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Trump maintains a reticent response in Saudi disappearance uproar

President Donald Trump hugs rapper Kanye West during

President Donald Trump hugs rapper Kanye West during a meeting in the White House on Thursday.  Credit: Getty Images North America/Pool

Risky business

The fate of two civilians who ran dangerously afoul of the power elite in different U.S.-backed countries drew suspense throughout Thursday in Washington, D.C. 

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is feared murdered in Istanbul. "It certainly doesn't look like he's around," said President Donald Trump. He said U.S. officials are investigating, but that the case shouldn't affect weapons sales to the Saudi kingdom, with its ties to presidential son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner raising questions. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) sounded way less passive than Trump, all but accusing the Saudis of murder and urging action.

Dealings with Turkey over a captive American could yield a better result. News organizations reported insider optimism that jailed U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson could soon be freed by Turkey, where he's been held for two years on espionage and terrorism charges.

The Kanye West wing

Celebrity Trump supporter Kanye West delivered a 10-minute talk-show-style monologue as he met with the president in the Oval Office. It touched on police searches, manufacturing and West's belief the president should trade in his traditional Air Force One jet for a hydrogen-powered jet. Newsday's Candice Ferrette describes the appearance here. Retired NFLer Jim Brown also attended.

Melania as victim

It is a rare day when any first lady declares, "I could say I'm the most bullied person in the world." One cannot know if she was channeling her husband's martyr strategy, referring to unknown horrors, sending a coded message or just sympathizing with those her Be Best initiative is meant to help.

Melania Trump said her campaign is focusing on social media and online behavior in part because of "what people are saying about me. ... We need to educate the children of social-emotional behavior so when they grow up ... they know how to deal with those issues."

She told ABC's "Good Morning Ameirca" of those working at the White House: "Are there some that I'm not in love with? Yes, and we'll weed them out, slowly but surely."

Holder kicks up GOP distress 

Former Attorney General Eric Holder stirred alarmed responses from Republicans when he tweaked former first lady Michelle Obama's 2016 declaration, "Whey they go low, we go high."

"No, no, no," he said in a campaign speech in Georgia. "When they go low, we kick them."

That drew cheers and chants of "fight, fight, fight."

"When I say we kick them," Holder added, "I don’t mean we do anything inappropriate, we don’t do anything illegal, but we have to be tough and we have to fight."

Trump called the remarks "disgusting" and "dangerous." Holder called this "fake outrage" aimed at what was never a threat of violence.

Trump taps LI judge 

Trump nominated U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco, who has overseen several murder cases against MS-13 gang members, to serve on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, as reported by Newsday's Tom Brune. Based in the Central Islip courthouse, Bianco has been hearing MS-13 cases since 2011.

What else is happening:

  • Christopher Cox, grandson of President Richard Nixon and son of GOP state chairman Ed Cox of Westhampton, could work as a Trump economic adviser on China, Bloomberg News reports. 
  • Republicans say they're on the cusp of unseating Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and thus dealing a knockout blow to Democratic hopes of winning the Senate.
  • Democrats appear likely to hold on to both Minnesota Senate seats, according to an NBC News / Marist poll.
  • Convicted former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen switched his New York State voter registration to Democratic.
  • Five contenders have been mentioned to succeed Jeff Sessions as attorney general, who has endured repeated public humiliations by Trump, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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