×
March 14, 2018

Democrats declared victory in Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district Tuesday night while Republicans and The Associated Press have deemed the special House race between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone too close to call. With all precincts reporting, Lamb holds a 579-vote lead over Saccone, or 49.9 percent to 49.6 percent. But there are still absentee ballots to count. It's complicated, but MSNBC's pleasantly frenetic Steve Kornacki has the big touch screen, a black pen, and an evident love for electoral math. If you want to know the state of the race, he is happy to explain.

"I'm happy to talk as much as we can," Kornacki said, getting a laugh from Brian Williams and other people in the studio, but there's not much more "numerical information" to get in the next few hours.

At CNN, Kornacki's fellow electoral math nerd John King said it would take a "mathematical miracle" for Saccone to win with absentee ballots, but even if he does, a tie is a big blow to Republicans; President Trump won the district by 20 points in 2016 and campaigned twice there for Saccone. As elections analyst Stuart Rothenberg put it, "the meaning of the election was clear" hours ago. Peter Weber

1:29 p.m.

Britain is slated to leave the European Union — and its prime minister is ready to exit as well.

At a Conservative Party meeting on Wednesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said she won't run as the party's leader in the next general election, a lawmaker at the meeting told Reuters. Instead, she'll step down as soon as "she has delivered an orderly Brexit," a member of Parliament tweeted Wednesday. May's revelation comes just ahead of a vote of no confidence scheduled for Wednesday night, which could force her out of office early.

May's approval has been waning the past few weeks as her signature promise to leave the E.U. flounders in Parliament. The U.K. voted for Brexit more than two years ago, but lawmakers have since been torn over just how close Britain should remain with the rest of Europe. May's Brexit deal was set for consideration in Parliament this week, but she postponed the vote over fears it would fail.

The whole Brexit debacle — which even some experts don't quite understand — sparked at least 48 pro-Brexit members of May's Conservative Party to trigger a no-confidence vote in their leader. If May gets no-confidence votes from a majority of Conservative MPs on Wednesday night, she'll have to step down and the opposing Tory party would vote on a new leader. Regardless of the no-confidence vote's results, May affirmed Wednesday she wouldn't try to lead the party again in the next general election slated for 2022, per Reuters.

Here's a helpful chart for what happens if May loses the vote this afternoon. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:47 p.m.

President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen on Wednesday said he takes "full responsibility" for his actions before being sentenced to three years in prison.

Cohen in his hearing, which came after he pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and lying to Congress, said that he is "getting my freedom back" after having lived in a "personal and mental incarceration" as a result of agreeing to work for Trump, per Courthouse News. While working for Trump, Cohen said he felt it was his "duty" to cover up his boss' "dirty deeds," and this "blind loyalty" to Trump caused him to "follow a path of darkness rather than light."

Cohen went on to apologize directly to the American people, saying, "You deserve to know the truth and lying to you was unjust." By pleading guilty, Cohen said he wants to ensure “that history will not remember me as the villain of [Trump's] story," CNN reports.

Judge William Pauley subsequently sentenced Cohen to three years in prison, saying that Cohen "appears to have lost his moral compass" and that he "should have known better," Bloomberg reports. Cohen reportedly shook his head as if in disbelief as the sentence was read. Brendan Morrow

12:15 p.m.

President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced to 3 years in prison on Wednesday for lying to Congress and for financial crimes, Courthouse News' Adam Klasfield reports. He also has to pay a $100,000 fine, and the sentence will begin March 6, likely in a minimum-security prison.

At a Manhattan federal courthouse, Cohen was sentenced to 36 months, or 3 years, for his guilty plea to New York prosecutors' eight counts of tax evasion and campaign finance violations — financial crimes in which Cohen implicated Trump. He got 2 more months for his late November deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in which he pleaded guilty to the federal crime of lying to Congress about Trump's business dealings with Russia. The 2-month sentence will be served concurrently with the 36 months.

In sentencing recommendations filed Friday, Mueller's team recommended leniency given Cohen's subsequent cooperation with the probe into the Trump campaign's involvement with Russian election interference. Mueller's team also affirmed Wednesday that Cohen provided "credible" and "valuable information" to the investigation. But in Friday's recommendations, the Southern District of New York said Cohen committed "serious crimes worthy of meaningful punishment." A prosecutor speaking Wednesday said Cohen "didn't come anywhere close to assisting this office in an investigation."

Cohen's lawyer fought back against the Southern District in Wednesday's sentencing, saying his client "came forward to offer evidence against the most powerful person in our country." Still, the judge called each of Cohen's crimes "a serious offense against the United States," CNN says. Cohen on Wednesday said he took "responsibility" for his "blind loyalty to Donald Trump," per Courthouse News. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:54 a.m.

A Star Is Born and Black Panther seem poised to clean up in awards season.

The Screen Actors Guild awards nominations were released Wednesday, and in the top category of Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, the nominees are A Star Is Born, Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Crazy Rich Asians. History suggests that one of these films will win Best Picture at the Oscars, as it's rare for a movie to do so without first being nominated in this category. (Last year, however, The Shape of Water broke from that tradition by taking Best Picture after a SAG snub.) Roma, a Best Picture frontrunner, was not nominated, nor were other Best Picture hopefuls like Green Book, Vice, and If Beale Street Could Talk.

A Star Is Born earned four nominations, the most of any film, while Black Panther picked up a key nod after previously being recognized at the Golden Globe Awards and the Critics Choice Awards.

Meanwhile, the lead actor nominees are Christian Bale (Vice), Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), Viggo Mortensen (Green Book), and John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman), while the lead actress nominees are Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns), Glenn Close (The Wife), Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born), and Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?).

Emily Blunt got a second nomination in the best supporting actress category for A Quiet Place, with her fellow nominees being Amy Adams (Vice), Margot Robbie (Mary Queen of Scots), Emma Stone (The Favourite), and Rachel Weisz (The Favourite).

In the television field, The Americans, Better Call Saul, The Handmaid's Tale, Ozark, and This Is Us were nominated in the top drama series category, while Atlanta, Barry, GLOW, The Kominsky Method, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel were nominated in the top comedy series category.

The 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will take place on Jan. 27. Read the full list of nominees at Variety. Brendan Morrow

10:51 a.m.

The new Democratic-controlled House that will take over in January is set to be the most diverse in history. Ann Coulter apparently thinks there's only one thing that ties them all together.

In a Tuesday appearance on Fox News' The Ingraham Angle, Coulter discussed a Tablet report that linked Women's March leaders to anti-semitism. The conservative author and pundit didn't seem surprised by the report, instead alleging that "we're going to be seeing a lot of these disputes in the Democratic Party base because they all hate one another."

Coulter went on to describe the Democratic Party's components as "the Muslims and the Jews and the various exotic sexual groups and the black church ladies with the college queers." The only thing these people "have in common," Coulter said, is that they all "hate white men."

Twitter lit up with angry responses, of course. And just for the record: Pew Research has found that 37 percent of white men "affiliate with or lean toward the Democratic Party." Kathryn Krawczyk

10:01 a.m.

We regret to inform you that people actually like Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) newly formed beard.

The "universally despised" senator returned to Washington, D.C. after Thanksgiving sporting a patchy something that some people called a beard. Now, it's been a few weeks, Cruz's facial hair is for real, and the world is reacting in an absurdly positive manner.

When Cruz first cracked a smile surrounded by some hair last month, The Cut speculated it might be a celebration of #NoShaveNovember. But November has ended and regrettably, the beard has not. Cruz's Friday appearance on the Senate floor prompted Slate to say his beard "looks great" and makes him "semi-hot." And a Fox News appearance Wednesday led CNN's Andrew Kaczynski to tweet "If Ted Cruz had this beard in 2016 he would have won" the presidential election. Even Chrissy Teigen conceded in Cruz's favor.

While it's nowhere near the improvement that hipster glasses brought to Energy Secretary Rick Perry's face, even the harshest of skeptics must admit Cruz's beard does disrupt a face a neurologist described as naturally unlikeable. The bigger question is why Cruz sprouted a beard now, after winning his surprisingly challenging Senate race with Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas). Perhaps it's because the Texas GOP's reminder that O'Rourke once had a goatee famously backfired, and Cruz has been studying O'Rourke's face on plane rides ever since. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:52 a.m.

After her Oval Office meeting with President Trump, CNN's Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo were in agreement: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) nailed it.

Lemon and Cuomo spoke on Tuesday night after Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) sat down in meeting with President Trump and argued in front of cameras about border funding, with Pelosi later calling the wall a "manhood thing" for Trump. Lemon was absolutely effusive in his praise. "Just objectively speaking," he says he thought while watching it, "oh my gosh, Nancy Pelosi is a boss," per Mediaite.

Lemon went on to say that Pelosi handled herself "amazingly" and that Democrats are likely thanking God for her leadership. He also said that by trying to dismiss the cameras, Pelosi had been trying to save Trump "the embarrassment" of telling him he doesn't know what he's talking about on television. Cuomo, meanwhile, agreed, arguing that Pelosi "really held her own" against Trump and applauding her for not being "too nasty," adding that Trump "got NanChucked by the two of them."

Responding to conservative media, Lemon also said that "no matter how much they spin it, I'm telling you, [Trump] got outflanked today." But Lemon may be surprised to learn that even Fox News' Brian Kilmeade kind of agreed with him, saying on Fox & Friends on Wednesday that Pelosi had the "same brawling tactics" as Trump but had a "better way of doing it." Brendan Morrow

See More Speed Reads