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May 19, 2017
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President Trump's one-time dabble in horse racing reportedly left a thoroughbred named "D.J. Trump" nearly dead and without front hoofs, The Washington Post reports.

While Trump denies the story as "totally unsubstantiated and false," it is recalled in a book by John O'Donnell, Trumped!, and the Post was able to confirm many details of the story. Allegedly, racehorse trader Robert LiButti, a high-roller at Trump's casinos, wanted Trump to purchase his horse with Triple Crown potential, Alibi, for $500,000. The CEO of Trump's casinos, Stephen Hyde, saw the purchase as an investment to keep LiButti visiting the casinos.

Trump agreed, but demanded the horse's name be changed to D.J. Trump. Trump (the human) then argued his name was "worth at least $250,000 ... so he should only have to pay an additional $250,000 to complete the purchase," The Washington Post writes.

Then the story gets dark:

A few days before D.J. Trump was due to head north [for races], according to O'Donnell, a virus ripped through the horse farm. D.J. Trump didn't appear sick, but the trainer Jerkens recommended postponing a final workout in Florida, and the move north, for a few weeks. If the horse was sick, the trainer said, working him out risked a high fever, and possibly death.

Trump was impatient, O'Donnell wrote. He wanted his horse racing, up north, with no delays. Hyde relayed the order reluctantly: "He wants the horse to work."

D.J. Trump's last workout in Ocala was, in Trump parlance, a total disaster. A few hours after running, the horse's legs began shaking uncontrollably, then he collapsed in a heap. D.J. Trump had contracted the virus without showing symptoms, veterinarians concluded, and the workout had exacerbated his condition. [The Washington Post]

Ultimately, D.J. Trump lived — but his front hoofs had to be amputated, and he would never race. As the story goes, Trump was "unmoved," and, as he hadn't written the $250,000 check yet, he wiggled out of the deal.

"[Trump's] cavalier attitude about the horse, I think, bothered Steve," O'Donnell told the Post. “That [Trump] didn't care, that it was just a piece of flesh … That really disturbed him." Read the full saga at The Washington Post. Jeva Lange

7:55 p.m. ET
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In an attempt to pressure Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro into canceling this Sunday's election to choose members of an assembly that will rewrite the country's constitution, the United States on Wednesday imposed new sanctions on 13 current and former government officials, military officers, and managers at the state-run oil company.

They are being accused of undermining democracy, corruption, and alleged human rights abuses, The Guardian reports. The targeted officials include Nestor Reverol, who in 2016 was indicted in the U.S. on drug trafficking charges and the next day was promoted to interior ministry for security; army chief Jesus Suarez; and national police director Carlos Perez. Maduro said the Venezuelan government does not "recognize any sanctions," and the vote is still on.

Opposition leaders are boycotting the vote, which they believe will push Venezuela into an authoritarian regime; Maduro said instead, it will usher in peace following months of deadly anti-government protests. Catherine Garcia

7:09 p.m. ET
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Kristin Beck knows what it's like to be in the military — over the course of her 20-year career as a Navy SEAL, she was deployed 13 times to places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia, and received the Bronze Star for valor and Purple Heart for wounds suffered in combat.

Beck is a transgender veteran, and wants President Trump to know that his decision to ban transgender people from the U.S. military will have a negative impact on many, and there's no reason for this policy. "Being transgender doesn't affect anyone else," Beck, a member of SEAL Team 6, told Business Insider on Wednesday. "We are liberty's light. If you can't defend that for everyone that's an American citizen, that's not right."

In 2016, the RAND Corporation estimated there are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender people serving in the military, and Beck, who was born Christopher Beck, said any unit with a good leader wouldn't have any issues with transgender troops. "I can have a Muslim serving right beside Jerry Falwell, and we're not going to have a problem," she said. "It's a leadership issue, not a transgender issue." What really bothers Beck is that Trump claimed his decision was partly based on the cost of services that could be used by transgender service members. "The money is negligible," she told Business Insider. "You're talking about .000001 percent of the military budget. They care more about the airplane or the tank than they care about people. They don't care about people. They don't care about human beings." Catherine Garcia

5:18 p.m. ET
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Sean Spicer tendered his resignation as White House press secretary last Friday, calling his time in the position "an honor and a privilege." While he'll stay in the White House through August, Spicer was spotted in New York City on Wednesday morning, where he was reportedly meeting with several TV networks, possibly in pursuit of a post-government gig.

