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June 13, 2017

On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions dismissed former FBI Director James Comey's report to senators last week in a closed-door session that Sessions possibly had a third, previously unreported meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel in April 2016. Sessions said that it was his understanding that Kislyak was indeed in attendance at the event, but that he could "not remember" talking to the ambassador.

Under questioning, Sessions clarified it was "possible" he had spoken with Kislyak but if it happened, he couldn't "recall" it.

"Certainly I can assure you nothing improper [happened] if I'd had a conversation with him, and it's conceivable that occurred," Sessions said. "I just don't remember it."

Perhaps this photograph might jog his memory? Jeva Lange

12:56 p.m. ET

President Trump spent Wednesday morning stoking fears of a Deep State conspiracy against his 2016 presidential campaign after a report last week that an FBI informant met with several of his staffers during the early investigation into Russian election meddling. Conservatives in the House have demanded a review of how the Justice Department and the FBI handled that initial probe, and the White House has invited two senior House Republicans to a Thursday meeting to give them access to pertinent confidential information. Democrats were notably not invited, and have called the move "partisan."

Curiously, Democrats in the House have an ally in longtime Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). Appearing on MSNBC on Wednesday, he told host Hallie Jackson that the Democrats "definitely should have been" invited to the meeting.

"Look, we need we need to be bipartisan about this, and I think it would be a lot more credible of a process if we were more inclusive," Gaetz said. "I think more members of Congress outside of the Intelligence Committee ought to be able to participate in this discussion and debate about what kind of country we want to have." Watch the discussion below. Jeva Lange

12:33 p.m. ET

On Wednesday, NFL owners approved new rules regarding proper "respect for the flag" and the national anthem. While players are no longer required to be on the field for the anthem, "a club will be fined by the league if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem."

Players who want to protest may stay in the locker room until after the ceremony, and each team is allowed to "develop its own work rules … regarding its personnel who do not stand." The announcement follows quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel in protest of racial injustice during games in 2016, which prompted other players to follow suit, drawing outcry from critics, including the president.

Read the new policy below. Jeva Lange

12:13 p.m. ET
The White House via Getty Images

The U.S. will not budge in its insistence that North Korea completely denuclearize, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged on Wednesday.

Speaking to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Pompeo said that the U.S. was prepared to "respectfully walk away" from North Korean officials if they demanded too many compromises, reports Reuters.

President Trump is scheduled to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12, but on Tuesday Trump said there was a "very substantial chance" that the summit would not take place. Other officials expressed doubt about North Korea's commitment, telling The Washington Post that a North Korean delegation didn't show up at a planning meeting with U.S. leaders.

Pompeo was more optimistic, telling lawmakers that the U.S. is still preparing for the meeting with the assumption that Pyongyang will be open to giving up nuclear weapons in exchange for lessened economic sanctions. The U.S. will refuse to kowtow to North Korean wishes, the secretary of state said. "A bad deal is not an option," said Pompeo. "The American people are counting on us to get this right." Summer Meza

11:00 a.m. ET
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Not all of Philip Roth's best work appeared in the pages of an award-winning novel. Roth, a celebrated author who passed away on Tuesday, once penned some devastating analysis on President Trump, calling him a "callow and callous killer capitalist."

In correspondence with The New Yorker last year, Roth drew parallels between Trump and aviator Charles Lindbergh, who features prominently in Roth's novel The Plot Against America as an isolationist president during the 1940s.

"It is easier to comprehend the election of an imaginary president like Charles Lindbergh than an actual president like Donald Trump," Roth wrote. "Lindbergh, despite his Nazi sympathies and racist proclivities, was a great aviation hero who had displayed tremendous physical courage and aeronautical genius in crossing the Atlantic in 1927. He had character and he had substance and, along with Henry Ford, was, worldwide, the most famous American of his day. Trump is just a con artist."

Roth went on to further eviscerate Trump, who he called "humanly impoverished" compared to other former presidents.

"Trump is: ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of 77 words that is better called Jerkish than English," wrote Roth. Read more of Roth's comments on modern politics at The New Yorker. Summer Meza

10:37 a.m. ET
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The Loch Ness monster may very well be nothing more than an elaborate hoax, but a team of scientists from around the world plans to find out once and for all. The researchers will test the "environmental DNA" of the Scottish waters where Nessie allegedly dwells in order to see if anything fishy comes up, Reuters reports.

The idea is that the inhabitants of a given environment leave their traces everywhere: bits of scales, feces, cryptozoological saliva, what have you. "This DNA can be captured, sequenced, and then used to identify that creature by comparing the sequence obtained to large databases of known genetic sequences from hundreds of thousands of different organisms," said Neil Gemmell, a professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

Even if "sea monster" doesn't pop up in the results, the experiment won't be a wash. The scientists are still hoping to identify new organisms in Loch Ness, just of the slightly smaller, bacterial variety. Jeva Lange

10:14 a.m. ET

Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth made a disastrous attempt at sympathizing with Kim Jong Un on Wednesday, suggesting the North Korean dictator "probably doesn't love being the guy that has to murder his people all day long."

The quote came about as Hegseth was asked why Kim would agree to a meeting with President Trump. "He wants a picture with the American president," Hegseth said. "The sanctions are having massive effect there, there's no doubt … And I think there's probably a point at which the guy who wants to meet with Dennis Rodman and loves NBA basketball and loves Western pop culture, probably doesn't love being the guy that has to murder his people all day long. Probably wants normalization."

Someone should perhaps inform Hegseth that Kim doesn't have to murder anybody. Jeva Lange

10:14 a.m. ET

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) appeared on CNN's New Day on Wednesday to make the case for a second special counsel to investigate the origins of the probe into whether President Trump's campaign colluded with Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election.

Jordan and host Chris Cuomo seemed to make their arguments using entirely separate sets of facts — Jordan insisting that FBI leadership was politically motivated against Trump, Cuomo pointing out that the agency's inspector general was already investigating claims of bias, and both men sharply disagreeing with the other's evaluation of the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

When Jordan proclaimed that a year had gone by without "one bit of evidence" of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Cuomo fired back by calling the claim "demonstrably false," saying the investigation had unearthed "tons of proof of potential collusion." The congressman argued that he could "see no other remedy" besides a second special counsel, and Cuomo called the effort "politicized nonsense." Watch the full battle below, via CNN. Summer Meza

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