Trump's chief economic adviser apparently faked a bad cellphone connection to get off the phone with him
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) told CNN on Wednesday that he once convinced White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn to pretend he had bad cell service to get off the phone with President Trump. Trump apparently called Cohn during the middle of a meeting and talked for 15 minutes before Carper gave Cohn some advice, saying: "Gary, why don't you do this, take the phone … and just say 'Mr. President, you're brilliant but we're losing contact and I think we're going to lose you now, so goodbye.'"
Democratic Sen. Tom Carper says White House economic adviser Gary Cohn faked a bad connection to get President Trump off the phone so they could have a conversation on tax reform without him https://t.co/qcUnSEsysl
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) November 22, 2017
CNN's John Berman held back laughter as he asked if Carper actually convinced Cohn to fake a bad connection. The senator replied, "I don't want to throw [Cohn] under the bus, but yes." Berman's co-host Poppy Harlow then quipped, "I think you just did."
Although Trump may not hear about this incident, as he claims to watch CNN only when forced, Carper's story would likely reignite the president's displeasure with Cohn. In September, The New York Times reported Trump was refusing to make eye contact with Cohn after the Goldman Sachs alum publicly disagreed with Trump's response to the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August.
The White House has denied Carper's recollection of the phone call. Kelly O'Meara Morales
White House spokesperson tells @CNN: "Senator Carper’s claim is completely false. Gary Cohn left the room and continued to speak with the President privately for several minutes before they concluded the call." https://t.co/7MFxTwn43Z
— David Wright (@DavidWright_CNN) November 22, 2017
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified on her department's budget before the House Appropriations subcommittee Tuesday, on the heels of her disastrous appearance on 60 Minutes last week. The hearing did not go much better: DeVos found herself facing a hostile crowd of Democrats, who expressed open frustration with her lack of answers. Watch some of the most uncomfortable moments below. Jeva Lange
Katherine Clark (D-Conn.): Is there some problem? Yes or no. Will you guarantee—
DeVos: I think I've been clear—
Clark: Then say yes or no!
Clark: Okay, great. Thank you. Wow, it took a year.
.RepKClark: "Is there some problem? Yes or no? Will you guarantee…"
betsydevosed: "I think I've been clear…
Rep. Clark: "Then say yes or no."
Sec. DeVos: "Yes."
Rep. Clark: "OK. Great. Thank you. Wow. It took a year."
Full video here: … pic.twitter.com/SIzoIJ5KP3
— livenews (@livechannelfeed) March 20, 2018
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.): Madam Secretary, you just don't care much about the civil rights of black and brown children. This is horrible.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.): What's the best way to prevent another young person from taking lives at the hands of a gun?
DeVos: I think there are a number of ways to address this, the president has been very clear in his focus.
DeLauro: What are they?
DeVos: There are ways to prevent young people from getting guns, who should not be having guns, from having them.
Clark: What about after school programs? You also eliminated the 21st Century Community Centers, that's 80,000 kids in Florida alone.
DeVos: …there's no data to show [after school programs] are effective in what the stated goal has been—
Clark: What do you mean there is no data? There is study after study after study.
A Scottish man who was arrested after he trained a dog to give a Nazi salute was found guilty of a hate crime Tuesday.
In 2016, Mark Meechan posted a video that showed him teaching his girlfriend's pug to raise his paw upon hearing "sieg heil" or "gas the Jews." The video was viewed more than a million times. Meechan defended his behavior as a way to prank his girlfriend, and said after he was arrested that he doesn't "actually hate Jewish people."
In the video, Meechan says that his girlfriend often talked about "how cute" her dog was, "so I thought I would turn him into the least cute thing I could think of, which is a Nazi." But officials in the U.K. disagreed that it was a harmless joke. The judge involved in the case said that Meechan "knew that the material was offensive" and that he must have known it was "grossly offensive to many Jewish people," reports The Jewish Chronicle.
The first trailer for the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood documentary is here, and it's a tearjerker.
Won't You By My Neighbor follows the classic children's show from its low-budget start on a Pittsburgh public TV station to earning its place in pop culture history. It promises an inside look at how Fred Rogers introduced tough topics to children, how he used the show as a vehicle for equality, and an explanation for his welcome message that became documentary's title.
It also promises to give you goosebumps.
Tuesday would've been Rogers' 90th birthday, and there are a few other ways to celebrate beyond watching the trailer: Twitch is hosting a marathon of the show, while Entertainment Weekly picked up fresh details on another Rogers-inspired film, You Are My Friend. The latter film is not a biopic, director Marielle Heller insists, and stars Tom Hanks as Rogers as he befriends a "cynical journalist."
We're still waiting for a glimpse of Hanks in a cardigan, but in the meantime, you can watch the trailer for Won't You By My Neighbor below. Kathryn Krawczyk
Former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn dismissed Cynthia Nixon as being an "unqualified lesbian" after the actress announced she is going to challenge New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary. Quinn, who made her comments to the New York Post, also expressed irritation that Nixon endorsed her Democratic primary opponent for New York City mayor in 2013, Bill de Blasio.
"Cynthia Nixon was opposed to having a qualified lesbian become mayor of New York City," Quinn said. "Now she wants to be an unqualified lesbian to be the governor of New York. You have to be qualified and have experience. She isn't qualified to be the governor."
Quinn additionally praised Cuomo, saying the incumbent has "accomplished [a lot] including a $15 minimum wage" and "opposing fracking."
Nixon responded to Quinn in a statement, saying "her being a lesbian and my being a lesbian" is not the issue, and that the race is about "the corruption in Albany."
Cuomo has also taken shots at Nixon, a former Sex and the City star, telling reporters: "If it's just about name recognition, I'm hoping that Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Billy Joel don't get into the race." Jeva Lange
Pro-abstinence Trump appointees overruled HHS experts to end pregnancy prevention program, costing taxpayers millions
Trump administration appointees directed the cancellation of a successful teen pregnancy prevention program, despite opposition from Department of Health and Human Services experts, an NBC News report found.
The federal Teen Pregnancy Program was abruptly ended in August 2017, after seven years spent training more than 7,000 health-care workers and 3,000 organizations, NBC News reports. The $213 million program helped lead to an all-time low in teen pregnancies and had bipartisan and medical expert support.
But HHS employees newly appointed by the Trump administration worked to end it in favor of pro-abstinence programs, NBC News reports. Internal notes and emails obtained by NBC News found that appointees overrode career HHS experts' objections and violated federal laws, making decisions that obstructed the authority of Congress. In one note from July 2017, the director of the Office of Adolescent Health — which oversaw the Teen Pregnancy Program — wrote that she was told that her "responsibility" was to "implement the administration's agenda, whether we like it or not," and that she should "get in line."
HHS officials said that the shuttered teen pregnancy program was ineffective and did not fit within President Trump's proposed budget. Experts counter that a substantial amount of the program's funding had already been invested, and terminating the program meant wasting millions in taxpayer money that had been put towards partially-completed research.
Trump administration appointees included Teresa Manning, an anti-abortion activist, and Victoria Huber, who ran abstinence-only and religion-based sex education programs in Ohio. Read the full report at NBC News. Summer Meza
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy taken into custody, faces allegations he received illegal campaign financing from Gadhafi
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been taken into custody by the police over allegations that he received suitcases containing millions of euros in illegal campaign financing from the government of then-Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, The Associated Press reports. Sarkozy has denied the allegations, which first arose in 2013 and were later fueled by French-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine telling an investigative website that he was involved in the transportation of the cash.
Sarkozy served from 2007 to 2012 and initially extended a welcome to Gadhafi. Sarkozy was later involved in advancing NATO airstrikes on Gadhafi's troops; the Libyan leader was eventually captured and killed by rebels in 2011.
Overall, Sarkozy is accused of accepting some 50 million euros from Gadhafi's regime during his presidential campaign in 2006 and 2007. "Such a sum would be more than double the legal campaign funding limit at the time of 21 million euros," writes AP. "In addition, the alleged payments would violate French rules against foreign financing and declaring the source of campaign funds."
Separately, Takieddine is accused of providing illegal campaign funds to conservative politician Edouard Balladur in 1995. Jeva Lange
President Trump spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone Tuesday morning, congratulating Putin on his electoral victory over the weekend. In a statement, the Kremlin said Trump called to "congratulate" Putin on his win, calling the conversation "constructive" and "businesslike."
Kremlin readout: @POTUS called to "congratulate" Putin on reelection. Discussion of potential summit meeting.
"In general, the conversation was constructive, businesslike and focused on overcoming the accumulated problems in Russian-American relations."
— Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) March 20, 2018
Putin won re-election Sunday, apparently with more than 75 percent of the vote, though "videos of ballot-stuffing at polling stations across Russia surfaced throughout the day," The Washington Post reports. Critics have dismissed the election as a "charade," the Post adds.
The White House on Monday had denied there was a call between Trump and Putin scheduled for Tuesday, CNN's Kaitlan Collins noted. It has yet to release its own readout of the call. In 2012, when Putin began his second stint in office, former President Barack Obama called to congratulate him on his victory. Kimberly Alters
Update 1:09 p.m. ET: The White House released its readout of the call, which you can read here.