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On the roster: Trump’s Twitter feud IRL – Bipartisan deal on domestic spying kaput – N.C. governor tries to cool down convention spat – Divided GOP puts Iowa house seat at risk – Kettle 1, Pot 0
TRUMP’S TWITTER FEUD IRL
Bloomberg: “President Donald Trump threatened to regulate or shutter social media companies — a warning apparently aimed at Twitter Inc. after it began fact-checking his tweets. In a pair of tweets issued Wednesday morning from his iPhone, Trump said that social media sites are trying to silence conservative voices, and need to change course or face action. There is no evidence that Trump has the ability to shut down social media networks, which are run by publicly traded companies and used by billions of people all over the world. ‘Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen,’ he said Wednesday. In a second tweet, he added: ‘Just like we can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country.’ He didn’t cite any platforms by name, but it was plainly a response after Twitter added a fact-check label to earlier Trump tweets that made unsubstantiated claims about mail-in voting. It’s the first time Twitter has taken action on Trump’s posts for being misleading.”
Few likes for Twitter’s experiment in fact checking – Fox Business: “Twitter shares slumped Wednesday after President Trump accused the social-media giant of interfering in the 2020 election when it fact-checked his tweet suggesting mail-in ballots would prompt widespread voter fraud. The fact-check was conducted by Twitter, and has not been applied to any other public official, though the platform has blocked or partially blocked posts in the past and deleted accounts… ‘Twitter came up with a rule that applies to one person,’ Michael Pachter, research analyst at Wedbush Securities, told FOX Business. ‘They’re not treating him the way they treat everybody else,’ he added. ‘They came up with a separate set of rules just for him, which is fact-checking, because they’re too afraid of his bullying to delete the tweet or suspend him.’”
Facebook shelved warnings about toxic political divisiveness – WSJ: “A Facebook Inc. team had a blunt message for senior executives. The company’s algorithms weren’t bringing people together. They were driving people apart. ‘Our algorithms exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness,’ read a slide from a 2018 presentation. ‘If left unchecked,’ it warned, Facebook would feed users ‘more and more divisive content in an effort to gain user attention & increase time on the platform.’ … But in the end, Facebook’s interest was fleeting. Mr. Zuckerberg and other senior executives largely shelved the basic research, according to previously unreported internal documents and people familiar with the effort, and weakened or blocked efforts to apply its conclusions to Facebook products.”
Trump tries to gin up murder probe against media critic – NYT: “President Trump smeared a prominent television host on Tuesday from the lectern in the Rose Garden with an unfounded allegation of murder… In an attack that once would have been unthinkable for a sitting president, Mr. Trump all but accused Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman who now hosts the MSNBC show ‘Morning Joe,’ of killing a staff member in 2001 even though he was 800 miles away at the time and the police ruled her death an accident. The president’s charge amplified a series of Twitter messages in recent days that have drawn almost no rebukes from fellow Republicans eager to look the other way but have anguished the family of Lori Klausutis, who died when she suffered a heart condition that caused her to fall and hit her head on a desk. … Mr. Scarborough said the president was being ‘cruel and callous’ by making an innocent family the collateral damage of his war against critics. ‘The widower of a woman who died 19 years ago begged the president of the United States to stop torturing him and his family,’ Mr. Scarborough said in an interview. ‘And yet he continues to torment this family and even went to Twitter accusing Lori of having an affair that resulted in her death.’”
WSJ Ed. Board: Attacks on Scarborough ‘a smear,’ ‘debasing’ – WSJ: “Mr. Trump always hits back at critics, and Mr. Scarborough has called the President mentally ill, among other things. But suggesting that the talk-show host is implicated in the woman’s death isn’t political hardball. It’s a smear. Mr. Trump rightly denounces the lies spread about him in the Steele dossier, yet here he is trafficking in the same sort of trash. … We don’t write this with any expectation that Mr. Trump will stop. Perhaps he even thinks this helps him politically, though we can’t imagine how. But Mr. Trump is debasing his office, and he’s hurting the country in doing so.”
Noah Rothman: ‘The tweets still matter’ – Commentary: “Even amid a public health disaster and an economic calamity, Trump’s ratings are about the same as they were in the absence of those conditions. Donald Trump’s conduct forces observers to wonder whether he is trustworthy at a time when trust in public officials is of paramount importance. But even in the pre-pandemic age, amid economic growth at home and good fortunes abroad, Trump’s personal conduct contributed to a hard ceiling on his support. Trump’s behavior matters. If that conduct proves his political undoing in November, his diehard supporters will be tempted to blame exogenous factors beyond the president’s control. And they will be kidding themselves.”
THE RULEBOOK: THANKS FOR TRYING, AL
“It will be my aim to remove the obstacles from your progress in as compendious a manner as it can be done, without sacrificing utility to despatch.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 15
TIME OUT: BLUE, INDEED
NYT: “Jimmy Cobb, a jazz drummer whose propulsive ride cymbal imbued countless classic recordings with a quiet intensity, including Miles Davis’s epochal album ‘Kind of Blue,’ died on Sunday in Harlem. He was 91. The cause was lung cancer, according to his daughter Serena Cobb. As the only surviving member of the ‘Kind of Blue’ sextet, Mr. Cobb had long been hailed as the last apostle of a defining moment in American music. His great talent was his ability to play understatedly, almost casually, without letting the beat or the momentum sag. He rarely took a solo. … Released in 1959, ‘Kind of Blue’ — with Mr. Davis’s trumpet backed by Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane on saxophone, Paul Chambers on bass, Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly on piano, and Mr. Cobb on drums — received warm reviews, but its immortality accrued only over time. Through changes in fashion and dips in jazz’s popularity, its brooding, translucent aura has never gone out of style.”
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PRESIDENTIAL POWER RANKINGS
(270 electoral votes needed to win)
Toss-up: (103 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15)
Lean R/Likely R: (186 electoral votes)
Lean D/Likely D: (249 electoral votes)
[Full rankings here.]
TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 44.2 percent
Average disapproval: 52.6 percent
Net Score: -8.4 points
Change from one week ago: ↓ 2.4 points
[Average includes: American Research Group: 40% approve – 57% disapprove; Fox News: 44% approve – 54% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 42% approve – 53% disapprove; CNN: 46% approve – 51% disapprove; Gallup: 49% approve – 48% disapprove.]
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BIPARTISAN DEAL ON DOMESTIC SPYING KAPUT
Politico: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top Democrats are trying to salvage a contentious bill to renew expired surveillance tools Wednesday amid mounting opposition from Republicans and liberals in their own party. Hours ahead of the scheduled floor vote, Pelosi and her top deputies were still whipping their members, with a growing number of progressives privately saying they would oppose the bill, according to people familiar with the discussions. Pelosi told Democrats on a private caucus call Wednesday morning that they were still counting votes and hoped to have an update soon. But several senior Democratic aides were already predicting the bill would be yanked from the floor, given the lack of support in both parties. ‘We’ll act upon it today one way or another,’ Pelosi told reporters as she left the House floor… Troubles with the bill emerged late Tuesday, with the threat of a veto from President Donald Trump that prompted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to personally ask House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to pull the bill.”
Barr warns bill goes too far in limiting fed’s powers – Fox News: “The Justice Department on Wednesday urged President Trump to veto legislation to reauthorize surveillance authorities used by the FBI just hours before a scheduled vote in the House, marking the latest curveball that puts the legislation in limbo. The Justice Department issued a statement Wednesday saying the legislation set to reauthorize and reform national security authorities in the U.S.A. Freedom Act goes too far and would weaken national security tools. … The legislation was already in jeopardy when Trump tweeted Tuesday night that he’s urging all Republicans to vote no on the FISA legislation ‘until such time as our Country is able to determine how and why the greatest political, criminal, and subversive scandal in USA history took place!’”
Pergram: How the House’s new proxy voting system works – Fox News: “When the House calls votes, designated proxies may cast ballots on behalf of those absent. Those members can’t change the vote in any way. Yea is yea. Nay is nay. Again, proxy voting is just an option for lawmakers who can’t get to Washington because of transportation issues, may be ill themselves, are at-risk because of health issues or care for those who may be susceptible. …Fox is told to expect most House members to appear in the chamber to vote over the next couple of days. On Wednesday and Thursday, the House anticipates procedural roll call votes, approval of a FISA reform package… And, the House vote tallies don’t reflect which members voted on the floor or those who empaneled proxies.”
