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May 21, 2019

The latest 2020 poll from Quinnipiac sure doesn't look great for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

A Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday shows de Blasio, who launched his 2020 presidential campaign last week, with an 8 percent favorable rating. Forty-five percent of voters said they have an unfavorable opinion of him, while 48 percent say they haven't heard enough about him.

Other Democratic contenders like Washington Governor Jay Inslee and former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper have similarly low favorability ratings, but these are candidates most voters say they haven't heard enough about, which wasn't the case with de Blasio.

The New York City mayor's net favorability, which is calculated by subtracting his unfavorable rating from his favorable rating, among all voters is -37 percent. For comparison, former congressman Beto O'Rourke's net favorability is -12 percent. Fewer than one percent of Democratic voters said they would vote for de Blasio in the 2020 primary.

De Blasio's favorability rating is also quite low even among Democrats: just 14 percent, compared to 35 percent who have an unfavorable opinion of him.

At least one polling expert was stunned at how bad this showing was, with CNN's Harry Enten writing, "These numbers are about the worst I've seen for a non-scandal'd politician."

Of course, this isn't the first round of poor polling de Blasio has received, with a previous Quinnipiac poll finding that 76 percent of New York City voters didn't want him to run for president. Faced with a question about this poll upon jumping into the race, de Blasio said last week, "I think about polling in general, it's not where you start, it's where you end."

Quinnipiac's poll was conducted by speaking with 1,078 registered voters over the phone from May 16-20. The margin of error is 3.8 percentage points. Read the full poll at Quinnipiac. Brendan Morrow

3:47 p.m.

In addition to the risks of nasty sunburns or shark attacks that we all think of when summer comes, new research suggests we might want to add another risk onto our radar: that of drug addiction.

A new study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine on Tuesday, shed light on a disturbing trend, revealing that people are more likely to try a drug for the first time during summer. In some cases, that's just a teenager trying marijuana for the first time; but other instances aren't so harmless. The study found that a third of LSD use, 30 percent of ecstasy use, and 28 percent of cocaine use began during the summer months.

So why summer? Some of it might have to do with the fact that school isn't in session. Having a sudden influx of free time can lead to "a slight but consistent increase" in young people's willingness to try new drugs, CNN reported. But the change isn't restricted just to teenagers: Adults, too, may have more exposure to situations where they might be offered drugs. "If you're going out, maybe just because of the warmer weather, you might be hanging out with people more," explained Joseph Palamar, the study's lead author. Simply being around other people, at places like the beach or a music festival, can increase your risk of being offered drugs.

Unfortunately, summer weather can make it unsafe to try drugs for the first time: "If you try ecstasy on a whim, and you're drunk, and you're dancing in 90-degree weather, that is dangerous," Palamar said. Because drugs can have unexpected effects on the body, taking them without planning ahead can be especially risky.

Read more about this strange seasonal trend at CNN. Shivani Ishwar

3:39 p.m.

Article II of the United States Constitution bestows executive power on the office of the presidency. For example, the article establishes the president as the commander-in-chief of the military and grants the office the power of pardons. But it's also sandwiched between Articles I and III, which are the foundations for the powers of the legislative and judiciary branches. You know, the whole checks and balances thing. It's unclear, however, if President Trump understands this.

During a speech at Turning Point USA's Teen Action Summit, Trump played his usual hits. But while railing against the Democrats for their "witch hunt" into 2016 Russian election interference and alleged obstruction of justice, Trump mentioned that he has "an Article II," which would allow him to do whatever he pleases.

But rest assured, he said he doesn't "even talk about that."

Trump has, in fact, talked about it on more than one occasion, often in the context of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

It appears that Trump usually brings up Article II when he's arguing that he could have fired Mueller and didn't. As The Washington Post's Aaron Blake pointed out, Trump might not actually think he has wide-reaching, unchecked powers as president — just that he could have put an end to the investigation. Whatever he believes, he's managed to get everyone talking about it. Tim O'Donnell

3:37 p.m.

Six months after airing the hit documentary series Surviving R. Kelly, Lifetime is tackling the Jeffrey Epstein case.

The network on Tuesday announced its new documentary Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, which comes after the financier earlier this month was arrested and hit with sex trafficking charges as prosecutors say he sexually abused dozens of underage girls. The series will examine how Epstein "used his money and connections to wealthy and powerful people to allegedly shield predatory behavior with girls," reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Lifetime's Surviving R. Kelly, which delved into the years of sexual abuse allegations against the R&B singer and interviewed some of his alleged victims, brought renewed outrage to the case and was a ratings hit for the network. The month after it aired, Kelly was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and he was recently arrested on additional federal sex crime charges. Page Six recently reported that these federal charges came "after a Homeland Security Investigations agent watched the Lifetime series Surviving R. Kelly." Kelly has denied the allegations.

