March 13, 2018

While addressing Marines in San Diego on Tuesday, President Trump lavished praise on a military branch that does not yet exist: the Space Force.

"Space Force," he said. "We have the Air Force, we'll have the Space Force. We have the Army, the Navy. You know, I was saying it the other day ... maybe we need a new force. I was not really serious, then I said, 'What a great idea.' Maybe we'll have to do that. Think of that: Space Force!"

Trump didn't elaborate on what the Space Force would do, but Vox reports that some lawmakers have been toying with creating a new branch of the armed forces that would focus just on space missions. The Air Force oversees the missions now, but Republicans like Rep. Mike Rogers (Ala.) say a Space Force is necessary in order to stay ahead of Russia and China. The Air Force and Defense Secretary James Mattis are both against the idea. "The Pentagon is complicated enough," Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said last year. "This will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organization chart."

If being in the Space Force involves getting to take a break from Earth, though, expect a lot of sign-ups. Catherine Garcia

5:13 a.m. ET
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

The U.S. government deported a 95-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard early Tuesday, taking him from his house in New York City and flying him to Germany, the White House said Tuesday morning. The former guard, Jakiw Palij, admitted 25 years ago that he lied on his visa application, wrongly claiming he spent the war as a farmer and factory worker. In fact, the Justice Department says, he worked at the Trawniki concentration camp in 1943, when 6,000 prisoners were slaughtered in the camp; Palij claims he did not participate in war crimes.

A judge ordered Palji deported in 2004, a year after stripping him of U.S. citizenship for “participation in acts against Jewish civilians,” but Germany, Poland, and other countries refused to take him, The Associated Press reports. "Through extensive negotiations, President Trump and his team secured Palij's deportation to Germany and advanced the United States' collaborative efforts with a key European ally," the White House said Tuesday. Germany has not said what it plans to do with Palij; previously, German prosecutors said they probably don't have enough evidence to charge him for crimes committed during World War II. In 2009, the U.S. deported former Nazi guard John Demjanjuk; he died in 2012, still appealing his 2011 conviction. Peter Weber

4:30 a.m. ET

President Trump's lawyers really don't want Trump to sit down with Special Counsel Robert Mueller for an interview in Mueller's investigation of Russian election interference and possible collusion or obstruction of justice by Trump or members of his team. Specifically, lead lawyer Rudy Giuliani argues that Mueller is setting a "perjury trap" for Trump.

Trump made his own version of that argument on Monday. "So if I say something and [former FBI Director James Comey] says something, and it's my word against his, and he's best friends with Mueller, so Mueller might say: 'Well, I believe Comey,' and even if I'm telling the truth, that makes me a liar," he told Reuters. "That's no good." On CNN Monday night, Chris Cuomo explained why Trump and Giuliani are wrong.

"Perjury traps" are a form of entrapment where prosecutors bring you in just to get you to lie, with no legitimate fact-finding objectives, Cuomo said. That's not the case with Mueller. "Perjury is what they're really worried about," he said, and perjury — "a material representation of fact for the purposes of deception" — is a crime, meaning it must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Giuliani knows this, Cuomo said, but he's intentionally spinning a narrative where Trump is being victimized.

To illustrate what the Trump team is afraid of, he showed the newly released memo that Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's Supreme Court pick, wrote in 1998 as part of the independent counsel's team prosecuting President Bill Clinton. The questions he wrote for Clinton are "salacious and disgusting" and "raunchy," but Kavanaugh also phrased them in a way would ensnare "someone like Trump," Cuomo said. "That's what his folks are worried about — not what will be done to Trump, but what he will do to himself when he's confronted by smarter people who are motivated to show that he has lied and falsely disparaged the special counsel." Watch below. Peter Weber

3:11 a.m. ET

President Trump told Reuters on Monday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of the Trump campaign and Russian election interference has "played right into the Russians — if it was Russia — they played right into the Russians' hands," and he blamed the probe for hindering his ability to strengthen ties with Moscow. "I can go in, and I could do whatever — I could run it if I want," he said of the investigation. "I'm totally allowed to be involved if I wanted to be. So far, I haven't chosen to be involved." On CNN Monday night Chris Cuomo asked former Attorney General Michael Mukasey about Trump's assertion.

Up to that point in the interview, Mukasey, who served during George W. Bush's last year in office, had defended Trump's conduct in the Mueller investigation, saying the president's fear of a "perjury trap" was "not entirely unreasonable" and White House Counsel Don McGahn's decision to cooperate extensively with Mueller "was helpful" to Trump and suggested no crimes were committed by the president.

