January 10, 2018

Tonya Harding — now Tonya Price — is best known for her professional skating career and the controversy that followed her ex-husband and bodyguard hiring an assailant to attempt to break Nancy Kerrigan's leg ahead of the 1994 Olympics. Speaking to The New York Times about the new biographical film I, Tonya, though, Price revealed she also has another skill that she unexpectedly excels in: archery.

[Harding] and [Joe Price, her husband] would spend hours hunting together, just as she used to do with her beloved father — Mr. Price with a muzzleloader and Ms. Harding with a bow and arrow because she wanted "to give the animal a 50-50 chance to make it interesting and fair" (and also because felons aren't technically supposed to possess guns in Washington State). Do you know how good of an archer she is? She says she has successfully done no fewer than eight Robin Hoods — shooting an arrow that splits another arrow, which itself was already in a bull's-eye, 30 yards away — and that's nothing compared to her fishing skills. (But she doesn't want to elaborate. "Some people," she said. "If you eat a carrot you're killing it.") [The New York Times]

Times writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner noted that during the interview "a lot" of what Price told her "wasn't true." But Price wanted to clear up disinformation of her own. Price said one of the few details she quibbles with in I, Tonya is that the way the film is edited makes it "look as though she hunted for rabbits and that is how she got her fur coat. Not true. She bought that coat." Read the full profile at The New York Times. Jeva Lange

January 9, 2018
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The British spy who compiled a controversial and unverified dossier that alleges Russia possesses compromising information about then-candidate Donald Trump apparently went to the FBI out of fears that Trump "was being blackmailed." The explosive details are just some what have emerged from the newly public transcript of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was released by ranking Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Tuesday. Fusion GPS is famously behind a controversial dossier compiled by British spy Christopher Steele, who was hired by Simpson.

Simpson told the Senate in his testimony about Steele's fears that Trump was being blackmailed. "[T]he whole problem of compromise of Western businessmen and politicians by the Russians is an essential part of — it's like disinformation, it's something they worry about a lot and deal with a lot and are trained to respond to," Simpson said. "So, you know, a trained intelligence officer can spot disinformation that you or I might not recognize, and certainly that was Chris' skill, and he honed in on this issue of blackmail as being a significant national security issue."

Simpson added that the FBI apparently "believed Chris' information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization." A person in Fusion GPS's orbit, though, told NBC that was a mischaracterization of an Australian diplomat's tip that Russia has dirt on Hillary Clinton, as had been shared with him by George Papadopoulous "during a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016," The New York Times reports. Read the full transcript here. Jeva Lange

January 3, 2018

Almost nobody working on Donald Trump's presidential campaign expected him to actually win, including Trump himself. But his surprise victory in November 2016 was perhaps most shocking of all to Melania Trump, who had reportedly been reassured by her husband that he wouldn't win, Michael Wolff writes in his eye-popping tell-all Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

"Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when the unexpected trend — Trump might actually win — seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost," Wolff writes, as excerpted by New York. "Melania was in tears — and not of joy."

The inauguration was not much better:

Trump did not enjoy his own inauguration. He was angry that A-level stars had snubbed the event, disgruntled with the accommodations at Blair House, and visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed on the verge of tears. Throughout the day, he wore what some around him had taken to calling his golf face: angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed. [New York]

Wolff also notes that Trump has his own bedroom at the White House, "the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms." Read the juicy tell-all at New York, or preorder Wolff's book here. Jeva Lange

January 3, 2018
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President Trump's former chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, did not mince words when he spoke to Michael Wolff, the author of the forthcoming book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. After obtaining a copy early, The Guardian learned that Bannon volunteered a range of opinions on and insights into the Trump campaign and White House, especially regarding the infamous meeting in June 2016 between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and a Russian lawyer who promised them incriminating information about Hillary Clinton.

Read some of the juiciest quotes below, and check out the full early scoop on the book at The Guardian. Jeva Lange

On the Russia investigation. "They're going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV."

On the Trump Tower meeting: "The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor — with no lawyers. They didn't have any lawyers. Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s--t, and I happen to think it's all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately."

On where they should have met instead: "A Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire."

On where the Trump team could have "dump[ed]...down" information:Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication."

On where Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is headed: "This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to f--king Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr., and Jared Kushner ... It's as plain as a hair on your face."

On how they're going to get there: “It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner s--t. The Kushner s--t is greasy. They're going to go right through that. They're going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me.”

On the Trump team's chances to escape Mueller's probe: "They're sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five."

December 8, 2017

The first reviews of Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie's campaign memoir, Let Trump Be Trump, are in — and they are not exactly great. While Lewandowski (who served as the Trump campaign's manager until June 2016) and Bossie (who became deputy campaign manager in September 2016) do offer up some juicy pieces of gossip, most of the 264 pages are apparently spent unconvincingly praising the genius of President Trump.

"The sheer effusiveness of praise for Trump in Let Trump Be Trump is embarrassing," explains the New Republic's Alex Shephard in his hilarious (if also terrifying) hatchet job. "It also suggests a person who is desperate for constant, Stalin-esque praise from advisers who should be confronting him with difficult truths."

Shephard shared one of the most amusing examples of this on Twitter:

Read the entire takedown at the New Republic. Jeva Lange

December 6, 2017

Writer Tina Dupuy became the eighth woman to accuse Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) of inappropriate sexual behavior, claiming he groped her while they were taking a photo at a party in 2009. "I only bug celebrities for pictures when it'll make my foster mom happy," Dupuy wrote Wednesday at The Atlantic. "She loves Franken, so I asked to get a picture with him. We posed for the shot. He immediately put his hand on my waist, grabbing a handful of flesh. I froze. Then he squeezed. At least twice."

Earlier Wednesday, Franken's seventh accuser came forward to say that the Minnesota senator tried to kiss her without consent during a taping of his radio show in 2006, an allegation Franken said was "categorically not true." Just hours later, dozens of Democratic senators called on Franken to resign. His office said he will make a statement Thursday.

Dupuy likened her experience with Franken — a senator she had liked — to the conundrum liberal women face with former President Bill Clinton:

I'm also no longer defending Bill Clinton. I'm ashamed I ever did. But I'm not condemning or admonishing Hillary. I think we all make the choices that seem right at the time. I don't feel like pummeling her with my privilege of hindsight. But there's a rot in the Democratic Party. It's not just bad men and exhausted women; it's that we chose Bill over the women. And that original sin lost us the election of what we all assumed would be the first female president of the United States. And Trump, who boasted he could "grab 'em by the pussy," being in the White House doesn't make that untrue. It just makes it a painful irony. [The Atlantic]

Read her full piece at The Atlantic. Jeva Lange

November 27, 2017
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One of President Trump's "longest standing supporters," New York Yankees president Randy Levine, published a scathing open letter Sunday night that ripped Trump for supporting "the swamp's idea of tax reform."

"The plans on the table are not middle-class tax cuts," Levine wrote at Newsmax. "They may not even be tax cuts at all. When you ran and won, you ran on draining the swamp, not giving new life to it."

On Sunday, the Congressional Budget Office found that the Republican tax plan would increase the federal deficit by approximately $1.4 trillion over the next decade, and that it would be worse for Americans earning under $75,000 than previous estimates had anticipated.

"You may think the present deal is a win because something (anything) will get passed and be chalked up as an accomplishment for your administration," Levine went on. "Nothing can be further from the truth." Levine argues that "this is a plan that helps Wall Street, hedge funds, private equity managers, real estate and oil and gas partnerships, and individuals who disguise income as profits or distributions."

As things stand Monday morning, "if the Senate can get its tax bill through this week, there's a good chance Congress could get a bill to President Donald Trump's desk by the end of the year," Politico reports. Read Levine's full letter at Newsmax. Jeva Lange

November 10, 2017

Actress Ellen Page published a powerful personal statement on Friday concerning the "long-awaited reckoning" of Hollywood abusers, beginning with an accusation of her own:

"You should f--k her to make her realize she's gay." He said this about me during a cast and crew "meet and greet" before we began filming, X Men: The Last Stand. I was 18 years old. He looked at a woman standing next to me, 10 years my senior, pointed to me and said: "You should f--k her to make her realize she's gay." He was the film's director, Brett Ratner. [Ellen Page via Facebook]

Page is not the first woman to speak out against Ratner — a number of others have also shared stories of harassment — but she clarified that "the behavior I'm describing is ubiquitous. They (abusers), want you to feel small, to make you insecure, to make you feel like you are indebted to them, or that your actions are to blame for their unwelcome advances."

Page went on to call out directors including Roman Polanski and Woody Allen, citing the movie she did with the latter as the "biggest regret of my career."

"I want to see these men have to face what they have done," she wrote. "I want them to not have power anymore. I want them to sit and think about who they are without their lawyers, their millions, their fancy cars, houses upon houses, their 'playboy' status and swagger. What I want the most is for this to result in the healing for the victims. For Hollywood to wake up and start taking some responsibility for how we all have played a role in this." Read her entire post here. Jeva Lange

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