Politics & Government

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President Trump arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday carrying baggage — namely, a swirl of controversy stemming from his firing of FBI Director James Comey and the ongoing Russia investigations. But his hosts in Riyadh aren't likely to be bothered by it all.

Updated at 8:19 p.m. ET

Former FBI Director James Comey has agreed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in an open session.

"The Committee looks forward to receiving testimony from the former Director on his role in the development of the Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 US elections, and I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media," Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said in a statement released Friday evening.

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Happy to say that it is finally Friday. Can we say that again?

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It is finally Friday.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, America - White House in crisis...

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Now we're going to try to take stock of this jaw-dropping, eye-popping superlative-defying week in politics. Here in the studio with us are our Friday regulars, E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and The Brookings Institution. How you doing?

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Russian Americans have been among President Donald Trump's most loyal supporters. After a week of scandals, many say they're unfazed by the recent scandals roiling Washington.

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President Trump told Russian officials last week that he had fired the "nut job" FBI Director James Comey to ease the pressure of the mounting investigation into his campaign's ties to Russia, according to a report from The New York Times.

Updated at 4:10 p.m. ET

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told members of Congress that he knew President Trump planned to fire FBI Director James Comey before he wrote a memo that the White House has cited to justify the termination.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet approved legislation Friday allowing Japan's emperor to abdicate the throne. If the bill passes parliament and if Emperor Akihito steps down, the event will mark Japan's first abdication in 200 years.

Friday News Roundup - International

May 19, 2017

Turkey’s president comes to Washington, but it’s his bodyguards who leave a mark. Vladimir Putin says he can prove President Trump did not give secrets to Russia. And it’s a pilgrimage of sorts as Donald Trump prepares to visit Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican.

GUESTS

Edward Luce, Chief U.S. columnist and commentator, Financial Times; his latest book is “The Retreat of Western Liberalism”

Elise Labott, Global affairs correspondent, CNN

Friday News Roundup - Domestic

May 19, 2017

It’s been another leaky week as concerns mount over secrets shared and confidences broken.

On this week’s Roundup of top national news stories, find out who’s been saying what and who’s been saying too much.

GUESTS

Byron York, Chief political correspondent, The Washington Examiner

Julia Ioffe, Staff writer, The Atlantic

Naftali Bendavid, Editor and reporter, The Wall Street Journal

On Wednesday afternoon, the Justice Department selected Robert Mueller III as special counsel to investigate any links or coordination the Trump campaign had with Russia as part of that country's effort to interfere in last year's presidential election.

"Special Counsel Mueller has agreed to resign from his private law firm in order to avoid any conflicts of interest with firm clients or attorneys," a Justice Department statement noted.

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President Trump will try to leave his troubles behind as he departs on the first foreign trip of his presidency. It's an ambitious itinerary with stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican and two meetings with European leaders.

Here are five objectives to watch for as Trump goes overseas.

1. Will the cloud of controversy follow?

There has been one "bad news" headline after another involving the Trump administration breaking every day this week. But if the president is looking for a reprieve, recent history indicates he might be disappointed.

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Now that a special counsel has been named to lead the investigation into Russian meddling, what does that mean for the other probes happening already on Capitol Hill?

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Remember when President Trump allegedly leaking classified information to the Russians was dominating news coverage?

You'd be forgiven if you only vaguely remembered that, because it was so long ago — Monday, a lifetime in Trump-era news terms.

Take a look at what else happened this week

Monday
"Reports: Trump Gave Classified Info To Russians During White House Visit"

At a Senate hearing Thursday, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, accused Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin of failing to answer his questions about President Trump's business ties to people who might be violating money laundering and other U.S. laws.

Mnuchin responded by suggesting Brown "just send me a note on what you are looking for."

Brown pointed out that he had already sent a two-page letter.

President Trump gave a eulogy on Thursday for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

"Obamacare is collapsing. It's dead. It's gone," Trump said in a news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

"There's nothing to compare it to because we don't have health care in this country," he went on.

That left some Obamacare customers scratching their heads — figuratively — on Twitter.

President Trump is expected to face pressure from European Union leaders at the G-7 summit in Italy next week to keep the U.S. in the Paris Climate Treaty.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein knew President Trump planned to fire FBI Director Jim Comey before he sat down to write a memo criticizing Comey's conduct.

That's according to several United States senators who met with Rosenstein Thursday afternoon in a secure room in the Capitol basement.

"He knew that Comey was going to be removed prior to writing his memo," Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill told reporters after the briefing.

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For a young Donald Trump in the 1970s, the Grand Hyatt hotel on East 42nd Street was his first major development project, a chance to make a splash in the big-time world of New York City real estate.

Yet the glitzy glass-fronted hotel never would have been possible without an almost unprecedented 40-year tax abatement from the city, which was then recovering from a painful fiscal crisis.

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We turn now to Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. She's a member of the Senate intelligence committee and was at the briefing today with the deputy attorney general. Thank you for joining us, Senator.

SUSAN COLLINS: My pleasure.

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