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August 29, 2018

Newly-minted Florida GOP gubernatorial nominee Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) drew criticism when he appeared on Fox News to discuss his Democratic opponent on Wednesday.

DeSantis, who decided to run shortly after President Trump tweeted that he "would make a GREAT governor," wasted no time in tearing down his Democratic counterpart, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who won his party's Tuesday night primary in a surprising upset.

DeSantis said Gillum is "much too liberal" for Florida, and added that "the last thing we need to do is monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state."

The line was quickly interpreted by many to be racially charged. Gillum is the first African-American gubernatorial nominee in Florida. "The racist attack [DeSantis] just unleashed on [Gillum] is exactly why he's [Trump's] favorite congressman," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D). The Florida Democratic Party chairwoman called it "disgusting" that DeSantis "is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles."

A spokesperson for DeSantis told NBC News that the congressman "frequently" uses the phrase, and said it "had nothing to do with race or anything like that." Gillum's campaign took the high road, telling the Tallahassee Democrat that "DeSantis' comments speak for themselves." Watch the moment below, via Fox News. Summer Meza

Update 2:50 p.m. ET: Fox News host Sandra Smith addressed DeSantis' comment, saying on behalf of the network that "we do not condone this language." She also read a statement sent to Fox News by the DeSantis campaign, in which communications director Stephen Lawson said that the candidate "was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses. To characterize it as anything else is absurd." Read more at The Hill.

4:13 p.m.

Toss that romaine right in the trash.

Beyond its usual shtick of boring your tastebuds to death, romaine lettuce in any and all forms can actually infect you with E. coli now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. There's a "particularly dangerous" strain of the contamination striking salad bowls everywhere, The Washington Post writes, and the CDC recommends you throw it all out.

Since this most recent E. coli outbreak began in early October, 32 people in 11 states have come down with the strain, says the CDC. Of them, 13 have been hospitalized and one suffered kidney failure. Canada's health department reported another 18 people had fallen ill from the same outbreak as well.

It romaines to be seen whether one particular grower or strain is causing the infection. So toss out "whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine, and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, and Caesar salad," the CDC said, as well as any lettuce you're unsure about. Then clean out your fridge and sanitize any shelves the romaine touched — seriously. And don't eat any romaine at restaurants.

This new alert comes in the wake of another E. coli outbreak that killed five people from March to June. So if you were planning make this Thanksgiving a romaine holiday, take a closer look at what you're tossing together. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:48 p.m.

It looks like booting Megyn Kelly from the air will turn out to be quite costly for NBC.

After weeks of negotiations, Kelly is close to finalizing a $30 million exit deal with the network, the New York Post reports. Kelly was fired by NBC last month with over a year left to go in her three-year contract, under which her annual salary was reportedly $23 million.

This firing came after comments Kelly made on Today questioning why it's racist to wear blackface on Halloween. She apologized on the air the next day, but by the end of the week, her show began airing reruns, and it was later confirmed that it would not return. Deadline reported that NBC was reluctant to give Kelly a hefty payout, which may explain why negotiations have gone on for nearly a full month and are unlikely to be finalized until next week at the earliest, the Post reports.

A source told the Post that "we thought this would be a done deal a few weeks ago," noting that NBC parent company Comcast "has the money to pay off Megyn," and at this point, "everyone wants this to be over." Another source said that NBC didn't want to go through a lawsuit with Kelly and is paying her the full amount she's owed under her contract so she will just "go away." Brendan Morrow

3:30 p.m.

House Democrats are not going to let Ivanka Trump's email scandal slide.

On Monday, a report from The Washington Post found President Trump's daughter had used a personal email account for official White House business. And just as Trump never forgot Hillary Clinton's emails, House Democrats will investigate Ivanka's debacle when they take power in January, incoming House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a Tuesday statement.

When news broke that Ivanka reportedly contacted White House aides and Cabinet officials via her personal email account, Democrats and former Trump officials were quick to slam the move as "hypocritical" to the Post. After all, Clinton's use of a private email server for state business was a major sticking point for the Trump campaign.

But unlike Clinton's situation, Cummings doesn't want an investigation of Ivanka, her husband Jared Kushner, and other White House officials' use of private email accounts to become "a spectacle." The current House Oversight ranking member is simply calling for the White House to hand over documents to ensure those officials "are complying with federal records laws."

