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March 2, 2018

Outgoing White House communications director Hope Hicks has been one of President Trump's closest aides throughout his campaign and presidency, and she could tell us a lot about the inner workings of Trump's inner sanctum. That information is worth a lot of money — as much as $10 million for an advance on a tell-all book, according to Britain's Daily Mail — but it has also put her in the crosshairs of investigators looking into Trump's ties to Russia and potential obstruction of justice. Oh, and Hicks apparently kept a diary.

A "White House insider" tells the Daily Mail that Hicks secretly kept a "detailed diary of her White House work, and her interactions with the president." Hicks is "one of Donald Trump's most loyal colleagues and friends," the source added. "She's not one to destroy that relationship. And she is certainly under some sort of nondisclosure agreement." But whether or not the diary helps her write her lucrative memoir, it may not belong to her, according to former White House ethics lawyer Norm Eisen. If she kept a White House diary, he tweeted, it belongs to the U.S. government, "must be preserved" under the Presidential Records Act, and "raises issues about her handling of classified & WILL be subpoenaed."

Hicks has already met with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators and the House and Senate intelligence committees, and her legal exposure won't end after she leaves the White House. Trump has regularly disregarded the advice from his lawyers to avoid discussing details of the Russia investigation with staff members, especially Hicks, and "I think the president has put her in a very precarious position," a senior Trump administration official tells Politico. She might need to sell her story to pay her legal bills. You can read more about her legal liability at Politico. Peter Weber

11:23a.m.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is still receiving constant protection from the taxpayer-funded U.S. Marshals Service, and the security detail is now expected to cost nearly $20 million through September 2019, NBC News reported Friday.

DeVos has received this around-the-clock protection since being confirmed in February 2017, as was previously reported, with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions granting the request. This arrangement is unusual, NBC News writes, because an education secretary’s security would typically be handled by the department's internal enforcement, and DeVos is the only current member of the cabinet who has such a detail arranged.

In terms of the price tag, the report notes that former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's security cost $3.5 million during his first year in office, and the EPA's inspector general found that price tag to be "not justified." DeVos' security, on the other hand, is estimated to cost taxpayers $7.7 million just for the next fiscal year. It will reportedly be reimbursed by the Department of Education.

The request for this detail was made shortly after DeVos was heckled by a group of protesters when she visited a middle school in February 2017. The Justice Department says the order was issued after the Department of Education contacted them about "threats received by the Secretary of Education," although an Education Department spokesperson says DeVos didn't make the request. Since she started receiving her security detail, DeVos has reportedly spent less than four percent of her time visiting public schools. Read more at NBC News. Brendan Morrow

10:07a.m.

William Goldman, the award-winning screenwriter behind The Princess Bride, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and All the President's Men, has died at 87, Deadline and The Washington Post reported Friday.

Goldman died Thursday night at his home in Manhattan, Deadline reports, noting that he had been in ill health and his condition had deteriorated over the summer. No cause of death has been released.

Goldman began his career as a novelist, but he soon transitioned into Hollywood and became best known for his movies — screenwriter C. Robert Cargill on Friday described him as the "patron saint of screenwriting." His first screenplay was the 1969 classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, for which he took home an Academy Award. He would go on to win a second Academy Award for writing All the President's Men in 1976, and he also wrote the screenplay for The Princess Bride, which was based on his novel of the same name. Over the course of his career, Goldman produced dozens of screenplays and consistently worked as a script doctor; some of his other movies included The Stepford Wives, Marathon Man, Heat, Misery, and Chaplin.

After winning his second Oscar, Goldman shared his knowledge of the industry in the book Adventures in the Screen Trade, in which he famously declared that in Hollywood, "Nobody knows anything." Brendan Morrow

9:24a.m.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attended an inspection of what state media there is describing as an "ultramodern tactical weapon," The Washington Post reports Friday.

This is the first time North Korea has publicly announced a weapons test since November 2017, CBS News reports, while noting that this does not appear to be a nuclear device or a long-range missile; the country previously said it would suspend its nuclear and missile tests. A military expert told CBS News that a "tactical weapon" in North Korea would refer to a "weapon aimed at striking South Korea, including U.S. military bases." An anonymous South Korean government official told CNN that it's likely a "multiple rocket launcher;" a South Korean-based researcher told CNN it's probably not a missile, though, as South Korea would have detected that.

Since President Trump participated in a summit with Kim Jong Un earlier this year, North Korea has demanded sanctions against them be lifted, and a North Korean Foreign Ministry official recently said Kim could start "building up nuclear forces" if the U.S. doesn't do so, CNN reports. Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday said Trump and Kim will meet again in 2019 even without North Korea providing a list of its nuclear weapons and missile sites, though Pence said it's "imperative" for the U.S. to come away from this second summit with a "plan for dismantling nuclear weapons." North Korea's state media said Friday that Kim was could barely contain his "passionate joy" after the successful weapons test, The Washington Post reports. Brendan Morrow

8:41a.m.

President Trump last week floated the idea of a "new election" in Arizona. But now, it's Democrat Stacey Abrams who may be pushing for that option in Georgia.

Republican Brian Kemp currently holds an 18,000-vote lead over Abrams in the Georgia gubernatorial election, but with the official state certification of the results possibly coming on Friday, The Associated Press reports that Abrams' campaign is preparing an "unprecedented legal challenge" that could involve pushing for a new vote.

Abrams would be challenging the result by saying there was "misconduct, fraud, or irregularities," enough "to change or place in doubt the results," as outlined in Georgia election law. Her team would then assemble affidavits from voters who say they were disenfranchised. Abrams accused Kemp of voter suppression throughout the campaign; in one example, tens of thousands of voters' registrations were put on hold because information on their applications wasn't an exact match with information in voter databases. There were also reports on Election Day of long lines, a problem exacerbated by some technical issues in the state's second-largest county, and voters not being offered provisional ballots when they should have been.

If Abrams' team took this case to court, their argument would be that as many as 18,000 voters could have been disenfranchised; had Abrams received that many additional votes, she would be able to force a runoff election in December. Abrams' lawyers, however, say no decisions have been finalized and they are "considering all options," one of which would involve a judge reopening the certified results to address potential irregularities. Kemp declared victory last week, and his campaign argues Abrams is trying to "count illegal votes" and that his lead is too great for any remaining uncounted ballots to make a difference. Brendan Morrow

7:18a.m.

In a video posted Thursday, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) is captured saying at a Nov. 3 campaign stop: "And then they remind me that there's a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who maybe we don't want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that's a great idea." Hyde-Smith, appointed earlier this year, is in a Nov. 27 runoff election against Democrat Mike Espy to fill the remaining two years of former Sen. Thad Cochran's (R) term.

Lamar White Jr., who posted both this video and the one where Hyde-Smith said if a supporter "invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row," said this is the only part of the clip he received. It was recorded in Starkville, during a Mississippi State University football game. It's not clear what "those other schools" are, CNN notes, but "Mississippi is home to several historically black colleges and universities, and black voters in the state overwhelmingly back Democrats."

"Obviously Sen. Hyde-Smith was making a joke and clearly the video was selectively edited," Hyde-Smith spokeswoman Melissa Scallan said Thursday. (White told The Clarion-Ledger the video clearly wasn't edited, and "this is what she said, verbatim.") Scallan told The Washington Post that Hyde-Smith made her comment while "talking to four freshmen at Mississippi State University about an idea to have polling places on college campuses," and "that's what she said was a great idea." Her comment "was a joke," she added. "The senator absolutely is not a racist and does not support voter suppression."

Espy spokesman Danny Blanton said the "joke" wasn't funny: "For a state like Mississippi, where voting rights were obtained through sweat and blood, everyone should appreciate that this is not a laughing matter." If you want a recap of Hyde-Smith's damage control on her "public hanging" comment, Late Night has a very stylized walkthrough below. Peter Weber

5:43a.m.

Former first lady Michelle Obama got a very warm welcome on Thursday's Jimmy Kimmel Live. "You see how much we miss you?" Kimmel said. "We're here, we're in another house," Obama said. "How's unemployment going?" Kimmel asked. "You embracing it?" She said yes, but "truthfully, we're boring. You know, we have a teenager at home, and she makes us feel inadequate every day." The former president, Obama said, is spending his days holed up in his messy office, writing his own book.

Obama talked about raising kids in the White House, her mother's unsuccessful attempts to escape living there after a few years, whether she'd live in the White House if one of her daughters becomes president — "Oh god, that will never happen," she said — the dogs, and how first families have to pay for their own food while living in the White House. "That's crazy to me," Kimmel said. Obama explained that it generally isn't crazy, except that the staff "are very responsive, at your expense."

"If you wanted to get someone in your husband's administration fired, how would you do that?" Kimmel asked after a break. Obama laughed. "Why do you ask?" she said diplomatically. She explained that nobody on the White House staff rubbed her the wrong way, Kimmel said he didn't believe her, and he brought up a game he and his wife play, informally called "What if Obama had done this?" "Oh god, we play that at home, too," she said. "Quite often." Kimmel asked Obama if anybody has seriously approached her about running for office, she said "all the time," but she's "never had any serious conversations with anyone about it because it's not something that I'm interested in or would ever do, ever." You can watch that, her un-first-lady-like comments, and how she tried to get copies of her book, Becoming, to old boyfriends and bullies, below. Peter Weber

4:44a.m.

"President Trump has been spinning in a Tasmanian Devil-style rage this week," Jimmy Kimmel said on Thursday's Kimmel Live. "As rumors of turmoil and tumult continue to swirl, Trump took to Twitter to lash out at Special Counsel Robert Mueller," his "witch hunt," and his staff. "He always forgets we had real witch hunts in American history, in which they killed witches, but this is the biggest witch hunt, and Bob Mueller is moving on you like a witch," Kimmel said. Still, "what Donald Trump should be worried about" isn't Mueller, but Russian President Vladimir Putin's warm exchange with Vice President Mike Pence at an Asia-Pacific summit on Thursday. He narrated the video.

The Late Show kicked off with a different Trump conspiracy theory, showing a fake commercial to mock Trump's "nuts" idea that you need to voter ID card to buy cereal.

"With Trump in such a bad mood, no one is safe," not even Fox News host Sean Hannity, Stephen Colbert said in his monologue. "Apparently, Trump's close relationship with Hannity hasn't stopped the president from mocking the Fox News star behind his back for being such a suck-up. Does Hannity really suck up that much?" Colbert asked. It was a rhetorical question, but he played some clips anyway. Trump is reportedly so critical of Hannity he has been known to imitate his voice and mannerisms. "I would love to see Trump's impressions," Colbert said, trying out a few. The Nixon one got a little strange.

"This news about Hannity has sent shockwaves through our in-house, pro-Trump news team, Real News Tonight, who now don't know how to talk about the president," Colbert said. You can watch Jim Anchorton and Jill Newslady struggle that out below. Peter Weber

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