June 14, 2018

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ON THE RECORD.....

“A miserable place to work.” — White House chief of staff John Kelly telling senators what it’s like to work in the White House.

“He’s like Heath Ledger’s Joker — but without the operational excellence.” — A senior G7 official about President Trump’s performance at the G7 summit.

“To our allies: bipartisan majorities of Americans remain pro-free trade, pro-globalization & supportive of alliances based on 70 years of shared values. Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t.” -- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) reached out to U.S. allies in the aftermath of Trump lashing out at the G7 summit.

“This is history. We are living — regardless of what happens in that meeting between the two dictators — what we are seeing right now, this is historic.” -- Abby Hunstman, host of the Fox News morning show Fox & Friends, on Sunday inadvertantly said that summit between North Korea leader Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump is a meeting between “two dictators.”

“As for North Korea, he bragged yesterday that he didn’t prepare for his summit with Kim Jong Un. Didn’t prepare! Of course, when has he ever prepared for anything? This guy didn’t bring a condom to f*** a porn star. — Bill Maher

“We have a very strong relationship with the government of Germany. Looking back in the history books, today is the 71st anniversary of the speech that announced the Marshall Plan. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the D-Day invasion.” — State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert citing D-Day as proof of the United States’ strong ties to Germany.

Yikes. I asked @FLOTUS spokeswoman @StephGrisham45 about Giuliani saying that she believes her husband re Stormy Daniels. Response: “I don't believe Mrs. Trump has ever discussed her thoughts on anything with Mr. Giuliani.” -- Maggie Haberman on Twitter

Giuliani’s remarks about Stephanie Clifford (Stormy Daniels) are more than repugnant; they are revealing. They convey a political philosophy that he and the President share, which can be summed up as: those who are vulnerable are meant to be wounded, and have no right to ask for respect, let alone protection. It is a bully’s declaration of open season on the weak. But Stephanie Clifford is not as defenseless as Giuliani or Trump might think. She has presented a credible and strikingly strong legal case. Maybe Giuliani should be listening to her. -- Davidson Sorkin in the New Yorker

“It’s going to stop — or we’ll stop trading with them. And that’s a very profitable answer, if we have to do it.” -- Trump referring to what he called “ridiculous and unfair” tariffs on U.S. imports.

'By allowing only their interpreters, Trump and Kim left no one who cld verify what they agreed to in the mtg. Policy experts agree, this is probably bad for the world. But for Trump & Kim, who both built empires on fictional narratives, it's just fine. In fact, it's ideal." -- Christina Wilkie @christinawilkie covering the White House for @CNBC.com

Trump: Well, we’ve given him — I don’t wanna talk about it specifically, but we’ve given him — he’s going to be happy. His country does love him. His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor. -- Trump, failing to note that if you fail to demonstrate a sufficient level of public fervor for the Kim family, you are at risk of being imprisoned, tortured, or killed.

“Regardless of what happens in that meeting between the two dictators, what we are seeing right now ― this is history.” — “Fox & Friends” co-host Abby Huntsman on the summit meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.

“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door. And that’s what bad faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference. That’s what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did, and that comes right from Air Force One.” -- Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro escalating the White House’s rebuke of our neighbor and ally, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“No, there’s definitely a Trump Doctrine. The Trump Doctrine is ‘We’re America, Bitch.’ That’s the Trump Doctrine.” -- This distillation of the Trump Doctrine came from a senior White House official with direct access to the president and his thinking.

“They have great beaches. You see that whenever they’re exploding their cannons into the ocean. I said, ‘Boy, look at that view. Wouldn’t that make a great condo?’ You could have the best hotels in the world right there. Think of it from a real-estate perspective.” -- Donald Trump at a post summit press-conference in Singapore

“Sixty percent of public school children in the state of Arizona today are minorities. That complicates racial integration because there aren’t enough white kids to go around.” — Arizona state Rep. David Stringer (R), adding that immigration is an “existential threat” to the United States.

“We are in a strange place. I mean, it’s almost, it’s becoming a cultish thing, isn’t it? And it’s not a good place for any party to end up with a cult-like situation as it relates to a president that happens to be of — purportedly, of the same party.” — Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Kim Jong Un Offers to Host Peace Talks Between United States and Canada
2. Economic satisfaction under Trump isn't helping his party's 2018 chances
3. Trump and women continue to shape the coming midterm campaign
4. Trump Has Made 191 Arguments Against Russia Probe
5. Senate Dems introduce bill to prevent separation of families at border
6. Trump’s latest health care move squeezes Republicans
7. Trump Is Fulfilling Russia’s Dream of Splitting the Western Alliance
8. The DAILY GRILL
9. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
10. From the Late Shows
11. Late Night Jokes for Dems
12. White House Analysis Finds Tariffs Will Hurt Growth, as Officials Insist Otherwise
13. Trump 101: One thing he really believes
14. For more than a year Florida failed to conduct national background check on concealed weapons permits
15. The DNC adopts new restrictions for 2020 presidential candidates
16. ‘The Worst Place Ever’ Is ICE’s Etowah County Detention Center in Alabama
17. The Federal Government Abandons the Most Popular Part of the ACA
18. Summer Zervos Case Might Be Most Dangerous for Trump
19. Web of elite Russians met with NRA execs during 2016 campaign
20. Trump’s ‘Bully’ Attack on Trudeau Outrages Canadians
21. Trump's commerce department put a tariff on Canadian paper that jacked up all U.S. newsprint prices
22. Russia Keeps Meddling, Mueller Says in Bid to Guard Evidence
23. Trump has a plan to end DACA
24. Closest allies sour on U.S.
25. Trump Retreats from U.S. Moral Leadership Stance
26. North Korea State Media Says Trump Agreed to Lift Sanctions Against North
27. Corker slams GOP colleagues: 'We might poke the bear!'
28 Trump looking to erect tent cities to house unaccompanied children

OPINION

1. David Frum: Trump Goes to War Against the Democracies
2. David E. Sanger. Vague on Details, Trump Is Betting on ‘Special Bond’ With Kim to Deliver Deal
3. Jennifer Haberkorn and Adam Cancryn: Trump’s latest health care move squeezes Republicans
4. Michael Kruse: The ‘What, Me Worry?’ President
5. Christopher Dickey: The Madness of King Trump on Full Display at the G7
6. NY Times Editorial Board: If Democrats want a blue wave, they need to try voting
7. Julie Miller: Is Reality TV Really to Blame for President Donald Trump?
8. Marc Ambinder: The power of Mueller's facts
9. Charles M. Blow: ‘I Want to Hate …’
10. Lilliana Mason: Trump’s ‘Winning’ Is America’s Losing
11. Andrew Sullivan: Another Glimpse of State Terror in Trump’s America
12. Ron Reagan: Trump’s Character Is Our Destiny. We Must Recognize That Horror.
13. John Cassidy: Trump Unleashed Is a Danger to the World
14. Jonathan Chait : Trump Now Sounds Like a Fan of North Korean Repression
15. Trump Was Outfoxed in Singapore
16. Jonathan Blitzer: The Trump Administration Is Completely Unravelling the U.S. Asylum System

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Kim Jong Un Offers to Host Peace Talks Between United States and Canada

One day before his summit with Donald J. Trump, the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, has offered to host peace talks between the United States and Canada.

