The half-hour incident at a strip mall near the southern border with Mexico underscores the lack of transparency from President Trump’s administration about its intensifying efforts to break up undocumented families caught crossing the border, the centerpiece of a “zero tolerance” policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month to deter illegal immigration.
“The administration calls this ‘zero tolerance.' ... It is really a ‘zero humanity’ policy," Merkley said in a telephone interview on Monday. “It does damage to the children, to the parents and to the soul of America.”
The senator said he tried to go through proper channels to arrange a site visit but was rebuffed. Merkley said he’s also sought to figure out just how many kids are being held at the old Walmart, where the parking lot is packed with employee cars, but he still cannot get a straight answer. He sees the new policy as a moral stain on America, and he’s determined not to let it slip from public consciousness. That's why he staged a public confrontation. A staffer live-streamed the whole thing on Facebook.
“I think it’s unacceptable that a member of Congress is not being admitted to see what’s happening to children whose families are applying for asylum,” Merkley said. “Can you imagine? You come to this strange land. … You’re seeking asylum, and the first thing that happens when you get here is you’re torn away from your parents? … America has never done this before! … The intention is to hurt the children, cause the children trauma and discourage people from seeking asylum in the United States of America.”
Trump’s policy may split up an untold number of families. Minors are not allowed in criminal jails, where adults are held when they’re charged with crimes related to crossing the border. Children are sent to separate facilities, which are overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. This happens even if their folks present themselves at official ports of entry and declare that they are seeking asylum.
Southwest Key Programs, a nonprofit, administers this facility and 26 other shelters for unaccompanied immigrant children across Texas, Arizona and California. Its website refers all questions to HHS. The press office for the children and families division at HHS, which the resettlement office is part of, did not respond to a call and email seeking comment overnight. “If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally,” Sessions said last month. “It’s not our fault that somebody does that.”
Merkley’s visit to the site was Kabuki theater tailor-made to go viral on social media and feed progressive activists the sort of red meat they are so hungry for in this tumultuous era. Wearing blue jeans and a dress shirt that was half-tucked in with rolled up sleeves, Merkley called a phone number that was posted at the entrance. He put the woman who answered on speaker and asked for a supervisor to come out. He told her his personal cellphone number. He called back a few minutes later when no one had come.
Only after two police officers arrived on the scene did the supervisor emerge from a blacked-out sliding door. He gave the senator the phone number for the HHS press office. “So you guys can just call that number,” the supervisor said. “That’s the number we were told to give to you guys.”
One of the cops approached Merkley. “I haven’t been asked to leave the property, but I’m guessing that’s about what’s to happen,” the senator said.
“Yes, sir, I think that’s what they’re going towards,” the officer replied. “What was your name again?”
“Senator Jeff Merkley. U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley,” he said.
“How do you spell that? I don’t want to misspell that,” the cop asked.
“M-e-r-k-l-e-y,” the senator said.
The cop asked for his date of birth.
“It’s October 24, 1956,” Merkley replied. “I’m a U.S. senator.”
Wearing a lapel microphone, Merkley narrated what was happening. The sound quality is poor because of the wind, and the video quality is poor because of the bright sun. But that made the stunt seem more raw and authentic. As the camera rolled, Merkley spoke about how a picture is worth a thousand words, which is why they don’t want visuals from inside. “I think this is part of a strategy to prevent the public and our decision-makers from seeing what’s really going on,” he said. “These doors are closed right now, which I think is symbolic of what the administration is doing.”
Earlier in the day, Merkley stopped by the Border Patrol’s processing station in McAllen, Tex., where children are taken away from their parents, and visited with asylum seekers at the Sacred Heart Church Respite Center in McAllen, Tex. He was accompanied by local officials from the American Civil Liberties Union.
“For months, stories have abounded of families separated by immigration authorities at the border: Three children were separated from their mother as they fled a gang in El Salvador; a 7-year-old was taken from her Congolese mother who was seeking asylum; and so on, in reportedly hundreds of cases. In almost every case, the families have described heart-wrenching goodbyes and agonizing uncertainty about whether they would be reunited,” Amy B Wang noted last week.
