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January 23, 2016
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Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) called the blizzard "one of the worst snowstorms in New York City history," in a news conference Saturday, The Washington Post reports.

If the city sees more than 20 inches of snow, which is now expected, the storm would rank among the top five since 1869. De Blasio is considering imposing a travel ban.

"This is an hour-to-hour thing…we're in a very different situation than we were last night," de Blasio said. "We're going into uncharted territory here." Julie Kliegman

3:54 a.m. ET
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On Thursday morning, the U.S. Treasury Department fined ExxonMobil $2 million for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions against Russia in a series of eight business deals in 2014 with Russian state oil giant Rosneft and its CEO, Igor Sechin. At the time of the deals, Rex Tilllerson, now secretary of state, was Exxon's chief executive, with a long relationship with Sechin. The U.S. had sanctions against Sechin but not Rosneft.

The relatively modest fine, levied after a years-long investigation, "gives the message that they're going to do what they have to even though Rex Tillerson is secretary of state," Hal Eren a former official in the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), tells The New York Times. "Perhaps it was a bit of assertion of independence by the staff of OFAC."

Exxon quickly sued the Treasury Department, naming Treasury Secretary Steven Munchin as the lead defendant and calling the fine "unlawful" and "fundamentally unfair" because the agreements were signed with Sechin in his official capacity, not personal. In its complaint, meanwhile, the Treasury Department said top Exxon officials showed "reckless disregard" for the sanctions, that Exxon's "senior-most executives knew of Sechin's status," and that the eight deals signed by Exxon and Sechin "caused significant harm to the Ukraine-related sanctions."

Regardless of the merits of the fine or lawsuit, the strange legal battle now essentially pits two of President Trump's top Cabinet secretaries against each other, The Washington Post points out. "I can't think of another case where that's happened, where you've had a senior government official on both sides of the 'v,' essentially," former OFAC official Adam Smith tells the Post. Peter Weber

2:58 a.m. ET

With his dreams of repealing ObamaCare on the rocks and his firstborn son keeping Russia in the headlines, President Trump on Wednesday "decided that it was time to do some damage control, by talking to Public Enemy No. 1," The New York Times, Trevor Noah said on Thursday's Daily Show. He played, then made jokes about, the parts of the madcap interview where Trump talked about his second meeting with Vladimir Putin, shared his warm feelings about French President Emmanuel Macron, and gave an odd revisionist history on Napoleon and Russia.

"As strange as that all was, that was the amusing part of the interview," Noah said. "It's how Trump puts the 'fun' in 'fundamentally unfit to be president.' Then there's the other parts of the interview, the parts that remind us that, if he could, Donald Trump would dismantle the rule of law like it was one of his marriages." He played Trump's comments about regretting hiring Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

"I am still stunned at how Donald Trump can make the most damning admissions as a 'By the way...'," Noah said. "Because you realize, Trump just admitted he only picked Sessions because he thought he would quash investigations into Trump. And he just says it." What Trump's saying is he believes the presidency is meant to serve him, regardless of law or ethics, Noah argued. "The only thing more shocking than his autocratic view of power is his willingness to talk so openly about it. In a strange way, Donald Trump is both the most honest and dishonest president of all time." He suggested a new nickname, Abraham Nixon.

On Thursday's Late Night, Seth Meyers gave a little more background on the Trump-Sessions bromance and how it unraveled. Then Meyers, too, played Trump's comments to the Times about Sessions, and like Noah, he was confused. "How would he recuse himself before he got the job?" he asked. "That would be like someone trying to get a construction job and saying their best skill is workers' comp." Meyers also looked at how Trump and his allies on Fox are laying the groundwork to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, Trump's continued trash-talking of former FBI Director James Comey, and how Trump will throw any ally — ahem, Chris Christie — under the bus to save his own skin. Watch below. Peter Weber

1:38 a.m. ET
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President Trump and some of his lawyers are actively looking at ways to undermine, discredit, or fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading a broad investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election, including compiling a list of potential conflicts of interest that might be used to force out Mueller or some of this investigators, The New York Times and The Washington Post report, both citing people familiar with the effort. That effort has apparently ramped up as Mueller begins digging into Trump's financial history.

"Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face," The Washington Post reports. "He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns."

A conflict of interest is one potential reason an attorney general can use to remove a special counsel, and the Trump team is casting its net wide, including whether Mueller is close to fired FBI Director James Comey, an alleged dispute over membership fees between Mueller and Trump National Golf Course when Mueller resigned in 2011, and political contributions to Democrats by some of his team's prosecutors. "Prosecutors may not participate in investigations if they have 'a personal or political relationship' with the subject of the case," The New York Times explains. "Making campaign donations is not included on the list of things that would create a 'political relationship.'"

