In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Before Donald Trump was dominating sitting governors and U.S. senators in the polls, the top GOP presidential contender was facing off with an adversary of a different sort: Vince McMahon, the CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment.

In 2007, the two moguls staged a pay-per-view standoff known as the “Battle of the Billionaires." Akin to how 2016 candidates use surrogates to hash it out on cable news, Trump and McMahon used proxy wrestlers -- Trump, the Bobby Lashley; McMahon, the Umaga -- to settle their “beef.” Their wager? The loser would have his head shaved. If only the stakes of the 2016 debates were so high.

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Wheaton College has taken its battle over Obamacare's birth control mandate from the courtroom to its campus.

The evangelical college in Illinois told its students last week that it would be ending the health insurance plans it had been offering them due to its case against Obama administration, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The school terminated its plan not due to the fact that it was being forced to pay for contraceptive coverage -- it is not -- but that it is in a legal battle over whether it should even have to notify the government that it is seeking a religious exemption to providing contraceptive coverage. The current policy for religious non-profits gives them an exemption, at which point the government directs insurers to provide birth control coverage through a separate policy not paid for by the non-profit.

Wheaton contends that even the act of notifying the government of its religious opposition to birth control coverage makes it complicit in providing birth control. A federal appeals court has rejected Wheaton's contention, so rather than comply with the requirement that it notify the feds, Wheaton is ending all health coverage for students.

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Donald Trump made his splashy debut in the 2016 race by denouncing Mexican immigrants as "rapists." Now his presidential campaign is distancing the candidate from factually incorrect comments the Trump Organization's special counsel made about spousal rape in connection with Trump's own alleged assault on his first wife.

It's an awkward position for the Trump campaign to be in, but perhaps one that was unavoidable considering the billionaire has given vocal, and at times inconsistent, opinions about sexual assault. Trump has been something of an opportunist when it comes to that subject: he advocated for the death penalty for the alleged attackers in the Central Park jogger case, for example, but campaigned for no prison time in his acquaintance Mike Tyson's rape case.

Here's a brief history of Trump's statements on sexual assault, including his reaction to former Rep. Todd Akin's infamous "legitimate rape" remark and his evolving responses to the allegations against comedian Bill Cosby.

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Sen. Ted Cruz may be trailing Donald Trump in the 2016 polls. But at least on Capitol Hill the firebrand from Texas is top contender for Republican troll-in-chief. Cruz’s scorching floor speech Friday calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) a liar and the Sunday Senate shenanigans that followed are the only latest chapter in a series of public beefs with Republican leadership the Texas senator has had since taking office in 2013. Here’s a look back at the previous times the conservative troublemaker has ruffled the feathers of his fellow GOPers:

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It’s been nearly a month since the Supreme Court issued a string of decisions that roiled conservatives’ faith in Chief Justice John Roberts' court. But Republicans are not backing down from their push to drastically alter the judicial branch.

Conservatives had already been looking into ways to undermine the Supreme Court’s authority ahead of its decision to legalize same-sex marriage. But when that decision, along with one upholding a provision in Obamacare, came down in late June, their frustrations reached a fever pitch.

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Republican presidential candidate and noted abortion flip-flopper Donald Trump has yet to make a statement on a pair of sting videos that allege Planned Parenthood affiliates are selling tissue from aborted fetuses for profit.

His silence on the issue enraged conservative commentators and right-leaning political observers on two levels. On one hand, they blasted the mainstream media for conveniently glomming onto the latest Trump sound bite instead of substantively covering the sting videos. On the other hand, they suggested the real estate mogul was missing an opportunity to use his high profile to draw further attention to the Planned Parenthood controversy.

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The Republican-controlled Congress can still kill President Obama's Iran deal, but to do so, it faces an uphill battle.

Now that the historic deal, which would lift international sanctions in return for new limits on the Iranian nuclear program, has been announced, Congress has the ability to weigh in on it under the legislation signed by the president in May.

Under the process outlined by the legislation, Obama will report the details of the negotiation to Congress, upon which a 60-day clock will start ticking for Congress to act. It can vote to approve the deal, vote to disapprove it, or simply do nothing. If it votes against the deal, it would have the legal effect of maintaing U.S. sanctions on Iran, which would effectively kill the deal.

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The timing of last week’s unexpected fight in Congress over the Confederate flag could not have been much worse for congressional Republicans. If GOP leaders don’t get a handle on the issue soon, the debate could undermine their position on their major agenda issues, particularly in the high stakes budget battle expected this fall.

Their plan was to strengthen their position in the budget standoff by passing a series of conservative spending bills to show that they could govern and to put negotiating pressure on Obama and Democrats in the budget process. But with the standoff over the Confederate flag, none of the spending bills are going anywhere immediately. That has created a roadblock with no clear way around it for Republicans, all due to the party's reluctance to abandon the flag entirely.

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