After learning they'd regain power in January, House Democrats also announced they'd lead a joint committee investigation into the ouster of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:38 p.m.

The Pentagon may not begin winding down its mission at the southern border this week after all.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Northern Command told Politico Tuesday that "no specific timeline for redeployment has been determined," adding that more details would be provided "as they become available." Just one day earlier, Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, who heads the deployment, actually provided a specific timeline, telling Politico some troops would begin coming home as early as this week and would all be leaving the border by Dec. 15. "Our end date right now is Dec. 15, and I've got no indications from anybody that we'll go beyond that," Buchanan said.

The new Army statement disputes that, and merely says that some troops may be shifted "to other areas of the border," such as in California. These members of the military were sent by Trump in response to an approaching caravan of Central American migrants, which he has dubbed an "invasion" even though most are fleeing poverty and violence. After Buchanan said Monday that the mission was about to be wrapped up, Democrats pointed to this as evidence that the whole thing was nothing more than a stunt to energize Trump's base on Election Day, but now, whether it's true that the troops actually will be leaving in the immediate future remains unclear. Brendan Morrow

2:14 p.m.

President Trump tested out his tight five with some turkey-related stand-up comedy at the White House Tuesday.

During the annual turkey pardoning ceremony two days before Thanksgiving, Trump noted that the White House had conducted a Twitter poll asking which of two turkeys, Peas or Carrots, should be pardoned, which Trump assured everyone was a "fair and open election." He announced that Peas won but joked that Carrots was refusing to concede and was demanding a full recount, referencing the recent contested races in Georgia and Florida where Republicans ultimately prevailed. "We've come to a conclusion: Carrots, I'm sorry to tell you, the result did not change," Trump said. Unlike a real election, though, both Peas and Carrots received the full pardon anyway.

The turkeys, Trump explained, will be headed to Virginia Tech to be taken care of, but he then went after Democrats by joking, "Even though Peas and Carrots have received a presidential pardon, I have warned them that House Democrats are likely to issue them both subpoenas." He didn't stop there, adding, "I can't guarantee your pardons won't be enjoined by the 9th Circuit." Watch Trump's turkey pardoning turn into an unexpected roast of Democrats below. Brendan Morrow

2:02 p.m.

President Trump has conceded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman "could very well" have known about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. But he's still not going to punish Saudi Arabia's government for it.

The CIA has reportedly determined that bin Salman directed Khashoggi's murder, and Trump is expected to receive a full CIA briefing Tuesday, per CNN. Still, the president signaled in a Tuesday statement that no matter what the CIA tells him, he still won't take retaliatory action against the Saudi government.

Khashoggi's Oct. 2 killing in Turkey's Saudi consulate "was a terrible one," Trump said. But regardless of who is responsible for it, Trump suggested Saudi Arabia is a "great ally," is "leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism," and has deep economic ties to the U.S. Giving up those ties would "be a wonderful gift" to Russia and China, Trump said, adding that it would fail Trump's "America first" mission. He additionally seemed to accept the Saudi government's criticism of Khashoggi. "Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that [Khashoggi] was an 'enemy of the state' and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that," he wrote.

Trump then cast doubts on what the CIA may have learned about Khashoggi's death, saying "we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder." The Treasury Department "already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder," Trump acknowledged, and his entire statement suggests this is the harshest action he will take against the Saudi government. Read the whole statement below. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:29 p.m.

If Tom Steyer isn't running for president, he's doing a pretty good job of faking it.

The liberal billionaire, who's unflinchingly called for the impeachment of President Trump, launched a new website and ad campaign on Tuesday. It introduces Americans' "five rights," which look an awful lot like a presidential platform and are the subject of Steyer's pseudo-campaign tour starting in December, per The Washington Post.

Steyer's newest campaign launched Tuesday with nationwide newspaper ads, and it'll soon be featured in a six-figure campaign across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, a spokeswoman tells the Post. He's also unveiled a revamped website, which compels readers to "tell the new Congress we need" to protect the five progressive rights he's laid out.

Steyer built his fortune leading an investment firm, but left in 2012 to found the progressive nonprofit NextGen America and has been teetering on the edge of politics ever since. He's given more than $130 million to progressive campaigns since 2016, and paid for $20 million in TV ads encouraging the impeachment of Trump. In a September Post interview, Steyer wouldn't say whether he'd run for office, but did say "understanding" political processes and policies is more important than prior political experience — which he does not have. Kathryn Krawczyk

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