In a wide-ranging interview Wednesday with The New York Times, Trump also suggested that Mueller has a conflict of interest because he interviewed for the FBI director job before he was appointed special counsel, though he did not explain how that is a conflict of interest. Trump and his lawyers are also making the argument that Mueller could be sacked for exceeding what Trump sees as the scope of the Russia investigation. When Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who would have to fire Mueller, appointed him, he gave Mueller broad authority to investigate any links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government plus "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation" and any crime committed in response to the investigation. Peter Weber

12:42 a.m. ET
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As President Trump becomes increasingly concerned and angry about the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, which has reportedly expanded into Trump's financial transactions, he has been talking with aides and his legal team about the president's power to pardon aides, family members, and even himself, people familiar with the effort tell The Washington Post. One of those people described the discussion as mostly among Trump's lawyers, and two people familiar with the conversations said the discussions are purely theoretical at this point, largely to satisfy Trump's curiosity. "This is not in the context of, 'I can't wait to pardon myself,'" a close adviser told the Post.

Presidents have broad powers to pardon people for federal offenses, as laid out in the Constitution, but no president has tried to pardon himself — though Richard Nixon explored the question, CBS's John Dickerson points out — and it is unclear if that would be legally permissible. "This is a fiercely debated but unresolved legal question," Michigan State University constitutional law expert Brian C. Kalt tells the Post. "There is no predicting what would happen."

It would certainly spark a political firestorm, as would any pardon related to the Russia investigation. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, warned Trump in a statement Thursday night that "pardoning any individuals who may have been involved would be crossing a fundamental line." He called the possibility that Trump is "considering pardons at this early stage in these ongoing investigations ... extremely disturbing." You can read more about Trump's pardon deliberations at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

July 20, 2017
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President Trump is preparing to name Anthony Scaramucci, a Wall Street financier and longtime supporter, as communications director, two sources "familiar with the planning" tell Jonathan Swan at Axios. Scaramucci has been in talks with the White House to join the communications team in some high-level role, Politico reports, and the communications director job has been open since Mike Dubke's short tenure came to an end in May. Scaramucci, who recently sold off his stake in SkyBridge Capital, his hedge fund, for a Trump administration position that fell through, has been working at the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

Trump has been vocally unhappy with his communications team, and he appreciates how Scaramucci defends him in his frequent appearances on Fox News, Swan says. Trump "thinks he is really good at making the case for him," one White House official tells Politico. "He loves him on TV." Scaramucci, or "Mooch," is a longtime friend of Fox News host Sean Hannity, and, according to Maggie Haberman at The New York Times, he's close to Donald Trump Jr., and Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump like him.

"Trump's plans to appoint Scaramucci came as a surprise to Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who found out after the plans had already been made," Swan says. It's an "open question whether Priebus tries to stop it," Haberman adds. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who has been acting communications director, is expected to stay on. Peter Weber

July 20, 2017
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Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington was found dead Thursday morning at a private residence in Palos Verdes Estates, a suburb of Los Angeles. He was 41. TMZ reported Bennington's death was a suicide, but the case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County coroner's office.

Bennington was married and had six children. During his more than two decades in the music industry, he also fronted for Stone Temple Pilots.

Variety noted Bennington was a close friend of Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, who committed suicide in May. Thursday would have been Cornell's 53rd birthday.

"Shocked and heartbroken, but it's true," Bennington's Linkin Park bandmate Mike Shinoda tweeted. "An official statement will come out as soon as we have one." Becca Stanek

July 20, 2017
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Cows have given humanity cheese, steak, and milk, and now the bovine species might help scientists develop a vaccine against HIV. A study published Thursday in the journal Nature explained that while cows can't contract HIV, they can produce antibodies to block infections like HIV, providing scientists a long sought-after opportunity to better understand how the immune system develops such antibodies.

One of the biggest conundrums for researchers working to develop an HIV vaccine is figuring out why people with HIV do not produce enough effective antibodies to battle the virus. Cows, scientists discovered after injecting four calves with HIV immunogens, produce powerful antibodies against HIV — and rapidly. Researchers were then able to isolate antibodies from the cows to study individual antibodies' effectiveness against HIV and investigate how they could trigger the production of such antibodies in the human body.

"As a scientist, this is really exciting," said study author Devin Sok. "To put it into perspective, the first broadly neutralizing antibodies were discovered in the 1990s. Since then, we've been trying to elicit these antibodies through immunization, and we've never been able to do it until now, until we have immunized a cow. This has given some information for how to do it so that hopefully we can apply that to humans."

John Mascola, director of vaccine research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, noted the study isn't a straight shot toward developing the vaccine for HIV. However, he said, "it does tell us how the virus evades the human immune response" — which is certainly a step in the right direction. Becca Stanek

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