FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
May 1, 2014

On Sunday, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) called in to a New Nation of Islam radio program to talk about racism in the government. He had some thoughts on the topic.

The 11-term congressman argued that racism is behind much of the GOP's strong opposition to and "disrespect" for President Obama, specifically citing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's early pledge to oppose anything Obama proposed ("Now if that's not a racist statement I don't know what is"). Then Thompson called Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas an "Uncle Tom," adding that "it's almost to the point saying this man doesn't like black people, he doesn't like being black."

Even the New Nation of Islam host, who calls himself the Son of Man, was taken aback by the "Uncle Tom" reference. But Thompson stood by the remark in an interview with CNN's Dana Bash on Wednesday — not many members of Congress or the Washington press corps listen to New Nation of Islam radio, so it took a few days for BuzzFeed to pick up the quotes and for everyone to get upset.

Thompson explained to Bash that every decision Thomas has signed on to at the court has "been adverse to the minority community, and the people I represent have a real issue with an African American not being sensible to those issues." When Bash asked if "Uncle Tom" isn't "a racially charged term," Thompson responded: "For some it is, but to others it's the truth." Here's Thompson's interview with Bash:

Thompson further argued that he can call someone an "Uncle Tom" because he's black. I suspect that theory will quickly be put to the test in Washington and in his Jackson-based district — the only majority-black district in Mississippi (Thompson is the only Democrat in Mississippi's congressional delegation). You can listen to Thompson's factually questionable thoughts on Republican racism, via BuzzFeed, or hear his "Uncle Tom" remarks below. --Peter Weber

12:38 p.m. ET

Americans don't know what Democrats represent, said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in an appearance on ABC's This Week Sunday, because of his party's failure of policy vision and messaging in 2016.

"When you lose an election with someone who has, say, 40 percent popularity, you look in the mirror and say, 'What did we do wrong?' And the number one thing that we did wrong is we didn't tell people what we stood for," Schumer told host George Stephanopoulos.

"We were too cautious. We were too namby-pamby," he continued, touting Democrats' forthcoming economic plan as "sharp, bold, and [appealing] to both the old Obama coalition, let's say the young lady who's just getting out of college, and the Democratic voters who deserted us for Trump, the blue-collar worker. Economics is our strength, and we are going to get at it."

The plan in question is called "A Better Deal," and it will be announced Monday at an event in Virginia. Schumer described the plan's three components as "higher wages, less costs [of living], tools for the 21st century." Watch a clip of his comments below, or read them in full via CBS. Bonnie Kristian

12:09 p.m. ET

New White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci got punny Sunday explaining his plan for drastic changes to stem the deluge of leaks from the Trump White House.

Leakers are "gonna get fired," Scaramucci said on CBS' Face the Nation. "Tomorrow I'm going to have a staff meeting, and it's going to be a very binary thing," he continued. "If the leaks continue, we are as strong as our weakest link — and I'll say it a little differently, in a pun, we're as strong as our weakest leak." Scaramucci pledged not to "make any pre-judgments" about White House communications staff, but reiterated his willingness to fire people.

He offered a similar message on Fox News Sunday, promising "dramatic action to stop those leaks" in conversation with host Chris Wallace. "I think it's not fair to the president, it's actually not fair to America or the people in the government," Scaramucci said. "Something is going on in the White House that the president does not like and we're going to fix it."

Watch a clip of the CBS interview below. Bonnie Kristian

11:34 a.m. ET

President Trump supports the punitive congressional sanctions on Russia, said incoming White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who has been tapped to move up from a deputy role to replace Sean Spicer, in an ABC News interview Sunday.

"The administration is supportive of being tough on Russia, particularly in putting the sanctions in place," she said. "The original piece of legislation was poorly written, but we were able to work with the House and Senate, and the administration is happy with the ability to do that and make those changes that were necessary, and we support where the legislation is now."

The sanctions were negotiated Saturday and were expected to garner continued opposition from Trump. Watch an excerpt of Sanders' comments below. Bonnie Kristian

10:34 a.m. ET

President Trump will not need to pardon himself, said new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci in an interview on CNN's State of the Union Sunday, so discussing the legality of a presidential self pardon is pointless.

"We haven't even really looked into that," Scaramucci told host Jake Tapper, though he conceded discussing the topic with Trump attorney Jay Sekulow. "I'm not sure if [the president] has the right to pardon himself or not," Scaramucci continued, "but it doesn't matter anyway, because that's another one of those stupid hypotheticals. He's not going to have to pardon himself because he's done absolutely nothing wrong."

Sekulow, meanwhile, said in an ABC News appearance Sunday that "pardons have not been discussed" in the Trump White House. Trump tweeted about pardons Saturday, asserting his "complete power to pardon" in an update hot on the heels of a Washington Post report that the president is exploring whether he can use his broad constitutional pardon power on behalf of himself or members of his campaign or family.

Experts are split on the legality of a self pardon, which would be unprecedented in U.S. history, but generally agree it would be deeply inappropriate. Watch an excerpt of Scaramucci's comments below. Bonnie Kristian

10:16 a.m. ET
Shah Marai/Getty Images

A former primary challenger of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called on him to step down from his post in multiple statements this past week following his announcement of a brain cancer diagnosis.

Kelli Ward unsuccessfully challenged McCain for his Senate seat in the 2016 Republican primaries and will challenge Arizona's other GOP senator, Jeff Flake, for his spot in 2018. "The medical reality of [McCain's] diagnosis is grim," she said in one statement, posted on her website, arguing "Arizona deserves to be represented by someone who can focus" on Senate work.

In a radio interview, Ward suggested herself as McCain's replacement. Bonnie Kristian

10:13 a.m. ET
Ahmad Gharabli/Getty Images

Israeli installation of metal detectors and CCTV cameras at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque — the disputed holy site venerated by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif — has been met by mass protest by Palestinians whom Al Jazeera notes believe "the metal detectors may be the first move in the Israelis taking over the compound."

Weekend reports conflict over whether Israeli authorities may be willing to remove the metal detectors. Israeli Major General Yoav Mordechai indicated to BBC News Sunday that option could be on the table, but only if another security measure takes the detectors' place. "Any solution be it electronic, cyber or modern technology: Israel is ready for a solution," he said. "We need a security solution; not political or religious."

The security measures were added after a July 14 attack in which two Israeli police officers were fatally shot by men who emerged from the compound armed. At least six people have been killed in violence during or in response to the protests. Bonnie Kristian

10:04 a.m. ET
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Warner Bros. officially announced a forthcoming sequel to 2017's Wonder Woman on Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego, California. Star Gal Gadot, who was present for the announcement, will return as Diana Prince. Wonder Woman is expected to be the top-earning blockbuster of the summer, raking in $767.7 million worldwide since its June 2 debut, a record haul for a live-action film with a female director.

The sequel's "story will take place in the U.S., which I think is right," said director Patty Jenkins. "She's Wonder Woman. She's got to come to America. It's time." The script is already under development, and Jenkins is negotiating her return as director. Bonnie Kristian

See More Speed Reads