Watch Tea Party Rep. Justin Amash slam his establishment GOP opponent — for calling to concedeAugust 6, 2014
Trevor Noah and Seth Meyers consider the growing possibility that Trump goes to jail7:57 a.m.
The 2019 Oscars might not have a host7:30 a.m.
Trump reportedly wanted Nick Ayers to fire John Kelly for him6:34 a.m.
Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel wonder what Trump has been 'smocking'4:53 a.m.
Russian NRA fan Maria Butina will plead guilty to spying for Moscow, is reportedly cooperating with the feds3:36 a.m.
France's Macron vows minimum wage hike, other measures in a bid to end 'yellow vest' protests1:50 a.m.
Trevor Noah jokes Trump may have to hire an immigrant as chief of staff. Stephen Colbert volunteers instead.12:56 a.m.
Tea Party–aligned Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) turned back a very heated primary challenge Tuesday night, winning with 57 percent to businessman Brian Ellis' 43 percent — and in his victory speech, he slammed Ellis for having the nerve to call him up on the phone to offer a friendly concession.
"To Brian Ellis, you owe my family and this community an apology — for your disgusting, despicable smear campaign," Amash said, as his supporters cheered him on, the local NBC affiliate reports.
You had the audacity to try to call me today, after running a campaign that was called the nastiest in the country. I ran for office to stop people like you — to stop people who were more interested in themselves than in doing what's best for their district. [Amash, via NBC]
It was indeed a nasty race, in which Ellis had the backing of business groups in a major effort by the party establishment to retake control of the GOP away from insurgents like Amash, in the wake of Amash's role in last year's government shutdown. As just one example, Ellis ran a TV ad that called Amash "Al Qaeda's best friend in Congress" for wanting to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay and opposing the NSA surveillance programs. And Amash was certainly not about to forget it.
After the speech, in an interview with the channel, Amash stood by his harsh words against Ellis: "He's what wrong with politics, people like him. And I stood up to these people. You know, they lie, they smear, they distort, and then they think everything's fine afterwards — and it's not fine."
Here is a video of Amash's speech, via the NBC affiliate:
President Trump got into a public feud with his former secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and he's shaking up his White House, and Seth Meyers saw a bit of look-over-there misdirection in Trump's antics. As Tillerson explained, "Trump is fundamentally lawless — not only does he think he's above the law, he doesn't even understand the law," Meyers said on Monday's Late Night, and we just "got the clearest picture yet of his serial lawbreaking."
On Friday, federal prosecutors "made it pretty clear that the Justice Department has damning evidence on Trump's ties to Russia" and also "spelled out as clearly as possible in this document that they believe the president of the United States committed a crime by paying hush money to cover up affairs," Meyers said. Trump, who claimed total vindication, also acknowledged he hasn't read the documents. "Every day there are new revelations that seem to fade away, but this feels like a watershed," he said. "The Justice Department just called the president of the United States a criminal."
"That's right, the president has been implicated in multiple felonies — let that sink in," Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show. "And just to be clear, this isn't even the collusion-with-Russia thing, or the obstruction-of-justice thing. We haven't even gotten to those yet. These felonies are about Trump paying hush money to his mistresses."
"It's pretty clear by now, Trump is in some deep sh-t — and he has to know it's getting serious because people on TV are saying so," Noah said. "That's right, things are so serious that people are talking about President Trump going to prison. And I know many people might want to see Trump in prison, but not me, okay? I do not want to see Trump go to prison — mostly because if you put Trump in a prison jumpsuit, it'll just look like he's naked. And why should we be punished for his crimes?" Watch below. Peter Weber
Who will replace Kevin Hart as host of the 2019 Oscars? Turns out, maybe nobody.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is reportedly "freaking out" after Hart, who was hired to host the awards, relinquished the responsibility, Variety reports. Homophobic tweets of Hart's from years earlier had resurfaced, leading the Academy to tell him he must apologize or he'd be replaced. The group was reportedly hoping he would simply apologize and stay on as host, but Hart instead decided to step down, although he later apologized anyway.
