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January 17, 2019

A new program in California is helping former inmates get back on their feet by pairing them up with people who have rooms to spare, NPR reports.

The Homecoming Project, run by nonprofit organization Impact Justice in Alameda County, California, gives subsidies to those who are willing to rent a room to a recently-released former inmate. The group covers the formerly incarcerated person's rent for six months and goes through a lengthy screening process to find a good home for them. Not only does the organization aim to help former inmates return to a normal life as quickly as possible rather going from prison into restricted communal living, but they also hope to fight misconceptions about ex-convicts in general, they told NPR.

"Project Homecoming says you're a person and we're going to treat you like a person and give you the footholds and the scaffolding to be able to come back home and to be a full member of society just like anybody else," said Alex Busansky, who runs Impact Justice.

Coordinator Terah Lawyer also told NPR that "most of our hosts are familiar with redemption and change and want to be a part of helping be the stepping stone for someone's second chance." There are currently only six former inmates participating in the program, but Impact Justice says it is looking to expand to 25 this year. Brendan Morrow

3:18 a.m.

Judging people by their old tweets is dicey business — just ask Disney and Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn. And digging up very old tweets to vet 2020 presidential candidates "is a low blow," writer Anna Fitzpatrick tweeted Monday. "Every tweet from 2009 is bad." But her example of a bad tweet, from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), didn't work out exactly as planned.

It turns out, as Fitzpatrick discovered, Booker joked about his love triangle with "Sleep" and "Coffee," with some variation of how "hot" his boo "Coffee" is, at least a dozen times, as recently as 2017. Fitzpatrick compiled all dozen iterations, but she still doesn't want this to define Booker's candidacy, urging people to "please base your votes on policy and not on how goofy a politician's twitter feed is or isn't." But there's definitely room for poking Booker about his corny joke.

Fitzgerald had one more request.

Since Booker and Rosario Dawson reportedly started dating last year, there was no documented overlap with "Coffee," so it's all good. Peter Weber

2:12 a.m.

After Friday's terrorist attack by a white supremacist on two mosques in New Zealand, President Trump phoned his condolences to New Zealand's prime minister, but expressing "sympathy and love for all Muslim communities," as she asked, is "not really Trump's brand," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "On the one hand, after a terror attack, to condemn the extremist ideology of the terrorist should be a slam dunk. On the other hand, he can't jump. Also, he never, ever condemns the racists."

Colbert listed some of Trump's past words and actions. "I'm just saying if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, then why does it goose-stepping?" he asked. White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney spent much of Sunday on TV insisting Trump is not a white supremacist, saying at one point, "I don't think anybody could say that the president is anti-Muslim." Colbert accepted the challenge: "The president is anti-Muslim. What did I win?"

"The president is anti-Muslim — yep, that was not hard at all," Seth Meyers agreed on Late Night. "Trump's aides have been trying to memory-hole his long history of racism and Islamophobia," but "asking Trump if he sees white nationalism as a threat is like asking Joe Camel if he sees tobacco as a threat." He also agreed with George Conway's diagnosis of Trump's weekend tweets, saying they "would make more sense if they were scribbled on the wall of a psych ward."

On The Daily Show, Trevor Noah said he doesn't blame Trump for the New Zealand shooting, exactly. Just like "I don't think you can pin any one storm on directly on climate change," he said, "I don't think he's the cause of any of these things, but he does in some ways raise the temperature enough that we'll see more of these things happening." And Trump and the New Zealand shooter "are products of the same white supremacy, they believe the same things," Noah said. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:02 a.m.

With the support of Gus, Waffle, and Westley, Thomas Panek made history as he crossed the finish line at the New York City Half Marathon on Sunday.

Panek is blind, and instead of using human guides during the race, he relied on three guide dogs. This was the first time a visually-impaired runner completed the race supported by canines. "It never made sense to me to walk out the door and leave my guide dog behind when I love to run and they love to run," Panek, president and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, told CNN. "It was just a matter of bucking conventional wisdom and saying why not."

Gus is Panek's longtime guide dog, and Waffle and Westley are siblings undergoing guide dog training. They spent months preparing for the race, and on Sunday, the dogs were outfitted with special harnesses and booties to protect their paws. Each Labrador took a turn running 3.1 miles with Panek, who finished the race in two hours and 21 minutes. Gus' duties as a guide dog officially ended once he crossed the finish line, and he is now retired. It was "emotional," Panek said, as Gus has "been there with me the whole time." Catherine Garcia

1:16 a.m.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) announced on Monday she wants to see the Electoral College eliminated.

During a CNN town hall in Jackson, Mississippi, the Democratic presidential candidate said she considers the need to get 270 electoral votes a form of disenfranchising voters who live in states where one political party dominates. "Come a general election, presidential candidates don't come to places like Mississippi, they also don't come to places like California or Massachusetts, because we're not the battleground states," Warren said.

