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Trump erases line between political events and official business
Analysis by Kevin Liptak, CNN
Washington (CNN) - To one crowd, Vice President Joe Biden was a "low-IQ individual." To another, President Donald Trump wondered aloud whether his front-running rival could ever inspire high esteem: "People don't respect him," Trump scoffed, "even the people that he's running against." To a third, he widened his sights: Sen. Bernie Sanders was "crazy," Sen. Elizabeth Warren was "probably out," former Rep. Beto O'Rourke "was made to fall like a rock" and mayor Pete Buttigieg -- well, he just had a name that's hard to pronounce. Crowd-baiting patter at a rollicking campaign rally? Not quite. Trump offered those assessments underneath crystal chandeliers at the Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, in front of a dry-mill grain processing facility in Iowa and amid a tangle of pipes transporting natural gas in Louisiana. All were official events -- not political ones -- funded by taxpayers for the President to ostensibly advance his governing agenda. As Trump prepares to wage re-election battle against one of the nearly two-dozen Democrats vying to replace him, the line dividing his official work as President and his electoral pursuits has largely been erased. Instead of keeping the two lanes separate, Trump has merged them into one political stream -- a reflection, some aides said, of his interest in campaigning over nearly everything else. This week, a federal watchdog agency determined one of Trump's top aides -- White House counselor Kellyanne Conway -- had so blurred the lines between her official duties as a public servant and her role as a political operative that she should be removed from public office. But in an indication of the dismissive view Trump has taken toward federal rules regulating the political activity of officeholders, the White House said the Office of Special Counsel findings were "deeply flawed." And Trump said in an interview on Fox News he had no plans to dismiss his longtime aide. "It looks to me like they're trying to take away their right of free speech. And that's just not fair," Trump said. "She's got to have the right of responding to questions."

By Graham Rapier
United States President Donald Trump on Saturday warned without evidence of a massive market crash if he's not re-elected in 2020. "The Trump Economy is setting records, and has a long way up to go," he said. "However, if anyone but me takes over in 2020 (I know the competition very well), there will be a Market Crash the likes of which has not been seen before! KEEP AMERICA GREAT)." The stock market, a close but far from perfect measure for some aspects of the economy's health, are indeed up about 27% since the President's inauguration on January 20, 2017, but those gains have been mired by massive sell offs sparked by trade war fears amid tariff fights with China, Mexico, and other countries. Leading economists, meanwhile, are warning more trade disputes could unfurl economic gains from even before Trump's election. But even professionals struggle to forecast when — and why — economic recessions occur. "The trade war has so far offset all benefits of fiscal stimulus and, if continued, may lead to global recession," Marko Kolanovic, JPMorgan's global head of quantitative and derivatives strategy, said on Thursday. "If this recession materializes, historians might call it the 'Trump recession' given that it would be largely caused by the trade war initiative."

By Jesse Byrnes
Mexico's government on Friday released a copy of a letter that President Trump touted in front of cameras earlier this week in teasing additional details of a deal reached with the country to stem the flow of migrants heading toward the U.S. The letter, first published by the Mexican newspaper Reforma, states that the U.S. and Mexico "will immediately begin discussions to establish definitive terms for a binding bilateral agreement to further address burden-sharing and the assignment of responsibility for processing refugee claims of migrants." The document, signed and dated June 7, states that under such an agreement both countries would commit to "accept the return and process refugee status claims, of third-party nationals who have crossed that party's territory to arrive at a port of entry or between ports of entry of the other party." It adds that if the U.S. determines after 45 days from the joint declaration reached last week that the measures adopted by Mexico "have not sufficiently achieved results in addressing the flow of migrants to the southern border" then Mexico will take steps to bring the agreement into force within another 45 days. Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico's top diplomat, presented the document to the Mexican Senate on Friday and said there was no other agreement from the negotiations with the U.S., Reforma reported. Ebrard has said the two sides will reassess the migrant situation after 45 days and again after 90 days.

Russia, if you’re listening, La Cosa Nostra has moved into La Casa Bianca
By Lucian K. Truscott IV
The FBI had to wiretap mafia bosses like John Gotti and Vincent “The Chin” Gigante to catch them breaking the law. All they had to do to catch Donald Trump on Wednesday night was turn on ABC News. Trump proceeded to commit multiple felonies out in the open on national television when he told George Stephanopoulos he would be happy to accept dirt on his opponent from foreign governments in his 2020 re-election campaign. "Somebody comes up and says, ‘hey, I have information on your opponent,' do you call the FBI?" Trump asked rhetorically. "It's not an interference, they have information — I think I'd take it," Trump said. "I'll tell you what, I've seen a lot of things over my life. I don't think in my whole life I've ever called the FBI. In my whole life. You don't call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you do.” He paused for a moment. “Oh, give me a break — life doesn't work that way." He looked like he’d been gobbling Adderall. His pupils were pinned, and he kept doing that thing with his hands, holding them in front of himself and moving them apart and then together impatiently, talking to Stephanopoulos like he was a school child just learning about politics rather than the seasoned operative he is (Stephanopoulos was one of the architects of the Bill Clinton campaign when he won the presidency in 1992 and has covered political campaigns as a reporter and news anchor in the decades since then). But perhaps Trump was right. Maybe Stephanopoulos needs a good talking to from the Capo du tutti capo on Pennsylvania Avenue. Doesn’t George get it that politics in the age of Trump is a criminal enterprise, that politicians are no different from gangsters? They don’t go to the FBI and turn each other in. They don’t report crimes. They commit them, and they keep their mouths shut. My buddy’s having sex with underage girls? Call the FBI? Are you kidding?

By Tal Axelrod
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) hammered the Justice Department on Friday over a legal opinion it wrote backing the Treasury Department’s defiance of a House subpoena for President Trump’s tax returns. “What is the President hiding in his tax returns? And since when does 'shall' mean 'unless it displeases Trump?'" the House Intelligence Committee chairman tweeted late Friday."And, perhaps more importantly: What will be left of DOJ’s independence and reputation for impartial justice after Barr? The answer? Very little,” he added. What is the President hiding in his tax returns? And since when does “shall” mean “unless it displeases Trump”? And, perhaps more importantly: What will be left of DOJ’s independence and reputation for impartial justice after Barr?

The head of the Federal Election Commission released a statement on Thursday evening reiterating, emphatically, that foreign assistance is illegal in U.S. elections. “Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office: It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election,“ wrote Ellen Weintraub, chairwoman of the FEC. “This is not a novel concept.“ She also sent the statement via Twitter with the introductory line: “I would not have thought that I needed to say this.“ Weintraub‘s statement comes after President Donald Trump told ABC News that he would probably hear out opposition information offered by a foreign national if given the chance in 2020. He also said he might not tell the FBI about it, even though bureau Director Christopher Wray said such assistance would need to be reported. I would not have thought that I needed to say this. pic.twitter.com/T743CsXq79 — Ellen L Weintraub (@EllenLWeintraub) June 13, 2019. Trump‘s comments garnered fierce backlash from Republicans, Democrats and former law enforcement officials, who disputed the president's assertion that accepting opposition research from foreign sources is a common practice among members of Congress. Trump made the comments while responding to attention over his son Donald Trump Jr., who met in Trump Tower with Russian nationals offering dirt on then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the lead-up to the 2016 election. Trump told ABC News‘ George Stephanopoulos that hearing out foreign election information was not election interference, but rather “oppo research.“

By Maegan Vazquez, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump said Friday that he would not fire his adviser Kellyanne Conway, despite the US Office of Special Counsel's recommendation that she be removed from federal service for several violations of the Hatch Act. "No, I'm not going to fire her. I think she's a terrific person," Trump told Fox News' "Fox and Friends." "I got briefed on it yesterday and it looks to me like they're trying to take away their right of free speech. And that's just not fair," Trump added. "She's got to have the right of responding to questions." The US Office of Special Counsel recommended on Thursday that Conway be removed from federal service, saying she violated the Hatch Act on numerous occasions. The office said Conway erred by "disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media." The office is unrelated to Robert Mueller and his investigation. Trump said Friday he was going to briefed on this further later in the day. "I'm going to get a very strong briefing on it. I'll see. But it seems to me to be very unfair, it's called freedom of speech," he said. Special counsel Henry Kerner wrote in a letter to Trump Thursday that his office's investigative report found that Conway was a "repeat offender" of the Hatch Act. "Ms. Conway's violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act's restrictions. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system -- the rule of law," the letter said. "If Ms. Conway were any other federal employee, her multiple violations of the law would almost certainly result in her removal from her federal position," Kerner's letter said. "Never has (the office) had to issue multiple reports to the President concerning Hatch Act violations by the same individual."

By Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN Business
New York (CNN Business) - American retailers, manufacturers and tech companies warned President Donald Trump on Thursday that tariffs on China will damage the US economy, lead to job losses and harm millions of consumers. More than 600 companies and industry trade associations — including Walmart, Costco, Target, Gap, Levi Strauss and Foot Locker — wrote to the White House urging Trump to remove levies on China and end the ongoing trade war. "We know firsthand that the additional tariffs will have a significant, negative, and long-term impact on American businesses, farmers, families, and the US economy," the companies said in the letter. "An escalated trade war is not in the country's best interest, and both sides will lose." Last month, the Trump administration increased tariffs to 25% from 10% on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. The tariffs apply to consumer products such as luggage, mattresses, handbags, bicycles, vacuum cleaners and air conditioners. Additionally, Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on an additional $300 billion in goods imported from China — including toys, clothes, shoes, appliances and televisions. "Tariffs are taxes paid directly by U.S. companies," not China, the companies said to Trump. "Tariff increases and uncertainty around these trade negotiations have created turmoil in the markets, threatening our historic economic growth." The United States Trade Representative's office will hold public hearings on the proposed tariffs starting Monday. Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a business coalition formed to oppose tariffs, organized the letter to the White House ahead of the hearings. The coalition was backed by trade groups for the retail, tech, manufacturing and agricultural industries. - Only someone as dumb as Trump believes tariffs are a good thing, only someone as dumb as Trump believes tariffs are not a tax on the American people.

By Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey
With his declared willingness to accept help from a foreign government in an election, President Trump upended long-held views that such outside assistance is anathema in American campaigns, both because of laws prohibiting foreign contributions and widely embraced norms of fair play. Trump blew through those notions this week, telling ABC News that if a foreign government offered him information on a political opponent, “I think I’d want to hear it.” “It’s not an interference; they have information — I think I’d take it,” he continued. “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI, if I thought there was something wrong.” He added that his own FBI director, Christopher A. Wray, was “wrong” when he said during congressional testimony that campaign aides should always report offers of assistance from foreign entities to the bureau. Trump’s comments came less than two weeks after his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said he wasn’t sure if he would report a future offer of foreign assistance to the FBI, calling questions regarding it “hypotheticals.” And Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, has been openly gathering information in recent weeks from Ukrainian officials that he says he hopes could be used in a 2020 race against former vice president Joe Biden, whose son Hunter sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. “There’s nothing illegal about it,” said Giuliani, who canceled an information-gathering trip to Kiev after public criticism. “Somebody could say it’s improper.”

By Philip Ewing
President Trump has conflated an infamous practice in and among political campaigns — "opposition research" — with foreign election interference like that launched by Russia against the United States in 2016. Are they the same thing? Is foreign interference just a kind of "oppo research," as Trump said in an interview with ABC? The short answer: No. Oppo research is part of politics. But the law prohibits American political campaigns from taking "a contribution or donation of money or any other thing of value" from foreigners. The ban isn't limited to money, as Justice Department investigators wrote. The long answer: Trump told ABC News that essentially every political candidate is willing to accept information that could be of use against an opponent. "You go and talk honestly to congressmen, they all do it. They always have. And that's the way it is. It's called 'oppo research,' " he said. What's the difference? Opposition research is what campaigns and political operatives use against each other. If one candidate running for office dug up a story about something embarrassing her opponent had done, the first candidate might bundle it together and see that it found its way into the newspaper.

“You don’t call the FBI,” Trump said. "Life doesn’t work that way.” Except it did for Trump.
By Aaron Blake
In the course of arguing for why he might accept foreign assistance in the 2020 election on Wednesday, President Trump dismissed the idea of calling the FBI about such things. “I’ll tell you what: I’ve seen a lot of things over my life,” he told ABC News. “I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI. In my whole life. I don’t — you don’t call the FBI. Life doesn’t work that way.” Except that, for Trump, it has. And he has most definitely called the FBI. During the 2016 election, The Post’s Robert O’Harrow reported extensively on Trump’s ties to an FBI informant and an FBI agent in the 1980s. The informant was a labor consultant with a criminal record and mob ties named Daniel Sullivan, whom Trump worked with. And through Sullivan, Trump cultivated a relationship with a young FBI agent named Walt Stowe. Stowe described their relationship in two days of interviews with O’Harrow, calling Trump a “professional friend.” (Trump said Stowe was a “high-quality guy” but not quite “a pal.”) And Trump sought to cash in on that friendship by cooperating with Stowe and the FBI in planning an undercover operation in one of his casinos. Internal FBI documents show Trump told Stowe and other agents about his concerns about opening a casino in Atlantic City, given the influence of the mob in that city in that era. Trump told them he wanted to cooperate. “TRUMP stated in order to show that he was willing to fully cooperate with the FBI, he suggested that they use undercover Agents within the casino,” the documents show.

Trump's willingness to accept foreign assistance has essentially invited overseas spies to meddle with 2020 presidential campaigns, undoing months of work, said law enforcement veterans. Nearly two years ago, FBI Director Chris Wray set up an office tasked solely with stopping the type of Russian interference efforts that infected the 2016 campaign. On Wednesday night, President Donald Trump undercut the whole operation in a matter of seconds. In an ABC News interview, the president first proclaimed he would have no problem accepting dirt on his opponents from a foreign power, then said Wray was “wrong” to suggest the FBI needs to know about such offers. The comments, according to interviews with nearly a dozen law enforcement veterans, have undone months of work, essentially inviting foreign spies to meddle with 2020 presidential campaigns and demoralizing the agents trying to stop them. And it has backed Wray into a corner, they added, putting him in a position where he might have to either publicly chastise the president and risk getting fired, or resign in protest. America’s enemies will see Trump’s comments and likely “come out of the woodwork like never before to try to influence the president,” said longtime FBI veteran Frank Figliuzzi, who served as the bureau’s assistant director for counterintelligence until 2012. “And it’s going to be more difficult to defend against because they’ll try harder than ever to mask their attempts.”

Everyone’s asking why on earth he said that stuff to George Stephanopolous. A better question is, could he ever have stopped himself? President Donald Trump unloaded a baffling cargo of words Wednesday after George Stephanopoulos asked him whether his son Donald Jr. should have contacted the FBI in June 2016 when a gang of Russians offered him “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Not necessarily, Trump implied in his first answer. Asked about his own FBI director’s assertion that of course a campaign should contact the FBI, Trump went full-tilt adamant. “The FBI director is wrong,” Trump said. The exchange detonated on cable news and Twitter like the mother of all truth bombs. Trump kept hedging and twisting around—implying you might both take the dirt and call the FBI—flummoxing normally voluble critics like former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. “I've run out of adjectives,” he said. “‘Unfit to be President’ is a gross understatement,” tweeted former CIA Director John Brennan in equal exasperation. The leading Democratic candidates for president—Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and even the undercard candidates—torched him as a danger to the electoral process. What was he thinking? Was he thinking? In a normal politician, the moment might have been what used to be politely called a “gaffe,” and more accurately called a career-ending self-own. With Trump, though, it’s better to understand it as the perfect melding of all the preoccupations and instincts and political acumen that got him where he is. If he’d held back, it might have been more prudent, but it would have been positively un-Trumpian.

By Jacob Pramuk
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will leave the job at the end of the month, President Donald Trump said Thursday. In a pair of tweets, the president said Sanders will return to her home state of Arkansas — and urged her to run for governor. He thanked her for what he called a “job well done” in the White House. Trump did not immediately announce who would succeed her. Sanders later told reporters that she has not talked to the president about potential successors. Speaking at a White House event on hiring former inmates released under legislation passed last year, Sanders called the job the “honor” and “opportunity of a lifetime.” She added that she “loved every minute, even the hard minutes.” Sanders stressed that she will “continue to be one of the most outspoken and loyal supporters of the president and his agenda.” In a separate gaggle with reporters, Sanders said she didn’t know if she would run for Arkansas governor. “I don’t know,” she said. “I learned a long time ago never to rule anything out.” She also declined to answer questions about whether she’s had conversations about a potential campaign. Sanders was on the 2016 Trump campaign’s communications team. She was a deputy press secretary when Trump took office before she succeeded Sean Spicer as press secretary in July 2017. Sanders had an often adversarial relationship with the media.

