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June 14, 2018

Normally, Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show, he makes jokes about news stories "everybody's already talking about. ... But this story is different, because this is the conversation everybody should be having." Under the new policy by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, more than 1,300 migrant children have been taken from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. "Now, if that sounds evil, then good news: Your ears are working," Colbert said. The "bad news" is that Americans "are putting up with our government saying to immigrants, 'If you come to the United States, the worst thing imaginable will happen to you: We will take your children away from you with no guarantee you'll see them again.'"

"Now clearly, no decent human being could defend that, so Jeff Sessions did," Colbert said, and Sessions cited the Bible as backup. "I will give Sessions this: That is what Romans 13:1 says: You've got to have laws," he added. "But if he had just read a little bit further, into Romans 13:10, it says: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.' But I'm not surprised Sessions didn't read the whole thing. After all, Jesus said, 'Suffer the children to come unto me,' but I'm pretty sure all Sessions saw was the words 'children' and 'suffer' and said, 'I'm on it!'"

The Trump administration is storing these kids in abandoned Walmarts and building "tent cities" on military bases, "but it wouldn't matter if you took these children to really nice hotels, or Trump hotels, we'd still be the only country in the whole damn world doing it, because it's just plain wrong," Colbert said. "So for Father's Day, call your elected representatives and demand they do something. Because I sincerely believe that it doesn't matter who you voted for — if we let this happen in our names, we are a feckless country." Peter Weber

8:50a.m.

The Mega Millions lottery jackpot has reached a record $1.6 billion ahead of Tuesday night's drawing. The semi-weekly prize has been ballooning since July 24, and had reached $1 billion ahead of Friday night's drawing, when, again, nobody picked all six winning numbers. It is likely someone will win on Tuesday, as 75 percent of the 302 million possible combinations will be chosen by then, based on sales projections. Roughly 57 percent of the combinations had been chosen before Friday's drawing. "Mega Millions has already entered historic territory, but it's truly astounding to think that now the jackpot has reached an all-time world record," said Gordon Medenica, lead director of the Mega Millions Group and director of Maryland Lottery and Gaming. Harold Maass

8:38a.m.

WWE's Raw became all too real Monday night.

At the beginning of the weekly live wrestling show, star Roman Reigns came out to the ring and dropped his fictional persona to make a stunning announcement: He is battling leukemia and will be relinquishing his Universal Championship. The Universal Championship is the WWE's top title, and Reigns had for the past few years been pushed as the face of the wrestling enterprise. He was set to defend his title at the upcoming Crown Jewel pay-per-view event.

Reigns also revealed on the show that he was originally diagnosed with leukemia when he was 22. "I've been living with leukemia for 11 years and unfortunately it's back," he told the crowd. Reigns had never previously discussed a battle with leukemia publicly. Now, he said, he'll be leaving to focus on his health, although he promised fans that he's not retiring and will be returning after he beats cancer a second time. Reigns is typically a controversial figure in the wrestling world, but this segment ended with the live crowd erupting in applause and chanting "Thank you, Roman." After he got out of the ring, his co-workers embraced him in tears.

Watch Reigns' emotional announcement below. Brendan Morrow

7:35a.m.

There are wealthy Democrats throwing money at the 2018 midterms, on track to be the most expensive election in U.S. history, but nobody in either party comes close to Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam. With a recent $25 million donation to the GOP super PAC the Senate Leadership Fund, the Adelsons have now given Republicans $113 million through September to help them hold both houses of Congress, surpassing the $82.6 million the couple spent during the entire 2016 election cycle.

The late cash infusion by Adelson, a casino magnate worth an estimated $33.4 billion, is the "new benchmark for the most any individual household has spent on one election — including campaign committees, parties, and PACs — since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010," Roll Call reports, citing OpenSecrets data. "The rankings by OpenSecrets do not include donations through 501(c)(4) 'dark money' groups."

Thanks largely to this unprecedented political largesse, Republicans have passed Democrats in cash for the final stretch of the 2018 campaign, CNN reports. The Adelsons contributed two-thirds of the Senate Leadership Fund's haul last month, and a good share of the House GOP super PAC's windfall, too. The Adelson-flush GOP super PACs have at least evened out the advantage individual Democrats had from outraising their GOP rivals in competitive races.

"There's an intensity to these midterm elections that has been boiling since Election Day 2016," says Sheila Krumholz at the Center for Responsive Politics. But the small-donor furor fueling the Democrats "may not matter as much" on Election Day if one or two large Republican donors can make up the difference. That money may not overcome Democratic enthusiasm to vote in House races, but ProPublica has a long look at Adelson's healthy return on investment. Peter Weber

6:20a.m.

