POLITICS
05/31/2016 04:51 pm ET

HUFFPOST HILL - Trump Weighs In On Cincinnati Gorilla, Silent On Baby Hitler

Until today, we assumed the only giant primates that Donald Trump cared about were ones that do facade damage to New York landmarks while kidnapping blondes. Trump said he's spent $5.6 million on veterans, which is roughly the amount he's spent on ersatz marble fountains depicting little boys peeing. And during her first press conference in months, Hillary Clinton accepted blame for both the gorilla's death AND Vince Foster's -- you can read more about it, and all the other things that happened only in our imagination, this week on HuffingtonBlurpDeBurp.Biz. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, May 31st, 2016:

CLINTON CAMPAIGN CAN'T ANSWER SIMPLE QUESTION ABOUT KILLING A GUY - Sam Stein: "For nearly a week now, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has refused to answer a simple yes or no question: whether she favors the Department of Justice’s decision to seek the death penalty for Dylann Roof, who is accused of killing nine people last year at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. The Huffington Post first posed the question to Clinton’s campaign on May 25, one day after the Justice Department made its announcement. We followed up twice that day, and once the day after. We tried again this Sunday and Monday. The campaign only responded to one of those emails, and did so off the record — but needless to say, it didn’t answer the question." [HuffPost]

TED CRUZ WANTS TO BE FRIENDS NOW - Katie Glueck & Burgess Everett: "Ted Cruz’s associates insist he’s returning to the Senate as the same uncompromising, hell-bent conservative he’s always been. But one thing is different, and it’s glaring: The senator who made enemies with fellow Republican senators and bragged about it to voters now wants to play nice — or at least his version of nice — with his colleagues. And the first step to improving his rancorous relationships, the Texas senator’s allies say, will be to help them keep their Senate seats. The freshman senator wants to return to the campaign trail this fall as a conservative surrogate for Republicans aiming to turn out the GOP base, they say." [Politico]

GARY JOHNSON IS GOOD AT RUNNING - Marathons, that is. “I ran a 2:48 marathon and they don’t even report on it!” the newly-minted Libertarian Party nominee told the Candidate Confessional podcast. [HuffPost]

jbarro: People aren't properly analyzing the tail risks associated with Trump, so I made a chart.


TRUMP PIVOTS TO GORILLA - Ashley Killough: "Donald Trump said Tuesday that a Cincinnati zoo 'probably had no choice' but to kill a gorilla after a young boy had entered his enclosure. 'It was a very tough call,' the presumptive Republican nominee said at a press conference at Trump Tower in New York when he was asked about the controversy. Trump said the gorilla appeared 'beautiful' and 'calm,' and almost mother-like with a toddler that came into his habitat. A 3-year-old boy slipped into the enclosure of a 17-year-old male gorilla named Harambe, who quickly took hold of the child. At times, the gorilla sat still with the toddler, but those quiet periods were interrupted by bouts of knocking the child against a wall and dragging him around a shallow moat." [CNN]

GREAT LEADER ENDORSES CLASSY LEADER - It's almost like they want to see us destabilized. Charlotte Alfred: "An editorial in North Korea’s state-run media on Tuesday offered high praise for presumptive U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Trump is a 'wise politician' and 'far-sighted presidential candidate,' the Korean-language article in DPRK Today argues. The editorial, attributed to Chinese North Korean scholar Han Yong-mook, is not official government policy. Yet it likely reflects the authoritarian regime’s thinking, experts told NK News. 'There are many positive aspects to Trump’s ‘inflammatory policies,’' the article says, listing two in particular: Trump’s offer to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and his threat to remove U.S. forces from South Korea, which is still technically at war with the North."" [HuffPost]

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MITCH MCCONNELL IS SURE TRUMP WILL TOTALLY CHANGE HIS BEHAVIOR - Donald Trump would respect limits on his authority if he’s elected president, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday. 'I think Donald Trump will understand when he’s sworn in the limits of his authority,' McConnell told conservative radio interviewer Hugh Hewitt. 'He’ll have a White House counsel. There will be others who point out there’s certain things you can do and you can’t do.' Trump has openly campaigned against freedom of the press and freedom of religion, two things enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He has also vowed to disregard international law and commit war crimes. And he likes to threaten his political opponents. McConnell said President Barack Obama has been worse, pointing to Obama’s executive orders on immigration that have been held up by courts…. Orders that Trump has said "led the way" and that he would do them, but better.... [HuffPost]

