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January 26, 2016

The long, messy, aborted recount of votes in Florida in the 2000 election — and the U.S. Supreme Court's last-minute intervention — was a big moment in U.S. politics. It was also a big moment in the life and career of Ted Cruz, a 29-year-old policy adviser to George W. Bush's campaign who was sent to help out the Bush legal team in Tallahassee. In his book, A Time for Truth, Cruz paints himself as a central figure in the legal and political drama, which ended up sending Bush to the White House. The New York Times interviewed more than a dozen of Cruz's colleagues, and found a more complicated story.

Cruz's legal work was recalled as exemplary by those who remembered him in Tallahassee, but his personality, obvious ambition, and tendency to insert his opinion rubbed plenty of Bush aides the wrong way, The Times notes, adding that some people avoided meetings they knew Cruz would be at. Cruz hints at that in his book, noting: "I was far too cocky for my own good... and that sometimes caused me to overstep the bounds of my appointed role."

According to The Times, Cruz often reminded people of his résumé: Princeton, Harvard, a Supreme Court clerkship, Washington law firm. And his period as a GOP insider might help explain how he became a disruptive outsider. Cruz met his wife, Heidi, while working for the Bush campaign, and while Heidi Cruz was offered a job in the Bush White House, Ted Cruz was not. "He thought he should get the No. 1 policy job in the White House, and he was extremely ambitious," former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer told The Times. "In Ted’s case in 2000, it backfired."

You can read more about Cruz's work on the 2000 recount — and learned why Bush called him "Theodore" (his name is Rafael Edward Cruz) — at The New York Times. Peter Weber

August 20, 2017

About two hours after a Liberian-flagged oil tanker, Alnic MC, collided with the U.S. Navy destroyer USS John S. McCain at 5:24 p.m U.S. East Coast time in the Strait of Malacca off Singapore, President Trump tweeted that he was on his way back to Washington "after working hard" during his 17-day vacation at his New Jersey golf resort and other locations. The Navy, which announced the accident on Twitter a few minutes after Trump's tweet, said that 10 sailors are missing and five injured, and a search-and-rescue operation is underway. "Our first priority is determining the safety of the ship and crew," tweeted Adm. John Richardson, the chief of U.S. naval operations. "As more information is learned, we will share it."

On Sunday night, Trump tweeted out his "thoughts and prayers" to the sailors on the destroyer, which was damaged on the rear port side but is reportedly heading toward Singapore under its own power.

Earlier, when he arrived at the White House, reporters asked Trump about the accident. "That's too bad," Trump said.

The Strait of Malacca, connecting the Indian and Pacific Oceans, is often congested with shipping traffic, but analysts said the Navy should be concerned about the second collision in two months involving an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the 7th Fleet. Just last week, the Navy disciplined several officers for a deadly June collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a much larger container ship off Japan; seven U.S. sailors died. "They were already stretched after the Fitzgerald collision, and now they've lost a second frontline destroyer at an acute time in the region, with the tensions around North Korea and in the South China Sea," Euan Graham at Sydney's Lowy Institute tells The Washington Post.

In February, another guided-missile cruiser in the 7th Fleet, the Antietam, ran aground in Tokyo Bay near the fleet's base at Yokosuka, Japan, and in May, the Navy cruiser Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel, with no injuries, The New York Times notes. Peter Weber

August 20, 2017
Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad thanked Russia, Iran, and Lebanon-based Hezbollah militias on Sunday for helping his army make gains against rebel groups and the Islamic State, saying their "direct support — politically, economically, and militarily — has made possible bigger advances on the battlefield and reduced the losses and burdens of war."

Assad made his remarks during a televised address to the country, which is still in the midst of a six-and-a-half-year-old civil war. He said there had been several plans by the West to remove him from the presidency, yet none had come to fruition, and revealed that the army will launch an offensive in Syrian deserts, in conjunction with Russian planes and Iranian-funded militias, to root out ISIS militants.

