Make America Venus Again

Later, Florida

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Liberal America’s collective attitude toward the Rust Belt once again swung back from “deep economic sympathy” to “seething classist resentment” after Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Agreement. “America is back!” exclaimed Vice President Mike Pence before Trump’s remarks — the Solomon Islands, however, not so much. And to be fair to the GOP, this makes a tremendous amount of political sense: It will probably help Republicans’ electoral math quite a bit when the Panhandle is the only part of Florida left. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, June 1st, 2017:

JARED KUSHNER TASKED WITH LOOKING OUT FOR JARED KUSHNER - For once, a job he can actually do. Peter Nicholas and Rebecca Ballhaus: The Trump White House is setting up a dedicated unit to cope with a Russia investigation that is picking up in intensity, in an attempt to keep the probe from derailing policy priorities that face an uncertain fate on Capitol Hill, people familiar with the effort said. The new operation will include attorneys, researchers and communications specialists whose focus will be to reply to inquiries from investigators and reporters centering on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any collusion by President Donald Trump’s campaign aides. The unit is being organized by chief of staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, a senior adviser and the president’s son-in-law who has become a focus in the Russia probe, a White House official said. The official said it was unclear when the unit would officially begin, and wasn’t aware of any outside hires for it.” [WSJ]

BYE, EARTH - Apparently Earth Mother doesn’t get the same amount of respect from Mike Pence as Regular Mother. Alexander C. Kaufman: “The United States will pull out of the Paris Agreement on combating climate change, President Donald Trump announced Thursday, a decision that makes good on one of his key campaign pledges but deals a devastating setback to international efforts to curb global warming. ‘I’m fighting every day for the great people of this country,’ Trump said at a press conference in the White House Rose Garden. ‘Therefore, in order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord.’ Trump said he was willing to ‘immediately work with Democratic leaders’ either to ‘negotiate the U.S. back into Paris’ or devise a new pact.” [HufPost]

But hey, at least Trump is “honoring” Great Outdoors Month and National Ocean Month this June. Enjoy them while you still can!

Cool: “Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt wouldn’t say whether President Donald Trump still thinks climate change is a hoax. CNN’s Jake Tapper spoke with Pruitt moments after Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. ‘This is not about whether climate change is occurring or not,’ Pruitt said, arguing Trump backed out of the Paris agreement because it was bad for the U.S. economy.” [HuffPost’s Paige Lavender]

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COMEY TO TESTIFY - Marina Fang: “Former FBI director James Comey...will testify publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee next Thursday. The committee, which is conducting its own investigation into links between Trump’s campaign and Russia, announced the hearing Thursday. The highly anticipated appearance will be Comey’s first public comments since Trump fired him on May 9, amid highly questionable circumstances that suggested Trump may have been trying to obstruct the investigation…. Several news outlets reported Wednesday that Comey spoke to Mueller privately to determine what he is legally allowed to say in his public testimony, and Mueller gave him the go-ahead to testify.” [HuffPost]

Racist British political clown Nigel Farage being involved in all this is a little on the nose, God.

ICYMI: WHITE HOUSE GRANTS ETHICS WAIVERS TO INSIDERS - Where’d the swamp go? Christina Wilkie: “President Donald Trump has granted ethics waivers to at least 17 of his top White House aides, including chief strategist Steve Bannon, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and senior counselor Kellyanne Conway, in addition to four former lobbyists. The waivers, released by the White House late Wednesday but granted on various dates, undermine Trump’s campaign pledge to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington. They also reveal a president who is granting ethics waivers at an unusually rapid pace. The 17 senior White House appointees were all granted waivers in the past four months. His predecessor, Barack Obama, granted that same number of waivers to his top staff over the course of his eight years in office.” [HuffPost]

NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM! - But… but… Jared was going to fix this. Eline Gordts: “President Donald Trump on Thursday signed a six-month waiver that will keep the U.S. Embassy in Israel in Tel Aviv, at least temporarily backing down from a controversial campaign promise, according to White House officials. The waiver to the Jerusalem Embassy Act ― the 1995 U.S. law that declared Jerusalem Israel’s capital and required that the American embassy be officially relocated there ― was set to expire on June 2. Since the law’s adoption, every president has signed the recurring waiver. Trump had vowed during the presidential campaign to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem ‘fairly quickly’ after taking office, a promise welcomed by many of his supporters, including the new U.S. ambassador to Israel and the country’s government.” [HuffPost]

VOICE OF AMERICA? - We can’t wait for Matt Boyle to get that ambassadorship. Hadas Gold: “The Trump administration’s leading candidate to head the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a position that with recent changes would give the appointee unilateral power over the United States’ government messaging abroad reaching millions, is a conservative documentarian with ties to White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation. Michael Pack, the leading contender for the post, is president and CEO of the Claremont Institute and publisher of its Claremont Review of Books, a California-based conservative institute that has been called the ‘academic home of Trumpism’ by the Chronicle of Higher Education.” [Politico]

U.S. VISA APPLICATIONS TO BE EVEN WORSE - How can we combine the misery of the DMV with the invasiveness of a visit to your company’s HR director? Yeganeh Torbati: “The Trump administration has rolled out a new questionnaire for U.S. visa applicants worldwide…. The new questions, part of an effort to tighten vetting of would-be visitors to the United States, was approved on May 23 by the Office of Management and Budget despite criticism from a range of education officials and academic groups during a public comment period. Critics argued that the new questions would be overly burdensome, lead to long delays in processing and discourage international students and scientists from coming to the United States. Under the new procedures, consular officials can request all prior passport numbers, five years’ worth of social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers and 15 years of biographical information including addresses, employment and travel history. Officials will request the additional information when they determine ‘that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting,’ a State Department official said on Wednesday.” [Reuters]

THIS ISN’T HOW THIS WORKS, PART ONE-MILLION - Yashar Ali: “A major government agency refused to answer a Democratic legislator’s routine inquiry unless she got a Republican to co-sign her request, the congresswoman told HuffPost. Rep. Kathleen Rice (N.Y.) said she faced an unprecedented barrier when she asked the Office of Personnel Management about its training process and suggested changes that would help the agency recruit more cybersecurity workers. Janel Fitzhugh, OPM’s legislative director, told Rice’s legislative aide that she needed a Republican committee chairman to co-sign the letter in order to get a response. It’s extremely unusual for a routine inquiry initiated by members of Congress to face a political hurdle, said former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who reviewed Rice’s letter. Davis served as chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee during his tenure in Congress.” [HuffPost]

TRUMP KEEPING (LGBTQ)UIET - A better outcome than the “no homo” we more or less always expect from the president on LGBTQ matters, but still a pretty garbage move. James Michael Nichols: “President Donald Trump has not acknowledged June 1, 2017 as the beginning of LGBTQ Pride month, missing an opportunity to be the first Republican president to publicly recognize the annual month dedicated to the queer community. Trump, who was heralded by Log Cabin Republicans as ‘the most gay-friendly Republican nominee for president ever,’ had remained mum on the issue as of Thursday afternoon. President Bill Clinton was the first president to publicly recognize June as LGBTQ Pride month in 2000.” [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a puppy making sense of its newfound motor skills.

MSNBC NOT ENTIRELY DONE LEANING FORWARD - Rebecca Shapiro: “Lawrence O’Donnell told audiences Wednesday that he will be staying at MSNBC for ‘the next couple of years,’ ending weeks of speculation about the longtime host’s future at the network. Last month, sources told Yashar Ali in an article for HuffPost that network executives had not been in touch with the ‘Last Word’ host as his contract neared its expiration. The lack of negotiation with a highly rated anchor like O’Donnell was considered unusual, as competing networks could lure talent away with counter-offers. O’Donnell put those rumors to rest, addressing his future at the network both on the air and on Twitter.’” [HuffPost]


- What makes things cool? Derek Thompson, the world’s coolest person, is here to tell you.

- Thanks to video games, you can watch 20 T. Rexes battle 10,000 chickens.


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