Chief of Staff John Kelly has been rumored to be on the verge of leaving the White House practically since he got in, but the gossip has ramped up in recent months to what seems like a breaking point. "Kelly has referred to [President] Trump multiple times as an 'idiot,' and has grown frustrated with his policy ignorance," Vanity Fair wrote in April.
While it is always prudent to take such reports with a grain of salt, Kelly certainly looked wickedly uncomfortable on Wednesday as he listened to Trump go to town on Germany at the NATO summit breakfast. As the president defiantly told allies "Germany is totally controlled by Russia" and "you tell me if that's appropriate," Kelly squirmed in the background, looking like he wished he could be swallowed up by the floor.
To be fair to Kelly, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison doesn't look any more comfortable. Watch the extremely awkward moment below, and revisit Kelly's similar reaction at the United Nations last year here. Jeva Lange
"Germany is totally controlled by Russia," Pres. Trump tells NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg as they sit down together for bilateral breakfast ahead of Brussels summit. https://t.co/CmyplgrxzN pic.twitter.com/6RnFk8Drgs
— ABC News (@ABC) July 11, 2018
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to Pyongyang was "regrettable," North Korea's Foreign Ministry said Saturday after Pompeo left.
"We had expected that the U.S. side would offer constructive measures that would help build trust based on the spirit of" the Singapore summit between President Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, the statement said. "However, the attitude and stance the United States showed in the first high-level meeting" has led to a "dangerous phase that might rattle our willingness for denuclearization that had been firm."
On Wednesday, the senators of the Senate Intelligence Committee have the opportunity to question Gina Haspel, President Trump's nominee to be the next CIA director, on her qualifications for the position. Each lawmaker has just a few minutes to bombard Haspel with questions, which will likely seek to suss out her stance on torture techniques previously used by the CIA and how she plans to navigate her relationship with President Trump.
Republican Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.) did not seem concerned about the time constraints, however. He opened his questioning with a soliloquy about the partisanship that has seeped into the nomination process under the Trump administration, specifically calling out "overwhelming Democratic opposition." He then asked Haspel how many votes she believes she would've received for confirmation under a hypothetical President Hillary Clinton — which prompted quite an awkward silence when Haspel declined to respond. Watch the deafening silence below. Kimberly Alters
Unsurprisingly, Sen. Cotton lobbing Haspel plenty of softballs.
"If you had been nominated by President Obama or...Hillary Clinton...how many votes do you think you would have gotten to be confirmed as the CIA director? You don't have to answer." pic.twitter.com/UlT090MVcW
— Melanie Schmitz (@MelsLien) May 9, 2018
Fox News was in the unusual position of reporting on one of its own hosts Monday.
An attorney for Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal attorney, revealed that a previously unnamed client of Cohen's was in fact Fox News host Sean Hannity. The revelation came in court Monday at the behest of a federal judge, as Cohen has been attempting to block investigators from reading documents they seized in a raid of his home and office last week. Hannity denied that Cohen has represented him "in any matter," saying he had merely had "brief discussions" about legal questions with the attorney.
After the news broke, Fox's Laura Ingle went on-air to report the latest, breezing quickly past the revelation that one of her own coworkers was now involved in the Cohen story. Cohen's attorney was told that the name of the third client didn't fall under attorney-client privilege, Ingle explained, so "he stood up, and named him as Sean Hannity. So moving on to the rest of what's happening today … "
Watch the attempted nonchalance below. Summer Meza
— Matt Wilstein (@mattwilstein) April 16, 2018
Mexico's president reportedly changed his mind about visiting the White House after talking to Trump
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto scrapped plans to visit Washington in February or March after an argumentative phone call with President Trump on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported Saturday night, citing officials from both countries.
Trump reportedly "lost his temper" in a discussion of his unrealized pledge to build an extensive wall along the United States' southern border with Mexican funding. "Trump believed it was unreasonable for Peña Nieto to expect him to back off his crowd-pleasing campaign promise of forcing Mexico to pay for the wall," American officials reportedly told the Post.
Also at issue, the Post story says, is Peña Nieto's dissatisfaction with Trump's refusal to commit to a meeting agenda that will avoid embarrassment. A column in Mexico's El Horizonte newspaper on Friday likewise said Trump's "volatility" and the "lack of certainty about his commitments and actions" makes the Mexican president wary of a public conversation.
Rep. Mike Capuano (D) is a Massachusettsan to the bone — before representing the state's 7th district, he was mayor of Somerville, the same town he was born in. That just makes his attire on the Tuesday after the Super Bowl all the more conspicuous:
Rep. Michael Capuano of Massachusetts enters the house financial services hearing in an EAGLES helmet. pic.twitter.com/cVxYJ3lBqJ
— Alan Rappeport (@arappeport) February 6, 2018
Turkish troops on Saturday attacked an enclave of U.S.-supported Kurdish YPG militia fighters in the northern Syrian city of Afrin. After airstrikes, Turkish state media reported, ground troops entered the area Sunday. The YPG allied with the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, but Ankara considers the Kurdish fighters terrorists because of their ties to Kurdish rebels in Turkey.
Earlier this week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the United States will have an open-ended military presence in Syria, including ongoing support for the Kurds. Tillerson's statement angered Turkey, which is a U.S. ally via NATO. Washington asked Turkey not to attack the Kurdish forces last week. Bonnie Kristian
Dutch media roasts new U.S. Ambassador Peter Hoekstra for dodging questions about past anti-Islam comments
Former Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) got off to a rough start in his new job, U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, in December, when a Dutch journalist confronted him with comments he'd made in 2015 about Muslim "no-go zones" in the country and Dutch politicians being burned; Hoekstra denied making the comments, calling them "fake news," and when confronted with proof, denied having called his comments "fake news." On Wednesday, Hoekstra held his first news conference in the U.S. ambassador's residence in The Hague, and it went about equally as well.
Several Dutch reporters asked Hoekstra again about his widely rejected claims, and Hoekstra ducked the questions. Roel Geeraedts, a political reporter at the Dutch television station RTL Nieuws, posted this awkward exchange, captioning it, "The only one who did get burned today is... Hoekstra himself."
Today Dutch press welcomed @petehoekstra as new ambassador to the Netherlands. In 2015 Hoekstra said Dutch"politicians are being burned" (not true). The only one who did get burned today is... Hoekstra himself. By refusing to answer our questions. pic.twitter.com/Dv2aalbhDP
— Roel Geeraedts (@RGjournalist) January 10, 2018
After Hoekstra refused to recant or even comment on his 2015 allegations, one Dutch reporter chided him, "This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions." "Everybody there had one question: that crazy statement you made, are you going to withdraw it?" Geeraedts told The Washington Post. "We were not getting answers, so we all kept asking it." Dutch reporters sometimes spontaneously glom onto a question a Dutch politicians tries to evade, but "we were all astonished that he didn't want to take back the comment," Geeraedts said. "It was awkward, to be honest."
If this continues, perhaps Hoekstra will avoid the Dutch press — or take a page from Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and refer reporters' question a cardboard cutout of himself. Peter Weber
Thailand’s prime minister sets up a cardboard cutout of himself at a press event, tells reporters to direct their questions to the cardboard. Then he walks out. https://t.co/pA3l9L808h pic.twitter.com/kv6zNyBu3d
— CNN International (@cnni) January 10, 2018