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August 10, 2018

President Trump "remains on vacation, but it's a working vacation, because he's still lying," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. According to one tally, Trump told 132 falsehoods last week, or 19 lies a day, almost five times his average, he noted. "Wow, that is impressive! How does he keep up that pace? Does he wear some sort of wrist tracker, the Fibbit?" Trump debuted some big new whoppers, and Colbert ran through some, conceding that with Trump's "tendency to cheat on facts," his lawyers — and Fox News pundits — have a point about him not sitting down to talk with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But Colbert had an idea: "He could not lie."

Since "his lawyers know that's not an option," he added, they are gunning to neuter Mueller by severely limiting the questions he can ask Trump. Colbert offered an analogy: "Look, you can ask my client, Jeffrey Dahmer, about anything you want — other than murder and dinner."

The Late Show dramatized the White House demands for Mueller's questions.

Colbert moved on to the Oscars and Drake's plan to trademark the phrase "God's Plan," not just for his song but also merchandise and a TV game show. "I can't wait for God's Plan the game show," Colbert joked, imagining what that might look like (and feel like: painful). "Still, hard to believe Drake is trying to trademark 'God's Plan,'" he said. "I mean, you have to wonder how the Almighty feels about that." And the Late Show ceiling God came out and told him. Watch below. Peter Weber

9:47 a.m. ET

President Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are both in New York on U.N. business this week, but Rouhani has made it clear he does not want to meet his American counterpart.

"Naturally, if someone is keen on having a meeting and holding dialogue and creating progress in relationships, that person would not use the tool of sanctions and threats [and bring] to bear all of its power against another government and nation," Rouhani said Monday. "That means that the necessary willpower is absent in order to resolve outstanding issues." Tehran has consistently refused talks with the Trump administration since the president withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal earlier this year, labeling Trump an "untrustworthy" diplomatic partner.

A day after Rouhani's remarks, Trump on Twitter claimed he'd rejected Rouhani's request for a meeting:

This forlorn effort to save face was undercut by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's statement on NBC's Meet the Press just two days ago that Trump has "been pretty clear" he is "happy to talk with" Iran "at any time." Bonnie Kristian

9:39 a.m. ET

The White House is "open" to the possibility of a second accuser testifying against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders appeared on Good Morning America on Tuesday and said that President Trump "would be open" to having Deborah Ramirez testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Ramirez recently told The New Yorker that when she and Kavanaugh were students at Yale University, he exposed himself to her while drunk at a party. Kavanaugh denies the allegation.

Ramirez has not commented publicly on whether she would like to testify before lawmakers vote on whether to confirm Kavanaugh. The nominee will testify to refute claims from another woman, Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh forcibly groped her when they were in high school.

"The President has been clear," said Sanders, "let them speak, but let's also let Brett Kavanaugh speak." Watch the clip below, via Good Morning America. Summer Meza

9:10 a.m. ET

The Trump administration is staying mum about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's fate.

During an interview on Good Morning America on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly declined to answer questions about Rosenstein after reports emerged Monday that he would be leaving the administration, either by resigning or by being fired. Rosenstein and President Trump are currently set to meet Thursday. When asked if Trump told Rosenstein on Monday that he wants him to stay on, Sanders wouldn't say.

Sanders also would not answer a question about whether Trump will fire Rosenstein Thursday if he doesn't resign, saying she doesn't want to "get ahead of" the conversation. But things certainly don't sound great for Rosenstein: When Sanders was asked if Trump has confidence in his deputy attorney general, she also declined to answer, simply saying, "The president has confidence in the system."

The New York Times reported Friday that Rosenstein has discussed wearing a wire to secretly record Trump, as well as invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office. While Sanders didn't address the Times report directly, she did say there have been a "number of incidents" at the Justice Department and the FBI that have "caused a great deal of concern." Watch Sanders' full interview below. Brendan Morrow

8:18 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) confidently declared in a speech last Friday that Brett Kavanaugh would be confirmed to the Supreme Court. But after a second sexual misconduct allegation was leveled against the nominee, things are looking a lot less certain.

Fox News reports that at least four Senate Republicans, and reportedly as many as seven, are currently on the fence about confirming Kavanaugh. The four who are definitely in play are Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), but there are reportedly three more Republicans who could be swayed in either direction.

To be confirmed, Kavanaugh will need the approval of 50 senators. There are currently 51 Republicans in the Senate, so just two of them breaking from the ranks would dash his confirmation hopes.

Now, it all comes down to Thursday, when both Kavanaugh and one of the two women accusing him of sexual misconduct are expected to testify before Congress. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations. Multiple Senate Republicans told Fox News that they'd vote against Kavanaugh if they heard "something alarming" during Thursday's testimony.

Meanwhile, some of President Trump's allies are beginning to grow more doubtful about Kavanaugh's chances, with Ed Rollins, co-chairman of the pro-Trump Great America PAC, telling The Daily Beast he's got a "fifty-fifty" shot. Brendan Morrow

8:13 a.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

President Trump's first day at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York City was spent at a counternarcotics meeting and with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, with whom he signed a revised U.S.-South Korea trade agreement. It was also largely overshadowed by chaos in his own administration tied to his Supreme Court nomination and the job status of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. On Tuesday, Trump will address the General Assembly, and White House officials say he will assert U.S. sovereignty and defend his decisions to engage with North Korea and withdraw the U.S. from multilateral decisions on climate change and Iran's nuclear program.

"Such rhetoric, when delivered from the dais of the General Assembly chamber, was a shock last year," says Ishaan Tharoor at The Washington Post. "But as Trump makes his second appearance at the United Nations as president, no world leader or foreign dignitary will be surprised to hear more of the same." On Wednesday, Trump will chair a meeting of the United Nations Security Council where he is expected to focus on Iran, even as other key members of the Security Council are meeting at the General Assembly to explore ways of salvaging the Iran nuclear deal amid U.S. sanctions and threats.

A year ago, Trump used his U.N. General Assembly speech to attack North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as "Little Rocket Man" and threatened to "totally destroy North Korea." On Monday he said after meeting with Moon that he will hold a second summit with Kim in the "not too distant future," though "the location is being worked on. The timing is being worked on." Peter Weber

6:45 a.m. ET

CNN's Don Lemon said Monday night that his vacation last week was interrupted both by the news of Christine Blasey Ford's attempted rape allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a conversation he had with a family member "extremely close to me" who opened up about being sexually assaulted by a boyfriend. Lemon showed the clip from eight years ago where he spontaneously acknowledged that he had been sexually abused. "In my life, it hasn't mattered if the person was 17 or 70 — the pain and the damage are real, and it never goes away," he said.

"Here's my message then, and now, and today: People aren't always who they present themselves to be in public," Lemon said. "A molester doesn't have an 'M' on their forehead. ... People are tricky characters. Innocent until proven guilty must remain the law of the land, but at the same time, some guilty people do cloak themselves in innocence. Remember, after all, Bill Cosby was 'America's Dad' not so long ago."

Lemon said he doesn't know whether Kavanaugh or his accusers are telling the truth, but as we weigh their stories and why they felt compelled to share them publicly he said, consider carefully: "Are we interested in truth, are we interested in healing, or is there, as there always seems to be these days, a political game being played with people's lives?" And it's not a few lives: Every 98 seconds, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted, and one in six women has been raped or the victim of attempted rape. Watch below. Peter Weber

5:53 a.m. ET

On Monday, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's freshman roommate at Yale, James Roche, elaborated on a statement he gave to The New Yorker about Kavanaugh's alcohol consumption and social network during the period their classmate Deborah Ramirez says Kavanaugh stuck his penis in her face at a party. "Brett and I did not socialize beyond the first few days of freshman year," he said. "We talked at night as freshman roommates do and I would see him as he returned from nights out with his friends." Roche added:

It is from this experience that I concluded that although Brett was normally reserved, he was a notably heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time, and that he became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk. I did not observe the specific incident in question, but I do remember Brett frequently drinking excessively and becoming incoherently drunk. ... Based on my time with Debbie, I believe her to be unusually honest and straightforward and I cannot imagine her making this up. Based on my time with Brett, I believe that he and his social circle were capable of the actions that Debbie described. [James Roche]

Fox News' Martha McCallum asked Kavanaugh about Roche's characterization on Monday, and Kavanaugh repeated that he has "always treated women with dignity and respect" and emphasized that Roche "does not corroborate the incident at all." When McCallum asked, Kavanaugh said he's "not going to speculate about [Roche's] motives" and there was never a time when he drank so much he couldn't remember the night before.

Roche said in his statement that he doesn't "consider myself to be a political person and I have no political agenda," and he "shared this information ... because Debbie has a right to be heard and I believe her. I have been asked for more details and additional stories, but this is all that I am comfortable sharing." Peter Weber

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