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December 5, 2018

USA Gymnastics, facing 100 lawsuits from victims of former team doctor Larry Nassar, filed bankruptcy on Wednesday.

Nassar was sentenced to 125 years in prison earlier this year after he pleaded guilty to molesting 10 girls. The new chairwoman of the USA Gymnastics board of directors, Kathryn Carson, said the organization owes it to survivors "to resolve, fully and finally, claims based on the horrific acts of the past and, through this process, seek to expedite resolution and help them move forward." The claims will be covered by insurance, but USA Gymnastics, which has lost several major sponsors, says it has "no other significant assets" to cover other expenses.

John Manly, an attorney representing 180 women who say Nassar sexually abused them, told NBC News that by filing for bankruptcy, USA Gymnastics is able to block the effort to "discover the truth about who at USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee knew about Nassar's criminal conduct and failed to stop it. The leadership of USA Gymnastics has proven itself to be both morally and financially bankrupt. They have inflicted and continue to inflict unimaginable pain on survivors and their families." Catherine Garcia

6:06 a.m.

A federal three-judge panel ruled unanimously Thursday that Michigan's map of congressional and state legislative districts was unfairly drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature to give the GOP "a strong, systematic, and durable structural advantage in Michigan's elections and decidedly discriminates against Democrats."

The judges gave the GOP legislature until Aug. 1 to draw new maps acceptable to the state's new Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer. If they fail, or the map still violates the First Amendment rights of Democrats, the court will draw the new maps. The new districts must be ready by the 2020 election, the court found, and it ordered new state Senate elections in 2020, not 2022 as scheduled, in any gerrymandered district. A majority of Michigan's 14 congressional elections could be held in new districts next year, too.

"This court joins the growing chorus of federal courts that have, in recent years, held that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional," the judges wrote in their opinion. The case was brought by the League of Women Voters of Michigan. State GOP lawmakers said they will appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, which may choose to suspend it until the high court hands down rulings on two other partisan gerrymandering cases in June.

"The decision is likely a boon for Democrats, who in 2018 failed to win a majority of the seats in the state House of Representatives, state Senate, or the state's U.S. congressional delegation despite winning the overall popular vote in all three cases," Reuters notes. Peter Weber

5:24 a.m.

The Murdoch family recently jettisoned its entertainment business by selling it to Disney for $71 billion, and that left Fox Corp. chief Lachlan Muchoch free of the liberal entertainment TV producers leading "a nascent rebellion" about Fox News' cheerleading for President Trump, Gabriel Sherman writes in May's Vanity Fair. "But for Lachlan and Fox, the Trump dissonance didn't end post-Disney deal — in some ways, it's even gotten worse."

First, the view that Fox News has become "an arm of the Trump White House" is increasingly widespread, and the network's journalists are bristling at the "right-wing, prime-time hosts" they hold responsible, Sherman reports. The pro-Trump pundits — Sean Hannity, Fox & Friends, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs —argue that despite departing advertisers, they are still the network's cash cows. And "Lachlan is in a trap," he explains:

He can't simply issue a directive to temper the pro-Trump coverage to win back advertisers and calm restive reporters, because he would risk antagonizing the network's most important viewer: Trump. That happened in March when Fox suspended Jeanine Pirro for delivering an offensive monologue. ...

Inside Fox, staffers speculated Pirro would be fired, two sources told me, but Trump pre-empted such a move by calling Rupert Murdoch to complain about her suspension. Fox agreed to allow Pirro to come back on the air but cut her opening monologue, a venue for her most incendiary rhetoric. When Trump found out about that, he called Rupert again, a source said. A compromise was proposed: Pirro could return and deliver a shortened version of her opening statement. "Trump called Rupert, and Rupert put pressure on the executives," a source briefed on the conversations told me. [Sherman, Vanity Fair]

Lachlan Murdoch and the White House declined Vanity Fair's request for comment, and "a spokesperson for Fox News said the network's management never discussed canceling Pirro's show," Sherman notes. Read more about the Fox News-Trump relationship at Vanity Fair. 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

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