March 13, 2014

On Wednesday, federal Judge Shira Scheindlin dismissed the high-profile case against Devyani Khobragade, India's former acting consul general in New York, on relatively narrow grounds involving diplomatic immunity. When U.S. prosecutors had Khobragade arrested in 2013 for alleged visa fraud and illegally underpaying her domestic help, they insisted that her job at the consulate didn't provide her diplomatic immunity against the charges. The day before they indicted her, however, Khobragade was transferred to India's United Nations mission, where she did have broad immunity. Because she had the greater diplomatic protections when she was indicted, the case had to be tossed, Scheindlin ruled.

Federal prosecutor Preet Bharara said he will pursue a new indictment against Khobragade, based on an opening in Scheindlin's ruling. Khobragade's lawyer, Daniel Arshack, essentially threatened Bharara not to file new charges, which he said "might be viewed an aggressive act and one that (prosecutors) would be ill-advised to pursue." The case roiled diplomatic relations between the U.S. and India. --Peter Weber

4:22 a.m. ET

Thousands of people celebrated Presidents Day on Monday by gathering in streets nationwide for "Not My President's Day" rallies. Stephen Colbert was having none of it. "Sorry, but yeah: your president," he said on Monday's Late Show. "Deal with it. George Washington was not more president than Donald Trump, okay? Abraham Lincoln: exactly the same amount of commander in chief as Donald Trump. So no marching off to your fantasy world — do not leave me alone with this guy!"

America's president, Colbert noted, declared the press the "enemy of the American people" on Friday, and Colbert managed a mockery twofer: "You know who I feel bad for? ISIS. They try so hard. Sorry, ISIS — if you want to get on the list, you've got to publish photos of Trump's inauguration crowd, then he'll be really, really angry at you." He played a clip of Sen. John McCain standing up for the media, saying abolishing a free press is how dictatorships begin. McCain wasn't calling Trump a dictator, Colbert noted, or at least not "a full dictator. He's more bite-sized, okay? He's a dictator-tot."

Colbert had a short riff on Trump's new national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster — "He chose McMaster, I assume, because he had the strongest-sounding name — 'Is Gen. Thrust McPowerhouse not available? Let's go with McMaster instead'" — and ended with Trump's rally in Florida on Saturday. "Over 9,000 showed up," Colbert said. "It is the biggest crowd Trump has drawn to an airport without detaining anyone." Trump was there to talk to the people, and he called one person he'd seen on TV up to the stage, telling him to just jump the security fence. Colbert let that sink in for a second, finally deadpanning: "Yes, nothing screams secure borders and extreme vetting like 'Hop over the fence!'" Watch below. Peter Weber

3:34 a.m. ET

On Tuesday morning, four American tourists and their Australian pilot were killed when their twin-engine Beechcraft Super King airplane crashed into a shopping mall in suburban Melbourne, right after takeoff. The Direct Factory Outlet mall, adjacent to the airport, was not yet open, and nobody else was injured in the crash, said Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane. "Looking at the fireball, it is incredibly lucky that no one was at the back of those stores or in the car park of the stores, that no one was even hurt."

The four Americans were on their way to a golfing vacation on King Island, 160 miles away. Family members have identified two of the American victims — Greg Reynolds De Haven and Russell Munsch, both from Texas — and the pilot was Max Quartermain, owner of the charter company. Quartermain reported "catastrophic engine failure" right after takeoff, police said. You can view the wreckage in the raw video from The Associated Press below. Peter Weber

3:04 a.m. ET

On Monday, 11 Jewish community centers (JCCs) across the U.S. received bomb threats, the latest in a wave of 69 coordinated threats against 54 JCCs in 27 states and one Canadian province since early January, according to the JCCA, an association of JCCs. The community centers are a place for Jewish people of all religious and political beliefs to gather, as well as child care centers for children of all faiths. In one recorded bomb threat, the caller, voice disguised, says "a large number of Jews are going to be slaughtered" by an explosive device. No bombs have been found yet, but each time a threat is phoned in, teachers have to evacuate babies and young children, and some parents are pulling their kids from local JCCs.

Also on Monday, police in St. Louis said that over the weekend, vandals had damaged dozens of headstones at a Jewish cemetery in the city's University City neighborhood. Anita Feigenbaum, director of the Chesed Shel Emeth Society, told The Washington Post that more than 170 graves were vandalized in the cemetery's oldest section, a "horrific act of cowardice" unlike the Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery had seen in its 125-year history.

The FBI said it and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division "are investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with threats to Jewish community centers across the country." The FBI recorded more than 1,270 hate crime incidents against Jews in 2014 and 2015 — far more than any other religious group — and the problem has gotten worse since. "I've been in the business for 20-plus years, and this is unprecedented," security consultant Paul Goldenberg tells CNN. "It's more methodical than meets the eye."

Jewish reporters asked President Trump last week about the apparent rise in anti-Semitic attacks and incidents, and Trump responded by talking about his electoral victory, claiming he is the "least anti-Semitic person you have ever seen in your entire life," and noting that his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism. On Monday evening, Ivanka Trump became the first member of the Trump family to comment on the wave of bomb threats, tweeting: "America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC." The White House, when asked for comment by NBC News, said "hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom," but did not mention threats against Jewish targets. Peter Weber

1:32 a.m. ET

For the past three years, Bao Bao has been delighting crowds at the Smithsonian National Zoo, where she frolicked in the snow, climbed on rocks, and ate as much bamboo as possible. Now, she's off to a new adventure in China.

