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May 19, 2017
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President Trump's one-time dabble in horse racing reportedly left a thoroughbred named "D.J. Trump" nearly dead and without front hoofs, The Washington Post reports.

While Trump denies the story as "totally unsubstantiated and false," it is recalled in a book by John O'Donnell, Trumped!, and the Post was able to confirm many details of the story. Allegedly, racehorse trader Robert LiButti, a high-roller at Trump's casinos, wanted Trump to purchase his horse with Triple Crown potential, Alibi, for $500,000. The CEO of Trump's casinos, Stephen Hyde, saw the purchase as an investment to keep LiButti visiting the casinos.

Trump agreed, but demanded the horse's name be changed to D.J. Trump. Trump (the human) then argued his name was "worth at least $250,000 ... so he should only have to pay an additional $250,000 to complete the purchase," The Washington Post writes.

Then the story gets dark:

A few days before D.J. Trump was due to head north [for races], according to O'Donnell, a virus ripped through the horse farm. D.J. Trump didn't appear sick, but the trainer Jerkens recommended postponing a final workout in Florida, and the move north, for a few weeks. If the horse was sick, the trainer said, working him out risked a high fever, and possibly death.

Trump was impatient, O'Donnell wrote. He wanted his horse racing, up north, with no delays. Hyde relayed the order reluctantly: "He wants the horse to work."

D.J. Trump's last workout in Ocala was, in Trump parlance, a total disaster. A few hours after running, the horse's legs began shaking uncontrollably, then he collapsed in a heap. D.J. Trump had contracted the virus without showing symptoms, veterinarians concluded, and the workout had exacerbated his condition. [The Washington Post]

Ultimately, D.J. Trump lived — but his front hoofs had to be amputated, and he would never race. As the story goes, Trump was "unmoved," and, as he hadn't written the $250,000 check yet, he wiggled out of the deal.

"[Trump's] cavalier attitude about the horse, I think, bothered Steve," O'Donnell told the Post. “That [Trump] didn't care, that it was just a piece of flesh … That really disturbed him." Read the full saga at The Washington Post. Jeva Lange

12:31 p.m. ET

After being diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) vowed Thursday morning on Twitter that he would "be back soon" to his Senate duties in Washington, "unfortunately for my sparring partners in Congress." McCain, 80, was diagnosed with a type of tumor known as a glioblastoma after a surgery last week, his office announced Wednesday.

But in addition to his feisty Thursday morning tweet, McCain is hardly slouching on the job while he recovers from the operation — he also issued an official statement Thursday morning regarding President Trump's reported decision to end a CIA program that covertly arms moderate rebels in Syria. That relentless energy is why CNN commentator and former McCain staffer Ana Navarro has faith in McCain's recovery fight, she said on CNN on Thursday morning. "I know that if there's one word that he stands for, it's 'fight,'" Navarro said. "That guy has never given up in his life."

"I have never heard John McCain complain once," Navarro continued. "He is so much more than Sen. McCain. He is a friend, he is a mentor, he is a buddy, he is an adviser, he's a confidante. He's a critiquer — he's honest, he's blunt. He will open doors for you, and he will tell you when you're making mistakes."

Watch Navarro share her touching thoughts on her former boss below. Kimberly Alters

11:19 a.m. ET

Japan's first lady Akie Abe's silence at a recent G-20 summit dinner has left President Trump convinced that she can't speak English. In an interview with The New York Times published Wednesday night, Trump said he found Abe to be a "terrific woman," but noted the fact that she "doesn't speak English" made it "hard" to sit next to her at the dinner that lasted nearly two hours.

"Like, nothing, right? Like zero?" The New York Times' Maggie Haberman clarified. "Like, not 'hello,'" Trump said.

But this keynote address Abe gave in 2014 suggests not only can she say hello in English — she can deliver an entire speech:

Perhaps Abe just wanted to avoid nearly two hours of dinnertime conversation with Trump? Becca Stanek

10:58 a.m. ET
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Special Counsel Robert Mueller will investigate President Trump's business transactions as part of his probe into Russia's election interference, Bloomberg Politics reported Thursday, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Mueller is specifically interested in a few developments, Bloomberg said: "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump's involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump's sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008." The probe will also investigate deals involving the Bank of Cyprus, of which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross previously served as vice chairman, and efforts undertaken by Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner to secure financing for certain real estate ventures.

