Month: June 2017

Mika Brzezinski on Trump’s Twitter attack: ‘It does worry me about the country’

Mika Brzezinski on Trump’s Twitter attack: ‘It does worry me about the country’

The Washington Post — Written by J. Freedom du Lac and Jenna Johnson

The morning after being viciously attacked by President Trump on Twitter, MSNBC co-host Mika Brzezinski said she wasn’t exactly reeling as a result of the president’s vulgar and deeply personal social media assault.

But, she said Friday on “Morning Joe,” she is concerned about what Trump’s tweets reveal.

“I’m fine,” Brzezinski said. “My family brought me up really tough. This is absolutely nothing for me personally. But I’m very concerned about what this once again reveals about the president of the United States.”

She added: “It does worry me about the country.”

Said her co-host, Joe Scarborough: “We’re okay. The country is not.”

Trump lashed out at the MSNBC co-hosts just after their show Thursday morning, calling Brzezinski “low I.Q. Crazy Mika”— and claiming she “was bleeding badly from a facelift” when she and Scarborough came to Mar-a-Lago — the president’s private club in Palm Beach, Fla. — three nights in a row late last year.

Trump also referred to Scarborough as “Psycho Joe” in his tweets, which caused an immediate and sustained uproar.

Tillerson blows up at top White House aide

Tillerson blows up at top White House aide

Politico, written by Josh Dawsey, Eliana Johnson, and Alex Isenstadt — Image courtesy of AP Photo

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s frustrations with the White House have been building for months. Last Friday, they exploded.

The normally laconic Texan unloaded on Johnny DeStefano, the head of the presidential personnel office, for torpedoing proposed nominees to senior State Department posts and for questioning his judgment.

Tillerson also complained that the White House was leaking damaging information about him to the news media, according to a person familiar with the meeting. Above all, he made clear that he did not want DeStefano’s office to “have any role in staffing” and “expressed frustration that anybody would know better” than he about who should work in his department — particularly after the president had promised him autonomy to make his own decisions and hires, according to a senior White House aide familiar with the conversation.

The episode stunned other White House officials gathered in chief of staff Reince Priebus’ office, leaving them silent as Tillerson raised his voice. In the room with Tillerson and DeStefano were Priebus, top Trump aide Jared Kushner and Margaret Peterlin, the secretary of state’s chief of staff.

The encounter, described by four people familiar with what happened, was so explosive that Kushner approached Peterlin afterward and told her that Tillerson’s outburst was completely unprofessional, according to two of the people familiar with the exchange, and told her that they needed to work out a solution.

Trump’s pledge to keep the world from laughing at us hits another setback

Trump’s pledge to keep the world from laughing at us hits another setback

The Washington Post by Philip Bump

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was supposed to attend this week’s Economic Council of the Christian Democratic Union meeting in Berlin, but suddenly canceled his travel plans on Tuesday. Ross was scheduled to give an address at the conference immediately before German Chancellor Angela Merkel, so he instead gave his remarks by teleconference from Washington.

Ross was allotted 10 minutes to speak. After he spoke for more than 20, the conference organizers cut his feed mid-sentence. The audience “laughed and clapped” in response, according to Bloomberg News. Merkel then rose and, during her remarks, disagreed with one of Ross’s points.

The relationship between President Trump and Merkel has been strained since his inauguration. His repeated insistence that Germany owes money to NATO and his unusual reticence to embrace that alliance has been one point of friction. His disparagement of Germany as “very bad” in a closed-door meeting was another. That claim centered on what Trump (and Ross) viewed as a trade disparity between the two countries and was the point with which Merkel took issue.

The Dormouse-Fattening Jars of Ancient Rome

From Atlas Obscura — Written by Carly Silver — Image courtesy of Heather Kelley/Perfect Plum

A glirarium on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Chiusi.

The ancient Romans consumed some strange foods, ranging from sow’s womb to dormice, which were known as glires in Latin. Astute Italians got their rodents mouth-ready by sticking them in a special container called a glirarium or vivarium in doliis (enclosed animal habitats in jars); it was designed to be a temporary home—a rodent Airbnb—where the animal could pig out. Humans would then cook up the dormouse once they judged it to be at prime plumpness.

