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August 29, 2014

New data from the Pew Research Center indicates that self-identified Democrats are more concerned about global climate change than the threat posed by ISIS, the brutal terrorist army that has swept through much of Iraq and Syria in recent months. While 68 percent of Democrats say they view climate change as a "major threat" to the United States, 65 percent feel the same way about ISIS.

For Republicans, the numbers are switched and the gap vastly larger: 78 percent are worried about ISIS, and only a quarter are bothered by the prospect of global climate change.

The same poll found an across-the-board preference for ranking hazards ranging from infectious disease to North Korean nuclear capabilities as "major threats" rather than "minor threats." This was coupled with a rising cross-partisan desire to see the U.S. more involved internationally, suggesting that a climate of fear may be increasing desire for an interventionist foreign policy. Bonnie Kristian

4:41 p.m. ET
MICHELE TANTUSSI/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump on Thursday attended a meeting with European Union leaders in Brussels, where he apparently decided to air his grievances over Germany's trade surplus with the U.S. "The Germans are evil, very evil," Trump reportedly complained in the meeting, attendees told German newspaper Der Spiegel. "Look at the millions of cars they sell in the U.S. We'll stop that."

Der Spiegel reported that EU Commission leader Jean-Claude Juncker disagreed with Trump, defending the merits of free trade for the global economy. New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman notes that depending on the translation, Trump may have been calling the Germans merely "very bad" and not "very evil."

European Council President Donald Tusk acknowledged earlier Thursday that there had been some notable differences of opinion between EU leadership and the U.S. government, including on matters of climate politics, trade, and most openly, Russian relations. "I am not 100 percent sure that we can say today ... that we have a common position, common opinion, about Russia," Tusk said.

Just getting Trump to actually attend the meeting with the EU was considered a success, however. Trump did not extend an invitation for EU leaders to visit the White House. Shivani Ishwar

3:25 p.m. ET

President Trump famously loves bullet points, graphs, and maps, so naturally when German Chancellor Angela Merkel came to warn Trump about his new buddy, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in March, she came armed, Politico reports:

Merkel brought a 1980s map of the former Soviet Union and noted the way its borders stretched for hundreds of miles to the west of Russia's current boundary, according to a source who was briefed on the meeting. The German leader's point was that Putin laments the Soviet Union's demise and, left unchecked, would happily restore its former borders. Merkel left Washington unconvinced that Trump had gotten the message, the source said. (A White House official said a top Merkel aide showed such a map to national security adviser H.R. McMaster, though neither the official nor a spokesman for the German embassy would provide details on Merkel's private meeting with Trump.) [Politico]

During Trump's visit to the European Union and NATO headquarters Thursday, senior officials added that the question of America's policy toward Russia was, "of course, the elephant in the room," given Trump's vague and shifting statements on the matter. Jeva Lange

2:12 p.m. ET

On Thursday, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia upheld a nationwide block of President Trump's ban on travel from six majority Muslim countries. "The ruling is the most bruising the White House has suffered in its attempts to defend the ban, as it was rendered by 13 judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit — which deemed the case important enough to skip the usual three-judge process that the vast majority of cases go through," The Huffington Post writes.

"Surely the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment yet stands as an untiring sentinel for the protection of one of our most cherished founding principles — that government shall not establish any religious orthodoxy or favor or disfavor one religion over another," Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote, adding that the president's power to deny entry to aliens is "not absolute" and "cannot go unchecked."

Trump can now appeal to the Supreme Court, a move he has promised he would pursue if necessary. Jeva Lange

1:52 p.m. ET

Jared Kushner failed to record what is likely a multimillion-dollar art collection that he shares with Ivanka Trump on the couple's government financial disclosures, Artnet reports. Kushner had previously failed to record his stake in the real estate finance startup Cadre, or loans of at least $1 billion from more than 20 lenders to his properties.

One of Kushner's lawyers told Artnet that "Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump display their art for decorative purposes and have made only a single sale. To avoid any doubt, however, they will report their art collection." Artnet adds, "Ethics experts say that it's not uncommon for administration officials to update financial disclosures with more information."

Kushner and Trump broke with many other administration officials in failing to disclose their art collection, though. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross disclosed a collection worth $50 million and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin showed he had a $14.7 million Willem de Kooning painting as an asset.

