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January 16, 2019

As day 25 of the government shutdown was dawning, that seemed to be the biggest political story of the morning.

At 6:07 a.m., MSNBC was focused on how U.S. Coast Guard members weren't receiving a paycheck — the first time American service members weren't being paid in a government shutdown. CNN discussed a report suggesting the White House would double its estimate on how the shutdown will hurt GDP growth.

But Fox & Friends? It was talking about a migrant caravan, which just left Honduras yesterday with about 2,000 members.

The government partially shut down Dec. 21 amid President Trump's ongoing demand for $5.7 billion in border wall funding, which Democrats refuse to bend to. In a way, Fox & Friends' talking point somewhat tied to that aspect of the shutdown, as Trump used the previous migrant caravan as a fear-stoking argument for a wall.

Just like the migrant caravan that arrived late last year, the caravan will probably take more than a month to reach the U.S.-Mexico border. But unlike the previous caravan, many of these migrants say they will stop in Mexico and try to find work there. Even if they do make it to the border, these migrants will probably be stuck waiting for months and even years in Mexico as they try to make asylum claims in America. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:36 p.m.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions had an escape plan all along.

Sessions had been one of President Trump's top internal enemies after he recused himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation in early 2017. According to that same investigation, released with redactions on Thursday, that move convinced Trump to fire Sessions in July 2017 before eventually backing down. Trump did turn to insulting Sessions on Twitter, though, and those "frequent public attacks" had Sessions worried, the report says. In fact, that July, Sessions wrote a resignation letter of his own and "for the rest of the year carried it with him in his pocket every time he went to the White House," Sessions' then-chief of staff Jody Hunt told Mueller investigators.

Sessions ended up sticking it out, and was eventually forced to resign the day after 2018's midterm elections. Read the whole report here. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:28 p.m.

Far from a total exoneration, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin believes Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report actually contains an invitation to Congress to impeach President Trump.

Mueller in his report did not draw a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice but specifically said that "if we had confidence" Trump did not do so, "we would so state." The report also says, "The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president's corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law."

This is the sentence that Toobin says is key, calling it "all but an explicit invitation to Congress to impeach the president." Toobin also concluded that there's "no other way" to read this sentence other than Mueller telling Congress he "cannot enforce the obstruction of justice laws against the president" but that lawmakers "can do it" through impeachment.

Toobin clarified that he's not sure whether Congress will — or even should — actually impeach Trump. But he flagged this part of the report as being "highly contradictory" to Trump's repeated claims that it fully exonerates him. Brendan Morrow

2:00 p.m.

Kellyanne Conway called Thursday the best day for President Trump since his election, a summation that certainly isn't shared by his critics, who claim Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report neither absolved Trump of "obstruction" nor "collusion." Conway, though, had an entirely different vision of the report when addressing the press.

Appearing on Fox News, Conway went as far as to paint a rather unwelcome portrait of the Mueller investigation. "This has been a political proctology exam, and [Trump's] emerging with a clean bill of health," Conway said. "There's no other way to look at it."

Well, I sure wish there had been. Watch the interview below. Jeva Lange

1:57 p.m.

President Trump directed campaign affiliates to find Hillary Clinton's personal emails, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report says.

Trump, who in July 2016 publicly called on Russia to find deleted emails from his Democratic opponent, "repeatedly" requested his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, do so. The report says that Flynn "contacted multiple people in an effort to obtain the emails."

These people included Senate staffer Barbara Ledeen and Republican donor Peter Smith. Smith made claims that he was in contact with Russian hackers about the emails "and that his efforts were coordinated with the Trump campaign."

But while Mueller's report says that Smith was in contact with Flynn and Trump adviser Sam Clovis, the investigation didn't find that Trump's campaign initiated or directed his efforts. It also says the investigation didn't establish that Smith actually was in contact with Russia hackers or that he or the Trump campaign obtained the emails. The Week Staff

1:24 p.m.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's full investigation into Russian election meddling went public on Thursday, although it might be generous to really call it "full." More than a third of the investigation was hidden behind big black blocks of redactions, the Los Angeles Times reports. All sorts of information could be redacted for many reasons, including "secret grand jury information," "classified information," "information related to other continuing investigations," and "information about 'peripheral' people," The New York Times reports.

Still, you can't help but wonder about some of the more intriguing redactions. Here are a few of the best in the Mueller report. Jeva Lange

9. And that...?

8. Yikes.

7. The plot thickens.

6. Whom?

5. Well at least you know what airport they were going to!

4. Then who was on the phone?

3. Wait ... almost ... nope.

2. This entire page.

1. Oh, do tell.

1:10 p.m.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged a claim she once made about former FBI Director James Comey was completely false, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report says.

Mueller's report details President Trump's firing of Comey in 2017, noting that Sanders spoke in a press briefing and insisted that the FBI had lost confidence in Comey. This, she said, was based on hearing as much from "countless members of the FBI."

But the Mueller report says that "the evidence does not support those claims" and that Trump, in fact, specifically told Comey that "the people of the FBI really like [him]." Sanders "acknowledged to investigations that her comments were not founded on anything," although she claimed this was a "slip of the tongue." She also claimed that when she repeated in a separate interview that the FBI had lost confidence in Comey, she did so "in the heat of the moment."

The report notes that Trump praised Sanders' performance in the 2017 press conference and did not correct her false claim. Brendan Morrow

12:54 p.m.

Former White House Counsel Don McGahn has come through with the best stories of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report.

Most notably, there's McGahn's wild account of how Trump told him to get Mueller fired. Yet there's also this hidden gem, in which McGahn recounted a conversation with Trump about just why he told Mueller about all that "crazy sh-t."

The report details a time when Trump asked McGahn about his interviews with the special counsel, which McGahn apparently explained away as something "he had to" do. Trump seemed satisfied, and then apparently asked a more pressing question: "Why do you take notes? Lawyers don't take notes." McGahn had a wonderfully snappy comeback, saying that "real lawyers" take notes. Trump responded that he has "had a lot of great lawyers, like Roy Cohn," and "he did not take notes."

Trump apparently didn't mention that his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen's preference for tapes over notes soon turned into a problem. Read the whole report here. Kathryn Krawczyk

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