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The Daily 202: Romney threads the needle on Trump in Utah Senate debate

Utah state Rep. Mike Kennedy (R) shakes hands with Mitt Romney on Tuesday night before their debate in Provo, Utah. (Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News/AP/Pool)

with Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.

THE BIG IDEA: Mitt Romney let it slide when his Republican primary opponent ripped him as a flip-flopping “Boston businessman” who “has seen fit to relocate here” during a Utah Senate debate on Tuesday night. He didn’t get worked up as the young state representative, Mike Kennedy, attacked him for signing an assault weapons ban as governor of Massachusetts and imposing an individual mandate that forced people to buy health insurance, a.k.a. Romneycare.

But the onetime standard-bearer of the GOP would not let it go when his opponent mentioned that Romney called Donald Trump a “phony” and a “fraud” in 2016 and recently attacked Robert Jeffress, an ally of the president, as a “religious bigot.” It came toward the end of an hour-long debate at Brigham Young University in Provo. Moderator David Magleby said there wasn’t enough time for the front-runner to respond. Romney protested. So Magleby, a professor at the school, said he could take 20 seconds.

“No, no, no, no,” Romney complained. “I get longer!”

The 71-year-old touted “relationships” he has with the Trump White House that he says will help him offset the clout being lost by the Beehive State with the retirement of Orrin Hatch, who has served in the Senate for 41 years.

“First of all, I've known the president for a long, long time and the president has endorsed me in this campaign — which shows he respects people who call ‘em like they see ‘em,” Romney said in a 55-second answer.

“I'm not sure with President Trump, you see things the right way,” said Kennedy, a practicing physician. “I do know some good doctors if you’d like a referral to get your vision checked because I think President Trump has been outstanding. He is one of the presidents that we have that actually keeps his promises … and I'm proud to stand with the president and not deride him publicly.”

Kennedy recently phoned Jeffress, a Southern Baptist pastor, to apologize on behalf of the people of Utah after Romney said he should not have been invited to speak at the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Romney noted that Jeffress has said Mormonism is a cult, that it's a heresy from the pit of hell, and that Joseph Smith — the founder of their church — is a servant of Satan.

“The idea that this person would be chosen by the State Department to represent our nation at the opening of an embassy is simply wrong and for Rep. Kennedy to call him and apologize to him is absolutely inexplicable,” Romney said. “When people express bigotry, they ought to be called out for it.”

The exchange encapsulated the balancing act that defines Romney’s comeback bid and illustrated the degree to which Trump has taken over the Republican Party. Note that Romney chalked up Jeffress’s invitation to “the State Department,” not the Trump administration — to distance the decision from the president.

Just two years ago, Romney was not just willing but eager to “call out” Trump for what he said at the time were bigoted comments. Now, like most Republicans, he embraces the president’s policies and tries to downplay everything else. That tension was ever present during the debate, but it was especially apparent on the topics of trade and immigration.

Kennedy, who got elected to the state House in 2012, won the support of slightly more delegates than Romney at last month’s Utah GOP state convention — 50.9 percent to 49.1 percent. That was close enough to force a two-way primary. He admitted to local reporters after the debate last night that he wrote in Ted Cruz’s name on his 2016 ballot, but that certainly didn’t prevent him from going after Romney as insufficiently Trumpian.

Romney is heavily favored to win the June 26 GOP primary and the general election. Perhaps Mitt’s calculus will change again once he takes office, but for now he’s very carefully threading the needle.

During the only debate before the primary, he praised Trump last night for taking a hard line on China and for threatening to raise tariffs on auto imports from Mexico in renegotiating NAFTA. The unabashed free trader expressed wishful thinking when he insisted both that Trump still might decide he wants to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership and declared that no one thinks “trade wars” are good. “I'm happy to stand with the president whenever I feel that he's doing something that's right for the country, and I think it's appropriate that the president is looking at trade deals,” Romney said.

On immigration, Romney positioned himself as simpatico with Trump. “Putting a wall up is the right thing to do,” he said. He called for “reforming” the legal immigration system to get rid of so-called “chain migration” and the visa “lottery” program. He said “Dreamers” ought to be given legal status to protect them from deportation but not “a special pathway to citizenship.”

