On June 14, Leo Varadkar became prime minister, or Taoiseach, of Ireland, after winning an internal race for leadership of his Fine Gael party following the resignation of Enda Kenny. On Tuesday, President Trump called Varadkar to congratulate him on his "great victory." He invited the press to observe the call. Trump began with a nod to the Irish-American community. "We have so many people from Ireland in this country," he said. "I know so many of them, too. I feel I know all of them." Then things got slightly odder.
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) June 27, 2017
Trump, perhaps searching for something to talk about, told Varadkar that he had members of the Irish press corps in the Oval Office. "And where are you from?" he asked one, Caitriona Perry, the Washington correspondent for state broadcaster Raidio Teilifis Eireann (RTE), who shot the video above. "Go ahead, come here, come here. Where are you from? We have all of this beautiful Irish press." When she identified herself, Trump said to Varadkar: "Caitriona Perry. She has a nice smile on her face. So I bet she treats you well."
That moment when the president of the US treats an international reporter like a goddamn pageant contestant. pic.twitter.com/fOXzXxrzlJ
— shauna (@goldengateblond) June 27, 2017
"Thank you for the newspapers, Caitriona," Trump told the TV and radio broadcast journalist. Peter Weber
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is apparently unaware of the widely cited internet adage that the person who first brings up Nazi leader Adolf Hitler automatically loses the argument — or maybe he just doesn't care about Godwin's Law. On Tuesday, North Korea's state-controlled Korean Central News Agency argued that President Trump's America First policy "is the American version of Nazism far surpassing the fascism in the last century in its ferocious, brutal, and chauvinistic nature," and "Nazism in the 21st century," comparing Trump to Hitler.
The KCNA specifically cited U.S. sanctions against North Korea tied to its nuclear weapons program, calling them "an unethical and inhumane act, far exceeding the degree of Hitler's blockade of Leningrad," and compared Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement to a violation of international norms worse than Hitler's concentration camps. "Satellite imagery shows that North Korea operates a network of prison camps, which a United Nations report in 2014 compared with 'the camps of totalitarian states of the 20th century,'" The Wall Street Journal notes dryly. "North Korea denies their existence."
Pyongyang frequently deploys belligerent language about the U.S., but this kind of verbal attack on Trump is new. "The coarsening language toward the administration, and toward the president himself, seems to reflect a slowly sharpening discussion within the regime," Robert Carlin, a visiting scholar at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation, writes at the site 38 North. The Nazi references also come a few days before South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, travels to Washington to meet with Trump, and follows the death of American student Otto Warmbier, who died shortly after North Korea released him from 18 months of captivity. Peter Weber
White House employee Ivanka Trump apparently has a rather curious understanding of what it means to be a senior adviser to the president. On Monday, she informed Fox & Friends that despite having an office in the West Wing, "I try to stay out of politics."
Trump went on to say: "I instead like to focus on areas where I can add positive value, where I can contribute to the agenda. Policies around workforce development, about ensuring that barriers are removed for the American working family … focusing on how we can help our veterans and how we can really deliver them the care that they so need."
But "I don't profess to be a political savant," Trump attempted to clarify. "So I leave the politics to other people and really lean into the issues that I care deeply about." Jeva Lange
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) June 26, 2017
Russian interference in the 2016 election "is really the political equivalent of 9/11 — it is deadly, deadly serious," said former Undersecretary of Defense Michael Vickers, who served in the Obama administration, in an NBC News interview Saturday. "The Russians will definitely be back, given the success they had," he added. "I don't see much evidence of a response."
Vickers' comments come one day after The Washington Post's comprehensive report detailing former President Obama's inaction in response to Russian election interference in 2016. President Trump and congressional Democrats have also criticized the Obama administration's "inadequate" response.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made an on-camera appearance Friday on Fox News to discuss President Trump's recent admission that he has no tapes of his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey. Spicer denied Democrats' claims that Trump had falsely indicated on Twitter that he'd recorded his conversations with Comey to "intimidate" the FBI director.
Spicer said that actually, by making these claims, Trump was pursuing his truth-finding mission — not, say, lying to coerce a witness. "I think the president made it very clear that he wanted the truth to come out," Spicer said. "He wanted everyone to be honest about this and he wanted to get to the bottom of it. I think he succeeded in doing that."
Spicer argued that by referencing the non-existent tapes, Trump "made Comey in particular think to himself, 'I better be honest. I better tell the truth.'" The White House press secretary seemingly suggested that if weren't for Trump's baseless threat of tapes, Comey might not have been truthful about the fact that Trump was not personally under investigation in connection to the ongoing probe into Russian election meddling.
Watch it below. Becca Stanek
Bernie Sanders slams the Senate health bill as 'the most harmful piece of legislation I've seen in my lifetime'
Senate Republicans finally unveiled their health-care bill Thursday, titled the "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017." The bill had been drafted in an insular, closed-door process by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to the point where even many Republican senators expressed frustration over the secrecy.
Democrats were quick to condemn the bill, which mirrors much of the legislation that passed the House early last month, promising to end the individual mandate installed by the Affordable Care Act, phase out Medicaid expansion, and allow states to apply for waivers from insurance regulations designed to protect the poor and the sick. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was not impressed:
The bill Republicans announced today is even worse than expected and by far the most harmful piece of legislation I've seen in my lifetime. https://t.co/EIVIdTKY1x
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 22, 2017
Republicans want to throw millions of Americans off of health insurance while providing over $200 billion in tax breaks to the top 2%.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 22, 2017
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) got salty Tuesday when Bloomberg asked him if he'd seen his party's plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare. "No, nor have I met any American that has," McCain said, referring to the GOP-backed health-care plan. "I'm sure the Russians have been able to hack in and gotten most of it."
While McCain might have been the only Republican senator to bring up Russia, he certainly isn't the only one frustrated with the party leadership's lack of transparency over the American Health Care Act. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Bloomberg that he thinks "it might be time to get the copier out." "We still haven't seen the bill," Paul said. He predicted that "using a one-party approach is setting up failure over the long term."
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) admitted the secrecy surrounding the bill has her worried. "This is like a really big deal to get this right for the country," Murkowski said. "You're asking me questions about something that neither one of us know what it looks like. Doesn't that worry you as a reporter? You don't even know how to frame the questions. I don't know how to frame the responses."
Dianne Feinstein warns Trump not to fire Mueller, Rosenstein: That's 'a blatant violation of the president's oath of office'
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) expressed concern Friday that President Trump's early morning Twitter rant indicates he is considering firing "not only Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible obstruction of justice, but also Deputy Attorney General [Rod] Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller."
Trump expressed frustration Friday morning on Twitter, writing, "I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director!" He also mocked the probe, tweeting: "After seven months of investigations [and] committee hearings about my 'collusion with the Russians,' nobody has been able to show any proof. Sad!" Trump's aides have also reportedly urged the president not to fire Mueller.
"The message the president is sending through his tweets is that he believes the rule of law doesn't apply to him and that anyone who thinks otherwise will be fired," Feinstein wrote. "That's undemocratic on its face and a blatant violation of the president's oath of office." Read her entire statement below. Jeva Lange
Dianne Feinstein: Trump's tweets today are "a blatant violation of the president’s oath of office." pic.twitter.com/jukmGh55K9
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 16, 2017