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December 12, 2018

A Star Is Born and Black Panther seem poised to clean up in awards season.

The Screen Actors Guild awards nominations were released Wednesday, and in the top category of Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, the nominees are A Star Is Born, Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Crazy Rich Asians. History suggests that one of these films will win Best Picture at the Oscars, as it's rare for a movie to do so without first being nominated in this category. (Last year, however, The Shape of Water broke from that tradition by taking Best Picture after a SAG snub.) Roma, a Best Picture frontrunner, was not nominated, nor were other Best Picture hopefuls like Green Book, Vice, and If Beale Street Could Talk.

A Star Is Born earned four nominations, the most of any film, while Black Panther picked up a key nod after previously being recognized at the Golden Globe Awards and the Critics Choice Awards.

Meanwhile, the lead actor nominees are Christian Bale (Vice), Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), Viggo Mortensen (Green Book), and John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman), while the lead actress nominees are Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns), Glenn Close (The Wife), Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born), and Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?).

Emily Blunt got a second nomination in the best supporting actress category for A Quiet Place, with her fellow nominees being Amy Adams (Vice), Margot Robbie (Mary Queen of Scots), Emma Stone (The Favourite), and Rachel Weisz (The Favourite).

In the television field, The Americans, Better Call Saul, The Handmaid's Tale, Ozark, and This Is Us were nominated in the top drama series category, while Atlanta, Barry, GLOW, The Kominsky Method, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel were nominated in the top comedy series category.

The 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will take place on Jan. 27. Read the full list of nominees at Variety. Brendan Morrow

8:45 a.m.

With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) floating the idea of disinviting President Trump from delivering the State of the Union, the president is apparently looking for another way in.

Officials in the White House are "discussing" whether it's possible for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to invite Trump to deliver the address, CBS reports. Pelosi on Wednesday wrote a letter to Trump suggesting they delay the State of the Union, which had previously been scheduled for Jan. 29. She said there are "security concerns" because of the ongoing partial government shutdown, although Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen subsequently said the department is actually "fully prepared" for the event.

It's the House speaker's role to invite the president to the State of the Union, and Pelosi did not actually say Wednesday the event was off or that she wouldn't bring a Jan. 29 resolution up for approval. But either way, White House officials reportedly see Pelosi's move as "a sign of weakness" in the shutdown fight, believing she's afraid Trump will use the address to rally the nation to his side.

Trump himself has not yet officially responded to Pelosi's State of the Union suggestion. Brendan Morrow

7:36 a.m.

When Michael Cohen infamously questioned the legitimacy of presidential polls in 2016, it seems he knew a thing or two about trying to rig them.

President Trump's former attorney hired an IT firm to manipulate online polls for Trump before he entered the 2016 race, The Wall Street Journal reports. John Gauger, owner of RedFinch Solutions LLC, says Cohen promised him $50,000 for work that included trying to manipulate a Drudge Report poll of possible Republican presidential candidates in 2015. Cohen also reportedly asked Gauger to tinker with a CNBC poll of America's top business leaders in 2014.

Gauger says Cohen paid him around $12,500 in a Walmart bag full of cash (and "a boxing glove that Mr. Cohen said had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter") but never gave him the rest of the money, even though Trump reimbursed Cohen for $50,000 in "tech services." Cohen denied paying with a bag of cash, telling the Journal he used a check.

Gauger says Cohen did end up paying him more money later for additional services, though. This apparently included having Gauger make a Cohen fan account during the 2016 election called @WomenForCohen, which labeled Cohen a "sex symbol."

Cohen has been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to violating campaign finance laws, saying he paid off women who alleged they had affairs with Trump before he ran for president, which Trump denies. Cohen will testify before Congress next month and reportedly plans to detail his personal experience working for the president, with one source saying he's "going to say things that will give you chills."

As for the poll-rigging efforts, Journal notes Gauger was unsuccessful. In the Drudge poll, Trump ended up in fifth place with five percent of the vote, and in the CNBC poll, he didn't even make it into the top 100. Brendan Morrow

5:32 a.m.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has a new book out that "chronicles his time in [President] Trump's inner circle, and it's called Let Me Finish," Stephen Colbert noted on Wednesday's Late Show. "And how dare you suggest that the original title was Are You Gonna Finish That?" In the book, he adds, Christie calls Trump's team "a 'revolving door of deeply flawed individuals — amateurs, grifters, weaklings, convicted and unconnected felons' — yeah, and that's just Don Jr."

Christie recalls that when he first met Trump, at a 2002 dinner, Trump ordered his food, picking items he was allergic to or detested, leading Christie to wonder if "Trump took him to be 'one of his chicks.' Well, check your bank account," Colbert said. "Is there $130,000 in there?" Trump also reportedly told Christie to lose weight and exhorted him to wear a longer tie, saying it would make him look thinner. "Aha! My God, he does it on purpose!" Colbert said, elaborating in his Trump voice and ending with Christie's thoughts on Jared Kushner.

The Late Show also briefly touched on the Brexit mess, imagining how Britain's most famous nanny might react to the potential zombie-filled anarchy in the U.K. in a trailer for Mary Poppins Post-Brexit.

On The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon tackled a different Hollywood film, the new Spider-Man, and a different government in chaos, crafting a TSA-themed trailer for Spider-Man: Staying Home. Fallon also touched on other aspects of the shutdown, including Trump's apparent boredom from being cooped up in the White House. He even turned that into a Dr. Seussian story. Watch below. Peter Weber

4:31 a.m.

"This wasn't the argument that I set out to make," that Congress must impeach President Trump, Yoni Appelbaum says at The Atlantic. But after researching the previous three impeachments in U.S. history, it became clear pundits and Democratic leaders "have overlearned the lessons of Bill Clinton's impeachment, which backfired on his accusers" in 1998, "and entirely forgotten the real significance of Andrew Johnson's" in 1868.

