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July 15, 2015

NASA on Wednesday unveiled its first close-up photos of the planet Pluto, as taken by the New Horizons probe. Among the many cool things we learned today — including that Pluto's equator is studded with icy mountains, and that Pluto has one of the youngest surfaces in the Solar System — is that the members of the New Horizons team refer to a dark patch near the north pole of Pluto's largest moon, Charon, as Mordor, famously the home of Sauron and Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings.

(Text added, photo courtesy NASA.gov)

That is not the formal name of the region, according to The New York Times, though it is one of many possible names — including Tatooine and the Shire — that are reportedly under consideration for Charon's landmarks. Unlike Samwise Gamgee, who said Mordor was the one place we didn't want to see any closer, we're hoping in the coming days to get a more detailed look at that sinister-looking spot. Ryu Spaeth

3:13 a.m.

If you've paid any attention to President Trump, you know he's obsessed with golf and he golfs a lot. HuffPost tried to discern what Trump's roughly 175 president golf trips have cost in added travel and security costs, and on Wednesday they reported their conservative estimate: $102 million. That includes $81 million for his 61 days at his golf courses in Florida, $17 million for his 58 days at his New Jersey resort, $1 million for him to visit his club in Los Angeles, and $3 million to tack a trip to his Scottish golf course onto a visit to London. A planned golf trip to Ireland will cost millions more.

For perspective, HuffPost says, $102 million "represents 255 times the annual presidential salary he volunteered not to take," and former President Barack Obama at this point in his presidency had racked up about $30 million in out-of-town golf expenses.

At The Washington Examiner, Tom Rogan scolds HuffPost for "hyperventilating" about Trump's golf expenses, noting, reasonably, that president need vacations and have to travel with large, expensive entourages "Too many conservative commentators unjustly attacked Obama's travel costs," he said, and "liberals are wrong to complain about President Trump's golfing costs."

But cost was only part of HuffPost's concerns. All but one of Trump's 175 golf outings have been at Trump-owned courses — the exception was in Japan — and "on top of the publicity value of a presidential visit, each trip also results in many thousands of taxpayer dollars flowing to Trump resorts for hotel rooms, golf carts, and food and drink for Secret Service agents," HuffPost notes. "Because Trump continues to profit from these businesses ... a portion of that taxpayer money ends up in Trump's own pocket." A recent government report found that Trump's Mar-a-Lago earned about $60,000 from just four of Trump's 24 presidential visits. Read more at HuffPost. Peter Weber

1:35 a.m.

"Today, there really is just one big story: America's step-daddy is angry," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. Frustrated Democrats are starting to push for impeachment, and after a meeting Wednesday morning to calm down her caucus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) emerged and said she believes Trump "is engaged in a cover-up." Colbert laughed: "It's called bronzer, Nancy, and he's not fooling anyone."

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) then went to the White House to meet with Trump for a pre-scheduled meeting on infrastructure, Trump walked in late, walked out, and the meeting was over in three minutes. "According to Stormy Daniels, that's two bonus minutes," Colbert said, naughtily. "Trump walked out the door, straight to the Rose Garden for a nationally televised hissy fit, complete with a podium adorned with a pre-printed sign that said 'No collusion, no obstruction.'"

"So Trump has a clear stance on infrastructure: 'It's my way or no highways,'" Colbert said, paraphrasing Trump's opening message. Trump then claimed Democrats can't investigate him and legislate at the same time, raged about Democrats moving toward "the 'i' word," insisted he's denying Congress its constitutional powers for altruistic reasons, and stood up for his son Don Jr, Colbert recapped. Then Pelosi politely savaged Trump, but couldn't quite articulate "the 'i' word."

The Late Show had no trouble finding (and singing about) "i" words to describe Trump.

"Trump's press conference was predictably off-the-rails," starting with his "obvious lie" that he's a historically transparent president, Seth Meyer said at Late Night. "I mean, we can see right though you, but I don't think that's what you meant." With Trump "now openly defying the law and refusing to work with Congress unless they stop investigating him," he added, "it's worth remembering that Republicans spent years pretending to care about the Constitution, and now Trump is exposing them all as frauds." Well, all except one. Watch below. Peter Weber

1:17 a.m.

Army Spc. Tyler Mosley and Daisy had an instant connection, and he knew their story wouldn't end in Syria.

They met in January while Mosley was serving a five-month deployment. After finding the German shepherd puppy abandoned on the side of the road, a technician brought her to the Army compound. Daisy quickly bonded with Mosley, and when it came time for him to return to the United States, he made a plan to get his new friend out of Syria. "She was in a bad place," Mosley told the Panama City News Herald. "I just wanted her to be here so I could give her the love, the life that she wouldn't have had there."

He contacted the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International, and after filling out forms and paying a small fee, Daisy started her trek to the U.S. Following stops in Iraq, Germany, and New York City, she arrived in Florida last month, with a tearful Mosley greeting her at the airport. Daisy now lives with Mosley, his wife Kelsey, and their cat. "I just knew that I would do whatever it takes to get her home," Mosley said. Catherine Garcia

12:19 a.m.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spent seven hours on Tuesday speaking with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and told them all about President Trump's shaky 2017 meeting in Hamburg with Russian President Vladimir Putin, committee aides told The Washington Post.

"We spent a lot of time in the conversation talking about how Putin seized every opportunity to push what he wanted," one aide said. "There was a discrepancy in preparation, and it created an unequal footing." Tillerson said Trump believed it would be a brief meeting, with the men exchanging nothing more than pleasantries, but Putin was ready to discuss major issues, and they were together for two hours. Tillerson also shared that he thinks the U.S. needs to do more to push back against Russia on the global stage, the Post reports.

Tillerson was invited to speak privately to a bipartisan group of lawmakers by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.). Tillerson, who was fired in March 2018, was careful not to insult Trump, a committee aide told the Post, but he made it clear that he and the president do not have the same "value system." When asked to describe Trump's values, the aide said Tillerson replied, "'I cannot.' Just as matter of fact, he stated that he couldn't or wouldn't unpack the president's values for us." Catherine Garcia

12:05 a.m.

One of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) arguments against opening impeachment proceedings against President Trump is that House Democrats are actually winning their oversight battles with the White House. And in fact, a second federal judge green-lighted congressional subpoenas of Trump's financial records on Wednesday, and two of Trump's lenders — Wells Fargo and TD Bank — have reportedly already handed over some financial records.

On the other hand, Trump's lawyers plan to appeal the rulings on his Deutsche Bank, Capital One, and accounting records, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has refused to hand over Trump's tax returns, despite a law that says he "shall," a subpoena, and a memo from IRS lawyers agreeing he has little choice. New York may have just given House Democrats a workaround on Trump's tax returns, though.

On Wednesday, the New York state Assembly and Senate gave final approval to a law that would allow three congressional committees — House Ways and Means, Senate Banking, and Joint Committee on Taxation — to request the state tax returns of any elected or top appointed official. It covers both business and personal tax returns filed in the state. New York is Trump's home and the headquarters of many of his core businesses, and the information on his state returns should be very similar to what's on his federal returns.

If Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signs the legislation — a spokesman said he is reviewing it carefully — it will take effect immediately. That would probably provide House Democrats their fastest path to viewing Trump's tax returns — though the law, like all the other avenues, might have to overcome a court challenge first. Peter Weber

May 22, 2019

While President Trump fought to keep Deutsche Bank and Capital One from giving lawmakers records related to their dealings with his businesses, Wells Fargo and TD Bank turned over Trump-related documents to the House Financial Services Committee, two people familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The committee has issued subpoenas to nine financial institutions, including Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, and JP Morgan Chase. Wells Fargo handed over several thousand documents while TD Bank gave a "handful," a person who saw the records told NBC News.

After she issued the subpoenas last month, House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said the "potential use of the U.S. financial system for illicit purposes is a very serious concern. The Financial Services Committee is exploring these matters, including as they may involve the president and his associates, as thoroughly as possible pursuant to its oversight authority, and will follow the facts wherever they may lead us."

On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled against Trump in his lawsuit to stop Deutsche Bank and Capital One from complying with subpoenas from the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees. Deutsche Bank was Trump's biggest lender, loaning the Trump Organization more than $2 billion over several years. Catherine Garcia

May 22, 2019

The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed to CBS News on Wednesday that a 10-year-old girl from El Salvador died while in the federal agency's custody last September.

Officials from the Office of Refugee Resettlement and Department of Homeland Security said this was the first death of a migrant child in federal custody since 2010. In the wake of her death, five other migrant children have died either while in U.S. custody or shortly after being released.

HHS spokesman Mark Weber said the girl was in a "medically fragile" state when she arrived in March at the Office of Refugee Resettlement in San Antonio. The girl had congenital heart defects, Weber said, and after undergoing surgery, she experienced complications that left her in a comatose state. In May, the girl was transported to a nursing facility in Phoenix, and on Sept. 26, she was moved to Omaha to be closer to family. She died on Sept. 29 from a fever and respiratory distress, Weber said.

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) told CBS News he has "not seen any indication that the Trump administration disclosed the death of this young girl to the public or even to Congress. And if that's the case, they covered up her death for eight months, even though we were actively asking the question about whether any child had died or been seriously injured. We began asking that question last fall." Catherine Garcia

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