Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah doubt Trump targeted ex-CIA chief John Brennan for his 'wild outbursts on the internet'
"It is a chilling day in American history, and not just because I keep this theater at 52 degrees," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "For the first time ever, a president has used the power of his office to punish members of the intelligence community who have criticized him." He played White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reading President Trump's statement on why he revoked former CIA chief John Brennan's security clearance, and one charge stuck out: Brennan's alleged "wild outbursts on the internet." "I'd say that's the pot calling the kettle black, but there may be tapes of it calling the kettle much worse," Colbert joked.
Trump's been threatening to hit Brennan for a month, and announcing it today "is just an obvious attempt to distract our attention from America's sweetheart, Omarosa," Colbert said. Her claim that Trump used the N-word, and that it's on tape, "has sparked a national debate: Exactly how big of a racist is the president? I mean, on a scale of "Drunk Uncle at Thanksgiving' to 'Drunk Uncle at Trump Rally'?" Trump has insisted, frequently, that he is "the least racist" person, and Colbert suggested Trump doth protest too much.
Yes, it was "another rough week for the Trump White House: scandals, bad press, bad polls numbers," Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show. "But the good news is, they found someone to blame," Brennan. He also found Trump's rationale curious. "Unfounded allegations, wild internet outbursts, and lying?" Noah asked. "It sounds like Sarah Sanders is just reading from President Trump's daily schedule." Throw in the officials he says he's targeting next, "Trump's enemies list," and it's pretty clear "Trump isn't just protecting secrets for the good of the country," Noah said, wondering how Rosie O'Donnell and Don Lemon aren't on the list, too. Watch below. Peter Weber
An FBI probe of Kavanaugh assault allegations would be routine, take 2-3 days, ex-White House officials say
President Trump and Senate Republicans are insisting that an FBI investigation of Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh tried to rape her in the 1980s would be impractical and unnecessary. If Ford doesn't agree by Friday to testify on Monday, Republicans say, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote to confirm Kavanaugh next week anyway. Ford wants the FBI or other independent, nonpartisan investigators to gather facts and testimony in the case before she testifies. FBI involvement would require White House consent.
"It would seem that the FBI really doesn't do that," Trump said Wednesday, a day after saying the FBI doesn't "want to be involved" and "this is not really their thing." Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who was also on the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, when the FBI investigated Anita Hill's claimed of sexual misconduct against Clarence Thomas, said: "The FBI does not do investigations like this. The responsibility falls to us."
"But several officials who have had direct roles in the nomination and background check process said it's common, as part of the FBI's vetting of presidential nominees for judicial posts and executive branch jobs, to investigate matters that do not qualify as federal crimes," Politico reports. When the FBI investigated Hill's allegations against Thomas in 1991, it took only three days.
"What happened here is actually not unusual," said John Yoo, a senior Justice Department official under former President George W. Bush. "The Judiciary Committee will often say to the Justice Department: 'Can you send the agents back out and find out if this is true, find out what happened with this?' ... You could have this done in a day or two." Having the FBI investigate "is a quick process, I don't think it needs to take more than a couple of days," agreed former Obama White House lawyer Sarah Baker. "The only reason you don't ask is if you don't want the answer." Peter Weber
As part of Amazon's continued quest to be involved in every aspect of your life, the company is considering opening up to 3,000 new Amazon Go stores by 2021, Bloomberg reports.
There are no cashiers at Amazon Go stores, which sell snacks, drinks, sandwiches, and salads. Shoppers gain access by scanning an app, and cameras and sensors can tell what items they take off the shelves. When they're done, customers just walk out and get charged automatically. The first Amazon Go opened in Seattle in 2016; there are now two other stores in Seattle, as well as one in Chicago.
People with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg that Amazon is trying to decide if it wants these new Amazon Go stores to compete against convenience stores like 7-Eleven, offering prepared food and a limited selection of groceries, or fast-casual restaurants like Panera Bread. One plan the company is considering involves opening 10 Amazon Go stores by the end of 2018, 50 more in major urban areas in 2019, and as many as 3,000 by 2021, Bloomberg reports. Catherine Garcia
Trump doesn't feel like anyone is protecting him, they said, and he remains angry over an anonymous senior official writing a critical op-ed for The New York Times, as well as unknown staffers feeding unflattering information to Bob Woodward for his new book, Fear. It's not just Trump wondering who has his back — his family members and longtime friends are also looking at everyone suspiciously. "Everybody in the White House now has to look around and ask, 'Who's taping? Who's leaking? And who's on their way out the door?' It's becoming a game of survival," a Republican strategist who works with the White House told the Post.
