February 15, 2018

The New York Daily News was clearly fed up with thoughts and prayers Wednesday, following one of the deadliest school shootings in American history. As sentiments rolled in — "the heart of our nation breaks with the senseless and tragic loss of these young students," wrote Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), while Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Fla.) said his and his wife's "prayers are with the victims and families of those affected" — the New York tabloid tweeted out the politicians' campaign donations from gun rights groups and their grade from the National Rifle Association:

By the end, the result was overwhelming:

The Daily News even held the president and vice president accountable:

A gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday afternoon. The 19-year-old suspect was armed with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle that he legally purchased after a background check. Jeva Lange

2:14 p.m.

President Trump tested out his tight five with some turkey-related stand-up comedy at the White House Tuesday.

During the annual turkey pardoning ceremony two days before Thanksgiving, Trump noted that the White House had conducted a Twitter poll asking which of two turkeys, Peas or Carrots, should be pardoned, which Trump assured everyone was a "fair and open election." He announced that Peas won but joked that Carrots was refusing to concede and was demanding a full recount, referencing the recent contested races in Georgia and Florida where Republicans ultimately prevailed. "We've come to a conclusion: Carrots, I'm sorry to tell you, the result did not change," Trump said. Unlike a real election, though, both Peas and Carrots received the full pardon anyway.

The turkeys, Trump explained, will be headed to Virginia Tech to be taken care of, but he then went after Democrats by joking, "Even though Peas and Carrots have received a presidential pardon, I have warned them that House Democrats are likely to issue them both subpoenas." He didn't stop there, adding, "I can't guarantee your pardons won't be enjoined by the 9th Circuit." Watch Trump's turkey pardoning turn into an unexpected roast of Democrats below. Brendan Morrow

2:02 p.m.

President Trump has conceded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman "could very well" have known about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. But he's still not going to punish Saudi Arabia's government for it.

The CIA has reportedly determined that bin Salman directed Khashoggi's murder, and Trump is expected to receive a full CIA briefing Tuesday, per CNN. Still, the president signaled in a Tuesday statement that no matter what the CIA tells him, he still won't take retaliatory action against the Saudi government.

Khashoggi's Oct. 2 killing in Turkey's Saudi consulate "was a terrible one," Trump said. But regardless of who is responsible for it, Trump suggested Saudi Arabia is a "great ally," is "leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism," and has deep economic ties to the U.S. Giving up those ties would "be a wonderful gift" to Russia and China, Trump said, adding that it would fail Trump's "America first" mission. He additionally seemed to accept the Saudi government's criticism of Khashoggi. "Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that [Khashoggi] was an 'enemy of the state' and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that," he wrote.

Trump then cast doubts on what the CIA may have learned about Khashoggi's death, saying "we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder." The Treasury Department "already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder," Trump acknowledged, and his entire statement suggests this is the harshest action he will take against the Saudi government. Read the whole statement below. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:29 p.m.

If Tom Steyer isn't running for president, he's doing a pretty good job of faking it.

The liberal billionaire, who's unflinchingly called for the impeachment of President Trump, launched a new website and ad campaign on Tuesday. It introduces Americans' "five rights," which look an awful lot like a presidential platform and are the subject of Steyer's pseudo-campaign tour starting in December, per The Washington Post.

Steyer's newest campaign launched Tuesday with nationwide newspaper ads, and it'll soon be featured in a six-figure campaign across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, a spokeswoman tells the Post. He's also unveiled a revamped website, which compels readers to "tell the new Congress we need" to protect the five progressive rights he's laid out.

Steyer built his fortune leading an investment firm, but left in 2012 to found the progressive nonprofit NextGen America and has been teetering on the edge of politics ever since. He's given more than $130 million to progressive campaigns since 2016, and paid for $20 million in TV ads encouraging the impeachment of Trump. In a September Post interview, Steyer wouldn't say whether he'd run for office, but did say "understanding" political processes and policies is more important than prior political experience — which he does not have. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:04 a.m.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is obviously happy Democrats flipped 37 House seats these past midterms. Otherwise, she says President Trump might've "declare[d] the election illegal."

"Had it been four or five seats, he would've tried to dismantle" the Democrats' victory, Pelosi tells The New York Times Magazine. But Democrats are now safely in the majority, and, with Trump's surprising endorsement, Pelosi is gearing up to lead them.

Pelosi's bid for speaker of the House faces the opposition of 16 House Democrats who released a letter Monday saying they'd vote against her, putting the 218 votes Pelosi needs to secure the speakership in jeopardy. But battling the odds isn't exactly new for the former speaker. When she first ran for her seat in 1987, her Democratic primary opponent tried to label her a "pampered and unserious 'party girl,'" the Times Magazine writes. She conquered that image to become one of 26 women in a House where "sexual harassment ... was part of the deal," Pelosi's first chief of staff said.

In Pelosi's early House days, fellow Democrats in the House never encouraged her to aspire for leadership roles. "They didn't ever invite me to a meeting," she insisted to the Times Magazine, adding that "the only time I was ever in the Democratic speaker's office was when I became speaker."

Still, Pelosi became the first woman to lead the House in 2007, and she's confident Democrats will elect her again this year. After all, with 2018 being called "the second generation of Year of the Woman, do you really think they're going to say, 'Let's not have a woman as speaker?'" a Pelosi associate said. Read more at The New York Times Magazine. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:47 a.m.

A bombing in Afghanistan's capital has left at least 40 people dead and 60 injured, BBC News reported Tuesday.

An explosion went off at a wedding hall in the Afghan capital of Kabul, where religious scholars and clerics were gathering on the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, according to the Afghan Ministry of Public Health. Hundreds of Muslims were gathered for the occasion, TIME reports, and The Washington Post cites an Afghan official who said a suicide bomber was responsible for the deadly blast.

"The victims of the attack unfortunately are all religious scholars who gathered to commemorate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad," Basir Mujahid, spokesman for the Kabul police chief told The Associated Press.

This comes after ISIS claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings in Kabul that killed or wounded more than 100 people in August, per BBC News, and after six Shiites were killed in a bombing during a protest there, reports the Post. No one has claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attack. Brendan Morrow

10:41 a.m.

Retail giant Walmart withdrew its support from Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) Tuesday morning in a tweeted response to actress Debra Messing. The company said it is requesting Hyde-Smith return all funds Walmart donated to her campaign.

Hyde-Smith finds herself in a competitive runoff after she said she'd "be on the front row" if a supporter invited her to "a public hanging." The senator has defended her remark as "an exaggerated expression of regard" with no negative meaning, but it has been widely linked to Mississippi's history of lynching.

Later, Hyde-Smith said making it difficult for "liberal folks" to vote sounded like a "great idea." Her campaign said it was a joke unconnected to the state's record of black voter suppression. Hyde-Smith's campaign rival is Democratic former congressman and agriculture secretary Mike Espy, who is black.

Walmart contributed $2,000 to Hyde-Smith's campaign on Nov. 18, after both comments became public. The runoff election is Nov. 27. Bonnie Kristian

10:18 a.m.

President Trump's daughter and senior White House adviser, Ivanka Trump, reportedly used her personal email account for government business last year — which wouldn't be such a big deal had her father not made endless political hay out of his 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton, doing the same thing.

But former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) argued on CNN Tuesday it's not the same at all.

"To ignore the obvious differences here is, I think, a little hypocritical," Santorum told host Chris Cuomo. "Hillary Clinton went out and established her own server in full knowledge that what she was doing was wrong." Trump used her personal email account after Clinton's actions had been analyzed and debated in detail for months on end.

Furthermore, Santorum continued, Clinton "was a political person who had political aspirations, who was doing things in her own interest as a political figure, as opposed to Ivanka, who is not a political figure, who is the daughter of the president, yet she was not the secretary of state dealing with a variety of very sensitive and classified information."

Trump is not paid for her White House work and does often on domestic policy, like the family leave Santorum mentioned, but she has accompanied her father on state visits abroad, held his seat at a G20 summit, and met with the United Nations secretary-general.

Watch Santorum's comments in context below. Bonnie Kristian

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