January 17, 2018

During Wednesday's press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders summarily dismissed the ongoing Russia investigation as a "hoax."

Asked by The Wall Street Journal's Michael Bender whether President Trump was "prepared" for the reported escalation in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, Sanders did not mince words. "We've been dealing with this hoax for the better part of a year," she said. "If we have to endure the ridiculousness for another month we can certainly handle it."

Sanders did stress to reporters that the White House intends to be "fully cooperative" with Mueller's team, but she claimed the ongoing intrigue was unfair to the public. "Do the American people deserve [this investigation]? No, I don't think they do," she said.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that Stephen Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, had been subpoenaed by Mueller to appear before a grand jury. Bannon agreed Wednesday to interview with Mueller, where he is expected to answer questions about his time working in the White House last year. Kelly O'Meara Morales

January 17, 2018
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For the first time since she left the Today show after just a year as co-anchor, Ann Curry is talking about the pain she felt upon her departure, and why she's proud of how she handled her very public exit.

"Experience has taught me, as a journalist, the No. 1 thing you have to be is humble," she told People. "It's not about you." Curry left Today on June 28, 2012, and it was hinted she was fired because she didn't have "chemistry" with her co-host, Matt Lauer, who was fired from the show last November over allegations of sexual misconduct. "It hurt like hell," Curry said. "It hurt so much, but I learned a lot about myself. I can say I've done nothing wrong. I've been honest and true. I've tried to stay pure. I've tried to not respond in a knee-jerk manner, and I've stayed very close to who I am. So it hurt, but I'm also proud of myself."

The Emmy winner said she had to "let it go," and is "stronger now. I'm smarter. I'm happier, as happy as I've ever been. And my compassion has only grown. When you go through the pain and learn the lessons, you will be changed for the better." Read more of Curry's interview at People, and watch her first live interview since leaving Today Wednesday on CBS This Morning. Catherine Garcia

January 16, 2018

Stephen Colbert greeted Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) with a question on Monday's Late Show: "How's your friend Donald Trump?" "Getting worse every day," Schumer said. He said Trump tried flattery and calling him names, but Democrats "stick by our values," laying out an election year theme: "We're standing strong, and we're the check on Donald Trump." Schumer said he has no doubt that President Trump said he does not want immigrants from "shithole countries."

"Do you think that Donald Trump is a racist?" Colbert asked. "Look, his comments over and over and over again can be described as nothing but racist and obnoxious. He says he's not a racist," Schumer said. "So I have a challenge for Donald Trump, okay? Actions speak louder than words. You want to begin, just begin, that long road back to proving you're not a racist, you're not bigoted? Support the bipartisan compromise that three Republicans and three Democrats have put on the floor — everyone gave! — and get the DREAMers safety here in America." He said if that bill was put on the floor, it would pass in both the House and Senate, but Trump is in the way. "If you're going to listen to farthest right, we will never have an immigration policy," Schumer said.

Schumer was bullish on 2018. "I think the odds are greater than half that we will take back the Senate," he told Colbert. "I think the House odds are very good too." He conceded that being a check on Trump wasn't enough: "We have to show average folks that we're on their side while Trump is on the side of the wealthy and powerful interests. If we do both, we'll take back the House and the Senate." Schumer endorsed a cartoon version of his negotiations with Trump, and finished by dodging a question about how Democrats handled the case of Al Franken. Watch below. Peter Weber

January 15, 2018

President Trump on Sunday told a group of reporters that he is not a racist. In fact, he is the "least racist person you have ever interviewed," he said, before heading to dinner at his Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach.

The statement followed several days of uproar in response to a report that Trump called Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations "shitholes" during a Thursday meeting on immigration policy. Trump has denied he made the comment, though the White House has not.

Also on Sunday, a handful of Republican leaders, including Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, insisted Trump did not use that word. "Did you see what various senators in the room said about my comments?" Trump asked, according to The Associated Press. "They weren't made."

The controversy comes at a tense time: Lawmakers are scrambling to pull together a spending deal this week to avoid a looming government shutdown on Saturday. Immigration remains one of the stickiest issues in this debate, with Democrats hoping to use the deal to protect from deportation hundreds of thousands of "DREAMers" brought to the U.S. illegally as children, in exchange for border security funds. The talks stalled after Trump's reported vulgar remarks. Trump on Saturday blamed the impasse on Democrats, saying they are "all talk and no action."

