FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
February 16, 2017

President Trump praised Fox News during his combative press conference Thursday, but he certainly would not have liked what he saw if he turned on his TV afterward. Fox News' Shep Smith did not hold back when tearing into the president after the presser: "It's crazy what we're watching every day," Smith said. "It's absolutely crazy. [Trump] keeps repeating throwaway lines that are not true at all and sort of avoiding this issue of Russia as if we're some kind of fools for asking the question."

As Smith went on, it appeared to occur to him that the president could be watching. He turned to stare directly into the camera and began to address Trump directly: "No sir," Smith said. "We are not fools for asking the question and we demand to know the answer to this question. You owe this to the American people."

Buckle up and watch below. Jeva Lange

February 16, 2017

President Donald Trump has historically struggled to earn the approval of African-American voters, and he likely didn't do much to help his case Thursday when fielding a question from White House correspondent April Ryan. Ryan asked Trump about his plans for his urban agenda — specifically, whether he will "include the CBC ... in your conversations with your urban agenda, your inner city agenda?"

"Am I going to include who?" Trump said, apparently not understanding Ryan's use of the acronym for the Congressional Black Caucus, the organization that represents the black members of Congress.

When Ryan clarified, Trump answered: "Well I would. Do you want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?"

The question seemed to take Ryan, who is African-American, by surprise. "No, no, no," she answered. "I'm just a reporter." Watch the exchange below. Jeva Lange

February 15, 2017

President Donald Trump vowed to make a "really great peace deal" in the Middle East when addressing the press alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday. "It is the parties themselves who must directly negotiate the agreement," Trump said, adding to Netanyahu: "Both sides will have to make compromises. You know that?"

When asked about his solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, Trump added, "I'm looking at two state and one state. And I like the one that both parties like."

As for Israeli settlements, Trump looked at Netanyahu and said: "I'd like to see you hold off on settlements for a little bit ... We'll work something out ... It might be a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand." Netanyahu replied, "Let's try," and Trump noted "that [Netanyahu] doesn't sound too optimistic."

"That's the art of the deal," Netanyahu quipped, quoting the title of Trump's most famous book.

But, Trump assured, "I really believe they want to make a deal." Jeva Lange

February 15, 2017

On Wednesday, Ashton Kutcher testified at the Senate Foreign Relations hearing on the topic of ending modern slavery. Yes, that Ashton Kutcher. In addition to starring in That 70's Show, the actor is the co-founder of Thorn, a tech organization that fights child sexual exploitation, The Hill reports.

While Kutcher was present to speak about a pretty concerning issue, it was hard to shake the vision of Kelso sitting in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Even Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) got tripped up. "You were better looking in the movies," he told Kutcher at the hearing.

Kutcher's response? Watch below. Jeva Lange

February 15, 2017

Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski put her foot down about Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday, stating firmly that she would no longer have the White House counselor on the show. "Every time I've ever seen her on television, something's askew, off, or incorrect," Brzezinski said. "I will say: Kellyanne Conway does not need to text our show, just as long as I'm on it because it's not happening here … She's not credible anymore."

Conway has been in hot water in recent weeks following her repeated citation of the "Bowling Green Massacre," which never occurred, as well as her possibly illegal promotion of Ivanka Trump's products on a Fox morning show.

"I don't even think she's saying things she knows to be untrue, she's just saying things just to get in front of a TV set and prove her relevance because behind the scenes, she's not in these meetings," Brzezinski's co-host Joe Scarborough said. Watch below. Jeva Lange

February 15, 2017

Politico has obtained rare footage of the ex-wife of President Donald Trump's labor secretary nominee appearing anonymously on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1990, where she alleged spousal abuse. "I will see you in the gutter. This will never be over. You will pay for this," Lisa Fierstein alleged the labor secretary nominee, Andrew Puzder, told her in an episode titled "High Class Battered Women."

Puzder, the CKE Restaurants CEO, is slated for his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday although four Republicans have said they are "withholding support," possibly jeopardizing his nomination. In addition to allegations that he abused his wife, Puzder faces trouble due to pushback from labor rights activists and his admission that he and his wife once employed an undocumented immigrant as a part-time housekeeper.

When Fierstein appeared on Oprah, she was already divorced from Puzder — their separation was finalized in 1987 — and disguised by large sunglasses and a wig and used an assumed name. Another woman who appeared in the episode supplied the video to Politico, and senators on the HELP committee have also reviewed the tape, which was supplied to them by the Oprah Winfrey Network but had not been made available to the public.

In a petition seeking $350,000 in damages, Fierstein also alleged Puzder "assaulted and battered me by striking me violently about the face, chest, back, shoulders, and neck, without provocation or cause" and left "bruises and contusions to the chest, back, shoulders, and neck" as well as "two ruptured discs and two bulging discs." The petition was ultimately dismissed "on the grounds that Puzder's divorce agreement had already settled all Fierstein's prior claims against him," Politico writes.

Feirstein said in a recent letter to the Senate HELP committee: "I regret my decision to appear on that show. I never told Andy about it." A spokesperson for Puzder and Fierstein said the pair, along with Puzder's current wife, "are close friends today and often spend time together, but none of that context seems to matter to Andy's critics. Perpetuating these retracted 30-year-old allegations and an impulsive decision to appear on a talk show is nothing more than a desperate attempt to tarnish Andy Puzder at the expense of Lisa and their family." Read the full story at Politico and watch Fierstein's appearance on Oprah below. Jeva Lange

February 14, 2017

Three weeks ago, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates privately warned the Trump White House that she believed Michael Flynn discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador and that he could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail. Still, after The Washington Post publicized similar accusations Thursday, alleging that Flynn had the conversations and misled Vice President Mike Pence about them, it took Flynn 97 hours to offer his resignation, which he reportedly did without a request from President Donald Trump.

It was up to Kellyanne Conway to defend those decisions on Tuesday morning, where she told George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America: "I can't reveal what the White House knew or didn't know, and who in the White House knew or didn't know" about Flynn.

"Three weeks ago the Justice Department told the White House that Gen. Flynn was misleading the vice president, was misleading the public about his contacts with the Russians," Stephanopoulos pressed. "You had that information. The White House had that information, chose to keep Gen. Flynn in his job, chose not to correct the record, chose not to tell the public what they knew about Gen. Flynn's phone calls."

"I'm not here to say who knew what when, because that would be divulging information that is highly sensitive," Conway said. She added: "We're sorry for this situation, but the president accepted his resignation and he's moving on." Watch the full interview below. Jeva Lange

February 8, 2017

New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall (D) read Coretta Scott King's scathing letter against Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Wednesday after his colleague, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), was banned for attempting to do the same. On Tuesday night, Warren attempted to read the missive on the Senate floor, only to be barred by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who said that by reading the missive Warren "impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama," a violation of the Senate's arcane Rule 19.

King's letter, written to protest Sessions' nomination to a federal judgeship in 1986, reads in part that "the irony of Mr. Sessions' nomination is that, if confirmed, he will be given life tenure for doing with a federal prosecution what the local sheriffs accomplished 20 years ago with clubs and cattle prods. Twenty years ago, when we marched from Selma to Montgomery, the fear of voting was real, as the broken bones and bloody heads in Selma and Marion bore witness."

Udall used the letter to express his distress over Sessions' nomination for attorney general, and more broadly his concern over President Donald Trump's Cabinet. Watch the beginning of Udall's remarks below. Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads