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February 20, 2019

Following a new bombshell report from The New York Times, one former prosecutor is breaking out the Richard Nixon comparisons.

CNN on Wednesday morning discussed a report from the Times that President Trump asked then-Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to get an ally installed as head of the Southern District of New York's investigation into the president's former attorney, Michael Cohen. The ally in question had already recused himself. This, CNN analyst and former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Elie Honig concluded, is a big deal.

"If this is not an attempt to obstruct justice, I don't know what is," Honig said. "This is old-school, textbook, almost Nixon-style obstruction."

Honig said the only "rational, reasonable read" on Trump's reported request is that he wanted to "put a lid on the investigation" before it affected him. He also pointed to Trump's previous berating of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his recusal from the Russia investigation, saying this all adds up to a "fairly obvious pattern of obstruction." Trump has denied the reported conversation with Whitaker took place.

It wasn't only CNN analysts concluding this report looks bad for Trump — Fox News' Andrew Napolitano said that if the report is true, it clearly shows an "attempt to obstruct justice." Some did come to Trump's defense, though, with former Republican senator Rick Santorum saying the attorney Trump wanted to appoint was "not someone who would not normally be someone you would suggest would be in charge." He also said Trump's reported conversation with Whitaker was not "improper," although it also was not "wise."

Watch Honig's comments below. Brendan Morrow

12:34 p.m.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told host Margaret Brennan on Sunday's edition of Face the Nation on CBS that, yes, his organization is relocating migrants to sanctuary cities. But it's not part of President Trump's self-described "sick idea" to anger those cities that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Instead, McAleenan said the transport efforts are based on "necessity and capacity" to safely process the migrants. For example, due to overcrowding at facilities in Texas, the agency has begun flying hundreds of migrants to San Diego to increase efficiency. While several of the cities and states that will take in the relocated migrants are, in fact, "sanctuaries," McAleenan said that their selection was not intentional or politically motivated.

But not everyone's buying it. While not responding directly to McAleenan's comments, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) later told Brennan that he thinks the Trump administration is sticking to the sanctuary city idea with the intention of sending migrants to states they "don't care about," implying that it is, indeed, politically motivated. He said that the only reason White House backed out of a decision to send migrants to Florida cities is because the state's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, called the idea "unacceptable."

Tim O'Donnell

11:33 a.m.

Iran and the United States have both fervently expressed that they do not seek war with one another, despite heightened tensions between the two sides. Now, Saudi Arabia, a longtime U.S. ally and rival of Iran, has proclaimed a similar aversion to warfare with Iran. But, as was the case with Iran and U.S., the kingdom left open the possibility for conflict should they have no other choice.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Abdel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia does not want or seek war with Iran, but if Iran strikes first, "the kingdom will respond with all force and determination" to defend itself. Riyadh has accused Tehran of ordering drone strikes on two Saudi Arabian oil pumping stations on Tuesday, though Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group claimed responsibility and Iran has denied involvement.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman reportedly recently discussed strengthening security and stability in the Gulf region with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he also called for a meeting later in May with other Gulf State leaders to discuss implications of Iran's possible proxy attacks. "The ball is in their court," Jubeir said, referring to Iran. Read more at Reuters. The Week Staff

11:16 a.m.

The Trump administration has reportedly identified at least 1,712 migrant children who were separated from their parents at the southern border, court transcripts from a Friday hearing revealed. Those children are in addition to the 2,800 children who were separated as a result of the White House's "zero tolerance policy."

In March, a federal judge, Dana Sabraw ordered the Trump administration to identify within six months children who were separated from their families before the zero tolerance policy went into effect. Thousands of more children may still be identified, NBC News reports. So far, the government has reviewed the files of 4,108 children out of 50,000 cases.

Customs and Border Protection Commander Jonathan White, the official who spearheaded the reunification process, said the agency has been focusing on the children most likely to have been separated, but the findings are not conclusive. "I do anticipate that because we were very inclusive we will discover that many of those are false positives after CBP looks at them," White said. Read more at NBC News. Tim O'Donnell

8:19 a.m.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) on Saturday became the first Republican to openly call for the impeachment of President Trump.

The congressman created a long tweet thread explaining that he came to the conclusion following the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on his investigation into 2016 Russian election interference. While Mueller's team found no criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow, Amash believes Trump has still "engaged in impeachable conduct" and because impeachment does not, legally speaking, "require probable cause that a crime has been committed," Congress would be justified in pursuing that route.

He also said he believes Attorney General William Barr "deliberately misrepresented" Mueller's report. Amash's fellow Michigan representative, Rashida Tlaib (D), has reportedly asked Amash to cosponsor an impeachment investigation resolution.

While it may be fundamentally surprising for a Republican congressman to support impeachment openly, Amash has long been a harsh Trump critic, so it is unlikely his stance will spark similar responses. Tim O'Donnell

7:49 a.m.

Alec Baldwin returned to NBC's Saturday Night Live to portray President Trump once again on Saturday evening for the show's season finale, but he also channeled his inner-Freddie Mercury during the episode's cold open.

While boasting about how much he has accomplished as commander-in-chief in the last year, Baldwin's Trump breaks into a rendition of Queen's hit song, "Don't Stop Me Now." He's shortly joined by a cast of characters including Cecily Strong's first lady Melania Trump, Beck Bennett's Vice President Mike Pence, and Aidy Bryant's White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for what turns into a raucous sing-along. Turns out, not even Robert De Niro's Robert Mueller can ruin their fun. Watch the full skit below.

Tim O'Donnell

7:30 a.m.

President Trump on Saturday night tweeted that he is "strongly pro-life," but like former President Ronald Reagan supports three exceptions for abortions — rape, incest, and when it is necessary to protect the life of the mother.

The tweet comes just days after Alabama's state legislature passed a near-total ban on abortion, which does not allow any exceptions for rape or incest. The governors of Missouri and Georgia signed their own restrictive abortion bills last week, as well, as part of a movement to overturn Roe V. Wade. This is the first time Trump has publicly commented on the recent wave of abortion laws, USA Today reports.

Trump followed his initial tweet with two more calling for unity among the pro-life movement. It's possible he was offering a veiled critique of the Alabama law, which even the likes of Pat Robertson have argued goes "too far." Tim O'Donnell

May 18, 2019

The future of charter schools could be in doubt if Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) finds his way into the White House. Early reactions to the news are mixed.

Sanders, one of the frontrunners in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary unveiled an ambitious, 10-point education policy plan on Saturday — which is the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court decision that made school segregation illegal — during a speech in South Carolina.

Sanders' proposal would put a halt to public funding for charter schools, at least until the completion of a national audit on such schools, which have become a "polarizing" topic in America, HuffPost reports. Sanders would also attempt to implement a ban on for-profit charter schools, which make up 15 percent of all charter schools. Sanders' reasoning is that charter schools can often "drain" communities of already limited resources, hurting traditional public schools in the process and leading to unofficial school segregation. However, HuffPost writes, polls show that black Democrats tend to hold more favorable views of charter schools than white Democrats. Amy Wilkins, the senior vice president of advocacy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, called Sanders' plan "the opposite of the spirit" of the Brown v. Board decision.

Sanders is, to date, the only presidential candidate to have proposed a moratorium on charter school funding.

Other highlights of Sanders' plan are a minimum salary of $60,000 for teachers, tripling federal Title I funding, and providing universal school meals, Vox reports. Tim O'Donnell

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