Speaking to reporters at his hotel in Singapore, Kim said that the rising tensions between the North American neighbors were posing an “intolerable threat to world peace.”

In addition to offering to host U.S.-Canada talks in Pyongyang, Kim urged the immediate creation of a demilitarized zone along the border separating the two hostile nations.

“In exchange for Canadian Mounties agreeing to stand down on their side of the border, the United States, in turn, would dismantle its nuclear weapons,” Kim said.

Although stating that “North Korea stands ready and willing to be an honest broker” in peace talks between the two countries, he urged Trump to dial back the “inflammatory rhetoric” that he aimed at Canadians over the weekend.

“Violent language and threats have no place in international diplomacy,” Kim said. https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

2. Economic satisfaction under Trump isn't helping his party's 2018 chances

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that by a whopping 25-point margin, voters say they’re more likely to back a congressional candidate who promises to serve as a check on President Trump.

At the same time, six-in-10 are satisfied with the U.S. economy, and a plurality of voters give Trump credit for the economic improvement. Despite that economic optimism, however, the poll shows that Democrats enjoy a 10-point advantage on congressional preference, with 50% of registered voters wanting a Democratic-controlled Congress, versus 40% who want a GOP-controlled one. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/poll-economic-satisfaction-under-trump-isn-t-helping-his-party-n880721

3. Trump and women continue to shape the coming midterm campaign

In election after election, whether primary contests or special elections, women have provided energy at the ballot box and, increasingly, the leadership as candidates for the Democrats. That was in evidence again Tuesday, another day of validation that the dynamics of American politics have shifted under this president. If Democrats are to win the House in November, they must hope that is maintained through Election Day, although there have been no signs that this energy is abating. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-and-women-continue-to-shape-the-coming-midterm-campaign/2018/06/06/efde94fc-69a1-11e8-9e38-24e693b38637_story.html

4. Trump Has Made 191 Arguments Against Russia Probe

Donald Trump has attacked his opponents: former FBI Director James Comey is an “incompetent,” “shady,” “slippery,” “corrupt,” “sanctimonious,” “showboating” and “grandstanding” “slimeball,” who is “either very sick or very dumb.” And he’s branded Comey and others as “liars.”

The president has also used a favorite rhetorical technique, whataboutism, to change the subject to what he argues are the real scandals: what the hacked emails revealed about the Clinton campaign, that Democrats had contact with Ukraine, that Hillary Clinton lied to the FBI (not true), that Comey leaked classified information (not true), and on and on.

Some of the arguments contradict each other. Trump has argued that Russians didn’t meddle in the election, that it may have meddled but so did other countries and that the real scandal is that Barack Obama didn’t stop Russian meddling.

For the entire list go to http://time.com/5290531/donald-trump-robert-mueller-russia-investigation-arguments/

5. Senate Dems introduce bill to prevent separation of families at border

Senate Democrats have introduced legislation to prevent the separation of immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border in an attempt to push back against the Trump administration.

The legislation, spearheaded by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), would only allow children to be separated from a parent if they are being abused, trafficked or if a court decides "it is in the best interests of the child." 

"The United States must not be a country that traumatizes young children by separating them from their parents. ... Congress has a moral obligation to take a stand and say that families should not be forcibly separated," Feinstein said on Friday http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/391396-senate-dems-introduce-bill-to-prevent-separation-of-families-at

6. Trump’s latest health care move squeezes Republicans

Republicans who have tried to repeal Obamacare for nearly a decade believe the Trump administration is reviving a politically risky battle with a court filing that could eliminate one of the most popular parts of the law: protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

The administration wants a federal court to strike the protections, providing fresh fodder to Democrats who argue that the GOP cannot be trusted to protect Americans’ health insurance months ahead of a midterm election in which health care was already a top issue. It also threatens to shift attention away from the GOP's message on tax cuts, refocusing it on an Obamacare fight most Republicans wanted to put behind them. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/08/trumps-obamacare-court-case-health-care-republicans-611072

7. Trump Is Fulfilling Russia’s Dream of Splitting the Western Alliance

One of Russia’s principal foreign-policy goals for decades has been to split the United States from is allies. Whether by accident or by design, President Trump appears intent on bringing that dream to fruition.

The most immediate theater of Western disarray is today’s G7 meeting in Canada. Trump has been fomenting a trade war, hurling wild and largely groundless accusations at America’s allies. “Why isn’t the European Union and Canada informing the public that for years they have used massive Trade Tariffs and non-monetary Trade Barriers against the U.S. Totally unfair to our farmers, workers & companies,” he demands. “Take down your tariffs & barriers or we will more than match you!”

Western trade partners have attempted to reason with Trump’s demands, but the problem is that the basis for his beliefs and actions is entirely fantastical. If your neighbor is irate that you let your dog run loose in his yard, you can pacify him. If he’s irate that you are reading his thoughts through his tinfoil hat, there’s nothing you can do except disengage. And that is what they are doing. French president Emmanuel Macron threatened to sign a six-country agreement omitting the U.S. altogether. Canadian prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed “to defend our industries and our workers” and “show the U.S. president that his unacceptable actions are hurting his own citizens.” http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/06/trump-is-fulfilling-russias-dream-of-splitting-the-west.html

8. The DAILY GRILL

On Fox News, many personalities attacked reporters for simply talking about the fact Melania Trump hadn’t made a public appearance for nearly a month. Fox co-host Katie Pavlich called questions about Melania “disgusting,” “beyond the pale,” and “horrifying.” -- Media Matters

VERSUS

Many of these same people spent years pushing dumb, misogynistic, and racist attacks against Michelle Obama. From criticizing and mocking her childhood obesity initiative, to disparaging her physical appearance and clothing choices, to attacking her for where she went shopping, conservatives were obsessed with Michelle Obama. The absurdity of their attacks included attempts to lip-read during a September 11 commemoration ceremony, distorting her college senior thesis from 1985, portraying her as overweight, and for applauding her husband during a presidential debate. The right-wing media smears went on for years. And one constant right-wing media attack on Michelle Obama consisted of smearing her for family vacations -- a smear Trump also repeatedly engaged in. -- Media Matters

 

“I have made it very clear to the president that it (preparing retaliatory tariffs)is not something we relish doing, but it is something that we absolutely will do, because Canadians—we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around.” -- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

VERSUS

“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump, and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door. And that’s what bad-faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference. That’s what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did. -- Top White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Fox News Sunday, echoing the president’s similar attacks against Trudeau.

9. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)

Fox News and Trump are trying to discredit the DOJ's IG report about the Clinton email investigation. https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2018/06/07/fox-news-and-trump-are-trying-discredit-dojs-ig-report-about-clinton-email-investigation/220388

Former CIA analyst goes on Fox & Friends to ask Donald Trump for a pardon. Trump's favorite show has become the best way to communicate messages to the president, https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2018/06/07/former-cia-analyst-goes-fox-friends-ask-donald-trump-pardon/220387

Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton says "A pardon may be warranted" for Paul Manafort whether he "did anything wrong or not.” Fitton: “I don’t know whether Manafort did anything wrong or not, but I don’t trust Mueller to figure it out” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2018/06/08/judicial-watch-s-tom-fitton-says-pardon-may-be-warranted-paul-manafort-whether-he-did-anything-wrong/220404

Jeanine Pirro calls for Jeff Sessions’ head (because she wants his job). Fox News’ loudest Trump propagandist aspires to be attorney general. https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2018/06/08/Jeanine-Pirro-calls-for-Jeff-Sessions-head-because-she-wants-his-job/220401

An NRA source just admitted that NRA representatives met with Putin’s inner circle during the 2016 campaign. NRATV called the Russia investigation a lie, even as there is an FBI investigation into whether the Russian government used the NRA to illegally funnel money to support Trump. https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2018/06/11/nra-source-just-admitted-nra-representatives-met-putin-s-inner-circle-during-2016-campaign/220414

Trump administration threatens health care for 130 million people with pre-existing conditions; cable news barely noticed. https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2018/06/12/Trump-administration-threatens-health-care-for-130-million-people-with-pre-existing-condit/220419

10. From the Late Shows

Stupid Watergate II: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO): https://youtu.be/mOVPStnVgvU

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Trump Makes The G7 Summit Awkwaaaard: https://youtu.be/G36BAjlL3pw

11. Late Night Jokes for Dems

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met tonight in Singapore after we taped our show. So if you're watching this on TV right now, either it went well, or you have a TV in your fallout shelter. -- Seth Meyers

Tomorrow is the big summit meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump spent the day preparing for the summit, which basically means he wrote on his hands, "South Korea good, North Korea bad," so he doesn't get confused. -- James Corden

When asked by reporters how he will know if North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is serious about a peace treaty, President Trump said he will use his "touch" and "feel." This may not be a great plan. The last time Trump used his touch and feel method, he had to pay Stormy Daniels $130,000. -- James Corden

Honestly, it may work. After three minutes of being touched and felt by Trump, Kim Jong Un is just going to shout, "Fine! Take the nukes! Whatever you want, just stop touching me!" -- James Corden

The Tony Awards was last night — or as I call it, the Super Bowl — and it was absolutely wonderful. The moment everyone was buzzing about was when Robert De Niro had to be censored for saying on stage "f*** Trump." And today, angry Trump supporters everywhere are pretending that they actually watch the Tony Awards. -- James Corden

There’s a lot riding on this meeting. Last night, Kim spent hours preparing, while at the same time Trump was in bed waiting for SpongeBob to perform at the Tonys. -- Jimmy Fallon

At the G7 summit, Trump started fighting with Canada over trade. In response, one of Justin Trudeau's former advisers called Trump a pathetic little man child on Twitter. When Jeff Sessions heard that, he was like, "Did somebody say 'little man child'? That's what Trump calls me. Sorry if no one actually said that, my hearing is very fuzzy. -- Jimmy Fallon

President Trump said that during the North Korea summit, he will not focus on human rights abuses. Trump said, "My marriage is no one's business." -- Conan O’Brien

12. White House Analysis Finds Tariffs Will Hurt Growth, as Officials Insist Otherwise

A White House economic analysis of President Trump’s trade agenda has concluded that Mr. Trump’s tariffs will hurt economic growth in the United States, according to several people familiar with the research.

The findings from the White House Council of Economic Advisers have been circulated only internally and not publicly released, as is often the case with the council’s work, making the exact economic projections unknown. But the determination comes as top White House officials continue to insist publicly that Mr. Trump’s trade approach will be “massively good for the U.S. economy.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/07/us/politics/white-house-tariffs-growth.html

13. Trump 101: One thing he really believes

The biggest key to understanding Trump's dogmatism on trade is that even as he switched political parties and changed his views on issue after issue, his one consistent stance over 40 years is that other countries are "ripping off the United States" in trade deals, as he put it in 1987.

This is the one thing the president really believes, with his protectionist roots going back to the union-friendly environment where his father, Fred, courted Democratic pols. https://www.axios.com/why-trump-lit-the-fire-1950ff87-f546-4658-aa07-ed1ac0d6da4a.html

14. For more than a year Florida failed to conduct national background check on concealed weapons permits

For more than a year, the state of Florida failed to conduct national background checks on tens of thousands of applications for concealed weapons permits, potentially allowing drug addicts or people with a mental illness to carry firearms in public.

A previously unreported Office of Inspector General investigation found that in February 2016 the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stopped using a FBI crime database called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System that ensures applicants who want to carry a gun do not have a disqualifying history in other states.

The employee in charge of the background checks could not log into the system, the investigator learned. The problem went unresolved until discovered by another worker in March 2017 — meaning that for more than a year applications got approved without the required background check. http://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/06/08/adam-putnams-office-stopped-concealed-weapons-background-checks-for-a-year-because-it-couldnt-log-in/

15. The DNC adopts new restrictions for 2020 presidential candidates

The Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws committee adopted a new rule that would force candidates in Democratic presidential primaries to state that they are Democrats, accept the party’s nomination if they win the 2020 primary and to “run and serve” as a member.

