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February 22, 2016
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At least a third of this year's Republican electorate likes Donald Trump enough to vote for him, but it's no secret that the Republican establishment would prefer somebody like Sen. Marco Rubio. Elite Republican donors have been pouring money into the campaigns of Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. John Kasich, and, until recently, Jeb Bush, but Marlene Ricketts is going a step further. According to newly released campaign finance reports, Ricketts gave $3 million to Our Principles PAC — a group managed by Mitt Romney 2012 top aide Katie Packer, dedicated to destroying Trump's candidacy — accounting for nearly all the funds the PAC raised in January. Our Principles sent anti-Trump mailers and ran Trump-bashing ads before the Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina contests.

So who is Marlene Ricketts? She and her husband, billionaire T.D. Ameritrade founder J. Joe Ricketts, have owned the Chicago Cubs since 2009, led the charge to tie then-Sen. Barack Obama to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in the 2008 election, and backed the brief campaign of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) this election cycle. Their son is Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R). Marlene Ricketts isn't just financing ads calling Trump a GOP-wrecking fake conservative, though; she also gave $10,000 each last year to super PACs backing Rubio, Bush, Cruz, Rick Perry, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Our Priorities may not have had much luck slowing Trump so far, but it will "launch aggressive efforts" before Super Tuesday on March 1, Packer told USA Today in an email. "We will continue to shine a bright light on Trump's liberal statements and inconsistencies." Or they will at least as long as Ricketts is writing big checks. Peter Weber

11:46 a.m. ET
Rep. Earl Blumenauer/Screenshot

A bipartisan group of lawmakers — Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), and Don Young (R-Alaska) — this week announced the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. The group is the first of its kind, devoted to prodding the federal government to catch up with the move toward legalization and decriminalization of marijuana at the state and local level. Notably, all four representatives hail from states that have already made pot legal for recreational use.

"The federal government's decades-long approach to marijuana is a colossal, cruel joke, and most Americans know it," Rohrabacher said in a press release introducing the caucus. "Not only have incalculable amounts of taxpayers' dollars been wasted, but countless lives have been unnecessarily disrupted and even ruined by misguided law enforcement."

Though the caucus did not spell out particular policy goals, its members indicated a willingness to fight any Trump team moves toward a more aggressive drug war. "I'm very happy with the idea that if we have to we’ll bump heads with the attorney general," Young said of new Attorney General Jess Sessions, a die-hard drug warrior. Rohrabacher was more blunt: "The Trump administration should and will get the word that things have changed in the countryside, and they better not just be stuck in the '50s and '60s," he said. Bonnie Kristian

11:13 a.m. ET

In an interview on ABC's This Week Sunday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) strongly opposed former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton as a potential replacement for Michael Flynn, who recently resigned from his post as national security adviser.

"I think the problem with John Bolton is he disagrees with President Trump's foreign policy," Paul said. "He would be closer to John McCain's foreign policy. John Bolton still believes the Iraq War was a good idea. He still believes regime change was a good idea. He still believes that nation building is a good idea," the senator continued. "My fear is that secret wars would be developing around the globe, and so I think he'd be a bad choice." McCain, Paul said in the same interview, was likewise wrong on Iraq and would lead the U.S. into "perpetual war" were he in charge.

Bolton's name was previously floated for secretary of state or deputy secretary of state, possibilities Paul rejected in equally vehement terms, casting a Bolton hire as a regressive betrayal of Trump voters. One of Trump's best attributes is "his opposition to the Iraq war and regime change," Paul wrote in a November op-ed, while "Bolton was one of the loudest advocates of overthrowing Saddam Hussein and still stupefyingly insists it was the right call 13 years later." Watch his comments on ABC below. Bonnie Kristian

10:49 a.m. ET

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus clashed Sunday over President Trump's tweet labeling the media an "enemy of the American people."

"I don't have any problem with you complaining about an individual story" or bias, Wallace said. "But you went a lot further than that — or the president went a lot further than that he said that the 'fake media' — not certain stories — the 'fake media' are an 'enemy to the country.'"

Priebus pushed back, arguing that the issue is "not just two stories" that may be marred by bias or error but "24 hours a day, seven days a week" of cable news programming that focuses not on the Trump administration's policy accomplishments but "total garbage, unsourced stuff" about personal dynamics between White House staff and alleged unsavory ties between the Trump campaign and Russian spies (a charge Priebus categorically denied in the same conversation).

Wallace disagreed with Priebus' assessment, noting that every Trump action Priebus mentioned had received widespread cable news coverage. "You're right, some of these things were covered," Priebus conceded, "but you get about 10 percent coverage [of Trump's accomplishments] but then as soon as it was over the next 20 hours is all about Russian spies…"

Wallace cut him off: "But you don't get to tell us what to do, Reince, any more than that Barack Obama did. Barack Obama whined about Fox News all the time, but I gotta say, he never said that we were an enemy of the people." Watch an excerpt of their exchange below. Bonnie Kristian

10:16 a.m. ET

President Trump's tweet declaring the media an "enemy of the people" — and his antagonism to the press more broadly — are characteristic of a would-be dictator, Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) independently charged in interviews airing this weekend.

McCain's allegation came first in a Saturday conversation with NBC's Chuck Todd on Meet the Press. "The fact is we need you, we need a free press. It's vital," McCain said. "That's how dictators get started," he continued a few moments later. "They get started by suppressing free press, in other words, a consolidation of power. I am not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I am just saying we need to learn the lessons of history."

Schiff appeared on ABC's This Week in an interview scheduled to air Sunday. "This is something that you hear tin-pot dictators say when they want to control all of the information," he said of Trump's media tweet. "It's not something you have ever heard a president of the United States say." Watch an excerpt of each man's remarks below. Bonnie Kristian

9:50 a.m. ET

After it was delayed for repairs Saturday, the first joint SpaceX-NASA rocket launch had a successful liftoff Sunday morning. The Falcon 9 rocket launched at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and it will deliver a load of cargo to the International Space Station.

The rocket took off from Launch Pad 39A, the same pad Apollo 11 used in 1969 on the way to the moon. SpaceX has a 20-year lease on the pad and hopes to use it to send manned flights into space as early as 2018. Bonnie Kristian

9:13 a.m. ET
Aaron Tam/Getty Images

The USS Carl Vinson, accompanied by the guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer, was deployed to the disputed waters of the South China Sea on Saturday to make what the U.S. Navy says are routine patrols. The Vinson carries a fleet of 60 aircraft and will be "demonstrating [the strike group's] capabilities while building upon existing strong relationships with our allies, partners, and friends in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region," said Rear Admiral James Kilby.

The ocean territory in question is claimed by China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Beijing said in a statement it "firmly opposes any country's attempt to undermine China's sovereignty and security in the name of the freedom of navigation and overflight." Bonnie Kristian

8:17 a.m. ET
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secretly met with Jordan's King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in 2016 to consider a regional peace initiative negotiated by then-Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Sunday. The covert talks took place in Jordan last February, and terms of the agreement Netanyahu would ultimately reject included renewed peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leadership as well as Arab nations' recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Netanyahu confirmed Sunday that the meeting took place and said in a gathering of Likud ministers that it occurred at his initiation. He did not accept the conditions Kerry proposed because he did not believe he could win approval from his coalition government.

History will "definitely judge the magnitude of the opportunity as well as the magnitude of the missed opportunity," tweeted Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog in response to the news on Sunday. Bonnie Kristian

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