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November 7, 2018

The midterm elections may be over, but President Trump still has one very surprising endorsement.

Even before Democrats reclaimed the House of Representatives Tuesday night, some congressional newcomers had indicated they wouldn't elevate House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) to her old spot as House speaker. But in a Wednesday morning tweet, Trump declared Pelosi "deserves to be chosen Speaker of the House by the Democrats." And if "they give her a hard time," Trump suggested he may push some Republican members of Congress to vote for Pelosi too.

Before the midterms, Pelosi maintained that she'd run for House speaker again if Democrats reclaimed the House. After that victory was imminent Tuesday night, Pelosi celebrated what she called "a new day in America" and said she'd only push to impeach the president if Republicans want to. She and Trump are still obvious political rivals, but Trump did call to congratulate her on a House victory last night, and Pelosi has cut a few deals with Trump over the past two years of his presidency. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:52 a.m.

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller will testify publicly before House lawmakers for five hours on Wednesday, and the TV networks are promising blanket coverage. Will President Trump be watching? "No, I'm not going to be watching, probably," he told reporters Monday. "Maybe I'll see a little bit of it."

Trump and his aides are pre-emptively dismissing the hearings as old sour grapes, The New York Times notes, but "Trump's history of remaining glued to television news — especially when the coverage is about him — suggests that he is certain to be tuned in as Democrats on Capitol Hill use Mr. Mueller's appearance to amplify the damning report about the president and the people in his orbit."

Trump's approach to Mueller's report and upcoming testimony "reminds us of the line from the opening of Annie Hall," Glenn Kessler and Meg Kelly write at The Washington Post. "Two women are eating at a Catskills resort, and one says, 'The food at this place is really terrible.' The other replies, 'I know, and such small portions."' Trump has "spoken or tweeted about Mueller more than 300 times during his presidency," they add, and he appears to view Mueller's report as "both an exoneration and a source of bitter complaints," hailing "some of the report's findings — usually by mischaracterizing them — while denouncing its other conclusions."

This is the media's rare chance "to correct a serious wrong" from it's "gullible" coverage of Attorney General William Barr's slanted recap of Mueller's report, which "essentially transmitted to the public — especially in all-important headlines and cable-news bulletins — what President Trump desperately wanted as the takeaway: No collusion; no obstruction," the Post's Margaret Sullivan argues. "Many Americans have made up their minds already about Mueller's findings," but "there is an opportunity here to remove a false, cartoon version of Mueller's investigation and to substitute a well-rendered portrait of a subject that could hardly be more important to the country." Peter Weber

4:48 a.m.

President Trump placed 14th in an annual survey of the world's most admired men, far behind top pick Bill Gates and No. 2 Barack Obama, Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday's Kimmel Live. But "this might boost the president's admirability factor: Over the weekend, he involved himself in a high-profile legal battle with authorities in Sweden. Trump is using his clout to try to secure the release of A$AP Rocky, the rapper, who was arrested after a street fight — not a joke — in Stockholm a few weeks ago."

Trump got involved at the behest of Kim and Kanye West, and "I feel like we don't fully appreciate how weird it is that Kim and Kanye have a direct line to the president," Kimmel said. Trump even offered to "personally vouch for his bail," which Kimmel translated as "a long-winded way of saying 'See, I'm not a racist!'" He turned to Trump's most recent attacks on "the Squad" of four Democratic congresswomen, in case you were persuaded.

The Daily Show's Trevor Noah, for one, found Trump's comments on intervening to free A$AP Rocky a little rich. "That's right, folks, we're all one," he said in Trump voice. "And anyone who doesn't agree with that can go back to their sh-thhole country. Send her back!"

"This is one of those moments where I genuinely cannot believe that we're living in real life," Noah said. "Listen to the story: Donald Trump, who is the president of the United States, got a call from his friend Kanye West to save a rapper from a Swedish prison. This sounds like a headline written by a newspaper on LSD." Still, things should have gotten better here, "but just like Melania, it turns out Sweden appears to be immune to Trump's charms," he said. "Sweden is saying that in their country, a president can't interfere with an ongoing investigation. Imagine how hard it must have been to try to explain that too Donald Trump." Watch below. Peter Weber

3:20 a.m.

The police chief of Grenta, Louisiana, announced Monday that he had fired two police officers for violating the department's social media policy. One of the fired officers, Charlie Rispoli, posted on Facebook a parody news story about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) with the comment: "This vile idiot needs a round ... and I don't mean the kind she used to serve." Ocasio-Cortez, a former bartender, has "the IQ of a Chiclet," he added, according to a screenshot of Rispoli's post captured by The New Orleans Advocate. Grenta is a city of about 18,000 outside New Orleans.

The second fired officer, Angelo Varisco, "liked" Rispoli's post, said Grenta Police Chief Arthur Lawson. It's not clear if either officer understood that the linked article was fake, even though it identified itself as a parody site. The entire incident "has been an embarrassment" to his department, Lawson added. "These officers have certainly acted in a manner which was unprofessional, alluding to a violent act to be conducted against a sitting U.S. (congresswoman), a member of our government," and although he did not believe they made a credible threat, both officers had signed the department's social media policy and been warned about such posts.

Ripoli posted his perceived threat on Ocasio-Cortez amid President Trump's repeated attacks on her and three fellow Democratic freshmen congresswomen. On Monday, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that the Grenta incident "is Trump's goal when he uses targeted language & threatens elected officials who don't agree w/ his political agenda. It's authoritarian behavior."

In recent weeks, a series of reports have also shone a spotlight on racist, violent, and misogynistic posts by law enforcement. The nonprofit Plain View Project found such posts on the accounts of 3,500 current and former police officers in eight departments, and Philadelphia has suspended 72 of them, 13 of whom are slated to be fired. Lawson said he had sent all his officers new articles on those 72 Philadelphia Police officers. Peter Weber

2:03 a.m.

Venezuela has once again been plunged into darkness, with a massive blackout leaving most of the country without electricity.

It is believed 19 of 24 states are affected, with the blackout hitting Caracas during rush hour Monday night, shutting down the subway system and causing heavy traffic jams. Government authorities claim the opposition conducted an "electromagnetic attack" against dams in southern Venezuela; during a huge blackout in March, President Nicolás Maduro blamed the U.S., accusing the country of sponsoring an attack on Guri Dam, which provides nearly 80 percent of Venezuela's electricity.

Venezuela is experiencing food and medicine shortages and extreme inflation, and opposition leader Juan Guaidó has called for protests across the country on Tuesday. Guaidó and other opponents say blackouts are proof Maduro has not invested in the country's infrastructure, and its electrical grid is in serious jeopardy. Catherine Garcia

1:42 a.m.

"Today we got a disturbing reminder" of what it means that Donald Trump is president, Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show, when Trump told Pakistan's prime minister he could win a war in Afghanistan in a week, but he'd kill 10 million people and "Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth." Yeah, "where's my Nobel Peace Prize?" Colbert added in Trump voice, after showing the clip. "Or at least my Nobel I-Could-Have-Killed-10-Million-People-But-I-Didn't Prize."

Trump also bragged about how he's "the best thing" that's ever happened to protest-fueled Puerto Rico. "Excuse me, 'the best thing'?" Colbert protested. "I've got two words for you: Ricky Martin. You, sir, are living La Vida Loca." He tied it back to Afghanistan with Trump's comment he could probably land a plan on America's new aircraft carrier. Watch below. Peter Weber

1:36 a.m.

South Korean fighter jets fired warning shots on Tuesday morning when a Russian military aircraft twice violated the country's airspace, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The Russian aircraft flew over an island off South Korea's eastern coast at 9:09 a.m. and 9:33 a.m. local time, each time for a few minutes, CNN reports. The Ministry of Defense said this was the first time Russia has ever violated South Korean airspace, and the shots were fired using a 20mm weapon. This all took place over Dokdo, islands that South Korea controls but have been claimed by Japan.

Earlier in the morning, two Chinese military aircraft entered South Korea's Air Defense Identification Zone, and were later joined by two Russian planes. It remains unclear if the jets purposely entered the airspace. Catherine Garcia

1:10 a.m.

The skills he learned as a firefighter emergency medical technician in the U.S. Air Force often come in handy as James Golia volunteers with the Sea Lions for Service Members program.

Golia served in the Air Force for 20 years, and lost track of how many times he was deployed to places like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Now retired, Golia was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, and a military friend recommended he volunteer with the Pacific Marine Mammal Center's Sea Lions for Service Members program. The facility is in Laguna Beach, California, and rescues injured marine mammals, who are then rehabilitated and released back into the ocean.

Volunteers do everything from feed the sea lions to clean out their pens. Golia originally planned on only helping out one day, but immediately fell in love with the work, and now volunteers once a week. The program's organizers say the veterans are able to empathize with the injured animals, and it encourages them, showing what can be done via rehabilitation. Golia told NBC Los Angeles he considers the time he spends at the center his therapy, and it has made him a different person. "Sometimes in life, a person should feel compelled to give back, and I'm doing just that," he said. Catherine Garcia

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