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February 13, 2017
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When President Trump learned that North Korea had fired a midrange ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan on Sunday morning, Saturday night's dinner was being served on the terrace at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Florida. This is how he dealt with the first national security emergency of his administration, according to CNN:

Sitting alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with whom he'd spent most of the day golfing, Trump took the call on a mobile phone at his table, which was set squarely in the middle of the private club's dining area. As Mar-a-Lago's wealthy members looked on from their tables, and with a keyboard player crooning in the background, Trump and Abe's evening meal quickly morphed into a strategy session, the decision-making on full view to fellow diners, who described it in detail to CNN.

Trump's National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and chief strategist Steve Bannon left their seats to huddle closer to Trump as documents were produced and phone calls were placed to officials in Washington and Tokyo. The patio was lit only with candles and moonlight, so aides used the camera lights on their phones to help the stone-faced Trump and Abe read through the documents.... Waiters cleared the wedge salads and brought along the main course as Trump and Abe continued consulting with aides. [CNN]

When the candle-lit national security meeting eventually adjourned, Trump and Abe gave brief statements in front of a black curtain. Abe called the missile launch "absolutely intolerable" and demanded Pyongyang adhere to United Nations Security Council resolutions, while Trump ignored a joint communiqué seen sitting on his lectern and did not mention the missile test at all, instead assuring Japan and the world that the U.S. "stands behind Japan" 100 percent. Leaving the stage, Trump dropped in at a wedding reception at the Mar-a-Lago ballroom, CNN reports, and picked up a mic to address the guests. "I saw them out on the lawn today," Trump said of nearby newlyweds. "I said to the prime minister of Japan, I said, 'C'mon Shinzo, let's go over and say hello.'... They've been members of this club for a long time," he added, referring to the bride and groom. "They've paid me a fortune." Read more at CNN. Peter Weber

1:30 p.m. ET

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has seemingly embraced our robot overlords.

Apparently skewering the people who acknowledge that Russian bots have spread disinformation on Twitter, Nunes implored the mighty Russian technology to make one of his own tweets take off. While retweeting an article by The Federalist about the ongoing investigations into Russian election meddling, Nunes quipped: "PS-if you are a Russian Bot please make this go viral."

For good measure, there was a post-postscript: "PSS-if you're not a Russian Bot you will become one if you retweet."

The Federalist article that Nunes retweeted asserts that the "mainstream press" is overhyping the prominence of Russian bots on Twitter in order to belittle conservative arguments. In sharing the post, Nunes promised his followers they could "[catch] up on mainstream media Russian conspiracy theories."

Unfortunately, Russian bots have not taken Nunes' request to heart: At time of writing, his tweet had only been retweeted 1,900 times. Kelly O'Meara Morales

12:39 p.m. ET

Hundreds of people arrived at Florida's Capitol Building on Wednesday to demand gun control reform in the wake of the shooting last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 students and teachers dead. The rally was led by teen survivors, while parents chanted "no more guns, save our daughters, save our sons," WCTV reports.

Florida police estimated the crowd in Tallahassee could swell to as many as 2,500 people by noon, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

A tandem protest, at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., also saw students march in demand of action on gun control, with one student telling Mother Jones' Kara Voght, "I feel unsafe at school."

President Trump will meet with survivors of shootings including Parkland, Newtown, and Columbine for a "listening session" Wednesday afternoon. Jeva Lange

12:30 p.m. ET
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Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer want Congress to break open the piggy bank.

In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Democratic leaders demand increased funds to protect U.S. election infrastructure from Russian interference, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. Pelosi, the House minority leader, and Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, specifically request lawmakers appropriate $300 million to the FBI to fight potential meddling in the midterms later this fall.

The minority leaders cite Special Counsel Robert Mueller's recent indictment of 13 Russians for interfering in the 2016 election, warning that "the most essential elements of America's democracy are under attack by a foreign adversary." The FBI needs "the resources and manpower to counter the influence of hostile foreign actors ... especially Russian operatives operating on our social media platforms," the Democrats argue, proposing the $300 million boost be included in the budget bill that is due March 23.

