(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)
Here’s what you need to know:
“The president repaid it”
• President Trump reimbursed his lawyer Michael Cohen for a $130,000 payment to the pornographic film actress Stephanie Clifford before the 2016 election, Rudolph Giuliani, now one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, said in an interview Wednesday night.
That contradicts earlier versions of what happened. Mr. Trump said last month that he had no knowledge of the payment, made in exchange for Ms. Clifford’s silence about an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump more than a decade ago.
Here’s a partial transcript of Mr. Giuliani’s interview on Fox News, as well as a recap of the diverging statements that Mr. Trump and his team have made about the money.
• There has been a legal debate about whether the payment amounted to a campaign contribution. Mr. Giuliani said his disclosure served to demonstrate that campaign finance rules weren’t violated, a point that Mr. Trump reiterated this morning.
Speaking of Trump’s lawyers …
• The man who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment is now working for President Trump.
In a sign that the White House sees no immediate end to its legal problems, Emmet Flood will replace Ty Cobb, the lawyer who had persuaded Mr. Trump to cooperate with the special counsel in the Russia investigation. Mr. Flood is expected to take a more adversarial approach with Robert Mueller’s inquiry.
• Separately on Wednesday, Mr. Trump warned that he might have to “get involved” in a dispute between a group of House Republicans and the deputy attorney general. The lawmakers want access to documents related to the special counsel’s investigation and other politically charged cases.
An uneasy assignment for cheerleaders
• A photo shoot in Costa Rica is the latest illustration of how N.F.L. teams have made their cheerleaders do far more than dance during games.
Some of the Washington Redskins cheerleaders on the 2013 trip said they were required to pose topless during the shoot, to which some team sponsors and suite holders were invited. Some of the women said they were also sent to a nightclub as escorts.
Stephanie Jojokian, the longtime director and choreographer for the Redskins’ cheerleaders, disputed much of the women’s descriptions of the Costa Rica trip.
• The N.F.L.’s treatment of cheerleaders has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks after two women filed discrimination complaints and described a hostile work environment.
Chasing the ghosts of Benghazi
• When most Americans hear the word Benghazi, they remember the attack in 2012 that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.
But two years after his death, the city descended into all-out war, pitting Islamist militias against a coalition of military and local fighters. In December, the coalition won, at a heavy cost.
In an interactive feature, our Cairo bureau chief recorded his visit to Benghazi, where he found a guarded optimism and a country whose future could depend on a strongman once allied with the C.I.A.
• Elections in Libya are planned for this year, but some opponents of the government are determined to disrupt the process. A suicide attack on Wednesday targeted the electoral commission in the capital, Tripoli.
Settlement reached over Starbucks arrests
• The two black men who were arrested while waiting in one of the chain’s locations in Philadelphia last month asked for $1 each.
But they also requested that the city spend $200,000 to help young entrepreneurs.
• Starbucks said on Wednesday it had reached an agreement with the men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, and that it “includes a confidential financial settlement.”
• The weekly best-seller lists
Several journalists have new books on our hardcover nonfiction best-seller list, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Ronan Farrow.
On our hardcover fiction list, the CNN anchor Jake Tapper tells a story about a World War II veteran who became an unlikely congressman in the 1950s. Find all of our best-seller lists here.
• Swedish meatballs? Not Swedish.
Sweden’s national dish is actually from … Turkey.
The government noted that King Charles XII brought home the Turkish recipe in the early 18th century. “My whole life has been a lie,” one Swede lamented.
• Best of late-night TV
Some of the hosts had fun with the news that a note from Donald Trump’s former doctor may have been dictated by the president himself.
• Quotation of the day
“He is the quiet, unassuming kid who puts on his Liverpool shirt and becomes a superhero, the embodiment of every fan’s dream.”
— James McKenna, a Liverpool fan, describing Mohamed Salah, the soccer team’s Egyptian star, whose displays of his Muslim faith have helped fight Islamophobia in Britain.
• What we’re reading
Our briefings editor, Andrea Kannapell, recommends this Facebook video from The Times: “I’m watching my colleagues provoke the exact conversation about race and history that I, a Kentuckian, want to have.”
The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam opened as a museum 58 years ago today.
Nowadays, more than 1.2 million visitors flock to the museum every year, but in the 1950s, the canal house was on the verge of demolition.
The building was saved by the Anne Frank Foundation, founded in 1957 to preserve the place where Anne had written her diary.
Anne lived in the annex of the canal house with her parents, sister and four others from July 1942 until August 1944, when they were arrested during a Nazi raid. (It’s still unclear who betrayed the family, but an F.B.I. agent reopened the case in 2017.)
The museum faces a practical challenge: The tiny, cramped attic can accommodate only so many people at once. It’s under renovation, and preparing to educate a new generation about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.
Otto Frank — Anne’s father and the only member of the family to survive the Holocaust — attended the opening in 1960, saying he hoped that the museum would be a place where Anne’s ideals “find their realization.”
Claire Moses wrote today’s Back Story.
Your Morning Briefing is published weekdays and updated all morning. Browse past briefings here.
Sign up here to get it by email in the Australian, Asian, European or American morning. To receive an Evening Briefing on U.S. weeknights, sign up here.
Check out our full range of free newsletters here.
What would you like to see here? Contact us at email@example.com.
Follow Chris Stanford on Twitter: @stanfordc.