×
June 11, 2018

President Trump is preparing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore after thrashing six of America's closest allies in Canada, but "he left behind a West Wing where burned-out aides are eyeing the exits, as the mood in the White House is one of numbness and resignation that the president is growing only more emboldened to act on instinct alone," report Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers at The New York Times. Trump "may soon be working with a thinned-out cast in the middle of Season 2, well before the midterm elections," they add, naming White House Chief of Staff John Kelly among those eying the door.

Kelly told visiting senators last week that the White House is "a miserable place to work," a person with direct knowledge of the comment tells the Times. Meanwhile, Trump, fixating on White House leaks and constantly working to ensure a measure of chaos in the West Wing, "has grown comfortable with removing any barriers that might challenge him — including, in some cases, people who have the wrong chemistry or too frequently say no to him," Haberman and Rogers report. With his number of formal advisers shrinking, Trump is increasingly calling outside advisers, especially Corey Lewandowski and longtime friend David Bossie, plus a kind of surprising name:

Among the president's other confidants is Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Trump has dismissed the advice of several aides who have tried to persuade him to fire Mr. Pruitt in light of the growing questions about misuse of his authority. The two speak frequently, and the president enjoys discussing his negative view of Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, with the embattled EPA leader. [The New York Times]

You can read more about the tumult at the White House and why Trump thinks it means he's winning — and some outside experts disagree — at The New York Times. Peter Weber

4:10 a.m.

On Tuesday, Nevada boldly went where no man-minority state legislature has gone before. With Las Vegas county officials appointing two women to fill vacancies in the state Assembly — Rochelle Thuy Nguyen and Beatrice "Bea" Angela Duran, both Democrats — Nevada officially became the first state with an overall female majority in the state legislature. The Assembly will now be 55 percent female, with women holding 23 of 42 seats — enough to overcome the slight male majority in the state Senate, where women hold nine of 21 seats.

Nevada and Colorado both elected female-majority lower houses in November, following the lead of New Hampshire's 2009-10 state Senate. But "it is unprecedented at this point to see a majority female legislature overall," says Kelly Dittmar, an assistant professor at Rutgers, whose Center for American Women and Politics tracks female political representation. When lawmakers are sworn in next year, women will hold 28.6 percent of state legislative seats in the U.S., up from 24.3 percent a decade ago.

Nevada will also be represented nationally in January by two female U.S. senators and a House delegation with two women and two men; voters elected three female Nevada Supreme Court justices as well, giving women a 4-3 majority on the court. According to the last census, Nevada is 49.8 percent female, the Los Angeles Times notes. Gov.-elect Steve Sisolak (D), whose final meeting as Clark County Commission chairman involved voting to appoint Duran and Nguyen, called the female-majority legislature "a great milestone!" Peter Weber

3:24 a.m.

The Satanic Temple of Chicago wanted to install a holiday-themed "Snaketivity" sculpture in the Illinois capitol building in Springfield, and state allowed them to "because of that pesky First Amendment," Jimmy Kimmel said on Tuesday's Kimmel Live. "Religious leaders are understandably upset that something from the Church of Satan is in the building, and of course when things like this happen, I go directly to the top — I don't mess around. And in this case, that is God. So, God are you there?"

Not only was God (Billy Crystal) there, but so was Satan (Dave Grohl). "Me and Satan, we're cool," Crystal said, explaining why he doesn't support removing the sculpture. "We made up. Hey listen, folks, if Taylor Swift and Katy Perry can make up, why can't we?" You can watch God and Satan banter, hear about their brunch and Fortnite reunions, and see them play rock-scissors-paper over Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) below. Peter Weber

2:47 a.m.

The Trump administration is still holding more than 14,600 migrant children at 137 government-funded shelters around the U.S., but that number could soon drop by hundreds of detainees under a policy shift at the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS's Office of Refugee Resettlement is in charge of sheltering minors traveling by themselves or, especially under President Trump's officially defunct family separation policy, removed from their parents at the border. Going forward, that office will no longer fingerprint and run full background checks on all adults in a household that wants to sponsor a separated minor, only the sponsors themselves and any other adult who is flagged in a public-records check.

Most sponsors are a parent or relative of the detained child. "The children should be home with their parents," Lynn Johnson, assistant secretary at HHS's Administration for Children and Families, told NPR on Tuesday. "The government makes lousy parents." The extra screening "is not adding anything to the protection or the safety of the children," she added. "I don't want to cause any additional harm by keeping kids in care any longer than they need to when they have a thoroughly vetted parent waiting for them." Johnson said about 2,000 children are ready to be released to vetted parents before Christmas.