TRUMP REMINDS EVERYONE ABOUT HOW MUCH HE HATES POWs - Christina Wilkie: "Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Tuesday defended his fundraising for veterans charities and said he had not inflated reports of how much money he had donated to military organizations. 'As of this moment, it’s $5.6 million,' Trump told reporters at a press conference at Trump Tower in New York City. 'The money has all been sent,' Trump said, holding up a copy of a $1 million check he said had been a donation to a Marine Corps charity. The Donald J. Trump Foundation hasn’t used any of the money raised to pay staff or cover operational expenses, he added. Trump also named several charities — including the Fisher House Foundation, the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation and the Navy SEAL Foundation -- he said had received money." [HuffPost]

WHAT MADE TRUMP SOOO GENEROUS? Only shame: "Phone calls to all 41 of the groups by The Associated Press brought more than two-dozen responses Tuesday. About half reported checks from Trump within the past week, typically dated May 24, the day The Washington Post published a story questioning whether he had distributed all of the money." [AP]

DONALD TRUMP HAS NO MONEY - Ben White: "Donald Trump claims a net worth of more than $10 billion and an income of $557 million. But he appears to get there only by overvaluing properties and ignoring his expenses. POLITICO spoke with more than a dozen financial experts and Trump’s fellow multimillionaires about the presumptive Republican nominee’s latest financial statement. Their conclusion: The real estate magnate’s bottom line — what he actually puts in his own pocket — could be much lower than he suggests. Some financial analysts said this, and a very low tax rate, is why Trump won’t release his tax returns. 'I know Donald; I’ve known him a long time, and it gets under his skin if you start writing about the reasons he won’t disclose his returns,' said one prominent hedge fund manager who declined to be identified by name so as not to draw Trump’s ire. 'You would see that he doesn’t have the money that he claims to have and he’s not paying much of anything in taxes.'" [Politico]

DONALD TRUMP HAS NO POSITIONS - And neither do his supporters. Ariel Edwards-Levy: "Want to get people to support a policy they’d otherwise be lukewarm about? Tell them it’s backed by the candidate or party they like. It’s a human tendency that can lead to some especially interesting results when a party’s standard-bearer is as malleable on the issues as Donald Trump has proved to be…. Those who were told that Trump 'has said he’d like to see the minimum wage increased' agreed with him by a margin of 57 percent to 36 percent. Those who were told that he 'has said he would not raise the minimum wage' were notably more likely to express their own opposition to a wage hike, by a margin of 43 percent to 52 percent." [HuffPost]

POLITICAL HACKERY AT ITS BEST! John Feehery: "I am not of the opinion that the Republic would fail if the voters select somebody like Trump and if Trump turns out the half as bad as some conservative pundits would have you believe, there are plenty of legal mechanisms to either contain his worse impulses (the Congress and the Supreme Court, for example) or remove him from office should his transgressions become too toxic." Yeah, there's always impeachment! Phew. [TheFeeheryTheory]

WOMP WOMP - Michael Gerson has a sad: "For those of us with a certain political bent and background, this is the most depressing moment of all. The best of the GOP -- Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan, the intellectually serious reformicons who have called attention to issues of poverty and the need for Republican outreach -- are bending their knee to the worst nominee in their party's history. Ryan drags himself slowly. Rubio eventually went with a quick Band-Aid pull. But the largest political choice each man has made this year will be one of the worst mistakes of their careers." [RealClearPolitics.com]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are two excited French bulldogs.

DELANEY DOWNER - Scientists from three universities unveiled data Tuesday showing that the water in Flint, Michigan is relatively safe from byproducts of the normal disinfection process -- byproducts that actor Mark Ruffalo has claimed might make the water unsafe for bathing. Ruffalo also happens to run a charity whose "chief scientist" makes money off special sponges he claims can better detect the contaminants in Flint's water...

COMFORT FOOD

- In defense of burger smashing.

- A brief overview of budget airlines.

- Puppy is utterly freaked out by BB-8

TWITTERAMA

@jeneps: Trump holds 2 pressers in 2 business days.
Sanders takes no Qs at event billed as presser.
Clinton hasn't held a formal presser in 6 months.

@SimonMaloy: I want to know what Jeb would have done about the gorilla

@aedwardslevy: Somewhere in the Kingdom of the Animals a gorilla politician is being asked about Donald Trump

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