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August 19, 2014
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The Senate race in Kansas, a deeply Republican stronghold, might just be turning into a major wild card in this year's election cycle — thanks to the deep unpopularity of Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.

A new poll from Democratic-aligned firm Public Policy Polling gives Roberts only 32 percent — but still in first place — followed by Democratic nominee Chad Taylor, the district attorney of Shawnee County (the Topeka area) with 25 percent; and independent candidate Greg Orman, a businessman and political centrist, with 23 percent. The survey of likely voters was conducted from August 14 to 17, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Roberts plainly benefits from the split vote against him. When respondents were asked about a hypothetical two-way race between Roberts and Taylor, Robert was ahead 43 percent to 39 percent. But in another two-way match, Orman would lead Roberts, 43 percent to 33 percent. Roberts' approval rating is also only 27 percent, with 44 percent disapproval.

Earlier this month, Roberts only narrowly won against a primary challenge from a Tea Party-backed opponent, with a major issue having been Roberts' lack of an actual home in Kansas. In the new poll, only 18 percent of voters say he spends enough time in the state, compared to 61 percent who say he does not. Also, 50 percent believe that he considers Washington to be his home, against only 30 percent who think he considers Kansas as home.

To be clear, though, history alone suggests that Robert remains the favorite; Kansas has not elected a Democrat (or any other non-Republican) to the Senate since 1932, the year of President Franklin Roosevelt's first landslide victory. Eric Kleefeld

5:04 p.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Roger Stone might be in big trouble. The former Trump adviser told the House Intelligence Committee last September that when he reached out to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange during the 2016 presidential campaign, he "merely wanted confirmation" that Assange had information on Hillary Clinton, but emails published by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday cast this claim into serious doubt.

The emails reveal that Stone contacted an acquaintance of Assange for "information he considered damaging" to the Democratic presidential candidate, The Wall Street Journal reports. On Sep. 8, 2016, Stone reportedly asked Randy Credico, a radio host who had interviewed Assange, to approach the WikiLeaks founder for specific emails from "State or HRC" that were dated "from August 10 to August 30 — particularly on August 20, 2011." Credico allegedly replied that "I can’t ask them favors every other day," adding that Stone should "relax." Credico maintains that he never contacted Assange or his staff, but told Stone that he had to get him to stop "bothering" him, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), said he was not aware of the email exchange, but that “If there is such a document, then it would mean that [Stone's] testimony was either deliberately incomplete or deliberately false." Stone, for his part, stated that his testimony before the committee was "complete and accurate," and that he never actually got access to any of Clinton's emails.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Shivani Ishwar

4:34 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

There's a reason President Trump's letter to North Korea's Kim Jong Un sounded suspiciously like campaign-trail Trump — the president reportedly dictated it to White House aides.

Trump released a letter Thursday announcing that he would not travel to Singapore next month for a historic summit with Kim. While it was plenty cordial, noting Kim's "effort with respect to our recent negotiations," it also struck a few distinctly Trumpian notes, boasting of the U.S. nuclear stockpile ("so massive") and blaming Kim's behavior for the cancellation ("tremendous anger").

White House sources told The Wall Street Journal that Trump dictated the letter and then ordered staffers to release it immediately, without notifying global allies. That would explain why the South Korean government appeared so blindsided by the news, with President Moon Jae-In saying he was "very perplexed" by Trump's decision. Trump didn't tell South Korea or Japan ahead of time in an attempt to avoid the news from leaking, the Journal reports. Summer Meza

4:03 p.m. ET
Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company

Former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein will surrender to authorities and face charges of sexual abuse on Friday, NBC News reports.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are in the final stages of an investigation into allegations of sexual assault from actresses Paz de la Huerta and Lucia Evans. Weinstein has been accused of wide-ranging abuse by more than 50 women.

Weinstein has denied ever engaging in nonconsensual sex acts, but the New York Daily News reports that he will turn himself in to New York City police. The charges are expected to be brought in state court in Manhattan. A lawyer for Weinstein declined to comment. Summer Meza

2:53 p.m. ET

Senate Majority Leader Mitch "Cocaine" McConnell (R-Ky.) "enjoyed" his re-election campaign's taunt of Senate candidate Don Blankenship after the former coal executive and ex-convict lost the West Virginia Republican primary to the state's attorney general earlier this month. Team Mitch's taunt had raised some eyebrows at the time for apparently relishing Blankenship's nickname for McConnell, "Cocaine Mitch," as well as for featuring McConnell in Pablo Escobar Narcos-inspired attire:

"It sorta softened my image," McConnell reflected to Politico. "Don't you think?" Jeva Lange

1:46 p.m. ET
Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

President Trump announced on Thursday that he would posthumously pardon Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion.

Johnson was arrested in 1912 for driving his white girlfriend over state lines. Prosecutors said it violated the Mann Act, which prohibited crossing state borders with a woman for "immoral purposes." Johnson was convicted by an all-white jury and sentenced to a year in prison. He then fled the country for several years before eventually coming back to serve his time. The case is now often seen as emblematic of racism entrenched in the U.S. justice system.

Johnson died in 1946. His pardoning marks the third-ever posthumous pardon in U.S. history, reports USA Today. The Obama administration opted not to pardon Johnson in part because of allegations of domestic violence against women, The New York Times reports.

Other boxing champions were invited to the pardoning ceremony, the Times reports. Sylvester Stallone was also at the White House on Thursday — his conversation with Trump in April is reportedly what inspired the president to revisit Johnson's case. Summer Meza

1:24 p.m. ET

As the world reels from the news that President Trump will not meet with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un in June as was expected, the commander in chief is hanging out in the Oval Office with … Rambo.

Sylvester Stallone was at the White House for the pardoning of black heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, who was convicted in 1913 of transporting his white girlfriend across state lines, The New York Times reports. Trump was convinced to pardon Jackson after talking to Stallone following the funeral of Barbara Bush in April.

As it turns out, Trump isn't the only one to unwind with Stallone in Washington lately. Jeva Lange

12:30 p.m. ET

Names are important — sometimes all it takes is a great name to realize someone is a winner. But even President Trump, who made his riches off of the association of his surname with all things gold and luxurious, gets name envy sometimes.

"I think you have the greatest name in politics," Trump raved to Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) on Thursday. "If I had that name I would have been president 10 years sooner."

You've gotta admit — McHenry University, McHenry Steaks, McHenry Vodka. It's kind of got a ring. Jeva Lange

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