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March 14, 2018

Secretary of State and "human Grumpy Cat" Rex Tillerson was just one of three Trump administration officials fired on Tuesday alone, Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show. "Working for the White House is basically like being in a Saw movie: You show up, you get tortured for a while, and then you get killed off." It's not clear why Trump decided to fire Tillerson now, Noah said, but he summed up their fraught relationship with the "serious mind games" Trump played with Tillerson on North Korea. "It's like Trump was trying to get Tillerson to break up with him," he said. Still, the people who dissed Tillerson early on "turned out to be right," Noah added. "Tillerson was a pretty bad secretary of state." He gave some examples — funding cuts, exodus of diplomats — then drily celebrated "Rex Tillerson's greatest achievements." Or rather, achievement.

"I'm not saying Rex Tillerson was a great secretary of state — he had the energy of a 14-year-old bloodhound on his third mint julep," Seth Meyers said on Late Night. "But if you're going to fire Cabinet secretaries for being bad at their jobs, let me refer you to Betsy DeVos' appearance on 60 Minutes. Not only was she wildly uninformed, but 60 minutes is also her longest work day so far." Tillerson, like Gary Cohn, was never going to "rein in Donald Trump," he added. "If the White House is a fraternity in an '80s movie, Tillerson was the dean — and the dean never wins in an '80s movie."

"There's a million reasons why Donald Trump should have fired Rex Tillerson," Jordan Klepper agreed on The Opposition. "He called Trump a 'f---ing moron'; for a guy in the State Department, he wasted a lot of time in foreign countries"; and worst of all, he added, Tillerson wanted to punish Russia. Watch more below. Peter Weber

11:15 p.m.

Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter made a most triumphant announcement on Wednesday, revealing that they will start filming a third Bill & Ted movie, Bill & Ted Face the Music, this summer.

Reeves and Winter will reprise their roles as Ted Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esq., respectively. Entertainment Weekly reports that the movie will follow the best friends as they encounter a "visitor from the future [who] warns them that only their song can save life as we know it and bring harmony to the universe." After Reeves and Winter shared the big news, Orion Pictures announced the release date: Aug. 21, 2020.

Bill & Ted Face the Music is set to be directed by Dean Parisot, with Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, writers who worked on the earlier films, penning the screenplay. Catherine Garcia

10:36 p.m.

Those who have been keeping up with Jared Kushner, his family real estate development business, and their $1.8 billion purchase of a Manhattan building don't have the full story, Kushner's father, Charles, writes in a Washington Post op-ed published Wednesday night.

Kushner took over management of Kushner Companies after his father went to prison for tax evasion and witness tampering, becoming CEO in 2008. In 2007, Kushner Companies purchased 666 Fifth Ave. in New York City for a record $1.8 billion, thinking that "the parts of the 1.5-million-square-foot building were worth more than the whole, and splitting it into retail and office components would create value of more than $2.5 billion," Charles Kushner said.

The global financial crisis hit the next year, and "projected office rents for 666 Fifth Ave. were cut in half," Kushner said. Still, they managed to structure the debt so they could sell off half the retail component, and last year completed a $1.3 billion, 99-year land lease to Brookfield Asset Management. Charles Kushner denied reports that the company was ever on the brink of collapse, and that he sought foreign money to pay off a $1.2 billion mortgage.

Charles Kushner praised his son, who left the company in 2017 to join the Trump administration as a senior adviser. He has divested from more than 80 partnerships "at a substantial financial sacrifice," Kushner said, and his "service to the country has brought unprecedented scrutiny of the Kushner Companies" and because of that, "we have passed up many business opportunities that we normally would have pursued." Read the entire op-ed at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

9:06 p.m.

Hope Hicks, a former Trump Organization employee and White House communications director, will give the House Judiciary Committee documents as part of its inquiry into potential obstruction of justice, CNN reports.

Earlier this month, Hicks received a letter from House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), requesting documents on the firing of former FBI Director James Comey; false statements former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn made to the FBI; hush-money payments made to women who said they had affairs with President Trump; and the drafting of a statement regarding a meeting Donald Trump Jr. had with Russians at Trump Tower in 2016.

