Kellyanne Conway says there's an 'exception' to anti-nepotism laws that would open a 'realm of possibilities'
When Donald Trump showed up to huddle with America's top tech executives on Wednesday, his three adult children flanked him. The presence of Ivanka, Don Jr., and Eric Trump at the meeting sparked outcry as well as finger-pointing from critics about the threat of nepotism: "I looked at this seating map published by Quartz and notice that there are 25 people in attendance. This is a group of our most-senior technology leaders and our new government-elect," Mark Suster wrote for Both Sides of the Table. "Twenty-five people. Four of them — FOUR — are the president-elect's children. That is 16 percent of everybody in the room ... This is the definition of nepotism that we would condemn from the least democratic nations in the world."
But Kellyanne Conway defended the inclusion of the young Trumps on Morning Joe on Thursday, explaining that, legally speaking, they could even be included in the White House. "The anti-nepotism law apparently has an exception if you want to work in the West Wing because the president is able to appoint his own staff," Conway said. "Of course, this came about to stop maybe family members from serving on the Cabinet, but the president does have discretion to choose a staff of his liking."
"So if that is true and that legal advice holds," Conway added, "then that will open up a realm of possibilities." Watch her explain the loophole, and what it could mean, below. Jeva Lange
Looks like this will be Trump's legal strategy re: his kids/WH. Kellyanne notes anti-nepotism law apparently has an exception for West Wing. pic.twitter.com/yidL9su4EG
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) December 15, 2016
President Trump announced last weekend he would "be holding a BIG rally in Pennsylvania" to mark his first 100 days in office, an event scheduled for Saturday that also gives the president alternative plans to the White House Correspondents' Dinner he has declined to attend.
The host of this year's dinner is The Daily Show's Hasan Minhaj, whom Reuters' Jeff Mason, president of the White House Correspondents' Association, asked to focus on "the importance of a free press" instead of simply taking the opportunity to "roast the president in absentia." Mason added, "That doesn't mean there can't be some jokes about the president, but just that there should be some jokes on the press."
The dinner in Washington, D.C., and the rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, both begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be streamed live online. Watch the dinner via C-SPAN and the rally via CBS News. Bonnie Kristian
Leaders of the 27 nations remaining in the European Union after the United Kingdom's forthcoming Brexit on Saturday agreed unanimously to the terms of the exit process. "We are ready," said Michel Barnier, the EU27's chief negotiator. "We are together."
Formal negotiations will begin this summer, and the guidelines approved Saturday set March 29, 2019 as an end date. Among other requirements, the terms specify negotiations must address the U.K.'s financial obligations — Brussels seeks tens of billions of euros from London on its way out — as well as creation of an EU-U.K. border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Pope Francis on Saturday celebrated Mass with a crowd of about 15,000 in Cairo, Egypt, a visit made at the invitation of Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of al-Azhar and a leading moderate cleric and academic of Sunni Islam. The trip follows the Palm Sunday bombings of two Coptic Orthodox churches in Egypt that claimed at least 45 lives.
"God is pleased only by a faith that is proclaimed by our lives, for the only fanaticism believers can have is that of charity!" Francis said in his homily. "Any other fanaticism does not come from God and is not pleasing to him."
Francis will visit the Egyptian Catholic community later Saturday. His has used his visit to Egypt to urge peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims. Bonnie Kristian
The Turkish government has blocked access to Wikipedia, watchdog organizations said Saturday.
"After technical analysis and legal consideration based on the Law Nr. 5651 [governing the internet], an administrative measure has been taken for this website," said a statement from the Turkish Information and Communication Technologies Authority, which did not provide an official reason for the block. The law the statement cited permits the government to ban websites deemed obscene or threatening to national security.
Turkish media reported authorities took issue with Wikipedia content "supporting terror" (or perhaps suggesting ties between Turkey and terrorist groups). When Wikipedia refused to remove the content in question, local stories said, the ban was Ankara's retaliation.
President Trump hit the 100-day mark of his presidency Saturday, a milestone he enthusiastically hailed in his weekly address the afternoon before.
"I truly believe that the first 100 days of my administration has been just about the most successful in our country's history," Trump said in the brief video. "Our country is going up, and it's going up fast. Our companies are doing better. They just announced fantastic profits all because of what's happened in this rather short period of time, and that's just the beginning."
While other assessments of Trump's first 100 days have been rather more mixed, Trump is indisputably leading by one metric: He has signed more executive orders so far than any president since Harry Truman. Trump will spend his 100th day signing yet another order, this one ordering a study of the effects of current U.S. trade agreements, including the World Trade Organization. Bonnie Kristian
"I'm disappointed that it doesn't go quicker," Trump said of working with Congress earlier Friday. "It is a very tough system." The stopgap measure had been put in jeopardy by a White House push to pass health-care reform before the administration's 100th day Saturday, but House leadership chose to delay a health-care vote until at least next week, paving the way for the bipartisan spending bill.
Thousands are expected to gather Saturday in Washington, D.C., on President Trump's 100th day in office for the 2017 People's Climate March. Activists are hailing the event as an opportunity to fight for climate protections the Trump administration has threatened to roll back and to push the promise of clean energy. "The climate movement will convene in D.C. to show that the election didn't cancel physics," said climate activist and author Bill McKibben, who helped organize the first iteration of the People's Climate March, which took place in New York in 2014.
The march — which happens to fall on what could be a record-breakingly hot day in D.C. — will begin in front of the Capitol at 12:30 p.m. ET. Protesters are expected to make their way to the White House by 2 p.m. ET.
This will be the second science-related march in two weeks in D.C., following last weekend's March for Science, which coincided with Earth Day. Becca Stanek