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Trump: Melania should give me tips on improving poll numbers


President Donald Trump said Melania Trump's "poll numbers have gone through the roof last week." | AP Photo


Ivanka Trump will become a federal employee as part of unpaid White House role


First daughter Ivanka Trump listens during a meeting with women small business owners and President Donald Trump, left, at the White House on March 27. | Getty


Energy Department climate office bans use of phrase ‘climate change’

Energy Department climate office bans use of phrase ‘climate change’

Environmental activists gather March 28 outside the White House to protest President Donald Trump's executive order that directs the EPA to begin rolling back Obama administration energy initiatives. | M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO

The Office of International Climate and Clean Energy is the only office at DOE with the words ‘climate’ in its name, and it may be endangered as Trump looks to reorganize government agencies.

By Eric Wolff

03/29/17 03:51 PM EDT

Updated 03/29/17 06:11 PM EDT

A supervisor at the Energy Department's international climate office told staff this week not to use the phrases "climate change," "emissions reduction" or "Paris Agreement" in written memos, briefings or other written communication, sources have told POLITICO.

Employees of DOE’s Office of International Climate and Clean Energy learned of the ban at a meeting Tuesday, the same day President Donald Trump signed an executive order at EPA headquarters to reverse most of former President Barack Obama's climate regulatory initiatives. Officials at the State Department and in other DOE offices said they had not been given a banned words list, but they had started avoiding climate-related terms in their memos and briefings given the new administration's direction on climate change.

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The Office of International Climate and Clean Energy is the only office at DOE with the words "climate" in its name, and it may be endangered as Trump looks to reorganize government agencies. It plays a key role in U.S. participation in the Clean Energy Ministerial and Mission Innovation, two international efforts launched under Obama that were designed to advance clean energy technology.

The office has regular contact with officials from foreign countries, which may have led to the more aggressive action on language than in other offices, a source said. At the meeting, senior officials told staff the words would cause a "visceral reaction" with Energy Secretary Rick Perry, his immediate staff, and the cadre of White House advisers at the top of the department.

A DOE spokeswoman denied there had been a new directive. "No words or phrases have been banned for this office or anyone in the department,” said DOE spokeswoman Lindsey Geisler.

Another DOE source in a different office said that although there had been no formal instructions about climate-related language in their office there was a general sense that it's better to avoid certain hot-button terms in favor of words like "jobs" and "infrastructure."

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A State Department official reported a similar mood.

"We have definitively not received anything on banned words, not even orally," the State official said. "But people are doing a lot of reading into tea leaves. People are taking their own initiatives to not use certain words based on hints from transition people. Everyone is encouraged to finding different ways of talking about things. There's a sense that you'd better find


IJR hires Mediaite’s controversial managing editor ‘Jon Nicosia’

His real name is Zachary Hildreth and he's a con man

By Peter Sterne

03/29/17 03:49 PM EDT

Independent Journal Review has hired Jon Nicosia as managing editor of content, the conservative politics site confirmed to POLITICO on Wednesday. He was most recently the managing editor of Mediaite.

Nicosia is a colorful and controversial figure. As POLITICO first reported in 2014, his real name is Zachary Hildreth and he has been convicted of larceny (on two separate occasions), bank fraud and securities fraud. Following two stints in prison, he began uploading clips from cable news shows onto YouTube and eventually caught the attention of Mediaite founder Dan Abrams. Nicosia began contributing to Mediaite in 2010 and was promoted to managing editor in 2013.

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During his time at Mediaite, he misrepresented himself to many of his colleagues, lying about his real name and background by describing himself as a trauma surgeon who worked in the Washington area. His former co-workers recalled in 2014 that he would often offer medical advice, and once agreed to let a colleague spend the night at his residence in Washington — only to cancel at the last minute. In fact, he has no medical degree and is based in Massachusetts.

Despite his controversial background and the lies he told his colleagues, former Mediaite staffers said that he always seemed polite and hard-working.

"Jon's dedication to Mediaite over the past seven years has been critical in helping to grow it into one of the largest sites in America," Abrams told POLITICO in a statement. "I wish him the greatest successes in his next adventure."

Following Nicosia's departure, Mediaite will be led on an interim basis by Colby Hall, the founding editor of Mediaite. Hall, who led Mediaite from its founding until 2012, will start his second tenure at Mediaite in two weeks.

In his new role at IJR, Nicosia will do what he does best — find clips of news shows and upload them online.

"Jon's proven to be a great talent in the newsroom finding content and video clips that drive the conversation forward," IJR founder Alex Skatell said. "His tenure and leadership while Managing Editor of Mediaite, one of the most successful news sites in the country, is well known, and his creativity will be an asset to our team. We're looking forward to him joining IJR in his new role as Managing Editor of Content."

IJR's hiring of Nicosia comes at a difficult time for the publication. Earlier this month, IJR published and then retracted a bizarre, conspiratorial post about Barack Obama's vacation in Hawaii. The botched Obama story prompted Congressional reporter Joe Perticone and video producer Colin Chocola to quit . IJR also suspended three staffers who worked on the Obama post — viral editor Kyle Becker, content editor Becca Lower and chief content officer Benny Johnson.

Johnson was later demoted , following a damaging Business Insider article in which anonymous IJR employees criticized his management of the newsroom.



After pledging to solve opioid crisis, Trump’s strategy underwhelms

President Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions are pictured. | Getty

President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions attend a panel discussion on opioid and drug abuse in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Wednesday. | Getty

As a candidate, Donald Trump promised rural towns and states hit hard by opioid addiction that he'd solve the epidemic ravaging their communities. "We will give people struggling with addiction access to the help they need," Trump vowed in October.

Trump won many of those communities — often overwhelmingly. But as president, he's proposing deep cuts to research and treatment in favor of funding a border wall to stop drug traffic, while hinting at bringing back policies like criminalization of drug misuse — and announcing Wednesday yet another big presidential commission to study the problem.

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Public health advocates say those plans at best duplicate those of the Obama White House and at worst could set back efforts to tackle a problem that contributes to more than 47,000 deaths per year. Many experts advocate treatment and support services over jail for drug abusers, saying they reduce the risk of a person committing another crime.

The emerging Trump strategy, including failed plans to repeal Obamacare protections that enabled millions to get substance abuse treatment, "doesn't bode well for the public health approach, such as it is," said Leo Beletsky, a law professor at Northeastern University who specializes in health and drug policy. He points to Republican rhetoric about criminalizing the crisis, as well as proposed funding cuts to research and treatment.

"This new shift will certainly make the situation much worse," Beletsky added.

Trump will sign an executive order Wednesday creating a high-level opioids commission led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has spoken about the need to prioritize treatment for opioid addiction. It includes Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has suggested more of a crime-and-punishment approach.

Public health experts question the value of the commission. It was just last November when Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released his office's first-ever report on opioids and addiction, which included tools and recommendations collected from more than a year of research. The CDC also released prescribing guidelines after thorough study.

"These people don’t need another damn commission," said a former Obama administration official who worked to address the opioid crisis and asked not to be named. "We know what we need to do. … It's not rocket science."

The White House on Tuesday also shuffled the leadership at the Office of Drug Control Policy, replacing acting head Kemp Chester — a compromise pick between the outgoing Obama and incoming Trump administrations — with acting head Rich Baum, a former Hill GOP staffer who's been critical of legalizing marijuana and wants to tackle drug cartels abroad.

Baum specializes in what's called the "supply side" of drug policy — cracking down on the flow of illegal drugs — as opposed to "the demand side," or treating the end user. Baum is close to GOP policy experts who worked to enact the "war on drugs"

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