Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez has been elected to lead the Democratic National Committee, beating out Minnesota Congressmember Keith Ellison in a contentious second-round vote that is seen as determining the future of the Democratic Party. Congressmember Ellison is the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the first Muslim elected to Congress. He was widely backed by supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Party’s more progressive wing; labor unions, including the AFL-CIO and the heads of the American Federation of Teachers, National Nurses United and AFSCME; and even Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. Perez was backed by the party’s establishment, including President Obama. He becomes the first Latino head of the Democratic Party. After Saturday’s contentious vote—which marked the first time in more than 30 years that the outcome was not known ahead of balloting—Ellison’s supporters erupted in protest, chanting “Party for the people, not big money.” Perez quickly appointed Ellison deputy party chair, a new position. Standing together, they both urged party unity. This is Perez.
Tom Perez: “Where do we go from here? Because right now we have to face the facts. We are suffering from a crisis of confidence, a crisis of relevance. We need a chair who can not only take the fight to Donald Trump, make sure that we talk about our positive message of inclusion and opportunity, and talk to that big tent of the Democratic Party. We also need a chair who can lead turnaround and change the culture of the Democratic Party and the DNC.”
Some critics say Saturday’s vote represents the Democratic Party’s failure to learn from its left-leaning base and from the party’s defeat in the November election. Current Affairs editor Nathan Robinson wrote, “At this point, one has to conclude that the national Democratic Party has a death wish.” We’ll have more on the DNC vote later in the broadcast.
President Trump again escalated his self-declared war on the media, while speaking at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, on Friday.
President Donald Trump: “A few days ago, I called the fake news the enemy of the people. And they are. They are the enemy of the people, because they have no sources. They just make them up when there are none.”
That’s Trump, speaking the same day the White House took the unprecedented act of barring The New York Times, CNN, Politico, the Los Angeles Times, the BBC and several other news organizations from an off-camera briefing known as a gaggle. Several right-wing news outlets were allowed to attend, including Breitbart, The Washington Times and One America News Network.
On Saturday, Trump announced he won’t attend the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in late April, despite the tradition that presidents attend the annual black-tie affair. The last time a president skipped the dinner was when President Ronald Reagan didn’t attend in 1981, when he was recovering from an assassination attempt. On Sunday, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee explained Trump’s decision to skip the dinner by saying, “One of the things we say in the South is 'If a Girl Scout egged your house, would you buy cookies from her?' I think that this is a pretty similar scenario.” In 2011, Trump attended the dinner and was ridiculed by President Obama.
President Barack Obama: “Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder, to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like: Did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”
That was President Obama ridiculing now-President Trump back in 2011 at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.
On Sunday, news also surfaced that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has attempted to crack down on leaks coming out of the White House by calling an emergency meeting and then forcing his staff to submit to a random “phone check” to prove they hadn’t been leaking information to the press. Spicer also reportedly warned his staff not to leak news of the meeting to the press. But the news did leak—to Politico, which broke the story Sunday. We’ll have more about the Trump administration and the media after headlines.
Trump is slated to give his first presidential address to Congress Tuesday. Democratic lawmakers have begun giving their tickets away to immigrants as a protest against Trump’s crackdown against immigration and immigrants. Among those invited to Trump’s address Tuesday is Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, an Iraqi-American doctor who first discovered Flint’s children had elevated levels of lead in their blood. President Trump is expected to sign a new executive order banning travel from seven majority-Muslim nations later this week. His first Muslim travel ban was blocked by the courts.
Despite the suspension of Trump’s first travel ban, the son of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was detained for hours by immigration officials at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on February 7—only a few days after the travel ban was blocked nationwide by Seattle District Judge James Robart. The lawyer for 44-year-old Muhammad Ali Jr. says as he was going through customs on the way back from Jamaica, he was stopped, asked if he was Muslim, and then, when he said yes, he was held and questioned for nearly two hours about his religion.
Olympic gold medalist, reality TV show star and Republican Trump supporter Caitlyn Jenner has issued a direct message to President Trump, calling the administration’s decision to reverse President Obama’s landmark decision to order public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms matching their chosen gender identity “a disaster.”
Caitlyn Jenner: “Finally, I have a message for President Trump, from, well, one Republican to another. This is a disaster. And you can still fix it. You made a promise to protect the LGBTQ community. Call me.”
President Trump is expected to tell federal agencies today to create a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that will sharply increase military spending, while dramatically cutting spending across domestic agencies. The New York Times reports the budget will include cutting tens of billions of dollars from the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department.
Human Rights Watch is speaking out after the Israeli government rejected a work visa for the organization’s Israel and Palestine director, Omar Shakir, claiming Human Rights Watch is engaged in “Palestinian propaganda.” This is Shakir.
Omar Shakir: “We received a response on Monday informing us that our request had been denied on the basis that Human Rights Watch was not a real human rights organization, that instead we were engaging in propaganda and falsely raising the banner of human rights.”
Back in the United States, more than 100—by some counts as many as 500—headstones at a Jewish burial ground in Philadelphia were toppled or damaged in the second apparent incident of vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in about a week.
Meanwhile, in Florida, a mosque was intentionally set on fire Friday. It’s the second time a mosque in Florida has been burned since September.
And “Moonlight,” a coming-of-age film about a young gay black man, won the Oscar for best picture at last night’s Academy Awards. The win came after Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway appeared to have received the wrong envelope, and then Warren Beatty, who was confused, handed it to Faye Dunaway, who announced “La La Land” as the winner. Awards ceremony officials then came on stage to correct the error.
Awards official: “Guys, guys, I’m sorry. No, there’s a mistake. 'Moonlight,' you guys won best picture. This is not a joke. This is not a joke. I’m afraid they read the wrong thing.”
“Moonlight” also garnered a best supporting actor Oscar for Mahershala Ali, who is the first Muslim actor to win an Academy Award. Ali was among a series of black writers and actors who won awards, including Viola Davis, who won best supporting actress for her role in “Fences.” Overall, last night had more black winners than any previous Academy Awards night. “Moonlight” also won best adapted screenplay. These are writers Tarell Alvin McCraney and Barry Jenkins accepting the award.
Barry Jenkins: “And for all you people out there who feel like there’s no mirror for you, that your life is not reflected, the Academy has your back, the ACLU has your back, we have your back. And for the next four years, we will not leave you alone, we will not forget you.”
Tarell Alvin McCraney: “Two boys from Liberty City up here on this stage representing 305. This goes out to all those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender-conforming who don’t see themselves. We are trying to show you, you and us. So thank you, thank you. This is for you.”
Throughout the awards ceremony, many of the attendees also wore blue ribbons to show their support for the ACLU. The awards ceremony also included other political moments. Emma Stone, who won best actress for her role in “La La Land,” wore a Planned Parenthood pin.
Mexican actor Gael García Bernal denounced Trump’s border wall, while announcing the Oscar for best animated feature film. “White Helmets” won the Oscar for best documentary short subject. In their acceptance speech, the directors read a statement from Raed Saleh, the head of the organization, calling on people “to work on the side of life, to stop the bloodshed in Syria and around the world.”
Iranian-American astronaut Anousheh Ansari accepted the Oscar for best foreign film on behalf of Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who boycotted the awards ceremony over Trump’s Muslim travel ban. This is Ansari reading Farhadi’s statement.
Anousheh Ansari: “I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.”
Ahead of the awards ceremony, the directors of the Oscar-nominated foreign-language films issued a statement reading: “On behalf of all nominees, we would like to express our unanimous and emphatic disapproval of the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the U.S. and in so many other countries, in parts of the population and, most unfortunately of all, among leading politicians.”
“OJ: Made in America” won for best documentary, beating out Ava Duvernay’s “13th” about mass incarceration and Raoul Peck’s “I Am Not Your Negro” about James Baldwin, among other documentaries.
And awards ceremony host Jimmy Kimmel critiqued President Trump throughout the night, including during his opening statements.
Jimmy Kimmel: “We’re at the Oscars, the Academy Awards. You’re nominated. You got to come. Your families are nominated. Your friends. Some of you will get to come up here on this stage tonight and give a speech that the president of the United States will tweet about in all caps during his 5 a.m. bowel movement tomorrow. And I think that’s pretty darn excellent, if you ask me.”
As of now, President Trump has not yet tweeted about the Oscars.