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September 14, 2017
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After finding out that a special counsel had been appointed to take over the federal investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia, President Trump went off on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, blaming this turn of events on Sessions having recused himself from overseeing the investigation and demanding his resignation, several current and former Trump administration officials told The New York Times.

This is the first time details of the May 17 meeting in the Oval Office, also attended by Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Don McGahn, have been published. During the meeting, McGahn received a phone call from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who informed him of his decision to appoint Mueller as special counsel, following pressure from Congress. After he told Trump, the president called Sessions an "idiot" and said choosing him as his attorney general was one of the worst decisions he made.

An upset Sessions — who later told associates this was the most humiliating experience he'd had in his professional career — said he would quit, and sent a resignation letter to the White House, four people with knowledge of the meeting told the Times, but other administration officials talked Trump out of accepting it, saying it would look bad to let go of the attorney general after already firing former FBI Director James Comey and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn (this would also happen again in July, the Times reports). Read more about the Oval Office blow up and its aftermath at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

9:24 p.m. ET
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Senate Democrats are investigating a new allegation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, The New Yorker reported Sunday night.

Deborah Ramirez, 53, was one of Kavanaugh's classmates at Yale University, and told The New Yorker that during their freshman year in the early 1980s, they were at a party where both were inebriated. Kavanaugh allegedly put his penis in Ramirez's face, causing her to touch it without consent as she pushed him away. She also remembers him laughing and someone yelling in the hallway what Kavanaugh did. Kavanaugh told The New Yorker this "did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so."

At least four Democratic senators received information about the allegations from a civil rights attorney, and at least two have started investigations, The New Yorker reports. Ramirez was contacted by the magazine, and said she was reluctant to discuss the alleged incident because she could not fully remember the party, as she had been drinking. Ramirez spent six days going over her memories and speaking with an attorney, then shared her story with The New Yorker. The magazine contacted dozens of classmates, and one, who asked to remain anonymous due to the controversy surrounding Kavanaugh, said he heard about the incident after it happened and was "100 percent sure" he was told it involved Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh's roommate freshman year, James Roche, was one of Ramirez's close friends, and said she was "exceptionally honest and gentle. I cannot imagine her making this up." He said he never saw Kavanaugh engaging in sexual misconduct, but he was "frequently, incoherently drunk," and it is "definitely" believable that Kavanaugh could be part of a "group of guys who thought it was funny to sexually torment a girl like" Ramirez. One of the classmates Ramirez said was at the party told The New Yorker he didn't think the incident happened and another said, "I have zero recollection." Other Kavanaugh friends from Yale released a statement saying "with confidence" the incident did not happen because "we would have heard about it." Read more at The New Yorker. Catherine Garcia

1:47 p.m. ET

Christine Ford isn't expected to testify about her sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until Thursday — but Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) already seems to have made up his mind.

"You can't bring [her allegation] in a criminal court; you would never sue civilly; you couldn't even get a warrant," Graham said on Fox News Sunday. "What am I supposed to do? Go ahead and ruin this guy's life based on an accusation?"

"Unless there's something more, no I'm not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh's life over this," Graham continued, before adding that Ford "should have her say" and will be "respectfully treated." Watch Graham's full interview below. Bonnie Kristian

1:17 p.m. ET

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley broke with President Trump and many of his supporters Sunday to argue that Christine Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, "deserves respect and deserves to be heard."

"Accusers go through a lot of trauma. Some handle it one way and some handle it another way," she said on CNN's State of the Union, answering a question about Trump's tweeted response to Ford. "Regardless, it's not something we want to do to blame the accuser or try and second-guess the accuser. We don't know the situation she was going through 35 years ago. We don't know the circumstances."

Haley argued for a responsible but swift examination of Ford's claim by the Senate for the sake of both families involved. Watch an excerpt of her comments below, or read them in full here. Bonnie Kristian

12:51 p.m. ET

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared on Fox News Sunday to talk trade war, Iran, and Friday's report that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has proposed ousting President Trump from office using the 25th Amendment.

"To the extent one wants to call this a trade war, we are determined to win it," Pompeo said of Trump's escalating tariffs on Chinese imports. He ignored a question from host Chris Wallace about how long the administration would maintain this course, repeating, "We're going to win it. We're going to get an outcome which forces China to behave" in accord with "fundamental principles of trade around the world, fairness, reciprocity."

Though Pompeo, like Trump, has cast U.S. tariffs as a punishment for poor behavior from Beijing, the cost of the taxes is absorbed by American consumers, not Chinese producers. China's trade surplus with the United States has hit record highs since Trump's tariff scheme began.

Turning to Iran, Pompeo pushed back on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's angry response to Saturday's attack on an Iranian military parade. "When you have a security incident at home, blaming others is an enormous mistake," Pompeo argued, calling for Tehran to focus on domestic security "rather than causing insecurity around the world."

And he slammed those, allegedly including Rosenstein, who have considered undermining the Trump administration from within. "If you can't be on the team, if you're not supporting this mission," Pompeo charged, "maybe you've got something else to do."

Watch Pompeo's full interview below. Bonnie Kristian

10:55 a.m. ET

At least 44 people have died since Hurricane Florence made landfall in the Carolinas more than a week ago, and though the catastrophic rains have finally ceased, flooding continues to hit North Carolina especially hard.

As some rivers continue to rise, tens of thousands remain without power, and many roads are still submerged or covered in debris. "I know we sound redundant, but it bears repeating," tweeted South Carolina's emergency management department. "Turn around, don't drown!"

Floodwaters have receded from Interstate 40, leaving behind a glut of dead fish. See firefighters hosing fish off the blacktop below. Bonnie Kristian

10:24 a.m. ET

A new ad for Democrat David Brill, who is challenging Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) for his seat, features six people in diverse occupations arguing Gosar is "absolutely not working for his district." The twist: They're all Gosar's siblings, and they're encouraging Arizonans to vote their brother out of office.

Gosar responded on Twitter Saturday:

On a lighter note than linking his siblings to a genocidal dictator, Gosar joked he must be "Mom's favorite," as his mother supports his campaign. Thanksgiving is gonna be so awkward this year. Bonnie Kristian

10:17 a.m. ET
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The Trump administration on Saturday proposed a rule change that would make it more difficult for immigrants to receive visas and green cards if they are deemed likely to use public assistance programs.

"Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially," said Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a statement arguing the rule would "promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers."

The proposal will define a threshold for a total amount of assistance from programs like public housing and food stamps, and using assistance above that line will be "a heavily weighed negative factor" in the consideration of immigration status change applications, DHS said. The new rules could take effect before the end of the year.

Critics say the proposal is less about frugality than restricting immigration, and legal challenge is expected. "Today's announcement by the Trump administration is a backdoor, administrative end-run to substantially reduce legal immigration that, if implemented, will hurt our entire country," Todd Schulte of FWD.us told CNN. "This policy will cost the United States in the long run by limiting the contributions of hardworking immigrants who could become legal residents, and no one is better off because of it." Bonnie Kristian

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