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August 29, 2018

Newly-minted Florida GOP gubernatorial nominee Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) drew criticism when he appeared on Fox News to discuss his Democratic opponent on Wednesday.

DeSantis, who decided to run shortly after President Trump tweeted that he "would make a GREAT governor," wasted no time in tearing down his Democratic counterpart, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who won his party's Tuesday night primary in a surprising upset.

DeSantis said Gillum is "much too liberal" for Florida, and added that "the last thing we need to do is monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state."

The line was quickly interpreted by many to be racially charged. Gillum is the first African-American gubernatorial nominee in Florida. "The racist attack [DeSantis] just unleashed on [Gillum] is exactly why he's [Trump's] favorite congressman," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D). The Florida Democratic Party chairwoman called it "disgusting" that DeSantis "is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles."

A spokesperson for DeSantis told NBC News that the congressman "frequently" uses the phrase, and said it "had nothing to do with race or anything like that." Gillum's campaign took the high road, telling the Tallahassee Democrat that "DeSantis' comments speak for themselves." Watch the moment below, via Fox News. Summer Meza

Update 2:50 p.m. ET: Fox News host Sandra Smith addressed DeSantis' comment, saying on behalf of the network that "we do not condone this language." She also read a statement sent to Fox News by the DeSantis campaign, in which communications director Stephen Lawson said that the candidate "was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses. To characterize it as anything else is absurd." Read more at The Hill.

August 21, 2018

President Trump boarded a plane to West Virginia just minutes after Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, two men who were formerly among the president's closest aides, succumbed to their legal troubles Tuesday. Cohen, the president's former personal lawyer, entered a guilty plea on eight counts of financial crimes, including admitting to breaking campaign finance laws; Manafort, the former chairman of the Trump campaign, was found guilty on eight charges of tax and bank fraud by a Virginia jury.

Trump is in West Virginia for a campaign rally, and the nature of the news led a White House insider to wonder whether he might do something impulsive in front of his live audience, as he is wont to do. Specifically, reports BuzzFeed News' Tarini Parti, the unnamed source "close to the White House" is afraid that Trump might pardon his former campaign chairman on a whim — while television cameras capture the scene live:

Trump was confronted by a throng of reporters on the tarmac when he landed in West Virginia, and while he said he "[feels] badly for both" Cohen and Manafort, he spoke at length in defense of the latter, calling him a "good man." He conspicuously avoided discussing Cohen's decision to plead guilty, instead repeating his complaint that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation is a "witch hunt." Kimberly Alters

August 15, 2018
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The Center for Immigration Studies has been called a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and on Wednesday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Lee Francis Cissna spoke at the organization's annual Immigration Newsmakers event.

CIS is a think tank founded by white nationalist John Tanton, The Daily Beast reports, and it's known for publishing false information on immigration. The group wants to see not only an increase in the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants, but also a reduction in legal immigration. CIS policy director Jessica Vaughan asked Cissna about the Trump administration's hardline approach. "For whatever reason, our authority on enforcement has not been fully exercised in the past," Cissna said. "Well, now it will be. Everything we [do] at the agency should be guided by the law, not any other thing. That's our Bible."

Cissna is the son of a Peruvian immigrant, The Daily Beast reports, and became head of the federal agency in October. He shared why he decided to remove the words "We are a nation of immigrants" from the USCIS mission statement, saying he wanted to "redefine, clarify, what the purpose of the agency is. I looked at the old mission statement and I concluded it didn't really do that. So I started from scratch."

This isn't the first time a Trump administration official has appeared at the event: Before Cissna, Thomas Homan, former director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and James McHenry, director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, both attended. Catherine Garcia

July 30, 2018
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Federal Emergency Management Agency officials say that the agency's former personnel chief is being investigated following accusations of rampant sexual harassment, The Washington Post reports.

A female employee told FEMA Administrator William "Brock" Long she was harassed in 2015 by Corey Coleman, and Long forwarded her allegation to the general counsel's office, triggereing a seven-month internal investigation. During the inquiry it was discovered that Coleman hired men who were friends and fraternity brothers, the Post reports, and women he met at bars and while online-dating. Coleman allegedly promoted the women without going through the proper channels, and transferred others to different departments so his friends could try to initiate sexual relationships with them.

Coleman led the the agency's personnel department from 2011 to June 18, resigning right before his interview with investigators, FEMA officials told the Post. Long said the HR department is "toxic," and the investigation is "not going to stop" with Coleman. Due to Coleman's "unacceptable leadership style," many good employees left the agency, Long said, and there are now several unqualified people on staff that he hired. For more on the investigation and Coleman's relationships with women he hired, visit The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

July 17, 2018
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During a forum on gun control last week in Tucson, a Republican candidate for Arizona's Legislative District 2 stood up and said that he is proof of the importance of, in case of an attack, having a "good guy there with a gun."

Bobby Wilson said that when he was a teenager, he shot and killed a person who came into his room and wanted him dead, The Arizona Republic reports. "You can pass all the laws you want to in this world, and when you've got somebody out there that wants to harm somebody, they're going to do it if you don't stop them," he said.

The person he killed wasn't a burglar or a stranger, but rather his mother, Lavonne. Wilson was 18 and living in Hugo, Oklahoma, when the incident occurred. He said he woke up one morning "to find a rifle in my face," and he ended up having to dodge six bullets. He reached for the gun he kept under his bed, and used that to shoot his mom. The story doesn't end there, though. His younger sister, Judy, was also killed; Wilson said his mother swung her gun and accidentally hit her in the back of the head, killing the 17-year-old.

Wilson told The Arizona Republic there were glass containers in his room filled with gasoline, and when the bullets started to fly, several shattered. When he went to turn on the light, a spark landed on the ground and the house went up in flames. He said it wasn't until he became a lawyer years later that he remembered all this, because he had amnesia after the shooting.

Newspaper reports from the time say Wilson confessed to shooting his mother, and when his sister ran at him, he crushed her skull with the rifle. He placed their bodies on a bed, then set the house on fire. He was tried on homicide charges, but after a jury agreed he had amnesia, the judge halted the trial until he could remember what happened. After seven years, Wilson asked for the charges to be dismissed, and a judge agreed. Read more about this bizarre tale at The Arizona Republic. Catherine Garcia

July 16, 2018

The conservatives aren't alright. After President Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and held a joint press conference with the Russian leader Monday, conservatives took to Twitter to voice their displeasure.

First up to bat was Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who quickly condemned Trump's "bizarre" equivalence of the U.S. and Russia's roles in destroying their relationship. "When the president plays these moral equivalence games," Sasse said in a statement, "he gives Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs." Sasse's fellow Republican, Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), wrote that he thought Trump's performance was "shameful."

Still, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had perhaps the most savage take of them all:

Away from Capitol Hill, Republican strategist Mike Murphy blasted Trump's "damn near traitorous" remarks, calling the press conference "the most depressing, disgusting, toadying, weak, moronic, [and] lie-stuffed" appearance in the "long history of the American presidency." Former Republican congressman Joe Walsh called the event "the final straw," saying he would "never support Trump again." CNN host S.E. Cupp, meanwhile, rounded things off with a solid dose of sarcasm, which you can see below. Kathryn Krawczyk

July 13, 2018
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Scientists have only known about the Candida auris pathogen since 2009, but it's already rocking the medical world.

This deadly yeast is resistant to antibiotics. It's more infectious than Ebola. And it's popping up everywhere.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are a common story, Wired notes in an article detailing C. auris' rise. But this is a yeast — something so common and relatively harmless in humans that there isn't much research on how to treat them. There are hundreds of antibiotics out there to try on new bacteria, but only a handful of antifungal drugs — none of which treated C. auris when it first appeared as an ear infection in 2009.

Doctors only had one option to treat that initial infection: a set of toxic, IV-only antifungals that leave patients with intense fevers and chills, Wired says. And then two more C. auris infections occurred, in two separate countries, and both in patients' bloodstreams. This time, the infection didn't respond to the toxic treatment, and its 1-year-old and 74-year-old victims died.

Researchers quickly realized how devastating a C. auris outbreak could be. The CDC warned of its global rise in June 2016, but that didn't stop at least 340 cases from popping up in the U.S. as of May 30. All the American outbreaks stem from different sources: a South Asian strain in Oklahoma and Connecticut; a South American strain in Massachusetts and Florida. Up to 60 percent of those infected around the world have died, per Wired.

Without an effective treatment, doctors resort to old-school methods of isolating patients and disinfecting hospital rooms with bleach. C. auris' spread was only stopped in extremely hygienic facilities, per the CDC. It recommends washing your hands to avoid this superbug, which you can read more about at Wired. Kathryn Krawczyk

July 9, 2018
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President Trump's personal driver of 25 years is suing Trump for failing to pay him overtime, Bloomberg reports. Driver Noel Cintron says he was skimped some 3,300 hours of overtime pay in the past six years — the maximum he can sue for because of the statute of limitations.

It is hardly the first time Trump has been accused of failing to pay his employees what they are owed. In 2016, Trump faced at least 60 lawsuits from people accusing him of "failing to pay them for their work," USA Today found, as well as more than 200 mechanics liens filed by contractors and employees alleging Trump owed them money. At the time, his companies also faced 24 citations since 2005 for violating the Fair Labor Standards act by "failing to pay overtime or minimum wage."

Trump's driver was expected to start work at 7 a.m. and end whenever the Trump family or their business associates no longer needed him, resulting in the occasional 55-hour work week. Cintron was paid a fixed salary of $75,000 starting in 2010, although that raise from $68,000 came with his health insurance being axed. He is seeking some $200,000 in damages.

Cintron, 59, is a registered Republican who has worked for the Trump Organization in total for over 30 years. He stopped working as Trump's driver when Trump became president and the Secret Service took over. Jeva Lange

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