with Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
“Right now, we’re living through a full-fledged crisis in our democracy,” she told 1,360 seniors. “Now there are not tanks in the streets, but what’s happening right now goes to the heart of who we are as a nation. I say this not as a Democrat who lost an election but as an American afraid of losing a country.”
-- The former secretary of state opened with a cascade of jokes related to the election. “I am thrilled for all of you, even the three of you who live in Michigan and didn’t request your absentee ballots in time,” she said.
As a tradition, Yalies wear humorous and playful hats during the Class Day ceremony. Clinton brought a Russian fur hat, known as an ushanka, with a Soviet-era hammer and sickle emblem. “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” she said.
A graduate of Yale Law School herself, Clinton also mused about some of the ways students in New Haven might have coped with her loss — sprinkling in a reference to a campus watering hole. “I had my fair share of chardonnay,” she said. “You went through penny drinks at Woads.”
-- President Trump seems happy to have her as a continuing foil. One reason she has not faded into the backdrop is that he continues to routinely attack her, at times as if the campaign never ended. Crowds still chant “lock her up” at his rallies. The president called her “crooked” on Twitter yesterday and said she’s the one who should be investigated.
-- In her speech, Clinton declared that she was not going to get political. Then, in the very next sentence, she said the right deserves more blame for the radicalization of American politics than the left. A minute after that, she advocated for gun control.
“Our country is more polarized than ever,” she declared. “We have sorted ourselves into opposing camps, and that divides how we see the world. There are more liberals and conservatives than there used to be and fewer centrists. Our political parties are more ideologically and geographically consistent … The divides on race and religion are starker than ever before. As the middle shrank, partisan animosity grew.”
Those familiar with the Civil War, or the mistreatment of Native Americans or the internment of Japanese Americans, among other dark chapters in the past, might quibble with such hyperbole. But she was on a roll.
“This isn’t simply a ‘both sides’ problem. The radicalization of American politics hasn’t been symmetrical,” said Clinton. There are leaders in our country who blatantly incite people with hateful rhetoric, who fear change, who see the world in zero sum terms, so that if others are gaining they must be losing. That’s a recipe for polarization and conflict.”
-- Her tone was more in sadness than anger. She read from a teleprompter. She never named Trump, but everyone in the audience knew that was who she was referring to.
-- Eighteen months after her unexpected defeat, Clinton’s reading choices suggest that she’s still down the rabbit hole.
She quoted from “Fascism: A Warning,” the new book by Madeleine Albright, her husband’s secretary of state: “This proposition that we are all created equal is the single most effective antidote to the self-centered moral numbness that allows fascism to thrive.”
Then Clinton referenced not one, but two books, by Yale history professor Timothy Snyder: “On Tyranny” and “The Road to Unfreedom.” Quoting the former, she said: “To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle.”
“Professor Snyder … is sounding the alarm as loudly as he can,” Clinton said. “Because attempting to erase the line between fact and fiction, truth and reality is a core feature of authoritarianism! The goal is to make us question logic and reason and to sow mistrust toward the people we need to rely on: our leaders, the press, experts who seek to guide public policy based on evidence, even ourselves.”
She also cited Rex Tillerson’s commencement speech at the Virginia Military Institute last week, in which the secretary of state said the country will be “on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom” if leaders don’t speak the truth. “Perhaps a tad late, but he’s absolutely right,” Clinton said.
-- Clinton has been warning of “a vast right-wing conspiracy” since she was first lady. Now she’s worried this polarization poses an existential threat. “Our social fabric is fraying, and the bonds of community that hold us together are fractured,” she said. “This isn’t just a problem because it leads to unpleasant conversations over the Thanksgiving dinner table. It’s a problem because it undermines the civic spirit that makes democracy possible.”
-- She said it will take an epidemic of “radical empathy” to heal America’s wounds. “As hard as it is, this is a moment to reach across divides of race, class and politics,” she said, “to try to see the world through the eyes of people very different from ourselves, to return to rational debate, to find a way to disagree without being disagreeable [and] to try to recapture a sense of community and common humanity.
“There are certain things that are so essential that they should transcend politics,” she continued, “waging a war on the rule of law and a free press, delegitimizing elections, perpetrating shameless corruption and rejecting the idea that our leaders should be public servants undermines our national unity. Attacking truth and reason, evidence and facts should alarm us all.”
-- Clinton, whose brand became closely identified with her 1990s book “It Takes a Village,” called for the country to take on a more communitarian outlook. “Leaders can’t just ask am I better off than I was two years or four years ago. We have to ask: are we all better off? Are we as a country better, stronger and fairer?”
Democratic candidates might be able to use this frame in 2018 to push back on positive macroeconomic indicators. “You’ve learned you don’t need to be an immigrant to be outraged when a classmate’s father … is unjustly deported,” she told the graduates. “You don’t need to be a person of color to understand that when black students feel singled out and targeted, we still have work to do. And you don’t need to experience gun violence … Enough is enough.”
-- “Resilience” has emerged as a favorite HRC buzzword. “Building democratic resilience,” she said, requires calling out “actual fake news,” speaking out about the vital role of higher education in society and voting.
-- Clinton told the students to play the long game. “There are many fights to fight, and more seem to arise every day,” she said. “It will take work to keep up the pressure, to stay vigilant, to neither close our eyes, nor numb our hearts or throw up our hands and say, ‘Someone else take over from here.’ … We need to be ready to lose some fights because we will …
“Everyone gets knocked down,” she added. “What matters is whether you get back up and keep going. This may be hard for a group of Yale soon-to-be graduates to accept but, yes, you will make mistakes in life. You will even fail. It happens to all of us no matter how qualified or capable we are. Take it from me!”
GET SMART FAST:
- Lava spatter struck a Hawaiian man and shattered his leg in the first known injury related to Kilauea’s recent volcanic activity. Lava spatter can weigh as much as a refrigerator — but kill you in even the smallest amounts. (Amy B Wang)
- Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro won reelection in a vote condemned internationally. Opposition parties were largely blocked from fielding candidates and sought a boycott of the vote amid concerns Maduro was trying to cement dictatorial power. Washington will not recognize the results and is considering additional sanctions, including an oil embargo. (Anthony Faiola)
- Politicians in Mexico are being slaughtered by the dozens, and the country's parties are facing challenges recruiting replacements. At least 36 candidates have been killed since September, making this the most violent election season in recent history. (Kevin Sieff)
- Greece’s most liberal mayor was hospitalized after a group of far-right protesters beat him up, kicking the 75-year-old leader in the head and legs and beating him repeatedly with bottles. Yiannis Boutaris described what happened to him as a “nightmare." (Amanda Erickson)
- More than 7 million people in the U.S. may have had their driver’s licenses suspended or revoked because of traffic debt, according to a new Post study — a controversial practice that some say unfairly punishes the poor. (Justin Wm. Moyer)
- Microsoft has secured a lucrative agreement to provide U.S. spy agencies with its cloud-computing platform and services, bolstering its prospects as tech giants battle to win a cloud contract with the Pentagon that is expected to be worth billions. (Aaron Gregg)
- A cougar killed a mountain biker and injured another in Washington state this weekend. The attack is so unusual that officials said they will conduct a necropsy on the animal’s brain to determine whether it was sick or if “something else was going on.” (Kristine Phillips)
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Under pressure from Trump, the Justice Department asked its inspector general to assess whether political motivation tainted the FBI investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign — a remarkable step that law enforcement officials hope might avert a constitutional crisis. Trump made the following “demand” on Sunday afternoon as part of a weekend of social media attacks on the special counsel's probe:
I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018
“Hours later, the Justice Department responded by saying it had asked its inspector general to expand an ongoing review of the applications to monitor a former Trump campaign adviser ‘to include determining whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election,'" Matt Zapotosky, Robert Costa and David Nakamura report. “The department noted that a U.S. attorney would be consulted if evidence of criminal conduct was found.”
