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March 20, 2017

Add making near-weekly trips to Florida to the U.S. president's list of essential duties. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, asked Monday if President Trump would consider cutting back on weekend trips to his Mar-a-Lago resort in order to save taxpayer money, claimed the trips are "part of being president." "Presidents always travel," Spicer said.

Spicer said it was a "vast reach" to suggest Trump's trips should be curbed in light of his budget blueprint released last week, which proposes steep cuts to federal programs like Meals on Wheels in order to offset a huge boost in defense and security spending. Thus far, taxpayers have paid an estimated $3.3 million for Trump's trips to what Spicer calls the "Winter White House." Quartz reported Meals on Wheels "could feed 5,967 seniors for a year for that amount."

When pressed about the golf outings Trump is reportedly taking on these trips down south, Spicer noted Trump's rounds of golf are about more than just golf. Spicer explained that Trump's golf games are different than former President Barack Obama's — which Trump repeatedly criticized — because of how Trump manages to "use the game of golf" to "help U.S. interests." Spicer noted Trump frequently golfs with foreign leaders — something Obama did too:

Asked if the press should be briefed on Trump's golfing if so many important meetings are allegedly happening on the greens, Spicer argued Trump is "entitled to a bit of privacy at some point." Becca Stanek

9:20 p.m. ET
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On Wednesday, ABC canceled The Chew to make room for a third hour of Good Morning America, which will air in the afternoon.

The new Good Morning America program will take over The Chew's time slot in September. Staffers were notified Wednesday and "completely blindsided," one person with knowledge of the situation told Us Weekly. "They were under the impression that the show was still strong and would continue." New episodes of The Chew, now in its seventh season, will start taping in June, to air through the summer.

Former co-host Mario Batali was fired from the show in December after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him. Earlier this week, it was reported that the celebrity chef is under investigation by the NYPD for alleged sex-related crimes, but a representative for ABC told AOL the cancelation was "a business decision" and Batali "did not factor into this." Last week, co-host Carla Hall revealed that there were no plans to replace Batali on the show. Catherine Garcia

8:28 p.m. ET
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Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) didn't name President Trump directly in his remarks to Harvard Law School graduates on Wednesday, but with a dig about selling red hats, it was clear who the retiring senator was talking about.

Flake said the United States "may have hit rock bottom. This is it. If you have been wondering what the bottom looks like, this is what it looks like when you stress-test all of the institutions that undergird our constitutional democracy at the same time." The presidency has been "debased" by a "figure who seemingly has a bottomless appetite for destruction and division, and only a passing familiarity with how the Constitution works," Flake said. It's time for people to stop equating being "cruel" with making "America great," he said, adding, "to be clear, we did not become great – and will never be great — by indulging and encouraging our very worst impulses. It doesn't matter how many red caps you sell."

Flake has been one of the few Republicans in the Senate to go after Trump, and he told the graduates that there are "times when circumstances may call on you to risk your career in favor of your principles. But you, and your country, will be better for it. You can go elsewhere for a job, but you cannot go elsewhere for a soul." The country is divided, but "we need each other, and it is a scoundrel who would prosper politically by turning us against each other." Catherine Garcia

7:25 p.m. ET
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The way Rudy Giuliani has been running his mouth the last month, you'd think he was in constant communication with President Trump, but surprise! They haven't spoken in weeks.

Giuliani, one of Trump's newest lawyers, told BuzzFeed News that the last time they talked was "a couple of weeks ago," and "people from our office" are the ones communicating with Trump. When asked how often, he said, "Talking, correspondence? A couple of times a week." Giuliani has appeared on countless TV news programs over the last month, and given dozens of interviews with media outlets, where he intimated that he knew exactly what Trump was thinking and chatted with him often.

The Washington Post also interviewed Giuliani on Wednesday morning, with the article running under the headline, "In reversal, Giuliani now says Trump should do interview with Mueller team." Giuliani told BuzzFeed News, "no, I didn't say that," then admitted he did say that, but "that doesn't mean we've reversed though. That's always been true." On Tuesday, however, Giuliani told The Wall Street Journal that if investigators told Trump he "had to" sit for an interview, "the answer would have to be no." Catherine Garcia

6:51 p.m. ET
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In an interview with The New York Times, Arrested Development's Jessica Walter said that she has to "let go of being angry" at her co-star, Jeffrey Tambor, publicly commenting for the first time on an on-set incident where Tambor blew up at her.

Tambor mentioned the incident during an earlier interview with The Hollywood Reporter, after he was fired from Transparent over allegations of sexual misconduct (he denies the accusations). In tears, Walter said that "in almost 60 years of working, I've never had anybody yell at me like that on a set and it's hard to deal with, but I'm over it now. I just let it go right here, for The New York Times."

Co-stars Jason Bateman, David Cross, and Tony Hale jumped to defend Tambor, with Bateman telling the Times that a lot of performers are "difficult" and Cross saying it's "important" for people to know Tambor "learned from the experience and he's listening and learning and growing." Hale said that everyone has "had moments," but Walter spoke up, saying, "but not like that, not like that. That was bad." Co-star Alia Shawkat supported Walter, saying that just because someone acts out on set it "doesn't mean it's acceptable. And the point is that things are changing, and people need to respect each other differently." Arrested Development's fifth season debuts on Netflix May 29. Read the entire interview at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

5:32 p.m. ET
Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images For NYFW: The Shows

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating allegations of sexual assault against former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The investigation is "in an advanced stage," a Manhattan DA representative said. The probe is looking into allegations of sexual abuse made by actresses Paz de la Huerta and Lucia Evans. Prosecutors are examining claims that Weinstein "lured or induced any women to travel across state lines for the purpose of committing a sex crime."

Weinstein has denied ever engaging in nonconsensual sex acts. The movie mogul has been accused of wide-ranging abuse by more than 50 women. The allegations range from sexual harassment to rape, and many women in the entertainment industry say they felt coerced or manipulated by him.

Weinstein's attorney has met with prosecutors "in an attempt to dissuade them from proceeding," reports NBC News. New York Police Department officials are reportedly ready to arrest Weinstein if they receive approval from Manhattan DA Cy Vance. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Summer Meza

4:59 p.m. ET
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Rudy Giuliani's ironclad legal strategy strikes again.

Giuliani, President Trump's lawyer, told The Washington Post on Wednesday that he is now recommending that Trump sit for an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

"I guess I'd rather do the interview. It gets it over with it, it makes my client happy," said Giuliani. “The safe course you hear every lawyer say is don't do the interview, and that's easy to say in the abstract. That's much harder when you have a client who is the president of the United States and wants to be interviewed."

Giuliani has flip-flopped when it comes to whether or not Trump should grant an interview to Mueller, who is leading the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian interference during the 2016 election. On Tuesday, Giuliani said that "the answer would have to be no," but apparently the president's view on the matter has changed several times as well.

Trump agrees with attorneys who advise him against an interview, said Giuliani, then "he goes right back to, 'why shouldn't I?'" Giuliani told the Post that Trump was frustrated but optimistic: "His tweeting has been effective" in discrediting the investigation, said Giuliani. "He feels the public opinion is turning in his favor."

Even though Trump is apparently unconcerned, Giuliani worried that investigators would accuse him of committing perjury in an interview. "They may have a different version of the truth than we do," he said. Read more at The Washington Post. Summer Meza

4:13 p.m. ET
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President Trump on Wednesday said that the U.S. should revoke aid to any country that allows immigrants to come to America. During a roundtable meeting about immigration loopholes and gang violence, Trump offered what he claimed would be a simple solution.

"We're going to work out something where every time somebody comes in from a certain country, we're going to deduct a rather large amount of money from what we give them in aid," said Trump to cheers, "if we give them aid at all."

Trump said that many countries encourage citizens who commit crimes or are involved in gangs to go to the U.S. "They'll let you think they're trying to stop this — they're not trying to stop it," he said. "They don't want the people that we're getting in that country."

The president additionally doubled down on a statement from his last roundtable meeting on immigration. Trump was criticized for calling immigrants involved in gang violence "animals," but he repeated himself on Wednesday. "I called them animals the other day and I was met with rebuke," said Trump. "They said, 'They're people.' They're not people. These are animals." Summer Meza

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