February 29, 2016
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A new batch of emails released by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder reveals that his office knew as far back as November the he could unilaterally declare a state of emergency in Flint over the city's contaminated water supply.

"As you know, the governor can declare at any time for any reason," Capt. Chris Kelenske, deputy state director of emergency management and Homeland Security at the Michigan State Police, wrote in an email to a member of Snyder's staff on November 13. Kelenske argued that a declaration would speed the clean-up process by facilitating the flow of funding, but noted that it could be (correctly) perceived as an admission of government guilt.

The actual state of emergency was not announced until January 5, 2016 — a full year after the state began providing bottled water for its own employees in Flint in response to water quality concerns. Bonnie Kristian

9:50 a.m. ET

Republican Donald Trump has found a handy way to overcome his low poll numbers and his suspicion that the election may be rigged: Just cancel the whole thing and get on with his coronation — er, inauguration already.

Speaking at a rally in Ohio Thursday evening, Trump was meditating on the differences between himself and rival Hillary Clinton when he made his proposal. "Just thinking to myself right now, we should just cancel the election and just give it to Trump," he said. "What are we having [the election] for?" he added. "Her policies are so bad! Boy, do we have a big difference."

Watch Trump's comments below. Bonnie Kristian

9:36 a.m. ET

In reliably red Missouri, Democratic Senate candidate Jason Kander is making gains on incumbent Republican Sen. Roy Blunt by "attacking Blunt incessantly for his long career in Washington" and "raising the issue of his wife and sons' professions as lobbyists," RealClearPolitics reports. Now, Politico has a scoop that could rattle Blunt even more: His wife, Abigail Blunt, is reported to be pursuing membership with the elite Chevy Chase Club, "a tony Washington country club that costs tens of thousands of dollars to join."

Blunt's campaign spokesman Burson Snyder declined to comment on Abigail Blunt's application, although her name reportedly appears on the club's internal website on a list of "candidates to be considered shortly for election." Upon membership, Abigail Blunt would owe $80,000, plus an additional $600 a month, according to a club member who spoke with Politico.

Kander, meanwhile, has positioned himself as a friendly alternative for Republicans who dislike the Washington establishment — including Donald Trump supporters. "Those same voters are not then going to the next line on the ballot and voting for somebody who's been in Washington for 20 years and has made Washington work for them and not for Missourians," Kander said. "That's just not how they're going to vote. It's very clear."

In the RealClearPolitics average of polls taken between Oct. 9 and 26, Blunt is up by just one percentage point, with 46 percent support to Kander's 45 percent. The race is considered to be a toss-up. Jeva Lange

8:57 a.m. ET

The FBI reportedly spent four hours questioning Angelina Jolie over accusations that her husband, Brad Pitt, abused their son Maddox on a private plane in September, Marie Claire reports. "The agents wanted a breakdown of everything that happened from when the plane took off to when it landed," a person familiar with the family told Us Weekly. "They're looking into charges of assault."

While the news is concerning for heartbroken fans of Brangelina, it might frustrate critics of Hillary Clinton, too. As Fox News points out, the FBI's interrogation of Jolie actually lasted half an hour longer than its interview with Clinton last July over Clinton's use of a private email server when she was secretary of state. In that probe, Clinton spent just three and a half hours speaking with FBI officers.

In the end, the FBI recommended no criminal charges against Clinton; Jolie and Pitt's investigation is ongoing, with the FBI speaking to key witnesses for another several weeks. "They will present the case to the prosecutor, who will evaluate whether they feel the need to bring charges against Brad," Marie Claire reports. Jeva Lange

8:52 a.m. ET

The U.S. economy surged in the third quarter, with gross domestic product growing at an annualized rate of 2.9 percent, the Commerce Department reported Friday. The growth in this latest quarter was the best since the third quarter of 2014, when GDP grew by 5 percent.

By comparison, GDP growth in the previous three quarters was 1.4 percent, 0.6 percent, and 0.9 percent.

The expected growth for July through September had been about 2.5 percent, according to economists who spoke with The Wall Street Journal; it also exceeded Bloomberg's predictions of 2.6 percent.

The boost in the third quarter "largely reflected increased exports and a buildup of inventories, while consumer spending increased at a slower rate," The Wall Street Journal reports. Jeva Lange

8:03 a.m. ET

Donald Trump limps behind Hillary Clinton in available campaign funds going into the final 11-day stretch of the presidential race and to add salt to the wound, The Daily Beast has found that Trump's own children and inner circle have not ponied up money for his campaign. Ivanka Trump, who donated to Hillary Clinton and John McCain in 2007 and 2008 respectively, has not given to her father, nor has Donald Trump Jr., who also contributed to Clinton in 2007. Tiffany Trump has also apparently given zilch. Eric Trump did donate — $376.20, labeled as "meeting expense: meals" — but he also appeared to get the money refunded.

Then there are Trump's own friends — Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Ben Carson, Rudy Giuliani, and Trump's campaign manager, Steve Bannon — who have apprently not contributed anything, despite most having been active financial supporters of other candidacies in the past.

Trump himself has vowed to put $100 million of his own money into his campaign, but with less than two weeks left, he's totaled a smidgen under $57 million. He has been soliciting donations from his supporters since June.

By comparison, Clinton's own campaign chairman and daughter have both donated $2,700, with additional contributions from DNC chair Donna Brazile, Clinton's campaign manager Robby Mook, and David Axelrod. Clinton had $62 million by Oct. 19 for the final stretch of the election, while Trump only had $16 million. Jeva Lange

7:52 a.m. ET

Maybe call it self-rigging the polls. A group of Republican activists, strategists, and operatives in 11 battleground states — Politico's Caucus group — overwhelmingly believes that Donald Trump's support is being undercounted in the polls, because people are embarrassed to admit that they are supporting the GOP nominee. "I personally know many Republicans that won't admit that they are voting for Trump," one Virginia Republican said in the anonymous survey. "I don't like admitting it myself. It won't matter if Hillary is up more than 5 points, but we might be in for a surprise if Hillary's lead is less than 5 points on Election Day."

While 71 percent of Politico's GOP insiders believe there is a "shy Trump" effect in play, 74 percent of Democrats say the polls aren't undercounting Trump voters.

There was no real evidence of a "shy Trump" effect in the Republican primaries, FiveThirtyEight found, and many of Politico's insiders said that even if there were bashful Trump voters out there, it probably wouldn't tip the scales — 59 percent of the GOP insiders said they think Clinton would win their state if the election were held right now. Republican insiders, of course, aren't Trump's best demographic. "He doesn't understand policy, he doesn't care about policy, and he's not a conservative," a Virginia GOP participant told Politico. "So you just handed a one-year-old an iPhone. He'll try to push the buttons but not in any manner that makes sense or works." Peter Weber

7:22 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Robust early October fundraising has left Hillary Clinton's campaign with a comfortable $62 million for the final days of the presidential election, while Donald Trump's own fundraising efforts over the same period of time disappointed, leaving him with only $16 million in his campaign coffers by Oct. 19, The Washington Post reports.

Trump's campaign raised just $28.9 million in the first 19 days of the month, filings show, down from $100 million in September; Clinton raised nearly double that, $57.2 million. Despite Trump's repeated claims that he will donate $100 million to his campaign by Election Day, his personal contributions total, to date, just over $56 million.

RealClearPolitics' average of the polls has Clinton up 5 points nationally; both candidates will be in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Friday for different events. Jeva Lange

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