What Our Children Learned About America Today

You Can Beat The Crap Out Of Somebody With Little Or No Provocation And Still Win A Seat In Congress

Republican Greg Gianforte scored a decisive victory, winning 50% of the vote in Montana’s special congressional election vs. Democrat Rob Quist with 44%. [Billings Gazette]

That despite the fact that on the eve of the election, the Republican candidate was charged with criminal assault for body slamming a reporter from the Guardian after the reporter asked him a question about health care. A Fox News reporter in the room confirmed that version of events. After it was clear he’d won, Gianforte apologized.

Montana does have a huge amount of early voting; about 70% of the total votes were cast prior to the violent attack. Gianforte, a software entrepreneur who sold his company to Oracle for more than $1.5 billion will replace Ryan Zinke, now Trump’s Interior Secretary.

Gianforte does face misdemeanor assault charges. But we looked it up, and there are very few restrictions for people under criminal prosecution to serve in congress. The Constitution does not forbid it. There are loose House rules applying to anyone facing a charge carrying a possible sentence of 2 years or more (misdemeanor assault would not.) The issue did come up in the case of New York Republican Michael Grimm who threatened to throw a reporter off a balcony 3 years ago, saying “I’ll break you in half like a boy.” Grimm did not physically attack the reporter, although shortly after resigned when he was convicted of tax evasion.

While House Speaker Paul Ryan called on Gianforte to apologize. President Trump, who recorded robocalls on the Republican’s behalf, has been silent on the assault.

Ignoring the body slam factor, do the results give any clue towards the 2018 mid-terms? On the one hand, the Republican won and “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades” (to borrow a saying from a former TV boss.) But 538 points out a night where Dems  “are losing Montana by ‘only’ 6 or 7 points is consistent with the sort of map you might see if Democrats were either taking over the House, or coming pretty close to it.”

It “Drips With Religious Intolerance, Animus, And Discrimination.”

With those words, and by a vote of 10-3, the 4th Circuit in Virginia issued a sharp rebuke to President Trump’s revised travel ban. The majority opinion was written by Chief Judge Roger Gregory, who was appointed to the federal bench by both Clinton and George W. Bush.

Lawyers representing the White House argued statements Trump made during the campaign about banning Muslims outright should be viewed as political foofaraw and disregarded. The court did not agree.

A ruling in a second similar case in the 9th circuit is expected shortly.

About a month ago President Trump taunted those opposing the ban, tweeting “See you in the Supreme Court”. Now it looks like he is going to get his wish.

Kushner, Who Tries To Stay Out Of The Spotlight, Suddenly In The Spotlight

NBC News reports the FBI is zeroing in on President’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, as someone who has “significant information relative to their inquiry.” NBC points out that does not mean Kushner himself is under investigation, but rather could be an important source of information in their investigation of others, particularly former campaign director Paul Manafort and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Kushner is known to have been at several meetings with Russian officials and bankers prior to Trump taking office.

Senate Moves To Accelerate Investigation

The Hill reports the two Senate Intelligence Committee Chairmen now have the power to issue subpoenas without getting the entire committee to sign off on it each time. The only restriction: Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Mark Warner, must be in agreement in order to issue a subpoena.

Trump Arrives At G7 Meeting This Morning, Following Petulant Speech At NATO

The President has arrived in Taormina, Sicily, which is hosting the traditional annual gathering of world economic powerhouses. It’s the last stop on his visit to Europe and the Middle East. For many participants, it’s their first time at the G7 : including Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Trump spent the day yesterday with many of those same leaders at a contentious NATO meeting in Brussels.

Trump used one of his favorite words: “unfair” to describe the fact that many NATO members pay less into to the security alliance than they are supposed to, leaving the U.S. to make up the shortfall. Although he may have a point, Trump also did not explicitly endorse NATO’s underlying “all-for-one, one-for-all” policy, where aggression against one member is viewed as aggression against any member. That’s the central pillar of the treaty agreement and Trump was widely blasted as rude for refusing to at least acknowledging its importance.

Leaker-In-Chief Blasts Leaks

Trump also promised a full investigation, and criminal prosecution after the UK complained about leaks related to the Manchester bombing, and temporarily stopped sharing intelligence information with the U.S. That’s after several key pieces of information turned up prematurely in the U.S. media, including the first reports of the Manchester bomber’s identity. Also this New York Times article with photos, which purports to show remnants of the bomb, and debris from the bomb. The Hill reports intelligence sharing has since resumed.

Of course, President Trump has been the subject of consternation recently for confirmed and possible intelligence leaks of his own: to Russians in the Oval Office, during a photo-op in Israel, on a phone call with the President of Philippines. Trump has (rightly) pointed out he’s allowed to do it. No one else is.

“Evil” Germans Sell Too Many Cars In The U.S.; Must Be Stopped

German news service, Der Spiegel, reports Trump made comments to that effect in a meeting with European Union officials. Their report is in German, when translated using Google Translate, Trump is quoted as saying “The Germans are…very evil. Look at the millions of cars they sell in the US….we’ll stop that.” Now we may have to cut the President some slack on his choice of words because it could be a case of English being translated into German, then being translated back into English. And since the quote itself is sourced, we’ll never know exactly what he originally said. But that’s not why we’re bringing you this story: it’s because his premise is almost entirely flawed.

As Slate points out, big German car makers produce as many cars in the U.S. as they sell in the U.S. More, even. Some of them are exported. Some German cars sold here are not made here, that’s true. But, for instance, BMW manufactures 34,000 cars a month in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and it sells 26,000 cars a month in the U.S. So actually it’s helping the U.S. grow exports. Hardly a prime target for a trade crackdown.

“America, First!

President Trump took his slogan very literally, and when he finds himself toward the back of a pack of NATO leaders, he shoves aside Montenegro’s President Dusko Markovic to get to the front. We normally wouldn’t cover this kind of thing, but the body language here says so much about our President.

One Day, Two U.S. Presidents For German Leader Merkel: Guess Which She Likes Better?

Before attending the NATO meetings with President Trump, Angela Merkel began her day side-by-side with Barack Obama in Berlin. The two chatted for about 90 minutes before at crowd of 80,000 outside the Brandenburg Gate. Obama pointedly commented we “can’t hide behind a wall,” referring to the now long-gone Berlin wall, but also an obvious dig at his successor’s wall-building proclivities. The former President was in Berlin at Merkel’s invitation, so it’s fair to say it was a politically crafty move on her part, with President Trump close by enough to provide the German public with a stark juxtaposition. Trump was not mentioned by name even once during the event, also possibly a calculated move. Merkel is up for re-election in September, and her pro-refugee stance has eaten away at her support. Obama is still widely popular in Germany. The Daily Beast seems to suggest he could help Merkel out much more than he was able to help out Hillary.

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