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February 12, 2016

When actor Richard Dreyfuss was spotted attending a Ted Cruz campaign event, the blowback was pretty fierce. People decided that Dreyfuss, "a beloved actor, needed to be kicked out of Hollywood," Megyn Kelly summarized at the beginning of an interview with Dreyfuss and his son Harry on Thursday's Kelly File. Harry Dreyfuss had written an online post slamming his father's online critics, accusing them of "attacking my dad for his curiosity," he explained. Then Kelly turned to the actor himself.

Dreyfuss comes from a long line of socialists, Kelly said. "Were you surprised by the backlash?" No, Dreyfuss said, explaining that his other son, Ben Dreyfuss, an editor at Mother Jones, "always warned me never to read comments on the internet, because they were from people who were dropped on their head." He went to the Cruz event out of curiosity, Dreyfuss said, because he wanted to "hear whether or not there'd be a difference between what I was hearing through the TV camera and live. And what was disappointing was that there was no difference. They sounded equally, kind of, silly."

Kelly said that Dreyfuss sounded like Glenn Beck, because they both love the Constitution. That prompted a civics lesson from Dreyfuss, who runs a nonprofit dedicated to raising civic awareness among school children. "If anyone tells me that America is exceptional, my response is, if you don't defend that statement and prove it, I'll hit you right in the mouth," he said. "Because people don't think that it needs defending, and it does." Watch below. Peter Weber

11:37 a.m. ET

On Monday, Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough tore into Michael Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for national security adviser, for propagating fake news stories on his Twitter account. The conversation was prompted by an incident Sunday afternoon at a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor in which a man fired a shot after arriving to "self-investigate" Pizza Gate, a fake news story that alleged the pizza shop was the center of a child sex slave ring organized by Hillary Clinton. Though Flynn never tweeted about the pizza conspiracy, he did mention Clinton's "sex crimes [with] children" in a tweet. His son, however, did specifically refer to the fake story in tweets.

"He needs to apologize to Americans," Scarborough said, arguing that Flynn "has left a trail of crap behind him with retweets." "He is in one of the most important positions in the White House. On Jan. 20, he needs to apologize for what he has done, unrelated to this fake news story, but with the other fake news stories, the retweets about Jews, the retweets about Muslims."

Watch Scarborough make his case for why Flynn needs to apologize below. Becca Stanek

11:02 a.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Democrats are in no mood to cooperate with President-elect Donald Trump over his Cabinet picks, and many are planning to make the confirmation process as difficult as they can, Politico reports.

For some, it is a case of giving Senate Republicans a taste of their own medicine: "They've been rewarded for stealing a Supreme Court justice. We're going to help them confirm their nominees, many of whom are disqualified?" Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told Politico, referencing Republicans' refusal to confirm President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. "It's not obstruction, it's not partisan, it's just a duty to find out what they'd do in these jobs," Brown added.

While some of Trump's picks will likely be quickly confirmed, others, like Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Steven Mnuchin for treasury secretary, could present a drawn-out fight that might steal the thunder from Trump's first 100 days in office:

Senate Democrats can't block Trump's appointments, which in all but one case need only 51 votes for confirmation. But they can turn the confirmation process into a slog.

Any individual senator can force Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold procedural votes on nominees. Senior Democrats said a series of such votes are likely for many of Trump's picks.

Democrats could conceivably force up to 30 hours of debate for each Cabinet nominee, which would be highly disruptive for a GOP Senate that usually works limited hours but has big ambitions for next year. The minority could also stymie lower-level nominees and potentially keep the Senate focused on executive confirmations for weeks as Trump assumes the presidency and congressional Republicans try to capitalize on their political momentum. [Politico]

"I don't want to needlessly prevent President Trump from being successful but accelerating the confirmation of unacceptable candidates who have views that are outside the mainstream is not constructive," Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) explained to Politico. Jeva Lange

10:31 a.m. ET

Instead of admitting President-elect Donald Trump's claim of voter fraud in the "millions" might not be evidence-based, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) ran with it as an opportunity to angle for further voter restrictions. During a Monday morning interview on CNN's New Day, Issa argued that America does have "huge problems in getting elections accurate and quickly, and getting them believed by the American people."

"We need to get a system that the American people believe in," Issa said. Refusing to agree with host Chris Cuomo's assertion that "several studies" have indicated Trump's figures to be a "gross exaggeration," Issa insisted Trump is simply "fighting" for an "absolute form of confidence." "That's all Donald Trump is getting American people thinking about," Issa said.

But, Cuomo countered, if gaining voter "confidence" is the concern, then pushing baseless claims about "millions" of people voting "illegally" might not be the best approach. "That doesn't bring confidence back, does it?" Cuomo said. Watch the exchange below. Becca Stanek

10:09 a.m. ET
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Sunday that it would not grant an easement permitting the construction of the highly controversial Dakota Access Pipeline under North Dakota's Lake Oahe, the Missouri River reservoir. The pending construction had sparked months of protests organized by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. The denial is news that might not sit so well with President-elect Donald Trump, though, as he owns stock in the company building the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners.

Trump and many other Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, have supported finishing the pipeline, which is nearly completed. While the denied easement will allow for the exploration of alternative routes away from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, Trump's administration could allow for the pipeline to be built along the original route, The New York Times reports.

Trump has claimed that his support for the Dakota Access Pipeline is not tied to his stake in Energy Transfer Partners. Nevertheless, supporters of the pipeline are hopeful about President Barack Obama's impending exit from the White House. "With President-elect Trump set to take office in 47 days, we are hopeful that this is not the final word on the Dakota Access Pipeline," Craig Stevens, a spokesman for the pro-infrastructure group MAIN Coalition, told The New York Times. Jeva Lange

9:49 a.m. ET
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump may not be a big reader, but he is obsessed with the news. And when it comes to picking which outlets to read and share, Trump favors publications that "largely [flatter] and [confirm] that which he claims to be true," BuzzFeed News reports.

Of 2,687 hyperlinks tweeted by Trump since he announced his candidacy in June 2015, BuzzFeed News discovered that Trump most often shares news from Breitbart.com — perhaps no surprise, as former Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon left the website to join Trump's campaign and is now Trump's senior White House adviser.

But while BuzzFeed's analysis also found Trump reads his share of mainstream media publications like The Washington Post and The New York Post, it also found Trump's "preferred content seems to be right-leaning, hyper-partisan sites and opinion blogs including Daily Caller (21 links), Newsmax (18), the Gateway Pundit (14 links), [and] the Conservative Treehouse (11)," among others.

Our analysis revealed a media ecosystem that appears to largely reinforce and affirm the views publicly expressed by Trump and his closest advisers. The news stories Trump tweets share several characteristics: 1) They often favor sensationalism over facts and reporting; 2) They frequently echo direct quotes from Trump himself or his closest advisers; and 3) They routinely malign his enemies and vindicate his most controversial opinions. [BuzzFeed News]

In addition to crunching the numbers, BuzzFeed News published an interactive cloud of Trump's favorite media organizations, which you can browse in depth here. Jeva Lange

9:42 a.m. ET

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:

Trump's criticism of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson wasn't confined to a single tweet either. Shortly after that, Trump claimed Carson, then 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, likening Carson to a pedophile.

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

9:16 a.m. ET

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 on, or interest in, women's issues:

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

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