As the crowd cheered, Warren added she holds the view that "every vote matters and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College." In 2016, Hillary Clinton got three million more votes than President Trump, but lost the Electoral College 304 to 227. Catherine Garcia

12:24 a.m.

The private texts between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, published in January were supplied to the National Enquirer by her brother, Michael Sanchez, who was paid $200,000 for the messages, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.

The Enquirer published its story about their affair two days after Bezos was asked for comment, and the same day the billionaire announced he was separating from his wife. Michael Sanchez, a talent agent for reality show judges and pundits and a fervent supporter of President Trump, frequently passed along stories to top Enquirer editor Dylan Howard, the Journal reports. He began talking to the Enquirer and its publisher, American Media, about the affair in October, after the tabloid had already started investigating the relationship between Bezos and his sister, a former television reporter.

American Media CEO David Pecker — a longtime Trump friend who suppressed negative stories about him prior to the 2016 election — wasn't thrilled with the idea of publishing the story because he was worried Bezos would sue, the Journal reports. Trump is an unabashed critic of Bezos, and one of Pecker's advisers reportedly told him if the article did run, it might look like he was doing Trump's bidding. He eventually approved the deal, which was for more than the company usually pays sources, people with knowledge of the matter told the Journal.

The Enquirer's 11-page article featured quotes from texts and photos of Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, who is now separated from her husband, together. When reached by the Journal, Michael Sanchez said the story was based on "old rumors" and he didn't want to "dignify" the reporting. He also denied sending "the many penis selfies." Catherine Garcia

12:19 a.m.

President Trump, "mostly alone in the White House on Saturday and Sunday," averaged "just over a tweet per hour through the weekend as he decried various subjects, from unflattering television coverage to the late Republican Sen. John McCain," The Washington Post reports. Almost none of his 50-plus tweets dealt with Friday's terrorist attack that murdered at least 50 Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, evidently carried out by an avowed white nationalist.

"After a tweet Friday expressing his 'warmest sympathy and best wishes' for the people of New Zealand — and a brief statement decrying 'the monstrous terror attacks' that transformed 'sacred places of worship' into 'scenes of evil killing' — the president largely devoted his weekend to personal grievance," the Post notes. This matches what critics call a familiar pattern for Trump, who "has often seemed eager to highlight attacks and hate crimes perpetrated by Muslims but has frequently been slower and less forceful when Muslims are the victims," the Post says, adding:

One former senior administration official said Trump often associated Muslims with terrorism and rehashed grim Muslim terrorist attacks, even in private. "He thinks, and says sometimes, that Muslims are taking over Europe," this person said. This former official, as well as a second person, said they'd never heard Trump use a derogatory term for Muslims in private. But they said many of his political calculations are based on how his supporters, whom he often calls "my people" or "the base," will see an issue. [The Washington Post]

Along with tweet-complaining about Fox News and SNL, Trump called allies "all weekend to vent," one person who spoke with Trump told the Post. One of those allies, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), said Trump briefly mentioned the New Zealand shooter in their hour-long talk Sunday, asking "how could someone be so cruel?" Overall, Trump "was actually in a good spot," Graham added. Read more at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

March 18, 2019

President Trump has a long history with Deutsche Bank — one that the bank didn't want scrutinized after he was elected in 2016, The New York Times reports.

More than 20 current and former executives and board members told the Times that despite Deutsche Bank saying Trump was not a top priority, it's just not true. Beginning in the late 1990s, Deutsche Bank gave Trump loans despite his business bankruptcies and knowing he overinflated his net worth and the worth of his real estate assets. At the time, the German bank wanted to make a name for itself on Wall Street, so it worked with clients deemed risky by other entities, a former employee told the Times.

In 2008, Trump defaulted on a loan and then sued Deutsche Bank, claiming the financial crisis was a "tsunami" and thus an act of God, preventing him from paying the loan back, the Times reports. In 2010, the bank concluded that he was inflating some of his assets by up to 70 percent, yet still gave him a $100 million loan to buy the Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami.

One managing director, Rosemary Vrablic — who'd helped get Trump more than $300 million in loans — tried to get Trump a loan in early 2016 for his golf course in Turnberry, Scotland, the Times reports. An executive, Jacques Brand, opposed the loan because of Trump's divisive rhetoric, Vrablic appealed, and top executives were aghast that the bank was considering lending him money during the campaign, ending the transaction in March.

After Trump's election, Deutsche Bank commissioned reports to figure out how the bank became so entwined with him, and employees were told they couldn't even say "Trump" in public, the Times reports. All told, Trump is believed to have received more than $2 billion from the investment banking and private banking arms. The New York state attorney general and congressional committees are now investigating the relationship between Trump and Deutsche Bank. You can read more about the various loans Trump managed to secure at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

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