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April 17, 2018

Police across the country are on the lookout for Lois Riess, accused of murdering her husband in Minnesota and a woman who looked like her in Florida.

The 56-year-old grandmother allegedly shot and killed her husband, David, last month, and then went on the lam, eventually winding up in Fort Myers, Florida. There, she met 59-year-old Pamela Hutchinson, and after befriending Hutchinson, she allegedly killed her and then stole her credit cards, driver's license, and white Acura, which has been seen in Texas and Louisiana. "This is the first time in my career that I've seen someone steal someone's identity and target them for the way they look, in order to murder them," Lee County, Florida, Undersheriff Carmine Marceno told NBC News.

Authorities consider Riess armed and dangerous, and Marceno said he believes she will eventually "have no resources, and she will become more desperate and may kill again." Police describe Riess as being 5-foot-5, 165 pounds, with brown eyes, blonde hair, and a history of gambling problems. "She smiles and looks like anyone's mother or grandmother," Marceno said. "And yet she's calculated, she's targeted, and an absolute cold-blooded killer." Catherine Garcia

7:44 a.m.

In August 2016, when Hillary Clinton was widely expected to be elected president, Argentina's new president regaled Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior U.S. officials with a story about Clinton's underdog rival, Donald Trump, Axios reports. Argentina's Mauricio Macri, elected president in 2015, has a long history with Trump, dating back to a contentious business deal between Trump and Macri's father. So Macri was surprised, he told the Americans, when Trump called him up out of the blue during Macri's campaign to offer help.

As Macri reportedly told the story, imitating Trump during the recounting, Trump told him he'd been watching Macri, adding, "I remember you fondly and I remember the business deal." Since the deal hadn't gone well, Macri said, he responded: "Fondly? Fondly, you son of a gun?" Then Trump offered help, and Macri shrugged it off until a FedEx envelope with a check arrived. The three people who told Axios the story couldn't agree on whether Trump's check was for $500 or $5,000, but they all remembered the punch line: "It bounced."

The White House declined to comment to Axios, and Argentina denied that the conversation ever took place. "The conversation certainly did take place," Axios rebuts. "It's not conceivable that our three sources could have colluded to make this up." Still, Macri's administration has diplomatic and practical reasons to deny they story: Trump tends to take public slights seriously and if the story's true, Macri would have technically broken Argentina's rarely enforced restrictions against accepting foreign campaign donations. Peter Weber

6:55 a.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron will make his first public comments on a month of "yellow vest" protests in Paris and other cities in a nationally televised address Monday night. The protests started in opposition to a fuel tax Macron's government had scheduled, but they've since transformed into a movement mobilized against his economic policies, many viewed as tilted toward the wealthy. Macron's decision to scrap the fuel tax did not dampen a fourth weekend protest on Saturday, where about 1,000 of the 136,000 yellow vest protesters were arrested and 71 people injured in Paris. Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said Sunday that Macron "will know how to find the path to the hearts of the French," but there is no "magic wand" to resolve the growing list of yellow vest demands. Peter Weber

6:22 a.m.

Lawmakers are considering a wide range of legislation in the final days of the current Congress, but the only bills they need to pass are the seven remaining spending measures to keep the federal government running past a current deadline of Dec. 21. The most contentious of the remaining spending bills is for the Department of Homeland Security, with President Trump demanding $5 billion for his proposed border wall and Democrats saying no. Trump is set to meet with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — likely the incoming House speaker — and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday to discuss the impasse. Democrats say that, based on Trump's past reneging on legislative deals, they have low expectations for the talks. Peter Weber

5:47 a.m.

Former FBI Director James Comes told House investigators on Friday that the bureau's counterintelligence investigation of possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia began with four unidentified Americans starting in July 2016, "weeks or months" before the FBI learned of "the so-called Steele dossier" compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele for Trump's political rivals. But now, thanks to recent disclosures by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, we know of at least 14 Trump associates and family members — including children Don. Jr. and Ivanka Trump — who were contacted by Russian nationals during President Trump's 2016 campaign, according to The Washington Post's tally.

Some of the Russians circling Trump's world "offered to help his campaign and his real estate business, and "some offered dirt on his Democratic opponent," the Post reports. As Mueller "slowly unveils the evidence that he has gathered since his appointment as special counsel in May 2017, he has not yet shown that any of the dozens of interactions between people in Trump's orbit and Russians resulted in any specific coordination between his presidential campaign and Russia. But the mounting number of communications that have been revealed occurred against the backdrop of 'sustained efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the U.S. presidential election,' as Mueller's prosecutors wrote in a court filing last week."

