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September 14, 2018

Paul Manafort's chances of a presidential pardon likely flew out the window Friday when he agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors. Not that a pardon would've mattered anyway, journalist Marcy Wheeler suggests.

Even after being convicted of financial crimes last month, Manafort "refused to ... make up stories in order to get a 'deal,'" President Trump tweeted at the time. The president was even considering pardoning his former campaign chair, though Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said he suggested Trump should wait until Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation had ended.

But on Friday, Manafort reached a plea deal with prosecutors — including a 17-page cooperation agreement with Mueller's investigation. And even if Manafort was still in Trump's good graces, a pardon would still probably be useless, Wheeler points out on her site Empty Wheel:

Wheeler also surmised that, after the plea deal news broke, it was obvious that Manafort would cooperate because no reporters immediately confirmed he wouldn't. Keeping the cooperation secret for nearly two hours was apparently part of Mueller's strategy, as it would "prevent a last-minute pardon from Trump undercutting" the deal, Wheeler writes.

As part of the plea deal, Manafort also pleaded guilty to two federal conspiracy charges ahead of what was supposed to be his second trial regarding his political work with Ukraine. Read more of Wheeler's analysis at Empty Wheel. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:35 p.m. ET
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

One of the Republican senators on the fence about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is ready to listen to his accusers.

In an interview with The New York Times on Monday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said that the vote on Kavanaugh is no longer about whether he is qualified to serve. Rather, she said, it's about "whether or not a woman who has been a victim at some point in her life is to be believed." Christine Ford has accused Kavanaugh of forcibly groping her at a party when they were both in high school, while Deborah Ramirez alleges Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a drunken dorm party while they were both students at Yale University. Kavanaugh has denied both allegations, and he and Ford will testify before the Senate on Thursday regarding her accusation.

Murkowski told the Times that Ford's allegation disturbed her and that she's prepared to hear her out. "We need to be able to listen," she said. The senator also explained that she has been working over the past week to ensure that Ford's testimony didn't fall through because of her colleagues' "arbitrary timeline"; many Republicans insisted Ford had to testify Monday if at all. In a separate interview, Murkowski told CNN that Ramirez should come forward and "take the next step" like Ford so that her allegation can also be considered. At the same time, Murkowski made clear she will also listen to what Kavanaugh has to say.

Kavanaugh needs 50 votes in order to be confirmed, and there are 51 Republicans in the Senate. If Murkowski votes no, only one other Republican would have to break rank for Kavanaugh's nomination to go up in flames. There are reportedly up to seven Republicans undecided on the nominee — including Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who told reporters Tuesday that "the hearing Thursday is an important one." Brendan Morrow

12:52 p.m. ET
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Amazon Prime announced Tuesday that its Thursday Night Football broadcasts would feature Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer as commentators. Sports Illustrated reports that they are the first-ever female broadcasting team providing analysis for NFL games.

Storm, an ESPN anchor, and Kremer, an NFL Network correspondent, will make their debut during this week's match between the Minnesota Vikings and the Los Angeles Rams. Amazon Prime will give viewers four options when they watch football through the streaming service — a Fox broadcast with commentators Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, a team of U.K. analysts, a Spanish-language broadcast, and the Storm-Kremer partnership.

The duo will offer play-by-play analysis for 11 NFL games this season, reports Yahoo Sports. Amazon Prime emphasized the history-making aspect of the decision, announcing that "bringing two female announcers together to call an entire NFL game has never been done before." The service additionally touted Storm and Kremer's "extensive knowledge of the game." Both journalists have won awards for their sports coverage and have worked for decades in the industry. Summer Meza

12:11 p.m. ET

Netflix's true crime sensation Making a Murderer is making a return.

Netflix announced Tuesday that its documentary series about a Wisconsin man convicted of murder in 2007 will return with 10 new episodes on Oct. 19. The first installment of Making a Murderer, which was released in 2015, focused on Stephen Avery's conviction for the murder of photographer Teresa Halbach. Avery's nephew, Brendan Dassey, was also convicted of life in prison after confessing to helping murder Halbach, but the documentary suggested his confession was coerced. Avery also insisted that he did not kill Halbach, and the show framed his defense as truthful and the case against him as flimsy.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos say that while the first set of episodes focused on the experience of being accused of a crime, part two will be centered around "the experience of the convicted and imprisoned." Viewers will be introduced to Kathleen Zellner, Avery's post-conviction lawyer, and there will be plenty of interviews with Avery and his family as well. Meanwhile, Dassey's new lawyers, Laura Nirider and Steven Drizin, have attempted to appeal his conviction, and they'll also be in the new episodes. So far, Dassey's conviction was upheld by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017, and the Supreme Court declined to hear the case in 2018. But Nirider has pledged to "continue to fight to free Brendan Dassey."

