April 2, 2020

President Trump sent Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) a letter on Thursday so harsh that Schumer's office said he apologized for it before the missive was even delivered.

Earlier in the day, Schumer wrote his own letter to Trump regarding shortages of ventilators and personal protection equipment at hospitals treating coronavirus patients. Schumer asked Trump to choose someone with a military background to oversee production of medical equipment under the Defense Production Act, adding: "America cannot rely on a patchwork of uncoordinated voluntary efforts to combat the awful magnitude of this pandemic. The existing federal leadership void has left America with an ugly spectacle in which states and cities are literally fending for themselves, often in conflict and competition with each other."

Schumer's office told Politico the senator and Trump spoke twice on Thursday afternoon, and at one point, Trump said he was in the process of sending a "very nasty letter" to Schumer. Trump promised to try to stop it from going out, and said he would apologize if he wasn't successful.

The letter wasn't intercepted. In it, Trump wrote that Schumer was to blame for the high number of coronavirus patients in his state, with New York City "unprepared" because of "the impeachment hoax." He told Schumer he "never knew how bad a senator you are for the state of New York," and pushed back at criticism that the federal government has responded too slowly to the pandemic, despite having months to prepare. "As you are aware, the federal government is merely a backup for state governments," he said. "Unfortunately, your state needed far more of a backup than others."

Schumer told MSNBC's Chris Hayes that he was "appalled" by the letter, and said it was time for Trump to "stop the pettiness — people are dying." As of Thursday night, at least 5,850 people have died in the United States from coronavirus. Catherine Garcia

April 2, 2020

A day after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) projected that 16,000 New Yorkers could die of the novel coronavirus by the time the outbreak has run its course, President Trump told the state to "stop complaining."

"New York has gotten far more than any other state, including hospitals and a hospital ship, but no matter what, always complaining," the president said in a tweet addressing criticisms from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). "It wouldn't matter if you got ten times what was needed, it would never be good enough. Unlike other states, New York unfortunately got off to a late start. You should have pushed harder. Stop complaining and find out where all of these supplies are going."

New York is the center of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, with over 83,800 cases and nearly 2,000 deaths as of Thursday morning; the next highest statewide death toll, in New Jersey, is just 355 cases. Many leaders in New York have pleaded for relief for the city's overburdened hospitals, with Mayor Bill de Blasio saying Wednesday that the city needs 3.3 million N95 masks, 2.1 million surgical masks, 100,0000 isolation gowns, and 400 ventilators by Sunday to keep up with the exploding demand.

Trump's tweets apparently came in response to a tweet from Schumer, in which the senator echoed local concerns: "President Trump needs to harness industry to quickly produce more medical supplies and equipment under the Defense Production Act NOW," he'd tweeted. "He needs to appoint a czar like a military or logistics expert to lead the effort to make and get the supplies where they're needed." Jeva Lange

March 20, 2020

President Trump is busy conspiracy theorizing during a international crisis.

In a press conference Friday outlining several new actions the U.S. government is taking during the new coronavirus spread, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the leader of the State Department, took the lectern. "Or as they like to call it, the Deep State Department," Trump said before Pompeo stepped up.

Pompeo, who tends to agree with Trump's far-right tendencies, seemed to take no issue with the term that connotes the U.S. government is actually run by shady political forces behind the scenes. But Dr. Anthony Fauci, Trump's top coronavirus adviser, rejected his own advice and put his head in his hand after the president threw out the comment.

No matter how wild Trump's eccentricities get, Fauci should probably avoid touching his face — though the crowded press briefing room wasn't exactly up to CDC standards either. Kathryn Krawczyk

March 12, 2020

The Trump administration is facing heavy criticism over the United States' inability to adequately test sick patients for COVID-19. On Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a coronavirus task force immunologist, did not mince his words either: "The system is not really geared to what we need right now," said Fauci, who has advised six presidents on domestic and global health issues. "That is a failing. Let's admit it."

The harsh words were delivered at a House hearing about coronavirus test kits, NBC reports, and came within hours of President Trump declaring that the tests were "going very smooth." On Thursday, Yahoo News reported that the CDC had only run 77 coronavirus tests between Sunday and Wednesday of this week.

Other countries, including South Korea, can test thousands of patients a day. "The idea of anybody [in America] getting it easily the way people in other countries are doing it, we're not set up for that," Fauci explained. "Do I think we should be? Yes. But we're not." Jeva Lange

February 28, 2020

Regrets — Gwyneth Paltrow has a few. During a promotion for her Netflix show, Goop Lab, Paltrow admitted that her "least favorite performance" was in Shallow Hal in 2001.

"I'm not sure who told you to do that one, but it wasn't me," teased Paltrow's best friend and assistant, Kevin Keating.

In the movie, Hal (Jack Black) is hypnotized to only see inner beauty, with Paltrow playing the supposed "beautiful" version of an obese woman named Rosemary. When Rosemary is seen through the eyes of others, Paltrow donned a fat suit to emphasize the weight. The movie has since been criticized for its suggestion that "the only way a fat woman can be loved is to be loved in spite of her body," explains Jezebel. "The movie allows no possibility that a fat body could be considered a beautiful body."

"That was before your time!" Paltrow told Keating after he named Shallow Hal, visibly cringing. "See what happened? Disaster." Watch below. Jeva Lange

February 26, 2020

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) and the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus are calling on a white judge who used racial slurs to resign immediately.

After initially denying it, District Judge Jessie LeBlanc admitted on Sunday to WAFB-TV that in texts she sent to Assumption Parish Chief Deputy Bruce Prejean, she used a racial slur to describe a black sheriff's deputy and a black law clerk. LeBlanc and Prejean were having an affair at the time. She told WAFB she "profusely" apologized and "should have never said it."

Edwards on Wednesday said there is "never any circumstance or context in which such derogatory and degrading language is okay," and the "state deserves better" than LeBlanc. By compromising her ability to preside as a judge, "she has damaged the judiciary," he added. "She should resign."

LeBlanc on Sunday said she will not step down, and will seek re-election for Louisiana's 23rd Judicial District in December. The district attorney and lead public defender have filed a court motion asking LeBlanc recuse herself from criminal cases in Assumption Parish, The Associated Press reports, and hundreds of her cases are now under review. LeBlanc's attorney, Jill Craft, said Edwards needs to leave her client alone, as her comments were made during a "private conversation" and she made her "contrition clear." Catherine Garcia

January 13, 2020

There are many ways to describe Tom Steyer's interview with The New York Times — the same interview every presidential candidate is going through in hopes of receiving the paper's 2020 endorsement. And with the billionaire ending his interview admittedly "upset," well, "rough" might just be an understatement.

Steyer, the oft-donor to Democratic politicians, starts the interview on a less-than-perfect note. He's asked about "policy breakdowns that have led to there still being Americans who are hungry today," and meets it with an "um." It's an admittedly tough question, and Steyer says he'll start by discussing "where people are living" before stumbling to "young people." He eventually recovers to discuss the charitable program he built with his wife.

Things get a little snippy when Steyer is asked if "running for president is the best use of your wealth?," given that the money he's planning to spend on his campaign could fund an estimated five Senate campaigns. "As I'm sure you know since you work for The New York Times and have done your research," Steyer testily begins before describing his voter registration effort NextGen America.

By the end of the interview, Steyer is admittedly "upset" after being asked what he'll likely "fail at as president." He says he's trying to "make sure I keep my temper" and "keep my self-discipline because otherwise I'm going to get very mad," but then calls the Times a "fancy newspaper" that talks to "fancy people," suggesting it's out of touch with what's happening "around this country." Steyer then declares "I'm not sitting here just running my mouth," and the interview ends before the Times can even ask about his tie. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 5, 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden issued yet another challenge to an IQ test or push-up contest.

But the challenge isn't to President Trump this time. It's not even to a Republican. It's to an 83-year-old man who showed up to a Biden town hall in Iowa and declared he was "too old" to be president.

The man stood up at Biden's event Thursday and said that he's a "retired farmer" who's "kind of unique because I'm not a Republican." But "you're damn near as old as I am," he said. "I'm 83 and I know damn well I don't have the mental faculties I did." Then, the man got into the business that set Biden off. He described how he believed Democrats' accusations that President Trump "has been messing around in Ukraine," but then said Biden also "sent your son over there to get a job and work for a gas company ... so you're selling access just like he was."

"You're a damn liar," Biden harshly responded, and questioned the man's suggestion that he had "seen it on TV." "That's why I'm not sedentary, I get up," Biden fired back. Biden then defended his age by saying "let's do push-ups, man, let's take an IQ test." In an apparent slip of the tongue, Biden seemed to call the man "fat," and after the man affirmed he wasn't voting for Biden, Biden said "you're too old to vote for me." Watch the whole exchange below. Kathryn Krawczyk

Biden campaign senior adviser Symone Sanders later tweeted that Biden had said "look, facts," and hadn't called the man "fat." Kathryn Krawczyk

See More Speed Reads