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Trump In the White House: Five takeaways from Monday

President Donald Trump embarked on his fourth week in the White House by hosting Canada's youthful leader Justin Trudeau, in a meeting full of neighborly civility -- if not warmth.

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US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meet in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on February 13, 2017 play

US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meet in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on February 13, 2017

(AFP)

President Donald Trump embarked on his fourth week in the White House by hosting Canada's youthful leader Justin Trudeau, in a meeting full of neighbourly civility -- if not warmth.

But what most grabbed attention on Monday was the swirl of controversy surrounding Trump's top aide Michael Flynn and his contacts with Russia -- as well as intriguing pictures taken after news broke of North Korea's latest missile test.

Here are five takeaways from the day:

Flynn on thin ice ?

The political future of Trump's national security advisor was thrown into serious doubt when the White House said the president was "evaluating" Flynn's contacts with the Russian government.

The top aide -- whose past encounters with Russian President Vladimir Putin have already drawn criticism -- is accused of discussing the Obama administration's election-hacking-related sanctions with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Flynn had initially claimed he did not discuss sanctions, prompting Vice President Mike Pence to publicly come to his defense.

Flynn now stands accused of inappropriate contacts with a foreign government and of misleading the US vice president. White House officials said that Flynn has apologized to Pence.

Several Democratic lawmakers have called on him to resign over the situation, which has become a major embarrassment for the ruling Republicans.

The Situation (dining) Room

Social media posts of Trump and Shinzo Abe huddling with aides in a public dining room after North Korea's missile test raised questions about the US administration's handling of sensitive information.

The conversation was captured on camera from close range by a member of Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida on Saturday.

One caption of the now removed posts by Facebook user Richard DeAgazio read: "The President receiving the news about the Missile incident from North Korea on Japan with the Prime Minister sitting next to him."

When the president is away from the White House, many crisis conversations take place in what is known as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility -- or SCIF -- a facility normally out of bounds for individuals without security clearance.

The White House said that Trump was briefed in such a room "prior to dinner" and that no sensitive information was shared at the table.

"There is no one in that picture around him or whatever that isn't part of the US delegation or the Japanese delegation, they were reviewing the logistics for the press conference," said White House spokesman Sean Spicer.

Neighbors, and fences

After striking up a much-flaunted "bromance" with president Barack Obama, Canada's youthful liberal prime minister, Justin Trudeau, visited Washington to woo America's septuagenarian Republican president with whom he shares little in common.

While Trump and Trudeau appeared to tone down the harsh rhetoric on trade between the two neighbors, they made it clear they did not see eye-to-eye on Trump's controversial efforts to ban refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

During a joint appearance at the White House, Trump defended his immigration decree as "common sense" and demurred when asked if Canada's open door policies posed a threat for the United States.

Trudeau meanwhile said his country would "continue to pursue our policies of openness towards refugees without compromising security."

Ivanka at the top table

Trump's daughter Ivanka got a plum spot at America's highest table, taking place next to the 45-year-old Canadian premier Trudeau at a White House meeting with the president, and businesswomen from both countries.

The appearance by Ivanka, who opened the discussion after both leaders had spoken, comes amid questions over the separation of Trump family businesses from the official roles of the president and his relatives.

Trump is the first president in modern times to refuse to release his tax returns or divest from his business interests -- choosing instead to put his sons in charge. Ivanka also has significant business interests that have become the focus of government ethics watchdogs.

Trump last week tweeted that his daughter had been treated "so unfairly" by Nordstrom, an upscale department store chain that dropped her fashion brand, and a key Trump aide is facing possible investigation after pitching Ivanka's clothing on television.

Message in a bottle

Homing on Trump's reported penchant for getting his information from morning television shows, popular television satirist John Oliver is taking out cable news ads in the Washington area to "educate" the president on what he needs to know to avoid unnecessary pitfalls.

"We wanted to try and sneak some useful facts into his media diet," Oliver said as his HBO show "Last Week Tonight" returned for a new season, airing a clip of a cowboy with some sage if patronizing words of advice.

"It might seem like a show of strength to kill the families of terrorists, but according to the Geneva Conventions, it's actually a war crime," says the character.

The US president has been known to hit out publicly at comedians who lampoon his administration, most notably the team at "Saturday Night Live" -- but the British comic is undeterred.

"Until we're shut down, we are prepared to educate Donald Trump one by one on topics we're pretty sure he doesn't know about," Oliver said.

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