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January 23, 2019

The Catholic high school student at the center of a viral video controversy says he wishes things had gone differently but that he didn't do anything wrong.

Nick Sandmann, the student wearing a Make America Great Again hat whose confrontation with a Native American man, Nathan Phillips, went viral over the weekend, spoke with Today. He was asked whether he has anything to apologize for. "As far as standing there, I had every right to do so," Sandmann said. "My position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr. Phillips."

Phillips says he was trying to "defuse" a confrontation between the students and a group of protesters, but Sandmann told Today he was "unsure" of what Phillips was trying to accomplish. Several times throughout the interview, Sandmann said he wishes he had walked away from the encounter, and when asked why he did not so, he said he "didn't want to be disrespectful to Mr. Phillips and walk away if he was trying to talk to me" and that he did "not want to bump into anyone."

While the video was seen by many as Sandmann and his peers gleefully mocking Phillips, Sandmann said he behaved the way he did in an attempt to prevent any aggression. As far as his smile in the video goes, Sandmann told Today that, "I see it as a smile saying, 'This is the best you're going to get out of me. You won't get any further reaction of aggression, and I'm willing to stand here as long as you want to hit this drum in my face."

Watch the full interview below. Brendan Morrow

8:09 a.m.

The FBI arrested a member of a right-wing militia on Saturday in New Mexico. Larry Mitchell Hopkins, 69, of Flora Vista, New Mexico, was charged with alleged unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition just days after his armed group, The United Constitutional Patriots, detained over 200 migrants who had illegally crossed the United States' southern border into New Mexico.

The group reportedly posted videos of its members detaining the migrants and coordinating with U.S. border patrol agents to take the people into custody. It is unclear, however, if Hopkins' arrest is directly related to the detentions, per The Guardian. But the New Mexico attorney general's office described him as a "dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families."

The militia's spokesman, Jim Benvie, said that Hopkins "will get through this" and that the arrest "doesn't change anything."

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has called The United Constitutional Patriots "fascist," blamed the group's vigilante actions on the rhetoric of President Trump. Tim O'Donnell

7:39 a.m.

An ongoing series of bombings targeted churches and luxury hotels in what is believed to be a coordinated terror attack in Sri Lanka on Sunday. At least 140 people have reportedly been killed and 560 injured.

The Sri Lankan government has declared a curfew, blocked access to most major social media sites, and deployed the military in response. The first wave of attacks reportedly occurred during three Easter services at Christian churches throughout the country, including in the capital Colombo. Christians are a minority in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka and Christian groups say they have faced increasing intimidation from some extremist Buddhist monks in recent years, per Reuters.

Three more bombs then went off at hotels, one near a zoo, and one at a private residence.

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Maithripala Sirisena both condemned the attacks.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks. Sri Lanka has been at "relative peace" for the past decade after the end of a 25-year civil war when terrorist bombings were common. Tim O'Donnell

April 20, 2019

It's fair to say that the Mueller report did not knock down any partisan barriers. Reactions were typically divided. Democrats vowed to continue pursuing the report's findings, with some prominent members of the party, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), calling for impeachment proceedings to begin. Republicans, though, mostly remained silent.

Even some members of the GOP who tend to risk criticizing the president more openly remained measured in their responses. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), for example, said that Mueller's findings on 2016 Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's conduct surrounding the meddling painted an "unflattering" image of Trump. But she also said the investigation was a "very thorough undertaking" that seems to have "changed very few minds in Washington," perhaps implying that the results speak for themselves.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said that while the level of Russian interference revealed in the report was alarming, Americans should be "relieved" their president did not collaborate with Moscow.

However, not everyone on the right side of the aisle is at ease with the findings of the report. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who has had his battles with Trump in the past, said in a statement that he is "sickened" by the findings, although he said the "business of government" can now "move on."

Fox News' judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano, meanwhile, suggested on Friday that there may be enough evidence in the Mueller report to prosecute the president. He added that, regardless, the report does show a "venal, amoral, deceptive Donald Trump." Tim O'Donnell

April 20, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly left Attorney General William Barr and other members of the Justice Department perplexed, The Washington Post reports.

