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Republican 'Fox & Friends' guest breaks down over Trump's Charlottesville response

President Donald Trump is known to be an avid viewer of “Fox & Friends,” but on Wednesday morning, the show wasn’t entirely kind to him. Republican strategist Gianno Caldwell, who heads up Caldwell Strategic Consulting in Washington, D.C., broke down when talking about Trump’s response to the deadly Charlottesville violence.

>> Watch the clip here

Host Abby Huntsman first asked Johns Hopkins professor Wendy Osefo for her stance; Huntsman introduced the topic as the removal of Confederate monuments. However, Osefo quickly addressed the racism she saw in Charlottesville, saying, “This is not ‘talking points’ here; this is personal. And we as a nation, as a country, have to do better.”

>> Trump again blames ‘both sides’ for violence in Charlottesville

Huntsman moved to Caldwell, saying, “There are good people on both sides of this debate. We talk about keeping these statues up, people that I’ve talked to have said this is about history. How do we move forward — how do we learn from those mistakes if we just tear everything down?” But Caldwell, clearly emotional, opened by saying, “Last night I couldn’t sleep at all. Because President Trump — our president — has literally betrayed the conscience of our country.”

>> Woman who allegedly helped topple North Carolina Confederate statue arrested

Caldwell then hit back directly at Huntsman’s remarks, saying, “It’s very unfortunate that our president would say things like he did in that press conference yesterday when he says, ‘There’s good people on the side of the Nazis. They weren’t all Nazis. They weren’t all white supremacists.”He continued:

"Mr. President, good people don’t pal around with Nazis and white supremacists. Maybe they don’t consider themselves white supremacists and Nazis, but certainly they hold those views. This has become very troubling, and for anyone to come on any network and defend what President Trump did and said at that press conference yesterday is completely lost, and the potential to be morally bankrupt. I am sorry, no I believe that, and I’m being very honest as someone who has been talking about these issues for a very long time. I’m sorry that this is where we are right now."

>> Read more trending news

Huntsman tried to return to her talking point of the Confederate statues, saying, “It’s a slippery slope. Where does that end? Where do you fall specifically on that debate?” Caldwell said, “People who are taking down the statues should do so legally. … You can’t destroy property. That’s against the law.”

“Fox & Friends” is generally friendly to Trump, and his Twitter feed often directly references the show — if he sees something he likes on “Fox & Friends,” he quickly tweets it out to his 36 million followers. The New York Times noted that “for no other reason than its No. 1 fan, ['Fox & Friends'] is the most powerful TV show in America.”

Woman who allegedly helped topple North Carolina Confederate statue arrested

The woman who allegedly climbed a ladder to the top of a Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina, and put a rope around its neck so the gathered crowd could pull it down has been arrested.

>> Watch the clip here

Takiyah Thompson, 22, who reportedly admitted she was the one who climbed the ladder — and she said she’d do it again — was taken into custody shortly after protesters held a news conference Tuesday afternoon at North Carolina Central University, according to WTVD in Raleigh-Durham.

She was charged with disorderly conduct by injury to a statue, damage to real property, participation in a riot with property damage in excess of $1,500, and inciting others to riot where there is property damage in excess of $1,500.

>> WATCH: Protesters topple Confederate statue in North Carolina

Those who took part in the toppling of the Confederate statue held the news conference Tuesday to call for any charges related to the incident to be dropped. However, according to WTVD, more arrests could be coming. The video showing the toppling of the statue went viral.

Thompson was given a $10,000 unsecured bond. The World Worker’s Party Durham chapter, of which Thompson is a member, has set up a legal defense fund to help fight her case in court.

>> There are hundreds of Confederate monuments, not just in the South

“The people decided to take matters into our own hands and remove the statue,” said Thompson, a student at N.C. Central University. “We are tired of waiting on politicians who could have voted to remove the white supremacist statues years ago, but they failed to act. So we acted.”

More statues could be attempted to be torn down by protestors, according to World Worker’s Party activist Lamont Lilly, who said, “I hope so,” when asked by ABC 11 if more statues would be toppled. She said the group believes the statues are monuments to racism.

>> Read more trending news

The monument that was ripped down was of a Confederate soldier holding a rifle. It was erected in 1924, and inscribed on it are the words “In memory of the boys who wore the gray.”

