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January 3, 2018

Almost nobody working on Donald Trump's presidential campaign expected him to actually win, including Trump himself. But his surprise victory in November 2016 was perhaps most shocking of all to Melania Trump, who had reportedly been reassured by her husband that he wouldn't win, Michael Wolff writes in his eye-popping tell-all Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

"Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when the unexpected trend — Trump might actually win — seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost," Wolff writes, as excerpted by New York. "Melania was in tears — and not of joy."

The inauguration was not much better:

Trump did not enjoy his own inauguration. He was angry that A-level stars had snubbed the event, disgruntled with the accommodations at Blair House, and visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed on the verge of tears. Throughout the day, he wore what some around him had taken to calling his golf face: angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed. [New York]

Wolff also notes that Trump has his own bedroom at the White House, "the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms." Read the juicy tell-all at New York, or preorder Wolff's book here. Jeva Lange

12:23a.m.

"The great election-eve middle-class tax cut began not as a factual proposal, but as a false promise," say Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker in The Washington Post. "Yet Washington's bureaucratic machinery whirred into action nonetheless — working to produce a policy that could be seen as supporting Trump's whim."

But "the mystery tax cut is only the latest instance of the federal government scrambling to reverse-engineer policies to meet Trump's sudden public promises — or to search for evidence buttressing his conspiracy theories and falsehoods," the Post adds. "Just this week, Vice President Pence, the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House all rushed to try to back up Trump's unsupported claim that 'unknown Middle Easterners' were part of a migrant caravan in Central America — only to have the president admit late Tuesday that there was no proof at all."

What the American president says doesn't just steer policy, it makes news. And Trump's flurry of untruths before the midterms has created a dilemma for news organizations. Here are some headlines in major newspapers, tackling Trump's overall campaign mendacity or specific lies:

Los Angeles Times: "Trump tries to spur Republicans to vote with false claims and dystopian warnings of Democratic 'mob' rule"

The Washington Post: "'In the service of whim': Officials scramble to make Trump's false assertions real"

The Associated Press: "'Boogeyman' Trump stokes fears in election closing arguments"

The Daily Beast: "Trump's own team knows his caravan claims are bulls--t"

The New York Times: "Trump and GOP candidates escalate race and fear as election ploys"

Politico: "Trump's mystery tax cut puzzles Washington"

The Wall Street Journal: "GOP latches onto vague Trump tax statement as campaign nears end"

Repetition can distort reality, Daniel Effron, an expert on the psychology of lies at London Business School, tells the Post. "When falsehoods feel familiar, one concern is you don't actually know what's true and what's false." But the truth is out there. Peter Weber

October 23, 2018

The Campbell Soup Company is distancing itself from an mmm, mmm dumb tweet made by the company's vice president of government affairs.

On Monday, Kelly Johnston tweeted a conspiracy theory about George Soros' Open Society Foundation, claiming the organization that works to promote democracy is behind the migrant caravan now traveling through Mexico. He retweeted a photo of the migrants, along with the caption: "See those vans on the right? What you don't see are the troop carriers and the rail cars taking them north. @OpenSociety planned and is executing this, including where they defecate. And they have an army of American immigration lawyers waiting at the border."

Open Society tweeted that "neither Mr. Soros nor Open Society is funding this effort. We are surprised to see a Campbell Soup executive spreading false stories." A spokesperson for Campbell's released a statement Tuesday saying the "opinions Mr. Johnston expresses on Twitter are his individual views and do not represent the position of Campbell Soup Company." Johnston has since deleted his Twitter account. Catherine Garcia

October 23, 2018

During an interview Tuesday with The Wall Street Journal, President Trump said that while the Federal Reserve has its independence when it comes to setting economic policy, he would like Chairman Jerome Powell to know that he wants interest rates lowered.