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein released a statement: “If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action.”
The background: “Sunday’s developments came in the wake of reports that a longtime U.S. intelligence source assisted the investigation into Russian election interference now overseen by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. The Washington Post reported Friday that the source, a retired American professor, had contacts with three Trump advisers during the 2016 campaign. Trump and his allies have seized on the informant’s role to claim that the FBI spied on his campaign. There is no evidence to indicate an intelligence source was embedded within the campaign, as the president has suggested.
“The quick move Sunday by the Justice Department could forestall a bigger showdown. Late last month, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) issued a subpoena to the Justice Department seeking all documents related to the professor. So far, he has been rebuffed by department officials, who have said that exposing the source or the source’s work could put him and his contacts in danger and jeopardize international intelligence partnerships. ... Some Justice Department officials feared that the president’s tweet signaled that he might overrule them and order the department to turn over the material Nunes seeks. If that occurs, it is possible that senior officials could resign in protest — or refuse the president’s order and force him to fire them.”
-- Why this is a really big deal: “It wasn’t that long ago that both the executive branch and the legislature in this country considered the protection of intelligence sources a matter of surpassing national importance,” Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes write in a smart analysis on their Lawfare blog. “But what happens when the intentional outing of U.S. intelligence assets is the province ... of senior officials in two branches of this country’s government who are most responsible for protecting those assets? … And what happens when they do so for frankly political reasons: to protect the president from a properly predicated counterintelligence investigation involving the activity of an adversary foreign power? … [It’s] fair to say that there are profound risks at many levels. Most immediately, there’s the risk to the source himself. That is presumably manageable. The bigger problem may be the threat to those who have worked with the source in the past. … In addition, there’s the problem of the message to other potential sources. One way to think about this problem is to ask yourself this question: How confident are you that the U.S. intelligence community could protect you in exchange your help? This is what FBI Director Chris Wray was talking about the other day when he told the Senate Appropriations Committee that, 'The day that we can't protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe.'”
-- Rudy Giuliani told several news outlets that Mueller’s team plans to wrap up the obstruction portion of their probe by Sept. 1, but that's contingent upon Trump agreeing to be interviewed. The New York Times's Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman report: “[Mueller’s office shared] its timeline about two weeks ago amid negotiations over whether Mr. Trump will be questioned by investigators, Mr. Giuliani said … Mr. Giuliani’s comments were an apparent attempt to publicly pressure Mr. Mueller amid their interview negotiations. Mr. Giuliani sought to frame the outcome of the obstruction investigation as pitting the credibility of one man against another: Mr. Trump vs. [James] Comey … ‘We want the concentration of this to be on Comey versus the president’s credibility, and I think we win that and people get that,’ Mr. Giuliani said, adding that he also hoped that the Justice Department would open a criminal investigation into Mr. Comey for perjury and for his role in the sharing of information … about his encounters with the president[.]”
-- Speaking with The Post, Giuliani acknowledged the timeline could change “significantly” if Trump fails to cooperate: “It would depend on if they subpoena him. And if they subpoena him, there will be litigation. So no timeline on that,” Giuliani said. “That’d be unfortunate, but it could happen.”
-- “Michael Flynn pleaded guilty. Now his supporters are trying to exonerate him,” by Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey: “Hashtags. Tweets. Speeches. A book foreword. Friends and family of former national security adviser Michael Flynn are waging a campaign to try to exonerate the retired lieutenant general — and, possibly, land him a presidential pardon. The push comes as Flynn himself — who in December pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — is also trying to rehabilitate his public image, including appearing with a long-shot Republican House candidate, delivering a private foreign policy speech in Manhattan and writing the foreword to a friend’s self-published manifesto supporting President Trump. But the largely social-media-based effort has, at times, put Flynn’s advocates, and occasionally Flynn, at odds with his own legal team, which believes that any public attention to Flynn’s case is not helpful as he awaits sentencing and has counseled that he and his family to remain quiet.”
