October 11, 2017

Disagreeing with President Trump usually ends with someone's resignation. But Thomas Barrack, Trump's billionaire best friend and biggest campaign donor, has a problem with all the "yes men" that surround the president. And even after 30 years of friendship, he's still by Trump's side.

A profile of Barrack published Wednesday in The Washington Post breaks down the two men's relationship:

The men have struck a mutually beneficial deal. Trump solicits Barrack's advice regularly, asking how his actions are playing with the public. Barrack listens deferentially, advises Trump to change course without fear of retribution, and retains a bond that has outlasted Trump's many personal and financial crises. [The Washington Post]

Trump and Barrack met in 1987 and loosely discussed the idea of Trump running for president in the early days of their friendship. Building a wall and putting "America first" was never part of the plan, Barrack told the Post, so he was shocked when Trump called Mexicans "rapists." Barrack said he continues to ask "Oh my God, where are we going with this?" every time Trump makes another inflammatory remark.

Barrack also told the Post that Trump has called him one of his "few Arab-American friends," and said he tried to dissuade the president from instituting his infamous "Muslim ban." He's also the man who convinced Trump to hire Paul Manafort, who's now under investigation for possible collusion with Russia, to lead his presidential campaign.

And yet, Barrack hasn't gotten the pink slip like so many other Trump insiders. While it may be because Barrack isn't an official White House adviser to begin with, so he can't truly be fired, Barrack said Trump isn't as bad at taking criticism as some make him out to be.

You can read more about why Barrack's dissenting voice still has the president's ear at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:49 a.m.

Republican congressmembers are calling out President Trump's election fraud allegations without actually calling him out.

In a Wednesday press conference, Trump refused to say if he would accept a loss in the 2020 election, instead baselessly suggesting Democrats are running a "scam" that "will end up in the Supreme Court." Democrats roundly accused Trump of acting like a "dictator," but Republicans waited until Thursday to issue gentler, less direct criticisms of their own.

The House's No. 3 Republican Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) ensured in a tweet that "the peaceful transfer of power is enshrined in our Constitution."

While Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) guaranteed even though "it may take longer than usual to know the outcome," the 2020 presidential election will produce a "valid" winner. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) meanwhile brushed off Trump's comments as merely saying "crazy stuff," but said "We've always had a peaceful transition of power. It's not going to change."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) capped them off with a rare criticism, ensuring whoever wins the election will be inaugurated in January, and "there will be an orderly transition" of power when that happens. Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn Krawczyk

11:29 a.m.

President Trump on Thursday paid his respects to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and while doing so was booed by protesters in the area.

The president, alongside first lady Melania Trump, on Thursday visited the United States Supreme Court, where Ginsburg lay in repose after she died last week at 87. Video from the scene showed loud booing from nearby protesters, who could also be heard chanting "vote him out!" and "honor her wish!"

The latter chant was a reference to Ginsburg having dictated a statement to her granddaughter prior to her death saying that her "most fervent wish" was not to be replaced on the Supreme Court "until a new president is installed," as NPR reported. Trump earlier this week baselessly suggested Ginsburg's statement was made up, telling Fox News, "I don't know that she said that." Republicans are moving forward to fill Ginsburg's seat prior to the November election, and Trump has said he will announce his nominee on Saturday.

CNN's Kevin Liptak noted that it's "rare for this president to see his opposition this up-close and in-person" as he did on Thursday. Another example was in October 2019, when Trump attended Game 5 of the World Series in Washington, D.C. and was met with boos, as well as chants of "Lock him up!" Watch the moment below. Brendan Morrow

10:40 a.m.

United Airlines has announced plans to start offering COVID-19 tests to certain passengers, becoming the first U.S. airline to do so, CNN reports.

The airline on Thursday said that beginning on Oct. 15, passengers traveling from San Francisco International Airport to Hawaii will be able to take either a rapid COVID-19 test at the airport or a test that they can administer at home prior to the trip.

At the airport, United will offering Abbott's COVID-19 test that provides results in 15 minutes. For the mail-in test from Color, passengers will be able to return it through mail or a drop box and get the results back in between 24 and 48 hours. According to CBS News, the rapid testing at the airport "takes about 20 minutes from arrival to result and initially will cost $250," while the at-home testing "will be $80 plus shipping and go to a San Francisco lab for processing."

