The claim that Britain's GCHQ spied on Trump for Obama apparently started with an ex-CIA analyst on RT
Last Thursday, the White House provoked a diplomatic spat with America's closest ally, Britain, when Press Secretary Sean Spicer reiterated a claim from Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano that Britain's GCHQ spy agency had wiretapped President Trump during the presidential campaign at the behest of former President Barack Obama. By Friday, Britain and the White House were sparring over whether the Trump administration had apologized for repeating the claim, and if so, how much, and Napolitano had pointed The New York Times to one of his "intelligence sources," Larry C. Johnson.
Johnson, who was a CIA analyst before leaving the government about 30 years ago, is perhaps most famous, The Times notes, for spreading "false rumors in 2008 that Michelle Obama had been videotaped using a slur against Caucasians." On CNN Sunday, he told Brian Stelter where his information had come from and said he was actually not "knowingly" a source for Napolitano, adding that the retired judge "didn't get it right, accurate either." "I'm not saying the British GCHQ was wiretapping Trump's tower," Johnson said. Napolitano "shouldn't have used the word 'wiretap.' I call it an 'information operation' that's been directed against President Trump."
Johnson explained that the day after Trump's tweets about Obama wiretapping him, he went on RT, the Kremlin-funded news channel, and talked about how "the British through GCHQ were passing information back-channel," then shared that on a discussion board for former intelligence operatives. "Apparently one of the individuals there shared that with Judge Napolitano," he said. "I don't know what his other sources are." Johnson said two people "who were in a position to know" told him about the back-channel communications, but "this was not done at the direction of Barack Obama — let's be clear about that."
— CNN (@CNN) March 19, 2017
Napolitano is reportedly standing by his claim, but Fox News anchor Shepard Smith noted tartly on Friday that "Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano's commentary" and "Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-president of the United States was surveilled at any time, any way. Full stop." Peter Weber
Shep Smith: "Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that POTUS was surveilled at any time in any way, full stop." pic.twitter.com/GxKSJJGD7D
— Axios (@axios) March 17, 2017
For two months, surfer Conrad Carr gave up the ocean for land, walking more than 1,000 miles from New York to Florida to help animals affected by hurricanes.
After his friend dared him to walk 1,000 miles, promising to give him $100 for every mile completed, Carr decided to take him up on his offer. Some of his famous friends, including Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth, helped spread the word about Carr's journey, and more donations came in for the cause. "The animals don't have a voice, and I saw the Humane Society was right on the front lines," he told USA Today. "You gotta save all those guys struggling out there."
His journey lasted from September to November, and he's happy to have brought awareness to the plight of animals struggling due to hurricanes. "You feel a lot better when you go out there and do something good for someone who can't," he said. Catherine Garcia
Actor Jeffrey Tambor announced Sunday he will be leaving Amazon's Transparent, after two members of the show's crew said he sexually harassed them.
"Playing Maura Pfefferman on Transparent has been one of the greatest privileges and creative experiences of my life," he told Deadline. "What has become clear over the past weeks, however, is that this is no longer the job I signed up for four years ago." Tambor said he apologizes if any of his actions were ever "misinterpreted by anyone as being aggressive," but called "the idea that I would deliberately harass anyone…simply and utterly untrue." Because of the "politicized atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set," he added, "I don't see how I can return to Transparent."
Amazon is investigating the allegations, and prior to Tambor's announcement, there was talk of writing his character out of the show, Deadline reports. Catherine Garcia
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent died Sunday after he was injured while on duty in Texas, the agency said in a statement.
Rogelio Martinez, a 36-year-old from El Paso, and his partner responded to activity in the Big Bend area when they were injured; a Border Patrol spokesman said he could not disclose what happened to the agents. Martinez died in the hospital, and his partner, whose name has not been released, remains in serious condition. Authorities are searching for suspects and witnesses to the incident, with the FBI taking over the investigation. Martinez became a border agent in August 2013. Catherine Garcia
President Trump responded on Twitter Sunday to comments from LaVar Ball, the father of a UCLA basketball player, which downplayed the president's role in getting his son, LiAngelo Ball, and two other student athletes, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, released from shoplifting charges in China.
