November 29, 2018

"You know, today's the first day I actually thought Donald Trump might not finish his term in office," CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin told Anderson Cooper Thursday night, after a week of revelations about the Trump campaign and Russia. "Really?" Cooper asked. "I mean, I think this thing is enormous," Toobin said. He laid out a series of "preposterous" positions now being staked by President Trump, including that lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen negotiated Trump Organization deals in Russia for six months without telling Trump, that Trump and Roger Stone never discussed WikiLeaks, and that Don Jr. never talked to his father about the Trump Tower meeting with Kremlin-linked Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton.

"All of these are complementary to each other, and all of the stories that Trump is telling about them are preposterous," Toobin said. "And when you combine them all, the question becomes: When do Republicans start to turn on Trump? Because that's the only thing that's going to get Trump out of office, it's not going to be Democrats. And it's certainly not now, but there may be a point where it's too much."

Democratic strategist Paul Begala said he's "not there yet" on believing Trump won't finish out his term, because Trump needs to keep only 34 senators on his side and House Democrats say they won't impeach Trump unless Republicans ask them to. At the same time, he added, "I do worry, honestly, for our country that the president, this president, is too distracted, is too obsessed," and is "having a presidential panic attack" over Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. When he worked for Bill Clinton during the Whitewater investigation, Begala said, Clinton "found the work therapeutic, he would lose himself in the work."

Toobin also spells out the motive Cohen's plea deal reveals for Trump to make nice with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and you can watch that below. Peter Weber

10:41 p.m.

For the third night in a row, hundreds of people have surrounded police headquarters in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, protesting against the officer-involved shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man.

Some protesters have been throwing bottles and other objects at police officers, who in turn have deployed tear gas and flash bangs, the Star Tribune reports. A curfew will go into effect in Brooklyn Center at 10 p.m., and at 9 p.m., law enforcement declared the protest was an "unlawful assembly" and ordered the crowd to disperse.

Wright died on Sunday afternoon, after being shot during a traffic stop. On Monday, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon told reporters it appeared the officer, Kim Potter, meant to fire her Taser, but accidentally grabbed her gun. Both Gannon and Potter resigned on Tuesday. Catherine Garcia

9:47 p.m.

Nearly 25 years after 19-year-old college student Kristin Smart vanished while walking back to her dorm, a former classmate, Paul Flores, 44, has been charged with one count of murder in connection with her disappearance.

Flores' father, Ruben Ricardo Flores, 80, was also arrested on Tuesday and accused of helping his son dispose of Smart's remains.

Smart, a freshman at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, disappeared in May 1996 after attending a party. Witnesses said Paul Flores said he would make sure she made it safely back to her dorm, but Smart was never seen again. Classmates described Flores as awkward and unpopular, the Los Angeles Times reports, and during questioning from authorities, he admitted to lying about how he got a black eye. Investigators used search dogs and radar equipment to try to find Smart's body, but her remains have never been discovered. She was declared dead in 2002.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson told reporters on Tuesday that new evidence in the case was secured in 2016, and in 2019, after hearing a podcast about the Smart case, witnesses came forward and were interviewed for the first time by authorities. Search warrants were issued for the home of Flores, his father, his mother, and his sister, and during a second search of Flores' home, physical evidence "related to the murder of Kristin Smart" was found, Parkinson said.

An attorney for Paul Flores declined to comment, while an attorney for Ruben Flores told the Times his client is "absolutely innocent." Parkinson said police will continue to look for Smart's remains, and in a statement, her family said they hope the arrests of Paul and Ruben Flores will be "the first step to bringing our daughter home." Catherine Garcia

8:25 p.m.

Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector for Seminole County, Florida, has been providing information about the conduct of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) to federal investigators since last year, two people with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times on Tuesday.

In late March, the Times reported that Gaetz, 38, was the subject of a Justice Department investigation into whether he had sex with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her to travel out of state with him. The Times says the inquiry stemmed from an investigation into Greenberg, who has been charged with sex trafficking of a minor, stalking, and bribery.

People familiar with the matter told the Times that once Greenberg realized how much evidence the government had on him, he determined that in order to get leniency, he would need to start cooperating. He reportedly told investigators that he and Gaetz gave cash and gifts to women in exchange for sex.

During a hearing last week, Greenberg's lawyer and a federal prosecutor told the judge it's likely Greenberg will plead guilty sometime in the next few weeks. Following the hearing, Greenberg's attorney, Fritz Scheller, said, "I'm sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today." Gaetz spokesman Harlan Hill told the Times that Gaetz "has never paid for sex" and proposed that Greenberg is "trying to ensnare innocent people in his troubles." Catherine Garcia

6:59 p.m.

After nearly two weeks, the prosecution on Tuesday morning rested its case against former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, and the defense began calling its witnesses, including a former police trainer who said Chauvin was justified in using a prone restraint against George Floyd.

Chauvin, a 45-year-old white man and 19-year police veteran, is facing murder and manslaughter charges in the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed Black man who died while being arrested on suspicion of using a fake $20 bill. A bystander recorded the arrest, and the video shows Chauvin with his knee on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes.

The prosecution called to the stand several use-of-force experts, police officers, and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo to testify about Chauvin's actions during the arrest, with Arradondo saying he "absolutely" violated department policy, adding, "that is not what we teach."

One of the first witnesses the defense called on Tuesday, former police trainer Barry Brodd, testified that Floyd was resisting officers, and as such, Chauvin was justified in using a prone restraint. Officer Peter Chang, who responded to the scene of Floyd's arrest, also testified that the crowd gathered nearby was "very aggressive," and he was "concerned for the officers' safety, too."

The defense argument is that Floyd's underlying heart disease and the fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system led to his death, not having Chauvin's knee on his neck for more than nine minutes. Several prosecution witnesses testified earlier in the trial that Floyd died due to low oxygen levels, with cardiology expert Dr. Jonathan Rich asserting that it was "truly the prone restraint and positional restraints that led to his asphyxiation." Catherine Garcia

6:00 p.m.

Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) really doesn't like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a fact he made quite clear in his new book, On the House. Still, he probably doesn't mind the fact that his rival gave the publication some free promotion on Tuesday.

Cruz tweeted that someone dropped off a signed copy of the book at his office, seemingly as a prank, and he posted what is most likely a tongue-in-cheek picture of it sitting prominently in "the appropriate place" — the fireplace. Who says politicians don't have a sense of humor? Tim O'Donnell

5:17 p.m.

Could Idaho absorb eastern and rural Oregon? The short answer is almost certainly not, although Idaho's state lawmakers, at least, are listening.

On Monday, representatives from a group called Move Oregon's Border for a Greater Idaho pitched their plan to expand Idaho's border so that the state would include much of Oregon, save for the northwestern region, to members of the Idaho House and Senate, The Associated Press reports.

Basically, the idea is that Oregon's politics and culture are too deeply divided to co-exist. The division lies between liberal-leaning Portland and its surrounding area, and the rest of the state, which is more conservative. The proposal would leave college towns like Eugene and Corvallis, which lie south of Portland, remaining in Oregon. Idaho is a deep red state, so some folks outside of Portland's orbit would rather link up with their neighbors.

Idaho's legislature was interested in the presentation, per AP, but in all likelihood the strategy has little going for it. Even if Idaho agreed, Oregon's legislature and the U.S. Congress would also to have sign off, both of which are long shots, to put it mildly.

The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof, an Oregonian, is definitely not a fan of the proposal, though he did joke that he'd be okay with an expansion if the roles flipped. Tim O'Donnell

5:16 p.m.

Justin Bieber and Hailey Bieber sure seem like couple goals today — though they've been endearingly honest about getting on each other's nerves at times.

In a new interview for GQ, though, Bieber, 27, admitted that "the first year of marriage was really tough … There was just a lack of trust. There was all these things that you don't want to admit to the person that you're with, because it's scary."

Bieber described himself as initially being a husband "on eggshells" when he got married at 24, but now "we're just creating these moments for us as a couple, as a family, that we're building these memories. And it's beautiful that we have that to look forward to."

As for kids? "Not this second, but we will eventually." Read more at GQ. Jeva Lange

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