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March 21, 2017

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."

"An interesting observation," Tapper said dryly, if slightly immodestly. Peter Weber

March 20, 2017

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."

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:

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

March 19, 2017
Fox News/Screenshot

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."

The House Intelligence Committee will interview FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers about Russia and the election on Monday. Bonnie Kristian

March 17, 2017

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.

Spross wrote further on the GOP's plot to "drown Medicaid in the bathtub," which you can read here. Jeva Lange

March 16, 2017

Noted climate change skeptic Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) claimed Thursday morning on CNN's New Day that President Trump's budget plan will prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from "brainwashing our kids." The 2018 budget proposal released Thursday morning calls for cutting the EPA's budget by about 30 percent, slashing its funding from $8.3 billion to $5.7 billion.

Inhofe, the former Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chair who infamously brought a snowball to the Senate floor in 2015 to prove a point about global warming, insisted the Trump administration wants to "deliver the services" of the EPA and "make things clean" — just without all the "propaganda." "We're going to [get rid of] all this stuff that comes out of the EPA that's brainwashing our kids, that is propaganda, things that aren't true," Inhofe said.

Inhofe did have one good thing to say about the EPA though: He conceded the Clean Air Act amendments "were very successful" and "have worked." "Our air is cleaner, the pollution is down in spite of the fact that we drive twice as many miles," Inhofe said, suggesting that the success of those amendments proves the EPA's work regulating carbon dioxide is done.

Watch a snippet of the interview below. Becca Stanek

March 14, 2017

Aside from attaboys from former KKK leader David Duke and white supremacist site Stormfront, reaction to Rep. Steve King's (R-Iowa) tweet Sunday that "we can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies" has been less than glowing. The head of Iowa's Republican Party disavowed King's tweet on Monday, Iowa GOP strategist David Kochel called it an "articulation of full-on white nationalism," and a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said Ryan "clearly disagrees and believes America's long history of inclusiveness is one of its great strengths."

On Fox News Monday evening, Ryan said he hoped King misspoke. On Fox News Monday night, King said he had not, reiterating points he made earlier on CNN. Tucker Carlson began by noting the bipartisan backlash against King's tweet and Ryan's comment to Bret Baier. "Did you misspeak, and what did you mean?" he asked. "No, Tucker, I didn't misspeak at all. I said exactly what I meant," King said. The U.S. and Europe "have to do something to increase our birthrate, or the vacuum that's created will be filled by people that don't believe in our values here in Western civilization."

"We're at this place now in America where we're seeing people marching in the streets that are pushing back against the American culture, the American civilization," King said. America over the past 25 years has downplayed assimilation and promoted "multiculturalism and diversity, as if that were our strength."

Carlson said King was "defensible and probably right" on that, but "the problem with the tweet was that is suggested there was a racial component to American identity. Do you think that there is?" King said yes, because the left keeps talking about race as well as gender, income inequality, and sexual orientation, but "we are all God's children, we are all created in His image ... What I should have done, Tucker, if I had more characters in that tweet, just added: 'We can't, you can't rebuild our civilization with somebody else's babies — unless we adopt them.'"

King's solution, other than mass adoption, included making everyone in the U.S. speak English so "we can communicate with each other, we can do it instinctively. And on top of that, English is essentially a carrier of liberty, and it expresses freedom and liberty more effectively than any other language on the planet." (Sorry, France, Greece, ancient Rome, and other cradles of Western civilization.) Watch below. Peter Weber

March 11, 2017
Ozan Kose/Getty Images

The Netherlands on Saturday denied landing permission to a plane carrying Turkey's foreign minister as part of a dispute over a canceled political rally. In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed the Dutch are "Nazi remnants" and "fascists" who "do not know politics or international diplomacy." "You can stop our foreign minister's plane all you want," he said, "let's see how your planes will come to Turkey from now on."

"It is a crazy remark, of course," replied Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. "I understand they are angry but this is of course way out of line."

The quarrel began when the Netherlands canceled a rally to whip the votes of Turkish expatriates in advance of a Turkish referendum on constitutional reform. The Dutch government cited security reasons for the cancelation, but also opposes the constitutional changes. Erdogan previously leveled the Nazi charge at Germany over a similar dispute. Bonnie Kristian

March 9, 2017

Trevor Noah, the host of The Daily Show, was the guest on Van Jones' new CNN show Wednesday night, and they discussed President Trump, specifically the moment in his address to Congress where he pointed to the wife of slain Navy SEAL William "Ryan" Owens — the moment Jones said Trump "became president of the United States."

Noah said that during Trump's speech and earlier moments in the presidential campaign, like the debates, he saw Trump through a very specific filter. "When I see Trump, I see a stand-up comedian," he said. "He connects with audiences in the same way. He makes you laugh in a moment where you didn't think you would, he knows how to broach a topic in a way that no one normally can." During his tribute to Owens and his widow, Carryn Owens, "Trump even told a joke, and people laughed, people connected," Noah said. "And I was like, that is scary, man, that's good."

When Jones called that part of the speech the moment Trump became president, "my first instinct was, 'Come again, Van?'" Noah said. But "the honest truth is he became presidential in that moment. What's not scary is that he became presidential in that moment. I think what's scary is that it is that easy to become presidential." Watch. Peter Weber

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