"Who?" the elder Ball said to ESPN Friday when asked about Trump's actions. "What was he over there for? Don't tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out." Trump reportedly spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the players while visiting Beijing on his tour of Asia this month, and he did not appreciate Ball's remarks:
Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
In previous tweets this past week, Trump took credit for the athletes' release, wondered if they would thank him, and told them to "HAVE A GREAT LIFE" and be wary of "many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!" Bonnie Kristian
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney addressed the Trump administration's tax reform agenda in a pair of interviews Sunday, depicting a White House willing to do whatever is necessary to change the tax code.
"We're using reconciliation so that we only need 50 votes in the Senate instead of 60," Mulvaney explained on NBC's Meet the Press. "In order to do that, the certain proposals can only have certain economic impact, and one of the ways to game the system is to make things expire," he continued, clarifying that "this is done more to force, to shoehorn the bill into the rules than because we think it's good policy."
Likewise, on CNN's State of the Union, Mulvaney said the White House would endorse removing the ObamaCare individual mandate repeal rider from the tax bill if that is what it takes to pass the legislation. "If we can repeal part of ObamaCare as part of a tax bill and have a tax bill that is still a good tax bill that can pass, that's great," he told host Jake Tapper. But if "it becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can," the repeal amendment will go.
Read the NBC transcript here, and watch Mulvaney's full CNN appearance below. Bonnie Kristian
White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short on Sunday sidestepped no less than 13 questions from ABC News host George Stephanopoulos as to whether President Trump wants embattled Alabama candidate Roy Moore to win a seat in the Senate given credible allegations of his sexual misconduct toward teenage girls as young as 14. Here's a small sample of the merry-go-round interview:
Stephanopoulos: So, you're not willing to make a yes or no judgment on whether the president believes the women?
Short: I think I have answered your question three times now.
Stephanopoulos: No. I think what you have said is you have questions and concerns about the allegations.
Short: We do. We do have serious questions about the allegations. And the president has raised those and it's one of the reasons why he has not gone down to campaign for Roy Moore.
Stephanopoulos: So, he promised after the primary to back Roy Moore. Is he still backing Roy Moore?
Short: I don't think you have seen him go down there and campaign for him. I don't think you have seen him issue an endorsement. You have not seen him issue robocalls. I think he thinks at this point it is best for the people of Alabama to make the decision for their state.
Stephanopoulos: So he no longer backs Roy Moore?
Short: I think he thinks it is best for the people of Alabama to make the decision. [ABC]
After persistently pressing Short to give a yes or no answer, Stephanopoulos finally moved on to a simpler subject, tax reform. Watch the exchange below, or count all 13 questions in the full transcript here. Bonnie Kristian
— American Bridge (@American_Bridge) November 19, 2017
SNL's Gotham is tired of Batman's racial profiling, disproportionate policing, and underwear fixation
Saturday Night Live took a thinly veiled swipe at overly aggressive policing tactics with a sketch in which host Chance the Rapper and fellow minority citizens of Gotham ask Beck Bennett's Bruce Wayne to let Batman know he needs to "cool it down on our neighborhoods" because it "seems like he's in our neighborhood, all the time."
"You know how Batman is tough on crime?" Chance asks. "Somebody's gotta do something about him. I mean, he broke my best friend's jaw in two places and all he did was steal a TV. That's excessive!" Then, Chance adds, Batman left his friend "hanging for like 30 minutes 30 stories up by a gargoyle by his underwear." (The underwear thing, it turns out, is among Batman's favorite crime-fighting techniques.)
Watch the full skit below, and read The Week's Emily L. Hauser on the horrifying pervasiveness of police brutality. Bonnie Kristian