Donald Trump is going into Super Tuesday with even more endorsements, this time from NASCAR.
At a campaign event Monday night in Valdosta, Georgia, Trump was flanked by NASCAR CEO Brian France and current and retired drivers, including Chase Elliott, Ryan Newman, David Lee Regan, and Bill Elliott, who called Trump a "leader representing strength and common sense solutions." France said he believes Trump's "leadership and strength are desperately needed," and the Republican frontrunner is "changing American politics forever." Catherine Garcia
The Federal Reserve listed potential workers failing drug tests as a problem for the U.S. economy in its April, May, and July Beige Book economic surveys, and Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen told Congress this month that opioid abuse is one of the factors hampering labor participation for prime-age workers. But the abuse of prescription opioids and growing use of marijuana is being felt especially in the manufacturing sector, where up to half of applicants for good-paying factory jobs in the upper-Midwest rust belt fail their drug tests, The New York Times reports. Untold others don't apply because they know they will fail.
"We are talking to employers every day, and they tell us they are having more and more trouble finding people who can pass a drug test," says Edmond C. O'Neal at Northeast Indiana Works, an education and skills-training nonprofit. "I've heard kids say pot isn't a drug. It may not be, but pot will prevent you from getting a job." This isn't because of moral strictures among manufacturers or legal niceties, he adds. "Relaxing drug policies isn't an option for manufacturers in terms of insurance and liability."
As Michael J. Sherwin, CEO of the 123-year-old Ohio metal fabricator Columbiana Boiler in Youngstown explains, "The lightest product we make is 1,500 pounds, and they go up to 250,000 pounds," so "if something goes wrong, it won't hurt our workers. It'll kill them — and that's why we can't take any risks with drugs." That's a problem for his company, which is losing business to overseas rivals because of labor shortages, he adds. "We are always looking for people and have standard ads at all times, but at least 25 percent fail the drug tests." You can read more about the knotty problem of drugs and jobs, and the special concerns about shifting marijuana laws, at The New York Times. Peter Weber
On Tuesday, fashion brand Michael Kors said it has agreed to buy upscale shoemaker Jimmy Choo for $1.17 billion in cash, in a bid to shore up its narrowing profits amid slow growth in its core handbag business. Jimmy Choo has been up for sale since April, when European firm JAB Holding put it on the market. Michael Kors and other fashion brands are trying to come up with strategies to get U.S. consumers to pay full price for luxury handbags, as customers become accustomed to steep discounts and women are switching to smaller purses. In May, when Michael Kors unveiled a turnaround plan, rival Coach agreed to buy Kate Spade for $2.4 billion. The Michael Kors-Jimmy Choo deal requires shareholder approval. Peter Weber
On Monday's Late Show, Stephen Colbert said his goodbyes to former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer — "He wanted to spend more time not answering his family's questions," he joked — and hello to the man who drove Spicer to resign, new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, whom he introduced with a little Bohemian Rhapsody riff. "I think this is not a good sign for the Trump administration, when six months in, they're already running out of story lines so they started adding crazy new characters," Colbert said. "Scaramucci's like adding Scrappy-Doo, or Chachi to Happy Days. He even has an adorable nickname."
Still, "The Mooch" hit the ground running, Colbert said, giving a classy sendoff to Spicer and offering some unsolicited hair and makeup advice to Spicer's replacement, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "He's gonna fit into the Trump administration just fine," Colbert said. He trotted out his Scaramucci impersonation, which looked like something out of a bad Goodfellas remake, and played some of the highlights of Scaramucci's inaugural TV interviews as Trump's communications chief. One in particular, with CNN's Jake Tapper, was particularly puzzling, Colbert said, recapping: "So the president is the one who told you that the president's not in trouble, and you're not going to tell us because it's an anonymous source but then we ask and you tell us anyway? Why are we wasting this guy on communications? He should be the head of national security."
Later in the show, Colbert pointed out the obvious hole in Jared Kushner's new explanation for his meeting with a Kremlin-tied Russian lawyer peddling dirt on Hillary Clinton, then deconstructed Trump's tweet seemingly acknowledging his discussions about pardoning his aides and maybe even himself. "Reminds of the passage in the New Testament when the apostle Judas said, 'Surely, I will not betray you, my Lord, but if I did you'd have to forgive me, right? That's like your whole deal. Also, are you a cop? You have to tell me if you're a cop.'" Watch below. Peter Weber
President Trump's speech to the quadrennial Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia on Monday was not traditional Boy Scouts fare. Amid recounting his electoral victory, calling for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, criticizing former President Barack Obama, predicting that the "fake media" will under-count the size of his "incredible, massive crowd, record-setting," and suggesting the gathered teenage boys do what they love, Trump told the more than 30,000 Boy Scouts about an encounter he had with famous home-builder William Levitt in the 1980s.
"I'll tell you a story that's very interesting for me," Trump began — and if you read about Levitt, it is hard to miss the similarities. Levitt and his brother, Arthur, revolutionized mass-production housing, helping create the modern suburban development and becoming very wealthy in the process. (He also famously refused to sell to black buyers.) In the 1960s, Levitt sold his company for about $90 million, and with his foreign third wife, "he went out and bought a big yacht, and he had a very interesting life," Trump recounted. "I won't go any more than that, because you're Boy Scouts so I'm not going to tell you what he did. Should I tell you? Should I tell you? You're Boy Scouts, but you know life. You know life."
