May 26, 2018

The Trump administration on Friday announced it has made a deal to help a Chinese telecom, ZTE, shuttered by a U.S. Commerce Department export ban. ZTE obtains about one quarter of its manufacturing components from American businesses, and it suspended operations earlier this month after the administration imposed sanctions as a penalty for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

On Twitter Friday evening, Trump used the deal as an avenue to criticize Democrats:

Trump's plan to get ZTE "back into business, fast," as he put it in an initial tweet on the subject earlier this month, has produced widespread confusion given his adversarial stance toward foreign manufacturers on the campaign trail. Some members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have suggested they may attempt to block the new arrangement on national security grounds. Bonnie Kristian

9:13 a.m. ET

Communication is key to any delicate relationship — but perhaps to none moreso than the relationship between outfielders.

The New York Mets learned that the hard way Monday, when left-fielder Dom Smith came crashing into shortstop Amed Rosario on a routine pop-up, causing Rosario to flub the catch and ultimately allowing the San Francisco Giants to score the game-cinching run:

In the replay, Rosario can be seen clearly waving Smith off the catch. Smith took the blame for the miscue after the game, acknowledging that he "called [the catch] way too late. That's definitely on me." Mets manager Mickey Callaway chalked the mistake up to Smith's "inexperience," and The Associated Press noted that Smith has played just over 59 innings at left field, with all of those reps coming this season.

The error happened in the top of the 13th inning; the teams ended the ninth inning knotted at 1-1, forcing the extra frames. While Smith and Rosario were untangling themselves in the outfield, the Giants' Andrew McCutchen tapped home plate to put his team up 2-1, eventually sealing the win. And so the Mets' pitiful season barrels along. Kimberly Alters

7:58 a.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

On Monday, the National Archives released an August 1998 memo Brett Kavanaugh wrote to his boss, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, slamming President Bill Clinton and posing 10 questions he wanted Starr's investigators to ask Clinton. Seven of the 10 questions sought confirmation of graphic details about Clinton's affair with intern Monica Lewinsky, including questions about oral sex and masturbation. The memo also reflected the growing tensions between Clinton and Starr's office — Kavanaugh, now President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, was an associate counsel.

"I am strongly opposed to giving the president any 'break' in the questioning regarding the details of the Lewinsky relationship" unless he "resigns" or "confesses perjury," Kavanaugh wrote to Starr. He criticized Clinton's "frivolous privilege claims" and said "he has lied to his aides. He has lied to the American people. He has tried to disgrace you and this office with a sustained propaganda campaign that would make Nixon blush."

The strident tenor and vulgar content of the memo provide "a contrast to the genial, soft-spoken nominee who chooses every word carefully as he makes the rounds of the Senate before his Sept. 4 hearing before the Judiciary Committee," says The Washington Post, which obtained the memo through a Freedom of Information Act request. It also highlights the stark evolution Kavanaugh has gone through from backing vigorous prosecution of presidents to arguing, after five years in the George W. Bush White House, that presidents should only be prosecuted after they leave office.

This shift, newly relevant as Trump clashes with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, will likely be raised during Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings. "Either his views really have changed over time to reflect far more of a belief in the importance of protecting presidential prerogative," University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck tells the Post, "or his views on presidential prerogative differ depending on what he thinks about the current officeholder." Peter Weber

6:53 a.m. ET

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

5:13 a.m. ET
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

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 Palij 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

4:30 a.m. ET

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

3:11 a.m. ET

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

1:59 a.m. ET
Austin Sapin/University of Miami, via AP

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

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