“I feel like it’s important to tear down these vestiges of white supremacy,” Thompson told WTVD.

Read more here.

Hope Hicks named interim White House communications director

Hope Hicks, the White House director of strategic communications, will serve as the interim White House communications director, White House officials confirmed to Wednesday.

The news of the interim post was first reported by The New York Times on Wednesday morning, citing a “senior administration official.”

>> Read more trending news

In a statement released to the Wall Street Journal, an unnamed official said an announcement about a permanent White House communications director would come “at an appropriate time.”

The Times report came after the Daily Caller, citing a "White House insider," reported early Wednesday that Hicks had accepted the White House communications director job most recently held by Anthony Scaramucci, who was ousted after 10 days.

Also on Wednesday morning, CNN reported that Hicks would “likely take on the role of White House communications director,” citing three unnamed sources.

“Discussions are in the final stages,” CNN reported.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Anthony Scaramucci out as White House communications director

Hicks, 28, was press secretary for President Donald Trump's campaign and previously worked for the Trump Organization.

Read more here.

Who is James Alex Fields Jr., suspect in deadly Charlottesville car attack?

A 20-year-old Ohio man has been charged with second-degree murder after police said he drove into people protesting a white supremacist rally Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.

>> Deadly Charlottesville car attack: What we know now

According to the Huffington Post, James Alex Fields Jr. of Maumee, Ohio, near Toledo, also faces three counts of malicious wounding and one count of failing to stop at an accident resulting in a death. 

Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others hurt in the incident, authorities said.

>> PHOTOS: Violence erupts at ‘Unite the Right’ rally

Here's what we know about Fields:

Ivanka Trump condemns white supremacists after Charlottesville attack

Ivanka Trump spoke out against white supremacists after the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

>> WATCH: 'Unite the Right' rally organizer flees Charlottesville press conference

On Sunday, just one day after President Donald Trump said “bigotry and violence” came from “many sides,” the first daughter spoke out against the violence.

>> Deadly Charlottesville car attack: What we know now

“There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis,” she wrote on Twitter. “We must all come together as Americans — and be one country UNITED.”

>> Read the tweets here and here

>> Read more trending news

Over the weekend, a planned protest on the campus of the University of Virginia erupted in violence when counter-protesters clashed with neo-Nazis and white supremacists, who were protesting the removal of a Confederate statute. One person was killed and 19 injured after a man police later identified as James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly drove into a crowd of people during the protests. The death toll crept up to three after two Virginia state troopers were killed when their helicopter crashed on a golf course as they were going to assess the situation in Charlottesville.

Amid North Korea threat, old law prevents Washington state from preparing for nuclear disaster

As North Korea considers a strike against the U.S. territory of Guam, KIRO-TV is looking into the plans to protect Washington state residents.

>> Watch the news report here

KIRO-TV found that a law from the '80s is blocking the state's effort to prepare for the worst.

That law actually prevents Washington State Emergency Management from planning for a nuclear strike.

>> Look at these photos from inside North Korea

Lawmakers passed it as a symbolic end to the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

In the 1950s and '60s during the Cold War, Washington state had a clear plan and places to shelter – even bunkers built inside Seattle bridges – in case of nuclear disaster.

>> Trump improvised 'fire and fury' warning to North Korea: reports

But currently, with North Korea's escalating threats with nukes, few people know state law prevents planning for nuclear disaster.

A little-known 1984 state law states that "Comprehensive Emergency Management" does not mean preparation for emergency evacuation or relocation of residents in anticipation of a nuclear attack.

>> Why is North Korea threatening Guam?

Washington state Sen. Mark Miloscia has been trying to repeal that old law, which he says enacted in Washington state during the Reagan era.

“I couldn’t believe how this thing could go on the books,” Miloscia said. “If we ever have to evacuate or relocate citizens due to a nuclear attack or an impending nuclear attack, right now, we can’t plan for that. It puts like a big stop order on any sort of planning we have to do to prepare for the unthinkable.”

>> North Korea, Trump exchange threats

Hawaii has a nuclear disaster plan which may include re-opening Cold War-era tunnels and shelters.

The message for lawmakers in Washington state is clear.

