The Week on Planet Trump: Chaos Reigns Abroad, At Home Yet Another School Shooting
Monday: Embassy Opening Marked by Bloodshed
President Donald Trump called for peace in the Middle East on Monday as the U.S. opened its embassy in Jerusalem while Israeli soldiers battled protesting Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, killing more than 50 and wounding more than a thousand others.
The images made for jarring split screens beamed worldwide, with U.S. officials, including Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka, cheering during the grand, historic ceremony held as smoke filled the air in nearby Gaza. The scenes offered a glimpse of how divisive Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been, and they bode poorly for his plans to offer a peace proposal to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The embassy dedication was held on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s creation and on the eve of what Palestinians called the “catastrophe” that left them without a homeland. It also coincided with what has been billed as the culmination of a series of Palestinian protests in recent weeks against Israel’s long-running blockade of Gaza, which is controlled by the Hamas militant group.
Louis Nelson, Politico
Tuesday: CIA Nominee Defends Torture Regime
The nominee to lead the CIA, Gina Haspel, said in a letter that the spy agency should not have undertaken a harsh interrogation campaign, which included waterboarding terrorism suspects, following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Shortly after her letter became public Tuesday, three Democratic senators announced their support for Haspel, effectively ensuring that she will be confirmed as the first woman to lead the CIA.
At her hearing before the Senate intelligence committee last Wednesday, Haspel said she would not initiate any new detention and interrogation program as CIA director. But in several sharp exchanges with Democratic senators, she did not disavow the previous program, from 2002 to 2008, in which she took part.
Haspel ran a black site prison in Thailand in 2002 where waterboarding took place. Three years later, when she was based at CIA headquarters outside Washington, Haspel wrote a cable calling for videotapes of the waterboarding to be destroyed.
Greg Myre, NPR
Wednesday: Bolton Threats Put Summit at Risk
The White House on Wednesday downplayed comments by national security adviser John Bolton, who recently invoked Libya's decision to denuclearize during the Bush administration as a model for US policy on North Korea, potentially placing a planned US-North Korea summit in jeopardy.
Hours earlier, a North Korean official said Bolton's remarks were indicative of an "awfully sinister move" to imperil the Kim regime. North Korea stunned Washington on Tuesday by threatening to abandon talks between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un if Washington insists on pushing it "into a corner" on nuclear disarmament.
The US agreed to ease sanctions on Libya in 2003 in exchange for a promise by Moammar Gadhafi to abandon his country's nuclear program. Eight years later, however, Gadhafi was overthrown and killed by rebels backed by Washington.
Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN
Thursday: Europe Resists Iran Sanctions
Venting anger at President Trump, European leaders said Thursday they would take steps aimed at blunting the effects of the American sanctions he restored on Iran, which could penalize European companies doing business there.
At a European Union summit meeting in Sofia, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, said it would begin a legal process to prohibit companies based in the 28-member union from complying with the American sanctions.
“We should know that the effects of the announced American sanctions will not remain without consequences,” Mr. Juncker said. “We have a duty to protect our European companies.”
Mr. Trump’s Iran decision is part of a broader pattern of actions that have deeply frustrated America’s European allies. He also has threatened new tariffs, quit the Paris climate accord and, in their view, expressed disdain for multilateral diplomacy.
Their anti-Trump mood was reflected in a speech on Wednesday by Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, who denounced what he called the “capricious assertiveness of the American administration.”
Barbara Sunk, The New York Times
Friday: Texas Shooting Part of Regular Tragedies
In the aftermath of a shooting that left multiple people dead at a Texas high school, President Trump said Friday his administration would "do everything in our power" to protect students.
Trump has previously promised his administration would work on school safety before. Following the now infamous high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., the president met with students for an emotional forum in February. There, he promised tougher background checks and mental health screens for gun buyers.
And as more people have called for gun control in recent months, the Justice Department has proposed a ban on so-called bump stocks, which allow rifles to mimic machine guns. Bump stocks were used in last year's Las Vegas shooting massacre that left 58 people dead.
On average, there has been one school shooting a week in the United States in 2018 alone, according to CNN. But Trump doesn't tweet about every incident, and it's unclear why he comments on certain situations.
Jessica Estepa and Gregory Korte, USA Today
Saturday: Collusion Goes Beyond Russia
Russia isn’t the only country Donald Trump Jr. was open to meeting with about getting a boost for his father’s presidential campaign. According to a report from the New York Times on Saturday, the president’s son also met with an Israeli social media specialist and an emissary for the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia who said the countries wanted to help Donald Trump win.
On August 3, 2016, Trump Jr. took part in a meeting with Erik Prince, a Trump booster, founder of the private security firm Blackwater and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos; George Nader, a business executive and emissary for the princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; and Joel Zamel, an Israeli expert in social media manipulation. The men met at Trump Tower in New York, according to a report from Mark Mazzetti, Ronen Bergman, and David Kirkpatrick. Nader told Trump Jr. that the princes of Saudi Arabia and UAE were “eager” to help Trump win the White House, saying they believed he was a strong leader who would “fill the power vacuum” they thought President Barack Obama had left in the Middle East. Zamel’s company, Psy-Group, had put together a proposal for an online manipulation program to help elect Trump using thousands of fake accounts to promote him on Facebook.
Emily Stewart, Vox
Sunday: POTUS Threatens Probe into FBI and Obama
President Donald Trump said on Sunday he would demand an investigation into whether the FBI had placed surveillance on his 2016 campaign — and whether such activity was ordered by members of the Obama administration.
Ramping up a public war of words between the Oval Office and the law enforcement agency, the president said that he would formally request the Department of Justice probe the FBI's role in investigating his campaign. His remarks come amid reports that the agency had placed a confidential informant somewhere in the Trump campaign's orbit, while he was a still candidate.
Trump's implication of Barack Obama, also renews a fight the president picked early in his tenure with his predecessor. In March of 2017, Trump boldly asserted that Obama of ordering surveillance of Trump's residence during the 2016 campaign — an accusation which the former president flatly denied. The FBI, then led by James Comey, said there was no information to support the claim.
Javier E. David, CNBC
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