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Pompeo: Trump Wants 'Killer Graphics' in Intel Briefings

After butting heads with the intelligence community during his transition over his apparent disdain for daily briefings, President Trump now reportedly likes to keep his daily intelligence briefings short, straight to the point, and accompanied by “killer graphics.” CIA Director Mike Pompeo offered a positive assessment of Trump’s briefing habits on Monday in comments to The Washington Post, describing the president as a “good intelligence consumer.” But the report cited other officials saying the briefings, which are often short and conducted more as casual conversations than formal briefings, show a tenuous relationship between the president and the intelligence community. “Pompeo and Coats are doing their best to give him the most accurate daily briefing, but my sense is in the rank-and-file, they are very worried about how do you deal with him and about sharing with him sensitive material,” Mark Lowenthal, a former assistant director of the CIA and the president of the Intelligence and Security Academy, was cited as saying in the report. According to Pompeo, Trump has asked for his briefings to include as many visuals as possible—maps, charts, pictures, videos, and “killer graphics.” “That’s our task, right? To deliver the material in a way that he can best understand the information we’re trying to communicate,” Pompeo said.




Immigrant Deaths in Private Prisons Explode Under Trump

Source: The Daily Beast

A man killed himself after 19 days in solitary confinement, days before another man died of heart failure.


05.30.17 1:00 AM ET

DALLAS—Men and women held by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement are on pace to die at double the rate of those who died in ICE custody last year, a Daily Beast review of ICE records found. And most will die in privately run facilities.

Eight people have died in ICE custody in the 2017 fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1, 2016. That’s almost as many as the 10 who died in the entire 2016 fiscal year. All but one of the deaths this year, and all but two last year, occurred in privately run prisons. Nine of the 18 deaths occurred at facilities run by GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest private prison company.

Jean Jimenez-Joseph hanged himself two weeks ago at a CoreCivic-run facility in Georgia after 19 consecutive days in solitary confinement, according to immigrant advocates in the state. Days earlier at a GEO-run facility in Texas, an Afghan mother seeking asylum from the Taliban tried to hang herself but lived. Atulkumar Babubhai Patel died of congestive heart failure in Georgia’s Atlanta City Detention Center that same week.

The uptick in deaths have come after a spike in arrests of immigrants thanks to executive orders signed by President Trump. In the first 100 days of the Trump administration, ICE said it arrested more than 41,000 people—an increase of 37 percent over the same period last year.

Read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/05/30/immigrant-deaths-in-private-prisons-explode-under-trump

Trump experiences life through the windshield of a golf cart. That explains a lot.

By Catherine Rampell Opinion writer May 29 at 8:48 PM

Last week, at the Group of Seven meetings, the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan together walked the streets of Taormina, Italy, to a photo op about 700 yards away. President Trump, the healthiest man ever elected president (or so his doctor assured us), followed in a golf cart.

Maybe this decision was not about being out of shape, or conserving his finite lifetime supply of energy, or snubbing his international counterparts. Maybe he was just homesick for his natural habitat: a golf course.

Trump clearly prefers to experience life through the windshield of a golf cart. Once you understand that, his policy agenda and worldview make a lot more sense.

Take, for example, Trump’s hostility to our NATO allies, which has puzzled pundits.

In a meeting with the Belgian prime minister on the same foreign trip, Trump reportedly offered an explanation. He holds negative views of Europe because it took so long to get his golf courses approved there.

“Every time we talk about a country, he remembered the things he had done. Scotland? He said he had opened a club. Ireland? He said it took him two and a half years to get a license and that did not give him a very good image of the European Union,” a source told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.


Keeping Kushner would make Trump's Russia nightmare permanent - By Eugene Robinson

It’s hard to write about Jared Kushner without going straight to the Icarus cliche — hubris, flying too close to the sun, falling into the sea. I once wrote that he was the only one of President Trump’s close advisers who couldn’t be fired, but Kushner’s father-in-law would be smart to prove me wrong.

It is possible, of course, that Kushner was acting on Trump’s orders when he allegedly suggested setting up a secret communications channel with Moscow using Russia’s secure equipment. In that case, Trump’s reluctance to cut him loose would be understandable — and the Russia scandal would lead directly to the president himself. If not, are family ties keeping Kushner employed at the White House? Or is it Trump’s mounting sense of persecution and his reluctance to let an aggressive media push him around?

Whatever his motivation, Trump is allowing the Russia scandal to become not an extended nightmare but a permanent one. And all the Twitter tantrums in the world won’t make it go away.

It is, of course, ironic that Kushner was originally seen as the benign, socially acceptable face of Trumpism. He and his allies were supposed to constitute the reasonable and responsible faction in the West Wing, as opposed to the alt-right barbarians clustered around Stephen K. Bannon. But while Bannon’s name has not come up publicly in the Russia investigation, at least thus far, Kushner is now reportedly a focus of the FBI probe.

And with good reason. At a December meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Kushner reportedly suggested using secure equipment at the Russian Embassy or one of the Russian consulates to open a secret communications channel with the government of strongman Vladimir Putin. This is wrong on so many levels.


Give the Portland heroes the Presidential Medal of Freedom

By Betsy Karasik May 29 at 8:48 PM
Betsy Karasik is a D.C. writer.

As we honored and remembered over the Memorial Day weekend so many who have died for justice and freedom, I found myself inordinately haunted by the Portland, Ore., stabbing of three men who came to the defense of two young women being bullied and harassed, allegedly by a white supremacist hurling anti-Muslim slurs. Two of the men died in the attack. The third was hospitalized in serious condition.

I nominate these three men — heroes all — for the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This medal, the highest civilian award given in the United States, recognizes those who have made “especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

I nominate these three heroes because President Trump has a moral obligation to recognize them as martyrs in the battle for human rights. Good Samaritans who spontaneously rose up against hateful bigotry and harassment, these men placed themselves in harm’s way in defense of strangers. Two paid the ultimate price: Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche was a recent Reed College graduate in economics who had his whole life before him; Ricky John Best served this country in the U.S. Army for 23 years and was a devoted husband and father. Micah Fletcher, still recovering from his wounds, is a poet who won a 2013 competition with a poem against anti-Muslim prejudice.

I nominate these three heroes because Trump has a moral obligation to counteract the dangerous way in which he has fanned the flames of racism and xenophobia. In fall 2015, white nationalist Matthew Heimbach wrote: “Donald Trump is blowing the dog whistle for White racial interests harder than any other candidate.” In 2016, the incidence of hate crimes rose 23.3 percent, according to Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino. Now, as the Trump administration overtly targets Muslims and other immigrants for vilification, the dog whistle has become a siren.

On Monday, Trump did state in his presidential Twitter account (@POTUS) that the attack was “unacceptable.” But Twitter commentary does not substitute for leadership, not on an issue of this magnitude, and it is worth noting that Trump didn’t bother to mention the incident to the 30,000,000 followers of his personal Twitter feed (@realDonaldTrump), a nuance that telegraphs the priorities of this administration.


Even Angela Merkel's political rivals are on her side against Trump

By Adam Taylor May 30 at 6:56 AM

As they campaign against each other ahead of national elections in September, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her chief political rival, Martin Schulz, find themselves united in opposition to President Trump.

Speaking at a beer hall rally in Munich on Sunday, Merkel suggested that the era when Europe could rely on the United States may be coming to an end and that the continent “really must take our fate into our own hands.”

The dramatic announcement came after contentious meetings with Trump, who had used his first official trip to Europe to criticize German trade, scold world leaders about their NATO spending and refuse to commit to the Paris agreement on combating climate change.

Schulz, a former president of the European Parliament, is the head of the center-left Social Democrats. He is easily the most convincing challenger to Merkel's 11-year reign as chancellor and a charismatic leader in his own right. Yet rather than criticize his rival or her Christian Democratic Union-led government for the strained relationship with Trump, Schulz has passionately offered support.

In video published by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle on Monday, a visibly angry Schulz can be seen railing against Trump, who he said “believed he could inflict humiliation in Brussels.”



GOP's Biggest Ideas for Tax Reform Are Dead

May 29, 2017 By Taegan Goddard

“The boldest ideas for changing the nation’s tax code are either dead or on political life support, as the Republican effort in Congress to reshape the tax system moves much more slowly than lawmakers and their allies in business had hoped,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The clear winner, so far, is the status quo.”

“Republicans, who control both chambers, are scouring the tax code, searching for ways to offset the deep rate cuts they desire. But their proposals for border adjustment—which would tax imports—and for ending the business interest deduction and making major changes to individual tax breaks for health and retirement have all hit resistance within the party. The only big revenue-raising provision with anything close to Republican consensus is repealing the deduction for state and local taxes, and that idea faces objections from blue-state lawmakers in the party.”



Mueller Gets Off to Quick Start

May 29, 2017By Taegan Goddard

Wall Street Journal: “Robert Mueller quickly got to work as special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election: building a team, designing a budget and forcing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to withhold from Congress documents he may be interested in—all in his first full week on the job.”

“Mr. Mueller’s team has been assigned office space in a nondescript building in downtown Washington that is home to the Justice Department’s civil rights and environment and natural resources divisions. Mr. Mueller and his colleagues have been spotted using their badges to enter the office, conspicuous for their formal attire amid the other Department employees, who adhere to a more casual dress code.”



'Narrowcast' Trump? Republicans Seek Formula to Keep House Majority


ROSWELL, Ga. — In the northern suburbs of Atlanta, where what is likely to be the most expensive House campaign in history is being waged, a band of conservative advocacy groups is grappling with a question that may decide whether the Republican Party keeps its House majority after 2018: Do you run with President Trump or against him?

Somehow, the groups are discovering, they will have to do both.

The race between the Republican Karen Handel and the Democrat Jon Ossoff in this reliably Republican district has become a proving ground for the surrogates tasked with defending the party’s majority. Both sides together could spend more than $40 million on the race to fill a seat that had been held by Tom Price, now the secretary of health and human services.

So far, Republicans have chalked up single-digit victories in Montana and Kansas special elections to replace other House Republicans tapped by Mr. Trump for his cabinet. Democrats made gains in both races from their 2016 showings. But for Republicans, a win is a win.

Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District, however, is different: an affluent, educated cluster of suburbs that barely went for Mr. Trump in November and could foretell the hazards in other suburban battleground contests in 2018.


With Italy No Longer in U.S. Focus, Russia Swoops to Fill the Void


ROME — President Trump made the most of his short time in Italy. He was treated to a private audience with the pope, met with both the country’s president and its prime minister in Rome, flew to Sicily for a summit meeting of world leaders and visited with American troops at a nearby naval air station.

But as the sudden burst of diplomatic activity subsided with his departure, European and American officials fear a return to the new normal of American inattention as the administration struggles with political turmoil and Russia-related scandals back home.

All the while, Russia is assiduously courting Italy, a country that once had the largest Communist party outside the Soviet bloc and that many analysts consider the soft underbelly of the European Union.

In Rome, Mr. Trump left behind an embassy without an ambassador, and forfeited a geopolitical playing field that Moscow’s ambassador in Rome, Sergey Razov, is exploiting.

Steve Bannon Cited Italian Thinker Who Inspired Fascists FEB. 10, 2017
A deliberate, gray-haired career diplomat, Mr. Razov has been plugging away at building relationships with Italian politicians, organizing concerts for Italy’s earthquake survivors and visiting Italian regional officials who lament the “unfair” sanctions on Russia — which Moscow dearly wants lifted.

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