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February 14, 2018
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President Trump on Wednesday encouraged senators to rally behind comprehensive immigration reform and not support narrow "Band-Aid" bills. In a statement, the president indicated he is partial to a bill proposed by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that reduces legal immigration, ends the visa lottery, funds border security, and creates a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, also known as DREAMers.

One of the "Band-Aid" bills Trump was referring to is a bipartisan proposal to exchange amplified funding for border security for protections for the DREAMers. The president believes such compromises are, at best, temporary solutions. His preferred bill, however, is unpopular with the Democratic minority and thus unlikely to pass the Senate with 60 votes, CNN says.

A White House official told The Washington Post that the president feels that he has already compromised enough with Democrats on immigration by supporting a path to citizenship for DREAMers. "We went as far as we could in that direction," the unnamed aide said, "but any more and the House would never take up the bill and the president would not be able to sign it."

But even some of the president's allies in the Senate think he's making a mistake by drawing such a hard line. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told The New York Times that vetoing a bipartisan immigration bill would amount to failure. "Then you'll have three presidents who failed [to pass immigration reform]," Graham said." You'll have Obama, Bush, and Trump." Kelly O'Meara Morales

8:03 a.m. ET
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In March 2016, an errant Snapchat video of a U.S. Air Force airman stationed at F.W. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming led Air Force investigators to a ring of airmen who were using LSD, ecstasy, cocaine, and other mind-altering or illegal drugs, The Associated Press reports. Eventually, disciplinary action was taken against 14 of the airmen, all of whom were in the the 90th Missile Wing — which AP explains "operates one-third of the 400 Minuteman 3 missiles that stand 'on alert' 24/7 in underground silos scattered across the northern Great Plains." Six of the airmen were court-martialed for using and/or distributing LSD.

"I absolutely just loved altering my mind," the purported ringleader, Airman 1st Class Nickolos Harris, testified at his court-martial hearing. Airman 1st Class Devin Hagarty panicked and fled to Mexico when the investigation began, grabbing cash and a backpack and text-messaging his mom that he loved her. Another court-martialed member, Airman Basic Kyle Morrison, said in his hearing that when he was tripping he could not have responded if he had been called to duty in a nuclear emergency. Other airmen reported feeling paranoia and panic during bad trips.

"Although this sounds like something from a movie, it isn't," said prosecutor Capt. Charles Grimsley during one court-marital. Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Uriah Orland told AP that all the drug activity occurred during off-duty hours and that "there are multiple checks to ensure airmen who report for duty are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs and are able to execute the mission safely, securely and effectively." You can read more about the trips, the punishments, and the mole at AP. Peter Weber

6:54 a.m. ET
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Dutch investigators have concluded that a Russian anti-aircraft missile brigade is responsible for shooting down a Malaysian Airlines passenger plane over eastern Ukraine in 2014, The Guardian reports. The disaster resulted in the deaths of all 298 people on board.

Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in shooting down MH17, and has used its veto power at the United Nations to block an international tribunal over the incident. Dutch investigators say they are convinced Russia is behind the attack because they managed to identify a specific BUK missile system that was used, which was traced to a brigade in Kursk, in western Russia.

MH17 had been traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down. Jeva Lange

6:52 a.m. ET

On Thursday morning, Fox & Friends broadcast an interview Brian Kilmeade conducted with President Trump on Wednesday, on short notice. Kilmeade informed Trump that the NFL owners had just approved a policy that fines teams if any of their players refuse to stand for the national anthem, though players also have the option to stay in the locker room during the anthem. Trump said he didn't like the locker room option but was pleased with the other part — maybe a little too pleased. "You have to stand proudly for the national anthem," Trump said, "or you shouldn't be playing, you shouldn't be there, maybe you shouldn't be in the county."

The NFL Players Association was less pleased with the decision, and at least one team owner — New York Jets chairman Christopher Johnson, the brother of Trump's ambassador to Britain, Woody Johnson — said he would personally pay the fine of any player who decides to kneel anyway. Also in disagreement with Trump? The New York Daily News.

So. Are you ready for some football? Peter Weber

6:08 a.m. ET

"Of all the questions hanging over the special counsel investigation, one stands out: How will President Trump fare in the end?" asks Michael Schmidt and his colleagues at The New York Times. They run through Special Counsel Robert Mueller's three main options and what would happen next — Schmidt provides a good summary in the video below.

But one former senior FBI official who used to work under Mueller tells Vanity Fair the special counsel isn't really interested in Trump's fate. "Mueller doesn't care if he gets Trump," the official said. "He doesn't care if he doesn't get Trump. He has no political agenda. He is digging through the layers and bringing back the truth, and the truth is going to be whatever it is going to be." But he had some interesting thoughts on what Mueller is doing:

This investigation is classic Mueller: He is doing a classic, organized crime case. This is RICO 101, working your way up and sideways. You pop a few guys for gambling. ... You flip one guy who you arrest with no fanfare. It's exactly what Mueller has been doing his whole goddamn life. It's just that this time the boss of the family happens to be the leader of the free world. [Former FBI official to Vanity Fair]

Vanity Fair's Chris Smith specifically examines Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani's role, whether his exploitation of Mueller's inability or refusal to push back against the Giuliani-Trump scorched-earth attack on the investigation will prevail. The ex-FBI official said "Mueller is critically aware of everything that's being written or said" but "he completely tunes it out," for good reason. He brought up the old expression about the dangers of mud-wrestling with a pig, arguing that "the very fact that Mueller refuses to respond to the most outrageous criticisms and claims is the reason the pig is wrestling with itself in its own mud." Read more at Vanity Fair. Peter Weber

5:03 a.m. ET

On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that President Trump can no longer block people on Twitter. "So for those of you who can once again read Donald Trump's tweets, congratulations! — and I am so sorry," Stephen Colbert said on The Late Show. "From now on, if Trump wants to send messages exclusively to his supporters, he'll have to do so on his Etsy pages." He explained the ruling and said it was "adorable" that the judge thought her decision would encourage Trump to change his habits.

Colbert pivoted from Trump's tweets to the staffers who ghostwrite them, reportedly including typos to make them seem authentically Trump. He feigned disbelief at this perfidy, and said he felt personally betrayed by the revelation that some staffer writes some of the tweets Colbert has made an art of reading in Trump's voice. "It's so dishonest — I mean, I would never come out here and read a bunch of words I didn't write myself," he added, throwing in a little self-deprecation.

Colbert was able to ask Stephen King about being blocked by Trump on Twitter. King touched on what got him Trump-blocked and he didn't seem overly broken up about it — in fact, he blocked both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in return, for slightly different reasons.

Finally, Colbert took a look at the sinkhole that's opening up on the White House lawn. "It's true — it finally happened: The Earth is fighting back," Colbert said. But he wasn't convinced by the geologist who assured everyone that sinkholes aren't "the gates of hell opening," so he threw to the Devil in Hell, who — it turns out — did disavow responsibility. "Oh, here no!" the Devil said. "I don't want to get mixed up with Donald Trump! Have you seen what they did to Michael Cohen? I don't need Mueller on my ass — I run a legitimate business torturing the damned." Peter Weber

4:03 a.m. ET

Under a new Trump administration proposal, hunters will once again be able to shoot bear and wolf cubs in their dens. "And I say it's about time," Jimmy Kimmel deadpanned on Wednesday's Kimmel Live. "I don't know about you, but I am sick and tired of not being able to shoot bear cubs in their dens. I mean, what are you supposed to do, wait for them to waddle out adorably and start rolling around? That's not American!" He also mentioned Trump's easing of a ban on importing African elephant trophies, despite saying he wouldn't, "which is disgusting," Kimmel said, "but not only isn't the president backing down, he's going all in on this." That cued up a fake Trump TV ad, and it gets pretty dark. Eric and Donald Trump Jr. make a cameo at the end. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:08 a.m. ET
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Only two members of Congress — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) — will be at a noon Justice Department briefing on Thursday about an FBI informant who contacted members of President Trump's campaign in 2016. But after protests from Democrats and some Republicans that only two House Republicans and no Democrats were invited, there will now be a second briefing at 2 p.m. with the Gang of 8 — the top Senate and House leaders and intelligence committee members from both parties — plus Gowdy. Despite a previous assurance from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that "no member of the White House staff" would be at the top secret briefing, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will attend both briefings.

Representing U.S. intelligence and law enforcement at the briefing will be Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Director of Intelligence Dan Coats. The Justice Department hasn't said what information will be shared with lawmakers and Kelly about the informant.

The invitees to the second meeting are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Ryan will not attend, due to a "longstanding schedule commitment," according to spokeswoman AshLee Strong, and three Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans — Chuck Grassley (Iowa), John Cornyn (Texas), and Lindsay Graham (S.C.) — have also asked to attend.

Kelly brokered the meetings at Trump's insistence, amid unsubstantiated claims by Trump that the FBI "spied" on his campaign for political, not counterintelligence, reasons. His personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani says Trump should get access to the information, too, even though he's a subject of the investigation. Peter Weber

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