By Appelbaum's estimation, Trump's multi-pronged "attack on the very foundations of America's constitutional democracy" already more than qualifies him for impeachment and removal from office, but even if the Senate disagrees and fails to convict, the process is its own remedy "in five distinct forms," he explains in The Atlantic's March cover story, posted online late Wednesday:

In these five ways — shifting the public's attention to the president's debilities, tipping the balance of power away from him, skimming off the froth of conspiratorial thinking, moving the fight to a rule-bound forum, and dealing lasting damage to his political prospects — the impeachment process has succeeded in the past. In fact, it's the very efficacy of these past efforts that should give Congress pause; it's a process that should be triggered only when a president's betrayal of his basic duties requires it. But Trump's conduct clearly meets that threshold. The only question is whether Congress will act. [Yoni Appelbaum, The Atlantic]

"It is absurd to suggest that the Constitution would delineate a mechanism too potent to ever actually be employed," Appelbaum writes. "With a newly seated Democratic majority, the House of Representatives can no longer dodge its constitutional duty. It must immediately open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump, and bring the debate out of the court of public opinion and into Congress, where it belongs." Read the entire history lesson and argument for impeachment, including where Bill Clinton's accusers went wrong and Hillary Clinton's earlier cameo in impeachment law, at The Atlantic.

2:17 a.m.

On Day 26 of the government shutdown, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) made the very "reasonable" request that President Trump reschedule or cancel his State of the Union address, Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "I mean, what's he gonna do? 'The state of our union is ... all the Democrats' fault.'" Also, Pelosi is doing this "because she can," Colbert said. "Trump acts like the Big Dog, but she won't let the dog into her House because she knows he's going to poop everywhere." Pelosi knows what she's doing, he added. "Nothing hurts Trump more than when you deny him a TV appearance — they already won't let him host the Oscars."

Pelosi's SOTU move is "such a great burn," Seth Meyers agreed at Late Night, but it's just one of the ways Trump is losing the shutdown fight. Yes, "Trump actually thinks he's winning the argument," mostly because "he watches more Fox News than all the residents of a Texas senior center combined," Meyers said. But "what we're witnessing right now are the desperate gasps of the Trump agenda," not just his wall.

But America and its economy are paying the cost, Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show. "You'd think Trump would pay attention to that, because he loves Wall Street. He thinks that's where you get the wall." Still, America's chaos is "nothing compared to what's happening in the U.K.," he said, running through the Brexit mess. "Rght now, America's government is shut down and there's trash on the streets. The U.K.'s government is in turmoil and soon they may not have food. And Africa's watching all of this, like, 'Ha-ha, who's laughing now?'"

Jimmy Kimmel tried to reason with Trump in a language he understands: Golf. "With one crazy zig-zag stroke of your executive Sharpie, you could be back on the greens at Mar-a-Lago faster than you could say Pocahontas," he reasoned. "It's a win-win, for us and for you. The federal employees can go back to work and you can get back to doing what you do best: Cheating at golf." Watch below. Peter Weber

12:53 a.m.

In front of the cameras, President Trump is adamant about standing firm and not bending to Democrats in order to end the government shutdown, but behind the scenes, he's not so steadfast, The New York Times reports.

While watching news coverage of the shutdown recently, Trump turned to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, clearly heated. A person with knowledge of the conversation told the Times that Trump said: "We are getting crushed! Why can't we get a deal?" Trump has been telling aides that he thinks Americans are going to forget all about the shutdown — entering its 27th day on Thursday, it's the longest in U.S. history — and will instead remember that he demanded money for a southern border wall.

As Trump deals with the shutdown — his poll numbers dropping, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asking him to reschedule or drop the State of the Union address, and other debacles — Mulvaney is figuring out his new role in the White House. Before becoming acting chief of staff on Jan. 3, Mulvaney led the Office of Management and Budget and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. So far, he's taking a less rigid approach than his predecessor, John Kelly. He's not limiting access to Trump or demanding he sign off on everything, the Times reports, telling staffers during a meeting, "You're all adults." Read more about how Mulvaney is tackling his new role, and how he's dealing with an ever-present Jared Kushner, at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

12:19 a.m.

Oh, that collusion.

On CNN Wednesday night, Rudy Giuliani, personal lawyer to President Trump, acknowledged that maybe Trump's campaign did collude with Russia. When Chris Cuomo reminded Giuliani that Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort recently (and accidentally) revealed some very collusion-y activity, Giuliani didn't disagree. "I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign," he claimed. "I have not! I said the president of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the president of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here: Conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC."

Giuliani has a long history of contradicting himself on TV and shifting the collusion discussion, from claiming that "Russian collusion is a total fake news," to noting that that technically, "collusion is not a crime," then that attempted collusion isn't a crime. Also, this:

Wednesday's iteration could be paraphrased: Maybe Trump's campaign colluded but Trump didn't know, and only colluding with Russia to hack Democratic National Committee emails would actually be a crime.

Giuliani agreed he can't change Special Counsel Mueller's report, but also seemed to claim Mueller is already done. "I mean, this whole idea of obstruction is really stupid because the investigation has come to an end and nobody's obstructed it," Giuliani said. "I don't think the investigation has come to an end," Cuomo said. "Okay, if it hasn't come to an end, it has certainly come to an end on collusion — they either have it or they don't have it," Giuliani replied. "How do you know?" Cuomo asked, noting that new "Manafort stuff" is "the most damning stuff to date." "Well, that's not collusion and hacking the DNC," Giuliani said, and Cuomo pushed back on Giuliani's low bar. Peter Weber

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