The Washington Post released a bombshell story on Friday that alleges that senior White House aide (and presidential son-in-law) Jared Kushner met withSergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to Washington to set up a private communications channel with the Kremlin. The channel reportedly was sought for secret and secure and direct communications with the Russians. Once again, there is nothing on its face unlawful about either the meeting or the desire for a secure communications line. However, the allegation (if true) would deepen the unease over the associations between the Trump camp and the Russians. The increasing number of meetings has raised questions over why Trump officials were so solicitous to the Russians — a concern that reached its apex with Trump’s bizarre decision to entertain Kislyak and the Russian Foreign Minister in the Oval Office the day after firing former FBI Director James Comey.
President Donald Trump is being widely quoted by European allies as making a rather disturbing statements about Germany to EU Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council president Donald Tusk. German news magazine Der Spiegel is quoting multiple sources that Trump went off on Germany over the trade surplus and said that “The Germans are evil, very evil.” (Other translations have “bad, very bad”). If true, it would not exactly be a diplomatic or even comprehensible approach. Trump also reportedly said that he would end the German car sales in the United States behind the surplus. Der Spiegel is a widely respected publication. However, this would be as big a story if the statement was not made. The article describes almost open hostility and shock toward Trump. If the statement was not made (and Juncker has not denied it), it would be evidence of an open effort by top European diplomats to portray Trump as unhinged and unstable. The White House, of course, should be able to confirm or deny the story. I truly hope that this is a fake news story because the alternative would be unnerving. [Update: The White House denies that Trump made the statement] However, the White House does not deny the car statement and only says that Trump was referring to “bad” trade policies. That would be a considerable “lost in translation” moment.
We previously discussed the alarming breach of an intelligence sharing agreement with the U.K. after U.S. officials released details given to them from British intelligence on the Manchester bombing, including the identity of the bomber. Now, British police have stopped sharing information with U.S. authorities after a series of leaks to American media. In the meantime, after Trump’s rational odd denial that he mentioned Israel in his giving highly classified intelligence to the Russians, Israel has acknowledged it was indeed their intelligence and they had to implement a “fix” and “clarify” their position with the U.S. on intelligence sharing after Trump’s disclosure. Update: Trump denounced the leaking of the information. Some have noted that the statement was rather belated and others have noted that it is equally ironic (given Trump’s personal disclosure of the highly classified Israeli intelligence to the Russians). Nevertheless, Trump is right to call for the FBI to investigate the leaking of the shared intelligence.
I previously praised the position of my alma mater, The University of Chicago, in refusing to limit free speech with the creation of safe spaces and speech codes. Indeed, the courageous position of UChicago stood in sharp contrast to the troubling position of my other alma mater, Northwestern University (which has only grown more hostile to both free speech and academic freedom). Now the university faces another test of academic principles after a coalition of student groups called “UChicago United” has given the Administration of list of 50 demands. Most troubling are demands that seek decisions impacting the academic integrity of the curriculum and school as a whole.
There has been a roaring debate over the decision of the New Orleans city council to tear down all Confederate era statues, which many have argued is wiping out history rather than dealing with it. The most controversial decision is the removal of the iconic statue of Robert E. Lee in the downtown. One casualty of that debate is Nicholas Dean, principal of Crescent Leadership Academy, who was forced out of his post merely because he went to see the historic change and was pictured with a Confederate flag in the background. Not his flag, mind you. Just a Confederate flag held by a protester.
Kali Wilgus and Liz “LC” Connelly thought that they had realized their dream when they opened Kooks Burritos in Portland Oregon. They were even more excited when the local newspaper Williamette Week decided to do a feature article on their new business. The two women recounted how they watched Mexican women making tortillas on a trip to Baja California and adopted what they saw. That admission however led to furious accusations that the two white women were guilty of “cultural appropriation.” They eventually shutdown their food truck.