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January 6, 2016
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Donald Trump far and away leads the Republican presidential field in the polls, but when it comes to the number of campaign swings he's done, Trump lags behind. While other candidates pick up the pace — Ted Cruz plans to visit 28 Iowa counties this week — according to Politico, Trump is keeping things decidedly "leisurely."

Over the entirety of the election season so far, Trump has made 100 campaign trips, compared to Jeb Bush's 172, Ben Carson's 134, and Marco Rubio's 122. The only candidate close to Trump's 100 trips is Cruz with 101, but, Politico points out, Cruz often uses one trip to hit multiple events. Trump, on the other hand, is more apt to fly in on his jet and promptly fly back out.

Trump's campaign, however, says his strategy is all about quality over quantity. "If you were a consultant and you could have your candidate in front of 10 people or in front of 1,000 people, what would you suggest?" Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told Politico. "Mr. Trump has an amazing amount of energy. He's willing to do what it takes to win this election."

As New Hampshire-based Republican strategist Dave Carney points out, Trump certainly isn't suffering a lack of media coverage for his fewer trips. "Do you know what Chris Christie said today in New Hampshire?" Carney said, offering up the more well-traveled candidate as a point of comparison. "Neither do I."

Read the full story over at Politico. Becca Stanek

3:42 p.m. ET
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Now that President Trump has the nuclear codes in his hands, two Democratic lawmakers are hoping to make it a little harder for him to actually use them. On Tuesday, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) reintroduced a bill that would prevent Trump from launching a nuclear strike if Congress had not declared war. As it stands now, the president holds the right to launch a preemptive nuclear strike, a policy both Markey and Lieu oppose no matter who the president may be.

Markey and Lieu first tried to introduce this bill in September, after Trump suggested at a presidential debate that he couldn't "take anything off the table" when it came to nuclear weapons, including first strike. But now that Trump has actually been sworn into office, Markey and Lieu say this bill is more pressing than ever.

"It is a frightening reality that the U.S. now has a commander-in-chief who has demonstrated ignorance of the nuclear triad, stated his desire to be 'unpredictable' with nuclear weapons, and as president-elect was making sweeping statements about U.S. nuclear policy over Twitter," Lieu said in a statement. He urged Congress to pass a "system of checks and balances" to be "applied to the potentially civilization-ending threat of nuclear war." Becca Stanek

2:38 p.m. ET

The Senate confirmation hearing for Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) took a rather odd turn Tuesday when Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) proceeded to pull up photographs comparing the inauguration crowds of former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump.

"Which crowd is larger?" Merkley asked Mulvaney, Trump's nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

"Senator, if you would allow me to give the disclaimer that I'm not really sure how this ties to OMB, I'll be happy to answer your question, which is from that picture it does appear that the [Obama crowd] is bigger than the [Trump crowd]," Mulvaney replied.

Merkley then got to his point: "The president disagreed … he said, 'It's a lie' … The reason I'm raising this is because budget often contains varied deceptions. You and I talked in my office about the 'magic asterisk.' This is an example of where the president's team — on something very simple and straightforward — wants to embrace a fantasy rather than a reality." Watch the full line of inquiry below. Jeva Lange

2:18 p.m. ET

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer doubled down on President Donald Trump's false assertion that millions of illegal immigrants voted in the 2016 U.S. election. "The claim, which [Trump] has made before on Twitter, has been judged untrue by numerous fact-checkers," The New York Times wrote of the statement, going as far as to label the accusation a "lie." Trump nevertheless repeated the claim Monday at a reception with congressional leaders.

Spicer was asked directly about voter fraud during his White House press briefing Tuesday, and replied "the president does believe that … based on studies and evidence people have presented to him." Spicer did not elaborate on what those studies are or what the evidence might be. Watch below. Jeva Lange

1:47 p.m. ET
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Eighteen-year-old Paris Jackson was just 11 when her father, pop legend Michael Jackson, died. The cause of Jackson's death is attributed to cardiac arrest brought on by drugs administered by his doctor; Jackson's physician was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

But according to Paris Jackson, something even more sinister was going on. "[Michael Jackson] would drop hints about people being out to get him," Paris told Rolling Stone. "And at some point he was like, 'They're gonna kill me one day.'"

She goes on:

Paris is convinced that her dad was, somehow, murdered. "Absolutely," she says. "Because it's obvious. All arrows point to that. It sounds like a total conspiracy theory and it sounds like bulls--t, but all real fans and everybody in the family knows it. It was a setup. It was bulls--t."

But who would have wanted Michael Jackson dead? Paris pauses for several seconds, maybe considering a specific answer, but just says, "A lot of people." Paris wants revenge, or at least justice. "Of course," she says, eyes glowing. "I definitely do, but it's a chess game. And I am trying to play the chess game the right way. And that's all I can say about that right now." [Rolling Stone]

Read the full interview with Paris Jackson at Rolling Stone. Jeva Lange

1:26 p.m. ET
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President Trump's administration has temporarily suspended all new contracts and grants at the Environmental Protection Agency, and blocked EPA employees "from providing updates on social media or to reporters," The Associated Press reported Tuesday. The freeze extends to "task orders and work assignments," an EPA contracting officer indicated, and ProPublica reported the move "could affect a significant part of the agency's budget allocations and even threaten to disrupt core operations ranging from toxic cleanups to water quality testing."

Myron Ebell, who was tasked with running the EPA transition for Trump's administration, said the freeze was enacted to ensure the new administration has a say in any regulations, hiring, or contracts moving forward, as they await the confirmation of Trump's pick for EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt. Ebell said administrations prior to Trump have taken similar actions. "This may be a little wider than some previous administrations, but it's very similar to what others have done," he said.

An employee of the EPA, however, told ProPublica that he has "never seen anything like it in nearly a decade with the agency." The EPA employee said it is not yet clear how long the suspension will last. Becca Stanek

12:42 p.m. ET
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It has proven to be very much a mistake to underestimate Kellyanne Conway during a campaign. But to underestimate her in a fistfight? That too might prove to be painful, the New York Daily News reports.

Allegedly, Conway intervened when two men at Trump's inauguration ball went at each other with fists last Friday. "But the two men wouldn't break up the fight and Conway apparently punched one of them in the face with closed fists at least three times, according to the stunned onlooker," the Daily News writes.

Fox News senior correspondent Charles Gasparino relayed the scuffle in a Facebook post. "Inside the ball we see a fight between two guys in tuxes, and then suddenly out of nowhere came Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, who began throwing some mean punches at one of the guys," he said. "Whole thing lasted a few [minutes], no one was hurt except maybe the dude she smacked. Now I know why Trump hired her."

Aren't convinced? "[By the way], I exaggerate none of this," Gasparino reassured. Jeva Lange

12:19 p.m. ET
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Bigger storms and rising seawater aren't the only bad things about climate change. Birds are reportedly going to get a lot "uglier" as the Earth warms, The Independent reports.

Most of what makes birds interesting or even spectacular comes from characteristics used for attracting mates or intimidating rivals. But in the case of male flycatchers, who have a brilliant white patch on their forehead during mating season, the warming habitat has resulted in the birds having smaller and smaller patches. “Just as climate change will lead to winners and losers in terms of species' abundance and distribution, it seems it may also lead to winners and losers in the global beauty pageant," researchers Cody Dey, of Windsor University, and James Dale, of Massey University, wrote for Nature Ecology & Evolution.

And it's not just the flycatchers: "The researchers said other studies suggested this reduction in 'ornamentation' could be happening all over Europe and that more species could be similarly affected," The Independent reports, although the direct link between the vanishing mating characteristics and the warming global temperatures isn't yet clear. Jeva Lange

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