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January 12, 2018

GOP congressional candidate Paul Nehlen has drawn on anti-Semitic sympathy to rally support for his fledgling campaign, BuzzFeed News reported Friday.

Nehlen — who is running against House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in a Republican primary this summer — ran a Twitter group chat where he rallied white nationalists to attack his opponents, BuzzFeed News reported. One of Nehlen's stated adversaries was the "Jewish media," who he believed had "coordinated" to smear him after he lost the support of Breitbart News for sending tweets about white pride.

Nehlen's list of targets included conservative personality John Cardillo, author Kurt Schlichter, and former Boston Red Sox pitcher turned Breitbart radio host Curt Schilling. All three men, BuzzFeed News notes, are conservatives who distanced themselves from Nehlen. The candidate turned to his Twitter group to ask for some backup, writing, "Cardillo and others like him are working for Jewish media. Then, there are the fake conservatives who happen to be Jewish."

Per screenshots published by BuzzFeed News, Nehlen then added: "I'm going to decimate them all. And y'all are gonna help me."

Sources who spoke to BuzzFeed News said that "such requests were common" from Nehlen. One of the group chat's most notable participants is Richard Spencer ally Eli Mosley, who heads a white nationalist group of his own called Identify Evropa, BuzzFeed News points out. Mosley is a polarizing figure even among white nationalists, as many reportedly think he sparked the violence at last year's "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a woman was killed by a white nationalist.

Read more about Nehlen's group chat at BuzzFeed News. Kelly O'Meara Morales

8:40a.m.

President Trump targeted his ire at migrants who want to come to the United States and the Democratic Party at a campaign rally in Arizona Friday night.

Referring to the caravan of an estimated 4,000 people traveling on foot from Honduras to the U.S. border, Trump alleged "many of those people — a fairly big percentage of those people — are criminals."

"You think they're all wonderful people. You've got some bad people in those groups," Trump said. "You've got some tough people in those groups. And I'll tell you what, this country doesn't want them. Okay?" The caravan includes young children and pregnant women seeking to escape dire economic circumstances and even violence in their home countries.

The president claimed "cuckoo" Democrats want to give illegal immigrants the right to vote, along with "free welfare, free health care, and free education" and a luxury car, like a "Rolls-Royce, made not in America, so I hope that's not what we do." Polling shows a majority of Americans in both major parties oppose allowing non-citizens to vote. Bonnie Kristian

8:08a.m.

Saudi Arabia on Saturday conceded journalist Jamal Khashoggi died inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, as Turkey has alleged. Khashoggi went missing two weeks ago, and Riyadh previously denied all knowledge of his whereabouts.

"Discussions that took place between [Khashoggi] and the persons who met him ... led to a brawl and a fist fight ... which led to his death," said Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb. "The investigations are still underway, and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested."

An unnamed Saudi official also told Reuters a "group of Saudis" killed Khashoggi when they put him in a "chokehold" as they "were trying to keep him quiet."

Five Saudi officials have reportedly been fired in connection to Khashoggi's death. Saudi Arabia did not say where his body, allegedly dismembered, may be now.

Riyadh provided no evidence to support this account. Nevertheless, President Trump told reporters Friday night he found the explanation credible, calling it "a good first step" and "a big step." "Saudi Arabia has been a great ally," he said. "What happened is unacceptable." White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a brief statement "acknowledging" the Saudi probe is "progressing."

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), were more skeptical. "The Saudi 'explanation' for murdering journalist and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi in a consulate — a fistfight gone wrong — is insulting," said Sen. Tim Kaine (R-Va.), calling for congressional action. Bonnie Kristian

October 19, 2018

A Russian woman who was working for a Russian oligarch-funded project intended to conduct "information warfare against the United States" was charged Friday by the Justice Department, reports CBS News. She is the first person to be charged in relation to interference in the 2018 elections.

The woman, Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, allegedly spread content online that sought to fan the flames of "political intensity through supporting radical groups" and inciting racial tension. The project, dubbed "Project Lakhta," leveraged social media to spread divisive messages. A close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin's, oligarch Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, is allegedly behind two companies that ran the ongoing project to export political discord.

Separately, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said that U.S. intelligence officials haven't seen any evidence that foreign countries are working to interfere in any specific race in the upcoming midterm elections, The Daily Beast reports. Russia, China, and Iran "may seek to influence voter perceptions," he said, but no specific races have been targeted. Read more at about Project Lakhta at CBS News. Summer Meza

October 19, 2018

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is still very intent on returning as House speaker — but she doesn't want to stick around for long.

As Democrats look more and more likely to retake the House this fall, Pelosi has constantly asserted she'll retake Congress' top spot if that's the case. Meanwhile, many progressives have been reluctant to support — or have even outright challenged — that assumption. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times published Friday, Pelosi gave her first indication that she's listening to those concerns.

If and when she retakes the speakership, Pelosi says she sees herself "as a transitional figure." After all, she has "things to do" that don't include leading the House: "Books to write; places to go; grandchildren, first and foremost, to love," she tells the Times.

Pelosi would've stepped down earlier had Hillary Clinton been elected, she tells the Times, saying she feels "a very strong responsibility to stay in this office for at least the next two years" while President Trump is president. But she's not about to "make myself a lame duck" and explicitly reveal when she'll step down, she continued. And when she does leave, Pelosi says it's "not up to me" to choose a successor — though she would like to see another woman on top.

Read more about Pelosi's possible exit strategy at the Los Angeles Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 19, 2018

An estimated 4,000-person caravan of Honduran migrants is preparing to push over Guatemala's border with Mexico on their way to America, despite Mexican and U.S. government efforts to hold them back.

After a smaller initial group crossed a river into Mexico on Thursday night, the remaining migrants left a nearby town and reached the Mexico-Guatemala border Friday afternoon. They have since torn down gates at the closed border crossing, but failed to power past police forces and cross a bridge connecting the two countries, The Associated Press reports.

Migrants in the massive caravan, which includes young children and pregnant women, are fleeing dire economic circumstances and in some cases violence in their home country. The group that's at the border has spent nearly a week walking through Honduras and Guatemala on its way to the U.S., while a separate caravan is currently traveling through El Salvador on its way north, reports NBC News.

President Trump on Tuesday threatened to cut off aid to Honduras and any Latin American countries who fail to stop the caravan from reaching the U.S., and on Thursday he pledged to close the southern border. But on Thursday night, the Trump administration agreed to work with the United Nations to identify which of the migrants had "legitimate" asylum claims, and will likely reject the rest, reports USA Today.

BuzzFeed News' Karla Zabludovsky, who is traveling with the caravan, reports that Mexican officials are barring all entries, and some migrants have given up and turned back. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 19, 2018

President Trump received plenty of criticism for celebrating a congressman's assault on a reporter, but Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) is standing by him.

On Friday, Scalise, who survived a politically-motivated shooting in 2017, said "it's obvious" Trump was not "encouraging his supporters to engage in attacks" during his Thursday night rally. The president had heaped praise on Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), who in 2017 pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault for body-slamming a journalist. Although Gianforte has since apologized, Trump seemed to approve, saying, "any guy that can do a body-slam ... he's my guy." He also gleefully pointed out that Gianforte's assault may have helped him win his election.

Now, Scalise says that Trump was "clearly ribbing" Gianforte for the incident, claiming that "not one [Trump supporter] harassed the numerous media reporters who were present." He also argued that it's "irresponsible" for the media to equate comments like Trump's with Democrats "regularly using threatening rhetoric to call on their supporters to harass Trump officials, supporters, and Republican members and candidates."

Scalise criticized former Attorney General Eric Holder for saying, "when [Republicans] go low, we kick them," calling this a "dangerous call to action." He has, however, also sometimes criticized violent rhetoric from Republicans, saying that a GOP gubernatorial candidate's threat to "stomp" on his opponent "with golf spikes" was "totally unacceptable."

The White House Correspondents' Association said that "all Americans should recoil" from Trump's comments about Gianforte's assault, but Scalise is completely certain that they were nothing more than "a joke at a rally." Brendan Morrow

October 19, 2018

Michael Cohen's 2017 pledge that he would "take a bullet" for President Trump continues to age poorly.

The president's former lawyer on Friday made his first on-camera remarks since pleading guilty to campaign finance violations and saying he broke these laws at Trump's direction. His message? Vote against Republicans, and his former boss, in the midterm elections. Cohen told CNN that Americans should get to the polls this November, because "if not, you are going to have another two or another six years of this craziness."

Cohen changed his party registration from Republican to Democrat last week, just a few months after he left his post as the deputy finance chairman for the Republican National Committee. At the time, Cohen's lawyer said this was another example of him "distancing himself from the values" of the White House, and from the man who retained his legal services for 12 years. On Friday, Cohen said that he has really always been a Democrat at heart, and only briefly changed his party registration to Republican so he could work for the RNC.

CNN also reports that Cohen is prepared to stump for Democrats this November and in 2020 — although, considering Cohen will be sentenced on eight criminal charges this December, it seems unlikely anyone will take him up on that offer. Watch Cohen's comments below. Brendan Morrow

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