President Donald Trump appeared to open the door on Friday for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to run for an open Senate seat in his home state of Kansas.
"He came to me and said 'Look, I'd rather stay where I am,' but he loves Kansas, he loves the people of Kansas," Trump told "Fox & Friends." "If he thought there was a chance of losing that seat, I think he would do that and he would win in a landslide because they love him in Kansas."
Many Republicans see Pompeo as their best candidate for preventing the race from becoming competitive in Kansas, where a Democrat hasn't won a Senate seat since 1932. And talk about his possible run has only intensified as impeachment hearings into Trump's engagement with Ukraine have scrutinized the State Department.
Pompeo has said he'll remain secretary of state as long as Trump will have him. Asked if he will push Pompeo to run, Trump was noncommittal:
"Mike has done an incredible job ... Mike graduated No. 1 at Harvard Law, No. 1 at West Point. He's an incredible guy, doing a great job in a very complicated world. Doing a great job as secretary of state. Mike would win easily in Kansas. Great state, and it's a Trump state. He'd win easily."
Pompeo has given no signal that he intends to leave his current job anytime soon, and aides say he has diplomatic travel planned through at least the end of January. En route to Brussels on Tuesday, Pompeo suggested to reporters accompanying him that he would be returning to the city several more times as secretary of state.
"He is 100% focused on being President Trump's secretary of state," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.
On Wednesday, Pompeo brushed off more questions about the impeachment inquiry and dismissed speculation about how long he'll stay in the Trump administration. Pompeo met with NATO's secretary general, while lawmakers heard testimony from Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, that he kept Pompeo informed of efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
Lawyers for the victims of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein say Prince Andrew should speak to U.S. investigators immediately, after the senior British royal withdrew from public duties over what he called his "ill-judged association" with the convicted pedophile.
U.S. attorney Gloria Allred said Andrew should contact American authorities "without conditions and without delay."
Andrew announced Wednesday that he was pulling out of public duties "for the foreseeable future" amid a firestorm of criticism over his friendship with Epstein. In a statement, he said he was "willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required."
Allred said the 59-year-old prince needed to be clearer.
"Is he insisting that he be served with a subpoena to testify, or is he willing to speak to law enforcement without being legally required to do so?" she asked on the BBC.
It is not clear if U.S. authorities are investigating Andrew for any possible wrongdoing. Many of the court papers related to the Epstein case are still sealed and unavailable to the public.
Lisa Bloom, Allred's daughter and another lawyer for Epstein's victims, tweeted that Andrew "and his staff must cooperate with all investigations, show up for civil depositions and trials, and produce all documents."
Businesses, charities and educational institutions affiliated with Andrew's charitable work quickly began distancing themselves from him this week after he gave an ill-judged interview with the BBC on Saturday night justifying his long friendship with Epstein.
The financier died on Aug. 10 while in jail on sex-trafficking charges. His death was ruled a suicide by New York's medical examiner.
In the interview, Andrew denied having sex with a woman who says she was trafficked by the billionaire financier and forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17.
But the prince failed to express any sympathy for Epstein's victims. And he defended his previous friendship with the billionaire investor because of the contacts it provided when he was preparing for a role as Britain's special trade representative.
He eventually resigned that unpaid position in part because of revelations about his relationship with Epstein.
The scandal has bloomed into the biggest challenge for Britain's monarchy since the 1997 death of Princess Diana, when Queen Elizabeth II was accused of appearing aloof and out of touch amid an outpouring of national mourning for the popular royal with the common touch.
Andrew's decision to withdraw from public life — unprecedented for a royal in recent decades — came after he consulted his mother, the 93-year-old monarch.
Andrew is the queen's third child and second son. His older brother, Prince Charles, is heir to the throne but Andrew is eighth in line, after Charles' sons and grandchildren.
On the official royal website, Andrew was listed as a patron or involved in dozens of charitable roles that will now be eliminated as he begins a new phase without royal duties.
Despite Andrew's announcement on Wednesday, there are still many unanswered questions about his future status.
Elizabeth has not commented on his troubles and as not expected to make any public statement.
Authorities say a 2-year-old has died after being shot in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, the latest of many young victims of gun violence in the area.
St. Louis County police say an accidental injury was reported around 3:35 p.m. Wednesday in Glasgow Village. Police say the caller believed a child had been electrocuted or shocked by a toy.
Responding officers quickly determined the child had sustained a gunshot wound and attempted life-saving efforts. The child then was rushed to a hospital and was pronounced dead there. The child's name wasn't immediately released.
The St. Louis County Police Department's Bureau of Crimes Against Person is leading the investigation. About two dozen teenagers and children have died in gun-related incidents this year in the St. Louis metropolitan area.
A federal judge says he'll rule by the end of the year on the constitutionality of Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests in New York courthouses.
Judge Jed Rakoff set the deadline for himself after expressing skepticism toward the federal government's assertions that its policies regarding courthouse arrests can't be reviewed by a federal judge. Rakoff said he found the claim "unusual and extraordinary."
Wednesday's hearing concerned a lawsuit brought earlier this year by New York's attorney general, the Brooklyn district attorney and several immigrant advocates' groups.
The plaintiffs contend ICE arrests in courthouses have skyrocketed since President Donald Trump took office.
A lawyer for ICE urged Rakoff to dismiss the lawsuit.
Rakoff said he has not yet decided the legal issues but finds them fascinating.
Democrats spent more time making the case for their ability to beat President Donald Trump than trying to defeat each other in their fifth debate Wednesday night.
Civil in tone, mostly cautious in approach, the forum did little to reorder the field and may have given encouragement to two new entrants into the race, Mike Bloomberg and Deval Patrick.
IMPEACHMENT CLOUD HOVERS
The impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump took up much of the oxygen early in the debate.
The questions about impeachment did little to create much separation in a field that universally condemns the president.
The candidates tried mightily to pivot to their agenda. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren talked about how a major Trump donor became the ambassador at the heart of the Ukraine scandal, and reiterated her vow to not award ambassadorships to donors. Former Vice President Joe Biden tried to tout the investigation as a measure of how much Trump fears his candidacy.
Impeachment is potentially perilous to the Democratic candidates for two reasons. A Senate trial may trap a good chunk of the field in Washington just as early states vote in February. It also highlights a challenge for Democrats since Trump entered the presidential race in 2015 — shifting the conversation from Trump's serial controversies to their own agenda.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders warned, "We cannot simply be consumed by Donald Trump, because if you are you're going to lose the election."
Perhaps more than in any debate so far, Democrats explicitly acknowledged the importance of black and other minority voters.
California Sen. Kamala Harris said repeatedly that Democrats must reassemble "the Obama coalition" to defeat Trump. Harris, one of three black candidates running for the nomination, highlighted black women especially, arguing that her experiences make her an ideal nominee.
Another black candidate, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, added: "I've had a lot of experience with black voters. ... I've been one since I was 18."
Neither Booker nor Harris, though, has been able to parlay life experiences into strong support in the primary, in no small part because of Biden's strong standing in the black community.
Biden's standing is also a barrier to other white candidates, including South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is surging in overwhelmingly white Iowa but struggling badly with black voters in Southern states like South Carolina that have proven critical to previous Democratic nominees.
Buttigieg acknowledged as much, saying he welcomes "the challenge of connecting with black voters in America who don't yet know me."
The exchanges show that candidates seemingly accept the proposition that the eventual nominee will have to put together a racially diverse coalition to win, and that those whose bases remain overwhelmingly white (or just too small altogether) aren't likely to be the nominee.
CLIMATE CRISIS GETS AIR
The climate crisis, which Democratic voters cite as a top concern, finally gained at least some attention.
There were flashes of the debate Wednesday night, as billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer swiped at Biden by suggesting the former vice president wants an inadequate, piecemeal approach to the crisis. Biden hit right back, reminding Steyer that he sponsored climate legislation as a senator in the 1980s while Steyer built his fortune in part on investments in coal.
Buttigieg turned a question about the effects of Trump's policies on farmers into a call for the U.S. agriculture sector to become a key piece of an emissions-free economy.
But those details seem less important than the overall exchange — or lack thereof. Perhaps it's the complexities of the policies involved. Or perhaps it's just the politics. Whatever the case, the remaining field simply doesn't seem comfortable or willing to push climate policy to the forefront, and debate moderators don't either.
HEALTH CARE GROUNDHOG DAY
Before every debate, Democratic presidential campaigns aides lay out nuanced, focused arguments their candidates surely will make on the stage. And every debate seems to evolve quickly into an argument over health care.
So it was again. Within minutes of the start, Warren found herself on the defensive as she explained she still supports a single-payer government run insurance system — "Medicare for All" — despite her recent modified proposal to get there in phases. Not to be outdone, Sanders reminded people that he's the original Senate sponsor of the "Medicare for All" bill that animates progressives. "I wrote the damn bill," he quipped. Again.
Biden jumped in to remind his more liberal rivals that their ideas would not pass in Congress. The former vice president touted his commitment to adding a government insurance plan to existing Affordable Care Act exchanges that now sell private insurance policies.
The debate highlights a fundamental tension for candidates: Democratic voters identify health care as their top domestic policy concern, but they also tell pollsters their top political priority in the primary campaign is finding a nominee who can defeat Trump.
The top contenders did nothing to settle the argument Wednesday, instead offering evidence that the ideological tug-of-war will remain until someone wins enough delegates to claim the nomination.
DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ...
The debate was so genial that some of the most memorable moments were the candidates' well-rehearsed jokes.
Asked what he'd say to Russian President Vladimir Putin if he's elected to the White House, technology entrepreneur Andrew Yang said his first words would be, "Sorry I beat your guy."
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar drew laughs for an often-repeated anecdote about how she set a record by raising $17,000 from ex-boyfriends during her first campaign. She also pushed back at fears of a female candidacy by saying, "If you think a woman can't beat Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi does it every day."
Booker, criticizing Biden for not agreeing to legalize marijuana, said, "I thought you might have been high when you said it."
And Harris may have issued the zinger of the night at the president when discussing his nuclear negotiations with North Korea: "Donald Trump got punked."
GABBARD AS GADFLY
Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has carved out a distinctive role during the Democratic debates — reliable gadfly.
On Wednesday she kept sniping at her own party, standing by her comments last month that its last presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is the "personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long."
Asked to elaborate, Gabbard said Democrats are "no longer the party that is of, by and for the people, it is a party that continues to be influenced by the foreign policy establishment in Washington, by the military-industrial complex."
Gabbard's fondness for slamming Democrats has led some in the party to fear she's laying the groundwork for a third-party run, something the congresswoman denies. Her criticism Wednesday drew a sharp riposte from Harris, who said Gabbard had been on Fox News "full-time" during President Barack Obama's administration and noting she met with Trump after the president's election.
Gabbard dismissively replied that Harris' response "only makes me guess that she as president will continue the status quo." She later tangled with Buttigieg, contending he had supported sending U.S. troops to Mexico, a charge that reduced him to disbelieving chuckles.
Gabbard made the stage due to the burst of attention she got after getting into her fight with Clinton. Wednesday's exchange showed how she can easily stay before the cameras while criticizing her own party.
The Trump campaign was quick to embrace the fight, tweeting out Gabbard's slamming of her party.