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November 19, 2017

White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short on Sunday sidestepped no fewer than 13 questions from ABC News host George Stephanopoulos as to whether President Trump wants embattled Alabama candidate Roy Moore to win a seat in the Senate given credible allegations of his sexual misconduct toward teenage girls as young as 14. Here's a small sample of the merry-go-round interview:

Stephanopoulos: So, you're not willing to make a yes or no judgment on whether the president believes the women?

Short: I think I have answered your question three times now.

Stephanopoulos: No. I think what you have said is you have questions and concerns about the allegations.

Short: We do. We do have serious questions about the allegations. And the president has raised those and it's one of the reasons why he has not gone down to campaign for Roy Moore.

Stephanopoulos: So, he promised after the primary to back Roy Moore. Is he still backing Roy Moore?

Short: I don't think you have seen him go down there and campaign for him. I don't think you have seen him issue an endorsement. You have not seen him issue robocalls. I think he thinks at this point it is best for the people of Alabama to make the decision for their state.

Stephanopoulos: So he no longer backs Roy Moore?

Short: I think he thinks it is best for the people of Alabama to make the decision. [ABC]

After persistently pressing Short to give a yes or no answer, Stephanopoulos finally moved on to a simpler subject, tax reform. Watch the exchange below, or count all 13 questions in the full transcript here. Bonnie Kristian

5:20 p.m. ET
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

"Sunday Morning" has made it to Super Bowl Sunday.

The halftime show at Super Bowl LIII will be headlined by dad-friendly rock band Maroon 5, sources told Variety on Wednesday.

The pop group recently collaborated with rappers Cardi B and Kendrick Lamar, leading to predictions that they will join Maroon 5 on stage when they perform in Atlanta in February 2019. Besides "Sunday Morning," Maroon 5 could perform more recent hits like "Sugar," "Moves like Jagger," and "Animals."

The NFL has not confirmed that Maroon 5 was selected for the 53rd Super Bowl, but if the group performs, they would join the ranks of Prince, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, and Paul McCartney, all of whom have performed Super Bowl halftime shows. Read more at Variety. Summer Meza

4:31 p.m. ET
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After spending 27 years in prison on a murky murder charge, Valentino Dixon has been declared innocent thanks to his colored pencils and a golf magazine.

Dixon was sentenced to 39 years to life in prison for the 1991 murder of Torriano Jackson, and served most of the sentence in the Attica Correctional Facility. He passed the time sketching detailed landscapes of golf courses, and eventually caught the eye of Golf Digest. In 2012, Dixon shared his story with the magazine: his shaky conviction, his maintained innocence, and how he longed to set foot on the courses he drew.

Despite a wave of media attention following the profile, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo still puttered past a pardon for Dixon, Golf Digest details. But then, two attorneys stepped in and built a pro bono case around the original magazine article — though "it's embarrassing for the legal system that for a long time the best presentation of the investigation was from a golf magazine," one of the defenders told Golf Digest.

That defense, eventually corroborated with a wrongful convictions report, resulted in Dixon becoming a free man. The man who admitted responsibility for Jackson's killing on the day he was shot — and nearly every day since — pleaded guilty. And Dixon, with his "family and support team" in tow, went to the park.

Read more about Dixon's swing to freedom at Golf Digest. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:26 p.m. ET
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Ryan Coogler, who earlier this year directed the wildly successful superhero film Black Panther, has just lined up a highly unexpected next project.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, Coogler is now set to produce Space Jam 2, the sequel to Warner Bros.' beloved 1996 movie in which Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes characters unite to play a basketball game against evil aliens. This time, LeBron James will star in the lead role, having been attached to the project since 2016. Previously, Star Trek Beyond's Justin Lin was going to direct, but now, Random Acts of Flyness creator Terrence Nance will fill that role.

James told The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday that he "loved [Coogler's] vision" for Black Panther, adding that he wants to inspire people with the Space Jam sequel the way Coogler did with that film. The Space Jam sequel does not yet have a release date or an official title, but it's set to begin production in 2019. James' production company, SpringHill Entertainment, teased the project on Instagram with a photo of a locker room populated by James and Bugs Bunny, and ComicBook.com writer Brandon Davis speculates the numbers seen in the picture, 1-23-20-21, might suggest the release date is Jan. 23, 2021. Read more about the Space Jam sequel at The Hollywood Reporter. Brendan Morrow

3:55 p.m. ET
ROBIN UTRECHT/AFP/Getty Images

A recent essay in the New York Review of Books was so controversial that it has resulted in the editor's departure before even hitting newsstands.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Ian Buruma has left as editor of the Review of Books. This comes days after the erudite magazine published a piece by former radio host Jian Ghomeshi, who has been accused of sexual assault by over 20 women. He was acquitted of five charges in 2016, per The Guardian. In a piece titled "Reflections from a Hashtag," Ghomeshi talks about the #MeToo movement and the experience of living as an outcast after facing sexual misconduct allegations.

The essay is to appear in the magazine's Oct. 11 edition, but it was published online on Sept. 14. A backlash swiftly followed, with critics arguing that Ghomeshi should not have been given a platform to paint himself as a victim and that the magazine allowed him to mischaracterize the allegations against him. Buruma defended the decision to publish the article in an interview with Slate last week, arguing that it wasn't "a defense of what he may have done" but was an "angle on an issue that is clearly very important." While noting that Ghomeshi was acquitted, Buruma also argued, "The exact nature of his behavior — how much consent was involved — I have no idea, nor is it really my concern."

It's not clear at this time whether Buruma was fired or resigned. Read more at The New York Times. Brendan Morrow

3:17 p.m. ET
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In clinical trials for the majority of FDA-approved cancer drugs, fewer than 5 percent of the patients were black, Stat News and ProPublica reported Wednesday.

Out of the 31 cancer drugs approved since 2015, 24 of them have had single-digit proportions of black patients during trials, the analysis found. In one trial for a multiple myeloma treatment, just 1.8 percent of participants were black, even though black Americans are twice as likely as white Americans to be diagnosed with the blood cancer and there may be "meaningful differences" in how the condition affects the two races.

The Food and Drug Administration has not established any rules that would require drug makers to test treatments on minority patients, and many manufacturers don't diversify their trials voluntarily, reports Stat News.

Drug companies often say it is challenging to enroll minorities, reports ProPublica. The clinical trials with the highest black participation, up to 12 percent, were from Johnson & Johnson, a company that uses an internal group to improve trial diversity. Advocates have called on the FDA to implement similar standards across the industry, but the agency has demurred.

Minorities are also often not properly incentivized or are not able to participate: Financial barriers, logistical challenges, and distrust of the medical community are all factors that sometimes discourage minorities from joining trials, even though they could be "life-extending opportunities," said Dr. Kashif Ali, research head at Maryland Oncology Hematology. Read more at Stat News. Summer Meza

2:30 p.m. ET

President Trump has a true appreciation for the power of nature. Especially when it washes a boat onto someone's yard.

Trump visited North Carolina on Wednesday to survey damage in the few areas where Hurricane Florence's floodwaters have subsided. One homeowner was particularly concerned that his insurance company wouldn't pay for the flooding damage, but Trump was more excited that the man "got a nice boat out of the deal," The New York Times' Mark Landler reports.

After meeting a man who'd named his dog after the president, Trump noticed a yacht had trucked through another man's deck. "I think it's incredible what we're seeing," Trump said after confirming the boat was not the homeowner's. "The boat just came here." And while Trump promised to "find out the name of the insurance company" that snubbed the man, he also suggested the free boat could make up for it. "What's the law?" the president asked. "Maybe it just becomes theirs."

Besides being awestruck by a mystery boat, Trump also made sure to confirm North Carolina's Lake Norman was doing okay, Landler reports. Trump "love(s) that area," he told a state official, but he "can't tell you why." Survey says it's because there's a Trump National Golf Club on the shore. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:26 p.m. ET
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Two new polls suggest that support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is plummeting, and it probably hasn't hit rock bottom yet.

On Wednesday, Reuters published the results of a poll conducted from Sept. 11 to Sept. 17, largely before sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh came to dominate the news. The New Yorker only reported on Sept. 14, three days into the survey, that an anonymous woman was accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. The woman came forward publicly on Sept. 16, the day before the poll wrapped up, to allege Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were both in high school. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

Yet even still, 36 percent of those surveyed by Reuters said they do not want Kavanaugh to be confirmed, with just 31 percent supporting his confirmation. These numbers are even lower than they have been in most polls over the past few weeks, with Reuters reporting that the percent who disapprove has climbed six points since last month. Additionally, only 64 percent of Republicans said they support Kavanaugh's confirmation. In a poll released by CNN last week, 74 percent of Republicans wanted the judge to be confirmed.

Meanwhile, YouGov also released a new poll on Wednesday with a similar result: Thirty-two percent of respondents said they approve of Kavanaugh's confirmation. But in that same poll, only 26 percent of those surveyed said the Kavanaugh sexual assault allegations are credible, while a plurality said they haven't heard enough to say for sure.

The YouGov poll was conducted from Sep. 17 - 18 and reached 1,000 Americans online. The margin of error is ± 3.9 percentage points. Reuters' poll was similarly conducted online, but it reached about 2,000 adults and the credibility interval is ± 2 percentage points.

Read the full results at HuffPost and Reuters. Brendan Morrow

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