POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Trump Accidentally Proves Why Black History Month Is Necessary

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President Trump delivered a rambling, self-involved speech about Black History Month, although at least he didn’t look down at some smudged writing on his hand and opine on the Constitution’s “Free Gifts Compromise.” Liberal Twitter responded to the encroaching destruction of civil society at the hands of super-rich elites by getting way too excited about a wealthy woman having twins. And Trump’s campaign forked over almost $13 million to his own companies, marking the first time he’s ever actually paid his bills. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, February 1st, 2017:

TRUMP EGGS ON MCCONNELL TO GO NUCLEAR - It’s okay, though. Nobody respects political norms more than Mitch McConnell! Christina Wilkie: “President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he would encourage Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to change Senate rules to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, with just 50 votes, rather than the 60 currently needed to confirm justices to the high court. ‘If we end up with the same gridlock we’ve had in Washington for longer than eight years ... I would say, “If you can, Mitch, go nuclear,”’ Trump told reporters at a White House meeting one day after he announced his decision to nominate Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. ‘Because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was put up to that neglect. I would say it’s up to Mitch, but I would say, “Go for it,” Trump said.’” [HuffPost]

WHITE HOUSE ISSUE VAGUE THREAT AGAINST HOSTILE THEOCRACY - What could possibly go wrong? Kevin Liptak and Jeremy Diamond: “President Donald Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn condemned Wednesday Iran’s recent ballistic missile test launch, calling it a ‘provocative’ breach of a UN Security Council resolution. Flynn called the launch the latest in a series of provocative moves by Iran that have included backing Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have attacked US allies. ‘As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice,’ Flynn said from the White House briefing room.” [CNN]

DEVOS IN TROUBLE - Seems not every senator’s voice mailbox is full. Rebecca Klein: “Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) announced Wednesday that they would not be voting for Betsy DeVos as education secretary, potentially imperiling the nominee’s confirmation. No Democratic senators are expected to vote for DeVos. If no other Republicans vote against DeVos, Vice President Mike Pence would be the tie-breaking vote. DeVos needs a simple majority to be confirmed. If Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is confirmed as attorney general before DeVos comes before a full Senate vote, it could further complicate her chances for confirmation. In that scenario, Sessions would not be eligible to vote.” [HuffPost]

LET’S TALK ABOUT REX, BABY - We’d love to read the congratulatory text he got from Putin. Patricia Zengerle: “The U.S. Senate confirmed Rex Tillerson as President Donald Trump’s secretary of state on Wednesday, filling a key spot on the Republican’s national security team despite concerns about the former Exxon Mobil Corp chief executive officer’s ties to Russia. In the vote, 56 senators backed Tillerson, and 43 voted no. The tally was largely along party lines, with every Republican favoring Tillerson, along with four members of the Democratic caucus, Senators Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Manchin and Mark Warner as well as Angus King, an independent.” [Reuters]

HE’S COMING FOR YOUR WEED - Ryan J. Reilly: “Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) on Wednesday moved along the path to be confirmed as the 84th attorney general of the United States, less than 48 hours after President Donald Trump fired the acting attorney general for declining to defend his refugee ban. Democrats delayed a vote on Sessions in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. But in a party-line vote the next day, 11 Republicans on the committee voted to advance Sessions’ nomination to the full Senate. All nine Democrats voted no.” [HuffPost]

TRUMP COMMEMORATES HISTORY MONTH FOR MY AFRICAN AMERICAN BUD OVER THERE - Wonder how stoked Trump is for Frederick Douglass’ new mixtape! Lilly Workneh: “President Donald Trump hosted a ‘conversation’ at the White House on Wednesday to mark the beginning of Black History Month and, unsurprisingly, managed to make part of the discussion mostly about himself. Trump delivered remarks at the event, which was billed as a listening session, in which he acknowledged the ‘tremendous history of African Americans in this country.’ While the public couldn’t get enough of Trump’s odd description of the legendary Frederick Douglass as ‘an example of somebody who has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice,’ he didn’t stop there.” [HuffPost]

Also, Trump’s “listening session” consisted him and of a bunch of people who already agree with him.

ORRIN HATCH LOVES RULES SO MUCH HE MUST BREAK THEM - Amanda Terkel and Jennifer Bendery: “Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) pushed forward two of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks Wednesday morning, advancing their nominations despite a Democratic boycott. The rules require at least one member of the minority party to be present for the committee to vote on a nominee. But Hatch suspended the rules, allowing him to go around that requirement. Senate Republicans advanced Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, and Steve Mnuchin, the pick for treasury secretary, out of committee favorably, on a 14-0 vote. Price and Mnuchin are now cleared to receive a full vote on the Senate floor.” [HuffPost]

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RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT LUCRATIVE... - Imagine how much money he’ll make actually being president! The guy is going to put Matthew Lesko to shame. Kenneth P. Vogel: “The final bill is in: Donald Trump’s campaign paid his companies $12.8 million from the time he launched his improbable presidential bid in the lobby of his company’s flagship Trump Tower property through the end of last year, according to a POLITICO analysis of Federal Election Commission data…. The FEC reports show that Trump’s campaign paid his businesses for everything from office suites and hotel stays to payroll, security and office supplies, revealing an integrated business and political operation that was without precedent in modern American presidential politics.” [Politico]

...SO IS JOINING TRUMP’S ADMINISTRATION - Who does this chump think he is, Tom Price? Susanne Craig and Danielle Ivory: “Vincent Viola, the billionaire Wall Street trader who is President Trump’s nominee to be secretary of the Army, has been negotiating to sell his airline, a move that would alleviate a potential conflict of interest. But, if the deal goes ahead, he may be buying himself another headache. Mr. Viola...has been trying to swap his majority interest in Eastern Air Lines for a smaller stake in Swift Air, a charter company with millions of dollars in hard-to-track government subcontracts…. [S]uch a transaction would certainly reduce his exposure to the airline industry, which is heavily regulated by the federal government. But in exchange, Mr. Viola, a retired Army major, may find himself in the precarious position of being a government official who benefits from federal contracts.” [NYT]

Trump’s golf club basically stole from its members, a federal judge ruled. The company now has to repay almost $6 million in supposedly refundable membership fees that it refused to refund. Trump himself wasn’t a party to the lawsuit. Like his golf score, we expect Trump will play this down. [Politico’s Josh Gerstein]

THE SILENT PLURALITY: A LOT OF PEOPLE LOVE THE MUSLIM BAN - Dave Jamieson: “Many Americans were shocked when President Donald Trump followed through Friday on a campaign proposal to bar travelers from Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. Tony Collins was not among them. A 72-year-old retiree who voted for Trump, Collins fully expected the ban ― and when it came down, he cheered. ‘He’s doing exactly what he said he’d do,’ said Collins, who still flies a Trump flag in his front yard nearly three months after the election. ‘I feel safer already.’ … The move prompted mass protests at multiple airports where even visa and green card holders were being stopped and detained under the order…. But here in Harrisville, the executive order has been met with nods of approval, although few refugees have actually been settling in West Virginia. Indeed, the state has been among the least welcoming.” [HuffPost]

VA NOMINEE SAYS NO TO PRIVATIZATION - Maybe Trump can just keep blaming everything wrong with the VA health care system on Obama. Donovan Slack: “David Shulkin, President Trump’s nominee to lead the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs, is pledging to accelerate improvements in the agency and provide veterans more care in the private sector…. ‘There will be far greater accountability, dramatically improved access, responsiveness and expanded care options, but the Department of Veterans Affairs will not be privatized under my watch,’ he said.” [USA Today]

NERDS ON PARADE - Adorable scientists think the party in power gives a crap about them and their facts. Nicholas St. Fleur: “Within a week of its creation, the March for Science campaign had attracted more than 1.3 million supporters across Facebook and Twitter, cementing itself as a voice for people who are concerned about the future of science under President Trump. Now, hoping to transform that viral success into something approaching the significance of the women’s march last month, the campaign has scheduled its demonstration in Washington for Earth Day, April 22. ‘Yes, this is a protest, but it’s not a political protest,’ said Jonathan Berman, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and a lead organizer of the march. ‘The people making decisions are in Washington, and they are the people we are trying to reach with the message: You should listen to evidence.’” [NYT]

OBAMA STILL A CHICAGO GUY AT HEART - Hal Dardick: “Former President Barack Obama on Monday got involved in Chicago ward politics by endorsing Ald. Sophia King, 4th, in next month’s special election — a move a couple of her opponents tried to portray as a sign of weakness and meddling by the powers that be…. ‘Michelle and I have known Sophia many years as a leader dedicated to improving her community,’ Obama said in a statement released Monday by King’s campaign.” [Chicago Tribune]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a baby who likes Snapchat filters.

WHAT’S NEW, PUSSYCAT? Where did she go??? Michael E. Ruane and Dana Hedgpeth: “Ollie’s back! The National Zoo said Wednesday that it has its missing bobcat back two days after the 7-year-old animal disappeared from its enclosure…. Ollie’s return came hours after the zoo suspended its search for the 25-pound bobcat. For the last two days, a team of zookeepers, police officers at the zoo and rescue experts from the D.C. Humane Rescue Alliance had searched for her, but to no avail.” [WaPo]

COMFORT FOOD

- Why space travel is hard.

- How the internet is altering our understanding of sleep patterns.

- Spoiled rabbit is spoiled.

TWITTERAMA

@evepeyser: typical small talk, 2017:

stranger: HOW ARE YOU?

me: GOOD. I MEAN, IM NOT GOOD BUT CONSIDERING THE WORLD IS FALLING APART, IM FINE, BUT TH

[scenes from a Capitol elevator]

Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) turns to HFC Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) and says, “Who you screwin’ today?”

@GrainneMaguire: Sad that there are more black people in Beyoncé right now, than in Trumps entire cabinet team.

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