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April 15, 2019

Jared Kushner, President Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, is expected to release his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan in the next few months, and the details are closely guarded. But based on comments from Kushner and other U.S. officials, plus people familiar with the main elements of the plan, it "promises practical improvements in the lives of Palestinians but is likely to stop short of ensuring a separate, fully sovereign Palestinian state," The Washington Post reports, and it is "likely to focus heavily on Israeli security concerns."

Kushner has been working to build support for his plan in the region, and he's getting mixed reactions in the Arab world, the Post says, describing a recent visit to Saudi Arabia:

That Feb. 26 meeting in Riyadh included Saudi intellectuals and columnists as well as government officials, and the participants were chosen by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, one person familiar with the session said. The prince has forged a close relationship with Kushner and is seen as more supportive of the peace plan than is his father, King Salman. "[Kushner] did listen to critical points and questions but wasn't willing to think about criticism and was defensive," the person familiar with the session said. "He seemed to have been surprised when he learned that the majority of people in the room were critical of his plan and told him that King Salman emphasized the rights of the Palestinians." [The Washington Post]

Kushner's plan reportedly envisions tens of billions of dollars in aid and investment for the Palestinians, plus billions more for Egypt and Jordan, and it's not clear where the money would come from. Rich Persian Gulf states "were asked to support financially the economic part," Ghaith al-Omari, a Middle East analyst and former Palestinian Authority adviser, tells the Post. "In polite terms, the answer they gave was, 'First, tell us what we are supposed to pay for.' ... There were no commitments." Peter Weber

2:16 a.m.

The first 2020 Democratic presidential debate was Wednesday night, and it gave some of the lesser-known of the 10 candidates a chance to "go from 'Who is that?' all the way to 'Oh yeah, that guy — no, I'm not going to vote for him,'" Trevor Noah said on Wednesday's live Daily Show. "The biggest name on the state was Elizabeth Warren, polling in the lead, and she knew that she was the frontrunner," he said. "So basically it was up to everyone else to try and figure out a way to stand out."

Beto O'Rourke landed on a surefire way "to spice up a bland affair," Noah said, impressed at Beto's Spanish. "Look at how shocked Cory Booker was when Beto switched to Español. ... And while Beto O'Rourke was wowing the crowd with his fluent Spanish, Amy Klobuchar came prepared with zingers that were going to destroy the crowd. But every time she tried to land them, her time was up."

"So Warren was cruising, Beto was fluent, Klobuchar was being her moderate self, and everyone else was just figuring out how to get noticed," Noah said. "Poor Jay Inslee, he spent the night trying to order a drink from a bartender who didn't realize he was there." Policy-wise, the Democrats were mostly on the same page, though "all hell broke loose" when moderators brought up health care, he added. But "to be honest, it was a lot more exciting than most people thought. And I know Trump tweeted that it was boring, but he would always think that policy was boring, because these people had ideas, they had plans for how they were going to do it, and they had information about how they were going to run themselves from the White House."

The Daily Show also had the thrilling and entirely fictional backstory on how the 20-person Democratic field was fit on a debate stage. Watch below. Peter Weber

12:39 a.m.

On Wednesday, U.S. Border Patrol gave reporters a tour of its Clint station in West Texas, described as squalid, overcrowded, lice-infested, and generally "appalling" last week by lawyers who interviewed some of the 250-plus migrant children detained there. Since then, Border Patrol moved the children to a different facility, then brought about 100 back to Clint.

"On Wednesday, the situation in Clint seemed to have improved: Children appeared to be wearing clean clothes, and at least a half dozen hallway monitors were brought in to help watch the 117 children being housed there," from a few months old to nearly 18, The Associated Press reports. The reporters were shown more of the facility than the lawyers but were not allowed to bring in cameras or talk to the children. AP's Cedar Attanasio reports that Border Patrol seems to have done a lot of work in the last five days:

Aaron Hull, head of Border Patrol's El Paso sector, said the reports of child mistreatment were "hurtful" to agents who "are risking their health, their lives, their marriages ... to enforce the rule of law humanely." He confirmed lawyers' reports that the children subsist on instant oatmeal, instant noodles, and microwaved burritos, and said they get a new toothbrush every night.

