August 29, 2017

President Trump on Tuesday wasted no time responding to a rare criticism voiced on Fox & Friends, a must-watch show for the president.

Conservative commentator Laura Ingraham argued during Tuesday morning's episode that the havoc wreaked by Tropical Storm Harvey proves how imperative it is that the Trump administration fill the many vacancies at federal agencies, particularly those tasked with disaster recovery. "I think we can all look at these horrific pictures, and we can conclude a federal government does need staff. We see it acutely in need of staff in a situation like this," Ingraham said.

While the Trump administration has claimed that Democrats are holding up the nomination process, Ingraham noted that the administration hasn't even nominated people for hundreds of vacant positions. Politico reported that 366 positions requiring Senate confirmation are "currently without a nominee." "This is a question that has to be posed to the administration. I know they have a lot on their hands, but we have to have people in place," Ingraham said. "If there's a plan to not staff and cause the ultimate shrinkage of government, then let's hear about that as well."

Trump took this opportunity to claim that these vacancies were actually all part of his grand plan. Despite his repeated attacks on Democrats for "taking forever" to confirm nominees, Trump tweeted Tuesday that he didn't even want all those positions filled anyway. Becca Stanek

9:03 p.m.

The U.S. military conducted an airstrike on Wednesday against the base in Syria it used to train and equip Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State.

Col. Myles Caggins, spokesman for the coalition to defeat ISIS, announced that two planes bombed the base, destroying, among other things, facilities used to store ammunition. The goal was to "reduce the facility's military usefulness," he said, and the airstrike was "successful."

On Tuesday, Turkish-backed militia members started approaching the base, and the U.S. military used Apache helicopters and F-15 fighter jets to keep them from getting closer, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Kurds set fire to their part of the base and left, Caggins said, and the U.S. military then pulled its forces out of the facility. The "precision airstrike" was carried out before the Turkish-backed fighters could gain control of the base. Catherine Garcia

8:01 p.m.

On Thursday, California will make MyShake, a smartphone app that sends out early earthquake warning alerts, available to all residents.

This app is the first of its kind, the Los Angeles Times reports, and is being released on the 30th anniversary of the deadly Loma Prieta earthquake that hit San Francisco. The state will also begin issuing early warnings through the Wireless Emergency Alert system, sending text messages to people, whether or not they have the app.

Funded by the California Office of Emergency Services and developed at the University of California, Berkeley, MyShake uses sensors throughout the state to detect when an earthquake is beginning, then calculates the intensity and location. Alerts are then pushed out if the earthquake is expected to have a magnitude of 4.5 or greater. Catherine Garcia

7:02 p.m.

President Trump was on a roll Wednesday, slinging insults at everyone from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to former Defense Secretary James Mattis.

During a meeting between Trump and lawmakers on Wednesday, an attendee shared something that Mattis once said about the Islamic State, a Democrat familiar with the meeting told The Associated Press. Mattis warned that if the U.S. stops applying pressure on the terrorist group, there will be a resurgence in the Middle East, but Trump scoffed, saying Mattis is not "tough enough" and "the world's most overrated general."

Trump also said that since U.S. troops left Syria last week, 100 ISIS prisoners have escaped, but he downplayed the turn of events, saying they were the "least dangerous" ones. When asked by AP if this was true, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he did not know. Catherine Garcia

5:28 p.m.

Several members of the media were holding out for a while before reporting on a letter that President Trump supposedly sent to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan because they weren't sure if it was a joke.

In the bizarre letter, which was dated Oct. 9 and first reported by Fox Business' Trish Regan on Wednesday, Trump tells Erdogan not to be a "tough guy" or a "fool," and warns him against "slaughtering thousands of people" during Turkey's military offensive in northern Syria following the withdrawal of U.S. troops in the region. He then promises to call Erdogan "later."

Despite reports that it's real, many observers are still not quite convinced of the letter's authenticity or if it was actually sent last week — either way, they're baffled by its content and style. Tim O'Donnell

5:01 p.m.

It sounds like President Trump has had a rough day.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Trump had a "meltdown" during a meeting with Democratic leaders about Syria on Wednesday. Pelosi added that Trump was "shaken" throughout the meeting because the House, including 129 Republicans, voted earlier to pass a resolution condemning the U.S. military withdrawal Trump authorized in northern Syria, which allowed for a Turkish incursion that has placed Washington's Kurdish allies at risk.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who was also in the meeting, said Trump was particularly insulting toward Pelosi, even calling her a "third-rate politician" to her face, ultimately causing the Democrats to walk out of the room.

Schumer said Trump went on a "nasty diatribe," in which the president also reportedly said that the Democrats might be happy with the fact some members of ISIS were communists. Or, well, something along those lines — everyone seemed a bit confused about what was actually being said during the meeting. Tim O'Donnell

4:16 p.m.

The House of Representatives has just delivered a rebuke to President Trump's Syria pullout.

The House easily passed a bipartisan resolution Wednesday to condemn Trump's decision to pull troops out of northern Syria ahead of a Turkish military offensive, with the resolution passing 354 to 60, Axios reports. Every Democrat voted in favor, and 129 Republicans also supported the resolution, The Hill reports.

This rebuke to Trump was delivered by the House as he defended his Syria decision Wednesday, saying in the Oval Office, "If Turkey goes into Syria, that's between Turkey and Syria. It's not between Turkey and the United States."

But he's continuing to face pushback from Democrats and Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who said Wednesday Trump's Syria pullback is "the most screwed up decision I have seen since I have been in Congress." During a press conference later in the day, Trump railed against Graham, who is typically an ally on Capitol Hill, saying, "Lindsey Graham would like to stay in the Middle East for the next thousand years, with thousands of soldiers, and fighting other people's wars. I want to get out of the Middle East." Brendan Morrow

3:34 p.m.

In the wake of a series of explosive allegations from Ronan Farrow, Time's Up is calling NBC out.

The group founded in 2018 to combat sexual harassment and assault in the workplace spoke out Wednesday after Farrow revealed new details about former Today anchor Matt Lauer's alleged sexual misconduct, also claiming NBC settled with multiple Lauer accusers in the years prior to his November 2017 firing. The network denies being aware of Lauer's behavior prior to his termination.

"This is not simply the case of one bad actor," the statement from Time's Up reads, per Variety. "Egregious behavior like Lauer's is often only possible in a toxic work environment, where protecting working people takes a backseat to protecting the careers of powerful men and the reputation of an even more powerful company."

While Time's Up says it commends NBC for "taking an important step" by firing Lauer following an allegation of rape, the group says "that must only be the start."

"Real progress happens when corporations like NBC make a transparent and continuous commitment to creating and nurturing a culture of safety and equity, which often involves long-term structural change across all levels," Time's Up says. "Instead, NBC's latest statements fail to demonstrate a commitment to such change and fail to support the victims who take the courageous step to come forward."

Farrow has alleged a "chain of secret settlements at this company that were covered up," but NBC News President Noah Oppenheim has been forcefully pushing back on these claims, saying earlier this week in response to allegations laid out in Farrow's book, "I feel absolutely terrible that these three employees were subjected to Matt Lauer's horrific behavior, but the facts do not support Farrow's allegation of a 'cover-up,' and he offers no further evidence." Oppenheim also accused the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter of having an "axe to grind" with the network. Brendan Morrow

See More Speed Reads