Assad also said Syria has "an interest in the success of" ceasefire deals brokered by Russia, adding that "the idea of these de-escalation zones is to stop the bloodletting ... and the eviction of the armed groups handing over their weapons and the return of normalcy." Several rebel groups have accused Assad of violating truces, including in the suburbs of Damascus, where witnesses say the army bombs residential areas that are held by the rebels, Reuters reports. Catherine Garcia

August 20, 2017
U.S. Navy/Getty Images

The U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet said at least 10 sailors are missing and five others hurt after the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain and a tanker collided early Monday in the waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca.

The destroyer sustained damage on its left rear and port side aft. The ship is based in Yokosuka, Japan, and has 23 officers, 24 chief petty officers, and 291 enlisted sailors, The Associated Press reports. This is the second crash in the Pacific involving a ship from the Navy's 7th Fleet in two months, following June's collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship, which killed seven sailors. Catherine Garcia

August 20, 2017

Comedian Jerry Lewis died Sunday morning, his agent announced that afternoon, at home in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was 91.

Perhaps best known for his comedy partnership with Dean Martin, Lewis' slapstick career spanned more than half a century and media including film, television, radio, and stage. He starred in movies like 1960's The Bellboy and 1963'sThe Nutty Professor, and also worked as a singer, screenwriter, director, and producer.

Offscreen, Lewis was a prominent supporter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, headline its annual fundraising telethon for decades and raising some $2.6 billion for the cause. Lewis is survived by his second wife, SanDee Pitnick, and six children.

Lewis was widely mourned by Hollywood when news of his death broke; see a few of those tributes below. Bonnie Kristian

August 20, 2017

The terrorist cell responsible for the vehicle attack in Barcelona that killed 13, including one American, on Thursday originally intended to target the city's iconic Sagrada Familia cathedral, Spain's El Español reported Saturday, citing police sources. The church was reportedly chosen for its religious symbolism as well as its busy flow of tourists, but the plan was ultimately abandoned after the terrorists apparently mishandled their own explosives stockpile.

The cathedral instead became the site for a memorial service for the victims' families Sunday.

Authorities believe the terror cell had 12 members and collected 120 gas cannisters to use in vehicle attacks. Five cell members were fatally shot by police; four were arrested; and three — including Moroccan-born Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, believed to be the driver in the Barcelona attack — remain at large.

The manhunt for the final suspects continued Sunday, though two sets of unidentified remains could account for two of the three missing men. The remains are from an explosion at a house in Alcanar, Spain, on Wednesday, the incident thought to have canceled the cathedral plan. Abouyaaqoub fled the scene of the Barcelona attack on foot and may have crossed the border into France. Bonnie Kristian

August 20, 2017

"I don't have any plans" to primary President Trump in 2020, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) said Sunday in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper. "I'm rooting for him to get it together. We all are. I mean, we're only like seven months into this presidency," he added.

Kasich decried a political discourse in which "all we're doing is questioning [Trump's] motives" and "fighting back and forth," averring that America doesn't "do well when all we do is fight."

He also weighed in on Trump's much-criticized responses to the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last week. Asked by Tapper whether he believes Trump is "concerned about alienating bigots because they might be a part of his base," Kasich praised Trump's Saturday remarks on the related demonstrations in Boston. "It's all about ... explaining to [Trump] we've got to bring the country together," the governor continued, "and, you know, blaming one side or another when we're talking about the KKK or white supremacists — there is no comparison between these hate groups and everybody else."

Watch Kasich's full interview below. Bonnie Kristian

August 20, 2017

GOP Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), the Senate's only black Republican, did not mince words in his assessment of the Trump administration during an interview on Face the Nation Sunday.

"As we look to the future, it's going to be very difficult for this president to lead if in fact his moral authority remains compromised," Scott told CBS host John Dickerson. "Sometimes you have positional authority, and that is very helpful," Scott continued, "but the reality of it is this nation responds to moral authority, when we believe that our president has the entire nation's best interest at heart."

Trump's "comments on Tuesday," in which he said there were some "very fine people" marching on the white nationalist side in Charlottesville, Virginia, "erased his positive comments on Monday," Scott added. The senator recommended Trump meet with Civil Rights movement leaders "who endured the pain of the '60s ... the humiliation of the '50s and the '60s" to better understand "the painful history of racism and bigotry of this country."

Watch an excerpt of Scott's comments below. Bonnie Kristian

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