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March 8, 2018

If one thing is clear in the Stormy Daniels scandal that has engulfed the last few days of President Trump's administration, it's this: Everything is Sarah Huckabee Sanders' fault.

CNN reports that Trump is "very unhappy" with Sanders, his press secretary, after she mentioned in her briefing remarks Wednesday that a legal battle with Daniels had been "won in arbitration." Daniels, an adult film actress who alleges she and Trump carried on an affair in 2006 and 2007 and that she was compelled by Trump's personal lawyer in the waning days of the 2016 campaign to sign a non-disclosure agreement about their relationship, filed a lawsuit against the president Tuesday alleging the agreement was invalid because Trump himself never signed it.

Trump has, of course, steadfastly denied all Daniels-related allegations against him: that they had an affair; that he was aware of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, transferring $130,000 to Daniels as "hush money"; that any non-disclosure agreement was arranged or signed. But Sanders' acknowledgment of arbitration proceedings raised eyebrows Wednesday; as The Guardian's Ben Jacobs noted, "If there was an arbitration between the two, that means there has to have been a contract."

A source close to the White House told CNN that Trump believes Sanders "gave the Stormy Daniels storyline steroids yesterday" with her mention of arbitration. For their part, Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti dismissed Sanders' claim that the case had already been decided in Trump's favor, telling The New York Times' Jim Rutenberg: "Yeah, and he also won the popular vote." Kimberly Alters

5:09 p.m.

Six people were stuck in an elevator in Chicago's fourth-tallest building on Friday. But firefighters weren't exactly sure where they'd ended up, seeing as a cable had snapped and sent the car plummeting from the 95th floor. And there was no easy way to find out, the Chicago Tribune details.

A pair of Northwestern University law students, a married couple, and two New Zealand tourists stepped into an elevator in the former John Hancock Center just after midnight Friday. But their ride down soon turned bumpy — "like a flight into Chicago," one student told the Tribune. A clacking noise rattled as the passengers fell, and dust poured into the car. Jaime Montemayor, visiting from Mexico with his wife, told CBS Chicago he "believed we were going to die."

The car didn't hit the ground thanks to a few stable cables, but it was hard to tell exactly where it ended up because the blind-shaft elevator had no windows. One student told the Tribune they felt like they'd only fallen "a few floors." Firefighters eventually found the car had plunged 84.

Since the firefighters couldn't safely "come down like Batman" on ropes from the top of the shaft, as one firefighter described it, they had to hack a hole in the wall. Three hours later, the six passengers emerged into an attached parking garage without injury. Read more about the extensive operation at the Chicago Tribune. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:07 p.m.

The founder of the Women's March is joining growing calls for its current leaders to step down.

After Teresa Shook's plan for a march against President Trump took off, she handed the reins over to a group of activists. But in a Monday statement, Shook said those new leaders had "steered the movement away from its true course" because they "have allowed anti-Semitism, anti-LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform."

After Shook launched the idea for a Women's March, activists Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour stepped up to organize it. Millions of people around the world marched the day after President Trump's inauguration, inspiring follow-up marches of the same nature.

Months later, criticism began to arise over Mallory, Perez, and Sarsour's ties to Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who has repeatedly made anti-Semitic comments. They've since come short of condemning Farrakhan, prompting conservative calls to boycott future Women's March events. Sarsour has received most of the derision for the Farrakhan ties, as well as other controversial comments.

All of these moves are "in opposition" to the Women's March's principles, Shook said in her Monday statement. So in an effort to bring the movement back to its roots, Shook called for "the current co-chairs to step down" and for leaders who can "restore" the march's "original intent" to step forward. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:00 p.m.

The FBI now classifies the Proud Boys as an "extremist group with ties to white nationalism," The Guardian reports.

The classification was reportedly included in a memo written as part of an internal investigation into a sheriff's deputy in Clark County, Washington, who was fired for wearing a "Proud Boys Girls" sweatshirt. An official at the Clark County sheriff’s department confirmed the memo is authentic, saying that the county was briefed by the FBI and told that the bureau has "warned local law enforcement agencies that the Proud Boys are actively recruiting in the Pacific Northwest."

The Proud Boys was founded in 2016 by Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes, who once said on his show that he's "disappointed in Trump supporters for not punching enough." Last month, members of the Proud Boys were arrested and charged with multiple counts including gang assault and rioting after violence between Proud Boys and antifascists broke out outside a McInnes speech in New York, CBS News reports. There was also violence between Proud Boys and Antifa members at a Portland rally that same weekend. This memo was written in August, before additional violence occurred in New York and Portland, but it says that Proud Boys have "contributed to the recent escalation of violence at political rallies" and in cities like Charlottesville.

