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February 29, 2016

Donald Trump offered up his excuse Monday morning as to why he didn't disavow the Ku Klux Klan and former grand wizard David Duke in an interview with CNN over the weekend: He says he just couldn't hear the question.

"I'm sitting in a house in Florida with a very bad earpiece that they gave me, and you could hardly hear what [CNN host Jake Tapper] was saying," Trump told Today Show host Savannah Guthrie, adding that CNN provided him with a "lousy earpiece."

In the interview that aired Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, Trump repeatedly denied knowing anything about Duke when asked if he would "unequivocally condemn" the former KKK grand wizard's support. "I don't know anything about David Duke, okay? I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists," Trump said.

On social media, Trump was quick to point out that he had already disavowed Duke during a press conference on Friday.

Politico notes that CNN has yet to offer a comment on Trump's accusations, though "it's not clear what, if anything, Trump was unable to hear during his interview." Listen to his interview with the Today Show below. Becca Stanek

7:44 p.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Monday evening, the Senate confirmed Mike Pompeo, a conservative congressman from Kansas, as the CIA director.

His responsibilities will include managing the global spy network and improving the contentious relationship between the agency and President Trump. As a Congressman, Pompeo was a Tea Party Republican who opposed the Obama administration's nuclear accord with Iran and called the attacks on U.S. compounds in Benghazi "worse in some ways" than Watergate, The Washington Post reports. Catherine Garcia

6:50 p.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Monday blocked the proposed $34-billion merger of health insurance giants Aetna and Humana on antitrust grounds.

The Justice Department under the Obama administration sued to stop the deal. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge John Bates said the deal would threaten competition, writing that "federal regulation would likely be insufficient to prevent the merged firm from raising prices or reducing benefits" and there is "valuable head-to-head competition between Aetna and Humana which the merger would eliminate."

Aetna and Humana said that by 2018, they expected to see $1.25 billion in annual cost savings, but Bates wrote "the Court is unpersuaded that the efficiencies generated by the merger will be sufficient to mitigate the anti-competitive effect for consumers" in markets the deal affects, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Justice Department also sued to block Anthem's proposed $48 billion purchase of Sigma Corp on antitrust reasons; another judge is hearing that case. Catherine Garcia

5:22 p.m. ET
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Stephen Colbert will host the 2017 Emmy Awards, CBS announced Monday. The host of The Late Show will be the fourth late-night host this year to emcee an awards ceremony, following Jimmy Fallon for the Golden Globes, Jimmy Kimmel for the Academy Awards, and James Corden for the Grammys.

"This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period. Both in person and around the globe," said Colbert, taking a shot at President Trump and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer for their claims about the record attendance at Trump's inauguration.

This will be Colbert's biggest live hosting gig yet; he previously hosted the Annual Kennedy Center Honors on CBS. He has won nine Emmy awards for his writing and for his Comedy Central series, The Colbert Report, which he left in 2014.

The Emmys will air Sept. 17, with nominees to be announced July 13. Becca Stanek

4:06 p.m. ET
Courtesy image.

"For those plotting world domination from the comfort of their own living rooms, this is the ultimate armchair," says Margaret Abrams at New York Observer. A statement piece in any home, the Gold Skull Armchair ($500,000) from Harow, a Paris design studio, looks almost conventional when viewed head-on. From every other angle, it's "worthy of the next Game of Thrones season" — menacing, faceted like a diamond, and plated in 24-karat gold. You can also get the chair in black or chrome, but shiny gold "seems to be the newest (and oldest) trend when it comes to luxury items." The Week Staff

4:03 p.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

President Donald Trump's inaugural address about "American carnage" and "America first" apparently went over swimmingly with America's citizens. A Gallup poll released Monday revealed that 53 percent of Americans who watched or read about Trump's inaugural address Friday rated it as "excellent" or "good." Just 20 percent said the president's speech was "poor" or terrible."

However, Trump's ratings lag behind those of former President Barack Obama in both 2013 and 2009, and of former President George W. Bush in 2005. Sixty-five percent gave Obama's 2013 address an "excellent" or "good" review, while 81 percent did so in 2009; Bush's 2005 address got a positive rating from 62 percent.

Still, Trump's address did make Americans somewhat more optimistic about the future, Gallup found. While 30 percent reported feeling "less hopeful" after listening to Trump speak, 39 percent reported feeling "more hopeful." Another 30 percent said his address made "no difference" at all.

The poll surveyed 508 adults from across all 50 states immediately after Trump's inaugural address on Jan. 20. Its margin of error is plus or minus 5 percentage points. Becca Stanek

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

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