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President Trump decided to gut NATO on a whim, like some kind of bad imitation of that time Churchill and Stalin divvied up Europe on a napkin. White House lawyers and the Secret Service were both placed in a tremendous bind today when the president shot himself in his own foot. And a D.C. bar will open early Thursday to air the Comey hearing; why D.C.’s line-waiting and speed-dating services haven’t capitalized by hosting a joint event outside of Hart 211 is beyond us. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, June 5th, 2017:
OR, ‘WHY LAWYERS MAKE SUCCESSFUL POLITICIANS’ - Matt Zapotosky: “President Trump on Monday derided the revised travel ban as a ‘watered down’ version of the first and criticized his own Justice Department’s handling of the case — potentially hurting the administration’s defense of the ban as the legal battle over it reaches a critical new stage…. ‘People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!’ Trump wrote. The president’s tweets could significantly damage his administration’s effort to restore the ban, which has been put on hold by two federal courts. Next week, those suing are expected to file arguments on the matter with the Supreme Court, and Trump’s latest remarks will surely be a part of their briefs. The administration appealed to the nation’s highest court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit upheld the freeze on the ban last month.” [WaPo]
Alberto Gonzalez...Alberto Gonzalez! “Government lawyers trying to defend President Donald Trump’s travel ban in court might be excused if they decide they are stuck with the world’s worst client…. ‘To the extent that the government has taken a position...and that position is at odds with what the president has said, it presents a challenge that the Department of Justice will have to deal with,’ said Alberto Gonzales, who served as President George W. Bush’s attorney general a decade ago.” [HuffPost’s S.V. Date]
ADMINISTRATION WON’T INVOKE EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE RE: COMEY - Justin Sink and Shannon Pettypiece: “President Donald Trump won’t try to stop former FBI Director James Comey from testifying to the Senate this week about investigations of Russian meddling in the U.S. election that could touch on Trump as well as his current and former associates…. The decision eases concerns that Trump would make a last-minute move to stymie Comey’s appearance, though many legal experts said it wasn’t clear that the White House would have had grounds to invoke executive privilege in this case. There may still be issues Comey declines to answer in the public hearing after consulting with Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to oversee the Russia probe in the wake of Comey’s firing.” [Bloomberg]
TRUMP IS HANDLING TERRORISM WRONG - Jessica Schulberg: “What troubled counterterrorism experts is that Trump’s approach as president hasn’t evolved. The patented alarmist response to terrorism attacks that he deployed in the election may have had political benefits to his campaign. But these experts view them as largely counterproductive to the goal of limiting the effectiveness of terrorist attacks. ‘Terrorism only works if people are terrified,’ said Clint Watts, a former FBI special agent. ‘And it seems like Trump’s comments, above all, seek to terrify.’” [HuffPost]
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RUSSIA TRIED TO HACK VOTING SOFTWARE: NSA REPORT - Matthew Cole, Richard Esposito, Sam Biddle and Ryan Grim: “Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election, according to a highly classified intelligence report obtained by The Intercept. The top-secret National Security Agency document, which was provided anonymously to The Intercept and independently authenticated, analyzes intelligence very recently acquired by the agency about a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the U.S. election and voting infrastructure. The report, dated May 5, 2017, is the most detailed U.S. government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light.” [Intercept]
WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE - Susan Glasser: “European allies who hoped — and expected — [Trump] would use his speech to explicitly reaffirm America’s commitment to mutual defense of [NATO’s] members…. National security adviser H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson all supported Trump doing so and had worked in the weeks leading up to the trip to make sure it was included in the speech, according to five sources familiar with the episode…. [W]hen Trump started talking at an opening ceremony for NATO’s new Brussels headquarters...the president’s national security team realized their boss had made a decision with major consequences — without consulting or even informing them in advance of the change…. The president appears to have deleted it himself, according to one version making the rounds inside the government” [Politico]
TRUMP’S TWEETS DERAIL ANOTHER MESSAGING CYCLE - But – but, it’s not even the sabbath! “President Donald Trump kicked off ‘Infrastructure Week’ at the White House on Monday by angrily tweeting about London Mayor Sadiq Khan, decrying Khan’s assurances to Londoners following a terror attack over the weekend. The White House was hoping this week to pivot to the president’s efforts to overhaul the nation’s infrastructure system, with an emphasis on the potential for job creation. That message would offer some counterprogramming to former FBI Director James Comey’s highly anticipated testimony before Congress on Thursday…. But the president’s itchy Twitter finger threw the carefully crafted rollout into disarray…. Earlier in the morning, Trump also railed about his stalled travel ban on Twitter ― resulting in cable news coverage about the legal ramifications of his tweets, and drawing further attention away from the president’s infrastructure plan.” [HuffPost]
