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Trump's courting ritual heads for its finale

President Donald Trump arrives at Morristown Municipal Airport

President Donald Trump arrives at Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, New Jersey, on Sunday before boarding Air Force One to return to Washington. Credit: AFP/Getty Images/Jim Watson

The chosen one

ABC will be interrupting "The Bachelorette" on Monday night to see who will get the rose from Donald Trump.

The president told reporters as he left his New Jersey golf resort Sunday afternoon that even he isn't sure who his second Supreme Court nominee will be. How's that for suspense?

“We’re very close to making a decision. ... It's, well, let's just say it's the four people,” Trump said. “But they’re excellent. Every one. You can’t go wrong. ... I’ll probably be deciding tonight or tomorrow, sometime by 12 o’clock.”

A new name rose to the final four in the chatter surrounding Trump's deliberations: Judge Thomas M. Hardiman, last year's runner-up to Neil Gorsuch. The New York Times reports.

Trump likes Hardiman's personal story — he was the first in his family to graduate college and drove a taxi to help pay his way through. Hardiman also comes with a recommendation from Trump's sister Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, who served with him on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

Also in the running: Judges Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge and Amy Coney Barrett. All are conservatives, though some have critics from the right questioning their ideological purity.

Federalist Society leader Leonard Leo, who has been advising Trump, signaled enthusiasm for Kavanagh and Barrett. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly told Trump that Hardiman or Kethledge would be easier to confirm.

Trump will reveal his choice in prime time at 9 p.m. For more, see Laura Figueroa Hernandez's story for Newsday.

Pompeo’s circumstance: Rough trip

Trump has been taking early victory laps claiming results from his North Korean diplomacy. He also brags that under his presidency, “America is being respected again all over the world.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seemed to get more runaround than regard on his latest trip to Pyongyang, according to an account by Bloomberg News. For starters, instead of one of the hotels he expected to be in, his North Korean hosts put him in a guesthouse behind the mausoleum where Kim Jong Un’s father and grandfather are interred. Endless hours were spent at banquets when Pompeo wanted to get down to business. He wanted to meet with Kim, but it never happened.

After Pompeo’s discussions with a senior official, Kim Yong Chol, North Korea charged the U.S. was issuing “gangster-like” demands aimed at forcing it to abandon nuclear weapons. Pompeo cast the talks in a sunnier light as “productive and encouraging.”

Brussels pouts on the menu

European leaders and Americans who value the nation’s long-standing alliances aren’t expecting much reassurance from Trump at this week’s NATO meetings in Brussels.

In the run-up, Trump has delivered fresh broadsides at the partners over their military spending and singled out Germany’s Angela Merkel during a Montana rally in questioning NATO’s worth: “I said, you know, Angela, I can’t guarantee it, but we’re protecting you, and it means a lot more to you. ... I don’t know how much protection we get from protecting you.”

From Brussels, Trump flies on to the United Kingdom — largely avoiding London, where mass protests are planned. He’ll weekend at one of his Scottish golf resorts before flying to Helsinki to meet one-on-one with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Rattling Obamacare

The Trump administration is suspending billions of dollars of payments to Obamacare health insurers, a move that could disrupt insurance markets as the companies are preparing to set premiums for the next enrollment season.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said in a statement over the weekend it was halting the decision because a federal district court in New Mexico decided in February the payments were based on flawed rules.

Foes of the Trump administration said the decision is part of a pattern of attempts to sabotage Obamacare after failing to repeal it, Politico reported. “Obamacare is essentially dead,” Trump told a North Dakota rally last week.

Giuliani: Why Mueller’s safe

It was a slow-ish week for news on the Russia investigation front, and Trump has plenty of other things to tweet about — the Supreme Court pick and his upcoming foreign trip, to name two — but why pause now?

To save time and space, here are just the keywords: “Rigged,” “Witch Hunt,” “FBI lover boy Peter S,” “13 Angry Democrats,” “missing DNC Server,” “Crooked Hillary’s illegally deleted Emails,” “Pakistani Fraudster, “Uranium One,” “Podesta,” “Democrat Con Job!”

That was all in one tweet.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani made the Sunday talk show rounds to carry on the bashing of special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry as “the most corrupt investigation I have ever seen.”

Yet Trump won’t fire Mueller, Giuliani said, “Because ... if he did it, everyone would say that he was guilty, and that’s why he fired him.” For more, see Newsday's story by  David M. Schwartz and Figueroa

ICE jam

The calls by some Democratic progressives to “Abolish ICE” have handed Trump and his allies a message point — that Democrats want “open borders” and an end to immigration law enforcement.

Most Democrats say no, that’s not it — they want an overhaul of the system. But there is no consensus what should happen to ICE’s responsibilities, BuzzFeed reports.

Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan) said: “There’s a debate as to whether or not the new agency should be part of the Justice Department as opposed to the Department of Homeland Security. Or that it should be maybe an independent entity. A representative for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she wants to separate ‘the criminal justice and immigration missions.”

What else is happening:

  • Migrant children as young as 1 year old who have been separated from their parents at the border are undergoing hearings before immigration judges, The Associated Press reports. Some of the parents are detained in different parts of the U.S.; others have already been sent back to their home countries.
  • The U.S. slapped new 25% tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods, but not clothing and footwear. That means the made-in-China fashion lines of Ivanka Trump have been spared from the trade war, the South China Morning Post reported. A U.S. apparel and footwear industry group says about a third of the clothing and 72% of the shoes sold in the U.S. are from China.
  • The Trump administration, protecting infant-formula manufacturers, threatened Ecuador with trade sanctions and a cut in military aid for sponsoring a resolution promoting breast-feeding at a UN-affiliated world health conference, The New York Times reported. Ecuador backed down, but then the Russians took up the cause, and the U.S. delegation did not confront them.
  • Nearly all of the $706,000 in donations made by the Donald J. Trump Foundation in Palm Beach County, Florida, since 2008 went to charities that hosted lavish fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach Daily News found.
  • The Trump administration is considering humanitarian relief ideas for Gaza, controlled by Hamas, in hopes that will build pressure on the rival Palestinian Authority to return to the peace process, The Washington Post reports.


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