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August 23, 2017

Photos released Wednesday by North Korea's state-run media appear to show the country is developing two new ballistic missiles that are easier to transport, hide, and quickly launch, CNN reports. "This is the North Koreans showing us, or at least portraying, that their solid-fuel missile program is improving at a steady rate," said David Schmerler, a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

In the photograph, a diagram for a "Pukguksong-3" missile appears to show the latest model of the country's Pukguksong series and is "definitely new" in the words of Michael Duitsman, who is also a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Another harder-to-see diagram appears to show a new Hwasong missile.

Both North Korean missiles are solid-fuel projectiles, as are all ballistic missiles owned by the United States and Russia, CNN reports. "Solid-fuel missiles are much faster to deploy ... a solid fuel missile is always fueled so all they have to do is drive it to the place they want to launch it," Duitsman told CNN. "It's much easier to put into action, much harder to catch before it launches because they're a lot less in terms of launch preparations that could be done."

The release of photos with missile diagrams in the background is no accident, with "the North ... trying to tell the world that its re-entry and solid-fuel technologies are no longer experimental but have reached the stage of mass production," defense analyst Kim Dong-yub of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University told The New York Times. "Though whether that's credible is another matter." Jeva Lange

7:33 p.m. ET
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

One month before the 2016 presidential election, Fox News had a story ready to go about an alleged affair between adult film actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and President Trump, but never published it, four people familiar with the matter told CNN.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that in October 2016, Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, arranged a $130,000 payment to Clifford to keep quiet about the alleged sexual relationship. Fox News reporter Diana Falzone had a completed story about Clifford and Trump, which included a statement confirming the relationship from Clifford's manager, but "Fox killed it," one person familiar with the matter told CNN. Fox News wasn't the only outlet writing about this story; The Daily Beast and Slate both said they were speaking to Clifford before the election, but she backed out of an interview with The Daily Beast and stopped returning phone calls from Slate.

Noah Kotch, who became editor-in-chief and vice president of Fox News digital in 2017, said "in doing our due diligence, we were unable to verify all of the facts and publish a story." Cohen and Clifford have both denied WSJ's report, and in a statement distributed by Cohen, Clifford said her involvement with Trump "was limited to a few public appearances and nothing more," and "rumors that I have received hush money from Donald Trump are completely false." Catherine Garcia

6:20 p.m. ET
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Tuesday was apparently "Subpoena Stephen Bannon Day" in Washington, D.C. A few hours after the former White House chief strategist was subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Bannon was reportedly subpoenaed again — this time by the House Intelligence Committee.

Bannon was being grilled by the committee when he was hit with a subpoena "on the spot," Politico reports, for not answering questions. Apparently, congressional investigators wanted to know about Bannon's brief stint in the White House but were stonewalled, which, Politico notes, angered Democrats and Republicans alike.

At the time of publication, Bannon and his attorney had not commented on either subpoena or his congressional testimony. Kelly O'Meara Morales

4:50 p.m. ET

Nevada Democrats have a new weapon under their sleeves as they prepare for a tough Senate and gubernatorial race in their state: a turtle mascot named "Mitch McTurtle."

In case you don't get the joke, Nevada Democrats hope that this smiling turtle — which holds bags of money in order to symbolize Republican economic policy or something like that — will be a sick burn against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the Republican Party in Nevada.

Improbably, The Hill reports that McTurtle was "well received" at his unveiling and that someone described as a "local activist" actually tweeted praise for the plush reptile. Of course, the Mitch McTurtle Twitter account — which only has 27 followers at the time of writing— soon retweeted it. Kelly O'Meara Morales

4:12 p.m. ET

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) tried to take off a pair of glasses. There was just one problem; he wasn't wearing any glasses.

Rather than point out, as some Twitter users did, that this reflexive motion is not uncommon for people who wear contacts, the soon-to-be retiree (or the staff who run his Twitter account at least) responded with a millennial-friendly witticism.

A spokesperson for Hatch later told The Hill that the senator left his reading glasses at home and simply succumbed to the Pavlovian instinct to take them off. It was a mistake, the spokesman said, that "many glasses and contact lens wearers can relate to." Kelly O'Meara Morales

4:06 p.m. ET
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump's personal doctor claimed he would be "the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency" when he was a candidate, and now that such a reality has actually come to pass, the 71-year-old earned similar superlatives from presidential physician Ronny Jackson, who said Trump has "incredible genes" and declared him to be "in excellent health." Trump underwent the routine physical examination on Friday in Bethesda, Maryland, the Los Angeles Times reports.

During a press conference Tuesday, Jackson said Trump is 6'3" and weighs 239 pounds, up from 2016 when he weighed 236 pounds, "which the medical community considers overweight; if he were 6-foot-2, as listed on his New York driver's license, he would be considered obese," The Washington Post writes. His heart exam was normal, his total cholesterol was 223, and he did "exceedingly well" on cognitive and neurological tests, which he personally requested, Jackson said. Trump's medications include Crestor for cholesterol, which Jackson said he has increased, aspirin for his heart, Propecia for male pattern hair loss, cream for rosacea, and a multivitamin.

Jackson added that Trump ought to lose 10 to 15 pounds and that he was "more excited about the diet part than the exercise part." Jackson claimed that Trump's slurred speech during a public appearance last month might have been caused by Sudafed, and that an ultrasound after the incident turned up no concerning results.

Less flattering was the opinion of The Washington Post, which noted last week that Trump is "older than all previous presidents when they first took office. He is also the heaviest president in at least a generation and consumes a diet heavy with Big Macs, Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, fried chicken, pizza, well-done steak, and two rounds of dessert. He seems to get little exercise beyond swinging a golf club, as he spends most of his time on the course traveling in an electric cart. And he likes to brag about how little sleep he gets." Jeva Lange

2:50 p.m. ET
George Frey/Getty Images

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) left office Tuesday, but not before he signed a Democratic-sponsored bill that bans the sale or possession of "bump stocks" in his state, NJ.com reports. The divisive legislation comes in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting last year, when the gun accessory was used to murder 58 people and wound some 489 others. Bump stock owners in New Jersey now have 90 days to turn over the items to authorities.

"These are simple, easy-to-use devices that increase the firepower and killing power of firearms," explained former state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), who retired last week. "There is no legitimate need for these devices." Residents of New Jersey were not previously allowed to use bump stocks — the accessories weren't even allowed in the "vicinity of a weapon," NJ.com writes — but Christie's law officially requires the devices be removed from the state altogether.

The legislation passed unanimously in the state Senate and Assembly, which are both controlled by Democrats. Democrat Phil Murphy was sworn in as Christie's replacement just before noon Tuesday. Jeva Lange

2:08 p.m. ET

Lindsey Graham misses the good old days.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, the South Carolina Republican lamented that President Trump had changed in a disturbing way over the last week, clearly referencing the president's disparagement of Haiti, El Salvador, and unnamed African nations as "shithole countries."

"[Last] Tuesday we had a president who I was proud to golf with, call my friend, who understood immigration had to be bipartisan ... but he also understood the idea that we had to do it with compassion," Graham said before making a plea to the president: "I don't know where that guy went. I want him back."

After he made his remarks, Graham ran into reporters outside the hearing and told them he believed the president's staff was to blame for this whole ordeal: "I think someone on his staff gave him really bad advice between 10 o'clock and 12 o'clock on Thursday." He added: "We cannot [make a deal on immigration] with people at the White House who have an irrational view on how to fix immigration." Kelly O'Meara Morales

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