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April 1, 2015
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A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) on corruption charges over his alleged use of his office to secure business deals for a friend in exchange for gifts.

The product of a years-long investigation, the 14-count indictment alleges Menendez received free trips on a private plane and that he improperly lobbied on behalf of a top donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen. The ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez has said he did nothing wrong.

It is the first indictment of a sitting senator since prosecutors charged the late Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska in 2008. Jon Terbush

4:07 p.m. ET
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Rates have dropped significantly at all but one of President Trump's 13 hotels since he took office, The Telegraph reported Monday. The average price for a weekend at a Trump hotel dropped by 36 percent in the last year, with the most dramatic decrease occurring at the Trump Las Vegas, where rates fell 63 percent.

The Macleod House and Lodge in Scotland fared the best comparatively, as its prices only dropped 10 percent. The lone Trump hotel to increase its price was the Trump Doonbeg in Ireland, whose rates inched up 7 percent.

But while prices have dropped at the president's properties, that does not necessarily mean that they are not making money. Prices at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., for example, dropped by a whopping 52 percent per The Telegraph's report. But in August, The Washington Post reported that the same hotel had already made nearly $2 million in the first four months of 2017 — despite the Trump Organization's prediction that it would lose more than $2 million in the first quarter.

The profitability of Trump's D.C. hotel could be an anomaly, given that foreign governments and their dignitaries may see an incentive in staying at the president's properties when doing business with or lobbying his administration. And even if prices are lower this year at Trump hotels, the president still has his beloved Mar-a-Lago property in Florida, which has doubled its membership prices this year. Kelly O'Meara Morales

2:46 p.m. ET
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Janet Yellen, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, will step down from the central bank's Board of Governors when her successor assumes the chairmanship in February. President Trump announced he would nominate Fed governor Jerome Powell to succeed Yellen as chair when her term comes to an end early next year.

Yellen's term as governor would run until 2024, but she announced Monday that she would step down from the board as well when Powell takes over. "As I prepare to leave the board, I am gratified that the financial system is much stronger than a decade ago," Yellen wrote in a letter informing Trump of her decision. "I am also gratified by the substantial improvement in the economy since the crisis."

Yellen's departure will leave Trump with four vacancies on the Fed's governing board. He has nominated just one replacement, Randal Quarles, who has been confirmed by the Senate. The remaining open governorships have yet to see any replacement nominees. Kimberly Alters

2:39 p.m. ET

Nothing quite says it's the most wonderful time of the year like a Make America Great Again hat decorated with embroidered Christmas lights. The festive item is now on sale in President Trump's campaign store and runs $45, up from the $25 it costs to purchase the regular red MAGA hat acceptable for the other 364 days of the year.

The seasonal hat is additionally emblazoned with "Merry Christmas" on the back, lest a well-meaning cashier begin to wish "happy holidays" at your retreating back:

The official uniform of the war on Christmas can be picked up along with a collectable ornament — now just $45, down from $149in the gift section of Trump's store. Jeva Lange

1:48 p.m. ET
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Apparently Rex Tillerson isn't the only Cabinet member in the Trump administration who looks down on the president.

BuzzFeed News reported Monday that at a private dinner in July, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster compared President Trump's intelligence to that of a kindergartner. McMaster additionally said the president was "an idiot" and "a dope," BuzzFeed News reported, while dining with Oracle CEO Safra Catz.

One source who spoke to BuzzFeed News said that McMaster also had harsh words for former White House strategist Stephen Bannon; Secretary of Defense James Mattis; Tillerson, the secretary of state; and Trump's son-in-law/opioid crisis solver/broker of Middle East peace, Jared Kushner. Five sources confirmed the contents of McMaster's table talk to BuzzFeed News, while a sixth claimed that the national security adviser has also questioned Trump's intelligence — or lack thereof — in private.

