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June 2, 2017

President Trump was always inclined to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement to fight climate change, and he announced Thursday he will do so, after months of contentious White House debate that didn't even really take into account "the environmental and public health consequences of climate change," according to Axios. Case in point:

Instead, business leaders, economic adviser Gary Cohn, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and daughter Ivanka Trump spoke of the economic and diplomatic problems of quitting the global accord. They were outmaneuvered by chief strategist Stephen Bannon, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and budget chief Mick Mulvaney, who brought in reams of charts and statistics dismissed as "either erroneous, scientifically dubious, misleading, or out of date" by opponents of ditching the Paris Agreement, The Washington Post reports.

Trump's "final, deliberative verdict was the same as his initial, gut-level one," the Post says, basing its "account of Trump's decision-making process" on interviews with "more than a dozen administration officials, Trump confidants, Republican operatives, and European diplomats." Kellyanne Conway said that Trump "stayed where he's always been, and not for a lack of trying by those who have an opposite opinion." Some of that trying came from European leaders, who marshaled economic, moral, environmental, and global power arguments to persuade Trump to keep the U.S. in the agreement during the G7 summit in Sicily.

That might have backfired, The Washington Post says. "One senior White House official characterized disappointing European allies as 'a secondary benefit' of Trump's decision to withdraw." And there was one "nudge" to quit Paris in particular, from French President Emmanuel Macron:

Macron was quoted in a French journal talking about his white-knuckled handshake with Trump at their first meeting in Brussels, where the newly elected French president gripped Trump's hand tightly and would not let go for six long seconds in a show of alpha-male fortitude. ... Hearing smack-talk from the Frenchman 31 years his junior irritated and bewildered Trump, aides said. A few days later, Trump got his revenge. He proclaimed from the Rose Garden, "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris." [The Washington Post]

Pittsburgh, it should be noted, took Europe's side. And Macron may have gotten, once again, the last laugh. Peter Weber

6:33 a.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Sept. 26, six days after Hurricane Maria brutalized Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) signed a contract worth up to $300 million with Whitefish Energy to work on the island's ravaged electrical infrastructure, the company said last week. When Maria hit, two-year-old Whitefish had just two employees, The Washington Post reports. It has since hired 280 linemen and other workers, mostly subcontractors, for its Puerto Rico job.

Before the huge Puerto Rico deal, Whitefish had never handled a federal contract bigger than $1.3 million, to repair and upgrade parts of a 4.8-mile transmission line in Arizona within 11 months. Puerto Rico has 2,400 miles of transmission lines, 30,000 miles of distribution lines, and 300 substations, and Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has promised that 95 percent of the territory's power will be restored by Christmas, from 23 percent currently — a goal Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski says may not be possible. The decision by bankrupt Puerto Rico to hire a small for-profit company rather than drawing on existing "mutual aid" agreements with power utilities in other states, as would be more common after a natural disaster, has drawn scrutiny in Congress, The Washington Post notes.

Whitefish Energy is based in Whitefish, Montana — population 6,357 — the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Zinke and Techmanski say they know each other — but only because "everybody knows everybody" in Whitefish, Zinke's office told the Post — and both men say Zinke was not involved in securing the Puerto Rico contract. Once the contract was secured, Techmanski told NBC Montana in late September, he contacted Zinke to ask for help getting workers and supplies to Puerto Rico. You can read more about the contract, why it's unusual, and Whitefish's claim to expertise at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

5:21 a.m. ET

President Trump sat down for an interview with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo over the weekend, and she "immediately held Trump's feet to the fire — to make sure they were nice and cozy," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "But Bartiromo wasn't the only one praising Trump — so was Trump." Specifically, Trump praised his use of Twitter. Also over the weekend, Trump "tweenounced" that he will release the JFK documents that have been stored under seal in the National Archives.

After running through some perfunctory conspiracy theorizing, Colbert noted that in fact, Congress ordered the documents released this month back in 1992. Most people believe that the documents should be unsealed, but since Lee Harvey Oswald took a mysterious trip to Mexico weeks before the JFK assassination, "some historians are concerned the documents could be damaging to U.S.-Mexico relations," Colbert said. "Oh, I think that ship has sailed." Some people also theorize that Trump took credit for a pre-scheduled event to distract from his latest fight with a Gold Star family, and Colbert imagined some other secrets Trump could drop when he runs into political hot water.

Colbert also checked in on the feud between Trump and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), starting with Trump's 2015 dig about captured war heroes. Trump, he reminded everyone, got five deferments from serving in Vietnam, one of them for bone spurs, then later joked that avoiding sexually transmitted diseases was his own personal Vietnam, a claim Colbert took to his logical conclusion. Two and a half years later, McCain got his revenge with a brutal swipe at Trump's bone spurs, and Colbert was impressed: "Damn, I really wish McCain was my high school science teacher, because he clearly does not give an F." Peter Weber

4:24 a.m. ET

"We are, sadly, in the midst of a flurry of sexual assault and harassment allegations against some pretty big names in show biz — producers like Harvey Weinstein, directors like James Toback, even former reality show hosts," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. But he wanted to talk about Bill O'Reilly and his sixth reported payout to settle sexual harassment claims, this one for $32 million. "Which is exactly the sort of thing you do when you're innocent," Colbert said, getting some comedic mileage out of the fact that O'Reilly's latest accuser, Liz Wiehl, appeared on an O'Reilly Factor segment called "Is It Legal?"

