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April 20, 2018
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On Friday, South Korea announced that it had set up and successfully tested a hotline that connects President Moon Jae-in with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "The historic direct telephone line between the leaders of the South and North has been connected a short while ago," said South Korean presidential official Youn Kun Young. "The test call went on for 4 minutes and 19 seconds starting at 3:41 p.m. with (officials from) both sides speaking to each other. ... The connection was smooth and the voice quality was very good. It was like calling the next door."

Moon and Kim did not participate in the test call, but they are expected to use it to converse sometime before their historic summit next week. The leaders of North and South Korea have met only twice before since the 1950-53 Korean War. Kim is also in talks to hold a summit with President Trump in early summer, and South Korean officials say Kim has shown genuine willingness to negotiate away his nuclear weapons program. Still, "North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of 'denuclearization' that bears no resemblance to the American definition," The Associated Press notes, and it is not yet known what Kim is willing to put on the table. Peter Weber

4:04 p.m. ET
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One of President Trump's closest allies in the Senate is not buying his theory about the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday said that he believes the missing Washington Post columnist was murdered and that it was likely "orchestrated at the highest levels of government," per CBS News' Alan He.

Trump suggested on Monday that "rogue killers" may have been responsible for Khashoggi's disappearance, but Graham doesn't "think it was a rogue event." Graham said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is "the one pulling the strings right now." But Trump on Tuesday, seemingly without skepticism, promoted the crown prince's claim that he has no knowledge of Khashoggi's fate.

Khashoggi arrived at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, earlier this month and has not been heard from since. Turkish officials told the United States they found evidence he was murdered and dismembered by a Saudi security team, and gave The Washington Post scans of seven men they believe were part of the Saudi team responsible. Trump promised that "answers will be forthcoming shortly" as Saudi Arabia will "rapidly expand" its investigation. But Turkish officials told the Post that there has been a "lack of Saudi cooperation" in the investigation and that it appears the consulate was cleaned and repainted before they could examine it.

Graham said the Saudi crown prince is "very schizophrenic," and told Fox & Friends that he has "got to go." Until something new happens in Saudi Arabia, Graham added, he has "no interest in engaging with this government" because he "cannot imagine a more blatant example of contempt for a relationship than this." Brendan Morrow

3:20 p.m. ET
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Longtime Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) could be in danger of losing his re-election.

While the 13-term Republican representative is still the heavy favorite, election forecast website FiveThirtyEight lowered his odds of winning by about 10 points on Monday. Analyst Nate Silver chalked the shift up to good Democratic fundraising.

King's Democratic opponent, Liuba Grechen Shirley, raised more than King's last five opponents combined, The New York Times reported in August, and Grechen Shirley told Newsday in September that she outraised King by $25,000 in the last quarter.

Grechen Shirley now has a 26.9 percent chance of defeating King, based on FiveThirtyEight's model. For comparison, the same forecast gave President Trump a 28 percent chance of being elected in 2016.

This shift comes after the Cook Political Report moved King's seat from being "safe Republican" to "likely Republican" in September. The New York Times reported last month that Republican and Democratic strategists both felt King "might not be safe," especially after his district was redrawn in 2012 to include more registered Democrats than Republicans. Grechen Shirley, who has never held elected office, told the Times that she believes she can pull off an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-style upset.

Even if King does end up winning, as he is still likely to do, this could end up being the closest re-election of his career. FiveThirtyEight, after all, predicts he will receive 52 percent of the vote while Grechen Shirley will receive 48 percent. In 2016, King defeated his Democratic opponent by a margin of more than 20 points. Brendan Morrow

3:02 p.m. ET
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Fantasy series Grimm may have said goodbye just one year ago, but it's already gearing up for a comeback.

There's a spinoff in the works between NBC and Marvel's Iron Fist writer Melissa Glenn, Variety reported Tuesday. The untitled reboot will certainly include touches of the original show, since its executive producers, Sean Hayes and Todd Millier, and its creators, David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf, are reportedly coming on as producers.

The original Grimm followed Portland homicide detective Nick Burkhardt, played by David Giuntoli, who discovers he comes from a long line of guardians sworn to protect the mortal world from mythological creatures called Wesen. In his new role as a protector, or Grimm, Burkhardt enlists the help of his partner, played by Russell Hornsby, to maintain a balance between both realms.

Little is known about the spinoff, other than it will center around a female Grimm. No actors are attached to the show yet, but fans can reportedly expect to see some familiar faces alongside new characters.

The original series went off the air in March 2017 after six seasons. It quickly became a breakout show, and remained one of Friday's highest-rated scripted series throughout its run, reports Deadline. So get ready Grimm fans, because the story continues. Read more about the spinoff at Deadline. Amari Pollard

2:45 p.m. ET
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Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) seems to have raised more money than he knows what to do with. But he's still keeping it for himself.

O'Rourke, who is fighting to take Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz's Senate seat in Texas, raked in a record-breaking $38.1 million in the last fundraising quarter. Even though polls continue to predict a Cruz victory, O'Rourke isn't yet redirecting any of his efforts — or funds — to any other race.

Despite picking up steam, O'Rourke still trails Cruz by eight points, a recent poll from The New York Times/Siena College found. Similarly pessimistic polls prompted Democratic Party officials to push O'Rourke to send his overflowing funds to Democrats in tighter races, the Times reported.

O'Rourke did take a step in that direction with an $815,000 transaction to the Texas Democratic Party last month, campaign finance reports show. But that money could go further "in states where candidates just need a little extra to get over the hump," such as "Missouri, Tennessee, or North Dakota," one Democratic strategist told the Times. After all, reports have shown that a good chunk of O'Rourke's millions came from Democrats in states with competitive races of their own.

Still, O'Rourke rejected the idea of directing funds to other Senate races on Monday, telling the conservative Washington Examiner that if people "want to contribute to another campaign, of course they're welcome to do that." But as long as the remaining $22.9 million is in O'Rourke's war chest, he said, he's going to stay "focused on Texas" and "spare no expense" in the final stretch of his own campaign. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:24 p.m. ET
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President Trump loves the troops, but do they love him back?

In a new Military Times poll, 44 percent of active-duty personnel said they approve of Trump, compared to 43 percent who disapprove. It's not the warmest reception, but at least it's higher than his approval with the general public. Still, his numbers within the military have sunk — in fall 2016, 46 percent of active-duty troops told the Military Times they approved of Trump, while just 37 percent said they disapproved. Analysis suggests the biggest change since 2016 is that many troops have made up their minds, instead of saying they have "no opinion" on Trump.

Though 43 percent disapprove of Trump, that's much better than his national disapproval rating among civilians. A recent Gallup survey found that 51 percent of Americans disapprove of the president. Among military women, Trump's disapproval rating in this poll, 68 percent, is higher than it was among women in general in a recent CNN poll, 62 percent.

Interestingly, though, about 60 percent of troops in this same survey said they approve of Trump's handling of the military and, in fact, believe it is in better shape now than it was under former President Barack Obama. Troops also overwhelmingly love Secretary of Defense James Mattis, with 84 percent approving of the retired four-star Marine Corps general who Trump recently called "sort of a Democrat."

The Military Times surveyed 829 active-duty troops online between Sept. 20 and Oct. 2. The margin of error is 2 percentage points. Brendan Morrow

12:57 p.m. ET

President Trump's latest shockingly sexist insult is already drawing a strong rebuke from at least one congressional Republican.

Trump on Tuesday referred to Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006, as "Horseface." Rep. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) denounced the remark as "embarrassing," and called it "unbecoming of any man, let alone the POTUS." He also said it's "obvious" that this sort of language "enables teenage boys to feel they have a license to refer to girls [with] such names."

Costello can't be particularly happy to be tweeting about this. He announced earlier this year that he would be retiring from Congress, saying that all he does is "answer questions about Donald Trump," reports The Hill. In fact, he cited the Stormy Daniels scandal specifically as one of the reasons he's fed up with modern politics. He explained that the constant "talking about porn stars and the president" means "it's the right time for me to perhaps consider another line of work." Brendan Morrow

12:30 p.m. ET

Stormy Daniels is not taking President Trump's latest demeaning insult in stride.

After Trump called Daniels, the adult film star who claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006, "Horseface" in a Tuesday tweet, she responded by saying the president has "demonstrated his incompetence, hatred of women and lack of self control on Twitter AGAIN!" Trump's insult was in response to news that Daniels' defamation lawsuit against him was dismissed by a federal judge, which he took to mean he can now "go after her."

Daniels also mocked Trump by referencing his "umm...shortcomings," and joked that he "perhaps" has a "penchant for bestiality." Trump has privately attacked Daniels' appearance and in recent weeks has been wanting to fire back at her for "mocking his manhood" in her book, The New York Times' Maggie Haberman reports. Now, Trump has done just that, and it sounds like Daniels welcomes this escalating war of words. "Game on, Tiny," she wrote. Brendan Morrow

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