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New Book Reveals Behind-the-Scenes Drama Between Trump and Congress
A new book by Politico reporters Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer reveals a lot about the relationship between President Donald Trump and members of Congress.
“The Hill to Die On” comes out next week, but I obtained a copy last week and pored through it quickly. It’s filled with lots of details behind the most dramatic moments of the past two years. Sherman and Palmer, who co-write Politico’s Playbook newsletter, gathered their reporting over a 26-month period.
McConnell on Impact of Kavanaugh Saga: ‘I’m a rock star’
In the chapter entitled “Second Seat,” Sherman/Palmer describe how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reacted to Brett Kavanaugh being confirmed after a tumultuous confirmation process that involved multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and emotional testimony from his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.
The book says that McConnell found Ford to be “trustworthy,” while also saying that McConnell thought “Kavanaugh was a good man—and losing this nomination had never been an option.”
The Kavanaugh confirmation process was painful and exhausting for Kavanaugh opponents and supporters. But in typical McConnell fashion, the Senate majority leader didn’t process the saga like most people.
In an interview for the book, McConnell told Sherman/Palmer about a poll CNN conducted where his approval rating jumped from 30 percent to 62 percent.
“I’d never had an audience like that before. So all of these Republicans who are constantly told by radio talk show hosts and others that I’m a villain got to see a sort of different side.
“So that’s how it impacted me,” McConnell told Sherman/Palmer. “I know it won’t last. But for the moment, I’m a rock star.”
Top Judiciary Committee Aide Saw Avenatti Involvement in Kavanaugh Saga as ‘Manna From Heaven’
Mike Davis, who served as chief counsel for nominations for the Senate Judiciary Committee (whose chairman was Chuck Grassley), saw Michael Avenatti’s involvement in the Supreme Court confirmation process of Kavanaugh as “manna from heaven.”
Sherman/Palmer write that Avenatti, whose public profile, and infamy, rose dramatically in 2018 when he served as Stormy Daniels’ attorney, inserted himself into the process by representing Julie Swetnick, who claimed in a sworn affidavit that she witnessed Kavanaugh spiking the drinks of young women at high school parties so they would become disoriented and could be “gang raped.” In an interview with NBC News, Swetnick backed off those specific claims.
Sherman/Palmer write that Davis knew that Avenatti stepping into the matter would help to “discredit allegations against Kavanaugh.”
They add in the book that “Many Democrats on the Judiciary Committee would come to feel similarly” about Avenatti’s involvement.
McCarthy Persuaded Trump to Support a Jim Jordan Run for Senate
Sherman/Palmer detail a call that President Trump had with Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), who was chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee for the 2018 cycle. Trump asked Stivers if Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) should run for Senate.
Sherman/Palmer write that Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who was serving as House majority leader then, had pushed Trump to persuade Jordan to run “in a half-hearted effort to try to remove his biggest nag in Congress.”
In another scene, Sherman/Palmer write that Sen. John McCain was explaining a policy matter to Trump that was a top priority for him: military procurement reform.
Jared Kushner interrupted and said, “Don’t worry, Senator McCain. We’re going to change the way the entire government works.”
“Good luck, son,” McCain retorted.
“The Hill to Die On” is out April 9th. Click here to order (I don’t benefit in any way if you order the book): https://amzn.to/2Fjmjv6