×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
May 16, 2018
Hector Vivas/Getty Images

President Trump is not happy with how Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is running the agency, and the White House is coming up with a list of possible replacements, two people with knowledge of the matter told Quartz.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and retiring Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Thomas Homan have all been mentioned as possibilities, Quartz reports.

Congress has declined to give Trump the funding to build the wall along the southern border that he promised supporters he'd deliver once in office, and he blames Nielsen for it. The New York Times reported last week that after he berated her in a meeting, she drafted a resignation letter but never sent it. Nielsen told lawmakers during a hearing this week that she never "threatened to resign," and today, Trump said Nielsen was doing "a good job, and it's not an easy job." Catherine Garcia

12:59 p.m. ET
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is not having a great week.

Shortly after being hit with a lawsuit by the Thai cave diver who he accused of being a pedophile, Musk's company is now facing a Justice Department investigation, Bloomberg reports. This is over Musk's now infamous tweet from August in which he said that he was "considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured." The New York Times subsequently reported that despite what Musk said, he actually had not secured funding and that his tweet was more of a "flip remark."

That remark resulted in Tesla receiving a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which had already been investigating the company over concerns that Musk had misled investors, per the Times. Musk announced at the end of August that Tesla would stay public after all.

CNBC reports that immediately following Bloomberg's report of the Justice Department probe Tuesday, Tesla stock dropped, just as it did after Musk conducted a bizarre earnings call in May, got subpoenaed by the SEC in August, and smoked pot with Joe Rogan in September. Brendan Morrow

12:07 p.m. ET
Pete Marovich/Getty Images

Just like the president lamented to reporter Bob Woodward ahead of the publication of his book Fear, Trump has "another bad book coming out."

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is writing a tell-all book, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. It will provide a "candid account of his career and an impassioned defense of the FBI's agents," his publisher said. Trump has frequently criticized McCabe, and he retroactively revoked his security clearance last month. McCabe was fired from the FBI in March just 26 hours before he could retire and receive a pension, reports the Post. The bureau's inspector general accused him of disclosing information to the media and lying about it.

"I wrote this book because the president's attacks on me symbolize his destructive effect on the country as a whole," McCabe said in a statement of his book, The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump. The book will be published by St. Martin's Press and will come out on Dec. 4.

McCabe further said Trump is "undermining America's safety and security," adding that his book would illuminate the "clear and present danger" Trump poses to the country through a firsthand account of his time working directly with the president and other top administration officials. Read more at The Washington Post. Summer Meza

11:42 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reconciles her traditional Christian beliefs with President Trump's sometimes-not-so-Christian tendencies by separating church and state. "I'm not going to my office expecting it to be my church," she told The New Yorker in an interview published Tuesday.

Sanders fell into the press secretary job last year when tumultuous staffing issues left the post open; as one former adviser said, "There wasn't anybody else." She was reportedly brought on to Team Trump as a way to link the president to evangelicals and suburban women.

Though she rarely hints at her personal views on Trump's policy decisions, she is steadfastly loyal to the president's message, functioning at once as "the wall" Trump built and the "battering ram" fighting through his myriad crises. Her views or style can sometimes diverge from what The New Yorker calls Trump's "immorality," by evangelical standards, but she focuses on the positive aspects of his "unconventionality." Someone close to her said that she views Trump's bombastic and uncompromising approach as effective, if unsavory.

During official press briefings, Sanders can't say anything "even somewhat nuanced" about Trump, a source said — praise only. However, behind the scenes, reporters say she is much less confrontational and is often quite helpful. The New Yorker reports that she stays aggressive on camera because it pleases Trump and helps him push his claims of "fake news." Sanders says she likes the "nervous adrenaline" that comes with the job. "The odds are stacked against you," she said of entering the briefing room to face upwards of 50 reporters. "I like it, though." Read more at The New Yorker. Summer Meza

11:41 a.m. ET

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is really, really salty about a man turned meme.

The Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe, better known as the internet-famous "Salt Bae" who artfully sprinkles seasoning on meat, served Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro at his Istanbul steakhouse and tweeted a video of it Monday. And because Gökçe has another restaurant in Miami, Rubio has decided it's worth slamming him in five separate tweets.

On Monday night, Rubio tweeted that he didn't even know who this "weirdo #Saltbae" was, and presumably wasn't aware Gökçe had a Florida restaurant. Still, he slammed Gökçe for feeding Maduro, the "overweight dictator of a nation where 30 percent of the people eat only once a day." Eater reports that Maduro's steak cost $275; meanwhile, 90 percent of his country lives in poverty.

