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September 7, 2018

Washington is still reeling from Wednesday's New York Times op-ed from a member of the self-described White House "resistance," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. All the news reports are describing it as "explosive," but "the word I would have used for this op-ed is confusing," Colbert said. "Because if you're inside the White House, pretending to be loyal to the president but secretly thwarting the president to protect the rest of us from him, why would you tell us? Now he'll try to stop you."

"Well, now the hunt for the author is on — the op-ed has sent tremors through the West Wing and launched a frantic guessing game," Colbert said. He wasn't persuaded by the argument that, due to the word "lodestar," the author was Vice President Mike Pence — though "it's so unlike Mike Pence to make a strange word choice," he deadpanned. "Just ask his wife, 'Mother.'"

"Poor Mike Pence — last night was so stressful, Mother had to read him two bedtime stories," Jimmy Kimmel said on Thursday's Kimmel Live. "Someone wrote this op-ed, and nobody knows who it is, but Sen. Rand Paul has what I think is a terrific idea: He's suggesting they give everyone a lie-detector test. I'm all for it, give everyone a lie-detector test, ask everyone on the White House staff, 'Do you think the president is a dangerous idiot?'" But Kimmel also found all the commotion "funny," because "I already know who it is, I know the name of the person who wrote this," he said. "It's Jared, it's Jared Kushner, his son-in-law." You can hear his elaborate argument for Kushner being the mole below. Peter Weber

1:02 a.m.

"Happy Martin Luther King Day, in which we honor Dr. King's dream, 50 percent off at Nordstrom's," Stephen Colbert joked on Monday's Late Show. He caught everyone up on the Rams-Saints game and a blatant foul that cost New Orleans the game, and "speaking of things that make you scream at your TV: Donald Trump," he said, pivoting.

On Day 31 of the government shutdown, President Trump hasn't forgotten about the 800,000 workers going without paychecks, but Colbert found his supportive tweet wanting. "They're not volunteering to work for free," he pointed out. "You might as well have tweeted: 'THANK YOU, GREAT PATRIOTS! Please accept this Tweet in lieu of a paycheck. Quick tip: tell your landlord Mexico's going to pay your rent.'"

But Trump did go on TV Saturday and "made an offer that he was sure everyone would love," Colbert said. "In exchange for his border wall, Trump offered to restore DACA and TPS protections for three years — which is weird, since they're protections that he himself took away." Democrats "somehow did not fall for" Trump's temporary hostage deal, he said, and in fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) "said no before Trump even asked — a move known in Washington as 'The Melania.'"

On Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kimmel's Abe Lincoln was joined by George Washington (Fred Armisen), Thomas Jefferson (Bobby Moynihan), and Teddy Roosevelt (Jeff Ross) on Mount Rushmore as a new face was added: Trump (Anthony Atamanuik). The former presidents wanted to know what Trump did to get on the monument. "I also ended slavery," Kimmel's Lincoln said. "That's not true — I've been making a bunch of federal employees work for free for 31 days," Trump said. And he also made some ... changes to the treasured national park. Watch below. Peter Weber

January 21, 2019

"Martin Luther King Jr. Day: A day when Americans celebrate a Civil Rights icon — and Americans who don't, get off work," Trevor Noah said on Monday's Daily Show. "And over the weekend, everyone was getting into the MLK spirit — even America's whitest man," Vice President Mike Pence. Noah suggested Pence's lashing of President Trump to MLK and improving democracy was a little much: "'Through the legislative process?' I think Mike Pence just skipped over the whole protesting and getting beaten up part," he said. "Like, I never watched the trailer for Selma and thought, 'Oh man, that looks like some intensive legislative process!'"

Dulcé Sloan came out to celebrate "the real Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, not the whitewashed Hallmark version," and she found his imperfections a little sexy.

"We have to admit as people, the toughest thing to combat is our bias," Noah told his audience between takes, outlining Friday's encounter between a group of teens from a Kentucky Catholic all-boys high school and a Native American activist, Nathan Phillips. "It's like a weird story where I feel like depending on who was holding the camera, their story made them look like the victim — every single person," he said. The media should have searched for more video before jumping on the story, but the MAGA-fan Covington high schoolers also weren't the scared naifs trying to defuse the situation they now claim to be, he added, "they were being a--holes, they were being kids."

"I think everyone played the victim card a little too hard," Noah said. "If anything, I know it's crazy statement to make, but I feel like that's what the National Mall is supposed to be about. People go there and protest, say whatever they want to say, and then go home. I think that was a great display of all First Amendment, no Second Amendment. It's a good time." Watch below. Peter Weber

January 21, 2019

Anthony Scaramucci spent just 11 days as White House communications director, but it was long enough for President Trump to determine that he is "completely out of his mind," a former aide writes in the latest book about the dysfunction taking place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Cliff Sims is the former White House director of message strategy, and his new book, Team of Vipers, goes on sale next week. The Washington Post received an advance copy, and Philip Rucker describes Sims as being "a true believer in Trump and his agenda" who wrote "whimsically of the president, but still is critical of him, especially his morality." Scaramucci's brief tenure merited an entire chapter in Team of Vipers, "The Mooch is Loose," painting a picture of a man rabidly searching for the people leaking to the media details about the inner workings of the White House.

