November 29, 2016

Incoming Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) didn't mince words Tuesday in a response to President-elect Donald Trump's appointment of Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act, as secretary of health and human services. "Nominating Congressman Price to be the HHS secretary is akin to asking the fox to guard the hen house," Schumer said in a statement.

Schumer said Price, who is also in favor of privatizing Medicare, "has proven to be far out of the mainstream of what Americans want when it comes to Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, and Planned Parenthood." "Thanks to those three programs, millions of American seniors, families, people with disabilities, and women have access to quality, affordable health care," Schumer said in the statement.

Schumer has been clear about his opposition to House Speaker Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) proposal to privatize Medicare, and he has already vowed Republicans will "rue the day" they attempt to abolish ObamaCare. Becca Stanek

11:21 a.m.

President Trump on Tuesday downplayed the injuries suffered by U.S. soldiers following retaliatory Iranian missile strikes on a military base in Iraq earlier this month.

Speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump was asked why he has repeatedly said no Americans were hurt in the strikes despite reports that 11 U.S. service members were airlifted for medical reasons. The president said he was told the soldiers had "headaches" and he doesn't consider the injuries to be as serious as others he's seen in the past, such as the loss of limbs.

The comment quickly stirred up some backlash — CNN's Chris Cillizza called Trump's description of the injuries "problematic" considering some of the patients are still being evaluated. He also brought up Trump's personal history which includes five deferments from serving in the Vietnam War, four of which were the result of bone spurs in his heels.

The president was also chastised by Mark Hertling, a retired Army officer who served as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Europe and the Seventh Army. Hertling said that blasts like the one in Iraq can result in various long-term effects, some of them quite severe. Trump, he said, was "dangerously wrong" in his dismissal. Tim O'Donnell

Tim O'Donnell

10:08 a.m.

It's hard to make jokes during an impeachment, but Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is making it work.

Booker is among the 100 senators acting as jurors in the impeachment trial of President Trump, and all of them have to stash their electronics in marked cubbies while they're inside the Senate chambers. But as Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) documented on his Instagram Wednesday morning, Booker is using his cubby to store a snack that doubles as an excellent visual gag.

Booker may have dropped out of the presidential race earlier this month, but this joke probably would've earned him a boost from corny dads everywhere. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:05 a.m.

An attack on a U.S. military base in Kenya by al-Shabab fighters that killed three Americans earlier this month mostly flew under the radar amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran. But it's now raising questions about the effectiveness of the U.S. military's presence on the African continent, The New York Times reports.

There's still a lot that's unclear about al-Shabab's breach of the base, and the military's Africa Command has remained tight-lipped in the aftermath. Nobody is sure why the base — which is home to valuable surveillance aircraft — wasn't better protected, and there's also been some criticism of the Kenyan security forces who are being trained by the deployed U.S. troops.

At the Manda Bay base, the Kenyan forces are relied upon heavily to protect the airfield since there aren't enough American forces to stand perimeter security, a Defense Department official told the Times. But their performance during the skirmish with al-Shabab reportedly frustrated American officials. For example, the Kenyan forces announced they captured six of the attackers, all of whom were released after it turned out they were bystanders.

Some have taken their speculation a bit further. One person briefed on an inquiry into the attack told the Times that investigators are looking into the possibility that the al-Shabab fighters received aid from Kenyan staff on the base, although one American official said the attackers likely made their move after patiently observing the routines of American soldiers. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

9:41 a.m.

One of the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination this year is now suing the last one.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has filed a defamation lawsuit against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for suggesting in an interview last year that she's a "Russian asset."

Clinton during a podcast appearance in October said that an unnamed Democratic candidate for president is "the favorite of the Russians." She then said that Jill Stein is "also a Russian asset," seeming to suggest the unnamed Democrat is one as well. While Clinton didn't mention the candidate she was referring to, when later asked if she was talking about Gabbard, her spokesperson told CNN, "If the nesting doll fits."