Trump may not have a clue who wrote the op-ed or spoke to Woodward, but he does know that Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself last year from the Russia investigation, leading to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and that's why he directed so much of his ire toward Sessions on Wednesday. "I don't have an attorney general." Trump lamented. "It's very sad." He told Hill.TV that Sessions was "mixed up and confused" in his Senate confirmation hearing, and even though the attorney general has taken a hardline approach to immigration, Trump is "not happy at the border, I'm not happy with numerous things." Catherine Garcia
Stephen Colbert does not think Republicans are handling the Brett Kavanaugh assault allegations very well
Senate Republicans are willing to hear Christine Blasey Ford's testimony about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's alleged rape attempt when both were in high school, but they won't delay the hearing until after the FBI investigates. "Oh, so the hearing comes before the investigation, just like on the classic TV show Order & Law," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. And President Trump won't even authorize an FBI investigation, saying that's not really the bureau's thing, he added. "Yeah, the FBI really doesn't have time to investigate sexual assault — that takes precious time away from finding real criminals like the author of the anonymous op-ed."
There's clear precedent for the FBI investigating sexual misconduct claims against a Supreme Court nominee, Colbert noted. "I guess all Dr. Blasey Ford's asking is that Congress treat her with the same respect and dignity they gave Anita Hill. The bar could not be lower if you dropped it in the Marianas Trench."
Colbert walked through the various, sometimes suspect defenses of Kavanaugh from Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and the Judicial Crisis Network official who referred to Kavanaugh's alleged rape attempt as "rough horseplay" — which, Colbert said, "raises the question, What has Brett Kavanaugh done to horses?" And he took special exception to the anonymous lawyer close to the White House who said if Kavanaugh can be sunk "by accusations like this," then "every man" should be worried: "No, no they shouldn't. Not 'every man' goes through a sexual assaulter phase. And, to anyone out there who's saying 'boys would be boys,' you should not be allowed to raise boys. Or girls. Maybe a plant." Watch below. Peter Weber
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings "were already controversial and contentious" before Sunday, when a woman stepped forward to accuse him of attempted rape in the early 1980s, Trevor Noah said on Wednesday's Daily Show. Kavanaugh denies the allegation, but "this is like the fifth prominent person Donald Trump has supported who's been accused of mistreating women," Noah said. "It's almost like he doesn't realize it, but if he likes someone, it's because they have a shady history with women."
Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, wants the FBI to investigate the incident before she testifies, and the all-male Senate Judiciary Committee Republican majority says that while they want to get to the bottom of this, she'll testify Monday or they'll just move on, Noah said. "How tone-deaf is it that in the case of an alleged sexual assault, the woman is saying 'I think you guys are moving too fast,' and these dudes are like, 'Well, we're ready, so we're doing this!'"
Noah explained why he had little patience for the people questioning the timing of Ford's accusation, a tiny bit of empathy for those questioning her motives, but zero tolerance for the "boys will be boys" defense from those who conceded Ford's allegation may be true and don't care. "All I'm saying is I think it's worth taking the time to try and find out the truth," he said, "because if it turns out that this allegation is true, would you want a guy making decisions about all women's rights if he couldn't even respect one woman's right to choose?"
Between the on-air segments, Noah had an incisive look at Sen. Orrin Hatch's (R-Utah) particular argument that the Kavanaugh he knows wouldn't try to rape a girl, drawing on Bill Cosby, Oscar Pistorius, and other people with skeletons in the closet. You can watch that below. Peter Weber
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban apologized on Wednesday to women who were sexually harassed while working for the organization, following the release of a report that detailed numerous cases of improper conduct over the span of 20 years.
The independent investigation took seven months to complete, and found, among other things, that former team president Terdema Ussry made inappropriate comments and forcibly touched and kissed 15 female employees, while former ticket sales executive Chris Hyde made unwanted sexual advances, viewed and shared pornographic images, and made unsolicited comments of a sexual nature, The Dallas Morning News reports. The report found no wrongdoing by Cuban, who has owned the Mavericks for 18 years, but stated he made "significant errors of judgment."
"This is not something that just is an incident and then it's over," Cuban told ESPN. "It stays with people. It stays with families. And I'm just sorry I didn't see it. I'm just sorry I didn't recognize it." Cuban said he "wasn't as focused on the business as I should have been," and "never in my wildest dreams did I think that this was happening right underneath me." Cuban will make a $10 million donation to organizations that support domestic violence victims and women in the workplace, and said he has to "recognize I made a mistake, learn from it, and then try to fix it." Catherine Garcia
President Trump seems to have one go-to solution for any problem: Build a wall.
Josep Borrell, Spain's foreign minister, revealed this week that Trump told his government that in order to keep migrants from entering Spain, they needed to build a wall across the Sahara. Borrell said they told Trump the wall would have to stretch for 3,000 miles to cover the desert, but Trump was undaunted. "The Sahara border can't be bigger than our border with Mexico," he said. The U.S.-Mexico border is approximately 1,954 miles.
Spain does have two autonomous cities on the north coast of Africa, but the wall would have to be built almost entirely on foreign land. So far this year, more than 33,600 migrants have arrived in Spain by sea, three times as many as in 2017, and 1,723 have died on the journey. More migrants are coming to Spain than Italy and Greece, and while it is straining resources in some areas of southern Spain, Borrell said in July the government does not consider this a crisis. "We're talking about 20,000 migrants so far this year for a country of more than 40 million inhabitants," he said. "That's not mass migration. We're trivializing the word 'mass.'" Catherine Garcia