August 14, 2019

It's only Tuesday, and President Trump's already had a full week, Stephen Colbert grimaced on Tuesday's Late Show. "Monday, the Trump administration finalized plans to weaken the Endangered Species Act" and announced that "starting in October, poor immigrants will be denied permanent legal status if they are deemed likely to use government benefit programs. Really? Because I know of at least one immigrant lady who lives in really nice public housing and pretty much only works on Christmas."

Trump defended that policy Tuesday at his golf club in New Jersey, yelling in front of Marine One that he doesn't think it's fair for U.S. taxpayers to "pay for people to come into the United States." Yes, "American taxpayers should only cover the important stuff, like my helicopter rides to and from the golf," Colbert added in Trump voice.

Trump was actually heading to an official speech at a fracking-plastic facility in Pennsylvania. "Trump's speech was really frackin' long, and he made sure to hit a very important campaign message: Truck go vroom-vroom," Colbert said, showing the clip of Trump proclaiming his love for trucks, reminiscing that he's loved trucks since age 4, and nothing had changed. "Yes, nothing changes — nothing changes at all," he added in Trump character. "Emotionally, I'm still 4. I love trucks."

If Trump loves trucks — and he genuinely appears to — he's sure hurting truckers, Seth Meyers said at Late Night. Trump "promised that America's truckers would prosper under his administration," but he's "actually made things worse for many truckers." Trump sold his tax law "as a huge tax break specifically for truck drivers," for example, but it actually hit them hard financially, he said. "It's so bad, a lot of them can't even afford clothing for the women on their mud flaps."

"Truckers are also hurting because of Trump's trade wars and tariffs," Meyers said, and "one of the few policies Trump enacted that trucking industry lobbyists actually pushed for is one that arguably puts everyone else on the road in danger." Watch below. Peter Weber

January 25, 2020

With little more than a week to go until the Democratic Iowa caucus, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is in command in the state, a new poll from The New York Times and Siena College revealed Saturday.

Sanders picked up 25 percent support in the latest survey, ahead of former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), all of whom are huddled closely at 18, 17, and 15 percent, respectively. That's a fairly sizable lead for Sanders, but as the Times points out, Iowans are known to shake things up late in the game, so nothing's a given in what's been a topsy-turvy race all year. But, for the moment, it doesn't look like Sanders' absence from the campaign trail because of the Senate impeachment trial has hurt him — indeed, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) reportedly filled in for him to much fanfare Saturday.

The Times did highlight, however, that Sanders' lead is contradictory to another key element in the poll. The majority of Iowa Democrats prefer a candidate who is more moderate than most Democrats at 55 percent, compared to just 38 percent who want someone more liberal than the average party member. Sanders, it's safe to say, falls into the latter camp. With candidates like Biden and Buttigieg lumped together in second and third, along with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) at 8 percent, it appears that those moderate voters are split. It remains to be seen if they'll coalesce in the lead up to the caucus, but if they don't they may cancel each other out in the process.

The New York Times/Siena College Research Institute survey of 1,689 registered voters in Iowa, including 584 Democratic caucusgoers, was conducted from Jan. 20 to Jan. 23. The margin of error for the Democratic caucus electorate is 4.8 percentage points. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

January 25, 2020

President Trump's defense team kept things brief Saturday, as they launched their presentation against impeachment.

The defense, including White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, Deputy White House Counsel Mike Purpura, and Trump's personal attorney Jay Sekulow, wrapped up their arguments in about two hours. While there's more to come Monday, there was no doubt they wanted to move along much more quickly than the Democratic prosecutors earlier this week. But it likely wasn't just so they could have the rest of their weekend free; instead, it seems to be a part of their strategy to get in the good graces of their Senate audience.

It's worked already in some cases — Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said the lawyers "shredded" the Democrats' case and she's leaning against voting for witnesses. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) followed the lead of some of his GOP colleagues and complimented the other side, saying he thought the defense did a "good job" and that their presentation was "succinct," though he doesn't think they showed enough to move forward without additional witnesses like former National Security Adviser John Bolton or acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

Of course, not everyone thought Cipollone and company were very impressive. Tim O'Donnell

January 25, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo apparently isn't ready for the story about his post-interview encounter with NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly to go away.