N.C. GOVERNOR TRIES TO COOL DOWN CONVENTION SPAT
NBC News: “North Carolina recently reported its highest number of new cases in a single day, and [Gov. Roy Cooper] said he intends to use ‘data and science’ to protect the state’s public health. Cooper sidestepped a question on the other states’ offers at a press conference Tuesday, but said state officials have had discussions with the convention organizers ‘about a limited convention’ and that they ‘want to see in writing what their plans are.’ ‘We’ve been in talks with the RNC about the kind of convention that they would need to run and the kind of options that we need on the table,’ he said, adding that ‘we have to put the health and safety of North Carolinians as the guiding star in this process.’ … Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles told NBC News on Tuesday that ‘the city of Charlotte will continue to follow guidance from Governor Cooper…’ The state’s health secretary, Mandy Cohen, wrote a letter to the convention’s president, Marcia Lee Kelly, asking for written plans from the RNC ‘as soon as possible’ including ‘several scenarios planned that can be deployed depending on the public health situation.’”
As deadlines approach vote-by-mail still TBD – Bloomberg: “Election officials have just weeks left to ensure that their states can handle a surge of mail-in votes in November in the face of fierce opposition from President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress. With just a little more than five months to Election Day, localities and states need to decide soon whether to buy new equipment to help sort, verify and count mail-in ballots — if they can afford it — or rely on staff to manually handle the crush of incoming mail. The problem is particularly acute in the battleground states of Wisconsin and North Carolina, which have not traditionally had high rates of vote-by-mail and where Democratic governors are at odds with Republican-led legislatures over whether to expand absentee balloting. Record numbers of Americans are expected to seek to vote by mail this year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Biden mocks Trump, ‘a fool’ for ‘macho stuff’ about masks – NYT: “Joseph R. Biden Jr. laced into President Trump on Tuesday, calling him an ‘absolute fool’ for refusing to wear a mask in public on Memorial Day and for appearing to scoff at the former vice president for wearing one. ‘He’s a fool, an absolute fool to talk that way,’ Mr. Biden said in an interview with Dana Bash of CNN, his first in-person interview since the coronavirus crisis took him off the campaign trail. Castigating Mr. Trump for ‘this macho stuff,’ Mr. Biden accused him of ‘stoking deaths’ and aggravating cultural divisions over mask-wearing. The interview, conducted outside Mr. Biden’s home in Wilmington, Del., and with Mr. Biden and Ms. Bash seated 12 feet apart, occurred a day after he appeared in public for the first time in more than two months, visiting a veterans memorial in Delaware. … Mr. Biden’s rebuke of Mr. Trump was yet another sign that he views the president’s refusal to wear a mask as a vulnerability that makes him appear reckless, while Mr. Biden presents himself as a sober-minded leader.”
More feuding as Trump insiders complain about campaign – Politico: “David Bossie and Corey Lewandowski, two key allies and former political advisers to Donald Trump, went to the White House last week to issue him a warning: The president was slipping badly in swing states, and he needed to do something to fix it. Three days later, the Trump campaign’s political directors in Arizona and Florida … were summoned to the White House Roosevelt Room. The officials offered a detailed rundown of his organization in the battlegrounds and tried to reassure the president that he was on firm ground. After his May 18 meeting with Bossie and Lewandowski, Trump called his top campaign lieutenants to vent his frustration about his political standing. Bossie and Lewandowski, who served as top aides on Trump’s 2016 effort, complained to the president about his political operation. Trump’s campaign team, in response decided to rush their Arizona and Florida representatives onto airplanes for a Thursday meeting with the president.”
DIVIDED GOP PUTS IOWA HOUSE SEAT AT RISK
NYT: “Representative Steve King’s fellow Republicans have made him a pariah in Washington. Now his Iowa constituents will decide if it’s time to bring down the curtain on the nine-term congressman, who long stoked the immigration wars with racist remarks until he was disciplined last year in the House. The problem for mainstream Republicans who would like to retire Mr. King in a June 2 party primary is that, with four challengers in the race, all sensing an opportunity and aggressively campaigning, the anti-King vote will be split four ways. ‘Not to be Captain Obvious, but four people in the race always helps the incumbent,’ said Rick Bertrand, who challenged Mr. King in the Republican primary in 2016 but is not running this year. ‘If this was a mano a mano race, King would be in trouble right now.’”