This isn't the first time Trump has vehemently denied any racist tendencies. During a news conference last year, he called himself "the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life." Jessica Hullinger

January 12, 2018
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Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) began their New York Times op-ed on President Trump and immigration by recapping the tale of Elián Gonzalez, the young Cuban boy who made it to Florida in 1999 and then, when U.S. courts ruled he had to return, was "pulled from the arms of a sheltering adult by a team of heavily armed federal agents," a scene "seared in the minds of many people as a low point in the immigration debate." Under Trump, "brace yourself for the possibility of seeing this kind of scene again," they wrote.

Bush and Kasich were focusing on Trump's decision to rescind residency and work protections for about 200,000 Salvadorans invited in by the U.S. after a 2001 earthquake in a "merciful act." They collectively had 190,000 kids in the U.S. and "it is wrong to potentially break up so many families that have for so long made the United States their home — legally and at our invitation," the governors write.

The Republican Party has "consistently and rightly advanced policies to support the essential role of families in America," and "singling out Salvadoran families for separation is simply a bad idea that should be dropped," Bush and Kasich write, quoting former President Ronald Reagan. Securing the U.S. border and figuring out how to normalize the status of "the 10 million to 15 million undocumented immigrants" already here — "who, let's be honest, will not and should not be forcibly removed" — are the two biggest challenges, they add, and "when prioritizing the immigration problems we face, the case of 200,000 Salvadorans who accepted our invitation to live and work here legally would not even make a Top 10 list."

Kasich and Bush wrote their op-ed before Trump reportedly called El Salvador, Haiti, and African nations "shithole countries," but Bush tweeted that he hoped the president's alleged words "were just a crass and flippant mistake, and do not reflect the hateful racism they imply." Peter Weber

January 12, 2018

Just because President Trump compared several nations to holes filled with excrement on Thursday, and even though CNN felt comfortable putting the word "shithole" up on screen, that doesn't mean CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer will sully himself by quoting the president of the United States on cable news.

At a meeting in the Oval Office on Thursday, Trump had asked a bipartisan group of senators, "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" — referring to Haiti, El Salvador, and nations in Africa. Blitzer wasn't alone — David Muir at ABC News said Trump had used "a profanity we won't repeat" — but several "media outlets on Thursday took the unusual step of allowing the word 'shithole' to be used in print and on air," including CNN's Jim Acosta, The New York Times reports. "Just f--ing say it, Wolf," The Daily Show said in the caption of its compilation of Blitzer studiously not saying it. Stay strong, Wolf. Peter Weber

January 9, 2018

Michael Wolff started his interview with Stephen Colbert on Monday's Late Show by suggesting that President Trump might be watching, because "one of the remaining contacts I have said he asked for my media schedule today. Wolff said he didn't expect his book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, to cause such a splash, and when Colbert pointed out that it paints Trump as a mentally unfit illiterate "gibbering to his cheeseburger," Wolff explained, "I thought we knew this."

Colbert asked Wolff about his author's note on believing the events he recorded to be true, and Wolff explained that in the Trump White House, "everybody is telling you different stories," or rather "lying in their own particular way," so he had to use his "judgment" to discern "what versions of stories to include." Colbert said he was conflicted reading the book. "As a comedian, sure, I'd love all this to be true so I can make jokes about it," he said. "But as a citizen, I don't want any of it to be true. And you don't have sourcing, at least not listed, for everything you've got in here, so how much of it should I believe?" "You should believe all of it," Wolff said. "That's the alarming thing, that this is all true."

Colbert asked if there was anything Wolff found hopeful in the book, and Wolff said no. Everybody in the White House would come and tell him how awful things were, he said, and "I think the truth is, they were talking to everybody, and that I'm the only person who was willing to say this — because I'm the only person who doesn't have to go back again."

Wolff made a similar point to CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Monday. Peter Weber

January 8, 2018

Speaking after a weekend full of speculation about his mental fitness, President Trump on Monday sought to prove he does in fact have "one of the great memories of all time."

First up, while addressing farmers in Nashville, Trump reminded them how thrilled they are to have voted for him instead of Hillary Clinton. "You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege," he added.

For good measure, The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey notes, Trump next displayed outstanding recall of the 2016 electoral results:

He then went on to demonstrate thorough recollection of America's complicated trajectory. "We have to remember our history," he said, per CNN's Chris Cillizza. "Mostly good. Some not so good." Kimberly Alters

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