Republicans Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Roy Blunt (Mo.) on Tuesday rallied for an investigation into President Trump's ties to Russia after National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's resignation Monday night. "I want to know, did Gen. Flynn do this by himself, or was he directed by somebody to do it?" Graham said during an interview on CNN, referring to Flynn's conversation ahead of Trump's inauguration with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia for its alleged U.S. presidential election interference.
Flynn initially denied he'd discussed sanctions with Kislyak, a claim repeated by Vice President Mike Pence, but later admitted he had talked to Kislyak about them. In his resignation letter, Flynn apologized for briefing Pence with "incomplete information."
Graham said he believes Congress needs to be informed of what Flynn actually said to Kislyak about lifting sanctions. "I think most Americans have a right to know whether or not this was a General Flynn rogue maneuver, or was he basically speaking for somebody else in the White House," Graham said, noting that he has "a hard time believing" Flynn would "get on the phone with" a Russian ambassador and suggest rolling back sanctions without "some understanding that the administration would be sympathetic to the idea."
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) February 14, 2017
Blunt similarly argued for the necessity of an investigation, and noted that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which he serves on, has the "principle responsibility to look into this." "I think that we should look into it exhaustively so that at the end of this process, nobody wonders whether there was a stone left unturned," Blunt said. He recommended questioning Flynn to find out what he knew, what he did, and whether there is "any reason to believe that anybody knew that and didn't take the kind of action they should have taken."
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has also expressed an interest in investigating the questions Flynn's resignation raised, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) indicated Flynn should be involved in the Senate Intelligence Committee's probe into Russian interference in the presidential election. However, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has said it's not necessary to investigate Flynn because it's "taking care of itself." Becca Stanek
Mike Pompeo insists he has no business ties to China. Newly unearthed documents show he has several.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who will likely be confirmed as secretary of state by the Senate this afternoon, has failed to disclose extensive business ties to China, HuffPost reports.
This isn't the first time Pompeo's China relationships have come under scrutiny. Previously, Pompeo was criticized for leaving out information about his Chinese business dealings on a mandatory Senate confirmation questionnaire, after a McClatchy report found that his Kansas company imported equipment from China. And now, newly unearthed documents viewed by HuffPost found that his ties are even deeper. He apparently has four undisclosed business ties with China. Pompeo's company reportedly imported oil and gas equipment from two subsidiaries of a Chinese state-owned oil company, China National Petroleum Corporation, in addition to the previously reported imports from two China Petrochemical Corporation subsidiaries.
For his part, Pompeo isn't backing down from his assertion that he has no relationships with foreign firms, reportedly insisting earlier this week in response to a question from Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) that he has no foreign business ties. Read more at HuffPost. Summer Meza
Charlie Rose might host a new show where he interviews other men disgraced by #MeToo, Page Six reports
Two journalists and a comedian walk into a TV studio. Somehow, none of them say, "Maybe this is a bad idea."
Page Six reported late Wednesday that disgraced CBS News anchor Charlie Rose is in talks to host a show where he interviews men who have similarly been confronted by credible accusations of sexual harassment, including former Today host Matt Lauer and comedian Louis C.K. Rose was suspended by CBS last November after eight women spoke to The Washington Post accusing him of sexual harassment in the workplace, including walking around nude and making inappropriate comments.
Tina Brown, journalist and former editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, revealed Tuesday at a women's event in New York City that Rose is in talks to headline a "#MeToo atonement series," Page Six reports, which would feature Rose sitting down with "others embroiled in sexual harassment scandals." Brown said she was approached to co-host the show with Rose, per Page Six, but turned the offer down.
Vanity Fair notes that the whispers of comeback tours for men hit with #MeToo allegations have been steadily amplifying in recent weeks, with rumors about a return for Louis C.K. — one of the few men to outright acknowledge that specific allegations made against him were true — specifically swirling of late. Read more about the rumored show at Page Six. Kimberly Alters
President Trump started his Thursday morning with a wide-ranging phone interview on Fox & Friends, in which he returned to old favorite talking points and revealed new tidbits of information. Here are the highlights. Summer Meza
On first lady Melania Trump: Trump began his meandering monologue by telling the show hosts that he was joining them in honor of Melania's birthday. So what did he buy his wife for her 48th birthday? "Maybe I didn't get her so much. I got her a beautiful card. You know, I'm very busy."
Trump tells Fox and Friends he didn't get Melania anything for her birthday today because he is too busy, but he did her her a card and flowers. pic.twitter.com/go3bNHrGQY
— Tom Namako (@TomNamako) April 26, 2018
On attorney Michael Cohen: The president distanced himself from his longtime attorney by characterizing Cohen's legal practice as second to his business interests. "I don't know his business," said Trump. "This doesn't have to do with me." Even though Cohen apparently only handles "a tiny, tiny little fraction" of Trump's legal work, Trump admitted that "he represents me, like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal."
