President Trump appears to be hoping Texas voters have forgotten about the 2016 Republican primaries.
On Twitter Wednesday, the president expressed his support for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) after watching his debate with Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke, saying that Cruz has actually "long had my Strong Endorsement!"
This comment seems to raise some questions about how Trump defines "long." Trump famously gave the Texas senator the nickname "Lyin' Ted" back in 2016, accused his father of being involved in the plot to assassinate President John F. Kennedy, and tweeted out a picture of his wife while threatening to "spill the beans" about her, per CNN. Their feud was even more vicious than that of typical political rivals. Cruz called Trump a "sniveling coward" and refused to endorse him when he spoke at the Republican National Convention, prompting viewers to boo him off the stage.
Trump's attacks on Cruz, in fact, were so brutal that O'Rourke borrowed them during the debate, saying the "Lyin' Ted" nickname stuck "because it's true." Brendan Morrow
In a video posted Thursday, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) is captured saying at a Nov. 3 campaign stop: "And then they remind me that there's a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who maybe we don't want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that's a great idea." Hyde-Smith, appointed earlier this year, is in a Nov. 27 runoff election against Democrat Mike Epsy to fill the remaining two years of former Sen. Thad Cochran's (R) term.
Lamar White Jr., who posted both this video and the one where Hyde-Smith said if a supporter "invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row," said this is the only part of the clip he received. It was recorded in Starkville, during a Mississippi State University football game. It's not clear what "those other schools" are, CNN notes, but "Mississippi is home to several historically black colleges and universities, and black voters in the state overwhelmingly back Democrats."
"Obviously Sen. Hyde-Smith was making a joke and clearly the video was selectively edited," Hyde-Smith spokeswoman Melissa Scallan said Thursday. (White told The Clarion-Ledger the video clearly wasn't edited, and "this is what she said, verbatim.") Scallan told The Washington Post that Hyde-Smith made her comment while "talking to four freshmen at Mississippi State University about an idea to have polling places on college campuses," and "that's what she said was a great idea." Her comment "was a joke," she added. "The senator absolutely is not a racist and does not support voter suppression."
Epsy spokesman Danny Blanton said the "joke" wasn't funny: "For a state like Mississippi, where voting rights were obtained through sweat and blood, everyone should appreciate that this is not a laughing matter." If you want a recap of Hyde-Smith's damage control on her "public hanging" comment, Late Night has a very stylized walkthrough below. Peter Weber
Former first lady Michelle Obama got a very warm welcome on Thursday's Jimmy Kimmel Live. "You see how much we miss you?" Kimmel said. "We're here, we're in another house," Obama said. "How's unemployment going?" Kimmel asked. "You embracing it?" She said yes, but "truthfully, we're boring. You know, we have a teenager at home, and she makes us feel inadequate every day." The former president, Obama said, is spending his days holed up in his messy office, writing his own book.
Obama talked about raising kids in the White House, her mother's unsuccessful attempts to escape living there after a few years, whether she'd live in the White House if one of her daughters becomes president — "Oh god, that will never happen," she said — the dogs, and how first families have to pay for their own food while living in the White House. "That's crazy to me," Kimmel said. Obama explained what it generally isn't crazy, except that the staff "are very responsive, at your expense."
"If you wanted to get someone in your husband's administration fired, how would you do that?" Kimmel asked after a break. Obama laughed. "Why do you ask?" she said diplomatically. She explained that nobody on the White House staff rubbed her the wrong way, Kimmel said he didn't believe her, and he brought up a game he and his wife play, informally called "What if Obama had done this?" "Oh god, we play that at home, too," she said. "Quite often." Kimmel asked Obama if anybody has seriously approached her about running for office, she said "all the time," but she's "never had any serious conversations with anyone about it because it's not something that I'm interested in or would ever do, ever." You can watch that, her un-first-lady-like comments, and how she tried to get copies of her book, Becoming, to old boyfriends and bullies, below. Peter Weber
"President Trump has been spinning in a Tasmanian Devil-style rage this week," Jimmy Kimmel said on Thursday's Kimmel Live. "As rumors of turmoil and tumult continue to swirl, Trump took to Twitter to lash out at Special Counsel Robert Mueller," his "witch hunt," and his staff. "He always forgets we had real witch hunts in American history, in which they killed witches, but this is the biggest witch hunt, and Bob Mueller is moving on you like a witch," Kimmel said. Still, "what Donald Trump should be worried about" isn't Mueller, but Russian President Vladimir Putin's warm exchange with Vice President Mike Pence at an Asia-Pacific summit on Thursday. He narrated the video.
"With Trump in such a bad mood, no one is safe," not even Fox News host Sean Hannity, Stephen Colbert said in his monologue. "Apparently, Trump's close relationship with Hannity hasn't stopped the president from mocking the Fox News star behind his back for being such a suck-up. Does Hannity really suck up that much?" Colbert asked. It was a rhetorical question, but he played some clips anyway. Trump is reportedly so critical of Hannity he has been known to imitate his voice and mannerisms. "I would love to see Trump's impressions," Colbert said, trying out a few. The Nixon one got a little strange.
