Migrant girl dies in Border Patrol custody
A 7-year-old migrant girl taken into Border Patrol custody died of dehydration and exhaustion, Nick Miroff and Robert Moore reported at the Washington Post Thursday. “Make America great again,” Gabriel Arana offered up.
In another addition to the president’s list of alleged suspicious activity: NBC News confirmed via Tom Winter that in August 2015, Trump was apparently in the room during “hush money discussions” his lawyer Michael Cohen had with National Enquirer publisher David Pecker. The two reportedly discussed ways Pecker could help counter negative stories about Trump's relationships with women.
Trump’s Inauguration Spending Is Under Criminal Investigation by Federal Prosecutors, per Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Rebecca Ballhaus, and Aruna Viswanatha at the Wall Street Journal. Byron Tau pointed out that the “federal probe is looking at whether Trump’s inaugural committee misspent funds and top donors gave money in exchange for access to the administration.”
Sharon LaFraniere, Maggie Haberman, and Adam Goldman had similar findings at the New York Times which they published in: Trump Inaugural Fund and Super PAC Said to Be Scrutinized for Illegal Foreign Donations.
Regarding a different 2016 “discrepancy,” we got news that Alleged Russian spy Maria Butina admitted to engaging in a conspiracy against the U.S., as reported by Katelyn Polantz and Marshall Cohen at CNN.Spencer Hsu and Tom Jackman at the Washington Post filed their own version: Russian Maria Butina pleads guilty in an effort to forge Kremlin bond with U.S. conservatives. She indeed admitted to “trying to influence U.S. policy around the presidential election in 2016,” Justin Jouvenal pointed out.
Literally the only good story
A foul-mouthed Santa horrified parents in the English town of St. Ives, Cambridgeshire and we have Rob Picheta at CNN to thank for finding this truly hilarious tale. Don’t believe us? Here’s the quote Nick Thompson tweeted from the piece: "A fire alarm reportedly prompted Santa Claus to burst out of his grotto, rip off his beard, and scream at children to 'get the f**k out.'" Even Picheta hailed it, “Possibly the greatest story I've ever written.” “Another holiday story that brings tears--of laughter--to my eyes. But I hope the children recover!” Scott Simon added.
‘This is not a left-right thing’
Ahead of a crucial Yemen vote, Trump officials are hard at work warning of harming ties with Saudi Arabia, Eric Schmitt and Eileen Sullivan write at the New York Times. “Pompeo and Mattis warned against jeopardizing the Saudi partnership, given what they described as an ongoing investigation into whether Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi,” Lara Jakes elaborated. Kevin Baron made another important point: “This is not a left-right thing. It's a national security leaders vs the country, thing. Has the gap been this wide since... Vietnam?”
Meanwhile, the Washington Post will run a full-page ad on the Khashoggi killing, Jason Schwartz writes at Politico. The ad will be part of a broader push that publisher and CEO Fred Ryan said would continue "until meaningful action is taken."
Trump is apparently moving forward with a plan to Deport Vietnam War refugees, Charles D. Dunst and Krishnadev Calamur reported in The Atlantic.
Ariel Edwards-Levy sounded a “KUSH ALERT.” We’ll explain: As he’s working to fill all those open cabinet positions before the end of the year, Trump is now Considering Son-In-Law Jared Kushner For Next Chief Of Staff, S.V. Date writes at the Huffington Post.
But before Jimmy Fallon breaks out his Ray-Bans, you should also know that Axios’ Jonathan Swan also reported that Trump met with Chris Christie to discuss the chief of staff role.
Oh and this year, Trump canceled the White House Christmas party for the press. That write-up comes from Howard Kurtz at Fox News.
Numbers don’t lie
Bloomberg’s Sarah McGregor told us the U.S. Budget Deficit Hit the Widest on Record for Month of November. “The budget deficit hit a record $205 billion last month, despite the strong economy,” Jim Zarroli wrote. Lesley Abravanel went in: “The U.S. ran the largest deficit in six years in fiscal 2018, the first full year of @realDonaldTrump presidency when his Republican party enacted a tax-cut package and raised federal spending for the military and other priorities. #MAGA!” For yet another perspective, Carleton English added that “spending doubled revenue.”
Jacqueline Howard’s CNN piece about Gun deaths in America reaching their highest level in nearly 40 years, per CDC data is still making the rounds because it is truly alarming.
And in BuzzFeed, Peter Aldhous published a story about Cities Who Claim Zero Hate Crimes But Police Reports Show Otherwise. “The victims were beaten or threatened with weapons. They were taunted with racist or anti-gay abuse. Yet police said these weren’t hate crimes,” Kendall Taggart wrote.
The national desk
North Carolina Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris is said to have sought out campaign operative Leslie McCrae Dowless despite being warned of Dowless’ allegedly questionable tactics to deliver votes. Amy Gardner and Beth Reinhard delivered that story for the Washington Post. We also recommend this “Fraud, actually” episode from Vox’s Today, Explained podcast does a nice job of getting you up to date on what’s happening if you’re not there already.
Speaking of podcasts, the New York Times’ The Daily had an episode about The Rise of Right-Wing Extremism, and How We Missed It earlier this week. It quickly received criticism, including from Charles P. Pierce at Esquire, who responded with ”We” Did Not Miss the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism. You Did. “The New York Times plays itself—but offers a useful window into how establishment media has enabled all this,” Pierce explained.
In California, the Chief justice of the state Supreme Court left the Republican Party, citing Kavanaugh. Dan Morain wrote that story for Cal Matters. Pamela Behrsin shared this quote from Tani Cantil-Sakauye, “I’ve been thinking about it for some time.”
Hiroko Tabuchi goes into The Oil Industry’s Covert Campaign to Rewrite American Car Emissions Rules at the New York Times.
Are media companies...bad?
The New York Times dropped a bombshell Thursday with a piece that went Behind CBS’s Secret $9.5 Million Settlement With ‘Bull’ Actress. The actress in question is “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Eliza Dushku, who accused costar Michael Weatherly of making inappropriate comments on set in 2017. “My story is true and it’s really affected me, and I can’t talk about it," Dushku told investigators, according to Rachel C. Abrams and John Koblin who uncovered the piece.
You may or may not be surprised to learn that Facebook fact-checking is in disarray as the journalists tasked to legitimize news on the social platform are now pushing to cut ties with Zuckerberg’s company. “They don't care,” Sam Levin reported at The Guardian. “Boom. Former Snopes ME after their work w/Facebook: ‘I strongly believe that they are spreading fake news on behalf of hostile foreign powers and authoritarian governments as part of their business model,’” Violet Blue tweeted. “How surprising: Journalists paid to help fix Facebook’s fake news problem say they have lost trust in the platform,” Frederic Filloux added.
NPR’s David Folkenflik wrote of Tribune, Tronc And Beyond: A Slur, A Secret Payout, And A Looming Sale. “NPR reports Tribune Publishing is paying a former LAT publisher more than $2.5M to avert a lawsuit that would have disclosed an anti-Semitic slur made by then-controlling owner Michael Ferro, per three people knowledgeable about the deal,” he tweeted. Eesh.
Molly Osberg went inside The Billionaire's Inbox at Splinter News for her story on Joe Ricketts, Unions, and The Media Biz. Hamilton Nolan hailed it “uh oh by @molly__o.” Paul Blest explains: “.@molly__o got ahold of Joe Ricketts' emails, and he's just as big of a piece of shit in his personal life as he is in public.”
Fox 2 Detroit shared the sad news that meteorologist Jessica Starr passed away. She is reported to have died by suicide. Evrod Cassimy wrote, “Sending love to our friends at @FOX2News.”
If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or text 741-741 for free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.