“That's the president's view, at least as expressed in January,” Romney said. “It’s something I support.”

Kennedy attacked Romney for talking about “self-deportation” during a 2012 debate. “I thought I remembered in the presidential campaign something about self-deportation. But that's fine. I guess that opinion has changed as well,” he said.

Romney replied he was advocating for E-Verify systems that make it harder for undocumented immigrants to get jobs in the U.S. If they cannot find work, he said they voluntarily return home before ICE needs to take them forcibly. “If you will, self-deciders,” Romney said, coining a new term.

But Romney also telegraphed flexibility by saying he’ll work with both sides to come up with a compromise. “I'm not going to stand by and let nothing happen,” he said. “I ran for president in 2008. This was an issue then. It’s unbelievable that in this country we cannot resolve this.”

Key moments from a speech in which former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Donald Trump "is playing the members of the American public for suckers" (Video: Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

-- 2016 Romney would not recognize this 2018 Republican Romney. Not only did he call Trump a phony and a fraud, he raised concerns about Trump's sexual exploits, his three marriages and his taunts toward the disabled, Mexican immigrants and female journalists. “His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University,” Romney said in a March 2016 speech in Salt Lake City, urging Republicans to unite to stop Trump’s inexorable march to the nomination. “He's playing members of the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.” (Read the full transcript of the speech here.)

Trump replied that Romney was a “choke artist” and “failed candidate” who was desperate for his endorsement in 2012. “You can see how loyal he is,” Trump said. “He was begging for my endorsement. I could’ve said, 'Mitt, drop to your knees,' and he would’ve dropped to his knees.”

In turn, Romney tweeted that afternoon:

But, after he launched his campaign this February, Romney was pleased to welcome Trump’s support:

Pressed by an NBC reporter on Monday night, Romney said he would not point to the president as a role model for his grandchildren “on the basis of his personal style.” “He has departed in some cases from the truth and has attacked in a way that I think is not entirely appropriate,” Romney told Garrett Haake, carefully watching his words. He added in the very next sentence, “I think that his policies have been by and large a good deal better than I might have expected.”

To be sure, Romney has often shifted his political positions to more closely align with whichever electorate he’s trying to win over. He took very different positions running in a blue state for Senate in 1994 and governor in 2002 than he did in 2008, when he ran as the conservative alternative to John McCain for the GOP nomination, or 2012, when he staked out the establishment lane.

In the debate, Romney repeatedly referred to Utah as “our state” and noted that he’s visited all 29 counties over the past few months. (He made the state his primary residence five years ago.) Asked about signing an assault weapons ban, Romney described it as “a solution that worked for that state in that circumstance. … and I was happy to support that.”

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Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens resigned on May 29, 2018 amid allegations of sexual misconduct and campaign fundraising violations. (Video: Reuters)

-- Embattled Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) announced his resignation, effective Friday. Sean Sullivan reports: “He has faced allegations that he initiated unwanted sexual contact with a woman who worked as his hairdresser and improperly used a charity donor list. Greitens struck a defiant tone in making the announcement, saying, ‘I am not perfect, but I have not broken any laws.’ He did not take questions after delivering brief remarks. … Under state law, Lt. Gov. Mike Parson will take over as governor.”

-- Depositions from Colin Kaepernick’s grievance complaint against the NFL prove that Trump’s stance on national anthem protests influenced the league's decision to change its rules. The Wall Street Journal’s Andrew Beaton reports: “Trump didn’t mince words last fall when he explained to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that he wouldn’t relent in his criticism of NFL players who were kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice. ‘This is a very winning, strong issue for me,’ Mr. Trump said in a phone call, according to a sworn deposition given by Mr. Jones and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. ‘Tell everybody, you can’t win this one. This one lifts me.’ … League executives publicly repeated the NFL’s aim to stay out politics. But privately, they made political calculations in response to Mr. Trump’s repeated hammering of the issue.”

Hurricane Maria caused widespread damage to Puerto Rico. Drone footage captured the scene in San Juan and Canóvanas on Sept. 21. (Video: Hector Santos Guia/The Washington Post)


  1. A Harvard study estimates that at least 4,645 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, far exceeding the official government death toll of 64 people. The findings undercut Trump’s attempts to favorably compare Maria’s death toll to previous storms. (Arelis R. Hernández and Laurie McGinley)
  2. The Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to a restrictive Arkansas abortion law that could halt medication-induced abortions and force the closure of two of the state’s three abortion clinics. The law is slated to take effect in July and the decision could embolden other states to pass far-reaching restrictions on reproductive rights. (Robert Barnes)
  3. Authorities recovered the body of Eddison “Eddie” Hermond, the National Guard sergeant who went missing amid the massive flooding in Ellicott City, Md. (Steve Hendrix and Dana Hedgpeth)
  4. A man killed three people in the Belgian city of Liege in a suspected terrorist attack, before being killed in a gunfight with police. Authorities said the assailant had been in prison since 2003 but was freed on Monday for a two-day leave period. (Michael Birnbaum and Quentin Ariès)
  5. The Dow plunged more than 500 points after Italy’s growing political crisis triggered a global sell-off over concerns the country could withdraw from the euro zone. (Thomas Heath)
  6. A confidential Justice Department report found that Purdue Pharma knew that its drug OxyContin was being widely abused as a powerful narcotic shortly after it was introduced in 1996. The report also found the company concealed the information for years and continued to aggressively promote the drug as “less addictive” than other painkillers. (New York Times)
  7. Myanmar has intensified a violent military campaign to kill or otherwise drive out ethnic minorities, according to a State Department report. The report found the government is continuing to displace hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people — and has also doubled down on an effort to expel Christians in the Kachin state. (New York Times)
  8. A local news anchor and photojournalist from Greenville, S.C., were killed by a felled tree, which struck their vehicle while they were covering subtropical storm Alberto. A fire chief said the reporters interviewed him as part of their coverage just 10 to 15 minutes before their deaths. (Meagan Flynn)
  9. Louisiana televangelist Jesse Duplantis is asking supporters to donate $54 million for a private jet, which he says will help him spread the gospel more efficiently. But aside from a Bluetooth-enabled entertainment center and an in-flight shower, it’s unclear how the tricked-out Falcon7X would help Duplantis better spread the word of the Lord — especially considering it would be his fourth private plane. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.; Video)
  10. A new study found that loud music at restaurants makes customers 20 percent more likely to choose unhealthy foods, compared to those who dined during lower-volume times. (Maura Judkis)


-- Two days after Jeff Sessions announced his recusal from the Russia probe, Trump pressured him to reverse course and “unrecuse” himself — an unusual and potentially inappropriate confrontation that is being investigated by Robert Mueller’s team. The New York Times’s Michael S. Schmidt and Julie Hirschfeld Davis report: “Mr. Trump, who had told aides that he needed a loyalist overseeing the inquiry, berated Mr. Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision … Mr. Sessions refused. The special counsel’s interest demonstrates Mr. Sessions’s overlooked role as a key witness in the investigation into whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the inquiry itself. It also suggests that the obstruction investigation is broader than it is widely understood to be — encompassing not only the president’s interactions with and firing of [James Comey], but also his relationship with Mr. Sessions. Investigators have pressed current and former White House officials about Mr. Trump’s treatment of Mr. Sessions and whether they believe the president was trying to impede the Russia investigation by pressuring him. The attorney general was also interviewed at length by Mr. Mueller’s investigators in January. And of the four dozen or so questions Mr. Mueller wants to ask Mr. Trump, eight relate to Mr. Sessions. Among them: What efforts did you make to try to get him to reverse his recusal?”

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that, if Trump agrees to be interviewed by Mueller’s team, the president should not be asked to discuss “private deliberations” with top administration officials. He also argued it would not be inappropriate for the president to pressure the nation's chief law enforcement officer this way. “‘Unrecuse’ doesn’t say, ‘Bury the investigation.’ It says on the face of it: Take responsibility for it and handle it correctly,” Giuliani said.

