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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

On this program yesterday, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden gave us a hint about how the Senate intelligence committee is investigating Russia's role in the U.S. presidential election.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

If you haven't heard of the self-described dirty trickster Roger Stone, you're missing out. For decades, he's worked as a political adviser to Donald Trump, and some credit him with getting Trump into the Oval Office. Daniel DiMauro, Dylan Bank and Morgan Pehme directed the new documentary Get Me Roger Stone.

"He was the very first person to suggest to Donald Trump that he should run for the presidency back in 1987," Pehme says. "And then he spent the next 29 years cultivating Trump's candidacy until he was ultimately triumphant."

In March, President Trump called opioid abuse in the U.S. "a total epidemic," and issued an executive order creating a commission focused on combating the opioid crisis.

When President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska was one of several Republicans in Washington voicing concern. As details unfolded throughout the week, Sasse, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, continued to call the timing of the firing "troubling," though he maintains there is not yet a need for an independent investigation or special prosecutor to look into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

President Trump now says he made the decision to fire FBI Director James Comey on his own.

That's a shift from the original White House statement, which said the president acted on the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Official Washington is consumed with the firestorm that President Trump started when he fired FBI director James Comey earlier this week.

But Washington, D.C. is also an actual place where actual people live and work. Sometimes those people react to the news in very personal ways.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And let's take a listen now to more of that interview that President Trump did with NBC News. He was speaking with Lester Holt.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

When the Senate was preparing to confirm President Trump's Cabinet and other top officials, the nominees negotiated ethics agreements, promising to rearrange their financial lives to avoid conflicts of interest.

Now the Office of Government Ethics wants to know if they kept their word.

OGE is requiring the Cabinet secretaries and other Senate-confirmed officials to fill out a new Certification of Ethics Agreement Compliance. NPR obtained a copy of the form before its release Thursday.

Former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown has been found guilty of siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars from a charity that she and her chief of staff had passed off as a scholarship service for students. The Florida Democrat had faced 22 counts ranging from conspiracy to tax fraud; she was convicted of 18.

At a town hall meeting in Willingboro, N.J., on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur was confronted by angry constituents who demanded to know how the Republican health care bill that he helped write would affect rape victims.

A young man named Joseph said he understood that the bill would allow insurance companies to deem rape a pre-existing condition and deny coverage to people who have been raped.

Updated at 7:45 p.m. ET

Undermining the prior rationale laid out by the White House, President Trump said he decided to fire James Comey as FBI director without regard to the Justice Department's recommendation.

"It was set up a while ago," Trump admitted to NBC's Lester Holt in his widest-ranging remarks about his firing of Comey. "And frankly, I could have waited, but what difference does it make?"

He added, "Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey."

With barely an Internet whimper, Pepe the Frog, the anthropomorphic cartoon character turned symbol of hate, was put down by his creator, Matt Furie, over the weekend, in a single-page comic strip. The final images were of Pepe dead in a casket, with three former roommates paying tribute by pouring some liquor on Pepe's face and drinking the rest.

More than three months after President Trump vowed to investigate unfounded claims that last November's election was tainted by as many as 5 million fraudulent votes, the White House has announced the creation of a presidential commission led by Vice President Mike Pence to investigate voter fraud.

Updated at 1:26 p.m. ET

The absence of former FBI Director James Comey loomed large over the Senate Intelligence Committee's hearing with top U.S. intelligence leaders, but his temporary replacement, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, assured lawmakers he would not bend to pressure from the White House.

"You cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing, protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution," McCabe said.

North Carolina NAACP President William Barber, a liberal force against the state's attempts to limit voting rights and ban gay marriage, will step down from the organization next month.

Barber, who was elected to the position in 2005, organized weekly "Moral Mondays" protests, calling on supporters to take a moral stand for a wide range of issues including voting rights, higher wages, gun control and President Trump's immigration ban.

The protests grew to draw thousands of progressive supporters and led to arrests from time to time.

The New Hampshire state Legislature is deciding whether to discipline one of its members for his role in setting up a misogynistic online forum.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's begin this next story with a basic fact about the United States.

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If the giant inflatable Trump chicken outside New Jersey Rep. Tom MacArthur's town hall didn't make it clear — or the group of people singing health care-themed protest songs; or the Affordable Care Act cemetery; or even the plane circling overhead trailing an anti-MacArthur message — an early moment in the Republican's constituent town hall provided a sign this was going to be a long, contentious night.

That's when several people in the Willingboro, N.J., crowd started to boo and jeer when MacArthur talked about his daughter, Grace, who died at age 11.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The White House has released a timeline of what led to James Comey's firing as director of the FBI. Apparently, President Trump lost confidence in him over a period of months. Yesterday, reporters put the question directly to President Trump.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

FBI Director James Comey is out. But the investigations into Russian meddling continue.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Want to prepare for the Senate Intelligence Committee's hearing on Thursday? Buckle up.

Democrats led by Vice Chairman Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia are angry enough to blow the dome off the Capitol after the man they expected to be a star witness — James Comey — was removed from office as FBI director by President Trump on Tuesday.

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