×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
April 16, 2014
SPENCER PLATT/Getty Images

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pledging to spend $50 million this year to combat gun violence in America. He's forming a group called Everytown for Gun Safety to counter the influence of the National Rife Association, reports The New York Times. It will serve as a "grass-roots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence."

Everytown will consist of Bloomberg's two other anti-gun violence groups: Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Starting today, the "Gun Sense Voter" campaign hopes to mobilize at least one million voters to put pressure on lawmakers to support laws that boost gun safety.

Bloomberg's influence on the group will go beyond his checkbook. He said he will help advocates adopt the N.R.A.'s own bulldog tactics by punishing politicians who say they believe in gun control but don't do anything about it. "They say, 'We don't care. We're going to go after you,'" he said of the N.R.A. "'If you don't vote with us we're going to go after your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids. And we're never going to stop.'"

"We've got to make them afraid of us," he said.
Jordan Valinsky

8:08 a.m. ET

President Trump went on a wide-ranging Twitter rant on Wednesday morning, touching on subjects as disparate as Hillary Clinton, taxes, the NFL, and reports that he made the widow of a Green Beret killed in Niger cry:

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) claims that when Trump called Myeshia Johnson, he told her that her husband, Army Sgt. La David Johnson, "knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt." Wilson said she was in the car at the time and overheard the comments on speakerphone. "It's so insensitive," Wilson said.

Trump had begun his morning with tweets about the FBI's release of a document that apparently indicates former Director James Comey began his draft of a controversial statement about Hillary Clinton's private email server months before he ultimately delivered it in July 2016:

Trump fired Comey earlier this year, ostensibly over the director's unfair treatment of Clinton. Trump briefly interrupted his tweets about the FBI to add that "the Democrats will only vote for tax increases."

Trump also lashed out at the NFL: "The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our national anthem," he tweeted. "Total disrespect for our great country!" Jeva Lange

7:35 a.m. ET

Two new reports suggest that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his top associates were directly involved with attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. election, including an interview with exiled former oil oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whom Putin jailed on iffy charges for a decade. "I am almost convinced that Putin's people have tried to influence the U.S. election in some way," Khodorkovsky told MSNBC's Ari Melber, and the likelihood that Putin "personally" tried to cooperate with President Trump's campaign is a "9 out of 10," he said, adding: "Whether or not that proposal was accepted, I would let the people responsible for investigating the matter answer that question."

When he ran Russian oil giant Yukos, Khodorkovsky's human resources chief was Sergey Gorkov, now the head of Russian state development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB), who met with Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner in December — the White House says it was a diplomatic nicety, VEB says it was Kushner family business. Khodorkovsky described Gorkov as a "fine employee" who "carries out orders," saying of the Kushner meeting, "I have no doubt that he wouldn't do anything on his own behalf." He said Gorkov was likely ordered to meet with Kushner by either Andrey Kostin or Herman Gref, Kremlin-backed bank chiefs with close ties to Putin.

Separately, CNN reported Tuesday night that Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian catering magnate dubbed Putin's "chef" in the Russia press, is believed by U.S. intelligence to have financed a Russian "troll factory," the Internet Research Agency (IRA), that used social media to spread fake news during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Prigozhin appears to be the unidentified "close Putin ally with ties to Russian intelligence" an unclassified U.S. intelligence assessment called the "likely financier of the so-called Internet Research Agency of professional trolls located in Saint Petersburg," CNN says. Peter Weber

5:53 a.m. ET

On Tuesday, lucky Brooklynites got to witness the rare spectacle of a rogue cow running around the Prospect Park area. On Tuesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kimmel had an update on the situation, and it is happier than you might think, given the animal's provenance. "So this cow — which is not actually a cow, it was a baby bull — escaped from a slaughterhouse, the only slaughterhouse in Brooklyn that hasn't been converted into an art gallery/event space yet," he explained.

The NYPD finally wrangled the bull after two hours marauding around Brooklyn — something New York's finest have a surprising amount of experience with, Kimmel noted. "This is the third cow chase in New York in two years — I think you guys might be going a little overboard with the farm-to-table thing." But the bull isn't going back to the slaughterhouse, thanks to a very humane-sounding rule. The bad news for the cow, such as it is, took the form of a Harvey Weinstein joke, which was met with groans. "I'm still not sure if it's too soon yet," Kimmel said. Watch below. Peter Weber

5:24 a.m. ET

On Tuesday, President Trump dragged White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's son Robert Kelly, a Marine lieutenant killed in Afghanistan in 2010, into his evolving explanation for why it took him 12 days to acknowledge the deaths of four Green Berets in Niger or contact their families. On Tuesday night's AC360, Anderson Cooper began his analysis with Kelly's documented reluctance to politicize his son's death.

"In everything he said and did not say back then, and everything he's said and done since then, Gen. Kelly has refused to make the shared sacrifice of so many about his own personal loss," Cooper said. "Well, this morning, President Trump took Gen. Kelly's deeply private, searing, and eternal loss and made it about his own momentary personal gain." Trump had suggested that former President Barack Obama had not called Kelly with condolences, a point the White House aggressively pursued with the media.

"President Obama, like Presidents Bush, Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Reagan, and others before them honored the fallen in many ways — phone calls, letters, witnessing the caskets coming home, visiting the wounded," Cooper noted. "They did so frequently, often without bringing reporters along. None of them, Republicans and Democrats alike, wanted it to be about themselves, until now." Trump, "in his mind, simply cannon be wrong," he added, suggesting a motive for Trump stooping to this new level. "And that gives him license, it seems, for a lot," including bringing "his chief of staff's profoundest personal loss into the public realm." Watch below. Peter Weber

4:20 a.m. ET

Peter Navarro, one of President Trump's top White House trade advisers, has been circulating internally a two-page document that claims the loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. has led to "socioeconomic costs" like increases in abortion, divorce, spousal abuse, "drug/opioid use," mortality, and infertility, two administration officials tell The Washington Post, which obtained the documents. Navarro, like Trump, primarily blames trade deals like NAFTA for the decline in U.S. manufacturing jobs, rather than other factors, like automation.

Navarro has been sharing his charts throughout the White House, either at a staff or Cabinet level, without any evidence to back up his assertions, the Post says, adding: "His documents alarmed other White House officials, who worried that such unverified information could end up steering White House policy." You can view the charts and learn more in the video below. Peter Weber

3:22 a.m. ET

President Trump has zero major legislative accomplishments due in part to his crummy relationship with the Republican-led Congress, "but they don't want people knowing that," Trevor Noah said on Tuesday's Daily Show. So on Monday, Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) "came out to say that they're not just colleagues, they've been best BFFs forever." He played a clip of them showing love, and laughed. "It's funny watching these two try and sell us their romance," Noah said. "Who are they trying to convince? Because all you have to do is compare yesterday to every other thing that they've said." He showed some examples, then had second thoughts.

"I'm going to take that back — actually, that does sound like real love," Noah said, acting out an imaginary lovers' quarrel where Trump is throwing all McConnell's clothes out his Senate office window. But Trump did make people forget his strained relationship with McConnell by creating a new controversy about comforting the families of fallen troops. Noah was unimpressed with Trump's "dog ate my homework" excuse for not having mentioned the four U.S. soldiers killed in Niger 12 days ago, but less impressed that he dragged Barack Obama into it. "I don't know why Republicans insist on letting Donald Trump speak," he said, emoting pity for McConnell. "They should just stage relationship paparazzi pictures."

Noah shared more sympathy for McConnell during a break, showing off his "resting Mitch face" and using a bit of NSFW language. Peter Weber

2:07 a.m. ET

It took four late-night talk show hosts to tell the story of Conan O'Brien's gift horse. O'Brien kicked it off on Friday's Late Show, and Letterman told his version Tuesday on Jimmy Kimmel Live, on tour in Brooklyn. Letterman approached the horse story indirectly, describing his penchant for giving humorously inappropriate gifts — tires for a niece's wedding, his tie collection to Kimmel, cigarettes for his producer's son's bar mitzvah, and a horse to O'Brien, as thanks for a very nice article O'Brien wrote about Letterman before his retirement.

The idea, Letterman explained, was that he would send Conan a horse, Conan would send it back, and Letterman would get a refund. Instead, O'Brien kept it, and Letterman said he was irked at both the financial hit and the fact that Conan is now griping publicly about his gift. "You did send him the horse, in all fairness," Kimmel pointed out. "Yeah, it was a joke — take a dump on the stage, load him up, get him back — that's what it was," Letterman said. "The point is, no good deed goes unpunished." "And also, you know what?" Kimmel replied. "When in doubt, an edible arrangement is a nice gift." But Kimmel, who also likes a good practical joke, had his own gift for Letterman.

O'Brien took about nine minutes to tell Stephen Colbert his side of the story. Conan, it turned out, was expecting a nice bottle of wine, or — when he heard about the size of the package — a vintage Porsche. The story ended happier for the horse than for O'Brien. "I learned then that Dave is a genius, but he's an evil genius," Conan said. "He knew exactly what he was doing." Watch below. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads