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November 30, 2018

Early Friday, tweeting from Argentina, President Trump laid out a breezy new version of his interactions with Russia during the 2016 presidential election, following revelations from longtime lawyer Michael Cohen that Trump's company was negotiating the construction of a Trump Tower Moscow until mid-June 2016, that Cohen had updated him regularly on the progress of those talks, and reports that Cohen had proposed to Kremlin officials gifting Russian President Vladimir Putin a $50 million penthouse in the building.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Trump had denied having any business dealings with Russia; on Thursday afternoon, he claimed Cohen is lying but said "there would have been nothing wrong if I did do it," because "when I'm running for president, that doesn't mean I'm not allowed to do business." Trump elaborated in his new tweets:

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation will probably eventually show how much of Trump's new story is true. But it certainly seems false that he talked about exploring deals with Russia on the campaign trail. This is from his second debate with Hillary Clinton:

Negotiating with Russia probably was "very legal." Keeping it secret? Not "very cool." Peter Weber

2:28 a.m.

Former White House Counsel Don McGahn isn't the only person who told Special Counsel Robert Mueller that President Trump unsuccessfully directed him to quash Mueller's investigation. According to Mueller's report, former Trump campaign manager and Trump "devotee" Corey Lewandowski also described at least two episodes in which Trump directed him to tell Attorney General Jeff Sessions to "unrecuse" himself and hamstring Mueller, or else.

"Through a combination of missed opportunities and personal hesitation, Lewandowski never executed Trump's demand," The Washington Post recounts. "But the roughly month-long period in the summer of 2017 depicted in Mueller's report details repeated and escalating efforts by the president to stymie the Russia probe."

The timeline laid out in Mueller's report goes like this: On June 14, 2017, The Washington Post reported that Mueller was investigating Trump for obstruction of justice. Three days later, Trump called McGahn and told him "Mueller has to go"; McGahn refused to fire him. On June 19, Trump invited Lewandowski, then a lobbyist, to the Oval Office and told him to dictate a message for Sessions, who was to say publicly that Trump "hasn't done anything wrong" and he was limiting Mueller to "investigating election meddling for future elections."

Lewandowski set up a June 20 meeting with Sessions, Sessions had to cancel, and Lewandowski decided to have a White House official, Rick Dearborn, deliver the message to Sessions, his old boss. At a second one-on-one Oval Office meeting July 19, Trump again told Lewandowski to deliver his message to Sessions, and fire Sessions if he refused to comply; Lewandowski then handed Trump's message to Dearborn, and Dearborn, similarly uncomfortable, discarded the notes without delivering them. Multiple people corroborated parts of this account.

The Post explored whether this episode constituted prosecutable obstruction of justice; a former federal prosecutor said yes, an unidentified senior Justice Department official said no, not technically. Read the opposing opinions, more details about the Trump-Lewandowski interactions, and a concise explainer on obstruction at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

1:46 a.m.

If Paul Rudd and Jimmy Fallon ever decide to switch careers, they could make it as a Dead or Alive cover band.

Rudd stopped by The Tonight Show Thursday, and the pair decided it was as good a time as any to recreate the music video for the '80s classic "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)." It was a shot-for-shot remake, with Rudd donning a black wig and eye patch, just like Dead or Alive's late singer Pete Burns.

Rudd was able to perfectly mimic Burns' frenetic mannerisms, and tried hard to match his booming voice. As for Fallon, he was content playing Rudd's red-headed, flag-waving sidekick. Watch the pair in all their '80s glory in the video below. Catherine Garcia

12:59 a.m.

President Trump revealed on Thursday night that he's "rooting for" Pete Buttigieg to win the 2020 Democratic primary, and he didn't even follow that up with something rude.

While appearing on Fox News, Trump was asked by host Sean Hannity what he thinks about the crowded Democratic field. He had harsh words for some of the candidates, but none for Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. "I'm rooting for him," Trump said. While he did add that he doesn't think Buttigieg will win the primary, he's hopeful he'll eke out a win. Trump didn't say why he's pro-Buttigieg, who would be running against him if he wins the primary, and also didn't comment on Buttigieg's polite war of words with Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump, who has a history of assessing candidates based on their energy levels, said he's dubbed former Vice President Joe Biden "Sleepy Joe," because apparently he's "a pretty sleepy guy." Trump doesn't think Biden has the stamina to keep up with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has "got a lot of energy," it's "misguided," he said.

As for Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), she appears to have "a little bit of a nasty wit," Trump said, while Beto O'Rourke, despite being "a hot item for a while," is now "fading very fast." Catherine Garcia

April 25, 2019

During a rambling interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday night, President Trump described Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation as "an attempted overthrow of the United States government."

Trump repeatedly said he was the victim of unscrupulous Democrats who perpetrated "the greatest political scandal in the history of our country." This is "bigger than Watergate," he told Hannity. "This was a coup. This wasn't stealing information from an office in the Watergate apartments. This was an attempted coup. Like a third-world country. Inconceivable."

Without getting into any specifics, Trump also said there is "a lot of information" coming out that has "a lot of people very nervous about what's going on," alluding to a forthcoming report on the Department of Justice by Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Catherine Garcia

April 25, 2019

"People don't just love Joe Biden because he's a down-to-earth, everyday man — no, people love him because he's an adorable goofball," Trevor Noah said on Thursday's Daily Show, hours after Biden officially entered the 2020 presidential race. "In fact, the only thing that spends more time in Biden's mouth than those perfect teeth is his own foot." He played some ... highlights? Unlike former President Barack Obama's famously deliberate speaking style, Noah said, "when Biden talks, his brain just hits 'I'm feeling lucky,' and the first result comes out of his mouth."

Noah ran through some of Biden's "major accomplishments" in Washington, including that he "was so good at getting stuff done, he even found a way to work with Mitch McConnell. And they probably got along because Mitch was the only person Biden wouldn't give a massage to." At the same time, "anyone who's been around that long is also gonna have some baggage," he said. "And Biden? Oh man, he's got enough baggage to fill a whole Amtrak car." He ran through some of that, too.

"So on the downside, Joe Biden got a lot of things wrong back in the day," Noah said. "But on the upside, he managed to grow his hair back," and despite his past missteps, he's considered a serious contender in the Democratic race, partly because of "how progressive he has become and partly because of how good he is at getting under Trump's skin." Watch through to the end to see an enactment of Biden and President Trump throwing down on the debate stage. Peter Weber

April 25, 2019

University of Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray was chosen by the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night as the first pick of the National Football League college draft.

Last season, Murray threw for 54 touchdowns and won the Heisman Trophy, and during his university's pro day in March, he completed 61 of 67 passes.

Murray is also a baseball star, and signed a $4.6 million contract in 2018 with the Oakland Athletics; he was the ninth pick in the Major League Baseball draft. Now that Murray is choosing football over baseball, he forfeited his salary and will return most of the $1.5 million bonus he received from the Athletics. Catherine Garcia

April 25, 2019

A federal judge in Yakima, Washington, granted a nationwide injunction Thursday blocking the Trump administration's new rules prohibiting federally funded health care providers from referring patients for abortions.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced the policy earlier this year. Already, groups receiving money under the Title X program are not allowed to perform abortions with that funding. The new rules would have hit low-income Americans who use Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of reproductive health services in the U.S., especially hard.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Stanley Bastian wrote that the restrictions reverse "long-standing positions of the department without proper consideration of sound medical opinions and the economic and non-economic consequences," and the Department of Health and Human Services offered "no reasoned analysis" for changing the rules. He also said the challengers, including the state of Washington and the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, demonstrated that the rule "likely violates the central purpose of Title X, which is to equalize access to comprehensive, evidence-based, and voluntary family planning." Catherine Garcia

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