×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
April 21, 2017
iStock

With France going to the polls on Sunday for the first round of its presidential election, President Trump has remained uncharacteristically quiet. "Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this," he tweeted Friday morning. "Will have a big effect on presidential election!"

If the tweet was meant as a prediction or endorsement of the success of far-right anti-European Union leader Marine Le Pen, it is a muted one compared to Trump's vocal support of the Brexit vote last year.

Trump's relative silence is an interesting one: Le Pen, like Trump, has taken a hardline stance against immigration and securing the countries' borders from the threat of extremists, and ideologically she shares much in common with Trump's senior strategist, Stephen Bannon. But one Trump associate told Politico that Trump knows he cannot get too involved in foreign elections: "Even if there was some sympathy, there's nothing a president can do. That would be very undiplomatic," the associate told Politico.

Former President Barack Obama has also danced around the French election, taking a call from Le Pen's rival, centrist Emmanuel Macron. While not an explicit endorsement, Axios noted that "Obama and Macron are ideologically aligned and the signal will be noticed by French voters."

Trump, for his part, dodged an opportunity to come out one way or another during a press conference Thursday. "A strong Europe is very, very important to me," Trump said. "We want to see it. We will help it be strong, and it's very much to everybody's advantage." Jeva Lange

3:40 a.m. ET

There are new developments in the "war on Trump," Jordan Klepper said Monday on The Opposition, his faux alt-right Daily Show spinoff. He began with the opposition to President Trump's move to decertify the Iran nuclear deal. "That's right, certification is for suckers," Klepper said, "a belief I hold to this day in spite of how many lifeguard jobs it cost me." But the pushback against Trump was coming from within, including from his top generals and Cabinet officials. "Now it's clear who Trump's biggest enemy is — friends," Klepper said. "Friends who are the enemies — let's call them 'frenemies,' a word I just made up."

Trump's frenemies treat him like a "chump," Klepper said, running through the Rex Tillerson "moron" flap, and "I'm sick of this. Trump has done everything for these people. He picked them, seemingly at random, for positions of great importance, and now they're calling Trump a moron? Then I'm calling moron a compliment! What, you think 'nasty women' are the only ones who can turn insults into a rallying cry?" Apparently not — and Klepper brought T-shirts to prove it. You can watch his impassioned rallying cry below. Peter Weber

2:59 a.m. ET

On Sunday night, 60 Minutes and The Washington Post reported that Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) had worked for two years to push through a bill promoted and apparently written by the pharmaceutical industry that stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its biggest tool to fight prescription opioids entering the black market. Marino is President Trump's nominee to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy. On Monday, Trump called Marino "a good man," a "great guy," and "a very early supporter of mine — the great state of Pennsylvania," but said that after Sunday's 60 Minutes, "we're going to look into the report. We're going to take it very seriously."

Trump did not say if he would withdraw Marino's name to be drug czar, but hinted that he might. "I have not spoken to him, but I will speak to him, and I'll make that determination," he told reporters in the Rose Garden. "And if I think it's 1 percent negative to doing what we want to do, I will make a change, yes."

Democrats and a few Republicans backed repealing the law — which passed on voice votes with no objections — and some Democrats urged Trump to dump Marino. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said the drug czar "is supposed to be a watchdog, not a lap dog," and warned that if Trump pursues the nomination, "it will be ugly."

Trump also said he plans to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency next week, calling the epidemic a "massive problem" he wants to get "absolutely right." Democrats and a few Republicans said they were stunned by the report, insisting they had been assured by DEA officials that the bill would not hamper the fight against opioid addiction. You can learn more about the reaction in Washington in the CBS News report below. Peter Weber

1:37 a.m. ET

Trevor Noah began a weeklong "Daily Show Undesked" residency in Chicago on Monday by criticizing Chicago's "Windy City" nickname. But "there is another nickname for some people," Noah said, "and it's way worse than the Windy City — it's 'the murder capital.'" Chicago's violent reputation isn't just in the U.S., he noted, showing a clip from a South African cartoon of his youth, but in a new twist, the president of the United States is arguing that "Chicago is basically Syria, but with different pizza."

"This week we're in Chicago because we figured that Chicago is a microcosm for all the issues that the rest of the country faces," Noah said. And despite what President Trump says, it isn't really the most dangerous city in America. Chicago does have the most murders, he conceded, but it's also America's third-largest city; per capita, Memphis, St. Louis, Baltimore, and Cleveland are deadlier. "But no one's ever like, 'Oh, don't go to Cleveland!'" Noah said. "Well, I mean, they do, but not because of murder." So why are Trump and the right fixated on Chicago? "I get it," Noah said, after playing some Fox News clips featuring a certain former president. "When there's shootings, Obama's from Chicago; all the other times, he's from Kenya."

Murder and gun violence really is a problem in Chicago, Noah said, but Trump's imaginary crime-fighters and federalized police may not work as well as local community engagement. Correspondent Roy Wood Jr. walked around the South Side with a group called CeaseFire that tries to mediate conflicts before people turn to violence, with some success. Watch below. Peter Weber

12:33 a.m. ET

On Monday night in Philadelphia, the National Constitution Center awarded Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) the Liberty Medal "for his lifetime of sacrifice and service." Former Vice President Joe Biden presented McCain with the medal.

In his acceptance speech, a sometimes emotional McCain mixed self-deprecating humor with a strong endorsement of American leadership and participation in "the international order we helped build from the ashes of world war," in what was widely seen as a rebuke to President Trump, whom he did not mention. America has become more just and prosperous for having "shared its treasures and ideals and shed the blood of its finest patriots to help make another, better world," he said, adding pointedly:

To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain "the last best hope of earth" for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems, is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history. [John McCain]

McCain clearly wanted that line to stand out. He also unsubtly took a swipe at neo-Nazis and white nationalists, saying "we live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil," and ended on the valedictory note of an elder statesman battling aggressive cancer. Former President Barack Obama tweeted his gratitude and congratulations to his 2008 presidential rival. You can read McCain's speech or watch the entire ceremony. Peter Weber

October 16, 2017

On Monday, President Trump told reporters that ObamaCare is dead, killed by his executive orders last week. Because he ended the cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) to insurance companies, used to subsidize health care for millions of low-income customers — 70 percent of whom live in states Trump won — "there is no such thing as ObamaCare anymore," Trump said. His action prompted Congress to start working on a short-term fix, he added, instead of "having lunch and enjoying themselves." A minute later, Trump blamed the purportedly dead law for insurers raising premiums:

Sadly, the Democrats can't join us on that which will be the long-term fix, but I do believe we will have a short-term fix because I think the Democrats will be blamed for the mess. This is an ObamaCare mess. When the premiums go up, that has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that we had poor care delivered poorly, written poorly, approved by the Democrats. [Trump]

The Congressional Budget Office predicted in August that ending the CSRs would raise premiums and the federal deficit, and on Monday, Pennsylvania's insurance commissioner announced that rates on ObamaCare exchanges will rise an average of 30.6 percent, rather than 7.6 percent, "due to President Trump's refusal to make cost-sharing reduction payments for 2018 and Congress' inaction to appropriate funds." Trump said he thinks Republicans will still "get the health care done," adding that while most GOP senators "are really, really great people ... a few people disappointed us. Really, really disappointed us. I can understand how Steve Bannon feels."

Over the weekend, incidentally, Bannon told the Values Voters Summit he feels that ending the CSRs will "blow up" the ObamaCare exchanges. Peter Weber

October 16, 2017
STR/AFP/Getty Images

A North Korean official announced Monday that Pyongyang has no interest in diplomacy with the United States until it develops an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach "all the way to the East Coast of the mainland U.S.," CNN reports.

"Before we can engage in diplomacy with the Trump administration, we want to send a clear message that the DPRK has a reliable defensive and offensive capability to counter any aggression from the United States," the official said.

Trump has gone back and forth on whether talking with North Korea is any sort of "answer." Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, on the contrary, told Fox News that diplomacy will continue "until the first bomb drops." Jeva Lange

October 16, 2017

President Trump claimed Monday that former presidents, including Barack Obama, did not call the families of fallen soldiers, sparking quick and furious outcry on social media. "The toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens, soldiers are killed," Trump said. He added, "The traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls. A lot of them didn't make calls. I like to call when it's appropriate, when I think I'm able to do it."

Alyssa Mastromonaco‏, who served as deputy chief of staff for operations under Obama, tweeted: "That's a f---ing lie. To say President Obama (or past presidents) didn't call the family members of soldiers KIA — he's a deranged animal."

NBC News' Peter Alexander challenged Trump on the remarks. "Earlier you claimed President Obama never called the families of fallen soldiers," Alexander said. "How can you make that claim?"

"I don't know if he did," Trump answered. "I was told that he didn't often [call]. And a lot of presidents don't, they write letters." Trump also admitted he had not called the families of the U.S. soldiers killed in Niger 12 days ago. Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads