WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
THE TAKE with ABC News’ Rick Klein
Can you find a better encapsulation of the frustrations and absurdities surrounding the Trump presidency right now than the tweets issued by George Conway? Just hours after his wife, Kellyanne, was on TV saying too much is made of the president’s tweets, George Conway opined that Trump’s tweets calling for a stricter travel ban “certainly won’t help” his case at the Supreme Court. “Sad,” concluded George Conway, who until last week was a top pick for the Trump Justice Department. It’s a judgment other allies of the White House are beginning to endorse. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., returned from a golf outing with the president to bemoan the “nuance” lost with the president’s Twitter attacks on the mayor of London: “Probably it’s best to refrain from communicating with 140 characters on topics that are so important,” Corker said. And as The Wall Street Journal editorializes today, “the most effective opponent of the Trump Presidency is Donald J. Trump.” If friends and allies are frustrated, so, it appears, is Trump: He’s taken it upon himself to be his primary messenger in part because outside and inside advisers are telling him his message isn’t getting out otherwise. And The New York Times is reporting even deeper presidential frustration – at Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions, of course, prepared the revised travel ban that Trump is now attacking, and Trump apparently blames him in part for the widening Russia mess, given his move to recuse himself from the investigation. That’s an intriguing twist in the week James Comey is set to testify – a window into Trump’s mindset over the storyline that continues to consume his presidency.
CRACKING DOWN ON LEAKS
The crackdown on leakers has begun…with a 25-year-old part-time yoga instructor from Augusta, Georgia named Reality Winner. The Department of Justice sent a hefty shot across the bow Monday, charging the intelligence contractor under the Espionage Act after she allegedly confessed to sending a classified document about Russia’s involvement in U.S. elections to a news outlet. Winner’s arrest was a clear message that law enforcement agents were working to identify and crack down on leakers, with whom President Trump and his White House have grown increasingly frustrated with over the past few months. The classified document was published by The Intercept just hours before DOJ announced the charges and two days after they executed a search warrant in her home, according to their statement. The leaked Top Secret report paints in detail two cyberattacks by Russia’s intelligence officers. The first cyberattack in August 2016 targeted a US company that specifically sells and maintains voter registration software and the second, just days before the election, that targeted more than 100 email addresses “associated with named local election officials,” ABC News’ MaryAlice Parks notes.
THE SLEEPER STORY with ABC News’ Ryan Struyk
A debate for a U.S. House seat may never have seen a spotlight get turned up this bright. But tonight’s face-to-face meeting on stage between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff could be one of the most important moments in American electoral politics for the next 18 months. Democrats have gone all in for Georgia’s 6th Congressional district, opting essentially to bypass other races in Kansas and Montana to dump dollars and star power into northern Atlanta. A loss in Georgia two weeks from now would spell disaster for the Democratic Party, giving them nothing major on the scoreboard until November. A win for Republicans would, at least for now, throw a monkey wrench into the idea that an anti-Trump blue wave is imminent. In the meantime, we expect no surprises in New Jersey tonight, but watch for how much opposition there is to Phil Murphy on the Democratic side of tonight’s gubernatorial primaries — a former Wall Street executive with the backing of most of the political establishment that may be the recipe for some significant naysayers. http://abcn.ws/2oM0YU1
SENIOR DIPLOMATS DISSENTING?
The No. 2 official at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing has resigned his post over President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. David Rank was the charge d’affaires in Beijing, leading the embassy while Trump’s pick, former Iowa governor Terry Branstad, who was confirmed last month, prepares for his post. Rank is the latest senior diplomat to retire early or express dissent under the Trump administration. Lewis Lukens, charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in London, was tweeting his support for London Mayor Sadiq Khan Sunday even as President Trump was bashing Khan for his handling of the London terror attack. Earlier in May, U.S. ambassador to Qatar Dana Shell Smith tweeted that it was “increasingly difficult to wake up overseas to news from home, knowing I will spend today explaining our democracy and institutions.” And in the last couple of months, senior diplomats with years of experience and knowledge have retired, including acting assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs and former ambassador to Iraq Stu Jones, who was captured rather poignantly reflecting at the State Department podium during a briefing just last week, ABC News’ Conor Finnegan reports.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“These tweets may make some ppl feel better, but they certainly won’t help OSG get 5 votes in SCOTUS, which is what actually matters. Sad,” George Conway responding to Trump’s tweets Monday that the DOJ should’ve stayed with the original “travel ban.”
Ten questions James Comey can expect to face Thursday from the Senate Intelligence Committee via ABC’s Devin Dwyer.
NEED TO READ with ABC News’ Adam Kelsey
Trump administration begins vetting social media profiles for visa applicants. The Trump administration has implemented a new rule that allows officials to demand five years’ worth of social media profiles and 15 years of biographical information as part of a visa application. The rule took effect May 25 even as the president’s so-called travel ban remains tied up in the courts — part of Trump’s push for “extreme vetting.” http://abcn.ws/2sLe6bp
Trump administration has failed to answer 275 inquiries: Democrats. House Democrats sent a letter to the inspector general at the Office of Personnel and Management Monday asking for clarification and answers about a new White House policy to not respond to their oversight requests unless the queries come through House committee or subcommittee chairs. http://abcn.ws/2qQIVuP
Trump cries obstruction, but has nominated few ambassadors. President Trump is blasting Congressional Democrats for obstructing his nominations, but his administration has not nominated candidates for the vast majority of positions that require Senate approval. That paltry number of picks is especially true for ambassadorships, despite the president’s tweet in which he said “Dems are taking forever to approve my people.” http://abcn.ws/2sxLUt0
Americans oppose climate pact pullout 2 to 1; plurality rejects the economic argument (POLL). Americans oppose Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord by two to one, with a majority saying the decision will weaken U.S. leadership in the world and pluralities rejecting Trump’s claim it’ll boost the economy. The ABC News/Washington Post poll said the public opposes Trump’s move by 59 to 28 percent. http://abcn.ws/2ru7Qa1
Comey “looking forward” to testifying on Russia probe, Trump encounters: Richard Burr. James Comey is “looking forward to having the opportunity to publicly share his thoughts and views” at Thursday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Chairman Richard Burr said Monday. Burr said Comey will be free to discuss his interactions with President Donald Trump and the investigation into Russian election interference, and that he was cleared to do so by special counsel Robert Mueller. http://abcn.ws/2qVfs70