In a speech to his ruling Justice and Development Party on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Saudi Arabia's acknowledgment that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed Oct. 2 inside its Istanbul consulate a good first step, but he forcefully disputed the Saudi story that Khashoggi died in a spontaneous fistfight. Saudi officials began planning Khashoggi's "savage murder" in late September, Erdogan said, and a team of three Saudis arrived Oct. 1 to scout a forest, possibly for a place to bury Khashoggi's dismembered remains. He also confirmed that the Saudis used a body double to try and make it seem like Khashoggi left the consulate alive.

Erdogan said the 18 people Saudi Arabia says it has arrested for the murder include the 15 Saudi agents identified by Turkish intelligence plus three consular officials, and he requested that Saudi Arabia let them be tried for their crimes in Istanbul. He also said a Saudi official told him a Turkish co-conspirator may have helped dispose of the body. Erdogan questioned who ordered the assassination, asked what happened to Khashoggi's body, and said he expects all perpetrators to be brought to justice, "from the highest level to the lowest level."

“I do not doubt the sincerity of King Salman," Erdogan said. "That being said, an independent investigation needs to be carried out. This is a political killing." He did not mention Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king's son. But the speech carried a strong implication that Erdogan did not believe the crown prince is innocent, says Bethan McKernan, Middle East correspondent for The Guardian. Peter Weber

5:20a.m.

Two weeks before the midterm elections that will determine control of Congress, 52 percent of Republicans told a HillTV/HarrisX poll that they support expanding Medicare to all Americans, a proposal mostly famously promoted by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The other 48 percent of Republicans opposed the idea, the poll found. The 'Medicare for all' idea was unsurprisingly more popular among Democrats (92 percent support) and independents (68 percent support). Overall, 70 percent of Americans supported expanding Medicare to everyone, including 42 percent who strongly favored the idea.

Reid Wilson, a campaign correspondent for The Hill, told HillTV's Joe Concha that this is mostly a messaging problems for Republicans. "This is a debate that has only just started, and there are a lot of Republicans right now who are trying to figure out ways to talk about 'Medicare for all' in ways that will bring that number down, and bring the overall number down," Wilson suggested. "So this is not baked in at all."

The poll could also be an outlier, or it could signal a shift in acceptance for expanding a popular government program to everyone. HarrisX conducted the poll online Oct. 19-20, surveying 1,000 registered voters. It has a sampling margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. Peter Weber

4:33a.m.

The pivotal 2018 elections are in two weeks, "Democrats are presently ahead in the polls, but President Trump's is employing the same winning strategy as of 2016: racism and lying," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. On both fronts, he said, Trump is trying to paint a huge group of Honduran migrants and their kids as a pack of "criminals and unknown Middle Easterners," a veritable "National Emergy" [sic], as he tweeted Monday. "It's not a dog whistle, that's a dog trombone," Colbert said. "He's just stuffing all the fears into one burrito of doom." He suggest a few ingredients Trump might have missed, including "gay spiders."

"Trump is pulling out all the stops in the midterms to try to avoid the impending blue wave," Seth Meyers said on Monday's Late Night. "And the reason these midterms feel so tense is that right now, millions of Americans feel their democracy isn't working." He pointed to GOP gerrymandering, voter purges, and minority rule. Trump is using that anger to beget more anger.

"People are angry that a minority faction is ruling the country and ignoring what most people want, and they've expressed that anger in various ways, like confronting politicians in public or protesting in the capital," Meyers said. Trump and other Republicans are fancifully calling that "mob violence," and Trump has embraced a catchy rhyme. "When Trump finds a rhyme like 'mobs' and jobs,' that his Gettysburg Address," he sighed. "Meanwhile, there are Republicans who are literally violent," and Trump runs his administration like a "protection racket." You can watch Meyers' case for how Trump is "an actual crime boss" below. Peter Weber

3:41a.m.

CIA Director Gina Haspel flew to Turkey on Monday, ahead of a speech by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about Turkey's evidence that Saudi Arabia murdered and dismembered journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Istanbul's Saudi consulate on Oct. 2, The Washington Post reports, citing people familiar with the matter. "The arrival of the director suggests an effort by the U.S. intelligence community to assess the information the Turks have," including purported audio recordings of Khashoggi's killing, the Post says. "Intelligence officials are increasingly skeptical of the Saudi account and have warned President Trump" to take the Saudis' explanations with a large grain of salt.

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia finally acknowledged that Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and U.S. resident, had died inside its consulate, but claimed it was due to a fight gone awry with rogue agents and that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had no involvement with the plan. Evidence keeps emerging to cast doubt on that story. On Monday, Trump said he's "not satisfied with what I've heard" from Saudi officials, adding: "We have top intelligence people in Turkey. We're going to see what we have. I'll know a lot tomorrow."

The Trump administration and Saudi allies in the region, including Israel and the United Arab Emirates, have vested interests bin Salman and other Saudi royalty being uninvolved in the scandalous murder. "The chief concern for Washington is that Erdogan will reveal details about Khashoggi's killing that implicate Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, who has been a key ally for the Trump administration," the Post notes. Peter Weber

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