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May 16, 2018

Scott Pruitt, the scandal-plagued administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, faced his third hearing in a month before Congress on Wednesday, where the Senate Appropriations subcommittee grilled him on his possible spending and ethics violations. Of particular ridicule was Pruitt's 24/7 security detail and his first-class air travel, which the EPA has defended as justified due to unnamed threats against Pruitt's safety.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in particular took Pruitt down a few notches during the hearing for that excuse. "You traveled first class around the world," Leahy said, then paused to sigh disapprovingly. "What a silly reason you had to fly first class: because of a danger to you … Nobody even knew who you are."

Oof. Watch below. Jeva Lange

11:32 p.m. ET

If the New York Daily News doesn't mock one of President Trump's appearances, did it ever really happen?



On the Tuesday front page, Trump's hometown paper targets his joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a throwback reference to his campaign comment about being able to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still not lose any supporters, Trump is shown on the Manhattan street alongside a shirtless Putin, holding a gun up to Uncle Sam. "OPEN TREASON" the front page screams, with "Trump backs enemy Putin over U.S. intel" below.

The Daily News wasn't quite done poking at the president, tweeting that he "derides reports with which he disagrees as 'fake news,' then buys the Russian narrative hook, line, sinker, pole, and boat." Catherine Garcia

10:39 p.m. ET
Mario Tama/Getty Images

On Monday morning, 23 people were injured after a "lava bomb" hit their tour boat off the Big Island, Hawaiian fire officials said.

An explosion sent molten lava flying through the air, and it burned through the boat's roof and damaged its railing. The boat returned to Wailoa Harbor, with 13 people having to be hospitalized and the rest treated at the scene. One of the victims is a woman in her 20s, who is in serious condition with a fractured femur, fire officials said. Witnesses told CNN they saw passengers getting off the boat with burns and gashes on their legs.

The Kilauea Volcano has been erupting since early May, and has destroyed dozens of homes. The boat was operated by Lava Ocean Tours, Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources said. Passengers pay $220 for tours that show off the lava as it flows into the ocean. Catherine Garcia

9:51 p.m. ET

While many other Fox News personalities were critical of President Trump's joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Tucker Carlson decided to switch things up by accusing Mexico of sending immigrants to the United States to vote in elections.

"I don't think Russia is our close friend or anything like that," Carlson said during an appearance on The Five. "Of course they're trying to interfere in our affairs; they have for a long time. Many countries do, some more successfully than Russia, like Mexico, which is routinely interfering in our elections by packing our electorate."

Carlson said he "honestly" couldn't understand "why we need to believe that Russia is the primary issue of American political life. That seems kind of nuts to me." It's "totally fine" for people to disagree with Trump, he continued, "but the idea that where you are on Russia is the defining question, that's kind of demented actually, because it's like No. 115 on the list of real concerns, at least in my mind. Maybe I'm the demented one." Yeah, maybe. Catherine Garcia

8:51 p.m. ET

On Erin Burnett OutFront Monday night, the CNN host was down a panelist, as Michael Anton, President Trump's former top national security spokesman, bowed out following Trump's much-derided press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Burnett was joined by journalist Julia Ioffe and CNN's senior political analyst John Avlon, but noted there was a person missing. "Michael Anton was going to be here," she said, but "he canceled, and he knows I'm going to tell you this, because he said he could not defend the president on his actions today." Anton, using a pseudonym, was behind the essay "The Flight 93 Election," which tried to convince conservatives wary of Trump to vote for him anyway because "2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die."

During his joint press conference with Putin in Helsinki, Trump questioned American intelligence agencies and their findings that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, sharing that Putin "said it's not Russia...I don't see any reason why it would be."

UPDATE 10:50 p.m. ET: In a statement to The Hill, Anton said he canceled his appearance because CNN's coverage of Trump's press conference with Putin was "atrocious." Anton said he "knew whatever I said, CNN would try to use me as a cudgel with which to bash the president." He also claimed CNN "threatened to cite that withdrawal on air to bash the president, and that's exactly what they did. It's clear I made the right decision." Catherine Garcia

8:03 p.m. ET

In an interview Monday with Fox News' Chris Wallace, Russian President Vladimir Putin said it is "ridiculous" to believe Russia could influence Americans from so far away.

"Interference with the domestic affairs of the United States — do you really believe that someone acting from the Russian territory could have influenced the United States and influenced the choice of millions of Americans?" he said. Russia has "never interfered with the internal affairs of the United States, let alone its elections," he added. On Friday, the Department of Justice announced indictments of 12 Russian intelligence operatives accused of hacking emails from Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign employees, and when Wallace tried to hand Putin a copy of the indictment, he refused to take it.

Putin also denied being "this kind of a strongman that I'm being portrayed," and told Wallace that no one in Russia gave any thought to President Trump before the election. "I don't want to insult President Trump when I say this — and I may come as rude — but before he announced he will run for presidency, he was of no interest for us," Putin said. Watch the interview — which gets testy at times — below. Catherine Garcia

6:53 p.m. ET

President Trump coined a new term on Monday, telling Fox News host Sean Hannity that "nuclear warming" is the biggest issue the United States is facing.

Trump spoke with Hannity after his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "I know President Obama said global warming is our biggest problem and I would say that no, nuclear warming is our biggest problem, by a factor of about five million," Trump said. "The nuclear problem, we have to make sure, we have to be very careful, if you look at Russia and the United States, that's 90 percent of the nuclear weapons."

Putin is also "working on other countries," Trump said, and "wants to be very helpful with North Korea. We're doing well with North Korea. We have time, there's no rush, it's been going on for many years." Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia

5:09 p.m. ET

Fox News pundits are predicting a tough road ahead for President Trump as he deals with the fallout of his comments in Helsinki on Monday.

White House correspondent John Roberts said that the joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin would "cost the president dearly politically," noting that Trump is already "taking it on the chin" from Democrats and Republicans alike.

Host Shep Smith agreed that Trump would face an onslaught of criticism, and he expressed disbelief that "the president of the United States will not say he believes his own government over President Putin." Smith shut down Trump's suggestion that it was unclear whether Russia meddled in the 2016 election: "There's no question, none at all, from [Trump's] own employees, his own intelligence services, and members of his own party," he said. “Russia interfered in our 2016 election and is interfering in the democratic process right now."

The two reporters solemnly agreed with what Roberts called a "growing consensus": that "the president threw the United States under the bus." Watch Roberts' comments below, via Shareblue. Summer Meza

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