March 7, 2016
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Some among the political elite are keeping a deep, dark secret from their colleagues — they haven't seen Hamilton.

The phenomenally popular Broadway musical boasts fans such as Vice President Joe Biden, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and even President Barack Obama. Hamilton has become so popular among politicians, in fact, that it is now "an essential barometer of professional coolness," The Wall Street Journal reports.

But as many fans are already aware, tickets to Hamilton are sold out through January 2017, which leaves some in politics scrambling to pull strings to get into the show. "It's like the grown-up equivalent of sitting alone in the cafeteria," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's chief of staff Melissa DeRosa said of being the one among her friends who hasn't seen the show. DeRosa described a party where she pretended to check her phone in order to avoid admitting she hadn't seen Hamilton. And she isn't alone:

All the fuss has created a sort of stage fright among some political aides, advisers, and elected officials. Many admit to bouts of acute professional and social anxiety about being a Hamilton no-show.

Jonathan Rosen, one of Mr. de Blasio's closest outside advisers, is so self-conscious about his deficiency that he tries to fake his way through the inescapable Hamilton chitchat.

"When someone brings it up I have no choice but to pretend I know what they're talking about," Mr. Rosen said. [The Wall Street Journal]

Risa Heller, a Hamilton devotee and former communications director to Sen. Chuck Schumer, had advice to those shut out of the show. "Just buy the album and pretend you've seen it,” she said. "Save yourself the embarrassment!" Jeva Lange

2:50 a.m. ET
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Everyone who works or volunteers on President-elect Donald Trump's transition team has to sign a nondisclosure agreement, Politico reported on Tuesday, after obtaining a copy of the agreement. The document reportedly bars all members of the transition team from disclosing policy briefings, personnel information, budgets, contracts, draft research papers, donor information, or any other information about major parts of transition business. Transition team members are also ordered to inform on any colleges they suspect of leaking information, and anyone found violating the clause is subject to legal orders and job termination.

Trump is famous for using NDAs in his business and even private life, and transparency watchdog groups are concerned that if he carries this practice to the White House — as he has suggested he might for high-ranking appointees — it will obfuscate what's happening in Trump's executive branch. But the transition NDA has at least one omission from Trump's previous nondisclosure agreements: There is apparently no "disparagement" clause. So if you want to know what is going on inside Donald Trump's presidential transition, you're probably out of luck — but the worst thing that can legally happen to a transition staffer who insults Trump is that he or she likely won't get a job in the Trump White House. Peter Weber

1:53 a.m. ET
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A shallow 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck 12 miles off the coast of Indonesia's Aceh province at 5:03 a.m. local time, causing buildings to collapse in Meureudu and other towns in Pidie Jaya district. The Indonesian army chief in Aceh said that at least 54 people were killed in the earthquake, though the number may well rise as search-and-rescue teams recover bodies from the rubble of buildings.

The U.S. Geological Survey said there is no tsunami risk from this earthquake. A massive magnitude 9.2 earthquake off the coast of Aceh in December 2004 caused a tsunami that left massive destruction in towns bordering the Indian Ocean, including killing more than 120,000 people in just Aceh province, on the northern tip of Sumatra island. Peter Weber

1:11 a.m. ET

On Tuesday, President-elect Donald Trump dropped Michael G. Flynn, the son of designated national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, from his transition staff. Transition officials say the cause for the firing was the younger Flynn's social media posts, especially his support for the false "pizzagate" conspiracy theory that Democratic operatives were running a child sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant. Flynn, 33, continued to insist the story was true even after police arrested an armed man on Sunday who came to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria and fired at least two rounds, claiming he was there to "self-investigate" the fake story.

Before Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller announced Tuesday morning that Flynn, chief of staff and scheduler for his father, was no longer involved with the transition, Vice President–elect Mike Pence had said on MSNBC's Morning Joe that the younger Flynn had "no involvement in the transition whatsoever." On Tuesday night, CNN's Jake Tapper repeatedly pressed Pence on why Flynn Jr. had a transition email account and if he'd been aware that the transition team had requested security clearance for the younger Flynn, and Pence called the whole story a "distraction" and insisted that Flynn has just been helping his father schedule meetings.

This appears to be the first time Trump has taken action against a Trump insider who has spread fake news stories. Gen. Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is weathering bipartisan criticism over, among other things, his own promotion of false conspiracy theories, though the he has taken to tweeting anodyne messages since Trump's election. Flynn Jr.'s last post before going silent Monday afternoon was a retweet of a fake-news article claiming the Comet Ping Pong gunman is an actor hired to debunk the fake sex-trafficking story. The younger Flynn had reportedly planned to join his father on Trump's National Security Council. Peter Weber

December 6, 2016

The last time Vice President Joe Biden was on Stephen Colbert's Late Show, he had not yet decided to sit out the 2016 Democratic nomination, and on Tuesday, Colbert asked Biden about his stated regrets. Colbert added that his specific regret that Biden did not run hit on Nov. 9, when Donald Trump won the presidential election.

