April 10, 2019

American Media Inc. is looking to unload three of its tabloid magazines, including the National Enquirer, following a scandal-filled year for the publication.

AMI CEO David Pecker confirmed on Wednesday that the Enquirer, Globe, and National Examiner are for sale, following The Washington Post's report that AMI's controlling shareholder, Chatham Asset Management, wants to cut ties with the tabloids. A person familiar with the matter told the Post the firm's hedge fund manager is "disgusted" by the way the Enquirer operates.

The Enquirer has long been known for employing shady tactics; in 1977, it put a picture showing Elvis Presley in his coffin on the cover. After the Enquirer published an article earlier this year about his extramarital affair, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos accused the magazine of trying to extort him. Pecker, one of President Trump's longtime friends, also admitted late last year to a "catch and kill" deal with Playboy model Karen McDougal, who said she had an affair with Trump. AMI bought the rights to her story in 2016, then never published it, in order to prevent the possible scandal from influencing the presidential election. Catherine Garcia

11:19 a.m.

Former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney says he knows it's not "popular to talk about in some Republican circles," but he highlighted the United States' coronavirus testing issues anyway in an op-ed published Monday by CNBC.

In Mulvaney's view, the current economic crisis is public-health driven. For example, he argues the reason people aren't going on vacation is because they're afraid of getting sick, more so than their financial situation. Therefore, he doesn't think Congress' next stimulus package should focus on "ordinary fiscal tools," like sending citizens a check, since that alone won't reinvigorate the economy. "Make people feel safe to go back on an airplane or cruise ship, and they will of their own accord," he wrote.

One of the ways he thinks lawmakers can do this is by focusing on funneling aid to improve testing, which Mulvaney says is still a problem, and he has firsthand experience to prove it. His son, he wrote, was recently tested, but had to wait five to seven days for results, while his daughter tried to get a test before visiting her grandparents only to be told she didn't qualify. "That is simply inexcusable at this point in the pandemic," Mulvaney said. Read the full op-ed at CNBC. Tim O'Donnell

11:13 a.m.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows isn't having the best time right now.

Since Meadows replaced Mick Mulvaney as President Trump's right-hand man at the end of March, the national crises he's had to oversee have been nonstop. Meadows has reportedly admitted the job is already taking a toll on him, and has since told staffers he'll only stay another year at most if Trump is re-elected this fall, Politico reports.

Before he joined the West Wing, Meadows, formerly a congressmember from North Carolina, was known "maintaining friendships with Democrats ... even as he torpedoed their plans" — part of the reason he was hired and is still on Trump's good side, Politico writes. But from Trump's Bible photo op to a "complete mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis," Meadows' tenure has since coincided with "one of the worst stretches of the Trump presidency," Chris Wipple, the author of a book on White House chiefs of staff, tells Politico.

"It is mission impossible being Trump’s chief of staff," Wipple went on to acknowledge. Yet that hasn't stopped several administration officials from saying they're "underwhelmed" with Meadows' work, Politico writes. Meadows led the conservative House Freedom Caucus but hasn't gotten Trump to adhere to those values, and his watch has coincided with a wave of low morale that has driven several staffers out the door, some conservatives say.

Despite all his struggles, Meadows "does not regret taking the job because he enjoys the perks of working in the White House," namely flying on Air Force One, Politico writes.

Meadows did not respond to a request for comment from Politico. Read more at Politico. The Week Staff

10:44 a.m.

China is officially banning four U.S. officials following recent sanctions announced by the Trump administration.

China has announced it will ban entry to Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), as well as Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, The Associated Press reports. The four officials have called out China for its human rights abuses in Xinjiang, The Washington Post notes.

This comes after the U.S. sanctioned several Chinese officials over China's human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims and other minorities; three Chinese officials were banned from visiting the U.S., according to the Post. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday that "Xinjiang affairs are China's internal affairs and the U.S. has no right to interfere in them," adding that "we urge the United States to immediately withdraw its wrong decision."

There "was no indication any of the four" U.S. officials actually "planned to travel to China," Axios observes. On Monday, Rubio reacted to the news by tweeting, "The Communist Party of #China has banned me from entering the country. I guess they don't like me?" Cruz, meanwhile, tweeted sarcastically, "Bummer. I was going to take my family to Beijing for summer vacation, right after visiting Tehran." Brendan Morrow

10:25 a.m.

The Washington Redskins have officially announced the retirement of the team's 87-year-old name. Owner Dan Synder and head coach Ron Rivera say they are now working to come up with a new name and logo, and, of course, everyone has suggestions.

Some possible ideas include the Warriors — although it's possible the team will want to avoid overlap with the NBA's Golden State franchise — and the Red Tails, which would honor the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of Black military pilots who fought in World War II. The latter seems to be a popular choice, but another name that's gaining support is the Red Wolves, which doesn't have any significance other than sounding cool. NBA superstar Kevin Durant, who hails from the D.C.-area, is apparently a fan of the name, as are former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson and Washington's current quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

Jon Jansen, a former offensive linemen for Washington, suggested the team be called the Hogs. That probably won't gain too many backers, but Jansen's logic is sound — back in the 1980s and early 1990s, when Washington was one of the league's premier franchises, the team was known for its legendary offensive line, a unit affectionately known as the Hogs.

