President Trump doesn't see anything wrong with a little election meddling. On Monday, the president tweeted support for Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach, casting aside the opinions of his advisers and GOP officials, reports Axios.
Republican strategists were reportedly crossing their fingers that Trump would stay out of this race, but the president apparently loves seeing his off-the-cuff remarks tangibly change the course of an election. This is not the first race in which Trump has relished the idea of pulling a few strings to favor an unpopular candidate: Advisers were similarly distressed when the president endorsed Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.).
Kobach is the hard-line conservative that Democrats hoped would win the primary, reports The New York Times, because he is a much more controversial candidate than some of the other, more establishment-friendly GOP hopefuls. Trump reportedly wanted to endorse Kobach even earlier, given their similarities and mutual respect for one another, but his staff intervened, telling him it would be too politically risky.
Trump "thinks it's fun" to have such influence over state-wide races, sources told Axios, and his staff apparently can't stop him from stepping in for a jolly good time. Perhaps advisers will begin using reverse psychology to keep him from commenting on the next primary. Summer Meza
Trump says that if Christine Ford's sexual assault allegations were 'as bad as she says,' she should have reported it immediately
President Trump has broken his streak of restrained, on-message commentary regarding the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Whereas Trump has previously chosen to merely praise Kavanaugh's "unblemished record" and feign confidence that the whole controversy will blow over, he switched gears on Friday to instead call the matter an attempt to "destroy and delay" Kavanaugh's confirmation. The process has been marred by allegations from Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were in high school.
Trump alleged a different kind of assault — one from "radical left wing politicians" who want to baselessly attack Kavanaugh's "impeccable reputation." Ironically, Trump said that for those politicians, "facts don't matter."
"If the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says," continued Trump, "charges would have been immediately filed." He said she should "bring those filings forward." Kavanaugh and Ford are set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week. Summer Meza
Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a fine man, with an impeccable reputation, who is under assault by radical left wing politicians who don’t want to know the answers, they just want to destroy and delay. Facts don’t matter. I go through this with them every single day in D.C.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 21, 2018
I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 21, 2018
When Attorney General Jeff Sessions meets with state attorneys general next week to discuss whether tech companies are suppressing free speech, it seems he'll now have one more thing to talk about.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that in the wake of President Trump's 2017 travel ban, Google employees discussed tweaking the company's "search-related functions" to direct users towards pro-immigration groups to which they could donate money, as well as to tell them how to get in touch with lawmakers.
This report is based on a series of leaked emails obtained by the Journal, which also show that Google discussed ways to "leverage" search results in order to counter "islamophobic, algorithmically biased results" for certain words, such as "Islam" and "Muslim."
Google says none of these concepts ever went into effect and that the emails simply show a "brainstorm of ideas." The company added that it has "never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology." Even in the email exchanges themselves, one executive warned that "we need to remain fair and balanced" and said that if they were to do this, it must also promote organizations that support the ban, suggesting the plan received some internal pushback before ultimately being discarded.
Nevertheless, Trump supporters, some of whom have argued without evidence that Google manipulates its algorithm to damage the president, seized on the report, with Donald Trump Jr. tweeting it out to his followers on Friday. Brendan Morrow
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's fellow defenders have not embraced Ed Whelan's elaborate multi-tweet theory that Christine Blasey Ford is accusing the wrong specific man of holding her down, groping her, and stifling her screams as he tried to remove her clothes at a high school house party in the early 1980s. Ford said there was "zero chance" she would confuse Kavanaugh with the other man, now a middle school teacher whom Ford said she "socialized" with in high school and has since visited in the hospital.
Republicans on Capitol Hill and in the White House distanced themselves from Whelan's doppelgänger theory. But Whelan "had told people around him that he had spent several days putting together the theory and thought it was more convincing than her story," The Washington Post reports, citing "two friends who had talked to him." And he wasn't the only one considering the idea, the Post says. "Kavanaugh and his allies have been privately discussing a defense that would not question whether an incident involving Ford happened, but instead would raise doubts that the attacker was Kavanaugh, according to a person familiar with the discussions."
Whelan, a former clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia and former White House colleague of Kavanaugh's, has been an adviser on Kavanaugh's confirmation push along with his friend Leonard Leo, the head of the Federalist Society. His mistaken-identity theory was not well-received on Twitter, but if he really believes it to be true, Whelan probably has enough clout to get President Trump to order an FBI investigation. Peter Weber
Congressional Republicans planned to run for re-election on their biggest legislative accomplishment, the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul they passed in December with zero Democratic votes. Taxes are the top issue in GOP ads, mentioned in a third of those that ran Aug. 29 to Sept. 12, USA Today reports, but more than two-thirds of those ads attacked Democrats rather than defending the GOP tax cuts. An internal survey commissioned by the Republican National Committee suggests why: By a 2-to-1 margin, voters believe the tax cuts benefit "large corporations and rich Americans" over "middle class families," according to Bloomberg News, which obtained the poll.