FOLLOW THE MONEY:
-- The Republican National Committee paid nearly half a million dollars to the law firm representing Hope Hicks and others in the Russia investigations, according to a new federal filing. Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy report: “The RNC's $451,780 payment to Trout Cacheris & Janis adds to the mounting legal fees associated with the investigations by [Mueller] and several congressional committees … Hicks hired Robert Trout, founder of the law firm, as her personal attorney in September[.] The report of the payments for legal and compliance services, contained in the [FEC] report filed Sunday, is the first public disclosure of RNC payments to the law firm since Hicks hired Trout.”
-- Payments made to Michael Cohen have put a spotlight on the New York-based investment firm Columbus Nova — which is linked to Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg: Rosalind S. Helderman, Michael Kranish and Steven Mufson report: “In June 2017, [the president's personal lawyer] had an invitation for one of his other clients: Would he like to attend a fundraiser for Trump’s reelection? Andrew Intrater — the chief executive of Columbus Nova … paid the $35,000 donation to attend the event, which also benefited the Republican National Committee. Intrater also made a $250,000 donation to Trump’s inaugural committee, a contribution that gave him prime access to the January 2017 festivities. He brought with him as a guest his cousin, Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, whose conglomerate Renova Group is the biggest client of Columbus Nova. And Columbus Nova paid Cohen $500,000 in the first half of 2017 to bring in new investors. ... Vekselberg and Renova Group were sanctioned in April by the Treasury Department … Meanwhile, federal officials working with [Mueller] questioned Vekselberg when his plane landed at a New York-area airport earlier this year and have also interviewed Intrater."
-- “Invitations from one of China’s biggest state-owned banks asked wealthy clients to pay $150,000 for a ticket to attend a Republican Party fundraiser in the US and meet [Trump],” the Financial Times’s Gabriel Wildau reports. “The invite from the private banking unit of China Construction Bank, the country’s second-largest state-owned lender, offered participants the chance to take photos with Mr Trump and mingle with US political and business figures. It also said that representatives from ZTE Group, the Chinese telecom company that is facing crippling US sanctions, would attend the event, to be held in Dallas. … The invitation for the May 31 event says that participation is open to Chinese nationals, even though US law forbids campaign donations by foreigners.”
-- In case you missed it: Donald Trump Jr. met in Trump Tower in the summer of 2016 with a representative of two wealthy Arab princes who said they were eager to help his father win election. The New York Times's Mark Mazzetti, Ronen Bergman and David D. Kirkpatrick reported on the Sunday front page: “The meeting was convened primarily to offer help to the Trump team, and it forged relationships between the men and Trump insiders that would develop over the coming months — past the election and well into [Trump's] first year in office … [Former Blackwater chief and private security contractor Erik Prince] arranged the meeting[.] The emissary, George Nader, told Donald Trump Jr. that the princes who led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eager to help his father win election as president. ... It is unclear whether such a proposal was executed, and the details of who commissioned it remain in dispute. But Donald Trump Jr. responded approvingly … and after those initial offers of help, Mr. Nader was quickly embraced as a close ally by Trump campaign advisers — meeting frequently with [Kushner and Michael Flynn].”
TRUMP BLINKS IN CHINA TRADE DISPUTE:
-- “We're putting the trade war on hold,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced on “Fox News Sunday” after the U.S. and China agreed on a broad outline to reduce the trade deficit and ease access for U.S. companies to compete in Beijing. David J. Lynch reports: “Mnuchin said the two sides have agreed on a ‘framework’ to avoid the sanctions that requires China to lower tariffs on unspecified American goods, protect U.S. technology and buy more made-in-the-USA items. ‘Right now we have agreed to put the tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework,’ Mnuchin said ... Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will be dispatched to Beijing ‘immediately’ to work out the details of accelerated Chinese purchases. ...
“Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said Friday that China had agreed to buy ‘at least $200 billion’ more from the United States each year. On Sunday, Kudlow appeared to back away from that claim, saying on ABC News’s ‘This Week’ that ‘there’s no agreement for a deal. We never anticipated one. There’s a communique between the two great countries. That’s all.’”
-- “China is winning Trump’s trade war,” by Wonkblog’s Heather Long: “Notice China didn't agree to a specific amount. … China's ‘concessions’ are things it planned to do anyway. The Chinese have one of the fastest-growing economies and middle classes in the world. Chinese factories and cities need more energy, and its people want more meat. It's no surprise then that China said it was interested in buying more U.S. energy and agricultural products. The Trump administration is trying to cast that as a win because the United States will be able to sell more to China, but it was almost certain that the Chinese were going to buy more of that stuff anyway.” Heather notes that there was no tangible agreement on intellectual property, which was a central rationale for starting the trade war.”
-- Trump tweets that China agreed to buy massive amounts of additional agricultural products:
China has agreed to buy massive amounts of ADDITIONAL Farm/Agricultural Products - would be one of the best things to happen to our farmers in many years!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 21, 2018
-- But one reason the Chinese have so much leverage in trade talks is North Korea.
THE LATEST ON THE SUMMIT:
-- Trump spoke to South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Saturday to seek advice about North Korea, where recent actions from Kim Jong Un have sowed doubt about the dictator's willingness to denuclearize his country. David Nakamura and Carol D. Leonnig report: “On the call, which lasted less than 30 minutes, Trump sought Moon’s interpretation of Pyongyang’s shift to a harder-line position last week, a sharp contrast to the more positive and constructive tone after Moon met with [Kim] last month … North Korea’s actions in recent days, including its cancellation of a working-level meeting with South Korean officials and a threat to call off Kim’s summit with Trump on June 12, has alarmed the Trump administration and created new complications in the preparations, with just over three weeks left. An advance team from the United States is in Singapore to work out logistics, Trump administration officials said.
“[National security adviser John Bolton] has been telling colleagues that he doesn’t trust that the summit will go well, and he has reiterated his long-standing belief that he does not trust the North Koreans … Aides emphasized that Trump remains committed to meeting with Kim … but that time is running out to nail down an agenda and finalize several outstanding issues. The senior U.S. official said Pyongyang appears to be trying to extract more concessions from the United States before the summit, or to be building a narrative to blame Trump if things go poorly in Singapore or to pull out of the summit entirely.”
-- Trump, increasingly concerned that his historic summit with Kim could turn into an embarrassment, has begun pressing his aides about whether he should take the risk of going forward with the meeting. The New York Times’s David Sanger reports: “Mr. Trump’s aides … [are] concerned about what kind of grasp Mr. Trump has on the details of the North Korea program, and what he must insist upon as the key components of denuclearization. … [Aides] who have recently left the administration say Mr. Trump has resisted the kind of detailed briefings about enrichment capabilities, plutonium reprocessing, nuclear weapons production and missile programs that Mr. Obama and President George W. Bush regularly sat through. Grappling with North Korea in negotiations is a new experience not just for Mr. Trump, but also for everyone else in the upper ranks of his administration. South Korean officials say that [Bolton] has been in near daily contact with his counterpart in Seoul, trying to work out a strategy.”
-- Bigger picture: Trump keeps shooting himself in the foot. Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker observe: “As an emboldened Trump reaches for historic triumphs in hopes of bolstering his party’s prospects in November’s midterm elections … [his] agenda has been undermined by mixed messages and internal squabbles from within his administration — all compounded by the president’s own lack of discipline and his inconsistent ideology. Amy Zegart, co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, said ‘the one consistent policy that Trump seems to have is that America is getting a raw deal in the world, but how to address that raw deal varies day to day and hour to hour. It is enormously important to have message discipline, and this administration is fundamentally unable to have it.’”
