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April 19, 2018

Stephen Colbert kicked off Wednesday's Late Show by declaring he's "still riding high" from Tuesday night's interview with former FBI Director James Comey. "I'm not sure if the president saw the interview — I hear he doesn't watch TV hosts who don't share his lawyer," he joked, but one "seemingly out-of-nowhere" tweet suggests he might have. Either way, the interview "is already healing a nation," he said, because "James Comey is now friends with the Wu-Tang Clan." (Unlike Jeff Sessions.)

"Speaking of unlikely duos," Colbert said, CIA Director Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea — and he's not even secretary of state yet. "Apparently now, just anyone can have face-to-face talks with the leader of North Korea." He said he hopes the denuclearization talks are successful, and he couldn't believe "Trump kept something this big secret. How did he do it? I mean, the only possible explanation is that Michael Cohen paid him $130,000 to stay quiet about it."

The Late Show also imagined Kim's reaction to Pompeo's visit, and yes, it includes a Dennis Rodman reference.

Russian sanctions are dividing the White House, with U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley announcing new sanctions Sunday — before Trump then scrapped the idea over the objections of his advisers. "We tried to get a follow-up from Nikki Haley, but it's so hard to reach her under that bus," Colbert said. Trump reportedly got so angry watching Haley announce the sanctions on TV, he shouted "Who wrote that for her?" at the screen. "Fun fact, Mr. President," Colbert said: "Not all women are under legally binding agreements about what they can say."

"Trump may be angry because he accidentally appointed someone competent," but Republicans are reportedly suspicious that Haley and Vice President Mike Pence are conspiring to run together in 2020, Colbert said. "That is absurd. Mike Pence can't be on a ticket with a woman who's not his wife." Peter Weber

12:11 p.m. ET
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Investigators in Montgomery County, Maryland, are looking into another allegation of sexual assault related to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, The Sentinel reported Monday.

Officials declined to provide many details about the allegations, which are from an anonymous witness, but said they stem from Kavanaugh's senior year in high school. The investigation means that there are potentially four women accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct: Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh forcibly groped her when they were in high school; Deborah Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh exposed himself to her while they were in college at Yale University; an anonymous woman who is working with attorney Michael Avenatti; and the anonymous witness who came forward to Montgomery County officials this weekend. Kavanaugh has denied any wrongdoing, and has called allegations against him a political "smear."

Investigators additionally told The Sentinel that they are interested in books written by Mark Judge, Kavanaugh's high school friend who was allegedly present during the attack Ford says she experienced. Judge's books describe a culture of heavy drinking while he and Kavanaugh attended Georgetown Preparatory School and allude to Kavanaugh's behavior at the time.

While The Sentinel reports that it is unclear whether the most recent investigation involves the same witness described by Avenatti, the attorney on Monday said it was "not the same woman I represent." Read more at The Sentinel. Summer Meza

Update 12:30 p.m. ET: Montgomery County police disputed The Sentinel's report, telling the Washington Examiner that police are not investigating any new allegations. "I have spoken with my chief of detectives, and neither of us have any knowledge of anyone coming forward to us to report any allegations involving Judge Kavanaugh," said police chief J. Thomas Manger. The Examiner additionally notes that the original report did not identify "investigators" as police, though local police would ordinarily be the first ones to look into such a report.

12:02 p.m. ET
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Conflicting reports emerged Monday about whether Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had resigned from his post or was on the cusp of being fired. While it's still not entirely clear which is the truth, there's a significant difference between the two.

As Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake explained on Twitter, President Trump has the legal authority to nominate a replacement for Rosenstein if Rosenstein resigns — but his ability to hand-pick a successor is less clear if he fires Rosenstein. The Federal Vacancies Reform Act gives the president the ability to temporarily replace an official if the person in office "dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office," per Politico. Legal experts note that the case of a firing is conspicuously absent from the law.

As Politico noted earlier this year, a similar situation arose when former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin left the administration. Shulkin himself said he was fired, creating a bit of a stir over whether Trump legitimately had the authority to nominate Robert Wilkie as acting secretary as he did, CNN reported at the time.

Several outlets, including CNN, are reporting that Rosenstein has not resigned and is instead heading to the White House expecting to be fired. Per Justice Department hierarchy, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco would be next in line to assume Rosenstein's role— and would take over Rosenstein's crucial responsibility of overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference. Brendan Morrow

11:22 a.m. ET
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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly discussed resigning with Chief of Staff John Kelly, CNN reported Monday. Rosenstein is now reportedly en route to the White House and is "expecting to be fired," a source told Axios.

NBC News' Pete Williams reports that Rosenstein did not offer his resignation, but merely discussed it with Kelly, and that "if Trump wants him gone, they'll have to fire him ... [he] will refuse to resign and go quietly." Either way, reports Bloomberg, Rosenstein "isn't expected to be in the job after Monday."

Trump has criticized Rosenstein, who appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller, for his oversight of the investigation into his campaign's involvement with Russian election interference. The deputy attorney general last week denied a New York Times report that he had advocated for invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Trump is in New York on Monday for a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

CNN reports that Rosenstein may have spoken with Kelly on Saturday about resigning, but the two did not agree on certain conditions for his resignation. Now, Rosenstein is anticipating that his summons to the White House will result in his firing. Summer Meza

10:54 a.m. ET
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To the extent that police focus on revenue collection through fee and fine enforcement and civil asset forfeiture — a practice often dubbed "policing for profit," particularly when the funds are built into departmental or city budget plans — they solve fewer crimes, study results published Monday at The Washington Post show.

A trio of researchers compared Census Bureau data on municipal revenue collection with information from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program. After examining two years of data for 6,000 cities, they found police in cities that rely on fines for revenue crack significantly fewer cases.

The numbers are dramatic. In a hypothetical average city, if 1 percent of municipal revenue comes from fees, fines, and forfeitures, this model predicts the police department would solve 58 percent of violent crimes and 32 percent of property crimes. But if 3 percent of the revenue is collected this way, only 41 percent of violent crimes and 16 percent of property crimes would be solved.

Thus, the Post report summarizes, "cities where police are collecting revenue, communities are at once overpoliced — because they are charged with more fines and fees — and underpoliced — because serious crimes in their areas are less likely to be solved."

A 2013 study of towns in Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, and Mississippi found some municipal governments get more revenue from fines than from taxes. In a particularly egregious case, Henderson, Louisiana, obtained about $3.73 from fees, fines, and forfeitures for every $1 it collected in taxes. Other cities and towns across the country are increasingly relying on this sort of revenue collection to increase budgets without a formal tax hike. Bonnie Kristian

10:52 a.m. ET
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Millennials are more likely to be stay-at-home parents than Gen X parents were two decades ago.

Data published Monday by the Pew Research Center shows that in recent years, 21 percent of millennial parents have opted to stay home and take care of children. Millennials are generally classified as people ages 20 to 35. Back in 1999, when Gen X parents were the same age, 17 percent of parents in that group remained at home.

The difference between generations is particularly apparent among fathers — 6 percent of millennial dads were home with their children in 2016, while 3 percent of Gen X dads stayed home when they were about the same age. An increasing number of stay-at-home dads additionally say that they are intentionally opting to care for their children full-time, as opposed to parents who stay home because of difficulty finding employment.

About 18 percent of U.S. parents overall don't work outside the home, Pew Research found, which is about the same as the share of stay-at-home parents in 1989. The share of stay-at-home moms hit an all-time low of 23 percent in 2000; it has since since climbed back up to 27 percent. Stay-at-home parenting rose to 20 percent in 2010 in the wake of the recession, but analysis suggests that fathers who stay home are increasingly doing so because of changing gender roles, not because of unemployment. See more data at Pew Research Center. Summer Meza

10:23 a.m. ET

Measuring the effect of a political endorsement is tricky: For some voters, it may be a determining factor. For others, it may simply match previously-held beliefs. But endorsements do offer a telling gauge of how a political party's base is thinking.

For the Republican Party in 2018, endorsements from President Trump and the Koch network correlate with victory by a large margin. Nearly 90 percent of the candidates who gained these coveted affirmations won their primary this year, a FiveThirtyEight analysis finds. No other endorser can boast above a two-thirds success rate.


(FiveThirtyEight)

"That's especially interesting given the Kochs' opposition to Trump's trade policies and Trump's public feud with the brothers," FiveThirtyEight notes. Charles Koch has said Trump's principles are "antithetical" to his own, calling the president's Muslim registry proposal "reminiscent of Nazi Germany," "monstrous," and "frightening."

Also interesting is what falls at the bottom of the list. For all the present furor over the possibility of a conservative-majority Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, pro-life groups Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List are in the bottom third of endorsers.

FiveThirtyEight conducted a similar analysis of Democrats earlier this year and found former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Democratic Party committees were the standout endorsers. Bonnie Kristian

10:06 a.m. ET

Now contending with a second allegation of sexual misconduct, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces an uphill journey to confirmation. But President Trump is standing by his man.

In allegations published in The New Yorker on Sunday, Deborah Ramirez accused Kavanaugh of thrusting his penis into her face at a party while they were both students at Yale University. But the new story has not deterred the president, as Trump told reporters Monday that he still heartily supports Kavanaugh, whom he called a "fine man with an unblemished past."

The allegations, Trump said, are "highly unsubstantiated statements," and the president encouraged reporters to "look into" the lawyers representing the accusers. Last week, California professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward with an allegation of sexual assault against Kavanaugh stemming from a high school party both attended in the 1980s. Kavanaugh has denied both Ford and Ramirez's accusations.

What's happening to Kavanaugh "could be one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate for anything," Trump said, concluding that the allegations are "totally political." Watch his remarks below. Brendan Morrow

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