March 31, 2014

In a development that might not bode well for their electoral prospects, Democrats appear to be pushing news stories selectively framing their 2014 losses — some seven months out from Election Day.

On Saturday, The New York Times ran an article strongly implying Republicans are attempting to disenfranchise African-American voters in "pivotal swing states." Two days later, the AP ran a story suggesting that gerrymandering explains the Republican advantage.

Two thoughts on this one:

First, pace Touré gerrymanding couldn't explain why Republicans are poised to take the Senate. Second, there's reason to believe people are self-segregating along ideological lines. None of this matters, of course — not when there's an imminent loss to be pre-emptively explained. And that's just what's happening. According to a press release, later today, the the DNC "will hold a press conference call on the Sunday New York Times story detailing the Republican Party's attempts to limit voting rights in specific states."

Call it a coincidence — or call it a coordinated attempt to lay the groundwork for explaining why projected Republican victories would be illegitimate (or, at least, tainted). Either way, it doesn't bode well for Democrats in the near term. But hey — at least they will be able to explain how Republicans stole the election. Matt K. Lewis

11:39 a.m. ET

Sometimes the former reality TV star in President Trump gets the better of him. On Thursday, Trump practically clawed his way into the spotlight by apparently physically pushing a fellow NATO leader out of the way to get to the front of the group:

Trump then straightened out his jacket, as it apparently got a bit ruffled while he was pushing past a fellow world leader. NBC's Bradd Jaffy identified the bulldozed leader as Dusko Markovic, the prime minister of Montenegro.

Things have been tense between Trump and NATO for awhile now: Trump has slammed the alliance for being "obsolete" because it is not addressing "taking care of terror," and he has repeatedly complained that the United States is among just five members currently meeting spending targets.

The press pool reports that Trump and the other NATO leaders subsequently "ignored one another during 'family photo' op in Brussels."

Wonder why. Jeva Lange

11:19 a.m. ET

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) reportedly broke down in tears after hearing that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday predicted that premiums would go up for people with pre-existing conditions and some could be priced out of the market entirely under the American Health Care Act, Independent Journal Review reports.

The new CBO score took into account amendments made to the bill by Republicans to pass it through the House. That included an amendment that allows states "to repeal certain regulations of the Affordable Care Act — namely Essential Health Benefits (EHBs), which created a federal standard for what health insurance plans should cover, and community ratings, which prevented health insurers from charging individuals with pre-existing conditions higher prices for coverage," IJR writes.

Meadows, who played a central role in pushing for the state waiver options, initially reacted to the CBO's report by calling it "good news," a sentiment echoed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who said the AHCA would lower premiums and the deficit. But when asked about people with pre-existing conditions being potentially priced out of the market, IJR reports Meadows "seemed surprised" and read the relevant paragraph of the CBO report off a reporter's phone. "…People who are less healthy (including those with pre-existing or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive non-group health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all," the CBO predicted.

Meadows then got choked up: "Listen, I lost my sister to breast cancer," he said. "I lost my dad to lung cancer. If anybody is sensitive to pre-existing conditions, it's me. I'm not going to make a political decision today that affects somebody's sister or father because I wouldn't do it to myself."

He added: "In the end, we've got to make sure there's enough funding there to handle pre-existing conditions and drive down premiums. And if we can't do those three things, then we will have failed." Jeva Lange

10:51 a.m. ET
Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images

The American government is leakier than a faucet, much to the chagrin of allies across the pond. Police overseeing the investigation into Monday night's suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, have stopped sharing information with American counterparts after U.S. officials allegedly leaked information about the attacker and his explosive to the press before British police wanted the information released. Prime Minister Theresa May said Thursday she would "make clear to President Trump that intelligence shared between our security agencies must remain secure."

In response, President Trump released a statement Thursday asking the Department of Justice and relevant agencies "to launch a complete review of this matter, and if appropriate, the culprit should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law." Trump called the leaks "deeply troubling" and said the release of sensitive information can pose a "grave threat to our national security."

Trump has long fought to cork his administration's plentiful leaks. The president even asked his former FBI director, James Comey, to consider "putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information," The New York Times reports. Read more about the Trump administration and the upside to leakers here at The Week. Jeva Lange

10:46 a.m. ET

Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte was cited for assault Wednesday evening, just one day before the special election for the House seat he is vying to assume. Gianforte, who is running against Democrat Rob Quist for the congressional seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, allegedly assaulted Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs at a campaign event Wednesday evening.

Now, top conservatives are urging the party to back away from Gianforte, despite the race for what should be a deep-red seat being surprisingly tight. Weekly Standard editor-at-large Bill Kristol said Republican lawmakers should criticize Gianforte for the overall health of the party:

Longtime GOP strategist Rick Wilson said Gianforte's conduct reflected the devolution of the Republican Party into the "Trump Troll Party":

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, who admitted Thursday morning that the current GOP is not the party he "grew up in," threw in a quip about the terrible optics of the whole thing:

On Thursday, three Montana newspapers withdrew their endorsements of Gianforte. Read more about the race between Gianforte and Quist here at The Week. Kimberly Alters

10:37 a.m. ET
John Moore/Getty Images

Several Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials went to Sava's Restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Wednesday and enjoyed a nice breakfast, perhaps a Belgian waffle or that insidious avocado toast. After eating, they promptly went into the kitchen and arrested three employees.

That's the account of Sava's owner Sava Lelcaj, who reports the agents interrogated her kitchen workers before taking three into custody and transporting them to Detroit, nearly an hour away. "They came in looking for one person, who was not on duty," Lelcaj said, but arrested the others anyway. The employees were released later Wednesday; all three have proper immigration documents to work in the United States but were not carrying their papers while on the job.

"It's really sad," Lelcaj said of the incident. "It scares the whole community. Today's a great indication even if you have your documentation, and you're at the wrong place at the wrong time, you can still be at risk." Bonnie Kristian

10:36 a.m. ET

The president of the United States of America has just one app on his cell phone, top White House officials say. You get three guesses what it is, and the first two don't count.

That's right: President Trump's iPhone is stocked with only the Twitter app, Axios reports. That goes far toward explaining his knee-jerk reactions to cable news programs and his odd-hour Twitter rants. "Trump himself has been pushing staff to give him more free time," Axios adds. "But staff does everything it can to load up his schedule to keep him from getting worked up watching cable coverage, which often precipitates his tweets."

Noticeably absent from Trump's phone, then, is the app for the iPhone game Pokémon Go. During the campaign, Trump lamented that he wished he had time to play. Jeva Lange

10:24 a.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Following President Trump's admission that he shared highly classified information obtained from Israel with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Israel has amended its intelligence sharing protocols for the United States.

"I can confirm that we did a spot repair and that there's unprecedented intelligence cooperation with the United States," Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in an Army Radio interview Wednesday. "What we had to clarify with our friends in the United States, we did. We did our checks," he added. "Not everything needs to be discussed in the media; some things need to be talked about in closed rooms."

Lieberman did not specify what procedures have been changed to accommodate Trump's loose lips. Bonnie Kristian

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