July 29, 2014

Donald Sterling suffered a major, perhaps even decisive defeat Monday, in his attempt to stop the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Judge Michael Levanas ruled in favor of Sterling's estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, in her efforts to take over the Sterling Family Trust on the grounds that Donald is mentally incapacitated, and to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.

As the Los Angeles Times explained, Judge Levanas delivered his decision very quickly — just minutes after the closing arguments by attorneys — to uphold the finding by two doctors that Donald Sterling was incapacitated. He also handed down a key procedural decision that would appear to make this outcome final:

The ruling included the extraordinary step of granting of Shelly Sterling’s request for an order under section 1310(b) of California’s probate code that allows the sale to be completed regardless of an appellate court’s intervention. [Los Angeles Times]

The NBA and Shelly Sterling have moved quickly against Donald Sterling over the last few months, after he was caught making racist comments to a girlfriend in a recorded conversation. Eric Kleefeld

9:22 a.m. ET

In a tweet Tuesday night, Donald Trump aide Dan Scavino Jr. declared former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) the winner of his on-air squabble with Fox News' Megyn Kelly. The two got into a heated argument during Tuesday night's episode of the The Kelly File, after Kelly brought up the sexual misconduct allegations made against Trump, a claim Gingrich insisted Kelly couldn't defend.

Though Kelly got the last word, advising Gingrich to "spend some time" working out his "anger issues," Scavino was certain Gingrich, who accused Kelly of being "fascinated with sex," had emerged victorious:

After thoroughly insulting Kelly's intelligence, Scavino fired off this ominous warning:

During her fiery exchange with Gingrich, Kelly said she brought up the allegations against Trump because she is concerned with the "protection of women and understanding what we're getting in the Oval Office." Becca Stanek

8:59 a.m. ET

Now here is a face we haven't seen on late night television in quite some time — former President George W. Bush. Although Bush, in his Tuesday night "appearance" on @Midnight With Chris Hardwick, happened to look suspiciously similar to Will Ferrell, who impersonated the Texan to hilarious ends throughout the last Republican presidency.

On the show, Bush/Ferrell insisted on saying a few words to defend the family honor after his cousin, Billy Bush, was caught making lewd comments on an Access Hollywood tape with Donald Trump (or, as he is known in the Bush family, "that disgraced pumpkin").

"I just want to say one thing. We Bushes don't act like that, okay," explained "Bush," but what specifically he is talking about you probably won't guess. Watch for the punchline, below. Jeva Lange

8:36 a.m. ET
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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte declared Wednesday that he will seek to expel foreign military troops from his country within the next two years, Reuters reports. "I have declared that I will pursue an independent foreign policy," he said. "I want, maybe in the next two years, my country free of the presence of foreign military troops. I want them out."

Duterte's predecessor had agreed to visiting U.S. military troops in a security deal that was arranged in response to China's military forwardness; those troops now reside in five Philippine military camps. But Duterte has increasingly turned to China for support, claiming at a talk there last week that he would "separate" from the United States.

Duterte and President Obama have exchanged harsh words in the past, with Duterte calling Obama a "son of a b----" and telling him to "go to hell." Obama, for his part, has been outspoken against Duterte's violent and bloody war on drugs: "We're not going to back off on our position that if we're working with a country, whether it's on anti-terrorism, whether it's on going after drug traffickers, as despicable as these networks may be, as much as damage as they do, it is important from our perspective to make sure that we do it the right way," Obama said.

In his speech Wednesday, Duterte added "if I have to revise or abrogate agreements, executive agreements, this shall be the last maneuver, war games between the United States and the Philippines military." Jeva Lange

8:06 a.m. ET
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With 13 days until the election, Hillary Clinton is in Florida on Wednesday, with Tim Kaine and Elizabeth Warren in Pennsylvania and Chelsea Clinton cruising through Ohio. Donald Trump, meanwhile, is off the campaign trail Wednesday morning to open the Trump International Hotel in deeply liberal Washington, D.C.

The hotel opening will be Trump's second marketing event this week. At an event Tuesday, Trump boasted about Trump National Doral Miami, calling it "one of the greatest places on Earth" and bragging that "bookings are through the roof." On Monday, Trump's campaign also did a soft-launch of a new nightly Facebook live TV program that many believe is a precursor to a Trump media organization.

Trump's campaign has defended their candidate's decision to go to Washington on business so late in the game. "Mr. Trump is attending the opening of his latest project, what many say is the finest hotel in the country," his spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, told Politico. "He is extremely proud of the development, which was finished under budget and ahead of schedule."

Many others don't see it that way. "This is the worst message to send to all of those true and loyal Trump supporters out there who actually did believe in him and actually did have a stake in this election," Kevin Madden, a former adviser to Mitt Romney, told The New York Times. "With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, Mr. Trump is repaying them by using their campaign to showcase his hotel. He said he wouldn't let them down, but he already has. They have a right to be disappointed."

