political notebook

Calif. billionaire Steyer inches closer to 2020 White House bid

Tom Steyer founded NextGen America and has spent more than $100 million on political campaigns since 2016. (Jahi Chikwendiu/washington post)
Tom Steyer founded NextGen America and has spent more than $100 million on political campaigns since 2016. (Jahi Chikwendiu/washington post)

Tom Steyer, the California billionaire best known for his campaign to impeach President Trump, is making a move toward a potential 2020 White House bid, launching a series of town halls in key primary states on the platform of ‘‘five rights.’’

Steyer announced the move Tuesday on his website and with a full-page ad in newspapers nationwide. His ‘‘five rights’’ focus on education, the environment, voting rights, the economy, and health care.

The tour begins Dec. 4 with an event in Charleston, S.C., and moves on to Fresno, Calif. There will also be stops in the presidential primary and caucus states of New Hampshire, Iowa, and Nevada, according to the Los Angeles Times.


Steyer, a philanthropist and former hedge fund manager, founded the advocacy group NextGen America in 2012 and has spent more than $100 million on political campaigns since 2016. But he took a pass on running for office in 2018, instead launching a nationwide TV ad campaign urging lawmakers to impeach Trump.

Washington Post

Trump provides Mueller with written answers

WASHINGTON — President Trump has provided the special counsel’s office with written answers to questions about his knowledge of Russian interference in the 2016 election, his lawyers said Tuesday, marking the first time Trump has directly cooperated with the investigation.

The step is a milestone in a monthslong negotiation between Trump’s attorneys and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team over whether and when the president would sit for an interview. They represent the first time the president is known to have described to investigators his knowledge of key moments under scrutiny by prosecutors. If Mueller finds the answers satisfactory, the responses may also help stave off a potential subpoena fight over Trump’s testimony.

The compromise outcome, nearly a year in the making, offers some benefit to both sides. Trump avoids, at least for now, a potentially risky and unpredictable sit-down with prosecutors, while Mueller secures a set of on-the-record statements whose accuracy the president and his lawyers will be expected to stand by for the duration of the investigation.


‘‘The president today answered written questions submitted by the special counsel’s office,’’ attorney Jay Sekulow said in a statement. ‘‘The questions presented dealt with issues regarding the Russia-related topics of the inquiry. The president responded in writing.’’

Sekulow said in a follow-up message that the legal team would not release copies of the questions and answers or discuss correspondence with the special counsel’s office.

Mueller’s team may well press for additional information.

Investigators months ago presented Trump’s legal team with dozens of questions they wanted to ask the president related to whether his campaign coordinated with the Kremlin to tip the 2016 election and whether he sought to criminally obstruct the Russia probe by actions including the firing of James Comey, a former FBI director.

Mueller’s office agreed to accept written responses to questions about potential Russian collusion and tabled, for the moment, obstruction-related inquiries. They left open the possibility that they would follow up with additional questions on obstruction, though Trump’s lawyers — who had long resisted any face-to-face interview — had been especially adamant that the Constitution shielded him from having to answer any questions about actions he took as president.

Another of Trump’s lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, said Tuesday that the lawyers continue to believe that ‘‘much of what has been asked raised serious constitutional issues and was beyond the scope of a legitimate inquiry.’’ He said Mueller’s office had received ‘‘unprecedented cooperation from the White House.’’


‘‘It is time to bring this inquiry to a conclusion,’’ Giuliani said.

The precise questions and answers that Trump gave to Mueller weren’t immediately clear, though the president told reporters last week that he had prepared the responses himself.

Associated Press

Filings show nonprofit paid Whitaker nearly $1m

WASHINGTON — Before joining the Justice Department, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker earned nearly $1 million from a right-leaning nonprofit that doesn’t disclose its donors, according to financial disclosure forms released Tuesday.

The documents, released by the Justice Department, show Whitaker received $904,000 in income from the Foundation for Accountability & Civic Trust from 2016 through nearly the end of 2017. He also received $15,000 from CNN as a legal commentator, according to the documents.

Several news outlets, including The Associated Press, and outside groups had requested the documents after President Trump ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions and elevated Whitaker to the top Justice Department post on Nov. 7.

The documents show that Whitaker began revising his public disclosures the day he was appointed acting attorney general. He revised the forms four more times, including on Tuesday.

In a disclosure form Whitaker completed when he joined the Justice Department in September 2017, he reported receiving $1,875 in legal fees from a company called World Patent Marketing. Whitaker has come under scrutiny for his involvement with the company that was accused of misleading consumers and is under investigation by the FBI.


Whitaker also disclosed his partial interest in a family farm in Ely, Iowa, that he valued at between $100,000 and $250,000. The forms also included disclosures of $20,000 to $30,000 in credit card debt in 2017.

The nonprofit group Whitaker worked for, known as FACT, styles itself as a nonpartisan government ethics watchdog. However, its challenges and its website have focused largely, though not exclusively, on Democrats and their party.

Whitaker used his role as president and executive director of FACT in 2016 as a platform to question the ethics of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Associated Press