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May 16, 2018

Rudy Giuliani said on CNN Wednesday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team told President Trump's lawyers they've determined they cannot indict a sitting president.

"All they get to do is write a report," said Giuliani, one of Trump's newest attorneys. "They can't indict. At least they acknowledged that to us after some battling, they acknowledged that to us." Speaking to The Washington Post, Giuliani said Mueller did not explicitly tell anyone he would not charge Trump, and when asked which member of Mueller's team passed along the message, Giuliani said he needed to check with another lawyer, Jay Sekulow.

Mueller, he told the Post, is "bound by Justice Department policy. Justice Department policy, if you look at the 1979 memo, says that you can't charge the president. Says you can't issue criminal process against him either. No president has ever been charged criminally. Presidents get impeached then charged criminally." Mueller could issue a report that makes a recommendation for the House, and they could then pursue articles of impeachment. Catherine Garcia

6:50 a.m.

In a New York Times report Sunday on President Trump's chaotic, sometimes Pyrrhic, remarkably consistent negotiating style, former Trump Organization vice president Barbara Res explained one reason she believes Trump is having such a hard time ending his government shutdown: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). "There was never a woman with power that he ran up against, until Pelosi," Res said. "And he doesn't know what to do with it. He's totally in a corner."

Res elaborated Monday night on MSNBC's The 11th Hour. "There are certain basic tenets of negotiation that Trump does not believe in," like the "win-win" deal or give-and-take, she told guest host Nicole Wallace. Trump's "I demand, and this is what I'm going to get" strategy "has worked for him in certain circumstances where he had all the leverage" and power, but "now he doesn't have either."

"Trump has always felt that men are superior to women, and he even told me that," Res said. "So in his mind, any woman would be inferior to him, even the best of the best. And here's Nancy Pelosi, she probably is the best of the best. Problem is, she's his match, she's not inferior to him, she's —in my opinion, from a point of view of dealmaking — far superior." Trump "can't see" that he "100 percent" could end the shutdown anytime he chooses, she added, and when Wallace asked how this will all end, Res said she doesn't know. "I think, eventually, somebody's going to have to blink," she said, and if Trump rejects a compromise from Democrats, "I think he's going to be in very, very big trouble."

Tony Schwartz, who wrote Trump's The Art of the Deal, told the Times that Trump "was always a terrible negotiator," and his only "virtue" is his use of "a hammer, deceit, relentlessness, and an absence of conscience," and his apathy about any "collateral damage" he leaves behind.

5:33 a.m.

Newly sworn-in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has never served in a Congress where the government was open, Stephen Colbert pointed out to her on Monday's Late Show. He gave her a pint of Ben & Jerry's and a spoon and asked what that's been like. For her and the other 100 or so House freshmen, she said, "the downside is that we're not able to get to work as much as we want to in the beginning, but the bright side is that it gives us a lot more free time to make trouble," like trying to track down Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Ocasio-Cortez explained that in her social media workshop for Democrats, "I gave them more of my general theory and approach to social media," where "Rule No. 1 is to be authentic, to be yourself, and don't try to be anyone that you're not. So don't try to talk like a young kid if you're not a young kid, don't post a meme if you don't know what a meme is," and "don't talk like the Founding Fathers on Twitter."

Ocasio-Cortez is so good at social media, "she's known for hosting Instagram live Q&A's while cooking dinner," Colbert explained before the interview. "That's impressive. My wife once asked me a question while I was making a grilled cheese sandwich, and I ended up in the emergency room."

Colbert asked Ocasio-Cortez about her plan to tax rich guys like himself at a 70 percent marginal rate. "This is something we often see, too, with Fox News, it's like, 'They want to take all your money!'" she said. But the 70 percent marginal tax rate would apply only to the dollars you make each year after you hit $10 million. Colbert pointed out that cries of "'She's a socialist, she wants 70 percent tax rates,' those are both accurate, right?" She laughed and said yes, but "democratic socialist," which is "very different." Peter Weber

4:31 a.m.

"I am tickled red, white, and blue to welcome you to our very special show, Intermission Accomplished: A Halftime Tribute to Trump," Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday's very special Kimmel Live. "We are here tonight to celebrate the midway mark of Donald Trump's first term in office — because let's be honest, this is a man who is far too humble to celebrate himself." He listed some of Trump's many accomplishments: "More than 6,000 tweets in office, at least half of those with no misspellings at all. More than 100 days on the golf course, keeping tabs on the environment. And let's not forget the election itself: Donald Trump got 62 million votes, second-most of any presidential candidate in 2016."

Kimmel ran through Trump's hagiography, Ken Bone (Josh Gad) made a cameo, and a group of dancers ended the intro with a spirited pro-Trump medley.

"This president has delivered so many poignant words, the best words, since he took office," Kimmel said. "Donald Trump has tweeted more than every other president in history combined — more than Washington, more than Lincoln even. And tonight we remember his most memorable lines," as sung by Leon Bridges. They've honestly never sounded sweeter.

Alyssa Milano popped in to hawk "Great Moments in Trump History" commemorative plates.

Kimmel also starred in a dark faux sit-com about Eric Trump (Paul Scheer) and Don Jr. (Will Arnett) hunting down the last lion in Africa.

Finally, the ghost of Fred Trump (Fred Willard) appeared to take credit for all of his son's accomplishments, then changed his mind. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:48 a.m.

On Monday night, Senate Republicans released a 1,300-page version of the plan President Trump outlined Saturday to reopen the federal government. It includes $5.7 billion for Trump's border wall, a three-year extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for DREAMers, and bills to fund the parts of the government closed for 31 days and counting, plus $12.7 billion in assorted disaster and agricultural relief. Immigration experts also found several big, unheralded changes to the U.S. immigration system.

