POLITICS
02/13/2017 06:16 pm ET

HUFFPOST HILL - Quiet Canadian Self-Satisfaction Reaches All-Time High

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

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Donald Trump held a highly sensitive security meeting in front of a roomful of Mar-a-Lago guests, though before you freak out, think about how cool it is that the president might have a  “situation grotto.” Steve Mnuchin plans on bringing in a bunch of Wall Street types to the Treasury Department, all of whom undoubtedly care about that shuttered ice skate factory that employed your father and grandfather. And it’s a testament to Trump’s underwhelming intellect that he stood beside a guy who said “The U.S. and Canada have been neighbors for a long time” and no one noticed. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, February 13th, 2017:

RUSSIA POSSIBLY GOING TO NEED TO MAKE SOME NEW FRIENDS -  Christina Wilkie: “As he begins his fourth week in office on Monday, President Donald Trump is facing intense pressure to cut ties with his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, following reports that Flynn lied to top administration officials. Sources familiar with the situation say the president’s staffers are now ‘trying to prepare options’ ― including potential replacements ― if it becomes impossible for Flynn to remain in his position. For months, Flynn denied that he discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in a phone call prior to Trump’s inauguration. But on Thursday, The Washington Post reported that the topic had indeed surfaced, citing nine independent sources, all of whom had knowledge of Flynn’s calls…. But there are new indications that Flynn’s standing is in serious danger as Trump becomes increasingly frustrated by the embarrassing revelations about Flynn’s calls and the eroding trust between his national security adviser and the rest of his top staff.” [HuffPost]

@ZekeJMiller: NEWS: @PressSec STATEMENT ON FLYNN: “The president is evaluating the situation”

THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS TO THE NSC - David E. Sanger, Eric Schmitt and Peter Baker: “Three weeks into the Trump administration, council staff members get up in the morning, read President Trump’s Twitter posts and struggle to make policy to fit them. Most are kept in the dark about what Mr. Trump tells foreign leaders in his phone calls. Some staff members have turned to encrypted communications to talk with their colleagues, after hearing that Mr. Trump’s top advisers are considering an ‘insider threat’ program that could result in monitoring cellphones and emails for leaks…. New Trump appointees are carrying coffee mugs with that Trump campaign slogan into meetings with foreign counterparts, one staff member said. Nervous staff members recently met late at night at a bar a few blocks from the White House and talked about purging their social media accounts of any suggestion of anti-Trump sentiments…. And while Mr. Obama liked policy option papers that were three to six single-spaced pages, council staff members are now being told to keep papers to a single page, with lots of graphics and maps. ‘The president likes maps,’ one official said.” [NYT]

WE ARE SO, SO SCREWED - Can we reach a compromise on Trump’s refugee ban and extremely vet Mar-a-Lago’s members? Kevin Liptak: “President Donald Trump’s patio strategy session at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday evening is drawing scrutiny for its open-air nature, including aides’ use of cell phone flashlights to illuminate potentially sensitive documents. As Trump discussed a response to North Korea’s missile test with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, other diners looked on freely. Sources who don’t work in national security or government but were also dining on the patio Saturday evening couldn’t say whether the conversations or documents were classified. The White House didn’t respond to a request for information about how sensitive information is treated at Trump’s Florida estate. But the episode ― which was documented by diners in photographs on Facebook ― does raise questions about how the Trump administration will handle foreign policy crises on the road.” [CNN]

HOT TAKE: TRUMP MAKES BEING A DEMOCRAT EASIER - He ain’t exactly outmaneuvering them. Ryan Grim: “In the days and weeks after Trump was elected president, Democrats were consumed by a central question: Should they oppose Trump across the board, or work with him on some of his more populist campaign promises ― such as rebuilding the country’s roads, bridges and airports, or closing loopholes exploited by hedge fund managers? … Maybe Democrats needn’t have worried. So far, Trump has served up a series of radical nominees and dismaying policy changes. And for congressional Democrats, opposing these moves has been an easy call.” [HuffPost]

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CANADA MEETING GIVES DIPLOMATS THE LABATT BLUES - GET IT?! *Holds up expectant high five until universe dissolves into nothing* Catherine Lucey and Rob Gillies: “President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau resolutely played up their similarities at their first meeting Monday, even as obvious differences lurked behind their public smiles. After their White House meeting, the North American neighbors emerged to hail their close ties, with Trump promising to ‘build upon our very historic friendship’ and Trudeau noting the ‘special’ bond between the countries. But it was hard to escape their contrasting worldviews. Speaking to reporters, Trump defended his restrictive refugee and immigration orders, saying that ‘we cannot let the wrong people in.’ Trudeau, on the other hand, said Canada continues to ‘pursue our policies of openness.’” [AP]

Trump really put himself on the hotseat during the press conference: “[T]he duo from the U.S. side who were chosen [by Trump] were Scott Thuman, a political reporter for WJLA-TV, the Sinclair-owned ABC affiliate in the nation’s capital, and Kaitlin Collins of the Daily Caller, a conservative digital outlet whose founders include Tucker Carlson, now of Fox News. Thuman opened by noting some unidentified ‘philosophical’ divisions between the two leaders, asking Trump, ‘How do you see this relationship playing out and are there any specific area during which you each decided to alter or amend your positions on those sensitive issues?’ Later, Collins would ask Trump, ‘Now that you have been in office and received intelligence briefings for nearly one month...what do you see as the most important security matters facing us?’” [Poynter’s James Warren]

