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October 19, 2017
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When President Trump said repeatedly last month that a Republican senator was in the hospital, Sen. Thad Cochran's (R-Miss.) office had to repeatedly point out that he was at home recuperating from a urological issue, not in the hospital. In good news for Republicans, Cochran is back in Washington to vote for a budget resolution that will pave the way for a GOP-only tax reform bill. The bad news, as Politico recounts, is that Cochran, who turns 80 in December, "appeared frail and at times disoriented during a brief hallway interview on Wednesday."

Cochran told reporters that he did not plan to retire from the Senate, where he has served since 1979, but "when queried about whether he would stay on as Appropriations chairman, Cochran seemed confused and just repeated the question," Politico said. When another reporter asked if GOP leaders had pressured him to return to Washington for the vote, he smiled and said, "It's a beautiful day outside." After being guided through a security checkpoint, Cochran started to walk into the wrong room, until a staffer led him up to the Senate chamber on the second floor. And inside the chamber, he voted yes for an amendment, despite his staff telling him to vote no, eventually changing his vote.

Cochran is one of the longest-serving Republican lawmakers ever, but he isn't all that old by Senate standards — Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) served until he was 100, for example. And he doesn't face re-election until 2020, Politico notes, though "Republicans are desperate for him to stay in office and avoid a special election," presumably elevating a less-establishment-oriented Republican to his seat. Peter Weber

10:01 a.m. ET

Laura Ingraham joined her fellow Fox News host Tucker Carlson in offering up a ridiculous defense of the Trump administration's separation of immigrant families, claiming the facilities where immigrant children are kept are just havens for fun.

"As more illegal immigrants are rushing the border, more kids are being separated from their parents,” Ingraham said. “And temporarily housed at what are essentially summer camps."

The Fox News host also leaned on a newspaper article that compared the facilities to boarding schools, scoffing at the notion that anyone would be reminded of Nazi concentration camps when they hear the devastating audio of children crying for their parents or hear lawmakers describe the facilities as "dog kennels."

Ingraham spoke with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has headed up the administration's "zero tolerance" policy that prosecutes all adults who enter the U.S. without authorization, which has led to the practice of separating parents from their children. She agreed with his evaluation that the government is "doing the right thing." Watch the clip below, via Fox News. Summer Meza

9:21 a.m. ET

It's June 19, and you know what that means: It is Garfield's birthday. But not "President Garfield," as then-Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) told the House during a charming floor speech 15 years ago, "but probably someone more famous in this day and age than that. A large, orange, slovenly, lazy cat born in the mind of an Indiana native by the name of Jim Davis."

Standing with a poster featuring a cartoon Garfield bursting out of a chocolate cake, Pence told his colleagues that "it's said people relate to Garfield because Garfield in many ways is them." The man who would one day be vice president of the United States observed that Garfield "loves TV and hates Mondays, he'd rather pig out than work out — in fact, his passion for food and sleep is matched only by his aversion to diet and exercise. A cat after my own heart."

Watch Pence's adorable tribute to Garfield here, or below beginning at 8:17:14. Jeva Lange

8:49 a.m. ET
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in China on Tuesday for a two-day visit, his third trip since March. Kim is expected to brief Chinese President Xi Jinping on his recent summit with President Trump. Kim and Trump agreed to work together toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Trump also offered to guarantee the security of the North Korean regime and promised to end "war games" with South Korea, which both North Korea and China have criticized as provocative. The long-reclusive Kim also is expected to use the clout he gained from his meeting with Trump to push for relief from tough international economic sanctions. Harold Maass

8:41 a.m. ET
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Italy's far-right anti-immigrant interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has called for a census of the country's Roma community with the intention of potentially expelling those without citizenship, France 24 reports. "As for the Italian Roma, unfortunately one has to keep them at home," Salvini said in comments to a local television station in Northern Italy.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte slammed Salvini's remarks as going "too far" and the leader of the populist, Eurosceptic Five Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, said such a census would be "unconstitutional," The Guardian reports. "The interior minister does not seem to know that a census on the basis of ethnicity is not permitted by the law," said Carlo Stasolla, the president of the Associazione 21 Luglio, which supports Roma rights.

Salvini described the count and subsequent expulsion of non-Italian Roma as being the "answer to the Roma question." Up to 180,000 Roma live in Italy, with about 43 percent holding Italian citizenship.

"We … recall that Italian Roma have been present in our country for at least half a century and sometimes they are 'more Italian' than many of our fellow citizens," said Stasolla. Jeva Lange

8:09 a.m. ET
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The school board in Richmond, Virginia, voted overwhelmingly on Monday night to drop the name of a Confederate leader from a local elementary school and rename it after the first black president. The 6-1 vote confirmed that J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School will be renamed Barack Obama Elementary School, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. "It would be pretty awesome to have an elementary school in Richmond named after Barack Obama," said Liz Doerr, the District 1 representative.

Quite a few schools across the country are named after Obama, although the Richmond elementary school will be the first in the state of Virginia. Last year, a school in Mississippi also swapped out a Confederate name for the name of the 44th president.

Not everyone was thrilled with the decision in Richmond. "I am disappointed that we did not honor a local hero," said Carol Wolf, who was involved in trying to rename the school in 2003. Other names under consideration included Henry Marsh Elementary, after Richmond's first black mayor, and Oliver Hill Elementary, in honor of a local civil rights attorney.

“And if we are honoring the Obamas," Wolf went on, "I would have preferred naming the school after Michelle [Obama] who was very active in this nation's schools."

Around 100 schools across the country still carry Confederate names, including 15 in the state of Virginia. Jeva Lange

7:53 a.m. ET

President Trump's "zero tolerance" border policy made the front pages of New York City's two main tabloids, the New York Post and the Daily News, and neither newspaper seemed pleased with the policy's de facto separation of children from their parents. The Post, whose sister publication The Wall Street Journal condemned Trump's policy in an editorial Monday night, picked some cage imagery and cited the Bible. And unlike Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Post quoted Jesus, not one of his followers.

The Daily News mostly lets the image do the talking.

Separating migrant children from parents as part of Trump's border policy is widely unpopular — a CNN/SRSS poll Monday evening confirmed that a sizable majority of Americans (67 percent) disapprove of the policy while 28 percent approve, but a majority of Republicans (56 percent) support "zero tolerance" and all it entails. That poll was conducted by phone June 14 among 1,012 adults, and it has a margin of sampling error of ±3.7 percentage points. The New York tabloid sample is two, but disapproval is 100 percent. Peter Weber

7:22 a.m. ET
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump will meet with Republican House leaders on Tuesday ahead of a planned floor vote on two immigration bills, CNN reports. The White House officially supports both proposals: A more conservative bill written by Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R), which is expected to fall far short of passing, and a compromise bill that would give Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients a path to citizenship and put $25 billion toward border security and the border wall.

Trump, though, has wavered on the compromise bill that his staff helped negotiate. "Just the slip of the tongue by the president and you can blow this whole thing up," said one Republican aide. Politico writes that "in reality" Trump will arrive at the immigration meeting and "get an earful about the family-separation issue." Jeva Lange

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