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3:25 PM ET, December 13, 2018

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 Top Items: 
Aaron Blake / Washington Post:
7 quotes that show how blatant the Trump hush money coverup was  —  President Trump on Thursday tacitly admitted, for the first time, that he directed Michael Cohen to facilitate hush-money payments to two women who had alleged affairs with Trump, Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels.
RELATED:
Howard Kurtz / Fox News:
Trump cancels White House Christmas party for the press  —  EXCLUSIVE - President Trump has canceled the White House holiday party for the media, making the decades-old tradition a victim of his increasingly contentious relationship with major news organizations.
NBC News:
Trump confides to friends he's concerned about impeachment  —  Despite public declarations that he's unconcerned, the president has told people close to him he's alarmed about the prospect of impeachment.  —  WASHINGTON — Despite President Donald Trump's public declaration that he isn't concerned …
Caleb Ecarma / Mediaite:
Watch Napolitano Debunk All of Fox & Friends' Trump Defenses: ‘John Edwards Case Actually Hurts the President’  —  As the co-hosts of Fox & Friends rallied to defend their favorite president, as their colleague, senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano, continued to confront them with the implication …
Associated Press:
As protectors abandon Trump, investigation draws closer  —  NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump has now been abandoned by two of his most powerful protectors — his longtime lawyer and the company that owns the National Enquirer tabloid — bringing a perilous investigation into his campaign a step closer to the Oval Office.
Tommy Christopher / Mediaite:
Former Apprentice Staffer Claims Trump Was ‘Speed Freak,’ Invited Teen Beauty Queens to His Suite
Discussion: Joe.My.God.
Philip Bump / Washington Post:
Evaluating Trump's latest legal defense on the 2016 hush-money payments
Brian Stelter / CNN:
How the National Enquirer broke up with President Trump
Discussion: New York Times and Mediaite
Khorri Atkinson / Axios:
Trump uses Congress as excuse on alleged campaign finance violations
Discussion: ABC News, Political Wire and Hullabaloo
RELATED:
Washington Post:
Russian Maria Butina pleads guilty in effort to forge Kremlin bond with U.S. conservatives  —  A Russian gun rights activist pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring with a senior Russian official to infiltrate the conservative movement in the United States as an agent for the Kremlin from 2015 until her arrest in July 2017.
BuzzFeed News:
Maria Butina Pleaded Guilty To Illegally Trying To Set Up Backchannels With US Officials To Benefit Russia
Discussion: Boing Boing
Michael Balsamo / Associated Press:
In plea deal, Russian woman admits to being a secret agent
Erin Banco / The Daily Beast:
Get Ready for Mueller's Phase Two: The Middle East Connection  —  The ‘Russia investigation’ is set to go global.  In court filings due to drop in 2019, prosecutors will unveil Middle Eastern countries' attempts to influence U.S. politics.  —  Over the past year, the indictments, convictions …
Christine Stapleton / Palm Beach Post:
BREAKING: Trump plans 16-day holiday visit to Mar-a-Lago  —  President Donald Trump is expected to spend 16 days at Mar-a-Lago over the Christmas and New Year's holidays, according to an alert issued by the Federal Aviation Administration this morning.  —  The alert warns pilots to avoid …
David Corn / Mother Jones:
Did Michael Flynn Try to Strike a Grand Bargain With Moscow as It Attacked the 2016 Election?  —  In early December, special counsel Robert Mueller, in preparation for the upcoming sentencing of Michael Flynn, submitted two memos outlining his recommended punishment for President Donald Trump's former national security adviser.
RELATED:
CNN:
Key lawmakers seek to haul in Trump associates working with Mueller
Discussion: FOX2now.com and KXLF-TV
Jim Geraghty / National Review:
Nancy Pelosi: Term Limits for Thee, but Not for Me  —  Making the click-through worthwhile: Nancy Pelosi announces her support for term limits for other people, Theresa May announces she's on her way out, and Hallmark reaches another milestone in made-for-television saccharine.
RELATED:
Ginger Gibson / Reuters:
Pelosi says House Democrats will begin process to obtain Trump tax returns
Discussion: Raw Story
Carl Hulse / New York Times:
It Took Quite a Push, but McConnell Finally Allows Criminal Justice Vote  —  WASHINGTON — I was wrong about Mitch McConnell.  —  I doubted he would ever put a criminal justice measure that divided Republicans and ran counter to his conservative political instincts on the floor for a vote.
Discussion: Hit & Run
RELATED:
Cheyenne Haslett / ABC News:
Sen. Jeff Flake bids farewell to Congress, warns the country is not ‘immune’ to authoritarianism
Discussion: Politico and Mediaite
J. K. Trotter / New York Times:
Chris Hayes's Work Diary: ‘My Life Is an Unceasing Festival of Impatience’  —  The journalist and MSNBC host wakes up to Twitter and ends the day “basically a brain-dead mess.”  —  As told to J. K. Trotter  —  Before he began hosting “All In,” which airs weeknights on MSNBC …
Nick Corasaniti / New York Times:
Democrats in New Jersey Have a Firm Grip on Power.  They Want Even More.  —  TRENTON — [What you need to know to start the day: Get New York Today in your inbox.]  —  Legislative power brokers across the country have long designed district lines in back-room deals that entrenched their control for years, if not decades.
Associated Press:
Judge tosses suit by Maine GOP congressman who lost election  —  AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A federal judge rejected a lawsuit Thursday by a Republican incumbent from Maine who lost the nation's first congressional election held under a candidate-ranking system.
