TRUMP AGENDA: Kushner under scrutiny
An NBC exclusive: “Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and one of his senior advisers, has come under FBI scrutiny in the Russia investigation, multiple U.S. officials told NBC News. Investigators believe Kushner has significant information relevant to their inquiry, officials said. That does not mean they suspect him of a crime or intend to charge him. The FBI's scrutiny of Kushner places the bureau's sprawling counterintelligence and criminal investigation not only on the doorstep of the White House, but the Trump family circle. The Washington Post first reported last week that a senior White House official close to Trump was a "person of interest," but did not name the person. The term "person of interest" has no legal meaning.”
POLITICO looks into Kushner’s style: “The widespread assumption liberals make about Kushner seems to be this: Because he is soft-spoken, slim and handsome, with degrees from Harvard and NYU and a family that donates to Democrats, he couldn’t possibly be the same guy knifing his West Wing rivals and urging the president to go to war with the Justice Department and the FBI. But that assumption is wrong. Kushner and his representatives did not respond to requests for comment about this story. But those who know him from his days as a young New York real estate magnate and newspaper publisher say that America is just getting to know the Jared Kushner they have always known, that beneath the unflappable golden exterior is someone unafraid to bungee jump or to counter-punch when he feels slighted.”
The New York Times, on Trump’s NATO speech: “President Trump on Thursday punctured any illusions that he was on a fence-mending tour of Europe, declining to explicitly endorse NATO’s mutual defense pledge and lashing out at fellow members for what he called their “chronic underpayments” to the alliance.”
And from the Washington Post: “Whether it’s NATO, the Paris climate pact, the Iran nuclear deal or the NAFTA trade accord, the Trump administration has wavered and equivocated, failing to offer a full-throated endorsement and allowing such agreements to continue in an awkward state of limbo without U.S. leadership and nourishment.”
POLITICO: “Despite a day of pitches from European leaders, President Donald Trump has yet to give them what they want — a commitment to the Paris climate accord ahead of the G7 summit… While the EU leaders described the meeting as “cordial” and “friendly,” it was clear that the new and unpredictable American president had not offered reassurances on some core areas of concern for Brussels. European Council President Donald Tusk said they had found common ground on fighting terrorism, and appeared to be “on the same line” about the conflict in Ukraine. But Tusk said there were unresolved questions on trade and climate change – two topics that will be addressed at the G7 summit.”
The New York Times writes that Trump may be right at home in Taormina: “Despite the town’s temporary transformation into a police state in paradise for the Group of 7 summit meeting attended by Mr. Trump and other world leaders, Taormina’s postcard panoramas, its exaggerated Epcot Italian-ness and its reputation as the sun-drenched pleasure dome for reality TV stars, aging playboys and affluent Russians remain intact.”
Joe Lieberman is backing out of consideration for the FBI Director job, saying it would have looked “terrible” for the director to come from the same law firm as the president’s private lawyer.
Leigh Ann Caldwell notes that Senate Republicans are at an impasse on health care. “After weeks of meetings, Senate Republicans attempting to hash out a way forward on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act are no closer to agreeing how the country's health care system should operate. One decision has been made, however: Over the upcoming 11-day recess, staff of the key committees have been tasked with beginning the process of putting pen to paper and crafting health care legislation. It's a step forward but it doesn't mean Republicans have reached any consensus yet.”
OFF TO THE RACES: Gianforte wins in Montana
MT-AL: The rundown on Gianforte’s win, from NBC News.
The Washington Post’s lead: “Republican businessman Greg Gianforte won Montana’s sole House district in a special election Thursday, keeping a seat in Republican hands despite facing assault charges for allegedly attacking a reporter who’d asked him about the GOP’s health-care bill. In his victory speech, Gianforte admitted to the attack and apologized for it. “I shouldn’t have treated that reporter that way,” he told supporters at his rally here.”
The Billings Gazette: “Unhampered by being charged with the assault of a reporter just 24 hours earlier, Republican Greg Gianforte on Thursday won the special election to fill Montana's empty seat in the U.S. House by 7 percentage points. The Bozeman technology entrepreneur, who did not appear publicly after the assault until his victory speech late Thursday, traded leads with Democrat Rob Quist as early results came in, but by 10 p.m. he took a lead Quist could not recover from.”
From the AP: “The race ultimately turned on the weaknesses of both Gianforte and his opponent, folk singer and Democrat Rob Quist, making it tough to use as a barometer for the nation’s political mood.”
Our friends over at 538 estimate that Quist underperformed his early vote by 5-10 points.
GA-06: From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Democrat Jon Ossoff has echoed his Republican rival’s position on legislation that would potentially cut off U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority. And he said he’ll up the ante by authorizing the State Department and U.S. intelligence agencies to “work more aggressively” to prevent Hamas from extending its grip on the West Bank.”
Local TV stations are winning big in Atlanta.