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January 25, 2016
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In an op-ed, President Obama said he is adopting recommendations from the Justice Department to reform the federal prison system, including banning solitary confinement for juveniles as a response to low-level infractions.

Other reforms include expanding treatment for the mentally ill and increasing the amount of time inmates in solitary confinement can spend outside of their cells. "These steps will affect some 10,000 federal prisoners held in solitary confinement — and hopefully serve as a model for state and local corrections systems," Obama wrote in The Washington Post. He explained that last summer, he asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Department of Justice to review the overuse of solitary confinement in the United States, and they found that "the practice should be limited, applied with constraints, and used only as a measure of last resort."

As many as 100,000 people are held in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, the president wrote, and research suggests there is a link between being in solitary and "depression, alienation, [and] withdrawal." Prisoners in solitary are more likely to commit suicide, and some studies show that it can make existing mental illnesses worse and trigger new ones. Obama wrote that his "most important job is to keep Americans safe," and overall crime rates have "decreased by more than 15 percent." However, "how can we subject prisoners to unnecessary solitary confinement, knowing its effects, and then expect them to return to our communities as whole people? It doesn't make us safer. It's an affront to our common humanity."

He also said members of Congress are working together to reform sentencing laws and expand reentry programs, and he hopes they will send him "legislation as soon as possible that makes our criminal justice system smarter, fairer, less expensive, and more effective." Catherine Garcia

4:02 p.m. ET

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer really, really, really, really does not like Dippin' Dots.

But Dippin' Dots just wants to be loved. The confection company sent an open letter to Spicer on Monday looking to become "friends rather than foes":

We understand that ice cream is a serious matter. And running out of your favorite flavor can feel like a national emergency! We’ve seen your tweets and would like to be friends rather than foes. After all, we believe in connecting the dots.

As you may or may not know, Dippin' Dots are made in Kentucky by hundreds of hard working Americans in the heartland of our great country. As a company, we're doing great. We've enjoyed double-digit growth in sales for the past three years. That means we're creating jobs and opportunities. We hear that's on your agenda too.

We can even afford to treat the White House and press corps to an ice cream social. What do you say? We'll make sure there's plenty of all your favorite flavors. [Dippin' Dots]

Someone should get Vice President Mike Pence's take on all of this. Jeva Lange

3:45 p.m. ET

Eric Trump has replaced his father, President Donald Trump, as the head of Trump International Hotels Management LLC, Florida public records show. CNN confirms with documents provided by the Trump Organization that Trump resigned from more than 400 entities on Jan. 19, one day before he was sworn into office.

Trump will still receive reports that detail the profits of the Trump Organization, but he will not speak to his adult sons — Eric and Don Jr., who will lead the company — about the business. "Company records will be updated with the various states in the ordinary course as and when required by law," Trump Organization General Counsel Alan Garten said in a statement.

Prior to the announcement, a group of constitutional scholars and ethics lawyers had planned to file a lawsuit Monday accusing President Trump of violating the U.S. Constitution by letting his hotels and other businesses take payments from foreign governments. Jeva Lange

3:09 p.m. ET

On Saturday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declared the audience at President Trump's inauguration "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," slamming the media for reporting photos that showed a noticeably sparser crowd at Trump's ceremony Friday than appeared at former President Obama's first inauguration. Spicer also claimed — in contradiction with official data from the Washington, D.C., Metro system — that more people rode the Metro for Trump's swearing-in than for Obama's.

But on Monday, when pressed by ABC News' Jonathan Karl on his claims absent evidence, Spicer assured the American people that "our intention is never to lie to you." "Yes, I believe we have to be honest with the American people. I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts," Spicer said, when Karl asked if he would always "tell the truth from that podium." When Karl asked Spicer if he'd like to issue any corrections to his Saturday statements, Spicer resisted: "I came out to read a statement," he said of Saturday's press conference, "and I did."

