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January 12, 2017

Stephen Colbert kicked off Wednesday's Late Show monologue by talking about President Obama's farewell address on Tuesday night. "It was truly a moving experience, and I just have to say... let's talk about Donald Trump for a second," Colbert said. "Because there's a story that that came out in the last 24 hours, and — pardon the expression — it is, um, juicy." He started with CNN's report that Trump was briefed by the top U.S. intelligence officials last Friday on unsubstantiated claims that Russia has compromising information on him, then moved on to the leaked, unverified dossier.

"Everyone admits this report is unverified, and the man is about to be president of the United States, so I'm not going to validate that report by sharing the most salacious details from it," Colbert said. "Even the detail everybody's talking about, okay? You might call it the, um, No. 1 detail. I think this is just an unfortunate leak... that's making a huge mess, and I know I'm being a wet blanket, but reporting on this is the worst kind of yellow journalism. And even though jokes about this story are a golden opportunity, I just won't do it. Not to say the story didn't make a huge splash — it did. It flooded Twitter, I mean. We'll keep you up to date as facts trickle in. And we have our best researcher working on it — she's a real whiz. And one thing is for sure: The president-elect is a Goldwater Republican who truly believes in trickle-down." He cracked puns for a full two and a half minutes.

"I only feel for Donald Trump a little bit here, because he brought this on himself," Colbert said. "And I have a suggestion, Mr. Trump, of how to get rid of it: Just do the thing you have never done, which is say anything Putin wouldn't like. Alright? That would prove they're not running you." Trump could also release his tax returns — which Trump said again on Wednesday he won't do, because they're under audit, prompting Colbert to imagine the IRS agent with big enough nerve to audit the president. He ended where he began — talking about Obama's farewell speech — and with one last Russia dossier joke, and the band played him out with The Beatles' "Golden Slumbers." Watch below. Peter Weber

7:19 p.m. ET
Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images

On Wednesday, President Trump is expected to sign several executive orders on immigration at the Department of Homeland Security, several congressional aides and immigration experts with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The orders will likely involve restricting access to the U.S. for refugees from Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Libya and blocking visas from being issued to Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. Catherine Garcia

6:28 p.m. ET
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) was confirmed Tuesday as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, following a 96-4 Senate vote.

She is expected to announce her resignation as governor soon, with Lt. Gov Henry McMaster (R) replacing Haley for the final two years of her term. For her new job, Haley will move to New York City and get a pay raise to $187,000 a year, up from $106,078 annually as governor. Catherine Garcia

5:46 p.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

On Tuesday, the House voted 238-183 in favor of legislation that would prevent the use of federal funding for abortions. If passed, the measure would make the Hyde Amendment — currently a rider routinely added onto annual funding bills that prevents the use of federal funds to pay for abortion except in extreme cases — into a permanent law.

The legislation would also "block tax credits for some people and businesses buying abortion coverage under former President Barack Obama's health care law," The Associated Press reported. It does include an exception for instances of rape or incest, or if the mother's life is in jeopardy.

Democrats argue the bill disproportionately affects low-income women. Refinery29 reported that "for the 1 in 6 reproductive-age women who rely on Medicaid for health insurance, the Hyde Amendment keeps them from accessing safe medical care."

The bill next moves to the Senate, where it will need 60 votes to pass. Becca Stanek

5:24 p.m. ET
Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for A24

The Oscars aren't quite so white this year.

On Tuesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its nominees for the 2017 Academy Awards. In doing so, the Academy also debuted its largest-ever number of black nominees, The New York Times reports. Three films led by black actors — Moonlight, Hidden Figures, and Fences — all scored Best Picture nominations, while six black actors were nominated for lead or supporting roles. Moonlight director Barry Jenkins and four black documentarians also secured nominations.

The Oscars have traditionally been dominated by white actors — a controversy that came to a head in 2015, when the nominee line-up triggered the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag calling out the Academy for its not-so-diverse nominations. The hashtag returned in 2016 when things did not sufficiently improve.

But this year, it seems like the Academy may have listened to all those complaints. You can see the full list of nominees at the Academy's website. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:37 p.m. ET

Amid reports President Donald Trump's administration is clamping down on various federal agencies' social media use, Badlands National Park decided to go ahead and tweet about climate change anyway. The official Twitter account of the national park posted several tweets Tuesday afternoon, warning about the growing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and ocean acidity:

National Parks News then decided to join the rebellion:

Tweeting about carbon dioxide in the atmosphere might not seem all that bold at first glance, but the posts came on the heels of the Trump administration strictly prohibiting employees of the EPA, HHS, USDA, and NIH from posting on social media, talking to reporters, or publishing press releases and blog posts. Trump's administration has also been notoriously hesitant to embrace the reality of climate change.

On top of that, the National Park Service was temporarily banned from Twitter over the weekend for re-tweeting two tweets from its official account on Inauguration Day that were "considered unsympathetic to President Trump," The Washington Post reported. The NPS apologized and promised to stick to sharing "the beauty and history of our national parks" after getting its Twitter privileges back.

Maybe Badlands didn't get the memo — or maybe America's national parks are going rogue. Becca Stanek

3:42 p.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Now that President Trump has the nuclear codes in his hands, two Democratic lawmakers are hoping to make it a little harder for him to actually use them. On Tuesday, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) reintroduced a bill that would prevent Trump from launching a nuclear strike if Congress had not declared war. As it stands now, the president holds the right to launch a preemptive nuclear strike, a policy both Markey and Lieu oppose no matter who the president may be.

Markey and Lieu first tried to introduce this bill in September, after Trump suggested at a presidential debate that he couldn't "take anything off the table" when it came to nuclear weapons, including first strike. But now that Trump has actually been sworn into office, Markey and Lieu say this bill is more pressing than ever.

"It is a frightening reality that the U.S. now has a commander-in-chief who has demonstrated ignorance of the nuclear triad, stated his desire to be 'unpredictable' with nuclear weapons, and as president-elect was making sweeping statements about U.S. nuclear policy over Twitter," Lieu said in a statement. He urged Congress to pass a "system of checks and balances" to be "applied to the potentially civilization-ending threat of nuclear war." Becca Stanek

2:38 p.m. ET

The Senate confirmation hearing for Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) took a rather odd turn Tuesday when Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) proceeded to pull up photographs comparing the inauguration crowds of former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump.

"Which crowd is larger?" Merkley asked Mulvaney, Trump's nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

"Senator, if you would allow me to give the disclaimer that I'm not really sure how this ties to OMB, I'll be happy to answer your question, which is from that picture it does appear that the [Obama crowd] is bigger than the [Trump crowd]," Mulvaney replied.

Merkley then got to his point: "The president disagreed … he said, 'It's a lie' … The reason I'm raising this is because budget often contains varied deceptions. You and I talked in my office about the 'magic asterisk.' This is an example of where the president's team — on something very simple and straightforward — wants to embrace a fantasy rather than a reality." Watch the full line of inquiry below. Jeva Lange

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