May, 2017

What’s the Meaning of ‘Covfefe’?

Just after midnight, President Trump tweeted: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.”

The AP reports the tweet “immediately went viral and became one of the president’s more popular posts.” He deleted the tweet five hours later and then poked fun at the typo, tweeting around 6 a.m., “Who can figure out the true meaning of covfefe??? Enjoy!”

Kevin Kruse: “So Trump screwed up ‘coverage’ and then deleted it? Isn’t that his health care plan?”

Trump’s Legislative Window Is Closing

“President Trump faces an increasingly narrow path to win major legislative victories before the looming August recess, with only two months left to revive his health-care or tax initiatives before Congress departs for a long break,” the Washington Post reports.

“White House officials said Tuesday that Trump has become increasingly incensed that legislation is bogging down in the Senate, something they blame on Democrats… But critics from both parties have said the lack of progress is a reflection in part of Trump’s inability to marshal votes or persuade lawmakers to follow his lead.”

Trump Faces Recruiting Challenge

“Back from overseas and confronting an unforgiving political environment, President Trump appears increasingly isolated inside the White House, according to advisers, venting frustration over the performance of his staff and openly talking about shaking it up. But as he considers casting off old aides, Mr. Trump is finding it challenging to recruit new ones,” the New York Times reports.

“The disclosures from investigations stemming from Russian meddling in last year’s election — coupled with the president’s habit of undercutting his staff — have driven away candidates for West Wing jobs that normally would be among the most coveted in American politics, according to people involved in the search.”

Republicans Try to Damage Warren Early

“Republicans are getting a jump on Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign,” McClatchy reports.

“The Massachusetts Democrat is preparing to run for re-election to the Senate in 2018 and hasn’t said yet whether she’ll challenge President Donald Trump for the White House. But in-state and national Republican officials have decided to target the liberal icon anyway, saying they will try to inflict enough damage during the Senate race to harm any future presidential effort — and perhaps dissuade her from running altogether.”

“Already, one national Republican group has begun a comprehensive effort to track Warren’s every public appearance and add to a dossier of unflattering research on her.”

Trump Aides Lavish Praise on the Boss

“To most observers, President Trump’s first overseas trip was either a moderate success that was at times overshadowed by viral GIFs or a disaster that damaged the United States’ relationships with longtime European allies,” the Washington Post reports.

“But as Trump and his aides tell it, this was the most successful, most historic, most well-received foreign trip ever embarked on by a U.S. president.”

“Trump’s aides often exaggerate on his behalf — such as when Spicer insisted in January that the president’s inauguration crowd was the largest ever — but Tuesday’s monologue seemed to venture into new territory for even the Trump administration.”

Trump Gives Cell Phone Number to World Leaders

President Trump “has been handing out his cellphone number to world leaders and urging them to call him directly, an unusual invitation that breaks diplomatic protocol and is raising concerns about the security and secrecy of the U.S. commander in chief’s communications,” the AP reports.

“Trump has urged leaders of Canada and Mexico to reach him on his cellphone, according to former and current U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the practice. Of the two, only Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken advantage of the offer so far, the officials said.”

Divided White House Waits for Trump’s Climate Decision

“A divided White House staff, anxious corporate executives, lawmakers and foreign leaders are fiercely competing for President Trump’s ear this week as he nears a decision on whether to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord, the landmark agreement that commits nearly every country to combat global warming,” the New York Times reports.

“For a president not steeped in policy intricacies, the decision is vexing. On both sides are voices he profoundly respects: chief executives of some of the world’s largest companies urging him to remain part of the accord and ardent conservatives like Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist, and Scott Pruitt, his Environmental Protection Agency administrator, tugging him toward a withdrawal from the 195-country agreement.”

Politico: Trump’s climate conundrum faces a verdict.

Putin Denies Meddling in U.S. Election

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin says the allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election are “fiction” invented by the Democrats in order to explain their loss, the AP reports.