But the Oscars are just two months away, and Variety reports the Academy was "blindsided" by all this and had "no contingency plans in place." The group is reportedly considering a variety of options for how to proceed, including the possibility of just putting on the show without a host. That wouldn't be unprecedented; it last happened in 1989. The idea would be to instead rely on a line-up of different presenters, or as one insider said, "a bunch of huge celebs, something SNL style, and buzzy people." This could include a monologue delivered by a group rather than a single host.
There's still the possibility of an actual host being hired to replace Hart, but the problem is the Academy is now reportedly quite worried about hiring someone who could be too "edgy." Whatever they decide, they better do it fast, as the 2019 Oscars is scheduled to take place on Feb. 24. Brendan Morrow
President Trump's search for a new chief of staff has take on "the feel of a season of The Apprentice, his former NBC reality show," The Washington Post reports. "Candidates for the job are unsure of the status of the president's deliberations and are being kept largely in the dark from the White House." But there is one major different between reality TV and reality, The New York Times adds: In real life, Trump "famously avoids one-on-one interpersonal conflict," and he absolutely hates firing people.
After months of deliberation, Trump had decided he wanted to poach Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, Nick Ayers, to replace his own chief of staff, John Kelly. To make room for Ayers, Trump "had been trying for awhile to pull the trigger on firing Mr. Kelly," the Times reports, adding:
Famous for the "You're fired!" catchphrase and also for hating confrontation, Mr. Trump had looked for others to do the work for him last week — even attempting to arrange for Mr. Ayers to fire Mr. Kelly — according to three people familiar with the events. Finally, Mr. Trump persuaded Mr. Pence and Mr. Ayers to join him in hashing things out with Mr. Kelly in the presidential residence on Friday night. But instead of sticking to the plan to let Mr. Kelly leave with dignity, which Mr. Ayers and others in the White House had urged the president to do, Mr. Trump decided to announce it himself on Saturday. [The New York Times]
Ayers turned down Trump's job offer on Sunday, after Trump had been telling people Ayers had accepted the position, the Post reports. Still, the Times adds, "on Monday, according to several people close to the administration, the president was more focused on his success in dispatching Mr. Kelly than on his anger at Mr. Ayers." Peter Weber
The Late Show found a reason for White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to smile, finally.
Yes, "the White House right now is going through yet another big shakeup," Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday's Kimmel Live. President Trump nominated William Barr to be attorney general — "I saw the headline 'Trump Nominates Barr,' I thought he picked Roseanne," Kimmel joked — and Kelly is out in January. "The president's having a hard time finding someone to replace him," Kimmel said. "It's a tough situation: How do you convince a rat to jump on a sinking ship? It's against their nature."
Kimmel revisited some Trump tweets — when he mocked former President Barack Obama for having three chiefs of staff in three years, when he attacked ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as "dumb as a rock," and when he praised him.
But Kimmel dwelled on Trump's early-morning Monday tweet about "No Smocking Gun" despite digging by "Democrats" and ex-FBI Director James Comey. "Typos aside, this is some argument, because Donald Trump is defending himself by reminding us about the hush money he paid to a porn star and a centerfold, which he calls a 'private transaction,'" Kimmel said. "He's clearly panicked right now — I would not want to be a bucket of KFC in Washington tonight. And what about the 'Smocking Gun'? This isn't the first time he's tweeted the word 'smocking.'" For the good of the nation, Kimmel gave Trump a quick lesson about "ck" words versus "ke" words, like "jock" versus "joke."
On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert dug a little deeper into Comey's testimony before House Republicans — the proximate trigger for Trump's "Smocking Gun" tweet — and then dissected the tweet. "Now some say that's a typo," he said, "but today at a fiery briefing, Deputy Press Secretary Bill Farblah defended the president's tweet." And in the fake press conference, "smocking" suddenly made sense. Watch below. Peter Weber
Russian national Maria Butina will plead guilty Wednesday to working as an unregistered Russian agent "to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. politics," with help from her American boyfriend, Republican operative Paul Erickson, and under the direction of Kremlin-linked banker Alexander Torshin, according to a draft plea agreement obtained by ABC News. "Butina sought to use those unofficial lines of communication for the benefit of the Russia Federation."
