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September 10, 2019

John Bolton is taking a page out of his former boss's book.

President Trump said Tuesday that he fired his national security adviser the night before, but Bolton has since claimed that he chose to resign Tuesday morning. And in a true Trumpian "can't let it go" fashion, Bolton is embarking on a texting spree to set the record straight.

After his original ouster-denying tweet, Bolton quickly fired a text to Fox News' Brian Kilmeade that read "Let's be clear, I resigned," which Kilmeade read on the air. He sent the same message to The Washington Post's Robert Costa. Bolton then elaborated in a text to NBC News: "I offered to resign last night. [Trump] never asked for it, directly or indirectly. I slept on it, and resigned this morning."

At that point, the White House got on the phone. "Last night, Potus said he wanted Bolton’s resignation on his desk tomorrow AM. Bolton delivered it," Trump's Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a text to The Daily Beast. Cue a text back from Bolton, alleging simply that the "press secretary statement is flatly incorrect." Kathryn Krawczyk

6:39 p.m.

The Taliban's chief negotiator on Tuesday said the "only way for peace in Afghanistan" is through talks with the United States.

Speaking to the BBC, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai said the Taliban's "doors are open" if President Trump wants to restart peace negotiations. Both sides were close to reaching a deal, with Trump inviting senior Taliban leaders to Camp David, but earlier this month, Trump said talks were over after the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack in Kabul that left a dozen people, including a U.S. soldier, dead. The deal would have reportedly included the U.S. withdrawing thousands of troops from Afghanistan over the next few months.

"They killed thousands of Talibans according to them," Stanikzai said. "But in the meantime, if one [U.S.] soldier has been killed, that doesn't mean they should show that reaction because there is no ceasefire from both sides. From our side, our doors are open for negotiations. So we hope the other side also rethinks their decision regarding the negotiation." Data collected by the BBC shows that on average, 74 people were killed every day in Afghanistan last month. Catherine Garcia

5:54 p.m.

President Trump teased the fact that he narrowed the field to replace former National Security Adviser John Bolton last week. Now, he's unveiled the contenders, Politico reports.

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday, Trump rattled off the list of names, which includes: former CIA analyst Fleitz, who was actually Bolton's chief of staff; the Department of Energy's Undersecretary for Nuclear Security Lisa Gordon-Hagerty; retired Army Lt. and Gen. Keith Kellogg, who now serves as the national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence Kellogg; Robert O'Brien, an aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; and Ricky Waddell, an assistant to the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and an Army Reserve Major General.

Trump reportedly had some compliments ready for the finalists, tossing around words like "great," "fantastic," and "love." But he's also been clear that whoever lands the gig should be excited to worth him, as well.

"Everybody wants it badly, as you can imagine," the president said last week. "A lot of people want the job — it's a great job. It's great because it's a lot of fun to work with Donald Trump. It's very easy to work with me. You know why it's easy? Because I make all the decisions. They don't have to work." Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

5:17 p.m.

The early results of Israel's elections are in, but the country's future seemingly remains almost as uncertain as it did when the day began, aside from the fact that Israeli Prime Minister's bargaining power appears to have weakened.

Initial exit polls Tuesday reportedly indicate Netanyahu failed to secure a parliamentary majority. And while Israel's three major television stations had challenger Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White party holding a slight lead over Netanyahu's Likud party, neither will reportedly be able to control a majority in the Knesset — at least without the support of former Netanyahu ally Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party, which refused to join Netanyahu's coalition in April. Lieberman may very well end up playing the role of kingmaker, Reuters reports, as the predictions that his party should capture somewhere between eight and 10 seats means he'd have the ability to form a coalition.

He reportedly wants to forge a unity government with Blue and White and Likud, though if he were to sign off on it, the government would reportedly have to exclude ultra-Orthodox parties, whose influence Lieberman is seeking to limit. Gantz has also ruled out participating in an administration with Netanyahu if the latter is indicted on corruption chargers. Basically, there's no easy path to a government at the moment.

Israel's exit polls can be imprecise, The Associated Press reports, but the consensus among the three stations implies that the forecasts might hold true. If that's the case, complicated political maneuvering could ensue while Netanyahu remains a caretaker prime minister. Read more at The Associated Press and Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

5:00 p.m.

President Trump's border wall is putting archaeological discoveries at risk before they're even discovered.

Trump's border wall has jeopardized several government projects as he aims to drain military projects to fund its construction. It has raised protests from environmental groups who say it'll run through wildlife refuges. And as an internal National Park Service report obtained by The Washington Post reveals, it's likely to destroy or damage 22 unexcavated sites containing artifacts of the ancient Sonoran Desert peoples.

The sites in question are all within the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a 330,000-acre area of protected wilderness that sits along the Arizona-Mexico border. It has been home to "desert-dwelling peoples" for at least 16,000 years and contains well-preserved artifacts thanks to its arid environment, the Post reports. There's currently a five-foot vehicle barrier along that section of the border, but Trump plans to turn it into a 30-foot steel wall. Two miles of that wall surrounding a border crossing in Lukeville, Arizona have already been built.

In its report, the National Park Service says some archaeological areas have already been damaged as the Trump administration's amped-up enforcement measures lead border patrol agents to drive recklessly through Organ Pipe Cactus. If construction continues, experts warn damage could get even worse. The several salt springs in the monument area could also dry up if groundwater is pumped to build the concrete wall, NPS continued.

CBP said it looked at "most" of the archaeological sites in question and said just five are within 60 feet of the proposed border area, and that only one showed signs of artifacts buried nearby. Read more at The Washington Post, and find the whole report here. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:48 p.m.

Corey Lewandowski didn't even wait until the end of his congressional testimony Tuesday before launching a website for his potential 2020 Senate bid.

President Trump's former campaign manager appeared before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday for its first official impeachment hearing, mostly declining to answers Democrats' questions. During a break at one point, Lewandowski tweeted a link to a brand new website promoting the campaign for Senate he has been publicly mulling. Although Lewandowski asks his followers to "sign up now," the website he links to highlights no clear place to do so, which sort of defeats the purpose of the plug.

On the website right now is just a picture of Trump and Lewandowski with Trump's quote that Lewandowski "would be fantastic" in the Senate, a quote Trump gave in an interview last month, although the president has not actually officially offered an endorsement. Lewandowski would be running in New Hampshire against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). Along with the website, the Super PAC Stand with Corey has also been filed with the Federal Election Commission.

As the hearing resumed, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) slammed Lewandowski by reminding him that "this is not a Republican primary campaign" but a congressional hearing and he should "act like you know the difference." Still, later in the hearing, Lewandowski dropped a reference to "maybe someday" being in "the upper chamber" of Congress. Brendan Morrow

3:33 p.m.

Pittsburgh Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez was arrested in Pittsburgh on felony charges of pornography and soliciting, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced Tuesday.

The FDLE's investigation reportedly began in August after the department obtained information that Vazquez allegedly had a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl in Lee County, Florida, and that the pitcher continued the relationship by texting with the minor, who is now 15-years-old.

The police affidavit, obtained by ESPN, says the girl's mother found texts, photographs, and a graphic video sent by Vazquez on her daughter's phone.

Vasquez has been placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball, although ESPN reports that the league will not launch an immediate investigation into the matter because it plans to use the police's findings in pursuing discipline for Vazquez. Frank Coonelly, the Pirates' president, said the franchise is taking the matter "extremely seriously," but no one involved in the organization can comment any further since it's an ongoing legal proceeding.

The news comes at the end of what turned out to be a nightmare season for the Pirates, who have been dealing with numerous locker issues, including a fight between Vazquez and fellow reliever Kyle Crick, which, in light of the severity of Vazquez's charges, now seems trivial. Read more at ESPN. Tim O'Donnell

2:57 p.m.

Edward Snowden's book, Permanent Record, was only released Tuesday, but it's already causing trouble for the author.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit the same day against Snowden, a former CIA employee who leaked classified information from the NSA in 2013. The lawsuit is centered on Snowden publishing the memoir without approval, which the Justice Department is alleging violates non-disclosure agreements Snowden signed with the government.

The point of the lawsuit, however, is not to prevent the the publication or the distribution of the book; the Justice Department just wants to make sure Snowden doesn't get paid for it. Therefore, the department is seeking the proceeds Snowden earns from the book's sales. "Intelligence information should protect our nation, not provide personal profit," G. Zachary Terwilliger, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement. "This lawsuit will ensure that Edward Snowden receives no monetary benefits from breaching the trust placed in him."

Permanent Record reportedly reveals new details about Snowden's decision to steal files from the NSA's collection of phone and internet metadata and release them to journalists. Read more at The Washington Post and NBC News. Tim O'Donnell

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