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March 20, 2017

Two years ago, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) — the same man asking tough questions about leaks during the House Intelligence Committee's hearing Monday on Russian election meddling — inadvertently leaked some classified information himself. Back in 2015, when Gowdy was the chairman of the House committee investigating the 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, Gowdy accidentally revealed the name of a CIA source during a discussion with Democrats, Politico reported.

Gowdy's reveal was inadvertent, and occurred due to the State Department's failure to omit the CIA source's name from the email being discussed. But on Monday, while talking about the leaked phone transcripts that led to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's resignation, Gowdy suggested anyone who leaks classified information ought to be prosecuted. "Some of that may rise to a crime, some of it may not," Gowdy said. "The felonious release of classified material is definitely a crime." Becca Stanek

August 22, 2017
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As thousands of protesters stood outside, President Trump spoke to supporters Tuesday night in the Phoenix Convention Center about his response to the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia; complained about the media; hinted that he'll soon pardon Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff convicted of criminal contempt of court; and said the wall would be built along the U.S.-Mexico border "even if we have to close down our government" to get the funds.

Trump spent the first 30 minutes of his speech defending his Charlottesville remarks and decrying the criticism he received from "dishonest" people who thought he took too long to comment. He re-read his Charlottesville comments, omitting the part where he equated white supremacists to protesters, and accused the media of "trying to take away our history and our heritage" and giving hate groups "a platform."

When Trump mentioned Arpaio, the crowd cheered, and he said: "I'll make a prediction: I think he's going to be just fine. I won't do it tonight because I don't want to cause any controversy. But Sheriff Joe can feel good." He briefly mentioned tax reform, immigration, and getting rid of ObamaCare, and said he wouldn't talk about Arizona's Republican U.S. senators who are "weak on borders and weak on crime." Trump also falsely claimed multiple times there weren't very many protesters outside, and kept saying he could see CNN turning off their cameras, even though the network aired the rally in its entirety. Catherine Garcia

August 22, 2017
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The U.S. Navy is planning on relieving Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin of duty as commander of the Seventh Fleet, following four crashes, two of them deadly, in Asia since January, U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

Aucoin is a three-star commander, and he will be removed on Wednesday, the officials said; the Navy declined to comment to the Journal. The Seventh Fleet is based in Yokosuka, Japan, and the most recent collision took place early Monday, when the USS John S. McCain and a tanker crashed in the waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca; 10 sailors were reported missing, and the bodies of some of the sailors were recovered on Tuesday. Catherine Garcia

August 22, 2017
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Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, will travel to Israel on Wednesday, his third trip to the country since being tasked by the president with bringing peace to the Middle East.

Kushner is scheduled to meet on Thursday separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. A person close to the White House told the Los Angeles Times that Kushner is considering this a "temperature taking" trip, and not expecting anything major to come out of it. The White House said the discussions will focus on combating extremism, humanitarian issues in the Gaza Strip, and "the path to substantive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks."

Kushner is already in the region, and along with special envoy Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell, he has been holding meetings with leaders from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Qatar. Catherine Garcia

August 22, 2017
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Anyone looking to become an instant millionaire should grab a few dollars and head to the closest retailer selling Powerball tickets — the estimated jackpot for Wednesday night's drawing has reached $700 million.

This is the second-largest Powerball jackpot in U.S. history. Tickets are $2 each, and the odds of winning are 1 in 292.2 million. If anyone wins the whole shebang, they can choose an annuity option, receiving the jackpot in 30 payments over 29 years, or take the cash, which significantly reduces the amount of money (in this case, it would be $443.3 million). The winner will also have to pay federal taxes (25 percent), and possibly state taxes (Californians and Texans are among the exempt). Good luck! Catherine Garcia

August 22, 2017
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Just hours before Marcellus Williams, 48, was scheduled to be put to death on Tuesday, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) issued a stay of execution, in light of attorneys saying DNA evidence proves Williams did not stab to death Felicia Gayle, a 42-year-old former reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in her home nearly 20 years ago.

In a statement, Greitens said a "sentence of death is the ultimate, permanent punishment. To carry out the death penalty, the people of Missouri must have confidence in the judgment of guilt." Greitens is going to appoint a five-person Board of Inquiry, which will review the case and offer a recommendation to him, CNN reports. Williams' attorneys said they did not have the DNA evidence during his 2001 trial, and a forensic DNA expert and biologist hired by the legal team found that hair samples found at the crime scene do not match Williams and none of his DNA is on the murder weapon.

The Missouri Attorney General's Office said there is still plenty of non-DNA evidence proving Williams' guilt; Williams sold Gayle's husband's laptop, and some of the victim's personal items were found inside the trunk of his car. From the beginning, Williams has maintained his innocence, saying he was convicted based on testimony from convicted felons. Catherine Garcia

August 22, 2017
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President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have "not spoken to each other in weeks," The New York Times reported Tuesday. The Republican president and the top Senate Republican have apparently entered a "political cold war," the Times said, made all the more fraught by the fact that the GOP faces a tough legislative battle in the fall, as well as the presence of Elaine Chao — McConnell's wife — in Trump's Cabinet as transportation secretary.

The resentment and mutual hostility is so grave, apparently, that McConnell has reportedly taken to privately confessing that he's not sure the Trump administration can be saved:

Mr. McConnell has fumed over Mr. Trump's regular threats against fellow Republicans and criticism of Senate rules, and questioned Mr. Trump's understanding of the presidency in a public speech. Mr. McConnell has made sharper comments in private, describing Mr. Trump as entirely unwilling to learn the basics of governing.

In offhand remarks, Mr. McConnell has expressed a sense of bewilderment about where Mr. Trump's presidency may be headed, and has mused about whether Mr. Trump will be in a position to lead the Republican Party into next year's elections and beyond, according to people who have spoken to him directly. [The New York Times]

Earlier this month, Trump repeatedly attacked McConnell on Twitter, spurring the majority leader's Senate colleagues to rally around him. Trump has also attacked Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R), calling him "toxic" and endorsing his primary challenger, Kelli Ward; Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), whose refusal to vote for her party's health-care proposal prompted Trump to say she "really let the Republicans, and our country, down"; and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R), whose critical comments about Trump's controversial response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, prompted the president to label him "publicity-seeking."

Trump needs McConnell as an ally to rally those same Republicans around his agenda, but "angry phone calls and private badmouthing have devolved into open conflict," the Times wrote. Read more at The New York Times. Kimberly Alters

August 22, 2017

A Trump-branded Scion hotel is coming to the Mississippi Delta, and details of the project are already raising some eyebrows:

At the Trump family's suggestion, the Cleveland, Mississippi, hotel is "changing course mid-construction" in order to install "a resort-caliber pool, place decorative balconies on the main building, and construct a hill for another building — a faux Southern mansion," Bloomberg reports. "The property's 17 acres will have a spa, bars, and a meeting hall styled as a cotton gin."

The romanticization of a "replica Southern plantation" sounded some alarm bells. "The Onion might as well just go out of business now," one Twitter user wrote, while another responded: "Tone. Deaf."

Attn: has reported on antebellum nostalgia, especially as it pertains to the wedding industry, and explains that "the word 'plantation' has been normalized despite its racist history" and that "a Southern plantation is a large estate that was historically used to grow crops with African slave labor before the Civil War." Liz Susong, the editor-in-chief of Catalyst Wedding Co., told Attn:, "I think a lot of the history of properties has been really white-washed."

President Trump, while no longer the head of the Trump Organization, defended monuments to the Confederacy last week. "Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments," he tweeted. "You can't change history, but you can learn from it." Jeva Lange

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