priorities
October 4, 2019

President Trump publicly asked China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son on Thursday, but he has also privately discussed both Biden and 2020 Democratic co-frontrunner Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) with Chinese President Xi Jinping, CNN reports. In a June 18 call with Xi, Trump brought up the political prospects of both Warren and Biden, CNN reports, citing two people familiar with the discussion. "In that call, Trump also told Xi he would remain quiet on Hong Kong protests as trade talks progressed." Financial Times had a similar report in July.

On Twitter, Warren brushed off whatever Trump said about her.

The transcript of the Xi call was stored in the same classified codeword server used to irregularly store Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky, CNN says. The whistleblower complaint concerning that call prompted the discovery that Trump aides are using the system to store politically sensitive Trump communications, not just national security secrets, and it also pushed the House to start an impeachment process. China, like Ukraine, says it does not want to get enmeshed in U.S. domestic politics.

Trump's National Security Council and the State Department are also reportedly frustrated that Trump hasn't denounced China's crackdown on pro-democracy activists who have held weekly protests in Hong Kong for months. On Tuesday, when Hong Kong police shot a teenager in the chest with live ammunition, Trump focused on the other big event in China, tweeting: "Congratulations to President Xi and the Chinese people on the 70th Anniversary of the People's Republic of China!" Peter Weber

August 27, 2019

The timing on this could not be more telling.

On Tuesday morning, Puerto Rico declared a state of emergency as Tropical Storm Dorian was predicted to become a hurricane when it hits the island on Wednesday. And on Tuesday afternoon, NBC News reported that President Trump's administration opted to transfer $251 million in Department of Homeland Security disaster relief to the southern border.

Puerto Rico is still recovering from disastrous hurricanes that hit the island nearly two years ago, only receiving $900 million in relief funding in May after months of delays. Yet all the while, Trump has zeroed in on the southern border, even declaring a national emergency in an attempt to build his border wall.

The bill funding Puerto Rico's disaster relief didn't include Trump's border demands. But that didn't stop the Trump administration this week from reportedly relocating $271 million from DHS — including from FEMA's disaster relief fund — to fund detention and increased immigration hearings. $155 million of that total would go to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, NBC News reports via department officials and a letter sent to FEMA by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.).

Trump tweeted about the upcoming storm earlier on Tuesday, seemingly lamenting that the emergency spending Congress recently allocated for Puerto Rico wasn't preventing more hurricanes from coming.

$92 billion is actually far less than the amount of disaster funding Puerto Rico has actually received — though it could probably buy a lot of nukes to ward off hurricanes in the first place. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 21, 2018

President Trump said Saturday he is reviewing a list of five candidates to replace outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, and he expects to announce a decision soon. "We'll have somebody great," the president pledged. "We're going to pick somebody very quickly."

Two of the candidates are men, and three are women, Trump said, telling reporters he "might prefer" to have a woman in the role. "I think it's become maybe a more glamorous position than it was two years ago," he said. "Maybe, I wonder why, but it is. [Haley has] made it a very glamorous position."

Haley's next step remains unknown, as she has insisted she will not run for the presidency in 2020. Bonnie Kristian

July 26, 2018

Now that President Trump has succeeded in achieving free and fair trade, supporting religious freedom, and generally just making America great again, he's ready to move on to other issues — namely, fixing Twitter.

Trump on Thursday tweeted that he would get the government involved in ending the platform's "shadow banning," an algorithm change that some Republicans say has led to suppressed engagement and fewer followers.

The president's favorite form of communication has been accused of bias against conservative figures, which the company has acknowledged and said it is trying to rectify. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) on Wednesday told The Hill that he felt "victimized and violated" by Twitter, accusing the company of trying to tamp down his free speech. "It's really frustrating to think that the marketplace of ideas couldn't accommodate the thoughts and musings that I contribute," he said.

