Trump's enthusiasm for Russia and Putin is dividing his White House, frustrating friends and foes alike
President Trump is eager to hold a formal bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a G20 summit in Germany next month, to the dismay of top advisers at the State Department and National Security Council, The Associated Press reports. And Trump's refusal to acknowledge that Russia interfered in the 2016 election is causing consternation in Congress, among government officials, and even some Trump supporters, Maggie Haberman says at The New York Times. All 17 U.S. intelligence agencies concur that Russia hacked and released Democratic emails to help Trump win, and there is a growing body of reporting on the other ways Russia tried to interfere in the election.
Trump and some of his advisers want a full meeting with Putin, with all the diplomatic trappings and photos, while many other advisers would prefer a more informal chat between the two leaders, given the ongoing investigation into possible Trump team collusion with Russia and other sensitive global issues. Part of the issue is that Trump prefers strategic ambiguity, and wants to makes deals. "He doesn't want to be set by this narrative that the Russians hacked the election when he has to negotiate with Russia, who, by the way, sits on China's border," Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign aide, tells The New York Times. "If Putin adamantly denies that he did it, it's frankly not an issue to the president."
His refusal to publicly make it an issue, or deal with the vulnerabilities in the U.S. electoral system the Russian hacking exposed, isn't quite so easy to explain, Haberman reports, "but aides and friends say the matter hits him where he is most vulnerable. Mr. Trump, who often conflates himself with the institutions he serves, sees questions about Russia as an effort by Democrats and stragglers from the 'Never Trump' movement to delegitimize his election victory." You can read more about Trump, Russia, and Trump's flummoxed advisers at AP and The New York Times. Peter Weber
The Kilauea volcano continues to erupt on Hawaii's Big Island, and people in its vicinity are being warned not to breathe in the lava haze, or "laze," that results when lava mixes with seawater.
When lava is cooled by seawater, a glass forms. When that glass shatters, tiny shards are picked up by clouds of steam. Those clouds contain hydrochloric acid, which is also formed when lava and seawater mix. Hydrochloric acid can irritate the skin and eyes and make it hard to breathe. While laze "looks innocuous, it's not," Janet Babb, a geologist with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, told The Associated Press.
Masks that are being passed out to local residents can keep out volcanic ash, but cannot filter the hydrochloric acid. Authorities are also warning people to stay far away from where the lava is entering the ocean, as waves can wash over the lava and send scorching hot water onto the shore. So far, the lava has destroyed about 40 homes, and officials have moved 50,000 gallons of flammable gas that had been stored at a geothermal plant near one of the volcano's vents. Catherine Garcia
Mark and Christina Rotondo have a great "worst roommate ever" story to share, except they might want to leave out the part about having raised him.
The Rotondos live in Camillus, New York, and say that they tried for months to get their 30-year-old son, Michael, to move out. They sent him five notes, CBS News reports, with the first one, dated Feb. 2, stern, ordering Michael to "leave this house immediately. You have 14 days to vacate. You will not be allowed to return." On Feb. 13, they busted out the legalese: "You are hereby evicted. You have heretofore been our guest and there is no lease or agreement that gives you any right to stay here without our consent."
When that didn't work, the Rotondos turned to bribery, telling Michael that if he left, they would give him $1,100, and his mother would help him find employment. "There are jobs available even for those with a poor work history like you," the note said. "Get one — you have to work!" He still refused to leave, and the Rotondos took their son to state supreme court. On Tuesday, a judge ordered Michael out. He maintains that his parents did not give him enough time to leave, and called the decision "outrageous." Next time, just change the locks — it's cheaper, faster, and a lot less embarrassing. Catherine Garcia
The House voted Tuesday 258-159 to roll back rules for midsize and regional banks put in place after the 2008 financial crisis to prevent a repeat of that catastrophe.
The bill, already passed by the Senate, allows banks with up to $250 billion in assets to avoid supervision from the Fed and stress tests. Under Dodd-Frank, banks with at least $50 billion in assets had to abide by tougher financial rules. Republican lawmakers say easing the regulations will make it easier for small banks and credit unions to lend more money to people, but some Democrats have warned this bill does assist larger banks, and several of those failed during the financial crisis.
The bill does not affect the biggest banks, like Bank of America and Wells Fargo. President Trump could sign the bill as early as this week. Catherine Garcia
One of Michael Cohen's business partners, Evgeny Freidman, is cooperating with federal prosecutors who are probing Cohen's business dealings, The New York Times reports.
Freidman on Tuesday pleaded guilty to tax evasion, but has reportedly agreed to be a witness to avoid jail time. Investigators are looking into Cohen, President Trump's longtime fixer and lawyer, as part of the larger probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Freidman's plea deal could be used to pressure Cohen into cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the Times reports.
Cohen and Freidman were longtime partners in the taxi business; Freidman even earned the nickname "Taxi King" for managing so many cabs and taxi medallions. He was facing up to 25 years in prison for multiple charges of tax fraud, but will instead receive five years of probation if he fulfills his promise to help federal agents. Read more at The New York Times. Summer Meza
The number of Americans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender has risen once again. Last year, 4.5 percent of adults surveyed by Gallup said they identified as LGBT, up from 4.1 percent in 2016 and 3.5 percent in 2012. That translates to more than 11 million Americans.
The survey found that the increase has been happening most rapidly among millennials, while the share of LGBT individuals in older generations has remained nearly steady. While 8.1 percent of millennials identified as LGBT last year, just 2.4 percent of baby boomers did. Between 2016 and 2017, the number of LGBT millennials went up by nearly a full percentage point, the biggest increase ever tracked by Gallup.
More women identify as LGBT than men, with 5.1 percent of women and 3.9 percent of men self-identifying as such. The survey also found larger upticks among Hispanic respondents, while white respondents were least likely to identify as LGBT.
President Trump paused to reflect on his fond travel memories while discussing the relationship between the U.S. and China on Tuesday.
During a press conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump said he was "a little disappointed" because there was a "change in attitude" after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un secretly met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in March. "I don't like that," said Trump. Even though North Korea has walked back its promise to discuss denuclearization during an upcoming summit between Trump and Kim, Trump didn't blame China.
"I have a great relationship with President Xi, he's a friend of mine, he likes me, I like him," said Trump. "I mean, that was two of the great days of my life being in China, I don't think anybody's ever been treated better in China ever in their history."
Trump's apparently amazing trip to China was "an incredible thing to witness and see," but despite his great relationship with "world-class poker player" Xi, there is not yet a deal around Chinese company ZTE. The U.S. banned American businesses from selling to ZTE after the company violated trade sanctions, but Trump last week tweeted that he would help restore lost jobs in China. "We will see what happens," said Trump about ZTE negotiations with Xi. "We're discussing various deals."
Watch Trump's comments below. Summer Meza
Time … it's like a flat circle, you know, man?
Or, if you're the glorified-bracelet company Nunc, time is more like a really expensive Italian marble stone shaped like a blank watch face. As the Swedish company explained to one understandably confused Facebook user who made the mistake of pointing out that a watch that doesn't work is just a bracelet, "Nunc is more than a product, it represents a philosophy and a way of life. And for some time we struggled: Should we call it a watch or a timepiece? It clearly doesn't tell the time."
please stop pic.twitter.com/3Vl6IoBtkW
— charmkvark (@charmkvark) May 21, 2018
No, it clearly doesn't, but for 160 euro (about $188), it will aggressively remind you that "time is now, and we should make the most of it" by otherwise being totally unhelpful and impractical:
The whole thing seems almost a little too millennial to be true; there is even a "literature & philosophy" page that discusses sophomore-year-of-college philosophy topics like "carpe diem" and "moment mori," and a "spirituality" page that is "coming soon." Go on your own "deep personal journey" to "find meaning and purpose" on Nunc's website here. Jeva Lange