February 1, 2017

To ban, or not to ban? That was the question at the White House daily briefing Tuesday when Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisted President Donald Trump "has made very clear" that the executive action on immigration "is not a Muslim ban. It's not a travel ban. It's a vetting system to keep America safe. That's it." After pushback, Spicer reiterated: "It can't be a ban if you're letting a million people in."

By Wednesday morning, Trump had jumped into the fray:

Trump did not call his proposal a ban when he first introduced it as "preventing Muslim immigration" in late 2015. "Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on," the statement read.

But Trump has used the word "ban" to talk about his plan since early 2016:

And as recently as Monday:

When a reporter asked Tuesday if the White House was confused about the word "ban," Spicer said: "I'm not confused. The words that are being used to describe it are derived from what the media is calling it." Jeva Lange

1:29 a.m.

Concerns about the global spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus "are growing, but fear not!" Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "The president knows he has a solemn duty to protect ... himself, because the Trump campaign is afraid coronavirus will hurt his re-election bid." On Tuesday, he noted, "Trump tried to reassure us all" with the "very comforting" reminder that "there's a very good chance you're not gonna die" from the virus.

Trump accused the media for "doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus [sic] look as bad as possible," and Colbert roasted him for the unfortunate typo, plus the attempts at reassurance from his economic adviser Larry Kudrow and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf. Concerns over the coronavirus have helped tank stock prices but they have also "led many to wear masks in the United States, and the CDC has released this actual graphic detailing which styles of facial hair are best for wearing respirator masks and which ones do not work," he said. "Oh God, all of Brooklyn is dead."

"Villain" facial hair could go either way, The Late Show illustrated.

The Daily Show also found Trump's "Caronavirus" typo less than reassuring.

The coronavirus is "the worst global pandemic since 'Baby Shark,'" Trevor Noah said. "And so today, the president of the United States held an emergency press conference to address people's concerns," during which he put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of America's response to the virus. "And I think this is great, because Mike Pence has a lot of experience in this area — he's been quarantining himself from women his whole life," he joked. Sure, "when Mike Pence was governor of Indiana, he enabled an HIV outbreak when he didn't follow the advice of public health officials," but "I'll be honest, I still feel safer with him than with Trump."

The epidemic "hurting the economy" is "Trump's real nightmare," Noah said, imagining Trump's response: "No, not my poor stock market! Not Wall Street! I'll nurse you back to health with my special chicken soup: it's a KFC bucket poured with Diet Coke." But he also found Trump's actual response a little unnerving: "Okay, we're definitely all going to die. You know, Trump is great for jokes, but in times of crisis, Trump is the worst person to reassure the nation." Watch below. Peter Weber

February 26, 2020

At a CNN town hall in South Carolina on Wednesday night, a Bernie Sanders supporter asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) about a moment in the Nevada Democratic debate where all the candidates but Sanders said if nobody has a majority of votes by the convention, the process should play out as written, potentially handing the nomination to somebody with fewer delegates. "Can you explain why the will of the voters should not matter if no candidate reaches a majority of delegates?" he asked. Warren began her answer with a question: "So, you do know that was Bernie's position in 2016?"

"That was Bernie's position in 2016, that it should not go to the person who had a plurality," Warren continued. "And remember, his last play was to superdelegates. So the way I see this is, you write the rules before you know where everybody stands. And then you stick with those rules." Sanders "had a big hand in writing these rules — I didn't write them, but Bernie did," she added. "Those are the rules that he wanted to write and others wanted to write. Everybody got in the race thinking that was the set of rules. I don't see how come you get to change it just because he now thinks there's an advantage to him for doing that."

The system could work to Sanders' advantage, too. In the Nevada caucuses, for example, Sanders got 34 percent of the votes in the first round and ended up at 40 percent in the final preference, 47 percent of the final vote, and 22 delegates; Warren got 13 percent in the first round, ended up with 11.5 percent of the final voter preference, 10 percent of the final vote, and zero delegates.

Goose, gander, ect. Peter Weber

February 26, 2020

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) and the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus are calling on a white judge who used racial slurs to resign immediately.