-- On Twitter this morning, Trump posted that he wishes he had picked someone else for attorney general:

-- Rudy told The Post that Trump will not sit for an interview with Mueller unless prosecutors allow the president's legal team to review all documents related to an FBI source. Josh Dawsey and John Wagner report: “'We need all the documents before we can decide whether we are going to do an interview,’ Giuliani [said], using Trump’s term ‘spygate’ to refer to the FBI actions[.] Giuliani’s latest demand further ratcheted up the pressure that Trump and his lawyers are trying to place on [Mueller’s] team as his investigation … reaches a key juncture. Giuliani has previously said that Trump has done nothing improper and is eager to talk to Mueller. On Tuesday, though, he said, he doesn’t want to make a call on whether Trump will sit down for an interview ‘until they decide whether they are going to give us the documents or not.’”

Giuliani also claimed Mueller’s attempts to interview Trump suggest his probe is “nearing its end.": “I don’t think they would have asked to interview him until they are pretty much finished with everything,” Giuliani said. “They’re only going to get one shot at him. They know that. You look pretty amateurish if you interview him and you don’t have all the facts gathered.”

-- Rep. Trey Gowdy, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said the FBI's use of a source to gather information from Trump campaign advisers was appropriate. From Politico’s Kyle Cheney: After a highly classified DOJ briefing, Gowdy said: "'I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got,’ he said in an interview on Fox News. He added that the information also suggested that the effort had ‘nothing to do with Donald Trump.’” Gowdy added that the details from the briefing undercut the theory that the Obama administration planted a spy in the Trump campaign, a claim the president has repeatedly pushed and continues to repeat despite there being no evidence.

-- Prosecutors in the case against Michael Cohen are today expected to receive data from his three seized phones. From Bloomberg News's Joe Schneider: “Barbara Jones, the special master reviewing the material, said in a letter to the judge overseeing the case that about 1 million items taken from the three phones that haven’t been designated privileged or highly personal and subject to a final verification will be released to the government.”

-- Jones billed more than $47,000 for her first week on the job. Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports: “Jones’ invoice tallies 68 hours of work during the last week of April at roughly $700 an hour. The invoice appears to include at least two other attorneys from her firm, Bracewell.”

-- For the second time in six days, Mueller has started the sentencing process for a cooperating defendant in the Russia probe. Spencer S. Hsu reports: “Richard Pinedo, 28, of Santa Paula, Calif., pleaded guilty Feb. 12 [to] creating hundreds of bank accounts, often using stolen identities, and selling some to unidentified offshore users, including suspects connected to the Russia probe. Pinedo’s attorney, Jeremy I. Lessem, said [Tuesday] that the filing ‘indicates that we have begun the process of … ultimately resolving this case for Mr. Pinedo.’ However, Lessem added, ‘I don’t have any information as to what this means, if anything, for the broader Special Counsel investigation in general.”

-- A Russian journalist and outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin was ambushed and killed in the staircase of his apartment in Ukraine. National police said the reporter, Arkady Babchenko, was found with multiple gunshot wounds on his back and are working under the assumption that he was killed because of his work. (AP)

There's more to the story about the "lost children" than politicians are making clear. (Video: Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)


-- The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” approach to families who cross the border is causing Health and Human Services shelters to swell with children. Nick Miroff reports: “The number of migrant children held in U.S. government custody without their parents has surged 21 percent in the past month, according to the latest figures ... Although the government has not disclosed how many children have been separated from their parents as a result of the new measures, [HHS] said Tuesday that it had 10,773 migrant children in its custody, up from 8,886 on April 29 ... [HHS] shelters are at 95 percent capacity, an HHS official said Tuesday, and the agency is preparing to add potentially thousands of new bed spaces in the coming weeks. HHS also is exploring the possibility of housing children on military bases but views the measure as a ‘last option,’ according to the HHS official …”

-- At a rally in Nashville last night, Trump insisted his continued focus on immigration will help Republicans win midterm races. From Seung Min Kim and Anne Gearan: “In a rambling address lasting more than an hour, Trump returned frequently to the issue of illegal immigration and what he claimed is its link to crime and instability in the United States. Though Trump has repeatedly talked about immigration in recent events ... he explicitly framed the issue in political terms Tuesday night, calling it a boon for Republicans in November. ‘The Democrats want to use it as a campaign issue, and I keep saying I hope they do,’ Trump said. Accusing Democrats of wanting ‘open borders,’ Trump added: ‘That’s a good issue for us, not for them.’” Trump reiterated his claim that Mexico would pay for a border wall, adding, “[T]hey’re going to enjoy it.”