Just a note: Romans didn’t eat the kind of mice that gnaw your wires. Instead, they chowed down on “edible dormice,” which were a lot bigger and substantive than their modern house-mouse counterparts. These were long considered extravagances; in 115 BC, consul Marcus Aemilius Scaurus passed a law that prohibited serving exotic avians, mollusks, and dormice, according to Pliny the Elder. But it’s likely that nobody listened to Scaurus’ legislation—the rodents were too tasty.

On their country estates, prominent Romans reared some animals just for consumption. In his On Agriculture, Roman scholar Varro noted that country gentlemen raised tiny critters like snails to eat, bees for honey, and dormice inside their villas. Ancient gourmand Fluvius Hirpinus (whose name was probably a misspelling) popularized eating snails and started the practice of fattening dormice for the table in the mid-first century BC.

Trump’s White House tapes ruse could get him in legal trouble

From The Washington Post — Written by Aaron Blake — Image courtesy of  Reuters / Carlos Barria

President Trump and former House speaker Newt Gingrich have both now admitted, for all intents and purposes, that Trump’s ruse about possible White House tapes was meant to influence James B. Comey’s public comments. In an interview Friday with Fox News, Trump congratulated himself for the ploy.

“Who knows, I think his story may have changed,” Trump said. Asked whether his strategy was smart, Trump said, “It wasn’t very stupid; I can tell you that.”

But was it just political subterfuge, or was it something that could haunt Trump in his ongoing obstruction of justice investigation? Some have even suggested it could amount to witness tampering.

Meanwhile, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, also nodded in the direction of potential witness tampering on Thursday, after Trump revealed he had no tapes.

“If the president had no tapes, why did he suggest otherwise? Did he seek to mislead the public? Was he trying to intimidate or silence James Comey?” Schiff asked. “And if so, did he take other steps to discourage potential witnesses from speaking out?”

Canada’s Trump strategy: go around him

From The New York Times — Written by Max Fisher – Image courtesy of Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

As President Trump disrupts alliances across the map, nearly every level of government in Canada has taken on new duties in a quietly audacious campaign to cajole, contain and if necessary coerce the Americans.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s strategy for managing Mr. Trump is unlike anything tried by another ally. And he has largely succeeded where even experienced leaders like Angela Merkel of Germany have fallen short.

More than perhaps any other country, Canada relies on the United States, which accounts for 70 percent of its trade. Its sizable manufacturing industry is tightly integrated with American production, meaning even a slight hardening of the border or prolonged trade negotiations could put its economy at risk.

Laid in the first days after Mr. Trump’s election win, the plan even enlists Brian Mulroney, a former Conservative prime minister and political nemesis of Mr. Trudeau’s father, who had also been prime minister. Mr. Mulroney knows Mr. Trump and his commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, from social circuits in southern Florida, where all three keep vacation homes.

Mr. Mulroney’s former chief of staff and ambassador to Washington, Derek Burney, said they urged Mr. Trudeau’s government to “cultivate access, but not just within the White House. To work the American system as never before.”

By organizing a grass-roots network of American officials, lawmakers and businesses, Canada is hoping to contain Mr. Trump’s protectionist and nationalist impulses. Though emphasizing the benefits of harmony, the Canadians are not above flexing muscle, with a provincial government at one point quietly threatening trade restrictions against New York State.

White House tries to get G.O.P. to water down Russia sanctions bill

From The New York Times — Written by Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Matt Flegenheimer

The White House is quietly lobbying House Republicans to weaken a bill overwhelmingly passed by the Senate last week that would slap tough new sanctions on Russia for its meddling in the 2016 election and allow Congress to block any future move by President Trump to lift any penalties against Moscow.

The effort is designed to head off an awkward and politically damaging veto fight between the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress on Russia at a time when Mr. Trump is laboring under the shadow of multiple investigations about his campaign’s potential collusion with Moscow.

House Republicans, normally hawkish on Russia, face a choice between demonstrating a hard line against Moscow in the face of its misconduct and sparing their own president a potentially embarrassing confrontation.

On Tuesday, Representative Kevin Brady, Republican of Texas and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, lodged a procedural objection that effectively halted the measure in the House, and could force it to be redrafted.

But there is bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for insisting on harsh sanctions on Russia, whose meddling in the 2016 election has only reinforced many lawmakers’ disdain for its president, Vladimir V. Putin, and it is not yet clear whether the White House can muster enough support in Congress to change the measure. Democrats are intensifying pressure on House Republicans to quickly clear the bill, part of a package that was appended to sanctions against Iran, that passed the Senate last week by a vote of 98 to 2.