March 17, 2016

Stephen Colbert often eases his viewers into his segments about the 2016 election with some sort of transition. On Wednesday's Late Show, it was The Bachelor, thanks to ex-bachelor Ben and his pick, Lauren, being in the audience. "Of course, the reality show everyone's talking about is the presidential election," Colbert said, and this week's big episode was the five states that voted on Tuesday. "People were calling it Super Tuesday Part III, and like all sequels, it's getting predictable and very expensive," he said.

Colbert began with the Democratic side, noting that Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders in all five states, including Florida. "It is just so sad to see Bernie betrayed by the people he most resembles," he said, then moved on to the "interesting" race. He noted that Marco Rubio dropped out of the GOP contest after losing Florida to Donald Trump, then looked at who's left. Ohio Gov. John Kasich won his home state — his first victory — then said he would win the nomination. Kasich is high, Colbert suggested, "because to secure the nomination at the convention in Cleveland this summer, Kasich would have to get 116 percent of the remaining delegates. We'd have to make him governor of every remaining state, plus some states we don't even have yet," like North Kentucksylvania and Massachippissippi. He had especial fun with Massachippissippi.

That leaves Sen. Ted Cruz, whom Colbert brought up with a mixture of ghost-story and horror-movie special effects. "Mathematically, Cruz is the only guy remaining who can beat Donald Trump" — unless Republicans have a brokered convention, Colbert said, where delegates are free to vote for whomever they choose after nobody wins on the first ballot. That would be "great news," he said: "The Republican campaign could start all over again, only this time it's crammed into one week — you can binge-watch the death of the GOP." Colbert had one more analogy, and it's pretty good, too. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:23 a.m. ET

For an operation that appears to be run via Donald Trump rally and Donald Trump tweets, Donald Trump's presidential campaign actually has a very sophisticated data-mining operation, called Project Alamo, that was detailed in BloombergBusinessweek on Thursday. Trump campaign chairman Steve Bannon told Bloomberg that Trump has built the "underlying apparatus for a political movement" that will "dominate Republican politics" after the election, and Trump's digital director, Brad Parscale, added, "We own the future of the Republican Party." Megyn Kelly asked columnist Charles Krauthammer on Thursday's Kelly File if he thinks that is true.

Krauthammer said it depends on whether Trump wins. Any successful president, like Ronald Reagan, will dominate and change his party, Krauthammer said, and Trump is backed by a plurality of Republicans now. If Trump loses, however, what he does next is up to him. "If Trump decides to stay in the game, the first test will be whether he can successfully bring down Paul Ryan, who's become a nemesis of his, and then we'll now how transitive is his influence," Krauthammer said. Kelly was skeptical.

All along, she noted, Trump "has said, 'If I lose, this was all for nothing, it has been a complete waste of time, and I'm going to go back to running my successful business and, you know, focus on profit-making.'" It's up to Trump, and we don't know if he'll want to build a media empire, try to become a kingmaker, or return to his business, Kelly said. "But we know one thing from his entire life history," Krauthammer said. "He loves the spotlight, he finds it hard to be away from it." Win or lose, Trump will have changed, "he'll have acquired a powerful instrument, a political instrument — he didn't have that before he ran," Krauthammer said, and "it's extremely tempting because he built this, essentially on his own and out of nowhere, and he's got a lot of options. He's not the retiring type, you might have noticed." Kelly had noticed. They laughed. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:12 a.m. ET

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is one of the most vulnerable incumbents this election, and he probably didn't help his chances to retain his seat in his debate Thursday night with Democratic challenger, Rep. Tammy Duckworth. Kirk had been pretty low-key in their first debate, but he was decidedly more feisty on Thursday night, accusing Duckworth of lying about a workplace discrimination lawsuit and calling her record of serving veterans "very questionable." His biggest hit, however, was also his loudest thud.

Duckworth had just explained why she wanted to serve in the Senate "when the drums of war sound," to explain the costs and risks of war. "My family has served this nation in uniform going back to the Revolution," she said. "I am a Daughter of the American Revolution. I've bled for this nation." That's not hyperbole — Duckworth served as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot in Iraq, and she lost both her legs when a rocket-propelled grenade took down her chopper in 2004. "I had forgotten your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington," Kirk said, apparently referring to the fact that Duckworth's mother is Thai of Chinese descent; Duckworth was also born in Thailand.

Kirk's comment was met with an awkward silence, then a moderator told Duckworth, "You're welcome to take some time to respond to that, too," and Duckworth laughed: "There's been members of my family serving on my father's side since the American Revolution.... I'm proud of both my father's side and my mother, who's an immigrant."

Kirk, who served as an intelligence officer in the Naval Reserve for 23 years until a serious stroke prompted his retirement in 2013, had been urged by the National Republican Senatorial Committee to "stay out of the media" as much as possible this election, the Chicago Tribune reports, and he has mostly made news so far for being the first Republican to unendorse Donald Trump after Trump attacked a Mexican-American judge. Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway joined the many jeers of Kirk's gaffe, because revenge is a dish best served five months later. Peter Weber

2:11 a.m. ET
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Police in riot gear arrested at least 141 people near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota on Thursday, with charges including criminal trespassing, engaging in a riot, and conspiracy to endanger by fire, the Morton County Sheriff's Department said.

