Wednesday was Constitution Day, but many Americans need to brush up on their knowledge of the basic structure of government the Constitution created. A survey released this week showed that only a little more than a third of adults — 36 percent — can name all three branches of government, and a whopping 35 percent couldn't name any branches of government at all.
Current political knowledge is fuzzy, too. Only 38 percent of Americans can correctly identify which party controls the House or the Senate right now, while more than 40 percent didn't even feel qualified to guess at the leadership of each house of Congress.
These kind of poll results are nothing new. A similar survey from 2011 found that 27 percent of Americans recognized Randy Jackson as an American Idol judge, while only 15 percent could correctly name the chief justice of the Supreme Court. And research from last year revealed that half of Americans can't find Syria on a map — though now they support bombing it. Bonnie Kristian
Republican party leaders were by and large not impressed with how President Trump declined to side with the U.S. intelligence community regarding Russian election interference while in Helsinki on Monday. Republican party members, meanwhile, think the president did a great job.
An Axios and SurveyMonkey poll published Thursday found that 79 percent of Republicans approve of how Trump handled his joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Just 18 percent of Republicans said they did not approve.
In stark contrast, 91 percent of Democrats disapproved of Trump's performance, with 7 percent saying they approved. Among independents, 62 percent disapproved and 33 percent approved. Axios additionally noted that 85 percent of Republicans see the topic of Russian interference as "a distraction," while 85 percent of Democrats say it's a "serious issue." Overall, more than half of those polled said they don't trust the Trump administration to prevent foreign interference in the 2018 elections.
President Trump's 2020 dreams are getting more vivid every day.
Trump is now envisioning former Vice President Joe Biden on the other side of the ballot, he told CBS News' Jeff Glor on Wednesday. Yet while running against Biden would be "a dream," he's not shying away from any potential Democratic opponent.
Biden is Trump's fantasy opponent, but not because he'd be a challenge. "Look, Joe Biden ran three times," Trump told Glor. "He never got more than 1 percent and President Obama took him out of the garbage heap, and everybody was shocked that he did." Trump is a little off on the numbers there, as Biden only ran for president twice. In both his 1988 and 2008 campaigns, Biden didn't win the Democratic nomination, and he did do pretty dismally in the primaries too.
While Trump is having Biden-filled dreams, he told Glor he'd still like to run against any of the "seven or eight" candidates Democrats are tossing around right now. Biden will decide if he's in that mix by January, the former veep revealed to CNN on Tuesday.
The Trump-Biden feud has gone on for months, even escalating to threats of physical violence in March. Numerous polls have placed Biden on top of the pile of possible Democratic candidates. Kathryn Krawczyk
President Trump isn't the only one who thinks his Monday meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin went well. Putin himself on Thursday deemed the Helsinki summit "successful," The Associated Press reports. And he isn't happy with Trump critics who have said otherwise.
Before the summit, Putin thought U.S.-Russia relations were "in some ways worse than during the Cold War," he told Russian diplomats Thursday, per AP. But his meeting with Trump put the two countries on "the path to positive change."
After the summit, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats felt the need to remind everyone that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Republicans, Democrats, and intelligence officials widely criticized Trump for going soft on Putin, but Putin said Thursday these "forces" are simply trying to block an improvement in U.S.-Russia relations.
Still, he's open to seeing "how things develop further" with America, and expressed interested in cooperating in the Syria war and arms control, AP reports. Kathryn Krawczyk
Amazon's Prime Day broke another sales record for the e-commerce giant this week, TechCrunch reports, but it also helped lift sales for other massive retailers by 54 percent, according to an Adobe Analytics report.
Target held a one-day sale on Tuesday to rival Prime Day, and said the day was its biggest online shopping day of 2018, in terms of both traffic and sales. Walmart attracted shoppers by offering free two-day shipping and cutting prices on Google Home devices, to compete with Amazon's Prime Day discounts on its Echo devices. Smaller retailers with sales under $5 million didn't fare so well, seeing an 18 percent decrease in online sales on Prime Day, Adobe said. Harold Maass
He steals your heart, then he steals your car.
On Saturday, Faith Pugh was ready for a night out in Memphis with one of her old high school classmates, Kelton Griffin, who contacted her out of the blue. When he showed up at her house, he didn't have a car, and asked if they could take her Volvo. "I don't know who dropped him off," she told WREG. "He just got dropped off." Griffin said he was still trying to decide where to take her, and asked if she'd run inside a convenience store to get him a cigar. She did, and when Pugh came back outside, Griffin — and her car — were gone.
Now without a ride, she called her mom, and after getting picked up, Pugh received a text from her godsister, who told her she was on a date — with Griffin. Pugh told WREG they used GPS on her godsister's phone in order to track them, and they wound up at a drive-in movie theater, where Pugh confronted Griffin on his second date of the night. She called police, and Griffin was arrested at the scene.
While Griffin was willing to steal a car to go on this date, that's as far as he would go. "He let her drive, so she drove him to the drive-in," Pugh said. "He didn't even have any money. She actually paid their way to get in the drive-in just so I could get my car back." Catherine Garcia
Prosecutors say alleged secret agent Mariia Butina offered sex for a job, was in touch with Russian intelligence
Alleged Kremlin agent Mariia Butina lied to obtain a student visa in 2016 and offered to have sex with an American in order to get a job at an unidentified special interest organization, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday.
Butina, who was arrested Sunday, is charged with conspiracy and illegally acting as an agent of the Russian government, with prosecutors saying she was part of a campaign to influence high-level politicians to go along with Russian objectives. She allegedly started by infiltrating conservative circles, including the National Rifle Association, in order to gain access to politicians, all while staying in contact with Russian intelligence operatives and an oligarch with close ties to the Kremlin.
Prosecutors said she lived with a Republican political operative that she referred to as her boyfriend, but she had "disdain" for him and made him do her homework for classes at American University, The New York Times reports. It's believed that Butina worked under the direction of Alexander Torshin, the deputy head of the Russian central bank with ties to Russian security services. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson denied Butina bail, after prosecutors argued she was a flight risk. If convicted, Butina could face up to 15 years in prison. She has not been charged with espionage, and this case is not part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling. Catherine Garcia
Columbo is now living the dream, enjoying life on a horse ranch in Maine just days after being found on the side of the road, injured after being hit by a car.
Mountain biker Jarrett Little was on a ride near Columbus, Georgia, when he found the stray dog near a sewage plant. His leg was broken, his ribs were showing, and there was no way he could walk. Little hoisted him up on his back, and rode seven miles into downtown Columbus, where he stopped at a bike shop so Columbo could get some food and water. There, Little met Andrea Shaw, in town on business.
Columbo immediately sidled up next to her, and Shaw, an animal lover, was smitten, too, and decided she would take care of his medical treatment and take him home to Maine. She gave him the name Columbo in honor of the town, then took him to the vet. He's healing now, with staples and pins in his back leg and a full cast on his front leg due to a broken toe, and Shaw said he's loving getting to know his new family, including Shaw's young son, husband, and other dogs. "I already can't imagine what it would be like without him, and it's only been a week," she told Inside Edition Catherine Garcia