FIREWORKS EDITION – REVEALED: A clandestine gay wedding in the White House during Obama’s first term (officiant: Jon Lovett) – CHRISTIE to return to MORNING JOE after 18 months – SCOTT WALKER joins Sn

By Mike Allen (@mikeallen; [email protected]), and Daniel Lippman (@dlippman; [email protected]) WHAT’S HAPPENING: Happy holiday, Playbookers, and happy 239th, America. Most of us can agree with Bill Maher, in the “What I’ve Learned” interview in Esquire’s Aug. issue: “I hope there’s no such thing as reincarnation, ’cuz I will never pull a better life.” Story Continued Below JON MEACHAM emails that we should thank “the committee that was charged with drafting the Declaration: Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston -- arguably the most important subcommittee in the history of humankind.” IN MAINE, good luck to all the contestants in the fiercely fought annual William G. Rolley Jr. Memorial Race (biathlon: half-mile, open-water swim, 5k off-road run), followed by the epic reunion picnic at the Worcester/Moison camp. An organizer writes that the race celebrates “the life of our Uncle Widgie Rolley -- whose indomitable spirit, feats of athletic prowess, and love of the lake are legendary. We race not to win, (except for Lucy and James, who totally race to win), but simply because we still can.” INSTAGRAM DU JOUR -- Rachel Sklar: “Happy 4th from [Ruby Sklar] my little anchorbaby! [in a onesie with Hillary campaign logo] She's excited not to be the first female president of the United States.” SPOTTED, in a coincidental holiday-weekend meeting at the Louvre: Bob Schieffer and Glenn Thrush. Glenn writes: “Was taking pictures of people taking pictures of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre when I ran into Bob Schieffer ('Is that Glenn from Politico?') who was doing the same thing.” Facebook pic NPR’s STEVE INSKEEP – author of “Jacksonland,” out in May – “How Andrew Jackson made a killing in real estate,” on Politico: “July 4th comes at a moment of Continue Reading

WHITE HOUSE ‘squeezes’ Jeff Flake — No new timetable for health care vote — SECRET SERVICE v. Jay Sekulow — BIDEN’s new book — CAITLIN HAYDEN welcomes a daughter — B’DAY: Kayla Tausche

Driving the Day Good Monday morning. SIREN -- ALEX ISENSTADT: “White House squeezes Jeff Flake”: “The White House has met with at least three actual or prospective primary challengers to Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake in recent weeks, a reflection of Donald Trump’s strained relations with the senator and the latest sign of the president’s willingness to play hardball with lawmakers who cross him -- even Republican incumbents. Flake, a longtime Trump critic who refused to endorse the president during the 2016 campaign, is one of a handful of undecided Republican votes on the Obamacare repeal effort. He’s also one of the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection in 2018. “Since taking office, Trump has spoken with Arizona state Treasurer Jeff DeWit, a top official on his 2016 campaign, on at least two occasions, according to two sources familiar with the talks. Since June, White House officials have also had discussions with former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who has announced her bid, and former Arizona GOP Chairman Robert Graham, who like DeWit is exploring a campaign.” Story Continued Below -- IF TRUMP BACKS a challenger to Flake, it will be a big, big deal. The White House merely meeting with candidates is certain to raise ire in the Senate Republican Conference. Loyalty is a big deal in the Senate. The NRSC vociferously tries to head off primary challenges, and senators often bristle when outsiders try to displace one of their own. Despite apparent ideological differences with the White House, Flake is a pretty popular senator. We can’t imagine Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will be happy with this. Bottom line: Trump needs McConnell in order to get virtually anything done in Congress. And this is sure to get him riled up. BUT, BUT, BUT … The Trump team has threatened and ultimately abandoned primary challenges in the past. IMPORTANT READ -- MCCAIN COULD BE OUT FOR TWO Continue Reading

SCOOP: MCCONNELL and SESSIONS break bread — TRUMP threatens Venezuela intervention, returning to DC Monday — DEFENSE NEWS: All calm with the military in the Pacific

Driving the Day Good Saturday morning. A JUICY SPOTTED FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dining last night at Ocean Prime in D.C. with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Needless to say, the two men -- who served in the Senate together for 20 years -- have recently found themselves at odds with President Donald Trump. HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PRESIDENT, from a pool spray yesterday at his golf club in New Jersey …Story Continued Below -- ON TRADE: He will hold a press conference Monday in Washington, and will announce a trade investigation into China. More here from Andrew Restuccia -- ON VENEZUELA: He said he is not ruling out military action in Venezuela. REALITY CHECK FROM SEN. BEN SASSE (R-NEB.) -- “No. Congress obviously isn’t authorizing war in Venezuela. Nicolas Maduro is a horrible human being, but Congress doesn’t vote to spill Nebraskans’ blood based on who the Executive lashes out at today.” ... @nancyayoussef: “Overheard at the Pentagon, in what can only be described as in a whiny voice: ‘I don’t wanna go to war with Venezuela!’” -- ON NORTH KOREA: Asked about a “bad solution” for the U.S. in North Korea, Trump declined to get into specifics. Q: “What would be a bad solution, sir?” TRUMP: “I think you know the answer to that.” Q: “Mr. President, when you say bad solution, are you talking about war? Is the U.S. going to go to war?” TRUMP: “I think you know the answer to that.” [email protected]: “Blitzer: I don’t recall seeing you this emotional, possibly outraged Panetta: ‘I’m concerned … This is not a game’”. -- ON JOHN KELLY: He is happy with John Kelly, right now. “[I] think that General Kelly has brought a tremendous -- he’s brought something very special to the office of chief -- I call him ‘chief.’ Continue Reading

Lancaster Church of the Brethren charters bus for ‘March for Our Lives’ rally in DC

Among the hundreds of thousands of people who are expected to take part in the "March for Our Lives" rally for stricter gun laws in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 24, will be members of Lancaster Church of the Brethren.The Washington march, which is expected to attract as many as 500,000 people, is the signature event in a series of marches that are scheduled in various cities that day.When the Rev. Bob Kettering, interim associate pastor at Lancaster Church of the Brethren, 1601 Sunset Ave., heard about the march, he immediately booked a 56-seat bus to take members of the church and the community to Washington.For Kettering, the march represents a way to live out the church’s creed  as a peace church.“I’ve always said, ‘I want to be more than a historic peace church; I want to be a living peace church,’ ” he explained.The question, he said, is “How can we do what Jesus called us to do in the Sermon on the Mount — to be peacemakers?”He sees the march as a way to foster change and reduce gun violence in this country.Tangible support“We’ve been remembering these victims in our prayers,” he said, “but when I found out that the students  (of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida) were organizing this March for Our Lives in Washington, I thought, ‘Here is a tangible way that we can show our support and concern about gun violence in America.’ ”Members of the congregation have indicated their support for the march. Twenty-two people had signed up for the bus trip as of midweek. The deadline for church members to register for the trip  is Sunday; after that, it is open to the public. Those interested are asked to contact the church at 717-397-4751.The church is covering a portion of the expense, reducing the cost to $20 per person.Kettering has not received any pushback on his decision to invite church members to attend the march. In fact, Continue Reading

DC Event Spotlights Israeli Ties to Judea and Samaria, Alternatives to Two-State Solution

WASHINGTON, DC — Israeli and American leaders from the Jewish and Christian communities spoke at a packed event on Monday at the historic Sixth and I Synagogue in downtown D.C. which focused on combating the de-legitimization of Israel through the embrace of Judea and Samaria. Yishai Fleisher, the international spokesman for the Jewish community in Hebron, was the master of ceremonies for the event, which featured products that are affected by the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement including dates from the Jordan Valley, halva from Ariel, wines from Psagot and Shiloh, Carni Eldad’s book “Yesha is Fun,” and Saboneto soaps and Argon oil. Partners for the event included the Jordan Valley Regional Council, Yesha Council, Binyamin Regional Council, Hebron, Ariel University, One Israel Fund, Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce, and of course the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.“The time has come to embrace the 650,00 people who live in Judea and Samaria,” Fleisher said. “The time has come to find an alternative to the two-state soluton … we are not going to give away our land anymore. We don’t believe in land for peace. It’s been tested and it’s failed.” Rabbi Shmuley Boteach gave a passionate speech. He said he would not accept that the Jewish people should “forfeit their ancient inheritance which defines their national identity and allows them to be a great light unto the nations. My God! My God! Do we really want for our Palestinian brothers and sisters the forfeiture of Yudan Shomron so that a Hamas government can be elected and innocent Palestinian girls who have a boyfriend will be put to death by their brothers, or by their cousins, for the sin of falling in love?” Boteach continued, “This isn’t about whether we agree with people’s lifestyles, or don’t Continue Reading

