×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
December 15, 2016

When Donald Trump showed up to huddle with America's top tech executives on Wednesday, his three adult children flanked him. The presence of Ivanka, Don Jr., and Eric Trump at the meeting sparked outcry as well as finger-pointing from critics about the threat of nepotism: "I looked at this seating map published by Quartz and notice that there are 25 people in attendance. This is a group of our most-senior technology leaders and our new government-elect," Mark Suster wrote for Both Sides of the Table. "Twenty-five people. Four of them  —  FOUR  —  are the president-elect's children. That is 16 percent of everybody in the room ... This is the definition of nepotism that we would condemn from the least democratic nations in the world."

But Kellyanne Conway defended the inclusion of the young Trumps on Morning Joe on Thursday, explaining that, legally speaking, they could even be included in the White House. "The anti-nepotism law apparently has an exception if you want to work in the West Wing because the president is able to appoint his own staff," Conway said. "Of course, this came about to stop maybe family members from serving on the Cabinet, but the president does have discretion to choose a staff of his liking."

"So if that is true and that legal advice holds," Conway added, "then that will open up a realm of possibilities." Watch her explain the loophole, and what it could mean, below. Jeva Lange

8:21 a.m. ET
MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images

Emmerson Mnangagwa, who served as Zimbabwe's vice president until ousted leader Robert Mugabe fired him on Nov. 6, will chair his first meeting as head of Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party Thursday and will be sworn in as the new president Friday, the speaker of the country's Parliament announced Wednesday.

Mnangagwa's firing had triggered the chain of events that led to Mugabe's forced resignation Tuesday. Manangagwa's ascension marks the country's first transfer of power since independence in 1980.

Mnangagwa returned to Zimbabwe Wednesday, after fleeing for safety, and addressed the public from the ruling party's headquarters. He said the military's intervention was the start of a "new democracy," one that required all Zimbabweans to work together to turn the country around. "We want to grow our economy, we want jobs, jobs, jobs," he said. Lauren Hansen

7:27 a.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In 2015, after a sexually explicit, mainly online relationship with a woman ended, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) threatened to report the woman to the Capital police, according to a recording obtained by The Washington Post. Barton had reportedly sent the woman sexually explicit photos, videos, and messages over the course of their relationship, which began on Facebook in 2011.

The woman, who spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity, recorded the 2015 conversation in which Barton confronted her about communications she had with other women connected to Barton. "I am ready if I have to, I don't want to, but I should take all this crap to the Capitol Hill Police and have them launch an investigation," he said, according to the recording.

On Wednesday, Barton apologized to his constituents after naked photos of him circulated on social media. In a statement, Barton, who is the longest-serving member of Congress from Texas, said he had sexual relationships "with other mature adult women" while separated from his second wife, before their divorce in 2015. "I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days," he said. But Barton, who has reportedly hired a crisis communications firm, also said that he had suffered a potential crime over the released lewd photos. In Texas, it is a misdemeanor to intentionally publicize images or videos of someone's genitals or sexual activity without consent. Barton said the Capitol Police may be launching an investigation. Lauren Hansen

November 22, 2017
Alex Wong/Getty Image

In their quest to cut taxes while not running up huge deficits, Senate Republicans have had to find creative ways to save money in their forthcoming tax reform bill. Although some estimates say that the Republican tax bill would add $1.8 trillion to the federal debt over 10 years, you can rest assured that the Republican Party is committed to cutting irresponsible spending: In an effort to save money, the new plan will prevent your employer from being able to write off lunches purchased for workers or workplace entertainment, HuffPost reported Wednesday.

The move would save $23 billion over 10 years, HuffPost reported — or just 1.3 percent of the total expected deficit increase. Under the current tax code, employers who give the majority of their workers free lunches can deduct 50 percent of the cost. The House version of the bill does not touch free workplace lunch, but it would eliminate tax breaks for employer-paid day care assistance programs, as well as employee-sponsored moving expenses and achievement awards, all for the sake of saving $12 billion.

But the Senate tax bill isn't all bad news! The exemption for the estate tax will be doubled, so if you happen to inherit less than $10 million from a dead relative, you won't have to pay any taxes on the money — which should definitely help you pay for lunch if your employer won't give it to you. Kelly O'Meara Morales

November 22, 2017
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Roy Moore campaign lashed out at The Washington Post on Wednesday, dubbing the paper "a worthless piece of crap" after it pressed the campaign to provide documentation it claimed to have that discredited one of the several women who have come forth to accuse the Alabama Senate candidate of sexual misconduct.

A spokesperson for the Moore campaign told supporters Tuesday that it was in possession of documents which supposedly showed that Leigh Corfman — who accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 14 years old — lied about her address in the Post's story about Moore's sexual misconduct. The Post followed up with the campaign Tuesday, asking for proof of the documents, but while the campaign initially said it would comply, strategist Brett Doster struck a very different tune in an email Wednesday: "There is no need for anyone at The Washington Post to ever reach out to the Roy Moore campaign again because we will not respond to anyone from the Post now or in the future," Doster wrote. "Happy Thanksgiving."

For good measure, Doster added: "The Washington Post is a worthless piece of crap that has gone out of its way to railroad Roy Moore." Post reporter Michael Scherer said that a longtime Moore aide presented the paper with evidence that "did not contradict what Corman has told the Post."

The campaign has vehemently denied allegations of the candidate's sexual misconduct and has tried to call into question proof given by his accusers. On Tuesday, President Trump told White House reporters that Moore had "totally denied" the allegations of sexual misconduct, which he added took place over 40 years ago, "so, you know." Kelly O'Meara Morales

November 22, 2017

When the Federal Communications Commission announced its plan to dismantle net neutrality laws back in January, comments started pouring in to the FCC website — a record-breaking 22 million of them.

In 2015, a public commenting period led to Obama-era guidelines protecting net neutrality. But bots intent on dismantling net neutrality took over this round, Vanity Fair reported, borrowing real Americans' addresses to leave hundreds of thousands of comments under fake identities advocating against the rules. And with FCC chairman Ajit Pai's Monday confirmation that net neutrality rules are coming down, it looks like they're getting their wish.

In an open letter to Pai, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman revealed that he's been investigating these questionable comments for months. But the FCC hasn't cooperated:

Schneiderman said the situation likely violated state laws, as it used New Yorkers' identities to leave fake comments. Yet despite multiple requests, the FCC has refused to aid Schneiderman's investigation — meaning "the door is open for (this) to happen again and again," he wrote. Kathryn Krawczyk

November 22, 2017
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Trump Organization is walking away from its struggling hotel in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood, The New York Times reports. It is the second hotel the organization has removed its name from this year, after a similar situation developed in Toronto.

The SoHo building, which also has condominiums, closed its main restaurant earlier this year due to a decline in business "since the election," in the words of one of its lawyers. The owner of the building, the CIM Group, reportedly reached a deal to buy out the Trump Organization from the property; the Trump company manages daily operations at the building. "The Board and CIM have been first class in every regard," said the CEO of Trump Hotels, Eric Danziger, in a statement. "We have truly enjoyed our relationship and look forward to exploring new opportunities in the future."

On Monday, The Telegraph reported that the average price for a weekend at a Trump hotel dropped by 36 percent in the last year. Jeva Lange

November 22, 2017

Ahh, Thanksgiving. That special time of year when you set out your most over-the-top centerpiece, strap on your eating pants, and gather around the table to talk tax policy with relatives you only see once a year.

That's what Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) imagines happens, anyway. On Monday, Schumer tweeted a chart made by the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, instructing his followers to bring it to "Thanksgiving dinner" to whip out when "that family member who always talks politics tells you the Republican tax bill helps the middle class," the Washington Examiner reports.

But Schumer wasn't done delivering graphics for you to surprise your unsuspecting relative with at some point between the turkey carving and the pumpkin pie:

Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Chuck! Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads