Donald Trump's campaign has been trying to come up with an effective way to defuse the flare-up that followed Monday night's presidential debate over Trump's decade-old belittling of a former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado. After Hillary Clinton mentioned Machado at the debate, her campaign put out an ad featuring the Venezuelan-Cuban actress, two magazine profiles came out, and Machado went on TV to talk about how Trump had publicly called her fat, alleging he used the terms "Miss Piggy" and "Miss Housekeeping."
The Trump pushback has included arguing that Machado was overweight and difficult, alleging that she was the getaway driver in an attempted murder, that she was allegedly filmed having sex with a costar on the reality TV show La Granja (like MTV's The Real World), and posed topless in Mexican Playboy — you can see all iterations of that in supporter Scottie Nell Hughes's appearance on CNN. Media outlets that support Trump, like Alex Jones' InfoWars, Rush Limbaugh, and The Daily Caller, went dirtier, saying Machado became a porn star (Snopes says she did not).
Trump adviser Mike Flynn, the former DIA chief, made the tame version of this argument on Thursday night's Kelly File. "You look at some of the things that have come out about this young lady in the last 24 hours," he said, and Kelly — who has already criticized Trump's response — stepped in. "Even though this woman had some troubles, even though this Miss Universe had some troubles," she said, "his comments about her weight are on camera," including from earlier this week.
Early Friday morning, Trump apparently decided that his supporters weren't doing a good enough job pressing the case that the Machado "cookie is going to crumble really quickly" for Clinton, as Hughes said, or "blow up in her face," as Newt Gingrich said on Sean Hannity's show, so he took to Twitter to press the case himself.
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) September 30, 2016
Because obviously the story is not that Trump publicly humiliated a 19-year-old woman over her weight, as captured on video, but that the woman went on to star in a reality TV show and pose for Playboy. Peter Weber
President Trump has a true appreciation for the power of nature. Especially when it washes a boat onto someone's yard.
Trump visited North Carolina on Wednesday to survey damage in the few areas where Hurricane Florence's floodwaters have subsided. One homeowner was particularly concerned that his insurance company wouldn't pay for the flooding damage, but Trump was more excited that the man "got a nice boat out of the deal," The New York Times' Mark Landler reports.
After meeting a man who'd named his dog after the president, Trump noticed a yacht had trucked through another man's deck. "I think it's incredible what we're seeing," Trump said after confirming the boat was not the homeowner's. "The boat just came here." And while Trump promised to "find out the name of the insurance company" that snubbed the man, he also suggested the free boat could make up for it. "What's the law?" the president asked. "Maybe it just becomes theirs."
Trump to a homeowner in New Bern, NC, who had a yacht wash up in his backyard: “At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.” pic.twitter.com/twtT3it8ul
— Mark Landler (@MarkLandler) September 19, 2018
Besides being awestruck by a mystery boat, Trump also made sure to confirm North Carolina's Lake Norman was doing okay, Landler reports. Trump "love(s) that area," he told a state official, but he "can't tell you why." Survey says it's because there's a Trump National Golf Club on the shore. Kathryn Krawczyk
Two new polls suggest that support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is plummeting, and it probably hasn't hit rock bottom yet.
On Wednesday, Reuters published the results of a poll conducted from Sept. 11 to Sept. 17, largely before sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh came to dominate the news. The New Yorker only reported on Sept. 14, three days into the survey, that an anonymous woman was accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. The woman came forward publicly on Sept. 16, the day before the poll wrapped up, to allege Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were both in high school. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.
Yet even still, 36 percent of those surveyed by Reuters said they do not want Kavanaugh to be confirmed, with just 31 percent supporting his confirmation. These numbers are even lower than they have been in most polls over the past few weeks, with Reuters reporting that the percent who disapprove has climbed six points since last month. Additionally, only 64 percent of Republicans said they support Kavanaugh's confirmation. In a poll released by CNN last week, 74 percent of Republicans wanted the judge to be confirmed.
Meanwhile, YouGov also released a new poll on Wednesday with a similar result: Thirty-two percent of respondents said they approve of Kavanaugh's confirmation. But in that same poll, only 26 percent of those surveyed said the Kavanaugh sexual assault allegations are credible, while a plurality said they haven't heard enough to say for sure.
The YouGov poll was conducted from Sep. 17 - 18 and reached 1,000 Americans online. The margin of error is ± 3.9 percentage points. Reuters' poll was similarly conducted online, but it reached about 2,000 adults and the credibility interval is ± 2 percentage points.
Cody Wilson, owner of the controversial 3D-printed gun company Defense Distributed, has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor.
Wilson, 30, allegedly met the girl, who is under 17, on the website SugarDaddyMeet.com, The New York Times reports. They each sent at least one explicit photo to each other via text, and met in person in Austin, Texas, on Aug. 15. Wilson then drove the girl to a hotel where the assault occurred, and paid her $500, an affidavit details.
