February 23, 2017

Reince Priebus and Stephen Bannon continued their campaign to prove that they definitely don't hate each other and absolutely are best friends during a strange little interview at CPAC on Thursday that ABC News' Ali Rogin dubbed a "buddy comedy."

At one point, the pair were asked to name something that they like about the other. Preibus, apparently joking, offered up Bannon's "collars." "I love how many collars he wears," Preibus said. "It's an interesting look."

For his part, Bannon said: "I can run a little hot on occasions … the only way this works is Reince is always steady … but his job is by far one of the toughest I've ever seen in my life. To make it run every day, to make the trains — and you only see the surface."

Put the odd reference to Benito Mussolini aside and it's actually pretty sweet. Watch the rest below. Jeva Lange

February 23, 2017

Ted Cruz used some colorful — or rather, vespertilionine — language to describe the Democratic base during an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday.

"From the left, their base … There's a technical term for their base, " Cruz began.

"Moscow," his interviewer answered.

Cruz nodded, but added: "I was going a different direction, which was 'bat-crap crazy.'" Watch the exchange below. Jeva Lange

February 22, 2017

Martin Luther King Jr.'s niece, Alveda King, claims she heard what might seem to be two rather understated reactions from President Trump during his Tuesday visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

The first came when [Trump's] gaze fell on a stone auction block from Hagerstown, Maryland, on which slaves would stand before being sold.

King, part of a small delegation to tour the new Smithsonian with the president, overheard Trump say: "Boy, that is just not good. That is not good."

Later, they came upon a set of shackles that were used to restrain children.

"That is really bad," King quoted the president as saying. "That is really bad." [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

While King described Trump as being "visibly moved," others were less sure about what Trump might have learned from the exhibit. "History is always instructive and the museum tells a powerful story, so it is unlikely that he wouldn't be moved by his visit," said Janice Mathis, the executive director of the National Council of Negro Women. "Now it is my hope that the visit will move beyond a celebration of Black History Month and that he will now consider public policy that is appropriate for a culturally and racially diverse nation today."

For his part, Trump said: "This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance, and hatred in all of its very ugly forms." Jeva Lange

February 22, 2017

Fox News held an immigration town hall event in Jacksonville, Florida, on Tuesday night, and host Martha MacCallum started off by asking White House policy adviser Stephen Miller via satellite about President Trump's coming replacement executive order limiting immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries and refugees. "So how is it going to be different this time?" she asked. "Well, nothing was wrong with the first executive order, however there was a flawed judicial ruling that was erroneous," Miller said. "Because of the exigency of the situation," he added, "the president is going to be issuing a new executive action — based off of the judicial ruling, flawed though it may be — to protect our country and to keep our people safe, and that is going to be coming very soon."

The new order will be "responsive to the judicial ruling," including mostly "minor, technical differences," Miller said. "Fundamentally, you're still going to have the same basic policy outcome for the country, but you're going to be responsive to a lot of very technical issues what were brought up by the court, and those will be addressed." MacCallum pressed him a little bit on that. "I know you think the order was fine the way it was issued initially, but courts disagreed — in fact, 48 courts took issue with it, and that's why it's halted right now," she said. As an example, she asked if the order will justify singling out the seven majority-Muslim countries and not, say, Saudi Arabia or Russia. "We've had dozens and dozens of terrorism cases from these seven countries — case after case after case," Miller said, without elaborating.

MacCallum ended by noting that we'll see soon enough if those "technical" fixes will satisfy the pretty fundamental problems flagged by the federal judiciary. As Trump might put it: SEE YOU IN COURT. Peter Weber

February 22, 2017

MSNBC's Morning Joe barred Kellyanne Conway from appearing on one of President Trump's favorite morning talk shows, and host Joe Scarborough explained why on Tuesday's Late Show. "It got to a point where Kellyanne would keep coming out, and everything she said was disproven, like, five minutes later," he said, "and it wasn't disproven by fact-checkers, it was somebody else in the administration." "There's a quicker way to say that entire sentence," Stephen Colbert replied: "She just lied." "Well, yes, exactly," Scarborough conceded.

Colbert noted that, based on Trump's Twitter feed, the president is still a faithful Morning Joe watcher. Scarborough agreed, saying he and co-host Mika Brzezinski say "Hi Donald" to the camera every morning. Colbert pointed out that even he calls Trump "Mr. President," and Scarborough laughed. "He's been Donald Trump forever, he's been Donald forever, you know?" he said. "So it's kind of hard to start calling him Mr. President — and I'll be really honest with you, the way he's acted over the past month has made it even harder to call him Mr. President."

