Donald Trump hits back at Pope Francis over 'not Christian' comment, but religious scholars call it fair game
Pope Francis and Donald Trump have some things in common: Both control prime pieces of real estate and priceless works of art, both claim to care for the working class, both men wear white.... But, as became clear Thursday, the pope and the GOP presidential frontrunner differ in their interpretation of the gospels. That isn't too unusual for a Catholic and Protestant, but this high-profile spat, in the middle of a heated presidential primary, is pretty remarkable.
Responding to Trump's words about building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and deporting 12 million immigrants, the pope said "this man is not Christian if he has said things like that.... This is not the gospel." Trump said it was "disgraceful" for the pope to "question another man's religion or faith" and affirmed his Christianity. "If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS," Trump added, the pope will "have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president."
Trump's GOP rivals mostly steered clear of the dispute, but religious scholars suggested that the pope had raised a fair question about Trump's policies, if not his personal faith. "'Is the Pope Catholic?’ is a joke used to emphasize when something is blindingly obvious," Luke Bretherton, a professor of theological ethics at Duke Divinity School, said in a statement. "That the question 'Is Donald Trump a Christian?' is not a joke but a serious question should tell us something." He added:
That Pope Francis raises a question about whether certain political views are compatible with Christian belief and practice or not is wholly appropriate and something Christian leaders in North America, whether Democrat or Republican, seem all too happy to pronounce on on a regular basis. When politicians parade their faith as a vote-winning strategy, they necessarily invite comment on the status and coherence of their faith commitments with their political positions.
Bretherton's colleague Paul Griffiths, a professor of Catholic theology, was a bit more nuanced: "Donald Trump's proposal isn't consistent with deep Christian understandings of the movements of peoples across border; that, in turn, is perfectly consistent with Trump himself being a Christian — which is to say someone baptized in the triune name."
Slamming the pope isn't expected to hurt Trump in Saturday's primary in South Carolina, where 65 percent of the 2012 GOP primary voters were evangelical Christians and only 13 percent were Catholic. It could hurt him in the delegate-rich, heavily Catholic states in the Northeast. Peter Weber
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's criticism of ObamaCare on Wednesday fell flat after it was held up against the facts. In a tweet, Spicer demanded "relief" for the 28.2 million Americans who are "still waiting under ObamaCare and remain uninsured":
— Sean Spicer (@PressSec) June 28, 2017
Twitter, being Twitter, was quick to point out that this was in fact a far better rate of uninsured Americans than if Republicans' health-care plan were to become law. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that an additional 22 million people would be uninsured by 2026 under Senate Republicans' proposed plan than if ObamaCare were to remain the law of the land.
Moreover, the statistic Spicer just blasted actually marks the lowest number ever of uninsured Americans, Washington University health economist Timothy McBride pointed out. Before ObamaCare, 50 million Americans were uninsured. Becca Stanek
Fox News has hired Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) as a contributor, with the soon-to-be former congressman to start at the network on July 1. "In this role, [Chaffetz] will offer political analysis across [Fox News] and Fox Business Network's daytime and primetime programming," Fox News said in a statement.
— Ben Pershing (@benpershing) June 28, 2017
Chaffetz, the former House Oversight Committee chairman, has made his eagerness to leave D.C. abundantly clear, with his plans to join Fox rumored since May. "Let's just say that when Jason told us he was headed to Fox, no one was surprised," one senior Republican aide told The Washingtonian last spring.
"He's probably one of the most media-capable members in the House," said another, "just based on total time spent on a television camera."
Chaffetz's last day in Congress is June 30. Jeva Lange
Only 12 percent of Americans support the Republican health-care proposal, a USA Today/Suffolk University poll has found. It is the second damning poll of the day for the GOP, with a separate NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll reaching a similar conclusion, that just 17 percent of Americans backed the ObamaCare replacement known as the "Better Care Reconciliation Act."
The USA Today/Suffolk University poll also found that the majority of Americans, 53 percent, think Congress should leave ObamaCare in place, or make less significant changes to it. While most Republicans do want a full repeal of ObamaCare, a third of conservative voters don't want just anything rushed into its place. Only 26 percent of Republicans support the Senate's proposed bill, and 17 percent oppose it. Most — 52 percent — said they need to know more about it.
Republicans have pushed off a vote on the bill until after the July 4th recess. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his lieutenants are trying to find changes that will bring at least 50 of the 52 Senate Republicans in line, and are considering channeling funds to health savings accounts to win over conservative holdouts, or to Medicaid and opioid treatment to win over more moderate Republicans.
It's official: President Trump is headed to France for Bastille Day. The White House on Wednesday announced that Trump has accepted French President Emmanuel Macron's invitation to attend celebrations in France commemorating the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, a decisive moment in the French Revolution. This year's Bastille Day also marks the 100th anniversary of the United States' entry into World War I.
Aside from attending the annual military parade in Paris on the national French holiday, Trump will also talk economic and terrorism-related issues with Macron. "President Trump looks forward to reaffirming America's strong ties of friendship with France, to celebrating this important day with the French people," the White House said in a statement.
That reaffirmation might be needed, given Macron and Trump's recent interactions. The two shared an uncomfortably long, white-knuckled handshake in Brussels last month. Shortly after that, Macron issued a brutal rebuttal to Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, during which Macron repurposed Trump's campaign slogan by calling on the world to "make our planet great again." Becca Stanek
Google News has a new look. On Tuesday evening, Google rolled out a redesign of its page that aggregates news stories.
Gone is the search engine-like results page, replaced by a sleeker card-based interface that boxes off stories with related coverage. Users can more easily click around to different topics, thanks to a customizable sections sidebar.
Alongside the increased focus on customizability is a greater emphasis on facts, a relevant addition in the era of "fake news." The newest version of Google News makes fact-checking more readily accessible, with a Fact Check block now planted in the right rail, featuring the latest investigations from sites like PolitiFact and Snopes.
The goal of the redesign was to make the News feature more streamlined and more user-friendly. "Right now, Google News shows too much, and in that it shows too little," Google product manager Anand Paka told Poynter. "Users are not able to connect with the journalism that they come to Google News to see. Our goal here was to make readability a prime focus and pick out elements that are the most important."
CNN's Chris Cuomo fires back after GOP senator cries fake news: 'You tell me what I'm getting wrong'
CNN's Chris Cuomo has had just about enough of Republicans crying "fake news," and he let GOP Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.) know it during an interview Wednesday morning. The confrontation was sparked by Johnson claiming that the debate over Senate Republicans' plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare is "completely distorted using incorrect information."
Cuomo, who had been discussing the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's recently released cost estimate of the Senate bill, demanded to know whether Johnson was suggesting he was "using misleading information" by citing the CBO's estimates. "You let me know what I'm saying that is inaccurate," Cuomo said. "Because this whole 'fake' thing needs to end, and it needs to end right now. You tell me what I'm getting wrong, or we'll deal with the numbers as the CBO puts them out."
Johnson insisted he wasn't referring specifically to Cuomo's statements. "I'm talking about the fact that people don't understand the 22 million, and it was a wrong baseline," Johnson said, pointing to the CBO's estimate that 22 million more people would be uninsured by 2026 under the GOP health-care plan than under ObamaCare. The CBO, Johnson claimed, had used an outdated baseline assumption to make that comparison.
Watch it below. Becca Stanek
It's a good weekend to get out of town — and not just because of the holiday. American drivers will be treated to the lowest seasonal gas prices in more than a decade, Bloomberg reports, with a national average of $2.21 a gallon, the cheapest Fourth of July fill-up since 2005. This weekend will also mark the first time in 17 years that gas prices are expected to be lower for Independence Day than they were on New Year's Day, Bloomberg adds.
— Bloomberg (@business) June 28, 2017
The national average has been as much as $1.04 a gallon more expensive in the past decade than it will be in 2017. And the low prices may be inspiring Americans to get on the road: A record 44.2 million people plan to travel at least 50 miles away from home this weekend, AAA reports.
"It's thrilling to see gas prices falling just in time for the most-traveled summer holiday," said GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan. "Perhaps we can finally get rid of the myth that gas prices go up for the holiday." Jeva Lange