Monthly Archives: May 2017


The Note: Trump's 'covfefe' heard around the world – ABC News


THE TAKE with ABC News’ Rick Klein

What is it about the covfefe that so displeases President Trump? That may not seem to matter when the president finally manages to unite Twitter behind something he put into its all-too-toxic mix. The president, rather uncharacteristically, even had some fun with it by morning. But typos left to linger and inspire Twitter riffs are silly symptoms, not serious causes. This is Trump being Trump – and the rumblings out of the White House about a staff shake-up suggest we’re likely to get more such…creativity. Trump’s White House has reacted to the recent barrage of negative coverage by turning inward, and/or responding not at all. Notably, when he made his return to the podium Tuesday, press secretary Sean Spicer didn’t even attempt to defend Jared Kushner‘s alleged behavior with the Russians. (“You’re asking if he approves of an action that is not a confirmed action.”) The White House also has anonymous spokespeople put out to condemn anonymously sourced stories as “fake news.” The president himself RT’d a non-bylined story quoting an anonymous White House source saying other anonymously sourced stories are wrong. And, of course, Trump is very much back on Twitter. The president appears to be gravitating toward people who tell him he needs to return to his campaign style. That’s of questionable value for governing, to say nothing of spelling.


Trump will welcome Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to the White House today.

Sean Spicer will have the cameras off at his press gaggle, while the White House puts VA Secretary David Shulkin in some TV spotlight instead.


After hearing out Pope Francis on climate change, President Trump promised he would decide this week whether or not the US would stay committed to the historic Paris Climate Accord agreement that the Obama administration helped broker last year. It is a major policy decision for this White House with huge foreign and domestic implications, and the president’s hesitancy and waffling on the matter has world leaders, business execs, and enviros scrambling. The CEOs of Exxon Mobil and Shell Oil both wrote this month that the US should stay in the agreement. Tech companies took out a full page ads in the NYTimes and WSJ agreeing that the deal, which requires countries limit their carbon and greenhouse gas emissions could spur needed innovation. The debate has once again put a spotlight on the internal divisions and power dynamics within the White House. Ivanka Trump, a proponent of the deal, has been actively trying to expose her father to input from all sides of the matter, whereas his chief strategist Steve Bannon and other key conservatives have urged the president to withdraw. For them, this deal that could strap the country to benchmarks and plans set by an international committee is the antithesis of the ‘America first’ platform that Trump ran on.


Republicans are trying to make Kathy Griffin’s grisly anti-Trump photo – and the blowback – stick to Democrats. Before Griffin issued her apology, the RNC called on Sens. Al Franken and Catherine Cortez Masto to return donations from Griffin, while the chair of the Minnesota Republican Party pushed Franken to cancel a July event with Griffin. Franken quickly distanced himself from Griffin’s photo: a spokesman told ABC News Franken respects Griffin’s right to free speech but finds the photo “inappropriate,” ABC’s Benjamin Siegel reports.


If you can pull your eyes from the foreign policy spats and the daily developments in the Russia investigation, public opinion of the GOP health care plan (remember that?) isn’t getting any better. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll hot off the presses this morning shows that more than half of Americans — 55 percent — say they see the AHCA unfavorably. That’s more unfavorable than we ever saw Obamacare reach in 78 Kaiser surveys since 2010. Only three in 10 say they have a favorable view of the GOP plan. And this is all not to mention that jarring Quinnipiac number from last week for the GOP: only 42 percent of Republicans said they approved of the plan. One in three said they didn’t know. And that’s just one more reason it’s going to be an uphill climb for Senate leaders to thread the needle and hit 51 votes, ABC’s Ryan Struyk notes.

NEED TO READ with ABC News’ Adam Kelsey

What we know — and don’t know — about Jared Kushner’s Russia contacts. The revelation that Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is a focus of the FBI for his contacts with Russia has prompted questions and concerns. Kushner is being scrutinized in the agency’s investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election over his meetings with at least two Russian officials, Moscow’s ambassador to the U.S. and a banking executive, sources have told ABC News.

Key US-Europe relations called into question after Trump trip. Newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel — who was a close collaborator with Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama — are two of those allies on whom President Trump’s European visit seems to have left an impression. Each has spoken in the aftermath about their meetings with the president and the directions their countries may take should diplomatic relationships change.

Trump’s communications director will be latest to leave WH. The resignation of Mike Dubke is the latest staff change in the first four months of the Trump administration.

Kathy Griffin apologizes for beheaded Trump photo: ‘I crossed the line.’ Comedian Kathy Griffin has apologized for a photo of herself holding what appears to be a bloody, decapitated fake head of President Trump. The photo, taken by celebrity photographer Tyler Shields, was posted by Griffin and Shields Tuesday to their social media accounts.

After deleting prior tweet, Trump asks world to find out ‘covfefe’ meaning. “Despite the constant negative press covfefe,” the president inexplicably wrote just after midnight. And that was it for nearly six hours, before the unfinished tweet was removed from the president’s account.


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Arsenal Transfer News: Latest Rumours on Riyad Mahrez and Carlos Bacca – Bleacher Report

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 18:  Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur at The King Power Stadium on May 18, 2017 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is reportedly eyeing summer moves for Leicester City‘s Riyad Mahrez, AC Milan striker Carlos Bacca and AS Monaco midfielder Thomas Lemar after agreeing a deal to remain in charge for another two years.

According to the Mirror (via the Telegraph), the trio are all on Arsenal’s radar as Wenger looks to build a side that will fare better next season than they did in 2016-17.

While not officially announced yet by the club, it seems clear the Frenchman is set to pen a new two-year deal at the Emirates Stadium, per BBC Sport’s David Ornstein:

Having finished outside the top four and missed out on a UEFA Champions League spot for the first time in 20 years, Arsenal could struggle to attract the biggest names in the summer, while they could also lose key star Alexis Sanchez before the start of next term, per Matt Hughes in The Times.