IMMIGRATION RAIDS NAB HUNDREDS - Elise Foley: “The Trump administration detained more than 680 immigrants last week in a series of raids around the country, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Monday. Kelly said the ‘targeted enforcement operations’ ― the government seldom uses the word “raids” ― took place in the Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York City areas. About 75 percent of the immigrants arrested had been convicted of a crime, although the government did not release a full breakdown of what those crimes were, or how many were related solely to immigration.” [HuffPost]

GOP ALREADY GETTING COLD FEET ABOUT PUZDER - Bad news for the sexy hamburger guy and his quest to tinker with that OSHA poster hanging in your office break room. Ed O’Keefe: “At least four Republican senators are still on the fence about whether to support Andrew Puzder, President Trump’s choice for labor secretary, putting more pressure on the restaurant executive and political novice to win over members of the president’s own party to win confirmation. The four Republicans are all members of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where Puzder is set to appear Thursday to answer questions. The high level of public concern is notable, given that Republicans have for the most part supported Trump’s Cabinet picks even before their confirmation hearings. Among the skeptics is Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who said Monday that she hasn’t made up her mind on Puzder and will wait to see how he fares at his confirmation hearing scheduled for Thursday.” [WaPo]

SWAMP UPDATE: SHIT IS GETTING PRETTY BOGGY UP IN HERE - Fire up the fanboats, more Goldman types are coming to town. Ben White: “Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin, likely to be confirmed by the Senate on Monday, is reaching into the Republican establishment and Wall Street to fill out senior leadership roles in his department. Senior Goldman Sachs banker Jim Donovan is under strong consideration for deputy Treasury secretary and could serve as Mnuchin’s No. 2 if confirmed by the Senate, people familiar with the matter said. Justin Muzinich, a former Morgan Stanley banker now at Muzinich, is likely to take a senior position possibly as undersecretary for domestic finance or counselor, the people said. The counselor position would not require Senate confirmation.” [Politico]

SOME GOOD OL’ FASHIONED CORRUPTION INTRIGUE RIGHT HERE - Ryan Grim and Paul Blumenthal: “On Thursday, July 9, 2015, Evan Morris, a super lobbyist with the biotech firm Genentech...shot himself in the head…. Genentech, for its part, continued to dig after Morris died. Prior to his death, the drug company had been probing what it identified as spending irregularities coming out of the Washington office Morris ran, according to people briefed by the firm on the investigation. Morris learned of the probe the week he died; that probe continued after his death, focusing on consulting firms that Morris directed money toward, the sources said. The company had noticed an unusually high amount of spending on Washington consultants, the sources said, and had questions about whether Morris was taking illicit payments in exchange for dolling out contracts, or whether he himself was in control of some of the accounts where money was going.” [HuffPost]

THE RISE AND FALL OF A UTAH REPUBLICAN - Kurtis Lee: “As John Swallow stood before family and colleagues at a swearing-in ceremony inside the marble rotunda of the Utah Capitol in 2013, many viewed him as a rising star in the Republican Party…. Prosecutors in Salt Lake City, where Swallow’s criminal trial began this week, allege he was a part of a scheme that dates to 2008…. Swallow, 54, is charged with a pattern of unlawful activity during that time, which, among other things, consists of money laundering, accepting improper gifts and soliciting a bribe — all second-degree felonies. Moreover, he faces three counts of evidence tampering, obstruction of justice and misuse of public money, which are all third-degree felonies. Authorities said Swallow in effect hung a virtual ‘for sale’ sign on the door of the attorney general’s office. Claims by former employees that Swallow had received improper gifts and extorted from businessmen, among other things, began to pile up shortly after he took office.” [LA Times]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a dachshund who sounds like Chewbacca.

AREA EDITOR-IN-CHIEF TELLS STAFF TO PISS OFF - Michael Calderone: “Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker defended his paper’s coverage of President Donald Trump during a Monday staff town hall and said it would be ‘fake news’ to claim the publication hasn’t been tough enough, according to Journal sources. ‘Don’t let anybody get away with saying our reporting of Donald Trump has been soft,’ Baker told attendees. Journal staffers have sought an audience with Baker amid internal concerns the paper hasn’t been as aggressive in covering Trump as competitors or as direct in calling out falsehoods, such as the president’s bogus claim about widespread voter fraud. Baker recently came under scrutiny after urging editors to avoid using the term ‘majority-Muslim’ to describe the countries affected by Trump’s travel ban.” [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Donald Trump’s circa-2000 internet presence.

- Dude slays Rush in a way you could never slay Rush.

- Watch this video and contemplate just how incomplete your childhood was.

TWITTERAMA

@jacobsberg: I liked it just now when Trudeau said “Trump” in French and Trump looked over like a dog that understands its name and nothing else.

@emmadumain: Mondays in the press gallery. The chorus of phone calls from reporters to editors saying, “No, I can’t talk to Lawmaker X before 6:30 pm”

@delrayser: can’t wait for the next season of The Americans where they juggle raising a family while holding down full-time Mar-A-Lago jobs

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