×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
January 12, 2018
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) said Friday that he "personally heard" the now-notorious comments President Trump allegedly made Thursday at a bipartisan meeting on immigration. By Friday afternoon, a Republican senator had joined Durbin in apparently confirming the reports as well.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said he talked to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who was in the room at the Thursday meeting, and said that Graham told him that the comments being reported by the press are "basically accurate." A Democratic aide told NBC News on Thursday that Trump vented about immigrants coming to the United States from "shithole countries," although Trump has denied he used that "language."

"We ought not to disparage any other nation, frankly," Scott told The Post and Courier. "Thinking about the success of America, it is the melting pot. It's the ability to weave together multiple communities together for one nation."

Although Graham has not confirmed his remarks to The Post and Courier, Durbin claimed earlier Friday that his South Carolina colleague "spoke up and made a direct comment on what the president said … For him to confront the president as he did, literally sitting next to him, took extraordinary political courage and I respect him for it." The remarks have been internationally condemned, with the United Nations human rights office deeming them "racist." Jeva Lange

Update 2:41 p.m.: In a statement, Graham confirmed that he confronted Trump about his remarks, though he did not elaborate specifically on what the president said. Read the full statement here. Jeva Lange

2:44 a.m. ET

President Trump's "America First" presidency has pulled the image of American leadership to new lows, according to the new Gallup World Poll report released Thursday. America's median leadership approval rating across 134 countries in 2017 was 30 percent, 4 points below the previous low of 34 percent in 2008 and significantly lower than the 48 percent approval in 2016, the last year of Barack Obama's presidency. Disapproval of U.S. leadership also hit a new high, 43 percent, greater than the disapproval number for any global power over the past decade, Gallup said.

Views of American leadership actually rose by more than 10 percentage points in four countries — Liberia, Macedonia, Israel, and Belarus — Gallup found, but fell by more than 10 points in 65 nations, including drops of more than 40 points in Portugal, Belgium, Canada, and, ironically, Norway. The 25 percent U.S. approval number in Europe isn't a record low — it was lower during the final two years of the George W. Bush presidency — but Trump's America tied the previous nadir in Asia (30 percent) and hit a new low in the Americas (24 percent). Africa remains a bright spot at 51 percent. Among world powers, Germany is now on top, at 41 percent, while Russia lags at 27 percent and China just beats out the U.S. at 31 percent.

"It is too early in Trump's presidency to deem his 'America First' foreign policy a success or failure," writes Gallup's Julie Ray. "However, it is clear that based on the trajectory of what the world thinks of the U.S., many of the U.S. alliances and partnerships that the Trump administration considers a 'great strength' are potentially at risk." Read more at Gallup. Peter Weber

1:59 a.m. ET
iStock

Before she was assassinated in 2016, British lawmaker Jo Cox established a commission on loneliness and pushed the government to appoint a minister to tackle the problem affecting an estimated 9 million Britons, from the very young to the elderly.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that Tracey Couch is the new Minister for Loneliness, serving as an advocate for those who "have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with." Many people in the U.K. are distressed by "the sad reality of modern life," May said, and government research has found that about 200,000 elderly people haven't spoken with a friend or relative in more than a month, Time reports.

Researchers say isolation can lead to a higher risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as mental and emotional issues. You don't have to be the Minister of Loneliness to do your part — pick up the phone and offer to drive an elderly relative or friend to an appointment or lunch, drop by with a hot meal, or ask if they'd like to join you in a group activity. Catherine Garcia

1:12 a.m. ET

President Trump changes his mind constantly — he's ready to sign a bipartisan immigration bill he doesn't agree with one minute, then decrying it the next — so much so that Seth Meyers can't help but see similarities between Trump and fictional teens on television dramas who will do anything to fit in. Hear him out.

On Wednesday's Late Night, Meyers noted that while Republicans control all three branches of government, there's still the possibility of a government shutdown as the two parties try to carve out a DACA deal before Friday. Trump's "shithole" comments definitely complicated things, Meyers said, as well as his inability to stick to one plan. Last week, Trump suggested he'd go along with a bipartisan immigration bill, even if he didn't love it, but hardliners like Stephen Miller got to him, and he decided he was not interested in the bipartisan deal after all. "Trump's position is literally, 'I'll think whatever you want me to think,'" Meyers said. "He's like the bad boy from every teen drama."