RELATED:
Steve Mistler / Maine Public:
Federal Judge Strikes Down Poliquin's Challenge To Maine's Ranked-Choice Voting Law
Discussion: Politico and Hit & Run
Sam Levin / The Guardian:
'They don't care': Facebook fact-checking in disarray as journalists push to cut ties  —  Journalists paid to help fix Facebook's fake news problem say they have lost trust in the platform  —  Journalists working as fact-checkers for Facebook have pushed to end a controversial media partnership …
New York Times:
The Rise of Right-Wing Extremism, and How We Missed It … Listen and subscribe to our podcast from your mobile device:  —  Despite repeated warnings over the past two decades, federal law enforcement officials in the United States have ignored the threat of violence from far-right extremists.
Discussion: Talking Points Memo
Stephen Robinson / Wonkette:
Totally Non-Evil ICE Arrests 170 Immigrants Trying To Save Babies From Baby Jails  —  It's the holiday season, and in between debating the merits of Love Actually and “Baby It's Cold Outside,” you've probably wondered what's going on with all those migrant children the Trump administration separated from their families.
Discussion: NBC News
Department of Homeland Security:
Walls Work  —  WE ARE BUILDING THE FIRST NEW BORDER WALL IN A DECADE.  —  DHS is committed to building wall and building wall quickly.  We are not replacing short, outdated and ineffective wall with similar wall.  Instead, under this President we are building a wall that is 30-feet high.
Rob Picheta / CNN:
Foul-mouthed Santa horrifies parents  —  (CNN)Organizers of a Christmas event have apologized to outraged parents after a fire alarm reportedly prompted Santa Claus to burst out of his grotto, rip off his beard and scream at children to “get the f**k out.”  —  The incident occurred at an event …
Mark Strassmann / CBS News:
“I blame myself”: Retirement remains out of reach for millions of Americans  —  WAGONER, Okla. — For the first time since the 1940s, Americans are reaching retirement age in worse financial shape than their parents.  An estimated 10 million people older than 65 are still working — a number that has more than doubled since 1985.
Jessica Valenti / Medium:
The $400 Rape … A young woman in Texas found out this week precisely how much the criminal justice system values her.  The former fraternity president she says raped her will serve no jail time and will not be put on the sex offenders registry.  Instead, he will pay a $400 fine …
Michael Gold / New York Times:
Does This Look Right to You?  HOLLAD TONNEL  —  They decked the Holland with boughs of holly Then people called their décor folly.  —  Hundreds signed a web petition Now they'll vote on their position.  —  As it has in so many Decembers past, the Port Authority of New York …
Marco Rubio / The Atlantic:
America Needs to Restore Dignity of Work  —  There was once a path to a stable and prosperous life in America that has since closed off.  It was a well-traveled path for many Americans: Graduate from high school and get a job, typically with a local manufacturer or one of the service industries associated …
Discussion: Bloomberg, Mother Jones and twitchy.com
Bret Stephens / New York Times:
When Anti-Zionism Tunnels Under Your House  —  For the people of northern Israel, anti-Zionism isn't some feckless sally in the world of ideas.  —  In 2002, Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, was said to have given a speech noting that the creation of the state of Israel …
CNN:
Beto O'Rourke leapfrogs most of the 2020 Democratic field  —  (CNN)It's Beto O'Rourke's world, every other Democrat is just living in it.  —  That's the reality of the moment as the Democratic Party begins to ramp up for what will almost certainly be the largest presidential field in modern memory.
Will Sommer / The Daily Beast:
In a First, Lawmaker Cites QAnon Conspiracy From City Council Floor  —  San Juan Capistrano councilmember Pam Patterson paid homage to the conspiracy theory during her goodbye speech.  —  In what appears to be the first instance of an elected official bringing up the QAnon conspiracy theory …
Discussion: Contemptor
Andrew McCormick / Columbia Journalism Review:
A law firm in the trenches against media unions  —  In May, the law firm Jones Day hosted a conference in its Manhattan office focused on labor and employment law in the news media industry.  It was an invitation-only affair, bringing together Jones Day attorneys and media executives …
 
 
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 More Items: 
Peter Aldhous / BuzzFeed News:
The Cities Where The Cops See No Hate
David Nakamura / Washington Post:
House approves resolution calling persecution of Myanmar Muslims a ‘genocide,’ in contrast with Trump's silence
Discussion: Politico and KXLF-TV
Tawnell D. Hobbs / Wall Street Journal:
Down With Homework, Say U.S. School Districts
Kate Bennett / CNN:
Melania Trump's poll numbers plummet
Discussion: AOL and Splinter
CNN:
READ: Jeff Flake's farewell address to Congress
Discussion: IJR
Eugene Scott / Washington Post:
In farewell, Hatch calls on religious conservatives to find common ground with LGBT community
Discussion: PinkNews and Washington Monthly
Claire McNear / The Ringer:
Lost at Sea With the Property Brothers
 Earlier Items: 
Jacqueline Howard / CNN:
Gun deaths in US reach highest level in nearly 40 years, CDC data reveals
Discussion: Political Wire
Carol Anderson / HuffPost:
The Russians Meddled In Our Democracy, But They Had All-American Help
Philip Bump / Washington Post:
Trump got Mexico to pay for the wall by simply changing the meaning of ‘pay’ and ‘Mexico’
Adam Harris / The Atlantic:
The Liberal Arts May Not Survive the 21st Century
Jonathan Chait:
Since there seems to be some interest in my position …
Asha Rangappa / Washington Post:
Mueller should try to indict Trump. It would guarantee his report goes public.
Discussion: Raw Story
Kyle Kondik / Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball:
Senate 2020: Republican exposure on paper, but not necessarily in practice
Discussion: Colorado Politics