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump threw up a smokescreen of deflection and confusing counter attacks Thursday as a furor mounted over his staggering comment that he would be open to dirt dug up on his 2020 opponents by foreign powers such as Russia or China. The President even implied -- clearly erroneously -- that he had been merely referring to the content of his conversations with foreign dignitaries such as the Queen of England and Prince Charles when he made the remark in an ABC News interview. Even in a presidency that long ago burned through all conceivable superlatives, Trump's statement was a stunner. This was more than a mere candidate calling on Russia to find Hillary Clinton's emails. It went further than dumping on US intelligence agencies by believing Russian President Vladimir Putin's smirking denials of election interference. Or Trump's claims that the Kremlin's 2016 interference caper is one big Democratic hoax. This was the President of the United States -- the man charged with protecting the Constitution, American democracy and the Western world -- sitting at the Resolute desk in the Oval Office, saying he would accept damaging information from Russia and China on his 2020 Democratic foe. "I think you might want to listen. There's nothing wrong with listening," Trump told ABC News on Wednesday. Anchor George Stephanopoulos brought up FBI Director Christopher Wray's warning that anyone who received incriminating information from a foreign power should call the bureau. "The FBI director is wrong," Trump said, anger hardening his voice. He denied that interfering in American elections -- as Russia did in 2016 to help him win -- is even a problem. "It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI, if I thought there was something wrong," the President said. Then again, Trump had said moments earlier: "I don't think in my whole life I've ever called the FBI." - Trump is lying once again he has called the FBI.

GOP senators vowed they would immediately turn to the FBI if approached with foreign dirt. Soon after Donald Trump sparked his latest all-consuming controversy, Lindsey Graham spoke to the president and urged him to rethink his willingness to use foreign opposition research against his political opponents. “The law is pretty clear. You can’t take anything of value from a foreign government,” Graham said he told Trump. “He says, ‘I didn’t say I did.’ I said: ‘Sitting down and talking to somebody’s not a crime, but it’s probably not a good idea. … I don’t agree with you.’” Soon after Donald Trump sparked his latest all-consuming controversy, Lindsey Graham spoke to the president and urged him to rethink his willingness to use foreign opposition research against his political opponents. “The law is pretty clear. You can’t take anything of value from a foreign government,” Graham said he told Trump. “He says, ‘I didn’t say I did.’ I said: ‘Sitting down and talking to somebody’s not a crime, but it’s probably not a good idea. … I don’t agree with you.’”

By Brian Naylor
Presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway has repeatedly criticized Democratic candidates in her official capacity in violation of the Hatch Act and should lose her job, according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. The OSC, which oversees federal personnel issues, issued a stinging report Thursday, calling Conway "a repeat offender." "As a highly visible member of the Administration, Ms. Conway's violations, if left unpunished, send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act's restrictions. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system—the rule of law," the office wrote to President Trump. OSC is an independent federal ethics agency that has no relationship with former Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election. The Hatch Act forbids executive branch employees from taking part in political activities while engaged in their official duties. The OSC says Conway has made statements "directed at the success" of Trump's reelection campaign "or at the failure of candidates for the Democratic Party's nomination for President." In March 2018, the ethics agency found Conway broke the law twice in interviews about the Alabama Senate race. Conway has downplayed the significance of the law, the report says, telling an interviewer on May 29, "If you're trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it's not going to work," and "Let me know when the jail sentence starts."

By Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly
The Fact Checker is keeping a running list of the false or misleading claims Trump says most regularly. Here's what you need to know. (Meg Kelly, Sarah Cahlan/The Washington Post). President Trump’s pitter-patter of exaggerated numbers, unwarranted boasting and outright falsehoods has continued at a remarkable pace. As of June 7, his 869th day in office, the president has made 10,796 false or misleading claims, according to the Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement the president has uttered. The president crossed the 10,000 threshold on April 26, and he has been averaging about 16 fishy claims a day since then. From the start of his presidency, he has averaged about 12 such claims a day. About one-fifth of these claims are about immigration, his signature issue — a percentage that has grown since the government shut down over funding for his promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. In fact, his most repeated claim — 172 times — is that his border wall is being built. Congress balked at funding the concrete barrier he envisioned, so he has tried to pitch bollard fencing and repairs of existing barriers as “a wall.” False or misleading claims about trade and the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign each account for about 10 percent of the total. Trump’s penchant for repeating false claims is demonstrated by the fact that The Fact Checker database has recorded more than 300 instances in which he has repeated a variation of the same claim at least three times. He also now has earned 21 “Bottomless Pinocchios,” claims that have earned Three or Four Pinocchios and which have been repeated at least 20 times.

By Paul Baldwin
DONALD TRUMP’S USA boasts the most powerful armies the world has ever seen – but today military experts warned they would NEVER beat Iran in a military conflict even as the possibility of a hot war between Iran and the USA increased as British and US servicemen raced to the aid of two oil-tankers attacked off the Iranian coast in the Gulf of Oman. Military threats and sabre-rattling rhetoric have littered dialogue between the two nations in recent months with Iran’s foreign minister warning the US just hours ago it “cannot expect to stay safe” while Donald Trump counter-warned any conflict would be “the end of Iran”. But military experts on both sides of the potential conflict know that despite a massive firepower advantage a USA victory is far from certain, especially accordng to one former ranking US Air Force strategist who now lives on the Straits of Hormuz.

By Jordain Carney
President Trump is facing a political firestorm over his suggestion that he would accept dirt on a political opponent from a foreign government. Democrats have lashed out at Trump’s comments to ABC News that if information was offered he would “take it,” while Republicans showed obvious discomfort with the president’s remarks. “I think that’s wrong. That’s a mistake,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a frequent Trump defender, told reporters. “I’ve been consistent on this. If a public official is approached by a foreign government offering anything of value ... the right answer is 'no.'” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said accepting information from a foreign government with the intent to meddle in the electoral process would be “unthinkable.” “It would be totally inappropriate and it would strike at the heart of our democracy,” said Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee for president who has memorably clashed with Trump. “I’ve run for Senate twice, I’ve run for governor once, I’ve run for president twice, so far as I know we never received any information from any foreign government … We would have immediately informed the FBI,” Romney said.

By Kumail Jaffer
OIL tankers sailing from Saudi Arabia have reportedly been hit by a torpedo in the Gulf of Oman as tensions continued to rise between Iran and the Gulf States – heightening the possibility of regional conflict in the Middle East. The US says they aren't ruling out blaming Iran for the attack that deliberately hit two oil tankers. Iran’s official news agency IRNA said that 44 sailors on the affected ships have now been rescued by the Iranian navy – intensifying the mystery over who carried out the offence, while Defence Minister Javad Zarif dismissed the attacks as "suspicious". The attack comes a week after the UAE appeared to blame Iran for attacking four more vessels in the same sea. One Norwegian ship – Front Altair – was confirmed to be both adrift and on fire, according to a maritime intelligence firm, while the other, Kokuka Courageous, was also damaged. The Chief of the Saudi Arabia-founded Arab League said: "Some parties in the region are trying to instigate fires" – and that the UN Security Council should act immediately. The UK Government echoed the Royal Navy-linked United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations' call for extreme caution as the investigation continues. A spokeswoman said: "We are deeply concerned by reports of explosions and fires on vessels in the Strait of Hormuz."

By Greg Sargent
President Trump’s appalling new declaration that he’d gladly accept help from a foreign power if it tries to sabotage the 2020 election should intensify scrutiny of Mitch McConnell’s handling of this whole affair — not just right at this moment, but dating back to 2016. Trump is openly inviting another attack on our political system. But the Senate majority leader is actively making that attack more likely — and ensuring that such an assault could be more damaging — by refusing to allow the Senate to proceed on multiple election security bills that really could mitigate its impact. In a new interview with ABC News, Trump telegraphed as clearly as one could want how he’ll greet another foreign interference effort. He was asked whether Donald Trump Jr. should have called the FBI when he was offered dirt on Hillary Clinton provided by the Russian government. “Let’s put yourself in a position — you’re a congressman,” Trump replied. “Somebody comes up and says, ‘Hey, I have information on your opponent.' Do you call the FBI?” Trump added: “I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI.” When ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos pointed out that his own FBI director, Christopher Wray, has called for exactly that, Trump said: “The FBI director is wrong.” Asked whether he’d call the FBI if a foreign power again offers his campaign information on an opponent, Trump said: “I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. There’s nothing wrong with listening.” Trump declared: “I think I’d want to hear it.” “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI,” Trump said, while also clarifying that such an effort would not be “an interference. They have information.”

