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May 19, 2017
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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is not terribly worried by all the talk of Democrats taking back Congress in 2018. "'Blah blah blah blah blah' is what I say about that stuff," he told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Friday morning.

Democrats need to gain three tough-to-take seats in 2018 to control the Senate; Republicans are defending nine Senate seats in 2018, compared to the Democrats' 25 seats. In the House, Democrats need to gain 24 seats to be in control, from a pool of the approximately 50 that are competitive. All 435 seats will be on the ballot.

"Look, this is what I call the white noise of Washington Beltway media," Ryan added. "We're busy doing our work." Listen here. Jeva Lange

5:27 a.m. ET
Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron arrives in Washington on Monday as guest of honor for the first state visit hosted by President Trump. Macron has suggested he will try to use his carefully cultivated relationship with Trump to steer him away from ripping up the Iran nuclear deal, pulling out of Syria, and raising tariffs against European nations on May 1. Trump will host Macron and his wife for a dinner Monday at Mount Vernon, George Washington's historic residence, and a state dinner at the White House on Tuesday; no Democratic members of Congress were invited, in a break from tradition.

Macron will also meet one-on-one with Trump, hold a town hall with at George Washington University, and give an address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, the anniversary of a 1960 address by French President Charles de Gaulle.

Macron, universally seen as the European leader with the best rapport with Trump, hosted Trump last July and clearly impressed him with French hospitality. By cultivating a warm relationship with Trump, reportedly including near-weekly phone conversations, "Macron has made a gamble, given Mr. Trump's unpopularity, that he can court him but not be tarnished by him — or even that he can burnish his own reputation as a leader who is so psychologically astute that he can gain the ear of an American president who is in many respects his polar opposite," The New York Times reports. So far, Macron has little to show for his efforts — Trump pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and appears poised to kill the Iran nuclear deal, for example. But aides say he feels he needs to try. "Sometimes I manage to convince him, sometimes I fail," Macron told the BBC in January. Peter Weber

4:00 a.m. ET

"It is a busy time for diplomacy in the Trump White House, what with them planning the North Korea summit, weighing what to do about Syria, and a state visit with [French President Emmanuel] Macron next week," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. And on top of that, Trump faces a massive decision on whether to re-certify the Iran nuclear deal on May 12 — and there's a growing sense that this time, Trump might actually kill the agreement.

Trump has made no secret of his disdain for the pact, signed by former President Barack Obama, Iran, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, France, and the European Union, but its demise "could have huge, lasting consequences," Oliver said. "So tonight, let's look at the Iran deal: What it is, why Trump hates it so much, and what's likely to happen if he kills it." Oliver ran through Trump's objections, explaining that each was based on false information. Iran can't keep sanctions relief and still make a nuclear bomb, for example, Oliver said. "What Iran could do, in theory, is wait for part of the deal to expire in 10 years, then it could ramp up its nuclear program, getting it closer to a bomb. But here's the thing: If the deal blows up, Iran could start doing that right now, in zero years. And 0 is less than 10 — trust us, we ran the numbers on this ourselves."

"You can't just be against something without having any plan for what comes next," Oliver said, and like "a cat on an airplane trying to escape from its carrier," Trump has only unrealistic demands. Also, his top advisers — John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and Sean Hannity — hate the deal, too. To try to insert a moderating voice, Oliver said, he'll run a catheter cowboy ad during Hannity this week. You can get a preview, and learn more about the Iran deal, below. (There's NSFW language.) Peter Weber

2:56 a.m. ET
REUTERS/Mike Segar

Fox News host Sean Hannity has said he only sought legal advice from Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal lawyer and fixer, regarding real estate, and they would have a lot to talk about, according to a report in The Guardian. "I hate the stock market, I prefer real estate," Hannity said on TV after he was revealed in court to be one of Cohen's three listed clients. "Michael knows real estate." And thousands of pages of public records show that Hannity has a massive portfolio — over the past decade, more than 20 shell companies linked to Hannity bought at least 877 properties for just under $89 million, The Guardian said Sunday.

The residential properties — in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Vermont, and New York — include multimillion-dollar mansions used by Hannity, single-family units in modest suburbs, and apartments in low-income areas, The Guardian reports. Dozens of the properties were scooped up at a discount in 2013 from banks that had foreclosed on the owners during the financial crisis, and at least two large apartment complexes in Georgia were purchased with assistance from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Hannity bought the apartments in 2014 for $22.7 million, using $17.9 million in mortgages obtained via HUD, replaced last year with $22.9 in loans from HUD and a new bank, The Guardian says.

Hannity has taken public stances against HUD financing going toward rental properties, criticized the mass foreclosures before Trump took office, and featured HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Bill Lako — who took nominal control of the Georgia firm Henssler Financial LLC from Hannity in 2016 — on his radio and TV shows, The Guardian says. Christopher Reeves, Hannity's real estate attorney, told The Guardian they'd "struggle to find any relevance" in Hannity's confidential property holdings. "I doubt you would find it very surprising that most people prefer to keep their legal and personal financial issues private. ... Mr. Hannity is no different." Read more at The Guardian. Peter Weber

1:40 a.m. ET

James Shaw Jr., 29, acknowledges that if he hadn't disarmed the gunman who murdered four people at a Waffle House in Nashville early Sunday, more people would have died, but he said in a news conference on Sunday that he isn't comfortable with the "hero" label. "On my Instagram and Facebook, everybody's calling me a hero, but I want people to know that I did that completely out of a selfish act, I was completely doing it just to save myself," Shaw said. "Now, me doing that, I did save other people, but I don't want people to think that I was the Terminator or Superman or anybody like that. ... I figured if I was going to die, he was going to have to work for it."

Shaw explained that when he realized somebody was shooting, he ran behind an unlockable swinging door. "He shot through that door; I'm pretty sure he grazed my arm," Shaw said, and "at that time I made up my mind ... that he was going to have to work to kill me. When the gun jammed or whatever happened, I hit him with the swivel door." The gunman, identified by police as Travis Reinking, 29, had the gun pointed down, and Shaw said he grabbed the hot barrel of the AR-15. "When I finally got the gun he was cussing like I was in the wrong," he said. "I grabbed it from him and threw it over the countertop and I just took him with me out the entrance."

Waffle House CEO Walter Ehmer disregarded Shaw's request. "You don't get to meet too many heroes in life," he said, nodding to Shaw. "We are forever in your debt." Shaw's father, James Shaw Sr., had mixed feelings. "I take no pride in him charging a loaded gun," he told The Associated Press. "I do take pride in him helping save the lives of other people." Peter Weber

12:49 a.m. ET

Last July, the U.S. Secret Service arrested Travis Reinking, the 29-year-old suspect in Sunday's murder of four people at a Waffle House in Nashville, for being in a restricted area near the White House and refusing to leave, saying he wanted to meet President Trump. In the fall, state police in Illinois revoked Reinking's firearm license at the request of the FBI, and police took away four of his guns, including the AR-15 used in the Nashville shooting, authorities said.

Deputies returned the weapons to Reinking's father, Jeffrey Reinking, on the promise that he would "keep the weapons secure and out of the possession of Travis," Tazewell County, Illinois, Sheriff Robert Huston said Sunday, adding that based on past encounters with the younger Reinking, "there's certainly evidence that there's some sort of mental health issues involved." Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron said that Jeffrey Reinking "has now acknowledged giving them back to his son."

Reinking, who witnesses say fled the scene of the crime naked, is still on the run, and he is believed to have at least one of the remaining two guns police seized from him last fall. The four people killed in the shooting have been identified as Taurean C. Sanderlin, a 29-year-old cook at the restaurant, and patrons Joe R. Perez, 20, Akilah Dasilva, 23, and DeEbony Groves, 21. James Shaw Jr., 29, is credited with saving several lives by tackling and disarming the gunman. Peter Weber

April 22, 2018

A British expat urged President Trump to fire EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and slammed other Trump administration officials on American cable TV Sunday night, and it was not John Oliver at HBO's Last Week Tonight. On Fox News, Steve Hilton — a former adviser to British Prime Minister David Cameron whose L.A.-based Fox News show focuses on populism — took aim at corruption in the Trump administration, though he did not blame Trump personally.

"Remember, President Trump's historic election win was driven in part by a drain-the-swamp agenda, an agenda we strongly support here on The Next Revolution," Hilton said, arguing that "in many ways, the president has delivered," by ordering an end to the lobbying revolving door and cutting regulations, "which means less bureaucracy, and that means less opportunity for lobbying and corruption." But Trump appointees have fallen short, he said, citing a Public Citizen study he said uncovered "a shocking number of former lobbyists now working in this administration and regulating the same interests they used to lobby for."

Hilton listed some upper-management Trump appointees whose conflicts of interest "are undermining their boss' drain-the-swamp agenda," then noted that "a number of higher-level officials have abused their power in far more public ways." He pointed to ousted Cabinet officials David Shulkin and Tom Price, but also Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who "has reportedly not flown on a single commercial flight for business-related travel since taking office."

"But none of President Trump's appointees have been under more scrutiny for swampy behavior than EPA chief Scott Pruitt," Hilton said, running through some egregious examples. The White House has ordered an investigation into Pruitt's "exorbitant spending," he said, "but the last thing we need in Washington is another investigation. What we need is for President Trump to take the lead, fire Scott Pruitt, and throw out the lobbyists from his administration." Watch below — and remember, this is Fox News. Peter Weber

April 22, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Washington beginning Monday to speak before Congress and meet with President Trump, and in a Fox News Sunday appearance he said he will use this time to promote a long-term U.S. occupation of Syria, including nation-building programs.

"We will have to build the new Syria after [the Islamic State is defeated], and that's why I think the U.S. hold is very important," Macron said. "Why? I will be very blunt. The day we will finish this war against ISIS, if we leave, definitely and totally, even from a political point of view, we will leave the floor to the Iranian regime, Bashar al-Assad and his guys, and they will prepare the new war. They will fuel the new terrorists."

"So, my point is to say, even after the end of the war against ISIS," he continued, "the U.S., France, our allies, all the countries of the region, even Russia and Turkey, will have a very important role to play in order to create this new Syria and ensure Syrian people to decide for the future."

Watch the full interview below, and read The Washington Post's preview of Macron's trip, which is expected to focus significantly on persuading Trump to keep the United States in the Iran nuclear deal. Bonnie Kristian

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