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October 18, 2017

On Tuesday, anonymous White House officials, reportedly including Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, reached out to numerous news organizations to inform them that former President Barack Obama had not called White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in 2010 after his son, Marine 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, was killed in Afghanistan. They did this because on Tuesday morning, President Trump had suggested to Fox News Radio, without being asked, that reporters "ask General Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?" Maybe nobody took him up on the offer.

Trump's decision to invoke Kelly's son was seen by some commentators as lacking in taste and decorum, since Kelly himself has made an evident effort to keep Robert Kelly's death out of the realm of political debate. On Wednesday, Sanders said she believes that "General Kelly is disgusted by the way that this has been politicized and that the focus has become on the process and not the fact that American lives were lost. I think he's disgusted and frustrated by that. If he has any anger, it's toward that."

Sanders said she's not sure if Kelly "knew of that specific comment" about his son beforehand, but that he and Trump "had certainly spoken about it, and he's aware. And they've spoken several times since then." Peter Weber

8:46 a.m.

Saturday Night Live's President Trump (Alec Baldwin) was in a pensive mood on the White House balcony when an angel named Clarence (Kenan Thompson) showed up, straight from helping George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life, to help Trump see the world as it would have been had he never been president.

Where a world without George Bailey was grim indeed, a world where Trump lost in 2016 is pretty great — for everyone. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway (Kate McKinnon) is on good terms with her husband; Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh (Matt Damon) is a regular guy having a great time with his beers and calendars; Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen (Ben Stiller), is his current personal attorney who is not headed to prison; and Special Counsel Robert Mueller (Robert De Niro) is enjoying a pleasant old age with his grandchildren.

Alas, Trump doesn't learn the lesson Clarence hopes. Watch the full sketch below. Bonnie Kristian

8:31 a.m.

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's past criticisms of President Trump have received new attention over the weekend following Friday's news of Mulvaney's acceptance of his third role in the Trump administration.

After the 2016 discovery of Trump's lewd Access Hollywood remarks, Mulvaney wrote on his congressional Facebook page that Trump is "not a very good person," and his words were "disgusting and indefensible." In a debate with his Democratic rival for that year's election, Mulvaney similarly said he was supporting Trump despite thinking "he's a terrible human being" because "the choice on the other side is just as bad."

Despite this past antipathy, a Politico report late Saturday describes Mulvaney as an eager recipient of his new role. "He would have given up a very valuable appendage to get that job," an unnamed Republican close to the Trump White House claimed.

Politico's sources said Washingtonian assessment of Mulvaney's aims in rising through the ranks of the Trump administration varies. While "some conservatives on the Hill see him as a sellout, a ladder-climber who puts career advancement over principle," others "argue that he's done the best he can given the president he serves and advanced conservative priorities where he can." Read the full report here. Bonnie Kristian

8:11 a.m.

The family of Jakelin Caal Maquin, the 7-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) custody this month, have challenged the agency's account of her death.

"She had not suffered from a lack of water or food prior to approaching the border," said a statement from lawyers representing Jakelin's father, Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz. "Jakelin's father took care of Jakelin — made sure she was fed and had sufficient water." CPB has reported Jakelin had not been given food or water for several days before she was taken into custody, attributing her illness and subsequent death to circumstances outside CPB's control.

The statement also says CPB had her father sign a form about Jakelin's health in English, a language he does not speak, and noted that autopsy results determining a cause of death have yet to be released. The statement calls for a "transparent and neutral investigation of Jakelin's death." Bonnie Kristian

December 15, 2018

President Trump on Twitter Saturday gleefully greeted Friday's news that The Weekly Standard, a neoconservative news magazine which has been critical of his presidency, is closing its doors:

A brief reply from Weekly Standard co-founder Bill Kristol told Trump to share future insults directly instead of subtweeting them, which is the Twitter equivalent of talking behind someone's back:

A CNN report on The Weekly Standard's closure suggested the magazine's failing fortunes were linked to its opposition to the president. Conservative outlets "critical of Trump have lost influence or changed their tone," the story says, "while media organizations on the right supportive of the president have flourished."

The magazine's editor-in-chief, Stephen Hayes, seemed to hint at this dynamic in a note to staff Friday. "This is a volatile time in American journalism and politics," he wrote. "Many media outlets have responded to the challenges of the moment by prioritizing affirmation over information, giving into the pull of polarization and the lure of clickbait." Bonnie Kristian

December 15, 2018

"Brexit is in danger of getting stuck — and that is something that should worry us all," U.K. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Amber Rudd warned Saturday. "If [lawmakers] dig in against the prime minister's deal and then hunker down in their different corners, none with a majority, the country will face serious trouble."

Her comments and similar remarks from other leaders come after Prime Minister Theresa May was unable to exact more concessions for the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union this week.

"The Union stands by this agreement and intends to proceed with its ratification. It is not open for renegotiation," the EU said Thursday of the previously negotiated deal, which is not expected to pass the British parliament as-is. May postponed a Tuesday House of Commons vote on the proposal. Bonnie Kristian

December 15, 2018

Thousands of "yellow vest" protesters assembled in Paris Saturday for a fifth consecutive weekend of demonstrations, though the crowd was smaller and more peaceful than it has been in weekends prior.

Additional assemblies were anticipated around France, and some 69,000 police officers — 8,000 of them in Paris alone — were deployed to respond. Paris police again used tear gas and water cannons to make protesters disperse.

The demonstrators are protesting high taxes and cost of living in France, the administration of French President Emmanuel Macron, and more. "We're here to represent all our friends and members of our family who can't come to protest, or because they're scared," a demonstrator named Pierre Lamy, 27, told The Associated Press. "Everything's coming up now. We're being bled dry."

The yellow vests are calling for a citizens' referendum. "We are protesting peacefully," said yellow vest representative Maxime Nicolle, "but, Mr. President, give us back our freedom and our sovereignty!" Bonnie Kristian

December 15, 2018

Friday night's federal court ruling that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as ObamaCare, is unconstitutional because of its individual mandate provision raised two key questions: What does this mean for Americans' health-care coverage? And will the ruling stand?

On the first point, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said there will be "no impact to current coverage or coverage in a 2019 plan." Beyond that, many legal experts are skeptical of the decision's longevity because though it claims the individual mandate is "essential to and inseverable from the remainder of the ACA," 2017's GOP tax reform law nixed the mandate's penalty.

Law professor Jonathan Adler explained this argument at length at The Volokh Conspiracy and in brief for Vox:

[Legal experts] say [the ruling] willfully ignores the intent of the 2017 Congress, which zeroed out the individual mandate penalty without touching the rest of the Affordable Care Act.

"They are asking the court to evaluate the current law on the basis of what the law used to be," Jonathan Adler, a law professor at Case Western University who supported previous ObamaCare challenges, has told Vox. "That whole analysis just doesn't apply or work anymore." [Vox]

Ted Frank, director of litigation for the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, likewise deemed Friday's ruling "an embarrassingly bad decision," arguing that "if a liberal judge had issued something like it goring a conservative ox, conservatives would be rightly up in arms." And New York Times editorial board member Cristian Farias contended the "partisan, activist ruling cannot stand," urging ACA supporters not to panic.

But George Mason University law professor llya Somin, also writing at The Volokh Conspiracy, sounded a note of greater caution. "I do not expect this ruling to survive on appeal," he said. "But I am not quite as confident on that subject as most other commentators seem to be. The fact that one federal judge has endorsed the states' severability argument increases the odds that others might, as well." Read his reasoning here. Bonnie Kristian

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