"Let me be clear about the regret," Biden said. "I know I made the right decision for my family, I know I made the right decision. I'm not sure I would have been able to put my whole heart into it. But what I regret is the circumstance that let me not able to run," the death of his son, Beau. He said he did think he was the person best prepared at this time to lead the country, but "the decision was the right decision for me to have made — and by the way, you know, I learned, you want to become the most popular guy in America? Announce you're not running. Announce you're not running, and boy, everything moves in a direction. So who the heck knows what would have happened if I'd run."

Colbert pointed out that Biden had just the day before said he is thinking about running for president in 2020, because, as he told a reporter, "What the hell, man." "I did that for one reason," Biden joked: "So I can announce now that I'm not running and be popularly again." "So there's no way — you didn't mean that?" Colbert asked. "What the hell, vice president?" "I'm a great respecter of fate," Biden said. "I don't plan on running again, but to say you know what's going to happen in four years, I just think, is not rational." "That is the sound of a door creaking open," Colbert said, and Biden clarified: "I mean I can't see the circumstances in which I'd run, but what I've learned a long, long time ago, Stephen, is to never say never. You don't know what's going to happen. I mean, hell, Donald Trump's going to be 74, I'll be 77, in better shape, I mean what the hell?" So the presidential debates would definitively include an arm-wrestling section. Watch below. Peter Weber

December 6, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump's tweets about China and phone call with Taiwan's president have earned him mentions in numerous Chinese state media outlets' editorials. In an editorial published Tuesday, China Daily seemed to give Trump a pass while he's still president-elect — but indicated that would not be the case once he assumes the presidency in January. "To stop acting like the diplomatic rookie he is, the next U.S. president needs help in adapting to his forthcoming role change. Otherwise, he will make costly troubles for his country," the editorial read, warning that a "misstep as president will be far more damaging than one as president-elect."

Meanwhile, People's Daily — which The Washington Examiner described as "an organ of the ruling Communist Party" — warned China could "retaliate if necessary" if Trump attempts to interfere. "An irrational and hasty 'get tough with China' policy would be detrimental to U.S. long-term interests … Not only is the U.S. more dependent on China than Trump seems to realize, but world peace and prosperity depend on the healthy [development] of China-U.S. relations," People's Daily wrote.

Yet another state-run media outlet, the Global Times, slammed Trump for his "reckless" and "outrageous" remarks. "Trump can make a lot of noise," the editorial read, "but that does not exempt him from the rules of the major power game." Becca Stanek

December 6, 2016

At Florida's MacDill Air Force Base for his final national security speech, President Obama on Tuesday looked back at his administration's progress in the fight against terrorism and outlined the work that still needs to be done going forward. Acknowledging that the threat of terrorism "will endure," Obama emphasized the need to "pursue a smart strategy that can be sustained" — a remark CNN described as an "implicit message" to President-elect Donald Trump, who has suggested he will assume a more aggressive approach than Obama has.

Detailing the foreign policy successes of his administration, Obama advised against offering "false promises that we can eliminate terrorism by dropping more bombs" or taking up practices like torture and waterboarding that are not "true to our laws." Obama also stressed the need for America to remain steadfast in its leadership, and he warned against "the mistake" of elevating terrorists as if they "pose an existential threat to our nation."

“No foreign terrorist organization has planned and executed an attack on our homeland in the last eight years," Obama said. "And it is not because they didn't try." Becca Stanek

December 6, 2016
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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is historically disliked, a Quinnipiac University Poll released Tuesday has found. The Republican governor is disapproved of by New Jersey voters 77 percent to 19 percent, the lowest rating recorded for any governor in Quinnipiac's more than 20 years of polling.

"How the mighty have fallen," assistant poll director Maurice Carroll wrote. "Remember four years ago, when Republican leaders were pleading with … Christie to run for president and he looked like a sure thing for reelection — which he was?" Christie's national stock took a huge hit in late 2013, when his aides were found to have closed off access to the George Washington Bridge in an apparent attempt at retaliating against a political foe.

Voters said 71 to 22 percent that Christie knew his aides were causing "Bridgegate," with 48-43 saying he personally ordered the 2013 fiasco. Christie recorded negative ratings from every party, gender, race, or age group measured. Democrats held the lowest opinion of the governor, with only 9 percent approving of him and 90 percent disapproving.

While Christie once had presidential hopes, and then hoped to join President-elect Donald Trump's administration after losing to Trump in the Republican primary, New Jersey voters agree 69 percent to 24 percent that their governor should not be offered a position in the White House. "The [governor]'s job approval numbers get worse every time anyone looks. The last time we looked, May 18, he had a 64-29 percent disapproval rating," Carroll said. "This could be a long final year for Gov. Christie."

The survey was conducted between Nov. 28 and Dec. 4, reaching 1,218 voters in the Garden State by phone. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent. Jeva Lange

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