In a series of early morning tweets from Mar-a-Lago on Wednesday, President Trump confirmed that CIA Director Mike Pompeo had met with North Korea's Kim Jong Un to prepare for a Trump-Kim summit and predicted that "denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!"; accused California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) of "trying to back out of the National Guard at the Border, but the people of the State are not happy. Want Security & Safety NOW!"; and issued his first tweet about Stormy Daniels, the pornographic actress who said she slept with him in 2006.
In his Daniels comment, Trump was responding to a tweet from an admirer who juxtaposed a photo of Daniels' ex-boyfriend with the sketch Daniels released Tuesday of a man she said threatened her to keep quiet about her affair with Trump, suggesting the two vaguely similar men were the same person. Trump apparently found the theory plausible:
A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)! https://t.co/9Is7mHBFda
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
Though, really, you could do a similar comparison with lots of men:
I knew it all along pic.twitter.com/uUkt3fDq8t
— Stone Cold (@stonecold2050) April 17, 2018
In any case, Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, appeared thrilled that Trump, once again, mentioned his client in public. He subtweeted Trump:
In my experience, there is nothing better in litigation than having a completely unhinged, undisciplined opponent who is prone to shooting himself in the foot. Always leads to BIGLY problems…like new claims (i.e. defamation). LOL. #xmas #hanukkah #basta
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) April 18, 2018
Avenatti is trying to get Daniels out of a nondisclosure agreement that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen paid her $130,000 to sign in October 2016. That payment is reportedly one of the reasons the FBI raided Cohen's office last week. Peter Weber
While President Trump was busy mean-tweeting Monday, first lady Melania Trump was addressing a cyberbullying conference. "Most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults," she said. "It can be used in many positive ways, but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly." Was she talking about her husband? Well, it fits a pattern: The two women closest to Trump, his wife, and daughter Ivanka Trump, occasionally issue a mild or ambiguous critique of something Trump said or did — splitting up migrant families, calling the press "the enemy of the people," trashing LeBron James — then deny they're rebuking him. What's going on? Here, three theories:
1. Melania is passive-aggressively punishing Trump
In her book Unhinged, Omarosa Manigault Newman suggests "Melania uses style to punish her husband" while "counting every minute until he is out of office and she can divorce him." For example, Melania wore that "I Really Don't Care Do U?" jacket, Manigault Newman writes, "to hurt Trump, setting off a controversy that he would have to fix."
2. Ivanka and Melania are medieval tropes
"Both Melania and Ivanka follow to a T the template of the medieval queen," who'd regularly "provide cover" for the king, says Sonja Drimmer at The Atlantic. "They are helping him project an image of strength, even when he is forced to back down, by framing his many reversals as responses to their pleas and not admissions of political weakness." Yes, "Melania has occasionally used her platform in this way, but it has been Ivanka's entire raison d’être in the Trump cinematic universe," agrees Christina Cauterucci at Slate.
3. Melania really just doesn't care
"Melania's just over it, and now I think she's starting to consistently realize that she can just, you know, slam Trump in a very classy way," Trevor Noah posited at The Daily Show. "She doesn't have to say anything to him, about him, she just says it about whatever he's speaking about." Peter Weber
The U.S. government deported a 95-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard early Tuesday, taking him from his house in New York City and flying him to Germany, the White House said Tuesday morning. The former guard, Jakiw Palij, admitted 25 years ago that he lied on his visa application, wrongly claiming he spent the war as a farmer and factory worker. In fact, the Justice Department says, he worked at the Trawniki concentration camp in 1943, when 6,000 prisoners were slaughtered in the camp; Palij claims he did not participate in war crimes.
A judge ordered Palji deported in 2004, a year after stripping him of U.S. citizenship for “participation in acts against Jewish civilians,” but Germany, Poland, and other countries refused to take him, The Associated Press reports. "Through extensive negotiations, President Trump and his team secured Palij's deportation to Germany and advanced the United States' collaborative efforts with a key European ally," the White House said Tuesday. Germany has not said what it plans to do with Palij; previously, German prosecutors said they probably don't have enough evidence to charge him for crimes committed during World War II. In 2009, the U.S. deported former Nazi guard John Demjanjuk; he died in 2012, still appealing his 2011 conviction. Peter Weber
President Trump's lawyers really don't want Trump to sit down with Special Counsel Robert Mueller for an interview in Mueller's investigation of Russian election interference and possible collusion or obstruction of justice by Trump or members of his team. Specifically, lead lawyer Rudy Giuliani argues that Mueller is setting a "perjury trap" for Trump.
Trump made his own version of that argument on Monday. "So if I say something and [former FBI Director James Comey] says something, and it's my word against his, and he's best friends with Mueller, so Mueller might say: 'Well, I believe Comey,' and even if I'm telling the truth, that makes me a liar," he told Reuters. "That's no good." On CNN Monday night, Chris Cuomo explained why Trump and Giuliani are wrong.
"Perjury traps" are a form of entrapment where prosecutors bring you in just to get you to lie, with no legitimate fact-finding objectives, Cuomo said. That's not the case with Mueller. "Perjury is what they're really worried about," he said, and perjury — "a material representation of fact for the purposes of deception" — is a crime, meaning it must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Giuliani knows this, Cuomo said, but he's intentionally spinning a narrative where Trump is being victimized.
