June 13, 2018
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Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, who has found himself in an ethical quagmire over rampant spending concerns, allegedly assigned a specific EPA aide as a "headhunter for his spouse," The Washington Post reports. The Judicial Crisis Network ultimately hired Marlyn Pruitt, a former school nurse, as a temporary "independent contractor" after having received her resume from the executive vice president of the Federalist Society, Leonard Leo — who is also a Pruitt donor and a friend of the family. Pruitt had also pressured another donor, Doug Deason, to find employment for his wife after Deason said he could not hire her due to the obvious conflict of interest.

Pruitt had allegedly told EPA staff that he needed more money to hold onto his two houses in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and in Washington, D.C.; Marlyn Pruitt has had no income over $5,000 in recent years. The executive branch ethics counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington told the Post that Pruitt's use of an aide to "become the headhunter for his spouse" is particularly concerning because Marlyn's job would ultimately "affect his financial interests." Public officials are not allowed to use their posts for private gain.

Samantha Dravis, who served as the EPA's Office of Policy associate administrator, was assigned the task of finding work for Marlyn. While Dravis didn't comment to the Post — she has since left the EPA — one friend said Pruitt "pressured her" to find work for his wife.

Pruitt is already the subject of a dozen different federal investigations. Read more about the job hunt for his wife at The Washington Post and here at The Week. Jeva Lange

10:09 p.m. ET
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Rudy Giuliani told The Washington Post on Wednesday that President Trump's legal team is waiting to hear back from Special Counsel Robert Mueller about terms for a presidential interview, and they are preparing a rebuttal in case there is a subpoena.

"We would move to quash the subpoena," Giuliani said. "And we're pretty much finished with our memorandum opposing a subpoena." Giuliani, Trump's lead lawyer when it comes to the Russia probe, said his colleagues are prepared to "argue it before the Supreme Court, if it ever got there." He also said White House lawyer Emmet Flood would "have a big role to play here and would assert presidential privilege."

Mueller's team and Trump's lawyers have been trying for months to come to an agreement over interviewing Trump, and last week, Trump's attorneys sent Mueller a letter stating Trump would not answer any possible obstruction of justice questions. Catherine Garcia

9:09 p.m. ET
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Buying a house in New Zealand is expensive, and lawmakers hope that they've found a way to get prices down.

On Wednesday, Parliament passed a law that prohibits nonresident foreigners from buying houses and residential land. The law exempts foreigners with New Zealand residency and nationals from nearby Australia and Singapore. "If you've got the right to live in New Zealand permanently, you've got the right to buy here," Minister for Economic Development and Trade David Parker said. "But otherwise it's not a right, it's a privilege. We believe it's the birthright of New Zealanders to buy homes in New Zealand in a market that is shaped by New Zealand buyers, not by international price pressures."

So far this year, about three percent of home transfers have involved buyers from overseas, not including property purchased through trusts. In 2017, the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand said housing prices in Auckland had jumped nearly 70 percent in only five years, NPR reports, and last year, the percentage of New Zealanders living in their own home hit its lowest point in 66 years. Catherine Garcia

8:20 p.m. ET

Security forces in Mexico are searching for Norma Azucena Rodriguez Zamora, a newly-elected congresswoman who was abducted at gunpoint on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old served as mayor of Tihuatlan in the state of Veracruz. On July 1, she was elected to represent eastern Veracruz in the lower house of Congress, and was set to take office on Sept. 1. She was driving on a highway in Hidalgo state when two men shot at her car, injuring her driver and assistant and causing the vehicle to flip over, BBC News reports. The gunmen forced her out of the car and shoved her into their vehicle.

Last month, the mayor of Naupan, Genaro Negrete Urbano, was abducted and killed in the same area. Rodriguez's party, the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution, have demanded her safe release. It was a particularly violent campaign season in Mexico, with at least 48 candidates murdered before July 1. Catherine Garcia

7:41 p.m. ET
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On Thursday morning, the jury in Paul Manafort's federal trial will start deliberations.

President Trump's former campaign chairman is facing 18 charges of tax evasion, money laundering, and bank fraud. On Wednesday, the jury heard closing arguments from both sides, with prosecutor Greg Andres saying Manafort "lied to keep more money when he had it, and he lied to get more money when he didn't," and the defense arguing that Manafort was so rich, he didn't need to hide money.

The trial is being held in Alexandria, Virginia, and the jury is comprised of six men and six women. If convicted, Manafort could be sent to prison for the rest of his life. This is the first trial to come out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, although this case is based on Manafort's personal finances. Catherine Garcia

6:55 p.m. ET

Authorities in New Haven, Connecticut, said at least 41 people have overdosed today in or near New Haven Green, a park close to Yale University, and more calls could come in before the day is over.

Police suspect they overdosed on synthetic marijuana. Rick Fontana, New Haven's director of emergency operations, told CBS News the calls started coming in after 8 a.m., with people showing "a multitude of signs and symptoms ranging from vomiting, hallucinating, high blood pressure, shallow breathing, semi-conscious and unconscious states." The victims were of "all different ages," and for some, anti-overdose drugs did not work on them.

Over a three-hour period, officials responded to 25 overdoses, police said. A man believed to be connected to some of the overdoses was arrested on Wednesday, but officials are not releasing his name. No deaths have been reported, and authorities are now waiting for the results of toxicology tests. Catherine Garcia

5:37 p.m. ET
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The man who destroyed Trump's Hollywood Walk of Fame star wants a gold star.

Last month, a man carrying a pickaxe smashed the star into smithereens. On Wednesday, that man pleaded not guilty to felony vandalism charges, writes The Hollywood Reporter, and said he "only wanted to bring about positive political change."

"I don't personally think that there should be any charges brought against me," he told reporters outside the Los Angeles courthouse. "Because what I did, I believe, was a rightful and just act." Trump's star was previously pulverized by a different pickaxe-wielding individual in 2016.

The alleged vandal, Clay Austin, additionally said the repercussions of his actions last month "were only positive." The Los Angeles City Council last week voted to remove Trump's star from the Walk of Fame altogether, citing the costs of dealing with the repeated vandalism. If the city's chamber of commerce agrees with the city council, it would be the first star removal in Walk of Fame history. Read more at The Hollywood Reporter. Summer Meza

4:46 p.m. ET

America's greatness has been called into question.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) sought to slam President Trump's "make America great again" slogan while speaking at an event Wednesday, reports CBS News — but perhaps he should've thought through his line a bit more carefully. The governor ended up eliciting gasps when he said America "was never that great."

Cuomo tried to make a point about working toward equality for women and helping girls reach their full potential, but the moment was overshadowed by his introduction to the sentiment. "We are not going to make America great again," he said. "It was never that great."

Gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro, a Republican who is hoping to unseat Cuomo in the fall, immediately fired off a scathing response, saying "America, with its imperfections, has always been great." Molinaro said Cuomo "should be ashamed of himself" and owes the nation an apology.

Cuomo's office quickly offered a clarification, saying the governor merely disagrees with the president, but "believes America is great." The U.S. simply "has not yet reached its maximum potential," the statement read. Summer Meza

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