August 30, 2018

President Trump "loves the poorly educated," as he so bluntly reminded supporters in a 2016 speech. But he's making an exception for non-Ivy Leaguer Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The Justice Department head just can't catch a break with the president. He's been slammed as "weak" on everything and is even hidden from the Trump at Cabinet meetings. That's because Trump apparently hates Sessions, right down to his "marbles in his mouth" Southern accent, aides tell Politico.

Ever since the attorney general recused himself from the Justice Department's Russia investigation last year, paving the way for the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Trump has consistently hated on Sessions. What started as petty tweeted insults has turned into declarations that Sessions "never took control of the Justice Department," as the president told Fox & Friends last week. Even Sessions' former GOP friends have turned against him.

Now, it's apparently gotten down to personal attacks on Sessions' Alabama roots. Trump has told aides that he wants Sessions, who was born in Selma, Alabama, to avoid TV appearances because he "talks like he has marbles in his mouth," Politico reports. He also doesn't like that Sessions went to the University of Alabama, preferring Ivy League associations over the Crimson Tide. Trump has aired these gripes to "any senator who will listen," a GOP aide tells Politico.

It's a funny complaint coming from the president who's publicly touted his Southern supporters as "the true elite," Daily Intelligencer's Jonathan Chait opines. But behind the closed castle doors, Chait says Trump just "cannot stand the stink" of the working-class people who support him. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:33 a.m.

Moving up from the south, Syrian government troops seized several towns in the northeastern part of the country on Monday, one day after reaching an agreement with the Kurdish-led militia that has held control of the area for several years.

The Kurds and Syria reached the deal after President Trump pulled back U.S. troops from the border, giving Turkey the opportunity to invade Syria and launch an assault on the Kurds. The Kurds and United States worked together to fight the Islamic State in Syria, and the Kurds took control over territory lost by ISIS. After the U.S. retreat, the Kurds turned to the Syrian government for added protection against Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan considers the Kurds terrorists.

Syrian government forces were able to take control of multiple towns from the Kurds, including Taqba, which has a hydroelectric dam on the Euphrates. Kurdish fighters spent Monday battling Turkish troops and allied Syrian militias in the border towns of Ras al Ain and Tal Abyad. The recent developments are viewed as victories for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who counts Russia and Iran as his allies.

Complicating matters is the fact that the U.S. has about 50 tactical nuclear weapons stored at the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, 250 miles from the Syrian border. Two U.S. officials told The New York Times that over the weekend, State and Energy Department employees were reviewing plans for getting the weapons out of Turkey. They are "essentially Erdogan's hostages," the Times says, and moving them from Turkey would basically end the alliance between the United States and Turkey. Leaving them is just as problematic, as it puts the weapons and U.S. in a vulnerable position. Read more at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

12:05 a.m.

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton was so alarmed by a White House–linked effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democrats, he told aide Fiona Hill to alert the National Security Council's chief lawyer, Hill told House impeachment investigators in her 10-hour deposition on Monday, The New York Times reports. Specifically, Bolton told Hill, the top NSC staffer on Russia and Eurasian affairs, to notify White House lawyers that Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's personal lawyer, and White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney were running a rogue operation with legal implications, Hill reportedly testified.

"I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up," Bolton reportedly told Hill to relate to the lawyers, after a heated July 10 conversation with Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and a key player in the Ukraine pressure campaign. Before that encounter, Hill reportedly testified, Bolton told her that "Giuliani's a hand grenade who's going to blow everybody up." Giuliani is now under federal criminal investigation for his work in Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Sondland is scheduled to be deposed on Thursday, and House investigators are now trying to decide whether to question Bolton, The Washington Post reports.

Hill also testified that he had strongly opposed Giuliani's successful push to have Trump remove America's ambassador to Kyiv, Marie Yovanovitch, who had a reputation for fighting corruption in Ukraine. "I don't know Fiona and can't figure out what she is talking about," Giuliani told the Post on Monday night, adding that he believes she was out of the loop when it came to Ukraine, at least compared with Sondland. "She just didn't know," Giuliani said, reiterating his assertion that he was working on orders from the State Department. Peter Weber

October 14, 2019

A Fort Worth, Texas, police officer who shot and killed a woman inside her home early Saturday was charged with murder on Monday, shortly after he resigned from the force.

The former officer, Aaron Dean, is being held at the Tarrant County Correction Center, Fort Worth Police Sgt. Chris Daniels said. The woman, 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson, was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when she was shot. A neighbor had noticed Jefferson's front door was slightly open and called the police department's non-emergency line, asking them to do a wellness check. Body-camera footage released by the police department shows an officer shining a flashlight into the house, then yelling, "Put your hands up, show me your hands," before firing one shot.

The white officer shooting a black woman inside her home caused immediate outrage in Fort Worth, and Daniels had a message for all concerned. "To the citizens and residents of our city, we feel and understand your anger and your disappointment and we stand by you as we work together to make Fort Worth a better place for us all," he said. Jefferson's older sister, Ashley Carr, said Atatiana was "simply going on along with her life, living a law-abiding citizen's peaceful life, and she was killed by a reckless act of a Fort Worth police officer. There is simply no justification for his actions." Catherine Garcia

October 14, 2019

During her testimony before House lawmakers on Monday, Fiona Hill, President Trump's former top Russia adviser, said that Rudy Giuliani wanted to see certain things happen in Ukraine in order to benefit Trump, so he went around U.S. officials and career diplomats, a person familiar with the matter told The Washington Post.

Hill met with lawmakers from the three House committees investigating Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Throughout her 10-hour, closed-door testimony, she shared her concerns over Giuliani's role in Ukrainian foreign policy, the Post says. Hill was a member of the National Security Council, but left one week before Trump's call with Zelensky.

Hill also reportedly praised Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, and told lawmakers she was angry when Yovanovitch was removed in May, after Giuliani pressured Trump to recall her from the post. Last week, Yovanovitch testified as part of the impeachment inquiry, and said Giuliani and some of his Ukrainian allies saw her as a threat, standing in the way of their political and financial interests. Catherine Garcia

October 14, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's former senior adviser Michael McKinley is set to testify privately on Wednesday before the three Congressional committees leading the House impeachment inquiry, two officials involved in the matter told The Washington Post on Monday.

McKinley, a career diplomat who served as ambassador to Afghanistan, Brazil, Colombia, and Peru, stepped down last week. He was not directly involved with Ukraine, and reportedly resigned because he felt Pompeo did not do enough to publicly support State Department personnel caught up in the Ukraine scandal.

A person with knowledge of the matter told CNN McKinley will appear for a transcribed interview, indicating he is not coming under subpoena. Catherine Garcia

October 14, 2019

Federal investigators in Manhattan are taking a close look at Rudy Giuliani's business dealings in Ukraine, as well as his bank records, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.

Prosecutors want to know about meetings Guiliani held and specific work he did in Ukraine. Investigators have been questioning witnesses since at least August regarding Giuliani's relationship with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, business associates who were arrested last week and accused of campaign finance violations, the Journal reports. The scope of the inquiry is unknown.

Giuliani, who is President Trump's personal lawyer, told the Journal on Monday he has done nothing wrong, and "they can look at my Ukraine business all they want." Giuliani is ensnared in Trump's Ukraine scandal, and as part of the impeachment inquiry, House committees have heard testimony from witnesses regarding Giuliani's role in the affair, including how he pushed Trump to remove Marie Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine. Catherine Garcia

October 14, 2019

Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo are the joint winners of the 2019 Booker Prize, it was announced Monday.

First awarded in 1969, the Booker Prize is one of the literary world's most distinguished honors. "We were told quite firmly that the rules state that you can only have one winner," Peter Florence, the chair of the judges, said. However, "the consensus was to flout the rules and divide this year's prize to celebrate two winners." After asking the prize's trustees three times if they could give the award to two winners, the trustees finally relented.

Atwood won for The Testaments, the sequel to 1985's The Handmaid's Tale; she also received the award in 2000 for The Blind Assassin. Evaristo won for Girl, Woman, Other, becoming the first black woman to win the Booker Prize. "I hope that honor doesn't last too long," she said. Atwood and Evaristo will split the $63,000 prize money. Catherine Garcia

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