Prior to his recent arrest, Epstein previously pleaded guilty to prostitution charges in Florida but ultimately only served 13 months, during which time he was allowed to leave for hours a day. New criticism over the controversial plea deal offered to Epstein led to the recent resignation of President Trump's former Labor Secretary, Alex Acosta, a former Florida prosecutor.

The announcement of Surviving Jeffrey Epstein came during the Television Critics Association press tour, during which Lifetime also announced a film based on the college admissions scandal as well as a follow-up to Surviving R. Kelly itself called The Aftermath. A+E Networks President Rob Sharenow, Deadline reports, touted the network on Tuesday as providing a "platform for women to have their voices heard." Brendan Morrow

3:02 p.m.

The NAACP just gave a huge boost to the impeachment train.

On Tuesday at its annual convention, the NAACP announced its delegates had unanimously voted to call for the impeachment of President Trump. The vote comes a day after the convention heard from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and it clearly decided to follow Tlaib's point of view.

The NAACP is America's oldest and largest civil rights organization, and has 10 presidential candidates slated to speak at its annual convention tomorrow. But it has already heard from Tlaib, who insisted Monday that she's "not going nowhere, not until I impeach this president." Tlaib has long advocated for Trump's impeachment, including with some NSFW terms. Pelosi also spoke on Monday, but didn't touch the topic she's so far declined to endorse. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:16 p.m.

Lawyers for Cesar Sayoc, who pleaded guilty to mailing pipe bombs to critics of President Trump last year, characterized him in a new sentencing memo as a religious Fox News viewer whose views were influenced by the network.

Sayoc is described in the defense filing as someone with "severe learning disabilities" who was "abandoned by his father and sexually abused by a teacher" and "lost everything in the Great Recession," ABC News reports. "In this darkness, Mr. Sayoc found light in Donald J. Trump," Sayoc's lawyers said.

The filing goes on to detail Sayoc becoming obsessed with Trump on a personal level and beginning to watch Fox News — especially Fox & Friends and Hannity — "religiously," in addition to following pro-Trump Facebook groups, The Washington Post reports. These groups pushed "the idea that Trump's critics were dangerous, unpatriotic, and evil" and that Democrats are "murderous, terroristic, and violent," and "Fox News furthered these arguments," the lawyers say.

The lawyers go on to cite a specific segment from Hannity in which the Fox News host described prominent Democrats as "encouraging mob violence against their political opponents," which came in response to former Attorney General Eric Holder saying, "When they go low, we kick them."

Because Sayoc lived in isolation, the filing also says, he had no one to "puncture his alternative reality" and "truly believed wild conspiracy theories" that he heard not only online, but from Fox News and Trump himself. "He began to consider Democrats as not just dangerous in theory, but immediately and seriously dangerous to his personal safety," the filing says, per HuffPost. "President Trump did nothing to dissuade this message."

Sayoc's defense is asking for the minimum sentence of 121 months in prison. The Week Staff

2:06 p.m.

The Trump administration struck a deal with House Democrats on Monday that has drawn the ire of conservatives analysts.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), outlets like The National Review and The Washington Examiner, and think tanks like the Heritage Foundation have all lambasted the agreement because it would increase spending levels by $320 billion. Yet there is a sense that it represents the fall of a deficit-slashing Republican party.

The deal is a far cry from when the Tea Party dominated Republican budget rhetoric, writes Philip Klein of the Examiner. Klein argues that while Trump once vowed to drain the swamp, "he has merely drained it of the Tea Party," and, in the process, has "restored Washington to a much more conventional place in which both parties agree to ignore warnings of fiscal disaster."

National Review's Brian Riedl agrees, writing that the deal would essentially repeal the final two years of the 2011 Budget Control Act, the "crown jewel" of the "tea-party Congress." He argues the move "mirrors the shredding of the Republican credibility on fiscal responsibility." Klein echoed that sentiment, writing that Republicans, who have voted several times to "blow past" spending limits, decided "to stop pretending to care about the debt" and that the Freedom Caucus has "devolved into a PR shop for Trump."

It's worth noting that several members of the caucus have announced their opposition to the spending package. Of course, in this day and age, things can always change. Tim O'Donnell

1:19 p.m.

President Trump's defense secretary nominee has won over pretty much all of the Senate.

Current Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper was confirmed to lead the Pentagon on Tuesday with a 90-8 vote in the Senate. All eight opposing votes came from Democrats, and five of them came from Democrats running for president.

The defense secretary spot hasn't been permanently filled since James Mattis left the role in December, with the previous acting secretary and nominee Patrick Shanahan resigning amid reports of his family's history with domestic violence. Yet as tensions heightened with Iran, concern grew over the empty spot at the top of the Pentagon. That likely contributed to Esper's overwhelming support, with Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) the only ones voting against him.

Five of those Democrats are running for president, so their unabashed opposition to Trump isn't unexpected. After all, Gillibrand has voted against nearly every one of Trump's Cabinet nominees, while Warren grilled Esper during his confirmation hearing. Yet Klobuchar, with a far more moderate voting record and presidential platform, comes as more of a surprise. Kathryn Krawczyk

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