March 6, 2021

President Donald Trump is not pleased with Republican fundraisers who are using his name and likeness without his permission, and his lawyers are taking action, Politico reports.

The Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee all received cease-and-desist letters from lawyers Friday representing Trump for using his name and likeness in fundraising emails and merchandise. Per Politico, Trump has always been sensitive about how his name has been used in relation to other political candidates, but it appears to have ramped up in this case because he doesn't want to be associated with Republicans who voted to impeach him.

This doesn't change the fact that Trump "remains committed to the Republican Party," an adviser told Politico, but "that doesn't give anyone — friend or foe — permission to use his likeness without explicit approval."

The committees didn't respond to Politico's request for comment, but GOP campaigners have reportedly said privately that it's incredibly difficult to refrain from using Trump's name because of his popularity, and they believe he should be more generous. Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

September 15, 2020

The U.S. Postal Service sent erroneous information to Utah residents about voting in the November presidential election, the office of Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) said.

The USPS sent out postcards to Utah homes that told voters they needed to request their mail-in ballots "at least 15 days before Election Day." While this may be a rule in some states, it isn't one in Utah — Cox's office said in a statement that "all active registered voters in Utah automatically receive their ballots in the mail. Individuals do not need to request a mail-in ballot separately if they have previously registered to vote."

Election officials are urging Utahns not to wait until Election Day to vote, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Voters can mail their ballots or go to in-person early voting locations, and in some counties, they can deposit their ballots in special drop boxes. Catherine Garcia

April 28, 2020

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, has a policy that everyone on its campus must wear a mask to protect themselves and others against the coronavirus, but Vice President Mike Pence appeared to ignore the guidelines during a visit with patients and staff Tuesday.

It wasn't the greatest look for Pence, considering he's overseeing the White House's coronavirus task force and everyone around him was meeting the standard. But it's also unclear why no one at the clinic simply handed the vice president a mask and asked that he wear it, especially since he may have been informed about the policy before entering. Tim O'Donnell

April 1, 2020

Everyone gets duped now and then. That goes for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well.

Netanyahu recently showed his cabinet a video he claimed was evidence Iran was engineering a novel coronavirus coverup, Axios reports. Tehran has reported more than 47,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 3,000 deaths, but those figures have been eyed with suspicion by much of the rest of the world, including Israel, which, to put it gently, does not get along with Iran.

The video showed people dumping bodies into garbage dumps, two cabinet ministers told Axios. They said Netanyahu's national security adviser, Meir Ben Shabbat, showed him the video, but he probably should've checked his source. Upon further review the clip turned out to be a scene from the 2007 Hallmark Channel miniseries, Pandemic.

The Israeli government certainly did a bad job of vetting the clip, but the fact it made its way up the flagpole wasn't completely random. Iranians were reportedly sharing the footage on social media last week. Read more at Axios. Tim O'Donnell

February 26, 2020

President Trump has announced a news conference on the coronavirus crisis, but only after placing blame on the media, swiping Democrats, and spelling the very thing he's talking about wrong.

Trump in a tweet Wednesday accused the media, particularly CNN and MSNBC, of "doing everything possible" to make the coronavirus "look as bad as possible, including panicking markets." The Trump administration has been repeatedly downplaying the virus' threat to the U.S., with economic adviser Larry Kudlow claiming Tuesday "we have contained this" even as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Americans should prepare for the possibility of major disruptions to their day-to-day lives.

In this tweet, Trump also managed to bungle the spelling of coronavirus. He tagged the CDC, perhaps anticipating a fact-check on this rosy assessment.

Trump's news conference will take place on Wednesday afternoon at 6:00 p.m. ET — unless that time is also a typo. Brendan Morrow

January 29, 2020

"It's a totally upside-down world" for John Bolton, said Sen. Chris Von Hollen (D-Md.), one of the Democrats who recently called President Trump's former national security adviser a "warmonger" and now wants him to testify under oath. as the star witness in Trump's impeachment trial.

On the other side, some of "Bolton's longtime Republican friends are just as abruptly tossing him to the curb, painting him as a disgruntled former adviser who just wants to sell books," writes Peter Baker at The New York Times. "Some of the same senators who allied with him, promoted his career, consulted with him on foreign affairs, and took his political action committee money are going along as he is painted as 'a tool for the radical Dems and the deep state,'" as Fox Business host and former Bolton fan Lou Dobbs said Monday night.

Dobbs showed some confusing charts trying to connect Bolton, a Republican stalwart and hardline national security conservative, to various figures Dobbs also distrusts, like Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah). The charts link Romney to Bolton and Trump's current national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, for example, but don't connect Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and his twin brother. But in tarring "Bolton as a tool of the president's enemies," Baker notes, Dobbs also cited as proof that Bolton "used the same literary agents as James B. Comey the FBI director fired by Mr. Trump — prompting one of the literary agents to point out that one of their other clients was Mr. Dobbs," among other conservatives.

Whether or not Dobbs is also a "tool for the left," Bolton "still wants a future in Republican politics," Baker reports, citing Bolton's friend. "He also remains as contemptuous of Democrats as ever and has not explicitly expressed support for impeachment or conviction." So maybe the world isn't so upside-down after all. Peter Weber

December 28, 2019

Despite his apparent disdain for the anonymous whistleblower who spurred House Democrats to open an impeachment inquiry, President Trump had largely played by the unwritten rules and refrained from mentioning the name of the person allegedly behind the Ukraine-related complaint. But the president veered off that path briefly this week.

On Thursday, Trump retweeted a post from his re-election campaign that linked to an article containing the alleged whistleblower's name, which led to an array of criticism. Then on Friday night, amid a barrage of posts to his 68 million followers, Trump retweeted a post from a supportive follower that included the alleged name. Trump appeared to have deleted the retweet by Saturday morning.

Legal experts disagree on whether identifying a whistleblower is a crime, but many people have argued that doing so in this instance could put the alleged person in danger. Several people in the White House, including Ivanka Trump, have reportedly cautioned the president against publicly naming the alleged whistleblower. Tim O'Donnell

November 25, 2019

Russia seems to loom over just about everything election-related these days.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) unveiled a new ad Monday defending President Trump as he remains the subject of an impeachment investigation and the 2020 general election draws ever closer.

McCarthy's ad portrays Trump as someone who has shown the ability to get elected and achieve results in office, despite having many people try to upend him.

One criticism Trump hears from his opponents is that he's either willingly or unwittingly a pawn of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose government is widely believed to have interfered in the 2016 presidential election. It's likely to come up more often as the election approaches, and with that in mind, some eagle-eyed observers, like CNN's Andrew Kaczynski, spotted stock footage in the McCarthy ad that seems to have been shot in Russia. The congressman's team may designate someone to check the location of images going forward. Tim O'Donnell

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