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5:30 PM ET, February 18, 2019


 Top Items:
Jussie Smollett — Rehearsed ‘Attack’ with 2 Brothers ... Law Enforcement Says  —  EXCLUSIVE  —  Jussie Smollett rehearsed the “attack” against him days before the incident and it was all staged for the camera, this according to what the 2 brothers told cops.
CBS Chicago:
Jussie Smollett Case: Clues Into Potential Motive Behind The Attack  —  (CBS) -"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett, upset after a racist letter sent to the show's studio didn't get a “bigger reaction,” is suspected of paying two men to attack him a week later, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the investigation.
Caleb Howe / Mediaite:
Did the Media Jump the Gun on the Jussie Smollett Story?
Nana Efua Mumford / Washington Post:
I doubted Jussie Smollett. It breaks my heart that I might be right.
Kyle Smith / New York Post:
Don't expect apologies from the left over Jussie Smollett ‘attack’ fraud
Victor Davis Hanson / American Greatness:
Autopsy of a Dead Coup  —  The illegal effort to destroy the 2016 Trump campaign by Hillary Clinton campaign's use of funds to create, disseminate among court media, and then salt among high Obama administration officials, a fabricated, opposition smear dossier failed.
Darren Samuelsohn / Politico:
Trump can't run the Mueller playbook on New York feds  —  Even as speculation mounts that special counsel Robert Mueller might be winding down his investigation, a parallel threat to President Donald Trump only seems to be growing within his own Justice Department: the Southern District of New York.
Morgan Chalfant / The Hill:   Five things to watch as Barr takes the reins of Justice, Mueller probe
Jacob Solis / The Nevada Independent:
Warren: If officials believe Trump cannot fulfill duties, they must invoke 25th Amendment  —  Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Sunday in Las Vegas that Trump administration officials have an obligation to invoke the 25th Amendment if they believe the president cannot fulfill his duties.
Philip Bump / Washington Post:
Why allegations of a ‘coup’ against Trump are unfounded
Discussion: Vox, The Daily Caller and Daily Wire
Jennifer Jacobs / Bloomberg:
Trump Considering Powell, Craft, Grenell, James for UN Job, Sources Say  — Ivanka Trump may also be considered, person familiar says  — State Department spokeswoman Nauert withdrew nomination  —  President Donald Trump is considering four people to be his next UN ambassador …
Seven MPs leave Labour Party in protest at Jeremy Corbyn's leadership  —  Seven MPs have resigned from the Labour Party in protest at Jeremy Corbyn's approach to Brexit and anti-Semitism.  —  They are: Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey.
Discussion: NPR, Breitbart, Axios, Mediaite and Mashable
Stephen Castle / New York Times:
7 Labour Lawmakers Resign in U.K., in Rebuke of Jeremy Corbyn
Kristine Phillips / Washington Post:
Florida sixth-grader charged with misdemeanor after refusing to recite Pledge of Allegiance  —  A Florida student is facing misdemeanor charges after a confrontation with his teacher that began with his refusal to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and escalated into what officials described as disruptive behavior.
Adam Jentleson / New York Times:
How Mitch McConnell Enables Trump  —  He's not an institutionalist.  He's the man who surrendered the Senate to the president.  —  Mr. Jentleson is a former deputy chief of staff to retired Senator Harry Reid.  —  Among the casualties of President Trump's declaration of a national emergency …
Brennan Weiss / Business Insider:
RANKED: The greatest US presidents, according to political scientists  — Nearly 200 political scientists ranked the presidents by order of greatness in a survey, and President Donald Trump came in last.  — President Abraham Lincoln was first.  — Members of the American Political …
Hans von der Burchard / Politico:
Juncker: Trump ‘gave me his word’ not to impose car tariffs
Alexander Burns / New York Times:
Obama Quietly Gives Advice to 2020 Democrats, but No Endorsement  —  A secret meeting of former President Barack Obama's financial backers convened in Washington early this month: Organized by David Jacobson and John Phillips, Mr. Obama's former ambassadors to Canada and Italy …
Darby Beane / WBKO-TV:
Man accused of pulling gun on victim wearing MAGA hat  —  BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) — A Tennessee man is in jail after being accused of pulling a gun on a Sam's Club customer Saturday.  —  According to the police report, officers were called to Sam's Club due to a person with a gun.
Camilo Montoya-Galvez / CBS News:
Hurd says 1,000 Texas farmers could have land seized to build Trump's border wall  —  Texas Rep. Will Hurd, the sole Republican representing a congressional district along the southern border, said more than 1,000 farmers in his state are at risk of having their land seized by the federal government …
Discussion: ThinkProgress and Arizona Republic
Could Congress Block Trump's Emergency Declaration?  —  President Trump has declared a national emergency in order to pay for physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, but will Congress block it?  That's a long shot — but we can't rule it out either.
Kate Riga / Talking Points Memo:
Stone Posted A Picture Of The Federal Judge On His Case With Crosshairs  —  Roger Stone posted a picture on his Instagram Monday of U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, the federal judge presiding over his case, with crosshairs in the corner.  —  In the post, he accuses …
Discussion: Hill Reporter
Sheryl Gay Stolberg / New York Times:
Republicans Already Are Demonizing Democrats as Socialists and Baby Killers  —  WASHINGTON — In the 116th Congress, if you're a Democrat, you're either a socialist, a baby killer or an anti-Semite.  —  That, at least, is what Republicans want voters to think, as they seek to demonize Democrats …
Record High Name Government as Most Important Problem  —  WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thirty-five percent of Americans name the government, poor leadership or politicians as the greatest problem facing the U.S. This is the highest percentage Gallup has recorded for this concern …
Discussion: TheBlaze
Ashraf Khalil / Associated Press:
DC's many prankster activists turn anger into street theater  —  WASHINGTON (AP) — In the nation's capital, it can be hard for protesters to stand out.  A group of 50 people — or even 500 — holding signs and shouting hardly merits a second glance in this city of protests.
Discussion: Axios
Dennis Wagner / Arizona Republic:
Grand Canyon tourists exposed for years to radiation in museum building, safety manager says  —  For nearly two decades at the Grand Canyon, tourists, employees, and children on tours passed by three paint buckets stored in the National Park's museum collection building, unaware that they were being exposed to radiation.
Discussion: The Daily Caller
Stacey Stowe / New York Times:
New York City to Ban Discrimination Based on Hair  —  New guidelines out this week give legal recourse to individuals who have been harassed, punished or fired because of the style of their hair.  —  Under new guidelines to be released this week by the New York City Commission on Human Rights …
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 More Items: 
Leslie Hook / Financial Times:
Surge in US economists' support for carbon tax to tackle emissions
Carl Campanile / New York Post:
Bernie Sanders might launch presidential bid at Brooklyn College
Discussion: NY State of Politics
Caitlin Cruz / Bustle:
2019 Presidents Day Protests Against Trump's Wall Are About To Happen Nationwide
Discussion: Common Dreams, Breitbart and USA Today
Cameron Cawthorne / Washington Free Beacon:
Farrakhan: The ‘Wicked Jews’ Use Me to Attack Women's Movement, March Leaders
ABC News:
Lawmakers launch new probe into ‘complex web’ of alleged ties between NRA, Russians
Discussion: Daily Kos
 Earlier Items: 
Sara Sidner / CNN:
Grand jury seated in wake of new R. Kelly allegations, sources say
Discussion: The Root
Robert Tracinski / The Bulwark:
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the Left's Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Nicole Perlroth / New York Times:
Chinese and Iranian Hackers Renew Their Attacks on U.S. Companies
Discussion: The Week and Bloomberg
Will Weissert / Associated Press:
Border wall a complex issue for 2020 prospect Beto O'Rourke
Washington Post:
Japan's Abe won't confirm Trump Nobel Prize nomination, but media reports say he did
Discussion: Politico
Steven Shepard / Politico:
Biden's polling lead shaky ahead of 2020 decision
Jackson Diehl / Washington Post:
The Democrats have an Israel problem — and it's not Ilhan Omar