After initially denying it, District Judge Jessie LeBlanc admitted on Sunday to WAFB-TV that in texts she sent to Assumption Parish Chief Deputy Bruce Prejean, she used a racial slur to describe a black sheriff's deputy and a black law clerk. LeBlanc and Prejean were having an affair at the time. She told WAFB she "profusely" apologized and "should have never said it."

Edwards on Wednesday said there is "never any circumstance or context in which such derogatory and degrading language is okay," and the "state deserves better" than LeBlanc. By compromising her ability to preside as a judge, "she has damaged the judiciary," he added. "She should resign."

LeBlanc on Sunday said she will not step down, and will seek re-election for Louisiana's 23rd Judicial District in December. The district attorney and lead public defender have filed a court motion asking LeBlanc recuse herself from criminal cases in Assumption Parish, The Associated Press reports, and hundreds of her cases are now under review. LeBlanc's attorney, Jill Craft, said Edwards needs to leave her client alone, as her comments were made during a "private conversation" and she made her "contrition clear." Catherine Garcia

February 26, 2020

After spending weeks leading the government's coronavirus task force, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar found out he was being pushed aside just minutes before President Trump made the announcement during a Wednesday evening press conference, five people with knowledge of the situation told The Washington Post.

Trump revealed that Vice President Mike Pence will now head the task force, and everyone involved will report to him. A senior administration official told the Post Pence will lead his first meeting on Thursday, and decided to hold it at HHS "as a show of support to Azar."

Azar was asked Wednesday morning about the possibility of the administration appointing a czar to guide the government's response, and responded that he "didn't anticipate" this happening, as things were "working extremely well." At the end of Trump's press conference, Azar made sure to tell reporters he was still chairman of the task force, and was "delighted" to have Pence on board. Catherine Garcia

February 26, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday night that a person in California who tested positive for coronavirus may be the first case of community spread in the United States.

This person did not recently travel out of the country or come into contact with anyone infected with the coronavirus, known as COVID-19. The case was "detected through the U.S. public health system," the CDC said, and "picked up by astute clinicians." The CDC said this could be an "instance of community spread of COVID-19," which means the source of infection is unknown, but also acknowledged that "the patient may have been exposed to a returned traveler who was infected."

Lawrence Gostin, director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, told the Los Angeles Times this is "the first signal that we could be having silent transmission in the community. It probably means there are many more cases out there and it probably means this individual has infected others and now it's a race to try to find out who that person has infected." There are 60 cases of COVID-19 in the United States. Catherine Garcia

February 26, 2020

Clive Cussler, the prolific author and founder of a nonprofit that searched for shipwrecks, died on Monday, his family announced Wednesday. He was 88.

Cussler was "the kindest, most gentle man I ever met," his wife Janet Horvath wrote on Facebook. "I have always loved him and always will. I know his adventures will continue."

Cussler wrote more than 50 books, which were published in over 40 languages in more than 100 countries. Two of those books, Raise the Titanic and Sahara, were made into movies. His fascination with underwater shipwrecks led Cussler to start the National Underwater and Marine Agency, a nonprofit that was mainly supported through his book royalties.

The organization found more than 60 major shipwrecks, with Cussler leading the 1995 expedition that discovered the H.L. Hunley off of Charleston, South Carolina. The Hunley was a Confederate submarine, and the first to ever sink a warship. Catherine Garcia

February 26, 2020

President Trump delivered a briefing on the coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday evening, telling Americans that the "risk remains really low" and "we're very, very ready for this."

Trump also announced that Vice President Mike Pence will lead the government's response to the coronavirus. During Pence's time as governor of Indiana, the state reported the first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the United States, and Trump said he has "a certain talent" for dealing with health emergencies.

There are 81,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, and nearly 3,000 people have died from it. Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Americans to prepare for an outbreak in the United States. The White House has asked Congress for $1.8 billion to fight coronavirus, with Democrats saying more is needed. Trump said he hopes "we're not going to have to spend so much," and he'll be "satisfied" with whatever amount is received.

Trump also brought up the flu, saying he was surprised to learn that "the flu in our country kills from 25,000 people to 69,000 people a year. That was shocking to me, and so far if you look at what we have with the 15 people, they're recovering. One is pretty sick but will hopefully recover, but the others are in great shape." The CDC said there are 60 cases in the United States, not 15. Catherine Garcia

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