Colbert found O'Reilly's explanation for why he sent gay pornography to Wiehl a little suspect, and explained why. "But there's a twist," he added, noting that Fox News knew O'Reilly reached a settlement in January then gave him a raise in February, agreeing to a four-year, $25 million annual contract. "He got a $25 million payout?" Colbert asked. "What did Bill O'Reilly do to Bill O'Reilly?" He suggested that maybe Fox extended O'Reilly's contract because it meant that while he was on camera, "that was one hour a day they knew he's not groping somebody." Colbert wasn't much more impressed with Fox's actual reasoning, and you can watch his "fool me once..." takedown below. Peter Weber

3:44 a.m. ET
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday, the Iditarod Trail Committee identified four-time champion Dallas Seavey as the musher whose dogs tested positive for a banned substance, the opioid pain reliever Tramadol, after initially declining to release his name, citing legal advice and a lack of proof of intent to dope. A group of 83 current and former competitors in the 1,000-mile Alaska dogsled race had demanded Monday morning that the committee identify the suspected musher within 72 hours, prompting an emergency meeting. After the meeting, the Iditarod organizers said they had decided to name Seavey due to the "level of unhealthy speculation involved in this matter."

In a video posted on Facebook Monday evening, Seavey denied giving banned drugs to his dogs and said he has withdrawn from the 2018 race, because he won't be "thrown under the bus." Seavey, 30, said he has "done absolutely nothing wrong" and doesn't care if he ever races again. He added that he would probably have been banned from the race anyway, citing the Iditarod Trail Committee's rule against mushers criticizing the race or its sponsors. This is the first case of banned substances found in dogs in the Iditarod's history. Peter Weber

2:47 a.m. ET

George Clooney stepped into the long-running (presumably fake) feud between Matt Damon and Jimmy Kimmel on Monday's Kimmel Live, and he used his newborn twins as bait. "The babies are here," Clooney said. "Would you like to see them?" He called out his "manny," Damon, who proceeded to get the better of Kimmel in a volley of taunts. "You know what, George? I feel like you betrayed me in a way," Kimmel said, reasonably. And then Damon — who has been pretending to try to get on Kimmel's show for years — brought out the "twins," which are safe for work due to image-blurring. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:24 a.m. ET

Former Fox News star Bill O'Reilly is really angry and aggrieved about the New York Times report that he paid $32 million in January to settle claims that he repeatedly sexually harassed and engaged in "a nonconsensual sexual relationship" with a longtime Fox News analyst, six months before Fox News fired him for other, smaller sexual harassment payouts. "If they could literally kill me, they would," he said of his critics on his web-only series, No Spin News, on Monday, CNNMoney reports. Specifically, he is mad at the news media he says is trying to destroy him — probably now including former colleague Megyn Kelly — and he said he's also angry at God for letting this happen to him.

"You know, am I mad at God? Yeah, I'm mad at him," O'Reilly said. "I wish I had more protection. I wish this stuff didn't happen. I can't explain it to you. Yeah, I'm mad at him." He has consistently denied sexually harassing and assaulting women, but he has not denied the $32 million settlement. "If I die tomorrow and I get an opportunity," O'Reilly said on his show, "I'll say, 'Why'd you guys work me over like that? Didn't [you] know my children were going to be punished? And they're innocent.'" As CNN's Anderson Cooper notes below, O'Reilly often brings up his children when confronted with sexual misconduct allegations. You can watch Brian Stelter's recap of the latest O'Reilly saga, plus hear O'Reilly curse out The New York Times, in the video below. Peter Weber

1:54 a.m. ET

Trevor Noah may have no idea what it means to call someone an "empty barrel," but he's sure of one thing: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly needs to apologize to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) after he "successfully maligned" the congresswoman last week.

When Kelly replaced Reince Priebus over the summer, it was an appointment widely praised, with pundits calling him "a force for good." This sounded extreme — "It's not the Death Star, everyone in there is supposed to be a force for good," Noah said on Monday's Daily Show — but the retired four-star general was well-respected and seemed likely to be able to control President Trump. That's why it came as a surprise when he "put his credibility on the line" last week and defended Trump after Wilson said she heard Trump's "insensitive" remarks to Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed earlier this month in Niger.

"He didn't just step into the fight, he started throwing punches," Noah said. Kelly ridiculed Wilson for listening to Trump's phone call, even though he also heard the conversation since he was next to Trump, and then attacked Wilson's character, calling her an "empty barrel." "Where I come from, you don't call someone an empty barrel, because no one knows what that means," Noah joked. Kelly also claimed Wilson bragged about securing funding for an FBI building in Florida, but video later released by a local newspaper showed she spent her time saluting law enforcement. People believed him, though, because "John Kelly would never say anything that wasn't true — or so we thought," Noah said. Now, it's time for him to make things right with Wilson, a former educator and founder of the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project. "She's not an empty barrel," Noah said. "She's someone who deserves an apology." Catherine Garcia

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