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December 21, 2018

When James Mattis resigned as defense secretary Thursday, the "guardrails" in Trump's administration came off, as The Associated Press somewhat worryingly put it.

Mattis has gained a reputation for trying to prevent Trump from indulging in his worst foreign policy impulses. With Mattis on his way out (he'll officially step down in February), let's take a look back at some of the instances of Mattis successfully reining the president in. Brendan Morrow

1. Killing Assad. Last year, Trump reportedly called for the assassination of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying, "Let's f---ing kill him! Let's go in. Let's kill the f---ing lot of them," according to Bob Woodward's book Fear, per The Washington Post. Mattis immediately told an aide, "We're not going to do any of that."

2. Pulling out of Afghanistan. Trump reportedly told his advisers in 2017 that he wanted to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, but he ended up deploying 3,000 more at Mattis' direction, per Politico. In a speech, Trump said that his "original instinct" was to pull out but that he changed his mind after "many meetings." The same day Mattis resigned, it was reported that Trump would be pulling troops out of Afghanistan.

3. Sending troops to the border. Politico also points out that Trump wanted to send active-duty troops to the southern border in April 2018, but Mattis pushed back, sending National Guardsmen instead. Trump eventually did deploy troops in the fall, but Mattis broke from the president by saying these troops would not use force.

4. Torturing people. On the campaign trail, Trump promised to reinstitute torture methods like waterboarding. He never did, and Mattis seems to be a key reason for that; Trump said he was "impressed" by a conversation he had in which Mattis told him these methods are not useful, per The New York Times.

5. Pulling out of Korea. Trump, according to Woodward's book, expressed frustration with the U.S.'s presence in the Korean Peninsula, The Washington Post reports. Mattis had to convince him why this is necessary, saying, "We're doing this in order to prevent World War III."

6:05 a.m.

Marshae Jones, 27, was taken into custody in the Birmingham, Alabama, area on Wednesday after a Jefferson Country grand jury indicted her on manslaughter charges over the death of her unborn child after a December 2018 incident where another woman shot her in the stomach. The woman who had the gun and pulled the trigger, 23-year-old Ebony Jemison, also faced manslaughter charges, but the grand jury declined to indict her so the charges were dismissed, AL.com reports.

Police argued that Jones, five months pregnant, started the fight and was ultimately responsible for the death of her fetus. The altercation was over the father, according to Pleasant Grove police Lt. Danny Reid. "The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby," Reid said after the Dec. 4 shooting, outside a Dollar Store. "It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby."

Not everyone agreed with Reid. "The state of Alabama has proven yet again that the moment a person becomes pregnant their sole responsibility is to produce a live, healthy baby and that it considers any action a pregnant person takes that might impede in that live birth to be a criminal act,'' said Amanda Reyes, executive director of the Yellowhammer Fund. "Today, Marshae Jones is being charged with manslaughter for being pregnant and getting shot while engaging in an altercation with a person who had a gun. Tomorrow, it will be another black woman, maybe for having a drink while pregnant. And after that, another, for not obtaining adequate prenatal care." Read more at AL.com. Peter Weber

5:17 a.m.

Ten Democratic presidential hopefuls took the stage in Miami on Wednesday night, and The Late Show thinks you can catch 'em all.

"We are live after the first of two Democratic presidential debates," and "I'm going to tell you all about it — if Bill de Blasio doesn't interrupt me," Stephen Colbert said in his monologue. This debate pitted "Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Beto O'Rourke against seven people angling for MSNBC shows." NBC had some technical difficulties, he added, "but it was an excellent dress rehearsal for tomorrow actual debate."

