}

Ross Douthat: The real vs. imaginary presidency


“You could describe the cut-the-Special-Olympics budgets and anti-Obamacare efforts as just classic Republican hypocrisy, the tribute that big-spending vice pays to small-government virtue. But [Donald] Trump campaigned in 2016 as the guy who would get rid of this charade, who would actually identify as a free-spending populist rather than a movement conservative, who would enable the GOP to be a “worker’s party” in its self-conception rather than just in its compromises with political reality. Instead, thanks to his ‘people’ and his own rhetorical shifts, he’s ended up in a weirder position.”

Mulvaney suggests ethics don’t really matter


Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that when it comes to the contacts members of Donald Trump’s campaign team had with Russians during the 2016 election, “the issue is not whether it’s ethical.” He continued, “People liked (former President) Bill Clinton, even though they might not have thought he was that ethical,” Mulvaney said. Probably not a good example, since Clinton was impeached by the House.

Chinese space facility concerns Argentina


China has made significant inroads into Latin America with one of the most notable being a space facility in a remote part of Argentina. Argentine lawmakers are now demanding some oversight of the facility, saying that the Chinese have been working at the site without any oversight from Argentina. This lack of transparency has fueled conspiracy theories and speculation about China’s true intentions with the base.

Sen Warren’s finance director leaves campaign


Disagreement over taking donations from wealthy donors or holding fundraisers for the wealthy has led Michael Pratt to resign as Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s finance director. Pratt advocated for fundraising with the wealthy while Warren believes it is in the campaign’s best interest to not hold fundraisers with or receive donations from wealthy donors.

Biden has his #MeToo moment


Lucy Flores, the former Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Nevada, wrote about her experiences during an event in 2014, when Joe Biden was campaigning for her in Nevada. She says that Biden kissed the back of her head and made other unwanted contact during their interaction. Biden says that he has never acted inappropriately on the campaign trail and in public life but also supports Flores’ right to share her experience.

NYTimes: Trump is making it harder to know how many civilians the government kills with drones


“President Barack Obama aggressively expanded drone use in these airstrikes. But he eventually came to understand the need for more transparency and accountability, and, under pressure, he put some sensible safeguards in place. Among them was a July 2016 order requiring the government to issue annual public reports on the civilian death tolls in those areas. Mr. Trump revoked that order this month.”

Zuckerberg calls for more regulation of the internet


Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who has been under scrutiny for the social media company’s role in spreading misinformation and inadequately policing content, is calling for regulators to play a “more active role” in establishing rules for the internet. Zuckerberg called for stricter regulation of “harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability” in an op-ed published Saturday.

Leaked documents reveal abuse of Saudi prisoners


Saudi political prisoners suffered torture and malnutrition, according to leaked medical reports prepared for King Salman. The reports suggest the political detainees have been severely ill-treated and suffer various health issues, with remarks including: “The patient suffers from severe weight loss with continuous bloody vomiting. There are also a number of wounds and bruises scattered in several areas of the body.”

Jennifer Rubin: When a summary is not a summary


“When the entire report comes out, both [Attorney General William] Barr and [Donald] Trump may appear to have misled the public. [Robert] Mueller, we know, did not exonerate Trump of obstruction and his report will provide us with hundreds of pages explaining why and, further, enlighten us as to why Trump, for example, hid from voters his attempt to pursue a lucrative deal with Russia during the campaign and why so many in his campaign had so many contacts with Russians, contacts they tried to cover up.”

Slovakia gets first female president


Vocal government critic and anti-corruption activist Zuzana Caputova will become Slovakia’s first female president after near complete results showed her winning Saturday’s run-off election. Political novice Caputova, who ran on a slogan of “Stand up to evil,” had earlier said the campaign showed “that values such as humanism, solidarity and truth are important to our society.”

Renato Mariotti: Barr can’t hide the report


“[Attorney General William] Barr’s position is indefensible. The Constitution gives the ‘the sole Power of Impeachment’ to the House of Representatives, and the House Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over impeachments. The Mueller Investigation was, among other things, an investigation into possible criminal conduct by the president of the United States. There is no legal principle, including the separation of powers, that would permit the executive branch to block the results of an investigation into crimes allegedly committed by the president from the House of Representatives. To do so would deny the House’s ability to carry out its constitutional power of impeachment.”

‘The Party of Healthcare’ has nothing


Republicans have no intention of heeding President Trump’s urgent demands for a new health-care plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, fearing the potential political damage that such a proposal could cause in 2020 and hoping he will soon drop the idea. Not only is there no such health-care overhaul in the works on Capitol Hill — there are no plans to make such a plan.

Toluse Olorunnipa: Trump creates the problems he solves


“The president has found no shortage of opportunities to play the hero by either creating or amplifying crises and then quickly defusing them, sometimes with the simple stroke of a pen. The pattern has popped up on issues ranging from trade skirmishes to military decisions to foreign policy. Republicans mostly go silent when the emergencies arise, finding more value in effusively praising Trump for solving self-imposed problems than publicly criticizing him for self-imposing them.”

Trump tweets support for SEAL charged with war crimes


President Trump has moved to intervene in the case of Chief Special Warfare Operator Eddie Gallagher, a Navy SEAL charged with multiple war crimes based on allegations from fellow SEALs. In 2017, he killed a teenage ISIS fighter who was brought to his unit for medical treatment. He is also charged with shooting indiscriminately at civilian noncombatants, hitting two of them. Navy prosecutors also say Gallagher tried to intimidate witnesses once he found out he was under investigation.

Judge strikes down Trump’s arctic drilling EO


A federal judge in Alaska has ruled an executive order by Donald Trump allowing offshore oil drilling of tens of millions of acres in the Arctic Ocean is “unlawful and invalid.” The ruling on Friday from U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason means a drilling ban for much of the Arctic Ocean off of Alaska will go back into effect.

Saudis had Bezos’ private data


“Not only does the kingdom have a close alliance with AMI — which owns the Enquirer, Us Weekly, the Star, Globe, Radar Online, and many other publications — but the Saudis have pursued investments and partnerships involving Rolling Stone, Variety, Deadline, the Robb Report, and National Geographic, among others. Unlike these publications, it’s clear that MBS considers the Washington Post to be a major enemy. Saudi Arabia is hardly the first repressive regime that seeks total control of the news media in its own country. Wanting to control the media in the United States — and using any means to do so — will hopefully prove to be an overreach.”

Junior mulls future presidential run


Feeling the pressure of the Mueller probe lifted, Donald Trump, Jr., is beginning to express interest in a career in politics. It appears he will follow in his father’s footsteps in terms of rhetoric, as he said, “I definitely enjoy the fight,”

Trump cuts all aid to three Central American countries


Trump has ordered that the U.S. cut off all aid to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. President Trump believes that these countries “set up” the migrant caravans and has long expressed desires to cut off aid. Aid programs in these countries helped individuals and families find work, stay in school, and be successful in their own country, actually helping lower the chances that they seek asylum in the U.S.

US prepares new sanctions for Russia


New sanctions would punish Russia for its use of chemical weapons and the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in the UK last year. While Russia denies responsibility, the sanctions are being reviewed by the White House before being imposed.

The ex-Obama staffer at the heart of the Jussie Smollett controversy


While Chicago police were still investigating an alleged hate crime against Jussie Smollett and considering him a victim, Tina Tchen reached out to the Cook County State Attorney’s Office asking for the investigation to be handed over to the FBI. “I wanted to give you a call on behalf of Jussie Smollett and family who I know. They have concerns about the investigation,” she sent in a text message to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. Something’s up.

Dana Milbank: Trump should come with a warning label


“[Donald] Trump’s lawyers had argued that his obvious efforts to thwart the investigation couldn’t qualify as obstruction because they happened in plain sight…He claims ‘total and complete exoneration’ in the Mueller probe. And most people just figure this is Trump being Trump. In this sense, he already carries a disclaimer, unwritten but understood by all. Warning: This man is a charlatan.”

Rep Sherman: ‘If you cannot trust a regime with a bone saw, you should not trust them with nuclear weapons.”


The Trump administration has granted permission to unspecified U.S. companies to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia and provide technical assistance, a move that rightfully sparked a lot of controversy and led to backlash from some congressional representatives. It has only been a couple of months since Saudi operatives brutally killed and dismembered U.S.-based reporter Jamal Khashoggi, but it seems like that event played no part in the administration’s decision to move forward with this plan.

Trump demanded Kim hand over nuclear weapons


During the Hanoi summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump handed him a piece of paper that included a blunt call for the transfer of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and bomb fuel to the United States, according to the document seen by journalists.

Josh Rogin: The US must help Taiwan resist Chinese dominance


“The U.S. interest in helping the current Taiwanese government defend its democracy from Chinese interference and aggression is understood — but our will is under question. The Trump administration, despite being full of pro-Taiwan officials, has been inconsistent. There’s progress on arms sales but no progress on what Tsai wants most, a U.S.-Taiwan free trade agreement.”

More than 1 million acres of US cropland destroyed by floods


At least 1 million acres of Midwestern farmland were flooded after the “bomb cyclone” storm left large parts of nine states under water this month, satellite data showed. The biggest concern for farmers at this point is the fact that they might not be able to plant enough corn by the end of May, which is something they must do in order to be fully covered by crop insurance.

Dems to subpoena WH security official


Chair Elijah Cummings has called for a meeting of the House Oversight and Reform Committee next week to vote on a resolution authorizing a subpoena for Carl Kline, the former White House personnel security director, to testify “in connection with the Committee’s investigation into the security clearance process at the White House.” Uh oh, Javanka…

Max Boot: The post-Mueller speech we deserved


“I hope everyone accepts Mueller’s findings. I certainly do. I once called the Russian interference in our election a ‘hoax.’ I now accept it was a fact, and I strongly condemn the Russian actions. President Putin, if you’re listening, I hope you hear me loud and clear: What you did was unacceptable, and you will pay a heavy price should you ever mess with our democracy again. I want to assure all Americans that I was and will be as tough as necessary in countering Russian aggression while, at the same time, holding out the hand of friendship to the Russian government should it decide to improve its behavior. Russia can start by freeing the Ukrainian sailors it captured in November.”

New permit for Keystone pipeline issued


Donald Trump issued a new presidential permit on Friday allowing construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, replacing the one granted in March 2017. It is intended to speed-up development of the controversial pipeline, which would ship crude oil from tar sands in western Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast. An attorney for environmentalists who sued to stop the project, said it was highly unlikely that pipeline work could proceed without court approval.

Civility is dead in Trump era


Proving that civility truly is on life support in the White House these days, President Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign is now selling “Pencil-Neck Adam Schiff” T-shirts, after Trump coined the new nickname for the California congressman at a rally in Michigan on Thursday. The shirt, which is on sale for $28, shows Rep. Schiff with a pencil for a neck and a clown nose. Classy.

Trump and Kudlow bash Fed


Donald Trump ratcheted up pressure on the Federal Reserve on Friday, tweeting that if the central bank had not “mistakenly” raised interest rates, the U.S. gross domestic product would be higher and markets “would be in a better place.” Earlier in the day, his chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow called on the Fed to “immediately” cut interest rates by a half percentage point, escalating the Trump administration’s fight with the central bank and challenging its independence.

Trump creates Moore problems


Donald Trump’s decision to appoint Stephen Moore, a trickle-down true believer from the Heritage Foundation, to a 14-year term on the Federal Reserve Board is fraught with issues. Namely, Moore owes the IRS $75,000. But more broadly, the hardcore Trump fan could endanger one of the last serious, fact-based institutions in Washington.