As Hurricane Florence barreled toward the East Coast on Wednesday, President Trump continued to tout his administration's response to last year's Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
In a tweet, Trump said that the government did an "unappreciated great job" in response to Hurricane Maria in spite of Puerto Rico being an "inaccessible island with very poor electricity." He also took aim at San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, calling her "totally incompetent."
We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida (and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico, even though an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan). We are ready for the big one that is coming!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 12, 2018
A study found that nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the hurricane, up from the original estimate of 64, CNN reports. FEMA also has admitted it was ill-prepared for the storm. Trump had said last fall that Maria wasn't a "real catastrophe" like Hurricane Katrina. But Maria's updated death toll is much higher than the roughly 1,800 people who died during Katrina. Cruz on Tuesday joined others in criticizing the president, writing on Twitter, "If he thinks the death of 3,000 people [is] a success God help us all." Brendan Morrow
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday refused to back down from his claims that "zero tolerance" policies for illegal immigration are the best way to prevent crime and economic exploitation in the U.S., NBC News reports.
Speaking to immigration judges in Falls Church, Virginia, Sessions defended the Trump administration's hard-line approach as "perfectly legitimate, moral, and decent." The "zero tolerance" policy that he announced earlier this year was partially dismantled after major blowback to the administration's separation of migrant families. Many children are still being held separate from their parents even months after President Trump signed an executive order ending the practice, as adults were uniformly prosecuted for illegal entry.
Sessions said the "zero tolerance" approach was an appropriate way to create consequences for migrants seeking to exploit Obama-era "incentives." But while "a lot of those crossing our borders are leaving a difficult life," he said, "asylum was never meant to provide escape from all the problems people face every day around the world." The attorney general also alleged that migrants lie about fears they face in their home countries in order to remain in the U.S.
"No great and prosperous nation can have both a generous welfare system and great prosperity, and open borders," said Sessions. "Such a policy is radical, it's dangerous." Read more at NBC News. Summer Meza
President Trump surprised Democrats and infuriated Republicans on Wednesday when he agreed to a Democratic proposal to attach $7.9 billion in Hurricane Harvey aid to a three-month spending package and debt-limit increase. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reluctantly agreed to the deal and turned it into legislation Wednesday night, tacking on another $7.4 billion in community block grants to jump-start rebuilding efforts.
The Senate is expected to approve the $15.3 billion package as early as Friday, then it would go back to the House, which has already approved the $7.9 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration. FEMA could run out of emergency funds as early as this weekend, when Hurricane Irma is projected to hit Florida. Peter Weber
Sean Hannity's network has retracted a story about the 2016 death of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, and Rich's parents have written an appeal for people to "stop politicizing" their son's murder, but the Fox News host is refusing to back down.
"I am not Fox.com or FoxNews.com," Hannity said on his radio show Tuesday. "I retracted nothing." The Hannity host made his comments after Fox News retracted its story from May 16, which alleged that Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks before he was shot and killed; police say he was likely murdered during a botched robbery. There is no evidence that shows Rich's death was related to WikiLeaks releasing stolen DNC material, and following outrage from the public and Rich's family, Fox News said the story "was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed."
Hannity, whose executive producer received a letter from the Rich family asking that the show stop peddling a false narrative, said he has an "agenda to get to the truth. I'm not saying I have answers yet, but I'm digging deep, and I have a lot more information than all of you do at this point." He also said that people who are "accusing me of pushing a conspiracy theory, you are the biggest hypocrites in the entire world."
Not long after Hannity's outburst, The Washington Post published an op-ed written by Mary and Joel Rich under the headline: "We're Seth Rich's parents. Stop politicizing our son's murder." The conspiracy theories being pushed regarding their son's death are "baseless" and "unspeakably cruel," they wrote, and "the amount of pain and anguish this has caused us is unbearable. With every conspiratorial flare-up, we are forced to relive Seth's murder and a small piece of us dies as more of Seth's memory is torn away from us." Catherine Garcia
Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough doesn't seem to be giving up his quest to get the Republican Party to ditch Donald Trump. On Tuesday, Scarborough doubled down on the attacks he launched against the presumptive GOP nominee the day before, and heightened the urgency of his call for Republicans to realize their responsibility to stop Trump. "It's time to stop right now, and say this right now: Republicans in Washington, D.C., right now you're letting your presumptive nominee, who is making racist statements, run roughshod over what remaining national reputation we have as a national party," Scarborough said. "You have to start calling him out today. This is not where you can do the slow boil. You have to start calling him out and saying you're going to retract your endorsement of him today or else the United States Senate is in danger."
The Senate wasn't all that Scarborough warned was at stake. "Republicans," he said, "call him out, back away from those endorsements, make him back down on the Muslim ban, make him back down on this racist comment that he's made about a man born in Indiana, saying he's incapable of being a fair judge because of where his parents were born, or else you will lose the Senate, you will lose the House, you will lose the presidency, you will lose governorships, you will lose your standing as a national party."
Watch Scarborough's full take on Republicans' Trump troubles, below. Becca Stanek
Hillary Clinton is fully embracing her campaign typeface that no one likes, using "Hillvetica" to implore her Twitter followers to get out and volunteer.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 14, 2015
You can make your own message in "Hillary Bold," too, thanks to graphic designer Rick Wolff. He shared the font with The Washington Post, which created a tool that lets anyone make their own arrow-filled message. Wolff is also raising money so he can turn this into an actual font, because you just never know when you might need to use the most confusing typeface possible. Catherine Garcia
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Sunday stood by his harsh criticism of protesters who last week interrupted a Senate hearing with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
"I was outraged and I'm still outraged," McCain said on CNN, arguing that the protesters were physically threatening Kissinger. "I think they're terrible people that would do that to a 91-year-old man with a broken shoulder," he added.
Last week, McCain called protesters from the anti-war group Code Pink "low-life scum" after they brandished banners and handcuffs during the hearing. —Jon Terbush