Netflix on Tuesday released a new teaser for the upcoming episodes. There isn't any new footage to parse, but the clip does include some interviews about appealing convictions. Watch below. Brendan Morrow

11:56 a.m. ET

President Trump on Tuesday spoke before the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, stressing America's sovereignty and accusing other nations of taking advantage of American generosity.

After getting off to a rocky start, Trump said he would "reject the ideology of globalism" and instead "embrace the doctrine of patriotism." Along those lines, he accused Iranian leaders of sowing "chaos, death, and destruction," calling Iran's government a "brutal regime" that is working to "spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond." He called on other nations "to isolate Iran's regime as long as its aggression continues."

Trump additionally drew OPEC into his line of fire, criticizing the oil-producing coalition and accusing participating nations of "ripping off the rest of the world." He said the U.S. defends "many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good." OPEC nations "must contribute substantially to military protection from now on," he concluded.

He said that the U.S. would further sanction Venezuela, describing the "human tragedy" in the nation as a result of "anguish inflicted by the socialist Maduro regime," referring to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. He urged other nations to "resist socialism and the misery that it brings to everyone." Taking a minute to denounce illegal immigration as harmful to "hardworking citizens," Trump said he wanted Latin American countries to "make their countries great again" to stem the flow of "crime, violence, and poverty" outside their borders.

To wrap up his "America first"-style speech, Trump leaned into nationalist sentiments. "We believe in self-government and the rule of law," he said. "We treasure our traditions. Above all, we love our country." Watch the full speech below, via CBS News. Summer Meza

10:57 a.m. ET

President Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on Tuesday, speaking directly to the gathered world leaders for the second time in his presidency. "One year ago, I stood before you for the first time," Trump said to begin his speech, explaining that he planned to update U.N. leaders on the "extraordinary progress we've made."

Rote introduction dispensed with, Trump's solemn tone forecasted a serious, on-message speech. That is, until his very next sentence. "In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country," he said — prompting laughter from his audience. Trump interrupted himself to say his declaration was "so true," which only evoked heartier laughter from the crowd.

After an awkward beat, Trump relented: "Didn't expect that reaction, but that's okay," he said with a half-smile. Again, the crowd laughed, this time with applause. Watch the stunning moment below. Kimberly Alters

10:54 a.m. ET
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Michael Kors

Accessory design giant Michael Kors on Tuesday purchased Italian luxury brand Versace for $2.1 billion, reports The Washington Post, and some Versace fans are not happy.

The luxury brand, founded by Gianni Versace in 1978 and currently helmed by his sister Donatella, sells high-end goods that often sell for five times as much as Michael Kors' sportswear items, says The Associated Press. When rumors of the sale began to swirl, Versace loyalists revolted, saying Kors would "ruin" or "kill" the brand. Some begged the brand to reconsider, writing, "think about what Gianni would want, Donatella ... please."

Kors reportedly wants to open about 100 new Versace stores, focus on selling shoes and accessories, and increase the brand's online shopping profile. The company hopes to more than double Versace's revenue in coming years. Donatella Versace will remain on as a creative director, and NPR reports that she and other family members will receive about $177 million worth of shares in the newly-formed parent company, Capri Holdings.

"STAY AWAY FROM VERSACE," said one Twitter user, echoing the sentiments of many others who said Kors would diminish Versace's "heritage" and "Gianni's memory." Others directly attacked Kors' designs as "tacky," and worried that Versace would "go from high-end luxury" to "duty-free cheap s--t you buy at the airport."

The Versace family, for their part, called it "a very exciting moment," reports USA Today, and said the sale "will allow Versace to reach its full potential." Read more at The Washington Post. Summer Meza

10:07 a.m. ET

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and his wife, Heidi, were heckled out of a restaurant in Washington, D.C., on Monday night by a group of protesters chanting, "We believe survivors."

Footage posted by the activist group on Twitter shows that one protester initially questioned Cruz about how he plans to vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and Cruz declined to answer, saying, "God bless you, ma'am." Then, as chanting continued — mostly on-message, aside from one assertion that Cruz's election challenger, Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), is "way hotter" than the sitting senator — Cruz decided to leave:

This is not the first time a prominent Republican has been thus protested. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was heckled in a Mexican restaurant in June, as was senior policy adviser Stephen Miller. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant by its owner. Bonnie Kristian

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