The Saudis paid for it
The Washington Post reported that a Saudi-funded lobbyist paid for 500 rooms at Trump’s hotel after the 2016 election. That piece comes from David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell. “It made all the sense in the world, when we found out that the Saudis had paid for it,” Ryan McCarthy quoted from the story.
Mother Jones reported on documents they’ve seen which apparently point to illegal campaign coordination between Trump and the NRA. Mike Spies is behind that exclusive.
The New York Times via Miriam Jordan published a bombshell report yesterday called Making President Trump’s Bed: A Housekeeper Without Papers. “Scoop: an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala has been making President Trump’s bed,” Marc Lacey announced.
Meanwhile, BuzzFeed reports that A Mysterious Imposter Account Was Used On Facebook To Drum Up Support For the Migrant Caravan. That piece is the work of Ken Bensinger and Karla Zabludovsky. “The social media giant has since deactivated the account but has refused to provide information about who created it,” Jason Leopold pointed out.
‘Tries to do illegal things’
Rex Tillerson made a rare public appearance in Houston where Sergio Chapa was on hand to report on it for the Houston Chronicle. The former Secretary of State was in conversation with Bob Schieffer during a fundraiser for the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Besides saying that Russia interfered with the 2016 U.S. elections, Catherine Rampell tweeted this quote from Tillerson: "So often, the president would say here's what I want to do & here's how I want to do it and I would have to say to him, Mr. President I understand what you want to do but you can't do it that way. It violates the law.”
An analysis of Rex Tillerson on Trump in the Washington Post included phrases Tillerson used like “Undisciplined,” “doesn’t like to read,” and tries to do illegal things. Aaron Blake seemed to have a field day writing this.
Trump staff picks
We woke up to news this morning from Kaitlan Collins at CNN that White House chief of staff John Kelly is expected to resign soon. Brian Ries added simply, “He and Trump no longer talking.”
Meanwhile, Trump is expected to Pick Heather Nauert as the next UN Ambassador, sources tell Bloomberg News.
And William Barr has emerged as the leading attorney general candidate in Trump discussions, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Josh Dawsey found out for the Washington Post.
The news is coming from inside the house
CNN's New York offices were evacuated overnight due to a bomb threat, Nicole Chavez reported from inside the newsroom.
Reporters At Bloomberg News Are Worried About Michael Bloomberg’s Potential Presidential Run, according to Steven Perlberg at BuzzFeed News. He also tweeted: “You will be shocked to learn that Michael Bloomberg's comments that he may end political coverage at Bloomberg News if he runs for president... did not go over well in the newsroom. Lots of confusion and no communication from top editors.”
Rachel C. Abrams and John Koblin at the New York Times turn their attention to “60 Minutes,” where reportedly, Independence Led to Trouble, Investigators Say. Koblin tweeted: “Investigators concluded that former 60 Minutes EP Jeff Fager was rightly fired back in September. They also said that he ‘engaged in certain acts of sexual misconduct’ and failed to act on bad behavior from others,” later adding, “A former CBS employee said that legendary 60 Minutes EP Don Hewitt sexually assaulted her multiple times. CBS has paid her for more than 20 years to keep her silent—including as recently as *this year* The settlement has grown to $5 million+ .”
The Guardian encouraged its readers to give to their charity appeal and help stop injustices like Windrush. Katharine Viner wrote the piece. Patrick Butler was “Delighted that the 2018 @Guardian and Observer charity appeal is supporting five charities that helped bring the Windrush hostile environment injustices to light.”
BuzzFeed News’ Azeen Ghorayshi published her exhaustive reporting in Nobody Believed Neil DeGrasse Tyson's First Accuser. Now There Are Three More. She tweeted: “No one believed Tchiya Amet when she said Neil deGrasse Tyson had raped her in the 1980s. Now, three other women tell BuzzFeed News that he harassed them, including one who’s sharing her story publicly for the first time.” Virginia Hughes shared, “NEW: A fourth woman has accused Neil deGrasse Tyson of sexual misconduct. @azeen reports on how a buried rape allegation brought other women forward.”
‘Arrogant and counter-productive,’ an update on Brexit
BuzzFeed News' Alex Wickham said that Theresa May’s Team Has Discussed A Second Referendum Or A Softer Brexit If Her Deal Is Killed Next Week. “Amazing. A Number 10 aide has told @alexwickham: "It has come to the point where you feel like you are in that Mitchell and Webb sketch when one of the Nazis looks at the other and asks, ‘Are we the baddies?’" Mark Di Stefano tweeted.
Norwegian politicians outright rejected the UK's Norway Plus Brexit plan, The Guardian’s Patrick Wintour reported. Alberto Nardelli tweeted this quote from the story: “You just expect us to give you an invitation rather than consider whether Norway would want to give you such an invitation. It might be in your interest to use our agreement, but it would not be in our interest.” Stig Abell added, “Perhaps the crowning delusion of the whole Brexit process is that we can just have whatever we decide we want. It’s arrogant and counter-productive.”
In a column at The Guardian, George Monbiot set out to explain How US billionaires are fuelling the hard-right cause in Britain. Monbiot pointed out the piece was “Investigated in collaboration with @DeSmogUK” and that “the Koch Brothers funded a Trotskyite splinter group.” Ian Birrell added that “the Koch brothers have given Spiked $300,000.” “It doesn’t get much weirder or – in my view – darker than this,” Monbiot admitted.
Sam Coates at the Times of London wrote of “leaked government documents which reveal Ireland could be hit harder than the U.K. and face food shortages in a ‘no deal’ Brexit.” “Brexiteers demand May warn Leo Varadkar that it’s ‘no backstop or no deal’- Labour attack morally outrageous threat Warning of food shortages in Ireland,” he tweeted. “Someone will be needing the history books out over in Whitehall,” Richard Chambers added.
Henry Zeffman’s piece in the Times of London got an exclusive that Ministers will order pharmacists to ration drugs if UK crashes out. “Ministers will have the power to overrule doctors’ prescriptions in case medicines run out after Brexit. Urgent government consultation launched on Tuesday, leaked to The Times,” he tweeted.
Who knew what when?
There’s news in the Washington Post (via Amy Gardner and Beth Reinhard) that Republican officials had early warnings of voting irregularities in North Carolina.
Otillia Steadman went into detail on How Alleged Election Fraud Works In North Carolina for her piece in BuzzFeed News. “I Don’t Vote” — But He Did, she wrote. Tom Namako outlined the practice: 1. Chris Eason signs absentee ballot but fills in no votes 2. He says McCrae Dowless collects the unsealed ballot 3. It turns up sealed and witnessed to the elections board.”
Missouri Secretary of State Ashcroft launched an investigation into Josh Hawley according to Jack Suntrup at St. Louis Today. For reference, Hawley is the attorney general and might have "used public funds as Attorney General to support his candidacy for U.S. Senate."
Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult
At the Washington Post, Lisa Rein saw some emails that show the Veterans Affairs’ diversity chief was told not to condemn white nationalists after Charlottesville.
The Texas Child Daycare Safety and Oversight Investigation is up online courtesy of Andrea Ball and Tony Plohetski at Gatehouse News. “The @statesman's investigative team spent a year looking into Texas day care safety & oversight, finding an alarming number of deaths, injuries & sexual abuse cases, as well as weak regulation,” Sean Walsh wrote. Tony Plohetski added, “So proud to be part of this @statesman reporting effort. #Unwatched is an unprecedented look at Texas daycares.”
The entertainment section
Kevin Hart was recently announced as the host for the Oscars in 2019. But Kristopher Tapley wrote at Variety that Hart Says the Film Academy Has Given Him an Ultimatum: Apologize or We’ll Find Another Oscars Host. As of this writing, the headline on Tapley’s story reads: Kevin Hart Steps Down as Oscar Host. The apology in question was requested due to “outcry over previous anti-gay tweets, and comments Hart made during stand-up routines nearly 10 years ago.”
The 61st GRAMMY Awards released their Full Nominees List if mainstream music is something you pay attention to. Dani Deahl thinks “The nominations for best dance album 2019 are SO on point *chef's kiss*” So check that out and get dancing this weekend.
And Marvel Studios released its official trailer for “Avengers.” Rob Polansky said it for most people: “Shut up and take my money.”
Other things you should know
CBS had a live stream of the Bush funeral train and services in Houston.
AP News reports that Ecuador’s president got enough UK guarantees for Assange to leave the embassy.
Ethnic minority academics earn less than their counterparts, per Rianna Croxford at BBC News. Najiba Feroz got into the specifics, tweeting, “£52,000 for white academics £38,000 for black academics £37,000 for academics from an Arab background.”