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March 14, 2019

A Republican senator who announced he would vote to terminate President Trump's national emergency declaration just flip-flopped completely.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) in an op-ed for The Washington Post last month said that he would vote with Democrats to terminate Trump's declaration of a national emergency over the southern border. Trump made this declaration after a partial government shutdown in an attempt to obtain southern border wall funding without congressional approval. Tillis also told the Post it was an easy decision, saying: "It's never a tough vote for me when I'm standing on principle."

Tillis had warned that a future Democratic president could similarly bypass Congress in an attempt to pass an agenda conservatives may not be happy with, saying that "as a U.S. senator, I cannot justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress." He also compared the use of emergency declarations to "acting more like an 'emperor' or 'king' than a president" and said that he would, therefore, vote in favor of blocking it.

But the Senate on Thursday voted to pass a resolution doing just that, and despite Tillis previously saying he would vote yes on it, he voted no. Tillis is up for re-election in 2020, and The Washington Post's Robert Costa reports that conservative activists and donors were "ready to start drafting primary challengers" if he voted in favor of the resolution. CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports the White House threatened to play a role in primarying Republican defectors. The resolution ultimately passed the Senate with 59 votes, without help from Tillis. Brendan Morrow

2:07 p.m.

President Trump just unleashed an incredibly consequential foreign policy decision in a single tweet — but what else is new.

Just a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump decided that America would recognize Golan Heights as Israeli territory. Syria and Israel have fought over the 460-square mile plateau for more than half a century, yet Trump settled its fate, at least in American eyes, in one surprising Thursday tweet.

Golan was Syrian land until Israel seized it in 1967, sparking a constant fight between the neighbors. Most recently, Israel has accused the Iran-backed group Hezbollah of setting up a terrorist cell in the region, per the Times of Israel. Netanyahu was expected to push Trump to support Israel's control over the region when they met next week, and three GOP lawmakers pleaded with Trump to do the same last week.

The move is largely seen as a strategic boost to Netanyahu's struggling re-election campaign, The New York Times notes. Beyond meeting with Trump, Netanyahu is also scheduled to speak to the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC, which has recently been subject to increasing opposition from far-left Democrats. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:54 p.m.

Facebook is in hot water once again.

The social media giant on Thursday acknowledged having stored hundreds of millions of user passwords in plain text when they should have been encrypted. This followed a report from journalist Brian Krebs on Facebook not encrypting passwords, which said this has been happening "in some cases going back to 2012."

Krebs quoted a Facebook source as saying "between 200 million and 600 million" users have been affected by this. In a blog post, Facebook didn't provide an exact number but said it would notify "hundreds of millions" of affected Facebook Lite users, as well as "tens of millions" of other Facebook users and "tens of thousands" of Instagram users.

These unencrypted passwords were searchable in a database that could be accessed by 20,000 Facebook employees, Krebs reports. Facebook says it discovered this during a security review in January but found "no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed the passwords."

This is only the latest bit of bad press for the scandal-plagued Facebook, which The New York Times reported last week is under criminal investigation over deals made with other companies over its user's data. Facebook told the Times it is "cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously." After the company's Thursday revelations, the Times' Mike Isaac quoted a Facebook employee as saying, "working at Facebook is like living the Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes GIF." Brendan Morrow

1:02 p.m.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway would very much like everyone to stop paying so much attention to her husband's tweets calling her boss, President Trump, mentally unstable.

Conway spoke with Fox Business on Thursday after Trump went after her husband, George Conway, as a "stone cold loser," "husband from hell," and a "whack job." It's "unusual" and "new" for her husband not to support "the agenda of the president and my work there," she said, also saying it's "surprising" to see "grievances" aired in public. Still, "I appreciate the president defending what he thinks is unfairness," she said, later saying that Trump is "protective" of her and has "never" made her feel like she has to "choose between my marriage and my job."

She went on to say that she has "certainly" had "conversations" with her husband about not wanting him to tweet attacks on her boss, but she argued the media is "getting into a very dangerous area" by covering this story, in particular going after what she called "self-designated marriage experts." She also suggested her husband's tweets aren't really that important since he can't "act on" them and that reporters only care about him because of their marriage. "I don't know when the feminists are going to write the story about the unusual situation about a man getting power through his wife, but that's what we have here," she said.

Later, Conway said her husband "certainly" wants her to step down, but asked, "what message would that send to the feminists everywhere who pretend they're independent thinkers, and men don't make decisions for them? They can talk it, and I can walk it. I can live it." Brendan Morrow

12:46 p.m.

You don't have to be baseball fan to catch some feelings from this goodbye.

On Thursday, MLB legend Ichiro Suzuki finished up a 29-year career on an indisputably high note. Sure, the 45-year-old outfielder and his Seattle Mariners earned a 5-4 win over the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo's Japan Opening Series. But the reaction from the 45,000-person crowd and Ichiro's teammates after he was pulled from the game during its eighth inning was far more historic.

Ichiro spent more than a decade with the Mariners before gracing a few more MLB teams and then returning to Seattle in 2018. He took a front office position last May, but came back to the field Wednesday for the first Mariners game of the season and appeared again on Thursday. It seemed pretty clear that Ichiro intended to play the last games of his career in his home country of Japan, and he made his retirement official after Thursday's game.

While Ichiro didn't earn any runs on Thursday, he leaves behind a career marked by 3,089 hits in the MLB. Combined with his 1,278 hits as a professional in Japan, Ichiro holds the record for the most professional hits of all time. Watch more of Ichiro's final on-field moments below. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:17 a.m.

At least 55 people are dead after a ferry sank in Iraq's Tigris river, officials tell Al Jazeera.

The ferry was carrying more than 80 people celebrating the Kurdish new year when it sank due to a technical problem near Mosul on Thursday, a civil defense official tells The Associated Press. Those dead include 33 women, 12 children, and 10 men, an Iraqi health ministry spokesman added. At least 30 people had been rescued but search operations are ongoing.

The river had seen high, fast-moving waters recently after the nearby Mosul dam was opened, BBC notes. Water authorities told boat operators to stay off the river, meaning there weren't many boats around to aid the sinking vessel. Many of those onboard were women and children who could not swim, the civil defense official told AP.

Some sources have said there could've been up to 200 people onboard the ferry as it traveled to a tourist island, per Al Jazeera. Photos and videos showing people floating in the water appeared on social media following the incident. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:55 a.m.

Republicans estimate President Trump needs $1 billion to win in 2020 — and that he needs some unlikely donors to make that happen.

With several Democrats' fundraising totals already leaping into the tens of millions, the GOP knows it needs its wealthy party members who fought Trump in 2016 to change allegiances this time around. And to make that happen, Vice President Mike Pence — the less abrasive of America's executive duo — is taking to the golf course, Politico reports.

On Monday, Pence spoke to several big-dollar GOP donors, including billionaire investor Paul Singer, at a surf and turf dinner at California's Pebble Beach golf course. Singer donated millions to an anti-Trump PAC in 2016, but that wasn't apparent from the way Pence "thanked him for his years of financial support to the party and conservative causes" on Monday, Politico says. Pence also brought Singer to the White House to share "detailed briefings on the administration's legislative agenda," Politico continues, perhaps because Singer did reportedly end up giving $1 million to Trump's inauguration committee.

The Pebble Beach dinner was just one example of how Pence can "translate Trump" into a language conservatives want to hear, says David McIntosh, who heads a former anti-Trump group that's more anti-Beto O'Rourke this time around. Still, Pence's dinner party didn't completely convince 2016 anti-Trumper Art Pope to donate to Trump in 2020. He may "remain on the sidelines" this time instead of publicly opposing Trump, though, and he expects more former anti-Trumpers to do the same, Politico notes.

Read more about Pence's mission at Politico. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:33 a.m.

President Trump's relentless attacks on the late Sen. John McCain aren't earning him much approval over on Fox News.

Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade on Thursday expressed bewilderment at Trump "inexplicably" spending several minutes going after McCain during a recent speech, saying he "swamped his own message" by doing so and that this "makes absolutely no sense" because "number one, John McCain passed away six months ago," per Mediaite. Kilmeade went on to say that although Trump had a rivalry with McCain, other presidents had disagreements with the late senator, too.

Kilmeade wasn't alone, with Fox's Shepard Smith on Wednesday looking downright baffled while covering Trump's latest comments, saying that the president could talk about the great economy but instead is "fighting with a dead guy again today, a dead war hero," also calling the situation "crazy," per The Hill. Analyst Andrew Napolitano couldn't explain it any better than Smith, saying, "there’s no logical reason to make these arguments after he's dead." Previously, host Neil Cavuto suggested per Mediaite that Trump is "risking losing a second term if he keeps doing this."

Watch Kilmeade's comments on Fox & Friends below. Brendan Morrow

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