"Every time we do something great, he raises the interest rates," Trump said. Powell, he added, "almost looks like he's happy raising interest rates." Powell's four-year term started in February, and when asked if he regrets nominating Powell to the post, Trump responded, "too early to say, but maybe." He also said he believes the Fed is "the biggest risk" to the economy, because "I think interest rates are being raised too quickly." The Fed has been slowly raising rates this year to protect against higher inflation or financial bubbles.

When asked why he thought interest rates were going up, Trump continued to take jabs at Powell, saying he was "supposed to be a low-interest-rate guy. It's turned out he's not." Trump also talked about tariffs, claiming that although the United States has recently imposed tariffs on steel, solar panels, washers, and aluminum, plus $250 billion in Chinese imports, "we don't even have tariffs. I'm using tariffs to negotiate." The steel and aluminum tariffs are "small," he said, before asking, "Where do we have tariffs? We don't have tariffs anywhere." Catherine Garcia

October 23, 2018

Target's coming for you, Amazon and Walmart.

This holiday season, the company is offering free two-day shipping for online orders, covering hundreds of thousands of items, with no minimum purchase. It's a way to undercut competitors like Amazon and Walmart, The Wall Street Journal reports, with Walmart offering free two-day shipping on orders of $35 or more and Amazon providing the same service for Prime members. The promotion will run from Nov. 1 to Dec. 22.

Target CEO Brian Cornell said the company has been converting stores to distribution centers, which cuts shipping costs and enables "our digital growth and strategy." He said about half of all online orders are now fulfilled at stores, and the plan is to fulfill more than 90 percent of all two-day orders from stores. Even with free shipping, Cornell said Target stores will still be filled with customers, as "over 80 percent of all holiday shopping is going to happen in the store." Catherine Garcia

October 23, 2018

Hurricane Willa made landfall Tuesday night south of Mazatlan, Mexico, as a Category 3 storm, with winds up to 120 mph.

Mazatlan is a popular tourist destination, and several cruise ships bound for the resort town have been diverted and more than 4,000 people along the coast have been evacuated. Officials are warning of life-threatening storm surge, rainfall, and wind in parts of western Mexico, with Willa expected to be one of the most dangerous storms to hit Mexico in years, CBS News reports.

This is a breaking news story and has been updated throughout. Catherine Garcia

October 23, 2018

An Idaho-based white supremacist group is behind a racist robocall targeting Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee and Florida's Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

Gillum is black, and the same white supremacist group, which operates the website The Road to Power, sent out a racist robocall against Gillum during the primary in August. In the new shockingly racist robocall, a person using a minstrel dialect says he is Gillum, and refers to himself as a "Negro." In the background, minstrel music plays, and a monkey is occasionally heard screeching. The ad also insults Jews, saying they are "the ones that been putting Negroes in charge over the white folk, just like they done after the Civil War."

Gillum's spokesman, Geoff Burgan, called the robocalls "disgusting" and "abhorrent," and said the campaign hopes "that these calls, and the dangerous people who are behind them, are not given any more attention than they already have been." Stephen Lawson, spokesman for Gillum's Republican opponent Ron DeSantis, said their campaign had "absolutely nothing to do" with the robocalls and "joins those in condemning it." In August, DeSantis used the term "monkey it up" in reference to Gillum, but later claimed this had nothing to do with race. His comment was referred to in the robocall. Catherine Garcia

October 23, 2018

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin plan to meet in Paris in November, National Security Adviser John Bolton said Tuesday.

Discussions are now underway for the meeting, to take place during celebrations on Nov. 11 marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Putin and Trump last met in Helsinki in July.

Bolton is in Moscow to discuss the U.S. soon withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. Russia has called the step "dangerous," and per a transcript provided by the Kremlin, Putin said to Bolton, "As I recall, there is a bald eagle pictured on the U.S. coat of arms. It holds 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other. My question: Has your eagle already eaten all the olives, leaving only the arrows?"

"I didn't bring any olives," Bolton responded. Putin and Bolton met for 90 minutes, and Bolton said he also brought up "objectionable" election meddling, and why it "was particularly harmful for Russian-American relations without producing anything in return." Catherine Garcia

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