But when Cuomo asked if Trump could really take over the Mueller investigation, Mukasey rolled his eyes. "Of course not, it's ridiculous," he said. Cuomo noted that Trump says he can. "He says a lot of things," Mukasey said. "You're here to defend that proposition, by the way," Cuomo said, laughing. "Come on," Mukasey said, sighing and trying to formulate a legal rationale. "But it would be zany. We would be living in an even more unreal world than we're living in now." Watch below. Peter Weber

1:59 a.m. ET
Austin Sapin/University of Miami, via AP

The University of Miami's football team will make history with their uniforms during the season opener against LSU on Sept. 2.

The Hurricanes will become the first college team to don uniforms, cleats, and gloves made from repurposed ocean waste. Adidas worked with Parley for the Oceans, an organization that brings attention to the amount of plastic garbage in the world's oceans, to design the uniforms.

Each uniform is made with ECONYL yarn, repurposed from fishing nets and other nylon waste, USA Today reports. The uniforms are primarily orange, with wave and palm patterns to "pay homage to South Florida landscapes." Coach Mark Richt said in a statement the team is happy to "help promote sustainability around the world," as "community service has always been an integral part of our football program." Catherine Garcia

1:49 a.m. ET
Alexey Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images

Microsoft said Tuesday it has shut down another six websites created by hackers linked to Russia's military intelligence, with the newest targets the U.S. Senate and two conservative think tanks critical of Russia and President Trump, the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute. Microsoft won a court order last year to shut down fake web domains created by the hacking group it calls Strontium, also known as Fancy Bear and APT 28, and including the six just shuttered, the company has used this legal authority to shut down 84 fake Strontium-created sites.

"We are now seeing another uptick in attacks," Microsoft President and chief legal officer Brad Smith told The New York Times on Monday. "These are organizations that are informally tied to Republicans," he added, "so we see them broadening beyond the sites they have targeted in the past." Microsoft discovered an attempted Strontium attack on Sen. Claire McCaskill's (D-Mo.) network in July, and the same group hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016, according to an indictment from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. "This activity is most fundamentally focused on disrupting democracy," Smith told The Associated Press, adding, "We have no doubt in our minds" who is responsible for the fake sites.

The spoofed websites of the Senate, Hudson Institute, and IRI contained malware that would make anyone who clicked on the sites vulnerable to hacking, surveillance, and data theft, but Smith said there's no indication anyone actually clicked on the sites while they were live. Thomas Rid at Johns Hopkins University says "Microsoft is playing whack-a-mole here," because the sites are "easy to register and bring back up" when shut down. "These attacks keep happening because they work," he said. "They are successful again and again." You can read more about how Russia is working to disrupt America's 2018 elections at The Week. Peter Weber

1:21 a.m. ET
AP Photo/Gerry Broome

Protesters tore down a statue of a Confederate soldier Monday night on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Silent Sam was erected in 1913, a gift from the United Daughters of the Confederacy. In a statement, the university said there was a crowd of about 250 protesters, and a small group brought Silent Sam down, adding: "Tonight's actions were dangerous, and we are very fortunate that no one was injured. We are investigating the vandalism and assessing the full extent of the damage." Gov. Roy Cooper's (D) official Twitter account posted a message saying he "understands that many people are frustrated by the pace of change and he shares their frustration, but violent destruction of public property has no place in our communities."

For years, students, alumni, and faculty members have been calling for the removal of the controversial statue. CBS News reports that recently, UNC Board of Governors Chairman Harry Smith said "neither UNC-Chapel Hill nor the UNC system have the legal authority to unilaterally relocate the Silent Sam statue," and there was a meeting scheduled for Wednesday in the state Capitol to discuss the monument. Catherine Garcia

12:37 a.m. ET

What's old is new again, with MTV announcing that a reboot of The Hills is in the works.

The Hills, a spinoff of the classic teen reality show Laguna Beach, aired on MTV from 2006 to 2010. A promo for The Hills: New Beginnings aired during Monday night's VMAs, and several of the show's stars — Heidi Montag, Spencer Pratt, Audrina Patridge, Jason Wahler, Justin Bobby Brescia, Stephanie Pratt, and Frankie Delgado — were at the ceremony, posing together on the red carpet.

The Hills: New Beginnings will focus on their lives in Los Angeles now, featuring their children, spouses, and friends. Two Hills stars were notably absent on Monday night: Lauren Conrad and Kristin Cavallari, who now has her own reality show, E's Very Cavallari.

A person close to Conrad told People she's content with her life as a new mom, wife, and fashion designer, and although she was the star of both Laguna Beach and The Hills, she won't appear on the reboot. "She's in a different place in her life," the friend said. "But she wants everyone to enjoy themselves. She wishes everyone the best." The Hills: New Beginnings will premiere in 2019. Watch the way-too-short promo below. Catherine Garcia

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