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April 20, 2018

One of the more bizarre and eye-catching parts of the newly released memos former FBI Director James Comey wrote after his conversations with President Trump is a comment Trump reportedly made at a Feb. 8, 2017, meeting in the Oval Office.

"The president brought up the 'Golden Showers thing' and said it really bothered him if wife had any doubt about it," Comey recalled. "He then explained, as he did at our dinner, that he hadn't stayed overnight in Russia during the Miss Universe trip. ... The president said 'the hookers thing' is nonsense but that Putin had told him 'we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.' He did not say when Putin had told him this."

That is a strange thing to say to an FBI director on your third-ever meeting — in their first, Comey had briefed Trump on the Russia dossier compiled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele, which included the unsubstantiated "golden showers thing" — but it is also odd because officially, Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had spoken only once, on a Jan. 28 phone call. Trump claimed to have met Putin several times between 2013 and 2016 — as CNN meticulously documents — including during a 2015 debate, though his story changed in 2016.

On Jan. 17, 2017, however, Putin said on TV: "I don't know Mr. Trump. ... I have never met him and I don't know what he will do on the international arena." And in that same speech, he made light of the Trump-prostitute allegation, saying Trump had met the most beautiful women in the world and so had no need for Moscow prostitutes, adding that "they are also the best in the world."

So, maybe Putin told Trump the same thing right after his inauguration, in their first conversation, or perhaps Trump saw the quip on TV and thought it was directed at him, or Comey might have misunderstood Trump's comment. The possibilities aren't quite endless, but they are curious. Peter Weber

10:40p.m.

Democrat Josh Harder has defeated Republican Rep. Jeff Denham in California's 10th congressional district, The Associated Press reports.

With the latest vote count released on Tuesday, Harder has a 4,919 vote lead over Denham, the four-term incumbent, and because there aren't many ballots left to count, there's no way he can overcome the deficit.

A first time candidate, Harder, 32, was born and raised in the 10th congressional district, which sits in California's Central Valley. While campaigning, the venture capitalist said he will push for universal health care, and repeatedly brought up Denham's vote against the Affordable Care Act. Denham, 51, painted Harder as someone who doesn't understand the area with an "extreme" agenda.

This is the fourth Democratic pickup of a Republican House seat in California. In 2016, Hillary Clinton carried the district, but Denham was able to win his race by three percentage points. Catherine Garcia

9:40p.m.

After holding the lead for a week, Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.) is now trailing her Democratic challenger in Southern California's 45th congressional district, Democratic law professor Katie Porter, by 261 votes.

Orange County released its latest ballot count on Tuesday evening. Walters was ahead of Porter by three percent on Election Day last Tuesday, but by Monday, her lead had dropped to 1,000. The Los Angeles Times says that typically in California, the last ballots counted are provisional or mailed late, and those usually favor Democrats.

In races that have been called, Democrats won three of 14 seats held by Republicans in California. Catherine Garcia

9:00p.m.

If Jennifer Senior could go back to the summer of 2017, she would have written a very different review of the book Conscience of a Conservative.

Senior, now a New York Times opinion columnist, was a book critic when Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) released his tome. In the Times on Tuesday, Senior writes that she gave the book a "mostly kind review," but now, she's "seriously reconsidering" it. Flake has "always been a class act," Senior said, and she applauded him for being the first Republican senator to "call President Trump the domestic and international menace that he is." But while Flake loudly asserted that he was standing up to Trump, he still went along and voted with the president 84 percent of the time. "Jeff Flake's book couldn't even convince Jeff Flake," Senior said.

Flake may have said he really, truly believed Trump posed a threat to democracy, but his voting record paints a different picture. Flake had ample opportunities to "align himself with the opposition," like the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act. Instead, he said he had misgivings about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, yet still voted to confirm him. Trump is now the face of the Republican Party, Senior said, which is "heavy with nativists, populists, protectionists, assorted supremacists." Flake has urgently called for a return to the party's roots, but that has had "zero effect," and instead of his book being a critique of Trump, it "was a tragedy." Catherine Garcia

7:42p.m.

President Trump spent much of his Monday meeting with his legal team, going over questions from Special Counsel Robert Mueller and writing out responses, people close to Trump told ABC News Tuesday.

Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, and his questions for Trump center around Russian meddling, ABC News reports. Trump and his lawyers were expected to work on his responses during a Tuesday meeting as well.

So far, 32 people have been indicted by Mueller, with six pleading guilty — including Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — and three sentenced to prison. Catherine Garcia

6:51p.m.

On Tuesday, Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson's campaign filed a federal lawsuit to extend the statewide recount of last week's Senate race.

Nelson ran against Florida's current governor, Republican Rick Scott. Scott has a slight lead over Nelson, ahead by just .14 percent. By Florida law, when the top two candidates are within half a percentage point, counties must conduct a machine recount. That's been the case this month in the governor, U.S. Senate, and agriculture commissioner races.

The deadline for the recount is 3 p.m ET Thursday, which the Palm Beach County elections supervisor has said will be "impossible to meet," USA Today reports. Nelson's campaign said the lawsuit "seeks to allow all local elections officials in the 67 Florida counties the time they say is needed to finish a legally mandated and accurate recount because the race was so close." Catherine Garcia

5:06p.m.

When the House's newest members are sworn in this January, they'll join what will become the most diverse Congress in U.S. history. But most of that diversity, it seems, is coming from one side of the aisle.

With a wave of women and people of color winning their races last week, Democrats will have a majority in the 116th Congress, which is more than 60 percent "women, minorities and LGBTQ representatives," reports The Associated Press. Republicans' new House coalition, meanwhile, is nearly entirely white. A set of headshots shared by The Washington Post's Erica Werner makes that contrast very obvious.

Despite the increasingly diverse ranks, the majority of incoming House Democrats — 131 of the 228 decided seats, or 57 percent — are white, per USA Today. And of the 198 incoming Republicans, 191 are white, 96 percent.

Top House aides are actually less racially diverse than the legislators they work for, The New York Times reported. Just 13.7 percent of House staffers are people of color, a fact that likely prompted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to launch a House diversity office on Thursday. It'll "help recruit and retain diverse employees to work in Congress," a Pelosi aide tells AP, and could be voted on as soon as the next Congress takes its seats. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:20p.m.

Juul announced on Tuesday that it will temporarily halt the sale of its flavored nicotine pods in all retail stores and will discontinue its social media promotions.

The e-cigarette company has conceded to mounting pressure from the Food and Drug Administration, as it completes the process of regulating the sales of e-cigarettes in convenience stores and gas stations, reports The New York Times. The hope is to curb the rise of teen vaping.

As of Tuesday morning, Juul has stopped accepting retail orders for its mango, fruit, creme, and cucumber flavored pods to over 90,000 retail stores. CNBC reports that customers are still able to buy all Juul flavors on its website, while the four tobacco and menthol-flavored pods remain in stores.

In a statement posted on the San Francisco-based company's website, CEO Kevin Burns addressed the purpose of this change. "By deterring social media promotion of the Juul system by exiting our accounts, we can better prevent teens and non-smokers from ever becoming interested in the device," he said.

The FDA is still set to release its proposal later this week, outlining strict requirements for age verification of online sales and restricting sales of cartridge-based flavored e-cigarettes to shops. “Our intent was never to have youth use Juul," said Burns. "But intent is not enough. The numbers are what matter and the numbers tell us underage use of e-cigarettes is a problem.” Amari Pollard

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