He didn't tweet about the Academy Awards, as host Jimmy Kimmel tried to goad him into doing during Sunday's live broadcast, but in an “exclusive” Oval Office interview with—who else?—Breitbart, President Trump officially weighed in on the awkward Best Picture fiasco that ended the night. And somehow, he managed to make the whole thing about himself. “I think they were focused so hard on politics that they didn’t get the act together at the end,” Trump said of the envelope snafu that led La La Land to be announced as “Best Picture” instead of actual winner Moonlight. “It was a little sad. It took away from the glamour of the Oscars. It didn’t feel like a very glamorous evening. I’ve been to the Oscars. There was something very special missing, and then to end that way was sad.” Trump’s sycophantic interviewer, Matt Boyle, noted how the show’s politics consisted of “hours of Trump-bashing.”
In a subsequent interview set to air on Fox & Friends Tuesday morning, Trump added, “Look, it just seems like the other side, whenever they’re losing badly, they always pull out the race card. I’ve watched it for years. I watched it against Ronald Reagan, I’ve watched it against so many other people. And they always like pulling out the race card. In fact I did much better than many other… Republicans in the last election. I did much better with Hispanics, I did much better with African Americans.” During his opening monologue Kimmel thanked Trump before saying, “Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist?”
President Trump’s nominee for U.S. commerce secretary won Senate confirmation on Monday, paving the way for work to begin on renegotiating trade deals with China and Mexico. Billionaire Wilbur Ross was confirmed with a Senate vote of 72-27, with support from 19 Democrats. Ross will now be at the helm of an agency with over 44,000 employees, tasked with some of Trump’s key campaign pledges, including bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. and cutting down on trade deficits. He will also be in charge of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. Ross, estimated to be worth $2.9 billion, divested a large amount of his holdings to avoid any conflict of interest before he takes over, the New York Times reported.
A Navy SEAL raid on an al Qaeda compound in Yemen in January has yet to yield any significant information, military officials told NBC News. The raid, the first of the Donald Trump presidency, resulted in the death of one SEAL and a number of Yemeni civilians including some children, one of whom was the daughter of a U.S. citizen, officials say. Despite the unusual act of ordering U.S. ground troops into Yemen, a senior official told NBC that little of value had been obtained from the property seized from the al Qaeda compound. This report contradicts White House claims about the nature of the operation. After the father of the slain SEAL refused to meet with Trump, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told press on Monday that "I can tell [the father] that on behalf of the president, his son died a hero and the information that he was able to help obtain through that raid, as I said before, is going to save American lives ... The mission was successful in helping prevent a future attack or attacks on this nation."
The White House has described the raid as primarily an information-gathering operation, despite reports that its primary goal was to capture or kill Qasim al-Raymi, a leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Al-Raymi was apparently not killed or captured, and later seemingly released recordings mocking Trump. Other reports described dysfunction during the raid's planning stages. The operation, which was initially discussed during the Obama administration, was reportedly greenlit just five days into the Trump administration, with what intelligence officials described as insufficient information or support. Al Qaeda fighters reportedly became aware of the operation before the SEALs struck, leading to crossfire that killed one SEAL and injured six others. Speaking to NBC, Pentagon officials reportedly did not dispute claims that at least 25 Yemeni civilians were killed.
The White House is reviewing whether to cut a series of State Department jobs as part of its new defense budget, Bloomberg reports, including positions that entail monitoring and combating anti-Semitism around the world. The preliminary budget plan, which will reportedly increase defense spending to the tune of $54 billion, would also entail cuts to foreign aide and humanitarian initiatives. Administration officials told Bloomberg that the White House is considering cutting some State Department positions, including envoys who work with Muslim communities or specialize in combatting anti-Semitism or climate change. While administration insiders say some current State employees will be reassigned to new desks, these envoy positions to Muslim and Jewish communities are reportedly being considered for elimination.
