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June 22, 2018

President Trump hosted an immigration event Friday with "Angel Families" whose relatives have been killed by undocumented immigrants. While Trump was standing with the "permanently separated" families, as he called them, reporters noticed something strange about the pictures of the victims in parents' hands:

Trump told those in attendance that "we cannot allow our country to be overrun by illegal immigrants as the Democrats tell their phony stories of sadness and grief, hoping it will help them in the elections." He also made several other surprising comments, including remarking that the law enforcement officers in attendance were "good looking people" and holding up the photograph of one victim and observing that he resembles "Tom Selleck, except better looking." Watch below. Jeva Lange

June 22, 2018

Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade had a rather stunning requirement for treating children in a way that isn't considered by doctors to be "government-sanctioned child abuse": their citizenship status. Speaking on Fox News on Friday morning, Kilmeade defended President Trump's policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border, saying: "Like it or not, these are not our kids. Show them compassion, but it's not like he's doing this to the people of Idaho or Texas."

Kilmeade added as justification: "These are people from another country." Trump signed an executive order Wednesday asking a federal judge to amend a court ruling to allow children to be detained indefinitely with their parents, rather than have them be separated at the border.

What he leaves out, of course, is that they aren't just people — they're children. While distinguishing between citizens and non-citizens is reasonable in certain situations when the people in question are adults, it's of course a whole different story when you're talking about unaccompanied minors. Watch Kilmeade's comments below. Jeva Lange

June 15, 2018

President Trump repeatedly told a woman reporter to be "quiet" while talking to the press Friday morning, even as other reporters also jostled for him to answer their questions. At one point Trump was caught on camera putting his hand in the woman's face and demanding she be "quiet" before turning and telling someone nearby, "She's so obnoxious."

The reporter singled out by Trump was apparently CBS News' Weijia Jiang. Trump "told me I was obnoxious and to be quiet at least five times," she tweeted, "but to his credit he did answer plenty of our questions." Watch below. Jeva Lange

June 13, 2018
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, who has found himself in an ethical quagmire over rampant spending concerns, allegedly assigned a specific EPA aide as a "headhunter for his spouse," The Washington Post reports. The Judicial Crisis Network ultimately hired Marlyn Pruitt, a former school nurse, as a temporary "independent contractor" after having received her resume from the executive vice president of the Federalist Society, Leonard Leo — who is also a Pruitt donor and a friend of the family. Pruitt had also pressured another donor, Doug Deason, to find employment for his wife after Deason said he could not hire her due to the obvious conflict of interest.

Pruitt had allegedly told EPA staff that he needed more money to hold onto his two houses in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and in Washington, D.C.; Marlyn Pruitt has had no income over $5,000 in recent years. The executive branch ethics counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington told the Post that Pruitt's use of an aide to "become the headhunter for his spouse" is particularly concerning because Marlyn's job would ultimately "affect his financial interests." Public officials are not allowed to use their posts for private gain.

Samantha Dravis, who served as the EPA's Office of Policy associate administrator, was assigned the task of finding work for Marlyn. While Dravis didn't comment to the Post — she has since left the EPA — one friend said Pruitt "pressured her" to find work for his wife.

Pruitt is already the subject of a dozen different federal investigations. Read more about the job hunt for his wife at The Washington Post and here at The Week. Jeva Lange

June 7, 2018

Passengers at Houston's William P. Hobby Airport had an early morning scare when a bomb threat rocked the security line.

The threat ended up being a toy grenade, stuffed in the suitcase of a 17-year-old Boy Scout, local NBC affiliate WTHR and The Associated Press reported Thursday. A TSA agent spotted the suspicious object around 4:35 a.m. CT and shouted to "shut it down," says an AP reporter who was at the airport. Waiting passengers were told to "clear out," creating a huge backup and delaying 15 flights.

Once the bomb squad ensured the item was just a toy, passengers were allowed to head to their flights, says AP. The Scout was questioned afterward, but it's unclear if he'll face penalties for the scare. Kathryn Krawczyk

May 29, 2018

Roseanne Barr, a supporter of President Trump, has faced heavy criticism over her "racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and hate speech" in recent years, although her comments took a particularly vile turn on Monday when she tweeted about former President Barack Obama's senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett:

Barr made her comment in a thread bashing "Obama's secrets," in which one user commented "Jarrett helped hide a lot."

Jarrett declined to provide a comment to The Wrap, but Qasim Rashid, a lawyer and human rights activist, tweeted: "White privilege is being an open racist [and] Islamophobe [and] still getting a prime time TV spot." Jeva Lange

May 25, 2018

Lawmakers are forbidden from using their congressional staff for anything other than official political duties, which means running personal errands is definitely a no-no. That apparently didn't stop Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) and his wife, Flanna, whose former staffers told Politico they had to do everything from unload groceries to fetch Garrett's daughters from Scottsdale, a three-hour drive away.

The congressional staffers were even asked to take care of the Garretts' dog Sophie, a Jack Russell-Pomeranian mix that IJR says "comes to the D.C. office every other day."

Staffers were expected to watch the dog during office hours, and one aide did so over a weekend. Several aides said the couple would sometimes seem to forget the dog was in the office. When that happened, at the end of the day, aides were responsible for transporting it back to Garrett's Washington apartment.

One source said the dog occasionally defecated on the floor and aides had to clean up the mess. [Politico]

The Garretts denied their ex-staffers' claims, telling Politico: "It is easy to spread untruths and even easier to exaggerate and imply wrongdoing when none exists." Jeva Lange

May 25, 2018
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

When Donald Trump announced he was running for president in 2015, he also set the tone for how he would speak about immigration. "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best," he told the crowd, going on to describe immigrants as criminals and "rapists," although "some, I assume, are good people." Recently Trump has come under fire again for his language, calling MS-13 gang members "animals."

The Washington Post on Thursday published a new revealing anecdote about how Trump joked in private about immigrants to his staff last year:

The night before Trump delivered his first speech to Congress in February 2017, he huddled with Jared Kushner and [Stephen] Miller in the Oval Office to talk immigration. The president reluctantly agreed with suggestions he strike a gentler tone on immigration in the speech.

Trump reminded them the crowds loved his rhetoric on immigrants along the campaign trail. Acting as if he was at a rally, he then read aloud a few made up Hispanic names and described potential crimes they could have committed, like rape or murder. Then, he said, the crowds would roar when the criminals were thrown out of the country — as they did when he highlighted crimes by illegal immigrants at his rallies, according to a person present for the exchange and another briefed on it later. Miller and Kushner laughed. [The Washington Post]

A third official disputed the story, telling the Post that Trump never made up Hispanic names to make a point about "crowd enthusiasm for crackdowns on criminal aliens." Read more about Trump's approach to immigration at The Washington Post. Jeva Lange

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