All eyes on Melania


Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Pope Francis poses with President Trump, first lady Melania and first daughter Ivanka at the end of a private audience at the Vatican Wednesday. Credit:Evan Vucci/AFP/Getty Images
All Eyes on Melania: First lady in focus during foreign trip

WH Preps For Long Haul: Trump administration readies for extended Russia investigation

Kasich Co-Hosts “The View”: He’s well aware of the Katy-Taylor feud

Kate Bennett

What the White House is Talking About:
Today the trip turns to the more serious stuff as NATO talks are hours away in Brussels, which will give President Trump his first global audience. If feel like you’ve missed moments on this trip, we’ve got a cool photo essay to catch you up. 

What the White House Press Corps is Talking About:
Back at home, the old problems drip-drip: Russia investigation, chilly budget reception and a reboot for Trump’s search for a new FBI director. 

Our Daily Melania:
This trip abroad has really put all eyes on Melania Trump, and she’s handling it very well. In the absences of, well, actual words, she’s demonstrated more in the way of personality and swagger than we’ve seen back home, and the media is eating it up. We’ve had independent moments (the hand slap), compassionate moments (hospital visits with children), and very fashionable moments (ALL OF THE MOMENTS). Her custom lace coat with matching dress underneath by Italian designers Dolce & Gabbana was seriously stunning. Next to her, Ivanka Trump’s look seemed downright dowdy. 

Credit: Vatican pool/Getty Images
I don’t really get the pearls and the net headband situation, but I digress. 

If there are questions about why Ivanka and Melania covered their heads at The Vatican, the short answer is because it’s protocol when you have an audience with the pope. The longer answer is here

Melania was pretty flawless. Here’s a closeup. And also here she is taking a selfie with a sick child at her solo visit to Rome’s Pediatric Hospital Bambino Gesu. Her visit there, which she specifically requested, is significant because it was also a favorite stop of Princess Diana. According to a pool report, Melania spoke Italian with the children while she was there, one of the five languages the first lady speaks. 

Credit: above, Vatican pool/Getty Images; below, Franco Origlia/Getty Images

But my favorite image to come out of the whole Italy trip is this one, from earlier today, when the first couple got a private tour of the Sistine Chapel: 

Credit: Andalou Agency for Getty Images/Holy See Press Office

The hand-holding is now a thing. Even professional troller Pete Souza got in on the action yesterday, posting a pic of Barack and Michelle Obama holding hands. 

Dolce & Gabbana Designer Tells Haters to Go Ahead and Hate: 
Stefano Gabbana, one half of the design duo, has been defending Melania wearing his label since New Year’s Eve, when he first posted on his Instagram page about the D&G dress she wore at Mar-a-Lago. In turn, it appears the first lady has appreciated the loyalty; she’s worn at least four D&G looks on this trip alone, and let’s not forget it’s the Italian designer’s black tuxedo jacket she’s wearing in her official White House portrait. Gabbana today is continuing his FLOTUS support, posting a screen shot of all of his instagram haters, especially the ones who say they are unfollowing him.
 

Credit: @stefanogabbana/Instagram

Trump Eats His Face Off:
The oddest moment that you might have missed from the trip so far is the dessert that was served during the first couple’s dinner with the Netanyahu’s in Israel. The chef made profiles of Trump and Netanyahu’s faces, and then added pralines shaped to look like chess pieces. Can’t make it up, guys. 

Credit: Idan Yardeni/@haaretz 

The meeting of the minds/heads thing actually sort of happened in real life on the tarmac with Netanyahu. This picture melds the faces of the two leaders in a way that morphs them into one seriously funky-looking man. 

Credit: @Nehemia_G/Twitter

And, now that you can’t unsee that, back to the dinner: here they are at the table about actually about to eat it. There was also molten chocolate cake, because we all know how much Trump digs his chocolate cake. This is a fun piece about the entire dinner menu and how it came to be. 

Credit: Idan Yardeni/@haaretz

Dress Like the First Daughter:
Here’s the silk-satin Hillier Bartley dress Ivanka Trump wore yesterday in Rome. It’s on sale, but still. 

Credit: (l) @ivankatrump/instagram; (r) net-a-porter.com

Hunter Schwarz

What Washington is Talking About:
The House Budget Committee is hearing testimony today on President Trump’s proposed budget from members of his cabinet, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.

What America is Talking About:
Tom Cruise says there will be a “Top Gun” sequel.

Updates from the Manchester Attack:
Greater Manchester police said today they have identified all the victims and have alerted their families. They also arrested three in connection with the attack and named 22-year-old Salman Abedi as the person who carried it out.

Ariana Grande arrived yesterday in Florida, where she’s staying with her mother after suspending her tour. Musicians continue to offer their condolences. Miley Cyrus dedicated her performance of “Malibu” on “The Voice” last night to victims of the attack. In Mexico, Harry Styles said the “tragedy in my hometown of Manchester” left him “with a hole in my heart.” And on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” where U2 performed “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” Bono said of the terrorists, “They hate music, they hate women, they even hate little girls. They hate everything that we love,” before adding, “Manchester has an undefeatable spirit.” Across the US, many venues have increased their security.

White House Gearing Up for Prolonged Russia Fight:
The Trump administration is preparing for what could be a drawn-out investigation over Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign. Sources tell CNN Trump has spoken with aides about possibly establishing a crisis communications team that would include outside advisers, and Trump is expected to retain New York attorney Marc Kasowitz, who’s represented him for more than 15 years, per his website.

Comey Confidante: Trump Should Be Scared:
Benjamin Wittes, a friend of fired FBI Director James Comey, said in an interview with our Anderson Cooper that Comey is “a guy with a story to tell.”

“I thought it was interesting and very telling that he declined to tell his story in private. He clearly wants to do it in a public setting,” Wittes said. “I think if I were Donald Trump, that would scare me a lot.”

In other Comey news, he was spotted at a Falls Church, Virginia, barber shop, per Time columnist Christopher Hale:

Credit: @chrisjollyhale/Twitter

Paul Ryan is a Fan of Sending Gifs:
Speaking at the Axios News Shapers event in Washington, Speaker Ryan said he learned about sending GIPHYs in texts “about three weeks ago” and it’s “awesome.” “I send them to people who wouldn’t expect them from me,” he said, and he recently received a Britney Spears one.

Katy Opens Up About Bad Blood:
Katy Perry confirmed the feud between her and Taylor Swift on James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” and said she’s down to put an end to it.

Credit: The Late Late Show with James Corden/YouTube

Kasich Co-Hosts “The View”:
I’m writing today’s issue from a green room for “The View,” covering Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s “Two Paths” book tour. On the ride over here, he told me he stays “very much in touch with pop culture,” and said he’s aware of the Katy vs. Taylor feud.

Credit: Hunter Schwarz

His first question on the show was about the feud and he didn’t take sides, calling them “two great pop stars.” Kasich also talked about Taylor Swift’s new sound, both in the song she co-wrote with Calvin Harris, “This Is What You Came For,” and in her collaboration with Zayn, “I Don’t Want To Live Forever.” Guy knows his pop music.

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COVER/LINE is where politics meets pop culture. From CNN’s Hunter Schwarz and Kate Bennett, this daily newsletter is the must-read lunch date in Washington and beyond.
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