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December 10, 2018

President Trump was so confident that Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, would be his next chief of staff that the White House has already drafted the announcement, The New York Times reports. Instead, on Sunday evening, Ayers confirmed that he is leaving the White House at the end of the year, around the same time as outgoing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Ayers, 36 and the father of young triplets, reportedly agreed to be Trump's chief of staff on a short-term basis, but Trump wanted a chief of staff that would stay through the rest of his first term. Ayers will apparently head a pro-Trump super PAC from Georgia.

"For decades, the job of White House chief of staff was once among Washington's most desirable jobs — a pinnacle of access and power," Politico notes. "It's a different story under Trump. A job that was once a ticket to Washington royalty has recently become a laughing stock."

Still, advisers to Trump were "stunned by the turn of events," and "one former senior administration official called it a humiliation for Mr. Trump and his adult children, an emotion that the president tries to avoid at all costs," reports Maggie Haberman at Times. "With a head of blond hair, Mr. Ayers somewhat resembles Mr. Trump in his younger days, a fact that the president often looks for as a positive signal. The president had an unusual affinity for Mr. Ayers, telling aides who expressed concern about Mr. Ayers that he liked him."

Trump downplayed the news, tweeting Sunday night: "Fake News has been saying with certainty it was Nick Ayers, a spectacular person who will always be with our #MAGA agenda. I will be making a decision soon!" Peter Weber

10:08 p.m.

President Trump's North Carolina rally was panned by two people close to him: his wife, first lady Melania Trump, and his daughter, Ivanka Trump.

Both women, as well as Vice President Mike Pence, told Trump they didn't like how the crowd started chanting "Send her back!" after he attacked Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), people with knowledge of the matter told CBS News on Thursday. Omar, a naturalized citizen who was born in Somalia and came to the U.S. as a young refugee, was one of the four Democratic congresswomen of color he tweeted needed to "go back" to their original countries.

Trump didn't try to stop the chanting, which lasted for about 13 seconds, or admonish the crowd. When asked about the incident on Thursday, Trump told reporters he "felt a little bad about it," and insisted he "started speaking very quickly" in order to get the crowd under control.

Earlier in the day, Trump discussed the chant with his inner circle, CBS News reports, and shared his concerns that if he backed down, his supporters would be upset. Catherine Garcia

8:52 p.m.

Capitol Police arrested 70 people on Thursday during protests against the Trump administration's immigration policies.

The protesters were arrested inside the Russell Senate Office Building, with Capitol Police saying they were unlawfully demonstrating in the rotunda. Thursday was the Catholic Day of Action to oppose immigration policies like detaining migrants in overcrowded facilities without adequate necessities. The Sisters of Mercy traveled from Chicago to Washington, D.C., for the protests, and one nun, 90-year-old Sister Pat Murphy, was arrested.

The situation in immigrant detention centers is "immoral," Murphy told ABC News during a phone interview. "These are our brothers and sisters and they are part of the human family," she said, adding, "I mean, any person with any human compassion would reach out. What is going on is, it's just abominable. It's a horrific situation that's happening right now." Murphy, who has been with Sisters of Mercy for 71 years, said it's not fair that people are "being punished because our immigration system is broken, it's shattered, it doesn't exist." Catherine Garcia

7:36 p.m.

President Trump will most likely nominate attorney Eugene Scalia to be the next Labor secretary, three people familiar with the matter told Politico.

Scalia is the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and is a partner at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. In 2006, he represented Walmart in the retail giant's fight against a Maryland law that would have forced the company to spend more money on employee health care.

Last week, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta stepped down following outrage over a 2008 plea deal he arranged with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in Florida. Acosta's deputy, Patrick Pizzella, will step into the role on Friday. Catherine Garcia

7:01 p.m.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Thursday it will not ban the use of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide associated with health problems in children.

During the Obama administration, the EPA produced scientific studies showing chlorpyrifos could damage brain development in children and prohibited its use, but in 2017, Scott Pruitt, then the agency's administrator, reversed course. This led to a legal battle, and in April, a federal appeals court told the EPA it had to make a final decision on the ban by July. In a statement, the agency said there is not enough data to show that an unsafe amount of pesticide residue is left in or on treated foods.

Sold under the name Lorsban, chlorpyrifos cannot be used in homes, but can be used by farmers, who spray it on more than 50 nut, fruit, vegetable, and cereal crops, The New York Times reports. Since the legal battle began, several states, including California and New York, have announced they are looking into banning chlorpyrifos. Catherine Garcia

5:40 p.m.

Words can't adequately prepare you for your first glimpse at the Cats movie.

Universal Pictures on Thursday debuted the highly-anticipated first footage from its upcoming musical adaptation after months of teases about Taylor Swift's attending of "cat school" and the film's supposedly revolutionary use of, as the filmmakers describe it, "digital fur technology." And, well, here it is.

From start to finish, the trailer is a wild ride that doesn't even attempt to ease viewers into how surreal literally every character in the film looks. That online reactions to the initially funky-looking CGI Genie in Aladdin and the extremely distressing new Sonic the Hedgehog don't even hold a candle.

Cats' cast includes, believe it or not, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, James Corden, Ian McKellen, and Judi Dench, who discussed their experience making the film in a recent behind-the-scenes reel featuring such quotes as "these are people but they're cats ... there is nothing else like it." Indeed, there isn't. Take a deep breath and watch the trailer below. Brendan Morrow

4:42 p.m.

Tom Cruise still has that need for speed, even three decades later.

At San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday, Cruise made an unannounced appearance following a Terminator: Dark Fate panel to reveal the first trailer for the long-awaited Top: Gun Maverick, a follow-up to the 1986 original that's set for release next year. The footage, which dropped online shortly after its Comic-Con debut, shows off Cruise's return as Maverick and some seriously impressive-looking flying sequences.

Cruise, who in recent years has infamously done his own, increasingly insane stunts for the Mission: Impossible franchise, promised the Comic-Con audience similar authenticity in Maverick, saying, "Everything you see in this film, obviously, it's for real," Variety reports. "We're working with the Navy. All of the flying that you see in this picture, everything is real." He also described the movie as a "love letter to aviation."

Top Gun: Maverick will hit theaters on June 26, 2020, and Cruise said Thursday that after a 34 year wait, "I felt it was my responsibility for me to deliver for you." Watch the trailer below. Brendan Morrow

4:35 p.m.

The U.S. Navy has "destroyed" an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, President Trump announced Thursday afternoon.

The U.S.S. Boxer was sailing in the strategic strait when the drone came within 1,000 yards of it and ignored "multiple calls to stand down," Trump told reporters. It then took "defensive action" and used electronic jamming to down the drone, Trump continued.

The attack comes after Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Thursday claimed responsibility for seizing a foreign tanker that went missing this past weekend in the Strait of Hormuz, The Washington Post notes. It's the latest international incident in the waterway that connects the Persian Gulf with the rest of the world, and also comes amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Iran shot a U.S. drone in that area last month, but while America says it was in international airspace, Iran claimed it was flying in Iranian territory. Kathryn Krawczyk

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