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February 18, 2018

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Sunday offered a qualified defense of President Trump's claim that he has been vindicated by the evidence revealed in federal investigations of Russian election meddling.

Friday's indictment of Russian nationals and entities by Special Counsel Robert Mueller "proves there’s no collusion to this point," Christie said on ABC's This Week. "There's no collusion in terms of the Facebook ads, the other social media activity."

"Director Mueller made it very clear in the indictment that any participation by anybody — whether it was in the Trump campaign or the [Bernie] Sanders campaign, which they said was also being assisted by this effort by Russia — that all of that was done unwittingly," Christie continued. "No one participated in a knowing fashion. Now, we have to see where [Mueller] goes next, but certainly at this point, there is no allegation by Director Mueller and his team of collusion."

Watch a clip of Christie's comments below, or read his full interview here. Bonnie Kristian

5:02 a.m.

Canada's Dec. 1 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, on a U.S. warrant has roiled U.S.-China trade negotiations and Chinese-Canadian relations. The dicey situation got even more complicated on Tuesday, when Canada confirmed that Chinese security agents arrested former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig for unspecified reasons and President Trump said he would consider intervening in the Meng case, politicizing what U.S. and Canadian officials have insisted is purely a legal affair. A judge in Vancouver also agreed to release Meng on $7.5 million bail.

The U.S. accuses Meng, the 46-year-old daughter of Huawei's founder, of conspiracy to defraud banks about the company's alleged violations of Iran sanctions. If she is extradited to the U.S. and convicted, Meng faces decades in jail. When Reuters asked Trump on Tuesday if he would intervene in the Meng case, he said he might.

"Whatever's good for this country, I would do," he said. "If I think it's good for the country, if I think it's good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made — which is a very important thing — what's good for national security, I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary." It's possible Meng could be released, he added. "It's also possible it will be a part of negotiations. But we'll speak to the Justice Department, we'll speak to them, we'll get a lot of people involved."

"The U.S. and China have tried to keep Meng's case separate from their wider trade dispute," The Associated Press reports. "Trump undercut that message." Also, "an intervention by Trump would seem to confirm China's suspicion that this is not a legal proceeding but a political negotiation," The Washington Post adds, "potentially changing the terms of the conflict." Peter Weber

3:23 a.m.

At least 48 Conservative Party members of Britain's Parliament have signed a letter to trigger a no-confidence vote in Prime Minister Theresa May. Graham Brady, leader of the 1922 Committee that oversees Tory leadership contests, says the vote will happen between 6 and 8 p.m. on Wednesday, London time (1-3 p.m. ET). If May gets fewer than 158 votes, or a majority of Conservative MPs, she will be forced to step down and the Tories would vote on a new leader. If she wins, she can't be challenged again for another year.

The leadership challenge is from pro-Brexit Conservatives who are concerned that she is bungling Britain's divorce from the European Union, especially after she pulled her unpopular Brexit plan before a House of Commons vote on Monday. "Normally when a prime minister loses her main policy she resigns, that is the main constitutional convention, they don't just carry on regardless," Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, a former May ally who signed the no-confidence letter, told CNBC on Tuesday. "The prime minister only holds office as long as she maintains the confidence of the House of Commons." Peter Weber

2:32 a.m.

"I've shared a story or two this week about my ongoing struggle with the elf in our shelf at home," Jimmy Kimmel said on Tuesday's Kimmel Live. He described the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon as "a very sneaky way to get kids to behave: The elf watches everything your child does and then goes to Santa and rats them out when they do bad things. But now there's a new holiday character to counter that little narc, to help kids spin their bad deeds and hopefully make Christmas great again." And the tagline for Kimmel's new product is pretty hard to resist: "Protect yourself from prosecution this holiday season with 'Huckabee in a Tree' — 'Kellyanne in a Garbage Can' sold separately." Watch below. Peter Weber

2:10 a.m.

After Tuesday's madcap Oval Office meeting between President Trump and the top two congressional Democrats, Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), there unanimous agreement that Trump had in fact taken ownership of any partial government shutdown due to his demand for $5 billion for a border wall. The Democrats emphasized their willingness to extend existing funding to avoid the "Trump shutdown." Trump leaned heavily on the phrase "border security."

"We gave the president two ways" to "avoid a shutdown," Schumer told reporters outside the White House. "We hope he'll take it, because a shutdown hurts too many innocent people. And this Trump shutdown, this temper tantrum that he seems to show, will not get him his wall, and it will hurt a lot of people because he will cause a shutdown — he admitted he wanted a shutdown."

