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President Trump was provided relief from a tumultuous trip abroad when he got to play with a globe that made his hands look as big as Eurasia. Speaking of hands, and maybe it’s just our wild imagination, but has anyone given any thought to the idea that the country is being run through Melania Trump’s hands? And the president’s budget includes very steep cuts to the social safety net. To all of you who will be roasting your boot on a spit over an oil drum fire in 2020, take comfort: The president saved a few dollars on the F-35. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, May 22nd, 2017:
BORED TRUMP NOW JUST GINNING UP HIS OWN CONTROVERSIES - We’re all gonna die. Marina Fang: “President Donald Trump on Monday denied that he mentioned Israel at the Oval Office meeting where he reportedly leaked classified information to Russian officials, seemingly referring to reports that Israel was the source of that information. ‘Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name “Israel.” Never mentioned it during that conversation,’ Trump said during an appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem as part of his first foreign trip as president. The president was referring to reports that Israel was the source of classified information he disclosed to Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and ambassador Sergei Kislyak during an Oval Office meeting on May 10. ‘They were all saying I did. So you had another story wrong,’ he said, pointing at reporters in the room. ‘Never mentioned the word “Israel.”’ It was never reported, however, that Trump told the Russians that Israel was the source of the information.” [HuffPost]
FLOTUS don’t want no POTUS.
Jared Kushner must be so stressed right now, via Politico reporter Annie Karni’s pool report: “Recently, Trump has said that he believes peace in the Middle East is ‘not as difficult as people have thought.’ On Monday night, he said, ‘I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all.’ And he sounded a little more tempered in his confidence: ‘But I have a feeling we’re going to get there eventually,’ he said. ‘I hope.’”
FLYNN TAKING THE FIFTH - Whew, one less instance of drama for Mitch McConnell to worry about. Amanda Terkel: “Former national security adviser Michael Flynn will not cooperate with a Senate intelligence committee investigation, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination Monday to avoid turning over documents lawmakers have subpoenaed related to his interactions with Russian officials. Flynn resigned in February, after it was revealed that he lied about whether he had substantive contacts with the Russian ambassador before President Donald Trump took office. In a letter to the leaders of the Senate intelligence committee posted by the Associated Press, Flynn’s lawyer said that without ‘assurances against unfair prosecution,’ he would ‘respectfully decline your request for an interview and for the production of documents.’” [HuffPost]
This Flynn character may not be entirely on the up-and-up. “Michael Flynn appears to have lied to Pentagon officials about payments he received from Russians when he was interviewed in 2016 for a renewal of his security clearance, according to a document obtained by the top Democrat on the House oversight committee. In a letter released Monday evening by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the congressman details a document that reveals Flynn told investigators he was paid by ‘U.S. companies’ when he traveled to Russia and dined with Russian President Vladimir Putin.” [HuffPost’s Laura Barrón-López]
James Comey’s testimony on his firing and the Russia investigation has been postponed, House oversight committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) announced on Twitter.
OK, MAYBE THERE WILL BE PEOPLE DYING IN THE STREETS, PT. 623,005, 541 - Arthur Delaney: “The Trump administration will unveil its 2018 budget on Tuesday, likely including big-league cuts to social programs in order to pay for more guns and bombs. The first thing to know about Trump’s budget ― or any president’s budget ― is that most of the proposals it contains stand little chance of becoming law. Instead, the president’s budget is a wish list that marks the beginning of a process in which Congress ultimately decides how to set spending levels. Trump reportedly wants to boost military spending and pay for it with big cuts to safety net programs like Medicaid and food stamps, along with cuts to dozens of smaller items like the Community Development Block Grant. Republicans are unlikely to go along, since they have struggled mightily to agree on cuts to health insurance subsidies this year. But Bob Greenstein, director of the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said the party’s love of tax cuts could motivate them to consider all options.” [HuffPost]
Haircut: Bernie Sanders (h/t Haley Byrd).
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COURT RULES AGAINST GOP DRAWN DISTRICTS - Cristian Farias: “In a long-awaited decision, the Supreme Court agreed on Monday with a lower court ruling that found that Republican lawmakers in North Carolina drew two congressional districts with improper racial considerations in mind. The ruling is the latest attempt by the justices to clarify the standard for what counts as unconstitutional racial gerrymandering — the push by lawmakers, especially in the South, to draw district lines based on the racial demographics of a specific area. ‘The Constitution entrusts States with the job of designing congressional districts,’ wrote Justice Elena Kagan in the 5-to-3 decision. ‘But it also imposes an important constraint: A State may not use race as the predominant factor in drawing district lines unless it has a compelling reason.’” [HuffPost]
The sinkhole that formed in front of Mar-a-Lago is almost too easy a target for jokes.
CITY ON A HILL UPDATE - Your tired, poor huddled masses yearning to be free can crash on our futon for a couple of nights... maybe. Elise Foley: “Tens of thousands of Haitians who had already been granted temporary reprieve to stay in the U.S. will be allowed to remain for an additional six months, but they should use that time to ‘get their affairs in order,’ a Trump administration official said Monday. The Department of Homeland Security had until Tuesday to decide whether to extend temporary protected status, or TPS, for roughly 58,700 Haitians, who have been approved to remain in the U.S. following a devastating 2010 earthquake in their native country.” [HuffPost]
TRUMP STILL THREATENING TO SABOTAGE OBAMACARE - But he’s not doing it today. Jeffrey Young: “In a filing to a federal appeals court Monday, the Justice Department and lawyers representing House Republicans have requested another 90-day delay in the proceedings from a case challenging the legality of payments made to health insurers serving low-income customers…. Without that money, insurers would face major financial losses because the law mandates they offer these discounts whether they get paid back or not. Insurers received about $7 billion in these payments last year. Many states would allow health insurance companies to exit the Obamacare markets this year, leaving their policyholders with no coverage. Moreover, if Trump makes clear the cost-sharing payments won’t be made in the future, health insurance companies would have a strong disincentive to participate in the exchanges next year, leaving consumers with fewer, or possibly no, choices.” [HuffPost]
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE LITTLE GUY - [area liberals nervously making sure Ruth Bader Ginsburg is getting enough antioxidants in her diet]. Paul Blumenthal: “Newly minted Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch showed his hand on Monday on where he will likely stand on cases that would increase the amount of power held by large political donors. As the Supreme Court declined to hear a major campaign finance case that could have led to the lifting of campaign contribution limits to political parties, Gorsuch joined Justice Clarence Thomas in an unwritten dissent. That means Gorsuch and Thomas wanted the court to hear the case, and likely wanted to vote to overturn yet another limit on big money in politics. The case, Republican Party of Louisiana v. Federal Election Commission, challenged contribution limits placed on state-level political parties by the 2002 McCain-Feingold reform law. These are the limits on ‘soft money,’ unlimited contributions to the parties for supposedly non-electoral activities, imposed in the wake of scandals related to both how the money was raised and how it was spent.” [HuffPost]
The thankfully brief story of the D.C. bar that wanted to introduce a “Pill Cosby” drink to its menu.
DEMOCRATS GRIPPED WITH RAHM-BASED NOSTALGIA - To defeat a short-fingered vulgarian, sometimes you need a vulgar man with one shortened finger. Edward-Isaac Dovere and Gabriel Debenedetti: “Democrats see the same ugly storm forming for Republicans that delivered them the majority 11 years ago, and they’re digging out the blueprint. The party is vastly expanding the number of districts it plans to contest, recruiting veterans and business owners to compete in conservative terrain as it did back then. Three senior House Democrats are soon heading to Chicago to seek advice from Rahm Emanuel, the party’s 2006 master strategist. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been tutoring members on the party’s campaign efforts that year…. Emanuel has been in touch regularly with Democratic leaders in Washington, holding frequent strategy phone calls with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.” [Politico]
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s yet another puppy doing battle with a doorstop.
TRUMP ISN’T THE ONLY ONE ON A #MAGA TRIP ABROAD - How come there are never “belligerent ferry passenger asked to disembark” or “irate monorail rider forced to alight” stories? Avi Selk: “Like some bizarre parody of a Trump rally, a belligerent man in a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat was booted off a plane in Shanghai Sunday — defiantly waving as a crowd of passengers jeered in the terminal: ‘Lock him up! Lock him up!’ It’s unclear whether Chinese police did jail the man or who he was. As others on the United Airlines flight described it, he started arguing before he stepped onto the plane. ‘Obviously, the hat provoked some of the stuff,’ said Alexis Zimmerman, who was flying back to Newark from a business trip.” [WaPo]
- Dogs try to make sense of fidget spinners.
- The winning submissions from the first-ever “Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.”
- An infographic showing all the colors of Mr. Rogers’ cardigans.
@emmaroller: The Orb and the Obelisk have revealed themselves, as it was foretold. Now we wait for the third Dark Talisman to emerge.
@historyinflicks: Straightforward from here:
1 impeach Trump
2 steal orb
3 fall under maddening spell of orb
4 orb devours every human soul
5 President Hatch
@jephjacobs: Child: do you remember when Trump touched the Orb?
Me: Yes. None of us realized what it would-
Orb Police: HAIL ORB
Me & child: hail orb
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