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September 14, 2018

It's not quite evidence of White Walkers or dragons, but a recent discovery has archaeologists thinking Game of Thrones nonetheless.

A 1,500-year-old limestone altar, discovered this week at a temple in Guatemala, sheds light on the battle between rival dynasties over the area, Phys.org reports. Tomas Barrientos, who led the excavation, told Phys.org that the stone is basically the "historical Mayan version of Game of Thrones" because of what it depicts: King Chak Took Ich'aak, who brought neighboring cities under the control of the Serpent Kingdom with his complex political machinations, and additionally fended off the rival Tikals by allying with small cities. There was even a key wedding involved in this consolidation of power, just like the infamous Red Wedding.

The altar also contains hieroglyphics, and researchers say the discovery "pieces together the puzzle" about this ancient conflict and reveals more about the dynasty's political strategy. The Serpent Kingdom unfortunately ended up being defeated by their Tikal rivals hundreds of years later — so ahead of Game of Thrones' final season, Cersei Lannister fans can only hope that the comparisons only extend so far. Brendan Morrow

1:11a.m.

He may be a professional rapper, but that doesn't make Kanye West a good communicator, his wife, Kim Kardashian, said Wednesday.

It may seem like many millenniums have passed since that fateful day when West, donning a red Make America Great Again hat, visited the Oval Office and briefly rendered President Trump speechless. It was only a month ago, though, and Kardashian says in the time since, she's "educated" her husband on Trump's policies. "I know it's very confusing because, when you see someone wearing a red hat, you think they support that," she added. "But he's just fighting for free thought. And for the freedom to like a person, even if it's not the popular decision."

West, she said, is "not very political, actually," he "just happens to like Donald Trump's personality, but doesn't know about the politics." When they're at home, he'll say things that are "basically the opposite" of public statements he's made, which is why Kardashian thinks he's "very misunderstood and the worst communicator." Sure, she could have "corrected him" on social media, but Kardashian believes "people have their own journeys" they need to take. West did change his tune after the meeting, saying he'd been used to "spread messages I don't believe in." Catherine Garcia

12:49a.m.

"That blue wave keeps crashing on the beach — in the last 24 hours, two tight House races have been called for Democrats, one in California, one in New Jersey," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. His audience appeared to appreciate those wins. "You know who's not enjoying last Tuesday's election? The guy who lost, Donald Trump," Colbert said. President Trump has reportedly "retreated into a cocoon of bitterness and resentment," he added. "Yes, Trump is ending his larval stage, and in just a few weeks he will emerge as a hideous, race-baiting butterfly."

The White House is so mired in Trump's anger, his staff has apparently been avoiding him. "They're all holed up in the one place he will never go: a salad bar," Colbert joked.

"You can tell the midterm results were way worse for Republicans than they initially let on from the way they're behaving," Seth Meyers said on Late Night. "And the more results we get from last week's midterm elections, the clearer it is that this was in fact a massive blue wave." He showed Trump declaring victory right after the elections, rubbing it in by highlighting some big races Trump bet big on and lost.

"As the results get worse for Republicans, they're getting more desperate, and they seem to be focusing their desperation on Florida," Meyers said. "Republicans have been spreading lies about nonexistent voter fraud without any evidence, and you'll never guess who they're blaming for that nonexistent voter fraud." (It's Hillary Clinton. Meyers laughed.) "So why, why is Trump freaking out?" he asked. Special Counsel Robert Mueller. "For two years, Trump has acted like a guy who's afraid the walls are closing in, and that was when Republicans were in charge of everything. Now Democrats control the House and Mueller can make news again." Watch below. Peter Weber

November 14, 2018

After being arrested Wednesday on suspicion of domestic violence, lawyer Michael Avenatti called the allegations "completely bogus."

Avenatti, who represents adult film star Stormy Daniels, has been a cable news mainstay for the last year. After being arrested in West Los Angeles, Avenatti was booked into jail and released on a $50,000 bond. In a statement, Avenatti thanked Los Angeles Police Department officers for "their professionalism," and denied the "completely bogus" allegations. "I have never been physically abusive in my life nor was I last night," he said. "Any accusations to the contrary are fabricated and meant to do harm to my reputation. I look forward to being fully exonerated."

Avenatti also spoke to reporters, saying he's "not going to be intimidated from stopping what I am doing. I am a father to two beautiful, smart daughters. I would never disrespect them by touching a woman inappropriately or striking a woman." When the news first broke about his arrest, TMZ reported that a law enforcement official said Avenatti's estranged wife, Lisa Storie-Avenatti, filed the report on Tuesday night. Storie-Avenatti's lawyer released a statement saying she was not the woman involved, and "states that there has never been domestic violence in her relationship with Michael and that she has never known Michael to be physically violent toward anyone." Catherine Garcia

November 14, 2018

"After eight years of impotence, the House Democrats are back in command," Trevor Noah said on Wednesday's Daily Show. "And it turns out that they won the election so hard last week, that they're still picking up seats. Every day we learn of a new seat that the Democrats have won. Basically the elections have turned from a one-day event into the credits of a Marvel movie — it just never ends."