Democrats have already rejected the bill, and the details probably won't help win any over when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) brings it up for a vote this week.

The first big change deals with asylum. Notably, "it makes it so Central American minors are ineligible for asylum if they don't apply at a processing center (to be established) in Central America," says The Federalist's Gabriel Malor. "Asylum is a form of relief for people who are being persecuted in their home countries and the authorities there are unable or unwilling to protect them (or are the source of the persecution). You can't condition asylum on people remaining in the place where they are persecuted."

Also, immigration lawyer Aaron Reichlin-Melnick notes, "only 50k Central American minors [would be] allowed to apply for asylum each year, and only 15k asylum applications can be granted," by Homeland Security Department officials (not judges) through "a kangaroo process." The bill would not extend Temporary Protected Status for all 300,000 immigrants from war-torn or disaster-struck countries, just some from Central America and Haiti.

The ban on Central American minors "is pretty bad and reason alone to oppose this bill," Malor argues. "But the changes to whether an application can be found to be frivolous applies to ALL applicants, and it's completely unreasonable." The bill "will (and should) get zero votes from Democrats," he adds, "and to be honest, Republicans should be shooting question marks at McConnell, too." Peter Weber

1:57 a.m.

These were definitely the best kind of wedding crashers.

When choral students at Hingham Middle School in Hingham, Massachusetts, found out their favorite teacher, choir director Christopher Landis, was getting married, they came up with a fitting way to celebrate: They would surprise him with an impromptu performance of The Beatles classic "All You Need is Love" at his wedding rehearsal brunch. Two choir parents got in touch with his now-husband, Joe Michienzie, who immediately agreed to help pull it off.

More than 50 kids signed up for the surprise serenade and attended four weekend practices. Well-rehearsed, they left school early on Dec. 21 and traveled 30 miles to the brunch in Plymouth. Landis was shocked when the students started filing into the room, and he began to cry when he realized they were there to sing. "These are my kids," he told his guests. "It was so wonderful for the kids to see him with his family and his close friends, and they saw him as a person, not just their teacher," parent Joy Foraste told The Patriot Ledger. "They saw how much it meant to him." Catherine Garcia

1:23 a.m.

Attempting to clarify conflicting statements he gave about a Trump Tower project in Moscow, Rudy Giuliani managed to make an already confusing situation even more baffling.

President Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was in charge of the Moscow project. On Sunday, Giuliani — Trump's current lawyer — said project discussions were held as late as October or November 2016, almost to Election Day. On Monday, Giuliani released a statement saying his remarks were "hypothetical and not based on conversations I had with the president."

Late Monday, The New Yorker's Isaac Chotiner called Giuliani to discuss his shifting story. First, they discussed the BuzzFeed News report last week that Trump directed Cohen to lie about when the Moscow negotiations ended, as Cohen did. Giuliani said he knew the story was false because "I have been through all the tapes, I have been through all the texts, I have been through all the emails, and I knew none existed."

Wait, what tapes? Chotiner asked. "I shouldn't have said tapes," Giuliani said, backtracking. "They alleged there were texts and emails that corroborated that Cohen was saying the president told him to lie. There were no texts, there were no emails, and the president never told him to lie." Moving on, Giuliani said Trump "had no conversations" about the Moscow project, before reversing course and declaring, "I shouldn't say he had no conversations. He had a few conversations about this early-stage proposal that he ended somewhere in early 2016, and doesn't have a recollection of anything else, and there is nothing to support anything else."

Giuliani denied telling The New York Times that Trump said "discussions were going on from the day I announced to the day I won," but when asked if the Times made the quote up, Giuliani said he didn't know. None of this matters anyway, Giuliani said, because "even if it's true, it's not criminal." Read the entire bewildering interview at The New Yorker. Catherine Garcia

1:02 a.m.

"Happy Martin Luther King Day, in which we honor Dr. King's dream, 50 percent off at Nordstrom's," Stephen Colbert joked on Monday's Late Show. He caught everyone up on the Rams-Saints game and a blatant foul that cost New Orleans the game, and "speaking of things that make you scream at your TV: Donald Trump," he said, pivoting.

On Day 31 of the government shutdown, President Trump hasn't forgotten about the 800,000 workers going without paychecks, but Colbert found his supportive tweet wanting. "They're not volunteering to work for free," he pointed out. "You might as well have tweeted: 'THANK YOU, GREAT PATRIOTS! Please accept this Tweet in lieu of a paycheck. Quick tip: tell your landlord Mexico's going to pay your rent.'"

But Trump did go on TV Saturday and "made an offer that he was sure everyone would love," Colbert said. "In exchange for his border wall, Trump offered to restore DACA and TPS protections for three years — which is weird, since they're protections that he himself took away." Democrats "somehow did not fall for" Trump's temporary hostage deal, he said, and in fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) "said no before Trump even asked — a move known in Washington as 'The Melania.'"

On Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kimmel's Abe Lincoln was joined by George Washington (Fred Armisen), Thomas Jefferson (Bobby Moynihan), and Teddy Roosevelt (Jeff Ross) on Mount Rushmore as a new face was added: Trump (Anthony Atamanuik). The former presidents wanted to know what Trump did to get on the monument. "I also ended slavery," Kimmel's Lincoln said. "That's not true — I've been making a bunch of federal employees work for free for 31 days," Trump said. And he also made some ... changes to the treasured national park. Watch below. Peter Weber

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