“I think there is, right now, a common-sense support for repealing this. We’ve just got to educate people that let’s do that soon,” Miloscia said.

>> Read more trending news

Miloscia knows something about nuclear preparedness. He was a B-52 bomber pilot during the Cold War.

He said lawmakers from both parties want to change the law.

GOP Sen. Ron Johnson: John McCain's brain tumor may have affected health care vote

When cancer-stricken Sen. John McCain returned to Washington to vote on the Obamacare "skinny repeal" in the middle of the night, it seemed like a heroic move for the GOP. But then the Arizona Republican shocked the floor when he voted no on the bill. Following his vote, McCain paused for a moment before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), but McConnell would not meet his gaze.

>> Trump tweets: Senators ‘let the American people down’

On Tuesday, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin gave an interview with “Chicago’s Morning Answer,” in which he speculated that McCain’s brain tumor may have played a factor in the Arizona senator’s vote. CNN’s K-File uploaded a clip of that interview to Soundcloud:

>> Click here to listen to the clip

In the clip, Johnson said House Speaker Paul Ryan told Republican senators that the “skinny repeal” bill would not pass in the House of Representatives as it was written. If the Senate had voted for the bill, it would have gone to conference, where amendments would have been added.

>> On Rand Paul just blocked the defense bill, and John McCain is not happy about it

Johnson then said, “I’m not going to speak for John McCain — he has a brain tumor right now — that vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning. Some of that may have factored it.”

>> Read more trending news

The host seemed taken aback by the remark, asking, "Really?” Johnson reiterated that he does not want to speak for McCain but said, “I really thought John was going to vote yes to send that to conference at 10:30 at night. By about 1, 1:30, he voted no. So you have talk to John in terms what was on his mind.”

Lawsuit claims Trump reviewed Fox News' Seth Rich story before it was published

On Tuesday, a lawsuit was filed alleging that the White House worked with Fox News to push a conspiracy theory that became wildly popular on right-wing websites and even garnered brief attention from the mainstream media.

The suit, filed in the Southern District of New York by Douglas Wigdor on behalf of Rod Wheeler, names Fox News, Ed Butowsky and Malia Zimmerman as defendants. David Folkenflik of NPR said NPR had gained exclusive access to the suit.

>> Trump dictated son’s statement on 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer, report says

At the heart of the lawsuit is a May story published by Fox News about the death of DNC staffer Seth Rich. Rich reportedly was killed July 10, 2016, while walking back to his Washington, D.C., apartment.

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones began pushing the narrative that Rich had given the leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks — an allegation that, if true, would debunk the claim that Russian agents were behind the hacking of the DNC servers.

The Fox News story quoted Wheeler, who was a longtime paid contributor to the network, as a private investigator hunting down the truth behind Rich’s murder. The Fox News story was retracted after its claims of a connection between Rich and the DNC leaks — mainly backed by quotes from Wheeler that he now claims he didn’t say — came under fire for lack of evidence.

Rich’s slaying is still unsolved, although D.C. police maintain their belief that it resulted from a robbery gone wrong.

Ed Butowsky is a wealthy Texan with ties to White House strategist Steve Bannon. The suit alleges that he met with former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and that in May, before the story ran, President Donald Trump saw the article. According to the suit, Butowsky texted Wheeler, “The president just read the article. He wants the article out immediately.”

On Tuesday, reporter Olivia Nuzzi of New York Magazine wrote on Twitter that Butowsky had refuted the story, saying Wheeler needed money and had sought a job in the Trump administration.

The byline on the Fox News story belonged to Malia Zimmerman, who has stayed quiet since the story was retracted in May. NPR reports that she is still with Fox News, working on stories unrelated to the Rich slaying.

>> Read more trending news

Wheeler alleges that he was deliberately misquoted on two occasions. The quotes appeared in the Fox News story, after which Wheeler claims he contacted Zimmerman, saying that he was misquoted and the quotes should be removed. The suit says Zimmerman wanted to remove the contentious quotes, but her bosses at Fox News told her to leave them in the story.

The suit also says that after the story ran, Wheeler agreed to go on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show on May 16 and did not reveal his misgivings about the story on-air — although he said on the show that he had no direct knowledge of Rich’s emails, according to NPR.