Winger Mahrez, 26, is set to be available for purchase after telling Leicester he wants to move on:

Per Neil Ashton in The Sun, the Foxes will demand at least £40 million for Mahrez, a hefty fee for a creative player who netted only six league goals and provided three assists in 2016-17.

However, if Wenger could revive the Algeria international’s 2015-16 form—when Mahrez netted 17 goals and provided 11 assists as Leicester won the title, per—he could be worth the money.

Meanwhile, Bacca would be an unexpected, but potentially astute, signing by Arsenal.

The Colombia international is 30 years old, but he is a natural goalscorer and would be an experienced addition to the Gunners squad.

MILAN, ITALY - APRIL 09:  Carlos Bacca of AC Milan gestures during the Serie A match between AC Milan and US Citta di Palermo at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on April 9, 2017 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

He struggled somewhat for Milan in 2016-17, netting only 13 league goals, but he earned a reputation as a lethal forward during his two-season spell at Sevilla, where he scored 34 league goals in 71 appearances, per WhoScored.

Should Arsenal lose Sanchez this summer, they will need to replace his goals somehow, and two-time UEFA Europa League winner Bacca could be part of the solution.

Similarly, 21-year-old Lemar, who is able to play on either flank, could help soften the blow of Sanchez’s potential departure.

He impressed in 2016-17 as Monaco won Ligue 1, returning nine goals and 10 assists in the French top flight, but the Frenchman is also reportedly a target for Tottenham Hotspur, Juventus and Atletico Madrid, all of whom can offer Champions League football next season, per L’Equipe (via Football Whispers’ John Rooney on ESPN FC).

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'Covfefe' becomes worldwide trending topic after Trump's latest tweet gaffe – Washington Examiner

What appears to be another tweeting gaffe by President Trump has become a worldwide trending topic on Twitter.

Just after midnight early Wednesday, Trump tweeted out this message: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.”

As of 1:40 a.m. ET, the tweet with the non-existent word “covfefe” has not yet been deleted, much to the delight of many Twitter users, including journalists and celebrities. While it seems Trump was attempting to say “press coverage,” many on Twitter had some fun exploring more fanciful explanations.

Unsurprisingly, the official Twitter account for the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which has made a habit of correcting and mocking Trump on his repeated misspellings in tweets, didn’t miss a beat with Trump’s latest gaffe.

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Daily Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sean Spicer — #51 – The White House (blog)

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:11 P.M. EDT

MR. SPICER:  Good afternoon.  I hope you all had the opportunity to pay your respects to the yesterday on Memorial Day.

I want to begin by recapping the incredible, historic trip that the President and the First Lady have just concluded, because it truly was an extraordinary week for America and our people. 

In just nine days, the President traveled across Europe and the Middle East and interacted with nearly 100 foreign leaders. It was an unprecedented first trip abroad, just four months into this administration, and it shows how quickly and decisively the President is acting to strengthen alliances, to form new partnerships, and to rebuild America’s standing in the world. 

We’ve never seen before at this point in a presidency such sweeping reassurance of American interest, and the inauguration of a foreign policy strategy designed to bring back the world from growing dangers and perpetual disasters brought on by years of failed leadership.

President Trump started in Saudi Arabia, beginning his first foreign trip as President in the nation that’s the custodian to the two holiest sites in the Islamic faith.  The President was greeted on the tarmac by the King of Saudi Arabia and received with incredible graciousness by the Kingdom and its leaders throughout his stay.

The President’s address to the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations was a historic turning point that people will be talking about for many years to come.  He did exactly as he promised in his inaugural address, united the civilized world in the fight against terrorism and extremism.  The President was very direct in calling on the leaders of the region to drive out the terrorists and the extremists from their midst, and to isolate the Iranian regime that supports so much of this violence. 

He let American allies know exactly what they can expect from us going forward — what he called “a principled realism, rooted in common values and shared interests.”  He laid out the case in persuasive detail for why the Muslim world must take the lead in combatting radicalization.  And he concluded by saying that if those nations go forward “unified and determined to do what it takes to destroy the terror that threatens our world, then there is no limit to the great future our citizens will have.”

The President’s historic speech was met with near universal praise.  Former CIA Director Jim Woolsey called it “a courageous speech.”  Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said in The Washington Post that we have to look back decades to “find a comparably dramatic moment in the history of U.S. foreign policy.”  And former Democratic Representative Jane Harman said that she “loved the idea that he’s going to the fount of all three major religions.”

Countless Arab allies also praised the President’s leadership on this visit.  President Al-Sisi of Egypt said President Trump is “a unique personality that is capable of doing the impossible.”  The Saudi Foreign Minister said that “this is the beginning of a turning point in the relationship between the United States and the Arab and Islamic world.”

King Salman and other key allies also gave extraordinary praise — extraordinary speeches at the summit, underscoring just how much President Trump has done to rally the world against terrorism. 

We cannot overlook the significance of so many leaders of Muslim countries coming together to recognize the need to fight extremists.  This was a historic event in that regard alone. King Salman said he shares the President’s determination to “renounce extremism and work on countering terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.”  King Abdullah of Jordan agreed that “the grave challenges of terrorism and extremism… demands coordination and global action at every level.”  He stated that “We are all accountable for our commitment to fight radicalization in all of its forms.”

The visit also included historic economic development deals for the United States, totaling well over half a trillion dollars and the creation of tens of thousands of American jobs. These deals included an immediate $110 billion investment, which will grow to $350 billion over the next 10 years in defense cooperation from Saudi Arabia that will further enable Muslim troops to take on a greater role in further fighting terrorism. 

The President also participated in the launch of a new task force to block terror funding in the Gulf, the opening of a new Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology, and more than 30 commercial deals that include companies like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, GE, Dow, Honeywell, Emerson, Alcoa and Cisco, among others, that will result in an additional $270 billion of Saudi investment in American businesses and American jobs.

The President then went to Israel, where he was received with incredible warmth.  He strengthened America’s unbreakable bonds with Israel, made the first-ever visit by a sitting American President to the Western Wall, and gave a highly praised address at the Israel Museum as part of a continuing effort to rally nations together in the fight against terrorism and common enemies.  

The moving address spoke of a future in which “children around the world will be able to live without fear, to dream without limits, and to prosper without violence.”  He said, “I ask this land of promise to join me and fight our common enemies, to pursue our shared values, and to protect the dignity of every child of God.”

The President also visited Yad Vashem to memorialize the victims of the Holocaust and to pledge, Never Again.  

The President Trump met with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas to advocate for a renewed push for peace — which they both agreed they were prepared to work towards.  He also discussed with both leaders how to increase cooperation against terrorism.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said “for the first time in my life I see a real hope for change.”  And a correspondent in one of the leading Israel publications wrote that “In the short space of three days, Trump carried out a semi-revolution.” 

From Israel, the President traveled to Rome, where he met with Pope Francis at the Vatican.  They had a very productive conversation about combatting ISIS and other terrorist groups, protecting religious liberty, and numerous other issues.  The President and the First Lady were incredibly honored by the visit.

The President then attended the NATO Summit in Brussels, where he boldly stood up for American taxpayers and our common defense by calling on the other NATO countries to pay their fair share on a speech delivered with the leaders of NATO’s — of all of NATO’s countries, all present.  Hardworking Americans saw a leader representing them and their security on the international stage.  

The President also urged NATO to adapt the Alliance to more effectively combat terrorism.  Later in the meeting, the member states unanimously agreed on those two priorities, and the Secretary General was extremely complimentary of the President’s work to dramatically strengthen the Alliance by getting member states to increase their contributions. 

Finally, the President traveled to the G7 Summit in Sicily, where he and other leaders discussed how to better promote prosperity and security for each of their countries.  Those meetings were marked by outstanding success that we see reflected in the communiqué that was issued.  They include a strong statement that G7 nations will stand against unfair trade practices, and a commitment to fostering a true level playing field.  

The G7 leaders also endorsed the right of sovereign nations to control their borders, and endorsed in that communiqué the policy outlined by President Trump to seek resettlement of refugees as close as possible to their home countries so that they can be part of their eventual rebuilding.  This language on migration and refugees was a major shift in policy toward the position of the President.  

The G7 formally also condemned the use of chemical weapons.  And needless to say, the President’s leadership was critical in setting those priorities for action. 

In addition, the President also met with Prime Minister Abe of Japan.  The two agreed on the need for enhanced sanctions with respect to North Korea.

The President concluded his trip with an address to the service members and their family at Naval Air Station Sigonella, to thank them for their service on Memorial Day weekend and to deliver another strong message about the unity in the fight against terrorism.

Then, yesterday, President Trump spoke at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day services and visited the gravestones of many of our fallen heroes.

This was an extraordinarily successful and historic nine-day trip the President took.  He accomplished the return of a strong America to international affairs, rallied civilized nations of the world against terrorism, took real steps towards peace in the Middle East, and renewed our alliances on the basis of both shared interest and shared burdens.  The trip sets the stage for a much more safe and more prosperous nation here at home and a more peaceful world for all. 

We’re back at home now, and the President and his Cabinet are moving full-steam ahead on the President’s agenda.  As the President noted this weekend, his plan for the most significant tax reform in decades continues to progress, led by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and NEC Director Cohn.  While the President was away, the team here held several meetings with members and leadership.  In particular, Secretary Mnuchin met separately with the House Ways and Means Committee, Republican and Democrat members; the Freedom Caucus; and the Republican Study Committee.

The Vice President also discussed tax reform with multiple members and with leadership during his regular visits to Capitol Hill.

We’ll begin holding industry listening sessions next week, providing an opportunity for business leaders and job creators to give us their inputs on what reforms are necessary to allow us to grow jobs and the economy.

This morning, the President met with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Pruitt.  One of the topics that they discussed, of course, was the President’s upcoming decision on the Paris Climate Accords.  As I told you overseas, this is the subject that the President is spending a great deal of time on, and one that he spoke to the G7 members about during their meetings.  Ultimately he wants a fair deal for the American people and he will have an announcement coming on that shortly. 
Also today, the President’s Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer is having several meetings with representatives from the Vietnamese government, including the Prime Minister and the Trade Minister, ahead of tomorrow’s visit between the President and the Prime Minister.  The U.S. Trade Representative will have readouts on those meetings available for you this afternoon.  

Ambassador Lighthizer will also be speaking at the Chamber of Commerce gala this evening for the Vietnamese Prime Minister.  That speech should be available via the U.S. Chamber’s Facebook page.  During his speech, Ambassador Lighthizer will highlight the developments of our bilateral relationships with Vietnam over the past two decades while underscoring the work ahead in addressing the challenges presented by the recent sharp increase in our trade deficit with Vietnam.

As the President has made abundantly clear, trade deficits and unfair trade practices have disproportionately hit American workers.  Through a robust and varied trade agenda, this administration is strengthening our important relationships with partners like Vietnam by leveling the playing field with American — for American businesses throughout the world. 

And with that, I’ll take your questions.


Q    Yes, so the issue with the Russia probe, I’m wondering, Sean, if you can tell us when the President knew –whether the President knew at the time that Jared Kushner was seeking to establish back-channel communications at the Russian embassy through the Russian government.  And if he didn’t know at the time, when did he find out?

MR. SPICER:  I think that assumes a lot.  And I would just say that Mr. Kushner’s attorney has said that Mr. Kushner has volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings, and he will do the same if he’s contacted in or — and connected with any other inquiry.

Q    Did the President discuss this, though?

MR. SPICER:  I’m not going to get into what the President did or did not discuss.  But what your question assumes is a lot of facts that are not substantiated by anything but anonymous sources that are, so far, being leaked out.

Q    Does he approve of that action?

MR. SPICER:  You’re asking if he approves of an action that is not a confirmed action.  That being said, I think Secretary Kelly and General McMaster have both discussed that, in general terms, back channels are an appropriate part of diplomacy.

Q    Does the White House dispute that that happened?

MR. SPICER:  I’m not going to get into — but your question presupposes facts that have not been confirmed.


Q    Thank you, Sean.  But the President retweeted this morning an article about that back channel that was based on an anonymous source that said that there was an effort to set up a back channel, that it was the Russians who suggested that, and that it was to talk about Syria.  Was the President not confirming that that effort — that there was an effort in the facts that I just said when he retweeted that? 

MR. SPICER:  I think what I just said speaks for itself.  

Q    But he was — but you said that, first of all, that the article was based on anonymous sources —

MR. SPICER:  Which it is.

Q    But the Fox article that the President retweeted was also based on anonymous sources.  Why are those sources — or the source, rather, that they used more credible than the one in The Washington Post article?

MR. SPICER:  Again, I don’t think — there’s two issues at hand.  One is the statement that Jared’s attorney has provided.  Second is whether or not — the dossier that’s largely the basis of this was largely discredited in the first place.  Most of the publications here refused to even publish it in the first place. So, again, I’m not going to get into confirming stuff.  There’s an ongoing investigation.


Q    Which John?

MR. SPICER:  I’m sorry — Gizzi.

Q    Thank you, Sean.  I have two questions.  First, the President, for the second time in a month, retweeted his desire for the Senate to reduce the votes to pass anything to 51, which would effectively scuttle the filibuster for legislation as it has been scuttled for nominations.  Is this something he discussed with Majority Leader McConnell or any of the Senate leadership before he tweeted it?

MR. SPICER:  I think the concerns that he’s had with the pace of the Senate has been longstanding.  Obviously the use of the filibuster and the rules of the Senate are ultimately up to Senator McConnell.  But I think that the frustration that he’s had with the pace of some of the legislation and some of the obstructionist tactics that Democrats have employed, whether it’s Cabinet nominees or other pieces of legislation, has been well documented.

Q    But he wants to scrap the filibuster entirely —

MR. SPICER:  I think he wants to see action done, John.  That’s what the President wants.  Whether it’s the delays that Democrats posed to his Cabinet nominees, or pieces of legislation, he wants action.  This President was elected to get things done.  He wants to see things move through the House and the Senate, especially when you’ve got a majority of support, and people to stop playing games.

Q    And my second question, I did want to mention that before he left to go abroad, the President praised Philippine President Duterte for his action against drug dealers and dealing with them.  Various human rights groups have condemned President Duterte, saying that a lot of the executions of drug dealers have been done without trial.  Does the President stand by his words of praise for the Philippine President?

MR. SPICER:  I think the President recognizes the need to combat drugs, but he also believes in human rights.  It’s something that he’s worked with several countries — it’s one of the reasons that he’s reviewing the Cuba policy, et cetera.  He wants — human rights is something that’s very strong to him.  It’s something that he’s discussed in private with several countries.


Q    Tomorrow is the deadline for the Jerusalem embassy act — the last Obama waiver, six-month waiver.  Has the President made a decision about whether or not he will sign another waiver?


Q    And so that decision will be made in the next 24 hours?

MR. SPICER:  When the President has a decision to make we’ll let you know.

Q    And, secondly, we’re also waiting on a few other reviews — the ISIS review, as well as the Afghanistan review.  What is the status of those?  You mentioned that Paris — we’ll be hearing this week, the President said.  What about the other two?

MR. SPICER:  I think, on the Afghanistan review, he’s still reviewing that from the Department of Defense.  When we have an announcement we’ll let you know.


Q    Thanks, Sean.  The President tweeted on Sunday that he thinks Republicans should “add more dollars to healthcare and make it the best anywhere.”  What did he mean by that?

MR. SPICER:  Well, there’s a lot of savings that are coming out of the repeal and replace effort right now.  I think we’re at $119 billion that we saved through the President’s efforts.  And I think healthcare has been something that the President has been very clear on throughout his time as a candidate, through his presidency, to make sure that the American people get the care and the accessibility that they need.  He understands how important healthcare is, and the bottom line is he’s going to do whatever it takes to make sure that people have quality, accessible healthcare.  

Q    But “add more dollars” — did he mean to the high-risk pools?  Did he mean to the cost-sharing reduction payments?  Where did he want to add them?

MR. SPICER:  I think this is — the bill is in progress.  Obviously it’s in the Senate right now, and he’s willing to work with them to do what it takes.


Q    Thanks, Sean.  Following on one of Zeke’s questions, Afghanistan is now the country’s longest war.  How much more American blood and treasure is the President willing to expend?  And does he think it’s a winnable conflict?

MR. SPICER:  I think the conflict that — he wants to defeat ISIS.  He wants to defeat al Qaeda.  He wants to defeat threats — to defeat terrorism.  I think I just read to you — throughout the trip, that was the common thread — that uniting the Muslim world, talking about it with Prime Minister Netanyahu, talking about it even with the Pope, that wherever he went on this nine-day trip, protecting our country, protecting the world’s people was at the front of that discussion.  And I think he wants to do whatever he has to do to make sure that our country is safe and our people are safe.  That’s why he’s asked for this review.

Q    Sean, let me ask you a couple, if you don’t mind.  First on tax reform.  The President tweeted over the weekend that it was going “very well.”  You just used the word “progress.”  However, Republicans on the Hill still appear to be divided.  The President tweeted today that maybe they should reverse the filibuster rule.  So I’m wondering what the progress is and what is it that is going very well at this point in time.

MR. SPICER:  I think the reception that Secretary Mnuchin and others on the staff have gotten from leadership and members from the House Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance, et cetera, has been very welcoming, as well as in the business community.  But I think, obviously, as I just mentioned to the previous question, part of the reason that he is frustrated with the Senate rules is because when there is a majority of support on key issues or key people, as the case was in the confirmation process, he think it’s standing in the way of progress that the American people have asked for.

Q    And let me ask you about the FBI director.  Before the foreign trip, Joe Lieberman was the leading candidate identified by the President.  Mr. Lieberman is out.  Where does the FBI director search stand?  John Pistole — he is at the White House interviewing today.  Is he the leading candidate at this point?

MR. SPICER:  The President will be meeting with two additional candidates this afternoon, both Chris Wray and John Pistole.  When the President feels as though he’s met with the right candidate, he’ll let us know.  But he’ll meet with candidates today and continue to do so until he finds the right leader.

Q    Are they the two finalists at this point, or two of —

MR. SPICER:  The President is the ultimate decision-maker.  And when he makes a decision as to who he believes is best to lead the FBI, he will let us know.


Q    Thanks, Sean.  The President tweeted that tax reform is going well, but you just said that he’s actually very frustrated with the lack of progress in the Senate.  So does the White House still stand by its August deadline for tax reform?  And does the White House still believe that healthcare, tax reform, and infrastructure is going to get done this year?

MR. SPICER:  So just so we’re clear, there’s two separate issues, right?  One is, I think the talks that Secretary Mnuchin and other members of the staff have had and the reception that they’ve gotten to the President’s bold tax reform proposal is extremely welcoming.  I think the President in general finds it frustrating the way some of the — how the Senate operates.  And again, I’m dating this back to the holdup that they had on some of these unbelievably well-qualified nominees.  So we don’t want to mix those two issues together.  

But I think he feels very encouraged by the reception that he’s gotten on tax reform.  Secretary Mnuchin, who had made the comment about August, had talked about, while that was a goal, that we’re going to continue to work as hard as we can to get it done.  But we’ve got a pretty bold agenda.  He’s still pushing hard on healthcare.  Infrastructure is a priority of his.  So the President’s legislative agenda is in full swing.  

Q    Sean, where do you see the state of the U.S.-German relationship right now?  And how important is that relationship to the White House and the President and the American public?

MR. SPICER:  I think the relationship that the President has had with Merkel he would describe as fairly unbelievable.  They get along very well.  He has a lot of respect for her.  They continue to grow the bond that they had during their talks in the G7.  

And he views not just Germany, but the rest of Europe, as an important American ally.  During his conversations at NATO and at the G7, the President reaffirmed the need to deepen and improve our transatlantic relationship.

Q    And how did he view her comments that she felt that Europe could no longer depend on the United States?

MR. SPICER:  Well, respectfully, that’s not what she said.  So since you’re misquoting the Chancellor, let me read what she actually said.  She said:  The times when Europe could rely solely on others is somewhat in the past.  And as I have witnessed over the past few days, Europe must take its fate into its own hands.  This means working in friendship with the U.S., the UK, and neighborly relations with Russia and other partners.  

That’s great.  That’s what the President called for.  He called for additional burden-sharing.  The Secretary General of NATO said that the President’s calls are what’s moving them in the right direction.  The President is getting results, and more countries are stepping up their burden-sharing.  That is a good thing for them, it’s a good thing for NATO, and it’s a good thing for America.

Scott Thuman.

MR. SPICER:  Sean, has the President been meeting with lawyers specifically about defending himself in the special counsel investigation into Russia?  And I’m sure you’ve probably seen the reports that Congressman Adam Schiff would like to see Jared Kushner before his committee, and possibly to go over his clearances.

MR. SPICER:  I’m not going to dignify partisan accusations of anonymous sources and alleged — unsubstantiated attacks.  So I’m not even going to —

Q    And about the President, whether or not he’s had any meetings with —

MR. SPICER:  The President has a lot of meetings.  If the President has a decision on anything, we’ll be sure to let you know.


Q    Sean, a couple things.  First, welcome back, by the way.  Thanks.  Two quick questions.  This weekend, while you all were gone, someone shot up the Lexington Herald-Leader, and of course we understand what happened in Montana with now-Congressman Gianforte — I think it’s a misdemeanor charge of assault.  Will this administration take a stand against violence aimed at reporters?

MR. SPICER:  We’ll take a stance against violence against any individual.

Q    And so would you — all right, second, let me follow that up with, would you support legislation — you all have been the ones that have come out screaming against fake media — would you support legislation that would support real reporting, such as this shield law?  I’ve asked you before, such as — 
MR. SPICER:  We have a Constitution, Brian, that supports the First Amendment, which allows all Americans — anyone in this country, frankly — the freedom of expression.  We support that full —

Q    The second question:  When you say that you’re going to try to defeat ISIS and al Qaeda, what are you doing to eliminate the abject poverty that is the breeding ground for the terrorists?

MR. SPICER:  As we mentioned before, his national security team is putting together a holistic solution to defeating ISIS.  When that strategy is complete, we’ll have something for you on it.

Q    You said that a back channel is an appropriate part of diplomacy.

MR. SPICER:  I didn’t say that.  I said that Secretary Kelly and General McMaster have both commented on that.

Q    Add more to that.  How is it that it’s appropriate for someone who’s a private citizen, not sworn in as an official of the U.S. government, to conduct any kind of negotiation or diplomacy with a foreign official?

MR. SPICER:  Again, I would just refer you to both the comments that Secretary Kelly and General McMaster have said about how they can be an important tool in diplomacy.

Q    But, at the time, there was no one who was close to the President who was working in an official government capacity.  How is that appropriate?

MR. SPICER:  Again, I think that both of those individuals who are steeped in national security and foreign policy have said that that can be an effective tool, generally speaking, in diplomacy.   


Q    I know the President hasn’t made a public decision on the Paris agreement, and I know you don’t want to get out ahead of him, but on the more broad issue of climate change, can you say whether or not the President believes that human activity is contributing to the warming of the climate?

MR. SPICER:  Honestly, I haven’t asked him.

Q    Okay.

MR. SPICER:  I can get back to you.

Q    And do you feel like that is a decision he’s still trying to make?

MR. SPICER:  I don’t know.  I honestly haven’t asked him that specific question, so I would feel —

Q    And just real quick on healthcare, to follow up on question back there.  So as part of the tweet about wanting to add more money to get better healthcare, would the President consider putting back some of the Obamacare taxes that were taken out of the health bill as it goes into the Senate?  Would he be in support of keeping taxes in there to help pay for healthcare?

MR. SPICER:  Again, that negotiation is ongoing with the Senate and I don’t want to presuppose what the President may or may not want to do.


Q    Let me finish, please — thank you, Sean, for calling on me — Angela Merkel’s quote:  “We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands…”  How did the President react to that?  And will this have any effect on what he decides to do with Paris?

MR. SPICER:  You know, I think he — like I said a moment ago, the President believes that seeing Europe and other NATO countries increase their burden-sharing is a very positive thing for their own countries, for NATO as a whole, and for the United States — to see these individuals heed the call that he has so eloquently put out over the last several — well over a year.

But when you look at the comments that the Secretary General made, he recognizes that the President’s rhetoric has had an extremely positive effect on the strengthening of NATO and other countries stepping up the percent of their own GDP that they’re putting towards their common national defense.  That benefits everybody.  It benefits us, it benefits NATO, and it benefits themselves.

Q    And will it affect his decision on Paris?

MR. SPICER:  What?  I’m sorry.

Q    Will it have any effect on his decision on Paris?

MR. SPICER:  I don’t — obviously, that’s — what he ultimately decides is up to him.

Q    Sean, does the departure of Michael Dubke signal some kind of broader reorganization in the West Wing?  Obviously, we’re hearing that more campaign aides, like Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie might be returning; that there’s a “war room” he might be setting up to deal with the Russian investigations.   

MR. SPICER:  I don’t think so.  I think the President is very pleased with his team, and he has a robust agenda, as I’ve just outlined, that he looks forward to working with Congress to get done to achieve results for the American people.

Q    Is the White House considering changing how you communicate the President’s message at all?  I mean, be it him communicating directly more or different faces at the podium.

MR. SPICER:  Well, I don’t think that there’s anything that we haven’t said before about how, you know, we’ve got to — the President has an unbelievably qualified Cabinet, and we’ve utilized them a ton in the past.  If we can continue to do that on key issues, we’re going to do that.

Ultimately, the best messenger is the President himself.  He’s always proven that — that he is the best messenger not just for what he wants to articulate, but that the American people resoundingly chose him as their President because he understands the frustrations and concerns and values of the American people, and he is probably the best person to communicate that.

Q    But do you think that he is happy with the messaging that’s been done thus far?

MR. SPICER:  I think he’s very pleased with the work of his staff.  I think that he is frustrated, like I am and like so many others, to see stories come out that are patently false, to see narratives that are wrong, to see “fake news.”  When you see stories get perpetrated that are absolutely false, that are not based in fact, that is troubling.  And he’s rightly concerned.

Q    Can you give an example of fake news, Sean?  Could you give us an example?

MR. SPICER:  Yeah, absolutely.  I’ll give you an example.

Q    Please.

MR. SPICER:  Sure.  Friday, the President was having a great discussion at the G7, and someone from the BBC — and ultimately an incoming reporter from The New York Times — retweeted that the President was being rude by disrespecting the Italian Prime Minister, when, in fact, you all, in every one of the meetings that we sit in, watch the President with that one earpiece that’s been used by other Presidents.  And yet, the President did a great job at NATO, building stronger bonds, building stronger bonds at the G7, increasing America’s presence around the world.  

And that’s the kind of thing that the BBC and, ultimately, a reporter who’s now joining The New York Times push out and perpetuate with no apology.  What — you’re shaking your head, Peter.  I mean, it’s true.  You did it.  No, I — and I’m answering Jim’s — but I think —

Q    Can’t reporters make mistakes?

MR. SPICER:  No, no.  But that’s not — but that’s just fake.  That is a fake —

Q    Sean, none of that was in the newspaper.  None of that was on the front page.  Your trip was all over the front page.  You’re making something out of one tweet instead of the vast majority of the coverage.

MR. SPICER:  But, again, you guys defend your mistakes like that.  

Q    Don’t you?

MR. SPICER:  With all due respect, I was asked to give an
example, and I did it.

Q    You gave it more prominence than anybody did originally.

MR. SPICER:  I gave an answer to Jim.  The problem is, is that I think the President — to the question — gets frustrated when he sees fake stories get published, things that aren’t based in fact, and a narrative gets pushed that —

Q    That’s something insignificant, though.  That’s just so minor.  

MR. SPICER:  So that’s just — well, with all due respect, I think when you see instances like that get perpetrated over and over again, that is frustrating. 

Q    It’s frustrating when you — 
MR. SPICER:  No, I’m not here — I didn’t come here with a list of things.  But I think that there is —

Q    Something big.

