May 21, 2018

Deadpool 2 dethroned Avengers: Infinity War as leader of the box office, taking in $125 million in the U.S. and Canada over its opening weekend. The debut of the sequel featuring Ryan Reynolds' wisecracking superhero was the second-highest opening ever for an R-rated movie. Deadpool 2's haul fell just short of a projected $130 million to $150 million debut. It also fell shy of the original Deadpool's opening weekend haul of $132.4 million.

Avengers: Infinity War had led the box office for the three previous weekends. It dropped to second place, adding $28.7 million to its domestic total, which now stands at $595 million. Worldwide it has brought in $1.8 billion. Harold Maass

8:08 a.m.

Support for President Trump's impeachment and removal from office is continuing to climb, but not among Republicans.

That's according to new CNN/SSRS poll released Tuesday showing support for Trump's impeachment and removal at 50 percent, a new high. This is up three points since CNN asked the question last month in the days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) officially announced the impeachment inquiry; that September poll already saw a six point jump in impeachment support since May. Forty-three percent said they don't support impeachment in the new poll.

Republican support for impeachment has cooled since the September poll, though, with only six percent of GOP respondents now in favor compared to 14 percent last month. Among Democrats, 87 percent support impeachment, while 50 percent of independents support it. Trump's approval has also risen two points since before the official impeachment inquiry was announced.

This poll comes as Democrats are continuing to investigate whether Trump abused the power of the presidency to push Ukraine to launch investigations that might benefit him politically. In the poll, 49 percent said Trump used the presidency improperly to gain advantage in the 2020 presidential election, up one point since last month, while 43 percent said he didn't, up four points since last month. Among Republicans, 87 percent say Trump didn't use the presidency improperly, up from 71 percent in September.

CNN's poll was conducted by speaking to a random national sample of 1,003 adults over the phone from Oct. 17-20. The margin of error is 3.7 percentage points. Read more results at CNN. Brendan Morrow

8:02 a.m.

Iraq on Tuesday gave the U.S. military the old bartender's line at closing time: You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said over the weekend that most of the roughly 1,000 U.S. troops leaving Syria on President Trump's orders would go to western Iraq and perhaps continue to conduct operations against the Islamic State in Syria, though he suggested Monday that some smaller number might stay in Syria to guard oil fields. On Tuesday, Iraq's military said "all U.S. forces that withdrew from Syria received approval to enter the Kurdistan Region so that they may be transported outside Iraq," but "there is no permission granted for these forces to stay inside Iraq."

A senior U.S. defense official later told Reuters that the situation in Iraq and Syria was still fluid and plans may change.

More than 5,000 U.S. troops are already in Iraq, and growing that number significantly would have political ramifications in a country the U.S. invaded in 2003, left in 2001, then returned to help Iraq fight ISIS. Meanwhile, The New York Times reports, "news of the American withdrawal set off jubilation among Islamic State supporters on social media and encrypted chat networks. It has lifted the morale of fighters in affiliates as far away as Libya and Nigeria." Peter Weber

6:55 a.m.

In May, right before his coronation, Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn married his fourth wife, Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya, making her queen. Then in July, he revived an old royal tradition and made 34-year-old Sineenatra Wongvajirabhakdi his royal consort, or junior wife. On Monday, the king officially stripped Sineenatra of her royal titles, decorations, status as a senior member of the royal guard, and her military ranks, accusing her of "misbehavior and disloyalty" and "ambitions" to undermine and "elevate herself to the same state as the queen."

The royal command published Monday said that King Vajiralongkorn, 67, had given Sineeatra "a royal consort position, in hopes of relieving the pressure and a problem that could affect the monarchy," after she had "shown resistance and pressure in every manner to stop the appointment of the queen" ahead of May's coronation. After she failed to become queen herself, the announcement said, Sineenatra had acted above her station and given orders inappropriately and in a manner "dishonorable, lacking gratitude, unappreciative of royal kindness."

Sineeatra and Suthida, 41, were both longtime companions to King Vajiralongkorn, whose third marriage ended in divorce in 2014, two years before his father died, elevating him to the throne. Vajiralongkorn had also stripped that wife of her titles and banished her from court.

Sineeatra, a nurse and major-general in the armed forces, was the first royal consort since King Vajiravudh's reign ended with his death in 1925, though the practice of taking consorts was fairly common in the 19th century. The current king's personal life was subject to quiet rumors during his decades as crown prince, though they remained hushed because Thailand's strict lese majeste law makes insulting members of the royal family a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Peter Weber

5:29 a.m.

In a long, televised Cabinet meeting Monday, President Trump tried to defend himself from criticism of his aborted decision to host next year's G7 summit at his own golf resort outside Miami, though "of course it wouldn't be a Trump meeting if it didn't go off on some rambling tangent about his rally crowd size," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. But "Trump's not the only one defending his right to blow off the Constitution." So is acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, iffily.

Mulvaney told Fox News Sunday that Trump still thinks he's in the "hospitality business," Colbert said. "But admitting that the president still thinks he's running a for-profit business isn't even Mulvaney's biggest gaffe of that interview." He backed up a bit to explain how, in Trump's eyes, Mulvaney messed up. "Throughout this impeachment inquiry, the company line from the administration has been there was no 'quid pro quo' between Trump and Ukraine," Colbert said. "First of all, you don't need 'quid pro quo,' it's super illegal anyway. And second, yeah, 'quid pro quo,' and on Thursday, Mulvaney admitted it."

