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At final parting for a president, Trump is a president apart

From left, President Donald Trump, first lady Melania

From left, President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, former President Barack Obama, former first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listen Wednesday during the state funeral at Washington National Cathedral for former President George H.W. Bush. Photo Credit: AP / Alex Brandon

Enter the stranger

Barbara Bush made it known before she died in April that she didn't want Donald Trump at her funeral. But her husband, George H.W. Bush, took a different view as his time grew short. "He does not want to stiff a sitting president," said Douglas Brinkley, a historian who knew the 41st president.

Trump's acceptance in the presidents' club was more technicality than heartfelt. Bush forged friendships with Democrats Bill Clinton, his globe-trotting partner for charity, and Barack Obama, who visited him days before he died. George W. Bush, of course, was a beloved son. But Trump? A "blowhard," Bush said. Trump's other predecessors share a mutual disregard for him and with him, to put it mildly.

And so Trump sat isolated and quietly ostracized even as he took his place in a front-row pew at Washington's National Cathedral. The ex-presidents — Obama, Clinton and Jimmy Carter — and the former first ladies had been chatting among themselves, but conversation stopped.

Melania Trump shook hands with the Obamas and Bill Clinton — and Hillary Clinton nodded toward her — and took a seat between her husband and former President Barack Obama. Trump exchanged perfunctory handshakes with the Obamas. Bill Clinton glanced briefly at Trump, but there was no exchange. Hillary Clinton did not look at the man who still instigates "Lock her up" chants at rallies. She stared stonily ahead. (Click here for video of the Trumps' arrival.)

When the others sang an opening hymn, Trump's mouth did not move, The Washington Post reported. When the others read the Apostles’ Creed, Trump stood stoically. The eulogists spoke of Bush, not Trump. Listeners could decide for themselves if comparisons were being made between the lines.

Historian Jon Meacham remembered Bush by recounting his life's credo: "Tell the truth, don't blame people, be strong, do your best, try hard, forgive, stay the course." George W. Bush called his father "a gentleman who executed the duties of his office with dignity and honor” and added: "He could tease and needle, but not out of malice."

Former Sen. Alan Simpson paid tribute to Bush's "great humility" and said: “He never hated anyone. He knew what his mother and my mother always knew: Hatred corrodes the container it’s carried in." For more on the Bush funeral, see Newsday's story by Tom Brune.

Janison: Trump's China syndrome

So what's inside the box after Trump's trade talk with China's Xi Jinping? It's not a deal. It's not an agreement to agree. It's an agreement to try to try to agree in the future.

The president's past claims of concessions from other parties, both foreign and domestic, have fallen short of the hype, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.

A day after the markets tanked amid his "Tariff Man" tweet, Trump's morning tweets skipped the threats and pivoted harder toward the hopeful.  

"Not to sound naive or anything, but I believe President Xi meant every word of what he said at our long and hopefully historic meeting," said Trump.

Making America max out

Trumps shrugs off warnings from aides and advisers about unchecked growth in the national debt, now $21 trillion, because he's taking the long view. Of what it means to him, that is, according to The Daily Beast.

When shown projections that suggested the debt would reach a crisis level in the mid-2020s, Trump said, “Yeah, but I won’t be here” — it will happen after his hoped-for second term in office. The report said that account came from a source who was in the room.
An economist who advised Trump's 2016 campaign, Stephen Moore, suggested the president is counting on economic growth to solve the problem. 

Standoff on Mueller

Efforts by Republican leaders to confirm 22 Trump judicial nominees are at a halt. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) stands by his vow to block them unless the Senate votes on a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller, CNN reports.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley canceled a Thursday committee meeting.

Trump, meanwhile, was conspicuously quiet in the 24 hours since Mueller recommended that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn be spared from prison for giving "substantial" help to the Russia investigation and other continuing probes.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani tried to put a hopeful spin on the Flynn news. "If he had information to share with Mueller that hurt the president, you would know it by now. . . . They don't have bupkis," Giuliani told NBC News. 

Tech's got Rudy tetched

Hilarity ensued in the replies when Giuliani tweeted that Twitter was behind a conspiracy to "invade" his account with a "disgusting anti-President message" and declared: "Don’t tell me they are not committed card-carrying anti-Trumpers."

The situation arose on Friday when Giuliani, by leaving out a space between words, accidentally created a hyperlink in a message attacking Mueller. An Atlanta man who runs an online design business told NBC News he seized the opportunity to "do something funny"  by buying the web domain that the hyperlink led to and creating a website for it.

Some of the kinder of the 19,000 replies to Giuliani's tweet tried to explain to Giuliani how that works, and why it's no Twitter conspiracy against him. Among the not-so-nice: "is your VCR clock also blinking "12:00."

Before naming him to his legal defense team, Trump made Giuliani a top cybersecurity adviser.

What else is happening:

  • Michael Bloomberg told an Iowa radio station he will likely sell his giant financial-data and news company if he runs for president.
  • Not running for the Democrats' 2020 nomination, Politico reports: former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick
  • Trump-fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Politico he's not sure he wants to run for his old Senate seat from Alabama in 2020. "I could go back and spend time in the woods. I’ve got 10 grandchildren," he said.
  • Nikki Haley said she is going to stay in New York while her son finishes high school after she leaves her job as UN ambassador instead of returning right away to South Carolina. She talked about her plans with Charleston's Post and Courier.
  • The World Series champion Boston Red Sox have accepted an invitation to go to the White House, ESPN reported. Manager Alex Cora, who has been critical of Trump's comments about his native Puerto Rico, said, "I'm gonna represent 4 million people from back home the right way when we go there."
  • The White House announced Trump will attend the Army-Navy football game Saturday in Philadelphia.

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