On Friday evening, Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy spent half an hour drinking with President Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe retired to bed, Ruddy said on Twitter (Trump had Diet Coke, he noted). On Sunday, Ruddy — a member of Mar-a-Lago and a longtime friend of Trump's — went on CNN to share his impressions of President Trump's first few weeks in office. "I think he is a little sensitive to the press criticism," Ruddy told Brian Stelter, adding that Trump is "battle-tested" after facing down the New York media for decades. The real problem, Ruddy argued, is White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.
"There's a lot of weakness coming out of the chief of staff," he said. "I think Reince Priebus, good guy, well-intentioned, but he clearly doesn't know how the federal agencies work. He doesn't have a really good system. He doesn't know how the communications flow." Ruddy said he thinks White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is doing a good job under tough circumstances, but "the president is not getting the backup he needs in the operation of the White House, and sometimes the pushback that he needs, which you would have with... a stronger White House chief of staff."
After his CNN appearance, Ruddy elaborated to The Washington Post, stating that personally, "it's my view that Reince is the problem. I think on paper Reince looked good as the chief of staff — and Donald trusted him — but it's pretty clear the guy is in way over his head." He specifically blamed Priebus for botching "this whole immigration rollout," and said he's actually "hearing from a lot of people on the inside" that Priebus isn't pushing back like Trump needs him too. "He just doesn't have the gravitas that Donald would respect at the end of the day."
By the end of Sunday, Ruddy was softening his critique a bit, tweeting: "Reince just briefed me on new WH plans. Impressive! CNN today my personal view. Told him I have 'open mind' based on his results." He also said Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, "tells me COS Reince is doing 'amazing job.' Disagrees with me!" Peter Weber
North Korea's top diplomat didn't seem fazed by President Trump's vow to "totally destroy" the country if it threatens the U.S or its allies. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters Wednesday evening, the day after Trump bluntly called out North Korea's nuclear activity in his debut address before the United Nations General Assembly, that Trump's speech was like the "sound of a dog barking."
"There is a saying that goes: 'Even when dogs bark, the parade goes on,'" Ri said, in what marked North Korea's first response to Trump's remarks. "If [Trump] intended to scare us with the sound of a dog barking, then he is clearly dreaming."
Asked about Trump's new nickname of "Rocket Man" for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Ri simply said he "feels sorry for [Trump's] aides." Becca Stanek
An undocumented mother and father living in North Brownsville, Texas, were told by their local hospital that their 2-month-old son needed emergency stomach surgery that required them to travel to the only capable nearby facility, Driscoll Children's Hospital, in Corpus Christi, Texas. In order to get to Corpus Christi, Oscar and Irma Sanchez would have had to pass through a Border Patrol checkpoint. But even before they decided to go, a Border Patrol agent showed up at the hospital, likely summoned by a nurse, and told the parents that he would escort them through the checkpoint but arrest them and put them in deportation proceedings afterwards, NPR reports. The Sanchezes agreed to go:
The Border Patrol followed the ambulance, the night of May 24, as it raced to Corpus through desolate ranchland, carrying Oscar, Irma, and tiny Isaac — with an IV in his arm and a tube in his stomach. Once they arrived at Driscoll Children's Hospital, the green-uniformed agents never left the undocumented couple's side. Officers followed the father to the bathroom and the cafeteria and asked the mother to leave the door open when she breast-fed Isaac.
"Everywhere we went in the hospital," Oscar says, "they followed us." [NPR]
Oscar and Irma Sanchez have no criminal records and "advocates are puzzled why the Border Patrol chose to put the Sanchezes under such intense supervision, which one would expect for higher-value targets like drug traffickers or MS-13 gang members," NPR writes. Additionally, the Sanchezes' case raises immigration advocates' concerns about the Trump administration's treatment of "sensitive locations," or safe zones. Under President Obama, the Department of Homeland Security avoided arresting immigrants at hospitals, schools, churches, or public demonstrations.
"That's how you treat criminals that are harmful, and that's understandable for our own protection," said immigrant advocate Ana Hinojosa. "But [the Sanchezes are] a family that's just here trying to make a living, provide an education and a future for their children." Read or listen to the full story at NPR. Jeva Lange
A British boy is being hailed as a hero after rescuing five beachgoers in the span of just two days. Steffan Williams, 8, was kayaking in the sea, close to a treacherous stretch of coastline where the tide can trap unknowing tourists, when he spotted an elderly woman and two teens trapped on a rock. Grabbing his rubber dinghy, he towed them to shore. A day later, Steffan noticed two more teens stranded on the very same rock, frantically waving to get his attention, and notified the local lifeguard team. "I want to be a lifeboat person when I get the chance," says the youngster. Christina Colizza
Mosul is coming back to life. Two months after Iraqi forces drove ISIS from the city following a brutal occupation, its residents have staged an impromptu book festival at the gutted Mosul University library. Once home to 3 million books, the building's interior was reduced to ashes by the militants. But volunteers managed to recover 36,000 volumes from the ruins — including a number of ancient manuscripts. They set them, along with books donated from around the world, on outdoor shelves for anyone to read. "I used to weep for what happened," says volunteer Yomna Ebeid. "Now I am confident [that the library] can return better than ever." Christina Colizza
Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer swears he never "knowingly" lied to the American people during his tenure in the Trump administration. In an interview Thursday with Good Morning America, Spicer acknowledged that he "made mistakes, there's no question." But when asked if he'd ever lied at the podium, he responded: "I don't think so."
Spicer proceeded to try to explain away every seeming untruth. He conceded that he "could have probably had more facts at hand and been more articulate" when he claimed the crowd size at President Trump's inauguration was bigger than at former President Barack Obama's. "I think it might've been better to be a lot more specific with what we were talking about in terms of the universe, not focus so much on photographic evidence, et cetera," Spicer said, pointing out that "many people viewed the inauguration online versus in person" and there are now "more online platforms to view things."
As for that time he seemingly provided contradictory information about former FBI Director James Comey's firing, he pointed out that President Trump "set it straight himself." He blamed a lack of consistency in terminology for that time he bluntly told reporters that Trump's travel ban was unequivocally "not a travel ban," just after Trump tweeted it was, in fact, a ban.
But if anyone out there was hoping for "some blanket apology," it's "not happening," Spicer said as he fit in one last jab at the media, who "think that everything we did was wrong."
Watch it below. Becca Stanek
The personal information of 143 million Americans might have been compromised in a massive cybersecurity breach at the credit-reporting service Equifax reported earlier this month, and in the intervening days, the company has been heavily criticized for its response to the crisis. The story, though, gets much worse: Equifax has reportedly been linking customers looking to determine if their information was compromised to a phishing website, Fortune reports.
The real website can be found at equifaxsecurity2017.com, but a customer service agent who signed tweets as "Tim" linked at least eight people to securityequifax2017.com.
The fake website was built by software developer Nick Sweeting, who wanted to prove how easy it was for scammers to replicate the Equifax website as a means of tricking people into handing over personal information, Fortune reports. Although Sweeting carefully labeled his website as "totally fake," it still worked — too well. "Equifax just linked customers to my fake phishing version of their website by accident," he tweeted.
Equifax has since removed all the incorrect posts and apologized for any confusion.
Sweeting added: "I just hope the employee who posted the tweet[s] doesn't get fired, they probably just Googled for the URL and ended up finding the fake one instead. The real blame lies with the people who originally decided to set the site up badly." Read the full report at Fortune and learn how to protect yourself after the breach here at The Week. Jeva Lange
As the Russia probe continues to expand, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has informed the Trump administration that he is interested in speaking to former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Of particular interest could be "notebook after notebook" that Spicer filled while working for the Republican National Committee, the Trump campaign, and in the White House, Axios reports.
Spicer, for his part, was not feeling too generous about discussing the topic with reporters, Axios' Mike Allen writes:
When we texted Spicer for comment on his note-taking practices, he replied: "Mike, please stop texting/emailing me unsolicited anymore."
When I replied with a "?" (I have known Spicer and his wife for more than a dozen years), he answered: "Not sure what that means. From a legal standpoint I want to be clear: Do not email or text me again. Should you do again I will report to the appropriate authorities." [Axios]
Word of Spicer's notebooks is making some people nervous — in the words of one official, "people are going to wish they'd been nicer to Sean." Another noted, "Sean documented everything." Read the full report at Axios. Jeva Lange