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11:50 AM ET, February 21, 2019


 Top Items: 
Wall Street Journal:
Trump Inaugural Committee Challenged Vendor Requests and Budgeting, Documents Show  —  In the weeks before his inauguration, top officials on President Trump's inaugural committee repeatedly sounded alarms about the budgets submitted by several vendors, according to correspondence, committee records and draft budgets.
Discussion: Talking Points Memo and Raw Story
Trump, Inc.:   Trump Inauguration Chief Tom Barrack's ‘Rules for Success’
Garrett M. Graff / Wired:
7 Scenarios for How the Mueller Probe Might ‘Wrap Up’  —  THE BREAKING NEWS hit a snowy Washington on Wednesday: Newly installed attorney general William Barr appears to be preparing to announce the end of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.  —  But what would “Mueller wrapping up” actually mean?
Jacqueline Alemany / Washington Post:
Power Up: ‘By the Book Bob:’ Prosecutors say Mueller will tightly hug Justice guidelines in report
Discussion: New York Times and Vox
Washington Post:
Justice Department preparing for Mueller report in coming days
American Democracy in Crisis: The Fate of Pluralism in a Divided Nation  —  The 2018 Election  —  Views of President Trump  —  After two years in office, the public's view of President Trump remains negative.  As of late December 2018, when this survey was conducted …
Discussion: The Atlantic and Political Wire
Emma Green / The Atlantic:
These Are the Americans Who Live in a Bubble  —  Most Americans do not live in a totalizing bubble.  They regularly encounter people of different races, ideologies, and religions.  For the most part, they view these interactions as positive, or at least neutral.
Lynh Bui / Washington Post:
Self-proclaimed white nationalist planned mass terror attack, government says.  ‘I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on earth.’  —  A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant and self-identified white nationalist has been arrested after federal investigators uncovered a cache of weapons …
Dave Philipps / New York Times:
Coast Guard Officer Plotted to Kill Democrats and Journalists, Prosecutors Say
Discussion: Outside the Beltway
Asawin Suebsaeng / The Daily Beast:
Trump White House Is Forcing Interns to Sign NDAs and Threatening Them With Financial Ruin  —  Not even the interns are exempt from the legally dubious rite of passage practiced by the Trump White House.  —  Asawin Suebsaeng  —  When the Trump White House welcomed its newest batch …
Discussion: Raw Story and BuzzFeed News
Brett Murphy / USA Today:
Blackface, KKK hoods and mock lynchings: Review of 900 yearbooks finds blatant racism  —  In one of the most extensive searches of college yearbooks ever, we found blackface and Ku Klux Klan photos like Ralph Northam's far beyond Virginia.  —  The old yearbook photos capture the lighthearted moments …
Natalie Allison / The Tennessean:
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee says he regrets participating in ‘Old South’ parties at Auburn University
Discussion: Political Wire
Nicole Carroll / USA Today:
I became part of our story on racist images in college yearbooks.  I'm here to apologize for publishing that photo
Discussion: Raw Story
BuzzFeed News:
Trump Said He Ordered His Administration To Withhold Wildfire Aid To California.  FEMA Says He Never Did.  —  The president tweeted that he was cutting off disaster assistance to wildfire survivors to punish California officials.  But no record of such an order exists.
Nina dos Santos / CNN:
This man could shed light on Trump mystery, Senate witness says  —  London and Moscow (CNN)Senate investigators want to question a Moscow-based American businessman with longstanding ties to President Donald Trump after witnesses told them he could shed light on the President's commercial …
CBS Chicago:
Video Shows Brothers Linked To Jussie Smollett Attack Buying Items Allegedly Worn In Assault  —  CHICAGO (CBS) - CBS 2 has obtained video of two men linked to the attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett buying a red hat and ski masks from a store the day before the assault.
Actor Jussie Smollett now a suspect in criminal investigation
John Solomon / The Hill:
FBI's top lawyer believed Hillary Clinton should face charges, but was talked out of it  —  For most of the past three years, the FBI has tried to portray its top leadership as united behind ex-Director James Comey's decision not to pursue criminal charges against Hillary Clinton …
Fox News:
Former FBI general counsel thought Hillary Clinton should be prosecuted until ‘pretty late’ in email investigation
Discussion: RedState
Washington Post:
Allies decline request to stay in Syria after U.S. troops withdraw  —  As the deadline approaches for the withdrawal of U.S. forces fighting the Islamic State in Syria, America's closest European allies have turned down a Trump administration request to fill the gap with their own troops, according to U.S. and foreign officials.
Discussion: Bloomberg and
Joe Pompeo / Vanity Fair:
“She Was Pitching Her Intimate Knowledge of the Mueller Probe”: Sarah Isgur Flores, Former Trumper, Talked to MSNBC Before Signing with CNN  —  The former Jeff Sessions spokesperson is now a power player at a network she once called the “Clinton News Network.”  How'd she close the deal?
