While Vice President Mike Pence was traveling to South Korea on Sunday to start a 10-day tour of Asia, President Trump was wrapping up his seventh presidential weekend at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Florida, attending Easter services at an Episcopal church before flying back to Washington. Florida is one of the seven states Trump has visited for public events in his first 86 days in office — he has also held campaign rallies in Tennessee and Kentucky, visited factories in South Carolina and Michigan, addressed military personnel in Virginia, and spoke at CPAC in Maryland.
None of his travels have been West of the Mississippi or outside the United States. Trump plans to visit Wisconsin (still east of the Mississippi) on Tuesday, and his first visit abroad is scheduled for late May.
Compared with his immediate predecessors, The New York Times reports, Trump's travel schedule is unusual. At this point in his first term, former President Barack Obama had made public appearances in nine states and was beginning his fourth trip abroad, while former President George W. Bush had visited 23 states and Canada. Presidents tend to travel to promote their agendas, especially during their "honeymoon" periods, when they have maximum political sway.
The White House said Trump "has avoided travel in order to focus on an ambitious domestic agenda, including the signing of executive orders and legislation to roll back Obama-era regulations," The New York Times reports. "When you're really trying to get a lot done, you have to budget your time very carefully, and we're going to continue to be smart about the best use of his time, because his time is his most valuable asset," said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. "The pace of his schedule has been nonstop."
Ari Fleisher, who held Spicer's job under Bush, said it's "surprising" that Trump hasn't used travel to advance policy goals, kind of. "It makes some sense that Donald Trump, whose candidacy was so much more about him — how he was different, how he could change Washington — rather than specific policy proposals, that his travel would be more about him personally than any initiative," he told the Times. Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, a Brookings Institution scholar of presidential travel, agrees: "What's striking with President Trump is not only how contained his travel has been, but how much of it is around campaign rallies, rather than something he wants to get done." Peter Weber
White evangelicals have held steadfast in their support for President Trump, recent Pew Research Center data showed, despite allegations that the president once engaged in an extramarital affair with an adult film star. Not only that, but their approval of his performance has only increased in recent months, Pew found.
Survey data from March found that just 39 percent of Americans approve of Trump's performance overall, but 78 percent of white evangelicals gave their support. That number is even higher than in January, when 72 percent of white evangelicals approved of Trump. That month, The Wall Street Journal reported that adult film actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, had an affair with the president while he was married to first lady Melania Trump.
Most other demographic groups disapproved of Trump's performance in March; Republicans and white evangelical protestants are the only two groups who approved of the president by more than 50 percent. Fifty percent of white voters overall approved. Meanwhile, just 8 percent of Democrats, 9 percent of black voters, and 9 percent of black mainline protestants approved.
In October, 67 percent of white evangelical protestants approved of Trump's performance. Data from a 2014 Pew Research Center study found that more than one-third of registered voters described themselves as "born-again or evangelical" Christians. Summer Meza
A self-driving Uber has killed a woman in what might be the first pedestrian death by an autonomous car
A woman in Tempe, Arizona, has died after being struck by an Uber car that was operating in "autonomous mode," potentially making her the first pedestrian to be killed by an unmanned vehicle, The New York Times' Daisuke Wakabayashi reports. A human driver was in the car when the collision occurred Sunday night around 10 p.m. MT. The woman was apparently outside of the crosswalk when she was hit by the car, Arizona's ABC 15 reports.
Uber is "fully cooperating" with the investigation, a spokeswoman told the Times. Uber has suspended self-driving car tests in Tempe as well as other cities it operates the vehicles in, including Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto.
If you're reading this from Mississippi, please put your phone down and look at the road! A massive new study of 2.3 million drivers by Zendrive found that not even the threat of going to jail seems to be able to stop people from using their phones while behind the wheel, and Mississippians are the worst abusers of the bunch, Bloomberg reports. Almost 18 percent of drivers in the Magnolia State are considered "phone addicts," meaning they call, text, or fiddle with apps at a rate that is more than three times that of the average driver — and that's even with a statewide ban on texting in place.
Mississippi isn't an outlier in that regard, though. In the 15 states that have taken the additional step of banning handheld devices altogether, the number of "phone addicts" only dropped by 2 points, or down to 10 percent. There could be even more distracted drivers out there than Zendrive was able to record, too: The study only noted when a phone was moved around in a car, but it wouldn't count drivers who might be distracted by mounted phones.
In what is probably a surprise to anyone who lives there, New England and the Pacific Northwest had the most low-risk drivers. Areas with the most high-risk drivers were dotted through the South:
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) March 19, 2018
Zendrive CEO Jonathan Matus told Bloomberg the lack of a deterrent is the most alarming fact. "That's an area of great concern to me," he said. "It means either the rules are not known, the enforcement is not effective, or people are so addicted to their phones they're willing to take the risk." Jeva Lange
Snowy weather in the nation's capital has inspired some unconventional meteorology.
Washington D.C. councilman Trayon White Sr. apologized for posting a video in which he pushed a conspiracy theory that the Rothschild family, a prominent Jewish business dynasty, controls the weather. White, a Democrat, took to Facebook on Friday when flakes began to fall, posting a video to his official page that insisted the flurry was more than it appeared, reports The Washington Post.
"Man, it just started snowing out of nowhere this morning, man. Y'all better pay attention to this climate control, man, this climate manipulation," White said in the video. "And D.C. keep talking about, 'We a resilient city.' And that's a model based off the Rothschilds controlling the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities, man. Be careful."
The Rothschilds have been the subject of a number of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, the Post reports, many of which claim that the billionaire family, along with other Jews, manipulate world events to gain control. White apologized for the video in a statement to the Post.
"I work hard everyday to combat racism and prejudices of all kinds. I want to apologize to the Jewish community and anyone I have offended," he said. "The Jewish community have been allies with me in my journey to help people. I did not intend to be anti-Semitic, and I see I should not have said that after learning from my colleagues."
Following weekend revelations that Facebook was exploited by data firm Cambridge Analytica in order to harvest 50 million Americans' profiles, founder Mark Zuckerberg saw his fortune drop by $3.8 billion Monday morning, Bloomberg Technology reports.
Facebook stock had plummeted 6 percent by 10:50 a.m. ET, a change of around 12 points, with the S&P 500 tugged down almost 1 percent with the social media giant as its worst performer. That drop means the company has lost around $25 billion in market value, The Independent adds.
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) March 19, 2018
"The FANG internet giant hasn't been a market leader for months, unlike fellow FANGs Netflix, and Amazon and, to a lesser extent, Alphabet," writes Investor's Business Daily, adding: "Facebook's growth story may be winding down."
Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research, added to CNBC: "We think this episode is another indication of systemic problems at Facebook … We see enhanced risks for the company, but no near-term tangible impact on its business." Jeva Lange
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is surprised by how many Republicans have been willing to "carry water" for President Trump, he told Politico, as his presidency careens through Washington. Particularly in the face of the ongoing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Schiff criticized Republicans for failing to speak out against the president:
"I think one of the really sad realizations over the last year is not what kind of a president Donald Trump turns out to be — I think it was all too predictable — but rather, how many members of Congress would be unwilling to stand up to him, and more than that, would be completely willing to carry water for him. That is a very sad realization," Schiff told Politico. "I did not expect that. I thought there would be more Jeff Flakes, more John McCains, more Bob Corkers — people who would defend our system of checks and balances, would speak out for decency, who would defend the First Amendment." [Politico]
Schiff has frequently criticized Trump and called for support for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation into Russian election interference. The congressman also called out House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) directly, saying Ryan is "complicit in all this" because he has failed to adequately push back against the president.
As ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Schiff has often touted the importance of investigating Russian meddling. In response, Trump has slammed Schiff on Twitter, calling him a "liar and leaker" and dubbing him "Little Adam Schiff." Read the full interview at Politico. Summer Meza
After 423 days in office, President Trump has gotten rid of more Cabinet officials (three, in Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson) than most presidents lose in their first two years on the job. In fact, NPR reports, no other "elected first-term president in the past 100 years has had this much Cabinet turnover this early in his presidency."
Most presidents since Woodrow Wilson have replaced just one Cabinet member in the first 14 months, and several have kept the same Cabinet throughout that time. Only three — Warren G. Harding, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan — have swapped more than two in the first two years of office, and Trump is easily on pace to exceed Reagan's four Cabinet departures in that span.
Kelly, for his part, was reassigned to be Trump's chief of staff. But if Trump continues swapping Cabinet secretaries at the current rate, Trump will replace 10 Cabinet members by the time his first term is complete. There are 16 members of the Cabinet, including the vice president. Bonnie Kristian