A 30-year-old purported gun-rights activist, Butina has been in jail since her arrest in July. She signed the plea deal on Dec. 8, and according to CNN, she is already cooperating with federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C. According to the plea deal, Butina said she and Erickson (identified as U.S. Person 1) drafted a proposal in March 2015, later sent to Torshin, in which she wrote she'd already "laid the groundwork for an unofficial channel of communication with the next U.S. administration," which she predicted would be Republican.
Butina traveled the U.S. and met with Republican presidential candidates in 2015, and in December of that year, she helped arrange a trip to Moscow for senior NRA leaders and donors, pushing them to meet with senior Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Dmitry Rogozin, a deputy to Russian President Vladimir Putin. After that trip, according to U.S. prosecutors, Butina sent Torshin a message, translated to read: "We should let them express their gratitude now, we will put pressure on them quietly later."
Erickson, who's also reportedly a target of federal prosecutors in Washington, wrote an acquaintance in October 2016 that he has "been involved in securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key [unnamed political party] leaders through, of all conduits, the [unnamed gun-rights organization]." On MSNBC Monday night, Rachel Maddow connected some speculative dots between the NRA, Russia, and the Trump campaign, and she noted Torshin's sudden "retirement." Watch below. Peter Weber
In a 13-minute address to France on Monday evening, an unusually contrite President Emmanuel Macron laid out some new "strong measures" to address the "economic and social emergency" gripping the country, exposed by four weekends of "yellow vest" protests. Macron said his government would pay for a 100 euro monthly raise in the minimum, eliminate taxes on overtime pay in 2019, cut an "unjust" tax on small pensions, and ask profitable companies to give workers a tax-free bonus this month. He also said he would travel France to begin a dialogue with mayors, regional civil leaders, trade unions, and other stakeholders in France's success. He did not pledge to reinstate a special tax on the richest French citizens.
It is unclear if Macron's concessions, following his scrapping of a planned fuel tax, will defuse the yellow vest protests. Protest leaders said they would continue taking to the streets, but some analysts said they expect the movement to fizzle as Christmas approaches. It's also unclear how France will pay for the proposals, estimated to cost $9 billion to $13 billion. As notable as Macron's fiscal proposals, however, was his uncharacteristically soft tone. "I take my share of responsibility" for the anger roiling France, Macron said. "I might have hurt people with my words." Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert began Monday's Late Show by congratulating outgoing White House Chief of Staff on his imminent departure and for "a job, well, done." President Trump, who had a tense relationship with Kelly from the start and promptly broke his promise to let Kelly break the news of his departure, "already had Kelly's replacement picked out," Colbert noted. But his pick Nick Ayers, turned him down, "and it's not just Ayers — nobody seems to want this job."
"So the president is in desperate need of a chief of staff, and he's got no viable candidates, which is why I'd like to take this opportunity to officially throw my hat in the ring," Colbert offered. "Mr. President, I, Stephen Colbert, am your next White House chief of staff." He said he wouldn't be able to control Trump or bring order to the chaotic West Wing, and he will fight with Trump and disagree with his policies, "but I believe in my heart of hearts that this could be fun for me," Colbert said. "I mean, who would pass up the chance to spend 10 minutes on the deck of the Titanic while it's sinking?"
"I think it's fair to say that being Trump's chief of staff did not work out well for John Kelly," Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show. "Because remember, he came into the job known as a respected four-star general, and now he's leaving the job known as the guy who fired Omarosa." In fact, there's a good reason "nobody wants this job," he said. "We all know by now what happens if you work for Trump. At some point you're going to lose your credibility, and then you spend every day being insulted by a 72-year-old 5-year-old. Who would want that? So many Americans don't want this job, Trump might have to let a Mexican do it." Except Michael Kosta volunteered, too. Watch below. Peter Weber