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August 17, 2018

In an attempt to deliver a zinger on Twitter, Republican Senate nominee Corey Stewart may have only succeeded in zinging himself.

The Virginia candidate often tweets inventive hashtags about his political rivals, sometimes with disastrous results. On Friday, Stewart shared a picture of "AntifaTimKaine," depicting Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D) shaking hands with Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

Ignoring the fact that the U.S. and Soviet Union were allies at the time that photo of Stalin was taken, Stewart joked that Kaine and Stalin were "discussing economic policy" back in 1944, making it out to be scathing commentary on Kaine's policies. Stewart is looking to unseat Kaine, but Kaine's communications director didn't seem too worried about the latest doctored images, pointing to Stewart's support of a white supremacist candidate and providing some edited photos of his own.

Stewart's inflammatory rhetoric isn't coming to an end any time soon, he said, promising more surely-hilarious photos of his opponent "playing golf with Karl Marx!" Summer Meza

12:30 p.m.

The White House reportedly approved a memo that will allow troops sent to the southern border to use lethal force and conduct law enforcement operations, Military Times reported Wednesday.

The military has deployed nearly 6,000 troops to help prevent migrants from crossing into the U.S. illegally. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly authorized military personnel to perform "reasonably necessary" actions to protect border agents, including "a show or use of force (including lethal force, where necessary), crowd control, temporary detention, and cursory search."

Kelly reportedly approved the memo because of what he deemed "credible evidence and intelligence" that suggests migrants "may prompt incidents of violence and disorder." A caravan of Central American migrants has been traveling toward the U.S. in recent weeks with the hopes of applying for asylum at the border.

The move could violate the Posse Comitatus Act, which generally forbids troops from operating like domestic law enforcement. The Trump administration has offered varying perspectives on how the military will handle its mission at the border. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said last month that "every possible action is on the table" to stop the migrants, and said that there was no intention to shoot at migrants "right now." When asked about suspending or ignoring the Posse Comitatus Act, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to detail how far the military would go in confronting migrants. Read more at Military Times. Summer Meza

12:13 p.m.

Ralph is ready to break both the internet and the box office this weekend.

Ralph Breaks the Internet, Disney's animated sequel to Wreck-It Ralph, is off to a great start, taking in $3.8 million in Tuesday night previews, per The Hollywood Reporter. That's the best ever opening night for a movie that debuted during Thanksgiving week, besting Moana and Coco, which took in $2.6 million and $2.3 million respectively on the Tuesdays they first started playing. The film is currently projected to make somewhere around $70 million, which would put it below Moana's full five-day opening weekend gross of $82 million, but that number could certainly go higher. Regardless, it's set to rank as one of the best Thanksgiving week openings of all time, though Frozen's record of $93 million appears out of reach.

Were it not for Disney, it would have been Creed II that broke the Thanksgiving preview record, as the Rocky sequel also had a phenomenal Tuesday night by taking in $3.7 million, making that the second-best Thanksgiving preview night of all time. That film, which stars Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone, topped its predecessor's $1.4 million preview night and is expected to take in around $50 million.

But not every studio is having a happy holiday weekend, as Lionsgate's Robin Hood is looking to be a massive bomb. It took in $800,000 in Tuesday night previews and is projected to end up with a five-day haul in the mid-teens, Deadline reports. With the film reportedly costing around $100 million, it's set to end up being one of the worst-reviewed films of the year and also one of the biggest flops as Ralph and Rocky steal its audience away. Brendan Morrow

11:13 a.m.

One former federal prosecutor thinks President Trump's reported desire to order the Department of Justice to prosecute Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey is evidence enough to indict him.

Former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi told MSNBC Tuesday night that he could draft an indictment against Trump "right now." This, he said, would be on two counts, the first being "his relationship with Michael Cohen on the election fraud." He also said there's enough evidence to bring an obstruction of justice charge, which he pointed out Special Counsel Robert Mueller has the authority to do.

This came during a segment discussing the recent report from The New York Times that Trump wanted to order the Department of Justice to prosecute his political enemies, but former White House counsel Don McGahn had to warn him it could be an impeachable offense. Although Trump never officially made this request, Rossi suggested he could still be indicted for this, as it's an "attempt to obstruct justice" and is part of a "pattern." Rossi also said that what the Times report alleges is that Trump "essentially" asked McGahn to "commit a crime by obstructing justice."

Trump has submitted written answers to some of Mueller's questions but is still refusing to answer questions about obstruction of justice. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani insists Mueller has no case there, telling Axios, "I think their obstruction case, as a legal matter, doesn't exist." Watch Rossi's comments on MSNBC below. Brendan Morrow

10:04 a.m.

A weed-fueled episode of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast is now responsible for the launch of an official NASA investigation.

NASA is going to review the safety practices of SpaceX next year, and The Washington Post reports that this is because of "the recent behavior" of founder Elon Musk, specifically when he smoked weed and drank whiskey on the Joe Rogan podcast in September. This, the Post reports, "rankled some at NASA's highest levels" and made them decide to "take a close look" at the company's culture.

In a statement to the Post, NASA confirmed that it would launch this probe next year to determine if SpaceX is "meeting NASA’s requirements for workplace safety, including the adherence to a drug-free environment." It will also investigate Boeing, which Musk has nothing to do with. This probe is reportedly going to last months and involve "hundreds of interviews." Rogan responded to the news on Twitter by writing, "LOL WUT."

Between this episode, Musk needing to pay a $20 million fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission and resign as Tesla chairman because of a two-sentence tweet, and Musk being sued by a diver he accused of being a pedophile, it's safe to say the Tesla CEO has seen better years. Brendan Morrow

9:06 a.m.

After President Trump seemed to let Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman off the hook for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Congress is demanding he take further action.

Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the top-ranking Republican and Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have ordered an investigation into whether the Saudi crown prince was involved in the plot to murder Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate last month, ABC News reports. Trump in a statement Tuesday said that "we may never know" the facts of the case and that bin Salman may or may not have been involved, despite the fact that the CIA has reportedly determined that the crown prince ordered the murder, per CNN.

Corker has been highly critical of Trump's Tuesday statement, tweeting, "I never thought I'd see the day a White House would moonlight as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia." Under the Global Magnitsky Act, the president has four months to respond after a congressional committee asks him to determine whether a human rights violation was committed, per The Washington Post. The Trump administration recently sanctioned 17 Saudis in response to a similar request, and now, Congress is demanding the administration not stop there, with Corker tweeting, "'Maybe he did and maybe he didn't' won’t cut it." Brendan Morrow

7:50 a.m.

In the face of a damning report from The New York Times, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is holding firm.

Zuckerberg told CNN in an interview Tuesday that he has no plans to step down as Facebook chairman, a move some had called for after a recent Times investigation. "That's not the plan," Zuckerberg said, adding that he's "not currently thinking that that makes sense." He also said COO Sheryl Sandberg isn't going anywhere, either, as he's "really proud of the work we've done together" and he hopes "we continue to work together for decades more to come."

This interview comes after The New York Times reported that Facebook was alerted to Russian hacking on its platform in spring 2016, long before sharing this information with the public or with its board of directors and before Zuckerberg publicly dismissed the idea that Facebook played a role in the presidential election. It also alleged that Facebook hired an opposition-research firm to downplay "the impact of the Russians' use of Facebook" and to discredit Facebook critics by linking them to billionaire financier George Soros, an effort spearheaded by Sandberg.

Zuckerberg once again denied knowing about this lobbying until he read the Times article, saying he wasn't "particularly happy about that piece of it" while offering a mild defense by saying that "the intention was never to attack an individual." Despite all of these cascading problems, Zuckerberg also said that Facebook is still "a positive force." Watch the interview below. Brendan Morrow

1:41 a.m.

The Camp Fire swept through Paradise, California, on Nov. 8, becoming the deadliest fire in state history, and now there are questions surrounding the city's decision to narrow the main evacuation route from four lanes to two.

In 2008, a fire ravaged parts of Paradise, destroying 200 homes. There are only four routes out of Paradise, and as everyone in town tried to evacuate, the streets became clogged with cars and thousands were trapped. It took three hours for people to get out of Paradise, and a grand jury later told city officials they needed to create additional evacuation routes, the Los Angeles Times reports.

To protect pedestrians, the city decided in 2014 that Skyway, the main road going through town, should be narrowed from four lanes to two, and records show two other roads also lost lanes. The city was warned that by narrowing the roads, in case of a wildfire or other emergency, it would be hard for people to get out quickly; on Nov. 8, with thousands of people trying to evacuate, some were killed when their cars were engulfed by flames.

On Tuesday, Mayor Jody Jones told the Times the evacuation started at 7:46 a.m and was finished by 3 p.m., and she doesn't think "there's any town in the world prepared with a roadway infrastructure that could evacuate their entire town all at once. They're just not built to do that." At least 81 people were killed in the fire, and nearly 700 remain missing. Catherine Garcia

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