News & Politics

The Morning Briefing: Eye on Georgia, WH Press Room Dies in Darkness and Much, Much More

White House press secretary Sean Spicer listens to a question from a member of the media during the daily press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, May 30, 2017, in Washington. Spicer discussed ongoing possible connections to Jared Kushner and Russians, the president's international trip, and other topics. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Good Tuesday Morning.

Here’s what is on President Trump’s agenda today:

  • In the morning, President Donald J. Trump will receive his daily intelligence briefing.
  • The President will then meet with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster with a drop-in by Vice President Mike Pence and President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine.
  • In the afternoon, the President will have a Legislative Affairs lunch.
  • In the evening, the President and First Lady Melania Trump will depart the White House en route to the Naval Observatory for dinner with Vice President Mike Pence and Mrs. Karen Pence.
  • Later in the evening, the President and the First Lady will return to the White House.

Georgia on my mind

The Democrats are full of hope and change today as their chance for a Trump repudiation is within arm’s reach. Voters will go to the polls and tonight we will learn whether tens of millions of dollars and a boost from the Hollywood #resistance is enough money to turn a Republican district into a Democrat one.

Voters in Georgia’s sixth district are sick of it all.

“I have received non-stop calls, texts, emails for two months solid. It’s harassment honestly,” local artist Sydney Daniel told Business Insider. “I liked Ossoff before but now I don’t want to vote at all because of how obnoxious and ruthless they have been.”

“Phone Calls, junk mail, emails, and guys coming up to my door banging for a vote,” Rebecca Honness, a lifelong resident of the district, said. “That was truly scary… having someone knock on my door about an election. … I’ve never had that happen before.”

“I’ve had mail coming to my apartment door almost every day last week,” Monet Jackson told Business Insider. “Received multiple texts and phone calls to see if I’ve voted. I voted and still received a text the next day to see if I had voted.”

“I see ads nonstop,” Hunter Murphy said. “My favorite one to hate is an ad that is done in a sort of lifestyles of the rich and famous parody, complete with shoddy Photoshop animations. It contains no information about the candidate whose campaign is attacking the other, and comes off as a high school prank meant to embarrass. And I get to see it multiple times a day.”

(The ad is an Ossoff ad attacking Handel.)

Jessica Frisco, the founder of Grassroots Action New York, a progressive group that sent campaigners to knock on doors for Ossoff, said: “The last few [fundraising pleas] have claimed that he is completely out of money which is baffling given that he’s raised and spent more than any House candidate in history. I would be more receptive if he were asking for volunteer time and efforts, but an endless barrage of requests for money is a huge turn off especially coming from a candidate who claims to be a progressive.”

All that should end tonight…unless there’s a recount. Stay tuned to find out if the congressional race in Georgia 06 will deliver for the Democrats or if they will have to find somewhere else to place all their #resistance’s hope. Of the two polls released yesterday, one has Handel +2 and the other has the race at a tie.

The WH press room dies in darkness

One important lesson in life and in politics is that you don’t give your enemy the bullets with which to shoot you. The White House comms team has finally figured this out and instituted some protections against a partisan and hostile press gunning for blood.

The White House press corps vented frustration Monday with press secretary Sean Spicer for conducting off-camera briefings in place of the usual publicly broadcast briefings.

Spicer conducted an off-camera briefing with reporters on Monday in which the press was told it could not film or broadcast audio of the proceedings. Spicer conducted the last on-camera briefing last Monday.

CNN’s Jim Acosta was not happy about the decision. “The White House press secretary is getting to a point where he’s just kind of useless. If they’re getting to this point where he’s not going to answer questions or go on camera or have audio, why are we even having these briefings or gaggles in the first place?”

Acosta later took to Twitter to complain about the decision.

The White House doesn’t think it’s getting a fair shake with the press so they took steps to stop taking fire. The move surprised the press, which has become quite inquisitive and aggressive now that Obama is out of office and Trump is the president, but if they are going to function as an arm of the opposition party hell-bent on destroying Trump, why wouldn’t he cut them off?

Otto Warmbier, who was taken hostage by North Korea, dies

Yesterday, the Warmbier family announced that their 22-year-old son had passed away. Otto Warmbier was taken hostage in North Korea after allegedly trying to steal a propaganda poster during his visit to Pyongyang last year. Shortly after his captivity, Warmbier was said to have contracted botulism, taken a sleeping pill, and then fallen into a coma from which he never woke. Otto was medically evacuated from North Korea a year and a half after he fell into a coma, arriving in the United States less than a week ago.

“It is our sad duty to report that our son, Otto Warmbier, has completed his journey home,” his family said in part in a statement. “Surrounded by his loving family, Otto died today at 2:20 p.m.”

Warmbier’s American doctors held a press conference shortly after he arrived in the States explaining the man had suffered extensive brain tissue loss that was likely the result of cardiopulmonary distress cutting off oxygen to Warmbier’s brain.

“It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost — future time that won’t be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds,” the family’s statement continues. “But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person. You can tell from the outpouring of emotion from the communities that he touched — Wyoming, Ohio, and the University of Virginia to name just two — that the love for Otto went well beyond his immediate family.”

If you would like to see the video “proof” of Otto “stealing” the poster, as the NorKs claimed, here it is.

Rest in peace, Otto. What a tragedy.

Clash of the protected classes

A 17-year-old Muslim girl was found murdered in Fairfax, Va., and the suspect of the alleged murder is one Darwin A. Martinez Torres. Torres, 22, is not in the U.S. legally according to a Daily Caller report. Initially news reports left out his immigration status.

The suspect, Darwin A. Martinez Torres, was arrested on Sunday in the death of Nabra Hassanen, a high school student from Reston, Va. Police say he beat Hassanen with a metal baseball bat in what is being described as a road rage incident.

The case initially drew national attention because of the possibility of it being an anti-Muslim hate crime. But the Fairfax Co. Sheriff’s Department ruled out bias as a motive in statements on Monday.

There is now a detainer request for Torres.

Local police and ICE were slow in confirming whether Torres is in the U.S. illegally. But in a statement issued Monday afternoon, an ICE spokesperson confirmed that the agency has lodged a detainer request against the El Salvadoran national, indicating that he is an illegal alien.

“On June 19, ICE lodged a detainer on Darwin Martinez Torres, a citizen and national of El Salvador, with the Adult Detention Center in Fairfax, Virginia. ICE lodges detainers on aliens who have been arrested on local criminal charges when the agency has probable cause to believe an alien is removable from the United States. Mr. Martinez Torres has no prior encounters with ICE,” ICE spokesperson Carissa Cutrell told TheDC.

Another sad story.

EPA cuts of $1m gym membership program

One MILLION dollars.

The new administration under EPA administrator Scott Pruitt identified the gym memberships as an abuse of taxpayer dollars. Examples of the program’s misuse included $15,000 for gym memberships for 37 EPA scientists in Las Vegas last year.

“We have ended taxpayer-funded fitness centers at EPA; a program that was costing American taxpayers $900,000 per year,” said EPA spokesperson Jahan Wilcox. “Disinvestment in using federal funds for EPA fitness centers will allow the agency to invest this money in core activities to protect the environment.”

What a colossal waste of money.

The EPA began notifying employee unions last week that the agency is discontinuing fitness subsidies and fitness center funding, according to an EPA official.

The benefits will officially end on July 31, and no additional funds for fitness centers will be provided. For facilities that already have gym equipment that is paid for, the EPA will no longer pay for the maintenance of the equipment and will not purchase any new equipment.

President Trump has said he would like to cut the EPA budget by 30% and this sounds like a great start.

Other morsels:

Transgender man gets menstrual cycle, social media reacts

Spain: No queremos “el manspreading” en el metro.

NY Supreme Court Justice says anti-Trump AG is ‘wasting my time’ on Exxon probe

Spicey interviewing candidates for his job

Nearly 200 million voters exposed by GOP contractor’s server data breach

Gluten-free buns now available at Chick-fil-A

Mexican brewery mocks Trump, depicts president as swastika-wearing mariachi

And that’s all I’ve got, now go beat back the angry mob!