September 12, 2019

The details of John Bolton's last days as President Trump's third national security adviser are fuzzy, Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show, "so this afternoon, Donald Trump called reporters into the Oval Office set the record straight."

"Right off the bat," Colbert said, "Trump made it clear that he was no fan of John Bolton," dismissing him as a "tough guy" who pushed American into Iraq and also revealing "that he was mad at Bolton for angering one of Trump's closest advisers, Kim Jong Un." Still, Trump "made one not-bad announcement," too, that the FDA is banning flavored e-cigarettes — though when crediting first lady Melania Trump for the policy, Trump had an odd slip about their son, Barron.

"She's got a son — ehm, together?" Jimmy Kimmel repeated on Kimmel Live, laughing. But Trump and his wife want to ban flavored e-cigarettes "to protect children from being harmed or killed — and I think that's good, I'm fine with that," he added. "Hey, you know what else harms and kills children? Assault rifles do. ... Maybe if the NRA starts flavoring those, you'll ban them, too."

Kimmel noted that Trump spent the morning of 9/11 rage-tweeting about the Fed and "fake" polls, before threatening the 9/11 perpetrators with a mysterious terrible weapon if they come back. "By the way, those terrorists he's warning not to come back, I wonder if they're the same ones he just invited over for s'mores at Camp David?" he asked. Kimmel played Trump slamming Bolton for being a warmonger, shrugging: "Sounds like a real dope. Who hired that guy? I mean, whoever did that must be an idiot."

"It was always terrifying knowing an extremist neocon like Bolton had the ear of an impressionable president who had no idea what he was doing and who took his advice from TV pundits," Seth Meyers said at Late Night. Along with "insisting that he was tougher than Bolton" on Wednesday, Trump "also specifically and repeatedly went out of his way to criticize Bolton for his role in the Iraq War," among other blunders. "If you knew all that then, why did you hire him in the first place?" Meyers asked. "This is like firing someone for embezzlement when they had 'Embezzlement' under Special Skills on their résumé." Watch below. Peter Weber

1:02 p.m.

In his first speech since he filed to enter the Alabama primary as a Democratic president candidate, billionaire Michael Bloomberg apologized for implementing a controversial "stop and frisk" policy during his tenure as New York City mayor, The New York Times reports.

Bloomberg was speaking at the Christian Cultural Center, a black megachurch in Brooklyn where his former adviser, the Rev. A.R. Bernard serves as pastor. "I didn't understand back then the full impact that stops were having on the black and Latino communities," he said from the pulpit. "I was totally focused on saving lives — but as we know: good intentions aren't good enough."

The policy gave the New York Police Department the power to stop and question anyone they suspected of a crime, and its enforcement resulted in racial disparities. For example, the Times notes that of the 575,000 "stop and frisks" conducted in 2009, black and Latino people were nine times as likely to be questioned by police, even though they were no more likely to be arrested after being stopped.

Bloomberg had defended the policy until Sunday, which has led to speculation that the speech was an indication that he is indeed serious about jumping into the Democratic presidential primary.

Bloomberg filed to be on the ballot in Alabama, but has not officially entered the race.

After the speech, Bernard reportedly asked the crowd to show some enthusiasm for Bloomberg, though the Times reports that the applause was "tepid." Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

12:44 p.m.

Another week, another box office bomb.

Charlie's Angels underperformed at the box office this weekend by taking in just $8.6 million in its debut, Variety reports. The reboot from Sony starring Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, and Elizabeth Banks came in behind Ford v Ferrari and Midway, the latter of which opened last week.

This is the third week in a row that a major studio movie based on a well-known property tanked, The Hollywood Reporter notes. Last week, Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining that adapted Stephen King's book of the same name, also opened below expectations with a weak $14 million debut. The week prior, Terminator: Dark Fate lived up to its title by debuting to just $29 million, meaning this version of the franchise likely won't be back as the film is expected to lose around $100 million.

All of this is despite the fact that each of these films received at least decent reviews. Doctor Sleep and Terminator: Dark Fate both earned fresh scores on Rotten Tomatoes, meaning 60 percent or more of critics recommended them, while Charlie's Angels is currently just barely short of that distinction with a 59 percent approval rating. All three were also based on established intellectual property, though as has been clear this year with other bombs like Men in Black: International, that's not always enough to drive increasingly streaming-centric audiences out to theaters.

All eyes once again are on next week's Frozen 2, as the sequel is expected to easily clear $100 million in its opening weekend and continue Disney's year of utter box office domination while many of its competitors are increasingly left out in the cold. Brendan Morrow

12:29 p.m.

Moderate Democrats have gotten bolder in recent weeks, sensing an opening in the party's presidential primaries. Billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is considering jumping into the race and even filed to be on the ballot in Alabama, while former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) has officially announced his candidacy.

With former Vice President Joe Biden scuffling a bit, and the failure of any other more centrist candidate aside from South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg to step up and challenge him for those votes, it might seem like a good idea for people like Bloomberg, Patrick, or even Hillary Clinton to throw caution to the wind and run. But FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver isn't so sure, especially in Patrick's case.

Silver points to Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) as candidates with similar pedigrees and positions to Patrick (in that they aren't too far to the center, but also are not strikingly progressive) who have struggled. In an appearance on ABC's This Week on Sunday, Silver suggests that the senators are all perfectly good candidates in a vacuum, but they just can't compete with the bigger names like Biden or Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). As for Patrick? Silver doesn't think he carries the heavyweight reputation to do any more damage than the others who have struggled to make a dent.

Patrick probably doesn't completely disagree with Silve's analysis. He's described his campaign as a "Haily Mary."

11:49 a.m.

Hopefully most of Sunday's NFL drama stems from tightly contested games, rather than any dangerous extracurricular activities after the whistle. Here are four Week 11 games to watch.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston Texans, 1:00 p.m. E.T. on CBS — This might be one of the best games of the season let alone this week. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has entered the MVP conversation, but Houston's signal caller DeShaun Watson has also emerged as one of the game's best players. On paper, this one projects to be a joy to watch as two of the game's brightest young stars go at it for the 7-2 Ravens and 6-3 Texans.

Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1:00 p.m. E.T. on CBS — These two division rivals will face off with the playoffs on their minds and their quarterbacks returning to the field. Jacksonville will get prized free agent acquisition Nick Foles back after he suffered a broken collar bone in the first game of the season. Jacoby Brissett will slot back in under center for Indianapolis after missing last week's humbling loss to the Miami Dolphins. The 4-5 Jaguars and 5-4 Colts are two talented teams that have had up-and-down seasons so far, so this game could turn the tide for either.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots, 4:25 p.m. E.T. on CBS — The Patriots will look to avenge their first loss of the season against Baltimore two weeks ago while simultaneously paying the Eagles back for beating them in Super Bowl LII. The Eagles, meanwhile, are seeking their third straight win as they look to duplicate last year's late season surge.

Los Angeles vs. Chicago Bears, 8:20 p.m. E.T. on NBC — The primetime game features two teams suffering through disappointing seasons. But there's a ray of hope for each side, as they aim to repeat their playoff runs from last season. After four straight losses, the 4-5 Bears finally got a win against the Detroit Lions last week, while the 5-4 Rams are coming off a loss where they were stifled by the Pittsburgh Steelers defense. Tim O'Donnell

11:15 a.m.

President Trump is usually the one hurling insults at former Vice President Joe Biden, but on Sunday he actually defended his potential general election opponent — at least somewhat.

Earlier this week, North Korean state media described Biden as a "rabid dog" who should be "beaten to death with a stick." Trump was late to the news, but when he caught wind of it Sunday morning, it proved to be too much even for him. Trump's defense of Biden wasn't exactly ardent or inspiring, but it's reassuring to learn that he doesn't agree with Pyongyang on this one, despite his normally negative feelings about Biden.

Still, the president made sure everyone knows he still doesn't think highly of Biden. He also got a word in there about how he alone is capable of solving the U.S.-North Korea stalemate, implying that if North Korea waits around for a Democratic candidate like Biden to get elected, there will never be a satisfactory deal. Tim O'Donnell

10:31 a.m.

There's been another changing of the guard in Iowa.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg took the lead for the first time in the latest Democratic primary poll out of Iowa. The Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll, released Saturday, showed the mayor surging to the top ahead of Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden.

It doesn't look like a fluke, though there's been some fluctuation in Iowa throughout the primary's early going. Buttigieg took a relatively commanding lead over the field for the time being, receiving support from 25 percent of likely Iowa caucusgoers in the poll, a startling 16 point leap from his September standing. Warren, who was leading the September poll, fell by six points into second place at 16 percent, while Biden and Sanders were right behind her at 15 percent. Biden, the early frontrunner, fell another five percentage points, but Sanders picked up four.

The poll was conducted between Nov. 8-13, and 500 likely Iowa Democratic caucusgoers were surveyed. The margin of error was 4.4 percentage points. Read more at Des Moines Register. Tim O'Donnell

8:14 a.m.

There's a fine line between parody and reality sometimes.

In the latest cold open, NBC's Saturday Night Live mocked President Trump's impeachment inquiry, depicting it as a soap opera titled Days of Our Impeachment (an obvious play on long-running soap Days of Our Lives.)

As cast member Alex Moffat's House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Mikey Day's angry Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) settled in to question former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, portrayed by Cecily Strong, about her knowledge of the Trump administration's methods in Ukraine, the chambers were hit with a barrage of shocking guests, in true soap opera fashion.

Most notably, actor Jon Hamm made an appearance as acting Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor. He was joined by Kate McKinnon's Rudy Giuliani, Maria Villaseñor's Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and even Kenan Thompson's Myles Garrett. The skit gets more outlandish by the moment, leaving the room filled in feigned shock. Watch the full sketch below. Tim O'Donnell

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