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August 9, 2018
REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Tribune Media said Thursday that it would scrap its $3.9 billion merger with Sinclair Broadcast Group and sue Sinclair for "breach of contract," Fox Business reports. Tribune says Sinclair promised to make a reasonable attempt to get prompt regulatory approval, but conducted unnecessarily aggressive and slow negotiations with the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission.

The deal began to unravel last month when the FCC raised "serious concerns" about the merger, which would have created a company reaching up to 70 million households. Sinclair had said the merger would be "transformational." Tribune CEO Peter Kern said in a statement that the FCC referred "the issue of Sinclair's conduct" for a special hearing, creating unacceptable "uncertainty and delay," The Washington Post reports. Harold Maass

10:30 a.m. ET

The federal prosecutors handling the fraud case against Paul Manafort spent two weeks laying out their case before the jury. But when it comes to their lunch orders, they remain decidedly mum.

Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, is facing 18 charges of financial crimes after being indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year. The jury has been deliberating since Thursday morning — and while reporters await any word from the jury room, they're scrambling for any news at all about the high-profile case.

But Mueller's team has proven to be quite taciturn, The New York Times reports, going so far as to withhold comment about their lunch orders. The Times explains that because the federal lawyers, reporters, and Manafort's defense team are all housed within close quarters in Alexandria, Virginia, where the trial is being held, reporters often encounter the prosecutors on the street or in the hotel lobby. Lead prosecutor Greg Andres was spotted awaiting a delivery from Shake Shack in the entrance area of the local Westin hotel — but when reporters asked Andres later whether he had actually received an order from the burger chain, "he laughed, then paused," the Times says. Finally, his answer: "I can't say."

Another day, Mueller lawyer Uzo Asonye entered an elevator with a colleague — only to abruptly cut her off, as there was a reporter already inside. Asonye "turned to the reporter with a smile," the Times reports, and said, "Sorry, I can't talk to you."

Reporters have caught glimpses of the Mueller team's snack table, noting the presence of "Life Savers and orange-colored Starbust candy," so perhaps the lawyers' reticence is due to the fact that they have bad taste in sweets. Read more at The New York Times. Kimberly Alters

9:50 a.m. ET

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway reported to her job at the White House on Friday morning, donning a bright pink blouse and a glowing smile. But, in a development most Americans can understand, her cheery demeanor faltered when she actually had to start working.

As she walked down the White House driveway, Conway was met by a group of reporters asking questions about President Trump's military parade, which CNBC reported Thursday was estimated to cost $92 million. The commander in chief canceled the affair in a fit of Twitter rage early Friday anyway, but one reporter mentioned that the American Legion, a veterans' organization, said the money should go toward the Veterans Affairs Department instead. "Well, that's your perspective," Conway replied. Veterans are "happy [at the VA], mostly," she added, outlining the president's desire to give veterans options for health care aside from the VA.

When a reporter pressed Conway on her claims, noting that veterans say there is still work to be done when it comes to their health care, the former pollster replied, "That's their opinion, and it sounds like you share it, since you're in the business of opinion, not news, most days." She then slammed Americans for not demonstrating proper respect for the military and defense officials, prompting the inevitable questions about her boss' decision to revoke the security clearance of a former CIA director.

Apparently fed up, Conway responded, "Why is everybody so obsessed with the president of the United States?" while standing just feet from the residence and workplace of the president of the United States. "It's kind of weird." Watch Conway's difficult walk to work below. Kimberly Alters

9:44 a.m. ET
NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images

China's military is "likely training for strikes" against the U.S. and is rapidly expanding its long-range bomber operations, a Pentagon report released on Thursday warned.

CNN reports that the Pentagon's "Annual Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China" found new development of "nuclear capable bombers" that could be used "across land, sea, and air." The Pentagon said that over the last three years, China has been training in key maritime zones that would prepare it for an attack on the U.S. and its allies.

The increased military spending and focus on specialized airstrikes come as China and the U.S. struggle to resolve diplomatic tensions over trade, reports CNBC. The Pentagon said it wasn't clear why Beijing was flexing its military muscles, except that it wanted a "demonstration of improved capabilities."

China's pursuit of nuclear capabilities has also been ramped up, re-assigning the Chinese air force to "a nuclear mission" in a historically "comprehensive restructure" of the entire military. Chinese President Xi Jinping has exerted increased control over the military, seeking to strengthen its image on the world stage and accusing the U.S. of using a "Cold War mentality" in its defense efforts. Read more at CNN. Summer Meza

8:55 a.m. ET

The Pentagon announced Thursday night that the flashy, Bastille Day-like military parade President Trump had demanded would be pushed backed to at least 2019, but it did not give a reason. On Friday morning, Trump offered an explanation: The "local politicians who run Washington" had thwarted him with their financial demands.

Also Thursday, CNBC reported that the Pentagon raised its estimate for the parade's cost to $92 million, a big jump from the original estimate of $12 million. It's theoretically possible the D.C. city council wanted $80 million for security and cleanup costs, but either way, a new F-35 fighter jet costs about $100 million (the entire F-35 program is currently expected to cost $406.1 billion). So maybe instead of buying 9/10 of a jet, Trump can find another use for that $92 million. Peter Weber

8:27 a.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Support for President Trump's second Supreme Court nominee, U.S. Appellate Judge Brett Kavanaugh, is lower than the support for failed 2005 justice nominee Harriet Miers and only slightly higher than the support for approving failed nominee Robert Bork, the last nominee to come up short in a Senate confirmation vote, according to a CNN/SSRS poll released Thursday. Including Bork, Kavanaugh is the only nominee whom a plurality of Americans don't want to see confirmed, the poll found.

The poll found that 37 percent of U.S. adults want the Senate to confirm Kavanaugh versus 40 percent who don't. Miers, whose nomination former President George W. Bush pulled amid an outcry from Republicans, had 44 percent of the public behind her and 36 percent opposed; Bork was supported by 31 percent of Americans but opposed by only 25 percent. The third failed nominee on CNN's list, Merrick Garland, drew support from 52 percent of adults and opposition from 33 percent; he never got a confirmation hearing or vote in 2016 because Republicans did not allow it.

There is a strong gender divide in the Kavanaugh numbers, possibly because he is widely seen as the key vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Only 28 percent of women want the Senate to confirm Kavanaugh, including 6 percent of Democratic women, 28 percent of independent women, and 71 percent of GOP women. The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a confirmation hearing for Sept. 4, but Democrats say they are preparing to sue the National Archives for withheld records from Kavanaugh's time in the Bush White House. CNN's poll was conducted by SSRS Aug. 9-12 among 1,002 adults; it has a margin of sampling error of ±3.9 percentage points. Peter Weber

7:09 a.m. ET

The Texas Rangers were so pleased with this triple play at the top of the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night, they put three versions of it in their highlight reel.

It was only the sixth triple play in Rangers team history, USA Today reports, but it's even rarer than that — it was the first triple play without the batter being one of the outs in 106 years, according to the baseball nerds at STATS.

Since the play is a little confusing, this is what happened: Rangers third baseman Jurickson Profar caught a grounder from Angels batter David Fletcher, then tagged out runner Taylor Ward — who didn't run because he thought Profar caught the ball in the air — and forced out the runner on second base, then threw the ball to Rougned Odor at second, who forced out the runner from first base and tagged him for good measure. The Rangers rallied to win the game, 8-6. Peter Weber

6:34 a.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

On Thursday morning, Omarosa Manigault Newman released a recording of a December 2017 conversation with Lara Trump, the wife of Eric Trump, in which she appeared to offer the just-fired Manigault Newman $15,000 a month for what didn't sound like very taxing work on President Trump's re-election campaign.

And $15,000 a month seems to be the going rate for former Trump White House officials who worked closely with the president. According to federal election filings reviewed by ABC News, the Trump campaign, Republican National Committee, or pro-Trump America First PAC are also paying former Oval Office security chief Keith Schiller's private firm $15,000 a month for "security services" tied to the 2020 GOP national political convention, $14,000 per month for "payroll" to Trump "body man" John McEntee, and $15,000 a month to former ad director Gary Coby — all of whom, presumably, signed restrictive nondisclosure agreements.

According to the Lara Trump tape, that money comes straight from donors — and some major donors are getting irked "by the revelations that the campaign may have been used as a slush fund to pay fired or troublesome employees," The New York Times reports. "It's diverting donor money that could be used to wage the midterm election battle or store resources for Trump's re-election," said Dan Eberhart, Trump donor and America First adviser. "Instead, it's an elongated hush payment." At the same time, he said, "they still want to win elections," so wallets aren't necessarily closed.

If the donors are annoyed, Trump is "rattled" by the trickle of Manigault Newman's recordings and "Trump's aides have been concerned that they will make appearances on other tapes, of which Ms. Manigault Newman is believed to have as many as 200," the Times reports. On MSNBC Thursday morning, she said, "Believe me, my tapes are much better than theirs." And so far, she's right. Peter Weber

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