At the time a presidential candidate announces their candidacy publicly, they must publicly affirm that they are a Democrat,” the rule says. “Each candidate pursuing the Democratic nomination shall affirm, in writing, to the National Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee that they: A. are a member of the Democratic Party; B. will accept the Democratic nomination; and C. will run and serve as a member of the Democratic Party. https://www.yahoo.com/news/eye-bernie-sanders-democratic-national-committee-adopts-new-restrictions-2020-presidential-candidates-225841348.html

16. ‘The Worst Place Ever’ Is ICE’s Etowah County Detention Center in Alabama

Located in Gadsden in northeastern Alabama, next to the courthouse where Judge Roy Moore began his judicial career by posting the Ten Commandments in his courtroom, the Etowah County facility is emblematic of much of what’s wrong with the world’s largest immigration detention system. The detainees are isolated from their families and from legal help, 500 miles from the immigration court. They’re held, longer than almost anywhere else in the system, in the wrong kind of facility. Like other jails, Etowah is meant for short-timers who are either awaiting trial or serving minor sentences, and not for civil detention—which is supposed to be non-punitive. So there is no outdoor recreation space. Nor is there space for visitors to meet detainees; that’s done through video from an adjacent building. And pay for a sheriff’s detention deputy is $11.99 an hour, leading to turnover and an inexperienced staff.

Now, the Trump administration is poised to ease the 18-year-old standards that county jails like Etowah must agree to maintain—rules that experts say are already weak and outdated. Meanwhile, a federal advisory council led by former FBI Director William Webster has urged ICE to do the opposite: Stop holding detainees in county jails for anything more than 72 hours. https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-worst-place-ever-is-ices-etowah-county-detention-center-in-alabama

17. The Federal Government Abandons the Most Popular Part of the ACA

President Trump’s administration hasn’t lacked for innovative ways to disrupt the Affordable Care Act. Now it’s found another.

Facing a federal lawsuit from Texas and several other red states who want the entire law overturned, the Justice Department announced late Thursday that it won’t defend a core ACA provision in court: the guarantee of coverage for preexisting conditions. In a legal filing, the department essentially agreed with much of the lawsuit’s rationale, which is that recent legislation has voided most of the ACA’s most important provisions. While it’s unclear whether this unusual decision by the DOJ will help the lawsuit’s chances, it is yet another signal that the ACA remains vulnerable to being dismantled in pieces.

The filing originates in the complicated and sometimes perplexing legal history of the ACA. When the reform was passed in 2010, it contained a set of complex provisions involving private health insurance, including new subsidies for the purchase of private insurance and new marketplaces for the sale of private plans by insurers. Crucially, the law also created a series of rules enhancing the minimum level of coverage those plans could provide, including provisions that compelled insurers to cover people with preexisting medical conditions while keeping them from charging those people more. Finally, the law mandated individuals without insurance who could afford those private plans to purchase them or risk paying a tax penalty for going without insurance.

Now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has signaled that the law will be left to its fate. In the Texas case, that means the federal government abandoning the most popular piece of the ACA, the preexisting-conditions ban, and taking the risk that the sick and disabled who’ve newly received health care will be rendered helpless again. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/06/aca-preexisting-conditions-doj/562442/

18. Summer Zervos Case Might Be Most Dangerous for Trump

Donald Trump may never sit for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller, but it’s looking more likely he’ll have to answer questions as part of a defamation lawsuit filed by a former contestant on “The Apprentice.”

A ruling by a New York state judge this week said Trump can be deposed in the defamation lawsuit filed by Summer Zervos, the former contestant who has accused Trump of unwanted advances. http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/391266-why-the-summer-zervos-case-might-be-the-most-dangerous-for-trump?userid=57999

19. Web of elite Russians met with NRA execs during 2016 campaign

Several prominent Russians, some in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle or high in the Russian Orthodox Church, now have been identified as having contact with National Rifle Association officials during the 2016 U.S. election campaign, according to photographs and an NRA source.

The contacts have emerged amid a deepening Justice Department investigation into whether Russian banker and lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin illegally channeled money through the gun rights group to add financial firepower to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential bid. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/latest-news/article212756749.html#storylink=cpy

20. Trump’s ‘Bully’ Attack on Trudeau Outrages Canadians

It takes a lot to rile people in this decidedly courteous nation. But after President Trump’s parting shots against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the day he left the Group of 7 summit meeting in Quebec, the country reacted with uncharacteristic outrage and defiance at a best friend’s nastiness.

Mr. Trump is not exactly popular in Canada. And the Twitter tirade threatened to inflame already boiling resentment of the president, whose anti-immigrant stances and skepticism of climate change have infuriated many in a country that prides itself on its openness and social responsibility.

Canadians across the political spectrum said that while the world had grown used to Mr. Trump’s social media rants, the ferocity and personal tone of the insults against Mr. Trudeau had crossed a line. Some even asked whether Canadians should boycott United States products and stop traveling south of the border. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/10/world/canada/g-7-justin-trudeau-trump.html

21. Trump's commerce department put a tariff on Canadian paper that jacked up all U.S. newsprint prices

A single tariff benefiting one paper factory in Washington state could prompt the loss of thousands of U.S. newspaper jobs, industry executives say.

The ripple effect started with One Rock Capital Partners, a New York private equity firm that bought a paper mill in Longview, Wash., and then petitioned the Trump commerce department for tariffs against Canadian paper. That one mill employs about 250 people.

The result? The equity firm won punishing newsprint tariffs that have pushed up newsprint prices by about 30 percent. Already newspapers around the U.S. have begun making thousands of layoffs, according to the News Media Alliance, a trade group. http://www.philly.com/philly/business/trump-commerce-paper-mill-newsprint-tariffs-20180612.html

22. Russia Keeps Meddling, Mueller Says in Bid to Guard Evidence

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller warned that Russian intelligence services still have active “interference operations” into U.S. elections and that handing over certain evidence in a criminal case could imperil ongoing investigations.

The Russians are accused of producing propaganda, posing as U.S. activists and posting political content on social media as so-called trolls to encourage strife in the U.S. The evidence includes between 1.5 and 2 terabytes of data and involves U.S. residents not charged with crimes who the government says were unwittingly recruited by Russians to engage in political activity, prosecutors wrote. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-12/mueller-seeks-order-protecting-evidence-in-russia-troll-case

23. Trump has a plan to end DACA

“The Trump administration is urging a federal court in Texas to declare DACA illegal, setting up a potential conflict that could allow the government to shut the program down within a matter of weeks.

