October 8, 2016

The release of graphic remarks Donald Trump made about women in 2005 has thrown the GOP into tumult, with multiple big-name Republicans denouncing Trump's comments, retracting their endorsements, or even calling on him to step out of the presidential race.

Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, released a statement Saturday saying he is "offended" by Trump's remarks and cannot defend them, but will remain on the ticket. House Speaker Paul Ryan called Trump's words "sickening" and uninvited the candidate from a scheduled joint event in his home state of Wisconsin. Trump faced particular backlash from Utah Republicans: Utah Sen. Mike Lee told Trump to drop out, while Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz took back their endorsements.

A host of other Republican heavyweights including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte also condemned Trump's words. Nevertheless, the Republican National Committee denied a New York Times report that party leadership is meeting "to discuss what options the party has going forward in case Trump isn't the nominee."

Watch's Lee's demand for Trump to exit the race below. "This can't continue," he says. "It's time for us not to settle. It's time for us to expect more."

This post has been updated throughout. Bonnie Kristian

3:33 p.m.

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich has officially backed President Trump's impeachment.

Kasich, who ran against Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, announced his support for the president's impeachment Friday in a CNN interview after White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney admitted Trump withheld aid to Ukraine partly to secure an investigation into the 2016 Democratic National Committee email hack. Mulvaney backtracked on this hours later.

"When I heard what Mulvaney said ... it pushed me really across the Rubicon," Kasich told CNN, going on to say that Trump withholding aid so that "a political operation can't take place" is "totally inappropriate" and an "abuse of power." This does "rise to the level of impeachment," Kasich concluded.

"I say it with great sadness," Kasich said. "This is not something I really wanted to do ... But this behavior, in my opinion, cannot be tolerated, and action is going to have to be taken."

Kasich was hesitant last month to back impeachment, saying after the release of the rough transcript of Trump's conversation with Ukraine showing he pushed for investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and the DNC hack, "Does this process move to a place where Republicans can grudgingly say this is a problem. And right now, I don't see it."

The former Ohio governor has often been critical of Trump throughout his presidency, and his name was floated as a possible 2020 primary contender. In August, Kasich said he doesn't see a path to victory against Trump "right now" while adding, "that doesn't mean there wouldn't be a path down the road." Brendan Morrow

3:26 p.m.

Joe Biden's ice cream problem is costing his campaign — $3,800, to be exact.

That's how much Biden spent in one go at Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream in Columbus, Ohio, during the 2020 campaign to purchase "donor gifts," Politico reports via public campaign finance reports. But it's far from a surprising purchase for the ice cream-loving former vice president. Well, at least not as surprising as how much Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) spent on shoelaces.

Campaign finance reports are often used to scrutinize how much candidates spend on private flights and other luxury-adjacent services. The charter flight crown has so far gone to Biden, who spent $924,000 on the service and also carbon offsets for the flights, his campaign says. But Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) tops the Uber pool, racking up nearly $23,000 on ride-hailing services of a combined $136,000 among candidates, Politico reports.

In more unusual purchases, candidates have so far spent more than $7,000 on flowers, with South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg spending the most at $3,100. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang meanwhile bought $3,100 worth of "campaign attire," which is a Federal Election Commission violation Yang's campaign said it'd rectify.

Perhaps the most absurd purchase comes from Swalwell, who was one of the first candidates to drop out of the race. He later transferred his 2020 funds to his congressional re-election campaign, and used $7,000 of it to buy shoelaces printed with "#Swalwelling." Find more campaign spending highlights at Politico. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:29 p.m.

Peggy Noonan, who served as a speechwriter for former President Ronald Reagan, is forecasting possible trouble ahead in President Trump's impeachment trial.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer in a new Wall Street Journal op-ed observes that Trump's acquittal in the Senate "is likely but not fated," seeing a "mood shift" on impeachment and writing that there are reasons to believe "the situation is more fluid than we realize."

She cites as one reason Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) recently saying the Senate's probable impeachment trial could be fairly lengthy at between six and eight weeks; for comparison, the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton was five weeks.

"His decision also gives room for the unexpected — big and serious charges that sweep public opinion and change senators' votes," Noonan says. "...Serious and dramatic hearings would move the needle on public opinion, tripping it into seriously negative territory for the president. And if the needle moves, the Senate will move in the same direction."

