April 8, 2021

In another excerpt from his upcoming book, former House Speaker John Boehner writes that he'd "never seen anybody treat a staffer" like former President Donald Trump once did.

Boehner will release his memoir On the House next week, and on Thursday, Punchbowl News published an excerpt in which Boehner recalls once golfing with two insurance executives and Trump before he was elected president.

The former Republican leader says that as the group was getting ready to play, Trump asked a young staffer of Boehner's, who they called BJ, for the names of the two executives, and the staffer said, "I think they're Joe and Jeff." This turned out to not be correct, and when Trump and Boehner discovered they had been repeatedly calling the executives by the wrong names, the future president was allegedly quite upset.

"He marched over to BJ and got right in his face to the point that BJ might have had to take a step or two back," Boehner writes. "Then Trump shouted, 'What are you, some kind of idiot?' He pointed to the rest of our impromptu foursome. 'These guys’ names are Mike and David!'"

Boehner goes on to write that Trump shouted at the staffer, "You want to know how to remember somebody’s name? You f---ing LISTEN!" Though Boehner says that "we laughed about that at the time, and since," he adds that "I'd never seen anybody treat a staffer like that," and he suggests that there was "something dark" about this incident.

"This was real anger, over something very, very small," Boehner writes. "We had no idea then what that anger would do to our country."

The new excerpt from Boehner's book comes after The New York Times published quotes from it in which the former Republican leader rips into Trump, saying he incited a "bloody insurrection for nothing more than selfish reasons" while calling his election fraud claims "bulls---." Brendan Morrow

2:29 p.m.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) didn't have much to say when CBS News' Margaret Brennan asked her about her colleague and leading critic, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), aside from the fact that the allegations against him are "sickening."

Gaetz is the subject of multiple investigations from the Justice Department and the House Ethics Committee centered around whether he violated sex trafficking laws and, separately, whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her to travel out of state with him. Some lawmakers, including Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), have called for Gaetz to resign, but Cheney wasn't tipping her hand on that front, telling Brennan that she's wouldn't comment any further since the investigations are ongoing.

Gaetz has been one of the ringleaders in the push to oust Cheney from her GOP leadership role and even from Congress altogether after she voted to impeach former President Donald Trump earlier this year. Tim O'Donnell

1:33 p.m.

Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had no problem going after Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS.

He singled Jordan out as a leading "political terrorist" in Congress. "I just never saw a guy spend more time tearing things apart and never building anything," Boehner told CBS' John Dickerson. As for Cruz, Boehner said he doesn't like to "beat anybody up, that's not really my style ... except that jerk." Cruz, he said, was a perfect example of a lawmaker stuck in a cycle of making "a lot of noise" and raising a lot of money.

Boehner is back in the news these days because he wrote a book chock full of takes just like that, arguing that U.S. politics, but especially the Republican Party, is caught in the grips of reactionaries like Jordan and Cruz.

One person Boehner held back on a bit in the interview, however, was former President Donald Trump. While he suggested Cruz and Jordan were at the forefront of the movement he attacks in his book, he called Trump a "product" of the political discourse and refused to say whether he considered Trump a political terrorist. "He has a little different style than I do," Boehner said, though Dickerson pointed out Boehner was much harsher on Trump in his book. Dickerson asked Boehner if he was just trying to avoid a "headache," to which Boehner replied, with a smile, "I'm not in office anymore. I don't have to answer all the questions that I used to have answer." Watch the full interview below. Tim O'Donnell

12:42 p.m.

Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention DIrector Gao Fu is walking back comments he made about the country's COVID-19 vaccines.

The vaccines "don't have very high protection rates," Gao reportedly said Saturday at a conference in Chengdu. "It's now under formal consideration whether we should use different vaccines from different technical lines of the immunization process," he added, explaining that China was considering a few different options for how to boost effectiveness. A dosage increase, mixing vaccines, or turning to mRNA technology (the kind used in the highly effective and safe Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines) were all on the table.

The comments were noteworthy for a couple of reasons. For one, it was quite simply a "rare admission" from Beijing, The Associated Press writes. But, more importantly, China has already exported hundreds of millions of doses of two vaccines developed by Chinese drug makers, Sinovac and Sinopharm, to dozens of countries, including Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia, Hungary, and Brazil. So, this could turn into a global predicament.

Now, though, Gao is telling Chinese state media that the reaction to his remarks "was a complete misunderstanding" and that he was really just suggesting that the question of how to improve vaccines' effectiveness is one "that needs to be considered by scientists around the world" because of the novelty of the virus. He did not, however, specifically address protection levels of the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines. Tim O'Donnell

11:35 a.m.

A whole lot happened in relation to Iran's nuclear program this weekend.

For starters, on Sunday, Iran's underground Natanz facility started up new advanced centrifuges capable of enriching uranium more quickly. Hours later, a "suspicious" blackout struck the facility. Tehran claims there wasn't any lasting damage or pollution, but Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's civilian nuclear program, called the power outage "nuclear terrorism" and details remain scarce.

Israeli media outlets, including Haaretz, are indicating the blackout was the result of an Israeli cyberattack, the latest sign of escalation between the regional rivals. The Associated Press notes these reports do not offer sourcing, but "Israeli media maintains a close relationship with [Israel's] military and intelligence," so, when coupled with past allegations of Israel targeting Iran's nuclear program, the possibility seems legitimate.

Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary was in Israel meeting with his counterpart, Benny Gantz, who pledged to cooperate with the U.S. "to ensure that any new agreement with Iran will secure the vital interests of the world and the United States, prevent a dangerous arms race in our region, and protect the State of Israel."

World powers, including the U.S., will continue to negotiate with Tehran over its nuclear deal next week in Vienna, though it's unclear how the black will affect the talks, if it all. Tim O'Donnell

10:56 a.m.

Nomadland's Chloé Zhao further cemented herself as the favorite to win Best Director at the 93rd Academy Awards on Saturday when won the top prize at the 73rd annual Directors Guild of America Awards. She is only the second woman (Kathryn Bigelow won for The Hurt Locker in 2009), and the first woman of color, to earn the DGA award, Variety notes.

Zhao will likely be taking home more hardware this awards season; in addition to her expected Oscars win, Nomadland is the top contender for Best Picture. But she clearly isn't one for gloating. In her virtual acceptance speech, Zhao spoke briefly, using most of her time to praise her fellow nominees, including Minari's Lee Isaac Chung, Promising Young Woman's Emerald Fennell, Mank's David Fincher, and Trial of the Chicago 7's Aaron Sorkin, the only one of the four who isn't also up against Zhao later this month at the Oscars (Another Round's Thomas Vinterberg is the fifth nominee). She took a moment to specifically address how each of her peers and their respective films affected her personally. Watch the heartfelt speech below.

Read more at Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Tim O'Donnell

9:26 a.m.

Four fictional Minnesota local news anchors portrayed by Ego Nwodim, Kenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon, and Alex Moffat, all agreed in the latest Saturday Night Live cold open that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on George Floyd's neck for several minutes during an arrest before Floyd died last May, should be found guilty in his ongoing murder trial. But they couldn't quite agree on whether that will actually happen.

The characters played by McKinnon and Moffat, who are white, were convinced a guilty verdict was a no doubter, while the anchors played by Nwodim and Thompson, who are Black, were far from ready to trust the legal system. "Let's just say we've seen this movie before," Nwodim's character said, referring to other cases in which police officers evaded conviction.

That led to a few more disagreements over issues like reparations, how to protest effectively, and whether it was worth discussing Prince Philip's death. Eventually, the four of them wound up united again, thanks to shared disdain for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). Watch the full sketch below. Tim O'Donnell

8:05 a.m.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appears to have been the primary target in former President Donald Trump's improvised, insult-laden speech Saturday night at a Republican National Committee gathering at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, The Washington Post and Politico report.

In a familiar turn of events, Trump, who doesn't get the opportunity to vent his frustrations on Twitter these days, reportedly boasted about tossing his "boring" prepared remarks before tearing into McConnell for several minutes. At one point Trump called him a "dumb son of a b----" for not fighting the Electoral College certification on Jan. 6. "If that were [Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) instead of this dumb son of a b---- Mitch McConnell they would never allow it to happen," Trump said, per the Post. "They would have fought it."

He also reportedly deemed his former ally a "stone cold loser" and complained that McConnell never thanked him for hiring his wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, whom he also reportedly mocked for resigning in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

McConnell wasn't alone, however. Trump went after Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, as well. "Have you ever seen anybody that is so full of crap?," Trump reportedly asked the crowd.

Former Vice President Mike Pence was seemingly spared the name calling, but Trump did reportedly reiterate the fact that he's disappointed Pence didn't have the "courage" to block the election certification.

Beyond the personal attacks, Trump reportedly continued to push false claims that he won the 2020 election, which he described, once again, as "rigged," and he did not appear to express any regret about his role in the Capitol riot, though he did reportedly brag about the size of the crowd at his speech that took place just before the event. Read more at The Washington Post and Politico. Tim O'Donnell

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