Spicer then pointed out that the media makes mistakes "all the time." If anyone should be apologizing for falsehoods, Spicer suggested, it's the reporter who mistakenly reported that the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office. The Daily Beast's Olivia Nuzzi pointed out the reporter had in fact apologized — and that Spicer had acknowledged that apology:

After his vow to tell the truth, Spicer proceeded to double-down on his claim that Trump's inaugural address was the "most-watched ever," both "in person and around the globe." Watch the entire exchange below. Becca Stanek

2:07 p.m. ET

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer slammed Democrats for delaying the confirmations of President Trump's Cabinet nominees at his first official White House press conference Monday. "It's time for Senate Democrats to stop playing political games with the core functions of government, and to allow President Trump's unquestionably qualified and talented group of Cabinet nominees to get to work on behalf of the American people," Spicer said.

Spicer pointed out that former President Obama in 2009 had "seven of his nominees confirmed on day one." "As it stands today," Spicer said, "we have two," noting that Democrats had delayed the confirmation of Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) as CIA director.

Catch Spicer's rebuke below. Becca Stanek

1:26 p.m. ET
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence met his wife, Karen, at church while he was studying in law school; their first date was a dinner of taco salad. "Karen carried a gold cross with the word 'yes' on it in her purse in anticipation of the moment when Mike would propose," Rolling Stone writes. The two have been married since 1985, and have three children together.

But Pence apparently has a somewhat strange way of addressing Karen, Rolling Stone reports:

While Mike Pence was governor, his relationship with the Democratic minority in the legislature was crap. Someone on his staff suggested having the Democratic leaders over to the governor's mansion for dinner. The table was set for 20, but there were only around seven in attendance. One unlucky legislator stuck next to Pence tried to make conversation, but found even at dinner she couldn't shift Pence off his talking points. Gov. Pence shouted to his wife, Karen, his closest adviser, at the other end of the table.

"Mother, Mother, who prepared our meal this evening?"

The legislators looked at one another, speaking with their eyes: He just called his wife "Mother."

Maybe it was a joke, the legislator reasoned. But a few minutes later, Pence shouted again.

"Mother, Mother, whose china are we eating on?"

Mother Pence went on a long discourse about where the china was from. A little later, the legislators stumbled out, wondering what was weirder: Pence's inability to make conversation, or calling his wife "Mother" in the second decade of the 21st century. [Rolling Stone]

Read the full story on Vice President Pence at Rolling Stone. Jeva Lange

1:12 p.m. ET
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is already drawing rebuke from his own Republican Party. Shortly after it was announced Monday that Trump had signed the executive order, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) issued a statement calling Trump's move a "serious mistake."

McCain warned the decision to withdraw from the 12-nation deal would "have lasting consequences for America's economy and our strategic position in the Asia-Pacific region." "This decision will forfeit the opportunity to promote American exports, reduce trade barriers, open new markets, and protect American invention and innovation," McCain wrote, instead advocating for a "positive trade agenda" that will ensure American workers and companies stay "competitive" in the Asia-Pacific region.

Trump insisted Monday that withdrawing from the trade deal was "a great thing for the American worker" — and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) seemed to agree. In a statement Monday, the one-time Democratic presidential candidate and progressive leader lauded Trump's decision, noting that previous trade deals have "cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and caused a 'race to the bottom.'" Becca Stanek

12:54 p.m. ET

Regardless of what color your lightsaber is, pause your training for a moment: On Monday, the franchise announced the title of its next installment, previously only known as Episode VIII:

The Last Jedi will follow the characters and timeline from The Force Awakens, a recent installment of the franchise, which was released December 2015. It will also be the last Star Wars film to feature the late Carrie Fisher. Fisher — famous for originating the role of Princess Leia — completed shooting her scenes for The Last Jedi before her death last month.

The Last Jedi is set for release on Dec. 15, 2017. Carry on, young padawan! Ricky Soberano

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