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January 17, 2018
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Americans have very little confidence in the major institutions of democracy, including the courts, political parties, presidency, and fourth estate, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll has concluded. Of all the institutions, though, Americans had the least faith in Congress, with just 8 percent saying they have a "great deal" of trust in the lawmaking body.

The Republican Party followed closely, with only 29 percent of respondents saying they have a level of confidence in the political party that controls the House, Senate, and presidency. A not-much-better 36 percent of respondents said they have confidence in the Democratic Party. Sixty-eight percent of Americans have not much or no confidence in the GOP, while 62 percent said the same of the Democrats.

On the other hand, Americans have enormous faith in the military, with 87 percent of respondents reporting a degree of trust in the institution. In 1977, that number was 30 points lower, with just 57 percent of Americans having some or a great deal of confidence in the military. "There have been some big changes in the last 40 years," points out NPR, "including the draft being abolished and fewer and fewer Americans knowing someone serving in the military."

Other institutions that instill only limited confidence in Americans are organized labor (winning the confidence of 49 percent of adults), courts (winning the confidence of 51 percent of adults), and public schools (winning the confidence of 43 percent of adults). The media fared as poorly as the Republican Party, with an entire 68 percent of Americans having not much or no confidence in the press.

The poll reached 1,350 adults on Jan. 8-10 and has a margin of error of 2.7 percent. Read the full results here. Jeva Lange

January 12, 2018
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GOP congressional candidate Paul Nehlen has drawn on anti-Semitic sympathy to rally support for his fledgling campaign, BuzzFeed News reported Friday.

Nehlen — who is running against House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in a Republican primary this summer — ran a Twitter group chat where he rallied white nationalists to attack his opponents, BuzzFeed News reported. One of Nehlen's stated adversaries was the "Jewish media," who he believed had "coordinated" to smear him after he lost the support of Breitbart News for sending tweets about white pride.

Nehlen's list of targets included conservative personality John Cardillo, author Kurt Schlichter, and former Boston Red Sox pitcher turned Breitbart radio host Curt Schilling. All three men, BuzzFeed News notes, are conservatives who distanced themselves from Nehlen. The candidate turned to his Twitter group to ask for some backup, writing, "Cardillo and others like him are working for Jewish media. Then, there are the fake conservatives who happen to be Jewish."

Per screenshots published by BuzzFeed News, Nehlen then added: "I'm going to decimate them all. And y'all are gonna help me."

Sources who spoke to BuzzFeed News said that "such requests were common" from Nehlen. One of the group chat's most notable participants is Richard Spencer ally Eli Mosley, who heads a white nationalist group of his own called Identify Evropa, BuzzFeed News points out. Mosley is a polarizing figure even among white nationalists, as many reportedly think he sparked the violence at last year's "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a woman was killed by a white nationalist.

Read more about Nehlen's group chat at BuzzFeed News. Kelly O'Meara Morales

January 3, 2018
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Hoda Kotb was named as Matt Lauer's replacement on Today on Tuesday, but she will make approximately $18 million less per year than he did, people familiar with the decision told Page Six. Lauer earned an eye-popping $25 million a year on the job, while Kotb will make $7 million a year, the same as her co-host Savannah Guthrie.

Lauer's salary notably "reflected the long time he was on the show," an insider told Page Six. Another massive NBC contract belongs to Megyn Kelly, who joined the network last year and reportedly makes as much as $20 million a year.

The insider added, "Hoda isn't complaining about the money. She has landed the big job she always dreamed of, and most definitely deserves." That being said, "the figures underline the huge wage disparity at NBC News." Jeva Lange

January 2, 2018
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Joshua Boyle, the Canadian man who was held by militants in Afghanistan for five years and freed last October along with his wife and three children, was arrested in Ottawa on Tuesday, his lawyer said.

Canadian media reports that Boyle has been charged with eight counts of assault, two counts of sexual assault, two counts of unlawful confinement, one count of uttering death threats, one count of causing someone to take a noxious substance, and one count of misleading police, with the incidents all alleged to have happened since Boyle returned to Canada, CNN reports. His attorney, Eric Granger, told CNN his client has never been in any legal trouble before, and he looks forward to "receiving the evidence and defending him against these charges."