This program, United said, will help ensure that these passengers who test negative for COVID-19 will not be subject to Hawaii's 14-day quarantine requirements. As CNN notes, Hawaii says that those who "are tested no earlier than 72 hours before their flight arrives with an FDA-approved nucleic acid amplification test" can avoid the 14-day quarantine.

United Chief Customer Officer Toby Enqvist says the company will "look to quickly expand customer testing to other destinations and U.S. airports later this year." Brendan Morrow

10:35 a.m.

President Trump will accept the results of the 2020 election, but only under select conditions.

In a press conference Wednesday, Trump raised concerns from both sides of the aisle as he refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the election this fall. Trump suggested, without evidence, that ballot fraud would lead him to lose the election, and that it would likely be decided in the Supreme Court.

So in a Thursday appearance on Brian Kilmeade's Fox News Radio, the host asked Trump if he would accept a Joe Biden victory if it came from the Supreme Court. "That I would agree with," Trump responded. "But I think we have a long way before we get there. These ballots are a horror show."

But it's not as if Trump has no influence on the court he's relying on to make a 2020 decision. The Supreme Court already has a conservative majority, with two of Trump's own nominees already on the bench. And after Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death last week, Trump ominously said Wednesday it was important to get a new nominee on the bench before Election Day. "I think this [the election] will end up in the Supreme Court, and I think it's very important that we have nine justices," Trump said, alleging Democrats are running a "scam" that will end up "before the United States Supreme Court." Kathryn Krawczyk

9:30 a.m.

The number of new jobless claims for last week has come in worse than anticipated.

The Labor Department said Thursday that 870,000 Americans filed new jobless claims last week, which was about 4,000 claims higher than the revised total from the week prior. The number was above the level that economists were expecting, as experts had forecast a decline to 850,000 claims, CNBC reports.

This was another week that the new jobless claims remained below one million, but months into the coronavirus crisis, they're still at a level that far surpasses the worst week of the Great Recession. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the record for most claims filed in a single week was 695,000 in 1982.

"That number is still above the previous height for jobless claims since before the COVID crisis started," Schmidt Futures labor economist Martha Gimbel told NBC News. "It is astonishing that we are getting used to a number every week higher than we have ever seen before." Brendan Morrow

8:29 a.m.

Helsinki Airport has started making use of dogs to detect COVID-19.

The airport in Finland is deploying trained sniffer dogs as part of a new trial after researchers said that in preliminary tests, dogs could "identify the virus with nearly 100 percent accuracy," including "days before before a patient developed symptoms," The Guardian reports. They can reportedly detect it in 10 seconds or less.

"It's very promising," University of Helsinki researcher Anna Hielm-Björkman, who is overseeing the trial, told The Guardian. "If it works, it could prove a good screening method in other places."

The trial reportedly involves having passengers use a wipe to dab their necks, which one of the dogs then sniffs, and if it detects the coronavirus, the passenger can then take a polymerase chain reaction test. Participation in the trial is voluntary, The New York Times reports.

Hielm-Bjorkman told the Times that it's not entirely clear what the dogs are actually detecting, explaining that "we know how dogs detect it — by smell — but we have no clue what they detect yet." But she added, "If we find this out, we can train thousands of dogs across the world." Airport Director Ulla Lettijeff in a statement said "we are pleased" with the start of the trial, adding, "This might be an additional step forward on the way to beating COVID-19." Brendan Morrow

7:54 a.m.

Cat Stevens released his groundbreaking album Tea For the Tillerman 50 years ago, and to mark that anniversary he has recreated the album with some new lyrics and new instrumentation. Stevens, now using the name Yusuf Cat Stevens, played his new version of "Wild World" for Stephen Colbert on Wednesday's Late Show, and if the new version sounds similar to the old, wait until the end of the first chorus, at about the 1:30 mark.

The new album, Tea For the Tillerman 2, also has a new cover, Stevens explained to NPR's All Songs Considered, and a version of "Fathers and Sons" in which he sings with himself 50 years ago. "Essentially, the song lives in these two kinds of universes," he said. "There's the son and there's the father. And right now, you're going to hear me singing the whole song except for the son's part because the son is going to be me, which we've lifted off a recording from the Troubadour and back in 1970. So, you got me like 50 years ago singing with me today. Wow."

You can watch that version, with stop-motion animation by Chris Hopewell, below, and NPR has the new version of "Where Do The Children Play." Peter Weber

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