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June 19, 2017

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.

On Monday, White House counselor and chief spinmeister Kellyanne Conway doubled down on that claim:

"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

June 11, 2017
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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."

Update 12:54 p.m.: The White House also denied the Guardian report. Bonnie Kristian

May 21, 2017

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.

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

May 7, 2017
Associated Press

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

May 6, 2017
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

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

April 20, 2017
China Photos/Getty Images

President Trump is expected to sign a memo Thursday initiating a probe into whether imported steel is harming U.S. national security, Reuters reports. Leaders of American steel companies will be on hand for the signing.

The directive asks Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to launch the investigation "with all deliberate speed and deliver the results to the president with his recommendations." Ross began the project Wednesday night.

The memo references the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which allows the president to limit specific imports if national security is at risk. In this case, an unnamed official told Reuters, the risk could come from use of inferior foreign steel alloys to make military equipment. Bonnie Kristian

April 7, 2017
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A new batch of CIA documents published by WikiLeaks on Friday includes 27 manuals detailing a malware installer framework codenamed "Grasshopper."

This software allows the spy agency to get around computer security measures to secretly install "customized malware payloads" — basically, weaponized programs that operate without the computer owner's permission or knowledge — that are tailored to the target's computer.

Grasshopper can be used with a module dubbed "Stolen Goods," which in turn uses a third-party malware called Carberp, which is thought to be code of Russian origin. The Carberp code the CIA employs is reportedly substantially modified and its components "were carefully analyzed for hidden functionality, backdoors, [and] vulnerabilities" that could put CIA malware projects at risk of external interference. Bonnie Kristian

March 11, 2017
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Where does President Trump's chief strategist Stephen Bannon live? Or rather, where did he live during his rise to the White House?

That's the question asked in a lengthy new Washington Post profile of the president's close confidant, which attempts to trace Bannon's complicated tax and residency records across multiple states:

He owned a house and condo in Southern California, where he had entertainment and consulting businesses, a driver's license, and a checking account. He claimed Florida as his residence, registering to vote in Miami and telling authorities he lived at the same address as his third ex-wife.

At the same time, he routinely stayed in Washington and New York as he engineered the expansion of Breitbart News and hosted a live Breitbart radio program. By 2015, Bannon stayed so often at Breitbart's townhouse headquarters on Capitol Hill that he kept a picture of a daughter on a mantle piece, beneath a portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

Bannon told a friend that year he was living in multiple cities, including Washington, New York, London, and Miami ... and, in January 2015, bought a townhouse as a second home in Pinehurst, North Carolina. [The Washington Post]

One particularly odd passage describes a house Bannon leased in Miami with his third ex-wife, Diane Clohesy, in 2013. By the time he shut off water and sewer service to the property in 2015, the landlord reported finding padlocks on interior doors and a "destroyed" hot tub. The "entire Jacuzzi bathtub seems to have been covered in acid," the landlord said in an email to Bannon. "I'm out of town, is there any way u can talk with Diane and sort things out ???" Bannon replied.

Read the entire Post piece here. Bonnie Kristian

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