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September 14, 2017
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In an interview with the Financial Times published Thursday, first daughter Ivanka Trump effectively blamed her silence over her father's response to the violence last month in Charlottesville, Virginia, on her unwavering commitment to being a team player. "To voice dissent publicly would mean I'm not part of the team. When you're part of a team, you're part of a team," Trump said. "That doesn't mean everyone in the White House has homogeneous views — we don't, and I think that's good and healthy — but that doesn't mean we're publicly undermining [each other] and this administration."

Even behind closed doors, Trump, who is also a senior adviser to the president, claimed that it's "unrealistic" for people to expect she could change her father's mind on key issues. "That my presence in and of itself would carry so much weight with my father that he would abandon his core values and the agenda that the American people voted for when they elected him, it's not going to happen," Trump said. "To those critics, shy of turning my father into a liberal, I'd be a failure to them."

Notably, she didn't mention that time she reportedly heavily influenced her father's decision to bomb Syria in the wake of the country's chemical attack.

Catch the full interview at the Financial Times. Becca Stanek

August 24, 2017

President Trump's former campaign adviser and close personal friend Roger Stone told TMZ on Thursday that an effort to impeach Trump would result in a literal "civil war."

"Try to impeach him. Just try it. You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection, like you have never seen before," Stone said. "Both sides are heavily armed, my friend."

Stone additionally claimed "any politician who votes" to impeach Trump "would be endangering their own life."

"There will be violence on both sides," Stone said. "Let me make this clear: I'm not advocating violence. I am predicting it." Jeva Lange

July 24, 2017

In a speech ahead of Senate Republicans' Tuesday vote on health care, President Trump on Monday declared that ObamaCare "is death." "[Democrats] run out, they say, 'death, death, death,'" Trump said, referring to Democrats' concerns about Republicans' health-care plans. "Well, ObamaCare is death. That's the one that's death."

Trump urged Senate Republicans to fulfill their longstanding promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare, pushing specifically for a plan that replaces the health law immediately. "So far, Senate Republicans have not done their job in ending the ObamaCare nightmare," Trump said. He warned that "any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America that you are fine with the ObamaCare nightmare."

Though Senate Republicans have confirmed a health-care vote for Tuesday afternoon, it's not yet clear even to senators which bill they will debate or whether there will be enough votes for the effort to succeed. Becca Stanek

July 11, 2017
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A documentary pointing to evidence that Amelia Earhart was captured by the Japanese and died in their captivity has apparently been disproved by a Japanese blogger, The Guardian reports. The documentary, which aired on the History Channel this weekend, relied on a photograph of two unidentified white people who experts said could have been Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan. Only, blogger Kota Yamano quickly found the same photograph had been published in a Japanese book two years before Earhart disappeared.

"I have never believed the theory that Earhart was captured by the Japanese military, so I decided to find out for myself," Yamano told The Guardian. "I was sure that the same photo must be on record in Japan." Yamaha added it took him just 30 minutes to disprove the theory after he searched "Jaluit atoll" between 1930 and 1940.

"The photo was the 10th item that came up," Yamano said. "I was really happy when I saw it. I find it strange that the documentary makers didn't confirm the date of the photograph or the publication in which it originally appeared. That's the first thing they should have done."

Once again, Earhart's disappearance is subsumed in mystery. Read more about why we're mesmerized by her vanishing here at The Week.

Update 2:49 p.m.: The History Channel writes that they have "a team of investigators exploring the latest developments about Amelia Earhart and we will be transparent in our findings. Ultimately, historical accuracy is most important to us and our viewers." Jeva Lange

May 25, 2017

Concerning reports about Trump campaign officials' possible collusion with Russian operatives often lead to big, glaring questions: How and why exactly did the Trump campaign end up hiring people who were clearly red flags? The problem might come down to some really terrible vetting, The Washington Post reported Thursday:

As Trump was starting to win primaries, he was under increasing pressure to show that he had a legitimate, presidential-caliber national security team. The problem he faced was that most mainstream national security experts wanted nothing to do with him.

"Everyone did their best, but there was not as much vetting as there could have been," former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said.

Another longtime campaign official put it this way: "Anyone who came to us with a pulse, a résumé, and seemed legit would be welcomed." [The Washington Post]

Consider, for example, Carter Page, a former national security adviser for President Trump who also has deep ties and apparent loyalty toward Russia. When Page came to Trump Tower to be interviewed, "a top Trump adviser, Sam Clovis, employed what campaign aides now acknowledge was their go-to vetting process — a quick Google search — to check out the newcomer," the Post writes.

Unfortunately, "a thorough vetting of Page might have revealed several red flags," the Post adds. "Page had spent three years working in Moscow, for instance, and he held stock in the Russian company Gazprom, meaning that he could have a personal financial stake in the future of U.S.-imposed sanctions against Russia."

"We were not exactly making due diligence the highest priority," one campaign veteran admitted. Read the entire scoop at The Washington Post. Jeva Lange

May 16, 2017
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Undemocratic leaders around the world are taking a "guilty pleasure" in watching events unfold in the United States, Politico writes. "There's a credibility issue when it comes to the rule of law, particularly with the firing of [former FBI Director James] Comey," explained the Washington director of Human Rights Watch, Sarah Margon.

But that's not all:

In addition to firing Comey ... the examples cited by critics include: Trump's scathing criticisms of federal judges who have ruled against his policies; his family's entanglement of business and political interests; his baseless charges of massive voter fraud; his accusation that President Barack Obama wiretapped him; and his routine branding of negative media stories as "fake news." [Politico]

The finger-pointing has already begun. One recent Chinese delegation claimed Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner resembled a "princeling" in their own country who mixed business and politics. In another example, when "Capitol Hill aides warned officials from another repressive foreign government that they could pay a political price for human rights abuses, their visitors scoffed," Politico writes. "President Donald Trump had just called their leader, they said, and told him he was doing a great job."

A diplomat from another "undemocratic nation" told Politico that with the events unfolding in the U.S., "now you guys can't lecture everyone else anymore." Jeva Lange

March 23, 2017
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The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover a number of baseline "essential benefits," including hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, and mental health treatments. But on the brink of the health-care vote in the House, a group of Republicans are aiming to repeal ObamaCare's minimum requirements. As the argument goes, Americans shouldn't have to pay for benefits they aren't using; a 60-year-old-man, for example, shouldn't have to pay for maternity care.

But as The New York Times reports, the lack of a baseline could lead to fraud and a looser interpretation of what "insurance" means. At a certain point, policies could even cover "aromatherapy and not chemotherapy."

The Republicans' plan proposes that Americans who are buying their own insurance receive money from the government. But "if the essential health benefits go away, insurance companies would be allowed to sell health plans that don't cover, say, hospital care. Federal money would help buy these plans," The New York Times writes. Here's more:

Mark Pauly, a professor of health-care management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, who tends to favor market solutions in health care, said that while the ObamaCare rules are "paternalistic," it would be problematic to offer subsidies without standards. "If they're going to offer a tax credit for people who are buying insurance, well, what is insurance?" he said, noting that you might end up with the government paying for plans that covered aromatherapy but not hospital care. "You have to specify what's included."

A proliferation of $1,995 plans that covered mostly aromatherapy could end up costing the federal government a lot more money than the current GOP plan, since far more people would take advantage of tax credits to buy cheap products, even if they weren't very valuable. [The New York Times]

Read more about the potential consequences of losing essential benefits at The New York Times. Jeva Lange

March 14, 2017

Long before Kellyanne Conway ever became "the greatest spin doctor in modern American history," she was "just fun," in the words of Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who met Conway in the 1980s when he was in graduate school at Oxford and she was doing an undergraduate year abroad. But as The Atlantic has learned, Conway and Luntz had an interesting definition of "fun":

One time, [Conway] and a couple of friends took Luntz shopping and made him try on a Speedo so they could laugh at him. "I've been fat for, like, 15 years, but I wasn't always fat," he told me. "Nevertheless, a guy like me should not put on a Speedo." This sounded humiliating and cruel to me, but Luntz insisted it was hilarious. [The Atlantic]

The hijinks didn't end there:

Conway went to law school at George Washington University and accepted an offer to work for a D.C. firm, but reneged when Luntz asked her to join his polling company instead. They traveled the world together, and loved to play pranks, such as pretending they were husband and wife and having a noisy argument in an elevator. After a few years, she left to start her own company. While building her business, Luntz told me, Conway said things about him that hurt his feelings, and the two didn't speak for several years. They have since reconnected. [The Atlantic]

Read more about Conway's journey to the White House in The Atlantic. Jeva Lange