The easiest way to sway Trump is by showering him with gifts, specifically candy, Meyers said. He related a story Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) shared about discovering Trump loves red and pink Starbursts, and then ensuring he gave him a giant jar (clearly marked as a gift from McCarthy) filled with only those two flavors. "I'll bet Putin is so pissed," Meyers said. "He spent millions of dollars and years of effort hacking into our election when he could have just stopped off at CVS and won Trump over for $2.99. Seriously, you can get Trump to do anything as long as you offer him candy. People think Robert Mueller is going to be the end of Trump, but it might just as likely be a weirdo in a van." Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia

1:12 a.m. ET

After The Wall Street Journal reported last week that a few weeks before the 2016 election, President Trump's personal lawyer paid adult film actress Stephanie "Stormy Daniels" Clifford $130,000 to stay quiet about an alleged 2006 extramarital affair with Trump — which Clifford now denies — In Touch magazine published a 2011 interview with her Wednesday evening in which she detailed her sexual encounter with the man who is now president of the United States.

"Trump can't stop this story because the interview was from 2011, before she signed her nondisclosure, and the magazine also verified Daniels' account with two sources at the time and had the actress take a polygraph," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "Wow, maybe In Touch magazine should lead the Russia investigation." The alleged affair took place four months after Trump's wife, Melania, gave birth to Barron. "That's a classic pickup line," Colbert said: "Hey baby — is what my wife just gave birth to. You want to go to dinner?" Dinner was reportedly in Trump's hotel room, and the dress was casual, he recounted. "Sweatpants, eating in the bedroom — even back then he was preparing for the presidency."

Colbert walked through other details of Clifford's account, some of them kind of disturbing. "Brace yourself, folks, because Stormy also says Trump paid her his highest compliment for a lover: 'He told me ... I was someone to be reckoned with, beautiful and smart just like his daughter,'" Colbert said, breathing and heaving into a paper bag. "Quick question: Can child protective services take custody of an adult woman?" You can watch more below. Peter Weber

January 17, 2018

Congress is two days away from a government shutdown, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) doesn't have enough Republican votes for a fourth straight short-term spending package, facing discontent from GOP defense hawks and the far-right Freedom Caucus. Democrats say they will vote against it, despite a tacked-on 6-year extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), because Republicans won't agree to a deal to protect DREAMers. The White House and House GOP leaders are leaning on GOP holdouts while preemptively blaming Democrats if the government shuts down, arguing that Democrats are voting against CHIP.

When a Politico writer said it would be interesting to see how many Democrats "vote against a 6-yr CHIP extension," Ryan press secretary Doug Andres retweeted, roping in late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel, a vocal proponent of funding children's health care. Kimmel wrote back.

The argument continued:

It was actually a pretty good summation of the political fight. Andres appeared to have a hard time believing this was his life.

Funding for CHIP expired in September. Everyone believes a standalone bill to fund it would easily pass in both houses. Peter Weber

January 17, 2018

If he wasn't before, Cam Dedman is now definitely his grandfather's favorite.

Last year, Dedman decided that for his grandfather Fred Lamar's next birthday, he would surprise him by completely restoring his 1957 Chevy Bel Air. "My grandpa is like my best friend," Dedman told WDRB. "He does everything with me." The car had been sitting in his grandparents' garage since 1976 and was in terrible shape. Throughout the entire restoration process, Dedman posted updates on social media, and family and friends who watched from start to finish flew to Kentucky last weekend to watch as he surprised Lamar with the car on his 81st birthday. When he saw the Bel Air, Lamar was stunned and, overcome with emotion, began to cry.

Lamar bought the car when he was 28, and he never thought he'd see it look brand new again. "I love it," he said. The pair has always been close and both love traveling together and classic cars, so for their next adventure, Lamar and Dedman plan on traveling across Kentucky in the Bel Air, visiting different car shows. Catherine Garcia

January 17, 2018

After HLN's Ashleigh Banfield ripped apart an article published over the weekend accusing actor Aziz Ansari of sexual assault, the author fired back, calling Banfield a "burgundy lipstick bad highlights second-wave feminist has-been."

A woman using the pseudonym "Grace" spoke to the website babe.net, saying Ansari pressured her to engage in sexual acts, ignoring her cues that she was uncomfortable. Ansari said in a statement he was "surprised and concerned" because he thought they were both on the same page, and he had several defenders, including Banfield. On her show Monday, Banfield said it was "appalling" that Grace tried to frame what happened as a rape or sexual assault and "potentially destroyed this man's career over it, right after he received an award for which he was worthy." When Banfield's producer invited the article's author, Katie Way, to appear on the show, she responded with a scathing email that attacked Banfield's age and looks.

Banfield shared some of the comments on her show Tuesday, and on Wednesday, the entire email was sent to Business Insider from Way's editor, Amanda Ross. In the email, Way said she's "certain no one under the age of 45" has heard of Banfield, and said she "targeted a 23-year-old woman in one of the most vulnerable moments of her life, someone she's never f—g met before, for a little attention." Way called Grace "the bravest person I've ever met" and said she will never appear on HLN. "I will remember this for the rest of my career — I'm 22 and so far, not too shabby!" Read the harsh email in its entirety on Business Insider, and watch Banfield's reaction in the video below. Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads