May 2, 2018

Stephen Bannon blasted White House lawyer Ty Cobb on Wednesday after news broke that Cobb, the point person for dealing with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was stepping down at the end of the month. "Cobb was a mistake, totally incompetent and in over his head," Bannon told The Washington Post. "He was obsessed with this radical fantasy of waiving executive privilege … It was truly stupid."

Less than two months ago, President Trump tweeted that he was "VERY happy with my lawyers, John Dowd, Ty Cobb, and Jay Sekulow." Dowd has since resigned and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has since joined as Trump's lead personal attorney, told the Post that Cobb was not forced out. "It was just time for him to go, but he's still going to be available to us," Giuliani said. He added that Jay Sekulow "had the most to do with it" and that he "felt that he needed someone that was more aggressive. That's not a criticism of Ty, but it's just about how we're going to do this."

Cobb believed Trump ought to cooperate with the probe to bring it to an end, something Bannon — who left the White House last year after having formerly served as Trump's campaign chief executive — disagreed with. Cobb "failed to realize that there would never be, could never be a special relationship" with Mueller, Bannon said.

Cobb will be replaced by Republican defense lawyer Emmet Flood, who worked with former President Bill Clinton during impeachment proceedings. Jeva Lange

February 12, 2018
Kevin Nicholson via AP, File

Et tu, mom and dad?

In July, Kevin Nicholson announced he would seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin, looking to replace the incumbent, Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Last week, Baldwin's campaign reported its quartely donations to the Federal Election Commission, and it turns out, Nicholson's parents, Donna and Michael, both gave Baldwin the maximum allowed under the law: $2,700 each. They will both be able to donate $2,700 again during the general election.

Nicholson, a former president of College Democrats of America, told CNN he's not taking it personally. "My parents have a different worldview than I do, and it is not surprising that they would support a candidate like Tammy Baldwin, who shares their perspective," he said. Nicholson said he became a conservative in 2007 after serving with the Marines in Iraq, and "regardless of who may disagree with my life decisions, I would not trade these experiences for anything, and they will always guide my views as Wisconsin's next U.S. senator." Catherine Garcia

January 30, 2018
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Sorry, bitcoin, but you're no longer welcome among the puppy pictures, faceless cooking videos, and life updates from your aunt's friend's son-in-law.

Facebook announced Tuesday that it is banning ads for cryptocurrencies, the encrypted digital currencies whose turbulent fortunes have inspired many an impulsive investment. They've also been known to be fodder for several fraudulent get-rich-quick schemes — a con Facebook is hoping to help its users avoid. In a blog post Tuesday, Product Management Director Robert Leathern wrote that the company does not want its users to fall for scams "frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices such as binary options, initial coin offerings, and cryptocurrencies."

There are legitimate cryptocurrencies that advertise on Facebook, as Recode noted. But skeptics warn that cryptocurrencies are fool's gold and that investors will end up with empty pockets. Bitcoin, perhaps the most famous of these digital treasures, has been particularly volatile: Its price per coin reached nearly $20,000 in December, but now is hovering around $10,000. At the beginning of 2017, it was priced around $1,000.

Leathern concedes that credible cryptocurrencies will get swept up by Facebook's "intentionally broad" guidelines for now, but he said that these restrictions would be at least somewhat temporary. "[Facebook] will revisit this policy and how we enforce it as our signals improve," he wrote. Kelly O'Meara Morales

November 5, 2017
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was assaulted while mowing the lawn at his home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Friday, sustaining minor injuries including cuts near his mouth and a "possible rib injury" that caused difficult breathing. News of the arrest of suspect Rene Boucher, who has been charged with one count of fourth-degree assault, was reported Saturday.

Local sources say Boucher is Paul's neighbor and an outspoken critic of the senator's fellow Republican, President Trump, on social media. It is unclear whether the attack's motivation was political or related to a neighborly dispute, but an unnamed Paul aide reportedly said the senator's office believes politics are not involved. Neighbors report the two men, both doctors, have an "ongoing dispute."

Paul was "blindsided" by the attack, said his Kentucky communications director, and a criminal complaint cited by an area NBC affiliate indicates Paul "told police that his neighbor came onto his property and tackled him from behind, forcing him to the ground and causing pain." Paul did not notice Boucher approaching because he was wearing ear plugs. Bonnie Kristian

June 30, 2017
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

On Thursday morning, President Trump tweeted some unkind things about the co-hosts of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, saying he turned the pair away from Mar-a-Lago over the New Year and alleging that "low I.Q. Crazy Mika" was "bleeding badly from a face-lift." On Friday, Brzezinski and Scarborough responded in a Washington Post op-ed, and their more-in-sorrow-than-anger article included a rebuttal of Trump's tweets.

"Trump claims that we asked to join him at Mar-a-Lago three nights in a row," they wrote. "That is false. He also claimed that he refused to see us. That is laughable." It was the opposite, Brzezinski and Scarborough say — Trump invited them, insisting that Brzezinski come on the second night after she skipped the first. The face-lift jab "is also a lie," they said. "Putting aside Mr. Trump's never-ending obsession with women's blood, Mika and her face were perfectly intact, as pictures from that night reveal." But they saved their best concern-trolling for Trump's claim that he no longer watches their show:

America's leaders and allies are asking themselves yet again whether this man is fit to be president. We have our doubts, but we are both certain that the man is not mentally equipped to continue watching our show, Morning Joe. ... The president's unhealthy obsession with Morning Joe does not serve the best interests of either his mental state or the country he runs. Despite his constant claims that he no longer watches the show, the president's closest advisers tell us otherwise. That is unfortunate. We believe it would be better for America and the rest of the world if he would keep his 60-inch-plus flat-screen TV tuned to Fox & Friends. [The Washington Post]

Brzezinski and Scarborough said that the Trump they have known for more than a decade has changed since running for president, and not in a good way. They applauded the Republican lawmakers who criticized Trump's misogynistic "West Wing temper tantrum" and said they "can only hope that the women who are closest to him will follow their examples." You can read the entire op-ed at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

June 21, 2017

The day after Democrats lost yet another special House election, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.) offered a brutal analysis of his party's struggle to define its economic message. "I think we've been hyperconfused over the course of the past five years," Murphy said Wednesday on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "Some of the time we're talking about economic growth, some of the time we're talking about economic fairness."

Murphy said he thinks Democrats ought to instead be "hyperfocused on this question of wage growth and job growth." He urged Democrats not to be "scared off by that message just because it's been what Republicans have been talking about."

Murphy dished out his advice after Republican Karen Handel soundly defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff by a 4 percent margin in Georgia's special House election Tuesday. Also Tuesday, Democrat Archie Parnell lost to Republican Ralph Norman in South Carolina's 5th congressional district, securing an 0-4 record for Democrats in special House races this year.

Watch Murphy's analysis of Democrats' messaging struggles below, and read more on how Democrats should move on here. Becca Stanek

March 24, 2017
Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

Conservative commentator David Brooks had some harsh words for Republicans in his column Friday in The New York Times. Underneath a headline declaring the "Trump elite" to be like "the old elite, but worse," Brooks argued the GOP health-care bill is "not molded to the actual health-care needs of regular voters." "It was written by elites to serve the needs of elites," Brooks wrote. "Donald Trump vowed to drain the swamp, but this bill is pure swamp."

The bill, Brooks said, appears to have been written only because the new GOP leaders "needed something they could call ObamaCare repeal — anything that they could call ObamaCare repeal," and because President Trump "needed a win":

They were more concerned with bending, distorting, and folding the bill to meet the Byrd rule, an arbitrary congressional peculiarity of no real purpose to the outside world. They were more concerned with what this internal faction, or that internal faction, might want. The result was a pedantic hodgepodge that made no one happy. [David Brooks, via The New York Times]

While Republicans may feel caught between supporting party leaders and opposing a bill that's widely disliked and "bad for most voters, especially Republican voters," Brooks warned: "This bill takes the most vicious progressive stereotypes about conservatives and validates them."

Read Brooks' full column at The New York Times. Becca Stanek

March 20, 2017

The House is planning to vote Thursday on the Republican proposal to replace ObamaCare, known as the American Health Care Act. The bill — drafted mostly by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — has faced criticism from both sides of the aisle, as some Republicans object to its keeping certain provisions of former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, while Democrats have pointed to the millions of Americans who would lose insurance.

President Trump has declared his support for the American Health Care Act, and The Washington Post reported last week that Trump was "relishing a role as a high-stakes 'closer'" in the negotiations over the bill. Trump has asked several members of the House directly to support the bill, the Post reported, and Ryan said earlier this month he was confident Republicans would produce the 218 votes needed to advance the bill to the Senate.

But one Republican congressman, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), hinted at a much different reality in a tweet Monday morning:

Amash was elected to Congress in 2010. He is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, which said Friday it "opposes the GOP replacement bill in its current form." Kimberly Alters

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