While this latest development has received little attention, it could suspend or stop a federal initiative that has allowed 700,000 young people, known as Dreamers, to avoid deportation. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/justice-department/here-s-how-trump-administration-trying-shut-down-daca-n882471

24. Closest allies sour on U.S.

On a leader-to-leader level, relationships between the U.S. and its most powerful allies are in tatters. That much is clear when a senior U.S. official declares"there's a special place in hell" for the prime minister of Canada. Canada!

Antipathy for the U.S. in allied countries extends far beyond those leaders, and it's spiking under Trump. The U.S. has historically been the de facto leader within its strategic alliances, but an unpopular leader can quickly become a bully. The G7 summit showed the limits to that approach. https://www.axios.com/favorability-of-us-falls-after-trump-replaces-obama-a9dda359-e9d8-4bdc-9456-3e88c8ffad6e.html

25. Trump Retreats from U.S. Moral Leadership Stance

Trump, who quickly left for the long journey home after his whirlwind summit with Kim, made clear that his main interest — almost his sole interest — was taking a first step toward denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. There was no lecturing of Kim over how to treat his own people in a nation that is estimated to have between 80,000 and 120,000 political prisoners and remains one of the world’s most closed and oppressive societies.

Though Trump is far from the first U.S. president to work with an unsavory counterpart to achieve a strategic goal, his decision to broadcast that he tacitly accepts Kim’s history of atrocities was a sharp break from the position of presidents from both parties to set America as the exemplar shining city on a hill for other nations to emulate. https://www.apnews.com/9211dcbb2fde4410b30a061bc3036d9f/AP-Analysis:-Trump-retreats-from-US-moral-leadership-stance

26. North Korea State Media Says Trump Agreed to Lift Sanctions Against North

North Korean state media said on Wednesday U.S. President Donald Trump had agreed to lift sanctions against the North in addition to providing security guarantees in the summit with the North's leader, Kim Jong Un, the previous day.

Trump was cited by North Korea's official KCNA news agency as saying he made the promise after pledging to end joint military exercises with South Korea. https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2018-06-12/north-korea-state-media-says-trump-agreed-to-lift-sanctions-against-north

27. Corker slams GOP colleagues: 'We might poke the bear!'

Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker accused his party of cowering before President Donald Trump in an impassioned speech on the Senate floor Tuesday.

In an animated exchange, Corker -- who was trying to get a vote on an amendment as part of an ongoing debate over the Senate's defense bill -- argued that Republicans were blocking his trade proposal because they were afraid of Trump and what he might do to the party if they upset him in an election year.

"We might poke the bear!" said Corker, who is retiring at the end of his term. "My gosh, if the President gets upset with us we might not be in the majority," he said referring to sentiments he often hears from colleagues.

He added: “The United States Senate right now on June 12 is becoming a body where, well, we’ll do what we can do, but my gosh, if the President gets upset with us, then we might not be in the majority. And so let’s don’t do anything that might upset the President.” https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/12/politics/bob-corker-tariff/index.html

28 Trump looking to erect tent cities to house unaccompanied children

The Trump administration is looking to build tent cities at military posts around Texas to shelter the increasing number of unaccompanied migrant children being held in detention.

The Department of Health and Human Services will visit Fort Bliss, a sprawling Army base near El Paso in the coming weeks to look at a parcel of land where the administration is considering building a tent city to hold between 1,000 and 5,000 children, according to U.S. officials and other sources familiar with the plans. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/white-house/article213026379.html

OPINION

1. David Frum: Trump Goes to War Against the Democracies

“He’s like Heath Ledger’s Joker—but without the operational excellence.” That was the grim after-action assessment of one senior G7 official with whom I spoke in the shocked aftermath of President Donald Trump’s savage post-summit tweets.

To the very last minute, the Charlevoix summit seemed business-no-worse-than-usual. Trump had arrived at the summit in a credible semblance of a jolly mood. He joked about where he would site the condos if he redeveloped the hosting hotel. He assured the other heads of governments not to mind the false reports in the media. We’re all still friends, he said. We’re going to make a deal.

Then, something happened. From Air Force One, the president emitted a vituperative series of tweets aimed at his Canadian counterpart. What had triggered him? Had he belatedly seen that photograph of Angela Merkel looming over him? As many have said: Trump thinks in images, not ideas. Who could ever know? Trump probably does not know himself.

Ominously too: Once Trump started tweeting out abuse, the snakepit of hissing, warring aides around the president suddenly competed to amplify and deepen the quarrel. At 6:56 pm, National-Security Adviser John Bolton tweetedout his own version of the offending image of Merkel topping Trump—only with a caption reinterpreting the scene as proof of Trump’s strength and defiance. “Just another #G7 where other countries expect America will always be their bank. The President made it clear today. No more.” On pro-Trump Twitter—and then on pro-Trump TV and radio—that would almost instantly consolidate the new message line. The allies had tried to muscle the strong-willed president. But he had held firm.

Of course, all this blatantly contradicts yesterday’s message line. Remember, Trump holds authority to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum because—and only because—of a Kennedy-era special exemption to normal trade law for national-security purposes. Trump has signed documents attesting that he imposed tariffs to protect vital defense interests of the United States. Now he has changed his story. The tariffs on steel and aluminum from Germany, the U.K., Mexico, and all the others were not a national-security measure, but a retaliation for Canada’s restrictions on dairy imports. Whatever you think of Canada’s milk protectionism (and few Canadians who don’t directly profit from it will defend it), it is not a threat to U.S. national security.

Trump is locked into a cycle in his top-level diplomacy: bully-cringe-bully-cringe. He bullies traditional friends and allies; he cringes to adversaries, dictators, and potential funding sources for Trump enterprises. Bullying the G7 was the weekend’s story; cringing to North Korea—and behind it, China—will be the story of the week ahead. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/06/trump-g7/562487/

2. David E. Sanger. Vague on Details, Trump Is Betting on ‘Special Bond’ With Kim to Deliver Deal

On paper, there is nothing President Trump extracted from North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, in their summit meeting that Mr. Kim’s father and grandfather had not already given to past American presidents.

In fact, he got less, at least for now. But as Mr. Trump made clear in a lengthy but vaguely worded reconstruction of their five hours of talks, none of that really matters to him.

Instead, he is betting everything on the “terrific relationship” and “very special bond” that he said he developed with the 34-year-old dictator, and Mr. Trump’s seeming certainty that they now view the future elimination of North Korea’s arsenal of atomic weapons the same way. 

“The upcoming negotiations will be arms control to constrain the North Korean program, not disarmament to eliminate it,” Mr. Litwak said.