Gabbard at the time tore into Clinton as the "queen of warmongers" in response to her comments, and she demanded in November that Clinton "immediately hold a press conference to verbally retract — in full — your comments," as well as release a statement saying she made a "grave mistake" and that "I support and admire" Gabbard's work. Clinton did not do so.

The lawsuit filed against Clinton contends that her comments caused Gabbard "to lose potential donors and potential voters" and that she "has suffered significant actual damages, personally and professionally, that are estimated to exceed $50 million — and continue to this day." The campaign is seeking "compensatory damages and an injunction prohibiting the further publication of Clinton's defamatory statements." Clinton hasn't commented on the lawsuit. Brendan Morrow

9:17 a.m.

It turns out women have less faith in their political power than men do.

In the wake of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) allegedly telling Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) he didn't think a woman could beat President Trump, CNN posed the same question to American voters in its poll with SRSS released Wednesday. When asked "Generally speaking, do you think a woman can win the presidency of the United States, or not?," nine percent of men responded with "no." But in a twist, women gave an even direr prognosis, with a full 20 percent saying the same.

It may seem shocking that American women have less confidence in themselves than men. Then again, women also have a more personal grasp on the sexist reality ruling politics and everyday life.

SSRS conducted the poll Jan. 16-19 among 1,156 adults, and the full sample has a margin of sampling error of ±3.4 percentage points. For the sample of 500 Democrats, the margin of error was ±5.3 percentage points. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:02 a.m.

Monty Python co-founder Terry Jones has died at 77, his family confirmed Wednesday.

Jones, the writer, comedian, and founding member of the legendary British comedy troupe Monty Python, died Tuesday after a years-long battle with dementia, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Over the past few days his wife, children, extended family and many close friends have been constantly with Terry as he gently slipped away at his home in North London," his family said in a statement. "We have all lost a kind, funny, warm, creative and truly loving man whose uncompromising individuality, relentless intellect and extraordinary humor has given pleasure to countless millions across six decades."

The Reporter writes that Jones was considered to be Monty Python's "underrated but passionate heart," and he was responsible for much of the "early innovation" of the group's TV series Monty Python's Flying Circus. He worked as director or co-director of the films Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Monty Python's Life of Brian, and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, starring in the films as well. Outside of his work with Monty Python, Jones also authored books like Fairy Tales, a collection of children's stories, as well as the screenplay for Jim Henson's film Labyrinth.

Tributes poured in for Jones on Wednesday, with Stephen Fry remembering his "wonderful talent, heart and mind" and Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker praising him as an "actual genius." Monty Python's Michael Palin remembered Jones as "one of the funniest writer-performers of his generation," per BBC News. On Twitter, Monty Python's John Cleese also paid tribute, writing, "It feels strange that a man of so many talents and such endless enthusiasm, should have faded so gently away." Brendan Morrow

8:03 a.m.

President Trump is already fantasizing about abruptly showing up at his Senate impeachment trial, warning a reporter that she might just convince him it's a great idea.

Trump spoke in a news conference Wednesday after the impeachment trial against him began in the Senate, and he was asked whether he might appear during it. That idea, specifically the concept of showing up and intensely staring at Democrats, instantly seemed quite appealing to Trump.

"I'd love to go," Trump said. "Wouldn't that be great? Wouldn't that be beautiful? ... Sit right in the front row and stare in their corrupt faces. I'd love to do it."

Asked why he doesn't do so if he'd love to so much, Trump told the reporter, "Don't keep talking, because you may convince me to do it," although he added that his lawyers "might have a problem" with the prospect.

Trump during this press conference touched on a variety of impeachment related issues including the possibility of former National Security Adviser John Bolton testifying, which Trump said he'd like to see happen except that "it's a national security problem." Besides, Trump said, "You don't like people testifying when they didn't leave on good terms." Brendan Morrow

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