March 31, 2014

With the chances of locating Malaysia Airlines Flight 370's black box before its battery runs out continuing to dwindle every day, a U.S Navy official expressed reservations about ever finding the doomed jet. Although the search area has been narrowed down to 200,000 square miles southwest of Perth, Australia, the purported plane debris spotted by various satellites still hasn't materialized.

"Right now, the search area is basically the size of the Indian Ocean, which would take an untenable amount of time to search," said Capt. Mark Matthews at a press briefing Sunday.

He also compared the investigation to the search for Air France Flight 447, which crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009 but wasn't found until 2011. In that case, he noted, investigators had better "positional information" of where the plane went down, but it still "took over two years conducting side-scan sonar searches with autonomous vehicles to locate the debris. So it can be a very long search effort." Jordan Valinsky

8:57 a.m. ET

In California on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton hit Donald Trump over his newly surfaced 2006 and 2007 remarks that he was "exited" about the housing market to burst, because if it did, he would "would go in and buy like crazy” to make money. "He actually said he was hoping for the crash that caused hard-working families in California and across the country to lose their homes," Clinton said. Some 3,000 miles away, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was singing from the same hymnal.

"Donald Trump was drooling over the idea of a housing meltdown — because it meant he could buy up a bunch more property on the cheap," Warren said at a gala for the Center for Popular Democracy. “What kind of a man does that? Root for people to get thrown out on the street? Root for people to lose their jobs? Root for people to lose their pensions?" (She answered her own question: "A small, insecure moneygrubber who doesn't care who gets hurt, so long as he makes some money off it.")

The similar messaging "was not entirely a coincidence," The Washington Post reports. Warren has deliberately not endorsed anyone in the Democratic primary, and Warren hitting Trump in concert with Clinton would allow the Democratic front-runner to "begin the general-election battle against Trump, but also beginning the difficult task of unifying the fractured Democratic Party." Warren's Trump takedown, adds The Wall Street Journal, "suggested she may be willing to work with the Clinton campaign more directly to win the White House in November."

Trump jumped in the conversation at his rally in Albuquerque, calling Warren "Pocahontas" and Clinton a "low life" for playing his housing comments in a campaign ad. "I'm a businessman, that's what I'm supposed to do," Trump added. You can watch Warren's hit at Trump below. Peter Weber

8:00 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton is struggling to gain ground with Bernie Sanders' young, independent-leaning fans, and some experts are even beginning to wonder if the far-left supporters might actually vote for Donald Trump if forced to pick between the two candidates. While such a theory has been rebuffed — Politico Magazine's Bill Scher writes that the "areas of ideological overlap don't come close to outweighing the long list of issues where Sanders and Trump are practically opposites" — others say if Clinton doesn't convince Sanders' supporters soon, it could cost her the election:

History shows us that when disenchantment with establishment politics and institutions is high, as it is today, voters don't always vote along ideological lines.

In 1968 and 1980, insurgent liberal challengers — Eugene McCarthy and Edward Kennedy — captured a popular wave of anti-establishment sentiment but failed to win their party's nomination. In November, many of their supporters veered sharply to the right, voting for candidates who didn't necessarily share their political views but who served as a convenient outlet for the expression of their broader frustrations. In both cases, this block of Democratic defectors helped deliver the election to the Republican Party. [Politico]

Sanders supporters are also saying they are increasingly unsure if they would vote for Clinton over Trump. As The New York Times has pointed out, at least one poll, YouGov, has only 55 percent of Sanders supporters agreeing they would vote for Clinton rather than Trump in a general election. Similar polls by CBS/NYT and ABC/Washington Post had that number at just a blip over 70 percent.

There are more Democrats than Republicans in the U.S. according to most recent surveys — and yet a Clinton victory increasingly doesn't appear to be such a breeze. Jeva Lange

7:41 a.m. ET

"If Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are on a boat together — if they're on a boat together and it sinks, who survives? America!" local attorney David Chavez said during introductory remarks at a Donald Trump rally in New Mexico Tuesday evening, to uproarious applause.

His jokes didn't stop there. During his five-minute introduction at the rally, Chavez repeatedly hit on Trump's likely competition in the general election, urging voters to consider Bill Clinton's previous sexual misconduct in making the choice between Trump and Hillary Clinton. "Even Bill Clinton chose other women, so you should, too," Chavez said.

And if anyone happened to be hung up on voting for Hillary Clinton to elect a woman and "to break the glass ceiling," Chavez had an answer for that too. "Voting for her just because she is a woman is like drinking bleach because it looks like water," he said.

Watch his full speech below. Becca Stanek

7:16 a.m. ET

Presidential candidates are just so much more fun after they've dropped out of the race. Take Marco Rubio as an example — the Florida senator has fully embraced his inner Twitter-ranter in recent weeks.

