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Today is the Spring Equinox, or, as it’s known around Third Way’s offices, International Both Sides Day. James Comey confirmed the FBI has been investigating Russia’s ties to Trump associates, no doubt giving HIllary an edge going into the final days of the campaign. And Shaquille O’Neal says the Earth is flat. We look forward to the 2026 news cycle when House Republicans are constantly dodging questions about President Shaq’s previous unfounded comments about the Earth’s z-axis. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, March 20th, 2017:
KEEP SHOVELING THOSE ‘THIS IS FINE’ MEMES INTO THE CONTENT FURNACE! Tomorrow’s 3 am tweetstorm from the president will be a particularly interesting one. Jessica Schulberg: “The FBI director confirmed the existence of an investigation into possible ties between associates of President Donald Trump and Russian government officials…. ‘I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,’ Comey told the House Intelligence Committee. ‘That includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.’” [HuffPost]
Let’s say it again: “Let’s step back for a minute and consider again what we saw Monday in a hearing room of the U.S. House. The director of the FBI, with the director of the National Security Agency agreeing at his side, in effect called the president of the United States a liar – and, oh, by the way, the president’s 2016 campaign indeed is under investigation for allegedly having secretly teamed up with Russia to win the election.” [HuffPost’s Howard Fineman]
Hey, remember all those Trump surrogates who said someone under investigation by the FBI shouldn’t be president?
GOP committee members were more interested in prosecuting journalism: “Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) asked Rogers if The Washington Post’s bombshell report last month that former national security adviser Michael Flynn had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador before Trump’s inauguration could damage national security. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said he had ‘never seen such a sustained period of leaks’ and referenced reports in the Post and The New York Times. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) questioned whether the Times might have misrepresented sources for an article and mused about a ‘so-called source’ actually being a Russian surrogate. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) even raised the specter of prosecuting journalists for publishing classified information, which would be an enormous escalation in the crackdown on leaks. Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) asked the FBI last month to investigate leaks to reporters, suggesting those leaks came from government officials loyal to former President Barack Obama.” [HuffPost’s Michael Calderone, Jessica Schulberg and Ryan Reilly]
FLAGRANT LIE A FLAGRANT LIE, COMEY CONFIRMS – This is even funnier/sadder when you recall that it was only two months ago when President Trump kinda, sorta blew Comey a kiss. Ryan J. Reilly: “FBI Director James Comey on Monday directly refuted President Donald Trump’s claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower…. ‘With respect to the president’s tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI,’ Comey said. ‘The Department of Justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for the Department of Justice and all its components, the department has no information that supports those tweets.’” [HuffPost]
Kind of like how poorly paid, undocumented Polish workers played a “small” role in Trump Tower’s construction: “Paul Manafort, a man who once managed Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, was only a bit player in the political operation, White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed Monday. ‘There’s been a discussion of Paul Manafort, who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time,’ said Spicer, who clarified that Trump stands by earlier claims that he wasn’t aware of contact between campaign officials and Russia during the election.” [HuffPost’s Nick Wing]
Jimmy Carter’s funeral is going to be so awkward: “President Donald Trump will not be apologizing to Barack Obama or backing away from his claim that the former president wiretapped Trump Tower, even though basically everyone who would be in a position to know what happened has publicly rebuked his theory. ‘This is still ongoing,’ White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday.” [HuffPost’s Amanda Terkel]
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GORSUCH ENTERS FIRST DAY OF COMMITTEE HEARINGS – Meanwhile, somewhere, Merrick Garland licked an ice cream cone too hard, the scoop fell on the sidewalk and he cried. Ariane de Vogue and Ashley Killough: “Acknowledging the political nature of his nomination and confirmation hearings, Gorsuch pushed back at those who describe judges as ‘politicians in robes.’ ‘I have watched my colleagues spend long days worrying over cases,’ he said. ‘Sometimes the answers follow us home and keep us up at night.’ … Gorsuch’s statement came after four hours of speeches from senators, and repeated cries from Democrats angry about what happened – or didn’t happen – last year after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Sen. Patrick Leahy called it an ‘extraordinary blockade’ that was ‘totally unprecedented in our country’s whole history.’ … Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz responded later by saying in essence: We won…. ‘Because of this unique and transparent process – unprecedented in the nation’s history – his nomination carries with it a super legitimacy,’ he continued.” [CNN]
