Why should first lady Melania Trump be the only Trump with her own late-night video tribute? Thanks to Jimmy Kimmel, she's not. "The White House is releasing their own line of Valentine's Day cards this year — have you heard about this?" Kimmel asked on Tuesday's Kimmel Live. "That's because we made it up, but it was funny — I guess we're at the point where anything is believable." He ran through valentine cards from President Trump, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump sons Don Jr. and Eric, Jared Kushner, and GOP congressional leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Kimmel even found a card for White House adviser and immigration hardliner Stephen Miller — it's a doozy — but Vladimir Putin's card is the most topical. Watch that, and Kimmel's theories on Valentine's Day, below. Peter Weber
President Trump counts Xi Jinping as a "good friend," boasts of his "great relationship" with Rodrigo Duterte, and has an autographed Elton John CD to gift to Kim Jong Un. On Monday, he met one-on-one with Vladimir Putin for more than two hours, after basking in the Russian president's apparent praise for months.
So it may come as no surprise that Trump reportedly counts Turkish President Recep Erdogan among his coterie of authoritarian bros. CBS News' Ian Bremmer reported Monday that at last week's highly contentious NATO summit, where Trump pressed allies to spend more on defense, Trump cited the Turkish strongman as an example of a leader who "does things the right way":
"Trump was very frustrated; he wasn't getting commitments from other leaders to spend more. Many of them said, 'Well, we have to ask our parliaments. We have a process; we can't just tell you we're going to spend more, we have a legal process.' Trump turns around to the Turkish president, Recep Erdogan, and says, 'Except for Erdogan over here. He does things the right way,' and then actually fist-bumps the Turkish president." [Ian Bremmer, via CBS News]
Bremmer noted that Trump's open lauding of Erdogan's methods is just a bit alarming, given his "executive presidency [and] the purges that have gone on internally. Turkey is hardly a liberal democracy at this point." But what's a little authoritarianism among friends?
Watch Bremmer's full report below. Kimberly Alters
As President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin make their way around Helsinki for Monday's summit, they will be met with some 300 billboards promoting press freedom.
As we welcome the presidents to the summit in Helsinki, we @hsfi want to remind them of the importance of free press. 300 billboards on the routes from the airport to the summit are filled with news headlines regarding presidents’ attitude towards the pressfreedom. #HELSINKI2018 pic.twitter.com/KmYJtLyeNE
— Kaius Niemi (@KaiusNiemi) July 15, 2018
The billboards are printed in English and Russian and feature the paper's headlines about Trump and Putin's hostility toward the media.
Trump has labeled the media the "enemy of the American people" and decries unfavorable reports as "fake news" regardless of accuracy. Putin's Russia is marked by "draconian laws and website blocking" targeting independent media, notes watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RSF): "At least five journalists are currently detained in connection with their reporting — an unprecedented number — and more and more bloggers are being jailed."
Jokes about President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin's so-called love affair have persisted for years. But apparently the trope isn't tired enough for The New York Times.
This episode of Trump Bites, which the Times calls a series of "satirical video cartoons" stringing together recorded Trump quotes, envisions the president as a teenager imagining a "forbidden romance" between himself and Putin. The lecherous premise is disgusting enough, but the actual product is far worse. Imagine a shirtless Putin and underwear-clad Trump on a daisy-pooping unicorn, complete with nipple twisting and a look into the two leaders' entwined mouths. Or don't. That's fine too.
If you absolutely, positively must, watch below. Kathryn Krawczyk
In this episode of Trump Bites, Donald Trump’s not-so-secret admiration for Vladimir Putin plays out in a teenager’s bedroom, where the fantasies of this forbidden romance come to life. https://t.co/cWeQMuzWUz pic.twitter.com/4shBRkloot
— NYT Opinion (@nytopinion) July 16, 2018
"To the people of the United States, please help us," begins an open letter to America handwritten in Spanish and signed Sunday by 54 migrant parents who remain separated from their children and detained in Texas.
"We are desperate parents," the note continues. "We were not prepared for the nightmare that we faced here. The United States government kidnapped our children with tricks and didn't give us the opportunity to say goodbye."
The parents were separated from their children more than a month ago, and since then contact, even by phone, has been extremely limited. "Each day is more painful that the last. Many of us have only had the chance to speak to our children once (this is very difficult because the social workers never answer)," the letter explains. "The children cry; they don't recognize our voices; and they feel abandoned and unloved. This makes us feel like we are dead."
The letter's signatories are seeking asylum in the United States while they wait to be reunited with their children. They are held at the Port Isabel Service Detention Center in Los Fresnos, Texas. As of Friday, about 2,500 children remain separated from their families. Bonnie Kristian
Putin rolled up to his Finland meeting with Trump almost an hour late Monday, The Washington Post reports. It's typical of the Russian leader, data from The Independent shows — and some say it's an attempt at showing dominance.
After ripping off his jacket on the tarmac, Putin ducked into a 22-foot-long, Russian-made vehicle that drew comparisons to Trump's "Beast" of a Cadillac, the Post noted. The massive vehicle is Russia's first luxury car produced in years, per state media.
Putin has elevated his brand during his presidency, graduating from oversized suits to shirtless horseback rides, the Post points out. He's carefully crafted a tough-guy image to counter his country's shaky one. That image — apparently built by once showing up four hours late to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel — has even earned him comparisons to Trump.
Putin also arrived 40 minutes late to meet former President Barack Obama, making his tardiness bipartisan. Kathryn Krawczyk
President Trump's tweets have astounded, amazed, and enraged many people on many topics over the years, but usually his closest followers will give him a pass on his particularly outrageous posts.
His Monday morning tweet about strained U.S.-Russia relations, however, appears to be an exception. Brian Kilmeade, host of Trump's favorite news show Fox & Friends, had a hard time getting his head around the fact that Trump chose to place the blame on "U.S. foolishness and stupidity," and he asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) to offer some clarity.
"I like the president's tweets, I understand what he’s trying to do with the EU and NATO," said Kilmeade, who ordinarily vocally supports most of Trump's statements and policies. "But what I don't understand is this tweet. It's really not our foolishness and stupidity. They might not like the things we're doing — but would you really say foolishness and stupidity is a correct characterization?"
Gingrich vaguely agreed with Trump's assessment, saying he wouldn't "try to rewrite the president's tweets." He cited "weakness" from previous administrations, but said that Trump knows how to "deal with" Putin. Watch the moment below, via Fox News. Summer Meza
As President Trump meets with an actual, intelligence community-certified geopolitical foe Monday, his combative rhetoric may be costing America one of its closest allies.
In an interview with CBS News that aired Sunday, anchor Jeff Glor asked Trump to name the U.S.'s "biggest foe globally right now." In response, Trump named Russia, China, and the European Union, for "what they do to us in trade." "You wouldn't think of the European Union [as a foe]," he said, "but they're a foe."
The comments prompted pushback from Germany on Monday, as Trump was meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin behind closed doors. "We can no longer completely rely on the White House," German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass told reporters Monday, per Reuters. "To maintain our partnership with the U.S.A. we must readjust it." German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been considered the de facto head of the EU since becoming chancellor in 2005.
Trump has threatened steep tariffs on auto imports from the EU, and his "foe" comments additionally follow the highly contentious NATO summit last week, where he threatened to withdraw American support from the alliance and pressed treaty members to rapidly and substantially increase their defense spending. Merkel called the summit "very intense" at the time, though she did call for Germany to up its defense contributions to the alliance. Kimberly Alters