Finally, the supervisor at the former Walmart asked Merkley to leave and he complied. As he left, the senator said the contractor should really rethink the work it is doing for the government “with these children being ripped out of their parents’ arms.”
Speaking on Monday from the airport, Merkley said he planned to write a memo for his Senate colleagues about his experience during the flight back to Washington. He will also push for either the Homeland Security or the so-called HELP committee, which has oversight of HHS, to hold hearings. If neither Republican chairman agrees to do so, Merkley said he will look into holding his own “shadow” hearings. “I'll definitely be seeking other ways to draw attention to this new policy,” he said. “We are really besmirching the integrity of our government.”
-- Happening Wednesday: Merkley was the only senator to endorse Bernie Sanders for president in 2016. On Wednesday morning, Sen. Sanders (I-Vt.) will come to The Washington Post’s headquarters for this month’s installment of The Daily 202 Live. We’ll certainly touch on Trump’s immigration policy during our conversation from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Details to RSVP here.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Kim Jong Un has reportedly dismissed three top military leaders, in what appears to be a major shake-up of the North Korean leader's inner circle ahead of next week's planned summit with Trump. Brian Murphy and Michelle Ye Hee Lee report: “The report by the [South Korean] Yonhap news agency, citing an intelligence source, could not be independently verified. But, if confirmed, the moves suggest another step in Kim’s ongoing reorganization in military leadership — this time bringing in younger military overseers to replace older ranks possibly at odds with his outreach to the United States and its ally South Korea, experts said. The officials who reportedly were dropped are from some of the highest echelons of the North’s military structure, including Ri Myong Su, the chief of general staff for the Korean People’s Army. Ri was thought to be a confidant of Kim’s father, the late leader Kim Jong Il. The others dismissed, according to Yonhap, were defense chief Pak Yong Sik and Kim Jong Gak, director of the political bureau of the North Korean army.”
-- CNN profiles White House deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin, who is negotiating logistical details for the summit with the North Koreans: “Two officials said Hagin has kept sensitive logistical details from Trump — including during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Mar-a-Lago last year — for fear that the President might tweet about them and upend the plans,” Jeremy Diamond and Kevin Liptak report. “Three current and former White House officials also said Hagin openly laments the atypical nature of Trump's presidency and its chaotic nature with another familiar refrain: ‘This would never happen in the Bush administration’ — a comment the sources said is often accompanied by an eye roll.”
-- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is planning to visit Pyongyang, the first foreign leader to make a state visit since Kim assumed power in 2011. The Guardian’s Benjamin Haas reports: “The report by the official Korean Central News Agency did not say when the visit would be, but the two sanctions-hit nations have been allies for decades and Washington has accused the North of assisting Syria with its weapons programmes. ‘I am going to visit the DPRK and meet HE Kim Jong-un,’ Assad was quoted as saying … ‘HE’ stands for ‘his excellency.’”
-- Facebook struck data-sharing partnerships over the past decade with at least 60 device makers, including Apple, Amazon and Samsung — raising a host of new privacy concerns. The New York Times’s Gabriel J.X. Dance, Nicholas Confessore and Michael LaForgia report: “The deals, most of which remain in effect, allowed Facebook to expand its reach and let device makers offer customers popular features of the social network … But the partnerships, whose scope has not previously been reported, raise concerns about the company’s privacy protections and compliance with a 2011 consent decree with the [FTC]. Facebook allowed the device companies access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent, even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders. Some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users’ friends who believed they had barred any sharing … Some device partners can retrieve Facebook users’ relationship status, religion, political leaning and upcoming events, among other data.
“In interviews, several former Facebook software engineers and security experts said they were surprised at the ability to override sharing restrictions. ‘It’s like having door locks installed, only to find out that the locksmith also gave keys to all of his friends so they can come in and rifle through your stuff without having to ask you for permission,’” said the FTC’s former chief technologist, Ashkan Soltani.
