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January 3, 2018

In its relentless pursuit of nuclear strength, North Korea's first land target may have actually been itself. The Diplomat reported Wednesday that an intermediate range ballistic missile launched by the regime last spring accidentally hit the city of Tokchon, which has a population of more than 200,000.

The missile was launched from an airfield just over 40 miles north of North Korea's capital city of Pyongyang. An unnamed U.S. official explained to The Diplomat that due to an engine malfunction, the projectile made it only a minute into its test flight and traveled about 25 miles northeast before hitting the ground.

The Diplomat cross-referenced the failed missile's approximate landing site with Google Earth and other satellite imaging to find that the suspected landing area did indeed seem to show signs of "considerable damage to a complex of industrial or agricultural buildings." Several structures appeared damaged in satellite images, reportedly by debris from the failed launch.

While there have been no confirmed reports of deaths in Tokchon as a result of the failed missile test, the images published by The Diplomat seem to show that the missile came perilously close to exploding in more densely inhabited areas, marking the risk of test launches. North Korea has launched two ballistic missiles since August, both of which flew over Japan and landed cleanly in the Pacific Ocean — but one concerning possibility put forward by The Diplomat is that a future missile could explode prematurely over Japan, which would "spark a serious crisis in Northeast Asia."

NBC News reported Tuesday that U.S. officials believe North Korea may be preparing for another missile test "in the next week or two." Read more about the failed missile at The Diplomat. Kelly O'Meara Morales

1:36 a.m.

The United States is contemplating placing Venezuela on its list of state sponsors of terrorism, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday.

In September, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and two other GOP senators sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a letter stating that Venezuela has ties to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, but did not offer any concrete evidence. They asked for Venezuela to be added to the list, which has four countries on it: North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Sudan.

A U.S. official told Reuters those countries have "repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism," and for Venezuela to be added to the list, there has to be sufficient proof. Venezuela is experiencing food and medicine shortages and hyperinflation, and if the country ends up on the list, it could limit economic assistance from the United States. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said he is the victim of an "economic war" with the U.S. Catherine Garcia

1:02 a.m.

There are lots of words you could use to describe President Trump, but Seth Meyers thinks there's one that everyone can admit fits him best: weird.

"He is a weird man," Meyers said on Monday's Late Night. "Just a flag hugging, umbrella ditching, can't do a normal handshake kind of weirdo." One of the more bizarre things Trump does is make up an outlandish lie about another country, which can easily be fact checked and proven untrue. In February 2017, for example, Trump claimed there was an attack in Sweden, when there was not. The "deeply weird president" was at it again on Saturday in California, when he started talking about taking care of the "floors of the forest" like they do in Finland.

Trump declared that the president of Finland told him in his "forest nation" they "spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning" and in turn, they don't deal with things like devastating fires. The president of Finland later clarified he did not say that people in his country are going around raking 24/7, and Meyers is certain that "we're a week away from the president of Romania calling a press conference to say, 'I did not tell President Trump that vampires are real.'" Trump, Meyers concludes, has to "concoct fantastical lies" because they "reinforce his deluded worldview, and they're easier to swallow than reality." Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia

November 19, 2018

On Monday, the White House announced it had restored CNN reporter Jim Acosta's hard press pass, following a legal battle.

At the same time, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and deputy chief of staff Bill Shine announced new guidelines for journalists covering press conferences. They are only allowed to ask one question, with any follow-ups answered at the discretion of President Trump or the White House official holding the press conference. When a journalist is done asking their question, they must also hand over the microphone. Anyone violating those rules could have their press pass suspended or revoked.

The White House announced it was revoking Acosta's pass on Nov. 7 following a testy exchange with Trump, and his refusal to give the microphone to an aide. CNN took the matter to court, and a judge temporarily restored Acosta's press pass on Friday. Catherine Garcia

November 19, 2018

In 2017, Ivanka Trump used her personal email account to send hundreds of emails to White House aides, her assistants, and Cabinet officials, several people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post.

Many of these emails were in violation of federal records rules, they said, and White House ethics officials found out about her personal email use while responding to a public records lawsuit. Nearly 100 of the emails were about government policies and official White House business, and hundreds were related to her work schedule and travel, the Post reports.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, President Trump made Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state a major issue. A spokesman for Ivanka Trump's attorney Abbe Lowell told the Post she did not know about records rules when she sent the emails, and none of her messages contained classified information. "While transitioning into government, after she was given an official account but until the White House provided her the same guidance they had given others who stared before she did, Ms. Trump sometimes used her personal account, almost always for logistics and scheduling concerning her family," Peter Mirijanian said.

Using a personal email account to conduct government business could violate the Presidential Records Act, which requires all White House communications and records be preserved. People close to Trump said she never received reminders sent to White House staffers telling them not to use private email. For more on Trump's use of private email and some of the messages that she sent, visit The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

November 19, 2018

The 5,800 U.S. troops sent to the southern border to provide assistance to Customs and Border Protection agents should all be home by Christmas, Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan told Politico on Monday.

"Our end date right now is 15 December, and I've got no indications from anybody that we'll go beyond that," Buchanan said. The troops were deployed to the border before Election Day, with President Trump saying they were there to deal with an "invasion" of migrants headed to the United States from Central America. Most of the migrants have said they are fleeing their countries because of extreme poverty and violence, and thousands remain hundreds of miles away. After the deployment, Trump was criticized by Democrats and accused of using the troops as part of a political stunt. Catherine Garcia

November 19, 2018

Three people were killed when a gunman opened fire at Mercy Hospital in Chicago on Monday afternoon.

The victims include police officer Samuel Jimenez, a married father of three who joined the Chicago Police Department in 2017, and two hospital employees. The city "lost a doctor, pharmaceutical assistant, and a police officer, all going about their day, all doing what they loved," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. "This just tears at the soul of our city. It is the face and a consequence of evil."

The gunman is dead, a police spokesman said, and it's not known at this time if he took his own life or was shot by officers. The Associated Press reports the incident began in the parking lot, when the gunman began arguing with a woman he was in a relationship with, and escalated when a friend intervened. The woman, a hospital employee, was shot and killed, and when police officers arrived, the suspect ran inside the hospital and exchanged gunfire with officers.

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

November 19, 2018

The Trump administration's decision to add a question of citizenship to the 2020 census may have had some political motivations after all.

Census surveys are confidential, but several lawsuits still alleged including a question about citizenship would discourage undocumented immigrants from taking the census. Now, documents filed in a California suit Friday show the census' inherent confidentiality may have been in danger, The Washington Post reports.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced in March that the 2020 census would explicitly ask if people were U.S. citizens. Lawsuits across the country quickly challenged the constitutionality of the proposal, and critics said undocumented peoples' fear of taking the survey would lead to undercounts. Questions also arose over the motivation behind adding the question, with some worrying President Trump's hostility toward non-citizens would leave the census results vulnerable to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

As activists and attorneys prodded Trump officials over whether the question results would remain within the Commerce Department, as mandated under the Census Act, at least one official was told to stay silent, per the Post. Friday's court filings show a June 12 email to acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore, in which a Department of Justice attorney told him not to "say too much" about the confidentiality issue because it might "come up later for renewed debate."

The first of several trials challenging the question is currently underway in New York. A hearing over what evidence can be used in these trials, and whether Trump officials' motivations in enacting the question can be considered, is slated for the Supreme Court in February. Kathryn Krawczyk

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