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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► President Trump is in the midst of his first major overseas trip since he took office (or as Trump calls it, “my big foreign trip“). Trump is in Israel today after spending the weekend in Saudi Arabia, where he put his hands on a glowing orb and generally enjoyed not talking about scandals involving Russia.
But then, Trump being Trump, he made sure to bring up “that Russia thing” in a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN:
“Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name ‘Israel’,'” Trump told reporters in Jerusalem. “Never mentioned it during that conversation. They were all saying I did. So you had another story wrong. Never mentioned the word ‘Israel’.”
The story Trump was reacting to was this one, which ran a week ago in the Washington Post. And the thing about that story is that, well, the word “Israel” is never mentioned. Not one time…
…Trump is the denying an allegation that, literally, no news organization made. He’s also implicitly confirming that, yes, he did talk to the Russians about classified information. [Pols emphasis] While the president has total freedom to de-classify material, the White House has urged media organizations — including CNN — not to report on the specific information Trump passed along due to how highly sensitive it is.
► Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is expected to invoke his fifth amendment right to not incriminate himself in response to queries from the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding his interactions with Russian officials. From the Associated Press:
Attorneys for Michael Flynn say that a daily “escalating public frenzy against him” and the Justice Department’s appointment of a special counsel have created a legally dangerous environment for him to cooperate with a Senate investigation.
That’s according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press that was written on behalf of the former national security adviser under President Donald Trump. The letter, sent Monday by Flynn’s legal team to the Senate Intelligence committee, lays out the case for Flynn to invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and his decision not to produce documents in response to a congressional subpoena.
The letter says that the current context of the Senate’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election threatens that “any testimony he provides could be used against him.”
► The Supreme Court has ruled that Republicans in North Carolina illegally disenfranchised African-American voters in the state’s last round of redistricting. From the Washington Post:
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature unlawfully relied on race when drawing two of the state’s congressional districts.
The decision continued a trend at the court, where justices have found that racial considerations improperly predominated in redistricting decisions by Republican-led legislatures in Virginia, Alabama and North Carolina. Some involved congressional districts, others legislative districts…
…In the split decision, Justice Clarence Thomas joined the liberal justices in saying race improperly predominated the drawing of the district. New Justice Neil M. Gorsuch was not on the court when the case was heard, and took no part in the decision.
Get even more smarter after the jump…