Earlier this year, Axios reported a shocking scoop from New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s forthcoming book: former President Donald Trump would allegedly, on occassion, clog a toilet with wads of paper he was seemingly attempting to flush and destroy, according to White House residence staff.
At the time, Trump denied the reports. But now … well, now there are photos.
In both pictures, which Haberman apparently recently obtained then shared with Axios ahead of the release of her book Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America, balls of paper featuring Trump’s signature scrawl and preferred Sharpie ink can be seen sitting at the bottom of the toilets.
Per a White House source, the photo on the left is of a White House toilet, while the photo on the right is from an overseas trip. “That Mr. Trump was discarding documents this way was not widely known within the West Wing, but some aides were aware of the habit, which he engaged in repeatedly,” Haberman told Axios. “It was an extension of Trump’s term-long habit of ripping up documents that were supposed to be preserved under the Presidential Records Act.”
Though it’s difficult to read the text that’s written, one can at least in the right photo make out the name of Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), a Trump ally and member of House Republican leadership, Axios notes.
Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich dismissed the story: “You have to be pretty desperate to sell books if pictures of paper in a toilet bowl is part of your promotional plan,” he told Axios.
Bestselling historian David McCullough died Sunday at the age of 89 at his home in Hingham, Massachusetts, his daughter confirmed. She did not specify a cause of death.
McCullough was born in Pittsburgh in 1933, graduated from Yale in 1955, and released his first book — a history of an 1889 flood that killed over 2,000 people in Johnstown, Pennsylvania — in 1968.
His 2001 biography of John Adams topped The New York Times‘ best-seller list the week of its release and inspired an HBO miniseries starring Paul Giamatti. His 1992 biography of Harry Truman topped the list for 43 weeks and was the basis for an HBO film starring Gary Sinise.
McCullough’s other works included histories of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Panama Canal, and the 1941 Arcadia Conference between Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. His final book, The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West, sparked controversy when it was released in 2019, with New York Times reviewer Joyce E. Chaplin accusing McCullough of failing to grapple sufficiently with the settlers’ violence against Native Americans.
In addition to his histories, McCullough provided narration for the Ken Burns documentary The Civil War and the 2003 film Seabiscuit and hosted the television series American Experienceand Smithsonian World.
McCullough is survived by a brother, five children, 19 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. His wife, Rosalee, died in June, also at the age of 89.
Australian singer and actress Olivia Newton-John — known for her role as Sandy Olsson in the film adaptation of Grease and hit songs like “Physical” and “I Honestly Love You,” has died, husband John Easterling confirmed Monday afternoon. She was 73.
“Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends,” Easterling wrote in a post shared on Facebook. “We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time.”
Newton-John “has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer,” the post continued. In lieu of flowers, her family requests “donations be made in her memory to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund,” which is “dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer.”
The Grease actress revealed she was fighting Stage 4 breast cancer back in October 2021, per Page Six. She was initially diagnosed with the disease in 1992, then again in May 2017, after 25 years in remission. Her storied careercounts her among the favorites of the late 1970s to ’80s, thanks in part to chart-topping duet “You’re the One That I Want,” followed later by “Physical” as well as her work in musical Xanadu.
Among others, Newton-John is survived by her husband, her daughter Chloe Lattanzi, her sister Sarah Newton-John, and her brother Toby Newton-John.
The Biden administration announced Monday that it would send another $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine. This new package, the 18th since Russia’s invasion began and the largest so far, brings the total U.S. investment in Ukraine’s defense to $9.8 billion.
According to CNBC, the package “consists of additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems or HIMARS, 75,000 rounds of 155 mm artillery ammunition, 20 120 mm mortar systems and 20,000 rounds of 120 mm mortar ammunition as well as munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems or NASAMS.” Voice of America notes that this latest tranche of aid also includes 1,000 new Javelin anti-tank launchers, Claymore anti-personnel mines, and armored medical vehicles.
The administration’s announcement comes a day after CBS News walked back a claim that the majority of military aid sent to Ukraine never reaches the front lines.
“Like 30 percent of it reaches its final destination,” nonprofit founder Jonas Ohman said in April during an interview for the CBS Reports documentary Arming Ukraine. Ohman’s Lithuania-based group, Blue-Yellow, has been ferrying non-lethal military aid to Ukrainian combat units since the war began. According to CBS News, Ohman said recently that delivery efficiency has improved significantly since April.
We removed a tweet promoting our recent doc, “Arming Ukraine,” which quoted the founder of the nonprofit Blue-Yellow, Jonas Ohman’s assessment in late April that only around 30% of aid was reaching the front lines in Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/EgA96BrD9O
Welcome back to The Election Recap, your weekly, one-stop shop for the last seven days of midterms news. Let’s get into it:
So many primaries, so little time
Last week was a big one — voters in Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, and Washington decided multiple highly consequential races, including the gubernatorial primary contest that pit former President Donald Trump’s proxy against that of his vice president, Mike Pence. To that end, the Trump-backed Kari Lake narrowly won the Republican nomination for Arizona governor over Pence’s pick, Karrin Taylor Robson, and will face off against Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in November. Lake has served as a dutiful mouthpiece for Trump’s false claims of election fraud. The former president saw even more success in Michigan, having endorsed conservative commentator and eventual winner Tudor Dixon in the GOP primary for governor, while Rep. Peter Meijer — one of the 10 House Republicans who voted for Trump’s second impeachment — lost his bid for re-election against former Trump official John Gibbs. In Kansas, voters roundly rejected an amendment to the state’s constitution that would have allowed the state legislature to regulate (and likely ban, down the line) abortion, in one of the first big tests of the post-Roe political landscape. Over in Missouri, disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens (R) was unsuccessful in his bid for U.S. Senate, losing squarely to Attorney General Eric Schmitt. And finally, in Washington, pro-Trump impeachment Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse advanced to the general election in the state’s 4th District, while his pro-impeachment counterpart Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is still waiting on news of her fate in the 3rd. Interested in an even deeper dive? David Faris penned an incredibly helpful (and longer) Aug. 2 primaries recap for The Week.
The dos and don’ts of 2024
Both GOP Rep. Nancy Mace (S.C.) and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley have some advice for their party ahead of November. For her part, Mace — who describes herself as “staunchly pro-life” — suggests her party meet “somewhere in the middle” on abortion restrictions, lest extreme takes deter GOP gains in the fall. “I have a 100 percent pro-life voting record,” she told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. “I do think that it will be an issue in November if we’re not moderating ourselves,” specifically by including exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. “This is a place where we can be in the center. We can protect life, and we can protect where people are on both sides of the aisle,” she continued. Haley, meanwhile, wants to cement focus on upcoming midterms races rather than the 2024 presidential contest, in which Trump has all but officially announced his candidacy. “We should not take our eyes off of 2022. If we don’t win in 2022, there won’t be a 2024,” Haley toldFox News Sunday. “So we need to stay humble, disciplined, and win that.”
They did it, Joe — after securing the support of one Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Senate Democrats at long last passed their languishing climate and health legislation by a 51-50 vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris coming in to break the tie. The Inflation Reduction Act arose from a deal between Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the latter of whom initially killed President Biden’s signature Build Back Better agenda last year. The new spending package includes $369 billion for climate and energy initiatives and $64 billion for health care, while raising roughly $739 billion in revenue. “It’s been a long, tough, and winding road but at last, at last, we have arrived,” Schumer said Sunday. Having cleared the Senate hurdle, Democrats and Biden are now on the cusp of a “crucial achievement” ahead of the midterms, writes CBS News. “I ran for president promising to make government work for working families again, and that is what this bill does,” Biden said in a statement: “Period.” The House is expected to approve the legislation on Friday. Meanwhile, Republicans are knocking the left for “raising taxes on families during a recession,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement, per Fox News.
‘He knows it’
Wyoming lawmaker Rep. Liz Cheney (R) is pulling out all the stops in her bid for re-election, even going so far as to rope in her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney. In a campaign video released last week, George W. Bush’s running mate calls Trump a “coward” and a “threat to our republic.” ”A real man wouldn’t lie to his supporters,” the ex-VP continued. “He lost his election, and he lost big. I know it, he knows it, and deep down I think most Republicans know it.” Liz Cheney has been dealing with intense inter-party fallout following her criticism of Trump, as well as her work as a member of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Consequently, she’s now a target of the former president, who has endorsed attorney Harriet Hageman in a bid to oust her. For Cheney, the crusade is worth it: “If the cost of standing up for the Constitution is losing the House seat, then that’s a price I’m willing to pay,” she told The New York Times. Hageman is widely expected to win.
It’s primary o’clock again tomorrow, this time in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin. As always, expect a deeper dive into the results of those races next week, but in the meantime, here’s a quick primer, courtesy of The Associated Press: In Vermont, voters will have the chance to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy and perhaps send a woman to represent the state in Congress for the first time ever. In Wisconsin, keep an eye on another Trump-Pence proxy battle, again in the state’s gubernatorial primary contest, as well as the Democrat that emerges from the primary to take on GOP incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson in November. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s progressive “Squad” member Rep. Ilhan Omar is up against a Democratic primary challenge, while Connecticut Republicans work to unseat incumbent Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D).
Hawaii voters also head to the polls this week, on Saturday, Aug. 13.
The close race between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Republican challenger Herschel Walker could lead to a situation in which a January runoff in Georgia decides control of the Senate for the second consecutive time, Politico reports.
Analysts from across the political spectrum expect the race to be close. Twopolls from late July showed Warnock leading the former NFL star 48-45 and 46-42, respectively. In both cases, the pastor-turned-senator’s edge was within the margin of error.
The problem is, thanks to the roughly 3 percent of voters who favor Libertarian Chase Oliver, neither major party candidate is on track to clear 50 percent. In that case, Warnock and Walker would face one another in a runoff in January.
That’s exactly what happened last election cycle, when Sen. Jon Ossoff (D) defeated then-Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) and Warnock beat out then-Sen. David Purdue (R) in a special election. These two narrow victories, coming on the heels of President Biden’s win in November, handed Democrats their current trifecta.
Republicans are almost certain to take back the House in November but face a far narrower path to reclaiming the Senate. Depending on how races in states like Wisconsin, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania turn out, there’s a strong possibility that, come January, we might all be obsessively hitting “refresh” on the Georgia election results page once again.
Israel and Islamic Jihad agreed Sunday to a cease-fire after a weekend of Israeli airstrikes and intercepted Islamic Jihad rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. The Egypt-brokered ceasefire, which took effect half an hour before midnight, was still holding Monday morning, “a sign the latest round of violence may have abated,” The Associated Press reports. It was the worst violence between Israel and Gaza militants since Israel and Hamas fought an 11-day war a year ago.
At least 44 Palestinians were killed, including 15 children and four women, in the three days of violence, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. There were no reports of Israeli deaths. Israel’s military said its Iron Dome missile defense system shot down 97 percent of the hundreds of rockets Islamic Jihad fired into Israel, including toward Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Israel also claimed that some of the deaths in Gaza were caused by misfired Islamic Jihad rockets.
Israel began this latest flare-up of violence with airstrikes Friday that killed Islamic Jihad leader Tayseer Jabari, the Iran-backed militant group’s chief of operations in the northern Gaza Strip. Another Islamic Jihad leader, Khaled Mansour, was killed in an Israeli airstrike Saturday on a house in Rafah. Israel said it had launched Friday’s strike in response to threats of strikes after it arrested a third Islamic Jihad leader, Bassem al-Saadi, in the West Bank.
Both sides called their military operations successful. “This is a victory for Islamic Jihad,” the group’s leader Ziad al-Nakhalah said in Tehran on Sunday. A senior Israeli diplomatic leader told AP the death of two leaders and waste of hundreds of rockets set Islamic Jihad back “decades.”
“For the past several months, you may have noticed monkeypox being discussed with an increasing sense of alarm,” John Oliver said on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight. And “the spread of monkeypox is genuinely alarming. Its most obvious symptom is skin lesions, which can, in severe cases, be extremely painful. And while the pain is not remotely funny, people have been getting very creative in how they describe it.” He showed some examples, not all of them “PG.”
“Frustratingly, despite the fact we’re still in middle of the COVID pandemic, we seem to be replicating some of its key mistakes, from persecuting strangers to spreading misinformation to badly mismanaging the public health response,” Oliver said. “So tonight we thought it’d be worth talking about monkeypox: What it is, how we fumbled our response to it, and what we should do going forward.” He began with the common symptoms — fever, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, headache, and rash — and some history of this pox virus, including the last U.S. outbreak, linked to pet prairie dogs. Oliver also noted that, unlike with COVID, monkeypox is a known virus with existing tests, vaccines, and treatments.
“Basically, every part of our early response to this made this harder than they needed to be, and I will say there have been some improvements recently,” Oliver said. “But the delays we’ve seen in fixing these problems have been absolutely maddening, and it has been hard not to wonder whether the lack of urgency has had anything to do with who’s been getting hit the hardest.” Look, he said, “it is not homophobic to acknowledge who is currently most affected, which is gay and bisexual men, sex workers, and people who participate in sex with multiple partners. What is homophobic is when you blame or shame the people who are suffering, or when you decide you don’t need to care about this because you don’t see their lives as valuable or their suffering as consequential. And that is where there are strong echoes of the AIDS crisis in some of the discussion around monkeypox.” He used Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) as an example of what not to do.
Oliver highlighted some bad and good public health messaging, argued for belatedly investing in and restructuring our public health apparatus, and used some scattered NSFW language throughout.
The Senate on Sunday voted to make major investments in climate change mitigation and sustainable energy production, significant changes in drug and health care policy, and modifications to tax law designed to reduce tax avoidance. The bill, called the Inflation Reduction Act, passed 51 to 50 along party lines, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. The House is expected to clear it on Friday, sending it to President Biden’s desk.
Here’s a look at what the legislation would do.
Climate change and energy (Cost: $369 billion)
$27 billion to create or support “green banks,” which combine with private investments to drive clean energy projects, including in low-income areas.
$7,500 consumer tax credit for new electric vehicles and $4,000 for used electric vehicles, until 2032, with some income caps.
Tax credits to encourage power companies to increase green energy.
$60 billion in incentives and financing for domestic production of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, critical minerals, electric vehicles, and other manufacturing.
$60 billion for environmental projects in low-income and disadvantaged communities.
New limits on release of methane gas, including a fines of up to $1,500 a ton for excess leakage and funds for monitoring and compliance.
Assured new oil and gas drilling leases on public lands and offshore.
Tax credits for carbon-capture technology.
Drugs and health care (Cost: $64 billion)
Medicare will be able to negotiate drug prices for the first time, starting in 2026 with 10 to-be-determined high-cost drugs. This is, Stat‘s Rachel Cohrs writes, “a BFD.”
$2,000 annual cap on out-of-pocket drug expenses for Medicare recipients, starting in 2025.
Penalties for Medicare drugs whose prices rise faster than inflation.
Guaranteed free vaccines for Medicare recipients, starting in 2023.
Three-year extension of Affordable Care Act subsidies enacted in 2021 that lowered or eliminated premiums for nearly all ACA marketplace customers.
Taxes (Income: roughly $739 billion)
15 percent minimum tax on most companies that report $1 billion or more in income to their shareholders.
1 percent tax on corporate stock buybacks.
$80 billion to hire new IRS agents and increase compliance among wealthy companies and individuals; expected to bring in an extra $203 billion. “These resources are absolutely not about increasing audit scrutiny on small businesses or middle-income Americans,” the IRS assured Congress.