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March 22, 2019

President Trump just confused everyone by suddenly announcing the withdrawal of new North Korea sanctions.

The Treasury Department on Thursday said sanctions would be imposed on two Chinese shipping companies that it said were helping North Korea evade international sanctions, as reported by The New York Times and CNN. National Security Adviser John Bolton said that "everyone should take notice and review their own activities to ensure they are not involved in North Korea's sanctions evasion."

But Trump on Friday suddenly and unexpectedly announced that "additional large scale sanctions" previously announced by the Treasury Department would be withdrawn.

He provided no further explanation as to why he was taking this step, nor was it even immediately clear whether he was definitely referring to the sanctions imposed on the two Chinese shipping companies; his tweet references the sanctions as being announced on Friday, even though they were announced on Thursday. The White House did not clarify this in a subsequent statement per CNN's Kaitlan Collins but instead said that "President Trump likes Chairman Kim and he doesn't think these sanctions will be necessary." Brendan Morrow

October 26, 2018

After a quick comment about the arrest of a suspected mail bomber, President Trump swiftly moved on to making some highly questionable comments at a White House event.

During a speech to black conservatives on Friday, Trump bragged that the economy has improved so much that ex-convicts are able to get good jobs. "Incredible," he said of the newly-employed ex-convicts. But he then corrected himself to say that some of the ex-convicts aren't so incredible, and "even in this room, we probably have a couple of bad ones." The Young Black Leadership Summit crowd laughed as Trump continued to riff and ask, "Are there any bad ones? Right?"

The president also said that he thinks the African-American community appreciates these job opportunities for ex-convicts "maybe more than anything we've done," noting to himself that this is something he should bring up more often.

Trump went back and forth between using a teleprompter to speaking off-the-cuff during the speech, which was full of plenty of other strange remarks — like an aside expressing hope that it would one day be acceptable again to call people "beautiful" and "handsome" in public. Watch Trump's comments below. Brendan Morrow

July 11, 2017

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on Tuesday dismissed the whole Donald Trump Jr. meeting controversy as "overblown" and lavished praise on President Trump and his son. "Look, I know Donald Jr., he's a very bright young man, he's a very nice young man," Hatch said, shortly after Trump Jr. released the email chain about his meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russia lawyer.

Hatch made particular note of the fact that "one of the things that endears" the president to him is how his children "all love him." "He divorced their mothers and they loved him," Hatch said of the president. "And it's impressive to me how dedicated they are to their father."

While Hatch had nothing bad to say about the Trump family, he didn't exactly endorse Trump Jr.'s choices. NBC News' Benjy Sarlin reported that when he asked Hatch if he too would take a meeting with a Russian lawyer promising compromising information on an opposing candidate, Hatch said he would not. Becca Stanek

April 26, 2017

In an interview with the Washington Examiner on Wednesday, President Trump revealed that he's "absolutely" thought about breaking up the U.S. 9th Circuit Court if Appeals. That's the same court that was singled out in a White House statement Tuesday slamming U.S. District Judge William Orrick for temporarily blocking Trump's executive order that threatens to cut off federal funding for so-called sanctuary cities.

Though Orrick does not sit on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the White House pummeled that court all the same after Orrick's ruling. "First the 9th Circuit Court rules against the ban," Trump wrote on Twitter, "and now it hits again on sanctuary cities — both ridiculous rulings." He also vowed to see the 9th Circuit Court "in the Supreme Court!"

Judges who are on the 9th Circuit Court have blocked both versions of Trump's immigration executive order. Orrick sits on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, whose appealed cases go to the 9th Circuit Court.

Trump told the Washington Examiner that "there are many people that want to break up the 9th Circuit." "It's outrageous," Trump said. "Everybody immediately runs to the 9th Circuit," he went on. "And we have a big country. We have lots of other locations. But they immediately run to the 9th Circuit. Because they know that's like, semi-automatic." Becca Stanek

April 19, 2017

The latest satellite images of a North Korean nuclear test site revealed very unexpected activity. Amid rising tensions between Pyongyang and Washington and a possible nuclear test looming, people at the Punggye-ri test site appeared to be relaxing Sunday with a game of volleyball, U.S. experts told Reuters. "We see that at three locations in the facility — in the main administrative area, at the support area, at the command center and at the guard barracks near the command center — they have volleyball games going on," said Joe Bermudez, an expert at an independent North Korea monitoring project.

