Even after an hour-long conversation earlier today, President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly aren't close to agreeing on a solution to the crisis in Crimea. According to the White House, Obama told Putin over the phone that Russia's military invasion of the Crimean Peninsula was in violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and insisted the two countries agree to a diplomatic resolution.
The proposed resolution, as prepped by the White House, includes calls for direct talks between Ukraine and Russia, international monitors to protect Ukrainians, and a requirement that Russian forces return to their bases. This was the second phone call between the two leaders since Russia invaded Crimea. Jordan Valinsky
Democrats can demand leak investigations, too. On Thursday, Rep. Jarrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray asking them to investigate who leaked the name of a confidential FBI and CIA informant who approached advisers to President Trump's campaign in 2016, apparently to find out if Russia was trying to use the aides to influence the election. These reports are the basis for Trump's "spygate" conspiracy and the extraordinary briefings on the informant the FBI and Justice Department gave to House Republicans then the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" on Thursday.
On Friday's New Day, Nadler laid out what Trump and his allies did improperly for CNN's Alisyn Camerota. First, Trump "demanded information which he had no right to have; two, he set up this meeting for his own benefit; No. 3, they outed a classified informant. ... I'm not sure who did. Whoever did ought to pay a price at law — it's a crime to do that." He pointed out that Wray told Congress last week "the day that we can't protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe."
Rep. Jerry Nadler says that the two classified DOJ meetings with lawmakers Thursday were "improper": "You don't oversee the investigation while it's going on" https://t.co/OkaU5iArVL pic.twitter.com/UUxQuQ8xTV
— New Day (@NewDay) May 25, 2018
"The demand for a criminal investigation into the outing of a confidential government source could echo loudly in Washington," NPR says. The outing of the source, reportedly an American academic in Britain, "is unacceptable," Nadler wrote Wray and Rosenstein. "It is a breach of the duty we owe to these men and women, who serve our country at great risk and trust us to protect their identities." The informant's name was first floated at The Daily Caller and spread across conservative media before making its way to major national newspapers. Peter Weber
Jimmy Kimmel dug up a clip of Full Frontal's Samantha Bee interviewing Kellyanne Conway on The Daily Show in about 2007, and according to Bee — his guest on Thursday's Kimmel Live — that was a surprisingly common occurrence. "Our interactions were quite pleasant and lovely," Bee said, and Conway "was on The Daily Show many, many times in the years that I was there. And it got to a point where ... the producers were, like, 'Uhhh, should we call Kellyanne? She'll say anything that we want her to.' And they were like, 'No, we kind of used her too much, let's not call Kellyanne this time.' Because, you know, even back then we had a sense that she was very thirsty."
"She's still saying anything somebody wants her to, too," Kimmel said. "She does seem to be the smartest member of that group, though." Bee agreed: "I would say so, very canny." Kimmel asked if "talking about Donald Trump all the time is a plus or a minus," and Bee said "an absolute minus, across the board. ... You know, we make sour lemonade out of those lemons, I guess?"
Bee also talked about how her native Canada views Trump's America — with concern, like the Desperate Housewives — and she and Kimmel discussed the travails of writing topical comedy shows in the news firehose of the Trump administration. "It's funny, because we're watching cable news, going 'No! No!' No!'" Kimmel said, laughing. "We're actually rooting against world peace so we don't have to rewrite our monologues." Watch below. Peter Weber
When President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner was finally given full Top Secret security clearance on May 1, so was his wife, Ivanka Trump, the president's eldest daughter, who also works in the White House, Axios reports, citing "a person briefed on the matter." In March, the FBI was reported to be scrutinizing a Trump hotel deal in Vancouver, Canada, that Ivanka had played a large role in setting up with a Malaysian developer; apparently the FBI has resolved those questions.
So now, Axios says, Kushner and Ivanka Trump will both "be able to sit in on high level White House meetings, and access information like foreign intelligence and the president's daily intelligence briefing." That makes sense for Kushner, who reportedly perused the daily intelligence briefing before his security clearance was downgraded in February. As for the first daughter, a lot of people — including White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, reportedly — wonder what exactly she does in the White House. Peter Weber
Last week, the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Mark Inch, quietly resigned, and he was packing up his office last Friday as President Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, unveiled his plan to reform America's federal prisons. Inch, a retired Army major general who had been appointed to oversee the more than 180,000 federal inmates just nine months ago, felt marginalized by Kushner in the prison reform plan, The New York Times reports, citing three people with knowledge of the situation. But mostly, Inch was frustrated with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose department includes the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Sessions had frozen Inch out of budget, staffing, and policy decisions, and had refused to approve his choice for deputy prisons director, the Times reports. But Inch also informed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein he was tired of the Trump administration flouting "departmental norms," and he was reportedly frustrated that Sessions was steadfastly working to thwart Kushner's reforms. The House passed Kushner's prison reform bill on Tuesday, but it faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
Kushner, with Trump's approval, has been advocating for legislation that offers certain inmates early release to halfway houses and job training to reduce recidivism. His main interest, sentencing reform, has bipartisan support, but Sessions and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are adamantly opposed, the Times says. A Justice Department official said Sessions was caught off guard by Inch's resignation. Former Bureau of Prisons assistant director Huge Hurwitz will helm the agency until a permanent replacement is found. Peter Weber
On Thursday's Late Show, Stephen Colbert walked through the steps leading up to the implosion of President Trump's June 12 summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un — a failure Trump seemed pretty chill about on Wednesday. "Did the president of the United States really just say 'Some day a date will happen?'" Colbert asked. "I would call to complain if that was written inside a fortune cookie." Still, Trump and Kim have no choice but to meet now, Colbert said. "They've already made the commemorative coin marking the occasion of the summit." And since that one was obviously such a prescient success, he added, "here at The Late Show we have received an exclusive first peek of the new coin celebrating Mideast peace. It's just a carton of eggs labeled 'Chickens!'"
If it seemed weird that Colbert didn't mention that Trump has, in fact, called off the summit, that's because the show was clearly recorded Wednesday, as The Late Show copped to in the cold open.
But the troubles of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen are timeless, and Colbert jumped into Cohen's new legal problem with business partner Evgeny "Taxi King" Freidman. Freidman faced up to 125 years in jail, but he cut "a pretty good deal," Colbert said. "You get to stay out of prison plus you don't have to be friends with Michael Cohen anymore."
Cohen is also in the news because he was reportedly paid $400,000 to set up a meeting between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Trump. "In this case, Cohen's not Trump's fixer, he's Trump's pimp," Colbert said. "But most disgusting of all is that this seems to have worked." Shortly after Trump hosted Poroshenko last June, "Ukraine's anti-corruption agency stopped its investigation into Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort," he said. "Now, to save Manafort, all Cohen has to do is arrange a meeting between the Ukrainian president and Robert Mueller." Watch below. Peter Weber
There was a lot of speculation as to why President Trump abruptly pulled out of a June 12 summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un that he had agreed to attend and was evidently excited about. Tony Schwartz, a Trump critic who shadowed the real estate developer for a year in the 1980s to ghostwrite Trump's bestseller The Art of the Deal, had a theory. "Trump has a morbid fear of being humiliated and shamed," Schwartz told The Washington Post on Thursday. The summit was all about "showing who’s the biggest and the strongest, so he is exquisitely sensitive to the possibility that he would end up looking weak and small. There is nothing more unacceptable to Trump than that." Schwartz elaborated on Twitter:
To be clear: Trump is a terrible negotiator. Whether it's North Korea, or China over trade, or Mexico over the wall, he's guided by impulse, does no preparation, is incapable of listening, and gives away the store in return for short-term ego gratification.
— Tony Schwartz (@tonyschwartz) May 25, 2018
Negotiating with Trump based on logic or rational argument is a dead end, Schwartz explained on MSNBC's The Beat with Ari Melber.
Trump's note to Kim Jong Un demonstrates how he "doesn't operate logically or rationally" and "when you capitulate to Trump... you're making his blood run think, he loves when you capitulate" - @tonyschwartz pic.twitter.com/izcu8aKSIb
— TheBeat w/Ari Melber (@TheBeatWithAri) May 24, 2018
Still, there is an advantage of sorts to Trump's negotiating style, at least for Trump, he added. Watch below. Peter Weber
— TheBeat w/Ari Melber (@TheBeatWithAri) May 24, 2018
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) has lost the support of the National Association of Realtors after he told a delegation last week that homeowners shouldn't have to sell their properties to people whose lifestyles they don't agree with.
Members of the Orange County Association of Realtors met with Rohrabacher while lobbying for H.R. 1447, which expands the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to include anti-discrimination protections based on a person's sexual orientation and gender identity. One attendee told The Orange County Register that Rohrabacher said to the group, "Every homeowner should be able to make a decision not to sell their home to someone [if] they don't agree with their lifestyle."
On Thursday, Rohrabacher confirmed to the Register that he said this, questioning why homeowners can't "choose who they do business with. We've drawn a line on racism, but I don't think we should extend that line. A homeowner should not be required to be in business with someone they think is doing something that is immoral." He said he's not "anti-gay" personally, but "there are some fundamental Christians who do not approve of their lifestyle. I support their rights."
The National Association of Realtors pulled its support of Rohrabacher after getting a letter from the founder of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals. The NAR had recommended that members send Rohrabacher campaign donations. Rohrabacher, now in his 15th term and up for re-election, told the Register it was "sad to see" that the real estate group's priority is "standing in solidarity with making sure a stamp of approval is put on somebody's private lifestyle." Catherine Garcia