Investigators were able to match Wilson's driver's license to profiles used on the website. Hotel records and security footage also back up the story, per affidavit details reported by the Austin American-Statesman.
Wilson posted blueprints online for his 3D-printed plastic gun in 2013, and sued when the U.S. State Department ordered him to take the plans down. The case was settled earlier this year, but 19 states quickly sued Wilson again. A restraining order has since blocked Wilson from posting the plans online. Wilson has taken to mailing customers the blueprints on flash drives.
Wilson could face up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine under the felony sexual assault charge, per the American-Statesman. He and his lawyer have not returned the Times' request for comment. Kathryn Krawczyk
Britain was 95 percent sure Russia poisoned an ex-spy. 'Maybe we should get to 98 percent,' Trump said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has always known how to get on President Trump's good side.
From the moment Trump took office, and even before then, Putin has used his intelligence training to stroke Trump's ego, the forthcoming book The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy by The Washington Post's Greg Miller reveals. Putin urged Trump to create Russia-friendly policies, had him scrambling to plan a summit between the two leaders, and reportedly even convinced him the "deep state" was "fighting against our friendship," Miller writes.
The president's "friendship" with Putin pushed him away from American intelligence officials and other world leaders, an excerpt from The Apprentice published in the Post says. The book also alleges that Trump's problems with the CIA stemmed mostly from the agency's evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Trump's Russian deference was on fully display after the ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal was poisoned in England. British Prime Minister Theresa May told Trump the U.K. was "95 percent sure" the Kremlin was behind the nerve agent attack. "Maybe we should get to 98 percent," Trump replied, per The Apprentice. He later came close to backing out of a plan to throw 60 suspected Russian spies out of the U.S. in partnership with European leaders. Chief of Staff John Kelly persuaded Trump to follow through on the commitment, but the decision still drew "a lot of curse words" from the president, an official later said.
Hurricane Florence continued to dump rain on North Carolina for days after it made landfall last week, leading to devastating flooding across much of the state. Wilmington, a coastal city that was transformed into an island due to surrounding floodwaters, has become increasingly isolated as flooding fills the I-40 highway. Aerial footage captured by USA Today shows the highway looking more like a river, completely unrecognizable beneath record-breaking floodwaters.
At least 37 people have died as a result of the hurricane, reports The Associated Press. Emergency responders are working to enter the hard-hit areas to offer relief, but it's challenging when roads are completely blocked off. Watch the video below to see just how severe the flooding remains, via USA Today. Summer Meza
Even if in the upcoming midterms, Democrats manage to hold on to the 10 seats that are at risk in states President Trump won in 2016, they will still need to win two additional seats in order to take back the Senate. The new polls suggest Texas and Arizona are the states where Democrats have the best chances. Florida and Nevada's competitions are leaning toward Republican wins, but are notably tight.
In Texas, Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D) leads Sen. Ted Cruz (R) by two percent in a poll of Texas voters. It's a tiny margin, but more than was originally expected from a long-shot Democrat in the deep-red state. Still, a Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday showed Cruz ahead by nine points.
The race to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is looking positive for Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D), the Arizona poll shows. She's ahead of the President Trump-backed Rep. Martha McSally (R) by three points. Senate races in Florida and Nevada lean toward Republicans, with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) just one point above incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D), and incumbent Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (R) leading Rep. Jacky Rosen (D) by three.
All of these races are within the 4-point credibility intervals Reuters recorded, meaning the senatorial wannabes are essentially tied. Separate polls were conducted online for each state from Sept. 5-17, and each polled between 992 and 1,039 people. Kathryn Krawczyk
The Justice Department doesn't want to give in to President Trump's demands quite so easily.
Trump ordered the declassification of intelligence documents related to his former campaign adviser Carter Page earlier this week, but Bloomberg reported Wednesday that DOJ officials plan to redact some of the information to keep it secret.
People familiar with the matter said that the DOJ and FBI are currently deciding what will be redacted, but it will likely fly in the face of Trump's call for immediate declassification of materials "relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction." Trump wanted sensitive documents released that would show the FBI's warrant to surveil Page, interviews to obtain the warrant, and text messages between senior officials, believing they would demonstrate the "anti-Trump bias" he says has tainted the investigation.
Because the investigation into whether the Trump campaign was involved with Russian election interference in 2016 is ongoing, Trump's orders were viewed as crossing a "red line" by some lawmakers. Some Republicans cheered the move as a step toward increased transparency, but other experts said it showed an overstep of presidential involvement in the investigation.
The Justice Department is expected to submit proposed redactions soon, reports Bloomberg, knowing that withholding information will put DOJ officials in direct conflict with Trump. The president always could override the agencies and declassify material by himself. Read more at Bloomberg. Summer Meza