TPM News

In his first public remarks since leaving office, former President Barack Obama said Monday that his primary goal post-presidency is inspiring and cultivating the next generation of leadership.

“So uh, what’s been going on while I’ve been gone?” Obama joked to a crowd at the University of Chicago. He sat on stage with a panel of students and young adults.

Obama opened by saying that his highest priority as a former President would be to work with the next generation of political and activist leadership.

“I’m spending a lot of time thinking about, ‘What is the most important thing I can do for my next job?'” Obama asked to laughter. “And what I’m convinced of, is that, although there are all kinds of issues that I care about, and all kinds of issues that I intend to work on, the single most important thing I can do is to help in any way I can prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton and to take their own crack at changing the world.”

Watch below via NBC:

President Donald Trump bragged on Friday about giving CBS’ “Face the Nation” its highest ratings since the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

“I have, seem to get very high ratings,” Trump said in an interview with the Associated Press.

He said that his appearance on the CBS talk show “had 5.2 million people.”

“It’s the highest for ‘Face the Nation’ or as I call it, ‘Deface the Nation.’ It’s the highest for “Deface the Nation” since the World Trade Center. Since the World Trade Center came down,” Trump claimed. “It’s a tremendous advantage.”

Trump previously used 9/11 as a prop to compare himself against when he claimed in October 2015 that he doubted the terrorist attacks would have taken place if he were President at the time.

“I would have been much different, I must tell you,” he said. “I doubt that those people would have been in the country.”

On Friday, Trump went on to brag that he’s learned to do something he “never thought” he could: stop hate-watching CNN.

“I don’t watch CNN anymore. I don’t watch MSNBC anymore. I don’t watch things, and I never thought I had that ability,” he said. “I always thought I’d watch.”

United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said Monday that “the United States is not looking for a fight with North Korea,” but she did not say definitively that the U.S. would not retaliate if North Korea continued to test missiles and nuclear weapons.

In an interview with NBC’s “Today,” Haley argued that the international community had successfully applied pressure to the country’s ruler, Kim Jong Un, and that his threats against America and its allies were meant to reassure his own citizens.

“He’s just trying to get the confidence of his own people,” she said, after denying that American threats of military action against Kim could cross what host Savannah Guthrie called “a point of no return, with words.”

“When he does these things, he’s not necessarily doing them to all of us as much as he’s trying to prove to his own people he can handle this,” Haley continued. “He’s very much feeling the pressure. I think you’re starting to see him get very paranoid. And I think you’re seeing pressure come from all parts of the international community.

On Sunday, the country’s state-run newspaper threatened to sink the American aircraft carrier currently drilling with Japanese destroyers in the western Pacific Ocean.

On Saturday, the same outlet quoted a foreign ministry spokesperson who threatened Australia with a nuclear attack after Australian Prime Minister Julie Bishop said North Korea would be the subject of further Australian sanctions.

North Korea’s last nuclear weapons test was on September 9, 2016. And American and South Korean officials have said its last missile test, on April 16, was unsuccessful.

Guthrie asked Haley if a preemptive strike against North Korea was “really being considered,” to which the ambassador replied, “We are not going to do anything unless he gives us reason to do something.”

“What’s that reason?” Guthrie asked.

“If you see him attack a military base, if you see some sort of intercontinental ballistic missile, then obviously we’re going to do that,” she said. “But right now, we’re saying don’t test, don’t use nuclear missiles, don’t try and do any more actions, and I think he’s understanding that and China’s helping us really put that pressure on him.”

“Let me just make sure I understand what you just said,” host Matt Lauer interjected. “If he tests another intercontinental ballistic missile, if he were to test another nuclear device, when you say, ‘Obviously we’re going to do that,’ do you mean military retaliation?”

“I think then the President steps in and decides what’s going to happen,” Haley said.

Watch below via NBC:

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) on Monday said he isn’t willing to risk a government shutdown by refusing to back down on President Donald Trump’s push to get his border wall funded in a spending bill Congress must pass by midnight Friday.

“I wouldn’t risk a $1 trillion funding bill for a $3 billion wall,” Cole said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

He said Republicans can try to get the funding “another way, another time.”

“There are some things Democrats want. There may be a possibility for a trade. But we can come back and get this at another point if there’s not,” Cole said. “The most important thing is to make sure the military’s funded, to make sure the critical institutions of government are funded and to make sure you don’t have a shutdown while you’ve got a Republican President, a Republican Senate and a Republican House.”

Top White House aides over the weekend were unclear as to whether Trump would sign a spending bill that didn’t include funding for his proposed wall.

“I would suspect he will be insistent on the funding,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said on Saturday.

“We don’t know yet,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said on Sunday.

Far-right media outlets will get some private face time with President Donald Trump on Monday at a small reception at the White House, Politico reported.

Breitbart News, The Daily Caller, and One American News Network are among the invited guests, along with a handful of talk radio hosts and columnists whom Politico did not name.

This is the latest overture the Trump administration has made to these publications, which the White House press secretary said received short shrift during Barack Obama’s tenure.

“They were neglected the last eight years, and they’re an important medium to communicate to a massively growing number of Americans who, frankly, have grown tired of mainstream media’s coverage,” Sean Spicer told Politico, saying they hoped to connect with a “more diverse set of media outlets.”

Spicer has broken with the tradition of giving the Associated Press the first question at daily press briefings, opting instead to call on friendly faces from Fox News or the Christian Broadcasting Network. The administration has also drawn a number of its senior staff from the world of conservative media. Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland and White House aide Sebastian Gorka were frequent commentators on Fox, while chief strategist Steve Bannon and special assistant Julia Hahn were plucked from Breitbart.

Spicer told Politico that the reception was intended as a token of gratitude towards “the folks who have really covered the president fairly.”

Rep. Hank Johnson’s (D-GA) office removed from the congressman’s website articles about Democrat Jon Ossoff and the special election in Georgia’s Sixth District over the weekend after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution inquired about them.

The inquiry came after a conservative group, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, told the newspaper that it planned to file a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics on Monday over articles on Johnson’s website about Ossoff, who used to work for the congressman as an aide. FACT accused Johnson of violating a House rule that bars members of Congress from using their offices to promote campaign activities.

“Representative Johnson has simply disregarded the rule and is blatantly using his official website for partisan purposes and campaign related activity,” Matthew Whitaker, the executive director of FACT, wrote in the letter, per the Journal-Constitution. “Not only is it troubling that Johnson has breached a basic rule that ensures the public’s confidence that our House Members are working for the citizens and not for their own personal political gain, but he has misused taxpayer funded resources.”

Johnson’s office declined to comment to TPM on the ethics complaint or the articles.

President Donald Trump on Monday said surveys released over the weekend by NBC and ABC are “fake news polls,” then he went on to praise them for “containing some very positive info.”

Trump tweeted that both polls “were totally wrong” in the 2016 presidential election, but appeared to praise some of the data they collected.

Trump on Sunday cited the ABC-Washington Post poll as “very good,” though the poll reflected that only 42 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s performance as he approaches his 100th day in office, while 53 percent disapprove.

According to ABC’s writeup, Trump therefore has the lowest approval numbers of any president at this point in their term since 1945.

According to the other poll Trump cited, by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, only 40 percent of respondents approved of Trump’s performance, while 54 percent disapproved and 6 percent were not sure.

A plurality of respondents — 45 percent — said that Trump’s presidency is off to a “poor start.”

Nineteen percent of respondents, meanwhile, said that Trump has made “only a fair start,” while 21 percent replied that Trump has made a “good start” and 14 percent called it a “great start.” One percent of respondents to that question were not sure.

The NBC-Wall Street Journal poll was conducted by landline and cell phone from April 17–20 among a sample of 900 adults, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

The Anti-Defamation League reported Monday that anti-Semitic incidents in the United States had increased 34 percent in 2016 and were on track for an even greater increase in 2017.

The ADL recorded a total of 1,266 anti-Semitic incidents in 2016 in its annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents, compared to 942 in 2015. During the first quarter of 2017, it recorded 541 incidents, a 127 percent increase over the same period in 2016. The organization noted that 369 incidents in 2016 occurred in November and December alone.

The audit includes incidents of vandalism, harassment and assault, both criminal and non-criminal, and is tallied from reports by victims, law enforcement and community leaders, the ADL said in a press release Monday.

Among the instances of harassment in 2017 were 161 bomb threats against Jewish institutions. An Israeli teen was arrested in late March as the primary suspect in the bulk of those threats. On Friday, the Justice Department announced that Michael Ron David Kadar, 18, a joint U.S.-Israeli citizen, had been charged with “making threatening calls to Jewish Community Centers in Florida, conveying false information to police dispatch regarding harm to private residents in Georgia, and cyberstalking.”

The DOJ noted in its press release that “the investigation into violent threats to Jewish Community Centers, schools and other institutions across this nation continues, including an ongoing investigation into potential hate crime charges.”

The ADL included three incidents of Jewish cemetery desecration among its count of vandalism incidents in 2017. After one of those incidents, in which hundreds of headstones were reportedly damaged at the Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia in late February, White House press secretary Sean Spicer condemned the vandalism in his daily briefing.