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March 21, 2019

"Everybody is breathlessly waiting for the Mueller report to come out, and there have been signs today that it might, maybe, possibly, definitely, or not be really soon," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. Wednesday's sign was yet another senior member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team wrapping up her work. "You know what that means?" Colbert asked. "Probably something."

With all the clues out there, "it's like we're three-quarters of the way through a Scooby-Doo episode," he said. "Just pull the mask off the monster, okay? We know it's Old Man Trump! 'I would've gotten away with it, too, if I wasn't totally guilty.'" At the same time, "some of the clues are pointing to the investigation not being over," he said, nodding to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein disclosing he's going to stay on the job just a little bit longer.

"Now, we've been on high Muller alert" since Feb. 21, when CNN noted some boxes being removed from the special counsel's office, Colbert said. "Yes, CNN is stalking Robert Mueller," but "the media has to look for whatever signs they can find, because the Mueller team has been completely silent. It's like trying to divine messages from the great volcano god — which, come to think of it, is exactly what Robert Mueller looks like."

Whenever Mueller submits his report, Attorney General William Barr will decide what parts of it to release to Congress or make public. But according to CNN, the White House expects to review whatever he plans to release — "you know, the way we let criminals edit their own indictment," Colbert said. Watch below. Peter Weber

1:18 a.m.

When you're the only student in the only school on a tiny island, your graduation draws a crowd.

Gwen Lynch lives with her family on Cuttyhunk, a tiny Massachusetts island. On Monday, she finished the eighth grade and graduated from Cuttyhunk Elementary School, with about 100 people coming to the island's small church to celebrate the milestone. One face stood out from the crowd: the commencement speaker, actress and comedian Jenny Slate.


Slate's boyfriend runs a writing workshop on the island, and she agreed to deliver a special message to Lynch. Before writing her speech, she chatted with the teenager, and learned all about her hopes, dreams, and life on the island. "I started to realize that you, who go to school by yourself on an island that is basically empty half the year, are still way cooler and more popular than I was as a teenager, who lived in a town and went to a school with lots of other people," Slate joked.

Lynch, who will attend a New Hampshire boarding school in the fall, wants to become an engineer, and Slate told her she was impressed by her moxie. "I hope you keep saying what you want to achieve and that you want to put your very own name on it," she said. "There is no shame in wanting to be recognized for your good work. Your no-frills confidence is pure and powerful." Catherine Garcia

12:05 a.m.

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) attended President Trump's re-election rally in Orlando on Tuesday night. Graham and Rubio, both of whom ran against Trump in the 2016 Republican primary, used to be critical of Trump's rhetoric and policies, employing language now used only by Democrats and #NeverTrump Republicans. Scott, when he was Florida's governor and running for Senate, skipped a Trump rally in Florida. These days Graham is Trump's golfing buddy and Rubio mostly supports Trump's polices.

During Trump's Tuesday night rally, which New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman described as "a bleak panoply of grievance and anger at Democrats, the media, and a reference to the Academy Awards," some journalists noted Rubio's previous critiques of Trump. Rubio tweeted back.

For a sense of how 2016 Rubio viewed Trump's divisive and ugly rallies, here's one example:

Rubio didn't seem entirely comfortable with Trump's rhetoric on Tuesday, but what's he supposed to do? Stay in Washington? Peter Weber

12:04 a.m.

During his May trip to Baghdad, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shared a message with Iraqi leaders that he wanted passed on to Iran: If any attacks by the country or its proxies killed any U.S. troops, there would be military action, U.S. officials told The Washington Post.

Pompeo has issued a few private warnings, the officials said. Tensions are mounting between the U.S. and Iran, with the U.S. accusing Iran of attacking oil tankers in the Middle East and Iran, which denies attacking the tankers, saying it will soon violate the 2015 nuclear deal by having too much low-enriched uranium in its stockpile. On Monday, the Pentagon announced it will send 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East, and while at U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa on Tuesday, Pompeo said President Trump "does not want war," and the U.S. is in the region to "deter aggression."

U.S. officials told the Post there are concerns that because there hasn't been a confirmed Defense Secretary in several months, the hawks advising Trump — including Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton — are pushing for the military to do more than its mission in the region, which is to eliminate the remnants of the Islamic State. Bolton, the officials added, is careful about what information gets to Trump, and has reduced the number of meetings where top officials discuss the Iran policy. Catherine Garcia

June 18, 2019

President Trump made some pretty big promises Tuesday night during a rally in Orlando.

