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December 7, 2017

Time's Person of the Year is "the #MeToo movement," Stephen Colbert noted on Wednesday's Late Show, "which means that everyone who still subscribes to magazines just learned what a hashtag is." He applauded Time's "great choice," but said "a movement where sexual assault survivors are actually believed shouldn't be on the cover of Time; it should be on the cover of It's About Damn Time." As it is every year, the winner was announced on the Today show, Colbert said. "Really a shame Matt Lauer couldn't be there."

President Trump, last year's Person of the Year, came in at No. 2, and he's "gotta be annoyed," Colbert said, reading Trump's tweet on the topic. Still, "it really had to be the #MeToo movement, because it seems like every day a new man is being accused of sexual misconduct. But not today — today, it's the same man, Minnesota senator and former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken."

The straw that broke Franken's political back was a new accusation that he tried to kiss a former congressional aide in 2006, and when she ducked the kiss, he allegedly said, "It's my right as an entertainer." Nope, said Colbert. "I'm an entertainer, and I happen to always carry a copy of the Bill of Rights for Entertainers." Some of the perks he read sounded pretty good, but unwanted kissing was not among the enumerated rights. Franken will announce his future plans on Thursday, but the number of his Democratic colleagues calling on him to resign makes it seem inevitable. "The idea is so popular among Democrats," Colbert said, "that Al Franken is quoted as saying, 'I strongly believe Al Franken should resign... Oh wait! No, that's me!'" Peter Weber

6:05 a.m. ET

American skiers has not traditionally excelled at cross country events at the Olympics — it is called Nordic skiing for a reason — and in fact, only one American had medaled in cross country before Wednesday — Bill Koch, who took the silver at Innsbruck in 1976. But on Wednesday in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Americans Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins won, and it was gold.

Randall and Diggins beat Sweden by 0.19 seconds, and Norway picked up the bronze 3 seconds later. Diggins had fallen behind in the final leg, USA Today reports, but she sprinted her way to the narrow and historic victory.

Including this medal, Team USA has six gold and 14 total medals, putting it in 5th place overall, behind Norway, Germany, Canada, and the Netherlands. Peter Weber

5:34 a.m. ET

Stephen Colbert kicked off Tuesday's Late Show with some much-need "good news" out of Wakanda, the fictional African nation featured in the blockbuster movie Black Panther, which crushed all sorts of box office records over the weekend. "Meanwhile, back here in America, we have our own drama," he said, with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's indictment of 13 Russians and three Kremlin-linked entities — and President Trump tweeting about it for the rest of the weekend.

Some of the indicted Russians trying to influence the 2016 election were in contact with "unwitting individuals" associated with Trump's campaign, according to the indictment. "Unwitting — so that narrows it down to the entire Trump campaign." Trump's first tweets claimed vindication, but as "the mean TV people pointed out that it did not exonerate Trump," his tweets got progressively angrier, Colbert said. You can watch him reads some of them, with commentary, below. Peter Weber

5:03 a.m. ET

"This morning, the White House was able to get a break from the scandals of today with a scandal from 10 years ago," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show, recapping the Washington Post profile of Rachel Crooks, who said President Trump forced an unwanted kiss on her in Trump Tower. "Of course, the president was far too consumed with today's domestic crises to notice this," Colbert began, quickly abandoning the joke to read Trump's odd tweeted denial.

"We're also hearing more about the women who actually consented to let Trump kiss them," Colbert said, pointing to the alleged affair Trump had with former Playboy model Karen McDougal. "No surprise — in her centerfold, her turn-ons included rampant corruption, thin-skinned egomaniacs, and one wide yellow hair piled atop a deflated basketball," he joked. McDougal sold her story to the National Enquirer before the election, then buried it until The New Yorker published McDougal's handwritten notes about the affair. "Welcome to Trump's America, where if the story is too steamy and trashy for the National Enquirer, you'll find it in The New Yorker," Colbert marveled.

He read some of McDougal's recollections. "Yes, Trump lets his mistresses know right up front that he's willing to pay — that's why he has a sign in his hotel room, 'We Validate Porking,'" Colbert quipped, throwing in several more off-color jokes, and an aside about Mr. T, as he walked through the details of the purported affair — and its dates. "How dare you, sir! Cheating on Stormy Daniels?" Colbert fake-huffed. "Do you not respect the sanctity of the billionaire-porn star relationship? You just go ahead and three-time the person you're two-timing with?"

