June 14, 2018

In May, The New York Times reported that a television agent was shopping around a Crossfire-type show starring Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing porn star Stormy Daniels, and short-lived White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. They tried out the concept on Wednesday's Late Show. Stephen Colbert started off the interview by asking, "What is this?" It never quite became clear, but you got a taste of what could be: Avenatti with the punchy answers, Scaramucci filibustering.

Colbert asked about reports that Michael Cohen, President Trump's lawyer and fixer, might flip. "There's no question in my mind," Avenatti said. "I think that Michael Cohen is in a very, very bad spot, and I think that the president is in a very, very bad spot, because this is what happens when you trust your innermost secrets to a moron." Scaramucci said it was more complicated and depends on the indictment. "When my producer asked you about Michael Cohen, whether he was going to flip, you actually called Michael Cohen on the phone backstage," Colbert told Scaramucci. "Did you bring your phone out with you?" "I don't have my phone, do you want to talk to Michael?" Scaramucci asked, but sadly, he wasn't serious. Colbert ordered a bottle of rosé and three glasses.

Colbert asked Avenatti and Scaramucci — both lawyers — about Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and two lies the Trump team has been caught telling: about paying Stormy Daniels and about dictating the misleading letter about Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with Russian officials. "Lying is the rule rather than the exception with this administration, and when you can't keep your lies straight, this is what happens," Avenatti said. Scaramucci put it in the "historical context" of everybody lies, especially politicians, and Colbert wasn't having it: "Not about colluding with the Russian government to undermine our democracy!" They ended on the common ground of the first amendment. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:29 p.m. ET

Omarosa Manigault Newman has another tape.

Manigault Newman appeared on MSNBC on Thursday and played a secret recording of a conversation with Lara Trump, President Trump's daughter-in-law and a campaign adviser.

During the recorded phone call, Lara Trump offered Manigault Newman $15,000 a month to work on the re-election campaign. Manigault Newman told MSNBC that the offer came just days after she was fired from her role as a White House adviser, calling it proof that the Trump family "can't keep their story straight" when it comes to whether they love or hate her.

The president on Tuesday called Manigault Newman "a crazed, crying lowlife" and a "dog," characterizing her as an incompetent liar who was "vicious, but not smart." In response, Manigault Newman is looking to prove that Trump never had a problem with her until she began criticizing the administration. "Every time the Trump people challenge me, I bring the receipts," she told MSNBC's Craig Melvin. She said she understood the job offer to be "hush money" to keep her from exposing the "corruption" she had witnessed in the White House. Lara Trump said in a statement that she offered the job "before we knew anything about the gross violations of ethics and integrity during her White House tenure."

After previously releasing recordings of Trump campaign advisers and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly firing her, Manigault Newman said she had more tapes to release if she felt she needed to "protect" herself. Watch the full interview below, via MSNBC. Summer Meza

1:48 p.m. ET

Aretha Franklin's death on Thursday inspired a flood of heartfelt sentiments, from fellow musicians remembering her influence to fans reveling in her legacy. Politicians piped in as well, with a wide range of reactions.

President Trump tweeted that Franklin was a "great woman with a wonderful gift from God," but his extemporaneous words later in the day were slightly less focused on her talents. "I want to begin today by expressing my condolences to the family of a person I knew well," Trump said. "She worked for me on numerous occasions. She was terrific — Aretha Franklin — on her passing." He additionally said her legacy would "thrive and inspire many generations to come" and noted that "people loved Aretha."

Meanwhile, former president and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama issued a statement hoping the "Queen of Soul" may "rest in eternal peace" and recalling Franklin's "unmatched" musicianship. "Every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine," they wrote.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tweeted that Franklin deserves "our lasting gratitude for opening our eyes, ears, and hearts," while former President Bill Clinton joined his wife in a statement that called Franklin "elegant, graceful, and utterly uncompromising in her artistry." Summer Meza

1:43 p.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

No matter how loudly Democrats call for fresh leadership, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has insisted she'll run for speaker if her party claims a majority in the lower chamber this fall. But now, Pelosi has hinted she may at least be tuning in to the calls.

In a Wednesday interview with The New York Times, Pelosi said she's "[building] a bridge to the future," and hinted she'll pass on leadership roles to Democrats who "show what's on the other side of the bridge." Rep. Jim Clyburn (S.C.), the third ranking Democrat in the House, may be the first in line.

As Democrats shoot to regain the House in this November's midterms, members of Pelosi's own party have shunned the former speaker. Rep. Conor Lamb (Pa.) already won a special election on the promise that he wouldn't support Pelosi, and he joins other rising blue stars calling for a new generation to replace the 78-year-old minority leader.

Clyburn is also 78, but he's still thinking about becoming the first black House speaker. He indicated to the Times that he'd aim for speaker only if Pelosi fails; Pelosi told the paper that she's fine with this "beautiful, lovely member of Congress" wanting to lead the House.