-- House Republican candidates are focusing their television ads on hard-line immigration policies. USA Today’s Deirdre Shesgreen and Eliza Collins report: “Republicans have aired more than 14,000 campaign ads touting a tough Trump-style immigration platform this year. The barrage underscores why House GOP leaders worry that passing a legislative fix for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, referred to as DREAMers, would put GOP candidates at risk heading into the fall election. … The GOP focus on immigration is particularly striking, given that it was not among the top 10 issues Republicans spent their ad dollars on at this point in the 2014 midterms.”

A team of U.S. officials crossed into North Korea on May 27 for talks to prepare for a summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un. (Video: Reuters)


-- During a closed-door fundraiser, Trump bragged about a skirmish between U.S. troops and Russian mercenaries inside Syria — the details of which are classified. Politico’s Eliana Johnson reports: “[S]peaking to donors in midtown Manhattan last Wednesday, Trump said he was amazed by the performance of American F-18 pilots. He suggested that the strikes may have been as brief as ‘10 minutes’ and taken out 100 to 300 Russians, according to a person briefed on the president’s remarks … The fundraiser at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel was attended by about 100 of Trump’s top-dollar supporters, who paid a minimum of $50,000 a head to attend the dinner.”

-- Trump’s fixation on keeping the June 12 date to meet with Kim Jong Un has prompted a flurry of meetings and activity to nail down details of the proposed summit. David Nakamura and Anna Fifield capture the back and forth: “In a series of tweets since [abruptly canceling the sit-down with Kim], Trump has suggested the summit will take place as scheduled in Singapore, even though his own advisers had warned last week it might be too late. Trump’s latest change of direction was another sign that he has thrown out the conventional Washington playbook for his diplomatic high-wire act. From his impulsive, on-the-spot decision in March to accept Kim’s offer to meet, Trump has rushed headlong into an accelerated summit process that has led analysts to warn that he risks moving too quickly and setting himself up for failure.”

-- A new CIA report predicts North Korea will not denuclearize any time soon. NBC News’s Courtney Kube, Ken Dilanian and Carol E. Lee report: “[T]he CIA analysis, which is consistent with other expert opinion, casts doubt on the viability of Trump's stated goal for the [potential summit with Kim], the elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons stockpile. … In an odd twist, a list of potential concessions by North Korea in the CIA analysis included the possibility that [Kim] may consider offering to open a Western hamburger franchise in Pyongyang as a show of goodwill, according to three national security officials. … On the nuclear question, the analysis suggests that a more realistic immediate objective would be convincing Kim to walk back recent progress on the country's nuclear weapons program ... But it's not clear that would pass muster with Trump — or America's allies.”

-- John Bolton has added two more loyalists to the National Security Council. CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reports: “Sarah Tinsley and Garrett Marquis have both joined the Trump administration as senior directors for strategic communications  … Tinsley has been named as deputy assistant to the President and is filling a role left vacant by Michael Anton, who stepped down earlier this year after [H.R. McMaster] was fired. Marquis is a special assistant to the President. Both have been associated with Bolton for years.”

-- The State Department announced it would limit how long visas issued to Chinese citizens are valid in an attempt to curb acquisition of U.S. technology. The AP’s Josh Lederman and Ted Bridis: “The State Department did not provide specifics. But a U.S. official said that according to instructions sent to U.S. embassies and consulates, Chinese graduate students will be limited to one-year visas if they are studying in fields like robotics, aviation and high-tech manufacturing. China identified those areas as priorities in its ‘Made in China’ 2025 manufacturing plan.”

-- Ivanka Trump dodged questions about her company’s trademarks in China while on a conference call with supporters. From CBS News’s Jacqueline Alemany: “On a background call hosted by Ivanka Trump and Holli Richmond, director of the President Trump's Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, in advance of ‘White House Sports and Fitness Day,’ one of the hosts dropped off of the call after being asked to comment on her father's new exercise regimen and questions pertaining to Chinese trademarks being awarded to her fashion brand. ‘You can refer those questions to the press office,’ press aide Ninio Fetalvo told reporters Tuesday after Ivanka Trump was asked to address questions about her company.”