By Barbie Latza Nadeau Correspondent-At-Large
Brian Kilmeade said the president should know that Russia or China would demand something in return. Fox & Friends’ co-host Brian Kilmeade directly criticized the president Thursday morning for saying he would welcome foreign intel on his political opponents. The rare attack followed Donald Trump’s candid remarks to Good Morning America anchor George Stephanopoulos in which he indicated that he would not immediately alert the FBI to more interference in U.S. politics. “I think the president has to clarify that,” Kilmeade said. “He opened himself wide up to attacks.” Trump had told Stephanopoulos that he would likely take information from a foreign entity about a political opponent, adding that he did not think it was wrong to do so. He said he would call the FBI only if he saw something wrong with the information. FBI Director Christopher Wray has explicitly explained that any politician should alert the bureau in such cases. “Put it this way: Nothing is free in this world,” Kilmeade said. “You don’t want a foreign government or foreign entity giving you information because they will want something back.”

By sruthi palaniappan
Don’t look for the name "Trump" in George Will’s new book, "The Conservative Sensibility." The renowned columnist says that's because Trump doesn't “have much to do with American conservatism.” On the “Powerhouse Politics” podcast on Wednesday, Will said the departure from traditional conservatism predates Trump, but the impact Trump has had on the Republican party and the country will create significant lasting damage beyond his term in office.  ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl asked Will why Trump got elected and why he now enjoys such strong support from Republican officeholders and voters alike. "It helped that the Republicans had what 17 people on stage at the beginning of the nominating process and the most lurid stood out. But beyond that, Mr. Trump's manner appeals to people," Will responded. Will explained that what many criticize about Trump -- his blunt language and manner -- are what got him to the Oval Office. “A lot of people say, 'Well, we ought to impeach him for being a boor,'" said Will. “He promised to be a boor. This is promise keeping that he was going to overturn the norms.”

By lucien bruggeman
President Donald Trump may not alert the FBI if foreign governments offered damaging information against his 2020 rivals during the upcoming presidential race, he said, despite the deluge of investigations stemming from his campaign's interactions with Russians during the 2016 campaign. Asked by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in the Oval Office on Wednesday whether his campaign would accept such information from foreigners -- such as China or Russia -- or hand it over the FBI, Trump said, "I think maybe you do both." "I think you might want to listen, there isn't anything wrong with listening," Trump continued. "If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent' -- oh, I think I'd want to hear it." President Trump made the remark during an exclusive interview with ABC News over the course of two days, wherein Stephanopoulos joined the president on a visit to Iowa and back to Washington for a day inside the White House.

By alexander mallin, katherine faulders and benjamin siegel
The House Oversight Committee voted Wednesday to recommend the full House hold Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress, after President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege over materials related to the committee's census investigation.  The panel adopted the contempt resolution on a mostly party line vote of 24-15 on Wednesday afternoon, with Republican Rep. Justin Amash notably joining all Democrats in voting for the resolution while all other Republicans voted against. The privilege assertion marks the latest escalation in the battle between the Trump Administration and House Democrats investigating Ross' move to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, which Democrats claim was intended to intimidate immigrants and minorities, and depress the party's representation across the country.

By Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb, CNN
(CNN) - Former White House aide Hope Hicks has agreed to testify next Wednesday behind closed doors, the House Judiciary Committee announced Wednesday. The committee plans to release a transcript of the interview afterward. The scheduled interview with Hicks, a longtime Trump campaign aide and former White House communications director, is the first case where a member of Trump's inner circle will appear before the committee as part of its investigation into possible obstruction of justice. The first official to be subpoenaed by the panel, former White House counsel Don McGahn, did not appear before the committee last month, prompting a vote in the House this week to go to court to enforce the subpoena. The Judiciary Committee plans to ask questions about Hicks' time at the White House and during the campaign, according to two sources, but it remains to be seen whether the White House will assert executive privilege to prevent her from answering about her time at White House. Hicks is expected to address executive privilege issues on a question by question basis, one of the sources said. "It is important to hear from Ms. Hicks, who was a key witness for the Special Counsel," Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said in a statement. "Ms. Hicks understands that the Committee will be free to pose questions as it sees fit, including about her time on the Trump Campaign and her time in the White House. Should there be a privilege or other objection regarding any question, we will attempt to resolve any disagreement while reserving our right to take any and all measures in response to unfounded privilege assertions." Last week, the White House directed Hicks and former White House deputy counsel Annie Donaldson not to provide any documents to the committee involving their time at the White House, in what could be a sign of how the White House will respond to questions from the committee next week.

By Clare Foran and Lauren Fox, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The Department of Justice informed the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday that President Donald Trump has asserted executive privilege over materials related to the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The move comes ahead of a vote in the committee about whether to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress over a dispute related to the census and for not complying with subpoenas issued by the committee. In a letter to Committee Chair Elijah Cummings, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote, "this letter is to advise you that the President has asserted executive privilege over certain subpoenaed documents identified by the Committee in its June 3, 2019 letters to the Attorney General and the Secretary." Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, has said that he scheduled the vote because the attorney general and commerce secretary have not complied with subpoenas issued by the committee as it investigates the Trump administration's push to add the question to the census. Cummings criticized the assertion of executive privilege Wednesday morning. "This does not appear to be an effort to engage in good-faith negotiations or accommodations," he said. "Instead, it appears to be another example of the administration's blanket defiance of Congress' constitutionally-mandated responsibilities." Cummings told the committee on Wednesday that he would postpone the contempt vote until later in the afternoon so lawmakers could review the letter. The specific documents at the heart of the fight -- mainly a set of drafts memos and letters exchanged between Commerce and Justice -- are covered by certain privileges, according to the Justice Department. At least one federal court in a different, but related case, agreed with the administration and concluded that the documents were appropriately withheld -- a fact that may bolster DOJ's case if House Democrats take the document production issue to court.

By Mike Lillis
The House voted Tuesday to grant new legal powers to a key committee investigating the Trump administration, handing Democrats another tool in their battle to bore deeper into Robert Mueller's report on Russia's election meddling and potential obstruction by President Trump. The 229-191 vote broke down strictly along partisan lines with no defectors from either party, highlighting the entrenched divisions on Capitol Hill between Democrats accusing Trump of conducting a "cover-up" related to Mueller's findings, and Republicans fighting to protect their White House ally from what they consider a political "witch hunt" heading into 2020. The resolution empowers the House Judiciary Committee to go before a federal court in seeking the Department of Justice's (DOJ) compliance with subpoenas for disputed materials and witness testimony. Two figures are named explicitly in the text: Attorney General William Barr, who has refused to release some parts of Mueller's report and the underlying documents; and Don McGhan, the former White House counsel who has defied a Democratic subpoena to appear before the committee. But in a late-debate twist, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced Monday that he's reached a deal with DOJ officials to access "Mueller's most important files."

By Scott Detrow
California Sen. Kamala Harris says that if she's elected president, her administration's Department of Justice would likely pursue criminal obstruction of justice charges against a former President Donald Trump. "I believe that they would have no choice and that they should, yes," Harris told the NPR Politics Podcast, pointing to the 10 instances of possible obstruction that former special counsel Robert Mueller's report detailed without making a determination as to whether the episodes amounted to criminal conduct. "There has to be accountability," Harris added. "I mean look, people might, you know, question why I became a prosecutor. Well, I'll tell you one of the reasons — I believe there should be accountability. Everyone should be held accountable, and the president is not above the law." The former San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general said she wasn't dissuaded by the prospect of a former American president facing trial and a potential prison sentence. "The facts and the evidence will take the process where it leads," she said. "I do believe that we should believe Bob Mueller when he tells us essentially that the only reason an indictment was not returned is because of a memo in the Department of Justice that suggests you cannot indict a sitting president. But I've seen prosecution of cases on much less evidence."

WASHINGTON – After the release seven weeks ago of special counsel Robert Mueller's report, House Democrats demanded millions of pages of evidence they said were crucial to understanding both Russian election meddling and the president's conduct. The House Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing to question Attorney General William Barr, who blacked out portions of the report. Democrats subpoenaed former White House counsel Don McGahn, a key figure who described President Donald Trump's potential obstruction of justice, for another hearing. And they've negotiated with Mueller himself to testify so Americans could hear directly from the people involved. After all that, the committee will hear from its first witnesses Monday: a panel of cable television regulars who weren't. So far, nearly every attempt by House Democrats to air evidence about Trump's conduct during the investigation that shadowed his presidency has run – for now, at least – into a wall. Barr refused to appear and defied a subpoena to provide Congress the full report. McGahn defied his subpoena under a White House claim of executive privilege, as have other former aides who spoke to investigators about the president's actions. And Mueller said the report should speak for itself. House Democrats have launched a series of wide-ranging probes of Trump and his administration, and the pace of those inquiries has sparked complaints from his fiercest critics and his most stalwart allies. A growing faction of 59 lawmakers urged a start to impeachment proceedings. House Republicans, who note Mueller found no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, have said they should already be over. "There's been no evidence that would necessitate an impeachment,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said Wednesday.

