Trump judicial nominee fumbles basic law questions in Senate hearing

Some of the federal court judicial nominees put forth by the Donald Trump administration have been criticized for their complete lack of experience and for their controversial views. But a clip released Thursday night gave even more ammunition to those who can’t believe the poor quality of some candidates.

The furor (and laughter) increased exponentially when Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) tweeted the five-minute interview between Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Matthew Petersen, a Trump nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

It did not go well for Petersen, who couldn’t answer anything Kennedy asked him. And remember, Kennedy is a Republican who theoretically would like to approve as many GOP judicial nominees as he could.

In response, legal observers tweeted their amazement at the clip.

Though Petersen seems to have a solid resume for somebody who’s not interviewing for a lifetime appointment position—he currently sits on the Federal Election Commission—some of Trump’s nominees have been bashed by his own party.

Earlier this week, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said two of Trump’s nominees would not be confirmed, including the ghost-hunting Brett Talley—who had never tried a case and who had written anti-Muslim messages and vitriolic comments about the Sandy Hook shooting on a University of Alabama fan message board.

“I’ve advised the White House they ought to reconsider,” Grassley said, via the Hill. “I would advise the White House not to proceed.”

On Thursday, though, the Senate voted 50-48 to confirm Leonard Steven Grasz to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals even though the American Bar Association gave him a rare “not qualified” rating. Based on the Petersen video and the fact it’s been so widely mocked, it seems like he’ll have a tough fight to join Grasz on the bench.

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Trump pulls power-grab handshake with Medal of Honor recipient

Not even Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Capt. Gary Rose was safe from feeling the wrath of President Donald Trump’s notorious vice-grip of a handshake.

Shortly after giving Rose the medal during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Trump leaned in and grabbed his hand and pulled in hard—just as the president has done with world leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In some ways, it shouldn’t be shocking that Trump went in for his signature masculinity-testing hand grab, considering he’s done it so many times in the past.

He used the stunt against 2012 presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in February, which garnered some laughs. His handshake met its match against Macron in May when the French president came in quick and bested Trump—but then, only a few months later, they engaged in an awkwardly long rematch.

Given that Trump began his day discrediting a Gold Star widow’s account of a phone call he had with her about her husband that was killed in Niger, an (overly) strong handshake is probably the best case scenario that could have happened at Trump’s Medal of Honor event on Monday afternoon.

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Yep, Trump flung paper towels into crowd of hurricane victims in Puerto Rico

Nothing quite says disaster relief like flying paper towels, right?

President Donald Trump made his much-awaited trip to Puerto Rico on Tuesday following the devastation brought by Hurricane Irma and, more recently, Hurricane Maria.

During an event where he met with victims of the storm, Trump tossed rolls of paper towels into a crowd of survivors from behind a table of supplies. Videos of the interaction show Trump flinging the paper towels past the people in the front of the crowd as others take photos with their phones.

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Here’s another look.

It wasn’t the only less-than-ideal moment from Trump’s trip to the United States territory. Earlier on Tuesday, Trump told officials in Puerto Rico that they can be “very proud” of the death toll since it was not as high as the death toll from a “real catastrophe like Katrina.” Puerto Rico residents are American citizens.

“Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous—hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died,” Trump said during a press conference. “And you look at what happened here with really a storm that’s just totally overpowering. Nobody’s ever seen anything like this.”

Trump also jokingly said the damage in Puerto Rico has “thrown our budget out of whack.”

Sixteen people have died as a result of the damage done by Hurricane Maria, according to the official tally.

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Trump’s Twitter account just disappeared for some reason

President Donald Trump‘s Twitter account briefly disappeared on Thursday evening, sending the social network into a frenzy of instant speculation.

The account, @realDonaldTrump, appeared to have been disabled for approximately 11 minutes. Anyone who visited the account saw only this page:

Screenshot via Twitter

It was not immediately clear why Trump’s account briefly disappeared or what could have triggered the account to suddenly become inactive.

Neither Twitter nor the White House immediately responded to our request for comment.

Trump uses Twitter multiple times every day to reach his followers and broadcast his thoughts to the world. He has credited the platform for his political success and says it provides him with a direct line of communication to the American people.

Just moments before the account went dark, Trump tweeted about his appointment of former hedge fund manager Jerome Powell’s nomination to chair the Federal Reserve.

Many have long called for Trump to be banned from the social network for violating Twitter’s terms of service, which forbid harassing language—something the president has long been accused of committing. It is not immediately known whether anything Trump tweeted resulted in the temporary suspension of his account.

We will update this post as more information becomes available.

Update 7:10pm CT, Nov. 2: Twitter says that the account was deactivated for 11 minutes due to “human error” by an employee.

Correction: An earlier version of this article underestimated the amount of time Trump’s Twitter account was offline. According to Twitter, it was down for 11 minutes. We regret the error.

