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March 20, 2017
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When NATO foreign ministers meet in Brussels April 5-6, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson won't be there, U.S. officials told Reuters on Monday.

Instead, Tillerson plans to stay in the United States to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is expected to arrive April 6. Tillerson will travel later in the month to a country he is familiar with — Russia. The former ExxonMobil CEO has close ties with Moscow, having managed the company's Russia account and received the Order of Friendship from Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2013. "It feeds the narrative that somehow the Trump administration is playing footsy with Russia," one former U.S. official told Reuters. "You don't want to do your early business with the world's great autocrats. You want to start with the great democracies, and NATO is the security instrument of the transatlantic group of great democracies."

A spokesman for the State Department would not comment on Tillerson's travel plans. The news came out hours after FBI Director James Comey confirmed the bureau is investigating ties between the Russian government and Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Catherine Garcia

3:14 a.m. ET

John Oliver is a noted skeptic of royal weddings and the British monarchy — he suggested in February that Meghan Markle might want to consider calling off her wedding to Prince Harry, for her own sanity. But of course the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex did indeed get married on Saturday — "as you probably knew if you were anywhere within earshot of CBS's Gayle King," Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. He had video in case you weren't within earshot.

"Perhaps the most notable part of the service was Bishop Michael Curry, who delivered an impassioned ode to love — which led to some pretty awkward reaction shots," Oliver said, focusing on the monarch herself. "Oh, that is the wrong room there, buddy. Because believe me, those are some of the most repressed people on earth. Talking to the queen about love is like talking to her about the transformative power of the Taco Bell $5 Chalupa Cravings Box." (And there goes his knighthood.)

Last Week Tonight also had some unexpressed thoughts on all the American news anchors affecting British accents for the wedding, and you can watch (and likely cringe) below. Peter Weber

2:44 a.m. ET
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On Sunday, Rudy Giuliani spoke to several news organizations to make the case that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had told him and other members of President Trump's legal team that he hopes to finish his report on whether Trump obstructed justice by Sept. 1. But that date is contingent upon a few things, most notably Trump agreeing to sit down for an interview with Mueller and his investigators. Mueller's office declined to comment.

"We said to them, 'If we're going to be interviewed in July, how much time until the report gets issued?'" Giuliani told The Associated Press on Sunday, "They said September, which is good for everyone, because no one wants this to drag into the midterms." He pointed to former FBI Director James Comey upending the 2016 election at Hillary Clinton's expense as a cautionary tale. Giuliani told AP the September report "would be the culmination of the investigation into the president." But he told The Wall Street Journal that the Sept. 1 end point had been conveyed "as a possibility" and said "we hope" the investigation ends at that point. In an interview with The Washington Post, Giuliani described Sept. 1 as "an incentive" to "do the interview."

In any case, The New York Times notes, "wrapping up the obstruction case would not signal the end of Mr. Mueller's work. That is one piece of his broader inquiry, a counterintelligence investigation into Russia's campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump associates coordinated with it. Counterintelligence investigations are used to gather information quietly about the activities of foreign powers and their agents — sometimes for years — and can result in criminal charges." Peter Weber

2:01 a.m. ET

On Sunday afternoon, President Trump signaled he will follow through with his threat to directly interfere in the Justice Department's investigations of his campaign and himself.

After Trump's tweet, which Jonathan Swan at Axios likened to "rolling a grenade into the Department of Justice," the Justice Department said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had asked Inspector General Michael Horowitz to expand an ongoing review to "include determining whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election," and any "evidence of potential criminal conduct" would be referred to "the appropriate U.S. Attorney."

Trump spent much of the weekend tweeting angrily about the investigation, now headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, following reports Friday night that a covert FBI and CIA informant who served in the Reagan, Ford, and Nixon administrations had approached three Trump campaign aides in 2016 after the FBI became concerned they might be acting as Russian agents.

Analysts said Rosenstein is attempting to defuse a crisis some Trump allies say the president is creating to force Rosenstein to quit. Trump has the constitutional right to do this, but "I can't think of a prior example of a sitting president ordering the Justice Department to conduct an investigation like this one," University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck tells The New York Times. "That's little more than a transparent effort to undermine an ongoing investigation," and if Trump follow through on his threat, "it seems to me that the recipients of such an order should resign." Peter Weber

May 20, 2018
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Venezuela's electoral council declared President Nicolas Maduro the winner Sunday night of a presidential election boycotted by many opponents and marred by claims of irregularities. With 93 percent of precincts reporting, Maduro had 68 percent of the vote versus 21 percent for the main opposition candidate allowed to run, Henri Falcon. Turnout was just over 46 percent, despite extended polling hours, electoral authorities said; The Associated Press estimated that about 40 percent of voters participated, while the opposition put the figure at closer to 30 percent. The U.S. said earlier Sunday that it won't accept the results of the election.

Falcon, a former governor who defected from Maduro's Socialist Party in 2010, blamed the opposition boycott for his low numbers but also rejected the results, saying Maduro's victory "without any doubt lacks legitimacy and we categorically refuse to recognize this process." He specifically pointed to the 13,000 pro-government "red spots" set up near voting stations where poor Venezuelans were encouraged to scan their "fatherland cards" — which entitle them to government benefits — for a chance to to win a "prize." A third candidate, evangelical pastor Javier Bertucci, also slammed voting irregularities and, like Falcon and the opposition coalition, urged a new election.

Maduro declared victory, embarking on a second six-year term. Oil-rich Venezuela is five years into a brutal recession with annual inflation of 19,000 percent and rampant shortages of food and medicine. Maduro has stacked the Supreme Court and replaced the opposition-controlled National Assembly with a second legislature made up of supporters. That National Constituent Assembly had pushed up the presidential election, originally scheduled for December. The two most popular opposition candidates were barred from running and other potential candidates fled Venezuela. Peter Weber

May 20, 2018
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The United States will not recognize the results of Venezuela's presidential election, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan announced Sunday.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is expected to secure another six-year term as his country goes to the polls despite the dire conditions Venezuelans face under his leadership. Venezuela has been in a state of crisis for several years, suffering grave shortages of food, medicine, and other necessities as well as hyperinflation.

Some of Maduro's critics are boycotting the election, which they say will be rigged regardless of participation, in an attempt to delegitimize Maduro's win. The two most popular opposition candidates have been banned from running by the Maduro government.

Sullivan indicated the U.S. is also considering oil sanctions on Venezuela and will broach the topic at Monday's G20 meeting in Buenos Aires. "We need to make sure we adhere to our goal which is to target corrupt regime officials and not the people of Venezuela," he said. "We don't want to damage the country in a way that makes it difficult to repair after democracy is restored." Bonnie Kristian

May 20, 2018
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A North Korean military officer and a civilian defected from their country early Saturday morning. They were found in the Yellow Sea, the ocean area between the Korean Peninsula and mainland China, close to the border between North and South Korea. The two North Koreans reportedly expressed a desire to defect and were taken to South Korea.

This is the first military defection from North Korea in a decade, and it comes shortly before the planned talks between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Bonnie Kristian

May 20, 2018
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In August of 2016, President Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., met in Trump Tower with an emissary of two Saudi princes offering his father help in winning the presidential election, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Per the Times report, the meeting was arranged by Erik Prince, founder of the private military firm formerly known as Blackwater and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Also present was an Israeli social media specialist who wanted to work for the campaign.

Trump Jr. said through a representative the meeting happened, but he rejected the offers. The Times story says otherwise, citing unnamed sources to report "Trump Jr. responded approvingly," and the emissary, George Nader, "was quickly embraced as a close ally by Trump campaign advisers — meeting frequently with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump's son-in-law, and Michael T. Flynn, who became the president's first national security adviser." The social media specialist, Joel Zamel, was later paid a "large sum of money" by Nader, though the reason for the payment is disputed.

This rendezvous took place two months after Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin who offered opposition research on Hillary Clinton. Bonnie Kristian

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