Smooth operator Rudy
Rudy Giuliani wanted sooooo badly to be secretary of state. Why be surprised that he’s freelancing on foreign affairs from his platform as Donald Trump’s legal mouthpiece?
With Trump’s nuclear arms summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un less than a week away, the former New York mayor offered this delicate diplomatic take on how the on-again, off-again meeting got back on:
“Kim Jong Un got back on his hands and knees and begged for it, which is exactly the position you want to put him in,” Giuliani said at a business conference in Tel Aviv.
That doesn’t sound like the tone Trump wants now. The president put his talk of “fire and fury” and “Little Rocket Man” on mute some time ago. Speaking of U.S. sanctions, Trump said last week, “I don’t even want to use the term ‘maximum pressure’ anymore . . . because we’re getting along.”
But Giuliani rejected suggestions afterward that his “hands and knees” taunt could foul the atmosphere. He told The Associated Press: “It is pointing out that the president is the stronger figure, and you’re not going to have useful negotiations unless he [Kim] accepts that.”
Hey, what “Supreme Leader” wouldn’t?
Janison: Trump the tariffic
Before the Singapore summit, Trump has to go to a G-7 summit in Quebec on Friday and Saturday. This group of seven allied nations is already being skeptically called “G6 plus one” — the one being the U.S. and the six being Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom.
Their big beef right now is Trump’s tariff plans. “I regard this as much like a family quarrel. I’m always an optimist and I feel it can be worked out,” said Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow. There are even reports Trump has wanted to skip the parley altogether to duck the confrontation.
Whether that happens or not, figure on Trump boasting about the U.S. economy for those watching from back home. See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.
Trump’s grasp of history is shaky, but he gave it a shot to try to score a point while arguing on the phone with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about trade policy, according to CNN.
As leader of a longtime close U.S. ally, Trudeau challenged Trump’s “national security” justification for steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada.
Trump quipped: “Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” — a reference to the War of 1812.
Actually, no. It was the British who torched the White House. But Canada was a British colony at the time, and a target of U.S. raids. So while Trump would get the “wrong” buzzer under “Jeopardy” rules, he wasn’t that far off.
Kardashian cashes in on plea
Trump exercised his pardon power again Wednesday to commute the life sentence of Alice Marie Johnson — a 63-year-old woman convicted of nonviolent offenses for her role in a multimillion-dollar cocaine operation — after reality TV star Kim Kardashian West pleaded for her release at the White House.
Johnson, imprisoned for almost 22 years “has accepted responsibility for her past behavior and has been a model prisoner,” the White House said in a statement, reports Newsday’s Tom Brune.
It’s the second celebrity-spurred act of presidential mercy. Trump posthumously pardoned Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion, at the urging of actor Sylvester Stallone. Others have gone to hard-right heroes such as Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and author Dinesh D’Souza.
CNN reported he has a list of 30 potential pardons of prisoners he believes were treated unfairly. Anyone else he could be thinking about . . . ?
Not the guy in the mirror
Trump shouldn’t be thinking about pardoning himself to get out from under special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, said House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Asked whether the president had the power to do so, the Wisconsin Republican said, “I don’t know the technical answer to that question, but I think obviously the answer is he shouldn’t and no one is above the law.”
Ryan, contradicting the president and some of his Capitol Hill GOP allies, said he also agrees there is no evidence that the FBI planted a “spy” in Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign in an effort to hurt his chances at the polls.
Ryan stood by the conclusion of House oversight committee chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who said after a classified briefing: “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.”
No-names in the news
Trump is as disgusted as ever with Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation — so much so that has taken to not even saying Sessions’ name out loud while in the White House, The Associated Press reported.
Senior Trump aides have taken that as a cue and don’t say it either. When one did, Trump abruptly ended the conversation, unmuted the TV and sent the staffer away, the report said.
After Trump attacked him again on Twitter Tuesday, Sessions seemed reluctant to use the name of his tormentor, The Washington Post reported.
Appearing before a group of officials tasked with preventing elder abuse, Sessions’ written remarks called for him to say: “But in the Trump administration, we’re not going to tolerate this.” When he spoke, he edited that to “This administration . . . ”
What else is happening:
- Giuliani asserted to his audience in Israel that Melania Trump doesn’t believe her husband had an affair with Stormy Daniels, who was paid $130,000 to keep quiet. He said of the porn star: “The business you’re in entitles you to no degree of giving your credibility any weight.”
- Kellyanne Conway, momentarily tongue-tied in a CNN morning interview, referred to the president as “the commander of cheese.”
- The aide to EPA chief Scott Pruitt who tried to get him a used mattress from the Trump hotel in Washington is quitting the agency, along with another senior member of his staff.
- Arrests of immigrants for illegally crossing the Mexican border increased in May despite the administration’s latest crackdown, including the separation of detained parents from their children, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security.
- Trump hosted his first White House Iftar dinner, a feast for Ramadan, Wednesday night. The guests were mainly diplomats, not members of the U.S. Muslim community, with whom Trump has tense relations.
- During her dad’s campaign, Ivanka Trump connected lawyer Michael Cohen with a Russian Olympic weightlifter, Dmitry Klokov, who offered to introduce Trump to Putin to advance a project for a Trump tower in Moscow, BuzzFeed reported.
- The president tweeted that “Fake News Media” was “unfair” and “vicious” in speculating about reasons for Melania’s recent absence from public view, such as a face-lift. In response MSNBCs “Morning Joe” Scarborough recalled Trump’s false tweet a year ago about his wife and co-host Mika Brzezinski showing up at Mar-a-Lago “bleeding badly from a face-lift.”