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Midday Political Briefing: None of This Is OK

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | May 14, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | May 14, 2018 |


— Fifty-two Palestinian have been killed today, so far, in protests along the Israeli border. Over 2200 have been injured, almost half by live ammunition. Medical services have been stretched beyond the breaking point. Patients are being relocated to Egypt for medical services.

Meanwhile, Jared and Ivanka are celebrating the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Trump is tweeting.

In a speech commemorating the opening of the embassy in Jerusalem, Kushner called the protestors “part of the problem,” while people in Israel are preparing for rocket attacks from Hamas.

None of this is how peace is created in the Middle East, and the way that the Trump administration is handling this is tragically tone deaf.

None of this is OK.

Haaretz is keeping up with the developments, and they’re updating frequently right now.

— Last week, a White House aide said something incredibly insensitive about John McCain (“he’s dying anyway”), and in another meeting afterward, Sarah Huckabee condemned the statement but not nearly as forcefully as she condemned the leak. The leak led to another days-long discussion on White House leaks and what provokes them. According to sources over at Axios, the leaks are primarily motivated by 1) personal vendettas, and 2) a desire to ensure “there’s an accurate record of what’s really going on in the White House.”

“You have to realize that working here is kind of like being in a never-ending ‘Mexican Standoff.’ Everyone has guns (leaks) pointed at each other and it’s only a matter of time before someone shoots. There’s rarely a peaceful conclusion so you might as well shoot first.”

The leaks are so bad in this White House that one White House aide tried to spy on his co-workers by collecting phone and email data to see who was actually loyal to the President.

— FYI: 79,000 civil servants have retired or resigned since Donald Trump took office. That is an insane number.

— Olivia Nuzzi has an insightful profile up today on the relationship between Sean Hannity and Donald Trump. There isn’t anything you probably didn’t already know, except for the insights into Hannity’s drinking habits: “He drinks White Russians or Coors Lite or vodka with Sprite Zero or, if he’s at Del Frisco’s, a frozen concoction of vodka and pineapple juice that they describe as a martini (it is not).” Hannity is also described as a world-class ass kisser.

— John Oliver has the complete rundown of Michael Cohen’s pay-to-play schemes. There’s not much new here, but the jokes are great.

Meanwhile, as Splinter points out, Sarah Huckabee Sanders more or less acknowledged that Trump at least knew about Cohen’s pay-to-play schemes.

— Once again, Chief of Staff John Kelly has given an interview, and once again, Kelly — the “adult” in the room — is being forced to retract some statements, specifically that Trump was “embarrassed” by the Mueller investigation. “The White House staff has no confidence that he can handle any media,” one former White House aide said. “They can’t figure out how to get him to do any interview without screwing up. They have zero confidence in Kelly’s ability to conduct an interview without stepping in it.”