On Monday, Fox News, citing "multiple sources," reported that Susan Rice, national security adviser to former President Barack Obama, had asked intelligence agencies to "unmask" the names of Trump transition officials caught up in foreign surveillance, then sent the unmasked names to a handful of top intelligence officials. Monday night, CBS News reported that "a former national security official" partially confirmed the report, saying Rice did sometimes ask that certain names be unmasked when crucial to understanding the context of a report, but did not ask for the unmasked names to be disseminated broadly. Rice's alleged actions would appear to be legal.
Names of U.S. citizens are "masked" when they are caught up incidentally in surveillance of foreign officials, and National Security Council officials can request the unmasking of names. Such requests have to be approved by the head of the agency that provided the intelligence. The CBS News source said Rice's requests were not specially related to the Trump transition team, though the former official did not dispute that Rice has requested the unmasking of Trump-related names.
An unidentified "person close to Rice" told CNN Monday night that Rice never "improperly sought the identity of Americans," adding: "There is nothing unusual about making these requests when serving as a senior national security official, whether Democrat or Republican." CNN's Jim Sciutto said that not only is "unmasking" names legal under "protocols that have been put in place since 9/11 to allow this to happen," but "I'm told that it is very meticulously logged — someone said to me, described it's like Catholic baptismal records, it's so well logged. You can't do this in secret, and you have to do it with the approval of the intelligence community."
Back at Fox News, Shepard Smith noted the Rice allegations on Monday afternoon and more or less accused the White House of focusing on unmasking to distract from the real story. Wall Street Journal associate editor John Bussey said his newspaper had not yet confirmed Rice's involvement, but even if it does, "it will be a factor in the discussion, I can't imagine it's going to change the core narrative here, which is who in the Trump campaign was communicating with the Russians, what were those conversations about, did they in any way affect the U.S. electoral process?" Watch below. Peter Weber
In August of 2016, President Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., met in Trump Tower with an emissary of two Saudi princes offering his father help in winning the presidential election, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Per the Times report, the meeting was arranged by Erik Prince, founder of the private military firm formerly known as Blackwater and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Also present was an Israeli social media specialist who wanted to work for the campaign.
Trump Jr. said through a representative the meeting happened, but he rejected the offers. The Times story says otherwise, citing unnamed sources to report "Trump Jr. responded approvingly," and the emissary, George Nader, "was quickly embraced as a close ally by Trump campaign advisers — meeting frequently with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump's son-in-law, and Michael T. Flynn, who became the president's first national security adviser." The social media specialist, Joel Zamel, was later paid a "large sum of money" by Nader, though the reason for the payment is disputed.
Saturday Night Live veteran Tina Fey closed out the show's 43rd season hosting a star-studded episode. Her 30 Rock costar, Alec Baldwin, returned once again as President Trump, and Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller reprised their recent appearances as Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Trump attorney Michael Cohen, respectively.
But not every cameo happened in character: Jerry Seinfeld, Fred Armisen, Donald Glover, Anne Hathaway, Tracy Jordan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Rock, and more showed up for a meta bit about whether the show is disadvantaging newer cast members by bringing in so many celebrities for choice roles.
Watch the cold open and Fey's monologue below. Bonnie Kristian
After extensive trade negotiations, Washington and Beijing said in a joint statement Saturday China will buy more American exports.
"To meet the growing consumption needs of the Chinese people and the need for high-quality economic development, China will significantly increase purchases of United States goods and services," the statement said. "This will help support growth and employment in the United States. Both sides agreed on meaningful increases in United States agriculture and energy exports."
The statement did not specify the quantity or timeline of the increase, nor did it say whether China would be exempted from President Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs. Rather, the "United States will send a team to China to work out the details." Bonnie Kristian
President Trump tweeted Saturday evening in apparent response to Friday's news that an American academic working as an FBI informant met with several members of his 2016 campaign as part of the agency's then-beginning probe into Russian election meddling.
If the FBI or DOJ was infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign, that is a really big deal. Only the release or review of documents that the House Intelligence Committee (also, Senate Judiciary) is asking for can give the conclusive answers. Drain the Swamp!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2018
Friday's New York Times report about the informant said there is no evidence "the informant acted improperly" or that the inquiry was "politically motivated." Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has already subpoenaed the Justice Department for documents pertaining to the informant, and House Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said Friday the FBI's actions, if reports are correct, are "as wrong as it gets." Bonnie Kristian
The 10 people killed in Friday's mass shooting at Santa Fe High School near Houston, Texas, were identified by Galveston County authorities Saturday: Sabika Sheikh, Ann Perkins, Angelique Ramirez, Shana Fisher, Kim Vaughan, Chris Stone, Cynthia Tisdale, Christian "Riley" Garcia, Jared Conard Black, and Kyle McLeod.
Perkins and Tisdale were substitute teachers; the other eight victims were Santa Fe students. Houston Texans player J.J. Watt has announced he will cover the cost of all 10 funerals.
Sheikh was an exchange student from Pakistan, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday sent his "deepest condolences" to her loved ones. "I don't blame the murder of my girl on American society but on that terrorism mindset that is there in all societies. We need to fight it all over the world," said her uncle, Ansar Sheikh. "I do ask the American government to make sure weapons will not be easily available in your country to anybody. Please make sure this doesn't happen again. It really hurts."
The suspect, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, has been arrested on multiple murder charges. He has given a statement "admitting to shooting multiple people" and reportedly told police he "did not shoot students he did like so he could have his story told." Bonnie Kristian
"She is resting comfortably and remains in high spirits," said a statement from her staff. "Our office has received thousands of calls and emails wishing Mrs. Trump well, and we thank everyone who has taken the time to reach out."
The embolization procedure, which is designed to block blood flow to a benign tumor or other abnormal tissue growth, was completed without complications. Bonnie Kristian
President Trump spent much of his first week in office making the demonstrably false claim that the crowd at his inauguration was the "biggest audience in the history of inaugural speeches" — and the BBC has not forgotten. BBC Three, which offers programming aimed at young adult audiences, seized the occasion of the royal wedding on Saturday to send out a snarky tweet:
just saying ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ pic.twitter.com/1zoOGFKeU3
— BBC Three (@bbcthree) May 19, 2018
All joking aside, though the London crowd may look larger in the photos included in the tweet, Reuters UK has estimated only 100,000 people turned out to watch the wedding in person. If that figure is correct, the wedding crowd is substantially smaller than Trump's inaugural audience, which federal agency estimates put at about 800,000.
In television viewership, however, the wedding has the inauguration beat: Early reports say the nuptials were watched by up to 2 billion people worldwide; domestic TV viewership of Trump's inauguration was 31 million. Bonnie Kristian