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January 12, 2018
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Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) said Friday that he "personally heard" the now-notorious comments President Trump allegedly made Thursday at a bipartisan meeting on immigration. By Friday afternoon, a Republican senator had joined Durbin in apparently confirming the reports as well.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said he talked to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who was in the room at the Thursday meeting, and said that Graham told him that the comments being reported by the press are "basically accurate." A Democratic aide told NBC News on Thursday that Trump vented about immigrants coming to the United States from "shithole countries," although Trump has denied he used that "language."

"We ought not to disparage any other nation, frankly," Scott told The Post and Courier. "Thinking about the success of America, it is the melting pot. It's the ability to weave together multiple communities together for one nation."

Although Graham has not confirmed his remarks to The Post and Courier, Durbin claimed earlier Friday that his South Carolina colleague "spoke up and made a direct comment on what the president said … For him to confront the president as he did, literally sitting next to him, took extraordinary political courage and I respect him for it." The remarks have been internationally condemned, with the United Nations human rights office deeming them "racist." Jeva Lange

Update 2:41 p.m.: In a statement, Graham confirmed that he confronted Trump about his remarks, though he did not elaborate specifically on what the president said. Read the full statement here. Jeva Lange

8:22 p.m. ET
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The Justice Department announced Tuesday that a former CIA officer suspected of working with China to identify informants in the country has been arrested and charged with unlawful retention of national defense information.

Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, left the CIA in 2007, and in 2012, the FBI began to investigate him as more and more informants in China started to die or go to prison. Lee lived in Hong Kong, but during a 2012 trip to the U.S., FBI investigators searched his luggage and found journals containing classified information; prosecutors say the handwritten notes included details about meetings with informants and the names and phone numbers of undercover agents.

Some intelligence officials believe Lee worked with the Chinese government, The New York Times reports, while other think it's possible China was able to hack the secret communications channels used by the CIA to talk to informants. Since 2010, more than a dozen CIA informants have been killed or imprisoned by the Chinese government. Catherine Garcia

7:33 p.m. ET
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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
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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
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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

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