Scarborough said that as a Republican and a conservative, he was not a fan of President Bill Clinton, but he rooted for him once he took office, and people shouldn't cheer against Trump, either. "I actually think we should pray for our president," he said. "But that requires all of us as Americans to do what we can when the president is not doing what he needs to be doing, to stand up and do our part too." He said it was important for all Americans, especially Republicans and Republican senators in particular, "to stand up right now and speak out."

"The Republican Party needs to know that there is going to be a time after Donald Trump, and they are going to be judged for the next 50 years on how they respond to the challenges today," he said. When the audience started cheering, and Scarborough feigned confusion, Colbert chided him, "You were totally going for that," adding, "I wish I shared your optimism that there will be a time after Donald Trump." Scarborough ended with his thoughts on who's really in charge in the White House, and what Trump needs and isn't getting from his inner circle. Watch below. Peter Weber

February 21, 2017

In his first four weeks in office, President Trump has visited two of his golf courses near his Mar-a-Lago private club in Florida a combined six times, or an average of 1.5 golf outings per weekend. Trump has not been very open about his golfing, with aides appearing to downplay the president's time on the links and keeping mum on whom he golfed with — though social media often fills in the blanks.

On Sunday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that after "a couple" of holes on Saturday, Trump "played a couple of holes this morning, but I am not going to disclose any of the others that were there." Then Clear Sports tweeted a photo of Trump standing on the golf course Sunday next to its CEO, former Yankee star Paul O'Neill, and top-ranked pro golfer Rory McIlroy. After McIlroy told the golfing site No Laying Up that he and Trump played a full 18 holes, Sanders clarified that Trump had "intended to play a few holes and decided to play longer."

At CNN, Dan Merica speculates that the Trump White House is being secretive about the president's golfing because Trump frequently criticized former President Barack Obama's time on the golf course, typically at Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, D.C. (Obama's first round of golf as president, Merica noted, was April 26, 2009.) Erin Burnett played several clips of Trump bashing Obama's golfing on Monday night's OutFront, then asked former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) about Trump's "golf habit": "Senator, is he realizing that it's a lot different when you actually have the job?"

"I don't think anyone's going to be critical of Donald Trump that he hasn't been engaged as president over the last month," Santorum replied, noting the frenetic activity at Trump's White House. Trump's critique of Obama was that he "wasn't engaged and involved as the president," he explained. "I don't think anyone's going to make that claim of Trump. And you're right — is it a cheap shot to hit the president on playing golf? It was, and I think he's realizing that getting out of the White House and swinging that golf ball is probably a good thing for his head." Watch below. Peter Weber

February 17, 2017

Russian state media has reportedly been ordered to stop fawning over President Trump, after a series of events that include the ouster of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Trump's unprecedented tweet saying something slightly negative about Moscow. Russia's news media "won't pour buckets of criticism on Trump, they just won't talk about him much," Konstantin von Eggert, a political analyst for Russia's only independent TV channel, told Bloomberg Politics. But Friday's newspapers in Russia seem to have at least reached for cups of criticism, says BBC News Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg, who read some of the days headlines.

Pravda, for example, criticized the contradictory remarks Trump has made about NATO, moving from "obsolete and useless" during the campaign to fully supportive today. "'As the saying goes,' the paper says, 'you need to be drunk to understand the true position of the U.S. president," Rosenberg read. Moskovsy Komsomolets asks, "Has Trump changed his mind about improving relations with Russia?" Vedomosti gives Trump the benefit of the doubt, blaming the "pressure that Trump is coming under in America over alleged links with Russia" for his inability to offer any concessions to Moscow right away.

If the Russian papers go too negative, of course, Trump can just dismiss them as "fake news" — bookmark the phrase "poddel'nyye novosti," just in case. Peter Weber

February 16, 2017

When President Donald Trump was asked directly Wednesday about energizing anti-Semites as well as some of his own staff's questionable comments about the Jewish people, his answer was nearly indecipherable.

Trump was given an opportunity to clarify his comments Thursday when he was asked what he would do to curb anti-Semitic incidents across the country. "Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person you have ever seen in your entire life," Trump told the Jewish reporter asking him the question. "Number two. Racism. The least racist person. In fact, we did really well relative to other people running as Republican."

While it doesn't exactly answer the question, Trump still called the reporter out for the "insulting" inquiry. Watch below. Jeva Lange

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