Mueller's expanded probe reflects the investigation's absorption of an earlier probe by former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Before being fired in March, Bharara was gathering information about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's financial dealings. "Altogether, the various financial examinations constitute one thread of Mueller's inquiry, which encompasses computer hacking and the dissemination of stolen campaign and voter information as well as the actions of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn," Bloomberg wrote.

In an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday, Trump said that any probing by Mueller into his or his family's finances would be a "violation." For more on Mueller's expanded probe, head to Bloomberg Politics. Kimberly Alters

10:53 a.m. ET

William Faulkner likely rolled over in his grave this morning. On Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough compared President Trump's recent rambling responses to The New York Times to the writer's winding, stream-of-consciousness style. To be fair, Scarborough specifically likened Trump's comments to "William Faulkner on acid" — but still the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author can't be flattered.

In the interview, Trump said France's Bastille Day parade "was a super-duper — okay. I mean that was very more than normal"; claimed he thought the information on Hillary Clinton offered to his son by Russia "had something to do with the payment by Russia of the DNC ... Like, it was an illegal act done by the DNC"; and said this about North Korea: "You know, we have a big problem with North Korea. Big. Big, big. You look at all of the things, you look at the line in the sand. The red line in the sand in Syria. He didn't do the shot. I did the shot."

"I mean the sentences just keep going on," Scarborough said. "They're garbled and make absolutely no sense." Scarborough said he felt particularly sorry for Trump's attorneys, who have to deal with Trump's "brain dump."

Catch the Morning Joe segment below and read The New York Times interview here. Becca Stanek

10:50 a.m. ET
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True to her nickname, Julia "Hurricane" Hawkins, 101, set a new national record for the 100-meter dash last week as she stormed across the finish line at the USA Track and Field Outdoors Masters Championships. The Louisiana great-grandmother was the oldest female athlete to compete in the championships, held in Baton Rouge, and shaved six seconds off the current record for women ages 100 or older — clocking in at 40.12 seconds. The former schoolteacher, who swears by her healthy diet, only took up running after her 100th birthday — and was pretty nonchalant about her accomplishment. "I missed my nap for this," said Hawkins after her heroic sprint. Christina Colizza

10:35 a.m. ET
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A South Carolina woman has been reunited with her purse — 25 years after it first went missing near a lake. Local fishing enthusiast Brodie Brooks, 11, reeled in the waterlogged handbag during an afternoon at Lake Hartwell, near Anderson. In a stroke of luck, one of Brooks' relatives recognized the owner of the purse from an old ID and returned it to her. April Bolt, now 49, no longer needs the bright lipstick or hair-teasing comb that were also found inside — but was thrilled to have her now-adult son's baby photos back. "It's a serious time capsule," she says. "It meant the world to me." Christina Colizza

9:57 a.m. ET
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It's official: Ryan Seacrest is returning to host the American Idol revival. More than two months after ABC announced that it was bringing the singing competition back to the airwaves, Kelly Ripa finally confirmed Thursday on Live! With Kelly and Ryan that the show's longtime host will be coming back, too.

Seacrest hosted American Idol since its start in 2002, and he said it's "an honor, if not a bit surreal" to be returning to host Idol just a year after Fox canceled it last April following a 15-season run. "Very exciting," Seacrest said. "First of all, I don't know if you've ever been in a 15-year relationship and for a reason you really don't know you break up … I thought, 'Gosh, it'd be great to get back together at some point.'"

ABC, which announced in May it would be reviving the beloved show, is equally excited. "We are thrilled to be ushering in this new era of American Idol with Ryan at the helm," said ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey. “So much of American Idol's overwhelming success can be attributed to Ryan."

In-person auditions for American Idol start Aug. 17 in Orlando, Florida. The new season is slated to debut in 2018. Becca Stanek

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