The Week on Planet Trump: Diplomacy Freezes with the G7, Thaws with Kim and Putin

Monday: Twitter Rant Sets Up Excuses

President Trump began the week, as is his wont, by having a Twitter fit about the continuing Russia investigation.

“As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” Mr. Trump groused. “In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!”

Arguably more noteworthy, and more troubling, is the president’s emerging effort to pre-emptively place the blame for what promises to be a tough election cycle for congressional Republicans on what he now regularly denounces as the partisan, “rigged,” “unconstitutional” machinations of Mr. Mueller and his investigative team. Message to the nation: Don’t blame me if my party takes a beating in November. The Witch Hunters are busy manipulating the system.

The New York Times

Tuesday: Republicans Doomed to Irrelevancy

The one-time home of the “Reagan Revolution” is now essentially a third party in California.

Simply put, the Republican Party in California seems to be heading towards political irrelevance. Not a single Republican serves in any of the statewide offices. California Democrats already have a supermajority in the Senate and are just one seat short of a supermajority in the Assembly.

Make no mistake about it, this is where following Donald Trump will ultimately lead; ignoring contemporary, mainstream American values is simply not a winning strategy for the GOP.

According to Gallup, two-thirds of Americans support tougher gun laws. A CBS News poll found that 60 percent of Americans oppose building a border wall. A new report published by Pew Research found that most Americans believe that the federal government is doing too little to protect the environment and reduce the effects of climate change.

Unless the Republican Party adapts to the demographic reality of America, it is destined to follow the California GOP’s fate and become an irrelevant third party. After all, as goes California, so goes the nation.

Kurt Bardella, NBC News

Wednesday: Congress Breaks from White House on Trade

The European Union says it will start imposing duties from July on a list of U.S. products in response to President Donald Trump's decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Europe. European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said Wednesday that formalities in finalizing the list should be completed this month and that "the new duties start applying from July."

Key Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are pushing longshot legislation that would require Congress to sign off on President Trump's import tariffs, a rare attempt to stand up to the administration on a bedrock issue that once defined the GOP.  

Trump took office promising to rip up trade deals and crack down on unfair trading practices. But that campaign slogan is at odds with Republicans' longstanding preference for free markets and open trade. The standoff is raising an uncomfortable question: If Republicans can't confront Trump on trade, can they challenge him on anything?

CBS News

Thursday: “Zero Tolerance” System at Breaking Point

The Trump administration has started moving up to 1,600 immigration violators awaiting deportation hearings into federal prisons, a first-of-its-kind transfer that shows how many more immigrants are being rounded up under the president's push to crack down on illegal immigration.

The agreement, first reported by Reuters, follows the administration's implementation of a "zero tolerance" policy that requires federal prosecutors to criminally charge everybody caught illegally crossing the border. Under previous administrations, first-time border crossers were usually put through civil deportation proceedings.

The move to use federal prisons is the latest sign of how overwhelming the immigration crackdown has become under President Trump's directives.

Facilities operated by the Department of Health and Human Services, which cares for unaccompanied children who crossed the border alone or who were separated from their families after entering the U.S., are at 95%. Short-term facilities operated by Border Patrol are near capacity.

Alan Gomez, USA Today

Friday: POTUS Demands Seat for Putin

President Donald Trump said Friday that Russia should be reinstated to a leading group of industrialized nations ahead of his visit to the G7 summit this weekend.

"Russia should be in this meeting," Trump told reporters upon leaving the White House for the summit, which is being held in Charlevoix, Canada. "They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table."

Russia was suspended from the group -- then known as the G8 -- in 2014 after the majority of member countries allied against Russia's annexation of Crimea, which Russia continues to hold.

The President's willingness to look the other way on Russia's annexation of Crimea -- the first violation of a European country's borders since World War II -- will particularly deepen the chill with allies such as the UK, France and Germany, which are already furious about US trade tariffs, and Trump's rejection of the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement.

Allie Malloy and Nicole Gaouette, CNN

Saturday: Summit Only Chance for Deal

The Singapore summit between the United States and North Korea is a "one-time shot" and a "mission of peace," President Donald Trump said Saturday.

Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un are slated to meet in person in Singapore on Monday night ET. The U.S. wants North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons permanently.

Trump says he's confidant "something positive will happen" at the summit. An official deal between the countries is largely unexpected.

"I feel that Kim Jong Un wants to do something great for his people, and he has that opportunity," Trump said. "And it's never going to be there again."

"This is unknown territory in the truest sense. But I feel really confident," Trump told reporters. "It's never been done, it's never been tested. So we are going in with a really positive spirit."

Elisabeth Butler Cordova, CNBC

Sunday: Knives Out for Trudeau

After one White House adviser said there was "a special place in hell" for foreign leaders like Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, and another said Trudeau "stabbed us in the back," Canadian leaders offered a measured — even polite — response.

"Canada does not believe that ad hominem attacks are a particularly appropriate or useful way to conduct our relations with other countries," said Canadian foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland, according to the Toronto Star.

Tensions have been building between the two countries for months, as President Trump has targeted Canada as one of the many countries he sees as giving American the short end of the stick in trade deals.

Trump announced yesterday he was backing out of a joint statement made by the countries that attended this weekend's G-7 Summit in Canada, after Trudeau gave a press conference in which he said Canada planned to retaliate against the Trump administration's recently-announced tariffs that will commence July 1.

"I have made it clear to [President Trump] that it is not something we relish doing, but it is something that we absolutely will do," Trudeau said. "Canadians — we're polite, we're reasonable — but we also will not be pushed around."

Miles Parks, NPR

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