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January 23, 2018
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Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office questioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions for "several hours last week," The New York Times reports. The interview is the first known instance of Mueller's office questioning a member of President Trump's Cabinet, although Congress has grilled Sessions on multiple occasions with inquiries pertaining to Russian meddling in the 2016 elections and the Trump campaign's alleged involvement.

Last spring, Sessions recused himself from "any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States" conducted by the Justice Department, following reports that he had twice spoken with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 election. During his congressional interviews last year, Sessions frustrated lawmakers by repeatedly saying he did not recall the answer to questions or otherwise declining to respond.

Mueller is also slated to interview Trump's former chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, in the coming weeks. In December, The Washington Post reported that White House lawyers have been "assuring the president that Mueller's investigation is poised to wrap up by January or so." Jeva Lange

12:44 p.m. ET

In the last four Winter Olympics, Team USA was either first or second in terms of medals won, but this year "the U.S. is struggling to keep up in the medal race," John Dickerson noted at CBS This Morning on Monday. The U.S. is currently No. 6 in total medals, with 10 medals, one behind the Russians — who are competing without a some of their star athletes and without a country, due to doping-related bans.

Norway is cleaning up, with 28 medals, including 11 golds, followed by Germany and Canada.

If the U.S. wants to live up to its computer-predicted glory, it has a week left. Peter Weber

12:04 p.m. ET
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

The presidential motorcade left Mar-a-Lago at a little before 9 a.m. on Presidents Day, on the last day of President Trump's long weekend in southern Florida, and pulled into Trump's nearby golf club 15 minutes later. The presidential press pool, represented Monday by The Hill's Jordan Fabian, did not see Trump enter the motorcade, he wrote in the raw pool report, and in fact pool reporters have "not laid eyes on POTUS since Friday night, when he met with injured victims and first responders from the Parkland shooting," Fabian said.

The press pool was diverted to the Palm Beach International Airport lounge as Trump's motorcade veered into Trump's club, and there's "no word on the president's activities at the golf club," Fabian said, but the "press had an eventful morning before entering Mar-a-Lago":

Driver of one of the press pool vans was detained during security screening for what he said was a personal firearm found in his baggage. Driver said he forgot to leave the firearm inside his personal vehicle before entering van. Screening took place off club grounds in parking lot across the street and roughly an hour before press vans joined up with presidential motorcade. Driver was not allowed onto club property so a White House staffer drove the van instead. White House staff said all drivers were replaced after the incident. When press loaded back into vans, driver was being questioned by an officer. When on club grounds, another van grazed a Secret Service vehicle in the parking lot. Damage to vehicles appeared to be very minor and no one was hurt. [Press pool report]

Perhaps that explains Trump's Presidents Day tweet:

Or, more likely, he paid no attention to the press van. You can read the entire pool report here. Peter Weber

11:18 a.m. ET
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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who has faced criticism over travel expenses, has canceled a planned trip to Israel, agency officials said Sunday. "We decided to postpone; the administrator looks forward to going in the future," EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman told The Washington Post. Pruitt faced a backlash over his travel costs last week after reports that, on the recommendation of his security detail, Pruitt had been traveling business or first class to avoid public confrontations with critics.

In Israel, Pruitt had been scheduled to spend Sunday through Thursday at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, meeting with Israeli officials and business officials "to gain an understanding of Israel's unique infrastructure and environmental challenges," EPA officials said. Harold Maass

10:54 a.m. ET
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On Monday, President Trump offered his support to a bill introduced by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) last November to improve federal background checks on gun purchases. "The president spoke to Sen. Cornyn on Friday about the bipartisan bill he and Sen. Murphy introduced," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. "While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system."

Cornyn and Murphy introduced the legislation after the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and Trump did not back it at the time. The bill would require all federal agencies to report criminal and mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and introduce financial incentives to encourage state and local agencies to enter such records into the federal gun background database, too. The National Rifle Association supports the bill, Talking Points Memo points out.

Trump is holding two gun-related events this week, after last week's mass school shooting n Parkland, Florida: a "listening session" with high school students and teachers, and a meeting with state and local officials on "school safety." Peter Weber

10:20 a.m. ET
REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

After meeting some victims of the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Friday, President Trump has passed the rest of Presidents Day weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort. "He spent much of the time watching cable news, venting to friends about the Russia investigation, and complaining that it has been driving so much press coverage," The Washington Post reports, citing people who spoke with the president. Trump "also surveyed Mar-a-Lago Club members about whether he ought to champion gun control measures in the wake of last week's school massacre in nearby Parkland, telling them that he was closely monitoring the media appearances by some of the surviving students."

With Trump at Mar-a-Lago were his sons Eric and Don Jr., Geraldo Rivera, and first lady Melania Trump, who "did not join her husband in the dining room" Saturday night, the Post reports. Starting Saturday night, Trump started tweeting angrily about the FBI, his national security adviser, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calf.), and Oprah Winfrey. Trump met Sunday with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

He did not golf on Saturday and Sunday, out of deference to the Parkland shooting — "his predecessor had been criticized for golfing too soon after tragic events," The New York Times notes — but he visited his golf club Sunday night, his motorcade passing a "gentlemen's club" advertising purported onetime paramour Stormy Daniels' Make America Horny Again appearance. Trump and the first lady return to the White House on Monday night. Peter Weber

9:41 a.m. ET
Jesse Grant/Getty Images for IMAX

The Disney-Marvel movie Black Panther smashed box office records over the weekend, instantly becoming the top-grossing film in history by a black director with global ticket sales estimated to reach $387 million by Monday after its debut weekend. Disney said the film brought in about $218 million in North America between Friday and Monday, with some theaters adding showings to meet demand. Analysts had projected an opening weekend take of $165 million in North America. The actual numbers were at a level previously unheard of for a February release, outside of the summer and holiday seasons usually reserved for the biggest blockbusters. The previous record for a February release was Deadpool's $159 million over Presidents Day weekend in 2016. Harold Maass

8:17 a.m. ET
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Monday marks the 50th anniversary of the PBS show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and PBS and the U.S. are gearing up to celebrate the legacy of Fred Rogers, its creator and star. Next week, PBS will pair thematically similar episodes of Mister Rogers and its 2012 spinoff, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and on March 6, PBS will broadcast the star-filled retrospective Mister Rogers: It's You I Like. A Fred Rogers biopic starring Tom Hanks is in the works, and the documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor? is coming to theaters after its well-received debut at Sundance. The U.S. Postal Service is rolling out a Forever stamp featuring Rogers and his puppet King Friday XIII on March 23.

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood debuted on Feb. 19, 1968, and officially ended its 31-year run (it was on hiatus from 1976 to 1979) on Aug. 31, 2001. Rogers died of stomach cancer at age 74 in 2003. "Mister Rogers is producing these programs bookended between the beginning of 1968 ... and just before the Sept. 11 attacks," says Robert Thompson at Syracuse University. "He took American childhood — and I think Americans in general — through some very turbulent and trying times." One Rogers quote in particular continues to make the rounds on social media after school shootings and other tragedies: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"

"He's more relevant than ever right now," says Amy Franzini at Pennsylvania's Widener University. "He's a dependable figure we can fall back on that makes us feel safe. ... He's the good in the world." "This is the year of Fred," said David Newell, who played the "speedy deliver" post man Mr. McFeely. "The program has really resonated — it's very rewarding. People in their 50s now are the first generation that watched the Neighborhood, and it goes all the way down to teens." Peter Weber

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