The suit further alleges that Wheeler, who is black, was the victim of racial discrimination at Fox News.

Responding to Rare’s inquiries, Fox News wrote:

"The accusation that published Malia Zimmerman’s story to help detract from coverage of the Russia collusion issue is completely erroneous. The retraction of this story is still being investigated internally and we have no evidence that Rod Wheeler was misquoted by Zimmerman. Additionally, FOX News vehemently denies the race discrimination claims in the lawsuit — the dispute between Zimmerman and Rod Wheeler has nothing to do with race."

Obamacare critic Tomi Lahren says she's on parents' insurance at Politicon

Conservative political commentator and Obamacare critic Tomi Lahren admitted she is on her parents' insurance plan Saturday during a highly anticipated event with comedian and Trump critic Chelsea Handler.

The two appeared together for a one-on-one session at Politicon, which calls itself an “unconventional political convention," in Pasadena, California. It is in its third year. With diverging political views, the pair were virtually guaranteed to debate.

>> Tomi Lahren reaches settlement in her lawsuit against Glenn Beck and The Blaze

Handler opened her “conversation” with Lahren by saying, “This isn’t a debate; I am interviewing her."

Handler added that the 2016 presidential election revealed how little understanding she had of people “who are not necessarily like [her].”

Before the event, Lahren seemed eager to debate, referring to the convention as a “storm” and tweeting,”Hey LA. Let’s do this,” in advance of her session.

And debate they did, on issues as diverse as the president’s attempt to ban transgender Americans from the armed forces via Twitter, the ongoing healthcare conundrum and rapper and one-time beverage mogul 50 Cent. 

At one point, Handler hand-waved a mention of former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s email scandal and called President Donald Trump a “baboon.”

“She’s not the president,” Handler said. “She’s not doing anything that affects you. So (expletive) Hillary. We have to deal with this baboon.”

>> Read more trending news

Over the course of the debate, Lahren admitted to continuing to oppose Obamacare despite the fact that the law allows the 24-year-old to stay on her parents’ health insurance in the absence of insurance provided by her employer.

Here’s how that exchange went down:

HANDLER: “Do you have a health care plan or no?”

LAHREN: “Well luckily, I’m 24, so I am still on my parents’ [plan].”

AUDIENCE: *laughs*

HANDLER: “Stop, stop, stop, she’s being honest.

Lahren, whose firing from The Blaze, her ensuing lawsuit and then a settlement were well-documented, announced in May that she would be joining a pro-Trump PAC called the Great America Alliance.

Vladimir Putin to expel hundreds of U.S. diplomats from Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly will require the U.S. embassy in Moscow to cut its staff by 755 in response to Congress’ vote Thursday to increase sanctions on Russia, North Korea and Iran.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” that the U.S. had it coming.

“I think retaliation is long, long overdue,” he said. “We have a very rich toolbox at our disposal.”

He added: “If the U.S. side decides to move further towards further deterioration, we will answer, we will respond in kind. We will mirror this. We will retaliate. ... But my whole point is, don’t do this, it is to the detriment of the interests of the US.”

Putin gave a TV interview with Rossiya 1 and said he doesn’t see things changing soon.

“We waited for quite some time that maybe something will change for the better, had such hope that the situation will somehow change, but, judging by everything, if it changes, it will not be soon,” he said.

>> Read more trending news

Russian’s Foreign Ministry on Friday ordered a reduction by Sept. 1 in the number of U.S. diplomats in Russia. It said it is ordering the U.S. Embassy to limit the number of embassy and consular employees in the country to 455 in response to the U.S. Senate’s approval of a new package of sanctions.

Putin said the response would be “painful” for the U.S., but he opposes further measures at this time.

“We certainly have something to respond with and restrict those areas of joint cooperation that will be painful for the American side but I don’t think we need to do it,” he said.

In December, in former President Barack Obama’s final days in office, 35 Russian diplomats were expelled from buildings in New York and Maryland.

“These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior,” then-President Obama said in a letter, explaining sanctions.

Obama said the sanctions were a response to “a global campaign of malicious cyber activities” conducted by Russia.

It is now up to President Donald Trump to sign the sanctions into law or veto, and the White House says he will sign it.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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