The Week on Planet Trump: Strikes against Assad in Syria and against DoJ at Home

Monday: North Korea Tables Nuclear Disarmament

President Trump echoed his plan Monday to meet with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un in two months or so.

We’ve been in touch with North Korea; we’ll be meeting with them sometime in May or early June," Trump told reporters before a Cabinet meeting Monday.

As Trump pressures other countries to cut off economic aid to North Korea until it gives up nuclear weapons, Trump said that "I think there'll be great respect paid by both parties" at the prospective meeting.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to make a deal on the de-nuking of North Korea," Trump said.

Trump spoke after weekend reports that Kim had pledged to discuss denuclearization, though analysts said it was unclear whether he was referring to just his country or to both North and South Korea.

David Jackson, USA Today

Tuesday: Cohen Raid Sparks Mueller Firing Threat

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein personally signed off on raids of the office and residence of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, the New York Times reported Tuesday, citing sources.

Trump, who on Monday evening vented his frustration about the raid and the special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing probe of potential collusion between his campaign and Russia, deliberated over whether to fire Rosenstein later that evening, the Times reported.

The Times reported that Rosenstein was not necessarily required to sign off on searches carried out by law enforcement offices that are separate from the special counsel.

Trump called the raids "disgraceful" and maintained that Cohen is a "good man" in remarks before a White House meeting on Monday about the U.S. response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.

When asked if he planned to fire Mueller, the president said: "Many people have said, 'You should fire him.'"

Kevin Breuninger and Mike Calia, CNBC

Wednesday: Tweet Fires Back at War Ready Russia

President Donald Trump on Wednesday in a Tweet told Russia to "get ready" for U.S. missile strikes in Syria, seeming to confirm that the United States will launch punitive strikes against the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad over the suspected chemical attack his forces are accused of carrying out.

Trump’s Tweet appeared to have been prompted by comments from Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon, which were widely reported Wednesday morning, that warned Russia would fire not only on any U.S. missiles targeting Syria, but also the units launching them. Trump in his Tweet responded to what he said was Russia’s “vow” to shoot down “any and all” U.S. missiles targeting Syria.

Those comments set off some alarmed reactions that the looming strikes could spark a military clash between Russia and the U.S.

In the previous strike, U.S. missiles were in any case launched on trajectories that had put them out of reach of Russian air defenses and in such a way as to avoid accidentally causing them to think Russian forces were being targeted.

Patrick Reevell, ABC News

Thursday: Pressured President Floats Trade Pact U-Turn

President Trump, in a sharp reversal, told a gathering of farm-state lawmakers and governors on Thursday morning that the United States was looking into rejoining a multicountry trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deal he pulled out of days after assuming the presidency.

Mr. Trump’s decision to throw out the Trans-Pacific Partnership and his pledge to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement were bedrock promises of his populist campaign, which centered heavily on unfair trade practices that he said had robbed American manufacturers and workers.

As he often does, the president started to change gears after hearing complaints from important constituents — in this case, Republican lawmakers who said farmers and other businesses in their states would suffer from his trade approach since they send many of their products abroad.

In a statement, a deputy White House press secretary, Lindsay Walters, pushed back on the notion that Mr. Trump was reversing his promises.

The president had “kept his promise to end the TPP deal negotiated by the Obama administration because it was unfair to American workers and farmers,” she said. “The president has consistently said he would be open to a substantially better deal.”

Ana Swanson, The New York Times

Friday: White House Slanders Whistleblowing Comey

The White House sought to discredit James Comey ahead of the release of his memoir next week, lashing out at the former FBI director in deeply personal terms on Friday.

Calling Comey a "disgraced partisan hack," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters that the American people would be able to see through the "lies" in Comey's book, which offers a scathing assessment of President Trump.

Comey's book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, is set to officially be released next week, but details about the memoir began to leak on Thursday.

In the memoir, Comey discusses the circumstances surrounding his dismissal from the Trump administration in May 2017. He describes Trump as "unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values."

Earlier on Friday, Trump also tried to knock down Comey's book and defended his decision to fire him. He tweeted that Comey was a "proven LEAKER & LIAR" and a "slime ball."

Ayesha Roscoe, NPR

Saturday: America “Locked and Loaded” Against Assad

The United States and Russia blamed each other Saturday for heightened international tensions after US, UK and French strikes against targets in Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons.

As leaders of the three Western allies exchanged calls declaring the strikes a success against future use of illegal munitions, the US and Russian ambassadors to the United Nations pointed fingers during an emergency session of the UN Security Council.

The United States remains "locked and loaded" to strike Syria again in response to new chemical attacks, said Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, who accused Russia, a key Syrian ally, of covering up for the Assad government.

But Russia failed to garner the necessary Security Council votes for a resolution condemning "the aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic by the US and its allies in violation of international law and the UN Charter."

Ray Sanchez and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

Sunday: Libby Pardon Forecasts Abuse of Power

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said on Sunday that President Trump is sending a message with his recent pardon of Scooter Libby — former Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff — that he will support anyone who is on his side.

Schiff told ABC's “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos that he doesn’t believe Trump’s choice to pardon Libby was a coincidence.

“I think the president is sending a message, basically, ‘I will use the pardon power to pardon people even that have been convicted of leaking or obstruction of justice,’ “Schiff said. “’If you’re with me, I have your back.’ “

Other Democrats have made similar comments following the Libby pardon, drawing a parallel to what might happen to Trump allies caught up in the various investigations of the 2016 campaign.

Trump pardoned Libby, who had been indicted on charges related to his leaking of the covert identity of a CIA officer, Valerie Plame.

Luis Sanchez, The Hill

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