OBAMA’S SECRET WAR. The Washington Post goes behind the scenes in President Obama’s efforts to come to grips with the discovery that Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, was working to elect Donald Trump.
■ A congressional probe is trying to figure out whether Trump associates got info from voter databases that were hacked.
■ Trump’s routine includes a 6:30 a.m. call about Russia with his legal team—a call that is designed to help him compartmentalize the controversy, but that (by the laughing account of one adviser) doesn’t seem to be working.
■ Stephen Colbert tweeted from Russia Thursday: “Don’t worry, Mr. President. … If the ‘tapes’ exist, I’ll bring you back a copy!”
MORE UNINSURED. The Senate health insurance overhaul would increase the number of Americans without health insurance. That’s one of five things Time says you should know about the plan.
■ It would keep protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
■ But it could cut Medicaid benefits in Illinois three years sooner than for other states.
■ Obama on Facebook: “It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America.”
■ Vox’s Matthew Yglesias: The bill might pass “because Trump has launched the era of Nothing Matters politics.”
■ The Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet: Gov. Rauner is “abdicating his responsibilities to … the State of Illinois by his silence” in the health care debate.
■ NPR: Despite the president’s claims to the contrary, Trump has yet to sign a major law.
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‘I CALL THAT RACIST.’ One of the non-rich candidates for Illinois governor accuses Rauner of pitting downstate whites against “those people in Chicago.”
■ Developing: In a nod to Mayor Emanuel, Rauner says he’ll sign a bill to crack down on repeat gun offenders.
■ An investigation of Cook County’s property assessment tactics has added some excitement to the race for assessor.
■ A Chicago alderman has declared his ward off-limits to Airbnb home rentals.
A CALL FOR MEDIA DISOBEDIENCE. Fusion’s Alex Pareene: “Dear White House Press Corps: You can just turn your little cameras back on.”
■ The White House has held just two on-camera briefings in two weeks.
■ White House relations with the media have reached a “breaking point.”
■ George W. Bush’s former chief speechwriter tries to steer America away from divorce court: “North Korea is our enemy. Our fellow Americans who disagree with us are not.”
AL FRANKEN vs. RICK PERRY. During Energy Department budget hearings Thursday, the senator and the energy secretary butted heads over global warming.
■ After heavy rains, the Chicago River is
■ A First Amendment expert says a coal baron’s lawsuit against HBO’s John Oliver doesn’t stand a chance. (See the segment in question here.)
A GIANT LAPTOP. That’s what Apple’s new downtown Chicago store is beginning to look like.
■ In Chicago, founder Mark Zuckerberg sets a new course for Facebook.
WHOLLY POSSIBLE. Amazon’s bid to buy Whole Foods is just that: A bid. Others—including Walmart—could enter the fray.
■ A labor-backed bid to buy the Sun-Times has hit a roadblock.
■ Planning to sell a used car? Good luck.
CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY—ON STAGE. Tonight, an audience pitches card ideas to the game’s creators: “The best suggestions will be acted out live …. The worst suggestions will be mercilessly ridiculed.” Guest host: Peter Sagal of Wait, Wait... Don’t Tell Me. At 10 p.m.
■ Some Chicago theaters say they’re going to stop offering free tickets to Sun-Times critic Hedy Weiss because she’s been too, um, critical.
■ The Tribune’s Ron Grossman: “Weiss stepped on a third rail of polite discourse: The intersection between race and crime.”
CONGRATS, DNAinfo. … For taking the Best News Site title in the Chicago Reader’s Best of Chicago poll. (And thank you, dear readers, for making Chicago Public Square first runner-up.)
AND AS A WISE MAN ONCE SAID … “If you’re feeling low, turn up your radio.”