By Matt Novak
President Donald Trump suggested this morning that Attorney General Bill Barr might go after the big tech companies, seeming to confirm rumors that the U.S. Justice Department would soon launch an onslaught against Silicon Valley. The DOJ is reportedly thinking about an antitrust investigation of Google but Trump’s comments today hint that “antitrust” might be a smokescreen for other motives. Trump spent his morning talking to CNBC’s TV show “Squawk Box” live by phone and said that while the European Union, which the U.S. president called “a fantastic group of negotiators,” is pursuing antitrust action against the big tech companies, his approach might be different. “The European Union is suing them all the time. We’re going to maybe look at it differently. We have a great Attorney General. We’re going to look at it differently,” Trump said, repeating himself as he often does because his brain is basically just mashed potatoes at this point. “But when they give European Union 7 billion dollars, and 5 billion and 2 billion,” Trump said trailing off and just naming numbers without context. “And Apple gets sued for $10 billion, and you know, that’s right now it’s going on but they’ll end up settling...” Trump also said that the EU doesn’t actually care about antitrust laws and viewed the legal actions against companies like Facebook and Google as a pure money-making endeavor. The president also seemed conflicted about whether the EU should be punishing American companies, briefly sounding territorial and defensive, like a mobster who doesn’t like outside interlopers muscling in on his turf.

By Devan Cole, CNN
Washington (CNN)Former White House counsel John Dean, whose testimony in the Watergate investigation helped topple Richard Nixon's presidency, said Monday he plans to tell Congress that he sees similarities between Nixon and President Donald Trump. Dean, who is a CNN contributor, is set to testify Monday afternoon before the House Judiciary Committee during a hearing about lessons from special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election interference. The hearing comes as congressional Democrats look to step up their efforts to highlight findings in the special counsel's probe amid a swirling debate over impeachment. "I'm clearly not a fact witness, but I hope I can give them some context and show them how strikingly like Watergate what we're seeing now, and as reported in the Mueller report, is. So I've taken several examples from the Mueller report relating to obstruction of justice, which is their focus today and looked at those and made the comparisons," Dean told CNN's Alisyn Camerota and John Berman on "New Day." Asked by Berman what the most "apt comparison" between Nixon and Trump is, Dean said, "the fact that Nixon was hands-on very early is just like Trump hands-on very early." "The firing of (former FBI Director James) Comey is certainly not dissimilar from some of the actions that Nixon took," Dean added. "Nixon waded in and tried to influence the FBI investigation, as did Trump. So there are lots of comparisons." Dean, who resigned from the Nixon administration in April 1973, testified before a Senate select committee in June of that year about the White House and Nixon's involvement in the Watergate break-in and cover-up. He later served time in prison for his involvement in the Watergate scandal. In recent months, Dean has called for the impeachment of Trump, saying in December that he thinks Congress will have "little choice" but to begin impeachment proceedings against the President after a court filing said Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen acted at the direction of Trump when the former fixer made payments to silence women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump prior to his time running for office.

By Makini Brice
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Monday hinted more details were to come about a migration pact the United States signed with Mexico last week, saying another portion of the deal with Mexico would need to be ratified by Mexican lawmakers. He did not provide details but threatened tariffs if Mexico’s Congress did not approve the plan. “We have fully signed and documented another very important part of the Immigration and Security deal with Mexico, one that the U.S. has been asking about getting for many years. It will be revealed in the not too distant future and will need a vote by Mexico’s legislative body,” Trump tweeted. “We do not anticipate a problem with the vote but, if for any reason the approval is not forthcoming, tariffs will be reinstated.” Last month, Trump threatened 5% tariffs on Mexican goods to be imposed on Monday. The duties would have increased every month until they reached 25% in October, unless Mexico stopped illegal immigration across its border with Mexico. On Friday, the tariffs were called off, after the United States and Mexico announced an agreement on immigration. The joint communique issued by the two countries provided few details.

By Jacqueline Thomsen
A Republican group is urging GOP members of Congress to take seriously allegations of obstruction of justice made against President Trump, in a new ad released Monday. Republicans for the Rule of Law is airing the ad on "Fox & Friends" on Monday, ahead of the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing with Watergate star witness and former Nixon White House counsel John Dean to discuss the evidence of potential obstruction uncovered by special counsel Robert Mueller. In the 60-second ad, first shared with The Hill, Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate hearings are shown raising concerns about potential obstruction of justice as committed by then-President Richard Nixon. A Republican group is urging GOP members of Congress to take seriously allegations of obstruction of justice made against President Trump, in a new ad released Monday. Republicans for the Rule of Law is airing the ad on "Fox & Friends" on Monday, ahead of the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing with Watergate star witness and former Nixon White House counsel John Dean to discuss the evidence of potential obstruction uncovered by special counsel Robert Mueller. In the 60-second ad, first shared with The Hill, Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate hearings are shown raising concerns about potential obstruction of justice as committed by then-President Richard Nixon. “When Nixon was alleged to have obstructed justice, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee took these allegations seriously,” the ad begins. Footage of several GOP lawmakers serving on the panel at that time is then shown, as they called for action to be taken over the then-president’s obstruction efforts. “It is we, not the Democrats, who must show we are capable of enforcing the high standard we would set for them,” Rep. M. Caldwell Butler (R-Va.) is shown saying. “Republicans stood for the rule of law then. Republicans should stand for the rule of law now,” the ad ends. Chris Truax, a spokesperson for Republicans for the Rule Law, called the group’s new ad a “reminder of what patriotism and political bravery can look like.”

By Caroline Kelly
(CNN) - Mexico had already promised to take many of the actions agreed to in Friday's immigration deal with the US -- months before President Donald Trump's tariff threat, officials from both countries who are familiar with the negotiations told the New York Times in a story published Saturday. Trump moved to accept the existing agreements in a deal Friday after negotiations prompted by his threat to impose growing tariffs on Mexico in response to the border situation dragged on over several days. Talks between Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and State Department officials lasted for more than 11 hours Friday. The Mexican government had pledged to deploy the National Guard nationwide with a focus on its southern border -- a key part of Friday's agreement -- during secret meetings in March between former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Mexican interior secretary Olga Sanchez in Miami, the officials told the Times. The deal's key expansion of a program that would keep asylum seekers in Mexico while their claims are processed was established in two heavily brokered two diplomatic notes exchanged between the two countries, the Times reported. Nielsen announced the Migrant Protection Protocols during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in late December. One senior government official insisted to the Times that the Mexican government agreed to move to deter migrants faster and more aggressively than they ever had before this week's talks. As Ebrard noted in a news conference after the agreement's announcement Friday, the Mexican government did not accept the US's push for a safe third country agreement, which would require asylum seekers traveling through Mexico to make their case for American asylum in Mexico.

By Morgan Gstalter
President Trump on Thursday threatened to hit China with tariffs on “at least” another $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, escalating tensions between the world's two largest economies. “Our talks with China — a lot of interesting things are happening. We'll see what happens,” Trump told reporters in Ireland before departing for a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France. “In the meantime, we're getting 25 percent on $250 billion, and I can go up another at least $300 billion," he added. "And I'll do that at the right time.” There have been no face-to-face meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials since May 10, the day Trump initially increased tariffs on a $200 billion list of Chinese goods, Reuters reported. Beijing retaliated by raising tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods. “But I think China wants to make a deal and I think Mexico wants to make a deal badly,” Trump claimed on Thursday. The president earlier the week defended his administration’s tariffs, arguing that the United States won’t be impacted by a “visible increase in costs or inflation.” “China is subsidizing its product in order that it can continue to be sold in the USA,” Trump wrote in a tweet. China’s Commerce Ministry, however, warned Trump not to increase already-simmering relations.

By Aaron Rupar
Bad tweets, ill-advised statements, ignorance — it’s all on display. President Donald Trump’s state visit to the United Kingdom began with him firing off tweets from Air Force One calling London Mayor Sadiq Khan “a stone cold loser” and culminated with him posting tweets at 1:30 am London time on Wednesday denigrating actress Bette Midler as a “Washed up psycho.” In between, the president called Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer “a creep” and urged his supporters to boycott AT&T because of his displeasure with how CNN covers him. He also did a television interview with Piers Morgan in which he demonstrated appalling ignorance about climate science and attempted to walk back a comment he’d recently made about Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle being “nasty” — by calling her “nasty” again. Trump was accompanied to the UK by his adult children and their spouses, despite the fact that only two of them (Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner) actually have official government roles. The New York Times responded by describing the Trump family as “the American answer to British royalty.” Then, at the end of his three-day state visit, Trump left England to travel to Doonbeg, a tiny coastal town in Ireland that is home to a golf course he still owns and profits from. Ahead of his arrival in Doonbeg, Trump had a brief meeting in Shannon, Ireland, with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. During a photo op, a reporter asked him, “Is this trip for you just about promoting your golf club?” “No. This trip is really about great relationships that we have with the UK,” Trump replied. “I really wanted to do this stop in Ireland. It was very important to me because of the relationship I have with the people and your prime minister.”

