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December 6, 2017
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During his lengthy interview with the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, Donald Trump Jr. told the panel he couldn't discuss a conversation he had with his father this summer because of attorney-client privilege. The Trumps are not attorneys, nor are they each other's client.

Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the committee's top Democrat, said that Trump Jr. claimed there was a lawyer in the room during their discussion, so the argument counts. "I don't believe you can shield communications between individuals merely by having an attorney present," Schiff said. "That's not the purpose of attorney-client privilege."

The conversation in question came after The New York Times contacted Trump Jr. about a 2016 meeting Trump Jr. had with several Russians, including a Kremlin-linked attorney, before the election. Trump Jr.'s initial statement, which President Trump reportedly had a hand in drafting, described the meeting as being short and solely about the adoption of Russian children by Americans; it was later revealed Trump Jr. agreed to the meeting because he was promised compromising information on Hillary Clinton by the Russian government, and he was joined by former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his brother-in-law and Trump adviser, Jared Kushner. Catherine Garcia

10:37 a.m. ET
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The Loch Ness monster may very well be nothing more than an elaborate hoax, but a team of scientists from around the world plans to find out once and for all. The researchers will test the "environmental DNA" of the Scottish waters where Nessie allegedly dwells in order to see if anything fishy comes up, Reuters reports.

The idea is that the inhabitants of a given environment leave their traces everywhere: bits of scales, feces, cryptozoological saliva, what have you. "This DNA can be captured, sequenced, and then used to identify that creature by comparing the sequence obtained to large databases of known genetic sequences from hundreds of thousands of different organisms," said Neil Gemmell, a professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

Even if "sea monster" doesn't pop up in the results, the experiment won't be a wash. The scientists are still hoping to identify new organisms in Loch Ness, just of the slightly smaller, bacterial variety. Jeva Lange

10:14 a.m. ET

Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth made a disastrous attempt at sympathizing with Kim Jong Un on Wednesday, suggesting the North Korean dictator "probably doesn't love being the guy that has to murder his people all day long."

The quote came about as Hegseth was asked why Kim would agree to a meeting with President Trump. "He wants a picture with the American president," Hegseth said. "The sanctions are having massive effect there, there's no doubt … And I think there's probably a point at which the guy who wants to meet with Dennis Rodman and loves NBA basketball and loves Western pop culture, probably doesn't love being the guy that has to murder his people all day long. Probably wants normalization."

Someone should perhaps inform Hegseth that Kim doesn't have to murder anybody. Jeva Lange

10:14 a.m. ET

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) appeared on CNN's New Day on Wednesday to make the case for a second special counsel to investigate the origins of the probe into whether President Trump's campaign colluded with Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election.

Jordan and host Chris Cuomo seemed to make their arguments using entirely separate sets of facts — Jordan insisting that FBI leadership was politically motivated against Trump, Cuomo pointing out that the agency's inspector general was already investigating claims of bias, and both men sharply disagreeing with the other's evaluation of the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

When Jordan proclaimed that a year had gone by without "one bit of evidence" of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Cuomo fired back by calling the claim "demonstrably false," saying the investigation had unearthed "tons of proof of potential collusion." The congressman argued that he could "see no other remedy" besides a second special counsel, and Cuomo called the effort "politicized nonsense." Watch the full battle below, via CNN. Summer Meza

9:48 a.m. ET

Every so often there are moments where you can't help but pause and wonder, How did we get here? Case in point: Stormy Daniels Day.

The West Hollywood, California, event will take place on May 23, when the mayor and members of the city council will give porn star Stormy Daniels "a City Proclamation and Key to the City." Why? To recognize her "leadership in the #RESIST movement."

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is suing President Trump for defamation. She claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006, and the president's lawyer, Michael Cohen, famously paid her $130,000 in October 2016 to keep quiet about the allegations. "Daniels has proven herself to be a profile in courage by speaking truth to power even under threats to her safety and extreme intimidation," West Hollywood's press advisory said.

The ceremony will take place — where else? — at "West Hollywood's favorite gay adult boutique" Chi Chi LaRue's. Jeva Lange

9:28 a.m. ET
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Outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is facing eroding support and confidence among his colleagues, who have reportedly floated the idea of replacing him before he retires, The Washington Post reports.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney mentioned earlier this week that he has talked with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) about replacing Ryan in the next few months, and last week Ryan was abandoned by more than two dozen Republicans on a farm bill vote due to infighting over immigration.

With administration support also waning and the midterms looming, Politico's Jake Sherman tweeted: "The White House should find someone who can get 218 then." Rep. Scott W. Taylor (R-Va.) admitted he was "totally frustrated" with the divided GOP, but added "I'm not sure that's all on" Ryan. Jeva Lange

9:01 a.m. ET
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Members of the Trump administration are growing increasingly paranoid about an alleged, unproven theory that the FBI planted "evidence" of the 2016 campaign's ties to Russia as a fail-safe in case Hillary Clinton lost the election, Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman reports. "The guy who will end up burning in all this is [former CIA director] John Brennan," said President Trump's close ally, Roger Stone. "If I were him I'd break the capsule and swallow it now. That psychopath is going down."

Trump has demanded that the Justice Department look into whether Obama administration officials coordinated surveillance of his campaign for political reasons, although reports on the matter said there was no evidence that an informant was ever embedded in the campaign, as Trump has repeatedly suggested. On Wednesday, Trump stoked the rumors, tweeting: "Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State. They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before!"

One West Wing insider told Vanity Fair, "There's a paranoia about who else" might be an FBI informant. Read more about the rumors bubbling up in the White House here. Jeva Lange

8:02 a.m. ET
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Retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) says President Trump offered him, and he declined, the U.S. ambassadorship to Australia, lending some credence to a report Monday in the The Australian Financial Review that Trump was considering a high-profile senator to assuage the bruised feelings in Canberra that Trump had switched his nominee for ambassador to Australia, Adm. Harry Harris, to the South Korea portfolio. Along with Corker, the Financial Review named Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) as possible consolation prizes.

"I had a number of conversations with both President Trump and (Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo," Corker told The Tennessean. "At the end of the day though ... it just felt like it wasn't the right step." Hatch said through a spokesman that he isn't interested, either. The 84-year-old senator is looking forward to "a well-deserved retirement filled with early bird specials at all-you-can-eat buffets and long walks through Costco," Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock said Tuesday. That leaves Flake — though given his frosty relationship with Trump, it seems unlikely Trump would offer him such a plum job. Peter Weber

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