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Trump brings his solo act to Europe

TAORMINA, Sicily — Days before President Donald Trump embarked on his first foreign trip, national security adviser H.R. McMaster said the administration’s message to allies would be: "America first" does not mean "America alone."

But over the course of the nine-day trip, which wraps up Saturday with a stop at a U.S. naval base in Italy, Trump has seemed happiest when the focus is on him — like the red carpet rollout for his arrival in Riyadh, followed by a sword-dancing display in his honor.

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In Europe, where he’s attended group meetings with other world leaders — first in Brussels at the European Union and NATO and now at the G-7 summit in Sicily — Trump has appeared less at ease.

While he avoided any major gaffes or serious diplomatic breaches, Trump’s lack of rapport with European leaders raises serious questions about his ability to effectively team up with critical U.S. allies.

“Like when there's a new strange kid in the class nobody likes,” said a senior EU official who was briefed on the closed NATO meetings in Brussels. “You behave civilly when teachers [media] watch but don't spend time with him in private because he's so different.”

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Trump’s discomfort has been particularly obvious in comparison to European leaders, who move easily in a pack. At NATO or at the European Council, they routinely attend dinners with 30 leaders around the table. They have posed for countless “family photographs.” Attending joint news conferences and sharing the spotlight are old habits.

By contrast, Trump at one point was caught on camera apparently pushing past the prime minister of Montenegro during the NATO gathering to be at the front for the group photograph.

Trump has been at his best in one-on-one sessions, like his bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-7 with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who spent a weekend at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and spoke glowingly in Sicily about his “close partnership and collaboration, and friendship” with the new president.

Another senior EU official said Trump did fine in a smaller meeting with the bloc’s top leaders, Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. “He was very pleasant, he was very easygoing,” this official said. “He was welcoming everybody, greeting everybody. ‘Thank you all guys, you did a great job.’ Very sort of American.”

Trump's chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, said Friday that Trump had made a concerted effort to engage with his fellow leaders at the G-7.

“He offered the opportunity to open up the conversation, he yielded to all of the leaders in the room, wanting to hear their opinions on trade,” Cohn told reporters. “He literally let all of the leaders go around the room at least once, some of them spoke multiple

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State, local leaders circle wagons to save tax break from Trump

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is pictured.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called the proposal a “direct attack” by the federal government. | Getty

Wiping out the deduction for state and local taxes could reap more than $1 trillion in the coming decade, but cost some taxpayers thousands of dollars per year.

By Aaron Lorenzo , Jimmy Vielkind , Laura Nahmias , Katherine Landergan and David Siders

05/26/2017 04:48 PM EDT

Elected leaders from both parties are mounting a fight against one likely provision in President Donald Trump’s tax-overhaul plan — the elimination of the 104-year-old deduction for state and local taxes.

Wiping out the prized deduction could reap more than $1 trillion for the federal treasury during the next decade, while furthering Trump’s goal of eliminating “targeted” breaks and simplifying the tax code. But it would burden residents in cities and states that have high property or income tax rates, some of whom could end up paying thousands of extra dollars per year.

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The one-page tax plan that the White House released in April doesn’t explicitly call for eliminating the deduction, but Trump’s top economic advisers say it’s on the chopping block. So local and state officials from California to Maine are girding for battle, along with many of their House members and senators. The backlash transcends party lines, a rare occurrence so far in the national tax reform debate.

“I don’t think that will go anywhere,” Republican House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen said during a telephone town hall in his district in New Jersey, the state with the nation’s highest property taxes. “You’ll find most members of Congress in the Northeast, the high property tax states, will continue to support that deduction.”

But the Trump administration seems determined.

“We don’t think it's the federal government’s job to be subsidizing states,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at a recent economic conference. “Some states have zero income taxes, some have high income taxes. ... For people like me who live in California, you’re going to be stuck with higher taxes that you can’t deduct.”

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Lawmakers who oppose the tax break have tried and failed to abolish it before, notably in 1986 when the effort threatened to upend that year's entire tax reform initiative, the last major overhaul on the books.

Many Democratic state and local officials believe Trump has painted a bull's-eye on their backs because of their largely blue locales. Beyond raising their constituents' tax bills, local officials fear that ending the deduction would put pressure on them to slice taxes or cut services.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called the proposal a “direct attack” by the federal government that would hit blue states harder than others.

“It is not an economic policy, it is political vindictiveness,” Cuomo wrote in the New York Daily News in

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Lieberman withdraws from FBI director search

Joe Lieberman is pictured. | AP Photo

White House aides indicated last week that Joe Lieberman was the leading contender for the FBI slot, in part because he was expected to have bipartisan appeal.

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Clinton launches new campaign against Trump 

Speaking before her alma mater, the former Democratic nominee warns that the president is tearing apart the nation.

By Edward-Isaac Dovere and Nolan D. McCaskill

05/26/2017 12:26 PM EDT

Updated 05/26/2017 02:04 PM EDT

2017-05-26T02:04-0400

She didn’t beat him, and now she’s suggesting he might be impeached.

Hillary Clinton is still running against Donald Trump—against what she says he represents about the worst in America, against his twisting of the truth, against his priorities, and against his personal attacks on her.

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Friday morning, she was back at Wellesley College, her alma mater, delivering her third commencement speech there—the first was at her own graduation, the second as first lady.

She was talking to the graduates about their future. But she was focused just as much on her own past, and the hardest, fullest case against Trump she’s made since last November.

"In the years to come, there will be trolls galore, online and in person,” she said, urging the graduates not to let themselves get beaten down. “They may even call you 'a nasty woman.'"

Back when she was getting her diploma in 1969, Clinton said, “we were furious about the past presidential election of a man whose presidency would eventually end in disgrace with his impeachment for obstruction of justice,” pausing to soak up the cheers and applause from a crowd who knew exactly what she was talking about, and approved.

Just in case anyone missed the point, she leaned in a little further, reminding students and attendees of the private women’s liberal arts school in Massachusetts that Richard Nixon had gone down “after firing the person running the investigation into him at the Department of Justice.”

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“But here’s what I want you to know. We got through that tumultuous time, and once again we began to thrive as our society changed laws and opened the circle of opportunity and rights wider and wider for more Americans,” Clinton said.

Clinton has been struggling non-stop over the last six months with her loss, but she’s also been struggling with her public role. People close to her, many of whom share her insistence that a race she ran well was stolen out from under her by Russian involvement and by a surprise October letter from that same now-fired FBI director, are frustrated that she hasn’t been more in demand for a central role in the Trump resistance.

Many other Democrats, though, would like to see her fade into history, angry that she does not seem to be accepting her full responsibility for her loss, and frustrated that she’s keeping the party trapped in a Clinton versus Trump loop that they’ll never escape.

Clinton has started a political action group, Onward Together (playing off her campaign slogan, complete with a logo that uses the same font and arrow that was

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Boehner: Trump has been a 'complete disaster'

John Boehner is pictured. | Getty

Boehner says that he and Trump have been friends for 15 years and that the two have played golf together multiple times. Still, Boehner said he “never envisioned him” becoming president. | Getty

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