The event marked the official launch of his re-election campaign, and during his nearly 90-minute speech, Trump vowed that if he gets a second term, "we will come up with the cures to many, many problems, to many, many diseases, including cancer. We will eradicate AIDS in America, and we're very close."

Trump made several false claims, including that he passed the largest tax cut in history — it was the eighth largest, and smaller than two of former President Barack Obama's tax cuts, The Washington Post has noted — and that the unemployment rate has never been lower (it was 3.6 percent in May, but as low as 2.5 percent in 1953).

Trump railed against socialism, said Democrats are "more unhinged" than they ever have been, and in a moment straight out of 2016, he criticized Hillary Clinton, which triggered the crowd to start chanting, "Lock her up! Lock her up!" In one sign that Trump might be ready to leave the past behind him, he asked the audience to help him decide between sticking with "Make America Great Again" as his slogan or switching to "Keep America Great." By the amount of cheers, The Guardian reports, it was apparent the crowd preferred KAG to MAGA. Catherine Garcia

June 18, 2019

Scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks were stunned when they discovered that permafrost in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted.

"What we saw was amazing," Prof. Vladimir E. Romanovsky told Reuters. "It's an indication that the climate is now warmer than at any time in the last 5,000 or more years." The scientists made their last expedition in 2016, visiting a remote location only accessible by propeller plane, and couldn't believe what they saw — there were depressions and ponds and lots of vegetation, a completely different scene from what they saw during their first trip a decade earlier.

Unusually hot summers triggered the thaw, and it is likely other areas of the Canadian Arctic are also affected; the scientists are preparing to expand their study. When permafrost thaws at a fast rate, large amounts of heat-trapping gasses are released into the atmosphere, and that concerns scientists, as this will make global temperatures rise even faster. "Thawing permafrost is one of the tipping points for climate breakdown and it's happening before our eyes," Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan told Reuters. "The premature thawing is another clear signal that we must decarbonize our economies, and immediately." Catherine Garcia

June 18, 2019

DNA evidence exonerated them and another man confessed to the crime, but President Trump refuses to apologize to the Central Park Five for demanding that they be executed.

In 1989, a woman was beaten, raped, and left for dead in New York's Central Park. Five black and Latino teenagers were accused of the crime, and later recanted confessions they said were made under duress. The teens — dubbed the Central Park Five — pleaded not guilty, and while none of their DNA matched samples from the crime scene, they were found guilty. Later, a convicted murderer and rapist confessed he was the perpetrator, and it was determined his DNA matched the samples. After being wrongfully imprisoned, the Central Park Five were exonerated and later reached a settlement with the city of New York.

Ten days after the crime was committed, Trump paid for full-page ads in four newspapers, calling for the Central Park Five to be executed with the message: "BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!" A new Netflix miniseries about the case, When They See Us, has the country talking about the Central Park Five, and American Urban Radio Networks correspondent April Ryan asked Trump on Tuesday if he would ever apologize to the men. "You have people on both sides of that," Trump responded. "They admitted their guilt ... some of the prosecutors think the city should never have settled that case and we'll leave it at that."

One of the men, Yusef Salaam, wrote in The Washington Post ahead of the 2016 presidential election that Trump "has never apologized for calling for our deaths. It's further proof of Trump's bias, racism, and inability to admit that he's wrong." Catherine Garcia

June 18, 2019

San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday for an ordinance it hopes will tackle the "growing health epidemic of youth vaping."

The supervisors voted to amend the health code to ban the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes in the city, and the final vote is expected next week. "This is about thinking about the next generation of users and thinking about protecting the overall health and sending a message to the rest of the state and the country: Follow our lead," Supervisor Ahsha Safai said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2018, 4.9 million middle and high school students were vaping, up from 3.6 million in 2017. The e-cigarette company Juul is based in San Francisco, and says vaping is a safer alternative to smoking tobacco. "The prohibition of vapor products for all adults in San Francisco will not effectively address underage use and will leave cigarettes on shelves as the only choice for adult smokers, even though they kill 40,000 Californians every year," Juul spokesman Ted Kwong told NBC News. Catherine Garcia

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