Ex-CIA chief: Russians contacted Trump campaign … White House budget makes big asks and big assumptions


CNN Politics:  Nightcap
May 23, 2017   |   by Daniella Diaz and Eli Watkins

Ex-CIA chief: Russians contacted Trump campaign

CNN’s Tom LoBianco writes: Former CIA Director John Brennan told House investigators that Russia “brazenly interfered” in US elections, including actively contacting members of President Donald Trump‘s campaign — but he stopped shy of dubbing it “collusion.”

“I saw interaction that in my mind raised questions of whether it was collusion,” Brennan told Rep. Trey Gowdy, saying that he supported the FBI digging further into the matter. “It was necessary to pull threads.”

But he made this clear: Brennan cautioned lawmakers that although he could not definitively say whether those contacts amounted to “collusion,” he knew that Russians were actively cultivating US contacts and, very likely, did not present themselves as Russian spies.

Brennan said Trump might have broken protocol if he revealed highly classified information with the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador to the US in a White House meeting earlier this month.

STRAIGHT UP

“I won’t call them monsters, because they would like that term … I will call them from now on losers, because that’s what they are.”

 

— President Donald Trump, referring to terrorists behind attacks like the one in Manchester, England.

BUZZING

Obama tweets about Manchester: Former President Barack Obama expressed his support for the victims of the deadly attack in Manchester, England. Police named 22-year-old Salman Abedi as the suspected bomber behind the attack on an Ariana Grande concert that killed at least 22. More from CNN’s Eugene Scott.

BAR TALK

White House budget makes big asks, big assumptions

The White House released its official budget proposal, and the document represents a staunchly conservative vision with an optimistic self-assessment. The White House said it would balance the budget in 10 years and assumed the passage of conservative health care reform and high economic growth, among other things.

Like the “skinny budget” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney unveiled in March, this asks for more military and border money and deep cuts to many domestic programs. It also calls for $200 billion in infrastructure spending to spur investment. President Donald Trump‘s budget proposal calls for the reform or outright elimination of a raft of major domestic programs. Here’s the size of a few proposed cuts:

  • Medicaid: $610B
  • SNAP: $190.9B
  • Disability reform: $72.5B
  • Education loan forgiveness: $27.5B

Read more on the budget from CNN Money’s Jeanne Sahadi.

While it is an informative document, the wish list isn’t what Congress is going to pass later this year. Read more from CNN’s Deirdre Walsh and Tedd Barrett.

TIPSY

Fox News retracts story: Fox News removed from its site an inaccurate story that peddled a conspiracy theory about the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. The story had remained online for almost a week after CNN pointed out basic problems with its assertions. More from CNNMoney’s Oliver Darcy.

LAST CALL

6 things you might have missed today

On tour with Trump: Mandel Ngan, a photographer with Agence France-Presse, offers a behind-the-scenes view of President Donald Trump‘s first foreign trip. More from him here.

US Navy SEALs carry out another Yemen raid: US Central Command said that the SEALs killed seven militants and two service members were lightly wounded before being safely evacuated. Read more from CNN’s Zachary Cohen, Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne.

It’s more than the orb: This is literally a list of things Trump touched on the Middle East leg of his first trip abroad, from Quartz’s Selina Cheng.

Paul plans to force vote on $110B Saudi arms deal: Sen. Rand Paul intends to force a vote in the Senate on the $110 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia that Trump announced during his visit there, a Paul aide told CNN. Paul is expected to introduce a measure to disapprove of the sale later this week, and he has the ability under Senate rules to eventually force a vote on it. More from CNN’s Jeremy Herb.

Democrats send letter asking Trump not to attack North Korea: 64 Democrats signed onto a letter arguing against a preemptive attack on the isolated nation. Read more from The New York Times’ Rick Gladstone.

DOJ says no ethics conflict for special counsel in Russia probe: The Justice Department has determined that former FBI Director Robert Mueller‘s appointment as special counsel to oversee the federal investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election complies with ethics rules. More from CNN’s Laura Jarrett.

CLOSING TIME

Republican Sen. John McCain compares reports that President Donald Trump asked top intelligence officials to publicly deny evidence of cooperation between his campaign and Russia to the plot of a “lousy movie.” … Trump budget chief Mick Mulvaney defends the sweeping cuts proposed to social, foreign aid and environmental programs in the President’s budget. 
Thanks for reading the CNN Politics Nightcap. Yours bartender are Daniella Diaz and Eli Watkins. The tip jar: nightcap@cnn.com.
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