Week In The News: White House Turmoil, Kushner Questions, Tragedy In Kabul

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With guest host Sacha Pfeiffer

Jared Kushner’s Kremlin back channel. White House shake-ups. A deadly bombing in Kabul. Our weekly news round table goes behind the headlines.

Security forces stand next to a crater created by massive explosion in front of the German Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, May 31, 2017. The suicide truck bomb hit a highly secure diplomatic area of Kabul killing scores of people and wounding hundreds more. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Security forces stand next to a crater created by massive explosion in front of the German Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, May 31, 2017. The suicide truck bomb hit a highly secure diplomatic area of Kabul killing scores of people and wounding hundreds more. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

The United States says goodbye to the Paris climate accord. A blitz of subpoenas are issued in the investigation of whether Russia meddled with the US presidential election. And Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, now appears to be targeted in that probe. More saber-rattling between the US and North Korea. Plus, a monster bombing in Afghanistan. This hour On Point: an avalanche of news for our weekly roundtable. -- Sacha Pfeiffer


Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today. (@SusanPage)

Michael Scherer, Washington bureau chief for TIME. (@michaelscherer)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)

From The Reading List

New York Times: A History of Secret U.S. Channels, From Jefferson to Kushner — "Back channels during presidential transitions are not unprecedented, but they are always fraught, as President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have discovered in recent weeks."

POLITICO: Trump's communications director is out as larger shakeup looms — "Mike Dubke, President Donald Trump’s communications director, has resigned as Trump considers a larger personnel shakeup to confront the growing scandals weighing down his administration. The veteran GOP strategist privately announced his resignation in a meeting with the president on May 18, and Trump accepted immediately, Dubke said in an interview. He added that he offered to stay through Trump’s first foreign trip to ensure there was a smooth transition as he exited."

BBC News: Kabul bomb: Diplomatic zone attack kills dozens — "A powerful vehicle bomb has hit the diplomatic area of the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing at least 80 people and injuring 350. It struck near Zanbaq Square in the heavily fortified zone, with civilians said to be the main casualties. The morning rush-hour blast created a massive crater and blew out windows and doors hundreds of metres away."

Week In The News Highlights

Trump Pulls Out Of Paris Accords

Michael Scherer: "The structure of the Paris accords is rather unique. It did not commit any country to any specific number. It allowed countries to voluntarily state how much carbon reduction they would have over a period of time, and then it created a transparent process for reporting those numbers, so that the world could basically keep track of carbon emissions. Then there was a separate track in which wealthier countries would support developing countries in moving away from carbon to reduce their emissions."

Susan Page: "It may be momentous or not, but it should not be seen as surprising, because this decision is totally consistent with what candidate Donald Trump said during the campaign. And the fact is, there was furious lobbying of him, there was never really a sign from Donald Trump that he was going to change his mind about whether he wanted to pull out of this accord."

Jack Beatty: "We can't know about the future. We can't really know what's going to happen. But we can know something about the past, it seems to me. And the question is how did we get here? And I want to put the mirror to us in the media. I've looked into this. In the campaign, in the four debates that were held, including the vice presidential debate, there was not one single question about the difference in the candidates, their different positions on climate change and what difference it would make to the American people. And on the networks, and including FOX, and including the Sunday shows, there was not a single segment on what to expect on Clinton and on Trump on climate change."

Kushner And A Kremlin Back Channel?

Michael Scherer: "There have been back channels used — both true back channels, which are very quietly done, and sort of informal back channels, where you use a third country to do a negotiation — the best historical example is probably Nixon's efforts to undermine the Paris peace accords in the Vietnam War before he was elected ... So they're not illegal, they're not without precedent. What makes this one interesting is that it's more smoke in an already very smokey room. We don't know exactly what the relationship was between the Trump campaign and the Russians."

Putin Suggests 'Patriotic Hackers' Meddled In US Election

Jack Beatty: "The Putin comment is really sort of infuriating, isn't it? I mean, he's saying what he said about Ukraine, initially about Crimea, he said, we're not intervening there, there are Russian tourists doing this. And then there was little green men. And then months later, yes we did intervene. He's been going through that process now. He's about about at the little green men stage. It's infuriating to have him essentially toy with the United States like this."

Trump's First Foreign Trip

Susan Page: "It really underscored two things. One is the transactional nature of President Trump's approach to the world. That's one reason he was so pleased with the big defense sale to the Saudis, which he said would be good for US companies. There was virtually no talk about moral leadership or human rights or democracy or the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia. That is a big shift from when President Obama, for instance, was travelling in the region. And it also underscored the America First approach that President Trump is taking. Whether it's trade or defense with NATO or environmental policy with the Paris accord, the United States is now increasingly isolated in the world and withdrawing from the kind of leadership that the American president traditionally has shown, since the end of World War II. This is a new approach to what role the United States should play in global affairs."

Bombing Kills 90 In Kabul, Underscores Tensions In Afghanistan

Jack Beatty: "The situation there is just as dire as it can possibly be, after 16 years ... We continue to provide aid to Pakistan. Pakistan continues to provide aid to these groups that bring terror to Afghanistan, and so we are funding the terror that we're complaining about. This is the most pointless and self-defeating policy I think the United States has engaged in, in my lifetime."

This program aired on June 2, 2017.


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