While new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci takes a "fire everyone" approach to dealing with leaks, embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to shortly launch criminal investigations to catch the executive branch leakers that have so frustrated President Trump.
Multiple unnamed officials told The Washington Post in a report published Tuesday evening that "Sessions is due to announce in coming days a number of criminal leak investigations based on news accounts of sensitive intelligence information." Fox News reported the same thing Wednesday, apparently citing a different official, who said the announcement has "been in the works for some time and will most likely happen sometime in the next week."
This comes as Trump continues his public attacks on Sessions, seemingly pushing the attorney general to resign. Among his complaints, the president said Tuesday, is that Sessions should "be much tougher on leaks in the intelligence agencies that are leaking like they never have before. ... You can't let that happen." Bonnie Kristian
Tourists, mostly American, visiting Israel's Gush Etzion settlement in the West Bank territory have a controversial attraction available to them, Reuters reports: a "counter-terror boot camp" offering participants a two-hour training in how to respond to a terrorist attack in a marketplace. Tourists are armed with mock weapons which they use to play out intense hypothetical scenarios in the experience arranged by a company called Caliber 3, which was founded by an officer in the Israeli army reserves:
Taking in the scene of a simulated fruit market in an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, a group of tourists ponders whether a poster-size figure of an Arab man holding a cellphone is a threat and should be shot. [...] Admission includes watching former Israeli commandos take down an "attacker" and other means to thwart assaults, including the use of an attack dog. Adults can shoot live rounds at a firing range. [Reuters]
While organizers say the training offers valuable information and an engaging experience, the boot camp has proven contentious not only for its content — it is also organized on land Palestinians want for their own independent state. "The participation of tourists in training in these camps built on occupied Palestinian land means that they support the occupation and we ask them to stop it," said Mayor Yasser Sobih al-Khader, a nearby Palestinian town. Bonnie Kristian
Is President Trump trying to run the White House like a city hall? That's the proposal of Politico's Jack Shafer, who argues much of Trump's behavior that strikes us as strange in a president would make sense in a mayor:
Our classic big-city mayors all cut a similar figure. Even after winning office, they kept campaigning, stumping for their causes without apology. They blustered in the name of the neighborhoods, the parishes, and the synagogues. They feuded with their enemies. Loudly. They "fixed" things, looked for deal-making partners and struck alliances. They maintained peace between labor and capital, and they kept civil order. They played the booster. The classic mayors knew how to shame companies from moving their headquarters out of town, how to crowd their way to the center of any photo opportunity, how to junket, and how to get results. Most of all, classic mayors were virtuosos in the art of blowing their own horns. [Politico]
Trump seems most in his element, Shafer notes, when he engages in the sort of "civic theater that mayors specialize in" — the photo-ops and dramatic, well-publicized slayings of what are really rather tiny dragons. The "America's mayor" theory also explains Trump's predilection toward rule by personal influence and edict: City councils can be manhandled in a way Congress, the judiciary, and federal bureaucracy cannot. Read Shafer's full analysis here. Bonnie Kristian
Kellyanne Conway also has an alternative facts explanation of Trump's 'I am being investigated' tweet
On Sunday, President Trump's attorney, Jay Sekulow, argued Trump's "I am being investigated" tweet does not, in fact, mean the president is being investigated. "There is not an investigation of the president of the United States, period," Sekulow insisted on NBC News.
Why did Trump tweet "I am being investigated?" Kellyanne Conway: "In his 140 characters...telling everybody, 'wow, look at the irony here'" pic.twitter.com/1afuUPvPzp
— David Wright (@DavidWright_CNN) June 19, 2017
"That's the president's personal lawyer. He's saying that nobody has ever notified the president that he's under investigation," Conway said of Sekulow's comments in an appearance on Fox News. The tweet, meanwhile, was "the president responding to a Washington Post report that included five anonymous sources. And that's the president, in his 140 characters, through his significant social media platform, Ainsley, telling everybody, 'Wow, look at the irony here.'"
