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April 16, 2014

As usual, there are no shortage of superhero movies hitting theaters this year — but the most ambitious is X-Men: Days of Future Past, which is uniting the franchise's two distinct timelines for a sprawling, mind-bending time travel story. It starts with Wolverine, who goes back in time to enlist the help of the younger Professor X introduced in X-Men: First Class. "I was sent here for you from the future. 50 years from now. Stay with me," says Wolverine in the new trailer. "I've come a long way to guide us. To bring us together. The X-Men. We need your help."

It's a lot to wrap your head around, but there's no shortage of fan service in this last trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past. The new video offers an extended roll call of X-Men characters: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Professor X (James McAvoy/Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Michael Fassbender/Ian McKellan), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Storm (Halle Berry), and many, many more. This is easily the most ambitious of the X-Men movies. Of course, in a group that big, not everyone is going to get along; in the scope of one three-minute trailer, two different X-Men get punched in the face by their supposed comrades. Will the X-Men sort out their differences and save the world one last time? We'll find out when X-Men: Days of Future Past arrives on May 23.

11:47 p.m. ET
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The rabbi who oversaw Ivanka Trump's conversion to Judaism sent a letter to members of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, a modern Orthodox synagogue in Manhattan, condemning the comments made by President Trump in the aftermath of a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

The letter, sent Wednesday evening, was signed by Rabbi Emeritus Haskel Lookstein, as well as his successors, Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz and Rabbi Elie Weinstock, New York reports. The rabbis said they were "appalled by this resurgence of bigotry and antisemitism, and the renewed vigor of the neo-Nazis, KKK, and alt-right. While we avoid politics, we are deeply troubled by the moral equivalency and equivocation President Trump has offered in his response to this act of violence."

Because of his close ties to Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, Lookstein was invited to speak last year at the Republican National Convention; he was going to give the invocation but changed his mind after backlash from the modern Orthodox community, New York reports. While President Trump on Tuesday blamed the violence on "both sides," his eldest daughter tweeted on Sunday that there should be "no place in society for racism, white supremacy, and neo-Nazis. We must all come together as Americans — and be one country UNITED." Catherine Garcia

11:04 p.m. ET
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The latest Stephen Bannon interview comes from a surprising source: The American Prospect, a progressive publication.

Bannon associates told CNN and Axios that the White House chief strategist did not know his conversation with magazine co-founder Robert Kuttner would be turned into an article, published Wednesday, and that he had called to chat with Kuttner because he liked his stance on China in a recent story. Kuttner said media-savvy Bannon — who was a topic of conversation during former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci's phone call with The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza, which led to his firing — never asked for the conversation to be off the record.

Bannon told Kuttner there is "no military solution" to North Korea and its nuclear threats; said the "economic war with China is everything" and the U.S. must be "maniacally focused on that"; and called white nationalists "losers," "a fringe element," and "a collection of clowns." He also made it sound like he has final say in staffing ("I'm changing out people at East Asian Defense; I'm getting hawks in") and discussed his fights with colleagues ("There's Treasury and [National Economic Council Chair] Gary Cohn and Goldman Sachs lobbying").

Axios' Jonathan Swan spoke with some of Bannon's associates, including one described as being "not an enemy of his," who all saw this as a terrible move by Bannon. That person told Swan, after reading the article, "Since Steve apparently enjoys casually undermining U.S. national security, I'll put this in terms he'll understand: This is DEFCON 1-level bad." You can read more about Kuttner's conversation with Bannon at The American Prospect. Catherine Garcia

10:29 p.m. ET
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A White House spokesman confirmed Wednesday that the Trump administration will make this month's payment to insurers for ObamaCare subsidies for low-income customers.

A Congressional Budget Office analysis released Tuesday estimated that if the payments were stopped, the most popular ObamaCare plans' premiums would probably go up 20 percent in 2018. President Trump has threatened to cut off the subsidies — worth about $7 billion this year — and insurers would likely hike up premiums or leave ObamaCare markets altogether if they are eliminated, Politico reports. Insurers rely on those subsidies to keep costs down for millions of lower-income ObamaCare customers, and even if the payments stop, they will still have to provide discounted rates.

Some Republicans, like Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, criticized Trump's decision to continue the payments, but Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, appreciated it, and pushed for Congress in the future to appropriate money for the program. "These two actions will help make insurance policies available at affordable policies," he said in a statement. "Congress owes struggling Americans who buy their insurance in the individual market a breakthrough in the health-care stalemate." Catherine Garcia

9:15 p.m. ET
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That uncle that always sends FWD: fwd: fwd: emails is now representing the president of the United States of America.

