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April 20, 2017
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The family of Aaron Hernandez, the former tight end for the New England Patriots and convicted murderer found hanging in his Massachusetts prison cell on Wednesday, is releasing his brain to Boston University's Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center for a study on brain trauma.

Attorney Jose Baez said Hernandez's brain is being donated to advance the study of CTE, a degenerative brain disease linked to people who sustain repeated concussions and head trauma that can only be diagnosed after death. CTE can cause everything from memory loss to disorientation, and several football players, including Frank Gifford, Junior Seau, and Mike Webster, have been found to have it.

In 2015, Hernandez, 27, was convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, his fiancee's sister's boyfriend, and sentenced to life in prison. He was found early Wednesday morning hanging from a bed sheet attached to a window in his cell, and the chief state medical examiner has ruled his death a suicide. Catherine Garcia

4:33 a.m. ET

Stephen Colbert started Tuesday's Late Show with the big news about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, using a Keebler elf to imagine Attorney General Jeff Sessions' just-confirmed testimony. "This is huge, because it is the first time investigators have interviewed a member of Trump's Cabinet," Colbert noted. "Probably not the last." He made some jokes about former FBI Director James Comey's testimony to Mueller, and pointed to breaking news that Mueller wants to interview Trump ASAP.

"This could be very bad for Trump, especially if Mueller doesn't take the $130,000 in hush money," Colbert joked, acting out why Trump's lawyers are nervous about letting Trump go under oath.

Democrats pretty clearly lost the government shutdown, thanks in part to the White House's brilliant "keep Trump contained" strategy, Colbert said, nevertheless pointing out some pitfalls of letting Trump watch the action play out on TV. Still, the shutdown was actually ended by a bipartisan group of moderate senators who worked out their differences using a "talking stick" imported from Africa, until things got a little out of hand, nearly ending the life of a glass elephant. "Wow, a heated discussion almost destroy the symbol of the Republican Party," Colbert said. "I think the full details in this month's issue of Heavy Handed Metaphor Magazine."

Vice President Mike Pence is the latest figure to weigh in on allegations that Trump had an extramarital affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, saying he won't discuss the "baseless allegations" against Trump. "First of all, these are not baseless allegations — she says he rounded the bases," Colbert said. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins knows who Stormy Daniels is, but he gave Trump a "mulligan" on the affair. "Yes, a mulligan!" Colbert said. "Because marriage is like golf: both things Trump claims to love but constantly cheats on — allegedly." Watch below. Peter Weber

3:36 a.m. ET

White evangelical Christians are President Trump's electoral rock, and while there's significant erosion in the group, evangelical political leaders are still firmly aboard the Trump train. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, explained to Politico that evangelicals gave Trump "a mulligan" and "a do-over." On CNN Tuesday night, Erin Burnett asked him why, especially after porn star Stormy Daniels' detailed account of an extramarital affair she says she had with Trump in 2006.

"If this behavior were occurring today, right now, as he is president of the United States, I can assure you that my support and the support of evangelicals would be dissipating very rapidly," Perkins said. Trump won over evangelicals by promising to appoint pro-life judges, making Mike Pence his running mate, and embracing "the most conservative party platform ever, and yes, evangelicals, conservatives, gave him a mulligan, they let him have a do-over," Perkins said. "Evangelicals understand what a second chance means."

Later Tuesday night, CNN's Don Lemon interviewed Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, who also noted that Trump's alleged affair was years ago. "Not that we give anybody a pass, but we have to look at the time line," Graham said. "And I think the president has changed quite a bit in the last 11 years ... and I think there's a maturing of the president." "Have you read his Twitter account?" Lemon asked incredulously. "I believe Donald Trump is a good man," Graham responded.

Graham told Lemon he believes Trump's denials about his affair with Stormy Daniels, "and I believe that he's a changed person, and I've never seen anybody get attacked like he gets attacked." "Have you ever seen any other president attack other people as much as he attacks other people?" Lemon asked, and when Graham laughed, he asked if "turn the other cheek" wasn't a Christian value? "I went to Catholic school, I went to catechism, and then I went to Sunday school at my Baptist church, and the Bible and everyone always taught me to do unto others and to not attack others, and that's all this president does," Lemon said. "He's not the pastor of our country, Don," Graham said. Peter Weber

1:50 a.m. ET
Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

Gunmen stormed the office of Save the Children in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on Wednesday morning, and are still holed up in the building, sporadically exchanging gunfire with police.

At least 11 people have been injured so far, The Guardian reports. A provincial government spokesman said a suicide attacker detonated a car bomb in front of the entrance to Save the Children's compound, and a group of armed men then made their way inside. There are other international aid agencies and government offices in the area, and police are unsure if the attackers specifically targeted Save the Children, which gives local kids access to education and health care.

