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February 8, 2018

By Wednesday night, White House staff secretary Rob Porter's wall of support had crumbled. And Porter, who resigned Wednesday but still denies allegations from his two ex-wives that he was physically abusive, is now expected to be out of the White House by Friday. Porter was a rising star in the West Wing, a key gatekeeper for President Trump, a trusted ally of Chief of Staff John Kelly, and, according to several reports, dating White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, who helped craft the White House's initial defense of Porter when the allegations of his abuse were reported Tuesday by Britain's Daily Mail.

The White House fought Wednesday to contain the fallout from its initial push to shield Porter, and Kelly issued a new statement saying he was "shocked by the new allegations." Outside, questions swirled about who knew what, when. The two ex-wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby, said they detailed Porter's abuse to the FBI during background checks last spring, and by the fall it was reportedly widely known in the West Wing that Porter's lack of security clearance was due in part to the charges from his ex-wives.

A senior administration official told The Washington Post that "Porter's most recent ex-girlfriend, who also works in the administration, reached out to the White House last year to express her concerns about him after she discovered his relationship with Hicks" and "told the White House counsel's office about allegations from his ex-wives." Trump was upset when he learned of the allegations this week, two sources tell CNN. Kelly, meanwhile, is now "in the midst of a bona fide crisis," and his "decision to go to bat for Porter deeply frustrated White House staffers" who are "increasingly questioning Kelly's judgment," four Republicans tell Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman.

Holderness tells The New York Times she "thought by sharing my story with the FBI he wouldn't be put in that post." But Willoughby had more nuanced thoughts on Porter's bifurcated professional-personal life. Watch below. Peter Weber

12:55 p.m.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) expressed disatisfaction on Meet the Press Sunday with President Trump's selection of William Barr to be his next attorney general.

"I'm concerned that [Barr has] been a big supporter of the Patriot Act, which lowered the standard for spying on Americans," Paul said. "And he even went so far as to say, you know, 'The Patriot Act was pretty good, but we should go much further.'"

"I'm disturbed that he's been a big fan of taking people's property, civil asset forfeiture, without a conviction," Paul continued. "Many poor people in our country have cash taken from them, and then the government says, 'Prove to us where you got the cash, and then you can get it back.' But the burden is on the individual. It's a terrible thing called civil asset forfeiture. He's a big fan of that."

Paul noted he has not yet decided how he will vote on Barr's nomination. Watch the full interview below. Talk of Barr begins around the eight-minute mark, and Paul and host Chuck Todd also discuss Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, Saudi Arabia, and more. Bonnie Kristian

12:40 p.m.

China's Foreign Ministry has summoned the U.S. and Canadian ambassadors to China to protest the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies.

Meng was taken into custody in Vancouver, Canada, on Dec. 1, at U.S. direction. She faces extradition to the United States, where she is accused of helping Huawei, a major electronics manufacturer, evade American sanctions on Iran.

Beijing said the arrest "severely violated the Chinese citizen's legal and legitimate rights and interests," calling it "lawless, reasonless, and ruthless, and ... extremely vicious." Canada should "release the detainee immediately and earnestly protest the person's legal and legitimate rights and interests," the statement said, "otherwise it will definitely have serious consequences, and the Canadian side will have to bear the full responsibility for it." Bonnie Kristian

11:23 a.m.

What if the Trumps were black? That's the question asked in Saturday Night Live's trailer for Them Trumps, an imaginary new series from the makers of Empire.

Them Trumps has a solid concept and a strong line-up: President Darius Trump (Kenan Thompson), first lady Malika (Leslie Jones), Darius Jr. (Chris Redd), and L’evanka (Ego Nwodim). Where it struggles is length, as the black Trump can't seem to avoid arrest as easily as his white counterpart.

"Maybe I've done some dirty things. But I'm making America great again," Thompson's Trump rants. "And what these feds don't realize is that I'm the president, the most powerful man in the most respected office in the world. They can't lock me up, and even though I may be black—"

That's when the feds show up. Watch the full sketch below. Bonnie Kristian

10:52 a.m.

The House Judiciary and Oversight Committees on Saturday evening released a transcript of former FBI Director James Comey's lengthy testimony from the day before — and President Trump, naturally, denied it all early Sunday:

Trump has long made Comey, whom he fired last year, a target of his ire. Read Comey's full testimony here. Bonnie Kristian

10:21 a.m.

A major winter storm began Saturday in southeastern states, especially North and South Carolina, and is expected to bring unusually heavy snow through Monday. "Snowfall amounts in some locations will likely exceed a foot and result in several days of difficult or impossible travel, extended power outages, and downed trees," the National Weather Service warned.

Already more than 200,000 customers in the region have lost power, the bulk of them in North Carolina, and hundreds of flights were grounded Sunday. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) urged residents to stay safe indoors. "Snow may be beautiful, but it can also be treacherous, and I urge North Carolinians to take this storm seriously and get ready for it now," he said. Bonnie Kristian

10:11 a.m.

The United Kingdom's House of Commons is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to proceed with Prime Minister Theresa May's plan for Brexit, the U.K.'s exit from the European Union.

But whether the vote will proceed as planned remains uncertain, as opposition inside and out May's Conservative Party makes its prospects look dim. Protest resignations from May's own government are expected Sunday and Monday, but May's office says the vote will go forward.

May has warned fellow Tories who oppose her plan that its failure may lead to a general election, a new government, and the "very real risk of no Brexit" at all.

The deal under consideration was settled with EU leaders late last month, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned critics it is the best realistic option. Bonnie Kristian

8:41 a.m.

Robert De Niro returned to Saturday Night Live as Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who also happens to be the boogeyman lurking in poor, sweet, dumb Eric Trump's (Alex Moffatt) closet.

After the more savvy Donald Trump Jr. (Mikey Day) finishes Eric's bedtime story, De Niro's Mueller comes over to his bedside for a chat. "Mr. Mueller," Eric says, "people say you're the worst thing to ever happen to my dad."

"No, Eric," Mueller replies. "Getting elected president was the worst thing that ever happened to your dad." Watch the full sketch below. Bonnie Kristian

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