This might come as a huge surprise, but Democrats had no real plan: “Chalk it up to Trump’s chaotic administration, or to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s low-key approach. Democrats just haven’t treated Gorsuch’s nomination as the kind of high-profile ideological battle that Supreme Court choices traditionally bring about. Even in the days leading up the hearing, it’s felt more like an afterthought on Capitol Hill. ‘I hope the questions are good,’ Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, told The Huffington Post on Wednesday when asked about her thoughts heading into the hearing. Asked if there are any particular issues she plans to press Gorsuch on, she replied, ‘Not right now.’” [HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendery and Cristian Farias]
ABOUT THAT MEALS ON WHEELS PROPOSAL – Only the Trump administration would walk itself into a controversy about stealing food from invalids. Arthur Delaney: “The proposal does call for the wholesale elimination of several anti-poverty programs, including grants that in some states help fund senior nutrition programs such as Meals on Wheels…. The Trump budget document specifies several federal programs that it wants to kill – including the Community Development Block Grant and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – but the budget doesn’t say anything about Meals on Wheels or senior nutrition…. [N]evertheless, when reporters asked Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney about Meals on Wheels last week, he didn’t point out that the budget doesn’t touch the program. Instead, he talked about Meals on Wheels as though he considered it an example of a questionable service funded by the Community Development Block Grant.” [HuffPost]
Derp derp derp liberals don’t tolerate opposing views derp derp derp: “Right-wing firebrand and rising media star Tomi Lahren has reportedly been suspended by TheBlaze, where she hosts a primetime commentary show. Lahren, 24, came into controversy over the weekend after a Friday appearance on The View, in which she claimed to be ‘pro-choice’ and essentially argued that anti-abortion conservatives are hypocrites.” [Daily Beast]
NOTHING SEEMINGLY TOO TRIFLING TO B.S. AMERICA ABOUT – complaining about presidential golfing is dumb complaining about presidential golfing is dumb complaining about presidential golfing is dumb Philip Bump: “President Trump seems to be getting a bit sensitive about his leisure activities. When he was a candidate and, before that, an anti-Obama bomb-thrower on social media, Trump repeatedly criticized Barack Obama for hitting the links…. The issue came up during the daily press briefing Monday…. ‘Well, I think two things,] [press secretary Sean] Spicer replied. ‘One is I think you saw him utilize this as an opportunity with Prime Minister Abe to help foster deeper relationships in Southeast Asia – in Asia, rather, and have a growing relationship that’s going to help U.S. interests. How you use the game of golf is something that he’s talked about.’” [WaPo]
ADMINISTRATION WITH UNDERWATER APPROVALS GIFTING URBAN MAYORS A HUGE POLITICAL WINDFALL – At this point, why doesn’t the White House just publish a list of who is most nobly crusading against them? Elise Foley: “The Trump administration has begun publicly shaming so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ in an attempt to get them to cooperate with deportation efforts. The Department of Homeland Security on Monday issued a report about jurisdictions that had declined ‘detainer requests,’ or appeals to hold individuals solely to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with some of the crimes those people had been accused of committing.” [HuffPost]
TRUMP STILL MORE POPULAR THAN PUTIN – “Grandpa, tell us how the great war with North Korea began?” “Well, child, a man with a bad dye job was feeling insecure.” Mary Papenfuss: “Only 37 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing, and 58 percent disapprove, the daily poll found Sunday. Those are the worst ratings since he took office eight weeks ago. His approval rating stood at 45 percent just nine days ago. Trump’s approval rating is lower than any other president at this point in his first term since Gallup started tracking the numbers 72 years ago in 1945. Barack Obama’s rating at this point in his presidency was 60 percent.” [HuffPost]
Ooof: “Just 24 percent of those polled say leaders of other countries around the world have respect for Trump, while 55 percent say they don’t think those leaders have much respect for him. Another 21 percent aren’t sure.” [HuffPost’s Ariel Edwards-Levy]
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR – Here’s a huge chicken.
REMEMBERING JIMMY BRESLIN – Michael McAuliff: “[Breslin’s] lesson is, if you want truth, you have to leave your desk, step away from your computer, and must certainly ignore your Twitter feed…. The results were stories that helped expose the corruption immortalized in the book City For Sale, revealed New York City cops had tortured suspects with a stun gun, and infuriated powerful people, including Breslin’s friends like former New York Gov. Hugh Carey. Breslin dubbed him ‘Society Carey,’ and Carey declined to run in the next election.” [HuffPost]
– A great profile of Silicon Valley’s Drudge Report.
– The future, man: “A high school student in rural West Virginia has used Kanye West’s lyrics to teach a neural network how to rap.”
– A gyroscopic self-leveling pool table for billiards junkies at sea.
@daveweigel: If you voted for Trump bc you wanted “insurance for everybody” and worried about a POTUS under FBI investigation, my condolences.
@andylassner: I love you. I hate you. I love you. I hate you. I love you. I hate you. I love you.
-History of my relationship with James Comey
@RyanLizza: Good lesson for the president: wait until your top intelligence officials are finished testifying before mischaracterizing their testimony.
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