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4:40 AM ET, February 17, 2019


 Top Items: 
Police sources: New evidence suggests Jussie Smollett orchestrated attack  —  Chicago (CNN)Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that Chicago Police believe Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate the assault.  —  The brothers, who were arrested Wednesday …
CBS Chicago:
Jussie Smollett Case: Brothers Questioned By Police Were Paid $3,500 To Stage Attack, Which Was Rehearsed Days Before, Sources Say  —  CHICAGO (CBS) — Jussie Smollett paid two brothers to stage an attack against him, directed them to buy items used in the alleged assault and actually rehearsed it with them, sources say.
Sara Dorn / Page Six:
Jussie Smollett hires Michael Cohen's criminal defense lawyer  —  Jussie Smollett has hired Michael Cohen's criminal defense lawyer, the attorney confirmed this week, amid the deepening mystery of the “Empire” actor's claim that he was the victim of a hate attack.
Discussion: National Review, TheBlaze and
Sam Roberts / New York Times:
Patrick Caddell, Self-Taught Pollster Who Helped Carter to White House, Dies at 68  —  Patrick Caddell, the political pollster who helped send an obscure peanut farmer named Jimmy Carter to the White House, later became disillusioned with fellow Democrats and finally veered to advise supporters …
Zachary Basu / Axios:
Heather Nauert withdraws name from UN ambassador consideration  —  State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert has withdrawn her name for consideration to be appointed ambassador to the United Nations. … The backdrop: Nauert was nominated to replace Nikki Haley in December.
Christopher Bing / Reuters:
Trump's choice for U.N. ambassador withdraws: State Department  —  WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's choice to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Heather Nauert, has withdrawn from consideration for the job for family reasons, according to a statement issued by the State Department on Saturday.
John Cassidy / New Yorker:
A Weak and Rambling President Declares a Fake National Emergency  —  On Friday morning, Donald Trump walked up to a lectern in the White House Rose Garden to make an announcement of monumental importance that clearly couldn't wait a moment longer.  “Before we begin,” he said …
Dan Balz / Washington Post:
In declaring a national emergency, Trump reminds Republicans: It's all about him
Discussion: Raw Story, Mediaite and IJR
Annie Karni / New York Times:   Trump Follows Familiar Playbook When Confronted by a Loss: Distract and Digress
Denise Lu / New York Times:
Trump's Emergency Declaration Is the First Since 9/11 to Authorize Military Action
Discussion: Business Insider
New York Times:
Merkel Rejects U.S. Demands That Europe Pull Out of Iran Nuclear Deal  —  MUNICH, Germany — In an uncharacteristically passionate speech, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany delivered a strong rejoinder on Saturday to American demands that European allies pull out of the Iran nuclear deal …
Washington Post:
Trump foreign policy under attack from all sides at European security conference  —  MUNICH — An annual security conference where Western allies have long forged united fronts erupted Saturday into a full-scale assault on the Trump administration's foreign policy.
Allie Malloy / CNN:
Pence calls on European allies to withdraw from Iran deal as Merkel defends decision
Discussion: KBZK and Mediaite
Michael Goldstein / New York Daily News:
A campus infected with hostility: A professor says he's been targeted for being a conservative Jew  —  Each time I walk into my office at Kingsborough Community College, I draw inspiration from a picture of my father, Leon Goldstein, the school's president for 29 years and the man who built the college's modern-day campus.
New York Times:
Trump Is Driving Out Precious Republican Voters  —  The young in particular are slipping away.  —  The authors are political data experts.  —  Ever since Donald Trump's upset victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, much of the media attention has been on how Democrats need to reconsider …
Discussion: Hullabaloo
What Presidential Powers Trump Has During A National Emergency  —  NPR's Audie Cornish speaks to Liza Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center for Justice's Liberty and National Security Program, about presidential powers during a national emergency.  —  AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Discussion: Breitbart and Big League Politics
Jonathan Turley / The Hill:
Why Trump will win the wall fight
Discussion: National Review
Jack Goldsmith / Lawfare:
What Is and Isn't a Big Deal in Trump's Executive Actions Related to the Border
David Wallace-Wells / New York Times:
Time to Panic  —  The planet is getting warmer in catastrophic ways.  And fear may be the only thing that saves us.  —  Mr. Wallace-Wells is the author of the forthcoming “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming.”  —  The age of climate panic is here.
Discussion: Washington Monthly
Andrew McCarthy / Fox News:
McCabe, Rosenstein and the real truth about the 25th Amendment coup attempt  —  Ever wonder why people hate lawyers?  Consider Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's non-denial denial of his participation in discussions of an attempted coup against the duly elected president of the United States.
Michael Goodwin / Fox News:
Andrew McCabe is a national disgrace - and we owe him a big, fat thank you
Discussion: Fox News Insider
Peter Baker / New York Times:
The War That Wasn't: Trump Claims Obama Was Ready to Strike North Korea  —  WASHINGTON — America was on the brink of war.  As President Barack Obama prepared to leave office, he was contemplating yet another conflict in Asia, where the United States had already fought twice since the 1950s without winning.
Holly Otterbein / Politico:
Bernie Sanders records video announcing 2020 campaign  —  Bernie Sanders, inching closer to a second bid for the White House, has recorded a campaign video in which he says he is running for president in 2020, according to two people familiar with the spot.  —  It's the latest sign …
Discussion: Bloomberg and Talking Points Memo
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 More Items: 
CBC News:
‘China is your daddy’: Backlash against Tibetan student's election prompts questions about foreign influence
Caitlin Yilek / Washington Examiner:
Mueller calls for Paul Manafort to spend up to 24 years in prison
Discussion: RedState, Townhall and CNN
Alanna Durkin Richer / Associated Press:
Opioid maker used rap video to push powerful painkiller
Elizabeth Dwoskin / Washington Post:
Google reaped millions in tax breaks as it secretly expanded its real estate footprint across the U.S.
Bret Stephens / New York Times:
Is Nancy Pelosi a Climate Skeptic?
Anne Gearan / Washington Post:
Pence urges E.U. to denounce Maduro and recognize Guaidó as Venezuela's leader
Discussion: Politico and Mother Jones
 Earlier Items: 
Jemele Hill / The Atlantic:
Kamala Harris's Blackness Isn't Up for Debate
Christopher Ingraham / Washington Post:
Amazon paid no federal taxes on $11.2 billion in profits last year
The Intercept:
Locked Inside a Freezing Federal Jail, They United to Protest Their Conditions — Only to Face Reprisals
New York Times:
Trump's Attempt to Circumvent Congress Leaves Uneasy Senate Republicans With Hard Choice
Discussion: Raw Story
Robyn Kanner / New York Times:
Esquire's Cover Boy and Our Culture of Shame
Kait Bolongaro / Politico:
Spain could get right-wing government, survey suggests