This week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined Instagram, and his new nickname for the State Department raised some eyebrows. "You know, between the Space Force and the Department of Swagger, this Trump administration has really given us an exciting look into what the government could be if it were run by a wealthy 12-year-old," Jimmy Kimmel said on Thursday's Kimmel Live. He paired the "Department of Swagger" idea with a specially created State Department new-employee orientation video designed to "fit in with the hip new attitude," and, well, maybe this all would have gone better with input from actual 12-year-olds. Watch below. Peter Weber
Jimmy Kimmel highlights the awkwardness of Mike Pompeo's 'Department of Swagger'September 14, 2018
Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer is launching what looks like a presidential campaign12:29 p.m.
Nancy Pelosi on the midterms: At least Trump 'didn't declare the election illegal'11:04 a.m.
Apparent suicide bombing in Kabul kills at least 40, injures 60 at
gatheringof religious scholars10:47 a.m.
Walmart ends support for GOP senator over 'public hanging' comment10:41 a.m.
Rick Santorum thinks there are 'obvious differences' between Ivanka Trump and Hillary Clinton's private email use10:18 a.m.
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal calls for investigation into Ivanka Trump's email use9:54 a.m.
Could Democrats actually pick up a Senate seat in Mississippi?8:55 a.m.
If Tom Steyer isn't running for president, he's doing a pretty good job of faking it.
The liberal billionaire, who's unflinchingly called for the impeachment of President Trump, launched a new website and ad campaign on Tuesday. It introduces Americans' "five rights," which look an awful lot like a presidential platform and are the subject of Steyer's pseudo-campaign tour starting in December, per The Washington Post.
Steyer's newest campaign launched Tuesday with nationwide newspaper ads, and it'll soon be featured in a six-figure campaign across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, a spokeswoman tells the Post. He's also unveiled a revamped website, which compels readers to "tell the new Congress we need" to protect the five progressive rights he's laid out.
The ad that @TomSteyer ran in USA Today this morning that is about what he thinks Democrats should be talking about in 2020, as he nears a decision on whether he’ll be talking about 2020 himself pic.twitter.com/NVEkAFtlvL
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) November 20, 2018
Steyer built his fortune leading an investment firm, but left in 2012 to found the progressive nonprofit NextGen America and has been teetering on the edge of politics ever since. He's given more than $130 million to progressive campaigns since 2016, and paid for $20 million in TV ads encouraging the impeachment of Trump. In a September Post interview, Steyer wouldn't say whether he'd run for office, but did say "understanding" political processes and policies is more important than prior political experience — which he does not have. Kathryn Krawczyk
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is obviously happy Democrats flipped 37 House seats these past midterms. Otherwise, she says President Trump might've "declare[d] the election illegal."
"Had it been four or five seats, he would've tried to dismantle" the Democrats' victory, Pelosi tells The New York Times Magazine. But Democrats are now safely in the majority, and, with Trump's surprising endorsement, Pelosi is gearing up to lead them.
Pelosi's bid for speaker of the House faces the opposition of 16 House Democrats who released a letter Monday saying they'd vote against her, putting the 218 votes Pelosi needs to secure the speakership in jeopardy. But battling the odds isn't exactly new for the former speaker. When she first ran for her seat in 1987, her Democratic primary opponent tried to label her a "pampered and unserious 'party girl,'" the Times Magazine writes. She conquered that image to become one of 26 women in a House where "sexual harassment ... was part of the deal," Pelosi's first chief of staff said.
In Pelosi's early House days, fellow Democrats in the House never encouraged her to aspire for leadership roles. "They didn't ever invite me to a meeting," she insisted to the Times Magazine, adding that "the only time I was ever in the Democratic speaker's office was when I became speaker."
Still, Pelosi became the first woman to lead the House in 2007, and she's confident Democrats will elect her again this year. After all, with 2018 being called "the second generation of Year of the Woman, do you really think they're going to say, 'Let's not have a woman as speaker?'" a Pelosi associate said. Read more at The New York Times Magazine. Kathryn Krawczyk
A bombing in Afghanistan's capital has left at least 40 people dead and 60 injured, BBC News reported Tuesday.
An explosion went off at a wedding hall in the Afghan capital of Kabul, where religious scholars and clerics were gathering on the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, according to the Afghan Ministry of Public Health. Hundreds of Muslims were gathered for the occasion, TIME reports, and The Washington Post cites an Afghan official who said a suicide bomber was responsible for the deadly blast.