Hicks, a longtime Trump confidante, has been asked to turn over "any personal or work diary, journal, or other book containing notes, a record, or a description of daily events" having to do with Trump, his campaign, the Trump Organization, and the executive office of the president. In 2018, Hicks testified privately before the House Intelligence Committee, and while she agreed to answer questions about the Trump campaign and transition, she would not discuss her time in the White House. Catherine Garcia

8:26 p.m.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler on Wednesday said it's not climate change, but unsafe water, drought, and plastic trash in the oceans that are "the largest and most immediate environmental and public health issues affecting the world right now."

He made his remarks in Washington on World Water Day, saying he is frustrated because "water issues often take a backseat" to larger discussions about global warming. "Most of the threats from climate change are 50 to 75 years out," Wheeler said. "What we need to do is make sure that the people who are dying today from lack of having drinking water in Third World countries, that problem is addressed." During an interview with ABC News last month, Wheeler said climate change is not a "crisis."

Speaking with CBS News on Wednesday, Wheeler said the United States has "the safest drinking water in the world," and "92 percent of the water everyday meets all the EPA requirements for safe drinking water." Regarding the lead-contaminated water in cities like Flint, Michigan, Newark, New Jersey, and Baltimore, Wheeler said the EPA is "working to update a number of regulations, one of which is our lead and copper rule, which takes a look at the pipes. ... We're looking at what we can do to require regular testing for schools and daycares, so that would be part of that regulation when it comes out later this year." Catherine Garcia

7:22 p.m.

A Connecticut woman says Harvard University has been making money off of images of her slave ancestors, and she wants that to end.

Tamara Lanier filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Massachusetts, claiming that Harvard exploited the images of her great-great-great-grandfather Renty and his daughter, Delia, who were slaves in South Carolina. In the suit, Lanier says a Harvard scientist, Louis Agassiz, went to the South in 1850 to "prove" black people are inferior and to "justify their subjugation, exploitation, and segregation." The photos were taken after he ordered Renty and Delia to take off their clothes.

Harvard has profited from the images, with Renty's picture used during the 2017 conference "Universities and Slavery: Bound in History" and placed on the cover of a $40 book about photography and anthropology, NBC News reports. The suit says Renty and Delia's images, "like their bodies before, remain subject to control and appropriation by the powerful, and their familial identities are denied to them." Lanier is asking for Harvard to give her the images, as well as unspecified damages. Catherine Garcia

5:30 p.m.

John Kelly is just doing what former Trump officials do.

On Wednesday, the former chief of staff for President Trump officially started his new career in public speaking. Kelly joined an agency that already represents a slew of ex-White House staffers, including former Press Secretary Sean Spicer and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. It seems like a predictable move for Kelly, but the speaking example he's using to promote himself is more interesting, The New York Times' Aaron Blake points out.

Kelly's agency profile is loaded with his biography and favorite speech topics: governance, geopolitics, and leadership, if you were wondering. There's just one featured video of him speaking, though, and it comes from a White House press room appearance in October 2017. In it, Kelly discusses going to the dedication of a new FBI field office in Florida in 2015, and how Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) only "talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building." Wilson slammed the comments as a "lie."

A video later surfaced by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel quickly showed that, as PolitiFact notes, Kelly "mischaracterized" Wilson's words "in significant ways." Kelly later said he would "absolutely not" apologize to Wilson, but it's still a little strange that he'd choose such a controversial clip to advertise his speaking prowess.

Add Kelly to your speaker wishlist — and watch the video of him disparaging Wilson — here. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:14 p.m.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas listened to arguments about a case that involves racial discrimination on Wednesday. And then he did something surprising: He spoke — for the first time in three years and only the second time in a decade.

Thomas, a conservative judge, is reportedly known for his silence on the stand, but, per Reuters, he asked several questions amid arguments in the case of Curtis Flowers, a 48-year-old black man from Mississippi who has been tried for the same quadruple murder six separate times. He is an inmate on death row. Flowers' case was the focus of the American Public Media podcast, In the Dark.

Flowers and his attorney, Sheri Lynn Johnson, are arguing that Flowers' right to a fair trial was violated multiple times because the prosecutor in his case "had relentlessly worked to keep black jurors from sitting on" Flowers' trials. Both sides in a trial are, in fact, permitted to strike a limited number of potential jurors and they are not required to submit a reason behind the decision, but a juror's race cannot be a factor.

Reuters reports it seems likely the Supreme Court will side with Flowers, including conservative Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito. But Thomas, who is black, sounded skeptical and was focused on whether Flowers' defense team had likewise sought to exclude white jurors in Flowers' most recent trial. Tim O'Donnell

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