On Wednesday, the head of President Trump's personal legal team, John Dowd, forwarded to more than two dozen conservative journalists and government officials an email with the subject line: "The Information that Validates President Trump on Charlottesville," The New York Times reports. The email stated that "you cannot be against General Lee and be for General Washington, there is literally no difference between the two men," since "both rebelled against the ruling government" and "both saved America," and said the Black Lives Matter movement "has been totally infiltrated by terrorist groups."

Dowd received the email on Tuesday night, not long after Trump said during a press conference that he blamed "both sides" for the violence Saturday at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. He sent it to The Wall Street Journal editorial page, journalists at Fox News and The Washington Times, and a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security, and one of the recipients provided a copy to the Times. When reached by the Times, Dowd said, before hanging up: "You're sticking your nose in my personal email? People send me things. I forward them."

The email was written by Jerome Almon, a man who runs websites featuring government conspiracy theories and believes Islamic terrorists have infiltrated the FBI, the Times says. Almon, who is black, once sued the State Department, unsuccessfully, for $900 million, claiming he had been discriminated against. Almon told the Times he was hoping his email "would get in the hands of President Trump — I quite frankly hope he would review it right now because his presidency is on the line." Read more about Almon and how his email echoes secessionist Civil War propaganda at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

7:40 p.m. ET
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A participant in the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville over the weekend was fired by his employer after they discovered his involvement.

Ryan Roy, 28, of Burlington, Vermont, was a cook at Uno Pizzeria and Grill in South Burlington, but was terminated after he appeared in a Vice News documentary from the rally. Roy is heard yelling, "Whose streets? Our streets!" and seen carrying a torch. He was identified by people online, and doesn't apologize for his views; he told the Burlington Free Press he believes races should be separated, supports President Trump, and is the singer in a band called Hate Speech. "The left in this country is trying to destroy white culture and white heritage and American heritage, because history doesn't fit their politically correct scenario," he said.

Roy, who became a father last year, said he went down the white nationalist path after doing research on the internet, and became a libertarian before settling on being a conservative. This iteration of Roy is much different than the person former friend Sam Wormer knew in high school. Wormer told the Free Press he was "completely shocked" by Roy's new views, because in high school, he was liberal and stuck up for people being bullied. He also disagreed with the push to get Roy fired from his job. "Taking away somebody's job and livelihood — I mean, that's just adding fuel to the fire," he said. "I don't think any good is going to come of this on anybody's side." Catherine Garcia

6:47 p.m. ET
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Confederate statues aren't just in the South, and a monument to Confederate veterans in the heart of Hollywood was quietly removed Wednesday morning.

At 3 a.m., workers at Hollywood Forever cemetery took out a 6-foot granite memorial, erected more than 90 years ago, which stood near about 30 graves of Confederate veterans and their families. Following the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, the cemetery received hundreds of calls and letters from activists calling for the monument's removal, as well as threats from others who said they would vandalize it, the cemetery's chief financial officer told the Los Angeles Times. "We felt we could no longer keep it safe here," Yogu Kanthiah said.

The monument is owned by the Long Beach chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which decided to take it down after being contacted by Hollywood Forever, and the memorial will sit in storage for now. Most people didn't know about the Confederate section of the cemetery before the Times published an op-ed by history professor Kevin Waite on Aug. 4, which went into detail about the history of Confederate sympathizers and veterans that lived in California; they felt so comfortable in the state that the only Confederate veterans rest home outside of the South was in San Gabriel, and when the residents died, they were buried at Hollywood Forever. Catherine Garcia

5:42 p.m. ET

Fox News anchor Shep Smith admitted Wednesday that the network "reached out to Republicans of all stripes across the country" to find someone willing to come on air to defend President Trump's remarks about the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, but they came up empty-handed.

"Let's be honest, Republicans don't often really mind coming on Fox News Channel. We couldn't get anyone to come and defend him here because we thought, in balance, someone should do that," Smith said. "We worked very hard at it throughout the day, and we were unsuccessful."

In this way, Smith pointed out in his show-opening monologue, Trump has "brought together some Americans." "Many Republicans and Democrats are now uniting in criticism of the president of the United States, after his reprehensible comments about Charlottesville," Smith said, referring to Trump's remarks Tuesday blaming "both sides" for the violence at the white nationalist rally and suggesting that there were "some fine people" marching alongside neo-Nazis and white supremacists. "Now some of the president's own party are lining up to pin blame where they say it actually belongs: on the white supremacists and on the neo-Nazis." Becca Stanek

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