Once Rubio realized Gökçe's local ties, he rubbed some more salt in the chef's wounds:

Gökçe deleted his dictator-serving video, but the Miami Herald has since reposted the footage of his over-the-top slicing skills. And Rubio, whose ire had been preserved for another day, encouraged his followers to watch it Tuesday morning.

Rubio, who is Cuban-American, probably wouldn't be pleased to know Gökçe also dressed up as Cuba's ex-dictator Fidel Castro last year. But for now, the senator has moved on to tweeting Bible verses scorning "those who seek to destroy my life." Kathryn Krawczyk

10:49 a.m. ET

The mass shootings of the past few years may not have led to any major national gun policy changes. But gun control is playing a massively larger role in campaign advertising for the 2018 election than it did in the last midterm cycle.

While mentions of gun policy have increased across the board, a Wall Street Journal analysis published Tuesday shows, ad mentions supporting stricter gun control policies have spiked dramatically. In the entire 2014 election, the Journal's data counts just under 4,500 campaign ad mentions of pro-gun control messages. With more than a month to go in this year's race, those mentions have already topped 100,000 in 2018.


(The Wall Street Journal)

Guns are not only mentioned in far more ads now than they used to be, but the proportion of views represented has undergone a significant shift. In 2014, ads that mentioned guns were 600 percent more likely to oppose gun control policies as to endorse them. This year, they are about 50 percent more likely to call for more regulation instead of less.

This change has been particularly striking in states, like Nevada and Florida, where mass shootings have recently occurred. Those two states alone "went from zero pro-gun control ads in 2014 to more than 45,000 this year," the Journal reports. Bonnie Kristian

10:21 a.m. ET
JENNIFER LAW/AFP/Getty Images

Anita Hill knows a little something about senators, the Supreme Court, and sexual harassment.

Before this past weekend, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was on track for a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation vote Thursday. But Christine Blasey Ford's allegation of sexual assault against Kavanaugh upended the process, and now Kavanaugh and Ford are both scheduled for hearings with the committee next week.

Back in 1991, Hill faced a ruthless hearing and public smears as she alleged sexual harassment from then-nominee Clarence Thomas. So now, as the court once again deals with sexual misconduct allegations against a nominee, Hill has authored a New York Times op-ed to school senators on how they can "get the Kavanaugh hearings right." The Brandeis University professor outlined four "basic ground rules" for ensuring that the committee doesn't "fail" like it did 27 years ago:

1. "Refrain from pitting the public interest in confronting sexual harassment against the need for a fair confirmation hearing," as maintaining the Supreme Court's "integrity" and "eliminating sexual misconduct ... are entirely compatible."

2. "Select a neutral investigative body with experience in sexual misconduct cases" to investigate the incident and report back to the committee.

3. Don't rush. Planning these hearings for next week is "discouraging," as a week isn't enough time to prepare "meaningful inquiry into very serious charges."

4. "Refer to Christine Blasey Ford by her name," as she is "not simply 'Judge Kavanaugh's accuser.'"

If the Senate sticks to these rules and puts the "burden of persuasion" on Kavanaugh, Hill says that a Senate "with more women than ever" can finally "get it right." Read all of Hill's advice at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:13 a.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

When Florence's still-rising floodwaters finally subside, the coastal Carolina regions that have suffered the worst of the storm's wrath will begin to rebuild. But for many, the question remains: With what money?

Only about 10 percent of housing units have flood insurance in many of the areas Florence drenched, and homeowners expecting to rely on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) help to rebuild will be sorely disappointed. While a good flood insurance policy will provide several hundred thousand dollars to restore a house and replace possessions, FEMA flood grants cover, at most, $33,000. Most payouts come in below $10,000.

Thus, for "the insurance industry in general, Florence looks like ... a manageable event that will hurt earnings to some degree but won't affect capital," The Wall Street Journal reports. Because there are so few flood insurance policies to pay out, homeowners rather than their insurers will take on the financial brunt of the storm's destruction. Accordingly, share prices for major insurers recovered swiftly after a few days' dip as Florence made landfall.

Flood insurance is distinct from regular homeowner's insurance. It must be purchased separately from either private carriers or the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a FEMA subsidiary, a month before flood damage occurs to receive a payout. The NFIP, which now operates at a loss, offers below-market insurance rates for construction in flood-prone areas, arguably subsidizing dangerous construction. Bonnie Kristian

See More Speed Reads