By Bill Chappell
The Trump administration is placing new restrictions on the use of human fetal tissue in medical research. Federal scientists working at the National Institutes of Health will be prohibited from obtaining new tissue samples obtained from elective abortions for ongoing research projects at the NIH. Abortion rights opponents hailed the move as a first step toward a complete ban on the use of human fetal tissue in research. It was not immediately clear how many projects would be affected by the ban. Research at universities and work that is privately funded will be allowed to continue. The Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement Wednesday that "promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump's administration." "Fetal tissue taken from elective abortions have been used in research over many years," NPR's Richard Harris reports. "The practice has been replaced in many cases as biologists found better ways to produce human cells with similar properties. But researchers have continued to use fetal tissue to produce mice with human-like immune systems. Now the Department of Health and Human Services says it will stop funding that project." Research projects funded by NIH grants that are ongoing at universities can continue, HHS said. But any researchers who want to renew those projects or apply for new grants involving fetal tissue will have to undergo a review by an ethics advisory board, the agency said.

By Nathaniel Weixel
The Trump administration told migrant shelters this week to wind down services — such as legal aid, English classes and recreational activity — that are not directly related to children's safety. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said it began instructing grantees this week to begin scaling back or discontinuing awards for activities "that are not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety, including education services, legal services, and recreation." Federal officials said the administration's refugee office is running out of the necessary funds to deal with a massive influx of unaccompanied minors at the southern border. "Additional resources are urgently required to meet the humanitarian needs created by this influx — to both sustain critical child welfare and release operations and increase capacity," HHS said. HHS said ending those services are necessary under the Antideficiency Act, which requires the department to prioritize safety when faced with a funding shortfall. The department is seeking an emergency appropriation of $2.88 billion to fund its refugee operations. HHS said the program is on pace to run out of funding in the coming weeks and will need supplemental funding. HHS is legally obligated to direct funding to essential services. Under current law, migrant children who illegally cross into the U.S. must be sent to a government shelter, where they stay until they can be united with relatives or other sponsors while awaiting immigration court hearings.

The Ring of Fire
A group called Republicans For The Rule Of Law has gathered up former Republican leaders from past administrations to warn us that the President committed Obstruction of Justice and this matter needs to be taken seriously and Trump needs to be held accountable. With a powerful new ad, they plan on informing Americans about exactly what the President did and what needs to happen now. But could there be ulterior motives for Republicans wanting to oust the President?

How Donald Trump for years used the royal family to gin up publicity for his properties
By Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump was all smiles on Monday as he attended a state dinner at Buckingham Palace hosted by Queen Elizabeth II. But the royal family has for years batted back stories that its members were looking into or joining Trump's properties -- stories that, according to multiple biographies of Trump, were spread by the real-estate developer himself. Between 1981 and 1995, multiple claims that members of the British Royal family were joining Trump properties filled New York tabloids and national papers according to a CNN KFile review of archival papers, audio, and books about the then-real estate developer. All of them were unequivocally shot down by Buckingham Palace. One such instance occurred in the lead up to the Trump Tower's February 1983 opening, when a persistent rumor kept appearing that Prince Charles and his then-new wife Diana were looking at buying an apartment in the building. The claim generated significant publicity for Trump Tower, which the then-36-year-old real estate developer Trump hoped would be his signature building. But it wasn't true, and the source of the misinformation, according to four biographies, was Trump himself. The 1981, 1982 and 1983 the reports began in the New York tabloids, but they quickly made their way into outlets like the Associated Press and Boston Globe. "Prince Charles and his new bride are planning to buy a $5 million, 21-room apartment in a building under construction here, the New York Post said today," the Associated Press wrote. "Buckingham Palace aides met with Donald Trump, developer of the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue at 57th Street, during the prince's visit to New York last June, the Post said. It quoted unidentified sources as saying that a deal was on."

Trump Explains ‘Nasty’ Meghan Markle Comment, But Basically Calls Her ‘Nasty’ Again
By Chris York
The president also told Piers Morgan that he *almost* spoke to Prince Harry about it. Donald Trump has attempted to clear up reports he called Meghan Markle “nasty” by... calling her nasty again. In an interview for Good Morning Britain, Piers Morgan asked the president to clarify comments he made in an interview with The Sun in which he was told the Duchess of Sussex once said he was “misogynistic” and “divisive.” Trump had told the paper: “I didn’t know that. What can I say? I didn’t know that she was nasty.” When asked by Morgan to explain the comments, Trump said: “They said some of the things that she said and It’s actually on tape. And I said: ‘Well, I didn’t know she was nasty.’ “I wasn’t referring to she’s nasty. I said she was nasty about me. And essentially I didn’t know she was nasty about me.” When pressed again by Morgan to clarify what he said, Trump added: “She was nasty to me. And that’s OK for her to be nasty, it’s not good for me to be nasty to her and I wasn’t.”

By Leigh Ann Caldwell, Geoff Bennett and Allan Smith
A move to thwart the president's bid to force Mexico to stem undocumented immigrants would be one of the most significant rebukes by his own party.
Senate Republicans are discussing ways to block President Donald Trump from imposing tariffs on Mexican goods out of concerns over their impact on the U.S. economy — and the president said Tuesday the GOP would be "foolish" to do so. "I don't think they will do that," Trump said during a news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May in London. "I think if they do, it's foolish." The president said "there's nothing more important than borders" and claimed to have a 94 percent approval rating among Republican voters. "Can you believe that?" Trump asked. "Isn't that something? I love records."

By Anna Vickerstaff
Our balloon is part of a proud history of political satire in the UK that sends a clear, orange, message to Trump and his politics of hate that they are not welcome here. Last year Trump Baby joined 250,000 people on the streets of London with a further 150,000 people around the UK to protest his visit. Upon seeing the balloon, Trump said “I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London”. That’s exactly the point. We know Trump isn’t a joke – he is responsible for rampant xenophobia, sexism and transphobia and the creeping rise of far right politics. His climate denial and persistent facilitation of the fossil fuel industry is a death sentence for communities in the global south. But if flying a balloon caricature is what gets under his skin – then that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Trump has repeatedly shown that he doesn’t respond to reason, to facts or to science. What he does respond to is humiliation. Our balloon is part of a proud history of political satire in the UK that sends a clear, orange, message to Trump and his politics of hate that they are not welcome here. Some people have asked whether a personal attack on Trump is fair. The same question that was posed after Tommy Robinson and Nigel Farage were doused in milkshakes during their recent European election campaigns.

Kristine Phillips and Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is significantly raising the stakes in his public battle with the law enforcement and intelligence agencies that spent two years investigating him and his campaign. In the past two weeks alone, Trump has charged that federal investigators “conclusively spied” on his campaign, accused perceived political enemies of treason, and signaled that he will make these allegations a major talking point in his reelection bid. Then he gave his attorney general broad power to probe – and reveal – intelligence secrets as part of a new review into how the federal investigation on Trump and his campaign began. The flurry of accusations has produced a lot of noise – at times in the form of “lock them up” chants at Trump’s campaign rallies – but scant evidence of wrongdoing. Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers two months ago that he was conducting his own examination of whether the government improperly “spied” on Trump’s campaign, at least the third examination by the department of its conduct around the 2016 election. So far, Barr has not said he has found misconduct, but in an interview with CBS News, he said the investigation of Trump's campaign crossed “a serious red line” and he wants to know how and why the FBI conducted its work. Another inquiry, by Justice’s inspector general, is due to conclude this month. Barr’s examination took on a level of urgency in May when Trump gave him “full and complete” authority to declassify information related to the Russia investigation – a departure from the Justice Department’s traditional and legal role. The move alarmed former officials who say it could set of a power clash between Barr and the country’s intelligence chiefs and risk exposing sensitive sources to score political points. “There’s nothing the CIA or NSA, for example, guards more jealously than sources and methods. It is not hyperbole to say that lives are at stake,” said Larry Pfeiffer, former chief of staff at the Central Intelligence Agency and for the Director of National Intelligence.

