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"The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday in Munich in comments understood to reference NATO Europe's reliance on the United States. "I've experienced that in the last few days," she continued. "We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands" and "fight for our own destiny."

When President Trump met with fellow NATO leaders in Brussels on Thursday, he reiterated his critique that allies are too dependent on the United States, calling their failure to make meet a pledged 2 percent of GDP defense spending target unfair to the U.S.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary James Mattis on Sunday maintained Trump is supportive of the alliance. "I think when President Trump chooses to go to NATO personally and stand there alongside the other more than two dozen nations in NATO, that was his statement, not words, actions," he said in a CBS interview. Bonnie Kristian

May 24, 2017

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) suggested Wednesday in an interview with CNN that the 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak could have been an "insider job." "There's still some question as to whether the intrusion at the DNC server was an insider job, or whether or not it was the Russians," Farenthold said.

When pressed for evidence to back his claim, Farenthold cited "stuff circulating on the internet." He didn't specify what "stuff."

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia was behind the cyberattacks throughout the 2016 presidential election, including the DNC hack:

Watch Farenthold's full interview below. His comments about the "insider job" start around the 3:20 mark. Becca Stanek

May 22, 2017

CNN's Anderson Cooper is sorry.

On Friday's AC360, Jeffrey Lord, one of President Trump's most vocal defenders on the network, was saying that he doesn't care what Trump said about FBI Director James Comey to top Russian officials behind closed doors, and Cooper evidently got a little annoyed. "If he took a dump on his desk, you would defend it," Cooper said dryly, as Lord was mid-sentence. "I don't know what he would do that you would not defend." Lord caught the joke a second later, and laughed. "You're a loyal guy, I think that speaks well of you," Cooper added.

Lord accepted the apology. Peter Weber

May 19, 2017
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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is not terribly worried by all the talk of Democrats taking back Congress in 2018. "'Blah blah blah blah blah' is what I say about that stuff," he told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Friday morning.

Democrats need to gain three tough-to-take seats in 2018 to control the Senate; Republicans are defending nine Senate seats in 2018, compared to the Democrats' 25 seats. In the House, Democrats need to gain 24 seats to be in control, from a pool of the approximately 50 that are competitive. All 435 seats will be on the ballot.

"Look, this is what I call the white noise of Washington Beltway media," Ryan added. "We're busy doing our work." Listen here. Jeva Lange

May 19, 2017

On Thursday, The New York Times reported that President Trump had pressed James Comey, then FBI director, to spread word that he was not personally under federal investigation. That detail was news to Benjamin Wittes, a friend of Comey's and a named source for other anecdotes in the Times article, but Wittes wanted to elaborate on his casual lunchtime conversations with Comey, he wrote in Lawfare Thursday night, because after reading the article, "I immediately understood certain things Comey had said to me over the previous few months in a different, and frankly more menacing, light."

Wittes' general impression is that Comey was preoccupied with protecting the FBI from inappropriate White House interference and also from attempts to "absorb him into Trump's world — to make him part of the team." But the details Wittes recalls are pretty interesting, like his elaboration of Comey's attempt to avoid Trump's literal embrace at a post-inaugural reception in the White House Blue Room:

As he told me the story, he tried hard to blend into the background and avoid any one-on-one interaction [with Trump]. He was wearing a blue blazer and noticed that the drapes were blue. So he stood in the back, right in front of the drapes, hoping Trump wouldn't notice him camouflaged against the wall. ... The meeting was nearly over, he said, and he really thought he was going to get away without an individual interaction. But when you're 6 foot, 8 inches tall, it's hard to blend in forever, and Trump ultimately singled him out. ... Comey took the long walk across the room determined, he told me, that there was not going to be a hug. ... Look at the video, and you'll see Comey pre-emptively reaching out to shake hands. Trump grabs his hand and attempts an embrace. The embrace, however, is entirely one sided. Comey was disgusted. [Wittes, Lawfare]

The other detail that retroactively struck Wittes was that Comey, to his surprise, was wary about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein, who hadn't been confirmed at that point. "Rod is a survivor," Comey said, according to Wittes, and political survival doesn't come without compromises. Since Comey had been asked to pledge personal loyalty to Trump, Wittes surmises, "he was asking himself, I suspect: What loyalty oath had Rosenstein been asked to swear, and what happened at whatever dinner that request took place?" Read the entire post at Lawfare. Peter Weber

May 18, 2017

"I've got to be honest, Kellyanne Conway was going to be sitting in that seat," Fox News host Tucker Carlson told American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp on Wednesday night. "We had booked her, at their request by the way. We don't often have people from the administration on, but they said, 'We want to send over Kellyanne Conway' — great. And then, not long before air, they canceled it, for reasons that were not exactly clear." About two hours earlier, the Justice Department named Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the investigation into Russian election meddling and the Trump campaign, and Carlson said later in the program that Conway canceled about an hour before airtime.

"I think a lot of the descriptions in the press about what's going on at the White House are false or they're animated by the hate the press has for Trump, which is totally real," Carlson said, "but it does seem a little chaotic over there, I have to be honest with you." Peter Weber

May 17, 2017
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The White House released a statement from President Trump Wednesday night, following the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the ongoing probe into Russian interference in last year's presidential election.

"As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity," Trump said. "I look forward to this matter concluding quickly. In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country."

After Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey last week, Democrats and some Republicans called for a special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation, and the cries became louder after it was reported Tuesday that Comey kept memos of his conversations with Trump, including one exchange where Trump allegedly asked him to stop looking into ties between Russia and Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser. On Wednesday, the Department of Justice tapped Robert Mueller, who led the FBI for 12 years during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, to oversee the probe. Catherine Garcia

May 15, 2017
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Conservative pundit and ardent Trump supporter Ann Coulter is starting to think President Trump's detractors might have a point. In an interview Sunday with The Daily Caller, Coulter admitted that she is "not very happy with what has happened" in Trump's presidency. "It's just that it has been such a disaster so far," said Coulter, who wrote the book In Trump We Trust.

She said that "everyone who voted for him knew his personality was grotesque," but they'd been banking on Trump to act on the issues — and so far he hasn't. "It's not like I'm out yet, but boy, things don't look good. I've said to other people, 'It's as if we're in Chicago and Trump tells us he's going to get us to L.A. in six days. But for the first three days we are driving towards New York. Yes, it is true he can still turn around and get us to L.A. in three days, but I'm a little nervous.'"

Still, Coulter insisted she has no regrets about supporting Trump, who she described as "our last shot." However, she admitted that if "we just keep going to New York," she'll have to say the "Trump-haters were right." "It's a nightmare. I can't even contemplate that," Coulter said. "Right now I'm still rooting for him to turn around and take us toward L.A."

Read the interview in full at The Daily Caller. Becca Stanek

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