Location, location, location
It was Donald Trump’s first visit to United Nations headquarters as president, but he knows the territory — meaning the actual real estate. His opening remarks were a plug for the Trump World Tower condos across the street.
“I actually saw great potential across the street, to be honest with you, and it’s only for the reason that the United Nations was here that that turned out to be such a successful project,” Trump said.
Not that there hasn’t been neighborhood friction. Then-Secretary General Kofi Annan complained about “deep shadows” cast by the 861-foot height of the tower, completed in 2001. A few years later, Trump razzed the UN’s plan for a $1.6 billion renovation, boasting, “I could do it for $500 million.”
He didn’t get the contract.
But on Monday, he got to chair an event on planned administrative reforms to end “bureaucracy and mismanagement” that would make the UN a “stronger, more effective, more just and greater force for peace and harmony.” See Zachary R. Dowdy’s story for Newsday.
Look out for No. 1
A key theme of Trump’s address to the UN General Assembly will be why nationalism is a good thing — for America and for everyone else, reports Newsday’s Emily Ngo.
According to a senior White House official, Trump will contend that stability is “accomplished through countries that are more secure, that are more prosperous and countries that are more sovereign.”
Report: U.S. bugged Manafort
The FBI — under secret orders obtained from a court that oversees foreign intelligence surveillance — wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort before and after the election, CNN reported.
The original probe concerned work by a group of Washington consulting firms for Ukraine’s former pro-Russia ruling party. But some of the intercepted communications sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign, sources told CNN.
It wasn’t clear whether Trump, who kept talking to Manafort after he left the campaign, got picked up on the surveillance, the report said.
The take-away: Juris imprudence
The number of defense lawyers employed as a result of the Russia investigation is staggering. BuzzFeed reports fired national security adviser Mike Flynn has seven in his core team and others periodically involved. They are racking up fees in the millions that Flynn’s family has set up a legal defense fund to try to cover.
Meanwhile, Trump’s own team appears to be riven by infighting, suspicion and sloppiness, notes Newsday’s Dan Janison. Trump lawyer Ty Cobb was overheard complaining to Trump lawyer John Dowd about White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II and describing another lawyer as a “McGahn spy.”
Cobb and Dowd dished at a steak restaurant while a New York Times reporter at the next table took notes.
Spicer cuts self down to size
The morning after his surprise self-mocking cameo at the Emmy awards, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he now regrets berating the news media on Jan. 21 about the inauguration crowd size.
“Of course I do, absolutely,” Spicer told The New York Times, about the infamous rant propelled by Trump’s angry accusations that reports were lowballing his audience numbers.
For his Emmys bit, Spicer gripped a podium and declared: “This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period — both in person and around the world.”
Spicer said he didn’t give Trump or the White House a heads-up before his appearance. Was he worried about the president taking offense? “I certainly hope not,” he said.
North Korea options
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis hinted the Trump administration has military options on North Korea that might spare Seoul from a brutal counterattack, but he did not elaborate.
Such options could include a naval blockade aimed at enforcing sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s nuclear program, cyberattacks and positioning new U.S. weaponry in South Korea, Reuters reported.
What else is happening
- Donald Trump Jr. asked to scale back his Secret Service protection out of privacy concerns.
- Trump’s approval ratings have risen about 2 points since hurricanes Harvey and Irma, according to FiveThirtyEight’s polling average, which stands at 38.8%.
- Trump said he is still reviewing the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, which he has long criticized, and will have a decision “very soon.”
- Hillary Clinton told NPR she “would not” rule out challenging the legitimacy of Trump’s election if Russian interference is found to be deeper than currently known. But she doubts there is a way to do that. “I just don’t think we have a mechanism,” she said.
- Trump allies, including Long Island billionaire Robert Mercer, are launching efforts to take down or weaken potential Democratic rivals in 2020, Politico reports.
- Meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump said his administration is “giving it an absolute go” on finding a long-sought peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
- Trump said he’d like to have a July Fourth military parade on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. His idea was inspired by attending the most recent Bastille Day parade in Paris as the guest of French President Emmanuel Macron, whom he met on the UN sidelines Monday.