Other Republicans, like Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), have allegedly been affected by the "shadow banning," with their profiles becoming more difficult to find and each tweet gaining fewer and fewer "impressions." The change came when Twitter began trying to bring less attention to "troll-like behaviors."

Twitter's product lead, Kayvon Beykpour, tweeted an explanation that the system wasn't actively suppressing users based on their political views, and promised that "we’re making a change today that will improve this." Summer Meza

February 7, 2018

President Trump has reportedly given orders to the Pentagon to prepare a military parade, inspired by the one that dazzled him on Bastille Day during his visit to France. Not everyone is enthusiastic about the idea: "The way to show our service members and veterans that we appreciate their service is to use the parade money to fund their health care and other services they need," Del. Eleanor H. Norton (D-District of Columbia) tweeted. Even military enthusiasts are grumbling.

The typically Trump-friendly Fox News hosts don't seem so thrilled, either. After a short segment on Trump's proposal, Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade muttered: "I don't know, it seems like a waste of money."

The Week's Peter Weber agrees. Read why he thinks Trump should personally foot the bill if he wants his parade here. Jeva Lange

February 6, 2018

President Trump held a meeting last month with the nation's top generals inside a secret room at the Pentagon, to discuss something that's been on his mind for months. Before you lock yourself in a panic room, relax — they weren't talking about North Korea or anything nuclear, just a military parade that Trump wants to see wend its way through Washington, D.C.

Two officials briefed on the meeting told The Washington Post the meeting was attended by Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Josepeh Dunford. "The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France," one official said. "This is being worked at the highest levels of the military." Trump was inspired by the Bastille Day celebration he witnessed in Paris last year, while a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron, and he couldn't get the image of marching troops and rolling tanks out of his head. Two months later during a meeting with Macron, he told reporters, "It was one of the greatest parades I've ever seen," adding, "we're going to have to try to top it."

There's no date set, the Post reports, although Trump would like it on a patriotic holiday like the Fourth of July and wants it to go along Pennsylvania Avenue, passing the Trump International Hotel. The cost of shipping symbols of U.S. military might is costly — it could add up to millions and millions of dollars — and it's yet to be decided who will pay for this. The whole thing sounds a bit off to people like presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, who told the Post: "I don't think there's a lack of love and respect for our armed forces in the United States. What are they going to do, stand there while Donald Trump waves at them? It smacks of something you see in a totalitarian country — unless there's a genuine, earnest reason to be doing it." Catherine Garcia

January 16, 2018

Negotiations concerning Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which indefinitely defers deportation for immigrants illegally brought to the United States as children, have stalled, but Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Tuesday participants shouldn't be too worried.

Deporting DACA registrants, who are also called DREAMers, is "not gonna be a priority of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prioritize their removal. I've said that before. That's not the policy of DHS," Nielsen said on CBS. She added that as long as DACA recipients are properly registered and do not commit any crimes, they will remain low priority for deportation "in perpetuity."

Nielsen did not say whether she has issued formal guidance to that effect, something critics say is necessary for her promise to be meaningful. At present, DREAMers are protected by a judge's order directing DHS to continue processing DACA renewal applications for prior registrants, a reversal of the Trump administration's September decision to rescind DACA, which included a six-month deadline for Congress to save the program.

Watch an excerpt of Nielsen's comments below. Bonnie Kristian

April 6, 2017

Israel's Labor Party isn't even going to try to compete with Britney Spears. The political party, one of the biggest in Israel, recently decided to change the date of its upcoming July 3 election because it fell on the same date as the pop star's first-ever concert in Tel Aviv. Instead, the Labor Party will cast ballots for its new chairperson one day later, on July 4.

A party spokesperson said the adjustment was made to "make it easier for people to reach polling stations" without fighting concert traffic, and also because they'd had "difficulty recruiting security guards" for the vote, as many were tied up with Spears' concert. The spokesperson did not say whether Labor Party members' burning desire to finally hear "Oops! ... I Did It Again" performed live factored into the decision. Becca Stanek

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