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October 10, 2018

Rod Rosenstein may not be out of the woods just yet.

A new report from The Washington Post indicates that Rosenstein's apparent suggestion in 2017 that he secretly record President Trump was actually taken quite seriously at the time. After reports emerged last month that Rosenstein made this comment, some suggested he was just being sarcastic. Indeed, that was the defense Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani offered to The Washington Post this week.

But according to the new report, Rosenstein's idea wasn't seen as a joke by Andrew McCabe, then-acting FBI director, who immediately took it to the FBI's top lawyer, James Baker. And now, The Washington Post reports Baker told congressional investigators last week that Rosenstein's comments were presented to him as being serious by senior FBI officials, although he was not personally at the meeting where the comments were made. While Baker reportedly said that Rosenstein wasn't making an official request, he was still "very serious."

After The New York Times originally reported on Rosenstein's 2017 comments, the deputy attorney general apparently went to the White House expecting to be fired, and reports emerged that he had offered to resign. He ended up staying in his job and met with Trump for 30 minutes on Monday, after which Trump said he had no plans to fire him.

According to The Washington Post, Trump's advisers have warned him not to fire Rosenstein until after the midterms, as it would create the impression that he is trying to obstruct justice seeing as Rosenstein oversees Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. Whether Trump will keep Rosenstein around after the midterms remains to be seen. Brendan Morrow

6:03 p.m.

A member of the jury from the Brooklyn-based trial of Sinaloan cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán told Vice News about their experience with the widely publicized case, detailing a daily routine that was rife with both excitement and a constant state of fear.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing," the juror, whose identity was withheld, said. "This is the case of the century. Do I want to live it … or do I want to watch it on the screen?"

The juror told Vice News that, while the 12 members were able to return to their homes every night, they had to meet at secret locations every morning and, in teams of five, hop into vans driven by U.S. Marshals to ensure their protection.

Initially, the juror said, the jury stuck to Judge Brian Cogan's orders to refrain from speaking about the case or following it on the news or social media. But curiosity eventually got the better of some members, who would whisper with each other about the next steps of the case during the ride home and follow what reporters were tweeting.

The Vice News report and the apparent violations of the judge's orders garnered a response from Guzmán's legal team, sparking speculation that they could appeal for a new trial, USA Today reported. Guzmán was found guilty last week on 10 counts that included narcotics trafficking.

"More disturbing is the revelation that the jury may have lied to the court and had seen some deeply prejudicial, uncorroborated and inadmissible allegations against Mr. Guzmán on the eve of the beginning of jury deliberations," Jeffrey Lichtman, one of Guzman's defense attorneys, wrote in an email to Law & Crime. "Above all, Joaquín Guzmán deserved a fair trial."

The juror told Vice News, however, that the conversations and media exposure did not change anyone's mind. Tim O'Donnell

4:24 p.m.

There's apparently a wide swath of cell phone users begging to be confused by a baffling array of camera lens options, and Samsung's got the market cornered.

Samsung put on a literal show on Wednesday, streaming the unveiling of its newest line of smartphones online for the world to see. The most startling new development in its line is the Galaxy Fold, a smartphone that literally folds into a tablet and back again, which would allow the user to view three apps at once, which is nothing compared to the Fold's six — yes, six — built-in cameras.

It is not, apparently, the first foldable smartphone produced, but it is expected to be the first made widely available when it hits shelves on April 26, per The Verge. And while some of the features may seem gratuitous, particularly the $1,980 price tag, Bloomberg reported that the Fold represents "a leap that rivals the category shifts not seen since smartphones took off with a broad audience more than a decade ago." For prolific amateur photographers, snap-happy tourists, and angle-working selfie lovers alike, the innovation may be welcome news. Tim O'Donnell

4:01 p.m.

A woman who left America four years ago to join ISIS won't be allowed back into the country, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday.

In 2014, Hoda Muthana left her family in Alabama to marry an ISIS fighter in Syria. Now a widow living in a refugee camp, Muthana told The Guardian earlier this week she "deeply regret[s]" her decision and asked to come back and face the American justice system. But in contrast to what a lawyer for Muthana's family claimed, Pompeo said on Tuesday that Muthana is "not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States."

The Muthana family's lawyer countered Pompeo's statement, telling The Associated Press Muthana was born in New Jersey. Muthana was a student at the University of Alabama when she flew to the Middle East, telling her family she was going on a school trip, per CBS News. Instead, she married an ISIS fighter and had a son. "I know I've ruined my future and my son's future," she told The Guardian when asking for a chance to return.

Muthana is one of about 1,500 women and children are staying at the north Syrian refugee camp, and The Guardian says she's probably the only American. A British citizen and "ISIS bride" similarly tried to return home, but the U.K. revoked her citizenship on Tuesday, AP reports. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:56 p.m.

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is apparently a new correspondent for Extra, and he's making his debut by ... chatting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about Bohemian Rhapsody.

That is not a Mad Libs but rather a real description of events that happened Wednesday, when Extra teased a clip from an upcoming interview with Pompeo. It's conducted by Spicer, who Extra casually dubs their "special D.C. correspondent." Spicer hit Pomepo with a hard-hitting question to start, asking what he listens to on iTunes — Pompeo named AC/DC and Toby Keith. His wife, Susan, added that he's a big fan of Queen, though, so much so that they saw Bohemian Rhapsody opening weekend.

This led to a conversation about the Oscars. President Trump may think the Academy Awards are "a sad joke," but Pompeo apparently watches them every year and will even make sure he can do so during his flight this Sunday. And what's his pick for Best Picture? While Susan mentioned that they saw A Star Is Born, the secretary of state threw his weight behind Bohemian Rhapsody, which he "loved." The Queen biopic has been criticized for a wide variety of reasons, including its minimization of Freddie Mercury's sexuality, although considering Pompeo has suggested homosexuality is a "perversion," perhaps that wasn't a concern.

Watch the clip below. Brendan Morrow

3:49 p.m.

Several Democratic members of Congress are preemptively pushing back on Attorney General William Barr's handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's final report.

Barr could reportedly announce the completion of Mueller's probe "as early as next week," bringing the investigation into whether President Trump's campaign was involved with Russian election interference to a close. But he will reportedly withhold the majority of the findings, and will instead only provide Congress with a summary.

House Democrats have already launched an effort to combat that. Appearing on CNN, Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) said that “the full report needs to be available — not just to Congress — but the American public." He added that Congress will need to hold its own public hearings based on the report.

Some of Garamendi's Democratic colleagues have already taken to Twitter to echo the demand, including Reps. Gwen Moore (Wisc.), Shiela Jackson Lee (Texas), and Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.).

President Trump himself weighed in on the matter, insisting that the timing and manner of the report's release "will be totally up to the Attorney General."

The timing of the announcement has also stirred a reaction, with some speculating that Barr (who has criticized the Mueller investigation in the past) might be shutting the special counsel's office down prematurely. Tim O'Donnell

3:15 p.m.

Jussie Smollett is not being written out of Empire, 20th Century Fox says.

Fox said in a statement Wednesday that Smollett "continues to be a consummate professional on set," and the network reiterated that he's "not being written out of the show." This followed reports from Deadline and TMZ that Smollett was having his role on Empire reduced. When these reports first emerged, Fox declined to comment.

Still, the original reports did not exactly claim that Smollett was being written out of the series entirely. Rather, the reporting was that his role was being minimized, with TMZ saying that scenes focused on Smollett were being cut but that the actor would still have a presence in ensemble scenes.

These questions about Smollett's future come as questions emerge about his claims that he was the victim of a hate crime last month. CNN has reported that Chicago police believe he paid two men to assault him, while Smollett continues to deny these claims. Brendan Morrow

2:53 p.m.

Dutch historian Rutger Bregman rose to progressive stardom last month when he declared the wealthy need to face higher taxes — right in front of those wealthy people at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Fox News' Tucker Carlson later interviewed Bregman about his Davos discussion. Things didn't exactly go well.

Carlson's interview with Bregman started out civil, with Carlson even saying, "If I was wearing a hat, I'd take it off for you." That's because Bregman brought up what he called Davos attendees' "hypocritical" avoidance of wealth taxes — something Carlson compared to billionaires "flying private" on carbon-spewing planes "to talk about global warming." Carlson even remained calm as Bregman pointed out that Fox News, like those billionaires, isn't considering higher taxes for the rich a "mainstream" idea.

But when Bregman brought up Fox News' billionaire owner Rupert Murdoch and suggested Carlson himself has "been taking ... dirty money" from the "Koch billionaires," things got heated. Carlson called Bregman a "tiny brain" and "moron," and told him to "go f--k yourself" after Bregman said that he was a "millionaire funded by billionaires" and told him he was "part of the problem."

After the interview was recorded, Bregman tweeted that he got an email from Carlson telling him it wouldn't air — along with a couple more insults. Check that out below. Kathryn Krawczyk

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