"We're telling him we'll keep government open with the proposal Mr. Schumer suggested, why doesn't he just think about it," Pelosi added. "In fact, I asked him to pray over it."

"I thought it was a very good meeting," Trump told reporters, a group of priests behind him. "If we have to close down the country over border security, I actually like that in terms of an issue." Schumer "doesn't want to own it," he added. "If we close down the country, I will take it, because we're closing it down for border security, and I think I win that every single time."

And Trump isn't wrong, as long as we're just talking about Republicans. In a Marist poll for NPR and PBS released Tuesday, 56 percent of U.S. voters said Trump should compromise on the border wall and 69 percent said the wall isn't a priority, but 65 percent of Republicans said Trump should not compromise and 63 percent said building a wall should be a top priority. Marist conducted the poll Nov. 28 to Dec. 4 among 835 registered voters, a sample statistically significant within ±4.2 percentage points. Peter Weber

1:01 a.m.

On Tuesday, President Trump hosted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to discuss averting a government shutdown, and he invited in the cameras. The main bone of contention? "Trump is demanding $5 billion for a border wall, and as you can imagine, Democrats would rather release Obama's original Kenyan birth certificate than give Trump that wall money," Trevor Noah said on Tuesday's Daily Show. "Which is why this meeting turned into an absolute mess."

"It felt like being in the TV room of a nursing home, with just old people fighting," Noah said, but the bickering wasn't just over the wall, it was over preventing the shutdown, and "no politician wants to take the blame for a government shutdown. But Donald Trump is not a politician. Donald Trump is a moron." He played the clip. "I don't know if you realize how monumental this moment is: Donald Trump just agreed to take blame for something," he said. "So today, I'm proud of President Trump, because taking blame shows some personal growth on his part. Although if we're being honest, he probably thinks that if the government shuts down, there'll be nobody there to impeach him."

"To be clear, he's offering to take all the blame for the thing you always blame the other side for," Stephen Colbert pointed out on The Late Show. "You'll notice the whole time Trump was bragging about his shutdown, Chuck Schumer did his best not to make eye contact with Trump, like you do with a drunk guy screaming on the subway." After the meeting, Pelosi privately compared negotiating with Trump to a "tinkle contest with a skunk," then questioned Trump's "manhood." Colbert laughed, then added to Pelosi's quip a line about erecting a wall. He explained Trump's political dilemma about claiming to have built the way while demanding money to build the wall: "He needs a wall that both does and does not exist — I just hope he has good mime skills." You can watch Colbert's skills below. Peter Weber

December 11, 2018

On Tuesday, the Senate voted 87 to 13 to approve a farm bill that will cost $867 billion over 10 years, legalize the production of hemp, expands farm subsidies to the extended family of farmers, permanently funds farmers markets and farmer-training programs, and doesn't add work requirements to receive food stamps, as House Republicans had wanted. The bill has the backing of President Trump, and it's expected to pass the House in the next week. The legislation will give a boost to farmers harmed by Trump's trade wars, especially with China.

Some Senate Republicans opposed the farm bill because of the extension of some agriculture subsidies to the nieces, nephews, and cousins of farmers, even those who don't work directly on the farm. House Republicans championed this measure, arguing it would encourage more people to become involved in farming. Peter Weber

December 11, 2018

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may have laid down the law during a contentious meeting with President Trump on Tuesday, but the comments she made after the Oval Office sitdown were even more harsh.

Trump, Pelosi, and Senate Minority Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) sparred Tuesday over border walls and government shutdowns, quickly devolving from a rehearsed press conference into a shouting match. Pelosi, though, later characterized it as a "tirade" that spewed directly from the president, CNN's Manu Raju reports.

During the meeting, Trump interrupted Pelosi no less than 15 times in an attempt to prove he wouldn't sign a spending bill with less than $5 billion allocated for his border wall. Democrats have maintained they won't give up more than $1.6 billion.

After attempting to reason with Trump and shutting down a demeaning comment, Pelosi waltzed out of the Oval Office and into some private meetings. In one, Pelosi suggested Trump's insistence on building a wall is "like a manhood thing for him," a Pelosi aide tells CNN. "As if manhood could ever be associated with him," Pelosi reportedly added. Also in Pelosi-isms:

Pelosi, Schumer, and Trump all tussled over the spending bill set to expire Dec. 21. If a new bill isn't passed by then, the government will shut down. Kathryn Krawczyk

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