October 16, 2019

President Trump apparently can't take criticism over his Syria decision from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) anymore.

Trump during a news conference Wednesday went after Graham, who is typically one of his most loyal allies on Capitol Hill, after more than a week of Graham railing against his decision to pull troops back from Syria ahead of a Turkish invasion.

"Lindsey Graham would like to stay in the Middle East for the next thousand years, with thousands of soldiers, and fighting other people's wars," Trump said. "I want to get out of the Middle East. I think Lindsey should focus right now on Judiciary," referring to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Graham chairs.

This came as a response to Graham warning of a "disaster worse than President Obama's decision to leave Iraq" and urging Trump to "adjust his thinking." Clearly, Trump has no plans to do so, suggesting he knows Graham's constituents better than he does.

"The people of South Carolina don't want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria," Trump said. "Let them fight their own wars."

Trump has been defending his Syria decision, saying earlier on Wednesday, "If Turkey goes into Syria that’s between Turkey and Syria. That's not between Turkey and the United States, like a lot of stupid people would like you to believe.” Presumably, Trump is including Graham in this group.

At his press conference, Trump also reminded viewers he made a campaign promise to get out of Syria. Last week, Graham told Axios, "If I hear the president say one more time, 'I made a campaign promise to get out of Syria,' I'm going to throw up." Brendan Morrow

10:29 p.m.

Former CIA Director John Brennan is very disturbed by a new report from The New York Times, which says last week, members of the House Intelligence Committee were warned by an aide to Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire that Russia is actively meddling in the 2020 campaign in order to get President Trump re-elected.

"We are now in a full-blown national security crisis," Brennan said. "By trying to prevent the flow of intelligence to Congress, Trump is abetting a Russian covert operation to keep him in office for Moscow's interests, not America's." Brennan served as CIA director from 2013 to 2017.

The briefing was delivered by Shelby Pierson, one of Maguire's aides known for her blunt delivery, the Times reports. When Trump found out about the briefing, he was livid, and complained that the committee's chair, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), will "weaponize" the intelligence against him, a person with knowledge of the matter told the Times. On Wednesday, Trump announced Maguire is being replaced by U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, a Trump loyalist. Catherine Garcia

9:25 p.m.

President Trump has apparently pivoted to Oscars punditry.

At his Thursday night rally, Trump went after the Academy Awards, taking issue with the historic Best Picture win of Parasite. The acclaimed South Korean thriller made history earlier this month by becoming the first foreign-language film to ever win Best Picture, a feat Trump, evidently, found worthy of ridicule.

"And the winner is, a movie from South Korea," Trump mockingly said. "What the hell was that all about? We got enough problems with South Korea with trade. On top of it, they give them the best movie of the year. Was it good? I don't know."

Trump didn't have a recommendation as to what should have won if not Parasite, among the most acclaimed films released last year. But he went on to ask if we can "get Gone with the Wind back, please," either as a they-don't-make-them-like-they-used-to style complaint or a suggestion that the award for the best film of 2019 should have gone to one released eight decades ago.

The American distributor of Parasite was quick to fire back on Twitter, kicking off the Trump-Neon feud just weird enough to make perfect sense for 2020.

After this Parasite jab, what other strange movie opinions might Trump have to offer next? Well, he did reportedly screen Joker at the White House last year, so look out: a scalding hot presidential take on the DC film may be just around the corner. Brendan Morrow

9:15 p.m.

After his longtime friend and former adviser Roger Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison on Thursday, President Trump announced that he has "a very good chance of exoneration."

Stone was found guilty last year of lying to Congress and witness tampering, tied to his involvement with Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election. While attending an event in Las Vegas, Trump said he is "following this very closely, and I want to see it play out to its fullest, because Roger has a very good chance of exoneration, in my opinion."

Without sharing her name, Trump also said it is "my strong opinion that the forewoman for the jury is totally tainted." She was, he added, "an anti-Trump person, totally. I don't know if this is a fact, but she had a horrible social media account. She's, I guess from what I hear, a very strong woman, a very dominant person, so she can get people to do whatever she wants."

The forewoman disclosed during jury selection that in 2012, she ran for Congress as a Democrat. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the jury acted with "integrity" and Stone was not prosecuted "for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president." Catherine Garcia

8:23 p.m.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) let billionaire Sheldon Adelson know exactly how much he would pay under her proposed Ultra-Millionaire Tax by taking out a full-page ad in his newspaper and spelling it out for him.

The ad ran Thursday in Adelson's Las Vegas Review-Journal, just two days before the Nevada caucuses. Adelson, the CEO of Las Vegas Sands, is a major Republican donor and supporter of President Trump. The Nevada Independent's Jon Ralston tweeted a picture of the ad, which says Adelson has a net worth of $39.6 billion. During the first year of Warren's plan, he would pay $2,300,000,000, less than six percent of his wealth.

"Today, our economy is only working for a thinner and thinner slice at the top," the ad says. "That's why Elizabeth Warren has a plan for an Ultra-Millionaire Tax on the richest 75,000 Americans." As the ad is Nevada specific, it says that the funds generated by this tax would make hundreds of thousands of Nevadans eligible to have their student debt canceled; make roughly 91,000 Nevada families eligible for free, quality child care; provide additional funding for public K-12 schools; and eliminate tuition and fees at Nevada's public universities, community colleges, and trade schools. Catherine Garcia

7:20 p.m.

While at a private event in England on Wednesday night, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said for the U.S. economy to keep growing, more immigrants need to come to the country.

The Washington Post obtained audio of Mulvaney's remarks, made at the Oxford Union. He told the crowd the United States is "desperate — desperate — for more people. We are running out of people to fuel the economic growth that we've had in our nation over the last four years. We need more immigrants." He stressed that they must come in a "legal fashion."

President Trump is surrounded by immigration hardliners like senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, who wants to curtail both legal and illegal immigration, and others who argue that immigrants increase wage competition against U.S. workers. Last year, Trump said the United States is "full," and people trying to cross the southern border need to "turn around." Mulvaney said the president might have an "anti-immigrant" reputation, the Post reports, but he wants to lure more foreign workers to the U.S. Catherine Garcia

5:41 p.m.

President Trump would rather keep the facts to himself.

Last week, the House Intelligence Committee reportedly received a briefing detailing how Russia was once again interfering in the 2020 election. The next day, Trump attacked his outgoing national intelligence director for letting the briefing happen, people familiar with the exchange told The New York Times.

The committee, led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), learned from intelligence official Shelby Pierson that Russia was working to get Trump re-elected this fall, five people familiar with the matter said. Pierson has a reputation for bluntness, and some officials who heard about the briefing suggested Pierson should've left out the bit on Russia to avoid riling up Republicans in the room. Trump's allies at the briefing "challenged the conclusions, arguing that Mr. Trump has been tough on Russia and strengthened European security," the Times writes.

An even bigger uproar came the next day from Trump himself, who attacked Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire for what was said in the briefing. This happened last Friday, and by Wednesday, Trump announced he was replacing Maguire with U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who's unabashedly loyal to the president. Read more at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:13 p.m.

Another day of jury deliberations in the Harvey Weinstein rape trial has wrapped, but we still don't have a verdict.

The jury concluded its third day of deliberations on Thursday, sending a note to the court near the very end of the day, The Wrap reports. The jury reportedly wanted to revisit the cross-examination of Annabella Sciorra, whose allegation that Weinstein raped her in 1993 or 1994 is being used to support the charges of predatory sexual assault. The jury also wanted to revisit all of Sciorra's subsequent testimony, Deadline reports.

Because the request came close to the end of the day, this testimony will be read back to jurors "first thing" on Friday, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The jury also asked to see a list of people Sciorra says she told about the alleged rape, but the request was denied since this wasn't entered into evidence, per Deadline.

The jury on Thursday reportedly reviewed evidence having to do with both Sciorra's testimony and the testimony of Mimi Haleyi, who alleges Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in 2006, Variety reports. Haleyi's claim is central to the case, and Weinstein is facing charges over both Haleyi's allegation and the allegation of Jessica Mann, who alleges the disgraced producer raped her in 2013.

The Reporter notes that "of the seven notes that the jurors have sent to the judge, several have related to Sciorra's allegations against Weinstein, suggesting the panel has been laser-focused on her case." None of the questions so far have had to do with Mann's allegation.

Weinstein is facing potential life in prison. Jury deliberations will continue on Friday morning.

Brendan Morrow

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