The Daily Beast:
CNN in Damage-Control Mode Over GOP Operative Hire Sarah Isgur
Alan Blinder / New York Times:
Inside a Fly-by-Night Operation to Harvest Ballots in North Carolina  —  RALEIGH, N.C. — Kelly Hendrix was recruited into an illicit effort to sway a congressional race by a customer at the fast-food restaurant where she worked.  —  One day, Ms. Hendrix was serving burgers and biscuits at a Hardee's in Bladen County.
Discussion: Shareblue Media
Amy Gardner / Washington Post:
Candidate's son warned father of N.C. political operative's alleged tactics
Discussion: Law & Crime, Politico and Splinter
Philip Klein / Washington Examiner:
Government report reveals CBO was scandalously off in Obamacare estimates  —  A new report from government actuaries has revealed that the Congressional Budget Office was scandalously off in its estimates of the impact of Obamacare's individual mandate, a miscalculation that has had significant ramifications …
Discussion: RedState and
Indianapolis Star:
Road rage, hate crime or both: Shooting death of Muslim man could draw FBI scrutiny  —  Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana allows Indianapolis residents to share anonymous tips with law enforcement.  Here are a few things Crime Stoppers wants you to know before you call.  —  CONNECT11  —  TWEET11
Discussion: ThinkProgress
Jennifer Schuessler / New York Times:
The Obama Presidential Library That Isn't  —  The Obama Presidential Center promises to be a presidential library like no other.  —  The three-building, 19-acre “working center for citizenship,” set to be built in a public park on the South Side of Chicago, will include a 235-foot-high …
Discussion: Chicago Tribune and AOTUS
Sam Dean / Los Angeles Times:
Facebook decided which users are interested in Nazis — and let advertisers target them directly  —  Facebook makes money by charging advertisers to reach just the right audience for their message — even when that audience is made up of people interested in the perpetrators of the Holocaust or explicitly neo-Nazi music.
Nick Bilton / Vanity Fair:
“She Never Looks Back”: Inside Elizabeth Holmes's Chilling Final Months at Theranos  —  At the end, Theranos was overrun by a dog defecating in the boardroom, nearly a dozen law firms on retainer, and a C.E.O. grinning through her teeth about an implausible turnaround.
The Biggest Field Yet.  No Frontrunner.  A Divided Base.  Welcome to the 2020 Democratic Primary  —  Almost a year before the first votes of the 2020 -presidential contest, Democratic candidates are all over the map.  There's Elizabeth Warren in a drafty warehouse in Des Moines, Iowa …
Screengrab / Nogales International:
Town says it's ‘taken action’ after marshal's encounter with young journalist  —  The Town of Patagonia says it has taken unspecified action after Marshal Joseph Patterson was video-recorded telling a pre-teen journalist that it was against the law for her to put his image on the internet during …
Jonathan Swan / Axios:
Scoop: McConnell recommends Kelly Craft to Trump for UN ambassador  —  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has spoken to President Trump and recommended U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft as the next UN ambassador, according to two sources familiar with the situation.
Daniella Silva / NBC News:
Migrant families still being separated at the border, report from Texas group says  —  The report comes roughly eight months since the government formally ended the policy.  —  Migrant families are still being separated by the Trump administration, sometimes over “uncorroborated allegations” …
Just Security:
Stop Using the Word “Collusion”—How to Frame the Critical Question at the Heart of Trump-Russia  —  Much of the discussion surrounding the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia in the months leading up to the 2016 election has been mystifying for the American public.
Anne Gearan / Washington Post:
Pence to address Latin American leaders Monday as Venezuela crisis deepens  —  Vice President Pence plans to meet Monday with representatives of Latin American nations gathering in Colombia amid a possible showdown with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro over delivery of U.S. and international aid.
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 More Items: 
Alex Linder / shanghaiist:
Uniqlo says its new spring jacket was not inspired by Mao Zedong
Mike Memoli / NBC News:
Biden gets closer to a White House bid but serious concerns remain
Discussion: The Week, Politico and AOL
The Babylon Bee:
Viewers Starting To Doubt Objectivity Of Reporter With ‘KAMALA 2020’ Face Tattoo
Glenn Kessler / Washington Post:
Stephen Miller's claim that ‘thousands of Americans die year after year’ from illegal immigration
Daniel Henninger / Wall Street Journal:
The Democrats' Socialist Gene
Reid Wilson / The Hill:
Obama political arm to merge with Holder-run group
Discussion: Political Wire
New York Times:
A U.S. Ambassador Promises a Global Push to Decriminalize Homosexuality
Discussion: Shareblue Media and NBC News
Transnational Emergency
Discussion: Raw Story
 Earlier Items: 
Jeremy Barr / Hollywood Reporter:
Why Sean Spicer Joined ‘Extra’ as a TV Correspondent
Jim Geraghty / National Review:
It's Not a Disinformation Campaign if the Facts Are True
Michael Grunwald / Politico:
Trump's War on California
Hamilton Nolan / Splinter:
Rich People Have Been Taking Your Money For 40 Years And They Still Are
Christopher Cadelago / Politico:
Kamala Harris shamed by Jamaican father over pot-smoking joke
Isaac Chotiner / New Yorker:
The Classicist Who Sees Donald Trump as a Tragic Hero