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May 18, 2017

President Trump might have just jumped from the frying pan to the fire. Following the ousting of FBI Director James Comey and the revelation that Comey kept notes detailing Trump's attempt to talk him out of investigating former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's ties to Russia, the Justice Department on Wednesday night appointed a special prosecutor to oversee the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling. The head? Robert Mueller, who led the FBI for 12 years during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

But Mueller's job is not to make the investigation speed up — in fact, Politico Magazine writes the probe could take literally years, meaning it won't be done by the time the 2018 or possibly even the 2020 elections come around:

Under terms of his appointment by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Mueller will have wide powers to investigate "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump" and — beyond that — "any matters" that arise from the investigation, including perjury and obstruction of justice.

The wide scope suggests an inquiry that is almost certain to last for years, given the history of these sorts of investigations, and will have an unpredictable impact on near year's congressional midterm elections and the early jockeying in the 2020 presidential campaign. There are likely to be strains between Mueller's inquiry and those being conducted on Capitol Hill, especially if congressional investigators want to give immunity to targets of Mueller's investigation in exchange for their testimony, which would complicate the former FBI director's hopes of ever obtaining criminal convictions. [Politico Magazine]

On Thursday, President Trump protested what he perceived to be unfair treatment, calling the Department of Justice's appointment of a special counsel evidence of the "single greatest witch hunt." Jeva Lange

10:46 a.m. ET

President Trump phoned in for an interview with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro Saturday night, holding forth on a wide range of topics.

He declared the Democratic counter-memo, published earlier that day, "really fraudulent" and its congressional authors worthy of investigation. Trump specifically targeted for critique Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who oversaw the counter-memo's creation and release, labeling him a "bad guy."

On guns, the president again proposed arming teachers as an antidote to school shootings. A mass shooter would be deterred by "some offensive power in there," Trump said, while "a gun-free zone is like target practice" and beloved of "bad guys."

And though he insisted "the generals would love" a military parade, the president seemed to back off from the idea by noting it could be too expensive. "We'll see if we can do it at a reasonable cost," he said. "If we can't, we won't do it." A Military Times poll found nine in 10 readers believed the parade is "a waste of money and troops are too busy."

Watch two excerpts of the interview below. Bonnie Kristian

10:35 a.m. ET
AFP Contributor/Getty Images

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto scrapped plans to visit Washington in February or March after an argumentative phone call with President Trump on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported Saturday night, citing officials from both countries.

Trump reportedly "lost his temper" in a discussion of his unrealized pledge to build an extensive wall along the United States' southern border with Mexican funding. "Trump believed it was unreasonable for Peña Nieto to expect him to back off his crowd-pleasing campaign promise of forcing Mexico to pay for the wall," American officials reportedly told the Post.

Also at issue, the Post story says, is Peña Nieto's dissatisfaction with Trump's refusal to commit to a meeting agenda that will avoid embarrassment. A column in Mexico's El Horizonte newspaper on Friday likewise said the Trump's "volatility" and the "lack of certainty about his commitments and actions" makes the Mexican president wary of a public conversation.

Trump met with Peña Nieto in Mexico as a candidate. Since he took office, their relationship has been notoriously fraught. Bonnie Kristian

8:24 a.m. ET
Jung Yeon-je/Getty Images

The North Korean delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, indicated "North Korea is willing to have talks with the U.S., and the North agrees that inter-Korean relations and North Korea-U. S. relations should advance together," said a statement from South Korea's presidential administration Sunday. South Korean President Moon Jae-in "pointed out the urgency to hold dialogue between North Korea and the U.S. in order to fundamentally the resolve the issues on the Korean Peninsula and to improve inter-Korean relations," the statement reported.

In a public statement earlier Sunday, however, the North Korean regime condemned the United States' latest round of sanctions against North Korea, announced Friday. "The two Koreas have cooperated together and the Olympics was held successfully," Pyongyang said via state-run media, "but the U.S. brought the threat of war to the Korean peninsula with large-scale new sanctions."

President Trump has repeatedly expressed an interest in direct negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. However, he frequently vacillates toward more aggressive rhetoric. On Friday, he suggested that if these sanctions fail, he will move on to an unspecified "Phase 2" which could be "rough" and "very unfortunate for the world." Bonnie Kristian

7:55 a.m. ET

House Intelligence Committee Democrats on Saturday published their counter to the Nunes memo, a controversial document compiled under Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the committee chair, and released earlier this year.

The Nunes memo alleges the FBI acquired FISA court permission to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page using the Steele dossier, which was created with funding from a Clinton campaign lawyer, not telling the court the information's source.

The new memo defends the FBI, claiming the agency was conducting its own probe of the Trump campaign for seven weeks before obtaining the Steele dossier. The dossier was only narrowly used in the surveillance application, the counter-memo says, with proper identification of its political provenance.

President Trump promptly denounced the counter-memo, calling it "a nothing" and "really fraudulent" in a Fox News interview Saturday night. On Twitter, he misquoted Fox to attack Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who oversaw the counter-memo's creation and release. He also declared the counter-memo proves his own campaign's persecution. "Just confirms all of the terrible things that were done," Trump wrote. "SO ILLEGAL!"

Read the counter-memo below. Bonnie Kristian

Dem.countermemo by M Mali on Scribd

February 24, 2018
Mohammed Eyad/Getty Images

Syrian government strikes have killed some 500 civilians, including about 120 children, over the course of a week in the East Ghouta suburb of Damascus, reports the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The activist group says Russian planes are assisting with the attacks, but Russia denies direct engagement.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces reportedly used barrel bombs and artillery shells to target the area where some 400,000 people have no option of escape. Civilians are "being forced into bunkers and many of them can't even find the time to bury their dead," reports NPR's Lama Al-Arian. The Assad regime says its goal is to liberate civilians from a nearby rebel enclave.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is pushing for a U.N. resolution implementing a 30-day ceasefire so humanitarian aid can be delivered to East Ghouta. "I am deeply saddened by the terrible suffering of the civilian population," he said, describing the situation as "hell on Earth." If the resolution passes — Moscow is demanding edits in exchange for its support — its prospects for enforcement are dubious.

Update 4:32 p.m.: The U.N. Security Council passed a ceasefire resolution. Bonnie Kristian

February 24, 2018

Delta and United Airlines on Saturday announced they are cutting ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA).

The airlines join the Avis, Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo, and National car rental brands as well as First National Bank of Omaha, Best Western hotels, MetLife insurance, and more than a dozen other companies in ending deals with the NRA. Delta previously offered discounted airfare for NRA members, and United offered discounts on flights to and from the organization's annual conference.

Companies are distancing themselves from the NRA in response to outrage following last week's mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school. Customer responses to the tweeted announcements were predictably mixed. Bonnie Kristian

February 24, 2018

A daring squirrel narrowly cheated death Saturday while attempting to sprint across the course of the women's parallel giant slalom competition at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Austrian snowboarder Daniela Ulbing just barely maneuvered around the animal, which appeared to reconsider its choices after she passed. Watch the squirrel's moment of destiny below. Bonnie Kristian

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