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November 5, 2018

With the race between Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and his challenger, Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), appearing to tighten in the home stretch, both Cruz and O'Rourke hit the road on the final weekend before Election Day. In early voting, which ended Friday, nearly 40 percent of voters cast ballots in the 30 counties where 78 percent of Texas registered voters live, less than the 45 percent who voted early in 2016 but a larger percentage than in 2014 (19 percent) — a total of 34 percent of Texans voted in 2014 — and 2012.

O'Rourke released his closing campaign ad Sunday night, emphasizing that he has driven to all 254 Texas counties and, incidentally, shared a stage with Willie Nelson, whose "On the Road Again" provides the soundtrack for the ad. As with all O'Rourke ads, it is upbeat and talks a lot about Texas.

The Cruz campaign released a video Sunday featuring a group of young or ethnically diverse people talking about how they are no longer Democrats and now back Cruz, but his final ad touches on school vouchers, border security, tax cuts, and Texas.

It's not clear O'Rourke's novel road-trip model through every county in Texas will be enough to offset Cruz's advantage in rural areas — Politico's Tim Alberta is already explaining why O'Rourke failed to unseat Cruz. But as actor Sonny Carl Davis ("Come on, Ted") notes in this ad from an anti-Cruz PAC, Cruz visited all 99 counties in Iowa, and that was enough for him to win the 2016 Iowa causes. Peter Weber

12:28 a.m.

America's sharp polarization over President Trump has, fairly or unfairly, become incarnate in the marriage of George and Kellyanne Conway — a conservative lawyer who uses Twitter to vent about his disappointments with Trump and concerns about the president's mental health, on one hand, and Trump's senior counselor and most steadfast defender on cable news. The Conways had predictably different takeaways from Attorney General Robert Barr's four-page summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's final report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and any wrongdoing by the Trump campaign.

George Conway focused on the part of Barr's report that quotes Mueller as explicitly saying his report "does not exonerate" Trump of criminal obstruction of justice, suggesting that maybe America should have a higher bar for the presidency.

Kellyanne Conway ignored the part of the letter that explicitly did not exonerate Trump and focused instead on Mueller finding insufficient evidence to conclude Trump or his campaign colluded or conspired with the Russian government. In that sense, Mueller's unreleased report was "a gift for the 2020 election," Conway wrote, under a photo of Trump with his arm around her waist.

Former FBI Director James Comey, who appears to be living his best life, is focusing on nature and reserving judgment about Mueller's report.

Hopefully, the Conways get opportunities to set work aside for a salubrious walk in the woods, too. Peter Weber

12:28 a.m.

Jordan Peele's sophomore film, the horror flick Us, had a stunning opening weekend, bringing in an estimated $70.3 million in North American ticket sales.

The movie, which cost $20 million to make, soared above debut weekend forecasts of $38 to $45 million. Us had not only the largest debut for an original horror movie, but also one of the biggest openings for a live-action original film since Avatar came out in 2009.

Peele's directorial debut, 2017's Get Out, brought in $33.4 million in its domestic opening weekend. Captain Marvel, having spent the last two weeks at the top of the box office, fell to second place, with $35 million in ticket sales. Catherine Garcia

March 24, 2019

An election researcher in Florida found that 15 percent of mail-in ballots sent in for the midterm election by Parkland residents between the ages of 18 and 21 were not counted, exceeding the statewide average, The Washington Post reports.

A shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in February 2018 killed 17 people, and students there quickly organized, calling for stricter gun laws and holding the March for Our Lives demonstration in Washington, D.C.

Daniel A. Smith, chairman of the political science department at the University of Florida, looked at Florida's open-source voting file, and determined that about 1 in 7 mail-in ballots submitted by college-age voters in Parkland were not counted, because they either didn't arrive in time or were rejected for reasons like not having a signature that exactly matched voting records. Looking at all Florida voters between 18 and 21, Smith found about 5.4 percent of mail-in ballots went uncounted. For all ages, the statewide average of rejected or uncounted mail-in ballots was 1.2 percent, Smith told the Post.

"If you are voting in Florida, and you are young in Florida, you have a good chance of your ballot not being accepted," Smith said. "Imagine going to the ATM and every 10 times you go, instead of spitting out your money, they take it or they lose it." From February 2018 to Election Day, about 250 Parkland residents between the ages of 18 and 21 registered to vote, Smith said, and more than half voted in November, which is an unusually strong turnout of young voters during a midterm election, he told the Post. For more about Florida's highly scrutinized electoral system and the Parkland students upset that their votes weren't counted, visit The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

March 24, 2019

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement from the NFL on Sunday, saying on Instagram he's "so grateful" for the time he spent on the team.

Gronkowski, 29, played nine seasons with the Patriots, and he thanked his teammates, fans, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and Coach Bill Belichick for their support. "Now it's time to move forward and move forward with a big smile knowing that the New England Patriots Organization, Pats Nation, and all my fans will truly be a part of my heart for [the] rest of my life," he said. A person with knowledge of the matter told ESPN that Gronkowski told Kraft about his decision in a phone call Sunday.

Quarterback Tom Brady praised Gronkowski on Instagram, calling it an "honor and privilege" to play with him. "You accomplished so much and our team was almost unbeatable when you were on the field!" he said. Gronkowski played 115 regular season games, with 521 receptions for 17,861 yards, and 16 playoff games, with 81 receptions for 1,163 yards and 12 touchdowns, records for a tight end. Catherine Garcia

March 24, 2019

After Attorney General William Barr's summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report was released on Sunday, MSNBC's Ari Melber noticed something interesting.

"This is four pages and there's not a single full sentence in here that's quoted the Mueller report," he said. "Every quote from the Mueller report itself is a partial sentence." Many of those partial sentences, like the one saying it was not established that "members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities," are "quite important," Melber said, but it's "really striking that Barr basically said, 'I'm going to do this through the weekend. Mueller spent 22 months on it. I can do it in under 48 hours, and go beyond the Mueller report's findings.'"

Barr, Melber said, is "relaying one finding on no election collusion/conspiracy. That's big, and then he's going beyond the other finding that there is evidence of obstruction. The president is not exonerated, but he's also not accused of a crime, and the House is where that would usually be dealt with." The House, he continued, is "kind of being muscled out in an attempt by the new attorney general to say, 'I'm gonna issue my own conclusion on that,' and he's dong that with these four partial sentences."

It doesn't take a lawyer or a Washington insider to start wondering if "these four sentences, partial, are the very best [Barr] could find in the entire Mueller report about Donald Trump, and they are what's in the early letter," Melber said. Watch the clip below. Catherine Garcia

March 24, 2019

Not long after the news alerts were sent out about Attorney General William Barr sending his summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report to Congress, another email landed in the inboxes of President Trump's supporters, this one asking for money.

With the subject line "NO COLLUSION OR OBSTRUCTION," the Trump fundraising email states that as long as donors give $5 or more "by 11:59 p.m. TONIGHT," their gift will be "QUADRUPLE MATCHED," The Guardian's Ben Jacobs reports. It starts with a false statement — that Mueller's report is a "COMPLETE EXONERATION" — and blasts Democrats, accusing them of working with "the Fake News Media for 2 years orchestrating this Nasty Witch Hunt."

Trump needs money in order to "fight back BIGGER AND BETTER THAN EVER BEFORE," and that's why he is offering the quadruple match "for my best supporters only, the ones who stood by my side through the entire Witch Hunt." Everyone who donates through this solicitation will be placed on a list, which the email states will be delivered to Trump by his campaign team. Catherine Garcia

March 24, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team considered issuing a subpoena for President Trump to be interviewed, and discussed this with Department of Justice officials, a person with knowledge of the matter told CNN on Sunday.

They ultimately decided not to pursue a subpoena "based on the perception of the evidence and merits of the issues," CNN reports. Mueller's office spent months trying to get Trump to sit down for an interview, and finally submitted written questions to Trump last fall, asking him about things that happened prior to the 2016 election. He responded in November.

Mueller submitted his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election on Friday, and on Sunday, Attorney General William Barr sent a short letter to Congress giving his interpretation of the findings, saying Mueller did not find the Trump campaign colluded with Russia and he could not make a decision on whether Trump obstructed justice. Catherine Garcia

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