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June 19, 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared on Fox News Monday night to defend the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" for people crossing the border illegally, and he made an odd claim about one of history's darkest times.

Host Laura Ingraham scoffed at critics who compare placing children in detention centers to Nazi concentration camps, and she asked Sessions to respond to the charge. "Well, it's a real exaggeration, of course," he said. "In Nazi Germany, they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country." Sessions went on to argue that the government is "doing the right thing, we're taking care of these children, they are not being abused," and admitted that separating children from their parents is meant as a deterrent for others who might try to come to the U.S. "Hopefully people will get the message and come through the border at the port of entry, and not break across the border unlawfully," he said.

As for Ingraham, she said it's a "rare" occurrence for families to be broken up at the border (the Department of Homeland Security has reported that from April 19 to May 31, 1,995 minors were separated from adults who said they were their guardians), and referred to the detention centers where children are living as "essentially summer camps." Catherine Garcia

March 5, 2018
AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe, File

Anastasia Vashukevich, a Belarusian escort arrested in Thailand for working without a visa, said Monday that she has more than 16 hours of audio recordings that allegedly prove Russian meddling in America's 2016 presidential election, The New York Times reports. "If America gives me protection, I will tell everything I know," she said.

Vashukevich, 21, made the recordings in August 2016 during a yacht trip with Oleg V. Deripaska, a billionaire close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and with business ties to Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort. In a video released last month that uses Vashukevich's recordings and photos, Russian political activist Aleksei A. Navalny claimed that the yacht trip was an attempt by Deripaska to bribe Sergei E. Prikhodko, a deputy prime minister. Vashukevich was one of a number of prostitutes on the boat, the Times says.

"They were discussing elections," Vashukevich said of what she overheard on the yacht trip. "Deripaska had a plan about elections." She claims that some of the conversations were with fluent English speakers who she suspects were Americans.

Some are skeptical of Vashukevich's charges, claiming she is an attention-seeker. She was arrested in Pattaya, Thailand, last month and has requested political asylum. Vashukevich emphasized that she is afraid to go back to Russia: "Some strange things can happen," she said. Read more about Vashukevich at The New York Times. Jeva Lange

October 5, 2017

As he posed for photos with military commanders and their families before a dinner at the White House on Thursday, President Trump made a head-scratching remark that was equal parts confusing and ominous.

"You guys know what this represents? Maybe it's the calm before the storm," he said. Reporters instantly started shouting questions, primarily, "What storm?" Trump replied by repeating his earlier comment: "It could be, the calm, the calm before the storm." Again, reporters asked him what he meant, and if the storm had anything to do with Iran or ISIS, and again, Trump did not answer. Instead, he said "the world's greatest military people" were in the room, and they were going to enjoy their evening. While Trump never revealed what storm might be coming or why he thinks anything related to his tumultuous presidency could be described as "calm," he did finally tell reporters that "you'll find out" one day what he's talking about.

Is it gun control? North Korea? The Iran nuclear deal? The GOP's 3,495th attempt at repealing ObamaCare? Aliens? Secretary of State Rex Tillerson getting fired for calling Trump "a moron," which is "fake news," but still? You'll find out.... Catherine Garcia

May 24, 2017
Larry French/Getty Images

Good news, poor people — Ben Carson is here to explain why you aren't a millionaire.

"I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind," the retired neurosurgeon, former presidential candidate, current Housing and Urban Development secretary, and not an economic adviser said during a SiriusXM town hall recorded Tuesday night and released Wednesday. "You take somebody that has the right mindset, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they'll be right back up there. And you take somebody with the wrong mindset, you can give them everything in the world, they'll work their way right back to the bottom."

Carson has been vocal about being poor growing up, and said that while he does believe the government is able to give a "helping hand" to people trying to lift themselves out of poverty, there are too many programs that are "sustaining them in a position of poverty. That's not helpful." HUD provides affordable housing and rental assistance to low-income families, and under President Trump's proposed budget released Tuesday, the department's budget would be cut by $6 billion. Catherine Garcia

March 13, 2017

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) spent part of his Sunday praising a far-right Dutch politician on Twitter and declaring that "we can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies."

Geert Wilders is the leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom, has been accused of inciting hatred against Muslims, and apparently has a fan in King. "Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny," King tweeted. "We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies." King's comment appeared with a cartoon showing Wilders standing in front of a wall that reads "Western Civilization" and using his finger to plug a hole in it, with protesters behind him holding signs that say "Infidels, know your limits."

King quickly heard about the tweet from Democrats, Republicans, journalists, and white supremacists. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), the son of Cuban immigrants, responded directly to King, asking him, "What exactly do you mean? Do I qualify as 'somebody else's baby?' #concernedGOPcolleague." Democrat Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, called King a "total ignoramus," and said "no one takes him seriously." Even NBC's Tom Brokaw joined the conversation, pointing out that "somebody else's babies" are wearing U.S. military uniforms and volunteering to protect the country. "Cong. King, please!" he added. King did get two thumbs up from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who tweeted, "GOD BLESS STEVE KING!!!"

King often makes statements that cause people to question if their hearing is going — he has claimed to be as "Hispanic and Latino" as former HUD secretary Julian Castro, wondered on national television what contributions have been made by non-whites over the course of history, and once asked a black journalist if she had the "right" to call him a "racist" because she has "more melanin." Catherine Garcia

October 21, 2016
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

When Donald Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton during the final presidential debate to blurt that she was a "nasty woman," many liberals took up the designation with pride. Not everyone agrees the words are something to rally around, though. After being asked if Trump's comment was "appropriate" on The Alan Colmes Show on Thursday, Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) insisted the line was entirely called for:

COLMES: You think it's appropriate to call her a nasty woman?

REP. BABIN: Well I'm a genteel Southern gentleman, Alan.

COLMES: So does that mean no?

REP. BABIN: No, I think sometimes a lady needs to be told when she's being nasty. [Fox News]

Counterpoint: Sometimes a man needs to be told when he's misused the word "gentleman." Jeva Lange

September 8, 2016

Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, 29, has reportedly been signed to a minor league baseball contract with the New York Mets. ESPN reports that Tebow will be heading to the Instructional or Arizona Fall League to break in his cleats. "They are intrigued by his potential. This is not a publicity ploy," a source told WABC.

Tebow earned mixed reviews from scouts at a workout last week: "I thought he was okay. Better than I expected, to be honest," one major league scout said. Tebow last played full-time baseball in early 2005, when he was in high school. Jeva Lange

August 16, 2016

In an op-ed for The Hill, Donald Trump ally Roger Stone continued to promote the conspiracy of "rigged" elections — by pointing a finger at two major figures in the GOP, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus:

As someone with great sentimental attachment to the Republican Party, as I joined as the party of Goldwater, both parties have engaged in voting machine manipulation. Nowhere in the country has this been more true than Wisconsin, where there are strong indications that Scott Walker and the Reince Priebus machine rigged as many as five elections including the defeat of a Walker recall election [...]

When the Trump vs. Cruz primary took place, the same pattern emerged again of a Marquette University poll showing a 20 point shift from Trump ahead by 10 percent to Trump behind by 10 percent, which was simply absurd. Shifts like that don’t happen over brief intervals of time, absent a nuclear explosion. It didn't make any sense — unless you knew what was going on was an "instant replay" of Walker's victories. The machine Priebus built was delivering for Cruz big time. [The Hill]

Stone also accused Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel of "monkey[ing] with the machines," and wrote that "this year, the results of machines in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio, where Governor John Kasich controls the machines, must be matched with the exit polls…"

Experts and election inspectors have said claims such as Stone's are "laughable and even irresponsible." "With no evidence at all, Trump is charging — in advance of the election — that if he loses, it might well be because the election is rigged. Puh-leaze," Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia told FactCheck.org. Jeva Lange

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