally Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, an "odd guy."
5. On the weekend's edition of "The New Yorker Radio Hour" (a collaboration between the magazine and WYNC Studios that airs on stations across the nation), Editor-in-Chief David Remnick spoke with New York Times White House Correspondent Maggie Haberman ... and it was rather amazing. Here's one excerpt:
Remnick: From outside, it seems like we're looking at a kind of Borgia-like court, in which everybody is leaking on everybody, nobody particularly likes anyone else, everybody's suspicious of each other, and the President, as described in The New York Times and elsewhere, is obsessively watching himself on television, fuming about his coverage. The fuming then turns into tweets, usually on Sunday morning, and the atmosphere is generally poisonous. Is that inaccurate?
Haberman: Yeah, I think that's a hundred-per-cent accurate. Look, we're used to a team of rivals. We are not used to a team of the Bloods and the Crips. Which is essentially what this is in the White House. I mean, these are rival gangs.
6. Speaking of rival gangs: "New York Times requests apology from Fox on ISIS story," per Politico.
7. And finally, I leave you with this:
Thanks to Ann-Christine Diaz, George Slefo, Laurel Wentz and Jessica Wohl for their roundup suggestions.
Simon Dumenco, aka Media Guy, is an Ad Age editor-at-large. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.