January 18, 2019

President Trump "appears to be on a collusion course with the law right now, and his alleged lawyer Rudy Giuliani was back on CNN last night and Rudier than ever," Jimmy Kimmel said on Thursday's Kimmel Live. If we didn't have video of his "crazy appearance on Chris Cuomo's show," it would "almost be too much to believe." Giuliani claimed incorrectly that he'd never said there was no collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia, so either there's "another Rudy Giuliani out there," Kimmel said, or Giuliani's lying — again. "Poor Rudy. Someday he's going to be in a mental facility telling the nurses that he used to be the mayor of New York and they'll be like, 'Uh-huh.'"

Kimmel also had some fun with the story about Trump ordering fixer Michael Cohen to hire a guy to rig some online polls, Cohen paying him a fraction of the cash in a Walmart bag, then hiring him to create a @WomenforCohen account. "I may have underestimated Michael Cohen," he said. "He might be a lot more hilarious than I ever imagined."

"It's crazy that Michael Cohen was rigging polls for Trump while Trump was out there complaining that the polls were rigged," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. "But one place where there's definitely no collusion is between Rudy Giuliani's brain and his mouth." He showed the clip: "Did Giuliani just admit that there was collusion? I think he did, and look at their faces. Like, neither of them can believe what just happened." Maybe Giuliani's antics are intentional, Noah mused. "Maybe the master plan is to keep creating so many new scandals that Robert Mueller can never finish his investigation."

"It really does seem like the pressure of the job is getting to Rudy," giving the latest of his "trademark accidental confessions," Seth Meyers said on Late Night. He ran through Giuliani's ever-shifting collusion story. "If this keeps going, Rudy is going to be telling Trump, 'It's not jail, it's a gated community.'" Watch below. Peter Weber

7:57 a.m.

It sounds like you'll need tissues handy during Avengers: Endgame.

The Marvel film premiered in Los Angeles on April 22, and the first critical reactions described it as an incredibly emotional experience and a satisfying finale.

In fact, Variety's Ramin Setoodeh reports that by the time the credits rolled, there "wasn't a dry eye in the house."

The Avengers cast got pretty emotional in their speeches as well, with Chris Evans saying per Entertainment Weekly, "I don't know about you, but I cried like six times." Chris Hemsworth did him one better, declaring, "I cried more than six times, Chris." But fans may be prepared to one-up both of them when the movie opens on April 26. Brendan Morrow

7:22 a.m.

The New IRA, a recently formed and relatively small Irish nationalist militant group, took responsibility Tuesday for the killing Thursday night of 29-year-old journalist and author Lyra McKee. It was an accident, the group said in a statement to The Irish News, using "a recognized codeword" to prove the statement's authenticity. McKee, whose work focused on the the aftermath and human cost of the 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland, was shot dead while watching Irish nationalist youth clash with police in Londonderry after a police raid. Police have arrested a 57-year-old woman in connection with McKee's killing.

"In the course of attacking the enemy Lyra McKee was tragically killed while standing beside enemy forces," the New IRA said, referring to the police. "The IRA offer our full and sincere apologies to the partner, family, and friends of Lyra McKee for her death." The New IRA, which formed in 2012, opposes the 1998 Good Friday peace accord that ended the "Troubles"; the much-larger Irish Republican Army (IRA) disarmed after the peace deal was ratified.

"McKee's death, which followed a large car bomb in Londonderry in January that police also blamed on the New IRA, raised fears that small marginalized militant groups are trying to exploit political tensions caused by Britain's decision to leave the European Union," Reuters reports. If Brexit leads to a reimposition of a hard border between Ireland (part of the EU) and Northern Ireland (part of the U.K.), such militant groups are widely expected to ramp up the violence. Peter Weber

6:18 a.m.

On Tuesday, Sri Lanka raised the official death toll from Sunday's coordinated bombings at churches and luxury hotels to 321 dead and 500 wounded, and Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene gave a possible motive for the attack. "The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch," New Zealand, he told Sri Lanka's parliament.

A 28-year-old Australian white supremacist has been charged with murdering 50 people in two mosques during Friday prayer services on March 15. Sri Lanka has blamed a domestic Islamist militant group, National Thowfeek Jamaath, for Sunday's suicide bombings, which struck three Christian churches during Easter services and three hotels almost simultaneously, followed later by two more attacks. At least 40 people have been arrested as of Tuesday morning, including the driver of the van allegedly used by the initial seven suicide bombers, Sri Lanka said.

Sri Lanka responded to the bombings by shutting down social media sites and granting the military sweeping powers not used since the country's 26-year-old civil war ended in 2009. But Sri Lanka's government is also struggling to explain why it did not respond to warnings from foreign intelligence services, starting April 4, that National Thowfeek Jamaath was planning to target "some important churches" in a suicide terrorist attack to be carried out "shortly." Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his Cabinet were unaware of the intelligence reports, blaming political dysfunction. Peter Weber

5:32 a.m.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is performing enviably in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary polls and he's getting glowing press, but his record isn't spotless. And at a CNN town hall in New Hampshire on Monday night, he got a question about an incident from 2012 involving his demotion of South Bend's first black police chief. CNN's Anderson Cooper set up the question by noting that the former police chief, Darryl Boykins, had allegedly ordered people to secretly record racist comments by senior white police officers.

A student asked Buttigieg what was on Boykins' tapes. "The answer is I don't know," Buttigeig said, explaining that the way the tapes were recorded potentially violated the federal wire tap act. "That's a law punishable by a term in prison and so I'm not going to violate it, even though I want to know what's on those tapes like everybody else does," he said. Buttigieg said he demoted Boykins after learning he "was the subject of a criminal investigation, not from him but the FBI, and it made it very hard to me to trust him as one of my own appointees."

Buttigieg conceded that he didn't handle the situation perfectly and said he learned a lot about the need to seek input from various communities and improving relations between communities of color and police.

Buttigieg also mused about whether coming out as gay earlier would have derailed his public-service career, pointed out that "God doesn't have a political party," argued that it's a good thing not to "drown people in minutia before we've vindicated the values that animate our policies," and said that while Trump has "made it pretty clear he deserves impeachment," that's up to "the House and Senate to figure out" and he thinks the most decisive way to "relegate Trumpism to the dustbin of history" is to hand Trump "an absolute thumping at the ballot box." Peter Weber

4:11 a.m.

President Trump's job approval rating has dropped 5 points since Special Counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report was released Thursday, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll released Monday evening, and Trump's new 39 percent approval matches the lowest point in his presidency, right after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. The poll also found that 57 percent of voters disapprove of the job Trump is doing, putting him 18 percentage points underwater.

The poll also found a declining appetite for impeachment — 34 percent favor starting impeachment proceedings while 48 percent say no — even though 41 percent of voters agreed that Trump's campaign worked with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 election and a 47 percent plurality said Trump tried to impede Mueller's investigation; 41 percent said Trump's campaign did not work with Russia and 34 percent said he did not try to hinder Mueller's probe. In a rare bit of bipartisan agreement, 48 percent of Democrats, 46 percent of Republicans, and 43 percent of independents said Mueller's investigation was handled fairly.

Politico/Morning Consult polled 1,992 voters Friday through Sunday, and the survey has a margin of sampling error of ±2 percentage points. Other polls have also found slippage in Trump's approval rating since the report was released; FiveThirtyEight's polling aggregate has Trump's approval at 41.3 percent, from 42 percent on Thursday, while RealClearPolitics puts his aggregate approval rating at 42.9 percent, from 44 percent on Thursday. Peter Weber

2:43 a.m.

On Monday night, White House Deputy Counsel Michael Purpura informed House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) that acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney had ordered former White House security clearance chief Carl Kline to defy a subpoena and skip a deposition scheduled for Tuesday. Kline's lawyer said in a separate letter that his client, who now works at the Defense Department, would comply with the White House's order. "With two masters from two equal branches of government, we will follow the instructions of the one that employs him," said the lawyer, Robert Driscoll.

The House Oversight Committee is investigating how President Trump's White House approves security clearances. It subpoenaed Kline in early April after a whistleblower, career White House Personnel Security Office staffer Tricia Newbold, testified that Kline had overruled his staff and approved at least 25 security clearance applications rejected due to serious red flags, then retaliated against her when she spoke out. One of the senior officials whose application Kline approved despite significant concerns was reportedly Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law.

Earlier Monday, Cummings had rejected the White House's request that someone from the White House counsel's office attend the deposition with Kline, saying his committee would hold Kline in contempt if he ignored the subpoena. Peter Weber

2:15 a.m.

During the day, he delivered eggs and candy and baskets filled with toys to delighted children, but by night, he was throwing down in the streets of Orlando.

The Easter Bunny in question was actually Antoine McDonald, who told WESH he decided to dress up in celebration of the holiday while bar hopping across town with friends. At about 10:30 p.m., he said, he saw a man and woman outside the Underground Public House get into a fight, and while other people stood by and watched, he raced over to break it up. McDonald got in a few blows of his own against the man before police arrived and told the crowd to disperse. No one was arrested, and police say it's unclear how the altercation started.

McDonald said this wasn't planned, he just happened to be in the right place at the right time wearing the right costume. "I didn't say, 'Hey, look, look at this,'" McDonald stated. "No, I just rushed over there. The real deal. Nothing fake." Catherine Garcia

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