Conway and Sekulow appear to be referring to this Wednesday Post piece citing five unnamed sources reporting Trump is under investigation for possible obstruction of justice, a story with which Trump's tweet apparently agreed. If Conway is correct, however, the real story may be that our president is a subtle and accomplished ironist of the highest caliber. Bonnie Kristian
British Prime Minister Theresa May's office on Sunday denied a report in The Guardian that President Trump's planned state visit to the U.K. has been put on hold to avoid embarrassment.
Trump in a private call with May said "he does not want to go ahead with a state visit to Britain until the British public supports him coming" and "he did not want to come if there were large-scale protests and his remarks in effect put the visit on hold for some time," The Guardian reported, citing an unnamed "Downing Street adviser who was in the room."
"We aren't going to comment on speculation about the contents of private phone conversations," May's representative retorted. "The queen extended an invitation to President Trump to visit the U.K. and there is no change to those plans."
Self-proclaimed DHS candidate Sheriff David Clarke reportedly plagiarized the ACLU for his master's thesis
Controversial Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who claimed this past week he accepted a high-level position in the Department of Homeland Security, plagiarized multiple portions of his master's thesis in 2013, CNN reported Saturday night. The paper earned him a degree in security studies at the Naval Postgraduate School, which told CNN it will conduct an investigation.
CNN's KFile found 47 instances of improperly attributed language, with passages quoted verbatim from cited sources but not designated as quotes using either quotation marks or indented text. Among the documents the Trump campaign surrogate copied were multiple reports from the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as former President George W. Bush's book, Decision Points.
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) May 20, 2017
Clarke responded on Twitter by suggesting the CNN report is a partisan attempt to undermine his career. He retweeted a post arguing that because the sources were cited, it does not matter whether the quotes were presented as Clarke's own words.
DHS has not confirmed Clarke's claim of a job offer. As The Washington Post's Radley Balko has documented at length, Clarke's tenure at Milwaukee County has been marked by allegations of "abuse and neglect at his jail." One inmate in the county jail died of "profound dehydration" after guards cut off his access to water for a week. In another case, a woman was forced to give birth alone, without medical assistance, in her cell. Her lawsuit says guards "laughed at her" when she begged for help, and her baby died shortly after birth.
Clarke has also recommended "rounding up American citizens who 'sympathize' with terrorists and sending them to the prison at Guantanamo Bay without a trial or hearing," estimating 1 million such arrests are necessary. His master's thesis was entitled, "Making U.S. security and privacy rights compatible." Bonnie Kristian
Journalists were banned from two investment and immigration events in China featuring Nicole Kushner Meyer, the sister of Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser and the son-in-law of President Trump.
One event was in Beijing on Saturday and the other in Shanghai on Sunday; both invited wealthy Chinese citizens to invest at least $500,000 in Kushner development projects so they could obtain an EB-5 investor visa to the United States. Attendees were urged to invest sooner than later in case the Trump administration made that visa more difficult to obtain.
In Beijing, reporters were initially allowed to observe the event but then ejected. An organizer told The Washington Post journalists must leave because "this is not the story we want." In Shanghai the next day, reporters were not allowed to enter the publicly advertised "private event." Bonnie Kristian
President Trump suggested he may consider a federal financial assistance program for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) unconstitutional in comments concluding a signing statement accompanying his Friday approval of the $1.2 trillion spending package that funds Washington through September.
As first reported by Politico, the statement says the Trump administration "shall treat provisions that allocate benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender," including the HBCU Capital Financing Program Account, "in a manner consistent with the requirement to afford equal protection of the laws under the Due Process Clause of the Constitution's Fifth Amendment." The program in question provides low-cost financing for HBCUs to build or repair campus facilities.
A response from Cheryl Smith of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) said the organization is "puzzled by this provision and seeking clarification from the White House as to its meaning." It may be that the Office of Management and Budget is simply "being overly cautious," Smith said. The White House and the Department of Education, which oversees the financing program, did not respond to Politico's requests for comment.
In February, Trump signed an executive order pledging his support to HBCUs, calling the schools "an absolute priority for this White House." The occasion sparked controversy when Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called HBCUs the "real pioneers when it comes to school choice." Bonnie Kristian