Experts aren't entirely sure why North Koreans were bumping, setting, and spiking, rather than preparing for nuclear testing. One theory is that the test site is "going into 'a standby mode,'" Reuters reported. Or, Bermudez noted, the games could all be an elaborate ruse to confuse anyone observing the site.

The satellite images did show some signs of "tunneling work" indicative of an impending underground explosion, but Reuters reported there was "no active pumping of water out of the tunnel system used for nuclear testing." North Korea has conducted several tests in recent months, and officials in the U.S. and South Korea have warned another test could happen soon. Becca Stanek

November 4, 2016

Despite insisting just weeks ago that he wouldn't go out of his way to help Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will be campaigning with Trump's running mate Mike Pence in Wisconsin on Saturday. Ryan and Pence, who The Hill noted are "considered by many to be long time friends," will both appear at an event in Mukwonago, Wisconsin, alongside notable Republicans like Sen. Ron Johnson, Gov. Scott Walker, and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner. The event is reported to be part of Johnson's reelection bus tour around the state.

Ryan has endorsed Trump in the presidential race, and earlier this week he confirmed he had voted for the Republican presidential candidate. However, Ryan has also been critical of Trump, most notably canceling his first joint campaign event with Trump last month after a 2005 tape surfaced featuring Trump boasting about grabbing women without their consent. Ryan said he was "sickened" by Trump's comments and later announced he would turn his focus entirely to down-ballot races. Pence stood in Trump's place at that event, just as he will do at the event Saturday.

Earlier this week, Pence repeatedly dodged questions as to whether he backed Ryan for speaker. He later clarified that he does endorse Ryan, and noted that he is "so grateful for Paul Ryan's support for this ticket." Becca Stanek

March 29, 2016

Given the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, actress Susan Sarandon says she might go with the latter. In a Monday night interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes, the staunch supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders sympathized with Democrats who would rather sit out the election than vote for Clinton if Sanders loses.

"But isn't that crazy?" Hayes asked Sarandon. "If you believe in what he believes in?"

"Yeah but she doesn't," Sarandon said. "She's accepted money from all those people. She doesn't even want to fight for a $15 minimum wage, so these are people that have not been — that have not come out before, so why would we think they're going to come out now for her, you know?"

Hayes, floored, asked Sarandon again if she was really serious about not voting for Clinton — especially considering Donald Trump's rise. That's when Sarandon admitted she might see some pros to a Trump presidency. "Well, you know, some people feel Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately," Sarandon said. "If he gets in, then things will really explode."

Watch the full interview below. Becca Stanek

March 15, 2016

An estimated 700,000 Washington, D.C.-area residents are going to have a tough time getting to work on Wednesday. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officials announced Tuesday afternoon that the entire D.C. Metrorail system will shut down at midnight for 29 hours so emergency safety checks of 600 underground electrical cables on the tracks can be conducted.

"While the risk to the public is very low, I cannot rule out a potential life safety issue here, and that is why we must take this action immediately," Metro General Manager and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld said at a Tuesday press conference. "We say safety is our highest priority, I mean it. That sometimes means making tough, unpopular decisions and this is one of those times. I fully recognize the hardship this will cause."

The "unprecedented" shutdown of the nation's second-busiest transit network, which The Associated Press reports serves "hundreds of thousands of workers in the federal government and private sector alike," follows a cable fire Monday that caused massive delays on three subway lines. Monday's fire marks the system's second such cable malfunction. Last year, a fire caused by the same sort of electrical component caused one passenger to die and dozens to become sick after the train filled with smoke.

Metro is expected to reopen at 5 a.m. Thursday. Becca Stanek

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