The supreme irony, as Mr. Litwak and others noted on Tuesday, is that an effort to constrain the North’s capabilities, rather than eliminate them, has shades of the Iran deal that Mr. Trump just rejected.

So now comes the hard part.

If Mr. Trump allows this negotiation to become about limiting the North’s capabilities, rather than eliminating them, he will repeat the moves that he castigated Mr. Obama for making in Iran. If he insists on getting it all — “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization,” he risks coming up empty-handed.

Whatever he gets, it will be judged by one standard: whether he has “solved” the North Korea problem, as he vowed he would, rather than passing it on to his successor. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/12/world/asia/trump-kim-policy.html

3. Jennifer Haberkorn and Adam Cancryn: Trump’s latest health care move squeezes Republicans

Republicans who have tried to repeal Obamacare for nearly a decade believe the Trump administration is reviving a politically risky battle with a court filing that could eliminate one of the most popular parts of the law: protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

The administration wants a federal court to strike the protections, providing fresh fodder to Democrats who argue that the GOP cannot be trusted to protect Americans’ health insurance months ahead of a midterm election in which health care was already a top issue. It also threatens to shift attention away from the GOP's message on tax cuts, refocusing it on an Obamacare fight most Republicans wanted to put behind them.

The administration late Thursday asked a U.S. District Court in Texas to do something congressional Republicans weren’t willing to take on themselves during last year’s repeal effort: Strike the most popular part of Obamacare.

Few congressional Republicans rushed to defend the administration's move, instead emphasizing their support for preserving pre-existing condition protections.

“I’m not going to have to defend anything I don’t agree with — regardless of who says it,” said Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee when asked if he would defend the administration’s request on the campaign trail this fall. He added that rising premiums for Obamacare coverage will force lawmakers to address health care policy next year.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — one of three GOP senators who blocked the Obamacare repeal effort last year — warned the administration's new bid could undermine key patient protections. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/08/trumps-obamacare-court-case-health-care-republicans-611072

4. Michael Kruse: The ‘What, Me Worry?’ President

The administration late Thursday asked a U.S. District Court in Texas to do something congressional Republicans weren’t willing to take on themselves during last year’s repeal effort: Strike the most popular part of Obamacare.

Few congressional Republicans rushed to defend the administration's move Friday, instead emphasizing their support for preserving pre-existing condition protections.

“I’m not going to have to defend anything I don’t agree with — regardless of who says it,” said Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee when asked if he would defend the administration’s request on the campaign trail this fall. He added that rising premiums for Obamacare coverage will force lawmakers to address health care policy next year.

Within hours of the news, Democrats pounced on the Senate Republicans up for reelection this fall. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee blasted releases questioning whether those Republicans — such as North Dakota hopeful Rep. Kevin Cramer — back the Trump administration’s decision. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/06/08/donald-trump-beliefs-what-matters-fatalism-218663

5. Christopher Dickey: The Madness of King Trump on Full Display at the G7

As Trump checked out of the G7 early, ostensibly so he could head off to Singapore for his “hot date with Kim Jong Un” (in the words of World Politics Review’s Judah Grunstein), the impression lingered that he was much more at ease with the tyrants who are America’s adversaries than with the leaders of the countries that have been its closest allies for the last 70 years.

In a parting shot that was just as implausible as the suggestion Russia be brought in from the cold, Trump said the G7 should do away with all tariffs. As the Financial Times reported, that left the other leaders “flummoxed.” This especially at a time when Trump has been promising to tax all German cars off the streets of the United States, even though most are assembled there in plants that employ tens of thousands of people in South Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama….

Here’s the thing, nobody expects Trump to be rational anymore. And few people really believe this madness will end any time soon. Crazy as it sounds, the world is just getting used to him, and while Trump’s counterparts scramble for answers, the rest of us are left searching for a way to be, in the classic line from Pink Floyd, “comfortably numb.” https://www.thedailybeast.com/porn-stars-are-furious-with-rudy-giuliani-a-storms-a-coming

6. NY Times Editorial Board: If Democrats want a blue wave, they need to try voting

Voter registration hit historic levels in California this year, with more people registered to vote than at any other time in history. But the numbers were bad for the state’s Republican Party, which marked a new low in May after decades of steady decline. For the first time, more voters were registered as “No Party Preference” than Republican. This erosion no doubt warmed the hearts of Democratic Party operatives hoping for a “blue wave” in the state’s primaries that would roll over the state’s Republican delegation and prepare the political landscape for some serious House flipping in November.

That didn’t happen. Instead, this ever-shrinking political minority scored an outsize success on Tuesday. With just a quarter of the state’s registered voters, Republicans won a spot in the gubernatorial runoff against Gavin Newsom in November and recalled a Democratic state senator, effectively crushing Democrats’ hope of regaining a supermajority in that house — all while their candidates easily finished first in the seven Republican-held congressional districts that Democrats had targeted for flipping. Democrats were lucky they weren’t shut out of the November election in any of those races. It was a real possibility.

How did Republicans pull off such a feat? It’s simple: They voted. Registered Republicans (along with those who may be Republican in spirit, if not party affiliation) simply cast ballots in greater numbers than Democrats and their liberal allies. Turning out voters in greater numbers is the same strategy that Bay Area candidates regularly employ to win more state offices than Southern Californians. Republicans also tended to face fewer challengers from their own party than Democrats, an advantage in the primaries that will not extend to November. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-primary-turnout-20180607-story.html

7. Julie Miller: Is Reality TV Really to Blame for President Donald Trump?

Last year, Real Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen noticed Donald Trump using so many pot-stirring tactics from the Bravo franchise that he began cataloguing them on Twitter. When the president used social media to cancel a White House invitation that N.B.A. champion Stephen Curry had not yet officially rejected, Cohen tweeted, “HOUSEWIVES PLAYBOOK: rescind invitations liberally! (See: Bethenny re LuAnn, Mexico; Bethenny & Ramona, Mexico).” Trump’s post-election digs about Hillary? “Keep bringing up fights from last season.” Trump’s excuse for not immediately calling Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto following an earthquake? “Blame cell-phone reception.” Trump’s suggestion that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign colluded with the Russians? Tossing out bogus statements in desperate pleas “to stay on the show,” Cohen wrote.