So Trump told about the time he met an old and bankrupt Levitt:
I saw him at a cocktail party. And it was very sad because the hottest people in New York were at this party. It was the party of Steve Ross — Steve Ross, who was one of the great people. ... He had a lot of successful people at the party. And I was doing well, so I got invited to the party. I was very young. And I go in, but I'm in the real estate business, and I see a hundred people, some of whom I recognize, and they're big in the entertainment business. And I see sitting in the corner was a little old man who was all by himself. Nobody was talking to him. I immediately recognized that that man was the once great William Levitt, of Levittown. [Trump, Boy Scout Jamboree]
Strange moment. Trump tells 40,000 Boy Scouts about meeting NY developer William Levitt at a cocktail party. https://t.co/7ajx4GVwy5
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 24, 2017
This weekend in Salt Lake City, some of the world's youngest bike riders faced off during the 2017 Strider Cup World Championship.
Toddler balance bike racing is "the country's cutest sport," Strider Bikes said, and nearly 400 racers, from 18 months to five years old, participated in the championship. They came from all over the United States, plus 14 countries, including Japan, Australia, Thailand, Tahiti, and Sweden, taking on a 750-foot course filled with obstacles, water features, and ramps. This year, each division was won by a Japanese racer — Kaisei Nishimura won the 2-and-under class; Raito Kaneko finished first in the 3-year-old class; Taiga Kuwahara was on top for the 4-year-old class, and Waku Kunitate won the 5-year-old class.
There were also Special Needs Races, open to racers of all ages and abilities, with several Special Olympics teams involved. Mom Melissa Clark, whose 9-year-old twins Sara and Emma participated, said riding balance bikes helps them with their "balance, coordination, and confidence. They loved the race. It was so exciting and fun for them to do something like this." Catherine Garcia
Early Monday morning, White House senior adviser and President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, released an 11-page statement on his at least four known meetings with Russian officials last year, including a meeting he and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort were invited to by Donald Trump Jr. with a Kremlin-linked lawyer offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton. In Kushner's letter and a subsequent statement he read outside the White House after testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, he denied any collusion with Russia and said he did not know of any collusion in the Trump campaign.
Specifically, Kushner said he had not known the reason for the meeting with the Russian lawyer, because he had been too busy with the campaign to read Don Jr.'s entire email — what NBC News' Kasie Hunt called "the chaos and sloppiness defense." On Fox News Monday afternoon, anchor Shep Smith did not seem convinced by that version of events.
"Okay, hang on," Smith told Associated Press White House reporter Jonathan Lemire. "There's an email, and at the top of that email, there's a subject line. ... Here it is, this is an email from Donald Trump Jr., sent on Wednesday, June 8, at noon or so. The subject line: 'Russia - Clinton - private and confidential.'" Kushner claims he did not read deep into the email, Smith said, "and we're to believe he didn't read the subject line." "That is the version he is saying," Lemire said. "Frankly, Paul Manafort has made a similar case."
"Everybody's sort of pointing at Don Jr., it seems like, all of a sudden," Smith noted. Lemire said that's "hitting on something very interesting," the idea that "there may be a moment, and it may be sooner than later, where the legal fortunes of Don. Jr. and Jared Kushner may be in conflict. It will be very interesting to see how they reconcile that." Kushner's statements concluded with the hope that he can now put this matter behind him, at least after he testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. "I think that is unlikely, to say the least," Lemire said. "Yeah, that's not happening," Smith said, then moved on to the iffy future for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Watch. Peter Weber
Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, has been given a major task by President Trump — find the leakers inside the administration, and oust them — and he's working in overdrive, officials told The Washington Post Monday.
Scaramucci is meeting with all of the aides in the press department, learning about their roles and getting rid of those who aren't working hard enough to defend Trump, people with knowledge of the situation told the Post. A list has been circulating among Scaramucci's allies with the names of people who used to work for Reince Priebus, Trump's chief of staff, and Sean Spicer, his former press secretary, at the Republican National Committee, and they are in danger of being fired, the officials said. Scaramucci doesn't report to the chief of staff, as is tradition, but rather directly to Trump, the Post reports, and he has also made it known that he thinks some staffers are more concerned with their relationships with Priebus, rather than worried about defending Trump and his agenda.
Already, Trump thinks Scaramucci is doing a bang-up job compared with Spicer — in one of the most biting parts of the Post report, Scaramucci is described as being "almost family" to Trump, while Spicer was most definitely considered the help. Several aides told the Post they welcomed Scaramucci and were glad to see Spicer gone, as he was a bad manager, but others had sympathy, saying Spicer had an extremely difficult job trying to explain Trump to the outside world.
Ryan Williams, a Republican strategist, told the Post that until Trump and communications staffers are on the same page, there will be problems. "Unlike every other staffer, maybe Anthony Scaramucci will be able to persuade the president to stay on message, but I'll believe it when I see it." Catherine Garcia