By Michael J. Stern, opinion contributor
President Donald Trump ratcheted-up his war on law enforcement last week when he ordered all federal intelligence agencies to “quickly and fully” cooperate with Attorney General Bill Barr’s probe into the origins of the FBI investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Ordinarily, a presidential order directing federal agencies to cooperate with a Department of Justice investigation would be hailed as strong and decisive support of law enforcement. But not here. Not now. Not with President Trump. The president’s move to “investigate the investigators” is designed to make agents and prosecutors think twice before they pursue legitimate evidence against him — which threatens a chilling effect on other investigations still in progress. It’s no great surprise that Trump took this path — or that his loyal base is now chanting “Lock them up” as a threat to law enforcement agents who dare investigate the president. The stunning development has been the eager participation of Congressional Republicans and the attorney general. While the past two years have exposed a frightened and cowed GOP, resigned to carry the president’s water, Trump’s first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, pushed back against White House efforts to morph the Justice Department into a pawn of the president. In sharp contrast, Bill Barr has shown his spine to be the moral equivalent of sugar-free Jello.

But officials say they didn't act on it and are investigating the incident.
By Sam Fulwood III
The U.S. Navy admitted that it received a request, presumably from White House aides, to hide the USS John S. McCain during President Donald Trump’s recent state visit to Japan. But Rear Admiral Charlie Brown, chief of information, said in a statement released to NBC news on Saturday morning that although a request was received, Navy officials didn’t act on it, and insist nothing was done to obscure the battleship. “A request was made to the U.S. Navy to minimize the visibility of USS John S. McCain, however, all ships remained in their normal configuration during the President’s visit,” Brown’s statement said, explicitly avoiding saying who or where the request originated. The Navy’s acknowledgment followed nearly a week of intrigue, after a report Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal that White House officials ordered the warship placed out of sight during Trump’s Japanese trip. The newspaper said it reviewed an email to Navy and Air Force officials dated May 15 that included the direction “USS John McCain needs to be out of sight” for Trump’s Japan visit. Additionally, sailors serving on the ship were instructed to not wear their uniform caps, which identify them as crew members on the USS John S. McCain, the newspaper reported. Brown’s statement said attempted to quash that claim as well. “There were also no intentional efforts to explicitly exclude Sailors assigned to USS John S. McCain,” Brown said in the statement.

BELLINZONA, Switzerland (Reuters) - The United States was prepared to engage with Iran without pre-conditions about its nuclear program but needed to see the country behaving like “a normal nation”, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani suggested on Saturday that Iran may be willing to hold talks if Washington showed it respect, but said Tehran would not be pressured into talks. In an apparent softening of his previous stance, Pompeo said when asked about Rouhani’s remarks: “We are prepared ... to engage in conversations with no pre-conditions, we are ready to sit down.” However, he said Washington would continue to work to “reverse the malign activity” of Iran in the Middle East. Pompeo said U.S. President Donald Trump had been saying for a long time that he was willing to talk to Iran.

London mayor hits out at US president before his state visit to Britain. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has compared the language used by Donald Trump to rally his supporters to that of “the fascists of the 20th century” in an explosive intervention before the US president’s state visit to London that begins on Monday. Writing in the Observer, Khan condemned the red-carpet treatment being afforded to Trump who, with his wife Melania, will be a guest of the Queen during his three-day stay, which is expected to provoke massive protests in the capital on Tuesday. Khan said: “President Donald Trump is just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat. The far right is on the rise around the world, threatening our hard-won rights and freedoms and the values that have defined our liberal, democratic societies for more than 70 years. “Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Matteo Salvini in Italy, Marine Le Pen in France and Nigel Farage here in the UK are using the same divisive tropes of the fascists of the 20th century to garner support, but with new sinister methods to deliver their message. And they are gaining ground and winning power and influence in places that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.”

By Marshall Cohen
Washington (CNN) - One day after special counsel Robert Mueller publicly refused to exonerate President Donald Trump and hinted at potential impeachment, the President responded Thursday with an avalanche of widely debunked lies about the investigation and its findings. Over a few hours Thursday morning, Trump spread several lies and falsehoods about the Russia investigation, Mueller's findings, the cost of the probe, and the legal restrictions that Mueller faced when grappling with the possibility of a President who broke the law.

By Eileen Sullivan
WASHINGTON — President Trump tweeted on Thursday that Russia helped “me to get elected,” and then quickly retracted the idea. “No, Russia did not help me get elected,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he departed the White House for Colorado Springs. “I got me elected.” He spoke less than an hour after his Twitter post. The original comment, a clause in one of several Twitter posts this morning, is an extraordinary admission from Mr. Trump, who has avoided saying publicly that Russia helped him win the presidency in 2016 through its election interference. American intelligence agencies and federal prosecutors have long concluded that Russia tried to influence voters. Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax...And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn’t exist. So now the Dems and their partner, the Fake News Media,..... — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2019.

By Eileen Sullivan
WASHINGTON — President Trump on Thursday acknowledged for the first time that Russia helped “me to get elected,” and then quickly retracted the idea. “No, Russia did not help me get elected,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he departed the White House for Colorado Springs. “I got me elected.” He spoke less than an hour after his Twitter post. The original comment, a clause in one of several Twitter posts this morning, is an extraordinary admission from Mr. Trump, who has avoided saying publicly that Russia helped him win the presidency in 2016 through its election interference. American intelligence agencies and federal prosecutors have long concluded that Russia tried to influence voters.

By Kayla Tausche, Tucker Higgins
President Donald Trump’s Treasury secretary and top trade advisor opposed his surprise plan to impose new tariffs on Mexican imports, according to a source close to the White House who said the idea was pushed by immigration hawk Stephen Miller. The announcement came as Trump was “riled up” by conservative radio commentary about the recent surge in border crossings, according to the source. Trump made the announcement Thursday night on Twitter. He said he will impose 5% tariffs on all Mexican imports starting June 10 and escalate them to 25% “until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP.” Anticipation that the tariffs combined with an escalating U.S.-China trade war could cool global growth sent equities sharply lower Friday, with the major U.S. indexes off by 1% in afternoon trading. The opposition by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer marked a rare moment of unity from two top administration officials with starkly different economic ideologies. Miller’s role was confirmed by the source close to the White House and a person briefed on the matter.

By David Lauter
Impulsiveness defines President Trump’s approach to his job — sudden decisions that often conflict with other actions he has taken, without much apparent concern for how, or whether, they fit together. Thursday night’s announcement that he would impose escalating tariffs against Mexico unless that country blocks Central American migrants from traveling through its territory to the U.S. provides the clearest example yet of that pattern. The move reflected Trump’s deep frustration over his inability to stop migration from Central America. But in lashing out, he’s putting at risk his single biggest asset for reelection — steady growth of the U.S. economy.

By Jeremy Diamond, Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump overruled a pair of his top economic advisers in deciding to move ahead with his tariff threat against Mexico over immigration. And as he faced a stock market slide and opprobrium from key Republican senators on Friday, the President held firm, tweeting: "It's time!" Trump's drastic tariff threat sent shockwaves through Washington, sparking concerns inside the White House and on Capitol Hill that a new trade offensive would scuttle efforts to ratify a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement -- and drag down the US economy, which relies heavily on Mexican-produced cars, machines and foodstuffs, just as the 2020 campaign is taking off. But incensed by a spike in migrants crossing illegally into the US this week, the President ignored warnings from US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin with his decision to move ahead Thursday with a vow to impose import duties on all goods from Mexico until steps are taken to curb the the flow of migrants. Lighthizer, who has been working to build support for the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement in Congress, warned Trump the move would hamper ratification of the trade deal, while Mnuchin warned Trump the move would roil the stock market, multiple sources told CNN. And when the announcement came down Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence was on Air Force Two, returning from a trip to Canada to assure the prime minister the administration was all-in on the trade deal. The deliberations pitted Lighthizer and Mnuchin against a trio of influential presidential advisers: senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, trade adviser Peter Navarro and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who all supported Trump's tariff gambit, the sources said.

The idea originated with a Republican redistricting specialist said the question would create an advantage for "Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites." By Pete Williams
WASHINGTON — Trump administration witnesses were deliberately misleading when they testified about the origins of a plan to include a citizenship question on the coming census, opponents of the idea said Thursday, citing recently discovered evidence. While the government has maintained that adding the question was intended to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, the driving force was actually a desire to get more Republicans elected to state legislatures and the House of Representatives, the ACLU said in new court filings. The Supreme Court is now considering whether the Commerce Department acted properly in ordering the Census Bureau to include a question about citizenship on the 2020 census form that goes to every U.S. household, despite warnings from populous states that doing so would actually make the count less accurate. The case was argued April 23, but the ACLU on Thursday notified the court of the discovery.

Officers were told to keep a warship named for the late Sen. John McCain out of President Trump's view during his Memorial Day weekend visit to Japan, CBS News has confirmed. CBS News senior national security correspondent David Martin reports that a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command official wrote an email to Navy and Air Force officials before Mr. Trump's arrival. It included instructions for the proper landing areas for helicopters and preparations for the USS Wasp, the ship on which the president was to speak. The official then issued a third instruction: "USS John McCain needs to be out of sight," according to the email, which was first obtained by The Wall Street Journal. The Washington Post and Associated Press also confirmed its existence.

By Devan Cole, CNN
Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump launched a furious broadside Thursday morning against Robert Mueller the day after the special counsel discussed the findings of his report into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the investigation's inability to clear the President of obstruction of justice. After a relatively muted response to Mueller's statement on Wednesday -- Trump at one point tweeted that there was "insufficient evidence" to rosecute him -- Trump unleashed a lengthy diatribe against Mueller on Twitter and at the White House, calling the special counsel conflicted and disputing US intelligence findings that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election to aid Trump's candidacy. "No, Russia did not help me get elected," Trump told reporters at the White House. "You know who got me elected? You know who got me elected? I got me elected. Russia didn't help me at all. Russia, if anything, I think, helped the other side." Trump was later pressed by a reporter on Mueller's decision not to make a determination on obstruction or charge the President with a crime. "There were no charges. None," Trump said, directing the reporter to "read volume one" of the report, the section that outlines the investigation into collusion with the Russians during the 2016 election. The reporter responded that Mueller couldn't say Trump was guilty because, as he said Wednesday, it would be "unfair" to accuse somebody of a crime when there could be no court resolution while he was in office.

By Mark Moore
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said North Korea’s recent ballistic missile launches violate a United Nations Security Council resolution, breaking with President Trump. “The short-range missile, is that a violation? Yes,” he told reporters Wednesday while on a trip to Asia. “These were short-range missiles and those are a violation of the UNSCR.​”​ Both national security adviser John Bolton and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo considered the launches a violation, but Trump downplayed their significance during a state visit to Japan over the weekend.

By Colby Itkowitz and Dan Lamothe
The White House asked Navy officials to obscure the USS John S. McCain while President Trump was visiting Japan, Pentagon and White House officials said Wednesday night. A senior Navy official confirmed that he was aware someone at the White House sent a message to service officials in the Pacific requesting that the USS John McCain be kept out of the picture while the president was there. That led to photographs taken Friday of a tarp obscuring the McCain name, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. When senior Navy officials grasped what was happening, they directed Navy personnel who were present to stop, the senior official said. The tarp was removed on Saturday, he added. The crew of the McCain also was not invited to Trump’s visit, which occurred on the USS Wasp. But a Navy official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said it was because the crew was released from duty for the long holiday weekend along with sailors from another ship, the USS Stethem.

By Christina Wilkie, Amanda Macias, Marty Steinberg
President Donald Trump insisted on Thursday that he had nothing to do with keeping the USS John S. McCain hidden from the site of his weekend speech in Japan. He said whoever had done so was “well-meaning.” “I wasn’t involved. I would not have done that. I was very angry with John McCain because he killed health care,” Trump said, referring to the late senator’s deciding vote that killed a Senate GOP bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “I was not a big fan of John McCain in any way, shape or form,” Trump continued in comments to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. “Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn’t like him, OK? And they were well-meaning. I will say, I didn’t know anything about it. I would never have done that.” Trump’s second denial came after The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the White House wanted the Navy to move the destroyer “out of sight,” citing an email between military officials. The ship is named for the late Arizona senator and his father and grandfather, who were admirals. Trump initially denied any knowledge of the effort in a tweet Wednesday night.

By Devan Cole, CNN
Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump launched a furious broadside Thursday morning against Robert Mueller the day after the special counsel discussed the findings of his report into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the investigation's inability to clear the President of obstruction of justice. After a relatively muted response to Mueller's statement on Wednesday -- Trump at one point tweeted that there was "insufficient evidence" to prosecute him -- Trump unleashed a lengthy diatribe against Mueller on Twitter and at the White House, calling the special counsel conflicted and disputing US intelligence findings that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election to aid Trump's candidacy. "No, Russia did not help me get elected," Trump told reporters at the White House. "You know who got me elected? You know who got me elected? I got me elected. Russia didn't help me at all. Russia, if anything, I think, helped the other side." Asked if Mueller had behaved honorably, Trump said, "I think he's totally conflicted," referring to Mueller's brief membership at a Trump golf club in Virginia.

David Jackson and John Fritze, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Before they saw President Donald Trump, the thousands of supporters who attended his rally earlier this month in Pennsylvania first saw a symbol of the presidency: the iconic blue-and-white jet instantly recognizable as Air Force One. As the presidential plane approached the small airport where Trump would speak, audio of air traffic controllers clearing it to land was piped through speakers. A senior Trump campaign aide posted a video of the plane taxiing up to the stage, where it would remain throughout the rally as a dramatic visual backdrop. Trump's trip to Pennsylvania was only the latest example in which he has relied on Air Force One for campaigning, raising long-standing questions about how taxpayer money is allocated for political travel. The plane, usually a Boeing 747, has carried Trump to rallies, fundraisers and events billed as official business in states such as Pennsylvania and Florida that are crucial to his hopes for reelection in 2020.

By Steve Chapman Contact Reporter Chicago Tribune
After months of hearing Donald Trump portray special counsel Robert Mueller as a crazed Democratic attack dog, it may have surprised partisans to see the sober and scrupulously precise lawyer who finally spoke for himself Wednesday morning. His statement won’t prevent the president from continuing to brazenly claim total exoneration. But it underlines the disgraceful picture of Trump that can be found in the special counsel’s voluminous report. The most important words that Mueller uttered about his office’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election were the ones he saved for last, an implicit condemnation of Trump: “I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments: that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election, and that allegation deserves the attention of every American.” The most important American who has exhibited indifference to that allegation, of course, is the one who bears the chief responsibility for protecting the nation from such attacks: the president. The report made abundantly clear that the Russian government and its confederates tried to manipulate events and perceptions to get the outcome Vladimir Putin wanted. Putin did get what he wanted, and Trump’s presidency has been a boon to the Kremlin. As Mueller reminded his audience, his investigators did not clear the president of obstructing justice. They operated on the premise, based on firm Justice Department policy, that indicting him was not an option. The absence of an indictment, Mueller made clear, does not mean an absence of evidence of Trump’s guilt.

By Chris Morran
Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg criticized President Donald Trump Sunday for using his "privileged status" to avoid military service, his pledge to review the cases of soldiers convicted of war crimes and for turning Washington into a "continuing horror show." Appearing on ABC's This Week Sunday, Buttigieg — the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who also served in Afghanistan as an officer with the U.S. Navy Reserve — told reporter Martha Raddatz he had no doubt that Trump's 1968 medical deferment for bone spurs in his heels was faked. "There is no question, I think, to any reasonable observer that the president found a way to falsify a disabled status, taking advantage of his privileged status in order to avoid serving," claimed Buttigieg. He continued: "You have somebody who thinks it's alright to let somebody go in his place into a deadly war, and is willing to pretend to be disabled in order to do it. That is an assault on the honor of this country" The 37-year-old Democrat's comments came only days after he responded similarly to questions from the Washington Post's Robert Costa about Trump's deferment. "This is somebody who, I think it's fairly obvious to most of us, took advantage of the fact that he was a child of a multimillionaire in order to pretend to be disabled, so that somebody could go to war in his place," Buttigieg said Thursday. In the Sunday interview with This Week, Buttigieg also addressed recent comments by Trump about possibly intervening in the cases of U.S. military service members accused of war crimes. “We teach them how to be great fighters, and then when they fight sometimes they get really treated very unfairly. So we’re going to take a look at it," Trump told reporters Friday, adding, “It’s very possible that I’ll let the trials go on and I’ll make my decision after."

By Colby Itkowitz
President Trump called the federal judge who temporarily blocked construction of the southern border wall “another activist Obama appointed judge,” and said his administration would appeal the decision. Trump tweeted his response from Japan, where he is currently on a state visit. It was around 4 a.m. Sunday in Japan and around 4 p.m. Saturday on the East Coast. U.S. District Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. of the Northern District of California ruled Friday that some construction of the wall using money not appropriated by Congress be put on hold as the court considers a legal challenge to Trump’s decision to circumvent Congress to pay for his wall. “Another activist Obama appointed judge has just ruled against us on a section of the Southern Wall that is already under construction,” Trump tweeted. “This is a ruling against Border Security and in favor of crime, drugs and human trafficking. We are asking for an expedited appeal!”

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