Their confusion stems from Mueller's decision to not reach a conclusion on whether President Trump obstructed justice during Mueller's probe into 2016 Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's conduct surrounding the meddling. In public, Barr — who reportedly considers Mueller a friend — said it was Mueller's "prerogative" to make the call, or lack thereof, on obstruction.

But privately, Barr and Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein disagreed with Mueller's legal theories. In the report, Mueller's team pointed to a long-standing legal opinion at the Justice Department's Office of Legal Council, which says that a sitting president should not be indicted. Mueller reportedly concluded that meant they could not accuse the president of a crime and, at times, the report implies that Congress should assume the role of making prosecutorial decisions.

This reportedly surprised Barr who did think Mueller had the authority to make such a decision (Barr eventually came to the conclusion that the evidence did not constitute obstruction.) Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, told the Post that it was, indeed, a surprise that Mueller leaned so heavily on the OLC opinion.

"It doesn't make any sense, because on collusion, he seemed to be perfectly empowered to reach a conclusion on whether the president committed a crime," Turley said. "The other problem is that his mandate clearly allowed him to make a decision." Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

April 20, 2019

President Trump normally seems to relish the idea that he and the media are foils. He's gone so far as to call some outlets the "enemy of the people," but he still stops and talks with them as often as he can. But, apparently, first lady Melania Trump can convince him not to.

On Thursday, as the president crossed the White House's South Lawn shortly after the public release of the redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on 2016 Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's conduct surrounding the meddling, he walked right past a "mob of reporters." Instead of stopping to take a few questions like he usually does, Bloomberg reports, Trump just waved silently before boarding the presidential helicopter and heading down to Florida for the weekend.

Trump, per Bloomberg, sought to show defiance after Mueller's findings became public — although the White House has largely claimed the report vindicates Trump, he is reportedly still frustrated with the news coverage on the matter. Ignoring the reporters on the lawn fed right into that plan of defiance. However, people briefed on the matter told Bloomberg that it was the first lady, not the president, who suggested spurning the press. Trump appeared to continue following the first lady's advice as he ignored reporters' questions upon arriving in Florida on Thursday evening, as well. Read more about the aftermath of the Mueller report at Bloomberg. Tim O'Donnell

April 20, 2019

The United States on Friday made the first arrest related to the mysterious raid of North Korea's embassy in Spain in February, sources familiar with the situation told The Washington Post.

During the raid, which took place in the middle of the day, masked intruders reportedly tied up staff and stole computers before fleeing to the U.S. On Thursday, U.S. authorities arrested Christopher Ahn, a former U.S. Marine, in connection with the break-in. Ahn is a member of Free Joseon, a group dedicated to the overthrow of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his familial dynasty. Free Joseon reportedly claimed responsibility for the embassy raid in March. Free Joseon was trying to assist the U.S. government by turning over the stolen items, which the group claimed potentially had "enormous" intelligence value, per the Post.

The State Department said that the United States had nothing to do with the incident, despite initial reports out of Spain that the CIA was involved.

Ahn's case will remain sealed after a judge ruled in favor of his attorney's request. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

April 20, 2019

A man was arrested on Friday after accusations that he made threatening phone calls to Democratic officials.

John Kless, 49, of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, area, reportedly left vulgar messages rife with racist and anti-Islamic rhetoric on Tuesday. Kless ranted about gun rights, 9/11, and illegal immigrants, per The Washington Post. He also threatened the lawmakers with violence.

Among the recipients of the threats were Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). In all three messages, Kless mentioned "hatred" for Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), though he reportedly did not call the congresswoman herself. Kless' threats were made following several other alleged death threats specifically targeting Omar. She said they have increased ever since President Trump posted a video consisting of graphic footage of 9/11 edited together with clips of Omar making comments for which she has been criticized for downplaying the tragedy of the attacks.

Kless appeared in court on Friday and was released. Arraignment is set for May 3 in Fort Lauderdale. Tim O'Donnell

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