Speaking from his hospital bed, Mohammad Amin told AFP he was inside the compound when he heard "a big blast." After he ran for cover, he saw "a gunman hitting the main gate with an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) to enter the compound. I jumped out of the window." Over the weekend, Taliban militants attacked a luxury hotel in Kabul, killing 22 people. No one has taken responsibility for the Save the Children attack, but both the Taliban and Islamic State are active in the area. Catherine Garcia

1:49 a.m. ET
Elijah Nouvelage/AFP/Getty Images

The town of Benton, Kentucky, is mourning the loss of two 15-year-old high school students, Bailey Nicole Holt and Preston Ryan Cope, shot dead Tuesday at Marshall County High School by an unidentified 15-year-old classmate who also wounded 12 other people and caused a stamped in which five other students were injured. It is America's worst school shooting of 2018 — only 23 days old — but it is also at least the country's 11th school shooting since Jan. 1, The New York Times reports. There were two on Monday, for example, in Italy, Texas, and New Orleans.

There have been about 50 school shootings in the U.S. this academic year (some were suicides, and some resulted in no injuries), and about one shooting a week since 2013, the Times says. "We have absolutely become numb to these kinds of shootings, and I think that will continue," Katherine W. Schweit, a former senior FBI official, tells the Times. She coauthored an FBI study of 160 active-shooter situations between 2000 and 2013, and a quarter of them were in educational settings, the number growing as the study went on. You can read more about how schools and states are responding at The New York Times. Peter Weber

1:18 a.m. ET

It's not just kids who love meeting the characters at Disney World.

Atlas, a golden retriever service dog, met his favorite fellow canine last Friday during a trip to Epcot Center. Atlas belongs to Julian Gavino, a 22-year-old college student from Sarasota who has a rare tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Gavino has an annual pass for Disney World, and usually goes once a week with Atlas. "I love to see him have fun," Gavino told Inside Edition. "Some days, he works long hours, so it's important for him to get to do this kind of stuff."

Atlas has a stuffed Pluto that he adores and plays with all the time, and when Gavino saw that Pluto was doing a meet-and-greet, he got in line. When it was their turn, Atlas slowly approached Pluto, but his hesitation quickly disappeared and the thrilled dog was all over his idol, sniffing him while wagging his tail. "Atlas was more than excited to meet his best pal look-alike," Gavino wrote on Facebook. Catherine Garcia

12:45 a.m. ET

Everybody can claim a win from the short government shutdown over the weekend, Trevor Noah said on Tuesday's Daily Show. Democrats got six years of CHIP funding, "campaign ads for the midterms," and Senate Majority Leader's suspect pinky-promise to hold a vote on legislation to protect DREAMers, he said, while Republicans got Democrats to back down with just a flimsy promise and also snuck in $30 billion in additional tax cuts. The only ones who demonstrably didn't win were the DREAMers, the focus of the whole shutdown.

"They came away from the shutdown worse than before," Noah said. Before this "became about winning and losing," Republicans at least said they believe DACA recipients deserve to stay in the U.S., he showed, "but once the shutdown became about scoring political points, suddenly Republican leaders turned these people from 'DREAMer's to 'illegals.'" Democrats, meanwhile, have repeatedly and disingenuously "promised the DREAMers more than they can deliver," he noted, because they don't have any power in Washington.

"And this is what sucks for DREAMers about this whole situation," Noah said. "You're six weeks away from being deported to a country you've never known, and now the only thing that stands between you and an answer is a man with more broken promises than chins." Watch that — plus Noah's impersonation of McConnell the Player and explanation for why Kermit the Frog is clearly a Republican — below. Peter Weber

12:06 a.m. ET
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

In an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer that most PR professionals would have advised against, Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) admitted he reacted "poorly" when a longtime aide said she had a new boyfriend and was thinking about leaving her job, but said he felt such strong feelings for her because they were "soul mates."

The New York Times reported last week that Meehan, 62, used taxpayer money to settle a case with the former aide, after she accused him of sexual misconduct. Meehan was removed from the House Ethics Committee over the weekend, and while he told the Inquirer that the Times' timeline was correct, he said he never tried to act on his romantic feelings for the aide, who is decades younger than him.

He had developed strong feelings of affection for the aide while working closely with her, Meehan said, and when she got a boyfriend, he'd told her "that I was a happily married man and I was not interested in a relationship, particularly not any sexual relationship, but we were soul mates," defining "soul mate" as "that sort of person that you go through remarkable experiences together." He said he told her all this so he wouldn't be tempted into an inappropriate relationship, and admitted he gave her a hug, which he often did, but it "may have been longer that night than it needed to be."

Meehan also shared with the Inquirer a personal letter he later wrote to the woman, which thanked God for "putting you into my life," and his office said she responded with a text thanking him "for your very kind words and for your friendship." Meehan denied ever harassing the aide, and said any hostility wan't because she rebuffed his advances but due to stress he felt over important votes. He also said he paid her a secret "severance" on the advice of House attorneys. Read Meehan's entire letter, plus a response from the former aide's lawyer, at the Inquirer. Catherine Garcia

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