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December 12, 2018

After Tuesday's madcap Oval Office meeting between President Trump and the top two congressional Democrats, Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), there unanimous agreement that Trump had in fact taken ownership of any partial government shutdown due to his demand for $5 billion for a border wall. The Democrats emphasized their willingness to extend existing funding to avoid the "Trump shutdown." Trump leaned heavily on the phrase "border security."

"We gave the president two ways" to "avoid a shutdown," Schumer told reporters outside the White House. "We hope he'll take it, because a shutdown hurts too many innocent people. And this Trump shutdown, this temper tantrum that he seems to show, will not get him his wall, and it will hurt a lot of people because he will cause a shutdown — he admitted he wanted a shutdown."

"We're telling him we'll keep government open with the proposal Mr. Schumer suggested, why doesn't he just think about it," Pelosi added. "In fact, I asked him to pray over it."

"I thought it was a very good meeting," Trump told reporters, a group of priests behind him. "If we have to close down the country over border security, I actually like that in terms of an issue." Schumer "doesn't want to own it," he added. "If we close down the country, I will take it, because we're closing it down for border security, and I think I win that every single time."

And Trump isn't wrong, as long as we're just talking about Republicans. In a Marist poll for NPR and PBS released Tuesday, 56 percent of U.S. voters said Trump should compromise on the border wall and 69 percent said the wall isn't a priority, but 65 percent of Republicans said Trump should not compromise and 63 percent said building a wall should be a top priority. Marist conducted the poll Nov. 28 to Dec. 4 among 835 registered voters, a sample statistically significant within ±4.2 percentage points. Peter Weber

10:49 p.m.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri on Sunday vowed to fully investigate the massive electrical failure that plunged Argentina and Uruguay into darkness.

Both countries share an electrical grid, and when the electricity was cut off, tens of millions of people were without power. Parts of Chile and Paraguay were also affected. The lights went out on Sunday morning, and by Sunday evening, officials said more than 80 percent of customers in Argentina and 88 percent in Uruguay had power again.

Gustavo Lopetegui, Argentina's energy minister, said the electrical system is "robust," and while "we're not ruling out any possibility ... we don't think it is down to a cyber attack." Argentine media reports that officials are linking the outage to a failure in the transmission of electricity from a hydroelectric dam, BBC News reports. Catherine Garcia

10:19 p.m.

Gary Woodland won the U.S. Open Sunday in Pebble Beach, California, his first major championship.

He was able to defeat Brooks Koepka, the two-time defending champ. Woodland, 35, was in the lead most of Sunday, and shot 2-under-par 69 to finish at 13 under. He started the week ranked No. 25 in the world, with three PGA Tour titles under his belt. Koepka is ranked No. 1 in the world, and was hoping to become the second person to win the U.S. Open three years in a row. Catherine Garcia

9:50 p.m.

Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, admitted to misusing state funds, and on Sunday was ordered to pay a $15,000 fine.

Netanyahu took a plea deal, with the charges reduced from fraud to intentionally exploiting another person's error. She will have a criminal record. Her lawyer, Yossi Cohen, claims that his client is innocent, and this was an attempt to bring down her husband.

The case was in court for four years, with Netanyahu accused of spending $100,000 on catering between 2010 and 2013, despite having her own personal chef provided by the state, The Guardian reports. Benjamin Netanyahu is also the focus of several corruption investigations, and Israel's attorney general announced earlier this year that he plans on indicting him. Catherine Garcia

8:52 p.m.

In recent weeks, a record number of African migrants have been crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, fleeing from political persecution and economic hardship.

During one week, Border Patrol agents in Texas' Del Rio sector stopped more than 500 African migrants; only 211 African migrants were detained along the entire southern border during the 2018 fiscal year, The Associated Press reports. Most of the migrants are from the Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, and Cameroon. They fly to South America from Africa, then travel by land to the U.S.-Mexico border, with many seeking asylum at ports of entry.

Migrants from Cameroon have said they fly to Ecuador because there is no visa requirement, and it takes about four months to get from there to Tijuana. While in Panama, they are often robbed, AP reports, and held in camps run by the government.

Over the last several days, 170 asylum seekers were bused to Portland, Maine, where Somali refugees were resettled in the 1990s. Hundreds more are expected to arrive in the near future. Catherine Garcia

1:30 p.m.

Washington is bearing witness to, perhaps, the unlikeliest dynamic duo in recent memory.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) are certainly not of the same political ilk, but they've recently gone back and forth over social media, with each expressing a willingness to work with the other to get certain bills passed.

The two politicians are of the same opinion when it comes to banning former lawmakers from becoming lobbyists after their tenures are up, as well as the idea that birth control should be available over-the-counter. They're now trying to team up to pass legislation on both matters.

But, if you thought this was just some political ploy or feigned bipartisanship in a tumultuous era, think again. In an appearance on ABC's This Week, Ocasio-Cortez said she was "extraordinarily excited" to work with Cruz on these issues, admitting that it's a surprise to her, as well. Tim O'Donnell

1:02 p.m.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington continue to rise, especially after the latter accused the former of attacking two oil tankers with limpet mines in the Gulf of Oman last week. U.S. Central Command released a video last week claiming it shows Iranians removing a mine from one of the tankers. Iran has vehemently denied the allegations and the owner of the Japanese tanker disputed the account.

But the video is still enough evidence for some people. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Sunday, in an appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, told host Margaret Brennan that these "unprovoked attacks" warrant a "retaliatory military strike."

Even if Iran is behind the attacks, though, some have pointed out that a U.S. strike would make for a puzzling response, considering neither of the tankers were U.S. ships, instead hailing from Japan and Norway.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), on the other hand, told CNN's Fareed Zakaria on Saturday that the American people have "no appetite" for going to war with Iran. Tim O'Donnell

12:30 p.m.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was the subject of a wide-ranging interview published in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, touching upon tensions with Iran, Saudi Arabia's economic future, and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Here are three key moments.

Blame game — The crown prince joined the U.S. in blaming Iran for recent attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, which Tehran has vehemently denied. He also said that, while Riyadh does not seek war with Iran, he will not hesitate to "deal with any threat" to Saudi Arabia's sovereignty.

Veiled attack — Prince Mohammed also warned against "exploiting" the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi for political gains in what Al Jazeera writes was likely a veiled attack against Turkey, where Khashoggi was killed (those accused of the crime are Saudi government officials). However, the crown prince added that he wants to maintain strong relations with Ankara.

Aramco is good to go — The prince said that Aramco, Saudi Arabia's national petroleum and gas company, is set to go through with an initial public offering as soon as next year, though it remains unclear where the stock will trade. The prince projected the companies' value at about $2 trillion. The decision is reportedly part of Saudi Arabia's plan to diversify its economy and boost employment in new industries. Tim O'Donnell

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