Noonan does think that Trump pushing for Ukraine to conduct investigations that might benefit him politically "probably isn't enough," but what may be is "serious and sincere professionals who testify believably that the administration is corrupt and its corruption has harmed the country." And, she notes, it doesn't help that Trump continues to "let his inner crazy flourish daily and dramatically." Read the full op-ed at The Wall Street Journal. Brendan Morrow

2:24 p.m.

President Trump's newest threat isn't much of a threat.

In a letter to CNN sent Friday, Trump lawyer Charles Harder threatened to sue the network for apparently launching "unfair, unfounded, unethical and unlawful attacks" on Trump, especially in the era of impeachment. Trump is seeking monetary damages under the Lanham Act because CNN allegedly "misrepresented" the "trademark" that is Trump's name, and at least one lawyer seems to think it's ridiculous.

In the letter, Trump's legal team takes aim at CNN's claim that its reporters are "truth seekers" and outlines other times when CNN basically said it's relaying facts. But a recently published video from the right-wing group Project Veritas seems to show CNN employees claiming company president Jeff Zucker has a vendetta against Trump, thus "constituting misrepresentations" of Trump, Trump's team claims.

Neal Katyal, the Obama-era solicitor general who wrote the special counsel regulations, has already suggested CNN will have no problem dealing with Trump's threat. In fact, he said in a tweet that "CNN will want him to sue and have a court decide this one," perhaps giving them a legal answer to Trump's ongoing fake news claims.

While it's unclear if it would actually welcome a lawsuit, CNN did dismiss the suit as a "desperate PR stunt" that "doesn't merit a response" in a statement. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:35 p.m.

If it's Friday, it must mean Jane Fonda is getting arrested in Washington, D.C. — and this week, she recruited a costar to join her.

Fonda has vowed to "get arrested every Friday" for 14 weeks in climate change protests at the U.S. Capitol in what she's calling Fire Drill Fridays. After first getting arrested protesting last week, she was arrested in another demonstration Friday, as was her Grace and Frankie costar Sam Waterston, Deadline reports.

The 78-year-old actor, who advocated for the Green New Deal during the protest, said this was his first time being arrested, reports NBC News' Frank Thorp.

Fonda in an interview with the Los Angeles Times previously said that some of her costars, including Waterston and Lilly Tomlin, would be joining her for the protests, and she added she might ask Martin Sheen to join as well. The protests will continue, potentially with rotating celebrity guests, for four months. Brendan Morrow

12:28 p.m.

At least 62 people have died and more than 100 others were injured in explosions at a mosque in eastern Afghanistan.

Multiple bombings caused the roof of a mosque in the Nangarhar province to collapse during Friday prayers, Reuters reports. Rescuers are still excavating the site and pulling survivors and bodies out of the destroyed mosque, a member of Nangarhar's provincial council said.

Explosives were put "under a podium in the main atrium of the mosque where people were praying before they exploded," a spokesperson for Nangarhar's governor tells The New York Times. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, though the Deh Bala district does border rural ISIS-held areas. Afghanistan's government has so far blamed the Taliban for the attack, but the Taliban has denied involvement, per Reuters.

The attack comes as the United Nations declares violence against civilians has reached "extreme levels" in Afghanistan, CNN notes. At least 1,174 civilians died in the months of July-September, the largest quarterly total in a decade. The rising conflict largely stems from fighting between rival political groups. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:48 a.m.

Hillary Clinton has directly labeled 2016 Green Party nominee Jill Stein a "Russian asset," and indirectly suggested the same is true of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

The 2016 Democratic presidential candidate during an appearance on the Campaign HQ podcast Thursday said she believes Russia in 2020 is going to "do third-party again," meaning push a third party candidate to help President Trump, The Washington Post reports. The previous time she's referring to is Stein's 2016 campaign.

"She's a Russian asset," Clinton said of Stein. "I mean, totally."

A report prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2018 concluded Russia's Internet Research Agency troll farm in 2016 pushed "pro-Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein content," The Hill reports.

This comment came after Clinton suggested there's an unnamed candidate in the field who Russians are grooming to run third party, clearly talking about Gabbard. Earlier this week, The New York Times wrote in reference to Gabbard that some "worry about supportive signs from online bot activity and the Russian news media."

"I'm not making any predictions, but I think they've got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary," Clinton said, with the "they" being the Russians. "And they're grooming her to be the third party candidate. She's the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far."

Gabbard has slammed such accusations at this week's Democratic debate, referring to the Times article as being full of "smears." In regards to Stein, the Post noted that "exit polls showed most of her voters wouldn't have supported either Clinton or Trump if Stein weren't running." Brendan Morrow

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