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March 26, 2014

Earlier this year, we engaged in the perennial fight over whether or not to raise the minimum wage (tell me again why we don't index it to inflation?).

Liberals generally insisted this was an important and humane imperative, while others, like yours truly, argued it would have the unintended consequence of actually raising the unemployment rate — a fear that was later confirmed by the CBO.

While the efficacy of raising the rate was often challenged, few conservatives disputed the notion that setting a national minimum wage is the proper role of the federal government. And interestingly, the federalism argument might have been the most compelling (and least vulnerable to demagoguery) for conservatives to make.

The American Enterprise Institute is out with a report demonstrating why minimum-wage laws might be best left to the cities and states. I think the chart says it all. --Matt K. Lewis

7:53 a.m. ET

President Trump attacked New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman on Twitter Saturday — which happened to be Haberman's daughter's birthday, she told CNN's Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota on Monday's New Day. Trump was reacting to an article Haberman co-wrote about Trump's reportedly abusive treatment of lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen and speculation on whether Cohen would flip on Trump if prosecutors threaten him with a long jail term.

Trump's tweets drew special scrutiny because of the bizarre Haberman attack and because it wasn't clear who he was calling a "drunk/drugged up loser" — Haberman guessed it was Sam Nunberg, not Roger Stone, because Trump is "too aware of what Stone could do to him to be that direct" and has been scared of Stone "for years." The topic is clearly "hitting a nerve" with Trump, and he and his legal team "are very anxious" about the Cohen investigation, Haberman said on CNN.

"The story was really not about destroying their relationship — the president has destroyed their relationship pretty handily on his own over a long period of time," Haberman said. Trump "is abusive, according to almost everybody I speak to, to most people in his orbit, and family not excepted from that. But he is particularly abusive to Cohen over the years, and then the question becomes, does that come back to haunt him?" Cuomo jumped in to point out that nobody knows what charges, if any, Cohen faces, but "everybody knows his description of your relationship and who you are is silly. There are few reporters that he's given more access to."

Cuomo and Haberman went on to analyze the "drugged-up loser" part of the tweet and how it fits in his compassionate campaign rhetoric about the opioid crisis. "This is how he really feels about addicts," Haberman said. "We know that he had a brother who died of alcoholism, we know that he considers addiction to be weak." Peter Weber

6:41 a.m. ET

Prince died two years ago from an accidental overdose of fentanyl-spiked ersatz Vicodin, but right after prosecutors in Minnesota said there was not enough evidence to charge anyone in his death last week, Prince's estate reminded everyone why people are still morning him two years later, cracking open the vault to release his original 1984 recording of "Nothing Compares 2 U." Prince wrote the song for his side project, The Family, formed with the remnants of The Time, but he did not release any of his recordings of the song until a live duet with Rosie Gaines in 1993 — three years after Sinead O'Connor made the song famous with her No. 1 version.

Prince's original recording of "Nothing Compares 2 U," accompanied by previously unreleased rehearsal footage from 1984, is different than either subsequent version, starting off with an "I Am The Walrus" keyboard riff and ending with a saxophone. You can listen below. Peter Weber

6:07 a.m. ET

If you don't know who Ryan Zinke is, don't feel too bad — President Trump pretty clearly isn't sure what his interior secretary does, John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight, kicking this off with a NSFW analogy. "Zinke's job is to serve as a steward of America's public lands, although so far he's overseen the largest reduction of federal land protection in the nation's history," he noted. Also, Zinke is a serial exaggerator or outright fabulist and, "it turns out, may well be an extremely weird man,"

As evidence of his quirkiness, Oliver cited the fact that like Queen Elizabeth II, ZInke flies his own special flag when he's at the Interior Department headquarters, plus his minting of a special coin and, most persuasively, his decision to grab Vice President Mike Pence's wife, Karen Pence, for a dance during a political rally. "You might not have even heard of him before tonight, but he is an important, deeply strange man," Oliver said. "If I may sum him up in the way he would sum himself up in a campaign ad, Zinke is a oil-friendly, coin-commissioning, non-bin-Laden-killing weirdo who throws second ladies around, and he is not a f---ing geologist — America." Watch below — yes, there is NSFW language. Peter Weber

5:27 a.m. ET
Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron arrives in Washington on Monday as guest of honor for the first state visit hosted by President Trump. Macron has suggested he will try to use his carefully cultivated relationship with Trump to steer him away from ripping up the Iran nuclear deal, pulling out of Syria, and raising tariffs against European nations on May 1. Trump will host Macron and his wife for a dinner Monday at Mount Vernon, George Washington's historic residence, and a state dinner at the White House on Tuesday; no Democratic members of Congress were invited, in a break from tradition.

Macron will also meet one-on-one with Trump, hold a town hall with at George Washington University, and give an address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, the anniversary of a 1960 address by French President Charles de Gaulle.

