×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
May 19, 2017
Eric Thayer/Getty Images

The ongoing probe into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign has reportedly identified a current White House official as "a significant person of interest," The Washington Post reports. The individual was described by people familiar with the matter as being "someone close to the president," although the sources declined to name names.

So far, President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, have been the public centers of the investigation. Neither is a part of the current administration. "Current administration officials who have acknowledged contacts with Russian officials include Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as Cabinet members Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson," the Post writes.

Kushner, for one, was a "prominent voice advocating Comey's firing," CBS writes. On Friday, The New York Times reported that Trump told Russian officials he had fired Comey in order to ease the pressure of the ongoing probe.

The White House also has acknowledged that Kushner met with [Sergey] Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., in late November. Kushner also has acknowledged that he met with the head of a Russian development bank, Vnesheconombank, which has been under U.S. sanctions since July 2014. The president's son-in-law initially omitted contacts with foreign leaders from a national security questionnaire, though his lawyer has said publicly he submitted the form prematurely and informed the FBI soon after he would provide an update.

Vnesheconombank handles development for the state, and in early 2015, a man purporting to be one of its New York-based employees was arrested and accused of being an unregistered spy. [The Washington Post]

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told the Post that "as the president has stated before, a thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity."

The Washington Post adds that "people familiar with the matter said investigators on the case are more focused on Russian influence operations and possible financial crimes" and that "the probe has sharpened into something more fraught for the White House, the FBI, and the Justice Department — particularly because of the public steps investigators know they now need to take." Read the full scoop at The Washington Post. Jeva Lange

10:35 a.m. ET

Saudi Arabian women can legally drive for the first time in decades as of Sunday, when the cancellation of the national ban on women drivers officially went into effect. Riyadh announced its plan to lift the ban last year, and since then, women have obtained driver's licenses but were not yet able to use them.

"I feel like I'm surprised — am I really driving in my own country?" said Mona Al-Fares, a doctor. "I feel happy, relieved. I feel like I'm free."

Saudi Arabia was the last country in the world to prohibit female drivers. Most Saudi women have yet to obtain licenses, and wait lists for gender-segregated driving classes are long. Watch a few delighted early adopters take their first legal drives below. Bonnie Kristian

8:46 a.m. ET

President Trump spoke at a campaign rally for Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) in Las Vegas Saturday evening, urging his audience to vote against Heller's opponent, Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), whom Trump called "Wacky Jacky." A "vote for her is a vote for increased taxes," Trump claimed. "Weak borders. It is really a vote for crime."

The president also weighed in on key current issues for his administration, positing that trade relations will "work out" somehow. "The trade stuff is coming along, just starting, but it's going to happen because, you know, we're the piggy bank that everybody likes to rob from," he said.

On immigration, Trump argued the U.S. has "to be very strong," adding that his administration is doing "a very good job." Of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un he said, "We have a good chemistry together. We get along great. He's a smart, tough guy. He's a great negotiator."

Trump also took the opportunity to slam Sen. John McCain (R) of nearby Arizona. Though he did not mention McCain by name, Trump critiqued the senator for his crucial "no" vote on the GOP health care bill last year. The two men have a history of poor relations: Trump has belittled McCain's history as a prisoner of war, saying he prefers "people who weren't captured;" and McCain, who has been diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer, has said Trump lacks "principles and beliefs."

Watch Trump's full speech below. Bonnie Kristian

8:24 a.m. ET
John Moore/Getty Images

The Trump administration released a plan Saturday night to reunite migrant families who were separated before President Trump signed his executive order reversing his own policy of splitting up children and parents at the border.

The plan ties reunification to deportation proceedings: Parents will have to request their children share the result of their deportation hearings. Once the process is complete, the children will either be deported with their parents or, if the family is permitted to stay in the U.S., parents can apply to sponsor their children upon release.

Some parents may not elect to use this process to protect their children from violence in their home countries. It is unclear how many parents of separated children may have already been deported before this plan was implemented and how long this plan will take. Children awaiting the results of their parents' proceedings will remain in detention at least for several weeks.

Administration officials said 2,053 separated children remain in detention and their locations around the country are documented. Reunification will primarily happen at the Port Isabel Service Processing Center in Brownsville, Texas. Parents trying to determine if a child is held by the Department of Health and Human Services have been directed to contact the Office of Refugee Resettlement National Call Center at 1-800-203-7001 or information@ORRNCC.com. Bonnie Kristian

June 23, 2018

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday became the third member of the Trump administration to have trouble dining out this week.

Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller was heckled while eating at a Mexican restaurant. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen left a different Mexican establishment after about a dozen protesters surrounded her table yelling "shame." And Sanders was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant by its owner.

The incident was first noted online by a social media user claiming to have been her server and later confirmed by Sanders herself:

Since the story broke, The Red Hen's Facebook and Yelp pages have been flooded with predictably political reviews both for and against the owner's decision. "I live in the Midwest and have already heard what you did to Mrs. Sanders and her party," wrote one reviewer. "What a total disgrace you are! Talk about Nazis!!"

"We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone," snarked another. "No shirt, no truth, no service..." Bonnie Kristian

June 23, 2018

Former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee posted a tweet Saturday morning in which he suggested House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is in league with the MS-13 gang, a favorite subject of President Trump and his allies when talking immigration policy:

Huckabee's comment appears to come in response to Pelosi's pushback on Trump's repeated use of the word "animals" to describe gang members: Pelosi said she believes the label is inappropriate because it ignores the basic human dignity and "spark of divinity" in every person. Trump has said this means she "loves MS-13."

The tweet promptly came under fire on Saturday:

As The Washington Post's Dave Weigel noted, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is actually responsible for electing Democrats to the House, and its "chairman (Ben Ray Lujan) and executive director (Dan Sena) are both Hispanic." The president will be a guest on Huckabee's TV show Saturday night. Bonnie Kristian

June 23, 2018
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Implementation of President Trump's hastily crafted executive order reversing his administration's policy of separating families at the border reportedly has the executive branch in chaos. "It was policy based on a PR-messaging impulse," light on detail and heavy on speed, a source familiar with administration discussions told Politico.

Trump originally wanted to make comprehensive immigration law by fiat, a Friday night Washington Post story says, but was told by government attorneys that was not possible (or, as one unnamed official put it, "a pretty insane idea"). He then demanded the order on family separation be crafted in less than one day to quell public uproar, a quick solution Politico reports has left the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and Defense unsure of how to proceed.

Especially uncertain, says ABC News, is how to reunite families already separated. All migrant children in the care of Customs and Border Protection have been returned to their families, but up to 3,000 are still held by the Department of Health and Human Services, and some have been shipped clear across the country.

"It's devastating because I already know when I meet [clients] for the first time, and they start telling me that they are [a] parent, that I'm not gonna have the answers that they want in any time that they should have," Texas immigration lawyer Erik A. Henshaw told ABC. "I don't know if I'll find them during their case. I don't know if it'll happen when you get to immigration proceedings. I don't know if you're going to be deported or removed and have never actually found and/or had contact with your child." Bonnie Kristian

June 23, 2018

Katie Arrington, the South Carolina state representative who defeated Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) in his GOP primary race this month, has been seriously injured in a car crash, her campaign announced Saturday.

Arrington was riding with a friend when their vehicle was struck by another driver going the wrong way on the highway. The driver of the other car did not survive. Arrington is expected to remain hospitalized for several weeks to undergo multiple surgeries.

"My thoughts and prayers are with Representative Katie Arrington of South Carolina, including all of those involved in last nights car accident, and their families," President Trump tweeted Saturday morning. Bonnie Kristian

See More Speed Reads