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Elizabeth Warren rips into Trump after racist ‘Pocahontas’ jab

President Donald Trump went on a tweetstorm Friday morning in which he returned to using his favorite derogatory nicknames for Hillary Clinton (“Crooked Hillary”), Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (“Crazy Bernie”), and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (“Pocahontas”).

Trump has continuously referred to Warren as “Pocahontas,” a racist slur, because of the controversy surrounding her self-described Native American heritage. Warren, though, has used it to her advantage, buying Pocahontas.com and redirecting it to her campaign site.

On Friday, though, she had harsh words for the president and reminded him that he can’t insult his way out of his own troubles.

On Monday, Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort turned himself into the FBI after he was indicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, and former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI regarding his attempts to dig up “dirt” on Clinton from Russian sources.

Since then, Trump has tried to spin the attention onto Clinton and the apparent financial highjacking of the Democratic National Committee by Clinton during the 2016 presidential primary.

In May, Warren said she had “no doubt” Trump was trying to shut down the Russian investigation by firing former FBI Director James Comey, a move that puts the president at the center of a possible obstruction of justice case.

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Federal judge blocks majority of Trump’s latest travel ban

A federal judge in Hawaii on Tuesday blocked the third iteration of President Donald Trump’s so-called travel ban, furthering the legal fight over the president’s attempts to bolster border security.

While the Justice Department says it will appeal the ruling, it marks yet another setback for the president’s much-criticized plan to bar entry into the country from people from several majority-Muslim countries.

Judge Derrick K. Watson blocked part of the ban—the latest version of which was set to go into effect on Wednesday. Trump’s ban would have barred certain travelers from Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad, Somalia, North Korea and Venezuela from entering the country. Watson suggested the ban violated immigration law.

The order from Watson stops Trump’s order except for restrictions on people entering the country from North Korea and Venezuela. The state of Hawaii and several citizens sued the Trump administration in response to the ban.

Tuesday’s order from Judge Watson is the third time Trump’s travel ban has been challenged in court, according to the Los Angeles Times

The third iteration added two non-majority Muslim nations—North Korea and Venezuela—in an apparent attempt to skirt the notion that it was intended to bar adherents of a specific religion from entering the country. At the time, the American Civil Liberties Union said the addition of the two nations didn’t “obfuscate the real fact that the administration’s order is still a Muslim ban.”

Earlier versions of Trump’s ban had restrictions on a seemingly arbitrary list of people who had “close relations” with people in the United States. The second iteration of the ban blocked people from entering if they were grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, or fiancés of people within the United States.

The United States Supreme Court has ruled on parts of Trump’s travel bans and partially lifted injunctions on previous versions of the plan in June.

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Trump’s ‘unsolved mystery’ about Joe Scarborough solved immediately

Retweeting anti-Muslim videos wasn’t the only thing President Donald Trump had on his mind this morning.

In the wake of Matt Lauer, the host of the Today Show, being fired for “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace,” Trump called for an investigation into an “unsolved mystery” surrounding MSNBC pundit and Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough, with whom he’s publicly feuded with in the past.

But the “unsolved mystery” Trump alluded to has been solved for years.

“So now that Matt Lauer is gone when will the Fake News practitioners at NBC be terminating the contract of Phil Griffin? And will they terminate low ratings Joe Scarborough based on the ‘unsolved mystery’ that took place in Florida years ago? Investigate!” the president wrote. (He technically wrote it twice after misspelling “that” in the first version of the tweet, which he deleted.)

Screengrab via @realDonaldTrump/Twitter

Trump apparently was referring to Lori Klausutis, a 28-year-old intern who was found dead in Scarborough’s office in 2001 when he was a Florida congressman.

There is zero evidence Scarborough had anything to do with Klausutis’ death. A medical examiner in Florida found that Klausutis “lost consciousness because of an abnormal heart rhythm and fell, hitting her head on a desk,” the St. Petersburg Times reported in August 2001. Klausutis was killed when she hit her head on the desk.

Scarborough responded to the president’s tweet shortly after, calling him “not well.”

“Looks like I picked a good day to stop responding to Trump’s bizarre tweets. He is not well,” Scarborough wrote.

Scarborough and fellow Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski have been frequent targets of the president’s Twitter tirades. In July, Trump sent out a number of crude and sexist tweets about Brzezinski “bleeding badly from a facelift” during a meeting between the three of them at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Photos of Brzezinski debunked Trump’s claim. Trump also called Scarborough and Brzezinski “crazy, “fake news,” and “dumb as a rock.”

Morning Joe‘s ratings soared after Trump assailed them.

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House overwhelmingly passes $36.5B bill for disaster relief, Puerto Rico aid

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a $36.5 billion disaster aid package to help victims of recent natural disasters and give emergency credit to Puerto Rico as it reels from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria.

The bill passed 353 to 69 and will head to the Senate for a vote after it returns from a week-long recess. Republicans cast all 69 “no” votes.

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Originally, the package included $29 billion in funding, but it was raised to fund a loan program for Puerto Rico to address “basic functions” in light of Hurricane Maria, according to CNN.

In addition to Puerto Rico, the money in the bill would also help areas hit by hurricanes in recent months–Florida, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands–and would also help people in California who have been affected by raging wildfires.

The move comes on the same day that President Donald Trump slammed Puerto Rico on Twitter despite a vast majority of the island territory still without electricity as a result of the storm.

Trump said there was a “total lack of accountability” in Puerto Rico and–somewhat ominously–said the United States would not keep “FEMA, the Military & the first responders… in P.R. forever!”

As of Thursday evening, only 10.6 percent of Puerto Rico had power, according to the Puerto Rican government, and 64 percent of people had access to drinking water.

You can see a full tally of which members of the House of Representatives voted for, or against, the bill here.

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You can now buy that viral ‘F**k Trump’ car sticker for just $3

Supporters of Karen Fonseca, the woman who went viral for her “Fuck Trump and Fuck you for voting for him” car decal, just received an early Christmas present: For less than $3, they can own a sticker of their own.

Fonseca and her children decided to turn the controversy into profit and sell the decals for prices ranging from $2.75 to $15, depending on how big of a statement supporters want to make.

Last week, Texas Sheriff Troy E. Nehls posted a photo of Fonseca’s truck on Facebook in hopes to find her and ask her to modify the decal. Instead, he was met by thousands of proponents for free speech demanding he respect her right to have the sticker. He eventually deleted the post

While Nehls threatened to arrest Fonseca for “disorderly conduct,” she was later arrested on an outstanding warrant. In response to Nehls, Fonseca uploaded her own viral Facebook picture highlighting an added sticker that reads, “Fuck Troy Nehls and fuck you for voting for him.” That decal will soon be for sale, as well, according to local station KHOU.

The stickers are selling fast, Fonseca said.

Why would you put it on your vehicle if you didn’t agree with me?” Fonseca said.

The viral story has also meant more sales of “Fuck Trump” stickers designed by young Fort Bend County Democrats. KHOU said the organization hadn’t sold any stickers in three months, but they just sold 120 in three days.

“It’s turned into this bigger thing, everything is back ordered,” volunteer Ali Hasanali said. “We can’t print enough, even if they want to buy now there’s going to be a delay because we have to print a lot more up.”

Hasanali also said Fonseca is now a symbol for the party and people who want to stand up to politicians who they feel are abusing their power.

“My hats off to Karen for being forthcoming and not being pressured or intimidated,” Hasanali said. “She’s a rallying cry for anyone who cares about individual liberties.”

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Billionaire buys Times Square billboard calling for Trump’s impeachment

Above the throngs of tourists, money hustlers in superhero costumes, yellow taxi cabs, and cold concrete of Times Square, a simple message will appear this holiday season: Impeach President Donald Trump.

Tom Steyer, a Democratic megadonor, revealed on Monday that he has expanded his campaign to impeach Trump to include a billboard over Times Square, where some 355,000 pedestrians pass through every day.

“We’re putting a couple of large billboards in Times Square calling for the impeachment of the president,” Steyer told Bloomberg. “We legitimately feel that this is the huge issue in front of the American people that no one is standing up for what the overwhelming number of Americans think.”

The digital billboard will display for 10 minutes every hour from now through New Year’s Eve when around a million people will cram into the iconic destination, waiting for the ball to drop.

The billboard is part of Steyer’s $20 million campaign urging the American people to demand Congress impeach Trump. Steyer also ran a television ad last month in which he cited the threat of nuclear war with North Korea and Trump’s surprise firing of former FBI Director James Comey as grounds for impeachment.

Steyer’s campaign centers around a petition at NeedToImpeach.com, which had garnered more than 2.6 million signatures as of Tuesday morning.

While Steyer may not be a household name, he is a powerhouse among the wealthy political-donor class. In 2016, the billionaire hedge fund manager donated more than $91 million to Democratic politicians and progressive causes—more than any other individual donor. Steyer sent a letter to Democratic politicians in early October demanding they back efforts to impeach Trump ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

In fact, efforts to impeach Trump have already begun in the House of Representatives. A group of six Democrats introduced articles of impeachment against Trump on Nov. 15.

“The time has come to make clear to the American people and to this President that his train of injuries to our Constitution must be brought to an end through impeachment,” Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) said in a statement. “I believe there is evidence that he attempted to obstruct an investigation into Russia’s interference with the U.S. presidential election and links between Russia and the Trump campaign, most notably the firing of FBI Director James Comey. The president’s blatant refusal to separate himself from his businesses has led to clear instances of conflict of interest that appear to violate both the domestic and foreign emoluments clauses.”

Despite the growing momentum for Trump’s impeachment, the volatile move is unlikely to succeed in the current Congress, which is controlled by Republicans. However, with all 435 seats in the House and 34 seats in the Senate up for grabs in 2018, it’s possible that Steyer eventually gets his wish.

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