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9:20 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 tell CNN that Chicago Police believe actor Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate an assault on him that he reported late last month.
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: TheBlaze, National Review and
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Heather Nauert withdraws name from UN ambassador consideration  —  State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert has withdrawn her name for consideration to be appointed ambassador to the United Nations.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(Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's choice to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Heather Nauert, has withdrawn from consideration for the job for family reasons, according to a statement issued by the State Department on Saturday.
New York Times:
Heather Nauert Withdraws From Consideration as U.N. Ambassador  —  PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump's pick to serve as ambassador to the United Nations withdrew from consideration on Saturday, citing family concerns.  —  His intended nominee, Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman …
Discussion: Outside the Beltway and The Hill
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 …
Eliana Johnson / Politico:
Trump bets on North Korea to break his losing streak  —  Stung by domestic defeat after a losing battle with Democrats in Washington, D.C., this winter, President Donald Trump hopes his negotiating skills can achieve better results some 8,000 miles away when he meets with North Korea's leader in Vietnam later this month.
Peter Baker / New York Times:
The War That Wasn't: Trump Claims Obama Was Ready to Strike North Korea
Discussion: Breitbart and Bloomberg
Carole Cadwalladr / The Guardian:
Mueller questions Cambridge Analytica director Brittany Kaiser  —  Second former employee of controversial data firm to be questioned by special counsel's inquiry into Russia collusion  —  A director of the controversial data company Cambridge Analytica, who appeared with Arron Banks …
Dwight Garner / New York Times:
In ‘The Threat,’ Andrew McCabe Issues the Latest Warning Call About Trump's America  —  On the back cover of his new book, “The Threat: How the F.B.I. Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump,” Andrew G. McCabe looks preposterously fit (he competes in triathlons).  His hands are at his hips, gunslinger style.
Discussion: The Hill
Andrew McCarthy / Fox News:
McCabe, Rosenstein and the real truth about the 25th Amendment coup attempt
Discussion: RedState
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
Discussion: Hullabaloo
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.
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
Dana Milbank / Washington Post:   This Trump performance is why people talk about the 25th Amendment
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
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
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: Big League Politics and Breitbart
Jack Goldsmith / Lawfare:
What Is and Isn't a Big Deal in Trump's Executive Actions Related to the Border
Discussion: Power Line and Slate
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 More Items: 
CBC News:
‘China is your daddy’: Backlash against Tibetan student's election prompts questions about foreign influence
Bret Stephens / New York Times:
Is Nancy Pelosi a Climate Skeptic?
Jemele Hill / The Atlantic:
Kamala Harris's Blackness Isn't Up for Debate
 Earlier Items: 
Christopher Ingraham / Washington Post:
Amazon paid no federal taxes on $11.2 billion in profits last year
Holly Otterbein / Politico:
Bernie Sanders records video announcing 2020 campaign
New York Times:
Trump's Attempt to Circumvent Congress Leaves Uneasy Senate Republicans With Hard Choice
Discussion: Raw Story