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May 8, 2014
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Before Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced earlier this year that he was gay, he was projected as perhaps a third-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Over the following months however, an underwhelming tryout and skepticism about whether he would be a "distraction" in the NFL pushed him further down the draft board. Sam has slipped so far in mock draft analysis that there is now a legitimate question about whether or not he'll even make it to the pros.

The question was unthinkable back in February. Sam had just been named co-defensive player of the year in the defense-first SEC. Yet when he came out as gay, he immediately plummeted on draft boards; one ranking dropped him 70 spots overnight. Anonymous execs and scouts flatly stated his homosexuality was a concern, with one saying he would "chemically imbalance" the locker room.

But for all the focus on his sexuality, Sam's on-field skills also raised red flags. He's small for his position and showed pedestrian speed and athleticism at the NFL Scouting Combine, leaving scouts with little to praise beyond his "hustle."

Though Sam is still projected as a late-round pick, that doesn't guarantee he'll hear his name called. As Nate Silver noted in an analysis of pre-draft projections from years past, about half of players rated in the same vicinity as Sam weren't drafted. Jon Terbush

3:49 a.m. ET

At a rally in Jackson, Mississippi, on Wednesday night, Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton of being "a bigot." The line, included in prepared remarks passed out to reporters, came in the middle of Trump's purported appeal to black voters and appeared to take the overwhelmingly white crowd by surprise. Clinton "sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future," Trump said. "She's going to do nothing for African Americans. She's going to do nothing for the Hispanics." A woman behind Trump to the left quickly became a sensation for reflecting the crowd's uncertainty on Trump's "bigot" line in a very animated manner.

But Clinton herself addressed the remark in a call to CNN's Anderson Cooper, who asked her if she had a response to being called a bigot by Donald Trump. "Oh, Anderson, it reminds me of that great saying that Maya Angelou had, that when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time," she said." And Donald Trump has shown us who he is, and we ought to believe him. He is bring a hate movement mainstream, he's bringing it into his campaign." She accused Trump of "very much peddling bigotry and prejudice and paranoia."

Clinton said she would have more to add at a rally in Reno, Nevada, on Thursday. Peter Weber

3:04 a.m. ET

Donald Trump has been hammering Hillary Clinton for ties between Clinton at the State Department and the Clinton Foundation, calling for a special prosecutor to look into his "pay to play" allegations and calling the apparent access granted to Clinton Foundation donors "what happens in third-world countries." "It is impossible to figure out where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins," he said at a rally in Austin on Tuesday night. "It is now abundantly clear that the Clintons set up a business to profit from public office" — which would be one long con, since Clinton was appointed secretary of state nine years after the Foundation was launched.

But Trump himself has donated to the Clinton Foundation, giving between $100,000 and $250,000 as of 2014 — a point Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon noted:

CNN's Anderson Cooper asked Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway about those donations, asking if Trump was "paying to play" himself. "Hey, the Clinton Foundation does a lot of good work, and I also want to say that for the record, they do," she said. Cooper asked again if Trump was trying to buy access to Clinton, and Conway said "no, because it seemed like he had access to her anytime he wanted — I mean, she went to his wedding, they went to his wedding." The Clinton Foundation, she repeated, "does good work, and let's hope that that money went to good use." When pressed, Conway said that Trump "was not paying to play," and "he has never told me he's going to the State Department to have a meeting with Hillary Clinton." Watch below. Peter Weber

2:03 a.m. ET
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At least 13 people were killed and more than 30 wounded during an attack on the American University of Afghanistan on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior said seven students, two police officers, a security guard, and three assailants died during the attack. It began when one assailant detonated a car bomb outside of the university, which was founded in 2006, during evening classes. Two assailants then began shooting at students, killing seven, before entering the university's main building, where they battled security forces. Students reported barricading themselves in classrooms, pushing tables and chairs against the doors. An Associated Press photographer, Massoud Hossaini, was in a classroom with 15 students when he heard an explosion outside. Hossaini told AP he "went to the window to see what was going on, and I saw a person in normal clothes outside. He shot at me and shattered the glass." Hossaini said two grenades were thrown into the classroom, injuring some students, and he was able to escape through an emergency gate. Authorities say hundreds of students were on campus when the attack began.

No group has claimed responsibility yet for the attack. Two weeks ago, two university staff members, an Australian and an American, were abducted from their vehicle by unknown gunmen, and their whereabouts remain unknown. Catherine Garcia

1:42 a.m. ET
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Ryan Lochte, the 12-time Olympic medalist dropped by several sponsors earlier this week after it came to light he exaggerated an incident at a gas station in Rio, will reportedly appear on the next season of Dancing with the Stars.

