July 21, 2014
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Hillary Clinton left the State Department with a sky-high approval rating. A little over a year later, and that has changed significantly.

Only 14 percent of voters say Clinton's tenure as secretary of state was "excellent," according to a new Politico poll. Meanwhile, one-third describe it as "poor" and another 21 percent say it was merely "fair."

So what happened to Clinton's once-sterling record?

As others have already pointed out, the endless "Benghazi" brouhaha on the right has tainted Clinton's reputation; a Pew poll earlier this year found that Benghazi was the most-cited knock against her. Given Clinton's infamous "reset" moment with Russia, it's likely that the growing crisis in Ukraine is turning the public off to her a bit, too. And then there's the simple fact that Clinton's favorability rating was so high before that it was bound to dip sooner or later.

The latest poll numbers aren't jaw-droppingly terrible for Clinton, but they do suggest a real weakness often glossed over in the assumptions that she has the Democratic presidential nomination — if not the White House — already locked up. Jon Terbush

2:37 p.m. ET
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It may almost be June 2017, but 2016 presidential election rhetoric lives on. After Hillary Clinton took some jabs at President Trump during her commencement speech Friday at her alma mater, Wellesley College, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel released a statement swinging back. "Today's speech was a stark reminder why Hillary Clinton lost in 2016," McDaniel said in the statement. "Instead of lashing out with the same partisan talking points, Hillary Clinton would be wise to look inward, talk about why she lost, and expand the dwindling base of Democratic Party supporters — we won't hold our breath though."

Clinton didn't call Trump out by name in her speech, which she began by discussing former President Richard Nixon and what it was like living through his resignation. "We were furious about the past presidential election of a man whose presidency would eventually end in disgrace with his impeachment for obstruction of justice," Clinton said. She added that this happened "after firing the person running the investigation into him at the Department of Justice," a not-so-veiled allusion to Trump's recent firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

Clinton encouraged the graduates to remain hopeful despite the "full-fledged assault on truth and reason" and to reach out to people "hurt" by the Trump administration's newly introduced budget plan, which she called a "con." Becca Stanek

2:21 p.m. ET

Singer Ariana Grande said Friday that she will be returning to Manchester for a benefit concert to help the victims of the Monday attack at her show that left 22 dead and dozens more injured.

"Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder, and to live more kindly and generously than we did before," said Grande, 23, in a statement. "I'll be returning to the incredibly brave city of Manchester to spend time with my fans and to have a benefit concert in honor of and to raise money for the victims and their families."

Grande added that while "there is nothing I or anyone can do to take away the pain you are feeling or to make this better … I extend my hand and heart and everything I possibly can give to you and yours, should you want or need my help in any way." Read her full statement below. Jeva Lange

1:46 p.m. ET

In case anyone needed another reason to be afraid of the slippery, slithery creatures that are snakes: They might hunt in packs. Well, at least one snake species might.

Vladimir Dinets, a scientist from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, recently observed the Cuban boa hunting fruit bats in caves — only to realize that if more than one snake was present, the snakes would engage in what seemed to be "coordinated hunting." "Snakes arriving to the hunting area were significantly more likely to position themselves in the part of the passage where other snakes were already present, forming a 'fence' across the passage and thus more effectively blocking the flight path of the prey, significantly increasing hunting efficiency," the study's abstract says.

Group hunts boasted much higher success rates than solo hunts, and a press release about the study noted that "the more snakes were present, the less time it took to capture a bat."

In case the mental image of snakes hunting in a pack weren't reason enough to stay inside, the snakes did this group hunting while dangling from the top of the cave. "After sunset and before dawn, some of the boas entered the passage that connected the roosting chamber with the entrance chamber, and hunted by suspending themselves from the ceiling and grabbing passing bats," the study said.

This isn't the first time a group hunting effort among snakes has been observed, though it remains unclear if this is actually a widespread serpentine phenomenon or if there's really any purposeful coordination between the snakes. "It is possible that coordinated hunting is not uncommon among snakes, but it will take a lot of very patient field research to find out," Dinets said. Becca Stanek

1:24 p.m. ET
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When former FBI Director James Comey abruptly closed the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server last summer, it was in response to a piece of Russian intelligence purporting that then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch had assured the Clinton campaign the investigation would not be vigorously pursued. Comey reportedly knew that the Russian intelligence was actually false, officials with knowledge of the situation told CNN.