-- Incoming NRA president Oliver North blamed the rise of school shootings on a “a culture of violence” and young boys who “have been on Ritalin” since early childhood. “They’ve been drugged in many cases,” North said on “Fox News Sunday,” speaking two days after the latest school massacre killed 10 people in Texas. Frances Stead Sellers and Michael Scherer report: “Instead, [North] said, schools should look at fortifying their campuses, considering ingress and egress points and people’s ability to enter buildings carrying weapons. ... Santa Fe High School was considered a hardened target, with an active-shooter plan and two armed police officers on patrol. In the fall, school district leaders made plans to eventually arm teachers and staff under the state’s school marshal program.”
-- On ABC’s “This Week,” Texas Lt Gov. Dan Patrick (R) blamed the “social acceptance of abortion” and violent video games for the spike in campus massacres: “Should we be surprised in this nation? We have devalued life, whether it’s through abortion, whether it’s the breakup of families or violent movies, and particularly violent video games …” Patrick also suggested staggering school start times to funnel students through fewer doors — a move he said would allow for easier weapon detection.
-- Parents of victims of gun violence responded with scathing criticism: “I think those are the most idiotic comments I have ever heard regarding gun safety,” said Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed in the Parkland, Fla., shooting. “He should be removed from office.”
-- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) placed blame for Congress’s inaction on guns squarely on the NRA: “It’s a three-letter word,” Sanders said on NBC's “Meet the Press.” “It’s the NRA, and it’s Trump and the Republicans who don’t have the guts to stand up to these people.”
-- Stat du jour: "2018 has been deadlier for schoolchildren than service members.” (Philip Bump)
-- Democrats plan to highlight allegations of corruption surrounding the Trump administration as they continue unveiling their party platform ahead of the midterms: “The first planks of the ‘A Better Deal’ platform, released last year, focused on the party’s economic agenda. Now, with questions about pay-to-play politics swirling around President Trump and his current and former aides, Democrats are set to introduce anti-corruption proposals Monday billed as ‘A Better Deal for Our Democracy,’ Mike DeBonis reports. “According to a senior Democratic official familiar with the announcement, the new agenda will include proposals that would eliminate loopholes that allow lobbyists and lawmakers to buy and sell influence without the public’s knowledge. The message: Elect Democrats in November to ‘clean up the chaos and corruption in Washington.’ One proposal — which would tighten the federal laws governing lobbying disclosures and foreign-agent registration — responds to the apparent sale of influence by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer.”
-- On the other side of the aisle, immigration is now on the front burner for 20 moderate Republicans. Mike explains: “Before they were ‘dreamers,’ they were just neighbors to California Republican Rep. Jeff Denham. They played basketball with his kids. They were the pride of the immigrant families upon which the Central Valley’s agricultural economy relies. And now, under threat of deportation, young undocumented immigrants want answers from Denham — even at his son’s recent birthday party … Denham and nearly two dozen of his fellow Republican lawmakers have now joined together, spurred by pressure back home and frustrated by the GOP leadership’s lack of action on a heated issue that has long stymied the party … ‘We’ve had it,’ said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who has joined Denham and the others pressing for a bill. ‘We’re boiling over. It’s got to get done.’
-- The Bernie Sanders-inspired grass-roots group "Our Revolution" is in disarray, reports Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere. “Our Revolution has shown no ability to tip a major Democratic election in its favor — despite possessing Sanders’ email list, the envy of the Democratic Party — and can claim no major wins in 2018 as its own. The result has left many Sanders supporters disillusioned, feeling that the group that was supposed to harness the senator's grass-roots movement is failing in its mission. The problems have also fueled doubts about Sanders’ organizational ability heading into 2020, even after his out-of-nowhere near-march to the nomination two years ago. Critics of the Vermont independent had been worried he’d have a juggernaut-in-waiting to fuel a second presidential campaign, but that anxiety has faded after watching Our Revolution the past year and a half.” Among Dovere’s findings: “Board members and Sanders presidential delegates from 2016 have raised questions about whether the group’s president, Nina Turner, is using her position to prepare for a presidential run of her own, and to settle scores with the Democratic National Committee from 2016.”
-- Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) stumped for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) in Kansas City on Saturday night — part of an effort by McCaskill to beat back criticism that she hasn’t done enough to reach out to black voters. The Kansas City Star’s Brian Lowry reports: “The event comes after a prolonged period of tension between McCaskill and local African American leaders who have felt overlooked during her reelection campaign. ‘Our complaint is we just haven’t seen enough of her,’ said Rev. Daniel Childs Jr., a former president of the Metropolitan Kansas City Baptists Ministers Union. McCaskill has worked to dispel this perception in recent weeks. Ahead of the Booker event, she held a meeting Saturday with Freedom Inc., a Kansas City political organization dedicated to the concerns of the African American community.”
-- Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), running for Senate, steadfastly avoided mentioning Trump by name in his keynote speech at a massive GOP fundraiser, which drew some 400 attendees — and the president himself, who called in via the cellphone of Attorney General Pam Bondi. “I'll be there fairly soon,” Trump told the crowd. “We'll hold a special event there in the near future … We'll be in Tampa very soon.” (Tampa Bay Times)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Kellyanne Conway's husband George, a prominent Republican lawyer, retweeted this post by a former Justice Department national security lawyer:
George Conway also pushed back on former George W. White House press secretary Ari Fleischer's claim that Mueller's team is partisan:
From conservative foreign policy scholar Max Boot:
One of Trump’s strongest allies in the House, Freedom Caucus member Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), praised Trump’s order:
This is the right call from @realDonaldTrump--we've seen disturbing evidence that the FBI engaged in political targeting.— Mark Meadows (@MarkMeadows) May 20, 2018
But the DOJ can't be trusted to investigate themselves--Congress needs the documents too. Rod Rosenstein: where are the documents? Show Americans the truth. https://t.co/LpstoK1qQO
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was one of many who criticized the U.S. caving to China on tariffs for little tangible in return:
The head of The Post's fact checking unit noted that Trump did not deny the NYT story about his son meeting with emissaries of Gulf states offering campaign help:
From a Democratic congressman on the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees:
If @nytimes story is accurate, Erik Prince is in bigly trouble. He testified under oath to something different.— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) May 19, 2018
Also, did Saudi Arabia or United Arab Emirates help the @realDonaldTrump campaign? Depending on what the foreign powers did, there may be violations of federal law. https://t.co/hL1DtEXOfo
If @FBI operation was for political purposes, FBI wouldn't have kept Operation Crossfire Hurricane such a closely guarded secret. Clinton campaign & American public would have known about it in 2016. But we didn't. This was a legitimate & necessary counterintelligence operation. https://t.co/qk9P3mHMaT— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) May 20, 2018
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) seems to have been up real early on Sunday:
Great deal on the history channel you can buy an 1881 coin for $49.95 .... some history!! Even at 325am no history— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) May 20, 2018
Actor Michael McKean mocked longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone for saying that he expects to be indicted on a charge of some “extraneous crime”:
A Yahoo News reporter said the Stone euphemism should enter the lexicon:
George H.W. Bush has arrived in Maine for the summer. It's his first trip back since his wife passed away:
John McCain wished his wife a happy birthday:
Meghan McCain reacted to being parodied on "SNL":
An official BBC account threw shade at Trump, comparing the crowd size of his inauguration to the one outside the royal wedding:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- The Atlantic, “How a Norwegian Retiree Got Caught Up in a Spy Scandal,” by Reid Standish: “A tale of intrigue on the Arctic border — and a new confrontation with Russia.”