There’s a Wendy’s in the middle of a DC intersection

The misbegotten gateway to Washington at New York Avenue NE and Florida Avenue NE - a roundabout unofficially known as Dave Thomas Circle - seen on a cloudy December weekday. Washington Post photo by Jahi Chikwendiu A Google Earth view of Dave Thomas Circle in Washington, D.C. The Washington Post Detail of a 1791 map noting the location of the circle. Library of Congress A 1791 map of Washington, D.C., shows the limits of Pierre L'Enfant's plan. The line where the city ended at the time, along its northeastern border, became Boundary Street and later Florida Avenue. Library of Congress WASHINGTON – First things first. There’s a Wendy’s in the middle of the intersection. Hard to get around that. It’s been there since the mid-’80s, on a wedge of land bordered by First Street NE and Florida and New York avenues, at a major gateway to Washington, D.C. Surrounding the Wendy’s is a “virtual traffic circle,” a polite way to refer to this urban aneurysm – a pair of triangles, really, with a roundabout movement forced upon them. Take any side of it and plot the agony: The desperate dashed curve across six lanes of New York (Jesus take the wheel!); the pummeled yellow pylons on First, a memorial to driver perplexity. If you want to stay on Florida eastbound, you must make three turns (good luck finding the lane you need) and endure three signals. All to stay on the street you wanted to stay on. “The chaotic dance of cars around Dave Thomas circle drives one of the devil’s great engines of human misery,” computer engineer Brian Holcomb tweeted a few years ago. That’s what the locals call it: Dave Thomas Circle, in honor of the jovial, short-sleeved founder of the fast-food chain at the center of this mess. PR consultant James Faeh resides in the 12th-floor corner apartment at the eastern edge of the intersection. His living room wall is mostly windows, so he has a panoramic view of the Continue Reading

DC appeals court denies stay of transgender military ban

The White House has lost another attempt to put a hold on a requirement that it allow transgender people to enlist in the military starting on Jan. 1. A decision by the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is the latest court decision to go against the White House, meaning the issue may end up before the Supreme Court. President Donald Trump tweeted in July that the federal government "will not accept or allow" transgender individuals to serve "in any capacity" in the military. That would reverse a 2016 policy change under President Barack Obama allowing transgender people to serve openly. Trump later formally directed the Pentagon to extend indefinitely a ban on transgender individuals joining the military, and he gave Defense Secretary Jim Mattis six months to come up with a policy on how to deal with those currently serving. Several legal challenges to that proposed ban are ongoing. The Pentagon has said the enlistment of transgender recruits will start Jan. 1 and go on amid the legal battles. At least four federal judges have refused to allow the ban to go into effect, including U.S. District Judge Jesus G. Bernal in California. On Friday, Bernal rejected an administration request to throw out a lawsuit asking for the ban to be voided and issued a preliminary injunction against the ban going into effect. The Justice Department has asked federal appeals courts to intervene and put the Jan. 1 requirement on hold. The D.C.-based appeals court and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, both turned away the administration's request. Administration officials "have not shown a strong likelihood that they will succeed on the merits of their challenge to the district court's order," the judges on the D.C. appeals court panel said. Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Continue Reading

Topless protester tries to grab baby Jesus at Vatican nativity scene

By Julie Takahashi Published 12:47 pm, Wednesday, December 27, 2017 Now Playing: A topless activist from the feminist group Femen tried to snatch the statue of baby Jesus from the Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square on Monday but was stopped by police as she tried to grab it. The incident happened about two hours before Pope Francis delivered his Christmas message to the people in the square. A Reuters photographer said the woman jumped over the guard rails and rushed into the Nativity scene shouting “God is woman”. She had the same slogan painted on her bare back. A Vatican policeman stopped her in the act and detained her. An activist of the same group staged a similar action on Christmas Day 2014 but managed to take the statue out of the crib before being arrested. The goal of the Femen, which was founded in Ukraine is “complete victory over patriarchy”. Media: Euronews A topless woman from an activist group tried to escape with a baby Jesus statue at the Vatican on Christmas Day. According to Euronews, the topless woman is from the feminist group Femen who "considers the anti-war policy of the Vatican a rough medieval attack on the freedom of women and their natural rights." GONE BABY JESUS GONE: Woman caught carrying baby Jesus figurine arrested for theft A Reuters photographer witnessed the woman jumping over the rail to snatch the statue in St. Peter's Square on Monday about two hours before Pope Francis delivered his Christmas message to a crowd of people. The photographer says that she ran into the nativity scene shouting "God is woman," which was also painted on her back. window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: Continue Reading

Ted Nugent, Kid Rock, Sarah Palin visit President Trump at White House

Rocker Ted Nugent — who once said he wanted Barack Obama to “suck on my machine gun” — had dinner at the White House with President Trump on Wednesday night. “Well well well looky looky here boogie chillin', I got your Shot Heard Round The World right here in big ol greazyass Washington DC where your 1 & only MotorCity Madman WhackMaster StrapAssasin1 dined with President Donald J Trump at the WhiteHouse to Make America Great Again!" Nugent wrote on Facebook after his get together with Trump, Kid Rock and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The trio also spent time with Trump in the Oval Office. Palin — an early high-profile Trump supporter — said the President invited her and told her she could bring some friends, and that she invited Kid Rock and Nugent, who in 2012 was questioned by the Secret Service for making threats against former President Obama. The rocker has also publicly called Trump’s predecessor "a piece of s--t." The "Cat Scratch Fever" singer and NRA board member, in lengthy posts on his Facebook wall and his blog, said the group griped about political correctness at dinner. "We discussed various quality of life issues and how entrenched status quo political correctness has wrecked everything it has touched and how his administration is focused and dedicated to get back to the U.S. Constitutional basics of government of, by and for the people," Nugent wrote. "We discussed specifically the counterproductive follies of the Endangered Species Act and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the US Fish & Wildlife Service, BLM and other out of control bureaucracies," he added. One photo from the White House showed a mugging Palin, Rock, whose real name is Bob Ritchie, and Nugent posing in front of a portrait of Hillary Clinton from her time as First Lady. Nugent has in the past called Clinton a "worthless b---h" who should be "hung" and has joked Continue Reading

Heavily armed North Dakota man claiming to be Jesus Christ arrested for attempting to kidnap one of the Obama family’s dogs

A heavily armed man who identified himself as both Jesus Christ and the son of John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe was charged Friday morning for attempting to kidnap one of the Obama family’s dogs. He was actually a crazed North Dakota man named Scott Stockert and he was arrested by Secret Service agents Wednesday night at a Washington, D.C., Hampton Inn with a truck full of unregistered firearms, weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, according to court filings.  “You picked the wrong person to mess with. I will f--k your world up,” Stockert, 49,  told agents who arrested him, according to D.C. court filings.  Authorities discovered a laundry list of weapons and ammo in Stockert’s truck which included an unloaded 12-gauge pump shotgun, a bolt-action rifle, 289 rounds of .22 caliber long-rifle bullets, 71 rounds of 12-gauge shotgun ammunition and two rounds of .223 rifle ammunition, plus a 12-inch machete and an 18-inch billy club. Secret Service agents discovered the weapons after they questioned Stockert about whether he was armed and he gave them permission to search his truck.  Agents were tipped off to Stockert’s pet heist by the Secret Service’s Minnesota field office who said that he planned to drive his pickup from North Dakota to Washington to steal one of the presidential pooches.  While being questioned, Stockert said that his driver's license would identify him as Jesus Christ  and that he was the child of Marilyn Monroe and JFK, according to court documents shared with the Daily News.  Stockert also alleged that he wanted to go to the Capital to advocate for a $99-a-month health care plan and to announce his bid for the presidency, according to NBC.  It was unclear which of the Obamas’ Portuguese Water Dogs — Sunny or Bo — Stockert was planning to kidnap. Stockert is no stranger to Continue Reading