"Politics is a side hobby for Trump, kind of like fishing or model railroading. Hotels, that's serious business, and I hear the hotel is fabulous," top Republican strategist Curt Anderson told Politico. "Which of his aides would like to take credit for scheduling this trip to D.C.? Is no one able to stand up to this guy? No one at all?" Jeva Lange

7:55 a.m. ET
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You may have noticed that Donald Trump loves to win and really, really hates to lose. Well, The New York Times now has pseudo-scientific proof to back up your observation. And it turns out, what really burdens Trump, says Times reporter Michael Barbaro, is "his deep-seated fear of public embarrassment." There's quite a bit of evidence for this, including the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner, but Barbaro and his colleagues listened to more than five hours of interviews Trump gave to biographer Michael D'Antonio in 2014, plus conversations with first wife Ivana Trump and Trump's children. D'Antonio, who doesn't support Trump's candidacy, made them available to the Times.

"The recordings reveal a man who is fixated on his own celebrity, anxious about losing his status, and contemptuous of those who fall from grace," Barbaro writes, and the Times embedded some snippets so you can judge for yourself. "Trump makes clear just how difficult it is for him to imagine — let alone accept — defeat." In the interviews, Trump says he loves to fight, doesn't have any heroes, doesn't "like talking about the past," and doesn't want to think about the meaning of his life. "I don't like to analyze myself because I might not like what I see," he said. He feels the same way about others, too. "For the most part," he said, "you can't respect people because most people aren't worthy of respect."

Trump told D'Antonio that he "never had a failure... because I always turned a failure into a success." That will be tested on Nov. 8, but other than rebounding from bankruptcies, there is other evidence of his lemons-to-lemonade prowess in the tapes, including a story told by Ivana Trump where she inadvertently humiliated him on the ski slopes after they first started dating and he stormed away leaving gear behind; she still married him. On Monday, Trump told The New York Times that the recordings are "pretty old and pretty boring stuff. Hope people enjoy it." You can, if you like, at The New York Times. Peter Weber

6:45 a.m. ET
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Donald Trump basically can't win the presidential race without Florida, so his campaign got some good news on Wednesday morning in a new Bloomberg Politics poll showing him beating Hillary Clinton by 2 percentage points in the state. In a four-way race, Trump has 45 percent to Clinton's 43 percent, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 4 percent and the Green Party's Jill Stein at 2 percent. In a two-way race, Trump leads Clinton in Florida by 1 point, 46 percent to 45 percent. Trump's edge, says J. Ann Selzer, the pollster who conducted the survey, appears to be from his 2-point lead with independent voters in a head-to-head matchup. "This race may come down to the independent vote," she said. "Right now, they tilt for Trump. By a narrow margin, they opted for Obama over Romney in 2012."

The same poll shows Sen. Marco Rubio (R) with a 10-point lead over Democratic challenger Rep. Patrick Murphy, 51 percent to 41 percent, thanks again to a lead among independents. The poll of 953 likely voters was conducted Oct. 21-24, and has an overall margin of error of ±3.2 percentage points. It is also a bit of an outlier, so far. The RealClearPolitics average of polls has Clinton up 3.1 points in Florida, and FiveThirtyEight has Clinton with a 72 percent shot at winning the state, though neither average includes this new Bloomberg Politics poll. Peter Weber

6:08 a.m. ET
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Donald Trump's presidential campaign has "kind of wound down" its formal fundraising with the Trump Victory fund, a joint fundraising endeavor with the Republican National Committee that serves as a major source of campaign cash for the RNC and its ground game, Trump national campaign chairman Steven Mnunchin tells The Washington Post. The joint committee's last high-dollar fundraiser was on Oct. 19 in Las Vegas, and there are no more scheduled until election day.

The Trump campaign called the report "completely misleading," with Mnunchin telling NBC News, "we continue to do fundraising for Trump Victory." Lew Eisenberg, a top RNC fundraiser and chairman of Trump Victory, told The Washington Post he and Mnunchin have been working together "to raise money from major donors" over the phone. "We have no organized calendar of events for the next 14 days," he said, but "when the opportunity presents itself, we will have ad hoc fundraisers" with Trump or his running mate.

Mnunchin told The Post that "the online fundraising continues to be strong," and that the Trump campaign has "big media buys, we have a terrific ground game." Most of the money Trump raises online goes to his campaign, not the RNC, while the Trump Victory events, which can raise up to $449,000 a person, give a much bigger share to the RNC for down-ballot races and get-out-the-vote efforts. Hillary Clinton held her last big scheduled fundraiser on Tuesday night in Miami, though surrogates will appear at 41 events in the next two weeks. Her campaign has raised more than twice as much money as Trump's. Peter Weber

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