The Democratic leaders also note that U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian hackers breached state and local election systems during the 2016 cycle. In order to prevent that from happening again, Pelosi and Schumer say that "state and local governments [need] to enhance their defenses against cyber-attacks," calling for boosted funds to the Department of Homeland Security and Election Assistance Commission.

The letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post, is also signed by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) Read more about it at The Washington Post. Kelly O'Meara Morales

11:10 a.m. ET
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President Trump and the GOP have been riding an approval rating wave ever since they passed their tax overhaul legislation in December, but a new poll released Wednesday appears to indicate that it won't be smooth sailing from here on out. Just 25 percent of voters say they have seen an increase in their paychecks since the legislation passed, a new Politico/Morning Consult poll found, while 51 percent say they've noticed nothing.

Even Republican voters aren't reporting a noticeable increase in their paychecks, with 43 percent saying any potential change has gone unobserved. Republicans do note changes more than the voter pool overall, though, at 32 percent.

"Our polling shows high-income earners are more likely to have noticed an increase in their paychecks as a result of the tax bill," said Morning Consult's chief research officer, Kyle Dropp. "For example, 40 percent of voters who earn more than $100,000 said they have noticed a pay increase in the past several weeks. In contrast, 33 percent of voters who earn between $50,000 and $100,000 and 16 percent of voters who earn under $50,000 said the same."

Overall, 45 percent of voters approve of the tax plan while 35 percent oppose it. The poll reached 1,989 registered voters between Feb. 15 and 19, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 points. Read the full results here. Jeva Lange

10:09 a.m. ET
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CNN is hosting a town hall Wednesday with survivors of last week's mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. The National Rifle Association will be there too.

The NRA accepted CNN's invitation to partake in the town hall and will be represented by spokesperson Dana Loesch, CNN reports. Loesch will join Florida lawmakers Rep. Ted Deutch (D) and Sens. Bill Nelson (D) and Marco Rubio (R), as well as the students and family of those who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed by a teenager armed with a semiautomatic rifle.

In the wake of the shooting, the teenaged survivors from the school have become vocal advocates for gun control, taking to various TV networks to make impassioned pleas for lawmakers to defend children against gun violence. They have also slammed politicians for taking money from the NRA, as the organization has historically been opposed to assault weapons bans and other reforms suggested by the Parkland survivors.

The students have additionally encouraged voters to vote politicians who take money from the NRA out of office. CNN notes that Rubio is one such politician, as he received nearly $10,000 from the NRA's Political Victory Fund in the 2016 election. While the NRA and Rubio accepted the invite to join the town hall and face the Parkland survivors, CNN says two other notable figures did not: President Trump and Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R).

The town hall is titled Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action and will be hosted by Jake Tapper. It airs at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday. Kelly O'Meara Morales

9:37 a.m. ET

Jeff Sessions is back in the doghouse. On Wednesday, President Trump took to publicly bashing his attorney general by slamming the Justice Department for its failure to investigate the Obama administration over Russian meddling:

While the misspelled name is an especially brutal touch, it is not Trump's first time airing his grievances about Sessions. In November, Trump refused to answer whether or not he was considering firing Sessions, adding: "A lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Department, including me." At the time, Trump was primarily concerned with the fact that the department wasn't investigating Hillary Clinton's former campaign chairman John Podesta "and all of that dishonesty."

Trump has reportedly privately ripped Sessions too, expressing fury over the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller last May. "Mr. Trump told Mr. Sessions that choosing him to be attorney general was one of the worst decisions he had made, called him an 'idiot,' and said that he should resign," The New York Times reports. Jeva Lange

8:41 a.m. ET
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Rev. Billy Graham, a Christian evangelist known as "America's Pastor," has died at the age of 99, NBC News reports.

Over the course of his more than 70-year career, Graham preached to an estimated 200 million people across 185 countries, and was granted personal audiences with several U.S. presidents and world leaders. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. credited Graham's influence, saying: "Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the Civil Rights Movement would not have been as successful as it has been."

Long a presence on television and radio, Graham retired in 2005, citing his health. Graham was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease 25 years ago. Jeva Lange

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