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January 12, 2018

On Friday morning, President Trump awoke to swirling reports publicizing vulgar language he allegedly used to disparage foreign nations during a bipartisan meeting on immigration. The meeting took place Thursday afternoon, but Trump waited more than 12 hours to address the reports that he'd referred to Haiti and various African states as "shithole countries" — and when he finally did, he denied making any such remarks.

Moreover, Trump claimed: "I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians."

It seems the Haitian government does not agree with Trump's sunshine-and-rainbows claims, however. On Friday morning, Haiti issued a statement calling Trump's comment "racist" and stated the president's language "in no way [reflects] the virtues of wisdom, restraint, and discernment that must be cultivated by any high political authority."

CNN's Jake Tapper pointed out Friday morning that, per a source "familiar with the meeting," Trump only referred to African countries as "shithole countries" and was not including Haiti in this description. So the president's denial that he insulted the island nation may be correct on a technicality — but still, Tapper reminded, "this does not make what [Trump] said any more acceptable." Kelly O'Meara Morales

7:49 a.m. ET
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Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are reportedly poised to arrest more than 1,500 undocumented immigrants in the region around the Bay Area in California in a maneuver apparently intended to send a signal to sanctuary cities across the country, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed statewide sanctuary legislation for California in October, leading acting ICE Director Thomas Homan to tell Fox News that the state "better hold on tight." The upcoming sweep will target "people who have been identified as targets for deportation, including those who have been served with final deportation orders and those with criminal histories," the Chronicle reports based on conversations with someone familiar with ICE's plans, although "the number could tick up if officers come across other undocumented immigrants in the course of their actions and make what are known as collateral arrests."

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) responded to the news Tuesday, blasting the administration for "carrying out its enforcement actions to make a political point and not based on the security of the country." Santa Clara University School of Law professor Pratheepan Gulasekaram, who specializes in immigration, told the Chronicle the raid is likely to "tear up a lot of lives" but won't have a "meaningful outcome on public safety."

On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said that the Justice Department is also considering hitting local leaders who implement sanctuary city laws with criminal charges, Newsweek reports. Homan had also told Fox News: "We gotta take [sanctuary cities] to court, and we gotta start charging some of these politicians with crimes." Jeva Lange

6:36 a.m. ET

On Tuesday, the Justice Department said it would take the unusual step of asking the Supreme Court to step in and overturn U.S. District Judge William Alsup's ruling blocking President Trump's decision to wind down the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program, bypassing the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. "It defies both law and common sense" that a "single district court in San Francisco" can halt Trump's plan, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. "We are now taking the rare step of requesting direct review on the merits of this injunction by the Supreme Court so that this issue may be resolved quickly and fairly for all the parties involved."

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D), who filed one of the federal lawsuits that led to Alsup's injunction, said he was confident that higher courts will uphold the decision to block "the unlawful action by the Trump Administration to terminate DACA." The fate of the roughly 700,000 DREAMers covered by DACA is a central sticking point in negotiations to fund the federal government. The Justice Department isn't requesting a stay of Alsup's ruling, The Washington Post notes, and as soon as it files its petition with the Supreme Court, the justices can take the case or wait for the 9th Circuit appellate court to weigh in first, as would normally happen. Peter Weber

6:05 a.m. ET

Residents of Detroit and elsewhere in southeast Michigan saw a bright flash at about 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday, followed by an earth-shaking boom, and meteorologists pretty quickly said thunder and lightening weren't to blame. People who got a good look at the bright light arcing across the night sky would have likely already ruled out lightening. A Michigander named Mike Austin posted this dash-cam recording of what the U.S. Geological Survey eventually confirmed to be a meteor that caused a magnitude 2.0 earthquake.

A meteor blazing across the sky is "certainly a rare occurrence," National Weather Service meteorologist Jordan Dale told the Detroit Free Press. Some people who saw the flash, visible from Flint to Toledo, were concerned, but others saw the lighter side. Luckily, as one wag joked darkly, the meteor didn't fall on Hawaii. Peter Weber

5:23 a.m. ET
Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images)

Senate Democrats said Tuesday that they have 50 votes for a measure to restore net neutrality rules overturned by the Republican majority on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), putting them one vote shy of being able to force the measure. But even if House Speaker Paul Ryan allowed a vote on the measure and it passed, President Trump would likely veto it, despite net neutrality's broad popularity. So Tuesday also saw a handful of federal lawsuits filed to block the FCC's net neutrality repeal.

One suit was filed by the attorneys general of 21 states and Washington, D.C., all of them Democrats, arguing that the FCC's "arbitrary and capricious" decision violated federal law and the FCC's longstanding policy of preventing internet service providers from blocking or throttling websites. "The repeal of net neutrality would turn internet service providers into gatekeepers — allowing them to put profits over consumers while controlling what we see, what we do, and what we say online," said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The Mozilla Foundation, the Open Technology Institute, and the public interest groups Free Press and Public Knowledge also filed separate lawsuits.

