×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
January 11, 2017

Props to Seth Meyers, who on Tuesday's Late Night tried to get spinmaster extraordinaire Kellyanne Conway to answer questions about Donald Trump releasing his taxes, why he's gone so long without holding a press conference, and how people are expected to know what's in his heart.

Conway, Trump's campaign manager and now a counselor to the president-elect, told Meyers both she and Trump are fans of the show, which Meyers found shocking. Flattery didn't keep him from asking Conway about news that broke right before filming, regarding reports that Russia has compromising information on Trump. After some back and forth on the details of the document, Conway said the concern should be that "intelligence officials leak to the press," while Meyers said it's actually more worrisome that Trump doesn't know whether or not he received a briefing on the matter.

Throughout the segment, Conway brought up Hillary Clinton multiple times, regardless of the questions Meyers asked, and she became annoyed when the audience audibly snickered during several points of the interview, including when she said Trump has "enormous curiosity" and is a "successful, brilliant businessman." Conway declared that it's "not fair that people don't give him his due," and she's "astonished" by the "disrespect" people have for Trump. Their chat ended with Meyers making a bet with Conway — "I bet in the next four years we're not going to see the president-elect's tax returns." Watch the video below to find out how Conway spun her response. Catherine Garcia

10:24 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Trump administration is still considering plastering the border wall with solar panels, despite the fact that experts say the idea makes no sense practically or economically. "We're certainly looking for different methods and ways to make this better," Mario Villarreal, the division chief for San Diego's Customs and Border Patrol field office, told the Washington Examiner in a Wednesday interview. "Solar panels or technology bundles on top of the fence certainly isn't off the table."

In June, Axios reported that Trump described his vision for the wall to Republican leaders as being "40 to 50 feet high" and covered in solar panels so it "creates energy and pays for itself." The plan is not so scientifically sound, energy experts say, because "sitting solar panels atop a giant wall, or lining the sides of it, aren't necessarily the best way to maximize solar output," as BuzzFeed News writes. If it was, businesses would already be doing it.

Six companies have been chosen to design mock border walls for inspection, a process that will be complete by the end of the month. "We're excited to see the industry come up with new, innovative, and creative ideas in the form of border wall prototypes," said Villarreal. Read his full interview at the Washington Examiner. Jeva Lange

9:25 a.m. ET
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Debating how presidents honor fallen service members is "asinine," Energy Secretary Rick Perry told CBS News on Wednesday, when Major Garrett asked him about the days-long controversy surrounding President Trump. "The presidents of the United States each have a love for this country," Perry said. "They have a love for the young men and women who serve and the families who have lost them. I think anyone who questions that — now do they handle it differently? Yes, and that's okay."

President Trump has had about two dozen service members die while he was in office, but when George W. Bush was president, Perry noted, he was signing a condolence letter a day during the height of the Iraq War. When Perry was governor of Texas, he added, "about 10 of those years, I wrote a letter a week to a Texan's family — their spouses, their loved ones, their next of kin — who was lost in the war on terror. I went to funerals. I visited with parents."

Perry said he wasn't sure why Trump cast false aspersions on former President Barack Obama's handling of fallen troops, but "what I will say in defense of what he said — I think he was making reference to — everybody does this differently." From his perspective, Perry added, "I know we live in a 24/7 news cycle and to be splitting hairs on how do we mourn, how do you give comfort, I think is a waste of time, frankly." You can watch the entire exchange at CBS News. Peter Weber

9:16 a.m. ET
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

President Trump might become just the second president since Ronald Reagan to not visit the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea during his trip to Asia next month. In addition to concerns about how Trump's presence on the border might provoke Pyongyang, others in the administration "have expressed concern over Trump's personal safety," The Washington Post reports.

Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have been engaged in a war of words over the past several months, with Trump dubbing the dictator "little rocket man" and "madman" while Kim slammed the U.S. commander in chief as being a "mentally deranged … dotard." While Trump's appearance at the border would signal U.S. resolve, others, including South Korean President Moon Jae-in's advisers, "fear that a Trump visit to the DMZ could increase the chances of a miscalculation that could provoke a military confrontation or have other unintended consequences," the Post writes.

Then there is the threat to Trump himself. When former President Bill Clinton toured the DMZ, his Secret Service staff carried rifles to protect him — in violation of the cease-fire laws.

The White House will not yet confirm Trump's plans. The president will travel to South Korea as one stop during a five-nation trip through Asia between Nov. 3 and Nov. 14. Jeva Lange

8:24 a.m. ET
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

By the end of Donald Trump's presidential campaign last year, "drain the swamp" had become a regular chant at his rallies. A year on, though, President Trump has done little to follow through with his promises, Politico reports. "I don't think that anything's really changed," said Republican lobbyist Brian Wild. "If anything, the lobbying business is booming right now."

Before taking office, Trump proposed five major changes to lobbying rules, only one of which has been fully delivered nine months after his inauguration — "signing an executive order … that banned executive branch officials from lobbying for foreign governments and overseas political parties after they leave the administration." Other promises, including "to broaden the definition of lobbying, to ban lobbyists for foreign interests from making campaign contributions, and to lengthen the amount of time former lawmakers are banned from lobbying," have not been followed through, Politico writes.

Others say they have noticed pressure on lobbyists since Trump took office. The administration has "encouraged not only our office but other offices to proceed with 'drain the swamp' legislation," said George Cecala, the deputy chief of staff to Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.).

But even with things perhaps moving behind the scenes, it's still a good time to be a lobbyist in Washington: Spending on lobbying in 2017 was the highest since 2012, the Center for Responsive Politics found, totaling nearly $1.7 billion just in the first half of the year. Read more about why draining the swamp is an impossible task at The Week, and more about Trump's unfulfilled promises at Politico. Jeva Lange

8:05 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Only 34 percent of Americans support the tax plan being promoted by President Trump and congressional Republicans while 52 percent oppose them, according to a new SSRS poll for CNN. Support depends on partisan identification — 81 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of independents oppose the plan, while 70 percent of Republicans support it. Interestingly, 24 percent of respondents said they thought they and their families would be better off under the GOP tax plan, while 31 percent said they expect to be worse off and 37 percent said they would likely be the same. A recent CBS News poll found that 58 percent of Americans said the tax proposals primarily favor the wealthy.

A plurality of respondents, 38 percent, said the plan would increase the federal deficit, while only 22 percent said it would shrink it. Half of Americans disapprove of Trump's handling of taxes, a new high. SRSS conducted the poll for CNN Oct. 12-15, speaking with 1,010 adults via telephone. It has a margin of sampling error of ±3.5 percentage points. Peter Weber

7:10 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On Thursday, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) will officially roll out the health-care bill he negotiated with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), flanked by a "significant" number of Republican and Democratic cosponsors, Alexander said Wednesday. The bipartisan bill, dubbed Alexander-Murray, is expected to go nowhere for now, as President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) came out against it on Wednesday. But "by the end of the year, chances are very good this agreement or something like it is law," Alexander said. Analysts agree.

Congress already has a packed December, including "funding the government and raising the debt ceiling — must-pass items that can only pass with a lot of Democratic votes, just like Alexander-Murray," says Sam Baker at Axios. "If Alexander-Murray doesn't pass before then, it's pretty easy to see Democratic leaders insisting on some form of Affordable Care Act stabilization as part of the end-of-year package. And this bill, or something close to it, is likely the best Republicans are going to get."

Wrapping up something like Alexander-Murray — which guarantees two years of cost-sharing subsidies that insurance companies use to lower out-of-pocket costs for poorer customers, plus easing some coverage requirements on states — in an end-of-the-year omnibus package "would be less painful than voting on a stand-alone bill that conservatives view as a 'bailout' for insurance companies — and a vote to 'prop up' a law they've tried to dismantle for years," Politico notes. And with premiums already rising because Trump cut off the cost-sharing subsidies, or CSRs, "at some point [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell and Ryan will need this," a senior GOP aide told Axios' Caitlin Owens. Peter Weber

6:03 a.m. ET

If you last tuned in to Howard Stern during his '90s "shock jock" days, the Stern who sat down with Jimmy Kimmel in Brooklyn on Wednesday might come as a surprise. "The most boring broadcasters are the ones that don't evolve, they don't change ... they don't grow up," he said. Back in his 20s and 30s, on AM/FM radio, "sex, and sex talk, and outrageousness was the thing, because you were breaking all the boundaries — it was taboo." Once he moved to satellite radio, "where you can do anything," Stern said, doing that kind of a show "would actually be, I think, a bit of a bore."

Stern showcased his quasi-maturity when he brought up disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. "This guy, it's an unbelievable story, and I said all these guys who do sexual harassment — I mean, they're freaks," he said. "This big fat guy, what does he think? He says to a woman — here's his standard move, according to all these women who've accused him — he goes, 'Listen, I'm going to get in the shower, I want you to watch me nude.' Now, I'm a man — if you saw me naked, you'd throw up. There's no girl on the planet that wants to see Harvey Weinstein naked and is gonna get aroused."

"Same with this Bill O'Reilly," the former Fox News host, Stern said. "What is it with these guys and the shower? Men don't look good in the shower." And convicted sexter Anthony Weiner, too. "The one thing women don't want to see is a guy's penis," Stern said. "They want to see you've got a job, they want to see you treat them nice." There is some mildly NSFW language, at least by the standards of '90s terrestrial radio. Watch below. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads