Something’s happening


Wednesday, May 17, 2017
President Donald Trump boards Air Force One on Wednesday before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland as he travels to deliver a commencement speech at the US Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut. Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Obama’s Cover People: Trump’s a “bullshitter,” Obama told friends

Pence’s Mysterious Deleted Pic: Why’d he delete?

Something’s Happening: Washington’s felt like a 10 on the old Richter scale for a week now, but then Tuesday happened

Kate Bennett

What the White House Is Talking About:
President Donald Trump travels to Connecticut to deliver the commencement speech at the US Coast Guard Academy.

What the White House Press Corps Is Talking About:
Will it stick? Watching closely to see who says what out of the White House in response to Tuesday’s bombshell in The New York Times about the James Comey memo. Also, one eye on the Hill. 

And all the “Is this the end? Wait, is it the beginning of the end? Is it not the end? What is actually happening?” takes

Raise Your Hand if You Care That Michael Moore is Making a Trump Documentary:
This is the question I asked my podmates in the newsroom this morning upon learning that Moore has been making “Fahrenheit 11/9” (get it?) in response to the Trump presidency. Moore’s movie has been bought by the Weinsteins and will premiere this week at the Cannes Film Festival.  

Obamas on the Cover of People:
While the country deals with the daily scandals pumping out of the Trump administration, the Obamas are on the cover of People magazine next week, looking all smiles and carefree. Granted, it’s a stock photo, but still. 

Credit: People 

In the story, a friend of the former President’s is quoted saying as Obama, post-election, said of Trump, “He’s nothing but a  bullshitter,” and his opinion hasn’t changed all that much since then. Another friend tells the magazine Obama is concerned but optimistic about people engaging at events such as town halls; the source adds Obama would pick up the phone if Trump called and needed advice. So, he’s mad, but not that mad. 

The feature says Michelle Obama goes to Soul Cycle classes (yeah, we know) and that she packs her own lunch to bring to her new office (she’s just like us!). An aide says the former first lady gets one Secret Service car now, and that the family’s Kalorama rental is filled with framed family photos. Fun fact: Malia and Sasha Obama brought the beds they used in the White House to their new home. 

Speaking of Homes, Here’s Ivanka’s Seriously Cool Chandelier Thingy: 
Is it technically a light installation? Ivanka Trump posted this smiling photo of baby Theodore late Tuesday, and I couldn’t help but notice the fancy-pants metal light situation hanging from the ceiling. Kid’s cute, too. 

Credit: @ivankatrump/Instagram

She and Jared Kushner have been laying low this week, but Kushner appears in this now-deleted tweet photo posted by Vice President Mike Pence of Tuesday’s working lunch with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House. Fun fact (a few today, sorry): He’s seated across from Erdogan’s son-in-law, who is also part of his father’s administration. You can’t see Pence in the photo, but he’s to the right of Trump. 

We expected possibly to see Ivanka Trump today at an anti-human trafficking event at the White House.

Most Coveted Invitation …: 
The black-tie, masked party being held at the French ambassador’s residence later this month to bid au revoir to the well-liked Gérard Araud, who is leaving his post after three years in Washington.

Fun Fact: 
Scoopmeister Michael Schmidt of The New York Times (who broke the Comey story this week, and other huge front-page stories over the past several months), co-wrote The New York Times wedding story two years ago of DC man about town Winston Bao Lord. It’s actually a nice read if you need a break from his political stuff. 
 

Hunter Schwarz

What Washington Is Talking About:
The words on everyone’s lips: “bombshell,” “memo,” “troubling.” With increasingly louder and more frequent whispers of “impeachment.”

What America Is Talking About:
This Atlantic story about a family in America with a slave.

Something’s Happening:
It’s 8:10 a.m. ET Tuesday. @realDonaldTrump tweets, “I have been asking Director Comey & others, from the beginning of my administration, to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community…..”

Credit: @realDonaldTrump/Twitter

The ellipsis means he’ll finish his thoughts in a few minutes. He usually doesn’t get to it right away though. Sometimes it’s five minutes, sometimes it’s 10. But 30 minutes pass, then an hour, then two. Trump never finishes his thought. At 12:02 p.m., he tweets a link to a Wall Street Journal article about how industrial production surged in April. The article doesn’t mention his name.

At 12:40 p.m., Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erogan’s motorcade arrives at the White House. He gets out and shakes Trump’s hand. Trump’s final tweet of the day comes more than two hours later, at 3:38 p.m. “It was a great honor to welcome the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to the @WhiteHouse today!” he tweets, with a video of their joint press conference. In it, he praises Turkey as a “bastion against Soviet expansion” during the Cold War.

Erdogan is the defending world champion for jailing journalists. In 2016, at least 81 in Turkey were locked up, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. China comes in second with at least 38, and Egypt with 25. Trump’s already met with both those countries’ leaders.

Across town, outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence on Embassy Row, demonstrators protested Erdogan’s visit. There were counter-protesters across the street, and it got violent. Videos in the aftermath show a maddening swirl of Turkish flags and police cars, soundtracked by a chorus of sirens. Nine were injured and hospitalized at George Washington University Hospital. Two were arrested. Here’s a man with a bloody face and bloody megaphone. Welcome to Washington.

Credit: Armenian National Committee of America/Facebook

Just after 5:20 p.m., the Times’ “bombshell” hits. Trump asked Comey to lay off Flynn, it reported. “I hope you can let this go,” he allegedly said. He floated the idea of jailing journalists for published classified info. Comey wrote “memos” of it all.

“The documentation of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia,” the Times wrote.

At 6 p.m., Republicans gather at the Willard, the luxury hotel between the White House and the Trump International, for the International Republican Institute 2017 Freedom Dinner and Award Ceremony to honor Sen. John McCain.

I think it’s reaching the point where it’s of Watergate size and scale, and a couple of other scandals you and I have seen,” McCain says. “It’s the centipede that the shoe continues to drop. Every couple of days, there’s a new aspect of this really unhappy situation.”

At 8:10 a.m. ET today, 24 hours since Trump tweeted about how he had asked Comey and others to find leakers, he still hasn’t finished his tweet.

At 9:22 a.m., Trump leaves the White House, walking across the South Lawn en route to the US Coast Guard Academy. He ignores the questions shouted at him about Comey’s memo and appears to walk around a hole in the grass, as Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer and Stephen Miller follow behind.

House Republicans leaders hold a press conference at 10 a.m. They don’t bring up Trump and Comey on their own, but of course, it’s all anyone asks them about.  “I told our members just this morning: We need the facts,” House Speaker Paul Ryan says.

What Happens Next?:
No one knows, and anyone who says they know is lying.

Congrats to the Happy Couple:
Amid the 10-alarm fire that is Washington right now, a couple got engaged Tuesday on White House grounds. Tommy Schultz has been dating Ashley Harvey for two years, and he asked her to marry him while on a White House tour.

Credit: Jay McMichael/CNN

As to whether he had been keeping up with the news of the day, Schultz said he was “not even sure what happened,” which is 100% OK. You shouldn’t have to keep up with bonkers breaking news the day you pop the big Q.

Harry Styles Has Some Political Jokes:
The ex-One Directioner was on the “The Late Late Show With James Corden” on Tuesday and joked that Trump has been made Russia’s employee of the month and that Hillary Clinton’s Onward Together group is being called by experts “bold, ambitious, and six months too late.”

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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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