Trump has invented a demonstrably false excuse for botching the health-care vote — and he's sticking to it
President Trump is apparently convinced that Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is in the hospital, even though Cochran himself has reportedly clarified that "I'm not hospitalized." While the Mississippi senator is recovering from a urological issue, he is "recuperating" at home.
You wouldn't know it from listening to Trump, though: "We have the votes for health care," the president told reporters Wednesday. "We have one senator that's in the hospital. He can't vote, because he's in the hospital." After answering a quick question about Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Trump returned to the topic of Cochran: "We have the votes [for health care], but we can't do it now because we have somebody in a hospital," he went on. "We have great respect for that gentleman, by the way. He's a fantastic man … in other words, he can't come here and vote because he's in the hospital."
Sen. Cochran promptly tweeted "thanks for the well-wishes" but "I'm not hospitalized."
Trump wasn't finished yet, though. At the unveiling of the Republican tax plan in Indiana on Wednesday, Trump amended himself to say Cochran was at home but he continued to make the situation sound dire. "We have a wonderful senator, great, great senator, who is a 'yes' vote, but he's home recovering from a pretty tough situation," Trump said.
Then, in an interview for Fox & Friends that was also recorded Wednesday, Trump returned to the hospital excuse. "We have the votes, but reconciliation is the disaster," Trump said. "But as you know, it ends on Friday. So we don't have enough time, because we have one senator who's a 'yes' vote, a great person, but he's in the hospital." Of course, as Slate points out, "Republicans don't have 50 votes for the bill even counting Cochran."
As of Thursday, Cochran continues to very much not be in the hospital. Jeva Lange
I just asked Sen Cochran's office again, and they said, again, that he is not in the hospital as Trump continues to say.
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) September 28, 2017
On Monday, Atlanta's Georgia Dome went down (mostly) in a cloud of dust and debris from 4,800 pounds of explosives. Lots of people were there to witness the razing of the stadium, including Weather Channel cameraman James Crugnale. It was not his lucky day. "TFW you stream the #GAdome being demolished for 40 minutes and a bus stops in front of the camera at the exact moment it implodes," he wrote on Twitter, with video evidence.
— AJC (@ajc) November 20, 2017
Atlanta's Metropolitan Area Rapid Transit Authority put the missed opportunity in perspective. "Given the potential dangers of bringing down the largest structure of its kind," MARTA's chief marketing and communications director, Goldie Taylor, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "if this is the biggest story, we're really glad about that." On Twitter, Taylor "sincerely apologized" to Crugnale for ruining his shot, but was she really sorry?
— G O L D I E. (@goldietaylor) November 20, 2017
If, like Crugnale, you want to see the Georgia Dome implode, you can watch the razing unimpeded at the Journal-Constitution. Peter Weber
In 2015, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) settled a wrongful dismissal complaint filed by a former employee who said she was fired after refusing to "succumb" to Conyers' "sexual advances," BuzzFeed News reports.
The woman, who asked to remain anonymous because she was afraid of retaliation, said she complained in 2014 to Congress' Office of Compliance, and she ultimately signed a confidentiality agreement in exchange for a settlement of $27,111.75, which came from Conyers' office budget. Conyers admitted no fault as part of the settlement, BuzzFeed News reports. His office did not respond to BuzzFeed News' requests for comment, and the Office of Compliance could not confirm or deny dealing with the woman's case.
BuzzFeed News was given documents related to the case by right-wing Twitter provocateur Mike Cernovich, who claimed he passed them along because if he published them, Democrats would "try to discredit the story by attacking the messenger." BuzzFeed News says it independently confirmed the authenticity of the documents, which included four signed affidavits. The affidavits were from women who used to work for Conyers, who said he asked them for sexual favors and would rub their backs and legs. For more on the allegations and the process of filing sexual harassment complaints in Congress, visit BuzzFeed News. Catherine Garcia
On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick permanently blocked President Trump's executive order to cut funding to so-called sanctuary cities, calling it "unconstitutional on its face."
A sanctuary city limits its cooperation with the federal government in enforcing immigration law, and San Francisco and Santa Clara counties in California sued to block the order. Orrick, who previously put a temporary hold on the executive order, ruled that Trump cannot set new conditions on spending that has already been approved by Congress. Catherine Garcia
From now until New Year's Eve, for 10 minutes every hour, ads calling for the impeachment of President Trump will greet the masses moving through Times Square in the heart of Manhattan.
The digital billboards are paid for by billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer's political group Need to Impeach. Steyer will spend $20 million on the billboards and television ads, which ask citizens to sign a petition urging elected officials to impeach Trump. "We legitimately feel that this is the huge issue in front of the American people and that no one is standing up for what the overwhelming number of Americans think," Steyer told Bloomberg Politics on Monday.
The billboards went up Monday, and the commercials started airing in October. In the ads, Steyer says Trump is a "clear and present danger" to the United States, helping move the country closer to nuclear war. Catherine Garcia
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke announced Monday that roughly 59,000 Haitians living in the United States who have been protected from deportation since 2010 have 18 months to leave the United States.
Haitians who came to the U.S. after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti in 2010 have been safe under a program known as Temporary Protected Status, enacted by Congress in the 1990s to help large groups of undocumented people who fled to the U.S. from natural disasters and wars. More than 30,000 of the affected Haitians live in Florida, and thousands of others live in New York City. Duke is giving the Haitians until July 22, 2019, to leave.
In May, when White House Chief of Staff John Kelly led the Department of Homeland Security, he said conditions in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, had improved enough that the U.S. should stop granting Haitians temporary protection. He extended the program for another six months, but warned that those affected should start preparing to return to Haiti, the Los Angeles Times reports. Catherine Garcia
Like Trump University, Trump Airlines, Trump magazine, Trump Steaks, and Trump Vodka, The Donald J. Trump Foundation will soon cease to exist — except this time, the shutdown is planned.
In its 2015 tax filing, the charitable foundation admitted to violating rules against "self-dealing," which prohibits nonprofit leaders from directing charity money to themselves, their families, or their businesses, NBC News reports. In October 2016, the New York attorney general demanded the foundation cease asking for contributions, and in December, President Trump said he would start winding down operations to avoid conflicts of interest.
A spokesperson for the foundation confirmed it is closing down, and said it "looks forward to distributing its remaining assets at the earliest possible time to aid numerous worthy charitable organizations." The foundation can't close down just yet, though. "As the foundation is still under investigation by this office, it cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete," Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for the New York attorney general's office, told NBC News. The foundation's 2016 IRS filing, filed this month, states it had assets of close to $970,000. Catherine Garcia
Actress and singer Della Reese, star of the television series Touched by an Angel, has died. She was 86.
Reese's husband, Franklin Lett, said in a statement that Reese died at her home in California "surrounded by love." Born in Detroit, Reese started singing in church when she was 6 years old, and at 12, gospel legend Mahalia Jackson asked her to go on tour with her. Reese had several hits, including "Don't You Know," and one year she appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show 18 times, NPR reports.
Reese also became the first black woman to fill in for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, and the first black woman to host her own syndicated variety series, Della, which ran from 1969 to 1970. In addition to being an actor and singer, Reese was an ordained minister and founder of the Understanding Principles for Better Living Church. The church grew over time, but she started out holding services in her living room for just eight members. Catherine Garcia