Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) had a rather unromantic beginning to his Valentine's Day. During an interview with Chris Cuomo on CNN's New Day, Jordan tried to spin the ongoing scandal regarding Rob Porter, the former White House staff secretary who resigned last week after two of his ex-wives leveled allegations of abuse, into a story about one of his pet topics: alleged abuses of power in the FBI's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
As Cuomo mused that letting an alleged domestic abuser like Porter have access to classified documents in the White House was perhaps a bad idea, Jordan pivoted to the tale of Carter Page. Republicans have claimed that Page, a former campaign aide to President Trump, was improperly surveilled because the FBI used a dossier partly paid for by Hillary Clinton's campaign to justify his surveillance.
"Chris," Jordan began, "to compare [Porter having access to classified information] to the FBI ... taking a campaign document, dressing it all up as legitimate intelligence, and presenting it to a FISA court … is not an apt comparison," Jordan said. Cuomo shot back, "You don't know that's what happened."
When Cuomo challenged Jordan's description of the FISA court, which oversees surveillance requests, as a "secret court," Jordan said: "Have you ever read a transcript from the FISA court? ... I haven't." Cuomo pointed out the contradiction in Jordan's logic: "That's why I don't have an opinion about them. I don't judge them when I haven't seen them."
After Jordan continued to insist that the FBI's surveillance of Page was motivated by a desire to taint Trump, Cuomo asked, "What kind of caper is this, that this is what [the FBI] came up with to hurt President Trump? ... To put a surveillance on Carter Page, a guy who had almost no real connection to Trump?" He concluded, "It's preposterous." Watch below. Kelly O'Meara Morales
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Friday began soliciting public input on restoring work requirements for food stamp recipients in high-unemployment areas where rules were waived in recent years.
"Long-term dependency has never been part of the American dream," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. "USDA's goal is to move individuals and families [using food stamps] back to the workforce as the best long-term solution to poverty."
Able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) are eligible for only three months of food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) unless they spend at least 80 hours per month working or at a qualified training. In five states — Alaska, California, Louisiana, Nevada, and New Mexico — and economically struggling localities in 28 other states, that rule is currently suspended.
No changes have been formally proposed at this time, but the USDA estimates about 2.9 million ABAWDs are currently unemployed and would therefore be affected if the waiver were rescinded. They make up about 7 percent of the 43.6 million people who used food stamps in 2017. Bonnie Kristian
Heavy rains over the weekend are expected to exacerbate deadly flooding in the Midwest and southern Plains regions. Hundreds of people have evacuated their homes in affected areas from eastern Texas through southern Indiana, and at least three people, including one child, have been killed in connection to the floods.
***There is now a HIGH RISK of flash flooding from the Arklatex region into the Ohio Valley for SATURDAY*** pic.twitter.com/fa4yxMW433
— NWS WPC (@NWSWPC) February 23, 2018
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) has declared a 30-day state of emergency, and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) has issued a disaster proclamation for three counties. The National Weather Service advises caution of flash floods and tornadoes throughout the weekend. Bonnie Kristian
The United States men's curling team took its first-ever gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang on Saturday. After nearly being eliminated from the competition, the team made a comeback win, besting both the Canadian team — prior to this victory, no American team in men's or women's curling has ever beaten Canada at the Olympics — and the Swedish team, which was ranked first in the world.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 24, 2018
"During the entire end we could kind of feel it building," said team leader John Shuster of the gold-medal victory over Sweden. "Their margin for error got really small."
Also Saturday, Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic became the first woman to take gold in two separate events at the Winter Games. Last Saturday, she was the surprise victor in Alpine skiing, and this week, Ledecka triumphed in her primary event, women's parallel giant slalom snowboarding. Bonnie Kristian
Chief of Staff John Kelly will make the decision about whether to revoke access to classified information for Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, the president said Friday. Trump expressed confidence in Kelly's judgment and praised his son-in-law as "a high-quality person" who "has been treated unfairly."
Kushner "works for nothing," Trump added. "Nobody ever reports that. He gets zero. He doesn't get a salary." Many media outlets reported White House staff salaries, including Kushner's $0 rate, when they were published last summer.
Kushner is among more than 100 White House staff of varying levels of seniority who still lacked security clearance as of November, and he has so far resisted Kelly's move to limit his information access before clearance is granted.
Friday evening, The Washington Post reported Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told the White House two weeks ago Kushner's background check had uncovered information requiring additional investigation and thus further delaying his clearance process. Rosenstein reportedly did not tell the White House what his department has learned. Bonnie Kristian
Often called the Rolls-Royce of alpine sports, Foil has outdone itself with its limited-edition Oro-Amaranto Jackie Chan skis ($42,000). Tuned to the specifications of the veteran action star, who is both a fine skier and a collector of rare woods, these outrageously luxurious foot-extenders have 14-karat-gold-plated bindings and are made from purpleheart, a hardwood prized for its density, water resistance, and beautiful color. Foil also makes skis from Bog Oak — culled from trees buried in peat bogs and thus preserved for up to 8,000 years. The company is working now to develop a high-performance ski made of solid gold.
Former NFL player forces Los Angeles school to close after tagging it in apparently threatening Instagram post
Former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin forced a Los Angeles-area high school to close Friday after making a cryptic post on Instagram, the New York Post reports.
Martin was viciously harassed by a number of his Dolphins teammates, including Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey, starting in his rookie year in 2012, an NFL report released in 2014 found. The report concluded that the harassment eventually led "to Martin's decision to leave the team, as well [as] contribute[d] to his mental health and suicidal thoughts," SB Nation reports.
Martin used his private Instagram account to post a photo of a shotgun and bullets, as well as the names of former teammates, including Incognito and Pouncey. He also included the name of the high school he attended, Harvard-Westlake, and the text: "When you're a bully victim and a coward, your options are suicide or revenge."
Former Dolphins OL Jonathan Martin with some seriously disturbing stuff on his IG story... pic.twitter.com/NaJ8a0BXze
— Nick Brown (@NickyBeaster) February 23, 2018
In the 2014 NFL report, Martin had also expressed distress over being "a pushover, a people-pleaser," texting friends and family to say: "I mostly blame the soft schools I went to, which fostered within me a feeling that I'm a huge p--sy, as I never got into fights. I used to get verbally bullied every day in middle school and high school, by kids that are half my size."
In a statement, the school said: "Last evening, we learned of an internet post that mentions Harvard-Westlake by name. Out of an abundance of caution, and because the safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our top priority, we made the decision to close school today. We are working closely with law enforcement and will share more information when we are able." Jeva Lange
Rick Gates, a former adviser to President Trump's 2016 campaign, pleaded guilty Friday to one count of conspiracy and another of lying to the FBI, charges brought against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Sentencing guidelines put Gates in the range of a prison term of 57 to 71 months, Reuters reports, although those numbers could be brought down based on cooperation in the investigation.
"Gates could provide the special counsel with valuable information about the inner workings of Trump's operation: He served as a senior figure in the campaign and had access to the White House as an outside adviser in the early months of the administration," The Washington Post writes.
Mueller's office had filed 32 additional charges against Gates and Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, on Thursday. The pair had additionally been indicted on 12 counts of financial crimes last October. Gates had reportedly been working to finalize a plea deal with Mueller last week, making him potentially the third person known to be cooperating with the special counsel's investigation, after Trump's former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Jeva Lange