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Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates pleads guilty in Mueller investigation

Rick Gates, a former aide in President Donald Trump's campaign, pleaded guilty to making false statements and conspiring against the United States on Friday, making him the fifth person to enter a guilty plea in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

READ MORE: Paul Manafort, Rick Gates face new charges: report | Mueller investigation: Lawyer pleads guilty to lying to investigators in Russia probeWho is Rick Gates and why was he indicted by Robert Mueller?Who is Paul Manafort, the man indicted in Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation?What are Paul Manafort and Rick Gates charged with?MORE

WATCH: Florida school shooting survivors perform emotional song at CNN town hall

Survivors of last week's deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, performed an emotional song Wednesday night to close a CNN town hall on gun control.

>> Watch the clip here

According to CNN, members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Drama Club wrote and performed the song, "Shine," at the event at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.

>> Marco Rubio faces a tough crowd during CNN's town hall for gun reform

"You're not gonna knock us down / We'll get back up again / You may have hurt us but I promise we are stronger and / We're not gonna let you win / We're putting up a fight / You may have brought the dark / But together we will shine a light," the chorus says.

Minutes earlier, Max Schachter read a poem titled "Life Is Like a Rollercoaster" by his son, Alex, who was killed in the shooting. 

>> Watch the reading here

>> Read more trending news 

The tributes followed a heated town hall moderated by CNN's Jake Tapper and featuring lawmakers from Florida, including Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch also participated in the event.

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones calls arming teachers 'the dumbest idea I've ever heard'

Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) called an Alabama push to arm teachers “the dumbest idea [he had] ever heard” and “crazy.”

>> 5 things to know about Doug Jones, winner of the Alabama Senate race

Alabama’s state House is considering a bill that would allow teachers to carry firearms. State Rep. Will Ainsworth – who is sponsoring the bill – introduced it during a press conference at an Alabama elementary school. Ainsworth, a Republican, said teachers carrying guns would be required to undergo 40 hours of training before being certified to carry a gun in the classroom, AL.com reports. The state won’t pay for a teacher’s gun.

>> Trump sends memo to DOJ asking for bump stock ban after Parkland massacre

Ainsworth said the law was about giving kids “a fighting chance.”

“The only way we can do that is to have people armed in the schools to fight back,” he said.

>> Read more trending news 

But to Jones, the new law doesn’t make any sense. He told WKRG: “I think that’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. I think it’s crazy. You don’t need 40 to 50 guns in there, and it’s a cost issue. You’re going to have to train those teachers. You don’t need to arm America in order to stop this; you just need to be smart about it.”

Jones was elected to the upper chamber in December after a heated race with Republican candidate Roy Moore. The former U.S. attorney has advocated for gun control in the past while simultaneously being a Second Amendment supporter. During the Senate race, the National Rifle Association spent almost $55,000 on mailers against him. He was the first Democrat elected to a Senate seat from Alabama in over two decades.

>> On Rare.us: A CNN panelist thinks the FBI didn’t act on the Nikolas Cruz warning because of his race

This isn’t the first time that pro-gun politicians have suggested arming educators, but the notion is getting another push in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting that left 17 dead. A sheriff in one of Florida’s biggest counties said his department is putting together a program to train and arm teachers. Even Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been asked about the idea, although she declined to take a stand on the issue, instead saying: “I think this is an important issue for all states to grapple with and to tackle. They clearly have the opportunity and the option to do that and there are differences in how states approach this.”

Rare reached out to Sen. Doug Jones’ office but received no comment.

Michelle Obama praises 'Black Panther' on Twitter: 'I loved this movie'

Former first lady Michelle Obama tweeted a shoutout Monday to the new Marvel superhero film, “Black Panther.”

>> See the tweet here

“Congrats to the entire #blackpanther team!” she tweeted. “Because of you, young people will finally see superheroes that look like them on the big screen. I loved this movie and I know it will inspire people of all backgrounds to dig deep and find the courage to be heroes of their own stories.”

>> ‘Black Panther’ raking in the dough; here’s the records the blockbuster has smashed

The film has earned rave reviews from fans and critics alike, receiving a 97 percent "fresh" rating from Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregate site.

>> On Rare.us: After the Obamas’ official portraits were unveiled, people had a lot to say

The movie grossed $201 million at the box office over the weekend, according to The Washington Post.

>> Read more trending news 

Other high-profile Democrats to send shoutouts to the film include Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who both posted tweets about the movie.

>> On Rare.us: Barack Obama issues statement on Florida school shooting: 'We are not powerless'

“Outside City of Refuge with @HollywoodLadyj from the film 'Black Panther'! Congratulations Janeshia!” Waters posted along with a picture of herself and the film’s stuntwoman, Janeshia Adams-Ginyard.

>> See the tweet here

Warren posted a picture of her and her family attending the film, captioning it, “#BlackPanther Rocks!”

>> See the tweet here

Mueller investigation: Lawyer pleads guilty to lying to investigators in Russia probe

An attorney pleaded guilty Tuesday to lying to the FBI in the agency's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to President Donald Trump's campaign.

