Former Second Lady Lynne Cheney and other Republicans have been raising some interesting theories about Vanity Fair's much-discussed essay by Monica Lewinsky. Cheney, from her perch at Fox News, suggested that Hillary Clinton (or her allies) ordered the magazine to run the piece on Lewinsky now so that the old sex scandal with her husband would be old news (again) by the 2016 presidential race. Others have suggested it could be a play for sympathy by Team Clinton.
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) May 6, 2014
The fact that we're still discussing the article, "Shame and Survival," after two days — before the Lewinsky issue even hits the stands later Thursday — is probably explanation enough for why Vanity Fair solicited the essay: It wants to sell magazines (or, failing that, at least the more elusive reward of "buzz"). And getting Lewinsky to write about the Clinton affair and her life since took a lot of time and effort, Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter tells The New York Times.
How much time? About 16 years. Vanity Fair started building a relationship with the most famous White House intern back in 1998, when it published a controversial photo spread of Lewinsky accompanied by some musings by Christopher Hitchens. Over the next few years, Lewinsky met Carter, Hitchens, and other staff members at Vanity Fair. She and David Friend, the magazine's editor of creative development, started talking about a profile or first-person essay in 2007. The essay started taking shape in earnest (and in secret) last year.
Everybody can claim a win from the short government shutdown over the weekend, Trevor Noah said on Tuesday's Daily Show. Democrats got six years of CHIP funding, "campaign ads for the midterms," and Senate Majority Leader's suspect pinky-promise to hold a vote on legislation to protect DREAMers, he said, while Republicans got Democrats to back down with just a flimsy promise and also snuck in $30 billion in additional tax cuts. The only ones who demonstrably didn't win were the DREAMers, the focus of the whole shutdown.
"They came away from the shutdown worse than before," Noah said. Before this "became about winning and losing," Republicans at least said they believe DACA recipients deserve to stay in the U.S., he showed, "but once the shutdown became about scoring political points, suddenly Republican leaders turned these people from 'DREAMer's to 'illegals.'" Democrats, meanwhile, have repeatedly and disingenuously "promised the DREAMers more than they can deliver," he noted, because they don't have any power in Washington.
"And this is what sucks for DREAMers about this whole situation," Noah said. "You're six weeks away from being deported to a country you've never known, and now the only thing that stands between you and an answer is a man with more broken promises than chins." Watch that — plus Noah's impersonation of McConnell the Player and explanation for why Kermit the Frog is clearly a Republican — below. Peter Weber
In an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer that most PR professionals would have advised against, Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) admitted he reacted "poorly" when a longtime aide said she had a new boyfriend and was thinking about leaving her job, but said he felt such strong feelings for her because they were "soul mates."
The New York Times reported last week that Meehan, 62, used taxpayer money to settle a case with the former aide, after she accused him of sexual misconduct. Meehan was removed from the House Ethics Committee over the weekend, and while he told the Inquirer that the Times' timeline was correct, he said he never tried to act on his romantic feelings for the aide, who is decades younger than him.
He had developed strong feelings of affection for the aide while working closely with her, Meehan said, and when she got a boyfriend, he'd told her "that I was a happily married man and I was not interested in a relationship, particularly not any sexual relationship, but we were soul mates," defining "soul mate" as "that sort of person that you go through remarkable experiences together." He said he told her all this so he wouldn't be tempted into an inappropriate relationship, and admitted he gave her a hug, which he often did, but it "may have been longer that night than it needed to be."
Meehan also shared with the Inquirer a personal letter he later wrote to the woman, which thanked God for "putting you into my life," and his office said she responded with a text thanking him "for your very kind words and for your friendship." Meehan denied ever harassing the aide, and said any hostility wan't because she rebuffed his advances but due to stress he felt over important votes. He also said he paid her a secret "severance" on the advice of House attorneys. Read Meehan's entire letter, plus a response from the former aide's lawyer, at the Inquirer. Catherine Garcia
Say bye, bye, bye to your dreams of an 'NSYNC reunion at the Super Bowl.
