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June 13, 2019

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) doesn't have a single word for former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

After Sanders gave a speech Wednesday defending democratic socialism, fellow 2020 Democratic candidate Hickenlooper launched a Twitter thread to dismantle it as a "bad governing model." Except seeing as Hickenlooper has just barely qualified for the 2020 Democratic debates, it didn't get much attention.

That is, it didn't get much attention until Sanders himself decided to call Hickenlooper out. Sanders tweeted a video on Thursday not of his earlier speech, but of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt sharing a whole bunch of traditionally socialist ideas, calling it his "response to Gov. Hickenlooper."

Of course, Sanders even giving Hickenlooper a response seems to indicate that he sees the bottom-tier contender as a threat. After all, Sanders' poll numbers have been sliding right into Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) pocket, and his whole Wednesday speech was seen by some as a way to differentiate himself from the rising progressive rival. Then again, Sanders didn't even have to spend a breath trying to put Hickenlooper in his place.

Editor's note: This piece initially misstated Hickenlooper's title. It has since been corrected. We regret the error. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:19 a.m.

One of President Trump's oldest and closest friends is on the outs with the commander-in-chief, Politico reports.

Tom Barrack, a wealthy investor, has been by the president's side since the late 1980s, and that remained the case early on in Trump's tenure in the Oval Office when Barrack served as the chair of Trump's 2017 inauguration fund.

Now, though, the two reportedly no longer speak, current and former White House officials say. The falling out reportedly has something to do with Barrack's role in the inauguration, which is under investigation by prosecutors. The U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn is investigating whether Barrack violated laws requiring lobbyists to register when they work for foreign interests. The prosecutors have placed a particular emphasis on whether the inauguration let foreigners from the Middle East use straw donors to donate to the inauguration.

"The last thing Trump needs is to be closely associated with one more person facing scrutiny and potential ethical issues," said a person who knows Barrack.

However, other sources told Politico that the fracturing of their friendship began before the inauguration fund and is actually a result of something much simpler. A former White House official said that Barrack "is the kind of guy who would tell" Trump "things he didn't want to hear, so Trump stopped talking to him." Another source close to Trump said the president just "got tired" of Barrack, who he felt was trying to involve himself too much in the administration.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Barrack said that the relationship between the two "remains unchanged." But whatever the case may be, Politico notes the old pals could rekindle their friendship at any moment, as the president as been known to "turn on friends and allies, only to bring them back into the fold months or years later." Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

9:33 a.m.

The feud between President Trump and his former communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, isn't remotely slowing down.

Trump on Monday lashed out at Scaramucci, who served as White House director of communications for less than two weeks, after Scaramucci's latest morning show interview in which he blasted the president and again said Republicans should replace him on the 2020 ticket. Trump described Scaramucci's White House tenure as "11 days of gross incompetence," also alleging he "abused staff," bringing up his divorce, calling him a "mental wreck," and lobbing at him what is, in the president's world, the worst insult imaginable: that he was "bad on TV."

This is just the latest instance of Trump going after a former administration official he hired as grossly incompetent, having previously declared former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson "totally ill prepared and ill equipped" for the job.

Trump's tweets came after Scaramucci's latest morning show interview on CNN, during which he said Trump is "off his rocker" and is destroying "the social fabric of the United States," while claiming that "everyone inside" the White House knows this, Mediaite reports. Scaramucci continues to predict Trump will drop out of the 2020 race by next March. Brendan Morrow

8:59 a.m.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is now the most electrifying married man in all of entertainment.

Johnson on Monday morning revealed that he and his longtime girlfriend, Lauren Hashian, were married in Hawaii over the weekend. The Hobbs & Shaw star posted some beautiful photos from the Sunday ceremony on his Instagram page, writing, "Pōmaika'i (blessed)." Naturally, Kevin Hart was the top comment.

Johnson and Hashian, a singer-songwriter, have been together since 2007 after meeting the year prior while Johnson was making his movie The Game Plan, People reports. They have two daughters together: 3-year-old Jasmine and 1-year-old Tiana. Johnson also has an 18-year-old daughter from his previous marriage, CNN notes. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight last year, Johnson said that even before their wedding, "I just refer to her as my wife all the time."

The millions (and millions) of The Rock's fans are now wishing congratulations to the happy couple, although there's no word on whether Johnson provided catering at a wedding reception and if attendees, in fact, got to smell what The Rock was cooking. Brendan Morrow

8:01 a.m.

Journalist Mark Halperin was able to land more than 75 interviews with Democratic strategists for a new book, and the women who accused him of sexual misconduct aren't happy.

Halperin, who was fired from NBC News in 2017 after numerous women accused him of sexual harassment or assault while he worked at ABC News, had landed a deal with Regan Arts to publish a book titled How to Beat Trump: America's Top Political Strategists on What It Will Take, Politico reports. For the project, Halperin reportedly spoke with more than 75 Democratic strategists, including President Obama's former senior adviser David Axelrod and former Democratic National Committee chair Donna Brazile.

Now Regan Arts and the Democrats who participated in the book are under fire, including from Halperin's accusers. "The fact that so many people spoke to him sets the whole #MeToo movement back," Eleanor McManus, who sought out Halperin for career advice but claims he sexually harassed her during their meeting, told CNN. "And it shows they are enabling him and re-traumatizing the victims." McManus told CNN that Halperin has never apologized to her.

Another one of Halperin's accusers, Dianna Goldberg May, told The Washington Post that those who are "supporting Mark by speaking with him are on the wrong side of history."

Axelrod on Twitter said he "did not in any way mean to excuse [Halperin's] past, egregious behavior and, in retrospect, I regret responding at all." But other Democrats defended their participation, with Brazile telling The Daily Beast that "we are still angry at" Halperin but that "I wanted to go on the record with my answers about how to defeat Trump." Amanda Renteria, Hillary Clinton's former political director, also told the Beast that "women and people of color are worse off when our voices and experiences are left out of campaign histories like this."

Halperin in 2017 apologized for "aggressive and crude" behavior but denied allegations of assault. Brendan Morrow

7:12 a.m.

U.S. unemployment is still near record lows and consumer spending is strong, but there are a mounting signs that the long U.S. economic expansion is coming to an end. Along with slowing growth in other major economies and the brief flash of an inverted yield curve last week, The Wall Street Journal and the Indianapolis Star highlight another economic bellwether pointing toward recession: The flagging recreational-vehicle industry in Elkhart County, Indiana, the "RV Capital of the World."

"Economists like to use the RV industry, which dominates the manufacturing city on the very northern edge of Indiana, as a barometer for the health of the U.S. economy," the Star reports. "And the news coming out of Elkhart is giving some plenty of reason to be worried." Local economists largely blame President Trump's trade war with China.

Trump and his top economic advisers dismissed such concerns on Sunday, going on TV to insist that there's no recession looming, the U.S. economy is strong, China is paying for the tariffs, and if there is a slowdown, it's the Federal Reserve's fault.

Trump, privately "agitated in discussions of the economy," has publicly "unleashed what is by now a familiar response: lashing out at what he believes is a conspiracy of forces arrayed against him," Maggie Haberman writes at The New York Times. "He has insisted that his own handpicked Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, is intentionally acting against him. He has said other countries, including allies, are working to hurt American economic interests. And he has accused the news media of trying to create a recession" by "overstating the damage his trade war has caused."

Aides tell the Times that "Trump understands that presidents face harder re-election battles in a bad economy." But "the economy may be more important for Trump than it is for other presidents," writes CNN's Stephen Collinson, "given that its current health is one of the few policy areas where polls show he has majority support." Peter Weber

5:04 a.m.

A 64 percent majority of U.S. adults agreed that free trade is good for America in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Sunday, while only 27 percent said free trade is bad, harming manufacturing and other industries. Support for free trade is up 7 points from WSJ/NBC polling in 2017 and a 13-point jump from 2015, thanks largely to increased support from Democrats and independents. This is the highest number in favor of free trade in WSJ/NBC News polling on the question.

Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates, which conducted the poll with Republican pollster Bill McInturff, blamed Trump's trade wars with China and other nations. "While Trump plays a game of chicken on tariffs, a record number of Americans believe that free trade is good," he noted. McInturff pointed to the growing support among Democrats: "If Donald Trump is for it and you're a Democrat, you move in a very different direction."

On Sunday's Meet the Press, Chuck Todd said "Democrats reflexively opposing anything this president does" is one factor in the opinion shift "from a 10-point spread to a 40-point spread," but "some of it also reflects voter anxiety about the president's trade policies."

The WSJ/NBC poll, conducted via phone Aug. 10-14 among 1,000 adults, has an overall margin of error of ±3.1 percentage points. Peter Weber

4:12 a.m.

"If you're a woman and/or a person of color in the U.S., you may well have a very different relationship to our health care system than a white man," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. "So frankly, who better to talk at you for 20 minutes about this than me, the whitest of white men?"

"Tonight, let's talk about bias in medicine in two specific areas: first sex, and then race," Oliver said. "And in the words of every therapist I've ever had, let's start with sex." He did, focusing on why some doctors have "woman-shaped blind spots" and how "the consequence can be deadly," like with heart attacks. "And now, if I may quote the inside of Donald Trump's head when energy at one of his rallies seems to be flagging, let's get to the racism stuff," he said. "Because there is a huge disparity in life expectancy between black and white Americans, particularly for black men."

But "there's perhaps no starker expression of where sex and race can negatively impact health care outcomes than maternal mortality," Oliver said. "Currently, the United States has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world — which is already terrible. But it gets even worse for black women," whose odds of dying in childbirth are three to four times higher, largely because doctors believe black women less when they express concerns about symptoms, especially pain. "These racial disparities exist even when you control for socioeconomic factors like education or insurance status," he said. "We are literally disbelieving black women to death."

At this point, Oliver finally stepped aside and let Wanda Sykes offer some solutions, including her fallback plan, "bring a white man" to repeat your complaints to the doctors — and if you don't have one, she has a loaner "who loves complaining to doctors." You can access Larry David's women's complaints at WhatsLarrysProblem.com, and you can watch the occasionally NSFW video below. Peter Weber

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