Former FBI director James Comey “has spoken privately of his concerns that the contacts from” President Trump “and his aides were inappropriate, and how he felt compelled to resist them.” Comey told a friend “that despite Mr. Trump’s attempts to build a personal relationship, he did not want to be friendly with the president and thought any conversation with him or personal contact was inappropriate.” (New York Times)
“Trump pressured a ‘reluctant’ Michael Flynn into accepting a job as the White House’s top national security official even after Flynn warned the president that he was under investigation over undisclosed lobbying on behalf of a foreign government, The Daily Beast has learned.” Trump’s affinity for Flynn is so strong that he’s hopeful Flynn could be re-hired once the investigations are resolved, which advisers have advocated against. (Daily Beast)
ANYTHING FOR A BUCK. “After crying ‘sabotage’ in email and text fundraising messages yesterday, the” Trump “campaign cashed in, raising $314,000 between the campaign and Republican National Committee’s joint fundraising committee. According to a release from Trump’s campaign, it’s a ‘one-day record for digital fundraising.’” (NBC News)
WHERE’S PENCE? Vice President Mike Pence has been keeping a low profile in recent weeks as the administration has dealth with setback after self-inflicted setback. The chaos appears to be wearing on him. He did recently set up a new PAC, however. (CNN)
FBI REPLACEMENT. “Trump may be dramatically miscalculating how much support Sen. Joe Lieberman would have among his former Democratic colleagues if nominated to become FBI director. Some Senate Democrats hold a grudge against Lieberman for his rightward turn and opposition to some of President Barack Obama’s agenda late in his Senate career. Others say even though they respect Lieberman, the job of FBI director should not go to a former politician.” (Politico)
CONFLICTS ABROAD. “When President Trump sets off on his first international trip as president on Friday, his itinerary will include two Middle Eastern countries, Israel and Saudi Arabia, where he explored business deals before taking office.” (New York Times)
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"North Korea said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean after President Donald Trump vowed to destroy the reclusive country, with leader Kim Jong Un promising to make Trump pay dearly for his threats. Kim did not specify what action he would take against the United States or Trump, whom he called a 'mentally deranged U.S. dotard' in the latest bout of insults the two leaders have traded in recent weeks."
President Trump this afternoon announced another round of sanctions on North Korea, calling the regime "a continuing threat." The executive order, which Trump relayed to Congress, bans any ship or plane that has visited North Korea from visiting the United States within 180 days. The order also authorizes sanctions on any financial institution doing business with North Korea, and permits the secretaries of State and the Treasury to sanction any person involved in trading with North Korea, operating a port there, or involved in a variety of industries there.
In response to a reporter's question, President Trump said "he’ll be looking to impose further financial penalties on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic tests. ... The U.N. has passed two resolutions recently aimed at squeezing the North Korean economy by cutting off oil, labor and exports to the nation." Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that South Korea's unification ministry is sending an $8m aid package aimed at infants and pregnant women in North Korea. The "humanitarian gesture [is] at odds with calls by Japan and the US for unwavering economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang."
President Trump on Tuesday night met with UN Secretary Guterres and President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak. In both cases, as per releases from the White House, Trump pressed them on the need to reform the UN bureaucracy.