The White House ups the odds of a government shutdown by demanding Democrats fund Trump's border wall
Calm and quiet negotiations aren't everyone's cup of tea. Congress has until April 28 to pass a stopgap spending bill to avoid a government shutdown, and Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate appropriations committees have been working with Republican leaders to negotiate a spending package. Any spending bill will need the support of at least eight Democrats in the Senate to pass. On Thursday, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said the spending bill has to include some initial funding for President Trump's border wall with Mexico, and Democrats have to play ball.
"We have our list of priorities," Mulvaney said Thursday. "We want more money for defense. We want to build a border wall." He said the White House would be open to throwing some money at Democratic priorities, too — mentioning paying risk-sharing subsidies to insurance companies to cover low-income health care, important to keeping ObamaCare exchanges functioning — but Democrats have to support Trump's wall and other priorities, too. He stopped short of saying Trump wouldn't sign a bill without such funding, The Washington Post reports.
Democrats expressed disappointment that the White House was elbowing its way in. "Everything had been moving smoothly until the administration moved in with a heavy hand," said Matt House, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). "Not only are Democrats opposed to the wall, there is significant Republican opposition as well." Mulvaney wasn't swayed, insisting Democrats agree to fund the wall. "If they tell us to pound sand, I think that's probably a disappointing indicator of where the next four years is going to go," he said
The cost of completing a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border ranges from $12 billion to $70 billion. During the campaign, Trump had insisted that he would somehow force Mexico to foot the costs. Peter Weber
On Friday, Hawaii will introduce its emergency plan informing residents and visitors what to do if North Korea strikes. The plan will require students to practice "evacuation drills similar to 'active shooter' situations" and there will be emergency siren testing on the first workday of every month, Time reported. If the incident should ever arise, announcements will be broadcast urging everyone to "get inside, stay inside, and stay tuned."
The plan is being released just weeks after North Korea tested a missile that U.S. authorities confirmed "could travel up to 4,000 miles, just outside of Hawaii's reach and fully within range of Alaska." "We do not want to cause any undue stress for the public," Vern T. Miyagi, Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency administrator, said in a statement. "But there is clear evidence that [North Korea] is trying to develop ballistic missiles that could conceivably one day reach our state."
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned his post Friday, The New York Times reported, shortly after President Trump offered Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci the position of communications director. Spicer apparently vehemently opposed Scaramucci's appointment, and despite being asked by Trump to stay on in the administration under Scaramucci, Spicer resigned.
In light of the news, Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.) on Friday offered her kudos to Spicer for not being the most invertebrate member of the Trump administration:
Congratulations Sean Spicer. You've got more guts than Jeff Sessions!
— Maxine Waters (@MaxineWaters) July 21, 2017
Trump publicly criticized Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, in an interview with The New York Times earlier this week. On Thursday, Sessions vowed to remain at the Justice Department for "as long as that is appropriate."
Spicer's tenure at the White House lectern was not quite the shortest in history; that dubious honor belongs to Jonathan Daniels, who served 19 days under President Franklin Roosevelt. Kimberly Alters
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned Friday after telling President Trump that he "vehemently disagreed with the appointment" of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director, The New York Times writes. Scaramucci, a Wall Street financier and longtime Trump supporter, was named communications director earlier Friday.
Giant staff meeting in Spicer's office right now. Priebus, Sanders, many others inside. Reporters asked to clear the hallway. https://t.co/jRcP7fjjr8
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) July 21, 2017
Trump reportedly asked Spicer to stay on, although Spicer turned down the invitation, calling Scaramucci a mistake. Scaramucci has been working at the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and Trump has told aides he appreciates how he defends him in his appearances on Fox News. The communications director job has been open since Mike Dubke's short tenure ended in May. Read more at The New York Times. Jeva Lange
You might call it downright surreal. Twenty-seven years after Salvador Dali was buried, his body has been exhumed — and his mustache is still entirely intact, The Associated Press reports.
Dali's embalmed body was dug up to test a tarot card reader's claim that she is the famous painter's daughter. It was necessary for Dali to be exhumed because there are no known biological remains of the artist.
Experts removed samples of Dali's hair, nails, and "two long bones" for testing, AP reports. His famous mustache was reportedly still in the "ten past ten" shape when forensic experts opened the coffin. Jeva Lange
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has requested the White House keep all documentation related to the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-linked lawyer, a person familiar with the decision told CNN. "[T]he Special Counsel's office is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Donald Trump," Mueller's letter read. "Information concerning the June 2016 meeting between [Trump Jr.] and Natalia Veselnitskaya is relevant to the investigation."
The request covers text messages, emails, voicemail, and other communications.
Meanwhile, President Trump and some of his lawyers are actively looking at ways to undermine, discredit, or fire Mueller, including compiling a list of potential conflicts of interest that might be used to force him out, The New York Times and The Washington Post report. The effort has apparently ramped up as Mueller begins digging into Trump's financial history, and Trump is reportedly especially concerned that Mueller can access his tax returns. Jeva Lange
It would appear it's too late for Justin Bieber to say sorry to China. Beijing's Culture Bureau on Thursday posted an announcement to its website that the Canadian pop star will be banned from performing in China from here on out because of his "bad behaviors." "Justin Bieber is a gifted singer, but he is also a controversial young foreign singer," the bureau said in its statement.
The bureau explained the decision was made "to maintain order in the Chinese market and purify the Chinese performance environment." "We hope that as Justin Bieber matures, he can continue to improve his own words and actions, and truly become a singer beloved by the public," the statement said. Bieber was slated to perform in Hong Kong this fall as part of the Asia portion of his Purpose World Tour.
The bureau didn't cite any specific examples of said "bad behaviors," but The New York Times noted back in 2014 Bieber "caused a diplomatic row when he posted photos of himself visiting the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors Japanese war dead." The year before, Bieber was photographed "being carried up the Great Wall of China by his bodyguards," the Times reported. On that same trip, he also caused chaos when he skateboarded through Beijing's streets "while being frantically chased by his bodyguards."
As anyone with a brother or sister knows, it's always great when your parents are mad at your sibling because then your own shenanigans go unnoticed. It just so happens it works that way in politics, too.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson admitted to The Washington Examiner that he has found the silver lining to the Trump administration's ongoing scandals: "Let me put it this way," Carson said. "I'm glad that [President] Trump is drawing all the fire so I can get stuff done."
Carson knows something about drawing unwanted attention — he has been accused of elaborate exaggerations and brow-raising claims. But in this case, you've got to admire the man for his honesty. Jeva Lange