×
May 15, 2019

Louisiana's governor greeted President Trump on Tuesday wearing big, hairy Trump socks, and Stephen Colbert was impressed. Although "fun fact," he joked on Tuesday's Late Show. "Those socks were made in China and now cost $1,000." Trump was in Louisiana to talk to a group of energy workers, and among his topics of conversation were his 2016 election victory's TV ratings, Joe Biden, and a "brief tangent about wind power," Colbert said. But "Trump's not just tilting at windmills, folks, he's also jousting with China."

Colbert ran through the latest developments in Trump's trade war with Beijing. "Trump is not worried, as he demonstrated by getting up at 6:30 a.m. and calmly sending out 10 tweets," he deadpanned, reading some of them. Asked later about his trade war, Trump called it a "squabble," then explained how it shouldn't harm U.S. consumers or businesses. Yes, "to stop paying tariffs, all you have to do is stop using products made in China," Colbert repeated. "That is going to be awkward for Trump. He's going to have to stop using his own ties — and his hair, I'm guessing."

"Of course the people suffering the most in this trade war are America's farmers," Colbert said. Trump insists America's "great Patriot Farmers" will come out ahead, but the farmers don't think his promised $15 billion in subsidies will cover their losses — and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) doesn't think their "sacrifices" are that big compared with soldiers in a real war. "Wow, that is true, of course, but it's a weird way of getting out of answering a question," Colbert said. "'Honey, did you take the garbage out?' 'No, but neither did the men who laid down their lives at D-Day!'"

"Speaking of politicians using the troops, we might be going to 'squabble' with Iran," Colbert said, and Trump didn't exactly deny drafting plans to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East. Watch below. Peter Weber

11:10 a.m.

The New York Police Department officer accused of strangling Eric Garner will not face federal charges.

NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo will not be charged in the chokehold death of Garner, whose repeated last words of "I can't breathe" became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement, the Justice Department announced Tuesday. That decision reportedly comes after the DOJ's civil rights division recommended charges, but Attorney General William Barr overruled that suggestion, a senior DOJ official tells ABC News' Alex Mallin.

Garner's July 17, 2014 death was caught on camera after NYPD officers stopped him for allegedly selling cigarettes on a Staten Island street corner. Federal prosecutors then had five years to press charges against Pantaleo, who appeared to use an illegal chokehold on Garner to restrain him and could've been accused of violating Garner's civil rights. But with the statute of limitations on Garner's expiring Wednesday, prosecutors declined to press charges.

That decision, officials tell ABC News and NBC News, comes against the wishes of lawyers in the DOJ's civil rights division. But it's in line with what the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of New York recommended, those officials continued.

Pantaleo did face disciplinary action from the NYPD and has been on desk duty without a gun since Garner's death, The New York Times notes. The NYPD also wrapped a disciplinary trial against Pantaleo in June to determine if he should face further punishment. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:00 a.m.

Former Republican congressman Mark Sanford, who lost his primary in 2018 to a Republican opponent Trump endorsed, says he's considering challenging Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination.

Sanford told The Post and Courier on Tuesday that he plans to weigh a possible 2020 run over the next month, saying that "I feel convicted" and that "the Republican Party has lost its way on debt, spending and financial matters." Should he decide not to challenge Trump, Sanford, who specified he would run as a Republican, said he might instead set up a deficit-focused think tank.

Sanford, who as governor of South Carolina disappeared for six days while secretly having an affair even as his staff claimed he was hiking, often criticized Trump while in Congress, in 2017 telling Politico Trump has "fanned the flames of intolerance." Trump in 2018 went after Sanford on Twitter on the day of his Republican primary as "very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA," endorsing his Republican challenger, Katie Arrington. Sanford was ultimately defeated by Arrington, who lost in the general election. After Sanford's primary loss, Trump reportedly described him in a meeting as a "nasty guy." Brendan Morrow

10:12 a.m.

In the not-so-distant past, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) was the fundraising king. He excelled at reeling in the dough during both his 2018 Texas Senate run and his early presidential campaign. But those days are seemingly over for the 2020 candidate.

O'Rourke has struggled recently when it comes to polls and funding, which is raising questions about whether his once-promising campaign has run out of gas. He is expected to report just $3.6 million between April and June, less than half the $9.4 million he raised in the first quarter. The number also falls short of the $6.1 million he raised in the 24 hours after he first announced his campaign, which is what had people thinking he could be a contender in the first place. Politico called the April through June figure "startlingly small."

