Shortly after President Trump promised that any nuclear threat from North Korea would be met with "fire" and "fury" by the United States, North Korea's state-run news agency KCNA reported that leader Kim Jong Un is "carefully examining" a plan to hit Guam with missiles.
KCNA shared statements from two separate military spokesmen, with one saying the plan will be "put into practice in a multi-current and consecutive way any moment" and the other announcing that if the U.S. shows signs of provocation, North Korea will carry out a pre-emptive strike. Guam is a U.S. territory in the Pacific. Catherine Garcia
Republican Roy Moore lost a Senate race in Alabama on Tuesday, despite full-throated support from President Trump, but Trump backed the other guy in the Republican primary, Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt said Tuesday night. "This is something that Stephen Bannon and his acolytes are going to have to think about now," he said. "Donald Trump was right about the Alabama primary; Steve Bannon, the president's chief political adviser during the campaign, was wrong."
Heading into 2018, Stirewalt said, Republicans and the Bannonites are going to figure out "how much of this primary battle stuff do they want to do? How much of this civil war stuff do they want to do? And what other seats could it cost them?" Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is "thinking very much about the 2018 midterm elections," he added. "Having Roy Moore serving the United States Senate might have cost multiple seats for Republicans. You can't know, it's all hypotheticals as you play it out — but having Roy Moore as a sitting U.S. senator ... was going to be trouble for the rest of his party." In politics, Stirewelt said, "winning is always better than losing, but this may be one where the silver lining is quite considerable."
Conservative Republicans in Alabama had a tough choice between helping their party in Washington and making themselves a national laughingstock, Stirewalt said. "Kookism is not something Alabamians are particularly interested in associating themselves with," and Roy Moore was a bridge too far. "I think that's where you get those tens of thousands of write-in votes," he added, "where they're saying, 'I'm not going to vote for the Democrat,' but — I think it's important — they're saying, 'I want you to know I was here. I want you do know I was here, and if you wouldn't have failed me, I would have been there for you." Peter Weber
Tuesday was the first night of Hanukkah, Stephen Colbert noted on The Late Show, but it was also "a huge day in Alabama, Election Day, and now it is official: Roy Moore either is or is not our newest U.S. senator." (He's not.) Colbert said the show taped long before the polls closed, but "one thing we do know is how Roy Moore got to the polls: he arrived on horseback." Apparently riding to the polls on a horse is a Moore family tradition. "Roy Moore loves traditions from the 1800s, like child brides and the Dred Scott decision," the Supreme Court's infamous pro-slavery ruling, he joked. When his audience murmured, Colbert shrugged. "Hey, maybe he lost, we don't know."
Colbert also took a look at Moore's closing arguments from Monday night — well, specifically the tale a friend and supporter told about their visit to an underage brothel in Vietnam, and the assurances Moore's wife, Kayla, gave to show they aren't anti-Semitic. "Wow," Colbert said, trying to top her "our lawyer is a Jew" and "we fellowship with them" defenses. "We're not homophobic because my hairdresser is a gay," he said. "I mean, Jewish girls know Roy will show up at your bat mitzvah."
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she believed the women accusing President Trump of sexual misconduct and called on Trump to resign. "Of course, Trump couldn't let that go," Colbert said, reading his tweet about Gillibrand "begging" him for campaign contributions, which she "would do anything for." The audience gasped.
"That reminds me: Melania, how's that anti-cyberbullying going?" Colbert asked. He ended on a friendlier note, the bipartisan dog-costume holiday party at the Capitol. "Isn't that adorable? It's the one place on Capitol Hill you can engage in heavy petting and not have to resign," he said. He ended on a Moore joke. Watch below. Peter Weber
The Republican Party is in for some more turmoil after Democrat Doug Jones beat the Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for a Senate seat in deeply Republican Alabama on Tuesday night. CNN gave the GOP a little taste of what's to come in the panel discussion after Jones declared victory, and moderator Don Lemon essentially stood back and watched the free-for-all over who will be hurt the most by Moore's loss.
Ed Martin, the Moore backer, picked the Senate majority leader and Sen. Cory Gardner (Colo.), head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, both of whom immediately pointed the finger at President Trump's former campaign chairman and chief strategist, Stephen Bannon. "Mitch McConnell is going to pay a price, and so is Cory Gardner," he said. "The grassroots is not tolerating the party." "Traditional Republican" Ana Navarro said Trump and other pro-Moore Republicans chose to abandon morals, decency, and convictions rather than abandon Moore, chided Martin for constantly interrupting her, and sang "Happy days are here again."
The Martin-Navarro fight had panelists doubled over in laugher, then Bloomberg's Joshua Green threw Martin "a lifeline," saying the "Bannon wing of the Republican Party is very upset" by Moore's abandonment and is promising a more vicious GOP civil war. Conservative columnist Matt Lewis asked how it was McConnell's fault that "Steve Bannon and Donald Trump endorsed a candidate who is a very bad candidate."
CNN's Jake Tapper went with Trump. The loss of a Senate seat will make passing GOP policies even harder, he said, but "I have to say, this is a huge defeat for President Trump. This is deep-red Alabama, President Trump made the calculation that he was going to double down, he was going to stick with this candidate, the candidate who followed the Trump playbook — when there are allegations against you, just deny them all and attack the people accusing you — and it failed." Peter Weber
USA Today's editorial board savages Trump as 'uniquely awful' and 'not fit for office' after Gillibrand tweet
On Tuesday morning, President Trump sent out a tweet saying Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who had joined four male colleagues on Monday in calling on Trump to resign, had "begged" him for campaign contributions "and would do anything for them." On Tuesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted Trump's tweet wasn't "sexist" or dirty, and on Tuesday night, USA Today's editorial board disagreed in unusually strong terms.
"With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office," the editorial board wrote. "Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low." Trump's language was a "deliberate" attempt to pour "the gasoline of sexist language" on America's #MeToo fire "gleefully knowing how it will burst into flame," USA Today's editorialists wrote, adding: "A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush."
No president is perfect, and "Obama and Bush both failed in many ways," the editorial says. "But the basic decency of each man was never in doubt. Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful." They counted the ways Trump's "utter lack of morality, ethics, and simple humanity has been underscored during his 11 months in office." The USA Today editorial board did not call on Trump to quit, but said "it is a shock that only six Democratic senators are calling for our unstable president to resign." (Sen. Mazie Hirono [D-Hawaii] also called on Trump to step down on Tuesday.) You can read more of the editorial board's thoughts on Trump at USA Today. Peter Weber
The CW has turned the Archie comic book franchise into a hit teen drama, Riverdale. On Tuesday, The Tonight Show looked at what would happen if you gave the same treatment to another storied 1900s comic strip, Peanuts. Charlie Brown (Jimmy Fallon), now in high school (and with hair), is still (almost) kicking the football, but now Linus has been murdered, and the gang's town has a seedy underbelly. The Riverdale cast makes a cameo. Watch below. Peter Weber
On Monday night, Charles Barkley had a message for the voters of Alabama: Show the country "we're not a bunch of damn idiots" by electing Democrat Doug Jones to the Senate. After Jones' victory on Tuesday night, Barkley delivered another message, this time to the Democratic Party: "Start making life better for black folks and people who are poor."
The NBA legend and Alabama native spoke to CNN shortly after Jones won Tuesday night, saying he was "so proud of my state" because they "rose up today." By giving Jones a narrow victory — he defeated Republican Roy Moore by about 21,000 votes — it was a "wake-up call for Democrats," Barkley said, adding: "They've taken the black vote and the poor vote for granted for a long time. It's time for them to get off their ass and start making life better for black folks and people who are poor. They've always had our votes, and they've abused our votes, and this is a wake-up call. We're in a great position now, but this is a wake-up call for Democrats to do better for black people and poor white people."
The Washington Post's exit polls found that 96 percent of black voters cast their ballots for Jones, while 98 percent of black women and 93 percent of black men believed the accusations of sexual misconduct made against Moore. Catherine Garcia
On Tuesday, the Justice Department turned over to the House Intelligence Committee some 375 text messages between two FBI officials, senior counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, and according several news organizations that reported the content of the messages Tuesday night, both FBI officials referred to President Trump as an "idiot" between Aug. 16, 2015, and Dec. 1, 2016. Strzok was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's relationship with Russia over the summer, immediately after such messages were discovered; Page had already returned to the FBI.
Page called Trump a "loathsome human" as well as an "idiot," and Strzok also called Trump "awful." Most of the private text exchanges were in reference to Trump's appearances on TV; the colleagues were having an extramarital affair, according to Fox News. On election night, Strzok called Trump's apparent win "terrifying," and both officials said at one point during the presidential race they hoped Hillary Clinton would beat him. Strzok was assigned to the Clinton email investigation, and Republicans say these text exchanges prove he was biased toward Clinton and against Trump.
Strzok, who identified himself a "conservative Dem" in a March 2016 exchange, also called Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) an "idiot like Trump" and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) a "douche," panned former Attorney General Eric Holder, and suggested he would vote for Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), then Trump ("He was pretty much calling for death for [NSA leaker Edward] Snowden. I'm a single-issue voter. ;) Espionage Machine Party"). Page said Kasich was rumored to be gay and said she "booed at the TV" when Holder was on.
Republicans are pouncing on the exchanges, but "the last of the messages are from last December," The Associated Press notes, "so it's unclear how helpful they will be to Trump allies seeking to prove that Mueller's probe was tainted by bias." You can read the exchanges at Fox News. Peter Weber