"The biggest early moment was a linguistic surprise from Beto O'Rourke," Colbert said. "He's either trying to lock up the Hispanic vote, or he's running for embarrassing dad at a Mexican restaurant." He suggested John Delaney was just doing this as a dare from his brother-in-law, Jay Inslee had never set foot in a McDonalds, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) made up her "all foam and no beer" zinger: "If that's a metaphor you frequently use, senator, then, as we say back in South Carolina, 'I'm a shrimp sandwich in a thunder storm.'" Colbert mocked Booker's Spanish, and Beto's, again, and stepped into the fight between Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) and Tim Ryan (Ohio): "Tulsi! Tim! Please don't fight — you're both not going to be president."

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was kinder about all the Spanish spoken onstage. "I loved it because I represent the Bronx, there was a lot of Spanglish in the building," she told Colbert. "I thought it was humorous sometimes," but also "a good gesture to the fact that we are a diverse country." As for the candidates, Ocasio-Cortez said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) "knocked it out of the park," Julián Castro "did a phenomenal job tonight," and "Cory Booker did a great job in talking about criminal justice," and "there were some surprises, too," though she didn't name them. She also explained her skepticism of Joe Biden's electability. Watch below. Peter Weber

4:08 a.m.

This past week has shone a spotlight on the deplorable conditions at facilities where the U.S. is holding children seeking asylum in the U.S. "Most of the kids in those overcrowded facilities come from Central America's Northern Triangle countries: Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador," Samatha Bee said on Wednesday's Full Frontal. President "Trump and his supporters claim it's fine warehouse them like pallets of generic peanut butter because it's their fault for coming to America. But the truth is, the U.S. is a huge reason they were forced to flee here in the first place."

Bee's history lesson began in Ronald Reagan's 1980s and America's Cold War in Central America, and she focused on El Salvador. "When we stomped out communism, we also stomped out pretty much every thing else. For many civilians, getting the hell out of El Salvador became a matter of life or death," she said. "Many of the migrants ended up in Los Angeles, where some younger Salvadorans would wind up in street gangs," which over time became MS-13. "That's right, President Trump's favorite foreign threat was made in the U.S.A. — unlike his ties and two-thirds of his wives," she said.

And MS-13 didn't didn't turn into today's machete-wielding killers until "the American prison system helped transform them from the juvenile delinquents of the '80s to the violent gang we know today," Bee said. Then, starting in the '90s, the U.S. deported tens of thousands of gang members, "brutalized by American prisons," back to Central America, where they took root and made the Northern Triangle one of the most violent regions in the world, sending civilians feeling north for safety, she said. "It's the circle of life, except death."

"All refugees deserve basic compassion, but we owe a special debt to Central American refugees," Bee said. "At the very least, we own their kids some f---ing toothpaste." There is some NSFW language. Peter Weber

3:07 a.m.

Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show was live following the first Democratic debate on Wednesday night, and he didn't spare his network, NBC, over its technical difficulties. But mostly he focused on the debate itself. He laughed at Cory Booker's face when Beto O'Rourke broke into Spanish, and imagined President Trump's reaction: "Cr-p, did I hit the SAP button?" Still, "Booker saw Beto speaking Spanish and decided to join in, too," Fallon added, though he sounded "like Arnold Schwarzenegger learning Rosetta Stone."

"As expected, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker did well tonight, but actually I though Bill de Blasio did a pretty good job too," Fallon said, expressing surprise on behalf of all New Yorkers. "Trump tweeted and called the debate 'boring,' but he still watched, even though he also said it was a 'very unexciting group of people' — as opposed to the rock stars he usually hangs out with, like Mike Pence and Steve Mnuchin. But I think I know why Trump's upset: He's probably jealous of the Democrats. If you think about it, they got to be on TV, they got to talk about themselves, and they got to be in Florida," his three favorite things.

Fallon had a short video to help everyone get to know the 20 Democrats running.

Fallon also had a song advising the Democratic candidates to avoid becoming memes, because "some things can't be unseen." He had examples, and harmonies.

Colin Quinn also had some less-helpful advice for the Democrats, or at least the ones you might not otherwise remember. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:16 a.m.