Officials told The Washington Post Comey felt he had "little choice" but to close the investigation "because he feared that if ... the secret document leaked, the legitimacy of the entire case would be questioned."

CNN writes that "Comey's actions based on what he knew was Russian disinformation offer a stark example of the way Russian interference impacted the decisions of the highest-level U.S. officials during the 2016 campaign." Read more about how Comey treated the false information at CNN. Jeva Lange

1:09 p.m. ET

For the first time ever, the Pentagon next week will test a missile defense aimed at intercepting an intercontinental ballistic missile. The test, slated for Tuesday, is intended to "more closely simulate a North Korean ICBM aimed at the U.S. homeland," Reuters reported. North Korea has engaged in numerous tests recently, warning it will soon have a nuclear missile capable of reaching the U.S.

While the U.S. interceptor has before never tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, it's completed various other tests — though to varying degrees of success. The most recent test in 2014 was successful, but Reuters reported that, overall, the interceptor only succeeded in 9 of the 17 attempts it's made since 1999. Becca Stanek

12:52 p.m. ET
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President Trump reportedly sought information about former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s with the ambition of single-handedly ending the Cold War, Nobel Peace Prize-winner Bernard Lown told The Hollywood Reporter. Lown, 95, shared the 1985 Peace Prize with a Soviet physician for the pair's denuclearization efforts. He told The Hollywood Reporter that Trump sought a meeting with him shortly after Lown returned from the USSR in 1986, and that Trump expressed his goal of being posted to Moscow by Ronald Reagan.

"He said to me, 'I hear you met with Gorbachev, and you had a long interview with him, and you're a doctor, so you have a good assessment of who he is,'" Lown said. "So I asked, 'Why would you want to know?' And he responded, 'I intend to call my good friend Ronnie,' meaning Reagan, 'to make me a plenipotentiary ambassador for the United States with Gorbachev.' Those are the words he used. And he said he would go to Moscow and he'd sit down with Gorbachev, and then he took his thumb and he hit the desk and he said, 'And within one hour the Cold War would be over!' I sat there dumbfounded. 'Who is this self-inflated individual? Is he sane or what?'"

Trump's desire to end the Cold War with his real estate deal-making abilities was well known and often widely mocked. "The idea that he would ever be allowed to go into a room alone and negotiate for the United States, let alone be successful in disarming the world, seems the naive musing of an optimistic, deluded young man who has never lost at anything he has tried," The New York Times wrote in 1984.

But as much as he was mocked at home, Trump did eventually get his audience with Gorbachev:

It wasn't long after the Trump-Lown meeting in 1986 that Trump made his first trip to the Soviet Union: In July 1987, he traveled to Moscow and met with Gorbachev. "The ostensible subject of their meeting was the possible development of luxury hotels in the Soviet Union by Mr. Trump," The New York Times wrote at the time. "But Mr. Trump's calls for nuclear disarmament were also well known to the Russians." (Trump told Playboy three years later, "Generally, these guys are much tougher and smarter than our representatives.") [The Hollywood Reporter]

Read the full story at The Hollywood Reporter. Jeva Lange

12:10 p.m. ET

President Trump wished "all Muslims a joyful Ramadan" in a statement on Friday that quickly veered into a rant about terrorism, violence, and "perverted ideology."

"This year, the holiday begins as the world mourns the innocent victims of barbaric terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom and Egypt, acts of depravity that are directly contrary to the spirit of Ramadan," Trump wrote. "Such acts only steel our resolve to defeat the terrorists and their perverted ideology."

Ramadan, which begins Friday night and lasts until the end of June, is a month of fasting, prayer, reflection, and charity. Trump added: "I reiterate my message delivered in Riyadh: America will always stand with our partners against terrorism and the ideology that fuels it. During this month of Ramadan, let us be resolved to spare no measure so that we may ensure that future generations will be free of this scourge and able to worship and commune in peace."

Trump's statement comes a day after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit upheld a nationwide block of the ban on travel from six majority-Muslim countries, with the court claiming Trump's order "speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination." The Justice Department announced it would ask the Supreme Court to review the court order. Jeva Lange

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