Trump White House Bars News Organizations From Press Briefing

The White House blocked several news outlets from attending a closed-door briefing Friday afternoon with press secretary Sean Spicer, a decision that drew strong rebukes from news organizations and may only heighten tensions between the press corps and the administration.

The New York Times and CNN, both of which have reported critically on the administration and are frequent targets of President Donald Trump, were prohibited from attending. The Huffington Post was also denied entry.

Both the Associated Press and Time magazine, which were allowed to enter, boycotted out of solidarity with those news organizations kept out.

Spicer said prior to the start of the administration that the White House may skip televised daily briefings in favor of an off-camera briefing or gaggle with reporters. But Spicer has continued doing televised daily briefings except when traveling, making Friday’s decision an unusual one that led to frustration among journalists kept out.

“Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” Times executive editor Dean Baquet said in a statement. “We strongly protest the exclusion of The New York Times and the other news organizations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.”

Trump’s presidential campaign blacklisted nearly a dozen outlets through part of the 2016 election. However, Spicer said in December the Trump White House would not kick news organizations out of the briefing room over critical coverage. During a panel discussion that month with Politico, he said you can’t ban news organizations from the White House. “That’s what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship.”

“We hope that the White House will recognize the vital importance of including all credentialed media outlets when briefing reporters on matters of undeniable public interest,” Polgreen said. BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith also weighed in on his outlet being left out of the briefing.

“While we strongly object to the White House’s apparent attempt to punish news outlets whose coverage it does not like, we won’t let these latest antics distract us from continuing to cover this administration fairly and aggressively,” he said. Though a reporter from the Wall Street Journal attended, the paper said later it would not do so again under such circumstances.

“The Wall Street Journal strongly objects to the White House’s decision to bar certain media outlets from today’s gaggle,” a Journal spokesman said. “Had we known at the time, we would not have participated and we will not participate in such closed briefings in the future.”

Trump Transition’s Handling Of Sensitive Details Reportedly Alarmed Obama Officials

Trump transition officials copied highly sensitive documents and removed them from a secure facility during the presidential transition, alarming Obama administration officials, The Associated Press reported Saturday.

The practice reportedly prompted officials for then-President Barack Obama to only allow their Trump team counterparts to view the documents at a secure White House facility. The documents included information such as the government’s plan for crises, the AP noted.

Several investigations are examining alleged links between President Donald Trump and his associates and Russia. During the presidential campaign, Trump criticized rival presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server and account to conduct government business. FBI director James Comey said Clinton had been “extremely careless” in the way she handled classified information.

The AP report also reveals that Marshall Billingslea, a Trump official, asked the Obama administration for a copy of the CIA’s profile on Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, on behalf of his boss, Michael Flynn. It was Billingslea who offered to get the profile, but Flynn did not object, according to The Washington Post. The dossier was delivered to Flynn, the Post reported, but it’s not clear whether he ever read it.

Flynn, tapped to be Trump’s national security adviser, spoke with Kislyak multiple times before inauguration day and discussed newly imposed sanctions against Russia, despite warnings that U.S. intelligence was monitoring the ambassador, according to the Post. Flynn resigned in February after misleading White House officials about the nature of his conversations with Kislyak. His contact with Russia continues to be under scrutiny.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, were among the other Trump officials who to meet with Kislyak before the president’s inauguration. Sessions recused himself from any investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia after he failed to disclose the meeting during his confirmation hearing.

Where To Invest Your Money In The Trump Era

Donald Trump is president, like it or not. And with a new administration comes changes in policy that will affect your portfolio. Some Trump policy changes and key Cabinet appointments came quickly, and their impact on financial markets has already started taking hold. In other areas, we have little more than general comments from the administration to indicate policy direction.

Whatever you may think about the changes, it’s a good time to assess the investment risks and opportunities — which sectors are likely to surge, and which might flounder — under the Trump administration. Here are eight worth examining:

1. Infrastructure opportunities brewing

Possibly one of the most obvious bets is in construction companies. Pipelines and giant walls are just two of the sorts of projects Trump has advocated during his first weeks in office. As a candidate, he also promised a $1 trillion infrastructure plan to rebuild many of the nation’s roads and bridges.

If he can convince Congress to pay for it all, there could be lots of money flowing to construction companies over the next few years. Industrial equipment maker Caterpillar could see some of this cash come their way to purchase the backhoes and bulldozers required for big projects. Cemex, a Mexican company that makes concrete and cement, could also do well.

The possibilities go beyond bridges and roads; there may also be major improvements and expansions to the nation’s communication networks and power infrastructure — a potential boon for companies that make and install things like power lines and fiber optic cables.

2. Energy industry shifts

Companies that mine uranium and run nuclear power plants are excited by the prospects under the Trump administration, owing to comments that suggest he’s pro-nuclear. Professionals urge care in investing in the industry, since it is quite volatile.

Oil and gas companies have also rallied, since Trump seems to be a friend to companies that pull carbon out of the ground. One strong indication was his appointment of Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, to be his secretary of state.

Trump often talks about revitalizing coal — in part by removing environmental regulations to rev up the industry — but problems with coal go beyond those regulations and are unlikely to be solved by the president. For one thing, plentiful natural gas has supplanted coal as the fuel of choice for utilities and other big users.

Trump’s comments also signal renewable energy may become a loser. If his policies lower gas and oil prices, people won’t be as quick to switch to environmentally friendly energy sources like solar. Additionally, federal subsidies for these industries may dry up.

While you can always buy shares in large companies like ExxonMobil or BP, it might be safer to look for a fund you like that trades in the sector. Check out, “Think Oil Will Rebound? Here’s How to Pump Some Profits,” for ideas

‘No Evidence’ On Trump’s Wiretap Claim, Says Top Democrat On Intelligence Committee

A day after meeting with FBI Director James Comey, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee declared Friday that he had seen no evidence supporting Donald Trump’s accusations that his phones were wiretapped during the presidential campaign by order of President Barack Obama.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) was among the so-called “Gang of Eight” — House members who have access to the most highly classified information — who met with Comey Thursday evening. Schiff came away with no information supporting Trump’s claims, he told CNN. “I think when Sean Spicer isn’t even willing to talk about it, you know there’s a real problem.”

Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the Republican head of the committee, also said earlier this week that he had seen no evidence backing Trump’s accusation. He said after the Comey meeting that nothing had changed. Comey had earlier said there was no truth to Trump’s claim and had asked the Justice Department, now headed by Trump’s pick Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to make a statement to that effect, but the department declined.

Schiff made his comments the same day as a bizarre standoff between the president and an ABC reporter who repeatedly asked Trump if there was any evidence to back his claims. Trump completely ignored him.

Schiff said he believes Comey will answer questions about the issue at a committee hearing this month. “He certainly is prepared for the question,” Schiff told CNN. “I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t answer it. He might even welcome the opportunity.”

Trump unleashed his Twitter attack last Saturday from Mar-a-Lago, calling Obama “sick” for allegedly ordering wiretaps on his Trump Tower phones during the campaign. But when pressed later, Trump offered no further information.