MR. SPICER:  Well, thank you, I appreciate it — you get to decide what’s big and what’s not.  I think there is a lot of this stuff that has gotten pushed out based on unnamed, unaccountable sources that is very troubling.  And I think when you see the same kind of thing happen over and over again, it is concerning.  And I think the President has fought very hard to bring back jobs.  As I mentioned, you had over half a trillion dollars of investment that’s coming in that’s going to grow jobs, grow our economy.  That should be a big story.  The President’s results when it came to fighting terrorism was a big thing.  The idea that we’re standing up a global center to fight extremism in Saudi Arabia that’s uniting Muslims countries — that’s a big deal.  I think —

Q    Are you saying that reports that there’s going to be an overhaul of the communications operation are fake news?  That’s the question —

MR. SPICER:  I know.  So now you want to come back to that.  What I’m telling you is, is that the reason that the President is frustrated is because there’s a perpetuation of false narratives, a use of unnamed sources over and over again about things that are happening that don’t ultimately happen, and I think that is troubling.

Thank you guys very much.

Q    Sean, we reported on the counterterrorism center.

Q    Come on —

Q    Is Kushner fake news?

2:41 P.M. EDT

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GameTime: Breaking Down Offense – (blog)

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GameTime: Breaking Down Offense (blog)
GameTime: Breaking Down Offense. Brent Barry breaks down the powerful offense from the Cavaliers and the Warriors. GameTime. 1:03. Check out this promotional clip from the latest episode from the "Open Court" series. Play. GameTime: Open Court …
Breaking down the Warriors' best play (and what it means for the Cavs)

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Our Second Annual Ranking of theBiggest Names in Sports – ESPN

The ESPN World Fame 100 is our annual attempt to create a ranking, through statistical analysis, of the 100 most famous athletes on the planet.

We started with Forbes’ annual list of the highest-paid athletes and expanded the pool from there using a variety of domestic and international sources to make sure we didn’t overlook any legitimate candidates. (You can find the 2016 World Fame 100 here.) We also sought input from ESPN journalists around the world, including colleagues in our bureaus in Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

The data for each athlete in the pool was then fed into a formula created by ESPN director of sports analytics Ben Alamar that weighs athletes’ endorsements, their following on the social media Big Three (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and Google search popularity, producing a comparative ranking system. The analysis includes five categories: endorsement money, Twitter followers, Instagram followers, Facebook followers and Google Trends score. For special situations (esports and China) we used two additional categories: other social media — for when the athlete was more relevant on a platform outside the Big Three (Twitch, for example, although no gamers made the top 100) — and, in China’s case, Baidu search score, because Google is blocked there.

Salary is not used as a factor because of differences among sports. For example, players in a league with a salary cap would be at an unfair disadvantage when measured against players in uncapped leagues. Endorsement dollars, however, reflect the ability to draw attention — which is a good way to define fame.

Endorsement amounts cover 2016 and were compiled by ESPN researchers. All currency figures were converted to U.S. dollars using March 27 rates. The social media followings and Google Trend scores (which show relative popularity based on how often names are searched on a scale of 0 to 100) were as of April 19. (Note: Where categories in the profiles are marked as NA, the athlete either doesn’t have an official account for that social media site or an accurate endorsement figure could not be confirmed.)

Retired athletes are not included. Therefore, popular stars such as Tony Romo (No. 70 in 2016) and Floyd Mayweather (No. 26 in 2016) are absent. We have also excluded amateur athletes — Deshaun Watson, Lonzo Ball and Katie Ledecky, for example — due to lack of salary and endorsements.

Contributors: Primary research by Sachin Dave Chandan and Charlotte Gibson. Additional research by Sam Bruce, Jayaditya Gupta, Sam Lyon, Richard Maguire, James Martin, Gueorgui Milkov, Fernando Olivieri, Darren Rovell, Sripath Srinath, Xin Wan, Qixin Wang, Andy Withers and Ricardo Zanei.

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The Latest: Police: Airport gunman in custody; everyone safe – Miami Herald

The Latest on an armed man at the Orlando International Airport (all times local):

10:10 p.m.

Police say a gunman at the Orlando International Airport has been taken into custody and that everyone is safe.

Orlando police tweeted that authorities would update the media soon Tuesday night. The call about an armed man came in about 7:30 p.m. and the situation was resolved nearly three hours later, after a crisis negotiator was called in to help.

The terrifying situation created confusion and uncertainty at the airport as travelers posted video and photos online of officers with their weapons drawn.

Authorities said earlier that no shots had been fired.


9:15 p.m.

Police in Florida have tweeted that a reportedly armed suspect has been ‘contained’ at the Orlando International Airport and that no shots have been fired and there is no active shooter.

Orlando police urged people not to put out unconfirmed information on Tuesday night during what appeared to be a chaotic scene at the airport. Images showed a heavy police presence and officials hurrying travelers out of an area in the airport.

The Florida Highway Patrol said all roads to the airport were shut down, with “zero exceptions.” Authorities warned people to stay in their vehicles and away from law enforcement.


8:55 p.m.

A spokeswoman for the Orlando International Airport says authorities are responding to a report of an armed man in the rental car area.

Spokeswoman Carolyn Fennell tells the Orlando Sentinel that law enforcement officers are on the scene Tuesday night.

The airport tweeted that the area had been contained and there was minimal impact to operations. Images posted on social media showed a heavy police presence in the area and passengers were worried about missing flights. The Florida Highway Patrol tweeted that all roads to the airport were shut down, with “zero exceptions.” Authorities warned people to stay in their vehicles and away from law enforcement.

Fennell didn’t immediately respond to a message left by The Associated Press. Police referred calls to the spokeswoman.