About that infrastructure week: “The president plans to travel to Ohio on Wednesday to address ways of improving levees, dams and locks along inland waterways that are crucial to agricultural exports. His visit is expected to include a speech likely to touch on partnering with states and local governments…. On Friday, Trump will visit the Transportation Department to discuss regulatory changes related to roads and railways.” [AP’s Ken Thomas and Josh Boak]
MAYBE TRUMP DOESN’T EVEN KNOW HE HASN’T NOMINATED ANYONE - Jessica Schulberg: “President Donald Trump on Monday morning accused Democrats of obstructionism for ‘taking forever to approve my people, including Ambassadors.’ The one problem with Trump’s tweet? After taking the unusual step of ordering politically appointed ambassadors to leave their overseas posts by Inauguration Day ― Jan. 20 ― he has sent only a handful of ambassadorial nominations to the Senate. Trump’s complaint was apparently prompted by coverage on the ‘Fox and Friends’ program.” [HuffPost]
HUMAN RIGHTS: WHO NEEDS ‘EM? - Inalienable rights are just a product ginned up by the Deep State. Stephanie Nebehay: “The United States is expected to signal on Tuesday that it might withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council unless reforms are ushered in including the removal of what it sees as an ‘anti-Israel bias’, diplomats and activists said. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, who holds cabinet rank in President Donald Trump’s administration, said last week Washington would decide on whether to withdraw from the Council after its three-week session in Geneva ends this month.” [Reuters]
IT HAS BEEN     DAYS SINCE A CONFLICT OF INTEREST IN TRUMP’S WORKPLACE SAFETY TEAM - Barry Meier and Danielle Ivory: “During the early months of the Trump administration, a former lobbyist for an industry group that has opposed the beryllium, silica and record-keeping rules served on the transition team at the Department of Labor, which oversees OSHA. That official, Geoffrey Burr, who has since moved to the Department of Transportation as chief of staff, had been a lobbyist for the Associated Builders and Contractors, which represents nonunion construction companies…. Experts...fear that a widespread regulatory rollback is beginning, and possible changes to the beryllium rule are particularly frustrating to them because it had taken so long to get the new standards in place.” [NYT]
Hey, North Carolina GOP — SCOTUS knows you love disenfranchising black people, but they want you to cool it, okay? “The court on Monday upheld a lower court ruling that invalidated 28 state legislative districts because they were ‘racially gerrymandered’ — drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature with the objective of disadvantaging black voters.” [HuffPost’s Cristian Farias]
Congratulations to people with a peanut allergy: “Mylan may have overcharged taxpayers as much as $1.27 billion over 10 years for its signature EpiPens, according to an analysis released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services’s watchdog.” [STAT]
OH GOOD, KELLYANNE CONWAY’S HUSBAND IS GETTING IN ON THE ACT - Leave it to a lawyer to really lean into alternative facts. Ryan J. Reilly: “George Conway, a conservative lawyer who last week dropped out of the running for a key position in the Justice Department, said Monday that President Donald Trump’s tweets about his administration’s travel ban could hurt the case in court…. ‘These tweets may make some [people] feel better, but they certainly won’t help [the Office of the Solicitor General] get 5 votes in [the Supreme Court], which is what actually matters,’ Conway tweeted. ‘Sad.’ … Conway later tweeted a link to a Washington Post story on how Trump’s tweets could hurt the administration’s efforts to restore the travel ban. Conway said he still ‘VERY VERY STRONGLY’ supports the administration, and that every sensible lawyer in the White House and Trump political appointees at DOJ would agree with him.” [HuffPost]
ICYMI: ONE REALLY ILL-TIMED MISSPELLING - Eliot published a piece this weekend checking in with the Never Trump movement. He reached out to the Trump administration over allegations that it is incompetently run and, well, oh dear: “White House officials dismissed the criticism as textbook wound-licking from people whose side lost. ‘The President is holding his promises to the American people by growing the economy, creating jobs, protecting our boarders [sic] and ensuring that every American is safe and prospering,’ a White House spokesman said in a curiously spelled statement provided to HuffPost.” [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Don’t let baboons into your home.
BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE TAKING A PERSONAL DAY, APPARENTLY - When they go low, we gather together a posse and get some good ol’ fashion street justice goin’. Jennifer Bendery: “A day after a terror attack in London that left seven people dead, a Republican congressman from Louisiana urged people to kill anybody they suspect could be a radicalized Muslim. ‘Hunt them, identity [sic] them, and kill them. Kill them all,’ Rep. Clay Higgins wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday. ‘For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all.’” [HuffPost]
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