It was a busy weekend, to say the least. “In a string of 10 Twitter messages — which began after 11 p.m. Saturday and ended around noon Sunday, and which included profanity and misspellings — Trump opened a window into his state of mind, even as Trump’s representatives at a global security conference in Germany advised jittery allies to generally ignore the president’s tweets.” That’s from the piece by Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker of The Washington Post, Trump lashes out over Russia probe in angry and error-laden tweetstorm. As Dawsey tweets, he and Rucker take you “Inside the president's wild weekend, what drove his tweets and his questions on gun control.”
The piece also highlights “The members of Mar-a-Lago as policy advisors, part 33,” as Lisa Tozzi tweets. Mark Berman finds it “Amazing: The gun control debate could pivot in the very near future on what some very articulate teenagers who survived a shooting said on TV and what some wealthy members of the president's club said to him.” Also worth noting, as Scott Bixby points out, “The NRA spent more than $30 million to shape President Trump’s views on gun policy. Mar-a-Lago members only have to pay $200,000 for the same privilege.”
It was also a busy weekend for fact checkers. As Laura Litvan says, “I guess there’s no such thing as a three-day weekend if you’re in the business of fact-checking the president.” Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post goes about Fact checking Trump’s error-filled tweet storm about the Russia investigation, and Dale Alison’s assessment is that “Our ‘very stable genius’ POTUS is anything but.”
And then there’s the part about Top U.S. officials telling the world to ignore Trump’s tweets (30,000+ shares), which The Washington Post’s Michael Birnbaum and Griff Witte report on. But Maud Newton says, “One problem with ‘top U.S. officials’ telling the world to ‘ignore Trump’s tweets’ is that Trump can launch warheads. He also spins on a dime, cuts int’l funding, insults countries, destroys diplomatic relations, etc.” Adds Ryan Evans, “Adherents to the ‘Ah don't pay attention to him’ school - largely, it seems, made up of the president's own officials and members of his party - are deceiving themselves.”
To find a bit more maturity, look to teenagers in Florida, where “A new generation awakens politically for a great cause,” as James M. O’Neill puts it. Eliott C. McLaughlin and Nicole Chavez of CNN report on how Florida school shooting survivors turn grief into action (85,000+ shares). The students announced a nationwide, student-led march in Washington on March 24 to push for gun control, prompting this reaction from Ann Deslandes: “you perfect, perfect humans. SOLIDARITY.”
Wesley Lowery covers the story for The Washington Post in Students organize to fight for gun law changes (15,000+ shares). He tweets, “Want to highlight one thing that stuck out to me from my q&a yesterday with one of the Parkland, FL students...Alex Wind, one of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students organizing @NeverAgainMSD and upcoming #MarchForOurLives rally, tells me he and his fellow high school students-turned activists have vowed not to return to classes until gun legislation is passed.”
In an op-ed for The New York Times, Florida high school freshman Christine Yared, who survived the school shooting, declares, Don’t Let My Classmates’ Deaths Be in Vain. “This freshman’s schoolmate Emma Gonzalez said ‘we are protecting guns more than we are protecting people.’ This is a powerful read from a Douglas HS 9th grader pleading for this to be a tipping point,” tweets Chris Sloan. Yes, “Christine Yared is 15,” as Justin Miller points out. And Anita Creamer says, “We need to listen. We need to change. #ImWithTheKids.”
So back to Trump on this Presidents’ Day. Karen Tumulty tweets, “These are the moments that test a country — and a president. They call for bringing people together in a sense of national purpose against a common adversary. Once again, Trump has failed that test.” She links to her op-ed in The Washington Post, We’ve just hit a new presidential low.
At The New York Times, Thomas Friedman writes, Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now (76,000+ shares). Frank Rich calls it the “Most uncompromising column of Tom Friedman's career.” Jon Williams highlights, “‘Our democracy is in serious danger. President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both.’ Sobering @tomfriedman read for #POTUS on Presidents’ Day.”
At POLITICO, however, Blake Hounshell offers Confessions of a Russiagate Skeptic. It boils down to this: “Is there any way the TRUMP campaign could have quietly executed a conspiracy with RUSSIA, given the bumbling incompetence, vicious leaking & stream-of-conscious Trump tweeting that characterized the Trump campaign & WH? @blakehounshell doesn’t think so,” tweets Kenneth Vogel. “I've been wrestling with some of this lately as well,” admits Matt Ford. But Michael Kelley wonders, “Has anyone coined the term ‘useless idiot’ yet?”
In their op-ed for The New York Times, Brandon Rottinghaus and Justin Vaughn attempt to answer the question, How Does Trump Stack Up Against the Best — and Worst — Presidents? David Rutz has the spoiler: “According to 170 members of the American Political Science Association’s Presidents and Executive Politics section who filled out survey for @nytimes, Barack Obama is 8th-greatest president in American history, and Donald Trump is the worst.” But at least there’s this: “On Presidents Day, some good news for James Buchanan, thanks to @realDonaldTrump,” as Roland Klose points out.
