Former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin (R) won the praise of Morning Joe for her interview Thursday with CNN's Jake Tapper. Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough wasn't necessarily impressed with what she said, per se, but rather how she said it. "I'm not being snide when I say this: She spoke in complete sentences," Scarborough said Friday, seemingly amazed at how coherently Palin spoke as she advised women that were being harassed in the workplace to "stand up and do something about it, not stick around for a paycheck for years and years."
Scarborough reminisced on how for the "past five, six, seven years, every time she got on TV she rambled to such a degree — it was a word salad." "If there were a Chop't chain for the English language, Sarah Palin would be the major franchise owner," Scarborough said.
Scarborough's fellow co-hosts chided him for setting an "unbelievably low" bar for Palin — though they didn't disagree. Contributor Donny Deutsch said he was floored Palin was able to communicate "a single coherent thought."
Watch Morning Joe marvel over Palin's progression into "complete sentences" below. Becca Stanek
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be sending agents to a national food chain in the near future as part of a series of nationwide workplace raids, The Daily Beast reported Tuesday. The stated goal of the raids, according to ICE documents viewed by The Daily Beast, is to target employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers and pay them below minimum wage.
The impending investigations against the unnamed food chain are part of ICE's recently announced plan to quadruple its workplace raids. Franchise owners targeted in these efforts will likely be charged with "harboring illegal aliens." ICE has additionally apparently been making plans to go after specific targets. An ICE official who spoke to The Daily Beast said, "These [workers] are basically being used as slave labor."
That same official also claimed that undocumented workers picked up in the raids who agree to testify against their employers could be allowed to temporarily stay in the the country, contradicting statements by ICE's acting chief, Tom Homan, who has previously said that undocumented workers detained in workplace raids would be deported.
Under the Trump administration, arrests of non-criminal undocumented immigrants have doubled, and immigration arrests as a whole have increased by 43 percent in 2017. The number of deportations, however, has dropped this year, though there is a backlog of more than 600,000 pending immigration cases in the U.S. court system. Kelly O'Meara Morales
Every president has a different approach to the extremely important annual tradition of the White House turkey pardon. President Barack Obama embraced the absurdity of the ritual with dozens of extremely corny dad jokes over the years. President Dwight D. Eisenhower's vice president, Richard Nixon, honored their turkey by shaking its hand (claw? talon?). The pardoning thing hadn't quite come around yet when President Harry Truman was in office, though, so he apparently just ate his birds.
Trump's turkey pardoning technique had yet to reveal itself as he approached Drumstick, the unfortunately-named 36-pound turkey, on Tuesday. Trump's style, though, was quickly proven to be "appropriate awe" in the face of what he repeatedly noted was "a big bird."
Watch Trump pardon Drumstick below. Jeva Lange
Watch: President Trump officially pardons Drumstick the turkey pic.twitter.com/WIj7v4Gxbi
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 21, 2017
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) issued a statement Tuesday denying allegations that he fired a female employee after she refused to "succumb" to his "sexual advances." The woman ultimately signed a confidentiality agreement in exchange for a settlement of $27,111.75, which came from Conyers' office budget. Conyers admitted no fault as part of the settlement, and in the statement Tuesday he said: "In this case, I expressly and vehemently denied the allegations made against me, and continue to do so." Conyers added he would cooperate with an investigation if the House determined to look into the situation further.
Read his full statement below. Jeva Lange
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) November 21, 2017
CNN did its own count of the death toll in Puerto Rico. It's nine times higher than what the government has been claiming.
Fifty-five people have died in Puerto Rico from causes related to Hurricane Maria — at least, that's the official number. An alarming survey of funeral homes by CNN puts the death toll much higher, at 499.
The 499 deaths reported by funeral homes include "indirect deaths," which are included in official death tolls and involve circumstances "in which a person likely would be alive if not for the storm and its aftermath," CNN explains. In one example, a man who died in a house fire started by an oil lamp he was only using because of the storm-caused power outage "should be part of the official death toll, according to Puerto Rico's Department of Public Safety." But to date, only a funeral home has recorded that death, CNN notes; it hasn't been counted toward the official number collected by the government.
CNN's survey only reached 112 of Puerto Rico's funeral homes, or about half, the head of the Puerto Rico Association of Funeral Home Directors confirmed. Additionally, "there's always a significant number of bodies that don't get processed through funeral homes," said Eric Klinenberg, the director of New York University's Institute for Public Knowledge. "What that tells me [is that] there are a lot more cases to be reported — and that number is probably going to spike again."
Mónica Menéndez, the deputy director of the local Bureau of Forensic Sciences, dismissed CNN's report, calling funeral home reports "rumors" and claiming "there's no reason for us to be hiding numbers." Read the full details and methodology of CNN's report here. Jeva Lange
On Tuesday, Reuters published a report on the modernization of the United States' nuclear weapons arsenals and frankly, it's pretty terrifying. In 2011, Russia and the U.S. signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) to mutually reduce their nuclear weapons stockpile to 1,550 warheads by 2018 — but soon after, both countries got to work improving their remaining arms.
Cherry Murray, the former top official at the U.S. Energy Department, summed up America's strategic thinking to Reuters: "When you get down to that number we better make sure they work. And we better make sure our adversaries believe they work."
In 2010, President Obama came to a compromise with congressional Republicans to spend $85 billion on a 10-year nuclear modernization program to ensure Republican support for ratifying the New START treaty. Reuters reports that over the next 30 years, the U.S. will in fact spend at least an additional $1.25 trillion on nuclear modernization.
So what type of weapons does that chunk of change get you? The new and improved B61 bomb — which costs nearly $21 million a pop — can "level cities with a 340-kiloton blast with 23 times the force of Hiroshima's," Reuters wrote, in one example of the amplified technology Washington is working on. The Air Force is planning to develop 480 of these souped-up B61 bombs, for a total price of almost $10 billion.
Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, preempted impeachment proceedings by announcing his resignation Tuesday, The New York Times reports. Mugabe, 93, has ruled the nation since its independence in 1980.
On Sunday, the ruling Zanu-PF party ousted Mugabe as party leader. Mugabe stunned Zimbabweans by refusing to resign in a rambling televised speech. He said Tuesday that his decision to finally step down was out of concern for "the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and the need for a peaceful transfer of power," and residents reportedly took to the street of Harare, the capital, to celebrate:
— CNN (@CNN) November 21, 2017
Emmerson Mnangagwa, who served as Zimbabwe's vice president until Mugabe fired him this month, was chosen as the new party head, but he had fled to South Africa for safety. Mnangagwa is expected to be Mugabe's successor. Jeva Lange
In early October, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG), an internal watchdog, completed an extensive report on the implementation of President Trump's original travel ban, Executive Order 13769, which in late January caught customs agents by surprise and led to people getting trapped at airports. But in a letter to lawmakers Monday, the OIG accused DHS leadership of intentionally delaying release of the report for more than six weeks, perhaps because the Trump administration insisted the travel ban rollout was "a massive success story ... on every single level."
As the OIG letter explains, DHS officials have indicated they may invoke "deliberative process privilege," an unusual response to this sort of report that would permit the agency to keep the document private. This is a troubling prospect, the letter says, because it "can mask discovery of decisions made based on illegitimate considerations, or evidence of outright misconduct." If DHS does invoke this privilege, it would "significantly hamper" the DHS watchdog's ability to keep Congress well-informed about the department's aims and activities.
Download the full letter here to read a partial summary of the report's findings, including the allegation that customs agents "violated two court orders" in the implementation process. Bonnie Kristian