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January 12, 2018

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) is under investigation by the St. Louis circuit attorney over an extramarital affair he admitted to on Wednesday night, after a local news channel obtained audio of the woman telling her then-husband that Greitens had taken a photo of her bound and partially naked and told her that if she mentioned his name, "this picture will be everywhere."

The investigation is bad news for Greitens, but it's also unfortunate for Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), whose most-broadcast re-election ad prominently featured Greitens, Politico reports.

The ad, which also included the Republican governors of Wisconsin and Indiana, was aired almost nonstop in Illinois, Politico says, citing ad spending data showing that Rauner spent $1.3 million to broadcast the ad more than 3,100 times. Since October, in fact, it was in the Top 5 most-aired political ads nationwide. Not anymore. "We're removing it from all of our digital assets," Rauner campaign spokesman Will Allison told Politico. The ad is also being removed from YouTube.

After Greitens admitted to the affair but denied the blackmail allegations, a bipartisan group of state legislators urged Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) to investigate. Hawley said St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has jurisdiction over the case, and Gardner announced her criminal investigation on Thursday afternoon. Peter Weber

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 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
Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

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

8:34 a.m. ET

Social media users responded over the weekend to President Trump's tweeted claim that if Christine Ford's alleged assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh were "as bad as she says," she'd have reported it immediately.

Using the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport, launched by actress Alyssa Milano, survivors explained why they kept silent after suffering sexual abuse:

It is particularly difficult for sexual assault victims to report misconduct by those in positions of power, Laura Palumbo of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center told USA Today. And the assault is "not just something that affects their life in the short-term," Palumbo said. "It also affects their life in the long-term." Bonnie Kristian

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