GET SMART FAST:
- The first lady will attend a White House event tonight honoring Gold Star families, her first event in nearly a month. Melania Trump was hospitalized last month for what the White House said was a kidney procedure and has not been seen in public since. The first lady’s spokeswoman said she will not attend the G-7 summit or join the president in Singapore for his meeting with Kim. (CNN)
A volcanic eruption in Guatemala killed at least 25. The Volcan de Fuego, or “Volcano of Fire,” spewed ash and sent streams of lava into rural areas, from which more than 3,000 people were evacuated. (Susan Hogan)
The National Guard airlifted to safety three people in danger from volcanic activity on Hawaii’s Big Island. Lava flowing from the Kilauea volcano has forced several evacuations, most recently from the eastern tip of the island. (Reuters)
A new Pentagon report says U.S. military operations killed approximately 500 civilians in 2017, citing incidents in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. But watchdog groups have pushed back, suggesting that the Defense Department could be grossly undercounting accidental deaths because of a faulty process for probing casualty complaints. (Missy Ryan)
- Most women with a common type of early-stage breast cancer can safely skip chemotherapy after undergoing surgery. The results of a groundbreaking new study are expected to allow more than 60,000 women in the U.S. to avoid the often debilitating treatment. (Laurie McGinley)
China is luring prominent scientists away from the United States as it challenges American dominance of science. China is on track to surpass the United States in scientific research spending by the end of this year. (Ben Guarino, Emily Rauhala and William Wan)
A Georgia police officer was fired after body camera footage captured him running down a fleeing suspect with his car. Authorities said they are investigating additional penalties against the rookie officer, who was seen on video jerking the steering wheel in the direction of the suspect. (Avi Selk)
Police shot and wounded an Austrian man after he yelled and waved a knife in the center of a Berlin cathedral. Authorities said there was no immediate sign that the man’s actions were linked to terrorism, and that the 53-year-old appeared to be “confused.” (AP)
Benedict Cumberbatch is credited with saving a cyclist who was being attacked by four people in London. The “Sherlock Holmes” actor was in an Uber with his wife when he saw the attackers hitting the cyclist over the head with a bottle and jumped out of the car to come to his rescue. “They tried to hit him .... Then I think they also recognized it was Benedict and ran away,” the Uber driver said. (New York Times)
“Full Frontal” host Samantha Bee is planning to make an “in-depth” statement on her show this week to address the vulgar comment she made about Ivanka Trump. Bee attacked the president’s eldest daughter in crude terms for not taking action to stop the separation of undocumented families. (CNN)
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Trump’s attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani argued on two Sunday shows that the president probably has the sweeping constitutional authority to pardon even himself. “He has no intention of pardoning himself, but he probably — not to say he can’t,” the former New York mayor said on ABC’s “This Week.” On NBC's “Meet the Press,” Giuliani said that would be politically “unthinkable” and “it’s not going to happen.” Giuliani’s comments came in response to questions about a confidential 20-page memo that Trump’s legal team sent to special counsel Robert Mueller in January, in which they claimed he has “unlimited power” over any federal investigation and argued that Trump cannot be compelled to testify.
-- Giuliani said Trump could even shoot James Comey in the Oval Office and still not be prosecuted. “I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is,” he told HuffPost’s S.V. Date. “If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day. Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.”
-- Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie said the president would get impeached if he pardoned himself: “Listen, there’s no way that’ll happen, and the reason it won’t is because then it becomes a political problem,” Christie said on ABC. “If the president were to pardon himself, he’ll get impeached.”
-- “The reality, however, is more nebulous,” Joel Achenbach and Ashley Parker note. “The Republican Party, which currently controls Congress, has so far failed to assert any clear red line over which Trump could walk that would prompt them to take action against their party’s leader. And Republican lawmakers have remained largely silent as Trump has repeatedly gone to war with his Justice Department and the FBI, intentionally and routinely degrading public trust in the institutions tasked with holding him accountable for misbehavior. On Sunday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is considered the front-runner to become the next House speaker, seemed to argue the opposite of Giuliani and Christie, saying the key focus of Mueller’s probe is, simply, whether the Trump campaign and Russia had colluded during the 2016 election. ... He concluded: 'Let them walk through their investigation. But I think, if there is no collusion, it’s time to wind this down.'