"Admitting the thing that Trump is being impeached for turned out to be slightly problematic," so on Fox News Sunday, Mulvaney "unveiled his bulletproof defense: He never actually said 'quid pro quo,'" Colbert said. "He does realize you don't have to say the crime to be guilty of the crime, right? To be convicted of homicide, you don't have to stab somebody while saying, 'Murder, murder, murder, murder.'"

Yeah, Trump probably reversed course on the G7 because "it is a bad idea to commit an impeachable offense when you're already being impeached," Seth Meyers said on Late Night. "That would be like stabbing the bailiff at your murder trial."

Luckily, The Late Show had a suggestion for the G7's venue, now that Trump's golf resort has proved too toxic. Watch below. Peter Weber

4:40 a.m.

"This weekend, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney revealed he has a secret Twitter account under the name Pierre Delecto," Conan O'Brien said on Monday's Conan. "A reporter for The Atlantic asked Mitt Romney which late-night comedians he follows on Twitter — this is true — he said the following: 'What's his name, the big redhead from Boston?' It's the only reason I call this show Conan, is that so we don't have those kinds of mix-ups."

"Anyway, I got over that," and "I went through some of Pierre Delecto's tweets," O'Brien said, "and in hindsight it's pretty clear it was Mitt Romney all along." Among the fake Delecto tweets he read: "I had another sexy dream about that big redhead late night guy from Boston. What's his name again? God he's so unmemorable."

"Big redhead from Boston?" Stephen Colbert asked at The Late Show. "He has a name, sir! It's Ginger O'Palebody, and he's a friend!" He suggested the pseudonym Pierre Delecto "sounds like something from a French-Canadian soft-core porn," then apologized "to our neighbors to the north" after trying out a Quebecois accent. "But I have a bone to pick with Pierre, because it turns out Conan's not the only late-night he follows," Colbert said. "He also likes Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon. No, no, you know what? I get it," he said when the audience booed. "And I'm proud to launch our new ad campaign: 'Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon — The Choice of Mitt Romney. Watch The Late Show.'"

"Pierre Delecto? Sounds like an evil chef at Au Bon Pain," Fallon joked at The Tonight Show. "Romney's been running the account since 2011. Yep, Pierre Delecto is 8 years old and loves Twitter — he's just like the president." Tariq Trotter said "Pierre Delecto" sounds like an international man of mystery, and he and The Roots came up with an appropriate theme song while Fallon donned a fake mustache. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:57 a.m.

On Monday, House Democrats blocked a House Republican resolution to censure Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) for "conduct that misleads the American people in a way that is not befitting an elected member of the House of Representatives." The 218-185 party-line vote effectively killed the resolution, introduced last week by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) to register Republican disapproval of Schiff's handling of the House impeachment inquiry of President Trump. The resolution had been expected to fail.

Echoing Trump, the Republicans accused Schiff of a "false retelling" of the president's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, following the White House's public release of a partial reconstructed transcript of that call. They also criticized Schiff for saying his committee had no contact with the whistleblower when in fact a staffer had counseled the unidentified intelligence officer to follow the procedures set up for whistleblowers inside the intelligence community. After the voting started, Schiff suggested his Republican colleagues were misdirecting their censorious energies.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) echoed that critique in a statement, saying: "What the Republicans fear most is the truth. The president betrayed the oath of office, our national security and the integrity of our elections, and the GOP has not even tried to deny the facts. Instead, Republicans stage confusion, undermine the Constitution and attack the person of whom the president is most afraid." Peter Weber

2:02 a.m.

Stephen Colbert's Late Show and Late Night with Seth Meyers were both on break last week, but President Trump gave them entrée into last week's series of unfortunate events with an off-the-rails televised Cabinet meeting Monday. During the long exchange with reporters — "71 minutes isn't a press conference, that's a one-man show," Colbert said Monday — Trump defended his aborted decision to host next year's G7 summit at his own golf resort near Miami.

"Wow, taxpayer money being spent at his own place, that is bald self-dealing — I mean, you'd have to be an idiot to defend that," Colbert said. But aside from Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-S.D.) and a handful of his GOP colleagues, "most Republicans freaked out, ran for cover, changed their names, and filed off their fingerprints." So Trump reversed himself Saturday but "continued to defend the thing he's not gonna do" during Monday's meeting, Colbert said. "Trump finally stropped talking about his resort and addressed the most important issue of the day: just how great he is," before arguing "he should have been allowed to violate the Constitution because he claimed other presidents had."

Trump's meltdown Monday came "after his White House basically confessed to multiple corrupt abuses of power" last week, Meyers said. The chief confessor, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, first "brazenly announce that the president would enrich himself by hosting an official event at his own golf course," and after Trump reversed himself, "Mulvaney had to go on the Sunday shows to explain why Trump was so wounded by all the backlash." Instead, he said Trump thinks he's still in the "hospitality business."

"This is such a key confession from Mulvaney because it explains so much," Meyers said: "Trump still sees himself as the corrupt real estate mogul and reality star who always got away with whatever he wanted, rather than a government official who's bound to the rule of law. That's the Trump we saw on that infamous phone call with the president of Ukraine, and during his press conference on Thursday, Mulvaney literally admitted that they held up the aid to Ukraine as part of a quid pro quo to investigate the Democrats." Watch below. Peter Weber

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