To illustrate what the Trump team is afraid of, he showed the newly released memo that Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's Supreme Court pick, wrote in 1998 as part of the independent counsel's team prosecuting President Bill Clinton. The questions he wrote for Clinton are "salacious and disgusting" and "raunchy," but Kavanaugh also phrased them in a way would ensnare "someone like Trump," Cuomo said. "That's what his folks are worried about — not what will be done to Trump, but what he will do to himself when he's confronted by smarter people who are motivated to show that he has lied and falsely disparaged the special counsel." Watch below. Peter Weber
Trump defender Michael Mukasey grimaces on CNN at Trump's 'zany' claim he can 'run' the Mueller probe
President Trump told Reuters on Monday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of the Trump campaign and Russian election interference has "played right into the Russians — if it was Russia — they played right into the Russians' hands," and he blamed the probe for hindering his ability to strengthen ties with Moscow. "I can go in, and I could do whatever — I could run it if I want," he said of the investigation. "I'm totally allowed to be involved if I wanted to be. So far, I haven't chosen to be involved." On CNN Monday night Chris Cuomo asked former Attorney General Michael Mukasey about Trump's assertion.
Up to that point in the interview, Mukasey, who served during George W. Bush's last year in office, had defended Trump's conduct in the Mueller investigation, saying the president's fear of a "perjury trap" was "not entirely unreasonable" and White House Counsel Don McGahn's decision to cooperate extensively with Mueller "was helpful" to Trump and suggested no crimes were committed by the president.
But when Cuomo asked if Trump could really take over the Mueller investigation, Mukasey rolled his eyes. "Of course not, it's ridiculous," he said. Cuomo noted that Trump says he can. "He says a lot of things," Mukasey said. "You're here to defend that proposition, by the way," Cuomo said, laughing. "Come on," Mukasey said, sighing and trying to formulate a legal rationale. "But it would be zany. We would be living in an even more unreal world than we're living in now." Watch below. Peter Weber
CNN's @ChrisCuomo asked former attorney general Michael Mukasey what his reaction would be if President Trump decided to 'run' the Mueller probe: "I would shake myself and wake up. ... It would be zany. We would be living in an even more unreal world than we're living in now." pic.twitter.com/NcZoAC8MA6
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) August 21, 2018
The University of Miami's football team will make history with their uniforms during the season opener against LSU on Sept. 2.
The Hurricanes will become the first college team to don uniforms, cleats, and gloves made from repurposed ocean waste. Adidas worked with Parley for the Oceans, an organization that brings attention to the amount of plastic garbage in the world's oceans, to design the uniforms.
Each uniform is made with ECONYL yarn, repurposed from fishing nets and other nylon waste, USA Today reports. The uniforms are primarily orange, with wave and palm patterns to "pay homage to South Florida landscapes." Coach Mark Richt said in a statement the team is happy to "help promote sustainability around the world," as "community service has always been an integral part of our football program." Catherine Garcia
Microsoft said Tuesday it has shut down another six websites created by hackers linked to Russia's military intelligence, with the newest targets the U.S. Senate and two conservative think tanks critical of Russia and President Trump, the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute. Microsoft won a court order last year to shut down fake web domains created by the hacking group it calls Strontium, also known as Fancy Bear and APT 28, and including the six just shuttered, the company has used this legal authority to shut down 84 fake Strontium-created sites.
"We are now seeing another uptick in attacks," Microsoft President and chief legal officer Brad Smith told The New York Times on Monday. "These are organizations that are informally tied to Republicans," he added, "so we see them broadening beyond the sites they have targeted in the past." Microsoft discovered an attempted Strontium attack on Sen. Claire McCaskill's (D-Mo.) network in July, and the same group hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016, according to an indictment from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. "This activity is most fundamentally focused on disrupting democracy," Smith told The Associated Press, adding, "We have no doubt in our minds" who is responsible for the fake sites.
The spoofed websites of the Senate, Hudson Institute, and IRI contained malware that would make anyone who clicked on the sites vulnerable to hacking, surveillance, and data theft, but Smith said there's no indication anyone actually clicked on the sites while they were live. Thomas Rid at Johns Hopkins University says "Microsoft is playing whack-a-mole here," because the sites are "easy to register and bring back up" when shut down. "These attacks keep happening because they work," he said. "They are successful again and again." You can read more about how Russia is working to disrupt America's 2018 elections at The Week. Peter Weber
Protesters tore down a statue of a Confederate soldier Monday night on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Silent Sam was erected in 1913, a gift from the United Daughters of the Confederacy. In a statement, the university said there was a crowd of about 250 protesters, and a small group brought Silent Sam down, adding: "Tonight's actions were dangerous, and we are very fortunate that no one was injured. We are investigating the vandalism and assessing the full extent of the damage." Gov. Roy Cooper's (D) official Twitter account posted a message saying he "understands that many people are frustrated by the pace of change and he shares their frustration, but violent destruction of public property has no place in our communities."
For years, students, alumni, and faculty members have been calling for the removal of the controversial statue. CBS News reports that recently, UNC Board of Governors Chairman Harry Smith said "neither UNC-Chapel Hill nor the UNC system have the legal authority to unilaterally relocate the Silent Sam statue," and there was a meeting scheduled for Wednesday in the state Capitol to discuss the monument. Catherine Garcia