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Your politics briefing: Trump’s identity issues, Obama unloads

President Barack Obama referred to Donald Trump at

President Barack Obama referred to Donald Trump at the 250th anniversary commencement ceremony at Rutgers University on Sunday, May 15, 2016, in New Jersey, but never mentioned the GOP candidate by name. Credit: Getty Images / Eduardo Munoz Alvarez

Reince: Trump's fake names a meh-squerade

With Donald Trump skipping the Sunday shows, it was left to allies like Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to parry questions about the presumptive nominee’s long reported habit in the 1980s and 1990s of posing as his own publicist on the phone.

“It’s a little bit odd,” said Priebus, who deflected questions on whether he believed Trump’s denial of The Washington Post story by saying, “I have never had a situation where he’s lied to me.”

What’s important, Priebus said, is that voters won’t care whether the “John Miller” or “John Barron” who spun reporters about matters such as Trump’s dating life was really the businessman himself. “I can assure you that that particular issue is not going to move the electorate,” he said.

Trump’s convention manager, Paul Manafort, also was confronted with his candidate’s past admissions of using such aliases.

“I don’t know those facts to be true or not. I just know that he said it’s not him. I believe him,” Manafort said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

But Trump didn't just kid about using fake names -- he swore in court that he did so.

As reported in Newsday on July 13, 1990, he took the stand in a pension-fraud case brought by a labor union -- and acknowledged having used "John Baron" as an alias.

"I believe on occasion I used that name," he testified without elaborating. Later that day Trump told reporters: "Lots of people use pen names. Ernest Hemingway used one."

Obama hits Trump ‘ignorance’

President Barack Obama never mentioned his name, but he had a lot to say about Trump in a commencement speech at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Newsday’s Emily Ngo reports.

“In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue,” Obama told an audience of more than 50,000.

“It’s not cool to not know what you’re talking about,” the president said. “That’s not keeping it real or telling it like it is. That’s not challenging political correctness. That’s just not knowing what you’re talking about.” (Video excerpt here.)

On a similar theme, Trump pouted early Monday at Britain's Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron having called the candidate's stance on Muslims "divisive, stupid and wrong." Trump said on ITV "I"m not stupid, okay?" and "It looks like we're not going to have a very good relationship."

Clinton seeks bluegrass boost

Hillary Clinton is making a final push in Kentucky, where she aims to notch a win Tuesday after losing to Bernie Sanders in neighboring West Virginia last week.

Both are coal-producing states where she has drawn fire for ill-chosen remarks about the fading fortunes of that industry.

“It will be close, but either way, as with all the contests this month, we will gain additional delegates and move that much closer to clinching the nomination,” Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said.

As she moves closer, though, Democratic allies express fears for her weaknesses as a candidate in the general election.

Trump worries former defense chief

Robert Gates, who served as secretary of defense in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, says Trump doesn’t appear to know what he doesn’t know about foreign policy.

“He seems to think that he has all the answers and that he doesn’t need any advice from staff or anybody else,” Gates said on “Face the Nation.” “And that he knows more about these things than anybody else.”

There was similar criticism on the show from Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford). King, who is now supporting Trump, said, “I want him to make his policy more coherent.”

The take-away: Saving Speaker Ryan

When House Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump put out a statement after their meeting on Thursday about their “shared principles,” it begged the question: like what?

Newsday’s Dan Janison writes about the clash of interests between the two and the challenges Ryan faces preserving his power in a Trump Republican Party.

Trump’s inconsistency is consistent

From the minimum wage to taxes to abortion to self-funding his campaign, one thing that can be counted on about Trump’s positions is that they are ever-changeable, writes Newsday’s Yancey Roy.

It didn’t hurt Trump in the Republican primaries because “his core supporters are so disaffected by government,” they expect politicians to lie, and Trump comes off as unfiltered, said Matt Hale, a Seton Hall University political scientists.

What else is happening:

  • Rep. Peter King provoked criticism by using an ethnic slur to help characterize Trump's view of military affairs. King, though, seemed to be suggesting it's Trump who'd be thinking in these terms. A Washington Post account is here.
  • The House Benghazi chairman ignored his committee's own GOP lawyer saying the U.S. military acted properly the night of the deadly attacks in Libya, ranking Democrats charged.
  • Some people thought it would be a great idea for a brash billionaire who stars on a business-themed reality show to run for president. But Mark Cuban said no.
  • Clinton’s campaign is bracing for miffed supporters because there are nowhere near enough available slots for all who want to be “at large” convention delegates, reports Politico.
  • Trump launched a tweetstorm over a “lame” New York Times story that chronicled his conduct around women that often made them uncomfortable. Supporter Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said people “have not expected purity on his part.”
  • The Boston Globe had a different take from people who have known Trump in private settings and found him to be charming and pleasant company.
  • Trump and Joe Biden both attended a University of Pennsylvania commencement Sunday — the candidate for daughter Tiffany, and the vice president for granddaughter Naomi.
  • Trump doesn’t have enough cash and relatively liquid assets to self-fund his campaign any more, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal (pay site).
  • Several prominent Jewish Republicans see Trump's coming nomination as anathema and a blown opportunity, as Politico describes.
  • Trump plans to unload more personal attacks on Clinton, he informs the Times (pay site), while a pro-Clinton PAC plans on Wednesday to launch anti-Trump ads in swing states.
  • Sam Clovis, his policy adviser, indicated "entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare" could face dramatic changes when Trump is elected.

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