Officials from both Oracle and the Trump administration rejected the claim that McMaster spoke disparagingly of Trump and the other Cabinet officials while at dinner with Catz.

McMaster, like Tillerson, has long been a target of the alt-right for holding "establishment" and "globalist" positions on foreign policy. Sources who spoke to BuzzFeed News said McMaster was also deeply critical of Trump's foreign policy positions — most notably the president's disdain for the Iranian nuclear deal. In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Michael Anton, a spokesman for the National Security Council said: "Actual participants in the dinner deny that General McMaster made any of the comments attributed to him by anonymous sources. Those false comments represent the diametric opposite of General McMaster's actual views." Kelly O'Meara Morales

1:37 p.m. ET

It has been 17 days since Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was tackled by his neighbor, Rene Boucher, in an incident that has upset the (normally) peaceful gated community of Rivergreen in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Paul reportedly sustained five broken ribs after Boucher ran him down while he was mowing his lawn.

What prompted Boucher's attack is still unclear — if you ask the neighbors, they'll tell you it was a landscaping dispute, although Paul himself has said his libertarian politics provoked his "socialist" neighbor, GQ reports. The real story, though, might be much shorter than that.

Like most everyone else in the Rivergreen development, [Bowling Green resident Bill Goodwin] told me, Boucher pays in the ballpark of $150 a month for professional landscaping, while Paul insists on maintaining his yard himself. Goodwin said that part of what nagged at Boucher was the difference in grass length between his lawn and that of his libertarian neighbor's. "He had his yard sitting at a beautiful two-and-a-half, three inches thick, where Rand cuts it to the nub," Goodwin said. [GQ]

Goodwin also told GQ that Boucher was infuriated by Paul's "tendency to mow outward at the edge of his property, spraying his clippings into Boucher's yard." Read more about the dispute at GQ. Jeva Lange

1:01 p.m. ET

President Trump has reinstated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism in an effort to crack down on Kim Jong Un's nuclear program, The New York Times reports. Former President George W. Bush removed North Korea from the list in 2008 while attempting to negotiate a nuclear deal. The nation was first listed in 1988.

"Today the United States is designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism," Trump said in his announcement Monday. "Should have happened a long time ago, should have happened years ago. In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism including assassinations on foreign soil."

Last year, South Korean officials claimed Kim had sent assassins abroad to kill or abduct defectors. North Korea has successfully killed defectors in the past, such as when the nephew of the former wife of the previous North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, was assassinated in South Korea in 1997. Additionally, two female assassins were accused of killing Kim's estranged older half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, in Malaysia earlier this year.

North Korea joins a list of state sponsors of terrorism that includes Sudan, Syria, and Iran. The announcement follows Trump's 12-day trip through Asia, including a stop in South Korea. Watch his declaration below. Jeva Lange

12:50 p.m. ET
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The Trump administration's Federal Communications Commission is expected to announce its plans to begin dismantling of the Obama-era net neutrality rules this week, with an official rollback anticipated following a mid-December meeting, The Wall Street Journal reports.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai vowed last winter that he would take "a weed whacker" to the regulations. Pai argues that the rules — which prevent internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T from tinkering with the speed of certain websites and applications — are preventing innovation in the industry. Supporters of the standards, such as the nonpartisan Free Press, argue that "without net neutrality, cable and phone companies could carve the internet into fast and slow lanes … This would destroy the open internet."

If the dismantling is successful, internet providers will have "more flexibility to use bundles of services and creative pricing to make their favored content more attractive to consumers," The Wall Street Journal explains. Or, as Slate puts it: "Without network neutrality rules, internet providers stand to make a lot of money, since the companies will be able to operate what is essentially a two-way toll — collecting money from both subscribers and websites that want to reach those users at faster speeds."

The new rules are expected to be announced Wednesday, British tech website The Inquirer writes, adding that "the important point, as we've said before, is that once the genie is out of the bottle, getting it back in is almost impossible." Jeva Lange

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