The first 2020 Democratic presidential debate was Wednesday night, and it gave some of the lesser-known of the 10 candidates a chance to "go from 'Who is that?' all the way to 'Oh yeah, that guy — no, I'm not going to vote for him,'" Trevor Noah said on Wednesday's live Daily Show. "The biggest name on the state was Elizabeth Warren, polling in the lead, and she knew that she was the frontrunner," he said. "So basically it was up to everyone else to try and figure out a way to stand out."

Beto O'Rourke landed on a surefire way "to spice up a bland affair," Noah said, impressed at Beto's Spanish. "Look at how shocked Cory Booker was when Beto switched to Español. ... And while Beto O'Rourke was wowing the crowd with his fluent Spanish, Amy Klobuchar came prepared with zingers that were going to destroy the crowd. But every time she tried to land them, her time was up."

"So Warren was cruising, Beto was fluent, Klobuchar was being her moderate self, and everyone else was just figuring out how to get noticed," Noah said. "Poor Jay Inslee, he spent the night trying to order a drink from a bartender who didn't realize he was there." Policy-wise, the Democrats were mostly on the same page, though "all hell broke loose" when moderators brought up health care, he added. But "to be honest, it was a lot more exciting than most people thought. And I know Trump tweeted that it was boring, but he would always think that policy was boring, because these people had ideas, they had plans for how they were going to do it, and they had information about how they were going to run themselves from the White House."

The Daily Show also had the thrilling and entirely fictional backstory on how the 20-person Democratic field was fit on a debate stage. Watch below. Peter Weber

12:39 a.m.

On Wednesday, U.S. Border Patrol gave reporters a tour of its Clint station in West Texas, described as squalid, overcrowded, lice-infested, and generally "appalling" last week by lawyers who interviewed some of the 250-plus migrant children detained there. Since then, Border Patrol moved the children to a different facility, then brought about 100 back to Clint.

"On Wednesday, the situation in Clint seemed to have improved: Children appeared to be wearing clean clothes, and at least a half dozen hallway monitors were brought in to help watch the 117 children being housed there," from a few months old to nearly 18, The Associated Press reports. The reporters were shown more of the facility than the lawyers but were not allowed to bring in cameras or talk to the children. AP's Cedar Attanasio reports that Border Patrol seems to have done a lot of work in the last five days:

Aaron Hull, head of Border Patrol's El Paso sector, said the reports of child mistreatment were "hurtful" to agents who "are risking their health, their lives, their marriages ... to enforce the rule of law humanely." He confirmed lawyers' reports that the children subsist on instant oatmeal, instant noodles, and microwaved burritos, and said they get a new toothbrush every night.

Earlier Wednesday, the lawyers who represent all migrant children under the Flores settlement asked a federal judge to immediately require inspections and doctor visits at border facilities like Clint, and order the prompt release of children to parents and close relatives. The detained children, classified as unaccompanied minors, are supposed to spend no more than 72 hours in Border Patrol custody, but one of the Flores lawyers, Warren Binford, told The New Yorker that almost none of the children they interviewed at Clint "came across unaccompanied. The United States is taking children away from their family unit and reclassifying them as unaccompanied children. ... And some of them were separated from their parents." Peter Weber

June 26, 2019

Of all the questions Beto O'Rourke and John Delaney could've gotten during Wednesday night's debates, they somehow ended up with the most pointless.

The two ex-congressmen declined to run for re-election last fall, both presumably in anticipation of their 2020 presidential runs. Yet despite the fact that O'Rourke and Delaney gave up having any say in whether Congress should open an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, they were the only candidates who were asked whether they supported the proceedings.

O'Rourke, a former representative from Texas, has pushed for impeachment time and time again over the past month, and called it "the only way to save this country" on Wednesday. Delaney, who once served in Maryland, meanwhile said he supports House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) decision to wait.

Neither of their opinions will really do anything, though O'Rourke does get ... something ... for turning his impeachment answer into a brief art history lesson on this piece hanging in the Capitol building. Kathryn Krawczyk

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