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April 16, 2018
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Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was admitted to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix on Sunday and underwent surgery to treat an intestinal infection related to diverticulitis, his office announced Monday. He is in stable condition.

The 81-year-old was diagnosed last year with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. His office said that McCain, who has been in Arizona since December, has been "participating in physical therapy at his home in Cornville, Arizona, as he recovers from side effects of cancer treatment." He's also been "engaged on his work as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee," and enjoys visits from "his family, friends, staff, and Senate colleagues."

McCain's daughter, Meghan, tweeted that her father "continues to inspire me every day with his intense grit and determination. Thank you to the doctors at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and to everyone who is praying for him." Catherine Garcia

6:56 a.m. ET
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Publicly, Republicans and the White House are increasingly confident they can win confirmation for President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, despite the allegations from Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh tried to rape her in high school. "But privately, discussions about the political fallout gripped the party, with Republican lawmakers and strategists unnerved by the charged, gender-infused debates that have upended this campaign season," Robert Costa reports at The Washington Post.

At the same time, The Wall Street Journal reports, "it wasn't clear how committed Mr. Trump is to the nomination. A person close to Mr. Trump said the president views Judge Kavanaugh as the pick of outgoing White House Counsel Don McGahn and 'won't lose any sleep if he has to choose someone else.'" One reason "Trump hasn't gone to the mat for Kavanaugh is that he's said to be suspicious of Kavanaugh's establishment pedigree," and "one source says Ivanka Trump has told her father to 'cut bait' and drop Kavanaugh," Gabriel Sherman reports at Vanity Fair, adding:

"'He's a Bush guy, why would I put myself out there defending him?'" Trump told people. ... "Trump wants this guy on the court, but Trump knows there are five other people he could put on the court if this falls apart," a former official said. [Vanity Fair]

Senate Republicans want to seat Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 for the beginning of the Supreme Court's term, and also to hedge against losing the Senate. But "the real Brett Kavanaugh question facing Senate Republicans is this: Do they really need this nominee, given that he hasn't fired up their base for the midterms?" asks David Weigel at The Washington Post. "Social conservatives wanted an antiabortion female nominee," Amy Coney Barrett, not Kavanaugh, and "the most realistic way to turn this into a motivating Republican issue, ironically, would come if Kavanaugh dropped out and yet another court seat hung on the results of an election." Peter Weber

5:27 a.m. ET

Stephen Colbert interviewed Willie Nelson on Nelson's tour bus for Wednesday's Late Show, and after talking about why Willie doesn't like barber shops and other niceties, Colbert brought up politics. "You've been an activist for years, but you're doing your first free public concert for a candidate, and it's for Beto O'Rourke," the Democratic challenger to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Colbert said. Nelson corrected him, saying he's done free concerts for candidates for decades, naming Dennis Kucinich, Ross Perot, and singing cowboy Tex Ritter. "So you always back the winners," Colbert deadpanned.

Poor track record notwithstanding, not everyone is happy about Nelson's Beto concert, Colbert pointed out. "Some Texans were saying, Let's boycott Willie. A, I don't think that's real, I think that's just people talking. And B, I really like your response to those people." Nelson laughed at the photo of him flipping the bird in a Beto shirt, then said it doesn't really bother him when people threaten to boycott his music. "It's their prerogative," he said. "I may not like their music either, you know, so I don't hold any grudges against people."

Colbert brought up Nelson's new album, My Way, and asked why he wanted to do a Frank Sinatra album. "He's my favorite singer, and I read somewhere a couple of years ago that I was his favorite singer," Nelson said. Colbert had a clip from a commercial Nelson and Sinatra did in 1980, then he showed Nelson some photos of famous people and asked if he'd like to smoke weed with each of them. (The answer was yes.)

Nelson performed the Sinatra favorite "Summer Wind" on The Late Show, and you can watch that below. Peter Weber

4:32 a.m. ET

"Since I started hosting this show, I've had to cover some unfortunate topics — for example, everything, all the time," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. But "yesterday, the news hacked up a truly memorable hairball. So I have to warn you, the following story is unsuitable for viewers under the age of dead." He was talking, of course, about President Trump's genitals, as described in "mind-searing" and "harrowing detail" by Stormy Daniels in her new book, Full Disclosure. If you don't know them, Colbert had the specifics.

If Colbert seemed less than thrilled to spend a few minutes on Trump's sexual organs, Mario Kart's Toad was devastated — at least in this darkly comic Late Show cold open.

To lighten the mood, Colbert rolled his eyes at Trump's statement that Hurricane Florence is "one of the wettest we've ever seen, from the standpoint of water" — "That statement right there is one of the dumbest we've ever heard, from the standpoint of stupid," he deadpanned — and also the new controversy over Bert and Ernie's relationship.

"So, are Bert and Ernie a gay couple or are they simply two adult asexual men with no outside relationships living together to dull the pain of their loveless existence?" Colbert asked. "In any case, it's 2018 and this whole argument feels a little dated. The question we should be asking is: Are the Ninja Turtles a pansexual polyamorous quartet?" Watch below. Peter Weber

3:43 a.m. ET

The Republican Party in Fort Bend County, Texas, is apologizing for an ad it ran in an Indian-American newspaper during the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, celebrating the birth of the elephant-headed Hindu deity Ganesaha. "Would you worship a donkey or an elephant?" the ad asked. "The choice is yours." The suburban Houston county is home to a competitive congressional race between incumbent GOP Rep. Pete Olson and Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni; about a fifth of the 22nd Congressional District is, like Kulkarni, Asian American.

"While we appreciate the Fort Bend County GOP's attempt to reach out to Hindus on an important Hindu festival, its ad — equating Hindus' veneration of the Lord Ganesha with choosing a political party based on its animal symbol — is problematic and offensive," said Rishi Bhutada at the Hindu American Foundation. The foundation asked that the Fort Bend Republican Party "apologize for the offensive and inaccurate reference" and "not run the ad again."

"Pete agrees" that the ad "should have been more respectful," said Olson campaign manager Craig Lewellyn. "The ad was not meant to disparage Hindu customs or traditions in any way," the Fort Bend GOP said in a statement. "This ad was created with input from those of Hindu faith so that we could properly pay respect to the sacred festival. ... We offer our sincerest apologies to anyone that was offended by the ad. Obviously, that was not the intent." Peter Weber

2:49 a.m. ET
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President Trump and Senate Republicans are insisting that an FBI investigation of Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh tried to rape her in the 1980s would be impractical and unnecessary. If Ford doesn't agree by Friday to testify on Monday, Republicans say, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote to confirm Kavanaugh next week anyway. Ford wants the FBI or other independent, nonpartisan investigators to gather facts and testimony in the case before she testifies. FBI involvement would require White House consent.

"It would seem that the FBI really doesn't do that," Trump said Wednesday, a day after saying the FBI doesn't "want to be involved" and "this is not really their thing." Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who was also on the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, when the FBI investigated Anita Hill's claimed of sexual misconduct against Clarence Thomas, said: "The FBI does not do investigations like this. The responsibility falls to us."

"But several officials who have had direct roles in the nomination and background check process said it's common, as part of the FBI's vetting of presidential nominees for judicial posts and executive branch jobs, to investigate matters that do not qualify as federal crimes," Politico reports. When the FBI investigated Hill's allegations against Thomas in 1991, it took only three days.

"What happened here is actually not unusual," said John Yoo, a senior Justice Department official under former President George W. Bush. "The Judiciary Committee will often say to the Justice Department: 'Can you send the agents back out and find out if this is true, find out what happened with this?' ... You could have this done in a day or two." Having the FBI investigate "is a quick process, I don't think it needs to take more than a couple of days," agreed former Obama White House lawyer Sarah Baker. "The only reason you don't ask is if you don't want the answer." Peter Weber

2:02 a.m. ET
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As part of Amazon's continued quest to be involved in every aspect of your life, the company is considering opening up to 3,000 new Amazon Go stores by 2021, Bloomberg reports.

There are no cashiers at Amazon Go stores, which sell snacks, drinks, sandwiches, and salads. Shoppers gain access by scanning an app, and cameras and sensors can tell what items they take off the shelves. When they're done, customers just walk out and get charged automatically. The first Amazon Go opened in Seattle in 2016; there are now two other stores in Seattle, as well as one in Chicago.

People with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg that Amazon is trying to decide if it wants these new Amazon Go stores to compete against convenience stores like 7-Eleven, offering prepared food and a limited selection of groceries, or fast-casual restaurants like Panera Bread. One plan the company is considering involves opening 10 Amazon Go stores by the end of 2018, 50 more in major urban areas in 2019, and as many as 3,000 by 2021, Bloomberg reports. Catherine Garcia

1:11 a.m. ET
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It's not surprising that President Trump told Hill.TV on Wednesday, "I don't have an attorney general," people close to him shared with The Washington Post.

Trump doesn't feel like anyone is protecting him, they said, and he remains angry over an anonymous senior official writing a critical op-ed for The New York Times, as well as unknown staffers feeding unflattering information to Bob Woodward for his new book, Fear. It's not just Trump wondering who has his back — his family members and longtime friends are also looking at everyone suspiciously. "Everybody in the White House now has to look around and ask, 'Who's taping? Who's leaking? And who's on their way out the door?' It's becoming a game of survival," a Republican strategist who works with the White House told the Post.

Trump may not have a clue who wrote the op-ed or spoke to Woodward, but he does know that Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself last year from the Russia investigation, leading to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and that's why he directed so much of his ire toward Sessions on Wednesday. "I don't have an attorney general." Trump lamented. "It's very sad." He told Hill.TV that Sessions was "mixed up and confused" in his Senate confirmation hearing, and even though the attorney general has taken a hardline approach to immigration, Trump is "not happy at the border, I'm not happy with numerous things." Catherine Garcia

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