Israel Was ‘Source’ of Secret Trump Intel

President Trump disclosed classified information provided by Israel during a talk with top Russian officials in the Oval Office, The New York Times reported Monday. As originally reported by the Washington Post, Trump shared the information with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak last week during their visit to the White House. According to the Times, the new revelation adds new foreign policy kindling onto the fire of an already explosive fallout. Israel is one of the United States’ most important allies and and intelligence collectors in the Middle East, and the information could easily pass to Iran, a close ally of Russia and one of Israel’s main threats. Israeli officials did not confirm the information’s origin. Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, said the two countries will in any case maintain a close counterterrorism relationship. “Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump,” Dermer said. Trump doubled down on Tuesday morning, tweeting that he had the “absolute right” to share the facts he divulged. “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety,” Trump wrote. “Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

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16
May
 
1. OY VEY
Report: Israel Was Source of Secret Trump Intel
President Trump disclosed classified information provided by Israel during a talk with top Russian officials in the Oval Office, The New York Times reported Monday. As originally reported by the Washington Post, Trump shared the information with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak last week during their visit to the White House. According to the Times, the new revelation adds new foreign policy kindling onto the fire of an already explosive fallout. Israel is one of the United States’ most important allies and and intelligence collectors in the Middle East, and the information could easily pass to Iran, a close ally of Russia and one of Israel’s main threats. Israeli officials did not confirm the information’s origin. Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, said the two countries will in any case maintain a close counterterrorism relationship. “Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump,” Dermer said. Trump doubled down on Tuesday morning, tweeting that he had the “absolute right” to share the facts he divulged. “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety,” Trump wrote. “Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”
READ IT AT The New York Times  
 
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2. DUMMY DEFENSE
McMaster: Trump Didn’t Even Know Where Info Came From
President Trump’s national security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster, said on Tuesday that the commander-in-chief wasn’t aware of where his information came from when he divulged it to Russian officials last week in the Oval Office. Following a media firestorm over the president sharing classified information with foreign officials, McMaster defended Trump’s conversation with the Russians as “wholly appropriate”—echoing the president’s own claim that he was well within his rights to share the particular information to his guests. He added, “I should just make maybe the statement here that the president wasn’t even aware where this information came from. He wasn’t briefed on the source or method of the information either.”
 
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3. MORNING NO
Kellyanne Conway Reaffirms Her Loyalty to Trump
Kellyanne Conway took a break from “more important matters” on Tuesday to deny MSNBC’s Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski’s claim that Conway—who regularly appeared on the show before Brzezinski banned her in February—would take off her mic and talk about how she hated Trump after the cameras stopped rolling. “‘First I have to take a shower because it feels so dirty to be saying what I’m saying,'” Brzezinski recalled Conway once saying after a segment. In turn, the top White House adviser and former Trump campaign chief denied the allegations on Twitter, writing that her “beliefs, commitments and loyalties are plain to see,” slamming Brzezinski for saying Conway saw her public support of Trump as a means to an end. “The notion that I am serving for ‘the money’ or a ‘paycheck’ is absurd,” she continued. “It is a privilege to assist President Trump in the White House, just as it was during the campaign. I know him, I respect him, I believe in him, and I am confident in his capacity to be a transformative and successful President.”
 
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4. CRACKDOWN
Report: Rep. Chris Collins Under Ethics Investigation
Republican Rep. Chris Collins is under investigation for his alleged role in pushing stocks from an Australian pharmaceutical company, the Buffalo News reported Tuesday. Collins, who represents part of western New York, has reportedly been the subject of at least four ethics complaints this year, after news broke that he ammended an FDA bill to include language favorable to Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian pharmaceutical company in which he had purchased $2.2 million in stock. After the bill was signed into law, Collins purchased another million in Innate stock. Collins has denied Collins did not disclose his investment, claiming protection from doing so under an insider trading loophole that only requires members of Congress to disclose investments in U.S. stocks, The Daily Beast previously reported.
READ IT AT Buffalo News  
 
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5. COME TOGETHER
Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck Join Forces on Radio
Bill O’Reilly may have been ousted from Fox News, but he’ll soon be reunited with fellow former Fox host Glenn Beck. O’Reilly announced Monday that he’ll be featured in a weekly spot on Beck’s show, the Glenn Beck Radio Program. “We’re going to do that every Friday until Beck gets tired of me,” O’Reilly said on his ‘No Spin News’ podcast. “And it’s a good outlet for me to, you know, discuss things back and forth with Beck, who’s a good friend. We don’t agree on everything, but it’s very lively.” Beck previously said O’Reilly emailed him the day he was fired from Fox and that he didn’t believe the allegations against him. Last week, Beck offered O’Reilly a spot on TheBlaze. “I could not get the cable coverage by myself because I’m not powerful enough, unless you have a giant corporation behind you,” Beck said. “If we could unite our powers for good, as opposed to evil—but that’s another conversation.”
READ IT AT The Hill  
 
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6. NO TAKEBACKS
Report: Trump Regrets Firing Flynn
President Donald Trump has described his advisers as “incompetent” and lamented dismissing former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. Trump’s frustration with his staff has allegedly increased over two weeks of seemingly incessant scandal, including the firing of former FBI director James Comey and Monday reports that Trump shared highly classified information with Russian officials. Trump reportedly called his advisers, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner “incompetent,” and mulled firing White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer as part of a major staffing change. Shortly before The Washington Post broke news of Trump’s comments to Russian officials, Trump reportedly told some staffers their jobs were safe, but told others that he was considering a major staffing change, and that he did not know which direction to take. When White House staffers learned of the Washington Post’s upcoming report on Monday, they reportedly chose National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to speak on behalf of the administration, in an effort to limit the story’s damage. But even before McMaster’s statement, Trump was reportedly unhappy with his performance, calling him “a pain” who talked too much at meetings. Trump reportedly bemoaned the loss of Flynn, who resigned after it was revealed that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador.
READ IT AT The New York Times  
 
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7. BOWING OUT
John Cornyn: I Don’t Want to Be FBI Chief
Sen. John Cornyn on Tuesday informed the White House that he no longer wishes to be considered for the job as FBI director. “Now more than ever the country needs a well-credentialed, independent FBI director,” the Texan Republican wrote in a statement. “I’ve informed the Administration that I’m committed to helping them find such an individual, and that the best way I can serve is continuing to fight for a conservative agenda in the U.S. Senate.” Rep. Trey Gowdy similarly backed out of consideration for the post on Monday evening.
 
Read More
White House Staff ‘Hiding’ as Russia Chaos Engulfs West Wing
BY Lachlan Markay, Asawin Suebsaeng, Tim Mak, and Jana Winter
 
 
 
 
 
 
8. BABY STEPS
McConnell Wants ‘Less Drama’ From Trump
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that he would like to see “less drama” from President Trump and the White House, as well as an “apolitical” choice for the new FBI director. “I think it would be helpful if the president spent more time on things we’re trying to accomplish and less time on other things,” McConnell told Bloomberg News. The Kentucky Republican’s interviewed published just hours after President Trump admitted to sharing information with high-level Russian officials in the Oval Office. McConnell said he has mentioned President Obama’s former Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland as a replacement for James Comey. “I think the most important thing is for the president to pick somebody who’s apolitical, who clearly has a deep law enforcement background,” McConnell said. Somebody like Garland, a former prosecutor, would “create a kind of wow factor that the president fully understands the role of the FBI director,” McConnell said.
READ IT AT Bloomberg  
 
 
 
 
 
 
9. EXPOSED
Yates: Flynn’s Name Wasn’t Masked in Russian Call Reports
In a new interview with The New Yorker, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates said now-dismissed National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s name appeared in unredacted form in U.S. intelligence reports on his now-infamous December phone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. After The Washington Post reported in February that Flynn and Kislyak had a phone conversation regarding sanctions the Obama administration imposed on Russia in December, several prominent Republicans and Trump administration officials claimed that because Flynn is a U.S. citizen, mentions of his name would have been “masked” or concealed in intelligence reports on the conversation and demanded to know who “unmasked” Flynn’s name and leaked the information about his call with Kislyak. In the interview, however, Yates said Flynn’s name was never “unmasked” and added that there are two common instances in which Americans’ names are included in the reports: “because [the] intelligence only made sense if you knew who the identity of the U.S. person was, and that’s an exception to the minimization requirements,” she said, or, “If it’s evidence of a crime.”
READ IT AT The New Yorker  
 
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10. WRECKING BALL
Cruz, Paul to Go ‘Nuclear’ on Obamacare
Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have teamed up for a potential “nuclear” showdown on repealing Obamacare during reconciliation, the express budget process that Republicans want to use to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Cruz and Paul say their colleagues are allowing outdated Senate norms to dictate their plans to deal with the law and are thus forfeiting a chance to completely abolish it. As it stands now, nonpartisan Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough decides whether each provision in the bill has a direct effect on the budget. Instead, Cruz and Paul argue that whoever presides over the Senate at the time can decide. The duo say that Vice President Mike Pence, president of the Senate, could make those calls instead of MacDonough. “The original law says the [person in the] chair decides—it doesn’t say anything about the parliamentarian,” Paul said. But most other Republicans interviewed by Politico said they have no interest in testing the Senate’s procedural bounds. “I don’t think it’s the best approach, and I think there would be resistance to that,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). “It’s tempting, but it’s also the proverbial slippery slope.” John Cornyn (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) also said they do not support Cruz and Paul’s plan.
READ IT AT Politico  
 
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