It might be a rough day for President Trump and Stephen Bannon, but somewhere Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is … smiling.
Chaos erupted earlier Wednesday after The Guardian published quotes from a new tell-all book about the Trump White House, which cited Bannon, the president's former chief strategist, as he blasted Trump's top campaign aides over a highly-scrutinized meeting with a Russian lawyer (among other things). Trump quickly fired back at his one-time campaign CEO, issuing an official statement that claimed that "when [Bannon] was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind."
McConnell, of course, is no fan of Bannon, nor Bannon of McConnell. The Senate map is serving as something of a proxy war for the pair, with McConnell pushing mainstream Republican candidates while Bannon "is recruiting a small army of 'populist nationalist' congressional candidates," NBC News writes.
Needless to say, the official account for McConnell's re-election campaign didn't need to add any comment to the tweet it fired off Wednesday afternoon:
— Team Mitch (@Team_Mitch) January 3, 2018
Cold. Jeva Lange
Watch Ari Melber prove how once-vocal 'moral majority' conservatives are silent with Trump in the White House
If you lived during the 1990s and ever switched on a television, you probably remember former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and televangelist Pat Robertson denouncing swearing and railing against what they viewed as a culture shaped by decaying morals and values.
Fast forward to today, and many of the "moral majority" conservatives who used to warn that curse words were a "threat to our national values" are now singing a very different tune, MSNBC's Ari Melber said Monday night. In the wake of President Trump reportedly referring to Haiti, El Salvador, and unnamed African countries as "shitholes," Gingrich, who once called on corporations to stop doing business with radio stations that played rap music, has been silent, and so has former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who in 2016 said it was "unprofessional" and "just trashy" for people to drop F-bombs.
When you watch the clips Melber provides, the hypocrisy seems pretty blatant — former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly is seen cheering and taking credit for Pepsi dropping profanity-using spokesman Ludacris in 2002, but he wasn't afraid to cozy up to longtime friend and noted swearer Trump when he still had a television show to put him on. The same goes for Ralph Reed, a conservative political activist and onetime director of the Christian Coalition; he declared in the 1990s that "character matters" and "American people ... care about the character of our leaders," but after the Access Hollywood tape featuring Trump bragging about grabbing women leaked in 2016, Reed defended him by saying it was a "10-year-old tape of a private conversation" that "ranks pretty low" on evangelicals' "hierarchy of concerns." "This isn't a story where the emperor has no clothes," Melber said. "The rest of the royal court has been exposed and it's not pretty." Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia
Former Trump campaign CEO and White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon is expected to meet with the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on Tuesday, ABC News reports. This will be Bannon's first interview with congressional investigators looking into Russian election interference, and the House committee reached out to Bannon before the Michael Wolff book Fire and Fury made Bannon persona non grata in President Trump's White House, leading to his forced resignation as head of Breitbart News. Bannon hired a lawyer last week in preparation for his testimony.
Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News that he has questions about what Bannon knows of any Trump-related money laundering, the meeting Donald Trump Jr. set up with Trump campaign officials and Kremlin-linked lawyers who promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton, and a meeting in the Seychelles between Erik Prince and the head of a Russian investment bank, apparently after Prince and Bannon met. Bannon joined the Trump campaign in August 2016, and one of his predecessors, Corey Lewandowski, is also expected to testify before the House panel this week. Peter Weber
More than 70 years after he saved U.S. troops by attacking an enemy soldier on a beach in Italy, Chips is being recognized for his courage during World War II.
On Monday, Chips, a German shepherd-husky mix, was posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal, Britain's highest honor for animal bravery. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alan Throop flew to London for the ceremony, and so did 76-year-old John Wren, whose father donated Chips to the war effort in 1942. Chips landed on a beach in Sicily in 1943, and U.S. soldiers said he found a machine gun nest, bit the enemy soldier in the neck, and pulled the gun from its mount; later that day, he also helped capture 10 more enemy soldiers. Chips was injured, with powder burns and scalp wounds, but he survived.
