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May 25, 2018

There was a lot of speculation as to why President Trump abruptly pulled out of a June 12 summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un that he had agreed to attend and was evidently excited about. Tony Schwartz, a Trump critic who shadowed the real estate developer for a year in the 1980s to ghostwrite Trump's bestseller The Art of the Deal, had a theory. "Trump has a morbid fear of being humiliated and shamed," Schwartz told The Washington Post on Thursday. The summit was all about "showing who’s the biggest and the strongest, so he is exquisitely sensitive to the possibility that he would end up looking weak and small. There is nothing more unacceptable to Trump than that." Schwartz elaborated on Twitter:

Negotiating with Trump based on logic or rational argument is a dead end, Schwartz explained on MSNBC's The Beat with Ari Melber.

Still, there is an advantage of sorts to Trump's negotiating style, at least for Trump, he added. Watch below. Peter Weber

7:10 a.m.

French officials said Tuesday that police in Paris have detained singer Chris Brown and two other people after a woman filed a rape complaint. Brown faces aggravated rape and drug-related charges, a French judicial official tells The Associated Press, and investigators have another two days to decide whether to charge him or let him go. One of Brown's bodyguards is among the people detained, AP reports. A rape conviction in France can carry a prison sentence of up to 15 years, Reuters notes.

The woman who filed the rape complaint says she met Brown and some of his friends at a club in Paris on Wednesday, and they all ended up at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel near the city's central Concorde Plaza, the official tells AP. In 2009, Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault of Rihanna, who was his girlfriend at the time. He's been in and out of legal trouble since. Peter Weber

6:50 a.m.

In a New York Times report Sunday on President Trump's chaotic, sometimes Pyrrhic, remarkably consistent negotiating style, former Trump Organization vice president Barbara Res explained one reason she believes Trump is having such a hard time ending his government shutdown: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). "There was never a woman with power that he ran up against, until Pelosi," Res said. "And he doesn't know what to do with it. He's totally in a corner."

Res elaborated Monday night on MSNBC's The 11th Hour. "There are certain basic tenets of negotiation that Trump does not believe in," like the "win-win" deal or give-and-take, she told guest host Nicole Wallace. Trump's "I demand, and this is what I'm going to get" strategy "has worked for him in certain circumstances where he had all the leverage" and power, but "now he doesn't have either."

"Trump has always felt that men are superior to women, and he even told me that," Res said. "So in his mind, any woman would be inferior to him, even the best of the best. And here's Nancy Pelosi, she probably is the best of the best. Problem is, she's his match, she's not inferior to him, she's — in my opinion, from a point of view of dealmaking — far superior." Trump "can't see" that he "100 percent" could end the shutdown anytime he chooses, she added, and when Wallace asked how this will all end, Res said she doesn't know. "I think, eventually, somebody's going to have to blink," she said, and if Trump rejects a compromise from Democrats, "I think he's going to be in very, very big trouble."

Tony Schwartz, who wrote Trump's The Art of the Deal, told the Times that Trump "was always a terrible negotiator," and his only "virtue" is his use of "a hammer, deceit, relentlessness, and an absence of conscience," and his apathy about any "collateral damage" he leaves behind.

5:33 a.m.

Newly sworn-in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has never served in a Congress where the government was open, Stephen Colbert pointed out to her on Monday's Late Show. He gave her a pint of Ben & Jerry's and a spoon and asked what that's been like. For her and the other 100 or so House freshmen, she said, "the downside is that we're not able to get to work as much as we want to in the beginning, but the bright side is that it gives us a lot more free time to make trouble," like trying to track down Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Ocasio-Cortez explained that in her social media workshop for Democrats, "I gave them more of my general theory and approach to social media," where "Rule No. 1 is to be authentic, to be yourself, and don't try to be anyone that you're not. So don't try to talk like a young kid if you're not a young kid, don't post a meme if you don't know what a meme is," and "don't talk like the Founding Fathers on Twitter."

Ocasio-Cortez is so good at social media, "she's known for hosting Instagram live Q&A's while cooking dinner," Colbert explained before the interview. "That's impressive. My wife once asked me a question while I was making a grilled cheese sandwich, and I ended up in the emergency room."

Colbert asked Ocasio-Cortez about her plan to tax rich guys like himself at a 70 percent marginal rate. "This is something we often see, too, with Fox News, it's like, 'They want to take all your money!'" she said. But the 70 percent marginal tax rate would apply only to the dollars you make each year after you hit $10 million. Colbert pointed out that cries of "'She's a socialist, she wants 70 percent tax rates,' those are both accurate, right?" She laughed and said yes, but "democratic socialist," which is "very different." Peter Weber

4:31 a.m.

"I am tickled red, white, and blue to welcome you to our very special show, Intermission Accomplished: A Halftime Tribute to Trump," Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday's very special Kimmel Live. "We are here tonight to celebrate the midway mark of Donald Trump's first term in office — because let's be honest, this is a man who is far too humble to celebrate himself." He listed some of Trump's many accomplishments: "More than 6,000 tweets in office, at least half of those with no misspellings at all. More than 100 days on the golf course, keeping tabs on the environment. And let's not forget the election itself: Donald Trump got 62 million votes, second-most of any presidential candidate in 2016."