Russia experts and former presidential campaign officials say that the number and nature of such contacts with a foreign power, much less a hostile power, is highly unusual during a presidential campaign. You can read more about the 14 Trump associates and their Russian contacts at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

4:37 a.m.

On Tuesday, Britain's House of Commons is scheduled to vote on, and expected to reject, Prime Minister Theresa May's negotiated Brexit plan, throwing Britain's exit from the European Union into further uncharted waters. On Monday morning, the European Court of Justice, the EU's top court, answered one unresolved Brexit question, ruling that if Britain so desires, it can unilaterally cancel its divorce any time before it becomes final on March 29, 2019 — or during any extension to that exit date. Revoking the Article 50 exit clause would have to "follow a democratic process," the court ruled, meaning that in Britain, Parliament would have to approve calling off Brexit.

The ECJ issued its ruling in response to a question from a group of anti-Brexit U.K. politicians, and the court said Monday that its aim is to "clarify the options open to MPs" before they vote on Tuesday. The upshot is that staying in the EU is now "a real, viable option," BBC Brussels correspondent Adam Fleming notes, cautioning that "a lot would have to change in British politics" for Brexit to be actually called off.

Assuming lawmakers rejected May's proposal, Parliament could "follow a number of different courses of action, including backing a Norway-type deal or amendments that make significant changes made to the backstop agreement — the insurance policy that prevents a hard border in Ireland," Laura Silver says at BuzzFeed News. "The defeat would also pave the way to a second referendum on leaving the EU, which has already been discussed in Downing Street. It is unclear whether or not remaining in the EU entirely would be an option on the ballot paper." Peter Weber

3:49 a.m.

The low-level U.S. delegation to global climate talks in Katowice, Poland, made waves Saturday night, joining with Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Kuwait in an attempt to weaken support for a United Nations report warning of catastrophic consequences if the world fails to combat rising global temperatures, The Washington Post reports. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report on climate change to coincide with the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), a two-week conference to create rules for implementing the 2015 Paris climate accord.

"The United States was willing to note the report and express appreciation to the scientists who developed it, but not to welcome it, as that would denote endorsement of the report," a State Department spokesman said. "The United States has not endorsed the findings of the report." President Trump, who also downplayed similar dire warnings from a report issued last month by 13 U.S. federal agencies, started withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris accord in 2017, but the U.S. still has a seat at the table until it can formally withdraw in November 2020.

The Natural Resources Defense Council's Jack Schmitdt told the Post that before the U.S. moved "to 'note'" the U.N. report at Saturday night's meeting, "there was going to be an agreement to welcome" it. On Monday, the U.S. is hosting a show in Poland promoting coal and other fossil fuels.

Since the U.S. government released its National Climate Assessment the day after Thanksgiving, the Trump administration has cleared a path for coal-fired plants to evade previous rules to capture pollution and authorized gas drilling on once-protected federal lands. Global carbon-dioxide emissions rose last year, after staying flat since 2014, and U.S. emissions are projected to rise 2.5 percent in 2018, after falling in 2017 and six other years in the past decade, according federal figures. Peter Weber

2:22 a.m.

In court filings Friday, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York linked President Trump to two crimes his former lawyer Michael Cohen admitted to committing on his behalf in 2016. "What the prosecutors did not say in Mr. Cohen's sentencing memorandum," The New York Times reported Sunday, "is that they have continued to scrutinize what other executives in the president's family business may have known about those crimes, which involved hush-money payments to two women who had said they had affairs with Mr. Trump," porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

The federal prosecutors did not directly accuse Trump of committing a crime, but they said Friday that "with respect to both payments, [Cohen] acted in coordination with and at the direction of" Trump. Cohen has said he believed Trump personally approved the Trump Organization's decision to reimburse him for the hush payments, and he told prosecutors that the company's chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, was involved in discussions about the payments, the Times reports.

"While the prevailing view at the Justice Department is that a sitting president cannot be indicted, the prosecutors in Manhattan could consider charging him after leaving office," the Times notes. Trump still owns the Trump Organization through a trust, and the company and its executives — including Trump's children — are not protected by the Justice Department opinion against prosecuting Trump in office.

"There's a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him, that he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time," Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the incoming chairman of the House intelligence committee, said on CBS's Face The Nation. "The bigger pardon question may come down the road as the next president has to determine whether to pardon Donald Trump." Schiff has previously said the intelligence committee will examine Trump's family business. Peter Weber

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