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Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Donald Trump reportedly offered money to a U.S. senator to drop his investigation into the Patriots' Spygate scandal in 2008, according to a new ESPN report.

Catch up quick: In 2007, Patriots staffers were caught illegally videotaping Jets defensive signals, sparking an NFL investigation.

  • The investigation resulted in minor penalties (a couple fines and one lost draft pick), and second-year commissioner Roger Goodell ordered the evidence destroyed to put the matter to rest for good.
  • But Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), a diehard Eagles fan and longtime critic of the NFL, wasn't satisfied with what he felt was a cover-up, so he launched his own investigation.
  • In 2008, Specter spoke on the phone with a friend who also knew Patriots owner Robert Kraft. On the call, the friend told Specter, "If you laid off the Patriots, there'd be a lot of money in Palm Beach."

Driving the news: There was always speculation that friend was Trump, and ESPN has now confirmed as much from two sources — Specter's son, Shanin, and the ghostwriter of two of his memoirs, Charles Robbins.

  • "My father told me that Trump was acting as a messenger for Kraft," Shanin Specter told ESPN. "But I'm equally sure the reference to money in Palm Beach was campaign contributions, not cash."
  • Of note, per ESPN: "Election experts say it's a close call as to whether such an offer would be a bribe in the sense that it would be a prosecutable offense."

The bottom line: Was this phone call between Trump and Specter a last-ditch effort by Kraft to get Specter to drop the investigation, a simple campaign contribution request or something in between?

  • Specter lost his battle with cancer in 2012, so we'll likely never know the full truth. But ESPN's latest report shines new light on one of the strangest scandals in NFL history.
  • For the record: Spokespeople for both Trump and Kraft have denied the report.

Go deeper: Read the full story

Go deeper

7 mins ago - Health

Exclusive: Bipartisan group of senators urges Blinken to vaccinate Americans abroad

Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: Pool/Getty Images

Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) are leading an effort urging the Biden administration to coordinate with the Defense Department to donate supplemental COVID-19 vaccine doses to U.S. embassies and consulates.

Why it matters: Millions of Americans living in countries where they are not considered eligible for the vaccine or those living in places where vaccines are not being authorized by the FDA or the World Health Organization may have to wait for months or even years to receive a vaccine.

Pacific Northwest soon to be ground zero for record-shattering heat

Computer model projection showing the unusually strong heat dome over the Pacific Northwest on Sunday. (PivotalWeather).

A heat wave is bringing unprecedented high temperatures to the Pacific Northwest — a region of the country typically cooled by the ocean, rather than central air conditioning. The heat will begin Friday and last into early next week.

Why it matters: The heat wave will shatter monthly and all-time temperature records in the Pacific Northwest. Some of the records could break the old milestones by several degrees.

At least one person killed, 99 missing after deadly Miami-area condo collapse

A massive search-and-rescue operation is underway after a portion of a 12-story residential building in Surfside, Florida, collapsed at approximately 1:30 a.m. Thursday, according to AP.

The latest: Officials have accounted for 102 people who lived in the high-rise Champlain Towers South, but 99 people remained unaccounted for by midafternoon, said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade County at a press conference Thursday afternoon.