Throop told The Associated Press that Chips was recommended to receive the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart, but the awards were rescinded when Army policy kept animals from getting medals. Chips was honorably discharged and went back home to New York at the end of the war, but only lived seven more months. His obituary revealed that he served as sentry to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the Casablanca Conference, and also met Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1945 — Chips was trained to bite people he didn't know, and when Eisenhower bent down to pet him, Chips chomped his hand. Catherine Garcia
Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon is the relatively apolitical late-night host, so presumably he was channeling 1970 James Taylor on Monday's show when he endorsed Oprah Winfrey for president in 2020, concern-trolled Stephen Bannon, and used some of the details in the Michael Wolff tell-all Fire and Fury to paint President Trump as a cheeseburger-eating TV addict who has turned the White House into a "s--thole." Fallon, dressed as early-vintage Taylor, sang a modified version of Taylor's hit "Fire and Rain," and it had plenty of zingers. "I've seen Fire and I've seen Fury, I've seen White House staff who will have to face a jury," he sang on one chorus. "I've seen him drink a cup of water with tiny hands, while he's lying in bed watching Fox & Friends." Watch below. Peter Weber
Apparently, it's really, really hard to get fired from the Hawaii Emergency Management System.
The worker who erroneously sent a message Saturday morning warning 1.4 million Hawaiians that a missile was headed for the island did not lose his job over the mishap, Richard Rapoza, spokesman for the Hawaii Emergency Management System, said Monday. He would not reveal where the unidentified employee now works, but did say "the individual has been temporarily reassigned within our Emergency Operations Center pending the outcome of our internal investigation, and it is currently in a role that does not provide access to the warning system." He also said people who work at the center have received death threats over the scare.
At 8:05 a.m. Saturday, the worker launched a computer program to start an internal test and was given a choice: hit "test missile alert" or "missile alert." He picked "missile alert," and two minutes later Hawaiians looked down at their phones and read a terrifying message: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL." It took a few minutes for U.S. Pacific Command to confirm there was no threat, but it wasn't until 8:45 that a new cellphone message went out: "False alarm. There is no threat or danger to the State of Hawaii." The Federal Communications Commission is investigating the incident, but FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has already brushed it off as an "honest mistake." Catherine Garcia
Two GOP senators who deny hearing Trump say 'shithole' reportedly heard him say a similar vulgarity instead
The White House did not initially deny or push back on firsthand reports last Thursday that President Trump said the U.S. should not take in immigrants from "shithole countries" like Haiti, African nations, and El Salvador "because aides knew that Trump had said it and that the president wasn't even too upset," The Washington Post reports, citing "people involved in the talks."
While "many White House aides were concerned that the story was exploding beyond the usual level for a Trump controversy," nearly every top officials decided to attend a going-away party for top White House aide Dina Powell, the Post adds, and Trump spent some part of Thursday evening "calling friends and asking how they expected it to play with his political supporters." The feedback wasn't negative. "Everyone was saying it would help with the base," one person who spoke with the president told the Post.
Still, by Friday morning, Trump seemed to be denying that his "tough" language included the word "shithole," and by Sunday, two Republican senators in the meeting, Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.), said they couldn't recall hearing Trump say that vulgarity; Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she didn't "recall him saying that exact phrase." Well, the Post reports:
Three White House officials said Perdue and Cotton told the White House that they heard "shithouse" rather than "shithole," allowing them to deny the president's comments on television over the weekend. The two men initially said publicly that they could not recall what the president said. Representatives for both men declined to comment. [The Washington Post]
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who was in the meeting and confirmed Trump's vulgar comments, didn't seem too upset about Cotton kind of contradicting him, and he stood by his version of events.
Sen. Durbin responds to @SenTomCotton who says he "misrepresented" what @realDonaldTrump said during Oval Office meeting when @SenatorDurbin says referred "shi-hole" countries. @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/NflI5XzlhC
— Mike Puccinelli (@MPuccinelliCBS2) January 15, 2018
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, two of the civil rights leader's children spoke out against President Trump reportedly calling Haiti and African countries "shitholes."
In Washington, Martin Luther King III said: "I don't even think we need to spend any time even talking about what it says and what it is. We got to find a way to work on this man's heart." Later on CNN, he called Trump's remarks "extremely racist" and said there's "something wrong" with his heart. His sister, Rev. Bernice King, told the crowd at Ebenezer Baptist Church they "cannot allow the nations of the world to embrace the words that come from our president as a reflection of the true spirit of America," adding, "Our collective voice in this hour must always be louder than the one who sometimes does not reflect the legacy of my father."
Trump spent a good chunk of the holiday golfing at the Trump International Golf Course in Florida. Hundreds of protesters with pro-Haiti signs gathered outside of Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach on Monday, while a much smaller group of Trump supporters stood across from them, with one shouting at the Haitians to leave the United States, The Associated Press reports. Catherine Garcia