Kelly, who asked Pompeo on Friday's episode of Morning Edition about Iran and the ousting of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, said the secretary was angered by her line of questioning and "shouted" at her in a private room following the interview. Kelly also said Pompeo challenged her to point out Ukraine on an unmarked map, which she did.

Pompeo didn't deny that the exchange occurred in an official statement released Saturday, but he accused Kelly of lying about the meeting being off the record. Kelly said no request to keep the discussion off the record was made, adding that she wouldn't have agreed to do it anyway. The secretary said Kelly violated the "basic rules of journalism and decency," providing "another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump."

He finished the letter with what appears to be a shot at Kelly's geography skills, though several people pointed out that it's unlikely Kelly would have gotten Ukraine's location wrong, especially as wildly as Pompeo insinuated. Tim O'Donnell

January 25, 2020

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) isn't a fan of the whole impeachment saga, but he's not taking it personally.

Many GOP lawmakers were angered by a comment made by lead impeachment prosecutor Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) during his closing arguments Friday. "CBS News reported last night that a Trump confidant said that key senators were warned, 'Vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.' I don't know if that's true," Schiff said.

But Graham wasn't among the affronted. He said the comment was "over the top," but he's been in Schiff's shoes, so he understands that things can get away from you every once in a while in a tense environment.

Overall, Graham was complimentary of the Democrats arguments, even if the chance that they swayed his opinion is negligible. Tim O'Donnell

January 25, 2020

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have evidence pointing to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' girlfriend Lauren Sanchez as the person who provided her brother, Michael Sanchez, with text messages that he later sold to The National Enquirer for its article about Bezos' extramarital affair with Sanchez, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. There are no reports, however, that Lauren Sanchez was aware of her brother's plans.

The sources said the prosecutors' evidence includes text messages Sanchez sent her brother containing flirtatious messages and photos from Bezos in 2018.

The revelation comes on the heels of speculation that Saudi Arabia may have played a role in the leak, which was enhanced by reports that Bezos' phone was hacked after a WhatsApp conversation with an account belonging to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. The Verge notes that it still seems likely that Michael Sanchez was the primary source behind the Enquirer's story, but it's still possible that Saudi Arabia hacked Bezos' phone for separate reasons. Saudi Arabia denied the allegations. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Tim O'Donnell

January 25, 2020

As experts tell people not to panic about the unfamiliar coronavirus, several governments are taking steps to limit its spread.

A second case of the respiratory virus that originated in Wuhan, China, leaving more than 40 people dead and causing quarantines and transit closures throughout China, has been confirmed in the United States. Officials said Friday that a Chicago woman in her 60s has been diagnosed with the virus, and they're monitoring 63 other possible cases across 22 U.S. states. The Chicago patient, who last week returned home from Wuhan, is reportedly isolated in the hospital, and officials say she's doing well and has had limited contact with others.

The U.S. is reportedly planning to evacuate its citizens and diplomats from Wuhan on Sunday via a chartered plane — any additional seats may be offered to non-U.S. citizens. Elsewhere, Hong Kong, where there's five confirmed cases, on Saturday declared the outbreak "an emergency," scrapping Lunar New Year celebrations, restricting links to the mainland, and keeping schools closed. Australia, Malaysia, and France also reported cases Friday.

More than 1,300 have been infected across the globe, mostly in China. Read more at The Wall Street Journal and Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

January 25, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who's known for being wary of the press, apparently did not enjoy his latest interview.

Pompeo reportedly berated NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly on Friday after she interviewed him about the ousting of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. During Friday's interview, which aired on NPR's Morning Edition, Pompeo said he has "defended every State Department official on his team," but did not provide Kelly with a specific example of how he had defended Yovanovitch. Pompeo complained that he was there to talk about Iran, but Kelly assured him she confirmed with his team that she would ask about Ukraine, as well.

Following the interview, Kelly said she was summoned by a Pompeo aide to a private room where Pompeo "shouted" at her, asking if she thought "Americans care about Ukraine" and challenging her to point to the country on an unmarked map, which the well-traveled, veteran reporter was able to do.

Journalists like CNN's Jake Tapper defended Kelly's line of questioning, while Democratic politicians blasted Pompeo's behavior. The State Department didn't have much to say on the matter, though.

At the end of their encounter, Kelly said Pompeo told her "people will hear about this." They sure did — straight from Kelly. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

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