this is a lot
June 30, 2020

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is now Alabama's frontrunning candidate for Senate, and shared his thoughts on police reform and what's been happening in the White House since he left for a profile in The New York Times Magazine published Tuesday. Here are 5 of the article's wildest moments.

1. Favorably comparing President Trump to Egypt's Sisi: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has been accused of crimes against humanity, is a "strongman" who "promised to protect" the country's Christian minority, Sessions said when asked how Christians can support Trump. "That's basically what the Christians in the United States did. They felt they were under attack, and the strong guy promised to defend them. And he has," Session said.

2. Seemingly calling a Black professor 'criminal': Sessions attacked former President Barack Obama for having "a beer at the White House with some criminal, to listen to him." That seemed to be a reference to Henry Louis Gates Jr., a Black professor at Harvard University who was arrested trying to enter his own home, though a Sessions spokesperson declined to elaborate.

3. Applauding Trump's Bible photo op: Sessions decried the religious leaders who opposed Trump for clearing out protesters to take a photo in front of St. John's Church, calling Trump "a defender of the faith" and labeling those priests "a bunch of socialist leftists."

4. Defending family separation:

In a disturbing, guttural voice, [Sessions] mocked much of the nation's reaction [to separating children and parents at the border]: 'Nooooo, this is a poor child! They just want a job!'

5. This moment, before Sessions returned to his pineapple upside-down cake:

"Nation-states are not gone, they're not out of date. America is not an idea, Paul Ryan — it’s a nation." [Sessions] began to bang his fists as he spoke, sending the silverware and ice in his peach tea aquiver. "It's a secular nation-state. It has" — another bang — “rules."

Read more at The New York Times Magazine. Kathryn Krawczyk

April 11, 2019

Four words from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) have generated a complete frenzy.

At a fundraiser for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) last month, Omar said the organization "was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties." Some conservative critics quickly zeroed in on the "some people did something" phrase, painting it as her description of 9/11 as a whole and questioning whether Omar was "an American first."

Most of these criticisms didn't go beyond tweets or Fox News commentary, but the New York Post took it several steps further.

As The Washington Post's fact checker points out, Omar's description comes out of context from her full speech, which argued that American Muslims should not lose their civil liberties because of unfair vilification of the Islamic community as a whole. Muslims in America "have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen," Omar said immediately before the line that went viral, praising CAIR for taking action against that.

Contrary to what Omar said, CAIR was founded in 1994 and, as Omar's spokesperson told the Post she meant to say, "doubled in size after the Sept. 11 attacks." CAIR was labeled a "terrorist organization" in the initial tweet that clipped Omar's words into a short video, but the Post calls it "an aggressive Muslim civil liberties organization modeled on the Anti-Defamation League."

Omar responded to critics by tweeting that they were spreading "dangerous incitement" and said she'd received "death threats" since the video received widespread attention. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 9, 2019

Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) newfound facial hair is truly exceeding expectations.

When Cruz returned to Washington, D.C. from Thanksgiving recess with a patchy excuse for a beard, he was met with skepticism. But as Cruz's beard has grown, so has its fan base, apparently even earning foreign policy accolades from across the globe.

After getting praise from Chrissy Teigen and a handful of publications last month, Cruz shared one very extravagant compliment in a Wednesday tweet. According to a friend's rabbi in Israel, Cruz's beard "will put the fear of the Lord into Israel's enemies and promote Middle East peace," he wrote.

"A bit much" is indeed the perfect way to sum this up. Kathryn Krawczyk

August 27, 2018

The amount of drama that happened in the White House last week was the equivalent of the last three years of Days of Our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful, combined.

It started with President Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleading guilty to eight charges of bank and tax fraud and campaign finance law violations on Tuesday, the same day Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted of eight counts of financial crimes. Trump was mad and vented on Twitter, and people with knowledge of the matter told Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman that White House advisers came up with a plan to bring some of Trump's real estate friends from New York City to D.C. to calm him down. "It was supposed to be a war council," one said, but Trump "hates being lectured to," and said no to the meeting.

Already feeling "cornered," he was reportedly further unnerved by reports later in the week that Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker have received immunity and are speaking with federal prosecutors. One person told Sherman that Trump seemed "bummed" and "down and out," but by the weekend he was angry and spent much of his time "calling people and screaming." Sherman was told that Trump's lawyers have recommended he admit to having extramarital affairs and paying the women hush money so people know this was just something he did on Tuesdays rather than a campaign finance violation, but the president rejected this plan because of first lady Melania Trump.

Trump is also having problems with White House Counsel Don McGahn, who has advised Trump against pardoning Manafort. If McGahn won't draft a pardon, a former official told Sherman, Trump is prepared to bring in someone who will. "He really at this point does not care," the person said. Read more about this spectacle at Vanity Fair. Catherine Garcia

March 5, 2018

Sam Nunberg's frenetic media tour continued Monday evening on MSNBC's The Beat with Ari Melber, with the former Trump campaign adviser saying that while he was offered immunity by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he is refusing to testify before a grand jury because "they're trying to set up a perjury case against Roger Stone."

Stone is a longtime Republican operative and informal adviser to Trump. Throughout the interview, Nunberg, who was fired from President Trump's campaign in 2015, called Stone "a mentor" and "like a surrogate father" to him, and said he refuses to go in front of a grand jury "for them to set up a case against Roger, whatever case it is." The bombshells kept dropping, with Nunberg saying a case against Stone "could relate to WikiLeaks," calling Trump "the most disloyal person you're ever going to meet," and saying based on questions he was asked by investigators last month, he believes Mueller is interested in "something related to [Trump's] business," the Trump Organization.

Nunberg also explained to Melber why he won't turn over his correspondence with several key Trump figures, including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, outgoing White House communications director Hope Hicks, former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, and former campaign adviser Carter Page. "Do you think I was talking to Corey and Hope Hicks while they were having their affair after they screwed over Roger and me?" he asked. Nunberg said multiple times he wasn't afraid of being held in contempt of court by defying Mueller's subpoena, declaring, "They're not going to send me to jail," only to ask Melber, a lawyer, if he thought Mueller was going to send him to jail. Catherine Garcia

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