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December 7, 2017

Anderson Cooper's interview with Janet Porter, spokeswoman for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, got off to a testy start Wednesday night, with Cooper asking why Alabamians should believe Moore over the several women who accuse him of predatory sexual behavior when they were teenagers.

"Your campaign has blamed an awful lot of people for accusations being made by women against Roy Moore," he said, listing "Doug Jones, George Soros, the DNC, Mitch McConnell, mainstream Republicans, The Washington Post, the 'lynch mob media' as you called them, homosexuals, transgender people, and criminals. Can you just explain to me how all these people got together and came up with this plot against Roy Moore? ... I don't know if there's like a conference call that Mitch McConnell and radical homosexuals are on, but it would be fascinating to hear that." "When you have false allegations that are generated by The Washington Post, there tends to be a pile-on," Porter said. "That's how a lynch mob works."

Cooper noted that Moore has spoken about abortion and gun rights, then asked "where the judge stands on a number of issues that he's spoken of in the past but not as much recently." Porter said she didn't know if Moore still believes that homosexual conduct should be illegal, that 9/11 may have happened because "we've distanced ourselves from God," that U.S. Muslims shouldn't be allowed to serve in Congress, or that Barack Obama was born outside the U.S.

"You know, you can ridicule Biblical beliefs if you want, but it's not going to fly in Alabama," Porter said. "I'm not ridiculing," Cooper said, "I'm giving you quotes of exactly what your candidate has said, you're the spokesperson, and you ... seem either not to know what his positions are or unwilling to actually tell me what his positions are." Watch the entire interview, including Cooper's suggestion that Porter — from Ohio — is carpetbagging and lots of talk about the Bible, the Constitution, and Sharia law. Peter Weber

6:52p.m.

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin plan to meet in Paris in November, National Security Adviser John Bolton said Tuesday.

Discussions are now underway for the meeting, to take place during celebrations on Nov. 11 marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Putin and Trump last met in Helsinki in July.

Bolton is in Moscow to discuss the U.S. soon withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. Russia has called the step "dangerous," and per a transcript provided by the Kremlin, Putin said to Bolton, "As I recall, there is a bald eagle pictured on the U.S. coat of arms. It holds 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other. My question: Has your eagle already eaten all the olives, leaving only the arrows?"

"I didn't bring any olives," Bolton responded. Putin and Bolton met for 90 minutes, and Bolton said he also brought up "objectionable" election meddling, and why it "was particularly harmful for Russian-American relations without producing anything in return." Catherine Garcia

5:41p.m.

The U.S. is taking its first steps toward punishing Saudi Arabia for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. had identified "at least some of the individuals" suspected to be "responsible" for Khashoggi's murder at Turkey's Saudi consulate on Oct. 2. That includes "those in the intelligence services, the royal court, the foreign ministry, and other Saudi ministries," Pompeo said. The U.S. will withdraw visas from those people and is weighing sanctions against them, among other potential consequences.

As Pompeo made the announcement, Trump was giving a wide-ranging press conference that tackled Khashoggi's death. The Saudi operation was "carried out poorly and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups," Trump said. But he maintained that he wants to "see the facts" before deciding whether to believe Turkish claims that the Saudi government pre-planned and directed the killing.

Also in their Tuesday statements, Pompeo and Trump both reiterated opposition to the migrant caravan heading north through Mexico. Pompeo declared that migrants "will not be successful at getting into the United States illegally, no matter what." The caravan is still roughly 1,000 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:12p.m.

President Trump is leaving retribution for Jamal Khashoggi's murder up to Congress — just like the FBI investigation into Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, he says.

In a wide-ranging set of comments on Tuesday, Trump said an alleged Saudi operation to kill the U.S.-based Saudi journalist was "carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of coverups." But he says he still wants to "see the facts first" before deciding whether to believe Turkish claims that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was directly behind the murder.

Trump has been reluctant to criticize Saudi involvement in the Oct. 2 killing of Khashoggi in Turkey's Saudi consulate, though Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did announce the revocation of visas from Saudi agents said to have killed Khashoggi on Tuesday. But "in terms of what we ultimately do," presumably meaning fuller consequences for the country, Trump says he's "going to leave it up to Congress." That's a "little bit" like what he did for senators who wanted an FBI investigation into Kavanaugh, Trump said.

Trump went on to discuss the Honduran migrant caravan still 1,000 miles from the U.S. border. He previously — and baselessly — claimed "unknown Middle Easterners" were in the throngs marching through Mexico, but said Tuesday "there's no proof" of that being true. He also defended his repeated assertion that he is a "nationalist," claiming he'd "never heard" theories that his comments implied he was a white nationalist. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:27p.m.

After he spent the past seven years focused on the silver screen, the world of television is welcoming Steve Carell back home.

Carell will star in Apple's new original drama series about a morning news show, per The Hollywood Reporter. Apple is clearly pulling out all the stops for this major foray into original content, as the upcoming series also stars Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, both of whom serve as producers as well. This untitled drama revolves around a morning news program, and is inspired by Brian Stelter's nonfiction book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV. Carell will be playing Mitch Kessler, a TV anchor who is struggling to stay relevant in modern times.

This is Carell's first regular television role since he left The Office in 2011. Coincidentally, it's also Aniston's first regular television role since Friends, another NBC sitcom, ended in 2004. Carell should have no problem getting into character as a television broadcaster, a role he has played a weird number of times now. He kick-started his career by joining The Daily Show as a correspondent, going on to portray fictional broadcasters in two of his most famous movies, Bruce Almighty and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. He'll be the primary male lead in this series. Though it remains untitled, Apple has already gone all in on the upcoming show, ordering two full seasons before a single episode even airs.

Apple currently has more than a dozen original shows in development for a streaming platform that The Wall Street Journal previously described as fairly family-friendly and essentially "expensive NBC." None of the shows in the works have release dates. Brendan Morrow

4:14p.m.

In what could be the biggest tempt of fate in history, an exact replica of the Titanic will set sail in 2022.

The Titanic II will carry 2,400 passengers and 900 crew members, nearly the same number the original held, reports USA Today. Its interior will mimic the first ship, right down to the grand staircase. And for its second voyage, the Titanic II will sail the same route from England to America that doomed the original boat. It all makes for a journey that looks a lot like Jack and Rose's fateful last venture, save for the whole crashing into an iceberg thing.

Australian company Blue Star Line first started drafting the Titanic reboot in 2012, but the project was suspended due to financial issues. Now, building has commenced again, with Blue Star Line assuring that modern navigation and safety features are in the blueprints. The Titanic II's first voyage will sail from Delhi to Southampton in England — a safe distance away from this mysterious square iceberg spotted by NASA last week. Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn Krawczyk

3:33p.m.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) has lost quite a bit of ground in his race to become Minnesota's attorney general.

A Star Tribune/MPR News Minnesota poll published Tuesday found that Ellison's Republican opponent, attorney Doug Wardlow, is now in the lead among likely voters, with 43 percent support to Ellison's 36 percent. This is a major 12-point shift from a poll conducted last month, in which Ellison led Wardlow by five points.

In recent weeks, Ellison's campaign has largely been overtaken by talk of abuse allegations. Ellison's ex-girlfriend, Karen Monahan, has accused him of emotional and physical abuse, including once screaming at her while trying to drag her off a bed, reports The New York Times. In 2005, Ellison's ex-girlfriend, Amy Alexander, sought a restraining order against him and alleged he pushed her and verbally abused her, the Star Tribune reports. Ellison has denied both allegations. An investigation conducted by the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party could not substantiate Monahan's claims because she would not provide video evidence that she says she has, reports Time. Monahan says she misplaced the video, CNN reports.

This new poll found that about 50 percent of respondents aren't sure whether to believe Ellison or Monahan. But more voters believe her now than in September: 30 percent believe her allegations, compared to 21 percent last month.

The Star Tribune/MPR News poll interviewed 800 likely voters in Minnesota Oct. 15-17. The margin of error is 3 percentage points. Brendan Morrow

3:12p.m.

White people calling the police on black people for living their everyday lives has inspired viral video after viral video in recent months. Apparently, the greater community is at risk when black people barbeque in the park, study in college libraries, and enter their own apartments. That's why The New York Times came up with 1-844-WYT-Fear, a hotline for white people to call when they're alarmed by the presence of black people.

The hotline may not be real, but its message still stands. Taige Jensen and Jenn Lyon of the Times created a satirical infomercial for the hotline, featuring actress Niecy Nash, pointing out that white people overreacting to black people doing normal things can be especially worrisome considering the state of police brutality in America.

Curious about what happens if you actually call the number? An operator instructs you how to proceed if you're a white person scared of a black person and in need of advice regarding your prejudices. But no matter what option you choose, the outcome is still the same: "Based on your menu selection, we have determined that you are not in danger and are probably just racist." Watch the infomercial below and try calling the number yourself. Amari Pollard

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