In fact, Pelosi doesn't care if Democrats running deride her either. "Let them do whatever they want. We have to win the election," she told the Times. It's a big statement from Pelosi, but some Democrats say that the longtime leader rejecting the speakership altogether would make things even sweeter. Read more at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:26 p.m. ET

R&B legend Aretha Franklin died Thursday at 76, following a long bout with pancreatic cancer. The "Queen of Soul" leaves behind a nearly 60-year career dotted with chart-topping hits, Grammy wins, and a performance at a presidential inauguration. Here are some of the best photos of Franklin's incredible life. Kathryn Krawczyk

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12:04 p.m. ET

President Trump keeps calling media "the enemy of the people," and journalists have had enough. On Thursday, hundreds of news outlets answered a call from The Boston Globe to join forces and reaffirm the importance of the Fourth Estate. The theme was consistent, with more than 350 news organizations large and small banding together to defend the press against denigrations of "fake news."

"Unable to carry on in the light, the president attempts to drag us all into a dark labyrinth where rules don't apply and some vacant concept of winning seems attainable," said the Record-Journal in Meriden, Connecticut. "But news organizations do not play in that dark playground. They perform in the light."

"Our country's leader shouldn't be making it easier for dictators to harass and silence journalists in places where freedom of the press remains a dream," wrote the Sun Sentinel, a Florida paper just down the coast from Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.

"The true enemies of the people — and democracy — are those who try to suffocate truth by vilifying and demonizing the messenger," said the Des Moines Register in Iowa. "The response to that cannot be silence."

"We are the watchdogs, the questioners, the annoying voice that refuses to accept this moment in time as the best we can do," wrote the Capital Gazette, the Maryland newspaper that suffered an attack from a gunman in June. The publication opted not to coordinate with national outlets, citing its focus on more local issues.

"We are not the enemy," the Longview News Journal in Texas wrote. "We, like you, are the American people."

Trump responded by tweeting Thursday morning that "THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY." Read more of the most arresting excerpts, and check to see if your local paper published an editorial, at The Boston Globe. Summer Meza

10:34 a.m. ET

While much of the Northeast has been battling weeks of storms and flooding, the American West is drying up.

The National Drought Mitigation Center, housed at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, released a stark map Thursday that shows that fully one-third of the country is battling drought. Not only that, but in parts of Missouri and Kansas, areas suffering "exceptional drought" are expanding:

"Exceptional drought" is the most severe classification of drought conditions that exists, describing "widespread crop/pasture losses" and "shortages of water in reservours, streams, and wells, creating water emergencies," per the U.S. Drought Monitor.

While the country boomerangs between extreme weather conditions, President Trump has systematically sought to dismantle his predecessor's signature achievements — and that includes legislation related to climate change. Politico reported Thursday that in an effort to unwind the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which imposed emissions limits on power plants, the Trump administration is prepared to tweak the federal calculations of money saved by the rule. "They are cooking the books on technical analysis to try to justify preconceived conclusions that these regulations are bad," one climate expert told Politico.

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee is shirking its climate change duties too, Ryan Cooper argues here at The Week. Read his indictment of DNC Chairman Tom Perez's acceptance of fossil fuel money here. Kimberly Alters

10:19 a.m. ET
Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

President Trump's supporters are under attack. Or at least, that's the impression Stephen Bannon's forthcoming film is trying to make.

The Breitbart- and White House-ousted conservative has returned to his documentary roots to create Trump @ War, and he shared the dramatic trailer for the film with Axios on Thursday. The full-length feature will premiere Sept. 9 — the two-year anniversary of Hillary Clinton labeling Trump supporters "deplorables."

In an intense two minutes, Trump supporters are violently knocked to the ground. CNN's Don Lemon goes on an anti-Trump tirade. A clip of Trump walking with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May plays while someone praises Trump's foreign policy, cutting off right before the moment Trump awkwardly grabs May's hand.

Bannon has grand visions for the film as a potential boon for Republicans this midterm cycle. When the movie is over, he told Axios, every "deplorable" will be "literally standing on your chair with your pitchfork saying: 'I've got to get people out to vote.'"

Bannon consistently wrote, directed, and produced films pushing a far-right agenda before his brief White House stint, including projects like Fire From the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Woman and Still Point in a Turning World: Ronald Reagan and His Ranch. Like its predecessors, Trump @ War also stars somewhat notable conservatives, including fellow ex-White House staffer Sebastian Gorka.

"How jacked do we think Trump will be when he sees this?" Bannon asked Axios when describing the film — seemingly well over the fact that Trump called him "Sloppy Steve" after his White House departure. Watch the whole trailer at Axios, and perhaps feel as "jacked up" as Bannon hopes Trump will be. Kathryn Krawczyk

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