-- ICYMI: “New clues bolster belief that ISIS leader is still alive — and busy with a chilling new mission,” by Joby Warrick and Souad Mekhennet: “[The] prolonged absences [of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi] have given wings to countless false reports portraying Baghdadi as either dead, or gravely wounded and incapacitated. Despite such rumors, U.S. counterterrorism officials are convinced that Baghdadi is alive and is helping direct long-term strategy for the dwindling numbers of Islamic State fighters ... [and] has shifted his attention in recent months to crafting an ideological framework that will survive the physical destruction of the caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Viewed together, such actions convey the impression of a disciplined retreat, with Baghdadi helping manage preparations for a shift from caliphate to underground insurgency and international terrorist movement, current and former U.S. officials said.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“A Border Patrol agent detained two U.S. citizens at a gas station after hearing them speak Spanish,” from Amy B Wang: “A Montana woman said she plans to take legal action after a Border Patrol agent detained and questioned her and a friend — both U.S. citizens — when he overheard them speaking Spanish at a [Montana] gas station. Ana Suda said she and her friend [were] making a midnight run to the store to pick up some eggs and milk … when a uniformed Border Patrol agent interrupted them [to ask for her ID]. ‘ ... I looked at him like, ‘Are you serious?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, very serious.’ In [a] video Suda recorded, she asks the agent why he is detaining them, and he says it is specifically because he heard them speaking Spanish. Suda asks whether they are being racially profiled; the agent says no.” “It has nothing to do with that,” he tells her. “It’s the fact that it has to do with you guys speaking Spanish in the store, in a state where it’s predominantly English-speaking.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Parents outraged at school’s silent tribute for Gaza victims,” from the New York Post: “Students at the elite Beacon School were asked to pause from their studies last week to pay tribute to the victims of violence in Gaza ... The school-wide announcement Tuesday stunned some students and has outraged parents who question why the school is entering into the divisive Palestinian-Israeli conflict with what they see as an anti-Jewish bent. ‘I am extremely upset because I did not send my child to a New York City public school to pray for Hamas operatives,’ said one father …. ‘I just don’t think any school should be promoting a moment of silence for terrorists. What if it was [ISIS]?’ said one student’s mother, who is Jewish. The Zionist Organization of America, a pro-Israel group, said it would send a letter to the Beacon School demanding an apology.”
DAYBOOK: Trump is going to CIA headquarters at 10 a.m. for Gina Haspel's swearing-in as CIA director. Then he's welcoming NASCAR champion Martin Truex Jr. at 2 p.m. for an event on the South Lawn of the White House. At 6:30 p.m., the president will have dinner with governors to discuss border security.
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Here comes the sun: After last week’s rainy stretch, today will be partly sunny with temperatures near 80 degrees. Showers are possible later tonight. As the Capital Weather Gang puts it: “A second straight mostly rain-free day? Pinch me.”
-- The seven-day rainy spell that broke Sunday set a record here in Washington, Martin Weil reports: “The record was for the number of consecutive days not just with rain, but with a substantial amount of it. In precise numerical terms it was for successive days with at least one quarter inch.”
-- “Warm-and-fuzzy vs. driven by data: These mayoral candidates are total opposites,” by Patricia Wilson: Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg faces a robust challenge from Vice Mayor Justin Wilson after almost three years of public clashes. "Their Democratic primary battle — essentially the election in deep-blue Alexandria — could be seen as a referendum on how city hall should operate in 21st-century, small-city America, where growth is both a threat to a cherished way of life and a necessary economic engine for local governments perpetually short of cash."
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
John Oliver devoted 20 minutes of his HBO show last night to covering “the addiction industry” and problems with rehab:
There was a star-studded cast for SNL's cold open, which imagined a meeting between Trump, Giuliani, Cohen and Don Jr.:
"Weekend Update” celebrated the one-year anniversary of Mueller's probe:
And this was the show's take on the royal wedding:
Preakness was shrouded in fog on Saturday, but it was still quite a race. If you missed it, here's the exciting call: