WH Won’t Deny Existence of Comey Tapes

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer refused to comment on the existence of taped conversations between President Donald Trump and former FBI director James Comey. During a Monday press briefing, Spicer repeatedly stated that Trump had “nothing further” to say about alleged taped recordings, which Trump first referenced in a Friday tweet. “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Trump tweeted less than three days after Comey’s firing, sparking bipartisan calls for Trump to release the tapes, if they exist. During the Monday press conference, Spicer neither confirmed nor denied whether the tapes existed. Asked if Trump would cooperate with legislators’ request to turn over the tapes, Spicer stated that “I made it clear what the president’s position is on that issue.”

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1. NO COMMENT
WH Won’t Deny Existence of Comey Tapes
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer refused to comment on the existence of taped conversations between President Donald Trump and former FBI director James Comey. During a Monday press briefing, Spicer repeatedly stated that Trump had “nothing further” to say about alleged taped recordings, which Trump first referenced in a Friday tweet. “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Trump tweeted less than three days after Comey’s firing, sparking bipartisan calls for Trump to release the tapes, if they exist. During the Monday press conference, Spicer neither confirmed nor denied whether the tapes existed. Asked if Trump would cooperate with legislators’ request to turn over the tapes, Spicer stated that “I made it clear what the president’s position is on that issue.”
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2. WHAT DOES HE KNOW?
Deputy AG to Brief Senators on Comey
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will give a Thursday briefing on the circumstances leading to the firing of former FBI director James Comey. Rosenstein will brief all senators, following Democrats’ demands for more information on Comey’s firing. Rosenstein, second-in-command at the Department of Justice, wrote a memo to the president condemning Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server and recommending his firing. The White House initially cited Rosenstein’s memo as the basis for the decision to fire Comey, although Trump later stated in an interview that “regardless of the recommendation I was going to fire Comey.” Rosenstein is already facing calls for his resignation from senators—including Democrats like Minority Whip Dick Durbin and ranking judiciary committeemember Dianne Feinstein have called on Rosenstein to resign or appoint a special prosecutor for an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia.
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3. SLIP-UP?
Trump WH Regrets Calling It ‘Palestine’
In a break from conventional White House language, two high-ranking officials in the Trump administration have referred to “Palestine,” implying it to be a separate state from Israel. The administration claimed Monday that such language was neither intentional nor indicative of a shift in policy. During a Sunday appearance on Meet the Press, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referenced “a peace initiative between Israel and Palestine.” On May 6, White House social media director Dan Scavino Jr. announced on Facebook that Trump would travel to “Palestine” to meet with President Mahmoud Abbas. Scavino later changed the travel itinerary to read “Palestinian Territories.” The Jerusalem Post’s Michael Wilner reported Monday that “A senior administration official tells me Tillerson and Scavino’s use of the term ‘Palestine’ was ‘unintentional and unfortunate.'”
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4. LIKE A TODDLER
NATO to ‘Trump-Proof’ His First Visit
NATO officials are looking to cater their upcoming international meeting to President Trump’s infamously short attention span, Foreign Policy reported on Monday. Among the changes reportedly being implemented by the alliance: limiting talks to two-to-four minutes in length, and not posting a full post-meeting statement cementing NATO’s latest strategy to emerge from its talks. The former change would be to avoid running out the clock on Trump’s inability to focus on dull, in-depth discussions; and the latter would be to avoid the possibility that he publicly contradicts the declarations of the alliance.
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5. DISMAYED
Poll: Women Less Optimistic in Trump Era
A new Pew Research poll shows American women’s attitudes regarding the prospects for the nation’s future have taken a dramatic downturn in the wake of the presidential election. According to the April survey’s results, men are much more likely now than women so say they have “quite a lot” of confidence in America’s future. Fifty-three percent of men said it, but only 29 percent of women say they feel such confidence. By contrast, in October 2015, about 43 percent of women and 47 percent of men said they had quite a lot of confidence in the future of the United States. Women also expressed less satisfaction about the state of the nation: Only 23 percent of women told pollsters they are satisfied with how things are going in the United States, compared to 36 percent of men. During Barack Obama’s presidency, national satisfaction had a much more modest gender difference, according to Pew’s measures.
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6. HORRIFIC
Syria ‘Hiding Executions’ in Crematorium
According to the U.S. Department of State, the Syrian government has been using a crematorium to secretly dispose of thousands of prisoners it has executed inside a military prison near Damascus. At least 50 prisoners are executed daily at the prison facility, said Stuart Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for the Middle East region. Jones lamented that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carries out these mass executions “seemingly with the unconditional support from Russia and Iran,” The Washington Post reported, and indicated that the information about this military prison came from human-rights organizations, non-governmental sources, and “intelligence assessments.”
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7. SLIPPERY SLOPE
Duterte Survives Impeachment Complaint
A panel of Philippine lawmakers on Monday dismissed an impeachment complaint against the country’s controversial president, Rodrigo Duterte. The congressional committee unanimously agreed that the complaint lacked substance, in what was the expected outcome of the meeting. Gary Alejano, a member of a minority bloc, filed the complaint. He accused Duterte of betraying public trust by supporting summary executions of Filipinos in a “war on drugs,” as well as concealing assets and other charges. “I assure you if we allow the president that kind of power in violation of the constitution… If we allow it further, it will be a dictatorship,” Alejano told reporters. He was furious at the panel’s decision, arguing that there was extensive evidence from witnesses and survivors of extrajudicial killings in Duterte’s campaign. The committee, he said, was guided by the president’s popularity and that the panel will be responsible for Duterte’s dictatorship taking shape. “We are sending the message to the president, ‘Yes, you continue. We will allow you,'” he added.
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8. R.I.P.
Brad Grey, Ex-Paramount CEO, Dead at 59
A former chairman and chief executive of Paramout Pictures, Brad Grey, died on Sunday at his home near Los Angeles, his family announced. The 59-year-old former talent manager and producer died from cancer. Grey led the studio for 12 years before he left in February. As a talent manager, he represented stars like Adam Sandler and Brad Pitt, before producing shows like The Sopranos. He went on to produce The Departed and Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
READ IT AT Los Angeles Times  
 
 
 
 
 
 
9. OH HONEY
‘Will and Grace’ Gets Musical Debut
The gang is back and better than ever. NBC released a musical preview for Will and Grace at their upfront presentation Monday—and it’s everything fans wanted. The scene opens with Grace unsure if she wants to commit to a reboot because things have changed. Then viewers are brought back to the set of Will’s apartment and see nothing has changed. Will, Grace, Jack and Karen even reassure fans everything is the same with a musical number. Watch the glorious preview here. Will and Grace will air on NBC Thursdays at 8 p.m. this fall.
READ IT AT The Hollywood Reporter  
 
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10. SECRET INGREDIENT
Report: Trump Aides Slip Him Fake News
For President Trump, who rarely browses internet news sites on his own, staffers who choose which printed-out articles land on his desk hold a very real power. According to a new Politico report, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus was forced to recently issue a stern warning against slipping news to Trump that hasn’t been approved, because aides had taken to using a new story to change his opinion one way or another. Staffers reportedly understand that such moves can affect his opinion on appointments, staffing, and even policy. In at least one case, a hoax believed slipped to Trump by Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland sent him on a rampage about media hypocrisy. In late February, someone gave Trump an article from Chuck Johnson’s GotNews, which accused Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh—without evidence—of being “the source behind a bunch of leaks” in the West Wing. Johnson, who has said he tracks the IP addresses of visitors to his website, told Politico: “I can tell you unequivocally that the story was shared all around the White House.” Walsh has since left the White House. “They have this system in place to get things on his desk now,” one White House official said. “I’m not sure anyone follows it.”
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