Corona cases concentrated in few Congressional districts – Pew Research Center: “A new Pew Research Center analysis of data on official reports of COVID-19 deaths, collected by the John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, finds that, as of last week, nearly a quarter of all the deaths in the United States attributed to the coronavirus have been in just 12 congressional districts – all located in New York City and represented by Democrats in Congress. Of the more than 92,000 Americans who had died of COVID-19 as of May 20 (the date that the data in this analysis was collected), nearly 75,000 were in Democratic congressional districts. … Of the 44 hardest-hit congressional districts – the top 10% in terms of deaths – 41 are represented by Democrats, while three are represented by Republicans. These include the New York-area districts, as well as those in the Boston, Detroit and New Orleans metropolitan areas.”
California district attorney begins investigation into Tara Reade testimony – Politico
Military brass looks to slow Trump on Afghan exit – NYT
Pompeo officially declares Hong Kong ‘no longer autonomous,’ slams China intervention – Fox News
AUDIBLE: DAD JOKES
“…to be honest I wasn’t laughing either…” – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer described her husband’s attempt to use his status as first gentleman to get his boat in the water ahead of Memorial Day weekend as “a failed attempt at humor.”
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Is it just me, or isn’t it amazing that Trump is not further back in the polls??? Given the current situation, shouldn’t Biden be crushing Trump across the board? Isn’t the fact that he’s not a huge danger sign for Biden? I would think that even if half the jobs lost over the last two months come back by Labor Day Trump will get credit for that and see a surge of support as a result.” – Dave Kovatch, Rhodelia, Ky.
[Ed. note: Well, our latest poll had Trump down by 8 points, which would be the widest margin of victory since 1996 if it held. That’s not exactly a squeaker. As for why things aren’t even more whopperjawed, I think we have partisanship to thank/blame. The floor for any major party nominee is pretty high these days. You’re always talking about an electorate in which only 10 percent of voters are really up for grabs. Then there is the question of base intensity and which side better motivates their voters. As for your suggestion that Trump could get a boost from rapid growth, I think that’s absolutely so. Robust recovery, if coupled with declining coronavirus deaths, could win Trump four more years. Conversely, if the economy is in tatters and/or the virus is resurgent, he could face a defeat the size of Michael Dukakis’.]
“‘Our political class is dominated by a great lot of moral imbeciles, so I do my best to ignore their moral posturing.’ Thank you for a truly great line that will now serve as a personal mantra. I plan to repeat it to myself whenever I feel an uptick in my blood pressure caused by the frustrations I feel with both political sides. I’d appreciate if you would now come up with something about ‘virtue signaling’ as it relates to whether one elects to wear a face mask (or not). It’s all getting fairly ridiculous.” – Victoria Doyle, Salem, Ore.
[Ed. note: Thank you, Ms. Doyle! I think we would all do better to care less about the opinions of those primarily interested in obtaining or preserving power. It’s good to engage with them on their plans and promises, but why waste much time on their feelings and attitudes?]
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POT 0, KETTLE 1
NY Post: “An MSNBC reporter was humiliated live on air when he tried to shame passersby for not wearing masks in Wisconsin — even as most of his crew were also unprotected. Cal Perry was doing a live segment from Lake Geneva where he complained that ‘no one’ was wearing masks as they enjoyed the Memorial Day sunshine. The masked reporter then turned his cameraman to shoot a man walking past, saying on air, ‘As you can see, no one is wearing them.’ ‘Including the cameraman,’ the local shot back, soon adding that ‘half your crew’s not wearing them.’ Clearly embarrassed, Perry appeared to cut the segment short, looking down to the ground as he admitted, ‘There you go, including the cameraman. Yeah.’”
AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“The heart of the game [of football], as the connoisseur knows and the isolated camera reveals, is ‘line play’ in all its glorious mano-a-mano intimacy.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Jan. 25, 1985.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.