January 13, 2016

A group of white nationalists is robo-calling voters in Iowa to urge them to support Donald Trump in the Republican caucuses next month — a point Seth Meyers jumped on Tuesday night to take his "closer look" at white nationalist support for Trump, and race issues in the GOP more generally. Meyers noted that the caller, Jared Taylor of a group called American Renaissance, isn't officially affiliated with the Trump campaign, but that other white nationalists have also spoken in support of Trump, including former KKK leader David Duke. "Clearly there's something about Trump's rhetoric that appeals to racial resentment and division, but this is an important point: It's not just Trump," Meyers said. "The Republican Party's race problem extends well beyond him." And if you haven't heard Maine Gov. Paul LePage's comments about drug traffickers, well, watch below. Peter Weber

12:27 p.m. ET
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Rumor has it that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) could be a contender on Donald Trump's VP short list. While the socially conservative governor said Thursday that he had yet to speak to Trump about the possibility, the two are reportedly set to meet Friday, which, Reuters reports, is "part of the vetting process.'

Adding further fuel to the flames, Pence also declined Thursday to comment on whether he is being vetted by Trump and if he would rule out the possibility of serving as vice president. Trump is planning to head to Indiana just a week ahead of the GOP convention for a fundraising event.

However, an aide to Pence insists that the governor hasn't been in contact with Trump. "Gov. Pence hasn't spoken to Mr. Trump since pre-Indiana primary, nor has he ever spoken to them about being VP — ever," the aide told NBC News.

The Indiana governor, who made headlines last year for signing a controversial religious freedom bill into law, had once considered running for president himself. Pence is currently planning to run in November for re-election to his post as Indiana governor. Becca Stanek

12:11 p.m. ET
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Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, announced Friday that Akhmed Chatayev, a Russian militant, is believed to have organized the suicide bombings that killed 44 people at Istanbul's Ataturk airport Tuesday.

Known as "Akhmed One-Arm" due to his missing limb, the Chechen terrorist is known to have traveled to Syria and is "probably the No. 1 enemy in the Northern Caucasus region," McCaul said. Chatayev is believed to have 130 people under his control, and his current whereabouts are unknown, CNN reports.

"We believe [Chatayev] coordinated with the three suicide bombers in Istanbul to conduct this attack during the season of Ramadan," McCaul said. The bombers were identified as hailing from Russia, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan.

Chatayev was on the known list of terrorists in the U.S. after intelligence revealed last year that he was planning attacks against America as well as Turkey. He is believed to have connections to the leadership of the Islamic State. Jeva Lange

11:29 a.m. ET

Hillary Clinton has burned Donald Trump with stern words and with humor, but on Friday her campaign took its audaciousness to a whole new level by waltzing right into the heart of enemy territory: Trump Tower.

Filming in and around the Tower, Clinton campaign staffers Jess McIntosh and Zac Petkanas investigated the manufacturing locations for Trump's clothing line, revealing that the items were made at a range of locations outside of the U.S., from South America to Africa to Asia.

To add insult to injury, the pair then stood on the sidewalk outside Trump Tower to ask passersby where they thought the Trump-branded clothing had been made:

"Turns out Donald Trump only wants to make America great again if he can't make it cheaper elsewhere," McIntonish burns at the end. Ouch. Jeva Lange

10:57 a.m. ET
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With Chipotle still struggling to get back on its feet after a string of E. coli and norovirus outbreaks, the burrito chain is now facing another setback. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.'s chief creative and development officer, Mark Crumpacker, has been put on administrative leave after he was indicted in a New York City cocaine bust.

Crumpacker, one of the company's top four executives, was found to be one of 18 alleged buyers in the Lower East Side drug ring, and he has reportedly been charged with "a single count of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, which is a misdemeanor offense," The Wall Street Journal reports. The charges became public Thursday.

"We made this decision in order to remain focused on the operation of our business, and to allow Mark to focus on these personal matters," Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold told The Wall Street Journal of the decision to put Crumpacker on leave. "Mark's responsibilities have been assigned to other senior managers in his absence."

