In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Donald Trump has promised to make the Republican Convention in Cleveland a star-studded production only a casino mogul and reality television star could deliver. But, more than a dozen GOP senators – many of whom are facing their own re-elections back home–are skipping the festivities.

Of the 54 Republican senators, 16 have announced they won't be going to Cleveland and six more have yet to make a final decision.

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When Donald Trump prepared to answer a question from Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) Thursday afternoon at a closed door meeting near Capitol Hill, he wasn't going to let Flake off the hook for being an outspoken critic of Trump's rhetoric and tone.

“You’ve been very critical of me," Trump said to Flake, according to a report from the Washington Post.

“Yes, I’m the other senator from Arizona — the one who didn’t get captured — and I want to talk to you about statements like that,” Flake said, the Post reported.

The exchange was just one of many relayed Thursday from participants in the meeting that painted a picture of a tough and tense meeting between senators trying to protect their party's future and the Republican Party's nominee who seems only concerned about his own poll numbers. During the same meeting, the Post reported that Trump said Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)– who has publicly opposed Trump–was a "loser."

"He's wrong," Kirk, who did not attend the meeting, told reporters later on Capitol Hill. "I've never been defeated in Illinois. I think Trump is gonna get a vote like Alan Keyes got, which was about 28 percent."

Flake declined to comment about his terse exchange with Trump.

"Nah. I'll just leave it," Flake said. "My position remains. I want to support the nominee I really do. I just can't support him given the things that he's said."

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He arrived 20 minutes late.

Then presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump addressed the House GOP's rank and file in a standing-room-only meeting at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington. He talked in broad strokes about the Supreme Court, trade, tax reform, securing borders, Saddam Hussein and how the media has been unfair to him. And the Constitution -- but more on that in a moment.

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It was the work of the House Select Committee on Benghazi that first broke the news that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had used a private email server in her tenure at the State Department, but Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC)–the chairman of that committee–had no statement on the FBI's conclusion Tuesday that Clinton had not violated the law.

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A major Supreme Court decision on abortion has shifted the legal landscape around the issue, but the battle is by no means close to over.

On one side, abortion rights advocates received a Supreme Court-level confirmation of what they’ve always argued: that evidence matters, that claims of an anti-abortion law’s benefits must be thoroughly vetted, and if those supposed benefits do not justify the effect it has on access to the procedure, the law is unconstitutional

On the other side, abortion opponents are admitting short-term defeat, but they say they're digging in for the long haul. They believe that there are plenty of other types of anti-abortion laws that can still stand up in court and even the provisions invalidated by the high court Monday may still be defendable under different circumstances.

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