Kimmel ran through Trump's hagiography, Ken Bone (Josh Gad) made a cameo, and a group of dancers ended the intro with a spirited pro-Trump medley.

"This president has delivered so many poignant words, the best words, since he took office," Kimmel said. "Donald Trump has tweeted more than every other president in history combined — more than Washington, more than Lincoln even. And tonight we remember his most memorable lines," as sung by Leon Bridges. They've honestly never sounded sweeter.

Alyssa Milano popped in to hawk "Great Moments in Trump History" commemorative plates.

Kimmel also starred in a dark faux sit-com about Eric Trump (Paul Scheer) and Don Jr. (Will Arnett) hunting down the last lion in Africa.

Finally, the ghost of Fred Trump (Fred Willard) appeared to take credit for all of his son's accomplishments, then changed his mind. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:48 a.m.

On Monday night, Senate Republicans released a 1,300-page version of the plan President Trump outlined Saturday to reopen the federal government. It includes $5.7 billion for Trump's border wall, a three-year extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for DREAMers, and bills to fund the parts of the government closed for 31 days and counting, plus $12.7 billion in assorted disaster and agricultural relief. Immigration experts also found several big, unheralded changes to the U.S. immigration system.

Democrats have already rejected the bill, and the details probably won't help win any over when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) brings it up for a vote this week.

The first big change deals with asylum. Notably, "it makes it so Central American minors are ineligible for asylum if they don't apply at a processing center (to be established) in Central America," says The Federalist's Gabriel Malor. "Asylum is a form of relief for people who are being persecuted in their home countries and the authorities there are unable or unwilling to protect them (or are the source of the persecution). You can't condition asylum on people remaining in the place where they are persecuted."

Also, immigration lawyer Aaron Reichlin-Melnick notes, "only 50k Central American minors [would be] allowed to apply for asylum each year, and only 15k asylum applications can be granted," by Homeland Security Department officials (not judges) through "a kangaroo process." The bill would not extend Temporary Protected Status for all 300,000 immigrants from war-torn or disaster-struck countries, just some from Central America and Haiti.

The ban on Central American minors "is pretty bad and reason alone to oppose this bill," Malor argues. "But the changes to whether an application can be found to be frivolous applies to ALL applicants, and it's completely unreasonable." The bill "will (and should) get zero votes from Democrats," he adds, "and to be honest, Republicans should be shooting question marks at McConnell, too." Peter Weber

1:57 a.m.

These were definitely the best kind of wedding crashers.

When choral students at Hingham Middle School in Hingham, Massachusetts, found out their favorite teacher, choir director Christopher Landis, was getting married, they came up with a fitting way to celebrate: They would surprise him with an impromptu performance of The Beatles classic "All You Need is Love" at his wedding rehearsal brunch. Two choir parents got in touch with his now-husband, Joe Michienzie, who immediately agreed to help pull it off.

More than 50 kids signed up for the surprise serenade and attended four weekend practices. Well-rehearsed, they left school early on Dec. 21 and traveled 30 miles to the brunch in Plymouth. Landis was shocked when the students started filing into the room, and he began to cry when he realized they were there to sing. "These are my kids," he told his guests. "It was so wonderful for the kids to see him with his family and his close friends, and they saw him as a person, not just their teacher," parent Joy Foraste told The Patriot Ledger. "They saw how much it meant to him." Catherine Garcia

1:23 a.m.

Attempting to clarify conflicting statements he gave about a Trump Tower project in Moscow, Rudy Giuliani managed to make an already confusing situation even more baffling.

President Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was in charge of the Moscow project. On Sunday, Giuliani — Trump's current lawyer — said project discussions were held as late as October or November 2016, almost to Election Day. On Monday, Giuliani released a statement saying his remarks were "hypothetical and not based on conversations I had with the president."

Late Monday, The New Yorker's Isaac Chotiner called Giuliani to discuss his shifting story. First, they discussed the BuzzFeed News report last week that Trump directed Cohen to lie about when the Moscow negotiations ended, as Cohen did. Giuliani said he knew the story was false because "I have been through all the tapes, I have been through all the texts, I have been through all the emails, and I knew none existed."

Wait, what tapes? Chotiner asked. "I shouldn't have said tapes," Giuliani said, backtracking. "They alleged there were texts and emails that corroborated that Cohen was saying the president told him to lie. There were no texts, there were no emails, and the president never told him to lie." Moving on, Giuliani said Trump "had no conversations" about the Moscow project, before reversing course and declaring, "I shouldn't say he had no conversations. He had a few conversations about this early-stage proposal that he ended somewhere in early 2016, and doesn't have a recollection of anything else, and there is nothing to support anything else."

Giuliani denied telling The New York Times that Trump said "discussions were going on from the day I announced to the day I won," but when asked if the Times made the quote up, Giuliani said he didn't know. None of this matters anyway, Giuliani said, because "even if it's true, it's not criminal." Read the entire bewildering interview at The New Yorker. Catherine Garcia

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