Whatever they choose, Washington probably won't go with a D.C.-themed moniker, as some of the city's other professional teams, like MLB's Nationals, or the Capitals in the NHL, have. Traditionally, the Washington franchise, which for a long time was the only team located below the Mason-Dixon line, has considered itself a regional team. Tim O'Donnell

8:28 a.m.

President Trump appears to be accusing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of "lying" about COVID-19 to damage his re-election prospects.

Former Love Connection and Wheel of Fortune game show host Chuck Woolery in a tweet on Sunday baselessly accused the "CDC, media, Democrats, our doctors, not all but most," of "lying" about the pandemic while claiming this is "all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election." His tweet drew plenty of outrage, but not from Trump, who on Monday morning gave it his approval with a retweet.

"There's no public health strategy that exists that involves telling everyone not to believe anyone no matter what, including your own administration," NBC News' Benjy Sarlin wrote in response to Trump's retweet, while Politico's Kyle Cheney tweeted that it's "hard to underscore how dangerous" this is.

Trump backing the claim that his administration's CDC, and most doctors, are lying comes as the White House has recently sought to discredit Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, with an anonymous White House official telling reporters that "several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things."

Fauci recently revealed that even as the U.S. continues to set new records for number of new coronavirus cases, he hasn't briefed Trump on COVID-19 in about two months. He also suggested that his reputation for "speaking the truth at all times and not sugar-coating things" may be "one of the reasons why I haven't been on television very much lately." Brendan Morrow

7:58 a.m.

At this point in the 2020 presidential campaign, you would rather be presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden than President Trump. Biden has a lead of 9 percentage points in the polling averages by RealClearPolitics and The Washington Post, and 9.4 points as measured by FiveThirtyEight. He leads Trump, "in some cases outside the margin of error, in recent polls in the battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin," the Post reports. Democratic congressional candidates are also crushing their GOP rivals in online donations, Politico reports, setting off alarm bells among Washington Republicans.

In fact, "Trump's management of this summer's crises has triggered what Democrats detect as a tectonic shift in the political landscape, with party leaders suddenly bullish about not only taking back the White House but also wresting control of the Senate, as well as expanding their House majority," the Post reports. Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) predicted "there's a tsunami coming." Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said "we're feeling very good" about taking back the Senate. Not everyone thinks this level of confidence is helpful.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told the Post that Democrats have "one advantage" over 2016: "People are vigilant, they are attuned, they are concerned." Trump and his allies will try to suppress Democratic votes, she warned. "I say: 'Own the ground. Don't give one grain of sand. Get everybody out.'" Longtime GOP strategist Mike Murphy, who opposes Trump, similarly said he would warn Democrats: "Caution! Elections are very dynamic!"

"Trump and his advisers insist that their campaign's internal data show the race as more competitive," the Post reports, "and that he can gain momentum in the weeks ahead with a disciplined message and a brutal, sustained assault on Biden's character, ideology, and mental acuity."

Things can absolutely change, but over the past month at least, "Biden’s lead over Trump has been both incredibly stable and unusually large," Geoffrey Skelley notes at FiveThirtyEight, and he "is verging on a landslide. That’s not a word we use lightly." Certainly, "the president is in a very, very deep hole, and I'm not quite sure how he gets out of it," said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. And "instead of just a slight drag, the president is tying anchors around the ankles of Republican candidates." Peter Weber

5:51 a.m.

Polish President Andrzej Duda, a social conservative aligned with the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, appears to have narrowly beat center-left Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski in Sunday's election, Poland's National Electoral Commission said Monday. The head of the commission said the final results won't be announced until later, but that with more than 99 percent of votes tallied, Duda had a likely insurmountable 500,000-vote lead. The near-complete results, showing Duda beating Trzaskowski 51.2 percent to 48.8 percent, makes it the closest election in Poland since it shed communism in 1989.

The election was originally scheduled to take place in May, when Duda and the PiS were more popular. But despite Duda pushing to hold the vote on schedule, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he had to back down when a junior coalition partner sided with the opposition. Turnout was a near-record 68.12 percent, the electoral commission said.

The government, state media, and Poland's powerful Catholic Church backed Duda, a social conservative, in a divisive election where the incumbent called LGBT rights an "ideology" worse than communism and tapped anti-Semitic slurs to suggest Trzaskowski would sell Poland out to Jewish interests. The PiS is expected to continue its takeover of the judicial system, putting it in increasing conflict with the European Union.

But Duda also won domestic support for generous social welfare payments, including monthly cash bonuses of $125 per child to all families and more general retirement benefits. Trzaskowski had pledged to keep the popular welfare programs while restoring Poland's democratic values. "Duda's victory shows there is a strong electorate for social conservatism and generous state handouts," writes BBC Warsaw correspondent Adam Easton. "But the closeness of the vote also suggests that many in Poland are uneasy about the government's attempts to introduce a more illiberal democracy." Peter Weber

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