The 2015 rule giving the FCC teeth to enforce net neutrality, like previous net neutrality rules, was challenged in court by telecom firms, and a federal appellate court sided with the FCC in that case. Broadband companies are now siding with the FCC while the Internet Association, a trade group that includes Google and Netflix, is backing the net neutrality side. The FCC said its December rule stipulated that its net neutrality repeal couldn't be challenged until it was logged in the Federal Registry, so Tuesday's lawsuits were preliminary moves to determine which court will hear this round of legal challenges. Peter Weber

4:31 a.m. ET

White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson gave a rare press conference Tuesday to describe President Trump's annual physical, and it looks like we owe Trump's personal physician an apology for doubting that Trump is in excellent health, Trevor Noah said on Tuesday's Daily Show. "No heart problems, no dementia, no dentures — but did you test for racism?" he asked. "It turns out, according to the official White House doctor, Trump is completely sane. Which makes me more worried, because that means he's doing all of this s--t on purpose? You 'covfefe' in your normal mind?"

"To us, the non-experts, the only thing that looks healthy about Donald Trump is that he's shaped like a food pyramid," Noah said. "To say that his health is excellent, it's like medicine is gaslighting us now." But Jackson had an explanation: good genes. "Look, to be honest, I'm not really surprised," Noah said. "Donald Trump has dictator blood. We're used to this in Africa and other places in the world: Castro, Mugabe, the queen — we're all shocked at how long they live." He imagined the talk Trump will give to the cockroaches after the nuclear apocalypse.

On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert was impressed with Jackson's diagnosis of Trump's cardio health. "So despite all evidence, Donald Trump does have a heart," he joked. And, according to the federal body mass index, he's one pound shy of being obese. "One pound?" Colbert asked, tiptoeing toward "girtherism." "That's awfully convenient."

Jackson "says he has no concern about the president's cognitive ability — which makes one of us," Jimmy Kimmel marveled on Kimmel Live, "and despite the fact that he is borderline obese, Trump is in excellent health. How can he be in excellent health? When he sneezes, gravy comes out...." He ended with a re-enactment of Jackson's press conference, only with a horror-like twist at the end inspired by Trump's anti-baldness medication. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:20 a.m. ET
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

House Republican leaders proposed a fourth stopgap spending measure to their caucus on Tuesday night, betting that a few popular sweeteners and opposition from Democratic leaders would drum up enough GOP support to send the measure to the Senate, with or without Democratic votes. The continuing resolution would finance the government at current levels through Feb. 16, delay several ObamaCare-related taxes for a year or two, and finance the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years. The third and current short-term spending package expires at midnight Friday.

The spending bill needs 218 votes in the House, and most Republicans reportedly backed the measure Tuesday night, sometimes unenthusiastically. But House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) balked. "Based on the number of 'no' and undecided votes, there is not enough votes for a Republican-only bill," he said, dismissing the ObamaCare tax delays as a "gimmick." In the Senate, nine Democrats would have to vote with every Republican to pass the resolution, and Democrats are threatening to withhold their votes unless Republicans include a solution for DREAMers, the 700,000 young immigrants who are already losing their work permits and face deportation starting in March under President Trump's executive order.

Trump and Republicans are banking on Democrats folding, arguing that not voting to avert the first government shutdown since 2013 would harm the military (a decision that appears to rest at least in part with Trump, who can exempt "essential" personnel). Government shutdowns when one party controls both Congress and the White House are rare. "We don't need any Democrats in the House," said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.). "And I don't think the Democrats in the Senate have the nerve to shut down the government." Lawmakers are working to salvage a bipartisan plan to protect DREAMers, but are pessimistic they would have it ready by Friday, especially with the White House calling it dead on arrival. Peter Weber

2:06 a.m. ET

While riding on a Red Line train in Chicago Friday night, passenger Jessica Bell watched as an act of kindness quietly took place next to her.

Across from Bell was an older homeless man, whose feet were bleeding through his socks and his tattered sneakers. Maurice Anderson, in Chicago to visit his daughter, sat near him, wearing boots "built for a Chicago winter," Bell wrote on Facebook. Anderson asked the man what size shoe he wore, and when he replied "12" — the same size as Anderson — he didn't hesitate to take his boots off and hand them to the man. Having just arrived from Kentucky, Anderson dug into the suitcase he had with him, pulled out socks for the man, and changed into a different pair of shoes he brought.

"He's already in distress, he's out in the cold, riding the train," Anderson told ABC Chicago. "If I'm not reaching out to help someone, I can't say anything." Anderson and Bell said the homeless man was in shock by Anderson's gesture, and so appreciative, telling them he believed he had frostbite from the cold. Bell took a few pictures of the exchange, feeling compelled to share the simple but important moment. "I think that's what really resonated with me," she said. "It was a really selfless and quiet act, no fanfare. It just happened." Catherine Garcia

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