Leah Barkoukis - EgyptAir Flight Crashes With 66 On Board
Posted: 5/19/2016 6:41:00 AM EST

Update: According to Egyptian officials, the crash was more likely to be a result of terrorism than a technical failure.  

Original Post: An EgyptAir flight traveling from Paris to Cairo crashed early Thursday, according to Egyptian aviation officials.

On whether the crashed was caused by a terror attack or technical problem, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail told reporters, “We cannot rule anything out.”

Flight 804, an Airbus A320, was lost from radar at 2:45 a.m. Cairo time (8:45 p.m. EDT) when it was flying at 37,000 feet 175 miles north of the Egyptian coast, the airline said.

Officials from Egypt's Civil Aviation ministry said the "possibility that the plane crashed has been confirmed," as the plane failed to land in any nearby airports.

Konstantinos Lintzerakos, director of Greece Civil Aviation Authority, gave a roughly similar account to that given by EgyptAir. In comments to the private Antenna television, he said Greek air traffic controllers were in contact with the pilot who reported no problems as the aircraft cruised at 37,000 feet, traveling at 519 mph.

The controllers tried to make contact with the pilot 10 miles before the plane exited the Greek Flight Information Region, or FIR. The pilot did not respond, he said, and they continued to try to speak to him until 2:29 a.m. Cairo time (8:29 EDT) when the plane disappeared from the radar inside Egypt's FIR, 7 miles southeast of the island of Crete.

The plane made “sudden swerves” before it disappeared, Greek defense minister Panos Kammenos said, veering “90 degrees left and then a 360- degree turn toward the right, dropping from 38,000 to 15,000 feet and then it was lost at about 10,000 feet."

Egypt, France, and Greece have sent military aircraft and ships to search for wreckage in the Mediterranean Sea, as its believed to have crashed near the southern Greek island of Karpathos.

Updates will be added to this post as they are made available.  

Justin Holcomb  - Chinese Jets Intercept US Spy Plane Over South China Sea
Posted: 5/18/2016 7:00:00 PM EST

Two Chinese fighters have carried out an "unsafe" intercept of a U.S. military aircraft over the South China Sea, according to the Pentagon.

The incident happened in "international airspace" on Tuesday as the U.S. maritime patrol reconnaissance aircraft carried out "a routine U.S. patrol" in the area.

“Initial reports characterized the incident as unsafe,” the U.S. military statement said.

The United States has accused Beijing of militarizing the South China Sea.

Cortney O'Brien - Trump to Address First Latino Audience This Weekend - In Videotaped Message
Posted: 5/18/2016 6:30:00 PM EST

Donald Trump is not popular with Hispanics, poll after poll has shown. His now infamous remarks on illegal immigration and promise to build a wall, which kicked off his presidential campaign, have done wonders with some conservatives, but badly damaged his image with Latinos. That doesn't mean he's going to just give up on the demographic. In his first address to a Latino audience, Trump will be sending a pre-recorded videotaped message for a group of Hispanic evangelicals at the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference this weekend.

Trump aides have told the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee will submit videotaped remarks to be played at their annual conference this weekend in California. It's one of his most overt moves to date to repair the damage he has done with members of the crucial Latino voting bloc, many of whom have bristled at Trump's past name-calling, stereotyping, and calls to deport undocumented immigrants.

To be fair, Hillary Clinton is also submitting videotaped remarks. She, however, doesn't have so high a hill to climb with Hispanic voters.

We don't yet know what Trump will say in the video, but Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, president of the leadership conference, said he hopes the presumptive GOP nominee can "redeem the narrative with Latinos" - people of faith, in particular. Indeed, Trump reaching out to evangelical Hispanics is perhaps a smart campaign move, considering this specific demographic tends to hold more conservative views.

Brent Wilkes, the national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, noted it's "encouraging" the Trump campaign is reaching out to Hispanics, but he's eventually going to have to meet face-to-face with the community he's been "denigrating."

Katie Pavlich - Libertarian CATO Expert: Trump's SCOTUS Picks Are Terrific
Posted: 5/18/2016 4:40:00 PM EST

Donald Trump's list of potential Supreme Court nominees has already received praise from Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and now, the libertarian CATO Institute is piling on. 

"I’m not intimately familiar with all 11 judges and I don’t expect to agree with all of them on everything, but those whose jurisprudence I know well are excellent and the others have sterling reputations. These are not squishes or lightweights," Senior Constitutional Studies Fellow and Editor-in-Chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review Ilya Shapiro wrote in a blog post titled, "Donald Trump’s Terrific List of Fabulous Judges."

"I’m no fan of the Donald – and who knows whether he’d follow through if elected? – but he’s listening to the right advisers here," Shapiro continued.

You can read the rest of his analysis here.

Katie Pavlich - Grassley: Trump's List of Potential Supreme Court Picks is Impressive
Posted: 5/18/2016 4:00:00 PM EST

Wednesday afternoon presumptive GOP Nominee Donald Trump released a list of judges he would potentially nominate to the Supreme Court should he win the White House in November. Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which holds hearings for Supreme Court nominees, is impressed with the list. 

"Mr. Trump has laid out an impressive list of highly qualified  jurists, including Judge Colloton from Iowa, who understand and respect the fundamental principle that the role of the courts is limited and subject to the Constitution and the rule of law," Grassley released in a statement. "Understanding the types of judges a presidential nominee would select for the Supreme Court is an important step in this debate so the American people can have a voice in the direction of the Supreme Court for the next generation."

Here is the full list Trump released, which you can read more about here:

-Steven Colloton of Iowa
-Allison Eid of Colorado
-Raymond Gruender of Missouri
-Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania
-Raymond Kethledge of Michigan
-Joan Larsen of Michigan
-Thomas Lee of Utah
-William Pryor of Alabama
-David Stras of Minnesota
-Diane Sykes of Wisconsin
-Don Willett of Texas


Cortney O'Brien - DNC Chair Who Accused Gov. Walker of Giving Women ‘Back of His Hand’ Accepted Money From Domestic Violence Abuser
Posted: 5/18/2016 3:45:00 PM EST

Remember when Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz accused Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker of giving women “the back of his hand” with his conservative policies? Her insensitive comments, which ignored the struggles of real victims of domestic abuse, make her list of financial contributions a tad bit awkward.

In what can only be classified as a severe case of hypocrisy, Schultz has apparently accepted donations from Ibrahim Al –Rashid, the son of a Saudi billionaire who once pled guilty to assaulting his estranged wife.

American Crossroads, a non-profit 527 political organization, is now asking the DNC chief if she plans on returning the tainted money. In addition to her offensive comments about Gov. Walker, American Crossroads Spokesman Ian Prior noted in a new statement on Wednesday how Schultz dug herself a deeper hole by calling on Bernie Sanders to condemn campaign violence his supporters are supposedly instigating. 

“Just yesterday, Debbie Wasserman Schultz condemned violence that she says was perpetrated by Bernie Sanders supporters and inflamed by Sanders himself," Prior said. "Perhaps Wasserman Schultz should open her campaign checkbook and show that she herself condemns violence – particularly against women – by donating to charity the $4800 she received from a convicted domestic abuser.” 

American Crossroads notes that Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), the campaign of Democrat Josh Gottheimer, who’s running for a congressional seat in New Jersey, and the Senate Majority PAC have all donated money they previously received from Al-Rashid. If Schultz doesn’t follow suit, how can she continue to speak out against violence as if she’s some kind of women's champion?

Schultz has some other things to worry about – namely, her congressional seat. She faces a primary challenger with some serious cash on hand.

Guy Benson - Video: Megyn Kelly's Long-Awaited Interview With Donald Trump
Posted: 5/18/2016 3:35:00 PM EST

It was a made-for-primetime event, months in the making. After more than half a year of public (and largely one-sided) feuding, presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump sat down with Fox News star Megyn Kelly for an interview that aired on the FOX broadcast network last night. The program began with a video recap of the billionaire's tempestuous, and often acrimonious, relationship Kelly -- complete with a presidential debate no-show, a failed boycott of her cable news show, and a series of demeaning tweets and comments. The full interview is below, followed by a few quick reactions:

If you're pressed for time, here are a few notable moments (time-stamped for your convenience):

(1) Trump refuses to concede that his nasty, personal tweet regarding the physical appearance of Ted Cruz's wife was a mistake (6:09)

(2) Kelly asks about Trump's brother, who "was an alcoholic and died at a relatively young age." Trump reflects on his sibling's curtailed life and discusses his decision never to drink a drop of alcohol.

(3) "When I'm wounded, I go after people hard. Okay? And I try to un-wound myself." Perhaps the most interesting insight into Trump's psyche in the entire exchange. (9:40)

(4) A back-and-forth on Kelly's first debate question regarding his treatment of women that famously triggered Trump's fury, including an interesting discussion on the role of a free and independent press in America's political system. (11:03)

(5) "Bimbo?" Kelly confronts Trump with his retweet seen 'round the web, prompting a sheepish quasi-apology. (17:15).

(6) "If I don't win..." Trump on how he'd feel about his campaign if he doesn't prevail in the fall against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. (19:05)

(7) The lightning round, featuring a bit of a confession from Trump about that aforementioned boycott.

Overall, the interview was worthwhile. The footage was clearly edited heavily due to time constraints, but the subject matter covered was interesting -- and the spectacle of these two people finally sitting down face-to-face was a major tune-in factor unto itself. Some critics of the segment have complained that it was too self-referential and light on policy substance. There may be some validity to both critiques, but Megyn Kelly Presents is not The Kelly File. It's not a hard-hitting news program; it's a news magazine, featuring interviews with big names from across a spectrum of significant industries. This format calls for the hybrid, human-interest approach Kelly pursued. One may quibble with the number of questions and amount of airtime devoted to The Feud, but how could they have ignored, or even glanced over the obvious elephant in the room? The audience wanted to see that topic explored at some length. They got what they wanted.  The show drew nearly five million viewers and marked a significant ratings uptick for FOX in that time slot.  

Leah Barkoukis - Phil Robertson Willing to Be Trump's 'Spiritual Adviser'
Posted: 5/18/2016 3:30:00 PM EST

Despite endorsing Sen. Ted Cruz earlier this year, Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson said he’s now on “the Trump train.” He also offered to serve as the presumptive GOP nominee’s spiritual adviser.

"I was forced into the Trump train, but I am happily volunteering my services for Mr. Trump, mainly because the Republican Party has spoken," Robertson said Wednesday on "Fox & Friends."

“The people have said, 'We want Mr. Trump.' So Mr. Cruz goes down, I love him, but now I’m on the Trump train and I’ll do everything I can to help him. Hey, we have to be loyal to the party."

When Robertson was asked about Trump’s recent comments that when he’s wounded, he goes after people hard to try to “un-wound” himself,  he said he’d make a “valiant attempt behind the scenes” to sit with Trump and a Bible and help him understand “concepts like loving your enemies.”

"I can see it now: 'Trump wins,' and the camera is panning and his spiritual adviser is me," Robertson added. 

Cortney O'Brien - WH: Grassley Should Be ‘Compelled’ By Garland Nomination
Posted: 5/18/2016 2:45:00 PM EST

“The Senate Judiciary Committee are doing their jobs,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told the press at Wednesday’s briefing on the hill. In his opening statement, he praised congressional Democrats for holding a hearing on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Republicans have been stalling the vote, hoping to get a more conservative candidate on the bench after the November presidential election.  

In his comments, Earnest pushed back at what he terms Republican obstructionism, using retired Judge Timothy Lewis’ testimony as proof Garland’s confirmation doesn’t have to be so complicated. Lewis, Earnest explained, was nominated in the fall of 1992 and was unanimously confirmed, just three weeks before the election.

“I am living proof that it doesn’t have to be this way,” the former judge said at Wednesday’s hearing.

That’s when Earnest launched a direct challenge at Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), one of Garland’s most vocal opponents, reminding him that he once praised Lewis for supporting a SCOTUS nominee with whom he didn’t jive politically. When conservative nominee Samuel Alito was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2006, Lewis said he was an “intellectually honest” person and supported his candidacy, despite their ideological differences. Grassley found his testimony “compelling” at the time, Earnest noted.

“Today, we hope Grassley will be similarly compelled by Judge Lewis’ comments,” Earnest said.

Conservatives had a much different assessment of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Garland hearing on Wednesday. America Rising PAC, for instance, called it a “fake mock hearing” that will have “zero impact” on the real world. 

Even the media has noted that Democrats are running out of options in their effort to speed Garland to the Supreme Court.

Christine Rousselle - Here's Who Donald Trump Would Put On The Supreme Court
Posted: 5/18/2016 2:35:00 PM EST

Donald Trump has released a list of 11 people who he would nominate to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia's death if he is elected this November. Trump promised in March to eventually release a list of names.

They are:

  • Steven Colloton of Iowa
  • Allison Eid of Colorado
  • Raymond Gruender of Missouri
  • Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania
  • Raymond Kethledge of Michigan
  • Joan Larsen of Michigan
  • Thomas Lee of Utah
  • William Pryor of Alabama
  • David Stras of Minnesota
  • Diane Sykes of Wisconsin
  • Don Willett of Texas

Justice Willett has a notable presence on Twitter, with over 35,000 followers. One of his old tweets, where he mocked Trump's seeming inability to come up with an appropriate nomination for the Supreme Court, gained traction following the release of the list.


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