1/ The Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians during the last seven months of the election. Six of the previously undisclosed contacts were phone calls between Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, and Trump advisers, including Michael Flynn. (Reuters)
2/ Flynn stopped a military plan Turkey didn’t like while being paid $500,000 as its lobbyist. The decision came 10 days before Trump was sworn in as president. Obama’s national security team asked for Trump’s sign-off, since the plan would be executed after Trump had become president. Lawmakers are questioning whether Flynn acted on behalf of a foreign nation when making a military decision, with some going so far as to ask whether it constitutes treason. Flynn also failed to register as a foreign agent, which is a federal crime. (McClatchy)
3/ Flynn told the Trump team he was under investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey weeks before he came to the White House. Trump made Flynn his national security adviser anyway, giving him access to nearly every secret held by American intelligence agencies. (New York Times)
4/ Trump pressured a “reluctant” Michael Flynn into accepting the national security adviser job even after Flynn warned that he was under investigation over undisclosed lobbying on behalf of a foreign government. Trump has expressed hopes that a resolution of the FBI investigation might allow Flynn to rejoin the White House in some capacity. (The Daily Beast)
- Trump sends Flynn a message: “stay strong.” The two have remained in touch, raising questions about the president’s reported request to James Comey to shut down a federal investigation into Flynn. (Yahoo News)
5/ Trump denies telling Comey to back off the Flynn investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Asked whether he urged Comey to ease up on the Flynn investigation, Trump said at a news conference, “No, no,” before ordering the media to move onto the “next question.” (Washington Post)
6/ Flynn hasn’t responded to a subpoena from the Senate intelligence committee. Legal experts say that it’s unlikely Flynn will agree to turn over the personal documents because he would be waiving his constitutional protection against self-incrimination by doing so. (Washington Post / ABC News)
7/ Trump Tweets: Where was the special counsel for Hillary and Obama? He then called the investigation into his campaign’s links with Russia “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” hours after issuing a more muted official statement in coordination with aides. (CNN)
This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017
With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special counsel appointed!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017
8/ Rod Rosenstein already knew James Comey was going to be fired when he wrote the three-page memo that the White House used to justify firing Comey. Rosenstein learned Comey was being fired on May 8, but the memo is dated May 9 — the day the firing took place. (Politico / Los Angeles Times)
9/ Sean Spicer is no longer expected to do a daily, on-camera briefing, as Trump is frustrated with the way Spicer defends and explains his message. When Trump returns from his foreign trip, Sarah Huckabee Sanders will likely appear at the podium more with Spicer’s public role being downsized. (Politico)
10/ NATO critic Stephen Miller is writing Trump’s NATO speech. Miller, an anti-globalist, has called the military alliance “incongruent with our current foreign policy challenges.” (BuzzFeed News)
11/ Trump notified Congress that he plans to renegotiate NAFTA, which triggers a 90-day consultation period between the administration and Congress. Negotiations with Canada and Mexico can begin as soon as August 16th. Trump has called NAFTA the worst trade deal in history. (New York Times / CNN Money / Washington Post)
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