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July 23, 2018

Under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the State Department has held just 10 "daily" press briefings in more than 80 days, ABC News reported Monday. Since Pompeo's swearing-in ceremony on May 2, 82 days ago, there is only one State Department spokeswoman who has delivered official briefings: Heather Nauert, who "travels with Pompeo for all his trips — something that she rarely did with her previous boss, Rex Tillerson — so she has been out of the country for days at a time with him," ABC News notes.

Because of Nauert's more extensive travel under Pompeo's leadership, there is a gaping void at the State Department's lectern. Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.) sent the department a letter, obtained by ABC News on Monday, that urged Pompeo to resume daily briefings to the press. "At a time of unprecedented, head-spinning developments for U.S. foreign policy, our relationship with our allies, and our role on the world stage, the lack of interaction with the American public and the world via the press is particularly concerning," Menendez wrote, per ABC News.

President Trump late Sunday issued an all-caps Twitter threat to Iran, and his summit last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin drew much scrutiny from both sides of the aisle. When contacted by ABC News for comment, Nauert said the department would "respond accordingly" to Menedez's letter, but noted that under Pompeo the access for traveling reporters to the secretary has dramatically increased, compared to under Tillerson's direction. Read more at ABC News. Kimberly Alters

July 13, 2018

It's summer. The days are long — or maybe you're on vacation, where the lines between them are hopelessly blurred altogether. Which glorious day was it that you basked in the sun of a verdant field, you wonder. Was it Thursday or Friday?

President Trump understands this plight. During his Friday press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May, he falsely claimed for the sixth time that he predicted Brexit, claiming he arrived in Turnberry, Scotland, the day before the vote and told people he expected Britons to vote to leave the European Union. The pro-Brexit outcome in the referendum, held Thursday, June 23, 2016, was unexpected and shocked the globe.

But Trump's claim of prescience is a lie. His jaunt to Turnberry — where he was commemorating the opening of his golf club — occurred Friday, June 24, 2016, the day after the Brexit referendum vote. He also spoke the lie in his bombshell interview with The Sun, published late Thursday, in which he slammed May's handling of Britain's exit from the EU. The Toronto Star's Daniel Dale noted that Trump's quote to The Sun marked the fifth time he'd told the fib, making Friday's repetition of it number six.

May, for her part, let the lie go unnoted during her appearance with the president Friday. And perhaps most tellingly of all: Trump never tweeted about Brexit until June 24, 2016. Kimberly Alters

July 13, 2018

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner enjoyed full security clearance for his first full year in the White House, an unusually long interim basis. In February, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly cracked down, downgrading Kushner's security clearance to "secret" from the all-access "sensitive compartmented information" (SCI) clearance, but Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law, got a boost to permanent "top secret" clearance in late May. That level falls short of SCI, and it "does not allow him to see some of the country's most closely guarded intelligence," including parts of the President's Daily Brief, two people familiar with Kushner's access tell The Washington Post.

The Central Intelligence Agency determines who has SCI access, "which primarily involves U.S. intelligence sources and surveillance methods," the Post reports, while "the White House security office has authority to independently grant a 'top secret' clearance after reviewing a staffer's FBI background investigation." The fact that Kushner lacks SCI access "suggests that the CIA has not signed off on his receiving that level of intelligence," the Post adds, and "the reasons for the constraints on Kushner's intelligence access are unclear, including whether they are related to the ongoing special counsel investigation, which has examined his interactions with foreign officials."

Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell tells the Post that his client "has access to all the materials and information he needs to do the domestic and international work the president has asked him to do," but security clearance experts have their doubts. "I think it would severely hamper his ability to do his job," said one expert, Mark Zaid. "I could go play softball without my glove, but I would be hampered and not performing my best as an outfielder" — though in this case, he added, "softball" would be negotiating Middle East peace. Peter Weber

June 26, 2018

President Trump attempted to insult Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) on Monday, but failed to stick the landing.

Geography got in the way of his barb, delivered during a rally Monday in South Carolina in support of Gov. Henry McMaster (R). Trump has been making snarky comments about Sanford for weeks now, having mocked him earlier this month during a private meeting with House Republicans. During the rally, Trump decided to take a shot at Sanford's 2009 extramarital affair, saying, "The Tallahassee Trail — must be a beautiful place. Unfortunately, he didn't go there."

For those who just said, "Huh?" Trump was referring to the fact that for about a week in June 2009, Sanford, then the governor, was MIA. Later, Sanford admitted he was in Argentina, spending time with a woman he was having an affair with, but his spokesperson tried to offer him cover by saying he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, which, points for creativity. Two weeks ago, Sanford, who has been critical of Trump, lost the GOP primary for his congressional district, so he'll have plenty of time to walk whatever trail he wants. Catherine Garcia

August 9, 2017

At 3:11 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Tuesday, Fox News host Sean Hannity decided that some things are just more important than politics. "In light of dangerous NKorea threat, I'm stopping all petty political disagreements for at least next 12 hours," he tweeted. "Petty" is, of course, a subjective term, but at 11:03 p.m. EDT, less than eight hours after making his 12-hour pledge, Hannity tweeted this to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

Hannity was responding to a report about McConnell telling a Rotary Club group that Trump "had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process" and pushed "too many artificial deadlines." To be fair, defending Trump is clearly a 24/7 endeavor, and in Twitter years, eight hours is practically forever, especially if you're prone to engaging in "petty political disagreements." Peter Weber

May 6, 2017

Olympian Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya came just shy of running a sub-two-hour marathon Saturday, nearly accomplishing one of the most anticipated feats in sports.

Kipchoge completed the 26.2-mile race in just two hours and 25 seconds. His time isn't eligible to set a new world record because he had a pace car, but it shaves more than two minutes off the current world record of 2:02:57 and slightly more off Kipchoge's previous personal best of 2:03:05.

Kipchoge is part of Nike's Breaking2 project, which has developed high-tech shoes and an innovative pacing formation to minimize wind resistance. To successfully break two hours, a runner must maintain a pace of 4:34 per mile, and seemingly minor factors like small variations of temperature or humidity can make — or, in this case, break — a performance.

"I was aiming for 1:59, but I'm happy to run two hours in [a] marathon," Kipchoge said post-race. "The world is only 25 seconds away." Watch him cross the finish line below. Bonnie Kristian

May 23, 2016

You know the feeling. The dread bubbles in the bottom of your stomach as you say your name to the smiling Starbucks cashier, the mystery of what she's writing on the cup in her hand never revealed to you. It solidifies like a rock in your gut as you make your way to the end of the counter, and practically paralyzes you as you reach over the counter for your finished drink. Already half-grimacing, you take a hesitant peek at the Sharpie scrawl to see that — nope, that's not your name, nor how you spell it, nor anyone's name, really.

Lucky for you, it seems even A-list celebrities aren't immune to the coffee chain's notorious spelling transgressions:

Although, to be fair, Jodie Foster didn't make it out unscathed either. Better luck next time, Starbucks. Kimberly Alters

June 21, 2015

Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer fell just short of throwing a perfect game Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates. After retiring 26 straight batters, Scherzer pitched an inside slider that hit pinch-hitter Jose Tabata in the elbow.

Scherzer quickly regrouped and ended the 6-0 game by prompting a fly out from Josh Harrison. He is just the second pitcher in Nats' history to notch a no-hitter.

For his effort, Scherzer was doused in chocolate syrup by his loving teammates. Julie Kliegman

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