* John Hudson, Ruth Eglash, Josh Dawsey and Rachael Bade report on the Israeli government’s inability to tolerate criticism:
President Trump’s explosive feud with two Democratic congresswomen moved to the international stage on Thursday as Israel denied the lawmakers entry into the country just hours after Trump publicly urged Israel to block them.
U.S. officials said the extraordinary intervention by the president was part of his strategy to sow divisions within the Democratic Party by shining a spotlight on its most liberal members.
Trump blasted the two lawmakers, Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), tweeting that “they hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds.”
But the actions by Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his close ally, appeared to unite Democratic Party leaders.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the move “deeply disappointing,” and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), who lobbied Israeli officials on Wednesday to allow the lawmakers to make a trip, called it “outrageous.”
Trump and Netanyahu certainly have a great deal in common: They’re both petty, weak authoritarians who bring constant shame to their countries.
* Damian Paletta and Philip Rucker report that President Trump continues to exercise his policy brilliance:
President Trump personally pressed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to label China as a “currency manipulator” two weeks ago, a move Mnuchin had previously resisted, three people with direct knowledge of the push said.
The pressure from Trump revealed a more forceful West Wing role in the highly controversial decision. Mnuchin had repeatedly refused to designate China as a currency manipulator because China’s currency moves didn’t meet the Treasury’s established criteria for that action.
But Trump exerted immense pressure on him earlier this month, after the Chinese let their currency, the yuan, crossed a symbolic threshold that it had not passed in some time.
The thing is, China is not actually manipulating its currency right now (though it used to). And this will have no practical effect. So, all around, a great thing.
* Tom Nichols, a former Republican, says it doesn’t matter who Democrats nominate for president, because nothing is more important than getting Trump out of office.
* John Hickenlooper pulls out of the presidential race.
* Conor Friedersdorf offers an alternative to presidential debates that might be more helpful to voters.
* And finally, I know you’ve been asking, “When do I get to see Bernie Sanders and Cardi B hanging out in a nail salon talking about issues?" Well your question has been answered.