Macron, universally seen as the European leader with the best rapport with Trump, hosted Trump last July and clearly impressed him with French hospitality. By cultivating a warm relationship with Trump, reportedly including near-weekly phone conversations, "Macron has made a gamble, given Mr. Trump's unpopularity, that he can court him but not be tarnished by him — or even that he can burnish his own reputation as a leader who is so psychologically astute that he can gain the ear of an American president who is in many respects his polar opposite," The New York Times reports. So far, Macron has little to show for his efforts — Trump pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and appears poised to kill the Iran nuclear deal, for example. But aides say he feels he needs to try. "Sometimes I manage to convince him, sometimes I fail," Macron told the BBC in January. Peter Weber

4:00 a.m. ET

"It is a busy time for diplomacy in the Trump White House, what with them planning the North Korea summit, weighing what to do about Syria, and a state visit with [French President Emmanuel] Macron next week," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. And on top of that, Trump faces a massive decision on whether to re-certify the Iran nuclear deal on May 12 — and there's a growing sense that this time, Trump might actually kill the agreement.

Trump has made no secret of his disdain for the pact, signed by former President Barack Obama, Iran, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, France, and the European Union, but its demise "could have huge, lasting consequences," Oliver said. "So tonight, let's look at the Iran deal: What it is, why Trump hates it so much, and what's likely to happen if he kills it." Oliver ran through Trump's objections, explaining that each was based on false information. Iran can't keep sanctions relief and still make a nuclear bomb, for example, Oliver said. "What Iran could do, in theory, is wait for part of the deal to expire in 10 years, then it could ramp up its nuclear program, getting it closer to a bomb. But here's the thing: If the deal blows up, Iran could start doing that right now, in zero years. And 0 is less than 10 — trust us, we ran the numbers on this ourselves."

"You can't just be against something without having any plan for what comes next," Oliver said, and like "a cat on an airplane trying to escape from its carrier," Trump has only unrealistic demands. Also, his top advisers — John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and Sean Hannity — hate the deal, too. To try to insert a moderating voice, Oliver said, he'll run a catheter cowboy ad during Hannity this week. You can get a preview, and learn more about the Iran deal, below. (There's NSFW language.) Peter Weber

2:56 a.m. ET
REUTERS/Mike Segar

Fox News host Sean Hannity has said he only sought legal advice from Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal lawyer and fixer, regarding real estate, and they would have a lot to talk about, according to a report in The Guardian. "I hate the stock market, I prefer real estate," Hannity said on TV after he was revealed in court to be one of Cohen's three listed clients. "Michael knows real estate." And thousands of pages of public records show that Hannity has a massive portfolio — over the past decade, more than 20 shell companies linked to Hannity bought at least 877 properties for just under $89 million, The Guardian said Sunday.

The residential properties — in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Vermont, and New York — include multimillion-dollar mansions used by Hannity, single-family units in modest suburbs, and apartments in low-income areas, The Guardian reports. Dozens of the properties were scooped up at a discount in 2013 from banks that had foreclosed on the owners during the financial crisis, and at least two large apartment complexes in Georgia were purchased with assistance from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Hannity bought the apartments in 2014 for $22.7 million, using $17.9 million in mortgages obtained via HUD, replaced last year with $22.9 in loans from HUD and a new bank, The Guardian says.

Hannity has taken public stances against HUD financing going toward rental properties, criticized the mass foreclosures before Trump took office, and featured HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Bill Lako — who took nominal control of the Georgia firm Henssler Financial LLC from Hannity in 2016 — on his radio and TV shows, The Guardian says. Christopher Reeves, Hannity's real estate attorney, told The Guardian they'd "struggle to find any relevance" in Hannity's confidential property holdings. "I doubt you would find it very surprising that most people prefer to keep their legal and personal financial issues private. ... Mr. Hannity is no different." Read more at The Guardian. Peter Weber

1:40 a.m. ET

James Shaw Jr., 29, acknowledges that if he hadn't disarmed the gunman who murdered four people at a Waffle House in Nashville early Sunday, more people would have died, but he said in a news conference on Sunday that he isn't comfortable with the "hero" label. "On my Instagram and Facebook, everybody's calling me a hero, but I want people to know that I did that completely out of a selfish act, I was completely doing it just to save myself," Shaw said. "Now, me doing that, I did save other people, but I don't want people to think that I was the Terminator or Superman or anybody like that. ... I figured if I was going to die, he was going to have to work for it."

Shaw explained that when he realized somebody was shooting, he ran behind an unlockable swinging door. "He shot through that door; I'm pretty sure he grazed my arm," Shaw said, and "at that time I made up my mind ... that he was going to have to work to kill me. When the gun jammed or whatever happened, I hit him with the swivel door." The gunman, identified by police as Travis Reinking, 29, had the gun pointed down, and Shaw said he grabbed the hot barrel of the AR-15. "When I finally got the gun he was cussing like I was in the wrong," he said. "I grabbed it from him and threw it over the countertop and I just took him with me out the entrance."

Waffle House CEO Walter Ehmer disregarded Shaw's request. "You don't get to meet too many heroes in life," he said, nodding to Shaw. "We are forever in your debt." Shaw's father, James Shaw Sr., had mixed feelings. "I take no pride in him charging a loaded gun," he told The Associated Press. "I do take pride in him helping save the lives of other people." Peter Weber

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