this is fine
December 21, 2020

President Trump held a heated, chaotic meeting in the Oval Office over several hours Friday night, and the senior White House officials present were alarmed that Trump was entertaining extreme ideas to overthrow an election he lost by more than seven million votes and 74 electoral votes, several sources told The New York Times, Axios, and CNN. Fringy lawyer Sidney Powell was there pushing her international conspiracy theory about voting machines, and recently pardoned former national security advisers Michael Flynn was also in attendance, the sources said.

Two days before the meeting Flynn had suggested on Newsmax that Trump essentially declare martial law, sending the U.S. military into "swing states" to make them "rerun" the election. "At one point in the meeting on Friday, Mr. Trump asked about that idea," the Times reports. "It wasn't clear whether Trump endorsed the idea," CNN adds, "but others in the room forcefully pushed back and shot it down."

Trump is reportedly seriously considering hiring Powell, pushed off his legal team a month ago, in some sort of special counsel–type role out of the White House, with top-level security clearance. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, counsel Pat Cipollone, and others at the meeting forcefully pushed back against that idea and others, including Rudy Giuliani's plan to forcibly seize states' voting machines.

"It's basically Sidney versus everybody," a source familiar with the meeting told Axios. "That is why voices were raised. There is literally not one motherf----r in the president's entire orbit — his staunchest group of supporters and allies — who doesn't think that Sidney Powell should be on that first rocket to Mars." Powell was seen leaving the residence side of the White House shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday night, CNN reports. The Times' Maggie Haberman adds that Powell was there "once again pitching an executive order on seizing voting machines," but didn't necessarily meet with Trump.

When Trump is "retweeting threats of putting politicians in jail, and spends his time talking to conspiracy nuts who openly say declaring martial law is no big deal, it's impossible not to start getting anxious about how this ends," a senior administration official told Axios. "People who are concerned and nervous aren't the weak-kneed bureaucrats that we loathe," but rather "people who have endured arguably more insanity and mayhem than any administration officials in history." Peter Weber

September 27, 2019

A whistleblower complaint released Thursday morning accused President Trump of abusing his office by trying to extort Ukraine's president into investigating a domestic political rival, mafia-like. After landing at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland later Thursday, Trump lashed out at Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and the other Democrats leading the impeachment push against him. "What these guys, Democrats, are doing to this country, is a disgrace, and it shouldn't be allowed," Trump said. "There should be a way of stopping it, maybe legally, through the courts."

Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth political scientists who specializes in presidential spin, took Trump's comments to mean "it should be illegal to impeach him, which is a provision of the Constitution that he swore to uphold. What would you say if you saw it in another country?" There may be more charitable ways to interpret Trump's remarks, but earlier in the day, at a ceremony to thank U.S. diplomatic officials at the United Nations, Trump was less ambiguous about his meaning.

The whistleblower is "almost a spy," Trump said, and "the person who gave the whistleblower the information" is "close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now." The Los Angels Times posted videos of the comment, first reported earlier Thursday.

Trump is "so angry that this all got out he is seemingly longing for the death penalty for the officials in his own administration who cooperated with the whistleblower," Jake Tapper surmised at CNN. "I'm appalled," former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell told CBS News. "I mean he's basically saying that this person should be killed." He added that he fears for the soon-to-be-unmasked whistleblower's safety.

Schiff said Trump's warning, though made behind closed doors, was meant to "intimidate the witnesses" his committee intends to interview. In a subsequent joint statement with Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Schiff warned Trump that "our nation's laws prohibit efforts to discourage, intimidate, or otherwise pressure a witness not to provide testimony to Congress." Peter Weber

August 7, 2019

Less than a week after a man believed to have written a racist manifesto about a "Hispanic invasion of Texas" killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas, Fox News' Tucker Carlson claims the idea of America having a white supremacy problem is a "hoax."

Carlson made this claim on his Tuesday show, saying that white supremacy is "right up there with Russia" in terms of problems the United States faces and is "actually not a real problem in America" at all. To back up this argument, Carlson said that every person who is a member of a white supremacist organization in the country could fit inside a single college football stadium. Of course, as CNN's Brian Stelter points out, this neglects the fact that "men like the suspect in El Paso aren't 'members' of an 'organization.'"

"This is a hoax," Carlson claimed. "Just like the Russia hoax. It's a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power. That's exactly what's going on."

Carlson's comments immediately drew backlash, with CNN's Don Lemon playing the clip on his show shortly after, taking a long pause and then asking his guest, "Was that not the dumbest thing you've ever heard"? Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg also hit back against Carlson and hoped his argument isn't picked up by President Trump ahead of his El Paso visit. Goldberg wrote, "If Trump apes these talking points, it'll be awful for the country and devastating for Trump's presidency." Trump on Wednesday morning tweeted a different quote from Carlson's show, suggesting he saw the white supremacy segment. Brendan Morrow

March 8, 2019

President Trump took to Twitter after the release of a disappointing jobs report on Friday to tout the strength of the U.S. economy.

Trump tweeted a quote attributed to Stuart Varney, who said on Fox & Friends there is no better time to be an American worker and that "we have the strongest economy in the world." Trump added, "So true!"

This tweet followed the Labor Department's report that just 20,000 U.S. jobs were added in February. This was significantly down from the 311,000 jobs that were added in January, and down from the 172,000 jobs that were expected to be added in February. It's also the smallest increase since September 2017.

In a second tweet, Trump picked out the fact that women's unemployment is down to 3.6 percent, concluding, "Things are looking good!" Brendan Morrow

February 5, 2019

The president of ABC appears to be grateful the 2019 Oscars rollout has been such a mess because, well, at least it's gotten your attention.

ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke on Tuesday confirmed the Academy won't have a host for the 2019 Oscars and will instead rely on various presenters to carry the night, writes The Hollywood Reporter. Kevin Hart was originally tapped to host the show, only to step down over controversy surrounding homophobic tweets and jokes from years earlier. The Academy spent nearly two months keeping everyone in the dark about how they would salvage the show, which will air on ABC.

But while some might see this situation as dire, Burke said Tuesday she's not nervous about the Oscars' controversies. "Ironically, I have found that the lack of clarity around the Oscars has kept them in the conversion," she said. "The mystery is really compelling. People really care." She went on to say that the Academy "wisely" decided not to have a host in order to "keep the show to brisk three hours." The Academy announced in August that it would cut the length of the show.

This was decided seemingly in an attempt to boost the Oscars' sagging ratings, and on Tuesday, Burke expressed confidence that there will be a "big turnout" this year, pointing out that several of the nominees were box office hits and that "people are wildly excited about the best song nominees." Those people may be disappointed to learn that the Academy is reportedly limiting all of the song performances to 90 seconds. Whether that's true hasn't yet been clarified with mere weeks to go, but it sounds like Burke and the Academy are perfectly happy keeping us in a state of confusion ahead of the big night on Feb. 24. Brendan Morrow

January 30, 2019

Potential 2020 candidate Howard Schultz thinks the Democratic backlash he has received this week is actually good.

The former Starbucks CEO went on Morning Joe Wednesday days after saying he is "seriously considering" running for president as an independent candidate, which sparked fierce criticism from those on the left who fear he would simply be siphoning votes from the Democratic candidate and helping President Trump win a second term. Since Schultz joined Twitter, every single one of his posts has been "ratioed," a term that refers to a controversial tweet receiving more replies than it does likes.

"I must be doing something right to create so much interest and backlash from the Democratic Party," Schultz told MSNBC. He went on to say that he "expected to see some of the level of vitriol, but not to the extent it's been."

When asked why he doesn't simply run as a Democrat, Schultz said he believes the party has gone too far to the left. But he argued he really can win as an independent, saying he has "done the work" and "can get to 270" electoral votes to claim victory. He also said that the notion that he will simply help Trump get re-elected with his candidacy is "not true." Watch Schultz's comments below. Brendan Morrow

December 12, 2018

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) got all the snappy one-liners after her contentious meeting Tuesday with President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), but Trump was "mostly aggravated with Schumer," a White House staffer told Los Angeles Times reporter Eli Stokols, frustrated that Schumer kept mugging to the cameras Trump had called in at the last minute. An administration official told Stokols that after the meeting, Trump stormed into a side office and flicked a briefing folder, scattering paper around the room.

Trump told reporters "it was a very good meeting," and he didn't regret taking ownership of any government shutdown, but a staffer told the L.A. Times that after Schumer and Pelosi left, the West Wing sprang into "damage-control mode," adding, "The aftermath of that meeting was not pretty."

There were differing accounts of the closed-door portion of the Trump-Schumer-Pelosi meeting — sources told The New York Times that Trump suggested the next Congress could be the "greatest Congress in the history of Congress," filled with deal-making; The Washington Post says Trump tried to convince the Democrats that Mexico actually will pay for the wall through higher prices under his NAFTA replacement agreement; and a staffer told the L.A. Times that very little of substance happened because "once the president has been aggravated to that level, there's no coming back from that and re-focusing."

Regardless, "several White House advisers and GOP congressional aides said they believed Trump damaged himself by agreeing to own a possible shutdown and so vividly saying he would not blame it on Schumer," the Post reports. "For months, Trump's aides have told him he is unlikely to get $5 billion for the border wall in December, but he wants to show his supporters that he is fighting for the funding." Winning, perhaps, is optional. Peter Weber

November 26, 2018

President Trump is doubting a conclusion reached by his government once again.

On Friday, the Trump administration produced an assessment that concluded only "decisions made today" can mitigate the real threats posed by climate change. The report was dropped on Black Friday, a day when few Americans were reading the news. Trump on Monday said he has read "some of" the assessment and that "it's fine."

When asked specifically about the conclusion that the economic impact of climate change will be devastating, Trump responded, "I don't believe it." Before he became president, Trump falsely claimed that climate change itself was a hoax invented by the Chinese. His comments Monday come after he shed doubt on the CIA's reported conclusion that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia was directly involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying they actually "did not come to a conclusion." Watch Trump's comments on climate change below. Brendan Morrow

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