It isn’t surprising that in the first year-plus of his presidency, Trump has returned to the reality-TV toolbox he used so effectively during his 14 seasons on NBC’s The Apprentice—where he rebranded himself from 90s tabloid buffoon into something resembling a successful C.E.O. Yet it’s still scary that Trump—essentially an amusing reality-TV character who wound up in the White House through an arguably Twilight Zone-worthy sequence of events—is running the country with the same kind of schemes Ramona Singer deploys during white-wine-fueled Hamptons getaways on The Real Housewives of New York City. Only, to Cohen, Trump’s flagrant headline grabs are so artless that the president would be kicked off a Bravo series that traffics in backseat limo brawls. (Or maybe “impeached” would be the verb.) https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/06/is-reality-tv-really-to-blame-for-president-donald-trump

8. Marc Ambinder: The power of Mueller's facts

A weird syllogism attends to the Russia investigation today, one that is now being ardently pushed by President Trump's defenders. It holds that because the crimes that Trump may have committed are insuperable from the decisions a president may legally make — akin to decisions that a CEO makes about personnel choices inside her company — if there is at least a plausible reason beyond criminality that the president might have made a choice, he must be given the benefit of the doubt. A crime is not committed unless, this weird theory goes, the House impeaches and the Senate convicts based on a bill of charges that they themselves write. That is, the crime becomes a crime only after the accused has been charged with a crime. Before — and in the absence of a congressional trial — the president can do whatever he wants.

This theory is as unsettling as it is dubious, but a weak, compliantCongress, and the lack of a full accounting from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, might mean that, by the time this chapter in history closes, the president will have established the right to immunize himself and future presidents from scrutiny.

But short of Trump firing Mueller, we will get a full accounting from the special counsel. And it will be full. http://theweek.com/articles/777090/power-muellers-facts

9. Charles M. Blow: ‘I Want to Hate …’

On an April night nearly 30 years ago, a young investment banker was beaten and raped when she went for a jog in Central Park. The attack left her in a coma. She happened to be white. Five teenagers arrested for the crime — four black and one of Hispanic descent — went to trial. As this newspaper reported at the time, they were “in what the police said was part of a marauding spree by as many as 30 youths in the northern end of the park” that night.

A few days after the attack, long before the teenagers would go on trial, Donald Trump bought full-page ads in New York newspapers — you may think of this as a precursor to his present-day tweets to a mass audience — under a giant, all-caps headline that read: “Bring Back the Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!”

After serving up to 13 years in prison, the boys were proven right: Another man confessed to the crime and his DNA matched that at the scene of the crime.

The boys, then men, had their convictions overturned, were freed, and eventually reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with the city over their wrongful convictions.

How did Trump respond after having called for them to be put to death? In true Trump fashion, he refused to apologize or show any contrition whatsoever.

In a 2014 opinion essay in The Daily News, Trump wrote that the settlement was a “disgrace” and that “settling doesn’t mean innocence.” He continued his assertion that the men were guilty, urging his readers: “Speak to the detectives on the case and try listening to the facts. These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels.”

Some people will never admit that they are wrong, even when they are as wrong as sin.

But it is the language in the body of Trump’s 1989 death penalty ad that sticks with me. Trump wrote:

“Mayor Koch has stated that hate and rancor should be removed from our hearts. I do not think so. I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/06/opinion/trump-central-park-five.html

10. Lilliana Mason: Trump’s ‘Winning’ Is America’s Losing

In a commencement address at the Naval Academy last month, President Trump revisited a familiar theme. He remarked to the graduates: “Winning is such a great feeling, isn’t it? Winning is such a great feeling. Nothing like winning — you got to win.” He later repeated the idea: “Victory, winning, beautiful words, but that is what it is all about.”

This focus on victory is not new for Mr. Trump. During his presidential campaign, Mr. Trump promised that under his leadership the audience would “get bored with winning.” He predicted that his fans would grow “so sick and tired of winning, you’re going to come to me and go, ‘Please, please, we can’t win anymore,’” and “I’m going to say, ‘I’m sorry but we’re going to keep winning, winning, winning.’”

The focus on winning is not incidental. It caters to a very primal need among humans to feel that we’re part of a group whose status is high and protected. This winning “we” is often a divisive concept, turning Americans against their fellow citizens. The story of how American politics has grown ever more focused on partisan victory instead of the greater good of the nation has two major components. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/06/opinion/trump-winning-america-.html

11. Andrew Sullivan: Another Glimpse of State Terror in Trump’s America

Keep a list, they tell you. Notice the little landmarks that tell you that authoritarianism is making headway.

It’s worth making a note, then, when a president goes out of his way to declare he has an “absolute right” to pardon himself, and anyone else, if he so wants, for any reason, including protecting himself and others from possible charges of conspiracy against the United States. Yes, there are legal details here that make this remarkable constitutional claim a little more more complicated than it sounds, as in: Can the Executive branch obstruct itself? Yes, we’re also told that the president has no intention, you understand, of pardoning himself right now, he’s just musing, as he so often does, on various unrelated constitutional conundrums; and yes, he’s pardoning friends and allies, as other friends and allies face a special prosecutor. But just take a note. You’ll be amazed how swiftly this recedes as the latest provocation occupies your soul.

And it’s also worth taking a note when a near-universal norm of human decency is thrown out of the window, with a sudden change in procedure. I’m talking about the idea of a government that reserves the right to separate children from their parents forcibly — and not for interests of rescuing the child from abuse. I’m talking about the 658 children taken from their parents at the border in the two weeks since a new policy was introduced, with the aim of prosecuting everyone who enters the U.S. illegally immediately.

There are some core humane lines no civilized country should cross, some red lines, such as torture, or mistreatment of prisoners, or the wrenching of children from loving parents by agents of the state. This isn’t a completely isolated instance either. The ICE arrests that are happening every day just as mothers and fathers drop their kids off at school are particularly horrifying. They violate official policy, which is supposed to restrict arrests at “sensitive locations,” but the loopholes in this provision are legion. Children see their mom or dad suddenly subjected to force, shoved out of cars, handcuffed and then simply spirited away. No child should ever be subjected to this, period. The sheer trauma it will generate can last a lifetime. Yes, these are noncitizens. Yes, many have broken the law. But they are also children. Every day we numb ourselves to these core violations of decency, America dies a little.

When challenged on this, of course, Trump simply lied and insisted that the Democrats came up with this “horrible law.” He has nothing to do with what his own ICE is doing, he tells us. Nothing.

The thing about this despicable man is that he doesn’t even have the courage of his own cruelty. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/06/traumatizing-children-is-the-new-weapon-in-trump-arsenal.html

12. Ron Reagan: Trump’s Character Is Our Destiny. We Must Recognize That Horror.

Much has been made of Trump’s reflex to see every interaction as a zero-sum game — he wins if you lose. This is not a matter of toughness as he and his toadies would have you believe. It is the result of a narcissistic fragility wherein even the mildest rebuke constitutes an existential threat. Journalists who report accurately are inventing sources — “fake news!’. Football players who don’t kowtow are “sons-of-bitches” who don’t belong in the country. Politicians insufficiently deferential are saddled with demeaning nicknames. Can you remember another president going after his own Attorney General the way Trump attacks Jeff Sessions?

Merely being held accountable for his behavior is, for Trump, the equivalent of a death sentence. Imagine his fevered desperation in the face of the Mueller probe!

In another era, this man would already be heading toward impeachment, Not in today’s political climate. Even if the Dems take back the House and begin impeachment proceedings, it is highly unlikely they could ever wrangle enough Republican colleagues to reach the 66 vote threshold for conviction in the Senate.

In any case, Trump will make this fight as nasty and destructive as he needs to in order to cling to power and salvage his ego. Undermining the reputation of the FBI, Justice Department and intelligence community while whipping up enraged Trumpskyites is only the beginning. https://www.thedailybeast.com/trumps-character-is-our-destiny-we-must-recognize-that-horror

13. John Cassidy: Trump Unleashed Is a Danger to the World

If Trump’s worldview has any consistency, it is as the ideology of a certain type of parochial, embittered, outer-borough New Yorker, an upscale Archie Bunker. The first great misfortune that befell the U.S. and its allies came in November of 2016, when this small-minded parvenu was elected President. The second came earlier this year, when Trump belatedly realized that he didn’t have to surround himself with wiser and more knowledgeable people who could restrain his impulses. He replaced H. R. McMaster, the national-security adviser, and Gary Cohn, the head of the National Economic Council, with John Bolton and Larry Kudlow, two wizened conservative talking heads who both know their role, which is to parrot whatever nonsense Trump comes up with on any given day.

On Saturday, Trump once again made a stunning display of his ignorance. Before departing early from the G-7 summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, to fly to Singapore, he issued a preposterous threat to cut off all U.S.-Canadian trade if the Canadians responded to his imposition of tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum goods entering the United States by levying similar duties on some American goods entering Canada. At a press conference that Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, held to close the summit, he was inevitably asked whether his government would go ahead with the retaliatory tariffs despite Trump’s barking. “I have made it very clear to the President that it is not something we relish doing, but it is something that we absolutely will do,” Trudeau said. “Because Canadians, we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around.” https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/trump-unleashed-is-a-danger-to-the-world

14. Jonathan Chait : Trump Now Sounds Like a Fan of North Korean Repression

“No regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea,” declared Donald Trump, accurately, at his State of the Union address. Trump movingly recounted the grim plight of North Korea’s oppressed population, telling the story of Ji Seong-ho, a defector who was tortured for trying to escape.

In Singapore, his view of the situation has changed radically. He now sees Kim Jong-un as a bright young man full of promise and talent, whose only crime is perhaps failing to develop some of his country’s prime beachfront real estate.

“Anybody that takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it and run it tough,” Trump said. “I don’t say he was nice or say anything about it. He ran it, few people at that age — you could take one out of 10,000 could not do it.”

The language Trump uses here is telling. He is calling Kim’s regime “tough,” which is language he reserves for praise. “Rough” and “tough” is Trumpspeak for the kinds of brutality he considers necessary. Trump urges police to be rougher. (“We’re getting them [criminals] out anyway, but we’d like to get them out a lot faster, and when you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in — rough, I said, please don’t be too nice.”) And he wants protesters to be treated rough. (“In the good old days this doesn’t happen because they used to treat them very, very rough. And when they protested once, they would not do it again so easily.”) http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/06/trump-now-sounds-like-a-fan-of-north-korean-repression.html

15. Trump Was Outfoxed in Singapore

It sure looks as if President Trump was hoodwinked in Singapore.

Trump made a huge concession — the suspension of military exercises with South Korea. That’s on top of the broader concession of the summit meeting itself, security guarantees he gave North Korea and the legitimacy that the summit provides his counterpart, Kim Jong-un.

Within North Korea, the “very special bond” that Trump claimed to have formed with Kim will be portrayed this way: Kim forced the American president, through his nuclear and missile tests, to accept North Korea as a nuclear equal, to provide security guarantees to North Korea, and to cancel war games with South Korea that the North has protested for decades.

In exchange for these concessions, Trump seems to have won astonishingly little. In a joint statement, Kim merely “reaffirmed” the same commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula that North Korea has repeatedly made since 1992.

They were willing to de-nuke,” Trump crowed at his news conference after his meetings with Kim. Trump seemed to believe he had achieved some remarkable agreement, but the concessions were all his own.

The most remarkable aspect of the joint statement was what it didn’t contain. There was nothing about North Korea freezing plutonium and uranium programs, nothing about destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles, nothing about allowing inspectors to return to nuclear sites, nothing about North Korea making a full declaration of its nuclear program, nothing about a timetable, nothing about verification, not even any clear pledge to permanently halt testing of nuclear weapons or long-range missiles. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/12/opinion/trump-kim-summit-north-korea.html

16. Jonathan Blitzer: The Trump Administration Is Completely Unravelling the U.S. Asylum System

The Trump Administration also appears to be putting more asylum seekers behind bars. In March, the A.C.L.U. filed a complaint in federal court alleging that the Administration was detaining asylum seekers indefinitely, in some cases even after they passed the standard screening, known as the credible-fear interview, at the border. Five Immigration and Customs Enforcement field offices, the lawyers wrote in their brief, “have detained these asylum seekers based not on individualized determinations that they pose a flight risk or a danger to the community, but rather to deter other migrants from seeking refuge here.” The lead plaintiff in the case is a teacher from Haiti, who has remained in detention for close to two years, despite having won his asylum case, twice, in immigration court. The government is refusing to release him while it appeals the decisions.

On Thursday, ice, the federal agency most directly associated with immigration enforcement, directed five medium-security federal prisons in California to take some sixteen hundred people into custody while they wait for a final determination in their civil immigration cases. An agency spokesperson cited a surge in illegal immigration as a reason for the demand for more space, but border crossings are actually at relatively low levels. In fact, much of the crowding at immigration detention centers is a consequence of the new zero-tolerance policy, which calls for the arrest and detention of people who, in the past, would have been released pending the outcome of their cases. “The government is manufacturing a border crisis as a way of saying, ‘This is why we need to change our asylum laws,’ ” Brané, of the Women’s Refugee Commission, said. https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-trump-administration-is-completely-unraveling-the-us-asylum-system

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