THE BIG IDEA: Burlington College is feeling the burn.
Bernie Sanders is huge on college campuses—or yuuuuge, as he likes to say—but the small private school in Vermont that his wife, Jane, ran for seven years announced yesterday that it will shutter because of “the crushing weight” of debt incurred under her leadership.
Burlington College said its financial troubles are connected to Mrs. Sanders’s 2010 purchase of 32 acres of lakefront property, part of a botched expansion plan. The college was placed on academic probation in 2014 by its accrediting agency and it faced cash flow problems due to the imminent loss of a line of credit, The Post’s Nick Anderson reports. To survive, the school has tried to sell land but it was not enough to remain solvent.
-- Mrs. Sanders has become an increasingly prominent figure in her husband’s campaign. The onetime community activist routinely travels with him and has become a ubiquitous surrogate on cable TV.
-- The failure of Burlington College gives credence to two arguments routinely made by the Clinton campaign and its allies:
First, Bernie and Jane were insufficiently vetted by the mainstream media. Many reporters have passed on writing up opposition research hits about the Vermont senator, or focusing on the problems at the college, because they did not believe he ever had any realistic chance of being the nominee. The Clintons, owing to their status as the front-runners and former occupants of the White House, have continued to command a more intense level of scrutiny.
Second, Sanders is making fantastical promises that are unfeasible. Eventually someone has to pay the bills for his promised “revolution.” Studies published last week by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center and the Urban Institute concluded that Sanders's plans are short a total of more than $18 trillion over a decade. “His programs would cost the federal government about $33 trillion over that period … yet he has put forward just $15 trillion in new taxes,” Wonkblog’s Max Ehrenfreund explained.
Not only would most of his ideas be dead on arrival in Congress, but many observers wonder whether the septuagenarian socialist even fully understands how the economy works. His inability to explain how he’d break up the big banks during the disastrous sit-down with the New York Daily News editorial board last month remains a good data point in the case that he is in over his head on policy.
-- The Sanders campaign has ignored repeated requests for comment on Burlington College’s failure. The uncharacteristic silence is telling.
-- This morning’s clips are brutal for the Sanders campaign, especially on the day of two must-win primaries:
The Burlington Free Press: “In response to reporters' questions about a possible law enforcement probe into the college's finances, [President Carol A. Moore and Dean Coralee Holm] declined to comment.”
Politico: “The college was also on the Education Department’s list of colleges that are subject to extra scrutiny — known as ‘heightened cash monitoring’ — as recently as March 1, for issues relating to ‘financial responsibility.’”
Vanity Fair: “The financial failure of Burlington College presents a jarring contrast with the upbeat, optimistic message of the Sanders campaign … While Sanders has inspired millions of young supporters with his promise to eliminate college debt, his wife’s decision to hike tuition in order to pay for a costly campus expansion—a big factor in the rise of college tuition throughout the country—casts Bernie’s hopeful policy proposals in a more complicated light.”
The Atlantic: “Jane Sanders holds a doctorate in Leadership and Policy Studies from the Union Institute, a nontraditional school that critics sometimes call a diploma mill. Union made national headlines during the 2012 campaign because Marcus Bachmann, husband of then-Representative Michele Bachmann, also received his doctorate there."
CNN: A loan application that Jane signed apparently overstated the amount of pledged donations Burlington College had when acquiring the land. The school took a $6.7 million loan. The Vermont Journalism Trust first reported last year that she told People’s United Bank that the college had $2.6 million in pledged donations to support the purchase: “The college, however, received only $676,000 in actual donations from 2010 through 2014 … Burlington College also cited a $1 million bequest as a pledged donation that would be paid out over six years, even though the money would only be available after the donor’s death.”
The Washington Free Beacon reported in January that, when Jane was president, the college also enrolled students at a woodworking school run by her daughter and spent more than half a million dollars on the endeavor, which ended not long after she left.
Jane has also profited off Bernie’s campaigns: She received $91,020 between 2002 and 2004 for "consultation" and to negotiate the purchase of television and radio time-slots for Sanders' advertisements, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported in 2006.
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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- The Koch political network promises to spend more than $42 million on ads in key Senate races through the end of September. “The network's latest foray: a $2.2 million television and digital campaign in Ohio targeting former governor Ted Strickland, who is running against GOP incumbent Sen. Rob Portman,” Matea Gold reports. The news of the expanded spending comes in the wake of a National Review report that the Kochs are retreating from the kind of intense national political activity they conducted during the last three election cycles. Officials push back against that notion, saying the network is and will continue to be “fully engaged” in 2016 political and policy battles.
-- The horrific Amtrak wreck that killed eight people and injured 159 in Philadelphia last year could have been prevented if safety hardware installed on the train had been switched on. Transpiration officials will today announce the results of their year-long investigation. Ashley Halsey III and Michael Laris have a preview.
-- Two national polls that came off embargo at 6 a.m. show good news for Trump—
- NBC/Survey Monkey: More Republican voters (six in 10) trust Trump over Paul Ryan to lead the party. In a hypothetical general election match-up, Clinton leads Trump by only 3 points and independents break for Trump by 8 (44 percent to 36 percent).
- Morning Consult: Clinton leads Trump by 2 (42-40) among registered voters, within the margin of error. Among moderates, the new poll shows HRC up 10 points (46-36), down from a 17-point lead (49-32) last month.
-- Marco Rubio turns media critic.
The Fix’s Chris Cillizza put the Floridian on a list of “five people who are never going to be Trump’s vice president”: “Rubio, according to conversations I've had with people close to him, is sort of betwixt and between when it comes to his next move. Despite some urging to reconsider his plans to retire from the Senate, Rubio seems likely to stand firm and head out in November. What's next is the harder nut to crack. Rubio has said he isn't interested in running for governor in  and would have a far-from-clear primary field since state Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam has been planning a gubernatorial bid for much of the past decade. Rubio could stay in the private sector and make money — he has four young children — but the danger there is by the time 2018 rolls around he is out of the daily, weekly or even monthly conversation happening within the GOP. Still, Rubio, like Ted Cruz, is young enough not to need to take a risk like signing on with Trump.”
From 11:17 p.m. to 12:27 a.m., Rubio tweeted 11 responses. Highlights:
Word of advice, people often claim to know more than they really do because they enjoy status of being perceived as "in the know".— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 17, 2016
A "longtime friend" says Rubio is "betwixt and between when it comes to whether to chest or legs tomorrow at gym."— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 17, 2016
According to source who knows his cousins, wife's dentist, Rubio could do cardio instead.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 17, 2016
I have only said like 10000 times I will be a private citizen in January.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 17, 2016
The upshot of the tweet-storm seems to be that Rubio believes he can run for president in 2020 without holding elected office:
As for future in politics, well it's nearly impossible for someone not in office to ever become a successful candidate for President.Right?— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 17, 2016
He’s almost certainly referring to Ronald Reagan, whose term as governor of California ended in 1974 and then ran for president as a private citizen in both 1976 and 1980. John Edwards, who left the Senate after 2004, tried it in 2008, with less success…
The senator had tweeted little since dropping out of the presidential race in March. Then, on Saturday, he criticized NBC’s "Today" show for shadowing him on a tour of a HUD project in Florida only to ask him about “polls and Trump.” But he couldn’t have disliked the piece that much: He linked to it.
GET SMART FAST:
- The CIA inspector general’s office claims it “mistakenly” destroyed its only copy of the Senate's landmark torture report, at the same time Justice Department lawyers were assuring a federal judge that copies of the document were being preserved. The erasure has re-ignited a battle over whether the full, unabridged report should be released. For advocates of transparency, this administration's active efforts to prevent the public from getting the full truth is one of the biggest stains on Obama's presidency. (Yahoo News)
- The Supreme Court vacated and remanded several challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive-coverage requirement, instructing lower courts to consider whether compromise was possible. The carefully balanced and narrow decision is indicative of the cautious approach the justices have been forced to take with only eight on the bench. (Robert Barnes)
- Twitter said it will stop counting photos and links as part of its 140-character limit for Tweets, and could unveil the change within the next two weeks. (Bloomberg)
- Iran arrested eight women for "Instagram modeling," deeming photos posted on the app as “un-Islamic.” The arrests are the latest salvo in the regime's troubling nationwide crackdown on women who remove their headscarves. (BBC)
- Democrats are escalating calls to shut down the House fetal-tissue probe, likening the panel’s tactics to those of Joe McCarthy. (Mike DeBonis)
- About 39,000 striking Verizon workers and union officials agreed to restart negotiations, following a Sunday meeting with officials from the Department of Labor. (AP)
- In an ambitious pilot project, Israel is letting Jordanian workers cross the border for jobs at its Red Sea resort. The first-of-its kind permit program took three years of negotiations among 10 Israeli ministries to set up. (William Booth and Ruth Eglash)
- Colombia says its agents conducted the largest cocaine raid in history, seizing more than 17,500 pounds in a high-profile victory against the cartels. (CNN)
- Three more suspects in the execution-style killing of a 9-year-old boy in Chicago were arrested. The boy was targeted as part of a gang dispute involving his father. (Elahe Izadi)
- An openly gay pastor who claimed that an Austin Whole Foods bakery wrote a homophobic slur on his cake has dropped his lawsuit against the grocery chain, finally admitting he fabricated the story. The chain released surveillance footage to undercut his claims. (Julie Zauzmer)
- Complaints over delays caused by airport security surged to record highs in March, with 6,800 people reporting a missed flight due to slow-moving TSA checkpoints. The security agency was forced to revamp and tighten its protocols last year after a series of tests showed agents missed weapons and explosives in bags. (Bloomberg)
- Girls outscored boys on a national test of technology and engineering literacy. The test, which the federal government administered for the first time in 2014, is designed to measure students’ abilities in areas such as understanding technological principles, designing solutions and communicating and collaborating. (Emma Brown)
- The Los Angeles Unified School District will pay $88 million to settle sexual abuse cases at two elementary schools, where complaints about teachers’ behavior had reportedly surfaced long before arrests were made. The settlement -- with over 30 families – is the second largest in the district’s history. (LA Times)
- Two Iraq war veterans who each lost their right leg to roadside bombs became the first combat amputees to reach the top of Mount Everest. (USA Today)
-- Damning under-oath testimony gives fodder to Democratic claims that voter ID laws are really just sinister ploys to suppress the vote. The Madison Capital Times covers a court fight over whether Wisconsin’s voter ID law, signed by Scott Walker, was designed to reduce non-white turnout in order to boost GOP prospects. “The trial began with former Republican legislative staffer Todd Allbaugh testifying that not only was that the intent, but some lawmakers were ‘giddy’ to do so: “[Then-Sen. Dale] Schultz, who did not seek re-election in 2014, voiced some opposition to the bill and what it might do to voting rights, Allbaugh said. His opposition was met by a spirited defense from then-Sen. Glenn Grothman, now a member of Congress. ‘At that point, Sen. Grothman cut him off and said, 'What I’m concerned about is winning. You know as well as I do the Democrats would do this if they had power … so we better get this done while we have the opportunity.’”
CAN TRUMP CHANGE?
-- After long saying he would never hire a pollster, Trump hired a pollster. Tony Fabrizio previously worked for Bob Dole, Rick Perry and Rick Scott. Last summer on “Meet the Press," Trump said he does not need to “waste money” on pollsters. “I don’t want to be unreal. I want to be me.” (Sean Sullivan)
Fabrizio, for his part, used to mock Trump on Twitter...before he went on his payroll:
-- “The top ranks of the Republican Party may be coalescing around Trump, but grassroots conservative activists are still trying to find a way to stop him at the party’s convention in July.” From Ed O'Keefe and David Weigel: “Angered by Trump’s shifting views on taxes … conservatives across the country are studying the party rule book for last-ditch moves they could make when the convention begins in Cleveland. Veteran Republican campaign operatives familiar with convention planning are offering to educate delegates on how they can act as free agents, even if the RNC insists that delegates adhere to the results of their state primary.” The convention rumblings come at the same time that some Republican elites continue what appears to be a futile search for someone to mount a third-party challenge to Trump. Conservative activist Erick Erickson said most of the concerned Republicans he talks to are focused on finding ways to “unbind” delegates required to vote for the winner of their state. Some favor changing party rules in the week before the convention.
-- Leading Republicans are increasingly anxious that Trump is lagging far behind Clinton when it comes to having an organized network of big-money allies, Matea Gold reports: “Because Trump condemned such entities throughout the primary, top donors remain unsure about where to send their checks … That leaves Trump advisers, GOP strategists and major donors puzzling over a key strategic question: Where should the six- and seven-figure contributions go?”
- The fundraising imbalance between Clinton and Trump is acute: “The top three super PACs supporting Clinton had collected about $80 million through the end of March, compared with just $8 million by several potential Republican presidential players.”
- GOP infighting has hampered efforts to build a credible money machine: “Two rival super PACs are in the mix, but both are newly formed and are viewed with skepticism by major donors and their advisers."
The free-for-all environment alarms the strategists who have signed on to help Trump: “The lack of a major super PAC vehicle is a source of concern among top Trump advisers, some of whom have contacted experienced strategists in recent weeks to gauge their interest in launching a new entity ... Such outreach is potentially risky, since federal law prohibits a candidate’s agent from establishing a super PAC.”
When asked if he was aware of such talks, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski wrote in an email, “Mr. Trump continues to disavow all Super PAC’s.” Matea notes that this unequivocal statement will probably further confuse major donors, who interpreted Trump’s softening rhetoric on super PACs as a sign that he was open to their support.
-- Trump is scheduled to meet with Henry Kissinger tomorrow in Washington. The face-to-face session comes after weeks of phone conversations with the former Secretary of State, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker report: “Trump’s conferring with Kissinger underscores not only how he is building relationships with Republican elders but how he leans toward a more realist view of international affairs, which has long been the bailiwick of Kissinger’s work.”
-- Trump vowed that, as president, he would rescind Obama’s new directives aimed at protecting transgender people against discrimination in schools and health-care coverage, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa report. But even as Trump accused the administration of federal overreach, he also offered a more nuanced outlook than many of his Republican leaders: "It is a very, very small portion of the population, but as I said, you have to protect everybody, including small portions of the population," Trump told The Washington Post, saying he was “studying” the issue “very closely.”
-- Trump ally Roger Stone admitted that the real estate mogul posed as his own publicist in the early 1990s, despite the candidate's denials: “Trump wanted to get his spin and his side of the story, so he handled the press call himself, probably because he didn’t want to pay a public relations expert,” Stone told Breitbart. “What difference does it make?” (Buzzfeed)
-- A reporter’s Trump Tower interview was allegedly canceled when the campaign heard him speaking Spanish. From Buzzfeed: “Marcos Stupenengo, a freelance correspondent working for TV Azteca, got an interview with Trump — initially. He had no trouble when he asked to come to Trump Tower in New York on Monday to interview the bombastic presumptive Republican nominee. But as he waited to conduct the interview, Stupenengo received a call, and began speaking in Spanish. That’s when the Trump campaign informed him they had no interest in taking part in an interview with him … Stupenengo, who is from Argentina, studied journalism there before going to school in New York. He has green eyes and would appear to many as a non-Hispanic white male.”
-- John Kasich ruled out a third-party presidential bid, putting an end to speculation that the Ohio governor would enter the race against Trump. "I'm not gonna do that," he said on CNN. "I gave it my best where I am. I just think running third party doesn't feel right. I think it's not constructive." Kasich reiterated he will not serve as Trump’s running-mate, and said it would be “very hard” to endorse the real estate mogul. "It would be very hard for me – unless he were to change all of his views and become a uniter … to get in the middle of this thing,” he said.
-- Ted Cruz continues to talk like a candidate on Capitol Hill, strongly hinting at a 2020 presidential bid. From David Weigel: “On Monday, Cruz's campaign sent supporters a video tribute to itself, with footage of the operative, spokesmen and volunteers who gave the better part of a year to him. Cruz himself appears in the video giving an emotional pep talk to his staff, limning it with references to the future. ‘Ronald Reagan, in 1976, came up short,’ said Cruz. ‘I suspect, at that convention, there were a few tears shed." The video, which ends with the words “To Be Continued,” also continues the theme of Cruz's post-campaign rhetoric: that nothing about his message needs to change. "The 2016 primary season, already, is described as a fluke where Cruz outworked everyone but an out-of-control media anointed Trump.”
-- Another Republican senator is trying to carefully parse language between “supporting” and endorsing” Trump as nominee: Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson said he intends to “support” the presumptive Republican nominee. “When asked if he was concerned about endorsing a wild card,’ Johnson differentiated between supporting and endorsing a candidate. He noted that he purposefully says, ‘I intend to support.’” (TPM)
PRIMARIES TODAY IN KENTUCKY AND OREGON (135 Democratic delegates are on the line: 74 in OR, 61 in KY.)
-- Clinton is fighting unexpectedly hard in Kentucky. She added two additional days of campaign stops in hopes of stopping Sanders from racking up an unbroken string of victories. Abby Phillip reports that the Clinton campaign has begun to feel optimistic she can close the gap in large part because Kentucky holds a closed primary, shutting out independents who heavily favor Sanders. She has consistently performed well among registered Democrats — even in West Virginia, where she lost overall to Sanders but won 49-45 among those who are registered Democrats.
-- In Oregon, voter registration could surge to its highest rate in decades: Democratic registration surged 16 percent from September through April, The Oregonian reports, boosting the party to 42 percent of Oregon's total electorate, compared to 38 percent less than a year ago.High voter turnout -- coupled with an electorate similar to next-door Washington State -- should make the Beaver State amenable for Sanders. But Oregon also has a closed primary, meaning voters must have registered with Democratic Party before its April 26 deadline. (Clinton has a perfect 8-0 record in closed primary states, Fox News notes.)
In anticipation of this hurdle, Sanders’ campaign launched a major voter registration initiative: Staffers began moving to the state a month before the party registration deadline, targeting university towns and reaching out to young voters. “Sometimes they placed calls from home; other times they gathered at field offices,” the LA Times reports. “Part of the challenge was simply explaining the closed primary process to voters.”
Now the question is what the new registrations will add up to: The most recent polling in the state showed Clinton widely leading Sanders with 48 percent to his 33 percent, per Portland-based DHM research. “Even when the firm ran the numbers with higher turnout among young and new voters, two target audiences for Sanders, Clinton was still up by 7 points, outside the margin of error of 5.6 percentage points.”
Oregon’s “motor voter” policy could adversely affect predicted turnout: “Under a new DMV system, voters are automatically registered as ‘unaffiliated,’ and later receive a form in the mail giving them the option to change their party affiliation or opt out entirely. The vast majority — 76 percent — did not take that extra step by the late April deadline, and thus can’t participate in the presidential primary.” (Talking Points Memo)
-- While Clinton continues to struggle because of her promise/gaffe to put a lot of coal miners out of work, her campaign has begun to reach out to Kentucky’s small but reliable African American voting population. “African Americans make up more than 20 percent of the population in vote-rich cities such as Louisville, in Jefferson County. Unlike eight years ago, when Clinton lost the county to Barack Obama, she could show unexpected strength against Sanders in one of the state’s liberal enclaves.”
Kentucky strategist Dale Emmons said he expects turnout to be “modest at best” due to primary-season fatigue. “Low-turnout elections will often hand you surprises,” he said.
Clinton said at a diner yesterday, "I'll tell you this, I'm not going to give up on Kentucky in November!" This is funny. What’s your over/under for how many times she actually returns to the Bluegrass State? One?
COLORFUL STORIES THAT BEFIT THE CULTURE OF EACH STATE:
-- Kentucky Senate Minority Leader Ray Jones (a Democrat) is seeking to distance himself from both Obama and Clinton amidst a competitive -- and odd – primary challenge in the eastern part of the state. Challenger Glenn Hammond criticized Jones in an advertisement as a “liberal career politician” who supported Obama for election twice. “He’ll vote for Hillary,” Hammond said of Jones. “I won’t.” And for his part, Jones put out an ad calling Hammond a “closet liberal” who had donated “big money” to Obama’s war on coal. (Amber Phillips)
-- In Portland, Wiccans who support Sanders gathered in support of the Vermont senator, chanting “feel the Bern,” thanking four “cardinal directors,” and fostering general good vibes for the election. (The Oregonian)
-- A new super PAC partnership between billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, the AFL-CIO and major public sector employee unions has triggered an angry backlash among the building trade unions -- dividing organized labor just as it ramps up its 2016 political programs. From Matea Gold: In letters to AFL-CIO president President Richard Trumka, presidents from eight building trade organizations called on the AFL-CIO to cut ties with Steyer, whose environmental agenda is seen as a threat to infrastructure projects such as Keystone XL pipeline. The dispute underscored the rift between two of the most loyal constituencies in the Democratic Party. At issue is a new super PAC called For Our Future that Steyer, a former hedge fund manager, is financing in conjunction with the AFL-CIO and others. “As part of the partnership, Steyer has agreed to match the donations that the unions put into the group, helping amplify labor's resources. The organization plans to mobilize voters in key Senate races and presidential battleground states."
-- Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly sat down with The Post to discuss the dark days that followed Trump’s nasty put-downs. From Krissah Thompson's revealing interview:
- On becoming a character in the 2016 drama: “If I could go back and undo all that followed that August 6th debate question, I would. I wouldn’t take back the debate question — ever, under any circumstances. I stand by that question 100 percent. For the record, it was a great question. The good things that have happened to me as a result of the dust-up with Trump — sure, I suppose you could include the Vanity Fair cover in there … But the truth is 85 percent of the experience has been quite dark and unpleasant.”
- On how she arranged for her first meeting with Trump: “First he said ‘no,’ then he said ‘yes.’ I had proposed coming to him wherever he was. I didn’t think it needed to be on neutral ground.” She says she woke up unusually anxious, not knowing what to expect: “Certainly, I had seen what he had said about me on Twitter and elsewhere, but I don’t know if we can really refer to that as communication.”
- On whether he apologized: “He didn’t. Nor was an apology required or requested … We probably both knew instinctually it was better not to go there on our first meeting … because he stayed angry for so long, so I not only believed he would say ‘no,’ I also believed that if he said ‘yes’ it would not be a good exchange. I didn’t want to sit for some hand-to-hand combat. I was already in the midst of that with him — on his end, let me stress. On his end.”
-- “House chairman wants to prevent women from entering the draft,” by Karoun Demirjian: “The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee this week will try to strip language from legislation he oversees that would require women to register for the draft, blaming himself for not stopping the proposal from getting in the bill in the first place.” Rep. Mac Thornberry said he “didn’t probably do everything I should have” to keep an amendment that would enact the policy change from being added to the annual defense policy bill … “But in order to give the full House a chance to vote on the matter, Republican leaders will have to go through a few procedural calisthenics because it could run afoul of the chamber’s rules regarding the cost of legislation. Last week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that including women in the draft actually lowers government costs by reducing spending on Pell Grants. It’s against House rules to offer an amendment that would raise the cost of legislation.” Thornberry told the Post editorial board he plans to offer an amendment to strip language in the bill, because members “haven’t had a chance to look at this.”
-- “Judge orders Mississippi school district to desegregate, 62 years after Brown v. Board of Education,” by Emma Brown: “A federal judge has ordered a school district in the Mississippi Delta to desegregate its middle and high schools, capping a legal battle that has dragged on for more than five decades. The Cleveland School District is divided by railroad tracks that separate white families, who largely live west of the tracks, from black families, who largely live to the east. Its secondary schools reflect that division: There is one all-black middle school, for example, and one all-black high school, with all-white schools just over a mile away. As the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi put it, Cleveland … has been running an illegal dual system for its black and white children, failing year after year to reach the ‘greatest degree of desegregation possible.’”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
— ZIGNAL VISUAL: Bette Midler steals the show. Monday was a rare day in the race for president: One of the few days when somebody Tweeting about Trump received more attention than Trump himself. Monday it was Bette Midler, who compared the presumptive GOP nominee to hip-hop artist Azealia Banks. Midler has about 900,000 Twitter followers, and was retweeted more than 17,000 times. Her post was seen by as many as 44 million people worldwide, according to Zignal Labs analytics. (The other top Trump tweets were all from Trump himself.) [Correction: An earlier version misidentified Banks. She is a rapper from New York and is not engaged.]
Twitter deactivated Azealia Banks’ account for homophobia & racism?— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) May 15, 2016
So why is Donald Trump still here?
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes declined an invitation to testify before Congress amidst a continuing firestorm over comments he made about the Iran deal in a New York Times Magazine profile, Mike DeBonis reports. Here is a taste of the GOP reaction:
WH informed me @rhodes44 will not testify. Talks to reporters and his "echo chamber" but not Congress. Disappointing but typical.— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) May 16, 2016
After Breitbart's David Horowitz called Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol a "renegade Jew" in a story, the phrase began trending on Twitter:
The slur against Kristol was widely condemned, including by the Anti-Defamation League:
I wake up and ask: Why is #renegadejew trending? Oy. When you've got to choose between Breitbart and Kristol...maybe go back to bed?— Joan Walsh (@joanwalsh) May 16, 2016
Come for the anti-Semitic headline, stay for the insistence that Ted Cruz's father met Lee Harvey Oswald pic.twitter.com/orDAUsHSej— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) May 16, 2016
Breitbart goes to full white nationalism. https://t.co/DAtY7yGojW— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) May 16, 2016
Kristol jokes that he's been watching the "Renegade Jew" music video on a loop. "Speaks to me," he deadpanned.
I'd assumed the new party should be called the New Federalist Party or The New Whig Party. But now I'm thinking, The Renegade Party...— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) May 17, 2016
The Renegades disdain to conceal their views and aims. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Renegade revolution...— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) May 17, 2016
Trump's manager denied a report that he is working on a book:
Despite false reports to the contrary, I am not writing a book. I am under a strict confidentiality agreement with Mr. Trump.— Corey Lewandowski (@CLewandowski_) May 16, 2016
McKay Coppins also bet a year of his salary saying Mr. Trump would not run for President. Mr. Trump is still waiting for the money.— Corey Lewandowski (@CLewandowski_) May 16, 2016
Here's how Coppins responded:
FWIW, I didn't write or report anything about Lewandowski violating a confidentiality agreement(?) https://t.co/EGaWD6DGgf— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) May 16, 2016
Trump continues to slam the New York Times for its Sunday story about his treatment of women. An ex-girlfriend quoted in the piece went on Fox to complain about the story and then the candidate himself called into CNN's control room to make sure producers at the rival channel caught it.
The @nytimes is so dishonest. Their hit piece cover story on me yesterday was just blown up by Rowanne Brewer, who said it was a lie!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2016
The pushback continued this morning:
Amazing that Crooked Hillary can do a hit ad on me concerning women when her husband was the WORST abuser of woman in U.S. political history— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 17, 2016
The Washington Examiner's Byron York called the Times story "not particularly effective":
The piece is clearly breaking through, perhaps because Trump keeps drawing more attention to it:
Donald also continues egging on Bernie:
Bernie Sanders is being treated very badly by the Dems. The system is rigged against him. He should run as an independent! Run Bernie, run.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2016
DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz seized on the story:
Trump's behavior toward women would be inappropriate for anyone, but on top of that, he is running for PRESIDENT. https://t.co/Zl37SaZIpt— D Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) May 16, 2016
Barbara Boxer also went after Trump:
And some news from the commencement circuit:
Loretta Lynch introduced as "FIFA slayer" at @pennlaw graduation 😂— Emily Cahn (@CahnEmily) May 16, 2016
Spotted in Puerto Rico:
Bryan Cranston has been hanging out in D.C.:
S.E. Cupp, Jonathan Franzen and Chuck Todd were on Jeopardy:
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) took a selfie with his new shades:
Check out my specs. (My young staff insisted; gotta humor the kids). pic.twitter.com/bwf3ZlT07K— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) May 16, 2016
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) celebrated his predecessor Jim Moran's birthday:
And Mike Webb, who is running as an independent against Beyer (D), left some interesting tabs open on his Facebook page:
Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) met with Kissinger:
Cory Booker snapped a photo with pages:
The White House kitchen garden posted this photo from the Nordic state dinner:
Hillary signed a Bernie button:
A member of the Western Kentucky Young Democrats asked Clinton to sign a Bernie button. HRC obliged. pic.twitter.com/KgUvkNm527— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) May 16, 2016
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- Arrested for stealing $5.05 of sweets and soda, a 24-year-old who doctors repeatedly diagnosed as psychotic and delusional was left to essentially starve to death over four months in a squalid Virginia jail. From CNN: “By the time [Jamycheal] Mitchell died in August -- officially, of a heart condition … jail staff had allegedly denied him many meals, cut off the water to his cell and left him naked with no bedding or shoes … Mitchell lost about 40 pounds during his time in jail, documents say. A medical examiner said he was ‘nearly cachectic,’ meaning his weight loss could not be reversed via nutrition.” Inmates said they pleaded with guards to help Mitchell during his stay, but their pleas were ignored or disregarded, according to the lawsuit. ‘As long as he doesn't die on my watch,’ one inmate recalled being told.” Jamycheal Mitchell's aunt is demanding a jury trial and at least $60 million in a lawsuit that alleges willful and wanton negligence and five counts of civil rights deprivation.
-- Colorado Senate candidate Jon Keyser acknowledged for the first time that his campaign submitted forged signatures to qualify for the Republican primary ballot. He broke his silence to distance his candidacy from the building controversy yesterday after a disastrous, Rubioesque debate performance last week. From the Denver Post: “The former state lawmaker blamed an employee hired by a canvassing firm connected to his campaign and suggested the issue will not hurt his once-promising bid because he collected more than enough voter signatures to qualify for the race. ‘It appears, in fact, that some of those signatures were turned in in an improper manner, and that's a very, very serious thing," Keyser said … two weeks after questions enveloped his campaign. "I think that speaks to why I was very measured and very disciplined in talking about this.’ The Keyser campaign submitted at least 10 voter signatures later discovered as forgeries to meet a 1,500-signature threshold to qualify for the ballot. The Denver district attorney's office is conducting a review into the accusations of fraud.
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Woman mistaken for transgender harassed in Walmart bathroom,” from Connecticut Post: “Aimee Toms was washing her hands in the women’s bathroom at Walmart in Danbury Friday when a stranger approached her and said, ‘You’re disgusting!’ and ‘You don’t belong here!’ After momentary confusion, she realized that the woman next to her thought - because of her pixie-style haircut and baseball cap - that she was transgender … Besides being a pretty normal choice of style for women, Toms’ has a short haircut because she recently donated hair - for the third time - to a program that makes wigs for child cancer patients.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Super PAC Seeks IRS Audit of Clinton Foundation,” from the Wall Street Journal: “The conservative super PAC American Crossroads said Monday it filed a complaint with the IRS requesting an audit of the Clinton Foundation, following articles last week about how the foundation aided a for-profit company part-owned by people with ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton.” The articles documented the Clintons’ ties to owners of a company that benefited from a $2 million commitment coordinated by the Clinton Global Initiative.
On the campaign trail: Sanders is in Carson, Calif. Clinton and Trump are off the trail.
At the White House: Vice President Biden administers the ceremonial swearing-in for U.S. ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson. In the evening, Biden speaks at an opening performance at the Kennedy Center related to Irish arts and culture.
On Capitol Hill: Three votes are expected in the Senate at 2:30 p.m. The House meets at noon for legislative business, and is expected to begin consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Reince Priebus said Trump understands “we’ve got to have a real seasoned veteran” as his running-mate. “There has to be a degree of diversity on the ballot,” the RNC chair told radio host Hugh Hewitt. “Now whether it be diversity of age, or whether it be diversity of gender, or ethnic background. Somehow or another, diversity is important in some respects.”
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- “Get out the rain gear (you probably didn’t put it away) and get ready to trudge through another rainy morning and afternoon.” The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Periods of rain combine with very cool conditions as highs only manage the middle to upper 50s. That’s 15 to 20 degrees below normal! Breezes are light and clouds are ample.
-- A D.C. Council supermajority said it will overhaul Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s plan to lease private property for homeless shelters, calling it a “waste of tax dollars” that would fail to permanently solve the District's growing epidemic of homeless families. (Aaron C. Davis)
-- Police stepped up patrols in Southeast D.C. after two homicides occurred just blocks apart. Authorities believe the murders may be connected. (Peter Hermann, Clarence Williams and Martin Weil)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Watch Clinton's evolving impersonations of Trump:
Rachel Maddow joked about Trump's cabinet on Late Night with Seth Meyers:
Johnny Depp talked about playing Trump:
Jennifer Lawrence didn't hold back in discussing her views:
Fans of Mr. Robot, check out the trailer for season two:
“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda spoke out strongly against the "anti-immigrant rhetoric" of today's politics during his commencement address at the University of Pennsylvania. “Immigrants get the job done,” he said.
Laura Jane Grace—the lead singer of the band “Against Me!”—burned her birth certificate on stage to protest North Carolina's bathroom bill. She came out as transgender in 2012.
Watch BuzzFeed's full half-hour interview with Obama, which was streamed live online:
John McCain launched an attack ad against one of his Republican primary challengers for espousing conspiracy theories.