On Wednesday, the senators of the Senate Intelligence Committee have the opportunity to question Gina Haspel, President Trump's nominee to be the next CIA director, on her qualifications for the position. Each lawmaker has just a few minutes to bombard Haspel with questions, which will likely seek to suss out her stance on torture techniques previously used by the CIA and how she plans to navigate her relationship with President Trump.
Republican Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.) did not seem concerned about the time constraints, however. He opened his questioning with a soliloquy about the partisanship that has seeped into the nomination process under the Trump administration, specifically calling out "overwhelming Democratic opposition." He then asked Haspel how many votes she believes she would've received for confirmation under a hypothetical President Hillary Clinton — which prompted quite an awkward silence when Haspel declined to respond. Watch the deafening silence below. Kimberly Alters
Unsurprisingly, Sen. Cotton lobbing Haspel plenty of softballs.
"If you had been nominated by President Obama or...Hillary Clinton...how many votes do you think you would have gotten to be confirmed as the CIA director? You don't have to answer." pic.twitter.com/UlT090MVcW
— Melanie Schmitz (@MelsLien) May 9, 2018
Fox News was in the unusual position of reporting on one of its own hosts Monday.
An attorney for Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal attorney, revealed that a previously unnamed client of Cohen's was in fact Fox News host Sean Hannity. The revelation came in court Monday at the behest of a federal judge, as Cohen has been attempting to block investigators from reading documents they seized in a raid of his home and office last week. Hannity denied that Cohen has represented him "in any matter," saying he had merely had "brief discussions" about legal questions with the attorney.
After the news broke, Fox's Laura Ingle went on-air to report the latest, breezing quickly past the revelation that one of her own coworkers was now involved in the Cohen story. Cohen's attorney was told that the name of the third client didn't fall under attorney-client privilege, Ingle explained, so "he stood up, and named him as Sean Hannity. So moving on to the rest of what's happening today … "
Watch the attempted nonchalance below. Summer Meza
— Matt Wilstein (@mattwilstein) April 16, 2018
Mexico's president reportedly changed his mind about visiting the White House after talking to Trump
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto scrapped plans to visit Washington in February or March after an argumentative phone call with President Trump on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported Saturday night, citing officials from both countries.
Trump reportedly "lost his temper" in a discussion of his unrealized pledge to build an extensive wall along the United States' southern border with Mexican funding. "Trump believed it was unreasonable for Peña Nieto to expect him to back off his crowd-pleasing campaign promise of forcing Mexico to pay for the wall," American officials reportedly told the Post.
Also at issue, the Post story says, is Peña Nieto's dissatisfaction with Trump's refusal to commit to a meeting agenda that will avoid embarrassment. A column in Mexico's El Horizonte newspaper on Friday likewise said Trump's "volatility" and the "lack of certainty about his commitments and actions" makes the Mexican president wary of a public conversation.
Rep. Mike Capuano (D) is a Massachusettsan to the bone — before representing the state's 7th district, he was mayor of Somerville, the same town he was born in. That just makes his attire on the Tuesday after the Super Bowl all the more conspicuous:
Rep. Michael Capuano of Massachusetts enters the house financial services hearing in an EAGLES helmet. pic.twitter.com/cVxYJ3lBqJ
— Alan Rappeport (@arappeport) February 6, 2018
Turkish troops on Saturday attacked an enclave of U.S.-supported Kurdish YPG militia fighters in the northern Syrian city of Afrin. After airstrikes, Turkish state media reported, ground troops entered the area Sunday. The YPG allied with the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, but Ankara considers the Kurdish fighters terrorists because of their ties to Kurdish rebels in Turkey.
Earlier this week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the United States will have an open-ended military presence in Syria, including ongoing support for the Kurds. Tillerson's statement angered Turkey, which is a U.S. ally via NATO. Washington asked Turkey not to attack the Kurdish forces last week. Bonnie Kristian
Dutch media roasts new U.S. Ambassador Peter Hoekstra for dodging questions about past anti-Islam comments
Former Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) got off to a rough start in his new job, U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, in December, when a Dutch journalist confronted him with comments he'd made in 2015 about Muslim "no-go zones" in the country and Dutch politicians being burned; Hoekstra denied making the comments, calling them "fake news," and when confronted with proof, denied having called his comments "fake news." On Wednesday, Hoekstra held his first news conference in the U.S. ambassador's residence in The Hague, and it went about equally as well.
Several Dutch reporters asked Hoekstra again about his widely rejected claims, and Hoekstra ducked the questions. Roel Geeraedts, a political reporter at the Dutch television station RTL Nieuws, posted this awkward exchange, captioning it, "The only one who did get burned today is... Hoekstra himself."
Today Dutch press welcomed @petehoekstra as new ambassador to the Netherlands. In 2015 Hoekstra said Dutch"politicians are being burned" (not true). The only one who did get burned today is... Hoekstra himself. By refusing to answer our questions. pic.twitter.com/Dv2aalbhDP
— Roel Geeraedts (@RGjournalist) January 10, 2018
After Hoekstra refused to recant or even comment on his 2015 allegations, one Dutch reporter chided him, "This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions." "Everybody there had one question: that crazy statement you made, are you going to withdraw it?" Geeraedts told The Washington Post. "We were not getting answers, so we all kept asking it." Dutch reporters sometimes spontaneously glom onto a question a Dutch politicians tries to evade, but "we were all astonished that he didn't want to take back the comment," Geeraedts said. "It was awkward, to be honest."
If this continues, perhaps Hoekstra will avoid the Dutch press — or take a page from Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and refer reporters' question a cardboard cutout of himself. Peter Weber
Thailand’s prime minister sets up a cardboard cutout of himself at a press event, tells reporters to direct their questions to the cardboard. Then he walks out. https://t.co/pA3l9L808h pic.twitter.com/kv6zNyBu3d
— CNN International (@cnni) January 10, 2018
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, second lady Karen Pence, repaired to Aspen, Colorado, for the holiday season. They rented a house, and their temporary neighbors seized the opportunity to make a colorful commentary on Pence's politics:
— Aspen Times (@TheAspenTimes) December 29, 2017
The resident was "real sheepish and thought he might be confronted by the Secret Service or deputies," said Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo. "When [the agents] said, 'We're not here to control your free speech rights,' [the family] came out with chili and began feeding them." The banner was hung by the daughters of the family with the help of one daughter's girlfriend.
"This town had a history of irreverence when it came to our visitors," DiSalvo told The Aspen Times. When then-President Bill Clinton visited in the 1990s, someone hung a large sign reading, "Inhale to the Chief," in reference to Clinton's claim that he smoked marijuana but did not inhale. Bonnie Kristian
Moore told supporters in an email that the election "battle is NOT OVER" while soliciting donations to his "election integrity fund" to pay for investigations into voter fraud he claims may have cost him victory. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has not found any evidence of voter fraud. Merrill said his office has investigation reports of irregularities and has "not discovered any that have been proven factual in nature."
Also Friday, President Trump said Moore should admit his defeat. "He tried. I want to support, always, I want to support the person running," Trump said, but at this point, Moore "certainly" should concede. Bonnie Kristian