The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a lifetime appointment of President Trump's Alabama federal judge nominee along party lines on Thursday despite the fact that 36-year-old Brett J. Talley has never tried a case in his life and has only practiced law for three years, the Los Angeles Times reports. While Talley has degrees from the University of Alabama and Harvard Law School and runs a blog, the American Bar Association deemed him "not qualified" for the job. Additionally, Talley has "displayed a degree of partisanship unusual for a judicial nominee, denouncing 'Hillary Rotten Clinton' and pledging support for the National Rifle Association," the Times reports.
President Trump has nominated 59 people to federal courts since taking office, including Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. At the same point in former President Barack Obama's first term, he'd nominated 27 federal judges and one Supreme Court justice. Liberal critics have pointed to nominations like Talley in alarm: "So far, no one from [Trump's] party has been willing to stand up against him on the agenda of packing the courts," the vice president of People for the American Way, Marge Baker, told the Los Angeles Times.
Trump has directly praised Talley as being an "untold story" that "nobody wants to talk about."
"When you think of it, Mitch [McConnell] and I were saying, that has consequences 40 years out, depending on the age of the judge," Trump said in October. "But 40 years out." Jeva Lange
The Russian government claims it couldn't have possibly bought Facebook ads during the election because it doesn't know how
The Russian government denied buying $100,000 worth of Facebook ads during the 2016 presidential election on the grounds that they don't even know how, The Hill reports. "We do not know … how to place an advert on Facebook," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday. "We have never done this, and the Russian side has never been involved in it."
On Thursday, Facebook announced that it will give Congress copies of the more than 3,000 ads purchased through Russian accounts during the election. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is already in possession of the ads. In a Friday morning tweet, Trump dismissed the Facebook ads as being a part of "the Russia hoax."
The Russian ads were reportedly "directed at people on Facebook who had expressed interest in subjects ... such as LGBT community, black social issues, the Second Amendment, and immigration," a Facebook official told The Washington Post. The ads specifically "spread inflammatory messages about immigration, guns, and other topics" and "derided [Hillary] Clinton and supported [Donald] Trump," The New York Times writes. Jeva Lange
President Trump on Tuesday wasted no time responding to a rare criticism voiced on Fox & Friends, a must-watch show for the president.
Conservative commentator Laura Ingraham argued during Tuesday morning's episode that the havoc wreaked by Tropical Storm Harvey proves how imperative it is that the Trump administration fill the many vacancies at federal agencies, particularly those tasked with disaster recovery. "I think we can all look at these horrific pictures, and we can conclude a federal government does need staff. We see it acutely in need of staff in a situation like this," Ingraham said.
While the Trump administration has claimed that Democrats are holding up the nomination process, Ingraham noted that the administration hasn't even nominated people for hundreds of vacant positions. Politico reported that 366 positions requiring Senate confirmation are "currently without a nominee." "This is a question that has to be posed to the administration. I know they have a lot on their hands, but we have to have people in place," Ingraham said. "If there's a plan to not staff and cause the ultimate shrinkage of government, then let's hear about that as well."
Trump took this opportunity to claim that these vacancies were actually all part of his grand plan. Despite his repeated attacks on Democrats for "taking forever" to confirm nominees, Trump tweeted Tuesday that he didn't even want all those positions filled anyway. Becca Stanek
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2017
White House claims Trump was 'being sarcastic' when he thanked Putin for expelling American diplomats
The White House on Friday insisted that President Trump wasn't actually being serious when he thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for expelling hundreds of American diplomats from Russia. "He was being sarcastic," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
Trump extended his gratitude to Putin when pressed by reporters Thursday for a statement on Putin's latest move, a response to U.S. sanctions. "As far as I'm concerned I'm very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll," Trump said, noting this will "save a lot of money." Trump also said that there is "no real reason" for the 755 expelled American diplomats "to go back."
Trump's alleged sarcasm didn't go over well in Washington, especially in the midst of the ongoing investigation into Russia's election meddling and the Trump team's potential ties to it. A State Department official said that Trump's comments were "really quite sad," as they underscore the growing sense that Trump "just doesn't get it." A former U.S. ambassador remarked: "For reasons we do not yet know, the president cannot bring himself to criticize Putin." Becca Stanek
Defending Republicans' health-care proposal Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declared "there is no one who doesn't benefit" from the plan. Spicer's claim came on the heels of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's report released Monday that found more than 24 million additional Americans may no longer have health insurance by 2026 under the GOP-backed American Health Care Act.
"This is it," Spicer said of the GOP plan. "If we don't get this through, the goal of repealing ObamaCare and instituting a system that will be patient-centered is going to be unbelievably difficult."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 14, 2017
When pressed to answer how the CBO's estimates square with President Trump's pledge to ensure every American is insured, Spicer insisted Trump's "goal" is to make health insurance "available to everybody." "Would you concede that there will be some coverage losses, perhaps in the millions?" CNN's Jim Acosta asked Spicer. "Sure," Spicer said, "except you have to look at the current situation." Becca Stanek