A source told USA Today Sports on Wednesday that the deal was in the works before the swimmer made headlines for something that happened outside the pool. Lochte originally said that while he was in Rio for the Olympics, he was held up at gunpoint by robbers at a gas station, along with three other American swimmers. Brazilian authorities said in fact the men urinated against a building and vandalized a bathroom. Over the course of an investigation, USA Today Sports discovered there is no surveillance footage showing the men doing anything in the bathroom, and video shows their cab being stopped by a man with a badge and a guard pointing his gun at Lochte. They also found that while they were detained by armed prison guards moonlighting as security, a translator worked out a deal so the swimmers would only have to pay about $50 for damage done by Lochte to a poster.

Lochte's team says that despite being dropped by Speedo and other major brands, he is receiving inquiries from new companies interested in backing him. The 23rd season of Dancing with the Stars premieres on Sept. 12, and the cast will be revealed next Tuesday on Good Morning America. Catherine Garcia

1:29 a.m. ET

Donald Trump has still not gotten back to Seth Meyers about NBC's (fictional) offer for a scripted TV series where he plays president, if Trump drops out of the race, Meyers said on Wednesday's Late Night. Chicago President is "perfect for him, and perfect for us," he said, "because let's be honest: We all kind of want to see what he would be like as president, but ideally without any of the real-world consequences." But because Trump hasn't responded, Meyers searched for a book on how to negotiate deals, and he picked up a (very used) copy of Trump's The Art of the Deal.

"What I realized after reading it is that leverage is key in a negotiation, and I realized that right now I have all the leverage," Meyers said. "Because when we first made the offer, Trump was close in the polls, but now he's trailing badly. And so on that note, I would like to say directly to Donald Trump: We are now decreasing our original offer." The new offer is hilariously worse, but if Arizona turns blue, Trump gets to play White House janitor on Taxi TV — so at least nobody would watch his shame. Watch to see Meyers' trollish new offer below, but stay till the end, when he makes the final twist of the knife. Peter Weber

12:52 a.m. ET
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Had Glenn Beck used his trusty chalkboard Wednesday night during an appearance on The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, it almost certainly would have been filled with arrows, circles, unidentifiable symbols, and scrawls of "Stephen Bannon," "despicable," "Never Trump," and "noooooooooooo!!!!!"

Beck has never been a Trump fan — the conservative commentator, radio host, and founder of TheBlaze supported Texas Sen. Ted Cruz during the Republican primary — and he's also not big on Bannon, the Breitbart News executive chairman turned Trump campaign CEO. O'Donnell said he had never heard of Bannon before his new appointment, and he invited Beck, who previously called Bannon "a horrible, despicable human being," to give him the scoop.

"He describes himself as a Leninist, and I was kind of hoping it was John Lennon, but it's not," Beck said. "He is not a Marxist, he doesn't believe in Marxism or socialism or communism or anything else. What he means by that is he is a destroyer of everything. He believes that Lenin was right the way he went in; he destroyed the system, destroyed the Duma, brought down the parties, then punished his enemies." Beck said he agreed to go on MSNBC because Bannon is "dangerous" and Beck is "truly, gravely concerned about the direction of the country, and it is very important for conservatives or constitutionalists to stand up and let the left know, 'Hey guys, we're not all like that.' We have concerns and there has to be some things we come together on, basic values and principles. Let's not go into a chaos theory; that never goes well." Catherine Garcia

12:23 a.m. ET

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is no fan of Hillary Clinton — as chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, he has been front and center in the Clinton email investigation, which he plans to keep alive with a perjury inquiry. On CNN Wednesday night, Chaffetz told Jim Sciutto that Clinton should hold a long-overdue press conference if she wants to rebut an Associated Press story about Clinton Foundation donor access at her State Department and Donald Trump's "pay to play" allegations. Sciutto turned the conversation to Trump, whom Chaffetz has pledged to support.

"Does Donald Trump's refusal to release his own tax returns — which would show his business interests and might raise questions about potential influence on his own campaign of money interests, or if he were to be elected president — does that not raise the same questions?" Sciutto asked. "Shouldn't he be equally transparent on his business relationships, his investments, etc.?"

Chaffetz agreed, colorfully. "If you're going to run and try to become the president of the United States, you're going to have to open up your kimono and show everything: your tax returns, your medical records," he said. "You're just going to have to do that. It's too important. So both candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, should show both their medical records and their tax returns. Absolutely." Clinton has released nine years of her tax returns, and both candidates have released notes from their doctors; Trump is the first major party candidate not to release his returns since 1976. Sciutto asked Chaffetz if he would be just as zealous investigating President Trump as he would President Clinton, and Chaffetz appeared to have low expectations for the honesty of either candidate: "Hey, the Government Reform and Oversight Committee is going to be the place to win no matter who wins this election." You can watch below. Peter Weber

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