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March 24, 2014

Russian soldiers stormed a Ukrainian naval base in Fedodsia, Crimea, early Monday, firing automatic weapons and using stun grenades to overcome nominal resistance from reportedly unarmed Ukrainian marines. The Russian soldiers took the Ukrainian officers to a separate location for questioning. The Fedodsia base, used by Ukraine's elite 1st Separate Marine Battalion, was the third Ukrainian base to fall since Sunday, and had been one of the last symbols of Ukrainian resistance to Moscow's annexation of Crimea.

Later Monday, President Obama will meet with his counterparts from Europe and Japan, and the Ukraine situation will be at the top of their agenda. "We cannot have countries purporting to annex parts of independent nations," Obama told the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant. "The international law and principles at the heart of our international system have to mean something." Peter Weber

6:34 a.m. ET

In a wide-ranging interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper on Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton discussed the allegations surrounding the Clinton Foundation and its donors, Donald Trump's shifting immigration position, and his calling her "a bigot," but Cooper also got Clinton to talk about her use of a private email server while secretary of state, and whether or not Colin Powell advised her to use a private email account — as she allegedly told the FBI and Powell sort of disavowed.

"Well, look, I have the utmost respect for Secretary Powell," Clinton said, adding that she appreciates all the advice he gave her as she prepared to become secretary of state, but "I'm not going to relitigate in public my private conversations with him." She continued:

I've been asked many, many questions in the past year about emails, and what I've learned is that when I try to explain what happened, it can sound like I'm trying to excuse what I did, and there are no excuses. I want people to know that the decision to have a single email account was mine, I take responsibility for it, I've apologized for it, I would certainly do differently if I could, but obviously I'm grateful the Justice Department concluded there's no basis to pursue this matter further, and I believe the public will be and is considering my full record and experience as they consider their choice for president. [Hillary Clinton on CNN]

You can watch then entire interview below — the email conversation starts at the 6-minute mark.

Cooper ended the interview asking Clinton why she hasn't held a press conference in more than 260 days, and if, as some advisers say, she's trying to "run out the clock" on Trump. "Will you give a press conference?" he asked. "Well, Anderson, I'm talking to you right now, and I've given, I think, way in excess of 300 interviews this year, so I'm going to continue talking with the press and answering questions," Clinton said. "Why not give a press conference, though, with a lot of different reporters?" he asked. Clinton said, "Stay tuned." Peter Weber

5:44 a.m. ET

Stephen Colbert began Wednesday's Late Show with a look at Donald Trump's interesting new pitch to black and Latino voters. "Yes, blacks, Hispanics, what the hell do you have to lose?" he repeated. "Because you should really hide whatever that is before he becomes president." He wasn't done: "By the way, 'What the hell do you have to lose? Give me a chance' is also how Trump proposed to all of his wives."

That wasn't the only Trump news. Colbert noted the five-fold increase in rent at Trump's campaign headquarters, inside Trump's Trump Tower, as soon as campaign donors, not Trump himself, started paying the bills. "A 500 percent rent increase!" he said. "Man, the landlord at Trump Tower must be a real tool." This disclosure, buried in an FEC filing, raises some questions, Colbert said, but "still, it's nice to hear a story about Trump actually paying someone the money he owes them. Sure, it's to Donald Trump, but...." The but is a slightly racy joke. Colbert ended his monologue with new reports about the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton, and Colbert decided to try to buy an interview with Clinton with a $5 bill, after noting that the Clintons have both pleaded their innocence and pledged to wall themselves off from the Foundation if Hillary is elected. "Okay, so there you have it," he said: "They did nothing wrong, and they promise they will never do it again." Watch below. Peter Weber

5:11 a.m. ET

On Tuesday, four Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) boats approached the USS Nitze near the Strait of Hormuz, two of the vessels slowing and turning course only after coming within 300 yards of the U.S. guided-missile destroyer, a U.S. Navy official told Reuters and CNN on Wednesday night. The vessels harassed the U.S. warship by "conducting a high speed intercept and closing within a short distance of Nitze, despite repeated warnings," the official said. "The Iranian high rate of closure... created a dangerous, harassing situation that could have led to further escalation, including additional defensive measures by Nitze."

The Nitze tried to contact the Iranian vessels 12 times but received no reply, and fired 10 flares, among other warning signals, the official said. The ship and U.S. officials have determined that the Iranians violated the 1972 Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, and the U.S would lodge a diplomatic complaint if Iran and the U.S. had diplomatic relations. "For four decades the Revolutionary Guard have been told that America is the greatest threat to the Islamic Revolution," Karim Sadjadpour at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told Reuters. "This institutional culture hasn't changed after the nuclear deal." You can learn more, and see footage of the close encounter, in Elise Labott's report on CNN below. Peter Weber

4:12 a.m. ET

Donald trump "is already floating the conspiracy theory that the election might be rigged, and who knows? He could be right," Stephen Colbert said, mysteriously, on Wednesday's Late Show. "Because I heard that millions of Americans are planning to use a secret ballot." Trump and other Republicans have also been pushing the conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton is ill, and Colbert played an amusing clip of Karl Rove laying out the theory with the help of whiteboards on Fox News earlier this week. "Oh my god," Colbert said, "Hillary's illness has already spread to Megyn Kelly, causing her vertical blindness in one eye, and uncontrollable giggles, evidently."

But that was just the beginning, the intro to a new segment. "Welcome to the Truth Bunker," Colbert said, "where I share the secret truths they don't want you to know and I actually don't know." He had one Clinton health theory, then said, "Okay, enough politics — that's what they want us to talk about." And the rest of his conspiracies are mostly just conspiracy jokes — you can watch them below. Peter Weber

3:49 a.m. ET

At a rally in Jackson, Mississippi, on Wednesday night, Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton of being "a bigot." The line, included in prepared remarks passed out to reporters, came in the middle of Trump's purported appeal to black voters and appeared to take the overwhelmingly white crowd by surprise. Clinton "sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future," Trump said. "She's going to do nothing for African-Americans. She's going to do nothing for the Hispanics." A woman behind Trump to the left quickly became a sensation for reflecting the crowd's uncertainty on Trump's "bigot" line in a very animated manner.

But Clinton herself addressed the remark in a call to CNN's Anderson Cooper, who asked her if she had a response to being called a bigot by Donald Trump. "Oh, Anderson, it reminds me of that great saying that Maya Angelou had, that when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time," she said." And Donald Trump has shown us who he is, and we ought to believe him. He is bringing a hate movement mainstream, he's bringing it into his campaign." She accused Trump of "very much peddling bigotry and prejudice and paranoia."

Clinton said she would have more to add at a rally in Reno, Nevada, on Thursday. Peter Weber

3:04 a.m. ET

Donald Trump has been hammering Hillary Clinton for ties between Clinton at the State Department and the Clinton Foundation, calling for a special prosecutor to look into his "pay to play" allegations and calling the apparent access granted to Clinton Foundation donors "what happens in third-world countries." "It is impossible to figure out where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins," he said at a rally in Austin on Tuesday night. "It is now abundantly clear that the Clintons set up a business to profit from public office" — which would be one long con, since Clinton was appointed secretary of state nine years after the Foundation was launched.

But Trump himself has donated to the Clinton Foundation, giving between $100,000 and $250,000 as of 2014 — a point Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon noted:

CNN's Anderson Cooper asked Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway about those donations, asking if Trump was "paying to play" himself. "Hey, the Clinton Foundation does a lot of good work, and I also want to say that for the record, they do," she said. Cooper asked again if Trump was trying to buy access to Clinton, and Conway said "no, because it seemed like he had access to her anytime he wanted — I mean, she went to his wedding, they went to his wedding." The Clinton Foundation, she repeated, "does good work, and let's hope that that money went to good use." When pressed, Conway said that Trump "was not paying to play," and "he has never told me he's going to the State Department to have a meeting with Hillary Clinton." Watch below. Peter Weber

2:03 a.m. ET
Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images

At least 13 people were killed and more than 30 wounded during an attack on the American University of Afghanistan on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior said seven students, two police officers, a security guard, and three assailants died during the attack. It began when one assailant detonated a car bomb outside of the university, which was founded in 2006, during evening classes. Two assailants then began shooting at students, killing seven, before entering the university's main building, where they battled security forces. Students reported barricading themselves in classrooms, pushing tables and chairs against the doors. An Associated Press photographer, Massoud Hossaini, was in a classroom with 15 students when he heard an explosion outside. Hossaini told AP he "went to the window to see what was going on, and I saw a person in normal clothes outside. He shot at me and shattered the glass." Hossaini said two grenades were thrown into the classroom, injuring some students, and he was able to escape through an emergency gate. Authorities say hundreds of students were on campus when the attack began.

No group has claimed responsibility yet for the attack. Two weeks ago, two university staff members, an Australian and an American, were abducted from their vehicle by unknown gunmen, and their whereabouts remain unknown. Catherine Garcia

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