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September 30, 2018

Kanye West was the musical guest for Saturday Night Live's season opener, and at the end of the show, in a portion that was not aired, he donned a "Make America Great Again" hat and started talking politics. Segments of West's rant were captured and shared by people in the studio audience, including comedian Chris Rock.

West accused black Americans of being duped by a "Democratic plan" to "take the fathers out the home and put them on welfare." Addressing his vocal support of President Trump, West said if he were "concerned about racism [he] would have moved out of America a long time ago." He urged listeners to "follow your heart, and stop following your mind" and intimated he may run for public office in 2020.

Watch two clips of West's comments below. Bonnie Kristian

10:52p.m.

The Camp Fire in Northern California's Butte County, the deadliest blaze in state history, has killed at least 56 people, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials said on Wednesday evening.

The death toll is expected to grow, as dozens of people remain missing and crews with cadaver dogs are looking in the rubble of destroyed homes for remains. The fire obliterated the town of Paradise, where most of the victims lived. Officials said 10,300 structures have burned and more than 138,000 acres scorched. As of Wednesday night, the fire is 35 percent contained. The cause of the fire is under investigation, but about two dozen people who lost their homes have sued Pacific Gas & Electric Co., claiming they did not maintain or properly inspect power lines, and their negligence led to the fire.

In Southern California, the Woolsey Fire continues to burn in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, but the Santa Ana winds are not as strong as they were, which has helped firefighters. The cause of the fire, which has destroyed 482 structures, remains under investigation. About 98,362 acres have burned, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said, an area about the size of Denver. Despite a flare up early in the morning, the fire is 52 percent contained. The death toll from the Woolsey Fire now stands at three. Catherine Garcia

10:11p.m.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators are looking into whether Republican operative Roger Stone, one of President Trump's longtime advisers, attempted to intimidate a witness, people who have spoken with Mueller's team told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

Stone has said radio host Randy Credico was his link to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Credico, who appeared before Mueller's grand jury in September, denies this. Before the 2016 presidential election, WikiLeaks released emails stolen from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta. Mueller's probe is trying to determine if Stone was in contact with WikiLeaks and knew this was going to happen ahead of time. During the campaign, Stone said multiple times the emails were coming, but now says he was exaggerating and knew things because of Credico.

Witnesses told the Journal they were asked by the Mueller team about allegedly threatening messages Stone sent to Credico, telling him he was going to "sue the f—k" out of him and calling him a "loser a liar and a rat." One of the witnesses, businessman Bill Samuels, told the Journal Credico was rattled by the messages, and almost had a nervous breakdown. Credico, who interviewed Assange in the summer of 2016, said he told some people he was a "back channel" to Assange at the urging of Stone, and now, his former friend his having his associates "slime" him. Read more about the bad blood between Stone and Credico and the questions Mueller asked witnesses about them at The Wall Street Journal. Catherine Garcia

8:42p.m.

One day after first lady Melania Trump's office called for her to get the boot, Mira Ricardel is no longer the deputy national security adviser.

"Mira Ricardel will continue to support the president as she departs the White House to transition to a new role within the administration," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Wednesday evening. "The president is grateful for Ms. Ricardel's continued service to the American people and her steadfast pursuit of his national security priorities."

On Tuesday, the first lady's communications director, Stephanie Grisham, released a statement blasting Ricardel, saying she "no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House." Sanders, White House chief of staff John Kelly, and other administration officials were all shocked by the statement, CNN reports.

A person familiar with the situation said during Melania Trump's trip to Africa in October, Ricardel fought with her staff over several things, including who would sit where on the plane. Ricardel was a key ally of National Security Adviser John Bolton, but often clashed with Kelly and his deputy, Zach Fuentes, as well as Defense Secretary James Mattis. CNN reports that Kelly and Fuentes believe Ricardel leaked negative stories about them, and she angered Mattis by blocking some of his choices to fill Pentagon positions, because they were former Obama administration officials. Catherine Garcia

7:55p.m.

Lisa Storie-Avenatti, the wife of Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti, is refuting reports that she was involved in a domestic dispute that led to Avenatti's arrest Wednesday in Los Angeles.

TMZ first reported Avenatti's arrest on suspicion of domestic violence Wednesday afternoon, saying his estranged wife was injured and filed a report against him on Tuesday. Storie-Avenatti's lawyer quickly released a statement to BuzzFeed News, saying that the TMZ article "is not true as it pertains to my client." Storie-Avenatti "was not subject to any such incident on Tuesday night," the attorney said. "Further, she was not at Mr. Avenatti's apartment on the date that this alleged incident occurred. My client states that there has never been domestic violence in her relationship with Michael and that she has never know Michael to be physically violent toward anyone."

In an update to the original article, TMZ says initially a law enforcement official told the outlet the "alleged victim was Avenatti's estranged wife. We now know it was not. The incident involved a different woman." Avenatti filed for divorce last November. Catherine Garcia

7:17p.m.

President Trump on Wednesday announced he is in favor of a bipartisan proposal to rewrite the country's prison and sentencing laws.

"It's the right thing to do," he said during an event at the White House. Called the First Step Act, this tentative legislative package adds to a prison overhaul bill the House passed earlier this year. It includes shortening mandatory minimum sentences for some nonviolent drug offenses and changes the "three strikes" penalty from life in prison to 25 years, The New York Times reports. It will also roll back some of the federal policies from the 1980s and 1990s that disproportionately affect blacks and fund anti-recidivism programs.

Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is the biggest proponent of the package in the administration, and presented the deal to Trump on Tuesday. Trump urged Congress to agree to a final bill quickly so he can sign it. There are 2.2 million prisoners in the United States. Catherine Garcia

6:28p.m.

Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing adult film star Stormy Daniels in her case against President Trump, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of felony domestic violence.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department told The Hollywood Reporter a report about the alleged abuse was filed on Tuesday.

A law enforcement official told TMZ Avenatti's estranged wife filed the report, and her face was "swollen and bruised." The official also said there was a confrontation between the two on Wednesday, which led to the police getting involved. The couple married in 2011.

UPDATE, 7:39 p.m. EST: An attorney for Avenatti's wife, Lisa Storie-Avenatti, told BuzzFeed News that TMZ's story saying she was injured is false. "Ms. Storie-Avenatti was not subject to any such incident on Tuesday night," the attorney said in a statement, adding that she was also not at his apartment on Wednesday. "My client states that there has never been domestic violence in her relationship with Michael and that she has never known Michael to be physically violent toward anyone." Catherine Garcia

5:28p.m.

Every day, 20 Americans die waiting for an organ transplant.

Scientists have long tried xenotransplantation — using organs from other species in humans — to combat a short supply of organ donors, with little success. But this method is seemingly on the verge of a massive breakthrough, and it could provide "a definitive solution to the organ crisis," a transplant researcher tells The New York Times Magazine.

The first attempt at xenotransplantation came in 1984, when doctors replaced a newborn's failing heart with a baboon's. The baby lived less than three weeks, but the story inspired a new generation of xenotransplantation researchers who are focused less on primates and more on inbred, pathogen-free pigs, per the Times Magazine.

Given primates' long breeding cycles, using them to essentially create an organ farm wasn't sustainable. But pigs ordinarily have multiple piglets in less than four months, and they're "uncannily humanlike in organ size and function," the Times Magazine notes. The main xenotransplantation complication came from humans' and pigs' divergent immune systems, which meant a human would probably reject swine tissue.

That's where Columbia University immunologist David Sachs' pathogen-free swine farm comes in. Sachs' pigs are genetically engineered so their organs grow to "about the same size as a human's," the Times Magazine writes, and Sachs says they're "very likely the most inbred large animals on Earth." Those swine, combined with what scientists call "brute-force immunotherapy," could lead to success in the first "pig-to-human skin graft" slated for later this month. If it's successful, a full kidney replacement for dialysis patients will come next. Read more at The New York Times Magazine. Kathryn Krawczyk

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