When asked during a town hall meeting how he is trying to curb substance abuse in Maine, Gov. Paul LePage (R) launched into a rant about drug dealers named Shifty who end up impregnating women.
— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) January 8, 2016
"There are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty — these types of guys — they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home," he said Wednesday. "Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road." His remarks were quickly condemned as being racially charged — Phil Bartlett, chairman of the Maine Democratic Party, told the Portland Press Herald LePage's comments "at best were coded racism," while Republican consultant Lance Duston called his statement "one of the most offensive" yet.
LePage's communications director, Peter Steele, said his remarks were not "about race" but rather "the emotional costs for these kids who are born as a result of involvement with drug traffickers. His heart goes out to these kids because he had a difficult childhood, too." This isn't the first time LePage has been accused of making racist comments; in 2013, two Republican representatives said he told people at a private function that President Obama "hates white people," the Portland Press Herald reports. LePage denies ever having said this. Catherine Garcia
A year ago, Trump ripped Ben Carson as a friend-stabbing conspiracy theorist. Now he wants him for his Cabinet.
What a difference a year can make. On Monday, President-elect Donald Trump tapped the man he criticized in November 2015 for "wanting to hit his mother on the head with a hammer" to serve as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development:
life, fast etc. pic.twitter.com/4sEnfCV54W
— Gideon Resnick (@GideonResnick) December 5, 2016
Trump's criticism of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson wasn't confined to a single tweet either. Shortly after that, Trump claimed Carson, a competitor in the Republican presidential primary, had a "pathological temper" that could not be cured. "You don't cure these people. You don't cure a child molester. There's no cure for it. Pathological, there's no cure for that," Trump said, drawing an analogy.
While Trump apparently thought Carson's self-reported attempt to stab a friend when he was a teenager and theory that the Egyptian pyramids were actually built to store grain made him a questionable pick for GOP presidential candidate, he seems to be letting bygones be bygones.
Carson, who previously expressed concerns he wasn't experienced enough to run a government agency, will be tasked with enforcing fair housing laws, overseeing federal public housing programs, and assisting with financing for homeownership. Becca Stanek
When a conversation with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi shortly after the election took a turn toward women's issues, President-elect Donald Trump handed the phone off to his daughter, Ivanka Trump, The New York Times reports.
While the report suggests that Ivanka, 35, is poised to be the most powerful presidential daughter since Alice Roosevelt Longworth, it has also raised concerns about Trump's position, or interest, in women's issues:
Imagine if a female president passed the phone to her son when someone brought up issues concerning men. https://t.co/EaGQ6FnuNc
— Elizabeth Plank (@feministabulous) December 4, 2016
The president-elect has described himself as pro-life and has proposed tax deductions for child care expenses, six weeks of family leave for new mothers, and said that working mothers should be "fairly compensated." But Trump also faced massive amounts of criticism throughout his presidential campaign for his often sexist way of speaking about women. "Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody. Nobody has more respect," he defended in late October.
Ivanka has vowed to back working women with the "heightened visibility" afforded by her father's election. "[Ivanka] elevated issues that weren't part of the Republican agenda because she cares about them," her friend, Maggie Cordish, told The New York Times. Jeva Lange
Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are reportedly in touch with Donald Trump several times a week despite the president-elect not having appeared on the show in months, Politico reports. The morning show hosts were criticized for having a cozy relationship with Trump during the Republican primary and general election, and are now being blasted for becoming "transition spokesmen," in the words of CNN's Chris Cuomo and others alarmed by the ethics of the relationship.
"With Trump, only those most willing to essentially, if unofficially, join the team themselves will get continued, dependable access,” Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan has said.
The Morning Joe hosts claim they have never held back on their criticism of Trump, with Scarborough telling Politico "we're just as blunt in person as we are on TV, whether we happened to be critical on the show that particular day or not." Scarborough claimed he talks with Trump "a few times a week," and Politico added that Brzezinski visited Trump Tower last week to meet with Ivanka Trump over coffee.
Scarborough defended his relationship with Trump, saying he and his team weren't playing favorites. "This is nothing new for Mika and me," he told Politico. "We spoke regularly to Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod in the Obama White House, and we have always maintained good relations with congressional leaders and Cabinet secretaries. Most of them watch the show and call us if they have an issue they want to discuss." Jeva Lange
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Monday that he will visit the site of the Pearl Harbor attack later this year, making him the first sitting Japanese leader to do so. Abe plans to visit the Hawaiian naval base for the 75th anniversary of the Dec. 7 surprise attack alongside President Obama on Dec. 26 and 27, The New York Times reports.
"We must never repeat the horror of war," Abe said. "I want to express that determination as we look to the future, and at the same time send a message about the value of U.S.-Japanese reconciliation."
The bombing of Pearl Harbor killed more than 2,000 Americans and sank several U.S. warships in 1941. Abe's gesture is seen as a reciprocation of Obama's visit to Hiroshima earlier this year. Jeva Lange
Donald Trump announced Monday that he has chosen retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson for secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Trump had teased the appointment in late November on Twitter, writing, "I am seriously considering Dr. Ben Carson as the head of HUD. I've gotten to know him well — he's a greatly talented person who loves people!" Carson, though, had expressed through a surrogate that he felt he did not have enough government experience to run a federal agency and "the last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency." But "Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a presidency representing all Americans," Trump said Monday. Jeva Lange
At least 11 people were killed and more than 50 injured early Monday when a huge fire swept through the Regent Plaza Hotel in Karachi, Pakistan.
Police say the fire started in the hotel kitchen, but the exact cause is undetermined. A doctor at a Karachi hospital where victims were taken said several deaths were caused by suffocation, and there are foreigners being treated for burns. Local television news crews captured footage of guests at the four-star hotel using sheets to climb down from windows, and survivor Hamid Ali told one station that a man was standing on his balcony, pleading for help, but the hotel did not have a way to rescue him. Catherine Garcia
A federal judge ruled late Sunday night that Michigan must start its presidential recount at noon Monday.
In Michigan, Donald Trump received 10,704 more votes than Hillary Clinton, and Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein, citing reports that computer science experts noticed irregularities in the state's election results, has raised millions of dollars to fund a recount. Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette and the Trump campaign filed suits last week, asking state courts to put a stop to the hand-counting of 4.8 million ballots. They argued that Stein, who received about 1 percent of the vote, is not "aggrieved," because it's impossible for her to win the recount. Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled Stein did show "the likelihood of irreparable harm" if the count was delayed, and rejected arguments by the state about the cost to taxpayers. The deadline to complete the count is Dec. 13. Catherine Garcia