The protesters were blocking the path of the planned Dakota Access oil pipeline, which will stretch 1,172 miles. Native American demonstrators are worried the pipeline, which goes through an area they hold sacred, could contaminate the water, and they say they are reclaiming land that was given to the Great Sioux Nation in the 1851 Ft. Laramie Treaty, but later revoked. Temporary barricades the protesters set up were dismantled, and authorities say there is no one left at the encampment. Police showed up at the scene with military-style vehicles, including one meant to withstand roadside bomb explosions. While most protesters were peaceful, one did set fire to tires that were part of a barricade. Catherine Garcia

1:31 a.m. ET
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A memo attached to a hacked email shows that in 2009, former president Bill Clinton was invited to go sightseeing in North Korea by then-ruler Kim Jong Il, and seemed open to the offer.

Clinton was in North Korea to help with negotiations to free two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who had been arrested and jailed; he was successful, and the women were released. The memo was apparently written by David Straub, a Stanford University professor whose name was at the bottom of it, BuzzFeed reports, and it was attached to an email forwarded to John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman and Bill Clinton's former White House chief of staff. It's believed Podesta's email was hacked by Russians.

Kim, the father of current North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un, died in 2011. During his meeting with Clinton, he suggested the former president "tour someday when there were no problems in bilateral relations." The memo states that Clinton shared he would like to visit a "beautiful seaside location" depicted in a painting at his guesthouse, and "Kim said he would show him a much more beautiful place, and that President Clinton should come back to the DPRK on holiday." The pair also spoke about Clinton being forced to cancel a trip he planned to take to North Korea at the end of his second term because of last-minute peace talks between Israel and Palestine, and Kim noted Clinton was the first foreign leader to send his condolences when his father, North Korea's founder Kim Il Sung, died. Read more about the memo and Kim's thoughts on George W. Bush and President Obama at BuzzFeed. Catherine Garcia

12:57 a.m. ET

Last week, filmmaker Michael Moore released a secretly made movie urging voters — especially those in the white working class — to vote against Donald Trump. It received a surprising endorsement:

The (NSFW) clip Trump posted ends with Moore saying that voting for Donald Trump will feel good, but Moore told Megyn Kelly on Thursday that Trump cut off the rest of the sentence: "for a day, maybe a week," but then people will find out their life "probably will get worse," and in fact, "if we elect Donald Trump as president, it won't be the same country in four years, I'm absolutely convinced of that. This is the most vile, disgusting candidate that has ever run for office in this country."

Kelly noted that Moore, who understands the white working class, still pretty adroitly explained why that group is Trump's strongest demographic: because they want Trump to blow stuff up. "So I'm here, and I'm here on Fox, to appeal to people who are watching, to not do that," Moore said. "I understand why you're angry, you have every right to be angry, the system has failed you, but he is not the solution to this." His new film "is sort of a humorous love poem to Hillary Clinton," Moore said, and Kelly laughed, "I can hear the ticket sales now!" "Well, it's been No. 1 on iTunes since last Friday," Moore said. "Thanks to Trump!" Kelly interjected. "Obviously he didn't watch the movie," Moore noted. "If he'd watched the whole movie, he and Don Jr. wouldn't be promoting this, because the movie says get out there and vote for Hillary Clinton."

Kelly was curious about that, reminding Moore that he backed Bernie Sanders. "You seem to be, like, a reluctant Hillary supporter, am I wrong?" she asked. Moore said he was: "She voted for the war, I thought she was too cozy with Wall Street, I supported Bernie, I supported Obama eight years ago." But Clinton has long backed universal health care and will fix ObamaCare, he argued, and I "care about about women should be paid the same as men, I care about the polar ice caps melting, I care about the big, big issues, and those are the ones you've to have the smart person in the room." Watch below. Peter Weber

12:14 a.m. ET
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A mayor and nine others were killed early Friday in the Philippines after a gun battle broke out between the men and anti-narcotics officers, police say.

President Rodrigo Duterte has famously declared he would be "happy to slaughter" all drug addicts, and since taking office June 30, police estimate that more than 3,600 suspected drug dealers and addicts have been killed. Police say that Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan and nine others were approaching a checkpoint in North Cotabato province when they opened fire from three cars. Superintendent Bernard Tayong told The Associated Press that Duterte had named Dimaukom as one of several politicians he suspected was involved in illegal drugs.

In other Duterte news, the profanity-loving president announced Thursday in his hometown that he'd made a promise to God that he would stop cursing. Duterte — who called Pope Francis a "son of a bitch" and told President Obama to "go to hell" — said he was flying home from a trip to Japan when he heard a voice say, "'If you don't stop epithets, I will bring this plane down now.' And I said, 'Who is this?' So, of course, it's God." Duterte said he's stopping the swearing cold turkey because a "promise to God is a promise to the Filipino people," but when the crowd began to applaud, he warned, "Don't clap too much or else this may get derailed." Catherine Garcia

October 27, 2016
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He doesn't know it yet, but Vice President Joe Biden is Hillary Clinton's top pick for secretary of state should she win the election, Politico reports.

A person familiar with her transition team's planning says Biden is at the top of the campaign's internal short list, but hasn't been told yet by Clinton or any of her aides. "He'd be great, and they are spending a lot of time figuring out the best way to try to persuade him to do it if she wins," the person told Politico. (Guess the news is out now.) Biden already has experience with traveling abroad and smoothing things over — in August, he was dispatched to Latvia by President Obama to meet with NATO allies after Donald Trump questioned the necessity of the U.S-European alliance.

Clinton and Biden haven't always seen eye to eye — they have disagreed on bombing Libya, leaving troops in Iraq, and the surge in Afghanistan — but Clinton reportedly appreciates the relationships Biden already has with world leaders. Politico reports other names being bandied about include former undersecretary of state Wendy Sherman; former deputy secretary of state Bill Burns; former undersecretary of state of political affairs under George W. Bush Nick Burns; and retired Adm. James Stavridis. Catherine Garcia

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