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Trump turns against the FBI chief he picked to replace Comey

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the Senate

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 7. Credit: Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla

Won't stick to Trump's story

Donald Trump has his own version of good cop/bad cop.

The good cop is "our very great attorney general," William Barr, who brushed a patina of whitewash on special counsel Robert Mueller's report and echoed Trump's buzzword about surveillance conducted during the Russia investigation — "spying."

The bad cop, according to a Trump tweetstorm, is FBI Director Christopher Wray, who in congressional testimony last week said of Barr's characterization: "That's not the term I would use.” Asked also if he had "any evidence that any illegal surveillance" into the Trump 2016 campaign occurred, Wray said he did not.

Trump's tweets quoted at length from a commentary by Tom Fitton of the right-wing legal group Judicial Watch: "The FBI has no leadership. The Director is protecting the same gang.....that tried to........overthrow the President through an illegal coup.” 

Trump then added, "(Recommended by previous DOJ)," seeming to blame the Justice Department under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the choice the president made to replace James Comey at the FBI.

The Washington Post came up with a list of 17 Trump hires he later attacked. Most are gone, including Sessions, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former Defense Secretary James Mattis, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, political strategist Steve Bannon, former White House counsel Don McGahn, former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn and former aides Omarosa Manigault Newman and Cliff Sims.

A few are still there and wouldn't be easy for the president to get rid of. That includes Wray and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

Iran irritations

Four Saudi tankers were attacked over the weekend in the Gulf of Oman, leading U.S. officials to point a finger at Iran or entities it supports. 

The White House ordered forces to the region as Trump issued one of his ambiguous threats:”It’s going to be a bad problem for Iran if something happens. 

The “sabotage” reportedly showed little damage in photo images. Plans for big troop movements to the region were reviewed, in case Iran attacks U.S. forces or pushes nuclear weapons production.

Janison: Heavy meddle

"We're not meddling in an election, we're meddling in an investigation — which we have a right to do."

So explained Rudy Giuliani to The New York Times about his peculiar plan to push Ukraine to investigate the son of Joe Biden and look for evidence that could taint the origin story of the FBI Russia investigation.

Month after month, notes Newsday's Dan Janison, Trump & Co. Howled about Mueller leading a "rigged witch hunt." The question now is whether they are trying to rig the terms of an investigation "in return" and soliciting a foreign government's assistance to frame his foes.

That would be … wrong?

Trump pledged Monday not to use information stolen by foreign adversaries in his 2020 re-election campaign, even as he falsely insisted he hadn’t done so in 2016. 

During a question-and-answer session with reporters in the Oval Office, Trump said he "would certainly agree to" that commitment. “I don’t need it … All I need is the opponents that I’m looking at.”

But Trump also insisted that he “never did use, as you probably know,” such information. While Mueller's investigation didn’t establish a criminal conspiracy between Russia and Trump’s campaign, Trump repeatedly praised WikiLeaks in 2016 and celebrated information exposed by Russian hackers on the campaign trail.

The can't-lose trade war

As U.S. stocks had one of their worst days of the year, Trump said he's pleased with how his trade war with China is going.

“I love the position we’re in,” Trump said. “I think it’s working out really well,” he added.

China vowed to impose tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. exports on June 1 to retaliate for U.S. tariffs, and the U.S. readied another escalation that could affect another $300 billion in Chinese goods.

In tweets Monday morning, Trump insisted the tariffs on Chinese imports won’t hurt American consumers, contradicting recent comments from his top economic adviser Larry Kudlow.

De Blasio goes lobbying

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, still teasing a presidential run, brought a "Green New Deal" rally to the lobby of Trump Tower on Monday. 

The event was originally supposed to be outside the tower, but rain forced it inside the building's atrium, which is a public space. But de Blasio couldn't stop Trump's in-house supporters from raining noise on his crowd. They cranked up the volume of the lobby music, and about a half-dozen Trump fans joined the scene carrying placards that said, "Worst Mayor Ever."

De Blasio said he chose the site because Trump's Fifth Avenue flagship tower "is part of the climate crisis, because their buildings are polluting and President Trump is taking us away from the solutions we need for global warming.”

The mayor said his decision on a 2020 run will come this week. For more, see Emily Ngo's story for Newsday.

What else is happening:

  • Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was Trump's second Supreme Court pick, voted with the court's liberals on a big anti-trust case involving Apple, which swung the 5-4 decision.
  • Trump said Monday that he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit set for June 28-29 in Osaka, Japan.
  • Trump also is going to Japan on a state visit later this month and is expected to present a trophy named for him — the "Trump Cup" — to the winner of a sumo wrestling tournament, The Washington Post reported.
  • Trump welcomed Hungary's far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban to the White House. Orban has been accused of dismantling democratic institutions, but Trump said to him, "You’ve done a good job and you’ve kept your country safe.”
  • Trump has charged his own re-election campaign $1.3 million for rent, food, lodging and other expenses since taking office, according to an analysis of campaign filings by Forbes magazine.
  • A South Carolina Democratic primary poll shows Joe Biden first and Bernie Sanders a distant second. The ranking was the same and the gap wider among black voters. Among white voters, Pete Buttigieg finished second, but the South Bend, Indiana, mayor scored zero among black voters, underscoring an early weakness in his candidacy.

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