Sims writes that Scaramucci threatened to fire all 40 media aides, and told them if anyone asked them to leak, they had to respond by saying no way, Jose. "I cannot do that," he reportedly ordered them to say. "I only report to Anthony Scaramucci and he reports directly to the president of the United States." Trump was tickled by Scaramucci, and asked Sims: "Can you believe this guy? He's completely out of his mind — like, on drugs or something — totally out of his mind. We'll figure it out, but the guy is crazy." Read more anecdotes from Team of Vipers — including several awkward encounters between Trump and former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

January 21, 2019

The sanctions agreement reached by the Trump administration and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska actually appears to benefit Deripaska, The New York Times reports.

Last April, the Treasury Department announced sanctions against Deripaska — a onetime business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort — and three of his companies, as well as six other Russian oligarchs and their companies, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying they were in response to "a range of malign activity around the globe." In December, Mnuchin said the Treasury Department reached an agreement to lift the sanctions on three companies controlled by Deripaska: the aluminum company Rusal; EN+, the holding company that owns Rusal; and EuroSibEnergo. As part of the deal, Mnuchin said, the companies had to "significantly diminish Deripaska's ownership and sever his control."

The Times reviewed a confidential document, signed by a Treasury official and representatives of Deripaska's companies, that shows under the deal, he will have the opportunity to wipe out hundreds of millions of dollars in debt by transferring some of his shares to the Russian government-owned bank VTB, which has lent him a substantial amount of money. At the same time, his allies — who are also close to the Kremlin — will still have major stakes in his companies.

In a statement, the Treasury Department said Deripaska's companies have "committed to provide Treasury with an unprecedented level of transparency into their dealings to ensure that Deripaska does not reassert control." The Times reports that privately, Deripaska associates are happy with the agreement, and after the deal was announced, share prices of Rusal and EN+ went up, boosting Deripaska's portfolios. For more of the details in the agreement, visit The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

January 21, 2019

All across Hollywood, starlets and producers and directors are setting their alarms for 5:20 a.m., so they can watch live as the 2019 Oscar nominations are announced.

Actors Tracee Ellis Ross and Kumail Nanjiani will reveal the nominees Tuesday morning, with the nominations livestreamed on YouTube. Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book were surprise — and controversial — winners at the Golden Globes earlier this month, taking home the best drama and best musical or comedy awards, respectively, and will likely be nominated for Best Picture. On Saturday, Green Book's Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly, and Nick Vallelonga won the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Picture from the Producers Guild of America. The Associated Press notes that in the last 10 years, the winner of that award has gone on to take home the Oscar for Best Picture.

A Star is Born was an early favorite to win big during awards season, but only took home the Golden Globe for best song. Still, stars Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper are expected to be nominated in the acting categories, and Cooper will likely also get a nod for his directorial debut. Spike Lee has been nominated for two Oscars — one for writing, and one for best documentary — and in 2015 received an honorary Oscar, but this year, it's believed he'll get his first directing nomination for BlacKkKlansman.

There can be five to 10 Best Picture nominees, and last year, there were nine. Should Alfonso Cuarón's Roma snag a nomination, it would be the first time for a Netflix movie; Roma is also Mexico's foreign language submission, and if it comes out on top, Roma would be the first foreign language film to take the category. If Black Panther is nominated, that would give Marvel its first ever Best Picture nomination. The ceremony, which does not yet have a host, will be held Feb. 24 in Hollywood. Catherine Garcia

January 21, 2019

Researchers have found an undisclosed ballistic missile base in North Korea, and say there could be as many as 20 secret bases across the country.

Beyond Parallel, a project sponsored by the defense think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, released a report on Monday that revealed the existence of the Sino-ri Missile Operating Base, 130 miles north of the DMZ. Satellite photos of the base taken in late December show an entrance to an underground bunker, hardened shelters, and the headquarters of the Korean People's Army Strategic Rocket Forces missile brigade. Beyond Parallel says the base has been crucial in the development of ballistic missiles able to reach Japan, South Korea, and Guam.

In February, the U.S. and North Korea will meet for a second nuclear summit, and one of the report's authors, Victor Cha, told NBC News the North Koreans are "not going to negotiate over things they don't disclose." Even if North Korea agreed to dismantle all nuclear facilities that have been disclosed to the United States, "they're still going to have all this operational capability," Cha added. Catherine Garcia

January 21, 2019

On Sunday, Rudy Giuliani said talks about a Trump Tower project in Moscow were held as late as October or November 2016. On Monday, he distanced himself from those comments, saying President Trump doesn't recall whether discussions went on through the election.

While on Meet the Press, Giuliani, one of Trump's lawyers, said the president remembered the talks "could be up to as far as October, November [2016]." That story shifted on Monday, when he told CNN because no records were kept of the discussions, no one knows when they ended. Trump, he added, saw the project as a "minor matter." Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was in charge of the Moscow project, and in November, he pleaded guilty to lying about how long he was in negotiations over the deal; he originally said discussions ended in January 2016, but later said they went through June 2016.

Giuliani also released a statement on Monday saying when he made his comments on Sunday, he was just speculating based on a hypothetical situation, and his remarks were "not based on conversations I had with the president. My comments did not represent the actual timing or circumstances of any such discussions. The point is that the proposal was in the earliest stage and did not advance beyond a free non-binding letter of intent." Catherine Garcia

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