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October 17, 2017
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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has had a tough go of it in eight months as America's top diplomat, Jason Zengerle wrote for The New York Times Magazine. As the boss at Exxon Mobil, Tillerson was the "ultimate decision-maker," as he told reporters in July — a post quite different from the one he occupies now, serving President Trump as his foreign policy leader.

Or, as Tillerson puts it, "accommodating" the president, whose whims change often — and often on Twitter. "I take what the president tweets out as his form of communicating, and I build it into my strategy and my tactics," Tillerson told Zengerle. "I wake up the next morning, and the president's got a tweet out there. ... Okay, that's a new condition. How do I want to use that?" Tillerson added: "Our strategies and the tactics we're using to advance the policies have to be resilient enough to accommodate unknowns, okay? So if you want to put [Trump's tweets] in an unknown category, you can. ... But it doesn't mean our strategies are not resilient enough to accommodate it."

The tense relationship between Tillerson and Trump has undercut the secretary of state in external affairs — such as his efforts to mitigate this summer's Gulf states crisis — and in internal proceedings, like how one of Tillerson's preferred candidates for deputy secretary of state was axed by Trump for his opposition to the president during the campaign. The frustration also occasionally leaks out in meetings, Zengerle reports:

According to a former administration official, in private conversations with aides and friends, Tillerson refers to Trump, in his Texas deadpan, as the dealmaker in chief. And in meetings with Trump, according to people who have attended them, he increasingly rolls his eyes at the president's remarks. [The New York Times Magazine]

Read the full report on Tillerson's struggles at State at The New York Times Magazine. Kimberly Alters

10:37 p.m. ET
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During a forum on gun control last week in Tucson, a Republican candidate for Arizona's Legislative District 2 stood up and said that he is proof of the importance of, in case of an attack, having a "good guy there with a gun."

Bobby Wilson said that when he was a teenager, he shot and killed a person who came into his room and wanted him dead, The Arizona Republic reports. "You can pass all the laws you want to in this world, and when you've got somebody out there that wants to harm somebody, they're going to do it if you don't stop them," he said.

The person he killed wasn't a burglar or a stranger, but rather his mother, Lavonne. Wilson was 18 and living in Hugo, Oklahoma, when the incident occurred. He said he woke up one morning "to find a rifle in my face," and he ended up having to dodge six bullets. He reached for the gun he kept under his bed, and used that to shoot his mom. The story doesn't end there, though. His younger sister, Judy, was also killed; Wilson said his mother swung her gun and accidentally hit her in the back of the head, killing the 17-year-old.

Wilson told The Arizona Republic there were glass containers in his room filled with gas, and when the bullets started to fly, several shattered. When he went to turn on the light, a spark landed on the ground and the house went up in flames. He said it wasn't until he became a lawyer years later did he remember all this, because he had amnesia after the shooting.

Newspaper reports from the time say Wilson confessed to shooting his mother, and when his sister ran at him, he crushed her skull with the rifle. He placed their bodies on a bed, then set the house on fire. He was tried on homicide charges, but after a jury agreed he had amnesia, the judge halted the trial until he could remember what happened. After seven years, Wilson asked for the charges to be dismissed, and a judge agreed. Read more about this bizarre tale at The Arizona Republic. Catherine Garcia

9:20 p.m. ET

Walter Carr wasn't going to miss his first day of work, even if it meant getting up at midnight and walking 20 miles.

Carr, 20, lives in Homewood, Alabama, and he needed to get to Pelham, where he would start his job with the Bellhops moving company. His car had broken down, and he decided he would walk, so after just four hours of sleep, he set out on his journey. About 10 miles in, Carr had to take a break because his legs hurt, and a police officer pulled over to check on him. After hearing Carr's story, the officer and two others took him to breakfast, and he was dropped off at the home of Jenny Lamey.

When Lamey found out what Carr went through to get to her house, she asked him if he would like to rest, but he declined, and said he wanted to get to work. Carr told Lamey's children that when he was five, his home was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina, and also that after he earns his associate's degree later this year, he's going to start boot camp with the Marines. Lamey decided to start a GoFundMe to raise money for Carr to fix his vehicle, and she also shared his story with Bellhops CEO Luke Marklin, who was so impressed he drove from his home in Chattanooga to visit his "incredible" employee for lunch.

Carr didn't just get to share a meal with his boss, though. The Lamey family, the police officers he met, and his new Bellhops colleagues were waiting for him at a hotel, where Marklin surprised Carr with the keys to the Ford Escape SUV he drove to Alabama. "Walter truly raised the bar," he told ABC News. Carr was shocked, and said he was grateful and happy to have inspired so many people. Catherine Garcia

8:28 p.m. ET
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White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was so incensed by President Trump's press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday that he called Republican lawmakers and gave them permission to speak out against Trump's comments, three people familiar with the matter told Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman.

Kelly warned Trump that by saying he had no reason to believe Russia would want to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, it made things infinitely worse for him with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Sherman reports, and he also urged him to take back the remarks, which he kind of attempted to do on Tuesday.