While on a backpacking trip through Afghanistan in 2012, Boyle and his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, were kidnapped by members of the Haqqani network, an insurgent group linked to the Taliban. Coleman was pregnant at the time, and she had two more children while in captivity. They were freed by Pakistani forces, who used U.S. intelligence to plan the mission, and their release garnered worldwide attention. Boyle told CNN at the time he wanted his kids to live in a "secure sanctuary" and "regain some portion of the childhood that they have lost." Catherine Garcia

December 13, 2017

A new nationwide Monmouth University poll released Wednesday does not have a lot of good news for Republicans. Perhaps most stunning are the results of a generic 2018 House ballot, where Democrats hold a 15-point edge on the GOP. Overall, 51 percent of registered voters said that if the election was held today, they'd vote or lean toward voting for the Democrat in the race. Just 36 percent of voters said they'd vote or lean toward voting for the Republican.

Politico's Jake Sherman offered some insight on just how significant that chasm is:

The director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, Patrick Murray, said there could be even more bad news for Republicans due to President Trump's approval rating hitting its lowest number since he took office. "Republicans have to be worried about being dragged down by the weight of Trump's negatives in 2018 if this trend continues," Murray said. Overall, Trump's approval rating is a mere 32 percent, while 56 percent of Americans disapprove:

The numbers out of Monmouth don't appear to be a fluke. Pew also recorded Trump at his lowest approval rating ever last week. Additionally, Suffolk University found that among Fox News watchers, Trump has plummeted from a 90 percent approval rating in January to a mere 58 approval rating in December.

Read the full results of the Monmouth poll here. It reached 806 adults in the U.S. between Dec. 10-12, and has a margin of error of 3.5 percent. Jeva Lange

December 7, 2017
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The House's longest-serving member, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), announced his resignation earlier this week after being accused of inappropriately touching female staffers and using taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment and wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015. In stepping down, Conyers, 88, endorsed his son — who is beset by accusations of his own.

John Conyers III, 27, was arrested the day after Valentine's Day when his girlfriend called the police and claimed Conyers "body slammed her on the bed and then on the floor where he pinned her down and spit on her," NBC News reports. His girlfriend, who went unnamed in the report, also suffered knife cuts.

"She says I stabbed her, which makes no sense," Conyers told The New York Times. "I didn't do this. She and I had a verbal altercation and that escalated. She pulled the knife on me. She was chasing me. I tried to take it from her. There was a struggle. I pinned her to the wall. She kept swinging and she cut herself."

Prosecutors did not ultimately charge Conyers because it "could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim's injury was not accidentally sustained." Conyers and his girlfriend split up after the incident after being together for two and a half years. His girlfriend also got a restraining order after the incident, which The New York Times writes is in effect through next March. Jeva Lange

December 1, 2017
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Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) reportedly used $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim brought by his former spokeswoman in 2014, Politico reports. The accuser, Lauren Greene, claimed in her lawsuit that an aide told her Farenthold had "sexual fantasies" and "wet dreams" about her. Greene said Farenthold had told her himself that he was "estranged from his wife and had not had sex with her in years." She claims she was fired after complaining about the comments.

An investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics concluded that there was "not substantial reason to believe that Rep. Farenthold sexually harassed or discriminated against [Greene], or engaged in an effort to intimidate, take reprisal against, or discriminate against [Greene] for opposing such treatment, in violation of House rules and federal law." House Administration Chairman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) told ABC News Friday that Congress had paid out $84,000 to settle just one sexual harassment claim involving a House member since 2012, but details of who the official was had not been previously released.

Farenthold "adamantly denie[d] that he engaged in any wrongdoing" in a joint statement between himself and Greene that was never released, but was obtained by Politico. Read more about the lawsuit and settlement here. Jeva Lange

November 29, 2017

CNN's Jake Tapper issued a blistering condemnation of President Trump's tweet citing the 2001 death of Joe Scarborough's intern on Wednesday. "This is the president attempting to exploit the tragic death of a young woman — one who had heart problems and hit her head when she fell — to score a cheap spurious political point," Tapper tweeted. "Indecent. Inhumane."

Trump had tweeted several responses to the news that NBC's Matt Lauer had been fired over "inappropriate sexual" workplace behavior, including this one (Trump initially deleted the tweet, and then reposted it):

Trump was making reference to Lori Klausutis, who was found dead at 28 in Scarborough's office when Scarborough — now an MSNBC host — was still a Florida congressman. At the time, The Associated Press wrote that "preliminary findings from the medical examiner’s office showed no foul play or any outward indication of suicide." The St. Petersburg Times later wrote that "medical examiner Dr. Michael Berkland has said Klausutis, 28, of Niceville, lost consciousness because of an abnormal heart rhythm and fell, hitting her head on a desk. The head injury caused the death, Berkland said."

Read more about Trump's reactions to the news of Matt Lauer's termination here. Jeva Lange

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