October 21, 2019

President Trump did what?

In a Cabinet meeting Monday, Trump addressed the ongoing withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, again referring to the Kurds, the U.S. allies who largely fought America's campaign against ISIS, as "not angels." He then went all-in on claiming he "captured" ISIS all by himself.

"ISIS was all over the place," Trump said Monday of the time before he got involved in Syria, per a pool report. "It was me ... who captured them. I'm the one who did the capturing. I'm the one who knows more about it than you people or the fake pundits," Trump then told the gathered reporters. It's reminiscent of his false claim last week that, even though his then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis said it would take two years to defeat ISIS, Trump did it in one month.

With his infamous bone spurs, age, and the general busyness of being the president, it seems safe to say that Trump did not, in fact, fight with thousands of U.S. troops and even more Kurds to defeat ISIS fighters in Syria. Trump did, however, order America's troops out of the area earlier this month and leave the Kurds to face the ISIS threat and a Turkish incursion on their own. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 2, 2019

Over the weekend, President Trump tweeted a warning that the House's impeachment inquiry into his interactions with Ukraine could push the country to civil war, and on Tuesday, he tweeted that he's "coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the People." Obviously, it isn't.

A coup d'état is "the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group," usually by the military. Impeachment is a form of extraordinary constitutional remedy granted the duly elected and co-equal legislative branch of the U.S. government. "The 'coup' stuff, just like the civil war stuff can be traced to pro-Trump media where it floated up into the Hannitys of the world and then to the president," The New York Times' Charlie Warzel explained. It's jarring when the president of the United States tweets it.

Not only is it dangerous, it's also pretty nonsensical.

In any case, 20 Republican senators would have to side with all 47 members of the Democratic caucus to actually remove Trump from office, so this isn't exactly a power move on Trump's part. Peter Weber

August 19, 2019

There has been a push for stronger gun laws after back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, and if anything is going to happen before the 2020 election, "it's September or bust," a source involved in discussion between the White House and Congress tells Axios. "We'll either have everything ready for when Congress returns, drop it on the floor, vote on it, and move on — or we blow it." White House and Capitol Hill officials tell Axios that Trump genuinely wants to expand background checks, but Trump was noncommittal when talking to reporters on Sunday.

"I don't want people to forget that this is a mental health problem," Trump said when asked about expanding background checks to all gun purchases and trades — an idea supported by 89 percent of U.S. adults in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll and 90 percent of voters in a recent Fox News poll. "Congress is working on various things, and I'll be looking at it. We're very much involved." Mental health experts are adamant that mental illness isn't a significant factor in mass shootings.

When a reporter asked, "Would you support banning high-capacity magazines?" Trump also hedged. "Well, we're going to look at a whole list of things, and I'll make a determination then," he said. "A lot of things are happening on the gun level." And then he shifted to the closure of mental institutions decades ago, adding: "Unrelated to that, I believe that the concept also of voter identification has to be looked at."

"Sir, what does that have to do with guns?" a reporter asked Trump.

If you wanted an answer to that, well, sorry. Trump pivoted again, to how golf "is so unimportant to me." Peter Weber

July 15, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday night said the House of Representatives will not raise the debt ceiling unless it is combined with a budget agreement.

Earlier in the day, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that if a budget deal is not reached soon, Congress will have to raise the debt ceiling before its August recess, otherwise there won't be enough money to pay the government's bills. This idea, Pelosi said, is not "acceptable to our caucus."

Lawmakers have until the end of September to hammer out a budget deal, as that's when funding for several agencies is scheduled to run out. The Treasury Department can only issue debt up to the limit set by Congress. Since President Trump's inauguration, total government debt has increased by about $3 trillion, to more than $22 trillion. Catherine Garcia

June 27, 2019

Marshae Jones, 27, was taken into custody in the Birmingham, Alabama, area on Wednesday after a Jefferson Country grand jury indicted her on manslaughter charges over the death of her unborn child after a December 2018 incident where another woman shot her in the stomach. The woman who had the gun and pulled the trigger, 23-year-old Ebony Jemison, also faced manslaughter charges, but the grand jury declined to indict her so the charges were dismissed, reports.

Police argued that Jones, five months pregnant, started the fight and was ultimately responsible for the death of her fetus. The altercation was over the father, according to Pleasant Grove police Lt. Danny Reid. "The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby," Reid said after the Dec. 4 shooting, outside a Dollar Store. "It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby."

Not everyone agreed with Reid. "The state of Alabama has proven yet again that the moment a person becomes pregnant their sole responsibility is to produce a live, healthy baby and that it considers any action a pregnant person takes that might impede in that live birth to be a criminal act,'' said Amanda Reyes, executive director of the Yellowhammer Fund. "Today, Marshae Jones is being charged with manslaughter for being pregnant and getting shot while engaging in an altercation with a person who had a gun. Tomorrow, it will be another black woman, maybe for having a drink while pregnant. And after that, another, for not obtaining adequate prenatal care." Read more at Peter Weber

May 6, 2019

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin notified House Democrats on Monday that he will not turn over President Trump's tax returns, claiming that the request from the Ways and Means Committee "lacks a legitimate legislative purpose."

Under a 1924 law, Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) is one of just a few lawmakers with the authority to request the president's tax returns, and he asked the IRS for six years of Trump's business and personal returns. In his letter to Neal, Mnuchin said he spoke with officials in the Justice Department and concluded the IRS is "not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information." He did not explain their reasoning. The law in question does not require Neal to have a legislative purpose.

Democrats argue that to perform their oversight duties, they need to see Trump's tax returns, but Mnuchin says providing them could potentially violate Trump's right to privacy. This move will almost certainly trigger a legal battle, with Democrats expected to file a lawsuit in order to have a federal judge rule on the issue. Catherine Garcia

December 26, 2018

Actor Kevin Spacey broke his long silence about sexual assault allegations against him in a video he posted Christmas Eve — or rather, he kind of broke his silence. Minutes after The Boston Globe reported that Spacey will be arraigned in Massachusetts on Jan. 7 to face criminal charges for allegedly sexually assaulting the son of Boston TV news anchor Heather Unruh in 2016, when the son was 18, Spacey posted a video entitled "Let Me Be Frank" in which his Frank Underwood character from House of Cards appears to defend Spacey. Netflix's House of Cards fired Spacey last year, after earlier sexual assault allegations, and killed off his character.

Netflix said it had nothing to do with Spacey's bizarre new video. Peter Weber

October 29, 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said no to a meeting with President Trump last month, when Rouhani was in New York City for the U.N. General Assembly, Iran's foreign ministry said Sunday.

ILNA, Iran's semi-official news agency, reported that Bahram Ghasemi, spokesman for the ministry, said "an intention was expressed by the American side that was not approved by President Rouhani." Diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Iran were cut in 1979, and when former President Barack Obama and Rouhani spoke over the phone in 2013, it was the highest level of contact between Tehran and Washington in several decades. Catherine Garcia

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