"President Trump named John R. Bolton, a hard-line former American ambassador to the United Nations, as his third national security adviser on Thursday, continuing a shake-up that creates one of the most hawkish national security teams of any White House in recent history. Mr. Bolton will replace Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the battle-tested Army officer who was tapped last year to stabilize a turbulent foreign policy operation but who never developed a comfortable relationship with the president." Bolton was an outspoken advocate of military action during the George W. Bush administration, and has "called for action against Iran and North Korea."
“Trump announced on Thursday that he would visit Parkland, Fla., where a gunman killed 17 people this week in the deadliest school shooting in years, and would work with state and local leaders ‘to help secure our schools, and tackle the difficult issue of mental health.’
“The president tweeted his condolences to the families of the victims in the hours after the shooting on Wednesday, and as images of terrified students sprinting frantically away from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School dominated the news, Mr. Trump’s aides urged him to make a public statement. But he opted not to say anything more until Thursday, when he delivered a subdued seven-minute speech at the White House.
“‘We must also work together to create a culture in our country that embraces the dignity of life,’ Mr. Trump said, ‘that creates deep and meaningful human connections, and that turns classmates and colleagues into friends and neighbors.’ He made no mention of guns.” (New York Times)
“The overall effect was dutiful, and unmemorable. … He talked about grief, but showed no sign of it himself. Trump said he’d visit the families of victims, and canceled an event scheduled for Friday in Orlando—but is still set to spend the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort, 40 miles north of Parkland, where the shooting took place.” (Politico)
DREAMERS. “The Senate summarily blocked three measures on Thursday—including one backed by President Trump—to resolve the fate of the so-called Dreamers, leaving hundreds of thousands of them facing an uncertain future.
“In a rebuke to the president, senators voted overwhelmingly, 39 to 60, against the White House-backed bill, which would have committed $25 billion for a wall along the border with Mexico, placed strict limits on legal immigration, ended the diversity visa lottery and offered 1.8 million Dreamers an eventual path to citizenship.”
“Before the vote on Mr. Trump’s plan, senators rejected two bipartisan measures, including one written by Senators John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, and another drafted by a broad bipartisan group of centrists calling themselves the Common Sense Coalition.” (New York Times)
IOWA. Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) “ongoing blockade against Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey’s appointment to the U.S. Department of Agriculture could do lasting damage to his standing in the first-in-the-nation caucus state and perhaps imperil a future run for president, several leading Republicans said this week.
“Cruz … won the 2016 Iowa caucuses in his ultimately unsuccessful bid for the GOP presidential nomination. … Last fall, though, he struck a blow against Iowa Republicans by placing a hold on Northey’s nomination as the USDA undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services, a post that requires Senate confirmation. That hold—preventing what’s expected to be a pro-forma confirmation vote—has now been in place for more than 100 days.
“‘I think Senator Cruz is really losing credibility with Iowans, and specifically Iowans in agriculture who do not appreciate people playing games with a nominee who is not being appointed for political or partisan purposes,” said state Rep. Jarad Klein, a farmer and a member of the Iowa GOP state central committee. Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said rank-and-file Republicans have begun raising the issue with him at party gatherings in recent weeks, venting frustration that a single senator can stymie the nomination process.” (Des Moines Register)
LEGAL. “Trump had a request for his lawyer: Call a senior Justice Department official and get him to persuade the FBI director to announce that Trump was not personally under investigation in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“White House counsel Donald McGahn made the call in April to acting deputy attorney general Dana Boente but failed to convince him that FBI Director James B. Comey should make the statement. … The refusal further frustrated a president who had already twice appealed directly to Comey, who told him he should have McGahn call instead.
“The … episode underscores McGahn’s precarious position in the Russia probe as he seeks to both mollify and protect his client, the commander in chief. He has served as an adviser, a participant and most recently a witness in the continuing Russia investigation—a complex role that puts him at the center of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s examination of whether Trump sought to obstruct justice. … He is also embroiled in the uproar over former staff secretary Rob Porter. … McGahn’s central role in such controversies, and his failure to shape events to the president’s wishes, have led to ongoing tensions with Trump and left him increasingly isolated in the West Wing.” (Washington Post)
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"When a Russian news agency reached out to George Papadopoulos to request an interview shortly before the 2016 election," deputy communications director Bryan Lanza encouraged him to respond. "You should do it," Lanza wrote in a September 2016 email, "emphasizing the benefits of a U.S. 'partnership with Russia.'" The Trump campaign has "sought to paint the 30-year old energy consultant as a low level volunteer" in the campaign, but recently disclosed emails show that Papadopoulos had contact with "senior campaign figures" in the Trump campaign, "such as chief executive Stephen K. Bannon and adviser Michael Flynn," who encouraged him to "broker ties between Trump and top foreign officials."