Bao Bao was born in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 23, 2013, to parents born in China: Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. As part of an agreement between the National Zoo and the China Wildlife Conservation Association, all giant pandas born at the zoo must be sent to live in China before they turn 4. "We like to send them back about this age because in a couple of years she'll actually reach breeding age," Marty Dearie, one of her keepers, told ABC News. "It's good to get them back a little early so they have time to settle into their new environment."

Over the past several weeks, zoo visitors waited for up to an hour to see Bao Bao in the panda enclosure, and she was celebrated with a dumpling ceremony and an ice cake party. When she leaves D.C. on Tuesday for Chengdu, China, it will be in luxury — Bao Bao will spend her 19-hour flight on a personalized FedEx jet alongside Dearie, a veterinarian, and all of her flying essentials, including nearly 60 pounds of bamboo. Catherine Garcia

1:26 a.m. ET

In his first four weeks in office, President Trump has visited two of his golf courses near his Mar-a-Lago private club in Florida a combined six times, or an average of 1.5 golf outings per weekend. Trump has not been very open about his golfing, with aides appearing to downplay the president's time on the links and keeping mum on whom he golfed with — though social media often fills in the blanks.

On Sunday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that after "a couple" of holes on Saturday, Trump "played a couple of holes this morning, but I am not going to disclose any of the others that were there." Then Clear Sports tweeted a photo of Trump standing on the golf course Sunday next to its CEO, former Yankee star Paul O'Neill, and top-ranked pro golfer Rory McIlroy. After McIlroy told the golfing site No Laying Up that he and Trump played a full 18 holes, Sanders clarified that Trump had "intended to play a few holes and decided to play longer."

At CNN, Dan Merica speculates that the Trump White House is being secretive about the president's golfing because Trump frequently criticized former President Barack Obama's time on the golf course, typically at Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, D.C. (Obama's first round of golf as president, Merica noted, was April 26, 2009.) Erin Burnett played several clips of Trump bashing Obama's golfing on Monday night's OutFront, then asked former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) about Trump's "golf habit": "Senator, is he realizing that it's a lot different when you actually have the job?"

"I don't think anyone's going to be critical of Donald Trump that he hasn't been engaged as president over the last month," Santorum replied, noting the frenetic activity at Trump's White House. Trump's critique of Obama was that he "wasn't engaged and involved as the president," he explained. "I don't think anyone's going to make that claim of Trump. And you're right — is it a cheap shot to hit the president on playing golf? It was, and I think he's realizing that getting out of the White House and swinging that golf ball is probably a good thing for his head." Watch below. Peter Weber

12:48 a.m. ET

While watching President Trump's "wild and unhinged" public appearances over the last few days, Seth Meyers had an epiphany: All Trump wants is a friend.

That's why when he called on reporters last week, Trump asked who was going to lob him a friendly question, and why he invited supporters in Florida to a rally on Saturday and pulled onto the stage some random guy that he said he saw earlier on television praising him. "Buddy, if you'd just been a little quicker you could have been our new national security adviser," Meyers quipped on Monday's Late Night.

In addition to determining that Trump is severely lacking in the friendship department, Meyers was also able to explain why the president claimed at his rally that on Friday night, something terrible happened in Sweden. "Who would believe this?" Meyers asked, parroting Trump. "The answer is no one, because as fact checkers pointed out, no incident occurred in Sweden on Friday night." Trump was referring to a segment he saw on Fox News the night before about refugees, Meyers said, which featured Swedish police officers who later said their responses were edited and they did not stand behind the report. Swedish people have been having a grand time mocking Trump over this imaginary incident, Meyers added, which just goes to show, "that's how bad things have gotten under Trump — we're getting roasted by Swedes now. The Swedish Chef is like, 'Dude, even I don't understand a word you're saying.'" Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia

February 20, 2017

At a rally in Florida on Saturday, President Trump asked his audience, during a riff on terrorism, if they could believe what happened Friday night in Sweden. "Sweden, can you believe it?" Trump asked. No, Stephen Colbert answered on Monday's Late Show, no one believed it. "Well, not no one, but maybe someone who skips their intelligence briefings," he added, clarifying that nothing happened in Sweden on Friday night — a fact Sweden's former prime minister noted when he asked on Twitter what Trump has been smoking.

"Let's be real here," Colbert said. "This is the president of the United States. He has access to every and the latest intel at all times." So why did he appear to make up a terrorist attack in Sweden? According to Trump, he learned of a sharp increase in crime in Sweden from a Fox News report. "Oh, I guess Trump only accepts intelligence briefings with the logo 'As Seen on TV,'" Colbert said. Crime has actually dropped in Sweden since 2005, despite the country taking in thousands of immigrants, he added. "In fact, experts say 90 percent of Swedish crime actually occurs in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

"Clearly, Trump believes everything he sees on TV is real, which would explain his next tweet: 'America is a disaster! Our girls are broke! Our dead is walking! The pope's too young! It's a scandal! #shameless'," Colbert joked. "Tragically, Sweden is the third not-a-terrorist-attack that has not shocked the world in the last month. First there wasn't the Bowling Green Massacre, then no one was lost in Atlanta, and now it's not Sweden's turn. When will it begin?" But "just because this attack didn't happen, folks, doesn't mean we don't stand in solidarity with all the people who did not suffer," Colbert said, and you can watch his homage to Sweden in the video below. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads