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May 22, 2018
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Four competitive races in the House of Representatives have shifted, and are more likely to be won by Republicans than they once were, the Cook Political Report predicted on Tuesday, in the latest sign that Democrats' midterm advantage is disappearing.

Democrats are still solidly favored nationally, but the landscape surrounding high-stakes primaries is rapidly changing. And while Democrats still lead Republicans by four percentage points in Real Clear Politics' congressional generic ballot, that lead is a fraction of the 13-point advantage they held in December.

California's 39th and 49th districts have both shifted from "lean Democratic" to "toss up," the Cook Political Report says, as a crowded field of Democratic candidates threaten to splice the share of votes. The open ballot policy in California means it's possible for two Republicans and no Democrats to make it through the primaries to the general election.

In South Carolina's 5th district, ratings shifted from "likely Republican" to "solid Republican." South Carolina's race has been affected by recent allegations that Democrat Archie Parnell assaulted his ex-wife in the 1970s — Parnell has so far opted to stay in the race even though top Democrats and his own staffers have renounced support.

Nebraska's 2nd district went from "toss up" to "lean Republican." After progressive candidate Kara Eastman beat out the Democratic Party's moderate pick in Nebraska's primary, analysts say Eastman may be too liberal for the district as she goes up against incumbent Rep. Don Bacon (R).

Read more analysis at the Cook Political Report. Summer Meza

10:59 p.m. ET
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Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, doesn't have any kind of formal cooperation agreement with the government, but he has still spent more than 50 hours in meetings providing information for several investigations, people familiar with the matter told Vanity Fair's Emily Jane Fox on Monday.

Cohen pleaded guilty in August to violating campaign finance laws, in connection with payments he made to women who said they had affairs with Trump, and he said in court that he did so under Trump's direction. A longtime friend of Cohen's told Fox that Cohen is offering his assistance to investigators because he regrets what he did while working for the Trump Organization. "What you see now is a return to who he was before all of this," the friend said. "He's an open book, and he's adamant to make it right."

It looks like Cohen is also trying to get back at Trump in an additional way. He's a Democrat again, after becoming a Republican in 2017 while working as the Republican National Committee's deputy finance chief, and he spent his weekend tweeting about the upcoming midterms. "The #MidtermElections2018 might be the most important vote in our lifetime," he tweeted on Sunday. "#GetOutAndVote #VoteNovember6th." Catherine Garcia

9:52 p.m. ET
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If you planned on drowning your sorrows over climate change in a bottle of beer, it's time to pick a new beverage.

In a new report published Monday in the journal Nature Plants, scientists say that in the future, more extreme heat waves and droughts caused by climate change will stifle barley production. Barley is the key ingredient in beer, and in the U.S., Brazil, and China, at least two-thirds of the barley crop goes into beer production. Researchers estimate that the yield could drop by as much as 17 percent, making beer not only harder to find, but also more expensive.

Even adjusting for inflation, beer prices on average would double, the researchers said, and in Ireland, where beer is already more expensive, prices would triple. Barley is one of the most heat-sensitive crops in the world, and researchers only looked at how heat waves and drought would hit barley, not even considering an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Last week, a U.N. panel released an alarming report about how climate change is going to have a catastrophic impact in just a few decades if major action isn't taken globally, and Department of Agriculture scientist Lewis Ziska told The Associated Press it's studies like the one about beer that really get through to people. "One of the greatest challenges as a scientist doing research on climate change and food is to illustrate it in a way that people can understand," he said. Catherine Garcia

8:36 p.m. ET
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Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Monday released a proposal requiring drug companies reveal how much their medications cost in television ads.

"Right now, drug companies are required to disclose the major side effects a drug can have — but not the effect that buying the drug could have on your wallet," the department said in a statement. The law would apply to brand-name drugs covered by both Medicare and Medicaid, CBS News reports, as long as a typical course of treatment costs more than $35 every month.

PhRMA, the drug industry's largest trade group, said it is open to putting prices up on a website, but believes if prices are revealed in commercials, that could "discourage patients from seeking needed medical care." Catherine Garcia

7:59 p.m. ET
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On Monday, a federal judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit adult film star Stormy Daniels filed against President Trump, and ordered her to pay his legal fees.

Daniels, who said she had sex with Trump in 2006, claimed that in 2011, after she agreed to discuss the affair in an interview, she was threatened by a man in a Las Vegas parking lot. Trump tweeted this was a "total con job," and she was "playing the Fake News Media for Fools."

Daniels sued, saying Trump suggested she was a liar, but Judge S. James Otero said Monday the tweet "constitutes 'rhetorical hyperbole' normally associated with politics and public discourse in the United States," and is protected by the First Amendment. Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, said he will appeal. Catherine Garcia

7:25 p.m. ET
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The Endeavor talent firm is in discussions to return a $400 million investment from the Saudi Arabian government's Public Investment Fund, two people with knowledge of the matter told NBC News on Monday.

The move comes after the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkey has told U.S. officials it has audio proof that he was murdered inside the consulate.

The Public Investment Fund agreed in March to buy a small stake in Endeavor. Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel said on Monday the disappearance of Khashoggi was "upsetting" and he was "really concerned." If Endeavor does cut ties with Saudi Arabia, it would be one of the most visible moves by an American company to distance itself from the kingdom in the wake of Khashoggi's disappearance. Catherine Garcia

6:37 p.m. ET
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Paul Allen, the philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft, died Monday in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was 65.

In a statement, his sister, Jody, said Allen was "a remarkable individual on every level." Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said Allen "created magical products, experiences, and institutions, and in doing so, he changed the world." Allen founded Microsoft in 1975 with Bill Gates, and after leaving the company, he founded Vulcan Inc., which oversaw his philanthropic and business endeavors.

One of the world's wealthiest people, Allen's net worth was estimated at more than $20 billion. He owned the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Seahawks, plus had a stake in the Seattle Sounders soccer team. Allen was diagnosed nine years ago with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and announced earlier this month he had started treatment for it again. Catherine Garcia

5:57 p.m. ET

President Trump once said he'd pay $1 million to Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) charity of choice if she proved she was "an Indian." In true Trumpian fashion, he's now negotiating the deal.

Trump has continually derided Warren for her assertion of Native American ancestry, suggesting it's untrue and dubbing her "Pocahontas" during rallies. So on Monday, Warren released a video challenging Trump's mockery and sharing DNA analysis that provided "strong evidence" that she has some Native American ancestry. Upon hearing the news, Trump declared that he never made a $1 million pledge, CNN reports.

Later in the day, Trump was more willing to play ball. He said Warren would have to win the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination to receive the cash. Warren hasn't said she's running for president, but pundits say she's a top contender. Trump also, somewhat disturbingly, said he would have to "test [Warren] personally" to seal the deal.

Trump isn't the only one who took issue with Warren's test results. The Cherokee Nation released a response to Warren's video on Monday, saying "using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong." Read the whole statement below. Kathryn Krawczyk

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