At Least 22 Killed And More Than 50 Injured In Apparent Suicide Bombing at Ariana Grande Concert In Manchester, England
Here’s what we know as of 9 AM EDT
Many of the victims are young; teens and children as young as 8. Police say they think they know the identity of the attacker. ISIS has taken responsibility. Police conducted an early morning raid on at least one property in the area. At least one person is under arrest. Manchester, in Northern England, is one of the 10 biggest cities in the U.K. Here is a link to comprehensive coverage of the attack. [Manchester Evening News] [CNN] [New York Times] This is one you may want to follow online or via a 24-hour news channel throughout the day.
In Jerusalem, President Trump condemned the attack, saying he would not call the terrorists “monsters” because that’s what they want to be called. Instead, he is calling them “evil losers.”
The Newest Thing Trump Has Realized Is “Not Easy”: Mideast Peace
In Jerusalem, the President said while achieving a lasting peace is “not easy” he is still committed to making it happen, saying “I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we’re going to get there eventually — I hope.”
Still, that’s a far cry from about a month ago when Trump said “It is something that I think is frankly, maybe, not as difficult as people have thought over the years.”
President Trump met in Bethlehem this morning with Palestinian Authority leader Abbas, reiterating his commitment to a peace deal, but not providing any details on achieving it. The President ends his visit to the region today.
During the latest stop on his trip, Trump seemed more relaxed around his old friend, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, than he did amid all the pomp and formality in Saudi Arabia. He also made his first big blunder of the trip when he held reporters for an extra moment after a photo op, to explain that when he revealed intelligence to the Russians in the Oval office: “Just so you understand — I never mentioned the word or the name Israel in conversation. Never mentioned it.” Except now you just did.
Trump continues, complaining that “They [the media] were all saying I did. So you had another story wrong. Never mentioned the word ‘Israel.'” Except no one did. No one reported that Trump told the Russians the intelligence was from Israel, nor did the White House or Israel ever independently confirm that. Until, sort of, now. You can watch below.
And Guess What? New Scandal Awaits Trump’s Return
The Washington Post reports Trump asked his director of national intelligence, and the director of the National Security Agency to intervene on his behalf to refute the FBI investigation into possible connections between his Presidential campaign and Russia.
According to the Post, both Daniel Coats and Admiral Michael Rogers, denied Trump’s request because they felt it was “inappropriate.”
Fanning The Flynn Flames
Another potential bombshell into the investigation of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. The NY Times reports Flynn misled the Pentagon about income from Russia, and contacts with Russians when he reapplied for security clearances last year. That information coming from a letter released by Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee.
The AP has a good summary of the day’s Flynn-related events related to former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn (read it from the bottom up.) They report that Flynn started off the day refusing to comply with subpoenas from the Senate Intelligence Committee on the grounds he might incriminate himself. Later in the day, lawyers for Flynn said an “escalating public frenzy” is making it dangerous for Flynn to cooperate.
[Flashback to June 2016: General Flynn tweeted last year how “@HillaryClinton IT specialist takes 5th over 100 times.” Wonder if he’ll tweet the same about himself?]
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and professional trickster Roger Stone did turn over documents, according to NBC News.
Supreme Court Strikes Down North Carolina Race-Based Congressional Districts
The 5-3 ruling, in which Clarence Thomas joined traditionally more liberal justices, upholds a district court decision that found state lawmakers had loaded African American voters into two congressional districts in order to minimize their influence in other districts. Former Attorney General Eric Holder called the ruling “a watershed moment.”
The ruling does nothing to address the issue of gerrymandering in general, and in fact underscores how to get away with it: as long as it’s based on political, not racial bias, it’s “O.K.” However, some legal scholars say it will make it much harder for state lawmakers to hide behind claims of partisanship.
Two Quick Follow-Ups To Stories We Reported On Yesterday
We told you the White House had to decide yesterday whether to drop legal action and end cost-sharing payments to health insurance companies. That move would’ve likely “exploded” Obamacare. Instead, the White House and House Republicans jointly asked a court for a 90-day delay. That means May payments should be made, and should continue through the summer.
We also told you about details from President Trump’s more detailed budget proposal, grandly named: “A New Foundation For American Greatness”. The actual document will be released today.
$11,500 A Person
That’s how much the state of California estimates it would have to come up with to provide universal health care to its residents. A state senate committee says a total of 400-billion dollars a year would be needed to create the single payer system currently under consideration. That’s double the entire state budget right now.
There are ways around the numbers: for instance, about $200-billion could come from existing federal, state and local funds. And if the state requires employers to pay an equivalent amount to what they currently spend on private insurance, that cuts the magic number further. Also, the current version of the law could be made less generous, and still be very generous. As envisioned right now it covers pretty much everything without any premiums, co-pays, or deductibles.
At the same time, private insurers are dead set against it (California is one of their biggest markets,) and there’s no guarantee the federal government would continue current levels of funding if the state moved in that direction. If California does pull it off, it would clearly be a blueprint for a national single-payer system.
Baby Steps: But Could Be One Big Positive Outcome Of The Trump Presidency
Self-labeled centrist politicians from both the Republican and Democratic parties in Utah are breaking away and forming a new party. The idea behind the new United Utah Party is that non-extremists don’t really have a home in the current political climate.
Third parties have seldom flourished in this country, mainly for financial reasons (and that remains a huge obstacle.) Still, with 40% of the U.S. population defining themselves as independents (and that number is growing), and millennials not inclined to affiliate with any political party, we have high hopes for these and other alternate efforts to engage the electorate.
We feel there is reason to be deeply encouraged by the emergence of third party “common sense” candidates. And we do see evidence that some big political donors are seeking to bypass party machines in favor of grassroots candidates with flexible or non-traditional party affiliations.
Maybe it’ll turn out that we are naive about this. But we don’t think so.