July 3, 2014

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who is running in his state's top-tier race for U.S. Senate, announced Thursday that his 17-year old daughter is pregnant.

In a statement provided to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Cassidy said:

Earlier this year, Laura and I learned we will become grandparents this summer. Our children have been the greatest blessing of our lives and we welcome our grandchild as a joyous addition to our family. Our daughter now faces a more challenging future than her peers. She has our unconditional love and support.

A recent poll showed Cassidy and incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu tied at 47 percent each, in a possible December runoff election under Louisiana's electoral system. Eric Kleefeld

8:50 a.m. ET
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President Trump spoke six words to New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) on Tuesday night, marking the first verbalization between the pair in over two months, Politico reports. "Chuck? I see Chuck. Hello, Chuck," Trump called out at a White House reception for the Senate.

While Trump once raved about his "good relationship" with Schumer — and on a private phone call, said he liked his home-state senator better than Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) or House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — the president has now turned to slamming Schumer for being the "head clown."

"By the time we got to inauguration, any hope that Schumer wanted to actually work together to find any common ground was clearly gone," an administration official explained to Politico. Schumer's speech at the inauguration and his ongoing defiance over confirming Trump's Cabinet and Supreme Court nominee are also cited as reasons for the split.

"[Trump] moved. He, not me," said Schumer. "He moved so far over to the right that it's virtually impossible to work with him." The pair last spoke on Jan. 24, according to Schumer.

President Trump has suggested working with Democrats on health care going forward, but Politico writes "lawmakers and strategists wonder whether Trump missed his best shot at a productive relationship."

And when it comes to speaking with Trump, Schumer only has nine words: "Right now there's not much to talk about, okay?" Jeva Lange

8:09 a.m. ET
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Italian state police have arrested 34 members of a Sardinian crime organization for attempting to steal the corpse of famous automaker Enzo Ferrari in order to blackmail his family, CNN reports. The gangsters' plot was extraordinarily complicated and their capture involved helicopters and parachute regiment officers.

Ferrari died in 1988 at the age of 90. His body is entombed above-ground in the San Cataldo cemetery in Modena, in central Italy, where it rests behind an iron gate. His legacy lives on, as his company continues to build some of the world's fastest and most expensive cars.

Police learned of the plot to steal Ferrari's body during an investigation into arms and drug trafficking. More than 300 officers assisted in the case. Jeva Lange

7:48 a.m. ET

Hillary Clinton promised she will "never stop speaking out" during her first major political speech since losing the election to President Trump, delivered Tuesday night. "The last few months haven't been exactly what I envisioned, although I do know what I'm fighting for," Clinton told the crowd at the Professional Business Women of California's annual conference in San Francisco. "I'm fighting for a fairer, big-hearted, inclusive America. And the unfinished business of the 21st century can't wait any longer."

Forgoing her usual pantsuit in exchange for a leather jacket, Clinton lashed out at White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer for scolding reporter April Ryan and similarly criticized Fox News host Bill O'Reilly for making a "racist joke about [California Rep. Maxine Waters'] hair."

"Too many women, especially women of color, have had a lifetime of practice taking precisely these kinds of indignities in stride," Clinton said.

Clinton did not mention Trump by name but she warned that anti-refugee rhetoric and voter suppression are "bad policies that will hurt people and take our country in the wrong direction."

"Resist, insist, persist, enlist," Clinton urged. Jeva Lange

7:42 a.m. ET

"Morning" Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski used to be friends with President Trump, they told Seth Meyers on Tuesday's Late Night, but that all changed after he became president. They shrugged off Trump's decision earlier this month to unfollow them on Twitter, with Scarborough calling that the "highlight of the month" and Brzezinski saying "it shows we got in his head."

What finally killed Trump's love for the MSNBC morning show and drove him into the loving arms of Fox & Friends, Scarborough said, wasn't "all the horrible things" he and Mika said about Trump during the campaign — calling him a racist, a bigot, a potential instigator of World War III — and since. "It all rolled off his back," he said. But "the second we said Chris Christie and Bernie Sanders out-rated him, that was the end." Scarborough explained that when he first made his throwaway comment about Christie and Sanders drawing higher ratings than Trump, Trump "went crazy. He sent me a letter, had a spreadsheet, talked about how his ratings were higher than ours."

Meyers asked for their general impression of Trump's first 60 days in office — if it was what they expected, better, or worse? — and they laughed. "It's far worse," Brzezinski said. "It's almost at the point of no return." Scarborough quoted Ghostbusters: "It's dogs and cats living together, it's as bad as it gets." Watch below. Peter Weber

7:20 a.m. ET
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Voters have less confidence in President Trump's ability to do his job following the Republican Party's failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act last week. In a Politico/Morning Consult survey taken entirely after the GOP withdrew their bill, just 26 percent of voters felt "very confident" in Trump's ability to serve as commander-in-chief, compared with 36 percent who are not confident "at all."

Trump's declining approval rating was steeper with Republicans and independents than Democrats. In particular, the support of self-identified Trump voters shrank from 90 percent last week to 84 percent this week. Overall, 38 percent of voters strongly disapprove of Trump, compared with 23 percent who strongly approve.

"President Trump's approval ratings are at their lowest point since he took office, according to the weekly Politico/Morning Consult surveys," said Morning Consult co-founder Kyle Dropp. "However, as this week's results represent a relatively sharp departure from the recent trendline, we will keep a close watch in subsequent weeks before drawing major conclusions."

The poll reached 1,991 registered voters on March 24 and 25 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent. Jeva Lange

6:27 a.m. ET
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Republicans don't seem eager to go to the mat to finance President Trump's border wall with Mexico, at least in the stopgap spending bill that must pass by April 28 to avoid a government shutdown. Still, on Tuesday, the White House sent Congress a request for an immediate cut of $18 billion from domestic programs to pay for the wall, The Associated Press reports, citing a Capitol Hill aide who described the unreleased documents.

The requested cuts reportedly include $1.2 billion from National Institutes of Health medical grants, $1.5 billion from community development grants, $500 million from a transportation grant program, $434 million to eliminate a program to encourage community service among senior citizens, and $372 million from heating subsidies for the poor.

As with Trump's 2018 budget plan, Congress will probably ignore Trump's requests, though building the wall is a high priority for Trump and the White House hasn't yet joined the 2017 spending negotiations. Democrats pounced anyway. "The administration is asking the American taxpayer to cover the cost of a wall — unneeded, ineffective, absurdly expensive — that Mexico was supposed to pay for, and he is cutting programs vital to the middle class to get that done," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y). "Build the wall or repair or build a bridge or tunnel or road in your community? What's the choice?"

How much the wall would cost is an open question. Republicans estimate a price tag of $12 billion to $15 billion, a Homeland Security Department report put the cost at $21.6 billion, and on Tuesday, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) suggested the final number could hit $66.9 billion. McCaskill, the top Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said she based her estimate on a briefing for committee staff in which the administration explained that its 2018 budget request of $2.6 billion for the wall would go toward constructing 75 miles of new wall. She did the math for the 1,827 viable miles of border, conceding that this wasn't a perfect way to get an accurate estimate.

"It is concerning that the cost of construction could also be significantly higher, as the cost of acquiring land currently owned by private individuals was not included in the estimate," McCaskill wrote to the acting head of U.S. Customs and Border protection. "Regardless, the $36.6 million per mile figure is the only information, and the closest to a cost estimate that the Committee has obtained from DHS." Peter Weber

5:22 a.m. ET

Amid all the intrigue and speculation over possible collusion between President Trump's campaign and Russian intelligence, big questions remain about Trump's business dealings with Russia — a mystery that might be solved if Trump released his tax returns. Trump has sent mixed signals about his business ties with wealthy Russians, saying in February he has "no dealings with Russia" or "loans with Russia," and in 2013 telling Real Estate Weekly after a meeting with potential investors in Moscow that he has a "great relationship with many Russians," especially "the oligarchs." Donald Trump Jr. also told Russian media in 2008 that "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets."

On Tuesday, USA Today looked at the "wealthy Russians and oligarchs from former Soviet Republics — several allegedly connected to organized crime," who have invested in Trump-branded real estate, basing the article on a "review of court cases, government and legal documents, and an interview with a former federal prosecutor." The review focused on "10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering," but the pertinent question now is whether Trump is beholden to Kremlin-linked Russian oligarchs.

Ken McCallion, a private lawyer and former assistant U.S. attorney in New York during the Carter and Reagan administrations, says that's a real possibility. McCallion told USA Today that he spent years looking into the Trump Organization and its business relationships, especially with Russians. "The FBI is always concerned if public officials can be blackmailed," he said. "It's Russian-laundered money from people who operate under the good graces of President Putin. If these people pull the plug on the Trump Organization, it would go down pretty quickly." You can read a lot more about the oligarchs and their alleged ties to Trump at USA Today, and get an overview in the video report below.

The White House referred USA Today to the Trump Organization, which said that it "never entered into a single transaction with any of these individuals and the condominium units were all owned and sold by third parties — not Trump." Peter Weber

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