The fundraising decline reportedly has O'Rourke's allies on edge, though they think he still has time to get things back on track. If that's to be the case, he probably needs to simultaneously improve his polling numbers, which have also dipped.

It doesn't sound as if O'Rourke is ready to bow out, however. Instead of scaling back, the campaign is making a push by expanding its number of field offices in Iowa.

But in the larger picture, the numbers indicate O'Rourke is fading into the primary's muddied waters. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Vice President Joe Biden have begun to separate themselves from the pack in terms of cash and polling data. O'Rourke was never a frontrunner, but he appears to have been displaced by Buttigieg as the election's upstart candidate. Tim O'Donnell

9:57 a.m.

Joe Biden is ready to get civil.

The former vice president is prepared for President Trump to question his age and mental state, just like Trump did during the 2016 presidential race against Hillary Clinton. But instead of challenging Trump to a physical fight like he's mentioned in the past, Biden would rather take Trump on in a push-up contest, he told MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski in a Morning Joe interview aired Tuesday.

Biden and Trump are two objectively old men, yet they've nevertheless publicly fantasized about beating each other up a number of times in the past. So Brzezinski asked Biden what he'd do during a debate if Trump continued to "go after your age, your mental state." "I'd say, 'C'mon Donald, c'mon man. How many push-ups do you want to do here, pal?'" Biden responded. "I mean, jokingly. C'mon, run with me, man." Biden then went on to say he was "not going to get down in the dirt" with Trump, because "that's the only way he knows how to fight."

Perhaps Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), nearly 10 years Biden's senior yet famous for his push-up contests with much younger constituents and reporters, would like to get involved. Fellow 2020 candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who's around the same age as Biden and Trump, meanwhile had no comment. Kathryn Krawczyk

8:53 a.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is hitting back against President Trump following his attacks on four minority congresswomen, not only calling the tweets racist but declaring Trump the most "openly racist and divisive" president America has ever seen.

Biden in response to Trump's weekend tweets telling four congresswomen to "go back" to where they came from said on Monday that "there has never been a president in American history who has been so openly racist and divisive as this man," The Hill reports.

The former vice president went on to condemn Trump's tweets as "sickening" and "embarrassing." Biden also tore into the president's comments at an event on Monday, calling what he said a "flat, racist attack" and saying that it's Trump who "should go home," Politico reports.

Biden had previously in his 2020 campaign launch video blasted Trump for his Charlottesville response and in a recent immigration speech said the president while describing immigrants "repeatedly invokes racist invective," per Politico. Trump has insisted that his weekend tweets were "not at all" racist. Brendan Morrow

8:15 a.m.

North Korea said Tuesday that the U.S. will put talks aimed at getting Pyongyang to denuclearize at risk if it goes ahead with summer military exercises with South Korea, Reuters reports. The North Korean Foreign Ministry said the U.S. is continuing a pattern of "unilaterally reneging on its commitments" to North Korea, so Pyongyang has to reconsider its own commitments to discontinue missile and nuclear weapons tests while talks continue.

President Trump last month tried to persuade North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to resume talks on giving up his nuclear weapons by arranging a spur-of-the-moment meeting with Kim on the border between the two Koreas that resulted in an agreement to restart working-level talks that had been on hold since the collapse of their second summit in February. Harold Maass

7:38 a.m.

Netflix is excising a graphic scene from its teen drama 13 Reasons Why after more than two years of criticism.

The Netflix original series based on a young adult novel about a high-school student who takes her own life originally contained a disturbing and explicit depiction of suicide in its finale that sparked debate when it aired in March 2017. The show's creators defended the scene as their way of showing the horror of suicide, while experts raised concerns over how the scene might affect vulnerable young viewers. A study in April found that suicides among those between age 10 and 17 spiked the month after 13 Reasons Why premiered on Netflix, although this increase could not be definitively tied to the series' release, NPR reports.

Now, two years later, the controversial suicide scene has been edited out of the show. In the version currently streaming on Netflix, only the moments immediately before and after Hannah's suicide are shown, but the series no longer depicts the character cutting her wrists as in the original version.

Netflix in a statement on Tuesday said that "we've been mindful about the ongoing debate around the show" and decided to edit the scene "on the advice of medical experts." Creator Brian Yorkey said, as he has in past interviews, that the intent of the scene was to "tell the truth about the horror of such an act" so that "no one would ever wish to emulate it" but that the creators have "heard concerns" ahead of the third season's launch. He concludes that this new version will "do the most good for the most people while mitigating any risk for especially vulnerable young viewers." Brendan Morrow

See More Speed Reads