Earlier Wednesday, the lawyers who represent all migrant children under the Flores settlement asked a federal judge to immediately require inspections and doctor visits at border facilities like Clint, and order the prompt release of children to parents and close relatives. The detained children, classified as unaccompanied minors, are supposed to spend no more than 72 hours in Border Patrol custody, but one of the Flores lawyers, Warren Binford, told The New Yorker that almost none of the children they interviewed at Clint "came across unaccompanied. The United States is taking children away from their family unit and reclassifying them as unaccompanied children. ... And some of them were separated from their parents." Peter Weber

June 26, 2019

Of all the questions Beto O'Rourke and John Delaney could've gotten during Wednesday night's debates, they somehow ended up with the most pointless.

The two ex-congressmen declined to run for re-election last fall, both presumably in anticipation of their 2020 presidential runs. Yet despite the fact that O'Rourke and Delaney gave up having any say in whether Congress should open an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, they were the only candidates who were asked whether they supported the proceedings.

O'Rourke, a former representative from Texas, has pushed for impeachment time and time again over the past month, and called it "the only way to save this country" on Wednesday. Delaney, who once served in Maryland, meanwhile said he supports House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) decision to wait.

Neither of their opinions will really do anything, though O'Rourke does get ... something ... for turning his impeachment answer into a brief art history lesson on this piece hanging in the Capitol building. Kathryn Krawczyk

June 26, 2019

Many Democratic voters wanted the 10 candidates on the Democratic debate stage to focus on issues like climate change and gun control, while refraining from focusing too heavily on President Trump. For the most part, that held true. But only Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio didn't mention Trump at all, NBC News reports.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) name-dropped the president most frequently, tallying nine mentions on the evening, with Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) next in line at seven. All together, the candidates brought up Trump 35 times in two hours.

Apparently the eight contenders who did mention the president didn't say anything that grabbed Trump's attention, either — at least as of yet. The president had threatened to live-tweet the debate, but he mostly remained quiet aside from talking about how boring the event was and criticizing NBC for experiencing technical difficulties. Tim O'Donnell

June 26, 2019

The first night of the Democratic debates is now behind us, and incredibly, almost every Democrat performed well. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was widely considered to be one of the big winners, with Jezebel trumpeting it was her night. The New Republic named former Housing Secretary Julián Castro the "big winner." Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee got badly-needed recognition, and social media ate up Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

In fact, the only candidate who seemed to be getting crickets after the debate was former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke:

"Beto is in over his head," The Cut ruled. Even famed pollster Frank Luntz agreed:

That isn't good news for the former Democratic darling, who desperately needed a breakout. O'Rourke is currently polling around 3 percent in RealClearPolitics' aggregate, putting him in sixth place in the more than twenty-person pool. Jeva Lange

June 26, 2019

Early party primary debates are all about shaking out the differences between the candidates. Perhaps no question did that more starkly on Wednesday night than an inquiry about the biggest geopolitical threat to America. Democrats couldn't agree on an answer, with the 10 candidates giving replies all across the board — and globe.

Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, and former HUD Secretary Julián Castro all gave "China" as all or part of their answers. Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren both answered "climate change," which was also given a nod by Castro and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. Nuclear weapons were mentioned by Delaney, Booker, and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio named Russia. Klobuchar also named Iran as one of her concerns.

But perhaps the biggest applause of all went to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee for his answer:

Watch the full range of answers below. Jeva Lange

June 26, 2019

Julián Castro is having a moment.

During Wednesday's 2020 Democratic debates, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary got an early applause line in when he was asked about closing the gender pay gap. Castro responded by saying he'd pass the long-stalled Equal Rights Amendment — and quickly shot up 2,400 percent in Google search interest since the debates began, Google Trends reported. The Equal Rights Amendment, meanwhile, saw search interest spike 800 percent.

Castro's Google triumph should come with a grain of salt, seeing as he wasn't getting a ton of searches to begin with. In the week leading up to the debates, he wasn't even among the top half of Wednesday candidates in terms of Google searches. Castro was the top searched candidate in barely a handful of counties around the U.S. as well, Google Trends showed.

Of course, no candidate stacks up to pizza. Kathryn Krawczyk

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