A post shared by Ivanka Trump (@ivankatrump) on

The couple's collection often appears in Ivanka Trump's Instagram photos and includes what Artnet describes as "both blue-chip and emerging artists, including Alex Israel, Dan Colen, Nate Lowman, Alex Da Corte, and David Ostrowski." Read more about the art collection, and how it is potentially used, here. Jeva Lange

1:09 p.m. ET

Concerning reports about Trump campaign officials' possible collusion with Russian operatives often lead to big, glaring questions: How and why exactly did the Trump campaign end up hiring people who were clearly red flags? The problem might come down to some really terrible vetting, The Washington Post reported Thursday:

As Trump was starting to win primaries, he was under increasing pressure to show that he had a legitimate, presidential-caliber national security team. The problem he faced was that most mainstream national security experts wanted nothing to do with him.

"Everyone did their best, but there was not as much vetting as there could have been," former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said.

Another longtime campaign official put it this way: "Anyone who came to us with a pulse, a résumé, and seemed legit would be welcomed." [The Washington Post]

Consider, for example, Carter Page, a former national security adviser for President Trump who also has deep ties and apparent loyalty toward Russia. When Page came to Trump Tower to be interviewed, "a top Trump adviser, Sam Clovis, employed what campaign aides now acknowledge was their go-to vetting process — a quick Google search — to check out the newcomer," the Post writes.

Unfortunately, "a thorough vetting of Page might have revealed several red flags," the Post adds. "Page had spent three years working in Moscow, for instance, and he held stock in the Russian company Gazprom, meaning that he could have a personal financial stake in the future of U.S.-imposed sanctions against Russia."

"We were not exactly making due diligence the highest priority," one campaign veteran admitted. Read the entire scoop at The Washington Post. Jeva Lange

12:30 p.m. ET

If you ever get your hands on the 2016-2017 yearbook for Virginia's Stafford High School, turn immediately to page 220. All the way at the bottom left, nestled in the rows and rows of standard headshots of teenagers, you'll spot a little pair of innocent black eyes and a wet nose poking up into the camera frame.

This is Alpha Schalk, a service dog for 16-year-old Andrew 'AJ' Schalk (whose photo is one slot to the right). AJ has diabetes, and Alpha has the distinguished job of alerting him when his blood sugar reaches a dangerous level.

"The amazing thing about Alpha is that he knows 20 to 40 minutes before my blood sugar actually does go low or high due to his amazing sense of smell," AJ told BuzzFeed News. "He has saved my life multiple times already." Last year, AJ started bringing Alpha with him to school, and the dog has gathered a bit of a following. When AJ asked the yearbook team if the dog could be featured alongside him in the album, they agreed without hesitation. "The only thing they changed was the camera height," he said. "They just had to lower it a little." Jessica Hullinger

12:28 p.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The assumption that Montana is an impenetrable Republican stronghold has held Democrats back from heavy spending on their candidate in the state, the folk-singing populist Rob Quist. "Our polling indicates that Donald Trump is still very popular here. It's not like the [special election] races in Georgia or Kansas, where Trump only won by 1 point or where [Kansas] Gov. [Sam] Brownback has popularity problems," Brock Lowrance, the campaign manager for Republican nominee, Greg Gianforte, told Politico in late April. "There's nothing to indicate that the winds have shifted here in the last six months."

And yet in recent weeks, Quist has narrowed Gianforte's lead to just single digits. Considering Gianforte's apparent assault on a reporter Wednesday night, Democrats might now be kicking themselves for not spending more in a state that is turning out to be far more competitive than anyone expected:

The contest in Montana, to fill the seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, has drawn national attention, with both sides together pouring over $10 million into television and radio ads. But this spending in Montana's relatively cheap media markets happened almost in spite of the national Democratic Party, which has been skeptical about Mr. Quist's prospects. Democrats only began helping their nominee here reluctantly, after weeks in which Republicans hammered Mr. Quist on TV with little response. Republicans outspent Democrats more than two-to-one on television and radio, according to media buyers in both parties. [The New York Times]

Additionally, "Montana has a reputation for being a state surprisingly amenable to Democrats in a region that's not known for it," Paul Blest writes at The Week. "While a Democrat hasn't held the lone congressional seat since 1997, a Democrat has held the governor's mansion since 2005 and one of the state's two senators, Jon Tester, is a two-term Democrat."

The Democrats did put out an eleventh-hour ad Thursday featuring audio of Gianforte's alleged assault. But it could still be too little, too late: "The overall race has been an excellent representation of authentic economic populism against today's Republican Party, with its brutal domestic agenda and Government Sachs Cabinet," Ryan Cooper writes at The Week. "Whether or not Quist can eke out a victory is an important test case for whether economic populism can win in red states." Jeva Lange

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