“Giuliani also offered another, inadvertent window into his hesitancy to let Trump testify, when fielding questions on a different topic: why the White House and Trump’s lawyers first — and falsely — denied a Washington Post report last July explaining that the president had dictated the misleading statement his oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., initially released to explain away his campaign meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. At the time, (Trump lawyer Jay) Sekulow and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed Trump had not, in fact, dictated that statement. But the letter that (John) Dowd and Sekulow himself sent to Mueller states the opposite — writing that 'the president dictated a short but accurate response' on behalf of his son. Pressed on 'This Week' about the shifting explanations, Giuliani said, 'I mean, this is the reason you don’t let the president testify.'”
-- Giuliani added, “Our recollection keeps changing …”
-- Experts say the assertion that a president cannot obstruct justice is absurd and legally indefensible. Matt Zapotosky reports: “Legal analysts said that as the head of the executive branch, Trump could issue pardons, fire senior officials or order them to shut down investigations. But if his motives were corrupt, such actions could constitute obstruction. The principle laid out in the letter (from Trump's lawyers) is ‘a ludicrous legal theory,’ said Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general ... ‘The idea that a president can’t obstruct justice died with King George III, with a brief attempt at revival by Richard Nixon.’ ... If Trump were served with a subpoena, legal analysts said they expect he would challenge it, and the dispute would almost certainly escalate to the Supreme Court. They said that while the courts might ultimately limit what the president could be asked, it was unlikely they would agree with the president’s legal interpretation that he cannot obstruct justice.”
-- Trump’s dismissal of the Russia probe as a “witch hunt” fits a pattern of the president’s self-victimization, Philip Rucker writes. “Never mind that Donald Trump was born into extraordinary wealth, emblazoned his name on skyscrapers and golf courses across the globe and now is the elected leader of the free world. In President Trump’s telling, which can often be more imaginary than real, he is a victim — a long-suffering, tormented victim. … For Trump, this posture makes and preserves political power. He has created around himself an aura of unfair persecution — by the nation’s elites, Democrats, the media and law enforcement — that inspires sympathy from and solidarity with his aggrieved supporters.”
Trump weighed in Monday morning:
THE CALIFORNIA PRIMARIES ARE TOMORROW:
-- California’s race for governor has increasingly become a referendum on Trump, with the Democratic front-runner, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, campaigning on promises of fierce resistance to the commander in chief. Scott Wilson reports: “Under any scenario, the response to Trump after Jerry Brown will be different. In his political twilight, the popular governor has strategically balanced cooperating with the president and confronting him. Newsom — at 50, he is 30 years younger than Brown — is a founding father of the Trump resistance, a former San Francisco mayor who gained notice more than a decade ago for promoting same-sex marriage and other liberal causes that are now party orthodoxy but which, at the time, angered Democrats who blamed him for a backlash against the party.
“His expected victory Tuesday, if confirmed in November, would return Newsom to national prominence in a different form, aligned with a party whose activists have grown far more liberal in the intervening years. The winner also will ascend to one of the few roles in American politics with the prestige to act as a counterweight to the presidency, as Brown and his predecessor, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, proved, and instantly be a player in the 2020 presidential race.”
-- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) is cruising toward a widely expected victory — fending off a spate of lesser-known, more progressive challengers. David Weigel reports: “Her best-known opponent, state Sen. Kevin de León (D), who charged into the race last year on a message of generational change, has found himself challenged by a little-known Republican for the second spot in the November runoff, as lesser-known liberals fracture the anti-Feinstein vote. Feinstein has bent the race her way by portraying herself as a reliable liberal in the Senate minority — and by moving further left and co-opting issues key to the state’s Democrats. In the campaign’s final stretch, Feinstein has run as an opponent of the death penalty and a defender of the state’s marijuana industry, new stances that have cut off lines of attack by de León, while drawing no perceptible backlash for their timing. ... [De León's] campaign has proved anew the difficulty of dislodging a well-regarded incumbent in a far-flung state where it takes years and millions of dollars to become known to voters. The very thing that de León implicitly criticizes — a Senate tenure that has stretched from late 1992 — has helped to cement Feinstein’s substantial advantage."
-- Democrats are hoping an influx of Asian immigrants in Orange County will help swing a longtime Republican district. The New York Times’s Vivian Yee reports: “Orange County is now one-fifth Asian and more than one-third Latino, with a Little Saigon in Garden Grove and Westminster; a Koreatown in nearby Buena Park that is beginning to rival Los Angeles’s; and a thriving Latino community centered in Santa Ana. Forty-five percent of the county’s households speak a language other than English. … Resistance City, this is not. And then there is the question of Asian voters, who, beyond inconsistent turnout, are not numerous enough on their own to pick winners. [Still], in the 45th Congressional District, whose biggest city is Irvine, three of the four Democratic candidates were born to immigrants, including one of the front-runners, Dave Min, a Korean-American law professor at the University of California, Irvine. Whichever Democrat does best in the June 5 primary will challenge Representative Mimi Walters, the Republican incumbent, in a district that has never elected anyone but Republicans ..."
-- Be careful what you wish for: California’s open primary system — intended to produce a spate of more moderate candidates on both sides — has proved to be a “cautionary tale” on political reform. Dan Balz explains: “The system’s promises, meanwhile, remain mostly unfulfilled. Most of the hand-wringing today is among Democrats. Given [opposition to Trump] … and the number of Republican-held seats that are competitive, this year’s elections have drawn bigger-than-normal fields of candidates. However, in several competitive Southern California districts in Republican hands, so many Democrats are running that party leaders fear the Democratic vote will end up badly splintered. That could mean no Democrat makes it to the November ballot in those districts, which would be an unexpected self-inflicted blow to the party’s hopes of taking control of the House.”
MORE ON THE MIDTERMS:
-- Leading Republican candidates are echoing Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration, reflecting the extent to which the president has refashioned the GOP in his image. Sean Sullivan reports: “This year, the Trump-like tenor of the campaign trail is evident in places like Georgia, where a Republican candidate for governor is telling voters he can round up undocumented immigrants and put them in his pickup truck. In Indiana, the party’s Senate nominee shows a grainy mug shot of an undocumented immigrant as he calls for the border wall and a ban on ‘sanctuary cities.’ And in Arizona, a Hispanic Republican running for Congress has defended Trump’s description of some immigrant gang members as ‘animals.’ Long gone is the GOP’s post-2012 autopsy … [which] called for the party to adopt a more liberal position on immigration and work harder to court Hispanics and other minorities. … Those ideas were part of the arguments in 2016 from some of Trump’s rivals … but Trump’s triumph and continued popularity with GOP voters have made clear that strong opposition to illegal immigration is key to winning the party base.”
-- Joe Biden is preparing a busy campaign schedule this fall as his closest advisers plan for a potential presidential bid in 2020. NBC News’s Mike Memoli reports: “Biden himself has only gone so far as to say he’s not ruled out what would be a third run for the White House. He’s also been adamant that while a decision won’t come until after the 2018 midterms, it shouldn’t linger much beyond year’s end — a timetable that would help to bring some order to what could be the largest Democratic presidential field in generations.” But Biden and his family continue to grieve the loss of the former vice president’s son, Beau, who died three years ago at 46 from brain cancer. “There’s little question [Biden] feels strongly about the course of the nation under [Trump], and the Republican’s 2016 victory unexpectedly left open the possibility of Biden making another White House run. But the same factor that led him to stay out of the 2016 race remains at play in 2020.”
-- Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) appears confident in his odds to get reelected, even as Trump and other prominent Republicans attack him. From the New York Times’s Nicholas Fandos: “Mr. Tester is betting that his votes against high-profile Republican priorities will matter less than the support he has lent to measures like the repeal of Dodd-Frank banking regulations on community banks that are popular with Montanans. One in 10 Montanans is a veteran, making his role as a Democratic linchpin for a flood of veterans legislation coming out of Washington a particularly valuable asset. And despite the president’s tongue-lashing, Mr. Tester said he would welcome a visit. For now, that message appears to be resonating.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- The United States is weighing an expanded military role in Yemen — as the UAE seeks American support for its effort to capture a key port from Iran-backed fighters. The Wall Street Journal’s Dion Nissenbaum reports: “[Secretary of State Mike Pompeo] has asked for a quick assessment of the UAE’s plea for assistance such as surveillance drone flights to help a Saudi-led coalition retake Hodeidah, which currently serves as a vital lifeline for the country’s 29 million residents, U.S. officials said. U.A.E. and Saudi Arabian officials have assured the U.S. that they won’t try to seize the Red Sea port until they get backing from Washington … But there is growing concern in the Trump administration that fighting around the city could spiral out of control and force Washington’s hand. For now, key administration officials involved in the debate harbor reservations about expanding American military involvement in Yemen, according to U.S. officials. But some see value in helping. ‘We have folks who are frustrated and ready to say: ‘Let’s do this. We’ve been flirting with this for a long time. Something needs to change the dynamic, and if we help the Emiratis do it better, this could be good,' the senior U.S. official said.”
-- White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Justin Trudeau is overreacting to new U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, which were imposed last week on Canada, Mexico and the European Union. Tory Newmyer reports: “[Kudlow] said that the Trump administration’s confrontation with Canada is a ‘family quarrel’ that can still be resolved through negotiations. ‘These tariffs may go on for a while or they may not,’ he said. The White House invoked national security concerns last week as justification for the [tariffs] … Trudeau, in an interview with NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ called that reasoning ‘quite frankly insulting and unacceptable,’ considering the two countries’ long history of military cooperation.” “The fact that the president has moved forward with these tariffs is not just going to hurt Canadian jobs. It’s going to hurt U.S. jobs as well, and neither of those things is something that Canada wants to see,” Trudeau said.
-- Meanwhile, Beijing warned that trade talks with the United States could “implode” if the Trump administration follows through on plans to raise tariffs on Chinese imports. Politico’s Adam Behsudi reports: “ 'All economic and trade outcomes of the talks will not take effect if the U.S. side imposes any trade sanctions including raising tariffs,’ the Chinese government said … The statement came as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross concluded two days of talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing. China said the two sides had ‘good communication in various areas such as agriculture and energy, and have made positive and concrete progress while relevant details are yet to be confirmed by both sides.’ China said it is willing to increase imports of U.S. farm goods and energy exports to meet its domestic demands. But Beijing said the outcome of any talks should be based on ‘meeting each other halfway’ and a prerequisite that the two sides won’t engage in a trade war.”
-- Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s attempts to moderate the administration’s trade policy appear to be coming up short. The New York Times’s Alan Rappeport writes: “He has so far managed to stay in Mr. Trump’s good graces while advocating a more free-trade approach, but that balancing act is showing signs of strain. Mr. Mnuchin, unflappable in public, is privately making his case with a president who campaigned on blowing up trade agreements and surrounded himself with hard-line advisers who continue to toe that line. … The internal tensions boiled over in May during a trade mission Mr. Mnuchin led to China, when he got into an argument with Peter Navarro, Mr. Trump’s hawkish trade adviser, by reminding him where he stood in the administration’s pecking order after Mr. Navarro confronted him about his sidelining of the rest of the team from the talks. On the plane ride home, Mr. Navarro sat in a separate cabin from Mr. Mnuchin and remained publicly silent for days about the trip while Mr. Mnuchin declared the talks a success and said the trade war was on hold. The victory was short-lived.”
-- Iran’s foreign minister is imploring other world powers to stand up to Trump and save the nuclear deal. From Reuters: “In a letter from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to his counterparts last week, he asked ‘the remaining signatories and other trade partners’ to ‘make up for Iran’s losses’ caused by the U.S. exit, if they sought to save the deal. … The nuclear deal was the result of ‘meticulous, sensitive and balanced multilateral talks’, Zarif said, and could not be renegotiated as the United States has demanded. He said U.S. ‘illegal withdrawal’ from the deal and its ‘bullying methods to bring other governments in line’ with that decision have discredited the rule of law in international arena.”