SpaceX has announced plans to fly two private citizens around the moon in 2018, the first such trip in more than 45 years. The two individuals taking part in the mission, who CEO Elon Musk said “have already paid a significant deposit,” have not been named. Musk dismissed speculation that the pair might be celebrities, saying only that “it’s nobody from Hollywood” in a statement on the SpaceX website. The space tourists will fly on a spaceship that will undergo its first unmanned test flight later this year, with help from NASA. They will also have to undergo health and fitness tests and training prior to the trip, Musk said. The trip will not involve a lunar landing, but will see the space tourists circle around the Moon and skim the surface. The unnamed passengers are “entering this with their eyes open, knowing that there is some risk here,” Musk said, adding that SpaceX would “do everything we can to minimize that risk.”
An accounting firm responsible for tallying votes for Academy Award winners has taken the blame for Sunday night’s flubbed best picture announcement. PwC, formerly known as Price Waterhouse Coopers, released a statement on Monday night accepting responsibility for the “the series of mistakes and breaches of established protocols” that led to the much-talked-about snafu. Audiences were left stunned on Sunday night after Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway named “La La Land” as the best picture winner, only to announce minutes later that “Moonlight” was the real winner. PwC explained the mistake by saying one of the firm’s partners, Brian Cullinan, had accidentally handed Beatty and Dunaway an envelope containing the best actress award, which went to Emma Stone from “La La Land” minutes earlier. The incident went down as one of the highlights of the evening – and one of the biggest slip-ups in Oscar history.
At least one person was killed after a plane crashed into homes in a Riverside, California neighborhood around 5 p.m. local time. The small plane was carrying four passengers when it crashed into a suburban home, less than a mile from the airport from which it had just taken off. The plane reportedly damaged nearby homes as it landed, and the resulting explosion set multiple houses on fire. Emergency responders rescued two people from the house next to where the plane landed. Officials have not confirmed the status of the plane's remaining passengers, or of others in the neighborhood.
Juliet Evancho, the sister of a performer at President Donald Trump's inauguration, must be allowed to use school bathrooms that correspond with her gender, a Pennsylvania judge ruled Monday. Evancho and two other transgender classmates at Pennsylvania's Pine-Richland High School were allowed to use school bathrooms that matched their gender identity until last year, when a classmate's parent reportedly complained to the school. The students were then made to use bathrooms corresponding with the sex listed on their birth certificate. A U.S. District Court judge ruled that the school's bathroom policy infringed on the students' constitutional rights to equal protection. "The Plaintiffs have shown a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the District’s enforcement of Resolution 2 as to their use of common school restrooms does not afford them equal protection of the law as guaranteed to them by the Fourteenth Amendment," Judge Mark Hornak wrote. The ruling follows Trump's decision last week to remove a policy that required schools to allow students to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity. Evancho expressed interest in meeting with Trump to discuss his policies for transgender people.
Jewish community centers across the country were reportedly bombarded with bomb threats on Monday, prompting evacuations and the deployment of the bomb squad in multiple locations. By midday, threats were reported at eight different centers. By Monday evening, that number had climbed to 20 bomb threats in 12 different states, according to CBS New York. A spate of incidents was reported in New York and New Jersey, as well as threats along the West Coast. Local media in Seattle also reported the evacuation of the Jewish Community Center in Mercer Island late Monday, though it was unclear what prompted the evacuation. Authorities at the center would not confirm the reason for the evacuation, though Bellevue police told local media their bomb squad was called in, noting that “one could draw conclusions” about the reason. No bombs were discovered at any of the community centers, and many were able to resume operations. But the threats have nonetheless left authorities concerned and confused. In New York, where numerous bomb threats were reported Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered an investigation. CBS News cited an unidentified law enforcement official saying the bomb threats appear to be coordinated, with the culprits working both inside the country and overseas.
President Trump reportedly signed off on a search of White House staffers’ phones, CNN reported on Monday. According to sources, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called staffers to a meeting last week and asked to check their phones for evidence that they might have leaked information to reporters. “I am told the president signed off personally that meeting last week with Sean Spicer deciding to ask some staffers to see their phones, to see if anyone of them were using apps like Signal and Confide, which basically allow you to send messages and they disappear," CNN’s Jeff Zeleny reported. “I am told that was sanctioned by the president, he knew about this, and it was a design to send a signal across this governement entirely, not just in the White House, that they do not want leaks to happen... The bottom line is that the president is frustrated by this. And Sean Spicer, his role, among many, is to enforce what the president wants on these press reports here. So that’s why he had the meeting last week.”