Hope Springs Eternal // Bibi enters as officials depart

This week, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met with President Trump for the fifth time in the past year and became just the second world leader to visit the Trump White House more than once. And as can typically be expected during a second visit, it was more scaled down. There was no joint press conference between the two leaders this year, and most of the hours that the two leaders spent together was off the record.

But while there was no formal press conference, Trump did take a few questions from reporters.

Regarding a question about the embassy move, Trump said, “We’re going to be building it very quickly and very inexpensively. They put an order in front of my desk last week for a billion dollars… We’re not going to spend a billion dollars. We’re going to be spending about $250,000…So check that out. $250,000 instead of billion. Is that good?”

The meeting between Trump and Netanyahu, which was supposed to last only until 1:20 p.m., went more than 40 minutes overtime. It was shortly after 2 when Netanyahu emerged from the West Wing and entered the waiting vehicle without taking questions. The prime minister waved to reporters as his vehicle made its way up the North Driveway in the direction of the Blair House, where he was scheduled to hold a press conference with the Israeli press.

Per an agreement reached between the prime minister’s staff and the traveling press, every reporter was granted a question at the Blair House press conference, but the entire event was off-camera and much of it was off the record. Naturally, a number of questions were related to the ongoing investigation into the prime minister.

While many opponents of both the American president and the Israeli prime minister hope and expect that neither will remain in office for much longer, this will in all likelihood not be their last official meeting, because there’s a good chance that the president will pay a visit to Israel in time for the embassy move. “We’re looking at coming,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “If I can, I will.”

Behind the Scenes
and Under the Bus:
What This Week’s Departures Mean
By the time Donald J. Trump rode down that escalator at Trump Tower to declare his candidacy for president, Hope Hicks was already the campaign’s spokesperson. Hicks stayed at Trump’s side ever since, and when the time came for her to assume the role of communications director she was there. But while she seems to remain loyal to Trump, she seems to have been thrust into the unenviable position of having to choose between herself and her boss.

Against the advice of the president’s legal team, reports assert, the president discussed the Mueller investigation with Hicks, something that could compel her to testify, whether she wants to or not. At this point, every additional investigation-related conversation she’s privy to will only serve to further compound matters. The fact that Hicks had spent nine of the previous 24 hours engaging in closed-door hearings before the House Intelligence Committee on the subject of Trump and Russia isn’t being overlooked by the pundit class.
This comes at the same time that senior communications aide Josh Raffel has announced his imminent departure from the White House. Hicks and Raffel, who have previously worked for Ivanka and Jared, respectively, revealed their decisions to leave at the same time that Kushner had his security clearance downgraded. Indeed, there’s good reason to believe that the respective stints of Jared and Ivanka are winding down, and the related rumors haven’t exactly subsided.

This comes at the same time as reports that replacements are being sought for both senior economic advisor Gary Cohn and National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster. Of course, the close of Sessions’ session cannot be far behind, which makes Trump, as president, the most prolific individual when it comes to firing people since Trump, the reality TV star.
Of course, John Kelly’s fingerprints seem to make themselves noticed time and again, and if Kelly’s job is to be the hatchet man, he’s undoubtedly doing an excellent job. Though, as hatchet men are generally not known for having a long lifespan themselves, Kelly’s own job might be on the chopping block.

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