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February 15, 2017

When White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Monday afternoon that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had President Trump's "full confidence" — hours before Flynn stepped down — she was apparently "out of the loop," The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday night. The newspaper's look at Flynn as canary in the Trump coal mine, by reporters Michael C. Bender and Rebecca Ballhaus, begins like this:

Dining at his oceanside resort in Florida on Friday, President Donald Trump was surprised to learn that National Security Adviser Mike Flynn was sitting at a nearby table, a person familiar with the event said. "What is he doing here?" the president said, describing the man who was once at the center of his political orbit as "very controversial." [The Wall Street Journal]

Flynn, despite his loyalty to Trump and simpatico worldview, was always viewed warily by some White House officials, The Journal reports, giving as an example a red-eye flight senior advisers Stephen Bannon and Jared Kushner took to Washington before Trump's inauguration to reassure future Cabinet members about Flynn. "We tried to help him succeed," a senior administration official told the newspaper. "It was absolute dysfunction." And Flynn isn't likely to be the last casualty of Trump's chaotic, power-jockeying White House, WSJ suggests. The conservative-media circle of the Trump orbit is apparently gunning for Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

"Reince Priebus walked Mike Flynn to the gallows," political operative Roger Stone said Tuesday, calling his departure a "Pearl Harbor moment" for Trump supporters. "Trump loyalists are fed up with Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer whose loyalties are to the Republican National Committee, and not to the president." Priebus is also reportedly in a power struggle over ambassador nominations with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, while Conway is facing ethics inquiries and Press Secretary Sean Spicer is being ridiculed on Saturday Night Live. You can read more at The Wall Street Journal. Peter Weber

11:28 a.m. ET

During an appearance on ABC's This Week Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin addressed President Trump's weekend attacks on pro athletes like Colin Kaepernick who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice.

Mnuchin argued free speech is not at issue because the NFL is a private organization which can set its own rules, eluding the question of how criticism from Trump, a government official, affects that equation. "This isn't about Democrats. It's not about Republicans. It's not about race; it's not about free speech. They can do free speech on their own time," Mnuchin said. "This is about respect for the military and first responders and the country."

The treasury secretary maintained Trump simply wants the NFL to require all athletes to stand during the national anthem, a specification Trump did not make when he tweeted that kneeling protests "should not be allowed."

"The NFL has all different types of rules. You can't have stickers on your helmet; you have to have your jersey tucked in," Mnuchin said. "I think what the president is saying is that the owners should have a rule that players should have to stand in respect for the national anthem." Bonnie Kristian

10:29 a.m. ET

Germans head to the polls Sunday in a vote anticipated to give Chancellor Angela Merkel her fourth term in office. Her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is predicted to take about 34 percent of Bundestag seats with which it will form a coalition government with Merkel again at the head.

"There are a lot of problems in other countries, think Donald Trump or Brexit," one Berlin voter told NBC News. "With Merkel there is a sense that there is no great problem that she couldn't overcome, and that she's a politician you can trust."

The growth of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party — which campaigned on a populist, anti-immigration message and could well become the Bundestag's third-largest party out of six represented — has raised alarm among many Germans concerned about extremism. Turnout is expected to be high. Bonnie Kristian

10:21 a.m. ET
Hector Retamal/Getty Images

The National Weather Service of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Friday reported an "extremely dangerous situation" due to a potential dam failure threatening a region with 70,000 residents already grappling with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Maria. But the damaged dam continued to hold as of Sunday morning, and evacuees began to return to their homes.

While the dam on Lake Guajataca remains compromised and a flash flood warning is in effect through Sunday afternoon, this is welcome respite for Puerto Ricans facing "apocalyptic" post-hurricane conditions. Aid is beginning to arrive to the island territory, where most Puerto Ricans remain without power and 95 percent of cell phone service sites are down.

Currently a Category 2 storm, Maria is expected to dissipate over the Atlantic Ocean later this week. Bonnie Kristian

8:13 a.m. ET

President Trump again referred to Kim Jong Un as "Little Rocket Man" in a tweet Saturday night, the third iteration of the president's favorite new insult in his war of words with the North Korean leader:

On Thursday and Friday, Kim and Trump labeled each other a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard" and "madman," respectively. Trump previously used "Rocket Man" during his United Nations speech Tuesday and at an Alabama campaign rally Friday.

The Saturday tweet came several hours after a group of U.S. bombers and fighter escorts flew well north of the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, staying over international waters but making a clear show of force toward Pyongyang. The Pentagon characterized the flight as a demonstration "that the president has many military options to defeat any threat."

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said Saturday Trump's insults make a North Korean strike on the U.S. mainland "more inevitable," calling Trump "President Evil." Bonnie Kristian

7:39 a.m. ET

President Trump redoubled his attacks on NFL player Colin Kaepernick — and other athletes who take a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice — on Twitter Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning amid broad backlash from pro athletes and other observers:

Early Sunday, he encouraged his supporters to boycott the NFL and claimed this has already begun on a significant scale:

Trump began his critique of Kaepernick while speaking at a campaign rally Friday. Bonnie Kristian

September 23, 2017

The Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James hit back at President Trump on Twitter Saturday morning in response to Trump's tweeted announcement that the Golden State Warriors will not be invited to the White House to celebrate their NBA championship after point guard Stephen Curry criticized Trump's policies and rhetoric. As James sees it, Curry's Friday statement that he does not want to meet Trump means the president had no invitation to rescind:

James, who is vice president of the NBA Players Association, was not the only pro athlete to take issue with Trump's weekend critiques of Curry and Colin Kaepernick, the latter of whom Trump referred to as a "son of a bitch" for his habit of declining to stand for the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice in America.

Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, also pushed back on Trump's remarks, calling Trump's comments "divisive" and demonstrative of "an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL." Bonnie Kristian

September 23, 2017
Alfredo Estrella/Getty Images

Mexico was struck by a 6.2-magnitude earthquake Saturday morning, sparking alarm and suspending ongoing rescue efforts in response to two other recent quakes.

The new tremor follows Tuesday's 7.1-magnitude earthquake, as well as an 8.1-magnitude quake that struck off the coast of Mexico earlier this month. The combined death toll from the earlier quakes has nearly reached 400 people.

Saturday's tremor, believed to be an aftershock of the 8.1 quake, collapsed a bridge in the town of Juchitan and toppled some previously damaged buildings. "Homes that were still standing just fell down," said Bettina Cruz, who lives in Juchitan. "It's hard. We are all in the streets." Bonnie Kristian

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