But the most interesting option by far came from Page Six on Wednesday, when the site reported Spicer might be in talks to take his theatric personality to an actual stage: Reality dancing competition Dancing with the Stars has reached out to the former spokesman about appearing on the show, Page Six claims. "That has legs," an unnamed "TV insider" told Page Six of Spicer possibly cha-cha-ing on the hit ABC show.

When reached by Page Six on Wednesday about the rumor, Spicer said, "I have no comment." ABC told Page Six they "don't comment on casting."

But ... we can hope, right? Kimberly Alters

4:55 p.m. ET

On Wednesday, after Senate Republicans failed for the second time to repeal ObamaCare, even former Fox News staple Bill O'Reilly had to admit his pessimism. "Health care, not going to happen," O'Reilly tweeted. "The Republican Party cannot get it together."

O'Reilly was the leading host on Fox News until he was ousted amid sexual harassment allegations in April. Earlier this week, he defended President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner against allegations of Russia collusion by arguing Kushner is simply too baby-faced to be "fixing elections with Putin."

So, conservatives: When even Bill O'Reilly can't muster a defense for you, that might be a bad sign. Kimberly Alters

4:25 p.m. ET
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On Wednesday, the Senate rejected a proposal to repeal ObamaCare without an immediate replacement, 45-55. Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Susan Collins (Maine), Dean Heller (Nev.), John McCain (Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Rob Portman (Ohio) joined all Democrats in voting down the measure.

After rejecting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare on Tuesday, senators will now move on to a "skinny repeal" plan, which would scrap ObamaCare's individual and employer mandates as well as the medical device tax, but leave everything else in place. The proposal has the best chance of allowing Senate Republicans to pass a bill — any bill — which would allow them to move on to conference with the House, where they could assemble a more comprehensive repeal plan.

The "skinny repeal" plan could face a vote by the end of the week. Kimberly Alters

4:07 p.m. ET
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While new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci takes a "fire everyone" approach to dealing with leaks, embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to shortly launch criminal investigations to catch the executive branch leakers that have so frustrated President Trump.

Multiple unnamed officials told The Washington Post in a report published Tuesday evening that "Sessions is due to announce in coming days a number of criminal leak investigations based on news accounts of sensitive intelligence information." Fox News reported the same thing Wednesday, apparently citing a different official, who said the announcement has "been in the works for some time and will most likely happen sometime in the next week."

This comes as Trump continues his public attacks on Sessions, seemingly pushing the attorney general to resign. Among his complaints, the president said Tuesday, is that Sessions should "be much tougher on leaks in the intelligence agencies that are leaking like they never have before. ... You can't let that happen." Bonnie Kristian

3:42 p.m. ET
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Powerhouse link aggregator The Drudge Report has uniquely shaped online traffic flow and the conservative news agenda for two decades, garnering its reclusive curator, Matt Drudge, a position of real influence among right-of-center politicos. Drudge galvanized his readers' support for President Trump during the 2016 election, but now CNN reports his own enthusiasm for the president is beginning to wane.

Drudge is "growing impatient," an unnamed associate of the site editor told CNN, because he "takes some credit, I think, for getting Trump elected into the White House and he expected him to follow through on the promises he campaigned on. Look, it's not going well so far. Some of it is, but for the most part it's trouble. Drudge can see that. He's not blind to reality."

Another person with ties to Drudge said it "seems like Matt is starting to get a bit miffed" and does not feel at all "beholden" to Trump if the president doesn't keep his promises.

Drudge is reportedly attending regular meetings at the White House, talking with Trump himself as well as key advisers like Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner. Still, his coverage of Trump has acquired a more critical tone of late. "Drudge smells smoke and maybe sees some fire and he is trying to figure out this: Does he put the fire out? Can the fire be put out? Or does he put himself in the position to pour kerosene on the fire and take advantage of that?" said conservative writer John Ziegler, who worked with Drudge on a talk radio show. "So basically, Drudge is trying to figure out if he is the fireman or the arsonist." Bonnie Kristian

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