November 1, 2018

President Trump unveiled a new ad meant to boost the Republican Party, but many Republicans want nothing to do with it.

The ad, which reeks of Willie Horton-esque fear-mongering, drew fierce critique from the former chairman of the Florida Republican Party, Al Cardenas. He condemned Trump as a "despicable divider" and a "social poison" to America. Cardenas once chaired the American Conservative Union, which hosts the prominent Conservative Political Action Conference, but he has long opposed Trump on many fronts. And in his Thursday tweet, Cardenas asserted that Trump's ad would "condemn you and your bigoted legacy forever."

The Wednesday ad, paid for by Trump's campaign and released less than a week before the midterms, features footage of a twice-deported Mexican man gloating about "kill[ing] cops." It claims "Democrats let him into our country," and suggests the migrant caravan still more than 1,000 miles from the U.S. would bring more like-minded criminals.

Fellow conservatives, including retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), have spoken out against Trump's newest ad, but Cardenas' condemnation is one of the harshest yet. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 5, 2018

After Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voiced his support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, protesters drowned him out.

The Democrat revealed he'd say "aye" in Saturday's big Senate vote immediately after Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) affirmed she'd do the same in a lengthy speech Friday. Manchin tossed out a quick statement explaining his decision to back the nominee accused of sexual misconduct, and didn't seem to have much more to say when talking with reporters afterwards. Well, not that he could be heard over protesters delivering a Game of Thrones-style "shame" session.

Manchin was predicted to be the last senator to state his stance on Kavanaugh, and his pledge indicates a 51-49 Senate vote to confirm the nominee. Both a Politico report and Manchin's Republican opponent claimed the senator didn't want to be the deciding vote and would wait until Collins spoke to reveal his vote. And with his Friday decision, Manchin proved the rumors true. Kathryn Krawczyk

September 10, 2018

Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels of the Beth Shir Shalom synagogue in Santa Monica, California, told his congregation during a Rosh Hashanah sermon on Monday that he does not condone former student Stephen Miller's "negativity, violence, malice, and brutality" toward immigrants.

Miller is President Trump's senior adviser for policy and one of the chief architects of his travel ban and directive to separate migrant children from their parents. Beth Shir Shalom is a progressive reform synagogue that Miller attended while growing up in Santa Monica, and Comess-Daniels said that he's been asked by other rabbis why Miller turned out the way he did. "I can assure you, as I can assure them, that what I taught is a Judaism that cherishes wisdom, values ... wide horizons and an even wider embrace," he said.

The sermon was streamed live on Facebook, The Guardian reports, and Comess-Daniels said that separating families is "completely antithetical to everything I know about Judaism, Jewish law, and Jewish values." In a message directed at Miller, Comess-Daniels said he has "set back the Jewish contribution to making the world spiritually whole through your arbitrary division of these desperate people" and "the actions that you now encourage President Trump to take make it obvious to me that you didn't get my, or our, Jewish message ... you should be ashamed of yourself." Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, and Comess-Daniels said he felt compelled to speak out because "in a free society, some are guilty, all are responsible. Because we want this society to remain free, we will continue to act." Catherine Garcia

September 3, 2018

You probably first heard of Wisconsin Democrat Randy Bryce — AKA @IronStache — after he released a moving ad declaring his long-shot bid against House Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.) in June. In the months since, Ryan has announced his retirement, and Republican Bryan Steil has moved in as the frontrunner for the seat, but Bryce's talent for effective ads has not waned.

The difference is, this time around Bryce has made an "ad" for his opponent. At least that's the idea behind the video he put out on Sunday: "Paul Ryan's handpicked replacement … just released three minutes of silent B roll footage in hopes a right wing Super PAC would use it to make an ad for him," tweeted Bryce. "They haven't made one yet, so we made one for them. Presenting: The Life of Bryan."

Unfortunately, it probably is not quite the ad Steil was hoping for. Watch below. Jeva Lange

August 31, 2018

President Trump's disapproval rating hit a record high of 60 percent Friday, a poll by The Washington Post and ABC News found.

Meanwhile, 36 percent of Americans approve of his job performance, a four-point drop since April, when the poll was last conducted. While Trump maintains popularity among 78 percent of Republicans, more than 9 in 10 Democrats and 59 percent of independents disapprove of his performance. Nearly half of those polled, 49 percent, want Congress to begin impeachment proceedings; 46 percent do not.

Moreover, 63 percent of Americans support the investigation into whether the Trump campaign was involved with Russian election interference in 2016, and 53 percent say Trump has tried to interfere with the investigation in a way that amounts to obstruction of justice. Despite Trump's attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions over his handling of the Justice Department, 64 percent say Trump should not fire him, and 62 percent say they side with Sessions in that he is following the law by allowing the Russia investigation to continue.

The Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted Aug. 26-29, reaching 1,003 adults by phone. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points. Read more results at The Washington Post. Summer Meza

August 27, 2018

America's top student loans protector says the Trump administration isn't prioritizing students over exploitative lenders.

Seth Frotman, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's primary student loan watchdog, sent a fiery resignation letter to acting bureau director Mick Mulvaney on Monday, NPR reports. In it, Frotman says Mulvaney's bureau "has turned its back on young people and their financial futures," sparking worries over just how much the federal government cares about the ballooning student loans industry.

After the financial crisis unveiled the seriousness of predatory lending, Congress in 2010 designated a student loans ombudsman to oversee the $1.5 trillion system. The CFPB has since reviewed more than 60,000 complaints and gotten $750 million back to borrowers, NPR says. Frotman has served at the bureau for seven years and worked as the ombudsman since 2016.

Mulvaney, the acting CFPB director and target of Frotman's letter, is also the President Trump-appointed head of the Office of Management and Budget. As a House representative in 2014, Mulvaney called the CFPB "a joke ... in a sick, sad kind of way" because it acts without much congressional oversight, NPR points out.

Frotman said the CFPB under Mulvaney has "abandoned the very consumers it is tasked by Congress with protecting." "Instead, you have used the bureau to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America," Frotman wrote. And because Frotman feels he can't protect students under these conditions, he's leaving Mulvaney to handle the consequences. Read his entire resignation letter at NPR. Kathryn Krawczyk

July 17, 2018

If President Trump was watching his favorite show Tuesday morning, he probably didn't like what he saw.

Even the normally Trump-friendly hosts of Fox & Friends had some harsh words for the president the day after his disastrous Monday meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle have derided after Trump publicly sided with Putin, and against U.S. intelligence agencies, on the topic of Russia's 2016 election meddling.

Co-host Steve Doocy questioned why Trump refused to denounce Putin when "there have been a number of times where the president has said 'I think it was Russia,' ... 'I think there was meddling.'" Abby Huntsman elevated the critique, saying Putin's "ultimate goal in life is to undermine our democracy" and Trump blew the "one moment that you had to stand up for your own country, stand up for your intelligence community."

Brian Kilmeade brought up fellow conservatives who've spoken out against Trump, saying that "when Newt Gingrich, when General Jack Keane, when Matt Schlapp say the president fell short and made our intelligence apparatus look bad, I think it's time to pay attention." But Kilmeade also made some excuses for Trump's performance. "Nobody's perfect, especially [after] 10 intensive days of summits, private meetings, and everything on his plate," he said. "But that moment is the one that's going to stand out unless he comes out and corrects it.”

Watch the whole clip below. Kathryn Krawczyk

July 16, 2018

He may not have been on camera, but Anderson Cooper couldn't hide his displeasure with Monday's U.S.-Russia meeting.

The second President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shook hands after a post-summit press conference, the CNN anchor slammed the American president. "You have been watching perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader that I've ever seen," Cooper declared.

Cooper's harsh words came in response to a joint press conference with Putin and Trump, held Monday after the two leaders held a closed-door meeting. Both Trump and Putin disputed claims of Russian meddling in American elections during the conference, with Putin vehemently denying interference in 2016 and Trump refusing to believe American intelligence over Putin. Instead of holding Putin accountable for alleged interference, Trump pivoted to his favorite topic: Hillary Clinton's emails.

Cooper called out Trump for fixating on this one topic, "like in Rain Man," where Dustin Hoffman plays the title character with autism.

Which may not have been the most thoughtful comparison to make. Cooper's CNN colleague John King, meanwhile, said Trump's meeting with Putin amounted to a "Surrender Summit." Kathryn Krawczyk

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