The FBI describing the Proud Boys as extremists had not been reported before, but the Southern Poverty Law Center had previously classified them as a hate group, Al Jazeera reports. Brendan Morrow

3:45 p.m.

Taylor Swift is moving on.

The singer revealed on Monday that she will be switching record labels, from Big Machine Label Group to Universal Music Group and Republic Records. She will also now own her master recordings for any future music. Part of the deal included helping other artists receive money for their Spotify streams. "I see this as a sign that we are headed towards positive change for creators – a goal I'm never going to stop trying to help achieve," Swift wrote in an Instagram post.

The condition on UMG's Spotify shares: "any sale of Spotify shares result in a distribution of money to their artists, non-recoupable," means that benefits from Spotify sales shares do not go against an artist's debt, said The Guardian. Music lawyer Gregory Pryor told The Guardian that although the agreement is not radical, Swift using it as an opportunity to help other artists is.

Swift has been an advocate for streaming services paying artists before. In 2015, Swift wrote a letter refusing to put her album 1989 on Apple Music. She asked the company to pay artists during their three month free trial period, which Apple Music eventually agreed to do.

Her last album, reputation, was her last under contract with BMLG, her label since 2006. BMLG was heavily negotiating to keep Swift signed on, Billboard wrote in August. Swift's sales and streaming account for 34.6 percent of BMLG's revenue, and her masters reportedly could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars over their lifetime. BLMG founder Scott Borchetta discovered Swift in a cafe in Nashville before he had even started the label. In her announcement, Swift thanked Borchetta "for believing in me as a 14-year-old and for guiding me through over a decade of work." Emma Henderson

3:23 p.m.

Could House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) actually be in danger of losing her bid to become House speaker?

That possibility became a bit more real on Monday when 16 Democrats released a letter formally saying they would not vote for Pelosi. While these Democrats say in their letter they are "thankful to Leader Pelosi for her years of service," they say they are "committed to voting for new leadership," arguing that "Democrats ran and won on a message of change," The Washington Post reports. The letter is signed by 11 current members of Congress and five members elect, although two of them haven't won their races yet, and one of them, Ben McAdams, is currently losing to his Republican opponent, Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah).

Assuming Democrats end up with 233 seats in the House as expected, Pelosi could afford to lose 15 Democratic votes, as she needs a total of 218 to become speaker. There are some additional Democrats who haven't signed the letter but may vote against Pelosi, HuffPost reports. But if McAdams loses his race, and no one else votes against Pelosi other than the Democrats who signed this letter, she would win.

At the moment, there isn't currently a formal challenger to Pelosi, although Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) is considering it. Fudge did not sign the letter. Read more at The Washington Post. Brendan Morrow

2:23 p.m.

The Republican Party is officially backing up President Trump's Sunday criticism of a retired Navy admiral — and abandoning a central tenet of its platform in the process.

In an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace that aired Sunday, Trump declared Adm. William McRaven's mission to kill al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden should've happened "a lot sooner." He also called the former Navy SEAL commander a "Hillary Clinton fan." And after Trump repeated his charge in a Monday tweet, the Republican Party stepped in to share some facts about McRaven it felt were "worth noting."

McRaven did author a Washington Post op-ed challenging Trump to revoke his security clearance in defense of former CIA Director John Brennan. But what his dislike for Trump has to do with killing the man largely responsible for 9/11 is unclear.

Robert O'Neill, the man who actually shot bin Laden and has since not been shy about his conservative views, has a different message. After tweeting yesterday that "McRaven was born to lead this mission," he affirmed Monday that "the mission to get bin Laden was bipartisan." Kathryn Krawczyk

12:58 p.m.

Two turkeys will step up to President Trump's chopping block this Tuesday. Only one will survive.

The White House's two candidates for a traditional Thanksgiving presidential pardon arrived at the White House on Monday. They are five months old and adorably named Peas and Carrots. They have detailed life stories and aspirations. "And you get to decide which turkey [Trump] pardons," the White House website ominously states.

Will you end Peas' life, in which his greatest joy has been watching planes with the hope of learning to fly?

Or will you opt to squelch Carrots' "strong and confident" gobble before he reaches his goal of meeting the Virginia Tech HokieBird?

The choice is yours. But fear not, anyone with a soul. The White House website mentions "the turkeys" — plural — "will make the journey to Virginia Tech's 'Gobblers Rest' exhibit" and hang out for the rest of their predictably short lives. Kathryn Krawczyk

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