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Updated at 2:49 p.m. ET

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded guilty on Friday and agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Manafort entered his guilty plea to two felony counts during an hourlong hearing in federal court in Washington, D.C. The plea took place three days before he was to face trial on charges related to his lobbying work for Ukraine and alleged witness tampering.

As Hurricane Florence makes landfall in the Carolinas, in Washington the focus is how the Trump administration will respond to the storm's aftermath, and the inevitable property damage, power outages and potential loss of life.

The federal response is coordinated by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The agency's reputation suffered last year following its lagging response to Hurricane Maria. And while President Trump and FEMA officials insist they're ready this time, there have already been missteps that have some believing the agency's confidence may be misplaced.

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Seeking to "evaluate the independence and effectiveness" of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's student loan office, 15 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus sent a terse letter Thursday evening to Mick Mulvaney, the CFPB's acting director. The letter was first obtained by NPR.

Obama Rallies In Ohio

Sep 14, 2018

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Former President Barack Obama spoke last night in Ohio where Democrats hope to take back the governorship. The former president has been defending his record and questioning that of his successor. NPR's Don Gonyea reports from Cleveland.

President Trump may soon double down on his strategy of releasing secret documents to undercut the Russia investigation by unveiling one with still fewer redactions — or none.

In July, the administration released the top secret application made by the FBI in 2016 to collect the communications of a onetime Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page. It was heavily redacted, with entire pages blacked out.

Botham Jean was remembered Thursday for his dedication to service, his deep faith, and for having a ready smile and an open heart. He will be buried in Saint Lucia, but the service in Texas was a chance for American friends to say goodbye.

"A friend is the family that you choose. And let me tell you Botham chose everyone," said his friend Alexis Stossel. "If Botham was in this room, nobody would ever feel left out."

Updated at 10:30 p.m. ET

The final primary before November's midterm elections saw a progressive challenger fall short of taking down the incumbent Democratic governor in New York.

Andrew Cuomo easily beat back a challenge from actress Cynthia Nixon, putting him on the path to a third term in office. He will be heavily favored against Republican nominee Marc Molinaro this fall.

Updated at 8:15 p.m. ET

Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is close to reaching a plea deal that would avert a trial scheduled to start later this month in Washington, D.C.

No details were immediately available about the charges to which Manafort might plead guilty or whether he might cooperate with prosecutors, according to a person familiar with the matter. The person asked not to be identified.

The tentative deal was first reported on Thursday evening by ABC News.

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Obama Rallies For Cordray To Reclaim Ohio

Sep 13, 2018

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House and Senate negotiators have agreed to a plan to avoid a shutdown fight weeks before the midterm elections in November.

Updated at 6:20 p.m. ET

The White House is accusing Senate Democrats of an unfounded "11th hour attempt to delay" a vote on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, released a statement Thursday afternoon disclosing that she had referred "a matter" involving Kavanaugh to "federal investigative authorities."

Starting next year, Medicare Advantage plans will be able to add restrictions on expensive, injectable drugs administered by doctors to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, macular degeneration and other serious diseases.

Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET

President Trump denied the death toll of nearly 3,000 from hurricanes Maria and Irma, which swept across Puerto Rico a year ago, in a series of tweets Thursday morning.

"3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico," he tweeted. "When I left the island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths."

Trump then blamed Democrats for the figures, "to make me look as bad as possible."

Chris Johnson knows all too well how a promising crop can suddenly be ruined — by poor weather, an economic downturn or bad luck.

This year, he and other soybean farmers in North Dakota are contending with something less common but potentially just as destructive: a trade war between the United States and China that has already driven down the price of soybeans sharply.

"Oh, it's a devastating loss. Soybeans are my largest acreage crop," says Johnson, who farms 3,300 acres in Great Bend, in the southern part of the state.

Jagada Chambers was sent to prison for attempted second-degree murder in 2000. The story, as he tells it, was that he was on spring break with friends during college and got into a physical altercation with an acquaintance.

He was released four years later, in August 2004, and his understanding was that his voting rights were gone forever.

States serve as "laboratories of democracy," as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said. And states are also labs for health policy, launching all kinds of experiments lately to temper spending on pharmaceuticals.

No wonder. Drugs are one of the fastest rising health care costs for many consumers and are a key reason health care spending dominates many state budgets — crowding out roads, schools and other priorities.

FEMA Under Trump

Sep 12, 2018

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The largest insurer in Tennessee has announced it will no longer cover prescriptions for what was once a blockbuster pain reliever. It's the latest insurance company to turn against OxyContin, whose maker, Purdue Pharma, faces dozens of lawsuits related to its high-pressure sales tactics around the country and contribution to the opioid crisis.

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Former Vice President Joe Biden launched a new series on Instagram TV today.

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JOE BIDEN: It's no secret that our immigration system is broken, and for years, there's been a heated debate waged about how to fix it.

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For more on how Puerto Rico heard the president's comments about the response to Hurricane Maria, we're joined by the minority leader of the Puerto Rican Senate, Eduardo Bhatia. Welcome to the program.

Human rights groups have repeatedly accused a Saudi-led coalition of causing disproportionate civilian deaths in the Yemen conflict because of airstrikes that have hit markets, weddings and even a bus carrying children from summer camp.

Evacuation orders from South Carolina to Virginia have driven more than a million people inland seeking to escape Hurricane Florence that is expected to make landfall Thursday.

The U.S. Navy is seeking safety in the opposite direction, out to sea.

Nearly 30 naval vessels left the Hampton Roads area of southeastern Virginia Monday in order to escape the ravages of the storm. Florence is expected to reach land somewhere in the Carolinas on Thursday, bringing with it heavy rain, powerful storm surges and high winds.

Facing pressure from lawmakers to beef up election security, President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that would impose sanctions on any foreign person or country that attempts to interfere in U.S. elections.

The move follows repeated criticism of the White House response to Russian-backed interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The new order sets up a framework for intelligence agencies to investigate whether foreign actors are attempting to influence any aspect of the electoral process.

This summer, the Trump administration transferred nearly $10 million away from the agency that responds to disasters and emergencies, redirecting it toward one of President Trump's top priorities — the deportation of undocumented residents of the U.S.

The funds transfer is prompting the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cut back on training, IT security and infrastructure investments, according to a document sent to Congress and released by Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.

Updated September 14

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and his staff prepared to embark on a legal fight that would take them to the highest court in the U.S. long before announcing the controversial decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

During an Oval Office briefing on preparations for Hurricane Florence, a reporter asked President Trump if there were lessons to be learned from the widely criticized FEMA response to Hurricane Maria last year in Puerto Rico. Trump's response? In short: Nothing to see here.

In a troubling sign for Republicans less than two months before November's elections, Democrats' advantage on the question of which party Americans are more likely to vote for in November is ballooning, according to a new NPR/Marist poll.

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