BFFs
May 4, 2018

President Trump name-dropped one of his most famous followers.

Trump addressed the National Rifle Association's annual conference in Dallas on Friday, where he made sure to tout his approval numbers. But he didn't just pat himself on the back for earning increased popularity — he credited rapper Kanye West for boosting his approval rating among African-American voters.

West has taken to social media in recent days to voice his support for Trump, tweeting a picture of a Make America Great Again hat and garnering significant criticism for telling a TMZ Live interviewer that slavery was "a choice." While West has been taking heat from many fans and celebrities for his support of the president, he got approval from Trump himself last week.

In Friday's speech, Trump apparently tied West's support to the support of black voters all over the country. "Kanye West must have some power, because you probably saw I doubled my African-American poll numbers," said Trump, to applause. "We went from 11 [percent] to 22 [percent] in one week. Thank you Kanye, thank you." Watch the entire shout-out below, via CNN. Summer Meza

November 17, 2017

President Trump's former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos repeatedly boasted about his role in the 2016 presidential campaign to Greek newspaper reporters, going so far as to claim that he had been offered a "blank check" to pick a senior administration job after the election, Politico reports. While the Greek journalists observed Papadopoulos' tendency toward exaggeration, their account illustrates the chasm of difference between Papadopoulos' and Trump's public interpretation of his role in the campaign.

Papadopoulos was arrested in July and charged with making false statements about his attempts to get "dirt" on Hillary Clinton via a Russian contact. Papadopoulos also pitched Trump on meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a suggestion Attorney General Jeff Sessions mostly confirmed he shot down. Former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo argued on CNN that Papadopoulos' import on the campaign team has been wildly overblown: "He was the coffee boy!" Caputo told host Chris Cuomo.

Papadopoulos, though, told the Greek reporters that Trump had personally called him in March 2016 for a short, introductory conversation after he was invited to the foreign policy advisory team. On March 21, Trump singled Papadopoulos out to Washington Post reporters: "He's an energy and oil consultant," Trump raved. "Excellent guy."

Papadopoulos thought so too, later texting the reporters: "Everyone knows I helped [get Trump] elected, now I want to help him with the presidency." Read more about Papadopoulos' claims at Politico. Jeva Lange

October 11, 2017

Disagreeing with President Trump usually ends with someone's resignation. But Thomas Barrack, Trump's billionaire best friend and biggest campaign donor, has a problem with all the "yes men" that surround the president. And even after 30 years of friendship, he's still by Trump's side.

A profile of Barrack published Wednesday in The Washington Post breaks down the two men's relationship:

The men have struck a mutually beneficial deal. Trump solicits Barrack's advice regularly, asking how his actions are playing with the public. Barrack listens deferentially, advises Trump to change course without fear of retribution, and retains a bond that has outlasted Trump's many personal and financial crises. [The Washington Post]

Trump and Barrack met in 1987 and loosely discussed the idea of Trump running for president in the early days of their friendship. Building a wall and putting "America first" was never part of the plan, Barrack told the Post, so he was shocked when Trump called Mexicans "rapists." Barrack said he continues to ask "Oh my God, where are we going with this?" every time Trump makes another inflammatory remark.

Barrack also told the Post that Trump has called him one of his "few Arab-American friends," and said he tried to dissuade the president from instituting his infamous "Muslim ban." He's also the man who convinced Trump to hire Paul Manafort, who's now under investigation for possible collusion with Russia, to lead his presidential campaign.

And yet, Barrack hasn't gotten the pink slip like so many other Trump insiders. While it may be because Barrack isn't an official White House adviser to begin with, so he can't truly be fired, Barrack said Trump isn't as bad at taking criticism as some make him out to be.

You can read more about why Barrack's dissenting voice still has the president's ear at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

February 22, 2017

Thousands of emails made public on Wednesday by an Oklahoma judge show that Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, had close relationships with oil and gas producers and electric and fossil fuel companies, as well as political groups backed by the Koch brothers, while serving as the Republican attorney general of Oklahoma.

Pruitt sued the Obama administration's EPA 14 times during his tenure, and emails show that his office worked with these companies to put together drafts of letters for Pruitt to sign, seeking to stop new regulations. One email sent to Pruitt from an executive at the Koch-supported Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group, thanked him and his bosses for all they did "to push back against President Obama's EPA and its axis with liberal environmental groups to increase energy costs for Oklahomans and American families across the states." Pruitt was confirmed by the Senate 52-46 on Friday, despite protests from Democrats and environmentalists. The emails were released as part of a lawsuit filed against Pruitt by the liberal watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy. Catherine Garcia

September 24, 2015

Hillary Clinton probably won't be appearing on Girls anytime soon — she doesn't watch the show — but she did hang out with Lena Dunham for the director/actress' newest undertaking, the email newsletter Lenny Letter. In a video interview to be released in full on Tuesday, Clinton chats about her life in college and "the ambivalence she felt in her early 20s about her own life and career path," according to a Lenny Letter spokesperson, as reported by Politico. The Lenny Letter segment, which has already been taped, also includes comedy sketches shot at Clinton's campaign headquarters in Brooklyn — featuring comedian Amy Schumer.

A teaser clip of the interview shows Dunham asking Clinton if she considers herself to be a feminist (the obvious answer: yep). The two women seem like old friends on screen, with Clinton's communications aide, Kristina Shake, telling Politico, "Hillary was drawn to Lena's unique voice, dynamic talent, and strong commitment to women's rights. Hillary and Lena had a strong connection, which comes through in this intimate, engaging interview." Dunham, likewise, was an early celebrity endorser of Clinton.

Take a sneak peek at the interview, below. Jeva Lange

May 26, 2014

Mr. G, the goat, and Jellybean, the donkey, lived for years in atrocious conditions on a California farm. But at least they had each other.

When animal welfare officials recently seized the buddies along with dozens of dogs and other farm animals from the reported hoarder's farm, the goat and donkey were sent to live in separate animal sanctuaries.

And although Mr. G was given new, clean digs at the Animal Place in northern California, and offered treats like sweet grain and apples, the goat retreated to a corner, refusing all nourishment and contact. After four days of this self-imposed hunger strike, and a check-up that revealed the goat was otherwise healthy, officials agreed Mr. G needed its friend. Dedicated employees spent three days tracking down Jellybean and drove 14 hours to pick him up.

The moment the truck pulled up and Mr. G heard Jellybean walk off, he leapt to his hooves and ran over to greet his friends. The two are now sharing a pen and Mr. G has regained his appetite. Watch the happy moment for yourself. --Lauren Hansen

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