"Bill Clinton would blush at how easily Trump seems to duck consequences" of his "slow-moving sex scandal," including "porn stars, hush money, caught-on-tape crudeness, and tawdry tabloids," Mike Allen said at Axios, but with Daniels and McDougal promising to talk, it may speed up soon. Peter Weber

4:16 a.m. ET

There were four more funerals Tuesday for students slain last week in Parkland, Florida. But "as these kids buried their friends, some sick conspiracy theories have been cropping up," Anderson Cooper said on CNN Tuesday night. One claims the student survivors demanding new gun laws are "crisis actors" and another insists student David Hogg is a gun-grabbing "pawn" of the FBI.

"While we'd normally be reluctant to even give these conspiracy theories any oxygen at all," Donald Trump Jr. rewteeted the FBI one, making it "newsworthy," Cooper said. "We'd love to talk to Don Jr. about why he did that, why he is, by extension, attacking these kids who just buried their friends, but it turns out he's in India promoting his father's real estate empire." Instead, he had on Hogg and his father, former FBI employee Kevin Hogg. David Hogg called the conspiracy theories "unbelievable," said Don Jr.'s retweet was "disgusting to me," and judged it "hilarious" that anybody would think his dog-cuddling dad is pulling his strings.

In Cooper's panel discussion, Jack Kingston insisted he "would never say" that the kids are crisis actors, but he did repeat his more respectable conspiracy theory about George Soros controlling the Parkland students. "It would shock me if they did a nationwide rally and the pro–gun control left took their hands of it," he said.

"When you say something like that, it's so bad, and I'm going to tell you why it's bad," Van Jones told Kingston. But Parkland student Sarah Chadwick had already beaten him to the punch. Peter Weber

2:51 a.m. ET

It appears Dallas officials aren't the only ones rethinking the National Rifle Association's May meeting in Texas. Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) was listed as a featured speaker at the NRA's leadership forum, Steve Bousquet wrote at The Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday, and his "office confirmed the invitation, but said no decision has been made on whether he will attend." By Wednesday morning, as a Florida Daily Kos diarist noted, Scott was no longer on the NRA's list of speakers.

The NRA calls its annual conference "a must stop for candidates seeking the highest levels of elective office," Bousquet notes, and Scott, a featured speaker at its 2017 conference, is one of the group's favorites. After Scott pushed through a number of laws loosening gun restrictions, the NRA gave him "its highest compliment, an A-plus rating, as the NRA flooded Florida homes with millions of mailers to help Scott clinch re-election four years ago." After last week's school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Bousquet says, "suddenly, the NRA's A-plus rating looks like an albatross, a potential drag on Scott's expected run for the U.S. Senate." Peter Weber

1:44 a.m. ET

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, stung by the Rob Porter scandal, moved Friday to revoke high-level access to classified information for White House employees whose background checks have been pending since before June 2017. Chief among the numerous White House officials with interim security clearances is Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, and Kusher "is resisting giving up his access to highly classified information," The New York Times reports.

Kushner is the elephant in the room when it comes to security clearance, The Washington Post reports, with White House Counsel Don McGahn's office feeling "they cannot take action on other people whose background checks have dragged on because they did not take similar steps with Kushner." Kushner is reportedly being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but his several amendments to his background application means he is actually safe from Kelly's directive, for now. Still, Kelly's push to tighten the loose White House security situation has put him at loggerheads with Kushner, the Times reports:

Mr. Kushner, frustrated about the security clearance issue and concerned that Mr. Kelly has targeted him personally with the directive, has told colleagues at the White House that he is reluctant to give up his high-level access, the officials said. In the talks, the officials say, Mr. Kushner has insisted that he maintain his current level of access, including the ability to review the [president's] daily intelligence briefing when he sees fit. But Mr. Kelly, who has been privately dismissive of Mr. Kushner since taking the post of chief of staff but has rarely taken him on directly, has made no guarantees. [The New York Times]

You can read more about Kushner-Kelly tensions at The New York Times, and watch reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis discuss her report on CNN. Peter Weber

1:43 a.m. ET
Abdulmonam Essa/AFP/Getty Images

Activists say at least 250 people, including 50 children, have been killed over the last few days in Eastern Ghouta, Syria, and another were 1,200 injured.

Panos Moumtzis, the United Nations' Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, told the BBC the situation there is "beyond imagination," with countless people experiencing "extreme suffering." The government of President Bashar al-Assad has been dropping bomb after bomb in Eastern Ghouta, the last major opposition stronghold near Damascus, for several days; the military says it is trying to free the area from terrorists.

The bombing went into overdrive on Sunday and Monday. Resident Firas Abdullah told the BBC that "the missiles and the mortars are dropping on us like rain. There is nowhere to hide from this nightmare and it isn't over." A U.N. spokesperson said at least six hospitals in the region were hit by bombs on Monday and Tuesday, and there are shortages of food, since only one humanitarian convoy has been let into Eastern Ghouta by the government since November. Activists say this is the worst violence in Syria since a chemical attack in 2013. Catherine Garcia

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