Earlier this year, authorities say an Alaska man killed five people inside a baggage claim area at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

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Trending: Watches – 417mag

It’s time to show your wrists some love. The bold bands and stylish faces of these watches make them great Father’s Day gifts, but they’d look equally great on women going for the timeless look of leather and polished metals.

Styled by Dylan Lyle | Photo by Heather Kane

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.

1. Komono Winston with blue canvas band, $90 at Five Pound Apparel

2. Komono Winston in gold and wood, $90 at MODERN Society

3. Komono Winston in walnut, $90 at MODERN Society

4. WeWood wooden watch, $119 at Five Pound Apparel

5. Komono Winston in regal pecan, $100 at MODERN Society

Luxury Lines

Treat your wrist to the best with luxury watches from local shops.

1. Shinola Rambler Chrono 44mm,  $875 at Mitchum Jewelers
2. Rolex 904L stainless steel Oyster Perpetual Submariner 40mm wristwatch,  $8,550 at Maxon’s Diamond Merchants
3. Shinola Canfield Chrono 43mm, $850 at Mitchums Jewelers

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Ranking the final eight contenders at the Women's College World Series – ESPN

Jim Burgess/UAA Communications

Put Delanie Gourley and Kelly Barnhill on the same roster, and that team has a decided edge over everyone else.

For the fifth year in a row, the Women’s College World Series will convene without Cinderella. With only seeded teams among the field of eight at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, the title is truly up for grabs. How would espnW seed the bracket in Oklahoma City? Glad you asked.

1. Florida: Yes, Florida became the first No. 1 seed extended to a winner-take-finale in each of the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, first by Oklahoma State and then by Alabama. But the Gators still have Kelly Barnhill and Delanie Gourley in the circle (not to mention Aleshia Ocasio, should anyone else be needed). So while opponents may be able to stay close, it is still difficult to imagine this team losing twice in quick succession. That pitching firewall keeps the top seed as the favorite entering the World Series.

2. Oklahoma: The Sooners took the scenic route from Norman to Oklahoma City, by way of four elimination games in a regional and a trip to Auburn for a super regional. But the team that swept the Tigers looked a lot like the team that won the championship a year ago against the same opponent, only with more choices in the circle. It’s also worth pointing out that, regional drama aside, Oklahoma didn’t do anything wrong to draw a double-digit seed. It just ran afoul of a selection committee hell-bent on strength-of-schedule data.

3. UCLA: The fifth-seeded Bruins won Pac-12 series against Arizona, Oregon and Washington. They scored 36 runs in going 5-0 through regional and super regional play. They solved the May mystery that was Ole Miss ace Kaitlin Lee in that super regional. The top of the order alone — Delaney Spaulding, Kylee Perez, Madeline Jelenicki and Brianna Tautalafua — averages eight total bases per game. And redshirt freshman pitcher Rachel Garcia, the former national high school player of the year, is playing with poise beyond her years.

4. Oregon: The selling point is a pitching staff that goes three deep with interchangeable arms that shut down the Pac-12. The tricky part is that trio includes two freshmen and a sophomore, all in the World Series for the first time. That hint of uncertainty is a bit of a theme. Like UCLA and no one else in the field, Oregon is unbeaten in the postseason. Three wins were by shutout. But the third-seeded Ducks also needed two seventh-inning rallies to avoid a more precarious path. Still, in a field of top-heavy lineups, the Ducks are the most balanced, one through nine in the order.

5. Washington: The Huskies were shut out by Stanford on May 6, an opponent otherwise allowing nearly nine runs per game in Pac-12 competition. That didn’t sit well. The team with the second-best slugging percentage among World Series teams, Washington scored 83 runs in its next 10 games to get to Oklahoma City. The top five in the batting order are a nightmare to navigate, beginning with Team USA member Ali Aguilar. One concern, especially should the sixth-seeded Huskies fall into the losers bracket, is Taran Alvelo has thrown more innings than any pitcher in the field.

6. LSU: It may be that opening opponent UCLA is the lucky one. It doesn’t have to play LSU when the Tigers are on the brink of elimination. While the 13th-seeded Tigers would prefer to stay on the winners’ side of the bracket in Oklahoma City, five wins this season in NCAA tournament elimination games and nine in the past two seasons sum up this group’s identity. Not unlike Florida, an inconsistent offense sometimes digs holes, but the pitching of Carley Hoover and Allie Walljasper makes them so very tough to bury.

7. Baylor: The Big 12 team went through James Madison’s Megan Good and Arizona’s Danielle O’Toole to get here, two pitchers who were among the final 10 candidates for USA Softball Player of the Year. And they got to O’Toole on Arizona’s turf in Tucson. That is about all the résumé needed to prove the No. 15 seed belongs in Oklahoma City. Baylor has historically had speed but little power. This team can run, but Shelby Friudenberg and Shelby McGlaun give it the power that proved decisive in wins against both James Madison and Arizona.

8. Texas A&M: It was difficult to know what to make of the ninth-seeded Aggies, who didn’t play Alabama, Auburn, Florida or LSU in the SEC and dropped series against Kentucky, Ole Miss and Tennessee, three of the league’s other super regional participants. The answer provided in the postseason is a balanced team that eased through a regional and held its nerve after losing the super regional opener on the road at Tennessee. The World Series has a way of exposing weak links as much as highlighting strengths. Texas A&M doesn’t have many glaring weaknesses.

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The Latest: House Tax-Law Writer Downplays Differences – U.S. News & World Report

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The Latest: House Tax-Law Writer Downplays Differences
U.S. News & World Report
The Latest: House Tax-Law Writer Downplays Differences. A tax-law writer for the North Carolina House is downplaying differences with the Senate in their respective state budgets over which taxes to cut or incentives to offer. | May 30, 2017, at 1:26 p.m..

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