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April 17, 2014

A new video featuring Nasir al-Wahishi, believed to be the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has surfaced. In it, al-Wahishi is seen with dozens of fighters, some of whom likely escaped from a Yemen prison.

"The enemy crusader still has cards to play," he says in the tape, which is being analyzed by security officials. "We must remember that we are always fighting against the big enemy. We must eliminate the cross held by the cross bearer America."

An unidentified U.S. official told ABC News that the intelligence community believes it is an authentic video. "The depiction of such a large gathering of fighters and the appearance of senior leaders are atypical of AQAP's propaganda videos," the official said. The U.S. State Department agrees that this large gathering was "unusual," but doesn't believe that it correlates with the organization's power.

"I don't think we can make generalizations about their strength based on one video, quite frankly," State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters Wednesday. "We know they’ve been gaining strength." --Catherine Garcia

1:27 p.m. ET
Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images

With conservative support for the GOP health care bill dwindling in the short hours before the legislation is scheduled to go to vote, the White House is reportedly keeping tabs on who is friend and foe. Multiple Trump administration officials told The Daily Beast that chief strategist Stephen Bannon has told Trump to keep a "s--- list" of the Republicans who act disloyal to the White House.

"[Bannon] has told the president to keep a s--- list on this," one official said. "He wants a running tally of [the Republicans] who want to sink this … Not sure if I'd call it an 'enemies list,' per se, but I wouldn't want to be on it."

Another aide called it a "hit list" and two others noted Trump and Bannon's "you're either with us or against us" worldview.

The health-care bill has most notably lost the support of two dozen or so Freedom Caucus members, who claim the Paul Ryan-backed bill does not go far enough in its repeal of ObamaCare. The Freedom Caucus is not exactly quaking from Trump's threats, though. When asked by The Daily Beast about being on Trump and Bannon's "hit list," one member simply said: "Meh."

Jeva Lange

1:11 p.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Republicans' health-care meltdown prompted a moment of unbridled honesty from GOP Rep. Chris Collins (N.Y.). On Friday, as the GOP tried yet again to prepare for its vote on the GOP-backed health-care bill, Collins suggested that maybe his party just wasn't yet ready for the task of running the government. "Our conference hasn't figured out yet how to be the governing party," Collins said, per Bloomberg's Sahil Kapur.

On the heels of President Trump's ultimatum to Republicans late Thursday to either pass the American Health Care Act on Friday or be stuck with ObamaCare, Collins said tensions are at an all-time high. "I've never seen this before," Collins said. "People are just refusing to talk to each other. They're storming past each other."

When asked what the chances of a straight ObamaCare repeal would be if the AHCA does not pass today, Collins left little room for hope. "Oh, that would get about 50 votes," he said.

Republicans need to get 215 votes to pass their health-care bill Friday. Becca Stanek

12:34 p.m. ET

Bug collectors Charles and Lois O'Brien announced this week that they're parting ways with their impressively massive insect collection, and donating it to Arizona State University for research. The octogenarian couple's collection — which takes up two rooms in their Tucson, Arizona, home — is worth an estimated $10 million and could provide invaluable insight to scientists studying "natural controls on the environment" and insect family trees, The Guardian reported. Out of the collection's more than a million insects, researchers believe as many of 1,000 of the insects could be "new to science."

So how did one couple get so many bugs? After meeting in the late 1950s at the University of Arizona and falling in love, the O'Briens went on to lead what Lois described as "sort of an Indiana Jones life" — at least for Charles. "It's been a wonderful life for me," she said. They both studied the "relations between insects, plants, and humans," before embarking on a life's work that took them to 70 nations across seven continents, The Guardian reported.

The couple would "rent a car and go out into the bush or jungle or desert, wherever, to collect" insects, Charles said. "Hit and run, is what we call it. We drive down the highway from some town and see a place that looks like it might be worth stopping, and we stop," Charles said. "If it's good we spend several hours collecting there."

While Lois was partial to planthoppers and Charles was "very happy with the weevils," the couple seems to have a soft spot for insects of all shapes and sizes. "We were brought together by insects," Charles said.

They still work on their collection 10 hours a day. "They're such wonderful creatures," Lois said. "Wouldn't you like to fly? Wouldn't you like to swim underwater for three days? Not to mention stinging. I have a neighbor I would like to sting."

Read the entire delightful story at The Guardian — and watch The Guardian's interview with the couple below. Becca Stanek

12:11 p.m. ET
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

A New Yorker report has found that shortly after railing about leaks Monday, House Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) stumbled into discussing classified information in a public setting himself. During the committee's hearing concerning Russia's involvement in the 2016 presidential election, Nunes emphasized his concern about White House leaks: "Who has leaked classified information?" he demanded. "We aim to determine who has leaked or facilitated leaks of classified information so that these individuals can be brought to justice."

Later, in that same public hearing, Nunes asked FBI Director James Comey, "Do Russians historically prefer Republicans to win over Democrats?" Comey quickly shut Nunes down: "I'm not going to discuss in an unclassified forum," he said. Nunes had accidentally veered too far into publicly discussing classified information.

Then New York Rep. Peter King (R) followed up:

"I would just say on that because again, we're not going into the classified sections, that indicating that historically Russians have supported Republicans, and I know that language is there, to me puts somewhat of a cloud over the entire report," King said.

I didn't notice it at the time, though I was in the room, and the C-SPAN video of the hearing doesn't capture it, but Democrats told me there was, at this point, minor commotion on the dais. King had just revealed that the classified version of the report had concluded "that historically Russians have supported Republicans." [The New Yorker]

King later told The New Yorker: "I have to watch myself. I think it was in the public report that came out, the unclassified report, that there was a finding in there that historically — so don't quote me on this, okay? Because I'm not sure if this was the classified or the unclassified, but there was a conclusion that historically the Russians have favored Republicans." The conclusion was not reached in the public report, The New Yorker notes — and King's slip of the tongue could spark a serious debate, as it could indicate whether Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted President Trump in particular elected, or simply favored Trump's party.

Read the full report — and why the opposite conclusion might in fact be true — at The New Yorker. Jeva Lange

11:14 a.m. ET

After witnessing how quickly President Trump gave up on negotiating the GOP's American Health Care Act, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell declared Trump the "laziest, most ignorant president in history." Just hours after Republicans on Thursday delayed a planned vote on their health-care bill, Trump announced he was done trying to convince on-the-fence Republicans and left them with an ultimatum: Pass the bill, or deal with ObamaCare staying in place. "President Obama never once said something like this in the crusade to get [the Affordable Care Act] passed because he knew how to stay with it and get it passed," O'Donnell said Thursday night on MSNBC.

O'Donnell argued that what Trump needs to be doing is reassuring uncertain Republicans of "what they're voting for." Instead, O'Donnell said Trump is sending a different message: "I quit, and I quit in the Senate" and "I don't have the patience or ability to stay focused on this." "This guy is the biggest public doubter of the bill — the president," O'Donnell said.

Watch it below. Becca Stanek

11:14 a.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

A frustrated President Trump warned Republicans that if they did not pass the GOP health-care bill Friday, ObamaCare will stay. A least one group of conservatives is none too pleased with that threat: the House Freedom Caucus, who mutinously said they would vote "no" on the legislation because it was too similar to former President Barack Obama's signature health law.

Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) vented to Independent Journal Review, "It's [Trump's] way or the highway? What kind of precedent does that set for a president? So the Congress has to roll over now because this is the way it's going to be?" Weber added: "Take it or leave it. What kind of statement is that?"

Many others have expressed surprise over Trump's uncompromising stance. "Trump, who has branded himself a dealmaker without parallel, gave this whole health-care process 18 days — including weekends and days Congress was out of session!" Politico's Playbook notes. "Nobody knows how this is going to play out. But in Congress, 18 days is nothing."

Even Republicans who are not members of the House Freedom Caucus are unwavering despite Trump's threats and last-minute tweaks to the bill. "It's still a 'hell no,'" Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) told IJR. Jeva Lange

10:53 a.m. ET

President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, voluntarily offered to be interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee over ongoing questions about Trump's campaign staff's possible collusion with Russia. Manafort reportedly earned tens of millions of dollars from 2006 to 2009 secretly working for a billionaire Russian aluminum magnate close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, toiling to promote Putin's interests and undermine anti-Kremlin opposition in former Soviet republics. A U.S. official told The Associated Press earlier this week that Manafort is a "leading focus of the U.S. intelligence investigation of Trump's associates and Russia."

In a press conference Friday, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) stressed that the committee was encouraging whistleblowers to come forward but that "we will not bring in American citizens in a neo-McCarthyism." FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers are being asked to come back in to be interviewed by the committee — ideally next Tuesday — before the committee can move forward with its investigation.

Nunes also reiterated that President Trump's claims that Trump Tower was wiretapped were unfounded. "There was no wiretapping of Trump Tower," he said. "That didn't happen." Jeva Lange

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