Said Putin: “People who lost the vote hate to acknowledge that they indeed lost because the person who won was closer to the people and had a better understanding of what people wanted.”

Trump made a similar claim in a tweet earlier today.

Stephen Miller In High School

Vice News: “It’s the unofficial position of Vice News that anyone under 18 is allowed to be an asshole. Saying outrageous things to test the limits of authority and social acceptance is as crucial to growing up as bad haircuts and regrettable T-shirt slogans… So we debated whether to publish this video of Stephen Miller, the 31-year-old senior aide to President Donald Trump. In the video, a high school–aged Miller jokingly calls torture ‘a celebration of life and human dignity,’ and adds that cutting off the fingers of Saddam Hussein and his cronies is the ‘ideal solution’ to America’s involvement in Iraq.”

“Given Miller’s importance as a national figure, we decided that his statements within the video are instructive in understanding Miller.”

Trump Interviews Pistole for FBI Chief

“President Trump is expected to interview John Pistole, former No. 2 at the FBI and previous head of the Transportation Security Administration, to take over as FBI director,” USA Today reports.

“Pistole is under consideration to replace James Comey, who was fired by the president earlier this month as he was running the FBI investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Pistole worked at the FBI from 1983 until 2010, serving in his final six years as deputy director under Robert Mueller.”

The Madness Behind the Trump Handshake

HuffPost: “If you want to better understand Donald Trump ― his presidency, his approach personal diplomacy, even his psyche ― simply follow his hands.”

“Those hands, and their unexceptional digits, have been the source of immense insecurity, prompting him to lash out at critics and boast about his genitalia. They give insights into his marriage for the way they search ― ever so subtly and often unsuccessfully ― for his wife’s embrace. They tell us about his comfort in office as he attempts to find his footing on the world stage. And they illustrate his preoccupation with imagery and the role it plays in advancing his agenda.”

“The Trump handshake has become most unique greeting in all of politics.”

Russia Investigation Expands to Include Trump Lawyer

“One of President Donald Trump’s closest confidants, his personal lawyer Michael Cohen, has now become a focus of the expanding Congressional investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 campaign,” ABC News reports.

Cohen confirmed that House and Senate investigators have asked him “to provide information and testimony” about any contacts he had with people connected to the Russian government, but he said he has turned down the invitation.

Said Cohen: “I declined the invitation to participate as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered.”

Jerry Springer Urged to Run for Governor

“Influential Ohio Democrats are pushing former Cincinnati mayor and daytime-TV host Jerry Springer to run for Ohio governor in 2018,” Business Insider reports.

“Many said Springer, who sought the Democratic nomination for governor of Ohio in 1982 and remains active in state politics, could be a good fit for the current political climate.”

Springer’s previous run resulted in an extraordinary ad where he admitted to paying a prostitute.

Trump Has Already Proved Himself a Russian Asset

Jonathan Chait: “Over the last several days, the Russia scandal has taken a darker turn. Friday night, the Washington Post reported that Jared Kushner tried during the presidential transition period to set up a secret communications channel with Moscow. Tuesday morning, CNN reported that, during the 2016 campaign, Russian officials discussed having leverage of a financial nature over Trump, which could be used to manipulate the Republican nominee. The exact nature of this relationship remains as yet unknown, but its parameters have shifted. The most innocent explanations of Donald Trump’s shadowy relationship with Russia have grown increasingly fanciful, while the most paranoid interpretations have grown increasingly more plausible.”

“Indeed, in another one of dramatic juxtapositions that would have seemed ham-handed in a spy thriller, the latest scandalous revelations came out just as Trump could be seen carrying out what looks for all the world like his end of a pact with Moscow. If the president did have an objective on his trip to Europe — a premise that, it goes without saying, cannot be assumed — it was to crack up the American alliance with Western Europe. That happens to have been Russia’s primary diplomatic objective since the end of World War II.”