-- In a startling break with diplomatic protocol, Richard Grenell — who was recently installed as the U.S. ambassador to Germany — said he wants to “empower” European conservatives. The Trump appointee told Breitbart, “There are a lot of conservatives throughout Europe who have contacted me to say they are feeling there is a resurgence going on.” Grenell added, “I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders. I think there is a groundswell of conservative policies that are taking hold because of the failed policies of the left.”
A Democratic senator criticized Grenell's remarks:
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump took a victory lap for his 500th day in office:
Richard Painter, who was the White House chief ethics counsel under George W. Bush and is now running for the Senate as a Democrat in Minnesota, reacted to Giuliani's comments about Trump's pardon power:
A presidential historian recalled this moment from after Nixon resigned:
Giuliani had a slip of the tongue — or two:
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) called out Trump's trade and economic policies:
A New York Times reporter addressed Trump's claim that Paul Manafort “came into the campaign very late and was with us for a short period of time”:
A House Democrat pledged he would hold hearings on the Hurricane Maria death toll in Puerto Rico:
A former Republican senator blamed Obama for exacerbating racism:
From the president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund:
A Maryland gubernatorial candidate shared a touching moment with his mother:
A New York Times article on Venezuela included this sad note:
A CNN host shared this picture:
The White House press secretary met a Hall of Famer:
And Hillary Clinton was a hit at her husband's Georgetown University reunion, per a Post correspondent:
-- “‘It was my job, and I didn’t find him’: Stoneman Douglas resource officer remains haunted by massacre,” by Eli Saslow: “[A]ll this time [Scot] Peterson had been wondering, too: What more could he possibly have done? Why had he failed to save so many lives in the exact scenario he had spent so much of his career training for — to find and kill an active shooter? He had worked as a sheriff’s deputy for 32 years, as a school resource officer for 28, and at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for nearly a decade. He was the lone deputy stationed at the school, sworn to serve and protect a community of students who called him “Dep,” honored him with awards, and invited him to proms and football games. He had been admired and maybe even beloved up until a former student named Nikolas Cruz allegedly arrived at school with an AR-15, and ever since Peterson had been living inside those next seven minutes.”
-- Axios, “Michael Cohen's secret dream,” by Jonathan Swan: “On election night 2016, shortly after Donald Trump's team realized he would win the presidency, Michael Cohen, at the Hilton Hotel on Manhattan's 6th Avenue with his daughter and friends, told a group of people about his own dreams for the future — to be mayor of New York. ‘This is the beginning of a dynasty,’ Cohen told the group, according to a source who heard him. … The scene highlights the hubris of one of Trump's closest confidants in the hours after the election victory — and the extraordinary nature of his fall.”
-- New York Times, “Fewer Immigrants Are Reporting Domestic Abuse. Police Blame Fear of Deportation,” by Cora Engelbrecht: “In interviews across Houston, women’s activists, domestic violence shelter workers and immigrants shared detailed stories of women who had become more fearful than ever of any contact with the authorities, tying those fears to the threat of deportation.”
-- New Yorker, “The Network: Russia’s Odd, Brutal, and Maybe Invented Pre-World Cup Terrorism Case,” by Joshua Yaffa: “The F.S.B. claims that [Viktor] Filinkov and his co-conspirators were planning to set off bombs ahead of Russia’s Presidential election last March, and also during the World Cup, which starts on June 14th and will be held in eleven Russian cities … Human-rights groups, in addition to friends and supporters of the defendants, dismiss the purported plot as a fiction, and say several of the young men were brutally tortured. They believe that overzealous F.S.B. officers essentially invented the Network as a way to impress their superiors, as Russia prepares to host a safe and secure World Cup designed to dazzle a half million foreign visitors and billions of viewers worldwide.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
“The United Nations says Trump is making life harder for the poor,” from Amanda Erickson: “Philip Alston, U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, has spent the past several months visiting impoverished communities across the United States. … Now, ahead of a presentation to the U.N. later this month, he is criticizing the Trump administration for gutting the United States' safety net by slashing welfare benefits and access to health insurance. ‘If food stamps and access to Medicaid are removed, and housing subsidies cut, then the effect on people living on the margins will be drastic,’ he told the Guardian, saying the loss of those protections would lead to ‘severe deprivation.’”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“Devin Nunes warns Google may need to testify if anti-GOP search results keep showing up,” from the Washington Examiner: “House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said on Sunday there may be a need for Google to testify after the company's search engine showed results linking Republicans to ‘Nazism.’ Speaking to [Fox News's 'Sunday Morning Futures' with Maria Bartiromo] on Sunday, the California Republican framed the issue as one in which tech monopolies ‘should be reined in’ and called for a new search engine to compete against Google that doesn't ‘censor’ conservatives. ‘I think there's a free market solution here if somebody can compete with Google. If they can't, then ultimately we're looking at monopolies and then that brings in a whole other set of circumstances is[,] …’ Nunes said ... "
Trump will have lunch with Pence and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. He will then meet with World Economic Forum executive chairman Klaus Schwab. This evening, Trump and the first lady will host a Memorial Day reception for Gold Star families.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Bill Clinton said of the Russia investigation on “CBS Sunday Morning,” “I think if the roles were reversed — now, this is me just talking, but it's based on my experience — if it were a Democratic president, and these facts were present, most people I know in Washington believe impeachment hearings would have begun already.” The former president added, “And most people I know believe that the press would have been that hard, or harder. But these are serious issues.” (CNN)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Washington should see plenty of sun and temperatures in the 70s today after days of rain. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “A chance to dry out! Some clouds may linger early on, but then we have increasing sunshine, low humidity, and very pleasant temperatures. Highs range from the mid- to upper 70s — a few degrees below normal. Winds are refreshing, out of the northwest around 10 mph.” But yesterday’s heavy rains caused flooding, road closures and property damage, Faiz Siddiqui and Dan Morse report.
-- The Nationals lost to the Braves 4-2. (Chelsea Janes)
-- The Education Department is hosting an art exhibit from high school students entitled “Total Tolerance.” Joe Heim reports: “Some of the works are jarring. Others are more meditative. All of it is art with a message aimed squarely at the times. ‘America’s Target,’ a stylized photograph by Janelle Radcliffe, 18, shows a young black woman wearing a veil and holding her arms in front of her as a pair of white hands places them in handcuffs. … It has not escaped the notice of a number of the artists and others that ‘Total Tolerance’ is being shown in a department headed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who has advocated policies that critics say are intolerant … ”
-- With D.C.’s Democratic primary two weeks away, conditions appear favorable for incumbent council members. From Peter Jamison: “D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), whose low-key style belies a formidable popularity citywide, is the favorite in a contest against left-wing activist Ed Lazere. The five remaining lawmakers on the ballot, while not uniformly secure, have the edge in fundraising and in some cases benefit from a divided field of challengers. … The most closely contested and least predictable primary races appear to be those for Ward 1 and an at-large seat.”
-- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) held a campaign event for his Asian American supporters. Rachel Chason reports: “Attendees praised both the governor and his wife, Yumi, a Korean immigrant, for their outreach to Asian Americans, who they said are coalescing behind Hogan as he attempts to become the first Republican governor reelected in Maryland since 1954.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
John Oliver did a deep dive into guardianships, legal relationships in which an outside party is entrusted to monitor the finances of senior citizens:
Jimmy Fallon surprised the graduating seniors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High:
Puerto Ricans created a memorial with shoes to honor the thousands of people not included in the government's official death toll from Hurricane Maria:
Denver police are investigating after an off-duty FBI agent allegedly did a backflip at a club, causing his gun to fall from its holster and strike another patron in the lower leg:
Washington was hit hard with June showers: