Week 19 read more

Week 19 in Trump’s America: We won’t always have Paris

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Week 19, in one sentence: President Donald Trump defended son-in-law Jared Kushner after it was revealed that he tried to set up a secret line of communication with the Kremlin; went to Italy for the G-7 summit meeting of seven major world leaders, where he wouldn’t join a consensus about the Paris climate deal; congratulated Greg Gianforte, who was charged with misdemeanor assault after body-slamming a reporter, on his “great win” in Montana’s special election; attacked the media and its use of anonymous sources (again); retweeted a Fox News story that relied on just one anonymous source; tweeted that the U.S.’ trade deficit with Germany is “very bad” and “will change”; shamed Kathy Griffin for scaring his son, Barron, when she posted a video that depicted her holding Trump’s severed head; made “covfefe” a thing; announced that the White House would no longer take questions about Russia via his press secretary; defended Carter Page, whom his aides have repeatedly said he doesn’t know; is still considering banning laptops on international flights; broke a campaign promise by allowing the U.S. embassy in Israel to remain in Tel Aviv; asked the Supreme Court to reinstate his travel ban; and abandoned the groundbreaking Paris climate accord.

Another week, another Russia scandal Day 127 — May 26

The Russia scandals just keep coming. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner took center stage in the controversy when the Washington Post revealed that he’d discussed the idea of setting up a secret communication line between Trump’s presidential transition team and the Kremlin, according to unnamed officials who were briefed on the matter and reviewed relevant documents. Kushner’s lawyer maintains that her client will testify if he’s asked.

Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, whose communications with his bosses were intercepted and reviewed by the U.S., said that Kushner floated the idea during a December meeting at Trump Tower, officials told the Post. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign after lying to Vice President Mike Pence about meeting with Kislyak, also reportedly attended the meeting.

Trump went to Sicily for the G-7 summit — a conference of world superpowers Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S. — for the last stop of his nine days abroad. Before he’d even arrived, he managed to cause some discord. Trump’s top economic adviser said the president told top European officials in Brussels the day before that Germany was “very bad on trade.”

Trump congratulated Republican Greg Gianforte for his victory in Montana’s special election to the House. Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault for body-slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs on May 24 at Gianforte’s headquarters after Jacobs asked him a question about the GOP plan to replace Obamacare. Some top Republicans — including House Speaker Paul Ryan — have condemned Gianforte’s actions, but the White House has refused to do so.

Trump tweeted out a call for more spending on health care, which doesn’t really jibe with his budget’s proposed massive cuts to Medicaid spending.

Making friends at the G-7 Summit Day 128 — May 27

Trump left the G-7 summit without joining the consensus on the Paris Climate Accord, which President Barack Obama and six other world leaders pledged to take the lead on implementing last year. “I will make my final decision on the Paris accord next week,” tweeted Trump, who repeatedly pledged to abandon the plan during his campaign.

Trump was disagreeable about more than just climate policy. European Union President Donald Tusk called the meeting the “most challenging G-7 summit in years.” Six of the G-7 leaders walked together for about 700 yards to a group photo opp, but Trump rode to the spot alone on a golf cart.

Jared Kushner faced more pressure over his ties to Russia when Reuters reported that he’d had at least three undisclosed contacts with Russia’s U.S. ambassador during and after Trump’s campaign, according to seven current and former U.S officials.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said he was “not concerned” about the Kushner allegations.

Fake news is the enemy, source says Day 129 — May 28

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had some harsh words for the U.S. after a discordant G-7 summit. She told her supporters at a campaign event that Europe can no longer rely on the U.S. or the U.K. By then, Merkel had already called climate talks at the summit “very difficult, if not to say very dissatisfying.”

“We Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands,” Merkel said.

After a relatively quiet stretch on Twitter during his nine-day trip abroad, Trump tweeted out some serious accusations of the “fake news” media.

“Whenever you see the words ‘sources say’ in the fake news media, and they don’t mention names,” Trump tweeted, “it is very possible that those sources don’t exist but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy!”

Trump was presumably referring to a series of reports on his beleaguered son-in-law.

“Jared is doing a great job for the country,” Trump said in a statement to the New York Times. “I have total confidence in him. He is respected by virtually everyone and is working on programs that will save our country billions of dollars. In addition to that, and perhaps more importantly, he is a very good person.”

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said he didn’t “see any issue here relative to Jared.” He also defended back-channel communications between foreign governments as a “good thing.”

Kelly also said that the U.S. is still considering banning laptops on all international flights because terrorists are “obsessed” with taking down planes with Americans on them.

“Great disrespect” Day 130 — May 29

Trump scolded North Korea for once again launching ballistic missiles — that landed in ocean waters off Japan — but commended China for “trying hard” to deal with the Hermit Kingdom’s “great disrespect.”

Still mad about Germany Day 131 — May 30

Tensions between the U.S. and Germany continued to roil. This time, Trump tweeted that the U.S. has “a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany” and reiterated his belief that the country doesn’t spend enough on NATO and defense.

“Very bad for U.S.,” Trump tweeted. “This will change.”

Trump’s not wrong that the U.S. pays a disproportionately large portion of its GDP to NATO, and he’s right that the U.S.’ trade deficit with Germany is substantial (second only to China). But economists aren’t sure it matters in the grand scheme of things.

Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen denied the Senate intelligence committee’s request that he hand over relevant campaign documents to its investigation of Trump’s possible ties to Russia. Cohen told ABC News he declined to participate because the request was “poorly phrased” and “not capable of being answered.”

Trump’s communications director, Mike Dubke, resigned from his position at the White House after just three months on the job. Trump is reportedly still considering a wider staff shake-up.

VICE News published exclusive video of high-school-aged Stephen Miller — now 31-year-old senior aide to Trump — jokingly referring to torture as “a celebration of life and human dignity.” He also said that cutting off the fingers of Saddam Hussein is the “ideal solution” to America’s involvement in Iraq. You can watch the video here.

Trump retweeted a Fox News’ story that cited a single anonymous source — you know, the kind of source he repeatedly condemns. The story reported that “a source familiar with the matter” said Jared Kushner didn’t try to set up a secret communications link with Russia.

Kathy Griffin scares Barron Day 132 — May 31

Trump excitedly teased his announcement that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris Climate Accord even though his decision to abandon the global warming agreement had already been widely reported.

“I will be announcing my decision on Paris accord, Thursday at 3:00 P.M. The White House Rose Garden,” Trump tweeted. “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

He also shamed comedian Kathy Griffin after she posted a controversial video that depicted her holding Trump’s severed head. Trump specifically cited his 11-year-old son, Barron, for having an “especially” difficult experience with the video.

Trump’s old — though persistent — nemesis Hillary Clinton returned to the spotlight at Recode’s Code Conference. Speaking about the election and Trump with more openness than before, Clinton said she was “leaning” toward the belief that Trump’s campaign did, in fact, collude with Russia to undermine her chances at the presidency.

“Crooked Hillary Clinton now blames everybody but herself, refuses to say she was a terrible candidate,” Trump tweeted after Hillary’s Q&A session. “Hits Facebook & even Dems & DNC.”

Also on Twitter, “covfefe” became a thing. Just after midnight, Trump tweeted an apparent typo of the word “coverage” in a now-deleted, seemingly unfinished tweet about press coverage. The non-word quickly became a meme — even Hillary Clinton jumped on the bandwagon. Trump offered no explanation except for a joke tweet later that morning. Press Secretary Sean Spicer managed to further confuse everyone by asserting that, when it comes to the true meaning of covfefe, “the president and a small group of people knew exactly what he meant.”

Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin seemed pretty chill with the idea of veterans smoking pot. He told reporters that “there may be some evidence” that medical marijuana could help veterans.

Sean Spicer said the White House would no longer take questions about Russia, and instead referred reporters to outside counsel.

A federal appeals court ruled that a 17-year-old transgender student can use the boys’ bathroom, a case that could set a precedent for trans students across the U.S. It’s good news for LGBTQ kids after Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded Obama-era guidance in February that students can use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity under Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in schools.

The Trump administration filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the lower-court rulings that blocked his ban on travel to the U.S. from six majority-Muslim countries.

Trump tweeted in defense of Carter Page, a person members of his team have repeatedly said he does not know. Page is a former foreign policy adviser to Trump who’s under federal investigation for his connections to Russia.

Trump reportedly wants to reinstate two Russian spy houses that Obama took away as punishment for Russian meddling in the U.S. election.

Trump also released a list of 14 ethics waivers that will allow at least 11 of his ex-lobbyist staffers to work on issues they lobbied about. Ethics waivers aren’t unusual, but Trump has granted more than five times as many as Obama did in his first four months, according to the New York Times.

Make America Warm AgainDay 133 — June 1

Trump officially announced that the U.S. is abandoning the Paris climate deal. The deal requires a three-year notice to withdraw, but Trump said that the U.S. will just stop abiding by the deal’s nonbinding aspects — and renegotiate a deal later that’s fair to American taxpayers. France, Germany, and Italy, however, immediately issued a joint statement that the deal will not be renegotiated.

Trump’s decision is at odds with most U.S. voters — including his own supporters. Just two other countries, Nicaragua and Syria, are not part of the original deal. During a Q&A after the announcement, Trump officials who wished to remain unnamed wouldn’t say whether Trump believes in climate change.

Vladimir Putin again declined responsibility for Russian meddling in the U.S. election, instead suggesting that “patriotic” hackers may have acted of their own accord.

Trump broke a major campaign promise by signing a waiver that delays the move of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for at least another six months.

Members of the Trump administration attempted to lift Russia sanctions while Obama was still sitting in the Oval Office, multiple anonymous sources told Yahoo News.

This week in POTUS tweets:

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