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May 19, 2017
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The ongoing probe into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign has reportedly identified a current White House official as "a significant person of interest," The Washington Post reports. The individual was described by people familiar with the matter as being "someone close to the president," although the sources declined to name names.

So far, President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, have been the public centers of the investigation. Neither is a part of the current administration. "Current administration officials who have acknowledged contacts with Russian officials include Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as Cabinet members Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson," the Post writes.

Kushner, for one, was a "prominent voice advocating Comey's firing," CBS writes. On Friday, The New York Times reported that Trump told Russian officials he had fired Comey in order to ease the pressure of the ongoing probe.

The White House also has acknowledged that Kushner met with [Sergey] Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., in late November. Kushner also has acknowledged that he met with the head of a Russian development bank, Vnesheconombank, which has been under U.S. sanctions since July 2014. The president's son-in-law initially omitted contacts with foreign leaders from a national security questionnaire, though his lawyer has said publicly he submitted the form prematurely and informed the FBI soon after he would provide an update.

Vnesheconombank handles development for the state, and in early 2015, a man purporting to be one of its New York-based employees was arrested and accused of being an unregistered spy. [The Washington Post]

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told the Post that "as the president has stated before, a thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity."

The Washington Post adds that "people familiar with the matter said investigators on the case are more focused on Russian influence operations and possible financial crimes" and that "the probe has sharpened into something more fraught for the White House, the FBI, and the Justice Department — particularly because of the public steps investigators know they now need to take." Read the full scoop at The Washington Post. Jeva Lange

2:22 a.m. ET

Former President Barack Obama, stumping for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam in Richmond on Thursday evening, alluded to August's violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, 70 miles up I-64. That rally was ostensibly organized to protest the removal of a Confederate statue.

"We've got folks who are deliberately trying to make folks angry" for political gain, Obama said. "We shouldn't use the most painful parts of our history just to score political points. ... We don't rise up by repeating the past, we rise up by learning form the past." He then mentioned that he is "an eighth or ninth or tenth or something cousin removed from Jefferson Davis," the head of the Confederacy. "Think about that." And lest you think he was bragging about his ancestry, Obama had a parting shot: "I'll bet he's spinning in his grave."

On Tuesday, the PTA president of a predominantly black public school in Jackson, Mississippi, said that the school stakeholders had voted to change the name, Davis Magnet International Baccalaureate Elementary, after Jefferson Davis, to Obama Magnet IB Elementary. "Jefferson Davis, although infamous in his own right, would probably not be too happy about a diverse school promoting the education of the very individuals he fought to keep enslaved being named after him," the PTA president, Janelle Jefferson, told the Jackson School Board. The change will take effect next school year. Peter Weber

2:19 a.m. ET
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Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) is defending herself against remarks made Thursday by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, saying she never stood up during the dedication of an FBI building and claimed to have secured funding for the project.

"He shouldn't be able to just say that, that is terrible," she told the Miami Herald. "This has become totally personal." On Tuesday, Wilson said Trump made "insensitive" comments to the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, one of four soldier killed in Niger earlier this month. She knew Johnson through her mentoring program, and was with the Johnson family when Trump called. Johnson's family has backed up Wilson's version of events, but Kelly, in a press conference Thursday to try to clarify Trump's statements, also went after Wilson, calling her an "empty barrel."

Kelly claimed that during an April 2015 ceremony dedicating an FBI building in Florida, Wilson stood up and "talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building" and said she "just called up President Obama, and on that phone call, he gave the money, the $20 million, to build the building, and she sat down." Wilson told the Miami Herald this is patently false, seeing as how the funding was secured before she joined Congress. She did sponsor legislation, signed three days before the ceremony, to name the building after Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove, two FBI agents killed in 1986. During the ceremony, Wilson was praised by then-FBI Director James Comey, who in his remarks said "Rep. Wilson truly did the impossible, and we are eternally grateful." Catherine Garcia

1:27 a.m. ET
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In order to serve his fellow veterans, Josue Guerrero-Urbine would travel up to 200 miles a day by bus, boarding before the sun was up and coming home long after it set. Now that he's been surprised with a new car, he'll be able to reach even more people, a whole lot faster.

Guerrero-Uribe was in the Marine Corps for eight years, and when he came home from a tour in Iraq, he was depressed and didn't want to talk to anyone. He became involved with a nonprofit called The Mission Continues, which assists veterans who are having a hard time as they transition out of the service, and it made such a difference in his life that he became part of their outreach. "The Mission Continues gave me an option and opportunity to get out of my negative self and put my energy onto more positive things that help my community," he told NBC Los Angeles.

On Wednesday, Guerrero-Uribe was standing in a Costa Mesa, California, parking lot when a car drove up, and to his shock, he was handed the keys. Having reliable transportation changes everything for Guerrero-Uribe, and his colleague Allison Bailey said it's the perfect gift for someone always willing to help others. "You know that if you ever pick up the phone and ask for anything, you know he's going to do it and he's going to do it with passion and heart," she told NBC Los Angeles. Catherine Garcia

1:09 a.m. ET

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) opened his speech at the 72nd annual Al Smith Dinner in New York City on Thursday night with a joke about President Trump. "Please, enough with the applause," he said. "You sound like the Cabinet when Donald Trump walks into the room." He kept going from there.

The white-tie dinner, a fundraiser for the Alfred E. Smith Foundation, hosted by the Catholic archbishop of New York, is typically a bipartisan political roast, and the world lost out on the Democratic jokes from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), who had to cancel his appearance to vote against the Senate GOP budget resolution.

Trump — whose speech at the 2016 Al Smith Dinner was uncomfortably sharp-elbowed and defensive, as Ryan alluded to in one of his jokes — wasn't the only target for Ryan and his joke writers. Ryan also poked fun at Hillary Clinton ("I'm from Wisconsin. It's a great state to visit in the fall. Looking back, someone should have told Hillary"), Stephen Bannon ("Steve Bannon said I was born in a petri dish at the Heritage Foundation. This is amazing — no one knew Steve believed in science"), himself ("Every afternoon, former Speaker John Boehner calls me up. Not to give advice. Just to laugh"), and his methods for surviving the Trump presidency ("Every morning, I wake up in my office and scroll Twitter to see which tweets I will have to pretend that I didn't see later"). You can read more of his one-liners at NBC News. Peter Weber

12:31 a.m. ET
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Former President Barack Obama hit the campaign trail on Thursday for Democrats running for governor in New Jersey and Virginia, and told voters to reject the "old politics of division" that date back centuries. "It's the 21st century," he said, "not the 19th century. Come on!"

This was his first time out stumping since he left the White House, and Obama warned of people who "demonize" those who don't agree with them in order to "get the base all riled up because it provides a short-term tactical advantage." While speaking in Virginia on behalf of Ralph Northam, Obama was focused on his opponent, Republican Ed Gillespie, but his comments could also apply to Trump. "If you have to win a campaign by dividing people, you're not going to be able to govern," he said, and it's especially difficult to "unite them later if that's how you start."

In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy is doing well in the polls, but Obama, with a nod to 2016, told a crowd in Newark, "You can't take this election or any election for granted — I don't know if you all noticed that. You've got to run through the tape." Thousands waited in line in New Jersey and Virginia to attend the rallies, and Obama was interrupted at one point during the Northam event with chants of "Four more years!" He quipped, "I refer you both to the Constitution, as well as to Michelle Obama, to explain why that won't happen." Catherine Garcia

12:31 a.m. ET

Somehow President Trump has turned a question about four U.S. soldiers dying in Niger into a weeklong blowup about his respect for fallen service members and his predecessors, Trevor Noah marveled on Thursday's Daily Show. By the sound of it, families who lost a child or spouse in combat "may start out hoping that the president would reach out, and they end up wishing that they had let his calls go to voicemail," he said, recapping the saga involving Trump's call to the family of Army Sgt. La David Johnson.

"Now look, in Trump's defense — and I know people don't like hearing that phrase — Donald Trump is the worst at words," Noah said. "He was probably trying to convey a heartfelt message but instead the people interpreted it as him disrespecting the troops. That's what they said: He was trying something, and then people are now like, 'Donald Trump, you disrespected the troops!' I bet you wherever Colin Kaepernick is right now, he's probably like, 'Well, ain't that a bitch.'"

"Trump can't be faulted for not being articulate, but he can be blamed for making an unnecessary problem worse," Noah said. He acted out Trump's surly refusal to own his presumed verbal misfires and the stern response from a parental electorate, ending with a joke about accidents. Watch below. Peter Weber

October 19, 2017
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The Los Angeles Dodgers are headed to the World Series after defeating the Chicago Cubs 11-1 on Thursday night at Wrigley Field, winning the National League Championship Series in a Game 5 blowout.

It was a big night for Dodgers slugger Enrique Hernandez, who hit three home runs and set an NLCS record for most RBIs in a game, the Los Angeles Times reports. This is the Dodgers' first pennant win since 1988, and they will face off against either the Houston Astros or New York Yankees in the first game of the World Series next Tuesday in Los Angeles. Catherine Garcia

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