Joey Fatone told TMZ Sports that when Justin Timberlake performs at the Super Bowl LII halftime show on Feb. 4, his former band mates won't be dancing beside him. "I'm here right now," Fatone said, while standing outside a West Hollywood, California, restaurant. "If I was doing something, I'd be at rehearsals right now. There's your proof."
Fatone was singing a different tune last October, after it was announced Timberlake was going to be the halftime entertainment — at the time, he said an 'NSYNC reunion was possible, just a few things needed to be worked out. This could be an elaborate distraction and 'NSYNC is planning a surprise set, but it sounds like fans who were hoping for a "Tearin' Up My Heart" singalong and J.C. Chasez wardrobe malfunction have to keep waiting. Catherine Garcia
During a meeting later described as "disturbing," President Trump asked then-Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe a very personal and pointed question about the 2016 presidential election: Who did you vote for?
Several current and former U.S. officials told The Washington Post about the meeting, held last May in the Oval Office. McCabe, currently deputy FBI director, responded that he didn't vote in the election, the Post reports, but Trump wasn't done with him — he then shared his displeasure over donations McCabe's wife accepted in 2015, when she ran unsuccessfully for the Virginia state Senate. Jill McCabe, a Democrat, received $500,000 from a political action committee controlled by then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), a friend of Hillary and Bill Clinton; at the time of the race, McCabe was the assistant director of the FBI's Washington field office, and he recused himself from cases involving Virginia politicians.
McCabe, who was also serving as deputy FBI director when Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey last May, thought the conversation was "disturbing," one person told the Post, and his fellow FBI officials were also bothered by Trump asking a civil servant to share how he voted. The Post says this conversation is of interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump has tweeted several unfavorable things about McCabe, and Axios reported on Monday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has pushed FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire McCabe, and Wray threatened to resign if McCabe is forced out. Read more about the conversation, plus Trump's intense dislike of McCabe, at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia
The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Jerome Powell as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, with a vote of 85-12.
Powell, 64, will lead the country's central bank and have major influence over the economy. He is succeeding Janet Yellen, whose term ends on Feb. 3. Powell, a lawyer and investment manager, has spent nearly six years on the Fed's board, and is viewed as a centrist, The Associated Press reports. He's been praised by Republicans and Democrats, with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) calling him a "thoughtful policymaker." Catherine Garcia
Novelist Ursula K. Le Guin, known for award-winning sci-fi and fantasy books like The Left Hand of Darkness, died Monday in Portland, Oregon. She was 88.
Le Guin was a writer for most of her life, submitting her first short story at age 11. She wrote about everything from gender roles to violence to conformity, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards, and her Earthsea books have sold millions of copies worldwide. Author Mary Robinette Kowal told NPR that Le Guin was "a gateway drug" into science fiction and fantasy for many readers, and she "embraced new forms of technology" while "constantly pushing boundaries and barriers." In 2014, Le Guin received a lifetime achievement award at the National Book Awards. Catherine Garcia
Special Counsel Robert Mueller would like to interview President Trump sometime within the next few weeks regarding the events surrounding the firing of former FBI Director James Comey and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, people familiar with his plans told The Washington Post Tuesday.
Flynn left the White House last February after it was reported that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his communications with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak; in December, he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Mueller was fired in May, and later testified that Trump had asked him to drop the FBI's investigation of Flynn. Mueller also wants to learn more about Trump's reported pressuring of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to quit, and whether this is a pattern of behavior for Trump, the Post reports. The Justice Department confirmed Tuesday that Sessions was interviewed by the special counsel's team for several hours last week.
Trump's attorneys are negotiating the terms of an interview with the special counsel's team, and they would like Trump to provide some testimony face-to-face with investigators and the rest in a written statement. Trump's informal adviser Roger Stone told the Post that Trump should do whatever it takes to get out of an interview, because it's "a death wish. Why would you walk into a perjury trap? The president would be very poorly advised to give Mueller an interview." Catherine Garcia