August 24, 2014
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Third time's the charm?

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Sunday that'd he'd be thrilled to see his former ticket-topping partner Mitt Romney make another run at the White House.

In an appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, the former vice presidential candidate gushed when asked if he thought Romney would run again. "I sure wish he would," Ryan said. "He'd make a phenomenal president."

Romney has repeatedly said he will not run in 2016 no matter what, telling one interviewer, "No, no, no no, no," and so on. As for Ryan, he said Sunday he was at least considering a White House bid of his own, but that he had yet to make a decision. Jon Terbush

6:43 a.m. ET
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On Tuesday, the European Union's antitrust agency ruled that Ireland had given Apple an enormous illegal tax break and ordered the country to recoup up to 13 billion euros, or $14.5 billion, from the tech giant. Apple and Ireland are expected to appeal the decision, which followed a three-year investigation by the European Commission into preferential tax treatment for certain companies by EU member states. European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who oversees EU antitrust efforts, said Apple pays an effective corporate tax rate of 1 percent, and the record penalty is for 10 years of back taxes.

The U.S. Treasury Department warned the EU against trying to claw back the taxes of American companies, arguing that the European Commission is overstepping its authority over national tax policy and that taking money from American multinationals hurts U.S. efforts to collect taxes on the companies. Ireland said its appeal, probably to the EU Court of Justice, is "necessary to defend the integrity of our tax system" and "send a strong message that Ireland remains an attractive and stable location of choice for substantive investment." Vestager told The New York Times earlier this year that her bureau is guided by simple policy: "Profits should be taxed where profits are made." An appeal is expected to take several years. Peter Weber

5:33 a.m. ET

Donald Trump and his allies have been questioning Hillary Clinton's health in recent days, but Trump's health is at least a much a mystery, Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "I mean, he's got the kind of glow you can only get from being in top shape, or after vacationing at Chernobyl." All we really know about Trump's health is from a one-page note his physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein, wrote last December, Colbert added, though "a note from his doctor should be enough — it's how he got out of Vietnam."

Still, Bornstein, who "looks like a very questionable Gandalf," did at least prove "he's a true gastroenterologist, cause the letter seems to be yanked from where the sun don't shine," Colbert said, highlighting the part that says Trump's "recent complete medical examination... showed only positive results." "Everybody knows positive results are always good," he deadpanned. "Blood pressure? Positive. Cholesterol? Positive. Chlamydia? Positive." As to why the letter had typos and seemed rushed, it was — Bornstein recently explained to NBC News that he wrote it in 5 minutes while his limo was waiting downstairs. "Rushed, anxious, 5 minutes, driver waiting — you definitely want the candidate's physical to sound like losing your virginity on prom night," Colbert said. Watch below. Peter Weber

4:49 a.m. ET
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Donald Trump spent all last fall and much of the winter defying the conventional wisdom about presidential campaigns, and he's apparently hoping to ride his unorthodox campaign choices all the way to victory in the November election, according to Federal Election Commission filings examined by The Wall Street Journal. Half of his campaigns 10 highest-paid consultants have never worked for another presidential campaign, for example, versus just one of Hillary Clinton's Top 10 consultants.

"Trump wants people with fire in the belly," not necessarily experience, political consultant Stuart Jolly tells The Journal. "Loyalty is right up there at the top." Don McGahn, the Trump campaign's general counsel, added: "Fresh thinking is good." Despite earlier frugality, Trump is increasing his campaign spending, though he still isn't paying much for TV ads or field operations, outsourcing much of his get-out-the-vote effort to the Republican National Committee.

Notably, $15 million of the $90 million he spent through July — or about 17 percent of his total spending — was "paid to companies linked to himself or his children, or to reimburse their travel expenses," The Wall Street Journal said. That includes a total of $881,000 in rent paid to rent for his campaign headquarters inside his own Trump Tower, a number that caught people's attention when the monthly rent jumped 500 percent as soon as campaign donors started footing the bill, even though Trump's staff didn't grow.

A Trump spokesman told The Journal that Trump raised his own rent in because he expanded the office space in anticipation of more campaign staff, and his general counsel, McGahn, said the use campaign funds at Trump properties — including at least five Trump golf resorts, three Trump restaurants, and a wine company owned by son Eric Trump — complies with FEC rules and is only logical: "It makes perfect sense to me that you're going to use facilities that you know are of a certain quality." Read more about Trump's campaign spending at The Wall Street Journal. Peter Weber

4:22 a.m. ET

August is a slow news month, but "fortunately something popped up, Anthony Weiner," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "I just want to extend my thanks to him for rising to the occasion with this truly rock-solid story... boner." He shrugged and explained that he "ran out" of euphemisms. But he had only started in on Weiner, who was caught in yet another sexting scandal. "Of course, there are pictures," Colbert said. "I'm not going to show them, so if you want to know what they look like, put a cucumber under a linen tablecloth and then invite everyone in the world over to see it."

Sadly, Colbert said, this time was too much for his wife, Huma Abedin, who announced on Monday that she is leaving her husband — or, as Colbert put it, "that's right, she's finally cut off the Weiner." When the audience laughed, Colbert grinned sheepishly: "Thank you very much, I've been waiting four years to make that joke." Then he got to the real question: "Here's what I don't get: I don't think these women are having affairs with him, so why is he doing it? Has no one told this man about the existence of pornography? Congressman Weiner, it's everywhere — you can even get it on that phone you're currently holding next to your penis. Maybe Weiner just likes the danger, you know? He likes the danger of doing this. So, Anthony, why don't you just look at the porn while jumping off a cliff."

Weiter jokes depleted, Colbert turned to the controversy of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand during the pledge of allegiance, the new Obama date biopic Southside With You — he came up with a couple more presidential couple date movies of historical accuracy but questionable taste — and the MTV Video Music Awards. You can watch below. Peter Weber

3:16 a.m. ET

The Islamic State overran large swathes of Syria and Iraq in the summer of 2014, and the militants left traces of their massacres dotting the landscape. In a new report, The Associated Press identifies 72 mass graves in Syria and Iraq, and says many more will be uncovered as ISIS's territory shrinks. "This is a drop in an ocean of mass graves expected to be discovered in the future in Syria," says Ziad Awad, the editor of online publication The Eye of the City, who is trying to document ISIS's mass burial plots.

Using satellite imagery, photos, and interviews, AP has found the location of 17 mass graves in Syria, and 16 of the mass graves the news organization located in Iraq are in areas still to dangerous to excavate. AP says anywhere from 5,200 to more than 15,000 ISIS victims are buried in the graves it knows about. "They don't even try to hide their crimes," Sirwan Jalal, director of the Iraqi Kurdistan agency in charge of mass graves, tells AP. "They are beheading them, shooting them, running them over in cars, all kinds of killing techniques, and they don't even try to hide it."

The evidence and chance to identify the dead are waning with the passage of time and exposure to the elements, however, and the Iraqi Kurds and other local groups are seeking international help. Part of the goal is to build a case to convict ISIS leaders of war crimes, and part of it is so families can bury their dead. "We want to take them out of here," Rasho Qassim, an Iraqi Yazidi, says of the remains of his two sons. "There are only bones left. But they said 'No, they have to stay there, a committee will come and exhume them later'.... It has been two years but nobody has come." You can read more at AP, and watch the video below for more context and testimony about the ISIS massacres. Peter Weber

2:11 a.m. ET

When your presidential aspirations fizzle out and die, the next best thing is to go on television and cha-cha your way back into the spotlight.

The official Dancing With the Stars lineup for Season 23 won't be announced until Tuesday's edition of Good Morning America, but Entertainment Tonight is reporting that former Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry is set to appear on the show. He will be joined by a hodgepodge of other celebrities, including Olympians Laurie Hernandez and Ryan Lochte, Maureen McCormick of Brady Bunch fame, Vanilla Ice, Marilu Henner, and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, ET says.

Perry won't be the first Texas Republican to two-step across the Dancing With the Stars stage — in 2009, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay appeared on the show, partnered with pro Cheryl Burke. As seen in the video below of DeLay dancing to "Wild Thing," he's not exactly nimble on his feet — in fact, the second-hand embarrassment is strong throughout the performance — but he did go out there and show America he can wiggle his hips and point a lot. Catherine Garcia

1:51 a.m. ET

Public Policy Polling (PPP) is a Democratic polling firm with a good track record (Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight gives it a B+ rating) and an idiosyncratic sense of humor, and Rachel Maddow had some new results she was excited to share on Monday night's Rachel Maddow Show. "I can now report, this year's Republican presidential nominee is less popular than middle seats on airplanes," she said, and she meant it literally. According to PPP's latest poll, American voters prefer getting stuck in the middle seat to Donald Trump, 45 percent to 43 percent, and Trump only beats bedbugs by 22 percentage points — though among black and Latino voters, not only bedbugs beat Trump, but also the bubonic plague, mosquitoes, Ryan Lochte, and carnies.

Now, maybe this isn't great news for Hillary Clinton, since she is only beating Trump by 5 points among likely voters, 48 percent to 43 percent, "but you know, the whole story isn't just the topline result, right?" Maddow said. "Obviously, the demographic breakdowns are interesting as well." Here, the big number was Trump's popularity numbers among black voters — 97 percent unfavorable, 3 percent unsure, and 0 percent favorable.

Maddow also was tickled by some of the "demographic groups you did not know could exist in nature," like the 2 percent of black voters who agree that Trump "cares about African-Americans and Latinos," and the 4 percent of Donald Trump voters who agree he "cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons." "Every year you have a new demographic," she said. "Sometimes it's soccer moms, this year it's the apocalyptically suicidal." The PPP poll was conducted Aug. 26-28, and has a margin of error of ±3.3 percentage points. You can watch Maddow giddily dig into the details below. Peter Weber

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