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April 16, 2018

On Sunday night, Jon Lerner resigned as Vice President Mike Pence's national security adviser, just three days after Pence appointed him to the job. Lerner, who is the top deputy to U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, did not give a reason in the statement released by Pence's office, but Axios reports that Lerner stepped aside to avoid causing any more distractions in the White House. "The vice president's team has always conducted business without drama and agreed with Jon that we can continue to look upon Jon for advice without causing any distractions," a source familiar with the deliberations told Axios.

Earlier Sunday, Axios' Jonathan Swan reported that President Trump moved to block Lerner from coming on board Friday, furious because Lerner had worked as a pollster and ad maker for Club For Growth when the conservative group was spending millions of dollars to knock Trump out of the Republican primaries. Trump told Chief of Staff to get rid of Lerner on Friday, Axios said, but Pence called Trump after landing in Peru and learning about the kerfuffle, and was able to get Trump to drop his opposition. There was also reportedly concern in the White House that Lerner would have been spread too thin working for both Pence and Haley, and suggestions that he lacked the proper background in national security and foreign policy. Peter Weber

8:13 a.m.

On Monday morning, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced that she's running for president in 2020, joining fellow Senate Democrats Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) in a crowded early field for the Democratic nomination. Harris, 54, made her announcement in a video posted online and also on ABC's Good Morning America.

"The future of our country depends on you and millions of others lifting our voices to fight for our American values," Harris said in her video. "That's why I'm running for president of the United States." She will more formally kick off her campaign in Oakland, California, next Sunday. Elected to the Senate in 2016, Harris was California's attorney general and before that, a district attorney. Harris — the daughter of a father who immigrated from Jamaica and mother who immigrated from India — would be the first woman, first Asian-American, and first black woman to be elected president. "Let's be honest, it's going to be ugly," Harris told MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski in December. "When you break things, it is painful. And you get cut. And you bleed."

Harris, who was raised by her mother after her parents' divorce, grew up attending a Hindu temple and black Baptist church, The Washington Post notes, and she attended the historically black Howard University before getting her law degree from the University of California Hastings College of the Law. Peter Weber

7:30 a.m.

The New England Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs in a 37-31 overtime stunner on Sunday to win the AFC championship and send them back to their third straight Super Bowl appearance, and the ninth for the combination of quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick. "Overtime, on the road against a great team," Brady said after the game. "They had no quit. Neither did we. We played our best football at the end. I don't know, man, I'm tired. That was a hell of a game."

Their Super Bowl LIII rivals Feb. 3 will be the Los Angeles Rams, who beat the New Orleans Saints 26-23, also in overtime. This will be the Rams' first Super Bowl appearance since 2002, when they were still based in St. Louis. The Patriots will be the third franchise to play in three consecutive Super Bowls, and Brady, at 41, was already the oldest quarterback to play in the NFL's championship game. Rams quarterback Jared Goff is 24. Rams coach Sean McVay is 32, making him the youngest head coach in Super Bowl history; Belichick is 66. Peter Weber

January 20, 2019

CNN's Jake Tapper made a valiant effort to extract clarity from President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, in an interview on State of the Union Sunday.

Trump "did not have discussions with" his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, before Cohen gave false congressional testimony, Giuliani said, adding, "certainly [Trump] had no discussions with [Cohen] in which he told him or counseled him to lie."

But with his next breath, Giuliani allowed that some discussions may have happened after all. "If [Trump] had any discussions with [Cohen], they'd be about the version of the events that Michael Cohen gave them, which they all believed was true," he said.

Tapper pressed Giuliani to recognize he'd "just acknowledged that it's possible that President Trump talked to Michael Cohen about his testimony" after denying exactly that, and Giuliani responded with a wealth of answers.

Such a conversation "would be perfectly normal," Giuliani said, before emphasizing that he personally does not know whether it occurred and noting that even if he did know, he might not be able to talk about it because of attorney-client privilege.

All that said, Giuliani concluded, it's "not significant" whether such a conversation happened — which it didn't. Unless it did. Rudy Giuliani doesn't know, and if he did, it's possible he couldn't tell you. Bonnie Kristian

January 20, 2019

Vice President Mike Pence on Fox News Sunday slammed congressional Democrats' rejection of the immigration policy package President Trump proposed Saturday as a deal to re-open the federal government from its partial shutdown.

"Well, there's a legislative process that is going to begin on Tuesday in the United States Senate" based on Trump's pitch, Pence said, "and it was disappointing to see [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)] reject the offer before the president gave his speech. I mean, look, the president is offering a solution, and what we have from Democrat [sic] leadership so far is just soundbites."

There were multiple points of overlap between Trump's plan and the statement Pelosi released shortly before Trump's Saturday remarks, though Pelosi panned Trump's deal as "a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people's lives."

Pence also pushed back on claims from immigration hardliners that Trump's offer of "three years of legislative relief" for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and temporary protected status (TPS) recipients amounts to amnesty. "This is not amnesty," he said. "There's no pathway to citizenship there's no permanent status here at all, which is what amnesty contemplates."

In a Sunday morning tweet, Trump also said the three-year extension is not amnesty, but he suggested he could accept amnesty in a future immigration deal.

Watch Pence's full interview below, or read a transcript here. Bonnie Kristian

January 20, 2019

President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen pursued the possibility of a Trump Tower project in Moscow as late as October or November of 2016, Trump's current personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday.

Cohen initially told Congress he abandoned the project in January of 2016, as the Republican primary elections began. He later admitted this was a lie and said talks related to the project continued through June of 2016, around the time Trump clinched the GOP nomination.

"Well, it's our understanding [conversations about the project] went on throughout 2016. Weren't a lot of them, but there were conversations," Giuliani told host Chuck Todd. "Can't be sure of the exact date. But the president can remember having conversations with [Cohen] about it ... as far as October, November. Our answers cover until the election."

Trump has repeatedly claimed the Moscow deal ended before his presidential campaign began. "I mean, I have nothing to do with Russia. I don't have any jobs in Russia. I'm all over the world but we're not involved in Russia," he said in July of 2016 — per Giuliani's present account, four to five months before these conversations about the Moscow project ended.

Watch a clip of Giuliani's comments below, and read his full interview here. Bonnie Kristian

January 20, 2019

About 170 migrants are missing and feared dead after two shipwrecks in the Mediterranean this week.

Three survivors of one wreck rescued by an Italian naval helicopter on Friday said they'd been on a ship with about 120 people which began sinking after leaving Libya Thursday. A 2-month-old baby was among the passengers. Another 53 people who sailed from Morocco are also missing, though at least one person from that boat was rescued.

"We cannot turn a blind eye to the high numbers of people dying on Europe's doorstep," said a statement from the United Nations' refugee agency. "No effort should be spared, or prevented, from saving lives in distress at sea." Bonnie Kristian

January 20, 2019

Local authorities by Saturday evening had revised their estimate of deaths in a Friday explosion at a Mexican fuel pipeline to 73, with another 74 people injured in the blast and more still missing.

The death toll was initially put at 21 but quickly rose. Casualties are high because a crowd of hundreds of villagers had gathered in hopes of collecting free gasoline after the pipeline was punctured by fuel thieves. Gas stations in the area have been rationing gasoline because of fuel shortages, and word of the spill from the pipeline spread quickly.

"I trust in the people, and I know that with these painful, regrettable lessons, the people will also distance themselves from these practices" of fuel theft, said Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who visited the site of the tragedy Saturday. Bonnie Kristian

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