The policy shift was driven in part by pragmatic concerns: The ACLU and other groups sued HHS last month over the extra background checks, and the 137 federal facilities are 91 percent full, most notoriously the massive Tornillo tent city in West Texas. Migrant advocates cheered the change — with caveats. For example, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has arrested 170 immigrants who applied to sponsor a migrant child, and HHS isn't ending its information-sharing agreement with ICE. "Rather than prioritizing the well-being and safety of children, the Trump administration continues to use them as bait to round up and deport their family members," said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in a statement. Peter Weber

2:03 a.m.

Who said shipwrecks can't be festive?

Wearing Santa hats, a group of divers recently decided to spread some holiday cheer 137 feet underwater, making their way to the MS Zenobia shipwreck off the coast of Cyprus. A Swedish cargo ship, the Zenobia capsized in 1980 on its maiden voyage. No one was hurt in the incident, but more than 100 tractor trailers on board went down with the vessel.

The divers chose a white tree for the shipwreck, and decorated it with nontoxic ornaments that will not disintegrate in the ocean. It's likely that many people will celebrate Christmas under the sea, as the Zenobia attracts thousands of divers every year. Catherine Garcia

1:40 a.m.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson is predictable, in that every night he uses his platform to "demonize immigrants," "spread false information," and "spread the president's lies," CNN's Don Lemon said Tuesday night.

Last Thursday, Carlson said migrants make "our own country poorer and dirtier and more divided." Since then, more than a dozen companies have pulled their ads from his show. While discussing the matter with Lemon, CNN's Chris Cuomo was incredulous that Carlson would be "talking about human beings that way." While he ordinarily wouldn't air "hateful speech," Cuomo said, it's "important for people to see what someone's trying to pass off as news."

Lemon was careful to say that he normally doesn't like to criticize colleagues, even though "if you turn on Fox any night, it's the CNN, MSNBC criticism channel," likely because "we're actually talking about real news." Carlson is an opinion journalist who is exploiting the immigration issue for ratings, Lemon said, and the facts are that "studies show immigration has and continues to make this country a better, stronger, more productive and vibrant country."

The hosts both derided Carlson for using his platform to sow division, but said what he's doing is nothing new. When such blatant hate speech is on display, Cuomo said, "we need to call it out because it needs to stop." Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia

1:07 a.m.

"I tell you, I'm beginning to think Donald Trump destroys everyone he touches," Stephen Colbert mused on Tuesday's Late Show. "He is like the King Midas of crap," and "the latest Trump aide to hit the fan" is former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn was in court Tuesday to be sentenced for lying to the FBI, and President Trump "was on the sidelines, cheering him on," Colbert said, reading the relevant tweet, which he suggested amounted to "witness tampering in real time."

Flynn's lawyers argued last week that the FBI tricked him into lying by not telling him lying to the FBI is a crime, and the judge at the sentencing hearing, Emmet Sullivan, asked why he pleaded guilty, then. "Over and over, the judge asks Flynn, Do you really want to do this?" Colbert paraphrased. "He's like a tattoo artist at 2 a.m. with a drunk customer who keeps saying, 'No, I'm sure I want my whole back covered with a picture of Tweety Bird puking on Calvin.'" Judge Sullivan was less understanding when it came to Flynn's lobbying work for Turkey, and he told him so in no uncertain terms.

"Probably not a great sign when you're not charged with treason but the judge really wants to know why not," Colbert reasoned. After hinting at treasonous actions, Sullivan asked Flynn if he wanted to postpone his sentencing so he could try to lessen his punishment by cooperating more with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. "That's a tough call — that's like choosing between apples and decades in prison," Colbert explained. (Flynn chose the apples.) He ended with Trump's baffling personal war on Christmas, a holiday he reportedly doesn't like because it's not about him: "How self-obsessed can you get? I'd say he's Scrooge, but Trump would probably enjoy a visit from those ghosts." Watch below. Peter Weber

12:36 a.m.

More than 150 companies, including major tech organizations and online retailers, made arrangements with Facebook to have special access to users' personal data, even as the social media platform assured people that they had control over their own data, The New York Times reports.

The Times reviewed more than 270 pages of documents Facebook generated in 2017 to track the partnerships, and spoke with more than 50 former employees of the company and its corporate partners. Under the arrangement, partners were essentially exempt from the usual privacy rules, the Times reports. For example, Netflix and Spotify were granted permission to read users' private messages; Amazon was able to obtain the contact information of users through their friends; and Bing, the Microsoft search engine, was allowed to "see the names of virtually all Facebook users' friends without consent," the Times says.

The records show the that deals, all of them active in 2017, involved the data of hundreds of millions of users every month. The first deals were made in 2010. Steve Satterfield, Facebook's director of privacy and public policy, told the Times these partnerships did not violate the privacy of users or run afoul of the Federal Trade Commission's 2011 consent agreement that prohibited Facebook from sharing user data without permission. Read more about the arrangements — and why data privacy experts are skeptical of Facebook's claim that these partnerships were exempt from regulatory requirements — at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads