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June 23, 2017

On Friday, Fox & Friends aired the first televised, in-person interview President Trump has given in six weeks. In it, Trump praised progress on health care, claiming that "I've done in five months what other people haven't done in years," and blamed the Obama administration's "unmasking and surveillance" for his threat to former FBI Director James Comey about tapes of their conversations.

"My story didn't change," said Trump, who confessed Thursday he had no tapes. "My story was always a straight story. My story was always the truth."

Trump also blasted Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is heading the investigation of Russia's election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump team, for being "very, very good friends with Comey, which is very bothersome."

Trump added: "We're going to have to see ... but [there has] been no collusion, no obstruction, and virtually everybody agrees to that." Watch some of the interview below. Jeva Lange

June 22, 2017

Trevor Noah described his reaction to the newly released dash cam footage of the shooting of Philando Castile in a heartbreakingly sober segment of Wednesday's The Daily Show. "I won't lie to you," Noah said. "When I watched this video, it broke me. It just, it broke me."

Last week, officer Jeronimo Yanez was ruled "not guilty" for the shooting of Castile, a point that Noah found particularly disturbing. "It’s one thing to have the system against you," he explained. "But when a jury of your peers, your community, sees this evidence and decides that even this is self-defense, that is truly depressing. Because what they're basically saying is: In America, it is officially reasonable to be afraid of a person just because they are black."

"Forget race," Noah added. "Are we all watching the same video?" Jeva Lange

June 19, 2017

After yet another off-camera White House press briefing Monday, CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta argued that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is "getting to a point ... where he's just kind of useless." "If he can't come out and answer the questions and they're just not going to do this on-camera or audio, why are we even having these briefings or these gaggles in the first place?" Acosta asked Monday on CNN. Acosta's best guess was that maybe the White House doesn't want "their evasive answers ... saved for posterity."

Acosta questioned why reporters are even "going along with this," as these off-camera briefings are not only "pointless," but they're also not "how we do things in this country." "It just feels like we're slowly but surely being dragged into what is a new normal in this country where the president of the United States is allowed to insulate himself from answering hard questions," Acosta said, accusing the White House of "stonewalling" reporters.

Catch Acosta's fiery commentary on the White House's increasingly frequent off-camera briefings below. Becca Stanek

June 16, 2017

On Thursday night, Jay Z became the first rapper or hip hop artist inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, in a 2017 class that also included Motown founder Berry Gordy, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Robert Lamm and James Pankow of the group Chicago, and the reclusive earworm mastermind Max Martin, who wrote or cowrote a list of hits that includes the Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way," Britney Spears' "...One More Time," The Weeknd's "Can't Feel My Face," and Justin Timberlake's "Cant' Stop the Feeling!"

Jay Z (Shawn Carter) was not at the ceremony, apparently because his wife, Beyoncé, is expected to give birth to twins any day now, but he tweeted out his thanks to all the people who influenced him — including the man who introduced his award, "the greatest rapper of all time OBAMA. Thank you 44."

"I like to think Mr. Carter and I understand each other," former President Barack Obama said in his videotaped introduction. "Nobody who met us when we were younger men would have expected us to be where we are today. You know what it's like not to have a father around, you know what it's like not to come from much, and to know people who didn't get the same breaks that we did. So we try to prop open those doors of opportunity so that it's a little easier for those who come up behind us to succeed as well." Obama professed himself a fan who's been "listening to Jay since I was a young and hungry state senator."

He also threw in a little bit of self-deprecating humor, saying at one point, "Let's face it, we both have wives who are significantly more popular than we are," and an apparent dig at Jay Z's failed retirement: "You are inspiring in making me want to be active in my retirement, just like you have been in yours." Obama also threw a little shade at this successor, saying, "I'm pretty sure I'm still the only president to listen to Jay Z's music in the Oval Office — that may change at some point, but I'm pretty sure that's true now." Which, honestly, is a pretty good bet. Peter Weber

June 12, 2017

President Trump wasn't the only member of the U.S. government to get lavished with praise Monday. Shortly after Trump's first full Cabinet assembled Monday and spent a good chunk of time talking about Trump's accomplishments — an activity in which Trump heartily participated — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted out a video of his staff meeting.

Following in Trump's footsteps, Schumer "went around the room" to give everyone an opportunity to pay him a compliment. Since White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus wasn't at his meeting, Schumer found someone else to thank him for "the opportunity and blessing to serve [his] agenda." (Yes, Priebus actually said this verbatim to Trump at the Cabinet meeting earlier Monday.)

Watch Schumer's rendition of the meeting below. Becca Stanek

June 12, 2017

President Trump's full Cabinet assembled for its first meeting Monday, with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus thanking Trump for "the opportunity and blessing to serve your agenda." And if you think that's weirdly enthusiastic, you should hear how the rest of the meeting went:

After an introduction — in which Trump praised himself for accomplishing more than any other president — Trump gave a not-so-subtle invitation to his Cabinet members to introduce themselves to each other while the press was still in the room. Nearly everyone took the opportunity to heap praise on Trump:

Not everyone took the opportunity to kiss the president's ring, though:

Watch the extraordinarily bizarre meeting below. Jeva Lange

June 9, 2017

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) erupted Thursday at a Senate Finance Committee hearing over how Senate Republicans are conducting negotiations over the GOP-backed American Health Care Act. After finally squeezing an answer out of chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) confirming that there would not be any hearings on the bill, McCaskill went off on the lack of transparency and bipartisanship surrounding the discussions.

Hatch tried to assuage McCaskill by saying that Republicans have invited Democrats to share their ideas, eliciting a scoff from McCaskill. "When you say that you're inviting us and I heard you, Mr. Secretary, just say that you'd love our support — for what? We don't even know. We have no idea what's being proposed," McCaskill said, as Hatch sat by silently. "There's a group of guys in a back room somewhere that are making these decisions."

McCaskill acknowledged that Democrats had "made mistakes" when crafting the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama's flagship health-care law, but she noted that at least there were hearings then where Republican amendments were proposed and accepted. "One of the criticisms that we got over and over again was that the vote was partisan," McCaskill said, referring to Democrats' process of passing ObamaCare. "Well, you couldn't have a more partisan exercise than what you're engaged in right now. We're not even going to have a hearing on a bill that impacts one-sixth of our economy."

Watch it below. Becca Stanek

June 9, 2017

When most people offer advice to the president, it typically comes in the form of "don't tweet" followed by a varying number of exclamation points. But on Morning Joe on Friday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered a different kernel of wisdom to the commander-in-chief: "Go to sleep."

"Get some sleep," she went on. "Get yourself to a place where the synapses are working." Watch Pelosi's explanation below. Jeva Lange

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