"So now that the Democrats are back in control of the House," bolstered by a freshman class so diverse "it looks like a stock photo in a college brochure," they're "making some big plans for next year," Noah said. "The Democrats will have the power to investigate the Trump administration, and they're definitely planning to use that power," even coining the new phrase "subpoena cannon." "Poor Trump," he said. "For the next two years, he's gonna be in subpoena hell. There's gonna be subpoenas popping out at him from everywhere."

And the Democrats say they plan to investigate everything, though Trevor said he hoped "the plan isn't just to run around investigating all of Trump's farts. Because although there are many issues worth investigating, things like Space Force don't rise to that level. And Democrats need to be strategic about what they investigate, because Republicans have already come up with a response" — turning "government oversight" into "presidential harassment." Noah laughed at the idea that "the most powerful man in the world be the victim," then pretended to get serious.

"We joke around, but presidential harassment is a serious issue in America," Noah deadpanned. "Which is why, before the Democrats take power, they're going to have to watch this video." Michael Kosta narrates, and you can watch it below. Peter Weber

November 14, 2018

The Camp Fire in Northern California's Butte County, the deadliest blaze in state history, has killed at least 56 people, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials said on Wednesday evening.

The death toll is expected to grow even higher, as dozens of people remain missing and crews with cadaver dogs are looking in the rubble of destroyed homes for remains. The fire obliterated the town of Paradise, where most of the victims lived. Officials said 10,300 structures have burned and more than 138,000 acres were scorched. As of Wednesday night, the fire is 35 percent contained. The cause of the fire is under investigation, but about two dozen people who lost their homes have sued Pacific Gas & Electric Co., claiming the utility did not maintain or properly inspect power lines, and their negligence led to the fire.

In Southern California, the Woolsey Fire continues to burn in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, but the Santa Ana winds are not as strong as they were, which has helped firefighters. The cause of that fire, which has destroyed 482 structures, remains under investigation. About 98,362 acres — roughly the size of Denver — have burned, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said. Despite a flare-up early in the morning, the fire is 52 percent contained. The death toll from the Woolsey Fire now stands at three. Catherine Garcia

November 14, 2018

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators are looking into whether Republican operative Roger Stone, one of President Trump's longtime advisers, attempted to intimidate a witness, people who have spoken with Mueller's team told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

Stone has said radio host Randy Credico was his link to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Credico, who appeared before Mueller's grand jury in September, denies this. Before the 2016 presidential election, WikiLeaks released emails stolen from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta. Mueller's probe is trying to determine if Stone was in contact with WikiLeaks and knew this was going to happen ahead of time. During the campaign, Stone said multiple times the emails were coming, but now says he was exaggerating and knew things because of Credico.

Witnesses told the Journal they were asked by the Mueller team about allegedly threatening messages Stone sent to Credico, telling him he was going to "sue the f—k" out of him and calling him a "loser a liar and a rat." One of the witnesses, businessman Bill Samuels, told the Journal Credico was rattled by the messages, and almost had a nervous breakdown. Credico, who interviewed Assange in the summer of 2016, said he told some people he was a "back channel" to Assange at the urging of Stone, and now, his former friend his having his associates "slime" him. Read more about the bad blood between Stone and Credico and the questions Mueller asked witnesses about them at The Wall Street Journal. Catherine Garcia

November 14, 2018

One day after first lady Melania Trump's office called for her to get the boot, Mira Ricardel is no longer the deputy national security adviser.

"Mira Ricardel will continue to support the president as she departs the White House to transition to a new role within the administration," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Wednesday evening. "The president is grateful for Ms. Ricardel's continued service to the American people and her steadfast pursuit of his national security priorities."

On Tuesday, the first lady's communications director, Stephanie Grisham, released a statement blasting Ricardel, saying she "no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House." Sanders, White House chief of staff John Kelly, and other administration officials were all shocked by the statement, CNN reports.

A person familiar with the situation said during Melania Trump's trip to Africa in October, Ricardel fought with her staff over several things, including who would sit where on the plane. Ricardel was a key ally of National Security Adviser John Bolton, but often clashed with Kelly and his deputy, Zach Fuentes, as well as Defense Secretary James Mattis. CNN reports that Kelly and Fuentes believe Ricardel leaked negative stories about them, and she angered Mattis by blocking some of his choices to fill Pentagon positions, because they were former Obama administration officials. Catherine Garcia

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