Trump himself was surprised by the public's negative reaction to the press conference, but by the time he returned to the United States he was enraged that few people were defending him. "This was the nightmare scenario," one Republican close to the White House told Sherman. Catherine Garcia

7:21 p.m. ET
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Since Hurricane Maria ravaged homes in Puerto Rico last September, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied at least 335,748 applications for disaster assistance, and has either rejected or not responded to 79 percent of appeals.

It's hurricane season again, and for residents like Ramón Paez Marte, they are still dealing with damage done in 2017. He lives in Canóvanas, and his home is missing part of the roof and has a broken door. Paez Marte told NBC News he's applied for assistance, but has been told he's ineligible. FEMA requires people prove their houses were damaged, and they must be inspected by officials. Residents also have to prove their identities and home ownership status, but that's an issue in Puerto Rico, where houses are passed down, some are built without legal permits, and many don't have a title or deed.

Paez Marte gave FEMA a letter from the mayor of Canóvanas, which stated he had owned his home for about 20 years; his appeal was rejected, with FEMA saying he couldn't prove that was his house. "I don't live here because I want to," he told NBC News. "No one that lives here, lives here willingly. They're here because we truly have nowhere else to go." Catherine Garcia

5:35 p.m. ET

Liz Cambage isn't just breaking records in the WNBA — she's standing beside the greatest players on the men's side too.

The Dallas Wings center scored 53 points against the New York Liberty on Tuesday, setting a new record for the most points scored by a WNBA player in a single game. The 6-foot-8 phenom toppled the record set by Los Angeles Sparks guard Riquana Williams in 2013, when she scored 51 points against the San Antonio Silver Stars while she was a member of the Tulsa Shock.

In helping the Wings to a 104-87 victory Tuesday, Cambage was clearly on point, going 17-22 from the field and 15-16 from the free throw line. She also nabbed 10 rebounds and blocked five shots. Bleacher Report's Natalie Weiner noted that the last basketball player to stuff the box score like Cambage did Tuesday was the one and only Michael Jordan.

Previously, Cambage's highest-scoring game was her 37-point performance against the Chicago Sky earlier this month. But with 44 seconds left in Tuesday's game against the Liberty, the Australian was able to sink a 3-pointer and secure her spot at the top. Watch Cambage make history below. Amari Pollard

5:30 p.m. ET
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Not everyone was buying it when President Trump said he simply misspoke during his Monday press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, when he said he didn't "see why it would be Russia" that interfered in American elections. On Tuesday, he told reporters that he simply meant to say that he didn't "see why it wouldn't be" Russia, adding, "I think that probably clarifies things."

Lucky for Trump, some conservative lawmakers were happy to accept his defense of Russian meddling in the 2016 election as a simple misunderstanding.

"I'm just glad he clarified it," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told NBC News. "I can't read his intentions or what he meant to say at the time, and suffice it to say that for me as a policy maker, what really matters is what we do moving forward."

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) concurred, telling Fox News that he took the president at his word when he explained his controversial comments as a botched double-negative. Portman on Monday called Trump's failure to side with the U.S. intelligence community "troubling."

While Rubio and Portman enjoyed a sigh of relief, not every conservative who condemned Trump's Monday comments has been so quick to move on. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), for example, didn't back down from his criticism, including when he said Monday that Trump gave Putin "a propaganda win." Instead, he told Fox News that Trump had been "weak" and delivered a "bad day for America." Summer Meza

3:52 p.m. ET
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Everyone predicts Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will face tough questions, especially about Roe v. Wade, when he eventually undergoes his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But two Democratic senators — Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Patrick Leahy (Vt.) — were there for Kavanaugh's last hearing. And they think Kavanaugh may have fudged a few answers.

In 2006, Kavanaugh faced the Senate committee after receiving a lifetime nomination to the D.C. Court of Appeals, The Atlantic reports. Kavanaugh had previously worked for former President George W. Bush, so Durbin and Leahy asked about his involvement in administration decisions during the war on terror. That included how detained terror subjects were treated in the early 2000s.

Kavanaugh denied knowing anything about the torture of detainees at the time, and he was confirmed. But two stories from The Washington Post and NPR soon reported that Kavanaugh discussed torture with White House lawyers in 2002, telling them that Justice Anthony Kennedy — whose impending retirement has spurred Kavanaugh's nomination to the bench — wouldn't support indefinite detention of U.S. citizens, per The Atlantic.

Durbin told NPR that the revelation made him feel "perilously close to being lied to." He wrote Kavanaugh to ask for clarification, and tweeted the same letter the day after Kavanaugh's SCOTUS nomination. Apparently, Kavanaugh never responded. Leahy wrote to the U.S. attorney general, but was denied a criminal investigation, The Atlantic says. He "still has questions about how truthful" Kavanaugh was last time around, per his statement after Kavanaugh's July 9 nomination.

Now, Kavanaugh is set to appear once again before the Senate, and Durbin and Leahy are still on the committee. And judging by Durbin's and Leahy's tweets, they haven't gotten over that one question. Read more at The Atlantic. Kathryn Krawczyk

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