"This news about Hannity has sent shockwaves through our in-house, pro-Trump news team, Real News Tonight, who now don't know how to talk about the president," Colbert said. You can watch Jim Anchorton and Jill Newslady struggle that out below. Peter Weber
Right after Act I of Wednesday night's performance of Fiddler on the Roof at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theater, the intermission was interrupted by a shout from the balcony: "Heil Hitler, Heil Trump!" Late Thursday, Baltimore police identified the shouter as Anthony Derlunas II, a 58-year-old man who said he had been "drinking heavily throughout the night" and was inspired to yell pro-Nazi slogans during the popular musical because the end of Act I — where Russians storm a Jewish wedding, staging a pogrom against the village's Jewish residents — reminded him of his hatred of President Trump.
Derlunas, the police said, blamed the anger his outburst caused and his rapid expulsion and lifetime ban from the Hippodrome on Trump supporters in the theater. Other theatergoers told The New York Times they assumed the shouting of "Heil Hitler" was linked to the rise in U.S. anti-Semitism and feared the shouter also had a gun. "I was waiting to hear a gunshot, frankly," sportswriter Rich Scherr told the Times. "I'm like shrinking in my seat thinking, 'Oh my God, does this guy have a gun?'" added Beth Pendergast, who brought her 23-year-old daughter to the show.
Derlunas will not face any charges, said Matthew Jablow, a spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department. "As reprehensible as the man's words were, they are considered protected free speech because nobody was directly threatened." A few weeks earlier, a gunman murdered 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Coincidentally, this touring production of Fiddler on the Roof is scheduled to head to Pittsburgh after its Baltimore run ends Nov. 18. Peter Weber
As President Trump's "West Wing careens through one of the most turbulent weeks of his presidency, White House officials are struggling to understand the source of the fury fueling the president's eruptions," Vanity Fair reported Wednesday, quoting a former West Wing staffer: "This is a level of insanity I've never seen before." But Trump's "oddly detailed condemnation" of Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Twitter Thursday bolsters the speculation that Trump's mood is tied to the Russia investigation, Politico reports.
"Half a dozen people in contact with the White House and other Trump officials say a deep anxiety has started to set in that Mueller is about to pounce after his self-imposed quiet period, and that any number of Trump's allies and family members may soon be staring down the barrel of an indictment," Politico says. Trump and his lawyers have been meeting this week to answer Mueller's questions about Russia's Trump-friendly interference in the 2016 election. But Trump's "unusually specific" accusations against Mueller suggest the cause of his anxiety is based on specific knowledge, Natasha Bertrand reports at The Atlantic.
Trump's angry tweets "could just be another rant," former Manhattan federal prosecutor Elie Honig tells Bertrand. But Trump allies may also have informed Trump that Mueller's prosecutors are getting impatient with a less-than-forthcoming witness. "My hunch is that prosecutors had some sort of 'Time to get real' conversation with someone implicated in the investigation, which was then relayed to Trump by defense attorneys," Honig said. Fellow former federal prosecutor Dan Goldman agreed, saying he believes "indictments are coming," maybe Friday.
"You can see it in Trump's body language all week long, there's something troubling him," a senior Republican official in touch with the White House speculates to Politico. "It led me to believe the walls are closing in and they've been notified by counsel of some actions about to happen. Folks are preparing for the worst." Peter Weber
"You have to be very careful when you're a first lady," Jimmy Kimmel said to former first lady Michelle Obama on Thursday's Kimmel Live. "But you're not first lady anymore. And as far as I'm concerned, you can really cut loose and say anything now, right?" Obama said yes, tentatively. "I've written some things down," Kimmel said, and "if you're game for this, maybe here's some things you could say now you are..." "So you want me to just look at those cards and just read what you said?" a skeptical Obama asked. "Don't even look at them, just read what I wrote," Kimmel said. And she did, gamely.
After the first one — "I've never eaten a vegetable" — Obama laughed and commented her way through the rest of Kimmel's cards. The last one's a little spicy. Watch below. Peter Weber
President Trump appears to be "pretty grumpy" these days, Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. "Reports are he's moping around the White House," apparently "pissed — at damn near everyone." Wow, Colbert said, "being president has really worn him down. Remember Inauguration Day, when he was so light-hearted and filled with joy?" (Colbert didn't either.) Another former Trump staffer said there's "a level of insanity I've never seen before" at the White House," and "keep in mind, this White House has seen Kanye," he noted.
Colbert listed some real and speculative reasons Trump is so upset, including the possibility son Don Jr. will be indicted and the lack of a grand parade in Paris. But "Trump's not just moping around the White House, he's also moping around the Twitter," he said, reading Trump's tweeted tirade against Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Colbert suggested Trump was "transparently projecting his insecurities onto Robert Mueller," and demonstrated what that might look like.
At Late Night, Seth Meyers focused on Trump's "post-election funk as the blue wave that put Democrats in charge of the House keeps getting bigger." He made special note of how some of the House Democrats Trump has mocked for two years will soon have power to investigate his government and personal finances. "Damn," he said, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) "can subpoena his tax returns, his bank records — hell, she can subpoena the results of his IQ test."
"Trump knows that he'll be held accountable for his actions for the first time in two years, and as a result he's panicking," Meyers said. Watch that and his delightful cue-card incident below. Peter Weber