Good Morning. It’s Monday, 22 May 2017 and this is the Morning Edition of The Nightshift, the world’s overnight news feed.
Amazing times, these. The American drama continues. Here’s a quick chronological review of recent events.
May 8th. Fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates delivers testimony to an open session of Congress which contradicts the White House, specifically about Lt. General Michael Flynn, who was fired 18 days after Yates told the White House that Flynn was subject to Russian blackmailing because of his (previously) unrevealed relationships/contacts with the Russians. Yates’ immense credibility–versus the shifting stories coming from the White House–pinned the Administration to the wall.
May 9th. Trump fires FBI director James Comey, based on a ridiculous official logic (“he was harsh to Hilary Clinton while investigating her email issue”). Trump based the firing on an internal letter from Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General. Odd, since Trump had earlier complained that Comey was not tough enough on Hilary. Could it be that Comey’s leadership of an FBI investigation into the Trump Campaign of 2016 and possible collusion with Russia was the real reason? Rosenstein would wait only 24 hours to find out that he, too, had been tossed under the bus by Trump.
May 10th. Trump shifts his story, Rosenstein gets the blame, and the White House, contradicting the cover letter from the Deputy Attorney General, said that there were “other factors” behind the firing of FBI head James Comey. Internally, it’s whispered that Comey was fired because he was leading the Trump/Russia collusion investigation and would not validate or support Trump’s claim that former President Obama was wiretapping Trump Tower and Donald Trump.
May 11th. Trump gives an interview to English publication The Economist. He fails to display any type of modern understanding of economics but does claim authorship of the term “priming the pump”….a term used since the 1930s to describe economic participation in the economy by the Government. Later, Trump gives an astonishing interview to Lester Holt of NBC News in which he admits firing Comey because of the Trump/Russia investigation, simultaneously tossing Rubenstein under the bus and reversing the White House’s official “position” on the Comey firing. Trump also states that Comey told him “three times” that Trump was not a target of the investigation and that Comey asked to have dinner with Trump in an attempt to keep his job. Later, Comey–another person with vast credibility on Capital Hill–refuted Trump’s assertions, as well as noting that he had been asked, repeatedly, to pledge “personal loyalty” to Trump. Comey’s notes on his reluctant meeting with Trump were memorialized in a file Memo, which makes its way into the public arena, generating a day of massively bad press for the White House. The professional thoroughness and care of Comey vs. the random actions of the White House is a mismatch–Comey comes out way ahead in terms of credibility.
May 12th. Trump provides a “threat” or a “warning” (depending on your political beliefs), vowing to release the “tapes” of his meeting with Comey, in an early morning tweet. The White House, continuing a brilliant string of failed obfuscation attempts, refused to acknowledge or deny that such tapes exist. Trump is shocked that public and media opinion runs against him after the firing of Comey, which is precisely the outcome he was not expecting. Judgement remains an issue with this White House and it can’t all be blamed on the staff. Comey is, according to friends, fine if the tapes exist; he simply believes they will reinforce his version of events. Switch lanes: Trump releases a letter from his Washington attorneys that disavows any Trump investments in Russia. The letter is laughed at by legal experts who note it’s narrow assertions (nothing mentioned about Russian investments in Trump projects anywhere and especially in the U.S.) and ineffective tax position.
May 15th. Politico posts a story that says that the White House staff routinely manipulates the news that Trump receives, in an attempt to influence his mind-set and positions. In the story, the assertion is made that Trump cannot tell the difference between “fake news” and “real news” and that they prefer he receives no real news since it “would upset him” (Cut to Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men: “the truth..you can’t handle the truth!”). It got worse. The Washington Post published a story that Trump had shared “sensitive intelligence” with the Russian Foreign Minister and Russian Ambassador to the United States in a private meeting, from which the U.S. Press was barred but the Russian Press was admitted. The information was from an American ally who had not authorized its’ sharing. Oooops. The News Cycle took its revenge, with stories of Trump’s goof dominating nightly, late night, and next day news coverage.
May 16th. The New York Times publishes a piece in which it asserts that the intel Trump shared with the Russians came from Israel–not a good thing. But wait, there’s more. Later in the day, the Times publishes another article, this one dealing with the specifics of a Memo that Comey wrote about Trump’s contact with him in their February 14th meeting. In the Memo, Comey notes that Trump had asked Comey to drop the Flynn and Russia investigations. Ooooops. The News Cycle again turns against the white house as it puts forth the theory that not just Trump or Flynn or Manafort are under investigation or consideration for investigation, but close White House advisors are getting a close look as well.
Any one of these events is cause for concern; taken as a group–as a pattern of behavior and ineptitude–they’re astonishing in their indictment of an administration and its’ ability to get the job done of governing America. Whether or not Trump’s administration can turn it around and learn to govern versus constantly shooting themselves in the foot is legitimately open to question. While it may be fine for certain people in the White House to live and deal in controversy and chaos, it’s not good for America.
In other news, the Boston Celtics somehow managed to take a game from Cleveland Cavaliers despite having their best player (Isaiah Thomas) out of the playoffs with an injured hip. That series is standing at 2-1, Cleveland. Things are not so good with San Antonio. The Spurs have lost three stars in the playoffs (Tony Parker, David Lee and Kawhi Leonard) and are down 3-0 to the Golden State Warriors. They still have Coach Gregg Popovich, who will have them ready to compete no matter what the odds. Game Four is tonight (Monday). It appears, however, that we are headed to a Golden State-Cleveland NBA finals, a repeat of last year’s Championship Playoffs. And, finally, Billy Horschel beat former world number 1 Jason Day in a playoff at the Byron Nelson AT&T Open in Dallas. It was Day’s first really tournament in a while (but he can’t be satisfied with missing a four foot putt on the first playoff hole). One of the big surprises of the tournament was that Jordan Spieth, also a former world number 1, failed to make the cut. Spieth had a good start to 2017, but his tournament performance has faded since January.
Ford is replacing CEO Mark Fields with Jim Hackett (ex-Steelcase CEO brought into Ford to work on their autonomous driving program). Under Fields’ three year term as CEO, Ford’s stock dropped 37% and its’ market cap is now below that of Tesla. Fields effectively reversed the progress made by former Ford CEO Alan Mullaly (ex-Boeing CEO), who brought Ford back from the brink of economic disaster. Fields, 52, had at one time been CEO at Mazda where he engineered a turnaround of that company (Ford had a stake in Mazda at the time).
Now more than ever, catch up on the news in the rest of the world by reading the front pages of the World’s Greatest newspapers.
Please note that to keep up with the increasingly fast changes in technology, we’ve include a link to Wired magazine’s daily news feed; that link is located at the bottom of the link list.
The International Headlines are all at your fingertips. Have a great week.
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Daily News Egypt (Cairo)
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Le Figaro (Paris)
Bloomberg.com (New York)
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The Buenas Aires Herald (Buenas Aires)
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Deadline Hollywood (Hollywood)
FiveThirtyEight (New York City)
Politico (Washington, DC)
Lawfareblog (Washington, DC)
Wired (San Francisco, CA)
The Fine Print: The Nightshift is a production of Perception Engineering and The Media Bunker. This post is number 1119 for this site. Thanks for reading. Now–catch up on the world.