On former FBI Director James Comey: Trump denied telling Comey that he didn't stay overnight during a trip to Moscow in 2013. Comey has said Trump claimed he didn't stay the night in Russia as part of his explanation as to why an unverified intelligence dossier that alleges Trump spent the night with prostitutes is false. "He said I didn't stay there the night — of course I stayed there," said Trump. "I never said I left immediately."
— Fox News (@FoxNews) April 26, 2018
On White House physician Ronny Jackson: Trump energetically defended Jackson, who on Thursday dropped out of consideration to run the Department of Veterans Affairs following days of allegations of workplace misconduct. Jackson has an "unblemished" record, Trump said, and was up against "obstructionist" Democrats who wanted to block his nomination for no reason.
On pop culture: Trump praised rapper Kanye West for supporting him on Twitter, saying that West likely appreciated that black unemployment is at its "lowest" in history. The president also complimented Canadian singer Shania Twain, who came under fire for saying she would have voted for Trump. Twain is "terrific," Trump said, but she shouldn't have apologized for her comments.
At 95 years old, Canada's oldest blood donor is happy to keep on giving. Beatrice "Granny Bea" Janyk has been donating blood ever since her husband nearly died from a sawmill accident in the 1940s. She's given blood more than 200 times to no fanfare, but last week Canadian blood services honored her with a special ceremony and pin. "Knowing that I can save someone's life, that's so important," says the great-grandmother, who takes no medications so her O-positive blood can be used for children and infant transfusions.
Janyk's message to anyone who's afraid of giving blood is simple: "No pain, 20 minutes, then you'll gain." Christina Colizza
You know how when you're really worked up, you call a best friend? You know, someone you can rant to, who really supports you, and who you know won't really hold your most aggravated thoughts against you?
President Trump did that Thursday morning with a quick call to the gang of Fox & Friends.
In a freewheeling interview with hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade, the president addressed several ongoing stories, including former FBI Director James Comey's book tour and the allegations in his memoir, A Higher Loyalty; the failed nomination of his preferred Veterans Affairs secretary, Ronny Jackson; and his apparently renewed kinship with Kanye West. He also revisited one of his pet topics, the "fake news media."
"People have to understand," Trump began, "how dishonest the news is." He was careful to note that his host network, Fox News, treats him "fairly" even if they're not "perfect for me." When Trump launched into an attack of CNN, Kilmeade gently suggested that perhaps Trump watch less of the network. "I'm not your doctor, Mr. President, but I would recommend you watch less of them," Kilmeade said, which prompted Trump to declare, "I don't watch them at all." He then immediately pivoted to a discussion of a CNN town hall with "Leakin' Lyin' Comey" that aired Wednesday night, which he admitted he watched but "hated to do it."
Doocy and Earhardt tried their hands at getting the president to move to a new topic, which they eventually succeeded in — but not before Trump got in a shot at NBC News, too. Watch below. Kimberly Alters
Here's Trump ranting about the fake news media while the Fox & Friends desperately try to get him to talk about something else. pic.twitter.com/yvWdfpeRc9
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) April 26, 2018
Tens of thousands of schoolteachers are walking off the job in Arizona on Thursday, in the state's first statewide teachers' strike. Teachers in four Colorado school districts, including two of the state's largest, are also walking out today, a day before a statewide demonstration on Friday.
The majority of Arizona’s public schools will be closed as teacher walkouts continue in a push for more education funding pic.twitter.com/jzY1Dmtqf8
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) April 26, 2018
In both states, the teachers are seeking higher pay — the average annual salary for teachers in Arizona is $47,403 and in Colorado, $51,808, versus a national average of $59,660 — and increased funding for schools, after years of cuts and shortfalls. In Colorado, lawmakers are also considering changes to the state's public pension system that would reduce take-home pay for teachers.
In Arizona, where teachers overwhelmingly approved the strike, there is no set end to the walkout. Many of Arizona's school districts, including its largest, will be closed at least Thursday and Friday, and churches and community groups are working to provide inexpensive or free emergency day care for parents. All four Colorado districts closed today are expected to be open Friday, while the state's largest district, in Denver, will be closed Friday. Teachers have already gone on strike in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Kentucky this spring. Peter Weber
Embattled White House physician Ronny Jackson said Thursday that he is "regretfully withdrawing" his name to be veterans affairs secretary, saying that while he had expected tough questions about the Department of Veterans Affairs, "I did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity." He called the allegations against him "completely false and fabricated." The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee had indefinitely suspended confirmation hearings this week as lawmakers received allegations from current and former colleagues that Jackson had crashed a government vehicle while drunk, drank on the job, and handed out prescription drugs "like candy." Peter Weber