Meanwhile, the breaking news from David Willman of The Los Angeles Times is that Former Trump aide Rick Gates to plead guilty; agrees to testify against Manafort, sources say (72,000+ shares), leading Chris Brennan to wonder, “Did this fuel this weekend's Mar-A-Lago meltdown?” Chris Mohney finds it “Weird how this witch hunt keeps flipping all these witches.”
Also to “File under Weirdness…” as Joshua Macht tweets, the scoop by Jonathan Swan of Axios, Skirmish in Beijing over the nuclear football. Matthew Yglesias says, “This kind of reminds me of when I almost got ensnared by the Shanghai Art Scam, except with nuclear codes.” And Scott Feinberg thinks, “This feels like an Envelopegate sort of moment... the nuclear fate of the world rests, to a large extent, with the nuclear football... which was almost ‘fumbled,’ if you'll pardon the pun, into the hands of the Chinese... what a time to be alive.” Meanwhile, Gideon Resnick notes the “extremely In the Loop subplot.”
A warning from Matthew Miller on this next one: “Feel like I need to take a shower just from reading this story.” The piece: Tools of Trump’s Fixer: Payouts, Intimidation and the Tabloids, by Jim Rutenberg, Megan Twohey, Rebecca R. Ruiz, Mike McIntire and Maggie Haberman at The New York Times. Laura Litvan calls it your “Morning must read: NYT’s detailed exam of how Trump lawyer Cohen kept future president’s indiscretions under wraps by navigating in a pay-to-play gossip world populated by porn stars centerfold models, tabloid editors & attorneys seeking $$ settlements.” “I still say Melania knows where the bodies are buried,” says Ann Brenoff. Also, while we’re at it, Sopan Deb emphasizes, “Five (very talented) bylines, folks. SUBSCRIBE.”
Here’s another must-read, or as Lydia Polgreen puts it, “Drop everything and read this @JillAbramson story.” For the new cover of New York Magazine, Jill Abramson lays out The Case for Impeaching Clarence Thomas, based on new evidence that he lied to get onto the Supreme Court. Tweets Margaret Sullivan, “The Case for Impeaching Clarence Thomas, by badass @jillabramson, complete with shoe-leather reporting and unparalleled expertise on the subject.” “Gee, where do the ‘rule of law’ Republicans fall on this one?” asks Steven Smith.
“Good news, everyone. #BlackPanther made a metric rhino-ton of money this weekend,” is how Norman Wilner describes it. As Dave McNary of Variety reports, ‘Black Panther’ Smashes Records With $218 Million at Holiday Weekend Box Office (135,000+ shares). Brooks Barnes covers the record-smashing for The New York Times, ‘Black Panther’ Smashes Box Office Records and Hollywood Myths (98,000+ shares). Edmund Lee’s review: “Big budget popcorn movie from Marvel/Disney that’s also a ‘60s era Black Power anthem and an Afro Futurist fantasy. Reminded me of a time when movies had a catholicity of interests. I loved it.”
“History itself plays the villain in ‘Black Panther,’ writes @NewYorker's estimable @jelani9,” tweets Brent Staples, of Jelani Cobb’s piece for The New Yorker, “Black Panther” and the Invention of “Africa.” Adds Tamer El-Ghobashy, “Besides the movie itself being fantastic, it’s been a delight to read essays like this that underscore its significance to American culture.”
Meanwhile, Mark Harris says, “I've seen Black Panther and I know where this is going.” But Chris Buckley says, “It's a story like ‘The Maltese Falcon,’ except it's about a terracotta warrior’s stolen thumb: ‘When asked if he had anything he wanted to hand over, Mr. Rohana said he had a finger.’” John Schwartz just calls it “Your latest installment of People Are No Damn Good.” They’re all talking about Austin Ramzy’s story in The New York Times, American Is Charged With Stealing Terra-Cotta Warrior’s Thumb. Yes, of course there’s a selfie, a Phillies hat and an ugly sweater party involved. “No Wonder They Hate Us,” is how Mark Thompson sums it up.
Conservatives urge Trump to grant pardons in Russia probe, writes POLITICO’s Darren Samuelsohn. “Um, Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates will all face state charges if he pardons them. In other words, mission not accomplished,” says Janet Shan.
At The New York Times, David Gelles talks with The C.E.O. Who Stood Up to President Trump: Ken Frazier Speaks Out. Tweets Clifford Levy, “Scoop: One of the nation’s most powerful black CEOs is breaking his silence after publicly sparring with Trump over his Charlottesville comments. ‘To not take a stand on this would be viewed as a tacit endorsement.’”
Lindsey Vonn laughs at the Donald Trump fans trolling her, and Tim Layden writes about it for Sports Illustrated. The piece is about “Lindsey Vonn and the intersection of free speech, political trolls and one last Olympic downhill,” Layden tweets.
“After reading the transcript of Oprah’s 60 Minutes segment, I honestly don’t understand why Trump would be all that upset about it,” Daniel Drezner tweets. See for yourself by watching Oprah Winfrey’s 60 Minutes segment: Oprah Winfrey follows up with the partisan voters in Michigan.
New reporting from Dan Diamond at POLITICO, Trump administration dismantles LGBT-friendly policies. Parker Molloy advises, “Check out @ddiamond's dive into the anti-LGBT world of Trump's HHS — worth reading to the end.”