EPA chief claims he needs first-class flights to avoid 'unpleasant' interactions with taxpayers in coach
It seemed like it could be the great mystery of our time: What unspecified threats require Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Scott Pruitt to fly almost exclusively in business or first class? A spokesperson told CBS News on Tuesday that "due to security concerns" the secretary "has a blanket waiver to fly in first or business class," a decision that has increasingly come under scrutiny as President Trump's Cabinet draws concerns over their expensive travel.
In one case, taxpayers footed the bill for Pruitt's round-trip business-class flight to Italy, which cost at least $7,000 and was "several times the cost of what was paid for other staffers who accompanied him on the trip," CBS News adds.
Pruitt offered a glimpse into his air troubles in an interview with The New Hampshire Union Leader on Tuesday, when he said: "Unfortunately ... we've had some incidents on travel dating back to when I first started serving in the March-April timeframe." He added: "We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment" and said he was "not involved" with decisions such as those that led to $90,000 spent on his travel during a period in June.
"Those are all made by the [security] detail, the security assessment in addition to the chief of staff," he said.
At last, on Wednesday, Pruitt gave a definitive — and relatable — answer:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency has broken months of silence about his frequent premium-class flights at taxpayer expense, saying he needs to fly first class because of unpleasant interactions with other travelers.
— David Eggert (@DavidEggert00) February 14, 2018
Still, refusing to fly with people who can only afford coach is not a great look, to say the least. HuffPost's Igor Bobic points out that Pruitt is "a public servant, paid by those some travelers." Jeva Lange
Names are important — sometimes all it takes is a great name to realize someone is a winner. But even President Trump, who made his riches off of the association of his surname with all things gold and luxurious, gets name envy sometimes.
"I think you have the greatest name in politics," Trump raved to Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) on Thursday. "If I had that name I would have been president 10 years sooner."
Trump praises Rep. Patrick McHenry for his name: "I think you have the greatest name in politics. If I had that name I would have been president 10 years sooner." pic.twitter.com/iOZWlT4tFj
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) May 24, 2018
You've gotta admit — McHenry University, McHenry Steaks, McHenry Vodka. It's kind of got a ring. Jeva Lange
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) claimed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is likely having "a giggle fit right now" over President Trump's letter calling off their planned summit in Singapore next month.
Kim "got global recognition and regard," Pelosi went on. "He's the big winner. When he got this letter from the president saying 'okay, never mind' — he must be having a giggle fit right there now in North Korea." Pelosi said that it was clear Trump didn't know what he was getting into in the negotiations with Pyongyang, and mocked the language used in his "very chummy, palsy-walsy letter." Watch below. Jeva Lange
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) May 24, 2018
President Trump's Thursday announcement that he would not travel to Singapore next month for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seemed to catch the South Korean government off guard.
"We are attempting to make sense of what, precisely, President Trump means," said South Korean government spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom. South Korean President Moon Jae-In called a late-night emergency meeting to discuss Trump's announcement with top aides and Cabinet members, The Washington Post reports.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to comment on whether or not the U.S. gave South Korea and Japan a warning that Trump would cancel the summit. Pompeo said that North Korea was not responsive over recent weeks while the U.S. tried to prepare for the meeting. The Post reported on Tuesday that a North Korean delegation didn't show up at a recent planning meeting with U.S. leaders. Hours before Trump pulled out of the summit, however, North Korea did make a show of destroying its nuclear test site. Summer Meza
Eight women have accused actor Morgan Freeman of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment, reports CNN.
People who worked with Freeman on film sets or during press tours said that the actor would ogle women, try and lift their skirts, engage in inappropriate touching, and make suggestive comments. Freeman did not comment on the allegations. Former employees and coworkers told CNN that Freeman acted like a "creepy uncle" who would make "vulgar" comments about women, often remarking on their bodies and the way they dressed.
"He would be verbally inappropriate and it was just shocking," one former employee of Freeman's production company told CNN. Freeman would allegedly make approving comments when women wore revealing clothing, and one former production assistant said that he repeatedly tried to lift her skirt, asking whether she was wearing underwear.
Eight women said they had been harassed, and eight other people said they had witnessed Freeman's alleged misconduct. The women say they didn't report Freeman's behavior out of fear that it would negatively affect their careers. Some women said they would dress differently when they knew Freeman would be on set, in an attempt to avoid unwanted comments or touching. Read more at CNN. Summer Meza
After 65 years on the green, Ben Bender has retired from golf on a high — quitting the game just minutes after hitting his first-ever hole in one. The 93-year-old Ohioan bought his first set of clubs for $50 at age 28 and has been playing ever since, getting as low as a 3-handicap. The former insurance salesman, who suffers from hip bursitis, was on the third hole when he made his long-sought ace last month. "I played a few more holes, my hips were hurting, and I had to stop," Bender says. "It seemed the Lord knew this was my last round, so he gave me a hole in one." Christina Colizza
On Thursday, President Trump announced that he was pulling out of a scheduled summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by … writing a civil, calm, professionally regretful letter? Still, despite the generally cordial tone, this is distinctly a work from the Trump canon.
Trump cancels on Singapore meeting via letter to Kim pic.twitter.com/PBgcijjEgE
— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) May 24, 2018
The first clue comes in the second sentence: "We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant." Then why bring it up? While the next sentence, "I was very much looking forward to being there with you," might be translated as "I really want the Nobel Prize," the subsequent sentence uses Trump's favorite word ("sad!") and displays his usual love of hyperbolic adjectives: "Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting."
The letter even sneaks in a Trumpian boast at the bottom of the first paragraph: "You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used."
While admittedly the letter isn't littered with ellipsis, threats, typos, oddly Capitalized letters, or addressed to Mr. Rocket Man, Trump's own staff have reportedly learned to mimic his rambling, colorful messages in order to ghostwrite them more effectively. Apparently that goes to open letters to foreign heads of state, too. Jeva Lange
The U.S.-North Korea summit is off. But you can still pre-order a commemorative coin from the White House gift shop!
The summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may be canceled, but the commemorative coins will live on forever.
Trump on Thursday pulled out of the summit that was scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, writing to Kim that "it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting" due to increasing tensions. But the souvenir coins that the White House Communications Agency minted earlier this week are still for sale through the White House gift shop.
The coin celebrated the "PEACE TALKS" of 2018, depicting Trump and Kim facing off with both national flags. Patriotic collectors can still visit the White House gift shop online and pre-order a coin for just $24.95, though it's a different version that includes South Korean President Moon Jae-In. It even comes in a black velvet coin case!
If coins aren't your thing but you still want to remember the almost-talks, don't worry — the White House is still taking orders for the official Nuclear Deproliferation Summit Ornament. The shop says it's the most sophisticated ornament design yet, made to complement the summit coin.
So buy your souvenirs now: if not to commemorate a successful summit, then to wistfully sigh and remember what could have been. Summer Meza