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The Morning Briefing: Take a Selfie at the Western Wall, Sore/Loserman, Focus-Grouping Impeachment and Much, Much More

Good Friday Morning!

Here's what is on President Trump's agenda today:

  • In the morning, President Donald J. Trump will meet with Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney.
  • In the afternoon, the President will depart the White House for Joint Base Andrews en route to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Trump's trip

The President leaves today on his first trip abroad and he will be accompanied by wife Melania for an 8-day, five-country tour.

Trump may be attempting to rebuild relations with countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia, which frayed under the Presidency of Barack Obama. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will also accompany Trump for most of the trip.

"I will strengthen old friendships and seek new partners, but partners who also help us, not partners who take, and take, and take," Trump said in his commencement address. "Partners who help pay for whatever we are doing and all of the good that we are doing for them. Which is something that a lot of people have not gotten used to, and they just can't get used to it."

Trump will visit Saudi Arabia, Israel, Vatican City, Belgium, and Italy.

PJ Media will report on the developments of Trump's trip.

Take a selfie

Lee Smith, a senior editor at the Weekly Standard and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, shares some insight into President Trump's trip at Tablet Magazine.

Donald Trump is hoping to rescue his presidency with a trip to a place that has never failed to provide American presidents with relief from workaday cares—the Middle East. The world’s most volatile region is looking pretty moderate right now compared to what Trump’s got on the homefront, where he’s the managerial black hole at the center of his own administration, which is daily beset by internet explosions detonated by himself and by a political class gleefully celebrating its interlocking control of the elite media and the higher levels of the federal bureaucracy.

And now conclusive evidence shows that the Trump White House is indeed under the control of an external power. The big surprise is that it’s not Russia that gives Donald Trump his marching orders—no, his presidency is being run by midlevel paper-pushers at the State Department and the Pentagon whose larger vision of the world is shaped by their former bosses.

Smith points to some recent diplomatic confusion regarding the administration's position on Israel: Will Bibi accompany Trump to the Western Wall? Does the administration believe the Western Wall is part of Israel? McMaster was asked questions at a press conference earlier this week only to respond:

"That sounds like a policy decision,” McMaster demurred.

“No state has sovereignty over the city of Jerusalem,” said another Trump administration official. “The status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.”

And Smith has soured on the entire "peace process."

Trump was elected because he was going to drain the swamp, and there is no fouler cesspool in U.S. foreign policy than the peace process. It’s an industry that creates a lobby of many thousand creeps around the world who have a vested interest in prolonging a pointless exercise regardless of how many Israeli, Arab, or American lives are sacrificed along the way so they can go on mouthing platitudes at Davos. Trump is not going to walk away from the peace process because the swamp will drag him in—it already has.

Read the whole piece. Lee Smith is always worth reading.

On the other hand, a senior official at a national Jewish organization told PJ Media: "The Lee Smith article is reckless at best. Taken to its logical conclusion, the article says Trump should point up from the Western Wall at the Temple Mount, say 'I want to go up there too,' and walk up. But that would blow everything up and put the United States in an impossible position."

Comey, Comey, Comey

Here's some of the latest fallout from the media obsession with their new hero-darling, fired FBI Director Comey.

From Politico about Comey's concern with Rosenstein:

Lawfare blog editor-in-chief Ben Wittes wrote that he'd had a series of conversations with Comey in recent months, sometimes discussing the FBI director's concerns that Trump was ignoring longstanding procedures limiting contacts between the White House and FBI about ongoing investigations.

In a blog post Thursday night, Wittes said that at a March 27 lunch meeting Comey expressed concerns about Rosenstein, who served as U.S. attorney for Maryland under both the George W. Bush and Obama administration and was then awaiting confirmation as deputy attorney general.

"His reservations were palpable. 'Rod is a survivor,' he said. And you don’t get to survive that long across administrations without making compromises. 'So I have concerns,'" Wittes wrote, describing his conversation with Comey.

From The New York Times about the FBI clearing Trump:

President Trump called the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, weeks after he took office and asked him when federal authorities were going to put out word that Mr. Trump was not personally under investigation, according to two people briefed on the call.

Mr. Comey told the president that if he wanted to know details about the bureau’s investigations, he should not contact him directly but instead follow the proper procedures and have the White House counsel send any inquiries to the Justice Department, according to those people.

Joe Lieberman is a top contender for FBI director

Why? Why?

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman is one of President Donald Trump's top picks to be nominated as FBI director, Trump said Thursday.

Speaking to reporters while meeting with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Trump said he is "very close" to choosing a new FBI director to replace James Comey. And asked if Lieberman, the Democrat-turned-independent senator from Connecticut was a top candidate, Trump said yes.

Trump met with Lieberman Wednesday and found him "agreeable," a source said.

Democrats poll testing impeachment

This isn't going to go away.

Democratic strategists are racing to figure out whether it’s politically wise to call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, as one bombshell revelation after another about his ties to Russia is forcing candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives to consider the question far sooner than anyone had expected.

In a significant development, party operatives say they expect Democrats to poll-test the public’s views on impeachment, trying to acquire hard data about an issue that until now has not been seriously analyzed. Other strategists say that candidates and party organizations will begin conducting focus groups on the question.

"One bombshell revelation after another."

The article contains unsourced comments from "Democrat operatives."

Not everyone is (publicly) sold on impeachment. DNC chair Tom Perez said:

“This is why we need a special prosecutor. The evidence is mounting by the day. But as long as Republicans continue putting party over country, justice will never be served. Make no mistake: Their complacency is complicity, and history will remember them as cowards.”

At least one person in the party seems to get it:

“Voting for a check on Trump is one thing,” said one national Democratic strategist, granted anonymity to speak candidly about party strategy.“But if a vote for a check on the president . . . becomes a de facto vote for an impeachment trial, the task in front of us will only get more difficult.”

That's right, bozos.

Final Morsels

"Who's the Boss" reboot?

Basquiat painting sells for $111M

Chaffetz retiring after next month

Judge allows transgender person to sue under disability law

Mother grabs guns, frightens intruder out of her home

California man accused of stealing $1M worth of bees

Have a great weekend and catch you back here on Monday.