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January 10, 2019

A Republican member of Congress apparently doesn't think being labeled a white supremacist should be such a bad thing.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) asked The New York Times about the term in an interview published Thursday. "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?," he asked. "Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?"

King, who in October was condemned by the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee for "white supremacy and hate," has repeatedly come under fire for racist comments and for on numerous occasions retweeting white nationalists. He told the Times that he's not a racist, apparently by pointing to photos of himself with "Iowans of all races and religions."

Read the full interview with King at The New York Times. Brendan Morrow

Update 3:30 p.m. EST: King tweeted a statement in response to the Times article. "I reject those labels," he said, referring to white nationalism and white supremacy, "and the evil ideology they define." He condemned "anyone that supports" such ideas, and said he is "simply a Nationalist." King wrote that "one of my most strongly held beliefs is that we are all created in God's image."

12:29 p.m.

President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen pursued the possibility of a Trump Tower project in Moscow as late as October or November of 2016, Trump's current personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday.

Cohen initially told Congress he abandoned the project in January of 2016, as the Republican primary elections began. He later admitted this was a lie and said talks related to the project continued through June of 2016, around the time Trump clinched the GOP nomination.

"Well, it's our understanding [conversations about the project] went on throughout 2016. Weren't a lot of them, but there were conversations," Giuliani told host Chuck Todd. "Can't be sure of the exact date. But the president can remember having conversations with [Cohen] about it ... as far as October, November. Our answers cover until the election."

Trump has repeatedly claimed the Moscow deal ended before his presidential campaign began. "I mean, I have nothing to do with Russia. I don't have any jobs in Russia. I'm all over the world but we're not involved in Russia," he said in July of 2016 — per Giuliani's present account, four to five months before these conversations about the Moscow project ended.

Watch a clip of Giuliani's comments below, and read his full interview here. Bonnie Kristian

11:07 a.m.

About 170 migrants are missing and feared dead after two shipwrecks in the Mediterranean this week.

Three survivors of one wreck rescued by an Italian naval helicopter on Friday said they'd been on a ship with about 120 people which began sinking after leaving Libya Thursday. A 2-month-old baby was among the passengers. Another 53 people who sailed from Morocco are also missing, though at least one person from that boat was rescued.

"We cannot turn a blind eye to the high numbers of people dying on Europe's doorstep," said a statement from the United Nations' refugee agency. "No effort should be spared, or prevented, from saving lives in distress at sea." Bonnie Kristian

10:56 a.m.

Local authorities by Saturday evening had revised their estimate of deaths in a Friday explosion at a Mexican fuel pipeline to 73, with another 74 people injured in the blast and more still missing.

The death toll was initially put at 21 but quickly rose. Casualties are high because a crowd of hundreds of villagers had gathered in hopes of collecting free gasoline after the pipeline was punctured by fuel thieves. Gas stations in the area have been rationing gasoline because of fuel shortages, and word of the spill from the pipeline spread quickly.

"I trust in the people, and I know that with these painful, regrettable lessons, the people will also distance themselves from these practices" of fuel theft, said Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who visited the site of the tragedy Saturday. Bonnie Kristian

10:35 a.m.

A dangerous winter storm that brought extreme cold and heavy snow to much of the Midwest on Friday and Saturday moved east to New England Sunday. States of emergency have been declared in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and widespread travel delays are anticipated.

"Feet of snow, blizzard conditions, a significant build-up of ice, tree-breaking winds, and plunging temperatures will close roads, cause flight cancellations, and disrupt daily activities over a large part of the northeastern United States this weekend," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

"Be careful and try staying in your house," President Trump tweeted Sunday morning. "Large parts of the Country are suffering from tremendous amounts of snow and near record setting cold. Amazing how big this system is." Bonnie Kristian

8:26 a.m.

Saturday Night Live returned from a holiday hiatus with Alec Baldwin as President Trump playing Deal or No Deal to end the partial government shutdown, as "a TV game show with women holding briefcases" is the "only format [he] can understand."

SNL's Trump gives an overview of the plan the real president proposed earlier Saturday, but host Steve Harvey (Kenan Thompson) has an array of alternative deals from congressional leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Kate McKinnon) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (Alex Moffat). Trump cannot be tempted by their pitches, but when a Clemson University football player shows up with some "hamberders," he's ready to talk.

Watch the full sketch below. Bonnie Kristian

8:09 a.m.

When BuzzFeed News approached Peter Carr, spokesman for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, for comment on Thursday's explosive report, Carr was not told the full scope of what BuzzFeed planned to publish, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

Emails from BuzzFeed reporters say they have "a story coming stating that Michael Cohen was directed by President Trump himself to lie to Congress about his negotiations related to the Trump Moscow project." The emails do not mention reporting that Mueller's office had collected document evidence and a confession from Cohen. Carr's denial of the BuzzFeed story the next day was delayed by the special counsel's office's efforts to independently verify BuzzFeed's claims, the Post reports.

BuzzFeed again stood by its reporting in a second statement Saturday. "As we've re-confirmed our reporting, we've seen no indication that any specific aspect of our story is inaccurate," the statement said. "We remain confident in what we've reported, and will share more as we are able."

Read the full Washington Post story here. Bonnie Kristian

January 19, 2019

The Senate will this coming week consider President Trump's Saturday proposal for an immigration deal to end the government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday — but the pitch is unlikely to gain much traction with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and congressional Democrats more broadly.

"Democrats were hopeful that the President was finally willing to re-open government and proceed with a much-need discussion to protect the border," Pelosi said in a statement released right before Trump's remarks began. "Unfortunately, initial reports make clear that his proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people's lives.“

Trump's plan offers three years of relief, including from deportation, for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and temporary protected status (TPS), but Pelosi's statement demands a "permanent solution." She also asks for increased port of entry infrastructure and more customs agents, which Trump did not mention.

However, there is some overlap between the two lists. Both Pelosi and Trump call for more immigration judges and border patrol agents as well as, in Trump's words, "drug detection technology to help secure our ports of entry."

Pelosi's statement concludes with a request that Trump re-open the government so comprehensive immigration policy negotiations can proceed. Trump's speech ended by urging Congress to agree to his deal to re-open the government so "weekly bipartisan meetings at the White House" can be scheduled for immigration policy reform. Bonnie Kristian

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