On Tuesday evening, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow launched a flurry of speculation and excitement by tweeting "we've got Trump tax returns" an hour and a half before her show. Her scoop — which came after a characteristic, if ill-advised, contextual wind-up, during which The Daily Beast actually beat her to the punch — ultimately revealed nothing more than that Trump finagled his way into paying a rate of less than 4 percent on his regular federal income tax in 2005.
Almost immediately, viewers began to skewer the way Maddow had hyped the information. By Wednesday, Slate's Willa Paskin recounted the event by writing that "Maddow seemed uncharacteristically nervous as she wended her way though what could kindly be described as context and which I am unkindly describing as word salad, a long meander that was difficult to follow even without the distracting promise of a revelatory tax return at its end." National Review was less kind, declaring: "Rachel Maddow Wastes Everyone's Time."
Some critics went as far as to say Maddow's handling of the news was a "nice victory" for President Trump. Jay Yarow wrote for CNBC: "For Trump, in the swirl of chaos thanks to the CBO saying the GOP health-care bill would lead to 24 million uninsured and the FBI preparing to weigh in on his accusation of President Barack Obama wire tapping him, this tax story is a welcome reprieve." Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign press secretary, Brian Fallon, had speculated that Maddow's scoop was going to be "the holy grail," only to later tweet that Democrats "should return focus to TrumpCare tomorrow [and] … not get distracted by two pages from '05 tax return."
The White House also skewered Maddow for the story, releasing a statement prior to her show that claimed "you know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago." Some people, including Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnson, who received the tax form anonymously, believe that Trump himself could have leaked the information.
"The media is undeniably essential, particularly in this administration," noted Esquire. "However, leaning too heavily on the shock and awe factor is a distraction at best and an exploitation of the nation's fear at worst. And after all that, in the end, we didn't learn anything we didn't already know. Fun, huh?" Jeva Lange
Beekeepers in the United States saw a third of their honeybee colonies die between April 2016 and April 2017, an annual survey finds. That sounds grim, but it's actually a slight improvement over similar assessments in the last decade, in which an average of 40 percent of the colonies died off annually.
"I would stop short of calling this 'good' news," said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a University of Maryland professor who is also a project director at the Bee Informed Partnership. "Colony loss of more than 30 percent over the entire year is high. It's hard to imagine any other agricultural sector being able to stay in business with such consistently high losses."
Some of the dead colonies may be salvaged, but the process isn't easy. One bumblebee species was added to the federal Endangered Species List earlier this year, and steady decline of bee populations is a serious and widespread problem that is believed to be linked to pesticide use.
"Bees are good indicators of the landscape as a whole," said Nathalie Steinhauer, who worked on the new survey. "To keep healthy bees, you need a good environment and you need your neighbors to keep healthy bees. Honeybee health is a community matter." Bonnie Kristian
President Trump may be asked to subject his tweets to legal scrutiny before posting them, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday night in a story covering changes to White House procedure Trump will entertain upon his return home from his tour abroad Saturday evening. The tweet vetting would be designed to avoid unforced errors as the Trump campaign and administration undergo scrutiny in federal investigations concerning Russian interference in the 2016 election:
One major change under consideration would see the president’s social media posts vetted by a team of lawyers, who would decide if any needed to be adjusted or curtailed. The idea, said one of Mr. Trump's advisers, is to create a system so that tweets "don't go from the president's mind out to the universe."
Some of Mr. Trump's tweets — from hinting that he may have taped conversations with Mr. Comey to suggesting without any evidence that former President Barack Obama wire-tapped Trump Tower — have opened him to criticism and at times confounded his communications team. Trump aides have long attempted to rein in his tweeting, and some saw any type of legal vetting as difficult to implement. [WSJ]
Many of Trump's critics and supporters alike have repeatedly (and unsuccessfully) urged the president to curtail his tweeting habits, as his posts often come back to bite him politically. Bonnie Kristian
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on Saturday said he "would not be concerned" by backchannel communications with Russia, though he declined to specifically comment on allegations that President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner unsuccessfully attempted to arrange a secret communication channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin shortly after the election.
National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and Press Secretary Sean Spicer also refused to discuss Kushner at Saturday's media briefing. "We're not going to comment on Jared," said Cohn. "We're just not going to comment."
McMaster did note the U.S. has "backchannel communications with a number of countries," though Kushner was a private citizen and not an authorized representative of Washington at the time when he allegedly spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Kushner's legal team said Friday night he has "no recollection" of the alleged conversation with Kislyak, and he is happy to speak with federal investigators about his role in the Trump campaign. Bonnie Kristian
After an introduction from First Lady Melania Trump, the president began by pointing to a helicopter he could see landing in the distance, wondering if the craft contained Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — or perhaps "Justin from Canada," which is probably a reference to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and not Canadian pop star Justin Bieber.
— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) May 27, 2017
Trump's speech quickly turned to more serious matters, with a lengthy section about "eradicating the terrorism that plagues our planet." He condemned this week's terrorist attacks on concert attendees in England and Coptic Christians in Egypt, vowing cooperation with allies to "confront the shared threat of terrorism."
Toward the end of his speech, the president spoke of honoring fallen American forces on Memorial Day. "There is no peace without those willing to bear the scars and wounds of war," he said. "There is no strength without those brave enough to protect the weak and the people that need protection. And there is no prosperity at home without those willing to shoulder our burdens overseas."
"You are the warriors of freedom," Trump told the assembled troops. "You are the ones who protect the God-given freedoms that are the birthright of every single American child." Watch the entire speech below. Bonnie Kristian
Police evacuated London's Old Vic theater, located near Waterloo Station, during a performance on Saturday in response to an unspecified security threat. The area was isolated as "specialist officers" investigated the scene, but ultimately nothing suspicious was found.
— Rachel Griffin (@Carryonsmiling) May 27, 2017
The false alarm comes less than a week after a suicide bombing in Manchester, England, during an Ariana Grande concert left 22 people dead and dozens more injured. The play that was interrupted is a showing of Woyzeck featuring Star Wars actor John Boyega.
This is a breaking news story and has been updated throughout. Bonnie Kristian
President Trump will return to Washington on Saturday after the second day of the G7 summit in Italy, completing his nine-day tour through Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Europe. Saturday morning, Trump claimed on Twitter that his speech in Brussels Thursday is already producing results:
Many NATO countries have agreed to step up payments considerably, as they should. Money is beginning to pour in- NATO will be much stronger.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2017
Trump's description of "payments" into a fund is misleading; NATO countries actually pledged in 2014 to hit a 2 percent of GDP target for their own defense spending. Only five allies have met that goal.
The president also used Twitter Saturday morning to address his decision on the 2015 Paris climate accord:
I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2017
The other G7 member nations — Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Britain, and Canada — are all urging Trump not to exit the agreement made by former President Obama. They reaffirmed their "strong commitment" to the accord on Saturday, but Trump declined to join the declaration at that time. However, the White House on Friday said Trump's views on climate change are "evolving." Bonnie Kristian
Two people were killed and a third injured on a commuter train in Portland, Oregon, on Friday, by a man witnesses said was "yelling a gamut of anti-Muslim and anti-everything slurs." Unverified reports suggest the suspect may have been targeting two Muslim girls riding the train, one of whom was wearing a hijab.
The victims were attempting to protect other passengers when they were stabbed. "Terrible tragedy on Portland's Max Train," Oregon's Sen. Jeff Merkley wrote on Twitter of the attack. "Champions of justice risked and lost their lives. Hate is evil."
The suspect has been detained by police, who have deemed his rant to be hate speech. Neither the attacker nor the victims have been publicly identified. Bonnie Kristian