CNN Russia expert says RT was alone in not covering James Comey's Trump testimony. Jake Tapper notes Fox News wasn't, either.
The public testimony of FBI Director James Comey in Monday's House Intelligence Committee hearings was "rather bad news" for President Trump, CNN's Jake Tapper said Monday afternoon, and he asked the two conservative members of his panel — former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Mary Katherine Ham — if there was any good news for Trump. Santorum said yes, kind of. "I think the good news is that Comey went out and announced there is an investigation," he said, so Trump and his Republican allies "can start putting pressure externally to get this thing moving" to its conclusion. Ham agreed and argued that the White House should be focusing on its actual good news, the Senate hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
Tapper got some views from former Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon and Bloomberg White House correspondent Margaret Talev, then turned to CNN senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward. Russian President Vladimir Putin is "somebody who likes to meddle in elections and enjoys sowing chaos in the electoral process in liberal democracies throughout the world," he said, so isn't Putin just really "enjoying this, one way or another? The American political system is in disarray."
Ward half-agreed. "I think up to a certain point he was kind of enjoying it, he was enjoying the ambiguity of it, the possibility that he could have thrown the election in the most powerful, important, consequential country in the world — that certainly spoke to his ego," she said. "But what was noticeable today, while every single news channel pretty much in the world — and I'm talking globally, Sky News, BBC, Al Jazeera — one news channel that very noticeably did not take today's hearing was Russia Today, and I do think you are starting to see now the beginning of what we might call a 'conscious uncoupling' of the Kremlin and the Trump administration."
"Russia Today wasn't covering it this afternoon," Tapper said. "Also, when I looked up, Fox News wasn't covering it, they were covering the Gorsuch hearings."
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) March 20, 2017
"An interesting observation," Tapper said dryly, if slightly immodestly. Peter Weber
Americans' views on President Trump's tax reform proposals are split along predictably partisan lines, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll reports Tuesday, albeit with some noteworthy details.
A mere 7 percent of Democrats back Trump's plan compared to 60 percent of Republicans — a strong majority, but not an indicator of enthusiasm as dramatic as Democrats' distaste — and 29 percent of independents. In aggregate, just 28 percent of Americans support the plan. Another 44 percent oppose it, while 28 percent told pollsters they have no opinion, perhaps due to ongoing uncertainty as to what, exactly, the plan will change.
One point on which Americans can agree, however, is that middle and lower income earners deserve a tax break. Tax cuts for businesses receive greater support (45 percent) than those for the wealthy (33 percent), and corporate tax cuts are viewed most favorably, another survey published Monday noted, if they are cast as an opportunity for economic growth. Most of the Post/ABC poll respondents (51 percent) believe Trump's plan will cut income taxes for the rich, while a third say it will favor the middle class or treat both groups equally. Bonnie Kristian
The Department of Homeland Security announces intention to collect information about immigrants' social media accounts
The Department of Homeland Security has announced its intention to expand the sort of information it collects on immigrants, with "social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results" subject to be added to immigration files as soon as Oct. 18, BuzzFeed News reports. The new policy would apply to both green card holders and naturalized citizens.
The changes "will not only allow DHS to collect information about an immigrant's Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts, but it also mentions all 'search results,'" Gizmodo writes. "It's not immediately clear if that means the agency will have access to things such as Google search histories nor is it clear how that would be obtained."
An additional consequence of the new policy is that everyone who interacts with immigrants on social media would also presumably be subject to having those conservations under surveillance, Gizmodo reports. What's more, social media surveillance has historically not proven to be a promising mode of vetting: "In cases of benefit denial, the denial was based on information found outside of social media," presidential transition documents by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services report.
The Brennan Center's co-director of liberty and national security, Faiza Patel, raised another concern to BuzzFeed News: "The question is, do we really want the government monitoring political views?" Patel said. "Social media may not be able to predict violence but it can certainly tell you a lot about a person's political and religious views." Read the full report at BuzzFeed News. Jeva Lange
By the time you read to the end of this post, another person in America will have been arrested on charges of marijuana possession. In fact, on average, U.S. law enforcement arrest one person for pot possession every single minute of every single day.
In 2016, that pace amounted to about 587,700 arrests for marijuana possession nationwide, The Washington Post reported Tuesday based on aggregate crime data released by the FBI Monday. That figure is larger than the combined total of arrests for all crimes the FBI places in the violent crimes category, including murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, some cases of arson, and aggravated assault.
That comparison becomes all the more remarkable in light of the fact that polling shows about six in 10 Americans support legalizing recreational pot use, and public opinion has been steadily trending toward legalization for years. That support rate is 71 percent among millennials, now the largest generation in the United States, and even a majority of Republican millennials (63 percent) support legalization. Bonnie Kristian
When President Trump issued a new travel ban on Sunday, he dropped Sudan from his old ban and added three new countries: Venezuela, North Korea, and Chad. Of those three, only Chad has a (barely) Muslim majority, and all three are odd picks. The ban mostly targets government officials in Venezuela, and North Korea doesn't let its citizens leave — making it hard to argue that either ban makes America safer from terrorists, Trump's rationale. And Africa experts are baffled as to why Trump included Chad, a Central African nation with a close military partnership with the U.S. and France and a strong track record of combating Islamic militants.
Chad seems puzzled, too, and upset. On Monday, Chad said it is "baffled" and "astonished" to be included in the ban, and it "invites President Donald Trump to reconsider this decision, which severely tarnishes the image of Chad, and the strong relationship between the two countries, particularly in the fight against terrorism." Trump's proclamation said that "Chad does not adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information and fails to satisfy at least one key risk criterion," but Africa experts said they doubt Chad is worse than its neighbors, especially Sudan, which is still on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism.
"It makes no sense whatsoever. In fact I wonder if there wasn't some sort of mistake made," John Campbell, a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told BuzzFeed News. "It's an insult. What really gets to me is the apparent sheer stupidity of it." Brandon Kendhammer, a West Africa expert at Ohio University, said he bets "the ambassadors and AFRICOM are losing their minds right now." The decision is "totally nuts," he added. "This morning we were all like, 'What the hell is going on?'" "This makes no sense at all, even from a Trumpian standpoint," Reed Brody, a Human Rights Watch lawyer who has worked extensively in Chad, tells The New York Times.
Several analysts suggested that the lack of State Department and Pentagon experts may have contributed to the counterproductive decision. Trump hasn't even nominated 80 key State Department appointees, including the assistant secretary for African affairs, and the Pentagon is only 15 key positions confirmed out of 54. Peter Weber
Equifax has ousted CEO Richard Smith following the credit reporting agency's announcement earlier this month of a massive security breach, The Associated Press reports. Equifax's response to the breach, which affects an estimated 44 percent of the U.S. population, has been heavily criticized.
Additionally, the Justice Department has opened an investigation into whether or not three Equifax executives who sold $1.8 million in stock just days after the breach broke insider trading laws. Smith served as CEO since 2005; Paulino do Rego Barros Jr. will serve as interim CEO. Jeva Lange
Sports Illustrated revealed the powerful cover of its Oct. 2 issue on Tuesday, a direct response to President Trump's ongoing condemnation of NFL players kneeling in protest during the national anthem. "A nation divided, sports united," the cover reads, with images of the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Warriors' head coach Steve Kerr, and Oakland A's catcher Bruce Maxwell, among many others, linking arms:
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 26, 2017
"The thing that kind of frustrated me and pissed me off a little bit is that [Trump] used the sports platform to try to divide us," James said in an impassioned speech Monday. "It is so amazing what sports can do for everyone, no matter what shape or size or race or ethnicity or religion or whatever … It just brings people together like none other." Read Sports Illustrated's cover story here. Jeva Lange
President Trump tweeted Monday night that Puerto Rico is "in deep trouble" while resident commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R) estimated that the cost of damage from Hurricane Maria could be as much as $20 billion, far exceeding Hurricane Irma's estimated $1 billion recovery costs. "U.S. officials say that Puerto Rico faces a longer road to recovery than any other part of the U.S. hit by a hurricane, partly because the island nation needs to ship and fly in equipment and personnel that can simply be trucked in to states like Florida and Texas," The Wall Street Journal reports.
Of primary concern is Puerto Rico's power grid, which requires an expensive overhaul. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who visited the territory, has thrown his support behind recovery efforts and called for Puerto Rico not to "be punished" for the hurricane damage.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) September 25, 2017
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) deemed the situation "devastating" and told Gonzalez-Colon he is planning a relief package in October.