"The victims of the attack
This comes after ISIS claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings in Kabul that killed or wounded more than 100 people in August, per BBC News, and after six Shiites were killed in a bombing during a protest there, reports the Post. No one has claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attack. Brendan Morrow
Retail giant Walmart withdrew its support from Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) Tuesday morning in a tweeted response to actress Debra Messing. The company said it is requesting Hyde-Smith return all funds Walmart donated to her campaign.
Hi Debra. Completely understand your concern. Sen. Hyde-Smith’s recent comments clearly do not reflect the values of our company and associates. As a result, we are withdrawing our support and requesting a refund of all campaign donations.
— Walmart (@Walmart) November 20, 2018
Hyde-Smith finds herself in a competitive runoff after she said she'd "be on the front row" if a supporter invited her to "a public hanging." The senator has defended her remark as "an exaggerated expression of regard" with no negative meaning, but it has been widely linked to Mississippi's history of lynching.
Later, Hyde-Smith said making it difficult for "liberal folks" to vote sounded like a "great idea." Her campaign said it was a joke unconnected to the state's record of black voter suppression. Hyde-Smith's campaign rival is Democratic former congressman and agriculture secretary Mike Espy, who is black.
President Trump's daughter and senior White House adviser, Ivanka Trump, reportedly used her personal email account for government business last year — which wouldn't be such a big deal had her father not made endless political hay out of his 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton, doing the same thing.
But former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) argued on CNN Tuesday it's not the same at all.
"To ignore the obvious differences here is, I think, a little hypocritical," Santorum told host Chris Cuomo. "Hillary Clinton went out and established her own server in full knowledge that what she was doing was wrong." Trump used her personal email account after Clinton's actions had been analyzed and debated in detail for months on end.
Furthermore, Santorum continued, Clinton "was a political person who had political aspirations, who was doing things in her own interest as a political figure, as opposed to Ivanka, who is not a political figure, who is the daughter of the president, yet she was not the secretary of state dealing with a variety of very sensitive and classified information."
Trump is not paid for her White House work and does often on domestic policy, like the family leave Santorum mentioned, but she has accompanied her father on state visits abroad, held his seat at a G20 summit, and met with the United Nations secretary-general.
Watch Santorum's comments in context below. Bonnie Kristian
Get ready for another contentious investigation into a government official's email use.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Tuesday called for "some kind of investigative effort" after The Washington Post reported that Ivanka Trump in 2017 used a personal email account to send hundreds of emails about government business. Blumenthal told CNN that either the Office of Government Ethics or Congress itself should conduct an investigation into this matter because Trump "in a sense" has put herself "above the law." He also
The report on Ivanka Trump's email use naturally drew comparisons to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was hammered during the 2016 election for her use of a private email server while at the State Department. Blumenthal agreed with this comparison and decried "hypocrisy," while Trump's lawyer says her situation is not like Clinton's because she didn't have a private server in her house and didn't send classified material, per CBS News' Mark Knoller.
But Trump's email use, which the Post reports violated federal records rules, is drawing criticism even from some past members of the administration, with former communications director Anthony Scaramucci calling it "hypocritical" and former legislative affairs director Marc Short saying it "certainly looks bad." Watch Blumenthal's comments below. Brendan Morrow
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Ivanka Trump using her personal email account for official White House business: "There should be some kind of investigative effort, whether it's through the Office of Government Ethics or through the Congress" pic.twitter.com/7WAKc6GI46
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) November 20, 2018
Some Republicans are beginning to worry they may lose a Senate seat to Democrats — in Mississippi.
Voters in the state are set to participate in a runoff election on Nov. 27, as neither Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith nor Democratic challenger Mike Espy captured a majority in the midterm election. But Hyde-Smith has been mired in controversy in recent weeks, first for a remark about a "public hanging" and then for saying that making it difficult for liberals to vote sounded like a "great idea." Her campaign dismissed the former comment as an exaggeration and the latter as a joke.
After these gaffes, Republicans are reportedly "nervous" that Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to her seat earlier this year and is now running for a full term, could cost them a Senate seat, with one top party member in the state telling Talking Points Memo that the race "is definitely tighter than what it should be." Talking Points Memo also reports that some private polls show the race has tightened and Hyde-Smith is only up by a few points.
Democrats are engaging in a last-minute push to get out the vote, Politico reports, hoping to increase turnout, specifically among black voters. President Trump appears not to be taking Hyde-Smith's win for granted, as he plans to travel to the state for two rallies on Monday. Trump won Mississippi by 17 points in 2016.
If Espy, the former agriculture secretary in the Clinton administration, were to actually defeat Hyde-Smith, he would be the first Democratic senator to represent the state in nearly three