He has also, apparently, embraced his inner robot:

Open the pod bay doors, Rubio. Jeva Lange

6:58 a.m. ET
Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

The FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating a Tennessee real estate company with personal and financial ties to Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), The Wall Street Journal reports, and the federal investigators are separately looking into the relationship between Corker and the firm, CBL & Associates Properties Inc. Corker has made millions of dollars through trading CBL stock, some of that profit originally improperly undisclosed in congressional filings; authorities have reportedly found no evidence that Corker committed wrongdoing.

A spokeswoman for Corker, Micah Johnson, blamed the "baseless charges against Senator Corker" on the nonpartisan group Campaign for Accountability, which told The Journal that unfortunately "we don’t have the ability to tell the FBI or SEC what to do." Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and member of the Banking Committee, has a long history with CBL and the Lebovitz family that owns it, and CBL insists that nobody at the firm passed Corker insider information. So long as his 70 trades of CBL stock — several trades worth more than $1 million — were not based on inside information, Corker's trading is allowed under congressional ethics rules. Peter Weber

5:58 a.m. ET

Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel has "played a lead role in bankrolling" Hulk Hogan's lawsuits against Gawker, the first of which ended with a $140 million judgment against Gawker over its publishing of a sex tape starring the wrestler and his friend's wife, Forbes reported Tuesday night, citing "people familiar with the situation." Gawker Media founder Nick Denton, also held personally liable by the Florida jury, speculated to The New York Times earlier Tuesday that perhaps someone in Silicon Valley was funding the Hogan lawsuits and a group of new ones against Gawker and some of its writers, all brought by Los Angeles lawyer Charles Harder.

"If you're a billionaire and you don't like the coverage of you, and you don't particularly want to embroil yourself any further in a public scandal, it's a pretty smart, rational thing to fund other legal cases." Denton said. Unlike the rich and famous in New York and L.A., he reasoned, Silicon Valley's elite isn't used to the glare of tabloid press. And Thiel would seem to have a motive for revenge; Gawker Media's defunct Valleywag site outed him as gay in 2007, and in 2009 he said, "Valleywag is the Silicon Valley equivalent of al Qaeda," with the "psychology of a terrorist." Thiel did not respond to Forbes' request for comment, and Forbes notes that "it is not illegal for an outside entity to help fund another party's lawsuit."

Thiel is maybe the only person in Silicon Valley who supports Donald Trump, but "regardless of his politics, this news should disturb everyone," says Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. "People talk a lot about the dominance of the 1 percent or in this case more like a tiny fraction of the 1 percent. But being able to give massive political contributions actually pales in comparison to the impact of being able to destroy a publication you don't like by combining the machinery of the courts with anonymity and unlimited funds to bleed a publication dry. We don't have to go any further than Donald Trump to know that the incredibly rich often use frivolous litigation to intimidate critics and bludgeon enemies." You can learn more in the Forbes report below. Peter Weber

4:59 a.m. ET
William Edwards/AFP/Getty Images

Back in January, when he was having a fight with Fox News, Donald Trump skipped out on a Fox News–sponsored presidential debate and held his own rally and fundraiser for charities dedicated to military veterans. "We just cracked $6 million! Right? $6 million," he said at the Iowa event. And "Donald Trump gave $1 million." That wasn't true until Monday night, David A. Fahrenthold says at The Washington Post, after Fahrenthold had taken to Twitter to try to ascertain how many veterans' charities had received any money from Trump.

On Monday night, Trump called the home of James Kallstrom, chairman of the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, and pledged $1 million, according to Kallstrom's wife. When Fahernthold asked Trump over the phone on Tuesday why it took him four months to follow through on his pledge, Trump said, "You have a lot of vetting to do." Fahrenthold suggested that perhaps Trump had only taken action because reporters were asking him about his pledge, and Trump shot back: "You know, you're a nasty guy. You're really a nasty guy. I gave out millions of dollars that I had no obligation to do." Trump also said that the fundraiser had rounded up about $5.5 million total, and that, despite the assertion of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, no major pledgees had dropped out, though "some of them came through very late."

Trump said he would have his staff send The Washington Post a list of groups that received the donations, but hadn't as of Tuesday night. Veterans' groups have been trying to figure out how to apply for some of the remaining millions, since there is no application process. But at least one group has been contacted since Monday, the Boston Wounded Vet Bike Run, founded by Andrew Biggio. Biggio told The Post that a Trump campaign worker had called him out of the blue on Tuesday to ask for the nonprofit's phone number, and that he hadn't applied for any of the money. However, he did suggest how he got on Trump's radar: "I served in Iraq with Donald Trump's bodyguard's son." You can read more at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

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