POLITICS
06/09/2017 05:22 pm ET Updated Jun 12, 2017

Trump Caps Off Infrastructure Week By Stoking A Mideast Crisis

Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Royal Council/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson espoused incompatible views of policy toward Qatar, but it’s OK because the Middle East is far too stable to be affected by what America does. If Trump really does have tapes of his conversations with Jim Comey, they’d still be ― at best ― the second-most embarrassing recording of him after that Pizza Hut commercial. And now that Infrastructure Week is almost over, let’s give a round applause for the White House’s uncanny impression of America’s crumbling bridges. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, June 9th, 2017:

PROMPTING THE QUESTION: DOES TRUMP KNOW WHAT AN OATH IS? And this would definitely, totally prevent him from lying! Elise Foley and Arthur Delaney: “President Donald Trump said he was ‘100 percent’ willing to testify under oath about his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey, who claims the president inappropriately pressured him to drop an investigation…. One way to help resolve the matter would be for Trump to release the ‘tapes’ he suggested he has of conversations with Comey. The former FBI director said Thursday that he hoped Trump would release recordings ― but the president still won’t say whether they exist. ‘I’ll tell you about that in the very near future,’ Trump said.... Trump later said in response to another question about tapes: ‘You’re going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer.’” [HuffPost]

Trump also accused Comey of perjury. “President Trump on Friday accused James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, of lying under oath to Congress in testimony that the president dismissed as a politically motivated proceeding. Mr. Trump also asserted that Mr. Comey’s comments on Thursday, in which the former F.B.I. director implied that the president fired him for pressing forward with the Russia investigation, had failed to prove any collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow nor any obstruction of justice.” [NYT’s Julie Hirschfeld-Davis and Glenn Thrush]

COMEY MUST BE QUAKING IN HIS BOOTS - Nostalgia for Republicans decrying frivolous lawsuits is at an all-time high. Christina Wilkie: “President Donald Trump’s personal defense lawyer threatened Friday to file legal complaints against former FBI Director James Comey, over Comey’s decision to give his longtime friend notes he had written after his conversation with Trump…. But according to legal experts, filing a complaint against Comey to the Justice Department, his former employer, after he was already fired is effectively pointless…. Trump’s lawyer claimed Thursday that the memo was somehow ‘privileged,’ but he did not explain what he meant by that. The memo was not classified, and Trump did not invoke executive privilege to prevent Comey from disclosing what the two men discussed.” [HuffPost]

TRUMP SAYS QATAR IS BAD... AP: “President Donald Trump is accusing Qatar of funding terrorism at a ‘very high level’ and says it must stop now. Trump says the country, which hosts roughly 10,000 U.S. troops and serves as a major staging base, has ‘historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level,’” [AP]

...RIGHT AFTER TILLERSON SAYS A VERY DIFFERENT THING - Is anyone actually in charge? Nick Wadhams: “U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on a Saudi Arabia-led coalition to ease its blockade of Qatar, saying that the cutoff is hindering the fight against Islamic State and provoking food shortages…. The announcement by Tillerson reflected the return of a more even-handed approach after President Donald Trump offered what seemed an offhand endorsement of the Saudi-led move, writing on Twitter on Tuesday: ‘During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar ― look!’” [Bloomberg]

SURELY EUROPE WILL BREATHE A SIGH OF RELIEF - No reason would NATO countries have to doubt Trump’s word! Willa Frej: “President Donald Trump, days after returning from a European trip to meet with NATO allies, waited until Friday to publicly announce U.S. commitment to NATO’s Article 5, the group’s collective security clause…. What’s puzzling is that the president’s staff had reportedly written a line explicitly stating his commitment into the Brussels speech, according to Politico. It was likely taken out at the last minute.” [HuffPost]

Time for beddy-bye, Mr. President. “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has some simple advice for President Donald Trump: Go to sleep…. ‘Well, what I have advised him to do: Go to sleep,’ Pelosi said. ‘Get some sleep. Bring yourself to a place where the synapses are working.’” [HuffPost’s Hayley Miller]

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GOP LEARNS TO LOVE REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH - It’s all about the direction of the redistribution, you see. Sahil Kapur: “Republicans searching for consensus on how to pay for tax cuts are beginning to weigh attacking spending in potentially sensitive areas of the budget…. Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a leader of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, called for $400 billion in unspecified cuts to welfare programs to help cover the cost of tax cuts.” [Bloomberg]

Wow, someone actually got in trouble for violating the Hatch Act. “Dan Scavino Jr., the White House director of social media, violated a federal law that prohibits political activity by government employees, the federal agency empowered to enforce the law has concluded, citing the tweet Mr. Scavino sent in April calling for the defeat of a Republican member of Congress who has been critical of President Trump.” [NYT’s Eric Lipton]

MCCASKILL IS SICK AND TIRED OF THIS $&#^ - This hurry to pass the health care bill doesn’t exactly make Republicans look proud of it. Jonathan Cohn: “Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) lit into some her Republican colleagues on Thursday for writing legislation that would repeal the Affordable Care Act behind closed doors and without formal hearings in order to rush a floor vote and pass legislation along party lines. ‘We have no idea what’s being proposed,’ McCaskill said. ‘There’s a group of guys in a back room somewhere that are making these decisions.… We’re not even gonna have a hearing on a bill that impacts one-sixth of our economy. We’re not gonna have an opportunity to offer a single amendment.’” [HuffPost]

ABOUT THAT HEALTH CARE BILL - Jeffrey Young: “The poor could face premiums that amount to more than they earn in a year, depending on the state in which they live. In New Hampshire, a 60-year-old with an income at or below poverty ― projected to be $12,600 in the continental United States in 2019 ― would have to pay 45 percent of her income on health insurance under the bill…. For the nation’s poorest, the bill is even bleaker. In New Hampshire, a 60-year-old with an income at half the poverty level would have to pay 90 percent of her income on health insurance. Again, she’d be lucky: Costs go up from there in the surveyed states. Insurance in Alaska, again an outlier, would cost 376 percent of income.” [HuffPost]

Oh, right — infrastructure week! “President Donald Trump on Friday announced the creation of two new government offices, as he seeks to streamline the federal approval process for infrastructure projects and help project managers navigate bureaucratic obstacles. Mr. Trump said the new offices would help speed up work on transportation and other infrastructure projects.” [WSJ’s Michael C. Bender]

POLLS LOOKING GOOD FOR OSSOFF - Ariel Edwards-Levy and Grace Sparks: “Democrat Jon Ossoff may have the upper hand over Republican Karen Handel in the closely watched runoff to fill the seat for Georgia’s 6th District, according to two newly released surveys. Ossoff holds a 7-point edge, 51 percent to 44 percent, in a live-caller Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll conducted by Abt Associates and released Friday. Ossoff also holds a 10-point edge in favorability over Handel, the survey finds, and has more crossover appeal, taking 13 percent of the GOP vote to Handel’s 3 percent among the district’s Democrats…. The runoff is scheduled to be held June 20.” [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a panda handler having a bad day.

SENATOR SAYS NAUGHTY WORD - Tee hee. Chris D’Angelo: “Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) doesn’t mince words on the subject of whether President Donald Trump has kept his promises to the American people…. Gillibrand says, ‘Has he kept any of these promises? No. F**k no.’ … ‘Even though we as Democrats are on the right side of almost all issues, many hardworking families haven’t felt that we’ve been fighting for them,’ she said. ‘Fundamentally, if we are not helping people, we should go the fuck home.’” [HuffPost]

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