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Midday Briefing: Melania Rejects Her Husband, and Michael Flynn Pleads the Fifth

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | May 22, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | May 22, 2017 |

— The big news this morning, so far, is that Michael Flynn will decline the Senate Intelligence Committee’s subpoena, and he will plead the 5th. Why? Because he’s f*cked. It also highlights a few more hypocrisies:

— Meanwhile, Trump went out of his way this morning to mention to the press that he’s never mentioned Israel when he leaked classified information to the Russian diplomats, and then he called out the press for fake news. But the thing is: The press never mentioned Israel, either, but now Trump has.

— In what should be a bigger story than it is, the Trump Administration is blocking the Office of Government Ethics’s efforts to highlight any former lobbyist who received a waiver to work in the White House.

Dozens of former lobbyists and industry lawyers are working in the Trump administration, which has hired them at a much higher rate than the previous administration. Keeping the waivers confidential would make it impossible to know whether any such officials are violating federal ethics rules or have been given a pass to ignore them.

Mr. Shaub, who is in the final year of a five-year term after being appointed by President Barack Obama, said he had no intention of backing down. “It is an extraordinary thing,” Mr. Shaub said of the White House request. “I have never seen anything like it.”

— Sean Spicer, who left the foreign trip to return to the White House, has returned, and as Glen Thrush at the NYTimes notes, wow “what a picture.”

Stephen Bannon, meanwhile, has also left the trip to return and focus on the budget.

— Speaking of which, Trump’s budget seeks to make $1.7 trillion in entitlement cuts, which would come from cuts in food stamps, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Disability Insurance. He’s also pledging $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid, cutting aid to 10 million people, largely his voters. In a further sign of his cruelty, he’s also going to cut subsidies for school lunches.

Little, if any of these proposals, are likely to pass even in a Republican-controlled Congress.

— There have been lots of hypocrisies on his foreign trip, so far, mostly of the laughable variety. He says he’s “exhausted,” two days into his trip after giving Hillary Clinton so much sh*t over her lack of stamina. He bowed to the Saudi King after criticizing Obama for doing so, and Melania didn’t wear a head scarf, again, after Trump criticized Michelle Obama for the same exact thing.

Oh yeah: The Commerce Secretary was quick to point out that there were no Trump protesters in Saudi Arabia. What he didn’t mention, however, is that protesting in Saudi Arabia is a crime punishable by death.

— In news of the more entertaining variety, a sinkhole has opened up in Mar-a-Lago. It is presumably an opening pathway to hell.

— Donald tried to hold Melania’s hand today, and she wasn’t having it.

— Related: This is fun, but this is also almost certainly not true.

A couple of people have alerted me to Claude Taylor’s Twitter feed, but Claude Taylor is a conspiracy theorist and spreader of fake news. His Twitter bio reads, “Veteran of 3 presidential campaigns, served on White House staff (Clinton),” which gives him a whiff of credibility. What he doesn’t say is that he served as a travel photographer. This guy doesn’t know shit, so as fun as his bullshit theories are, don’t buy into them.

— Finally, let’s end on some great news, especially for those looking ahead to 2018: SCOTUS struck down “two North Carolina congressional districts, ruling that lawmakers had violated the Constitution by relying too heavily on race in drawing them.” This ruling will pave the way for other states to correct their illegally gerrymandered districts, as well.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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