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December 31, 2017

Presumably upset by New Year's-inspired reports suggesting probable Democratic gains in the 2018 midterm elections, President Trump took to Twitter Sunday morning to argue voters are too intelligent to hand Congress to his opposition when everything is going so well:

Why, indeed? Well, to begin to answer Trump's question, read The Week's Jim Antle on why a good economy isn't enough to make Trump popular. Bonnie Kristian

12:07 a.m.

While campaigning, President Trump made it a point to court rural voters, telling them that their lives would improve if he was elected. On Tuesday night, Seth Meyers decided to check in on one portion of the area dubbed Trump Country, to see if things really are on the upswing.

Meyers focused on West Virginia, where Trump made "impossible promises" to voters, telling them they would get "so tired of winning." "I don't think he gets how winning works," Meyers said. "You don't get tired of it. I've never heard a New England Patriots fan burning his Tom Brady jersey and moving to Cleveland."

Trump promised he would put coal miners back to work, and after he became president, he returned to West Virginia and crowed that he had "ended the war on beautiful, clean coal." A new report out earlier this month contradicts Trump's claims; coal mines are closing faster than ever, with more shuttering during the first two years of the Trump administration that the first four years of the Obama administration.

This isn't because of regulations, but rather competition from cleaner and cheaper forms of energy. Meyers notes that this isn't even Trump's fault, "it's the march of time," but the problem is Trump gave a lot of coal miners false hope, and continues to insult them by saying they are incapable of doing any other jobs. Watch the video below for more on Trump's promises to coal miners, plus how cutting regulations on power plants is bad news for the air we breathe. Catherine Garcia

January 15, 2019

Jason Reitman considers himself "the first Ghostbusters fan," and it's only fitting that he will direct and co-write a new movie set in the original universe.

"I wanted to make a movie for all the other fans," he told Entertainment Weekly. "This is the next chapter in the original franchise. It is not a reboot. What happened in the '80s happened in the '80s, and this is set in the present day." His father, Ivan Reitman, directed the original 1984 movie, and will serve as producer of his son's project.

The movie will begin filming in the next few months, and is expected to be released in the summer of 2020, Sony Pictures said. Reitman isn't sharing any information on the plot or if any of the original actors will make appearances, because he wants "the film to unwrap like a present. We have a lot of wonderful surprises and new characters for the audience to meet." Catherine Garcia

January 15, 2019

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) indicated on Tuesday he's seriously considering a run for president in 2020, announcing that he plans on traveling to early-primary states over the next few weeks to meet with voters.

Brown will visit Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina on what he's calling the Dignity of Work Tour. After a stop in Cleveland on Jan. 30, Brown will head to Iowa on Jan. 31, and will visit the other three states in February. "Some national Democrats, they've created this sort of binary choice that you speak to the progressive base or you talk to working class voters of all races," Brown told reporters. "I don't think it's an either or. I think you do both. That's how you win the heartland. That's how we won in Ohio. That's what I hope the narrative is for all the presidential candidates on the Democratic side."

Brown made the announcement just hours after Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) revealed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert she is launching a presidential exploratory committee. Catherine Garcia

January 15, 2019

Should the government shutdown still be in effect on Jan. 28 when tax filing season begins, the Internal Revenue Service will recall 46,000 furloughed employees, nearly 60 percent of the workforce, to handle tax returns and refunds.

The employees will not be paid. Last week, the Trump administration said it would go against precedent and still process tax refunds, despite the shutdown. The IRS on Tuesday said refund money will be drawn from a "permanent, indefinite refund appropriation" that can be accessed even in the midst of a shutdown, Politico reports.

The IRS will not be conducting audits or accepting applications by organizations for tax-exempt status, and a limited number of employees will be available to answer telephones. Tony Reardon, head of the National Treasury Employees Union, told Politico he is concerned that highly trained IRS employees who are forced to work without pay will leave the agency. "Who will replace these employees after seeing how poorly they are treated by the federal government as their employer?" he asked. Catherine Garcia

January 15, 2019

On the witness stand Tuesday, the onetime right-hand man of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman testified that the alleged drug lord once paid a $100 million bribe to former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Guzman is accused of running the Sinaloa Cartel, and was extradited from Mexico to the United States in 2017 to face charges of trafficking heroin, cocaine, and other drugs. In a Brooklyn federal courtroom, witness Alex Cifuentes admitted under cross-examination by Guzman's lawyer that he told prosecutors about the bribe in 2016. He revealed to them that it was Peña Nieto who first asked for $250 million, and the bribe was paid in October 2012, two months before Peña Nieto was sworn in as president.

Cifuentes also said that during a meeting last year, he told prosecutors he was no longer sure how much was paid to Peña Nieto in bribes. Guzman told him that after Peña Nieto received the money, he sent a message to Guzman that he didn't have to live in hiding anymore, Cifuentes added. Peña Nieto, who served as president from December 2012 to November 2018, has denied ever taking bribes from people involved in the drug trade. Cifuentes is one of about 12 witnesses who have made deals with U.S. prosecutors in exchange for their testimony against Guzman, Reuters reports. Catherine Garcia

January 15, 2019

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced on Tuesday that she is launching a presidential exploratory committee.

Gillibrand shared the news while taping an episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, telling the host she has the "compassion, the courage, and the fearless determination" to take on corruption and greed in Washington, institutional racism, and "special interests that write legislation in the dead of night."

She also told Colbert she will "fight for other people's kids as hard as I will fight for my own," and she believes that "anybody who wants to work hard enough should be able to get whatever job training they need to earn their way into the middle class." Colbert asked Gillibrand the first thing she would do if elected, and she said in addition to taking action on climate change, she would "restore what's been lost — the integrity and the compassion of this country. If you want to get things done, you have to get people together." Gillibrand, a vocal critic of President Trump, was re-elected in November. Catherine Garcia

January 15, 2019

In a new court document filed Tuesday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office lists the lies investigators believe Paul Manafort has told since he agreed last year to be a cooperating witness.

Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, agreed to a plea deal in September so he would not have to go on trial in Washington, D.C., on conspiracy charges. In the heavily redacted document, an investigator with Mueller's office writes that Manafort was "advised that lying to the government could subject him to prosecution." Last month, Mueller filed a document saying he believed Manafort had been lying and the plea deal is now void.

The latest document states that Manafort lied about his dealings with Ukrainian business associate Konstantin Kilimnik, his contacts with members of the Trump administration, and a $125,000 payment he made in June 2017 to a redacted name. His lawyers have claimed that if Manafort gave any false statements, it was purely by accident. Catherine Garcia

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