The survey, completed Sept. 2, found that 61 percent of voters said the tax overhaul helps the rich while 30 percent picked the middle class. Independents agreed about the wealthy benefiting by 36 percentage points. Overall, 44 percent of voters approved of the law, 45 percent opposed it. "Voters are evenly divided on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act," the report said. "But, we've lost the messaging battle on the issue." (According to the Tax Policy Center, 25 percent of the law's gains will accrue to the top 1 percent by 2025, rising to 83 percent for the top 1 percent by 2027.)
Internal GOP poll finds voters overwhelmingly believe the tax law benefits the rich rather than the middle class. "We've lost the messaging battle on the issue." https://t.co/VS3k3s17U2 pic.twitter.com/9aeZXRcvtH
— Joe Light (@joelight) September 20, 2018
"Most voters believe that the GOP wants to cut back on" programs like Social Security and Medicare "to provide tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy," the RNC survey concludes, attributing this to "a fairly disciplined Democrat attack against the recent tax cuts." Clearly, Democrats running on ObamaCare and Republicans shying from touting tax cuts was not how Republicans thought this would play out. "If we can't sell this to the American people," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said after the Senate passed the tax bill, "we ought to go into another line of work." Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert turned Trump's 'disturbingly inappropriate' Hurricane Florence comments into a children's book
President Trump visited North Carolina on Wednesday, after the waters of Hurricane Florence had subsided in some communities, and he had a lot of things to say about boats, telling the owner of one destroyed home that at least he "got a nice boat out of the deal," Stephen Colbert noted on Thursday's Late Show. "His comments are so disturbingly inappropriate relative to this tragedy, the only way we could make them remotely palatable is to turn them into a children's book. So gather round, kids, it's time to read a little book we at The Late Show put together called Whose Boat Is This Boat? Comments That Don't Help in the Aftermath of a Hurricane. Just a quick reminder, these are all actual things that he said to the storm-ravaged people." Also, the illustrations are actually pretty great. Watch below. Peter Weber
Michael Cohen essentially confirms he's been cooperating with Robert Mueller, in an unnecessarily confusing way
On Thursday, ABC News reported that Michael Cohen, President Trump's longtime personal lawyer and "fixer," has spent hours talking to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators about Trump's dealings with Russia and whether he had offered Cohen a pardon, which could amount to obstruction of justice.
The ABC News report cited "sources" for its scoop, but ABC's Meridith McGraw captured a tweet from Cohen's account, quickly deleted, seeming to confirm (in the third person) that Cohen had volunteered "critical information to the #MuellerInvestigation without a cooperation agreement."
— Meridith McGraw (@meridithmcgraw) September 20, 2018
Journalist Yashar Ali suggested that Cohen had been test-writing a tweet for someone else, and he appeared to be right, when Cohen lawyer Lanny Davis posted the tweet from his own account.
3. Well, here you go. pic.twitter.com/XBlGfE2Ry6
— Yashar Ali (@yashar) September 21, 2018
But Davis had a different explanation:
FYI - I wrote a Tweet congratulating @MichaelCohen212 and sent text to him to Tweet to his much larger following - but was delayed posting myself so he posted first. All take a breath. I don’t control or have access to Mr. Cohen’s Twitter account. He is my client and my friend.
— Lanny Davis (@LannyDavis) September 21, 2018
The bottom line would seem to be firsthand confirmation that Cohen is cooperating with Mueller. And that's potentially bad news for Trump. Peter Weber
As Terry Lauerman can attest, there's no better place to enjoy a cat nap than at an animal rescue.
Lauerman, 75, visits the Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary in Green Bay, Wisconsin, every day. The shelter's founder, Elizabeth Feldhausen, told HuffPost on Thursday that Lauerman walked into the facility about six months ago, armed with a cat brush, and said he wanted to help with grooming. Safe Haven rescues cats with disabilities that otherwise would likely be euthanized, and Lauerman spends about three hours a day there. During each visit, Lauerman will pick up a cat, start brushing it, and then doze off, still holding the feline.
Lauerman will sleep "for about an hour, then he'll wake up and switch cats," Feldhausen said. He knows all the cats, she said, and told her volunteering is "as great of an experience for him as it is for them." On Facebook this week, the shelter wrote a post praising Lauerman, and it immediately went viral. Lauerman said he hopes the attention will result in more donations to Safe Haven, and he also praised his fellow volunteers. Safe Haven is grateful for his dedication, writing on Facebook, "We are so lucky to have a human like Terry." Catherine Garcia