While the charges don't have anything to do with Chipotle itself, the indictment of the man who has been the face of Chipotle's comeback efforts doesn't necessarily bode well for the company's image repair, analyst Brian Vaccaro of investment company Raymond James told Bloomberg. "This news creates some headline risk that could temporarily negatively impact same-store sales trends," Vaccaro said. Becca Stanek

10:50 a.m. ET
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Samantha Bee stormed onto the late night comedy scene and has taken no prisoners with her signature and undiscriminating outrage. Part of her success — Full Frontal currently has twice as many viewers as The Daily Show — certainly comes from her writers' room. Thanks to a blind application process, Bee ended up with a team that was 50 percent female, 30 percent nonwhite, and entirely unafraid of taking sexism and racism head-on.

In a recent profile of Bee, Rolling Stone offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what Full Frontal's writing room looks like when it's firing on all cylinders. The writers, including Jo Miller and Bee's husband, Jason Jones, were working with a clip from last July, in which Rep. Keith Ellison warned a panel that Trump could get enough momentum to be a political threat. "I know you don't believe that," George Stephanopoulos had mocked while The New York Times' Maggie Haberman blurted, "Sorry to laugh!"

Then Bee's team got to work:

"Hahahahahaha," Bee had guffawed in rehearsal, addressing the pundits frozen on the screen behind her. "Not as sorry as you'll be in 12 months."

"I don't know, I think we need a more outraged sentiment here," says Jones. "'It's your job to prognosticate. You're fucking terrible!'"

"'It's funny 'cause we're white'?" Miller tries. "'Hahaha, you suck at your job'?"

"'Hahaha, you could've helped to make this a reality that didn't happen,'" suggests Bee. "'You could've stopped this, hahaha.'"

A woman sitting next to Bee says, "They give him so much fucking coverage."

"'Hahaha, we've given him 20 million in free advertising,'" Jones throws out.

"No, how many billions has it been?" asks Miller. She types on her laptop. "Two billion. New York Times. That's in March!" She types more. "It's $3 billion now." She pauses. "'Hahaha, that'll never happen unless people like you give him $3 billion in free advertising!'" Bee narrows her eyes and nods. [Rolling Stone]

Read more about Bee's incredible ascent — and her humble beginnings in a traveling adaption of the anime series Sailor Moon — over at Rolling Stone. Jeva Lange

10:03 a.m. ET
David Burnett/Newsmakers

An internal Central Intelligence Agency report on the 2004 arrest and detention of Khaleed al Masri admits that the agency held the German citizen for months after it was confirmed he had no connections to terrorism.

Initially abducted by Macedonian police while on vacation, Masri was handed over to the CIA in January 2004 and taken to one of the agency's black sites, a secret prison in Afghanistan. By Masri's account, the CIA drugged him for transport and tortured him while he was in their custody, administering a nonconsensual anal exam. The CIA's report denies allegations of torture, but does admit that Masri was held in a "small cell" with only "some clothing, bedding, and a bucket for his waste."

Once the agency realized that Masri's passport and story were genuine, his release was delayed because the CIA did not wish to admit error. Finally, in May 2004, Masri was released in Albania. He returned home to Germany to find his family had left the country because they did not believe they would see him again.

The two CIA agents most responsible for Masri's mistaken detention were promoted. Bonnie Kristian

9:50 a.m. ET
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An Italian paper has published the first glimpse of former Pope Benedict's forthcoming memoir, and it's a doozy. The Last Conversations, which will be released Sept. 9, represents the first time ever that a pope has reflected back on his pontificate after it was over — Benedict, of course, being the first pope in six centuries to resign when he did so over health concerns in 2013.

In the memoir, Benedict claims that he struggled against the influence of a "gay lobby" in the Vatican. He alleges that the group was made up of four or five people that sought to sway the Vatican to their agenda, but that he was able to "break up this power group." While the Catholic church opposes homosexuality, Reuters notes that "rights campaigners have long said many gay people work for the Vatican and Church sources have said they suspect that some have banded together to support each other's careers and influence decisions in the bureaucracy."

Benedict also confesses his own "lack of resoluteness in governing" in the memoir, Italy's Corriere della Sera reported, although the former pope maintains he was not pressured to resign. He said that he was "incredulous" when the cardinals picked him to succeed Pope John Paul II and "surprised" when he when they chose the current Pope Francis to replace him in 2013. Jeva Lange

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