×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
February 22, 2016
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

At least a third of this year's Republican electorate likes Donald Trump enough to vote for him, but it's no secret that the Republican establishment would prefer somebody like Sen. Marco Rubio. Elite Republican donors have been pouring money into the campaigns of Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. John Kasich, and, until recently, Jeb Bush, but Marlene Ricketts is going a step further. According to newly released campaign finance reports, Ricketts gave $3 million to Our Principles PAC — a group managed by Mitt Romney 2012 top aide Katie Packer, dedicated to destroying Trump's candidacy — accounting for nearly all the funds the PAC raised in January. Our Principles sent anti-Trump mailers and ran Trump-bashing ads before the Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina contests.

So who is Marlene Ricketts? She and her husband, billionaire T.D. Ameritrade founder J. Joe Ricketts, have owned the Chicago Cubs since 2009, led the charge to tie then-Sen. Barack Obama to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in the 2008 election, and backed the brief campaign of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) this election cycle. Their son is Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R). Marlene Ricketts isn't just financing ads calling Trump a GOP-wrecking fake conservative, though; she also gave $10,000 each last year to super PACs backing Rubio, Bush, Cruz, Rick Perry, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Our Priorities may not have had much luck slowing Trump so far, but it will "launch aggressive efforts" before Super Tuesday on March 1, Packer told USA Today in an email. "We will continue to shine a bright light on Trump's liberal statements and inconsistencies." Or they will at least as long as Ricketts is writing big checks. Peter Weber

12:46 p.m. ET

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney addressed the Trump administration's tax reform agenda in a pair of interviews Sunday, depicting a White House willing to do whatever is necessary to change the tax code.

"We're using reconciliation so that we only need 50 votes in the Senate instead of 60," Mulvaney explained on NBC's Meet the Press. "In order to do that, the certain proposals can only have certain economic impact, and one of the ways to game the system is to make things expire," he continued, clarifying that "this is done more to force, to shoehorn the bill into the rules than because we think it's good policy."

Likewise, on CNN's State of the Union, Mulvaney said the White House would endorse removing the ObamaCare individual mandate repeal rider from the tax bill if that is what it takes to pass the legislation. "If we can repeal part of ObamaCare as part of a tax bill and have a tax bill that is still a good tax bill that can pass, that's great," he told host Jake Tapper. But if "it becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can," the repeal amendment will go.

Read the NBC transcript here, and watch Mulvaney's full CNN appearance below. Bonnie Kristian

12:27 p.m. ET

White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short on Sunday sidestepped no less than 13 questions from ABC News host George Stephanopoulos as to whether President Trump wants embattled Alabama candidate Roy Moore to win a seat in the Senate given credible allegations of his sexual misconduct toward teenage girls as young as 14. Here's a small sample of the merry-go-round interview:

Stephanopoulos: So, you're not willing to make a yes or no judgment on whether the president believes the women?

Short: I think I have answered your question three times now.

Stephanopoulos: No. I think what you have said is you have questions and concerns about the allegations.

Short: We do. We do have serious questions about the allegations. And the president has raised those and it's one of the reasons why he has not gone down to campaign for Roy Moore.

Stephanopoulos: So, he promised after the primary to back Roy Moore. Is he still backing Roy Moore?

Short: I don't think you have seen him go down there and campaign for him. I don't think you have seen him issue an endorsement. You have not seen him issue robocalls. I think he thinks at this point it is best for the people of Alabama to make the decision for their state.

Stephanopoulos: So he no longer backs Roy Moore?

Short: I think he thinks it is best for the people of Alabama to make the decision. [ABC]

After persistently pressing Short to give a yes or no answer, Stephanopoulos finally moved on to a simpler subject, tax reform. Watch the exchange below, or count all 13 questions in the full transcript here. Bonnie Kristian

11:13 a.m. ET

Saturday Night Live took a thinly veiled swipe at overly aggressive policing tactics with a sketch in which host Chance the Rapper and fellow minority citizens of Gotham ask Beck Bennett's Bruce Wayne to let Batman know he needs to "cool it down on our neighborhoods" because it "seems like he's in our neighborhood, all the time."

"You know how Batman is tough on crime?" Chance asks. "Somebody's gotta do something about him. I mean, he broke my best friend's jaw in two places and all he did was steal a TV. That's excessive!" Then, Chance adds, Batman left his friend "hanging for like 30 minutes 30 stories up by a gargoyle by his underwear." (The underwear thing, it turns out, is among Batman's favorite crime-fighting techniques.)

Watch the full skit below, and read The Week's Emily L. Hauser on the horrifying pervasiveness of police brutality. Bonnie Kristian

10:37 a.m. ET
Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

The State Department said Friday it will demand the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) outpost in Washington unless the group agrees to peace talks with Israel. The agency said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas triggered a provision in U.S. law that allows the secretary of state to shut down the PLO office if Palestine acts against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Abbas called for an ICC investigation of Israeli settlements in a September speech at the United Nations.

The PLO said Saturday it would not be blackmailed and expressed surprise at the strong-arm tactic after amicable meetings between Abbas and President Trump. An Abbas representative, Nabil Abu Rdainah, said the talks were "characterized by full understanding of the steps needed to create a climate for resumption of the peace process." Bonnie Kristian

10:28 a.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

With less than a month to go before the special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Alabamians are split over how to respond to the sexual misconduct allegations against Senate candidate Roy Moore (R).

Dozens of religious leaders gathered to register their dissent at a Baptist church in Birmingham Saturday, saying Moore is "infected with" a "false religious virus." In addition to addressing the accusations against Moore from a growing list of women, speakers at the gathering of pastors critiqued the candidate's apparent verbal swipe at the 1965 Voting Rights Act on Tuesday.

However, many prominent Alabama Republicans remain loyal partisans. "I believe in the Republican Party, what we stand for, and most important, we need to have a Republican in the United States Senate to vote on things like the Supreme Court justices," said Gov. Kay Ivey (R), conceding she finds the accusations troubling.

Read The Week's Paul Waldman on why Ivey and her fellow GOPers may be stuck with Moore whether they like it or not. Bonnie Kristian

10:14 a.m. ET
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leveled a fresh round of criticism at her erstwhile campaign rival, President Trump, in two sets of comments this weekend.

In an interview published Friday, Clinton said she stands by her past comment that Trump is Russian President Vladimir Putin's "puppet," calling the president "naive" for believing Putin's denials of election meddling. "I think that he hopes or expects the rest of us to be naive, or at least the people who support him to be naive," she continued, "but this is a serious cyberattack on America.”

Then, at an appearance in Arkansas on Saturday, Clinton said Trump is, like, totally obsessed with her. "Apparently, you know, my former opponent is obsessed with my speaking out," she said. "Apparently there was another, somebody told me, tweet today. Honestly, between tweeting and golfing, how does he get anything done?"

The tweet in question was a Saturday post in which Trump achieved a similar middle-school vibe by labeling Clinton "the worst (and biggest) loser of all time." Bonnie Kristian

8:09 a.m. ET

Saturday Night Live censured SNL alum Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) over a reporter's allegation that in 2006 he kissed her without her consent and took a picture groping her while she slept. "I know this photo looks bad, but remember: It also is bad," said Colin Jost in a Weekend Update segment on the subject. "And, sure, this was taken before he ran for public office, but it was also taken after he was a sophomore in high school. It's pretty hard to be like, 'Oh, come on. He didn't know any better. He was only 55.'"

Michael Che chimed in to note President Trump's selective condemnation of Franken, a Democrat, while refraining from comparable comment about Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Watch the full clip below, and read The Week's Peter Weber on what would happen in a Senate ethics investigation of Franken's conduct, which the senator invited in his second apology statement. Bonnie Kristian

See More Speed Reads