Graphic via Shutterstock / Courier Graphic via Shutterstock / Courier

Plus, Trump appoints a new—albeit inexperienced—acting director of national intelligence, and more news you need to know.

At debate, Warren switches styles for momentum—and $2.8M in donations

Sen. Elizabeth Warren dominated Wednesday night’s debate in Las Vegas, swapping out her mild-mannered unifier persona for the fierce fighter supporters promised was there all along. Meanwhile, a seemingly unprepared Mike Bloomberg struggled to weather attacks on his stop-and-frisk policy, sexual harassment charges, unreleased, taxes and more. Pete Buttigieg consistently challenged Sen. Bernie Sanders, who entered the debate as frontrunner and left mostly unscathed, minus a shot from Bloomberg about the socialist owning three homes. Over the course of the debate, Warren hit a fundraising personal best: $2.8 million in the first hour of the debate. 

Trump appoints inexperienced loyalist as acting intelligence chief

Richard Grenell, the current U.S. ambassador to Germany, will be appointed acting director of national intelligence, President Trump confirmed by tweet Wednesday. Grenell, who has never worked for an intelligence agency, will now oversee 17 such entities. Before his ambassadorship, he was a Republican political advisor, a spokesperson to the United Nations and a media consultant. Grenell supported Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.  

Assange says Trump offered pardon if he covered Russia’s election meddling

It’s not a new allegation that a Republican congressman tried to orchestrate a pardon for the WikiLeaks founder in exchange for Julian Assange disputing evidence that Russians hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential election. But lawyers for Assange, who is in Britain fighting U.S. extradition under charges of espionage, are now saying the offer was made on behalf of the president. The new wrinkle came to light a day after Trump pardoned close to a dozen convicted white collar criminals. The White House has denied any involvement.

Deficit only matters when a Democrat is in the White House, says top aide

White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney made the assertion at England’s Oxford Union before a crowd of several hundred Wednesday, adding, “Donald Trump became president, and we’re a lot less interested as a party.” Mulvaney battered President Barack Obama consistently on the deficit but upon joining the Trump administration as budget director defended the added $3 trillion in debt. In personal conversation, he’s voiced the opinion that “nobody cares” any longer about budget shortages.