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April 10, 2017

Russia had advanced knowledge of last week's chemical attack in Syria, senior U.S. officials have concluded. The attack in the Idlib province killed dozens of civilians, including children, and prompted President Trump to order a retaliatory missile strike on a Syrian airfield last Thursday.

Officials were initially unsure whether Russia or Syria operated the drone that flew over a hospital where victims of the chemical attack were being treated, but it's now believed it was controlled by Russia. An official told The Associated Press that "the presence of the drone couldn't have been a coincidence, and that Russia must have known the chemical weapons attack was coming and that victims were seeking treatment."

Officials also revealed that the fighter jet that later bombed the hospital was Russian-made, though it's not yet clear if it was operated by Russia or Syria. The bombing, which happened hours after the drone left the scene, is believed to be "an attempt to cover up the usage of chemical weapons," The Associated Press reported.

The White House has blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the chemical attack. Becca Stanek

4:24 a.m.

The government shutdown hit Day 27 on Thursday, and The Late Show noted some of the real-world consequences.

One thing President Trump likes about this record government shutdown, though, "is that there's a chance it might make you forget, for a little while, that there's this thing called the Russia investigation," Stephen Colbert said in his monologue. But with the news that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sending internal polling data to a likely Russian agent, "the links to Russia are wrapping around Trump like a boa constrictor around a Florida grandpa."

So it's newsworthy — as well as entertaining — that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani "basically went on TV and admitted that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia," Colbert said. "That is so shocking — you saw it — he shocked himself when he heard him say it." Colbert tried to imitate Giuliani's crazy eyes, then animated his eyeballs fleeing his head. "Now, that looks bad, but only if we're going to start counting evidence as proof," he deadpanned. "Rudy's comments are just another example of the Trump team moving the goal posts," sometimes "to a whole different sport: 'It's a hole in touchdown, you're out!'"

Colbert also recapped the crazy story of Michael Cohen paying to rig polls for Trump, and for a vanity Twitter account: "So he paid fake women to say nice things. That's refreshing — usually he pays real women to say nothing."

"Remember when Trump said he would run the country like a business?" Jimmy Kimmel asked on Kimmel Live. "Turns out the business was Radio Shack. Trump is desperately trying to pin blame for this shutdown on Democrats. He lashed out this morning, he wrote: 'The Left has become totally unhinged. They no longer care what is Right for our Countrty.' That's right, you see how he spelled it — he's just as good at spelling 'country' as he is at running it." Watch below. Peter Weber

3:33 a.m.

Mary Oliver, the beloved and prolific poet whose work reflected her reverence of nature, died Thursday at her home in Florida. She was 83, and the cause of death was lymphoma, according to her literary executor, Bill Reichblum. Oliver made her literary debut in 1963, at age 28, and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for her collection American Primitive, then the National Book Award for poetry in 1992 for New and Selected Poems.

Born and raised in the Cleveland suburb of Maple Heights, Oliver escaped what she called an abusive and "dysfunctional" home life by exploring the nearby woods and writing poetry. She met her partner, Molly Malone Cook, at the New York home of the late poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, whose papers she helped organize after high school. Cook died in 2005.

Oliver's poems mostly centered on animal life and the natural world. "One of her favorite adjectives was 'perfect,' and rarely did she apply it to people," The Associated Press notes. In her 2004 essay collection Long Life, Oliver wrote that outwardly "there's never been a day that my friends haven't been able to say, and at a distance, 'There's Oliver, still standing around in the weeds. There she is, still scribbling in her notebook.' But, at the center: I am shaking; I am flashing like tinsel."

Oliver's poem "When Death Comes," from New and Selected Poems, ends with some thoughts about her own death:

When it's over, I want to say all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder

if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,

or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Oliver's final anthology of poems, Devotions, was published in 2017. Peter Weber

2:16 a.m.

President Trump "appears to be on a collusion course with the law right now, and his alleged lawyer Rudy Giuliani was back on CNN last night and Rudier than ever," Jimmy Kimmel said on Thursday's Kimmel Live. If we didn't have video of his "crazy appearance on Chris Cuomo's show," it would "almost be too much to believe." Giuliani claimed incorrectly that he'd never said there was no collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia, so either there's "another Rudy Giuliani out there," Kimmel said, or Giuliani's lying — again. "Poor Rudy. Someday he's going to be in a mental facility telling the nurses that he used to be the mayor of New York and they'll be like, 'Uh-huh.'"

Kimmel also had some fun with the story about Trump ordering fixer Michael Cohen to hire a guy to rig some online polls, Cohen paying him a fraction of the cash in a Walmart bag, then hiring him to create a @WomenforCohen account. "I may have underestimated Michael Cohen," he said. "He might be a lot more hilarious that I ever imagined."

"It's crazy that Michael Cohen was rigging polls for Trump while Trump was out there complaining that the polls were rigged," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. "But one place where there's definitely no collusion is between Rudy Giuliani's brain and his mouth." He showed the clip: "Did Giuliani just admit that there was collusion? I think he did, and look at their faces. Like, neither of them can believe what just happened." Maybe Giuliani's antics are intentional, Noah mused. "Maybe the master plan is to keep creating so many new scandals that Robert Mueller can never finish his investigation."

"It really does seem like the pressure of the job is getting to Rudy," giving the latest of his "trademark accidental confessions," Seth Meyers said on Late Night. He ran through Giuliani's ever-shifting collusion story. "If this keeps going, Rudy is going to be telling Trump, 'It's not jail, it's a gated community.'" Watch below. Peter Weber

2:01 a.m.

During a 2005 trip to southern Africa with his mother, 10-year-old Winston Duncan was inspired to start a nonprofit that, 14 years later, is still going strong.

Duncan met kids with holes in their shoes who walked miles to school and saw old women who shuffled down the streets, and wanted to make it easier for them to get around. Along with his mother, Dixie Duncan, he launched Wheels for Africa. People from his hometown of Arlington, Virginia, and the surrounding area donate bicycles to the organization, and after they are fixed up, the bikes are sent to people in need. Over the last 14 years, more than 8,000 bikes have been donated, with most going to African countries.

Last weekend, Duncan, his mom, and a small group of volunteers went to Puerto Rico for the first time, where 400 bikes were given to people still reeling from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017. On Friday, the team spruced up the bikes, and on Saturday, the bicycles — along with helmets — were distributed to recipients. Now 24, Duncan is a graduate of Bard College and working at a political consulting firm. He told The Washington Post he hopes that Wheels for Africa's young volunteers see how privileged they are, and "think about giving back." Catherine Garcia

12:55 a.m.

After buying some lottery scratchers earlier this month, Tyler Heep found himself with a winning ticket. Sure, it was only for $1, but the Des Moines, Iowa, man still thought that was something worth celebrating.

It turns out, the Iowa Lottery agreed. Heep went to lottery headquarters to cash in his winning ticket, and asked for one of the large novelty checks that are given to people who win big. "They decided to treat me like a million dollar winner," Heep told WHO-TV. "The guy came down the stairs and they took me into the back room where the camera was with the Iowa Lottery logo. Sure enough they wrote me the $1 check and had me hold it up and took the picture."

Heep used his lottery win to pay for half a gallon of gas. Catherine Garcia

12:52 a.m.

The 27-day-old government shutdown "is getting ugly, and it was never a beauty queen," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked President Trump to postpone or scrap his State of the Union address until after the government reopened, citing security concerns, and on Thursday, 45 minutes before Pelosi was supposed to get on a plane to visit NATO allies in Belgium and U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Trump informed her that he was canceling her trip.

"Now, Trump has the power to do this because Pelosi was flying military transport and he's the commander-in-chief, but Trump did give her another option": Fly commercial, Colbert said. "I'm sure JetBlue offers daily nonstop flights to a war zone." And not only did Trump spoil Pelosi's top-secret trip, he referred to her as "Madame" Speaker, not Madam Speaker, he noted. "A 'Madame speaker' is what Trump uses to order at a drive-thru brothel."

Trump is clearly urging Pelosi to fly commercial "like it's the worst thing he could think of," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. "That's hard-core, though, right? Canceling her flight right before she's about to take off. That's like the complete opposite of a romantic comedy." To be fair to Trump, he said, "Nancy Pelosi's letter was a little bit snarky, right? But it's crazy that Trump's GPS never takes him onto the high road."

Noah dipped into Cardi B's viral plea to end the shutdown — "How cool would it be if Cardi B somehow ended the shutdown? Like, we find out that Trump is a major fan because 'Bodak Yellow' is his favorite song, and also the color of his hair" — and he brought Michael Kosta out to discuss the GoFundMe campaigns of furloughed federal workers and other ways people are coping with the shutdown. Watch below. Peter Weber

January 17, 2019

Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) apologized to Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) on Thursday after he yelled "Go back to Puerto Rico!" as Cárdenas waited to speak on the House floor.

Smith had his outburst after Congress had adjourned and lawmakers were arguing over a bill to fund the government through the end of next month. Cárdenas said at first, it wasn't clear who shouted, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) scolded his colleagues, saying, "I would hope that we could refrain from any implications that have any undertones of prejudice or racism or any kind of -ism that would diminish the character and integrity of one of our fellow members." Cárdenas told The Washington Post that hours later, Smith called him and "took responsibility for the comment and sincerely apologized." Cárdenas, the son of Mexican immigrants, accepted.

Joey Brown, Smith's communications director, told the Post that Smith was "speaking to all the Democrats who were down vacationing in Puerto Rico last weekend during the shutdown, not any individual." About 30 House and Senate Democrats visited Puerto Rico to bring attention to the fact that the island is still trying to recover from Hurricane Maria. Cárdenas is the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' fundraising arm, Bold PAC, and organized the delegation. Catherine Garcia

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