-- Italy could be forced to hold snap elections as soon as July after government leaders once again failed to form a government. Bloomberg News's Alessandro Speciale and John Follain report: “A failure by [prime minister-designate Carlo Cottarelli] ... could force the president to dissolve parliament, leading to elections within 60 to 70 days. Pressure among Italian lawmakers from various parties mounted on Tuesday to hold elections as soon as possible."

Roseanne Barr has a history of making racist remarks and of fanning the flames of conspiracy theories. ABC canceled her show for it on May 29. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post)


-- ABC announced the cancellation of her popular revived sitcom after Roseanne Barr went on a vitriolic and racist Twitter rampage. “Barr appeared to take aim late Monday at [former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett], in a tweet that identified the administration official by her initials: 'muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj,'" Emily Heil reports. “Though she later claimed it was ‘a joke,’ [Barr] issued a fuller apology Tuesday after more intense criticism was directed toward her[:] ‘I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans,’ she wrote. ‘I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me-my joke was in bad taste.’

“The social-media rant wasn’t exactly a surprise performance by Barr, who … has trucked in conservative conspiracies before[.] But even by her own standards, this latest round of tweets were particularly vitriolic. She started by spreading the false rumor that Chelsea Clinton is married to the nephew of billionaire liberal Democratic donor George Soros, who is a lightning rod for false conservative theories. Barr also falsely claimed that Soros was ‘a nazi who turned in his fellow Jews 2 be murdered in German concentration camps.’” Barr addressed her defenders and blamed her racist comments on a sleep aid in a tweet late last night. “hey guys, don't defend me, it's sweet of you 2 try, but...losing my show is 0 compared 2 being labelled a racist over one tweet-that I regret even more,” Barr wrote.

-- Soros responded to Barr's baseless claims through a spokesperson: “George Soros survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary as a 13 year old child by going into hiding and assuming a false identity with the help of his father, who managed to save his own family and help many other Jews survive Holocaust. ... He did not collaborate with the Nazis. He did not help round up people. He did not confiscate anybody’s property. Such false allegations are insulting to the victims of the Holocaust, to all Jewish people, and to anyone who honors the truth.” (The Independent)

-- Barr was also dropped by her talent agency, ICM Partners, which said her “disgraceful and unacceptable tweet” was “antithetical to our core values, both as individuals and as an agency.” Hulu, CMT and others also said they will not air reruns of the show.

-- “We have to turn it into a teaching moment,” Valerie Jarrett said of Barr’s comments during an MSNBC town hall last night. “I’m fine. I’m worried about all the people out there who don’t have a circle of friends and followers who come right to their defense,” added Jarrett. “The person who’s walking down the street minding their own business and they see somebody cling to their purse, or want to cross the street, or every black parent I know who has a boy who has to sit down and have a conversation, ‘the talk’ as we call it, and as you say, those ordinary examples of racism that happen every single day.” (MSNBC)

-- “This was the problem all along: Having ‘Roseanne’ back meant having Roseanne back,” writes Post television critic Hank Stuever. “In her relative absence from popular culture — say, in the time between when ABC’s ‘Roseanne’ first ended in 1997 and when the network revived the sitcom this March to impressive ratings — Roseanne Barr acquired or developed some opinions that a few people, sadly, may agree with, but that everyone should find appalling. … The ratings were high (tellingly high), yet the outcry was steady from those who would never distinguish the character from the actress who played her. And why should they? If we’ve learned anything from this, it’s that Roseanne is Roseanne is Roseanne. TV still needs a contrary, cantankerous character from which to tell the story of American life and politics in 2018. But Barr was never the right person for that job.”

-- Barr’s Twitter rant undercut her stated goal of providing the public with a nuanced portrayal of pro-Trump Americans, The Fix’s Eugene Scott writes. “Liberals often think Trump supporters such as Barr — and her TV character — are racist because they support racist ideas like those Barr tweeted. Trump supporters are also often viewed as racist because many of them have gone on the record acknowledging the role cultural anxiety plays in their politics. Barr’s television character is one of them. ‘I’ve always attempted to portray a realistic portrait of the American people and working-class people,’ Barr told reporters in January 2018 … ‘And in fact, it was working-class people who elected Trump, so I felt that, yeah, that was very real, and something that needed to be discussed.’”

From the writers' room to rehearsal to show time, here's a behind-the-scenes look at how "Late Night with Seth Meyers" is made in the Trump era. (Video: Erin Patrick O'Connor, Nicki DeMarco/The Washington Post)

-- A Post team spent a day seeing how “Late Night With Seth Meyers” operates in the Trump era. Elahe Izadi writes: “We’re more than a year into the Trump presidency, and the dizzying headlines come and go so quickly that 9 a.m. reports feel irrelevant by 5 p.m. And late-night hosts, while duty-bound to entertain, have also become Anti-Trump America’s Guide to What It All Means. So, how do these shows navigate the avalanche of news and quickly turn the latest political plot twist into comedy? … We followed Meyers, writers and producers through rapid-fire script readings, last-minute sketches, breaking news alerts and a taping before a studio audience to see what it takes to make late-night TV in the unpredictable Trump era. ‘We thought the campaign was the World Series,’ Meyers said in an interview, ‘but it turned out it was just spring training for this.’”


The CEO of Disney, which owns ABC, said “there was only one thing to do here” after Roseanne's comments:

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) celebrated ABC's decision:

From the president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund:

Former Fox News host Eric Bolling initially defended Barr:

From a political and pop culture journalist:

A former spokesman for Obama's Justice Department used the incident to attack Trump:

Producer Shonda Rhimes added this:

GOP strategist Ana Navarro responded to the latest estimate of the death toll from Hurricane Maria:

From Dan Rather:

Ivanka Trump responded to her Twitter critics:

Yet another former Trump administration official is joining Sinclair:

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) shared an image of the volcanic activity in his state:

And Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) criticized claims that he “cursed” the Houston Rockets in the NBA Western Conference finals:


-- New York Magazine, “Little Scalia,” by Simon van Zuylen-Wood: “Over the past year, [Neil Gorsuch] has shown off a preternatural gift for violating the unspoken norms of the institution and unsettling polite legal society. Not since 1937, when Franklin Roosevelt appointed Senator Hugo Black to ram through the New Deal, had a new justice arrived on the Supreme Court in such a politicized way. Yet Gorsuch, rather than lie low, has embraced his spoiler persona. … The metamorphosis of milquetoast Neil Gorsuch has baffled people who’ve followed him for years. His nomination, says a partner at a Denver law firm who clerked for one of his colleagues in Colorado, ‘was for me the first bright light in the Trump administration.’ Now, not so much. ‘Fellow judges, clerks who worked for him, clerks who worked for other judges — people are mystified.’”

-- New York Times, “When the President Testified: People in the Room Recall Clinton’s 1998 Interrogation,” by Peter Baker: “As President Trump and [Mueller] negotiate about a possible interview in the Russia investigation, all sides can turn back to the only real precedent: the time that President Bill Clinton was interrogated by prosecutors before a grand jury watching over closed circuit television. The date was Aug. 17, 1998. Mr. Clinton was defending himself against allegations that he had lied under oath and obstructed justice during a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Paula Jones, a former Arkansas state worker, to cover up an unseemly affair with a former White House intern named Monica S. Lewinsky.”

-- New York Times, “The Equestrian Coach Who Minted Olympians, and Left a Trail of Child Molestation,” by Sarah Maslin Nir: “There’s no trace of Jimmy A. Williams, the Show Jumping Hall of Fame trainer, at the equestrian club where he was an instructor for nearly four decades, cultivating young riders, some of whom went on to Olympic fame. … But his former riders cannot forget Mr. Williams. Across the country, in her New Jersey barn adorned with her Olympic medals, Anne Kursinski, one of the country’s most decorated show jumpers, remembered her former coach. How he tasted of alcohol whenever he pinned her in a horse stall and crammed his tongue into her mouth. And far more.”


