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May 16, 2017

The New York Times reported Tuesday that former FBI Director James Comey shared with associates that President Trump asked him to end the FBI investigation into ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Comey apparently had a conversation with Trump in mid-February, just one day after Flynn resigned, and in a memo he wrote about the exchange revealed that Trump asked him to "let this go." Flynn was being investigated as part of the bureau's probe into ties between Trump, his associates, and Russia.

The Times did not view the memo in question; one of Comey's associates read parts of the document to a Times reporter. In a statement, the White House denied the description of the conversation between Trump and Comey as relayed in Comey's memo via the Times report — but no one in the administration was willing to put their name on the statement. The entire denial was issued anonymously:

Trump abruptly fired Comey last week, at first citing his handling of the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails before conceding the bureau's Russia probe had been a factor. Read more about Comey's reported memo — and how Comey kept a "paper trail" to document "what he perceived as the president's improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation" — at The New York Times. Kimberly Alters

3:18 a.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson struck down Kansas' voter registration ID requirement and ordered Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to stop enforcing the law, which he had championed and personally defended in court, and take six hours of continuing legal education on "civil rules of procedure or evidence." In April, Robison, a George W. Bush appointee, had ruled Kobach in contempt of court for ignoring earlier decisions. And because of this "well-documented history of avoiding this court's orders," she wrote Monday, Kobach had to immediately tell county election officials to comply with her ruling.

It wasn't until Wednesday afternoon that Bryan Caskey, Kobach's elections director, instructed county clerks to stop asking for proof of citizenship and activate all voter registrations canceled or suspended under the law, affecting 25,175 voting records. On Tuesday, Caskey had told county election officials to keep enforcing the law, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports. As Kobach spokeswoman Danedri Herbert explained, "I think 'immediately' is kind of open to interpretation."

Caskey's emailed instructions Wednesday also told county officials to flag on registration records if a voter voluntarily submitted proof of citizenship, "for tracking purposes only," though he also noted the Kobach is appealing Robinson's ruling. Mark Johnson, an attorney in one of the two lawsuits against Kobach, protested that caveat, telling The Wichita Eagle: "They have no business maintaining that information. I don't like the idea that it will be used for tracking purposes only. Tracking what?"

"For Kobach, the trial should've been a moment of glory," Jessica Huseman writes at ProPublica. "He's been arguing for a decade that voter fraud is a national calamity. ... If anybody ever had time to marshal facts and arguments before a trial, it was Kobach." Instead, Robinson and his own witnesses dealt him "an unalloyed defeat." You can read Huseman's report on the trial at verdict at ProPublica. Peter Weber

1:27 a.m. ET

Martha Leach is turning 103 on July 6, but the celebration is already underway in Holly Springs, North Carolina.

On Wednesday, friends drove Leach to the town fire station, where she was given a tour and a helmet. She hopped aboard Fire Engine #1, and was driven around town. People lined the streets, holding up signs and balloons, while Leach activated the siren. "It's the good Lord's plan for me to be here," she told WNCN.

Firefighter Adam Godfrey drove Leach around, and asked her for some advice during the ride. "She said live a stress-free life, and enjoy your home and family," he said. "Always be loved by someone." Born in 1915 in Wagram, North Carolina, Leach moved to Holly Springs in 1948, and said she enjoys spending time relaxing on her front porch, just "sitting and looking." Catherine Garcia

1:22 a.m. ET

President Trump's policy of separating families at the border "has rightfully outraged almost every decent human being, and Ted Cruz," Trevor Noah joked on Wednesday Daily Show, "and now it looks like even the man who made the policy is tired of the backlash." Noah wasn't completely impressed with Trump's executive band-aid, nor was he completely surprised Trump caved, giving the increasingly bad headlines. "Sweet Lord, 'tender age' shelters?" he asked. "That's a helluva fancy way to pronounce 'baby jail.'" The widespread only grew after Corey Lewandowski "headed south of the decency border" about a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome separated from her mother and caged, Noah said. "Yeah, he did just say 'womp womp,' which is funny because that's what he's going to hear in the afterlife. 'Wait, I'm in hell?' 'Yes, you are. Womp womp.'"

It's a relief that Trump might be ending this, but we're still left with the horror that "people were trying to defend this practice," Noah said. Still, Trump's defenders were "just dusting off xenophobia" from earlier eras. "Look, today's situation isn't the same but the excuses sure sound familiar," he explained. "In fact, they're as old as America itself — which, unfortunately, makes them too old to be locked up in a tender-age shelter."

At The Opposition, Jordan Klepper said Trump was being "too humble" in giving credit to Congress for his policy of "caging children as a bargaining tool for passing anti-immigrant laws," and argued that Lewandowski "wasn't being dismissive" when he said "womp womp" about the caged disabled girl, "those are just two of the 10 words he knows." Kobi Libii took it a step further, saying Lewandowski set "a new high" for political discourse. "Debaters have long known it's very hard to win an argument when you are on the pro-children-in-cages side," he said. "But this new mocking-noises tactic changes the game." Watch him and Klepper demonstrate below. Peter Weber

12:45 a.m. ET

Rodney Smith Jr. is making a difference, one lawn at a time.

Smith, a 28-year-old native of Bermuda, had just earned his master's degree in social work when he spotted an elderly man in Huntsville, Alabama, having a hard time mowing his lawn. Smith stopped to help, and "that night, I decided to mow lawns for the elderly, disabled, single moms, and veterans," he told CNN. His first goal was to mow 40 lawns for free, then bumped it up to 100. He soon started the Raising Men Lawn Care Service, a foundation that finds people who need their lawns mowed and also inspires kids to give back. "This is what I believe my purpose is in life," he said.

Last summer, he set off on a journey across the U.S. and mowed lawns in all 50 states. He's doing it again this year, and has challenged kids to join him by mowing 50 lawns, free of charge, in their hometowns. So far, 12 kids have hit that goal. Smith, who wants to go to every continent next year, also teaches kids about lawn mower safety as he encourages them to engage in community service. "It's about letting them know that no matter how young they are, how old they are, they can make a difference, and it doesn't have to be with a lawnmower," he said. Catherine Garcia

June 20, 2018

On Wednesday, President Trump signed a temporary stopgap measure to keep migrant families detained together — indefinitely, if the courts or Congress do as he requests — but the Health and Human Services Department says it has no plans to reunite the 2,300 children already being detained apart from their parents. The New York Daily News had a message for Trump on Thursday's front page:

Sadly, that may be harder than it sounds. Peter Weber

June 20, 2018
Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images

Under District of Columbia law, only people of "good character" can hold a liquor license, and a group of religious leaders and former judges argue that the license issued to the Trump International Hotel should be revoked because President Trump "is not a person of good character."

The District of Columbia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board received a complaint about the hotel from several rabbis, pastors, and retired judges who live in D.C. "The board owes it to the public to investigate the owner's lack of good character now," the complaint said, noting that "good character investigations typically occur at the time of license application or renewal," but Trump has engaged in "egregious conduct."

The complaint asks the alcohol licensing board to focus on Trump's "long history of lies," as well as "his involvement in relevant fraudulent and other activity demonstrating his lack of integrity, and his refusal to abide by the law or to stop associating with known criminals." He's been accused of sexual assault by several women, and fleeced people out of money through Trump University, the complaint continues, and the hotel should be ordered to "show cause why its license should not be revoked." Read the entire complaint here. Catherine Garcia

June 20, 2018

President Trump held yet another campaign rally Wednesday night, this time in Duluth, Minnesota, and most cable news executives apparently found it not newsworthy enough to broadcast live more than two years before Trump can seek re-election. Fox News broadcast the rally, however, and don't you forget it.

In his speech, Trump focused a lot on immigration, only briefly mentioning that he reversed course on separating families at the border, but also attacked the media and FBI, accused Hillary Clinton of committing "numerous" "crimes," and reminisced fondly about the "great meeting" he had with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, saying they "had great chemistry" and predicting Kim "will turn that country into a great successful country."

Trump also touched on the 2020 race. "You know, I hate to bring this up, but we came this close to winning the state of Minnesota," he said. "And in 2 1/2 years, it's going to be really easy, I think." And he pooh-poohed the political and media "elites," kind of. "The elite! Why are they elite?" Trump mused. "I have a much better apartment than they do. I'm smarter than they are. I'm richer than they are. I became president and they didn't." Which, the last part at least, is indisputably true. Peter Weber

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