If you heard talk about Russian dressing on Tuesday, this testy exchange between White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and April Ryan, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, is probably why.
Ryan was reminding Spicer of all the Russia-related news the White House is dealing with — the scuttled Sally Yates testimony, President Trump's widely dismissed claims he was wiretapped at Trump Tower, the broader Russia investigation — and Spicer cut it, rejecting the premise. "No, we don't 'have' that," he said. "I've said it from the day that I got here until whenever that there's not a connection. You've got Russia. If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection."
Nevertheless, Ryan persisted. Spicer selectively insisted that everyone has dismissed reports of Trump-Russia collusion, despite the ongoing FBI investigation, and told Ryan, "I'm sorry that that disgusts you. You're shaking your head." He accused her of pursuing an "agenda" and ignoring "facts," and when she changed subjects to ask about a White House visit by Condoleezza Rice, Spicer accused Ryan of being "hellbent on trying to make sure that whatever image you want to tell about this White House stays," adding again: "Please, stop shaking your head again."
Even though he said "please," Spicer instructing a reporter — especially a black female reporter — on how she should gesture or behave rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, including Ryan.
— AprilDRyan (@AprilDRyan) March 28, 2017
Hillary Clinton, in a rare public speech Tuesday, said Ryan "was patronized and cut off as she tried to ask a question," threw in Bill O'Reilly's jab at Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), and said: "Too many women, especially women of color, have had a lifetime of practice taking precisely these kinds of indignities in stride." At The Washington Post, Aaron Blake noted that Spicer has clashed with male reporters plenty of times, but this "seemed to venture into different territory." And oddly, he added, "the mere premise that Russia is an issue for the White House seemed to set Spicer off." Peter Weber
As the White House pointedly moves on from its failed health-care bill, it is looking ahead to fulfill another of President Trump's ambitious promises: tax reform. But top officials warn that such an enormous project isn't going to be a walk in the park either and "they don't see how they can change the House Republican math that killed health reform," Axios reports.
As one Republican put it, the GOP is at risk of "looking like a clown car." Another official described making the same miscalculation with tax reform efforts that was made with health care would be "the definition of insanity."
The first hurdle will be the April 28 deadline for the budget. If it is not passed — and one top Republican close to the White House told Axios it is "more likely than not" to fail — the government will shut down on April 29, President Trump's 100th day in office.
On CBS Sunday Morning, veteran TV news journalist Ted Koppel presented a 10-minute segment on the fracturing of the news media and how that has contributed to the widening, chasmic political divide in America. One of the people he spoke with was Fox News host Sean Hannity. Hannity argued that Koppel was selling the American public short in not being able to distinguish between news programs and opinion shows like Hannity. "Do you think we're bad for America?" he asked Koppel. "You think I'm bad for America?" "Yeah," Koppel said.
When Hannity looked surprised, Koppel began to explain, saying, "In the long haul I think you and all these opinion shows..." Hannity cut in and called that "sad," and amid a few more interruptions, Koppel told Hannity that "you're very good at what you do" but what he does features attracting "people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts."
— CBS Sunday Morning (@CBSSunday) March 26, 2017
Hannity hit back on Twitter later on Sunday, slamming CBS News for only showing what was probably the most interesting two minutes of a 45-minute interview and "daring" the network to release the entire video.
Fake "edited" news. I did about a 45 minute interview with CBS. They ran less than 2. Why did Ted cut out my many examples of media bias? https://t.co/prynzE2yLQ
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) March 26, 2017
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) March 26, 2017
None of the other guests Koppel spoke with — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, New York Times editor Dean Baquet, and AEI scholar Norm Ornstein — complained on Twitter about their edited interviews. The whole 10 minutes is worth a watch, and you can view Koppel's report at CBS News. Peter Weber
President Trump reiterated on Twitter Saturday his argument that the health-care system set up by the Affordable Care Act will "explode" of its own accord — after which, he added, Republican lawmakers will successfully pass the replacement plan they could not swing without the added pressure of political explosion.
ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 25, 2017
CNN Russia expert says RT was alone in not covering James Comey's Trump testimony. Jake Tapper notes Fox News wasn't, either.
The public testimony of FBI Director James Comey in Monday's House Intelligence Committee hearings was "rather bad news" for President Trump, CNN's Jake Tapper said Monday afternoon, and he asked the two conservative members of his panel — former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Mary Katherine Ham — if there was any good news for Trump. Santorum said yes, kind of. "I think the good news is that Comey went out and announced there is an investigation," he said, so Trump and his Republican allies "can start putting pressure externally to get this thing moving" to its conclusion. Ham agreed and argued that the White House should be focusing on its actual good news, the Senate hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
Tapper got some views from former Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon and Bloomberg White House correspondent Margaret Talev, then turned to CNN senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward. Russian President Vladimir Putin is "somebody who likes to meddle in elections and enjoys sowing chaos in the electoral process in liberal democracies throughout the world," he said, so isn't Putin just really "enjoying this, one way or another? The American political system is in disarray."
Ward half-agreed. "I think up to a certain point he was kind of enjoying it, he was enjoying the ambiguity of it, the possibility that he could have thrown the election in the most powerful, important, consequential country in the world — that certainly spoke to his ego," she said. "But what was noticeable today, while every single news channel pretty much in the world — and I'm talking globally, Sky News, BBC, Al Jazeera — one news channel that very noticeably did not take today's hearing was Russia Today, and I do think you are starting to see now the beginning of what we might call a 'conscious uncoupling' of the Kremlin and the Trump administration."
"Russia Today wasn't covering it this afternoon," Tapper said. "Also, when I looked up, Fox News wasn't covering it, they were covering the Gorsuch hearings."
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) March 20, 2017
"An interesting observation," Tapper said dryly, if slightly immodestly. Peter Weber
Add making near-weekly trips to Florida to the U.S. president's list of essential duties. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, asked Monday if President Trump would consider cutting back on weekend trips to his Mar-a-Lago resort in order to save taxpayer money, claimed the trips are "part of being president." "Presidents always travel," Spicer said.
Spicer said it was a "vast reach" to suggest Trump's trips should be curbed in light of his budget blueprint released last week, which proposes steep cuts to federal programs like Meals on Wheels in order to offset a huge boost in defense and security spending. Thus far, taxpayers have paid an estimated $3.3 million for Trump's trips to what Spicer calls the "Winter White House." Quartz reported Meals on Wheels "could feed 5,967 seniors for a year for that amount."
Sean Spicer says Trump's frequent trips to Mar-a-Lago "is part of being president" https://t.co/cv7LcDrLvn
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 20, 2017
When pressed about the golf outings Trump is reportedly taking on these trips down south, Spicer noted Trump's rounds of golf are about more than just golf. Spicer explained that Trump's golf games are different than former President Barack Obama's — which Trump repeatedly criticized — because of how Trump manages to "use the game of golf" to "help U.S. interests." Spicer noted Trump frequently golfs with foreign leaders — something Obama did too:
Spicer just said Trump playing golf is diff than Obama playing golf because Trump is playing w/ key leaders. Here's who Obama played with pic.twitter.com/6ki6c5uiYU
— Yashar (@yashar) March 20, 2017
Asked if the press should be briefed on Trump's golfing if so many important meetings are allegedly happening on the greens, Spicer argued Trump is "entitled to a bit of privacy at some point." Becca Stanek
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said in an interview with Fox News on Sunday he has seen "no evidence of collusion" between President Trump's campaign and the Russian government, nor has he seen evidence of a physical wiretap on Trump Tower by the Obama administration.
"The president doesn't go and physically wiretap something," Nunes told host Chris Wallace, referencing President Trump's allegation that former President Obama spied on Trump Tower. "So if you take [Trump] literally, it didn't happen. I think the concern that we have is: Were there any other surveillance activities that were used?"
Wallace followed up, asking if Nunes had seen "any evidence of collusion" between "Trump world and the Russians to swing the 2016 presidential election." "I'll give you a very simple answer: No," the congressman replied. "Up to speed on everything I have up to this morning, no evidence of collusion."
House Speaker Paul Ryan took a trip down memory lane with the National Review's Rich Lowry on Friday at the National Review Institute's 2017 Ideas Summit in Washington, D.C. "So, Medicaid," Ryan said. "Sending it back to the states, capping its growth rate. We've been dreaming of this since I've been around — since you and I were drinking at a keg."
The Trump administration's analysis of the GOP health-care replacement estimates that 17 million people would lose Medicaid coverage, with even many Republicans thinking the cuts go too far. "If you're a Republican senator in, say, Ohio, do you really want to cut Medicaid benefits for hundreds of thousands of your constituents?" asks Jeff Spross at The Week. "Ryan is 47 years old, which means that, if he started 'drinking at a keg' early in his college career, he's fantasized about all the poor people who could be stripped of health care for nearly three decades," slammed the progressive blog ThinkProgress.
Admittedly, it's a bit of an odd thing to be considering at a kegger. "I was thinking about something else, he was thinking about reforming Medicaid," Lowry confessed.
"I've been thinking about this for a long time," Ryan said.