Under the bus
September 7, 2019

The drama surrounding whether Hurricane Dorian ever threatened Alabama continues.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Friday backed President Trump's claim earlier this week that Hurricane Dorian might be headed toward Alabama. In a statement the NOAA criticized the Birmingham, Alabama, National Weather Service, which it oversees, for denying in a tweet that Alabama faced any danger from the storm.

"The Birmingham National Weather Service's Sunday morning tweet spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time," the NOAA statement said. Additionally, the statement said information provided to Trump and the public between Aug. 28 and Sept. 2 did leave open the possibility that Dorian's winds could affect Alabama.

Many meteorologists were reportedly confused by the NOAA's statement and stand by the NWS's initial tweet.

"Some administrator, or someone at the top of NOAA, threw the National Weather Service under the bus," Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami, told NPR. "The part that really smells fishy is that this is five days after that tweet by Trump. If the National Weather Service did issue a misleading or incorrect tweet, that would need to be amended or fixed in an hour or two." Read more at NPR and Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

November 13, 2018

First lady Melania Trump on Tuesday called for a member of the Trump administration to be fired, and it looks like she may soon get her wish.

On Tuesday, the first lady's spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement that Deputy National Security Adviser Mira Ricardel "no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House." NBC News reported earlier in the day that President Trump was likely to fire Ricardel following a "series of run-ins" with the office of the first lady. For instance, reports Bloomberg, Ricardel threatened to withhold National Security Council resources unless she or someone else from the NSC could travel with the first lady on her recent trip to Africa.

That's not all, though. Melania Trump's staff has told the president they believe Ricardel is responsible for leaking negative stories about her to the press, The Wall Street Journal reports, adding that Ricardel has feuded with Defense Secretary James Mattis as well. President Trump had reportedly already told his wife he would have Ricardel removed from office, the Journal reports. Her firing appeared to be imminent, especially because The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey writes that Ricardel is "among the most despised aides in the West Wing, if not the most." Ricardel was hired in May, and CNN reports she's one of National Security Adviser John Bolton's "key allies in the administration."

The statement from the first lady was particularly surprising considering, as CNN's Kate Bennett points out, Ricardel had joined the president at his Diwali ceremony right before its release. Not long after, the Journal reported that Ricardel had been fired and was escorted from the building, although a White House official denied this report, telling CNBC she is "still at her desk." When asked if she would still be there tomorrow, the official said, "We'll see." Brendan Morrow

October 11, 2018

President Trump wants everyone to know he has dirt on his former economic adviser.

During a Fox & Friends interview Thursday morning, host Brian Kilmeade suggested to Trump that Gary Cohn, the former director of the National Economic Council, might have been one of the sources for Bob Woodward's explosive book Fear. Trump responded that he "could very well have been." Cohn is a major player in the Woodward book, which details a White House in chaos: One section describes him stealing documents off the president's desk so he can't sign them.

But Trump took it a step further, suggesting he's got some things he wants to reveal about Cohn himself. "I can tell stories about him like you wouldn't believe," Trump said of Cohn, without elaborating.

Cohn has publicly stated that Woodward's book is not accurate and that he's proud of his time spent in the White House, but the president didn't seem to buy that denial. "But what does that mean?" Trump said of Cohn's statement. He also suggested Cohn never believed in him anyway, saying he never thought Trump would be able to re-negotiate trade deals with Mexico and Canada. Watch Trump's comments below. Brendan Morrow

August 24, 2018

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) wants everyone to know that not only did he not handle his campaign funds, but he's not even in charge of his own bank account.

Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted earlier this week, accused of spending more than $250,000 in campaign funds on personal vacations, clothes, and flying their pet rabbit to Washington, D.C. They pleaded not guilty on Thursday morning, and during an appearance on Fox News later in the day, Hunter denied any wrongdoing. "My campaign did make mistakes, there was money spent on things, not by me but by the campaign, and I paid that back before my last election," Hunter told Martha MacCallum.

He called the charges "pure politics," and when asked if this was his wife's fault, Hunter didn't say no. Hunter served in Iraq with the Marines, and said when he deployed he gave his wife power of attorney over their finances. "She was also the campaign manager, so whatever she did, that'll be looked at, too, I'm sure," he said. "But I didn't do it. I didn't spent any money illegally." As a congressman, Hunter earns $174,000 a year, and MacCallum asked him if he thought that number should be higher. "I think it depends where you live," he said. "It's difficult to live in a place like San Francisco or San Diego or New York or D.C. It's probably easier to live in Kansas or Missouri. It's all relative." Catherine Garcia

December 27, 2017

President Trump's legal team is gearing up to paint former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn as a liar who will say anything to get himself out of trouble, three people with knowledge of the strategy told The Washington Post Wednesday.

Flynn is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and earlier this month, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. While Trump's attorneys have said privately they don't think Flynn has evidence that could harm Trump or White House officials, they are preparing themselves for anything he might say against the president.

It's not surprising that this is their strategy, legal experts said. "They will pull out all the arguments: 'You pleaded guilty. You don't have anything more than your word, and you probably got your son off with this. You got the deal of the century,'" defense attorney Barbara Van Gelder lawyer told the Post. Because Flynn's plea agreement was so lenient, most presume he has given Mueller major information. "That is what I thought was the brilliance of the Flynn plea," Van Gelder said. "It said, 'I'm giving just enough to have the judge sentence you within the guidelines, but not giving anything to anybody else.'" Catherine Garcia

July 14, 2017

It seems President Trump wants to make sure that if the GOP attempt to repeal and replace ObamaCare fails yet again, the American people know who to blame. And it isn't him.

Early Friday morning, Trump sent a series of tweets imploring Republican senators to "come through as they have promised!" and said he would be waiting, pen in hand, to sign the newly revised bill, which was released Thursday. He even called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) by name, in case anyone forgets who the ringleader of this effort is:

On Wednesday, Trump said he would be "very angry" if Senate Republicans don't pass their ObamaCare repeal and replacement. But it looks like even the threat of the president's wrath may not be enough to save the bill. Immediately after the new version of the bill was released Thursday, three Republican senators — Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — said they would not vote for it. Just two "no" votes will kill the bill.

Although if threatening won't work, maybe a little flattery will? Jessica Hullinger

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