The charges against lawyer Alex Van Der Zwaan are the latest in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

READ MORE: Who is Rick Gates and why was he indicted by Robert Mueller?Who is Paul Manafort, the man indicted in Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation?What are Paul Manafort and Rick Gates charged with?MORE

Trump takes last place in 'presidential greatness' survey

President Donald Trump took last place in a new survey that aims to measure "presidential greatness."

>> President Donald Trump endorses Mitt Romney in Utah Senate race

According to the results posted Monday by Boise State University, 170 political scientists participated in the 2018 Presidents and Executive Politics Presidential Greatness Survey. More than 57 percent of the respondents – current and recent members of the Presidents and Executive Politics Section of the American Political Science Association – were Democrats, while 13 percent were Republicans and 27 percent were Independents. Respondents gave each president a score of 0-100 for "overall greatness," then each president's scores were averaged.

>> Read: Trump addresses nation after deadly Florida high school shooting

So who took the No. 1 spot? Abraham Lincoln led the pack with a score of 95.03, followed by George Washington, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. Those presidents' ranks remained unchanged from 2014.

Among recent presidents, Barack Obama fared the best, placing eighth with a score of 71.13. Ronald Reagan took the No. 9 spot, while Bill Clinton came in at No. 13, George H.W. Bush at No. 17, Jimmy Carter at No. 26 and George W. Bush at No. 30.

>> Read more trending news 

Trump ranked No. 44 – last place – with a score of 12.34. Among Republican respondents, he fared slightly better, coming in at No. 40.

See the full results here.

LeBron James on Parkland shooting: 'How is it possible that we can have minors buy a gun?'

When asked about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in which 17 people were killed, former Miami Heat star LeBron James had one question:

>> Read more trending news

“How is it possible that we can have minors go buy a gun?”

Nikolas Cruz, accused of the killings, is actually 19 and legally bought the AR-15 semiautomatic weapon that was used during the Feb. 14 incident. Still, James, the Cavaliers’ superstar, and other players with ties to South Florida could not make sense of the tragedy.

The players were asked about the shooting during Saturday’s media day for the NBA All-Star Weekend.

“We have a kid who wasn’t legally unable (sic) to buy a beer at a bar, but he can go buy an AR-15?” James said “It doesn’t make sense. I’m not saying it should be legal for him to go buy beer. But how is it possible that we can have minors go buy a gun?”

Heat guard Wayne Ellington, who was fourth in Saturday’s 3-point contest, said the nation has to “come together” to makes changes so these mass shootings do not continue to occur. The shooting was the ninth deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, five of those coming in the last six years.

WATCH: Florida school shooting survivor slams politicians, NRA in emotional speech

“I was at a loss for words,” Ellington said. “I couldn’t understand what’s going on, why (this) is going on in the world. Do we need to change? These young people doing unexplainable things, hurting each other and hurting innocent people it’s so unfortunate and sad, it’s something I don’t know how we can change but it’s something we need to come together and figure out.”

John Collins, the Atlanta Hawks rookie from Palm Beach County, was calling home to try to understand what was happening.

“It was a real shock to me,” said Collins, who played in Friday’s Rising Stars Challenge. “Obviously, I never expected something like that to happen. I know a couple of people that were affected by that tragedy. You got to say your prayers and sending your condolences and thoughts to the victims.”

What are the worst school shootings in modern US history?

James, though, was the most outspoken in calling for gun control.

“We’ve seen these schools and these tragedies happen in America and there’s been no change to gun control,” James said. “I don’t have the answer to this. But we have to do something about it. We’re all sending our kids to school, right? We drop them off at 8 o’clock. At 3:15 they’re going to be ready to get picked up. Either we’re picking them or someone in our family is picking them up or they have to take a bus or there’s aftercare and they stay until 5. If they have study hall they stay until 5:30 or whatever. But we all feel like our kids are going to return, right?

“To the families in Parkland, down in Broward County, it’s sad and I’m sorry and it’s just a tragedy and I hope we don’t continue to see this because it’s too many in the last 10 years with guns.”

James, meanwhile, has been embroiled in a social media debate with Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham, who said that athletes like James should "keep the political commentary to yourself.”

“Or as someone once said, 'Shut up and dribble,’” Ingraham said.

Ingraham was referencing an interview that James and Kevin Durant taped in January with ESPN’s Cari Champion for a show called “Uninterrupted.” The two NBA stars spoke about the political climate in the United States and had harsh criticism for President Donald Trump, ESPN reported.

Durant, in an interview with USA Today on Friday, said Ingraham's comments were "racist." 

“That was definitely an ignorant comment (by Ingraham). I do play basketball, but I am a civilian and I am a citizen of the United States, so my voice is just as loud as hers, I think -- or even louder.”

James, on his Instagram account, posted a photo of a neon sign that read “I am more than an athlete.”

Ingraham released a statement Saturday defending her comments, ESPN reported.

"In 2003, I wrote a New York Times bestseller called 'Shut Up & Sing,' in which I criticized celebrities like the Dixie Chicks and Barbra Streisand, who were trashing then-President George W. Bush. I have used a variation of that title for more than 15 years to respond to performers who sound off on politics,” Ingraham wrote. “If pro athletes and entertainers want to freelance as political pundits, then they should not be surprised when they're called out for insulting politicians. There was no racial intent in my remarks -- false, defamatory charges of racism are a transparent attempt to immunize entertainment and sports elites from scrutiny and criticism."

John Kasich rips Congress, urges 'common-sense gun laws'

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who signed laws making it legal to carry concealed weapons at daycare facilities and college campuses, said he has “no confidence” Congress will approve what he called “common-sense gun laws” in the wake of a mass shooting last week at a Florida high school.

>> Read more trending news

During an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Kasich, who earned the endorsement of the National Rifle Association during his 2014 re-election campaign, indicated he would support “reasonable things,” such as full background checks for people buying guns and banning what are known as bump stocks, which allow a semi-automatic weapon to fire like an automatic weapon.

“You’re never going to fix all of this,” Kasich said. “But common-sense gun laws make sense.”

In a major reversal, Kasich suggested he might support a ban on an the sale of AR-15 semiautomatic weapons like the one used in the Florida attack. Kasich said, “If all of a sudden you couldn’t buy an AR-15, what would you lose? Would you feel as though your Second Amendment rights would be eroded because you couldn’t buy a God-darned AR-15?”

“These are the things that have to be looked at and action has to happen,” Kasich said.

In 1994 as a member of Congress, Kasich voted to ban the production and sale of 19 semi-automatic assault weapons. But when he ran for president in 2016, Kasich called the ban “superfluous and we don’t need laws that are superfluous. It didn’t have any impact.”

>> Florida school shooting: What we know about the victims

The ban on the sale of semiautomatic weapons expired in 2004 when Congress failed to renew it.

Kasich said he has formed a committee “on both sides of the issue” in Ohio to “look at everything” about improving gun safety. Neither Kasich nor his aides have said who is on the committee, but he said he was “hopeful” they would produce recommendations.

“If they don’t produce anything, I’ll put my own stuff out,” Kasich said.

David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said he was “glad” Kasich is on national TV and “speaking out” on guns.

“Hopefully he’s got some ability to work with the statehouse to find solutions and roll back some of the worst pieces of legislation they pushed through in the last seven years,” Pepper said.

Florida sheriff to politicians who don't support gun control: 'You will not get re-elected'

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel blasted politicians after a gunman killed 17 people at a Parkland, Florida, high school, saying that if gun laws don’t change, “you will not get re-elected in Broward County.”

>> WATCH: Florida school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez slams politicians, NRA in emotional speech

According to the Huffington Post, while speaking at a vigil in Parkland for the victims of the shooting, Israel said, “If you’re an elected official, and you want to keep things the way they are ― if you want to keep gun laws as they are now ― you will not get re-elected in Broward County.”

>> Click here to watch

The vigil was attended by thousands at an amphitheater that was lit by candles and had 17 4-foot angels – one for each of the victims who was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

>> On Rare.us: 'Thoughts and prayers' check raises eyebrows on social media after the Florida shooting

Last week, Israel called on lawmakers to allow law enforcement officers to involuntarily detain people who post questionable and disturbing content on social media.

“We need to have the power to take that person and bring them before mental health professionals at that particular time, involuntarily, and have them examined,” he saidthe Huffington Post reported. “People are going to be rightfully concerned about their rights ― as am I. But what about these students? What about the rights of young kids who go to schools?”

>> PHOTOS: Remembering Parkland, Florida, school shooting victims

He added that he wishes law enforcement officials could act “if they see something on social media, if they see graphic pictures of rifles and blood and gore and guns and bombs, if they see something, horrific language, if they see a person talking about ‘I want to grow up to be a serial killer.’”

Democrats in Congress are already calling for gun control while Republicans are saying that it’s too soon to talk about it.

>> Classmate of Nikolas Cruz: ‘No one has ever been a friend to him’

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said during a press conference Thursday that we need to think less about fighting “each other politically” in the wake of the shooting.

“This is one of those moments where we just need to step back and count our blessings,” he said Thursday at a news conference, according to CNN. “We need to think less about taking sides and fighting each other politically, and just pulling together. This House, and the whole country, stands with the Parkland community.”

>> Florida school shooting timeline: Seven minutes, three floors and 17 dead

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., tweeted that Congress should vote on measures to implement “universal background checks, a ban on military-style weapons and a prohibition of those on the terror watchlist from purchasing firearms.”

>> Read more trending news 

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, said Congress will have “another round” of this debate, but admitted that it’s hard to get any sort of gun legislation passed.

Read more here.

Read the indictment: 13 Russians, 3 Russian entities accused of meddling in US elections

The Justice Department on Friday released a 37-page indictment accusing 13 Russians and three Russian entities of interfering in U.S. elections.

The indictments were part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

Read the full indictment below:

READ MORE: Mueller indicts 13 Russians, 3 Russian entities in election meddling probe | MORE

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