“Porn Leads To School Shootings, GOP Congresswoman Says,” from HuffPost: “During a meeting last week with local pastors, [Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.)] raised the issue of gun violence in schools and why it keeps happening. ‘Pornography,’ [said Black, who is currently running for governor of Tennessee]. ‘It’s available on the shelf when you walk in the grocery store. Yeah, you have to reach up to get it, but there’s pornography there,’ she continued. ‘All of this is available without parental guidance. I think that is a big part of the root cause.’ Black didn’t clarify what it is about porn that she thinks is leading to school massacres. Her congressional spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. Beyond naughty movies, Black said school shootings are on the rise because of the ‘deterioration of the family,’ mental illness and violent movies.”



“Blue-state Democrats have a new cause: Helping millionaires,” from CNBC: “On the heels of the new Republican tax law, state Democrats, who until recently were advocating higher taxes on the rich, are suddenly fighting to protect their own members of the top 1 percent from higher taxes. Some Dems are even proposing both — raise taxes on the wealthy with one hand and help them with the other. The new divide is the result of the so-called SALT provisions of the new tax law. Taxpayers can only deduct up to $10,000 in state and local taxes from their federal returns. In high-tax states like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, more than a quarter of one-percenters will see tax hikes under the new cap in 2019. … The Democratic governors of all three states have passed legislation aimed at helping those one-percenters avoid the new tax provision.”



Trump will sign the “Right to Try Act” and then meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He will later participate in the White House Sports and Fitness Day.


“Tone starts at the top, and we like to look up to our president and feel as though he reflects the values of our country.” — Valerie Jarrett (Emily Heil)



-- Washington is looking at an increased chance of showers in the afternoon. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “After a morning start near 70, partly to mostly cloudy skies should let through just enough sun to help afternoon highs to near 80. With this humid air and a front nearby, we could see a few showers, especially mid-to-late afternoon.”

-- The Nationals beat the Orioles 3-2. (Chelsea Janes)

-- It’s still unclear whether the decision by Rep. Thomas Garrett (R) to not seek reelection will benefit Democrats or Republicans in Virginia's 5th District. Jenna Portnoy reports: “Democrats [may] have to shift strategy because of a new opponent. They had already spent 18 months honing their attacks on Garrett.”

-- The Virginia Senate is today expected to approve a budget that includes Medicaid expansion, clearing the last hurdle to it becoming law. Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R), who opposes the expansion, tried to use an obscure procedural rule to block a vote on the Medicaid amendment to the budget. But Norment’s move was ruled out of order, killing the last bit of opposition to expansion. (Laura Vozzella)

-- Homicides in D.C. are up 50 percent in comparison to this time last year. Peter Hermann reports: “Hardest hit has been Ward 8, which includes some of the city’s poorest and most troubled neighborhoods, stretching from Washington Highlands through Anacostia and up to Fairlawn. Three fatal shootings there over the Memorial Day weekend brought the ward to 30 homicides so far this year, sparking an urgent plea by residents and community leaders for safety and services.”

-- A 48,900-square-foot residence in McLean became the most expensive home to ever hit the Washington-area market. Asking price: $62.95 million. The home was previously owned by the late James Kimsey, who co-founded AOL. (Sarah Polus)


Jimmy Kimmel had an idea for allowing “Roseanne” to continue without Roseanne:

One of the Daily Show's correspondents created a video for Starbucks's racial bias training:

Doctors who treated former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, described their quick, decisive action to save the pair after realizing they had been struck by a nerve agent:

Doctors who treated former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter spoke out in May about treating the pair. (Video: Reuters)

Subtropical Storm Alberto whipped up a waterspout in the pool of a Panama City Beach hotel:

A small waterspout appeared at a hotel pool in Panama City Beach, Fla., on May 28 as Storm Alberto moved ashore. (Video: Justin Ray Parker)

And a 93-year-old World War II veteran finally received his high school diploma:

Robert Lockard dropped out of high school in Circleville, Ohio, in 1941 and went on to serve in WWII. On May 27, he went back and finally received his diploma. (Video: WBNS-10TV)