July 31, 2014

Some time ago I wrote on Senator Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) battle with the CIA. She is chair of the Senate Select Committee on intelligence, and in a dramatic speech on the floor of the Senate she accused them of spying on her staffers in an attempt to sandbag the committee's report on the CIA's torture program.

McClatchy reports today that an investigation by the CIA Inspector General has largely confirmed Feinstein's account:

CIA employees improperly accessed computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to compile a report on the agency's now defunct detention and interrogation program, an internal CIA investigation has determined.

Findings of the investigation by the CIA Inspector General's Office "include a judgment that some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached between SSCI (Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) and the CIA in 2009," CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said in a statement. [McClatchy DC]

A summary of the committee's torture report is supposed to be declassified soon — White House talking points on it were accidentally released to an AP reporter earlier this week. Ryan Cooper

4:36 a.m. ET

Congratulations are in order for rock legend Mick Jagger and ballerina Melanie Hamrick, who gave birth to a son on Thursday. This is the eighth child for Jagger, 73, and the first for Hamrick, 29. The couple has been dating since 2014. The new child's seven siblings range in age from 17 to 46, and collectively the eight children have five mothers. Jagger also has grandchildren and one great-grandchild, born in 2014. Jagger's band, The Rolling Stones, released their 25th studio album last week, and their first in 11 years. You can learn a bit more, with a rock soundtrack, in the CNN primer below. Peter Weber

4:09 a.m. ET

President-elect Donald Trump continues to roll out his nominees for Cabinet positions, and Stephen Colbert is a little queasy. "Watching Trump pick these people is like watching your nana gets a sponge bath," he said on Thursday's Late Show: "You know it has to be done, but it's still upsetting." He focused on Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier and EPA critic, to head the EPA. "If I were him, I'd change my phone number, or else he's going to get some pretty angry calls from himself come January," Colbert said. But generally, "there's a trend out there of Trump appointing people to head things that they're against," he added. "I'm looking forward to Surgeon General Joe Camel."

Meanwhile, Trump's time transitioning in Trump Tower is costing New York City $500,000 a day in extra security, and Congress only approved $7 million of the $35 million the city requested to cover those costs. "The rest of that cost will fall on New York City taxpayers, which — fun fact — does not include Donald Trump (as far as we know)," Colbert said.

Trump has already met with reality TV producer Mark Burnett about staging his inauguration, and Burnett reportedly proposed that it begin with a parade down Fifth Avenue, followed by a (Trump-branded) helicopter ride from Trump Tower to Washington, D.C. Colbert did not approve: "Why hold a Trump parade here in Manhattan when Hillary Clinton won 87 percent of the vote in New York? That's like holding a gay pride parade in Mike Pence's backyard — it makes no sense." Watch below. Peter Weber

3:23 a.m. ET
Kim Hong-Ji/AFP/Getty Images

On Friday, South Korea's National Assembly overwhelmingly voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye, with dozens of members of Park's own conservative Saenuri Party joining the opposition in a lopsided 234-56 vote. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will immediately take over for Park while the Constitutional Court decides if the impeachment is valid, a process expected to take no more than 180 days. If the court sides with parliament, Park will be permanently removed from office and new elections will be held within 60 days.

Park, South Korea's first female leader, was elected in 2012 and scheduled to serve through February 2018. Calls for her resignation or removal have grown since prosecutors indicted a close friend, Choi Soon-sil, and two former presidential aides last month on suspicion of using presidential influence to accrue power and shake down companies to donate to foundations controlled by Choi. At the time, prosecutors say they believe Park was "collusively involved" with the suspects' criminal activities, though Park denies all legal wrongdoing. Her offer to resign two weeks ago was widely seen as a stalling tactic. Park's approval rating on Friday stood at 5 percent, according to Gallup Korea, and 81 percent of Koreans supported her impeachment.

Park, 64, is the daughter of former South Korean military dictator Park Chung-hee, who was assassinated in 1979. Her four years in office have been marred by an authoritarian governing style and a 2014 ferry disaster, which many Koreans blamed on government corruption and incompetence. The National Assembly impeached President Roh Moo-hyun in 2004 for incompetence and small election law violations but the Constitutional Court put him back in office. Park is not expected to be so lucky. Peter Weber

2:35 a.m. ET

Michael Moore predicted in August that Donald Trump would be elected president by winning Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, Seth Meyers reminded him on Wednesday's Late Night. "I never wanted to be more wrong," Moore said. "Ever since then people have been asking me for help with their lotto numbers." Meyers asked if Moore thought the Democrats had learned the right lessons from Hillary Clinton's defeat, and Moore said "the Democrats' biggest problem — and this includes people who voted for Hillary — they don't act like they won." Clinton's huge victory in the Electoral College strips Trump of any mandate, he said, and he volunteered to lead the charge to kill the Electoral College.

Moore said he would want to abolish America's "arcane" election system even if Trump had won the popular vote and lost the White House, but he added that the founding fathers did include some escape hatches in the Electoral College system. One of Alexander Hamilton's "genius ideas" was that "maybe there should be a stopgap, just in case a madman or somebody who thought he was going to be king gets elected, there's that one final door he's got to go through," Moore said. "So right now, if you don't mind — I made that prediction back in the summer — so I'd like to make another one tonight."

He didn't exactly predict that Trump won't ever take office, but he came close. Trump "is not president of the United States yet," Moore noted. "He's not president until noon on Jan. 20 of 2017," or more than six weeks from now. "Would you not agree, regardless what side of the political fence you're on, this has been the craziest election year?" he asked. "Nothing anyone has predicted has happened — the opposite has happened — so is it possible, just possible, that in these next six weeks, something else might happen, something crazy, something we're not expecting?" Watch below. Peter Weber

1:54 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On Thursday, the House approved a bill to finance the federal government until April 28, by a 329-96 vote, but Senate Democrats may force a brief government shutdown over a provision to fund the health care of retired coal miners. The current bill includes a four-month extension of the miners' health benefits, set to lapse on Jan. 1 for at least 12,500 union miners and their families, but Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) says he will "do everything I can to stop" the spending bill if it doesn't have a one-year extension, so lawmakers can work out a permanent fix for the miners' badly underfunded pension fund. "Nobody wants to close this great institution, this government down," he said. "But you've got to stand for something or sure to God you'll stand for nothing."

Manchin has support from other Democrats and even some Republicans, notably Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). Republican leaders say the Democrats are fighting a losing battle on miners' health care and lost all leverage after the House passed the spending bill and left town for the Christmas holiday. "The House just took its last votes of the year," said AshLee Strong, spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). "They're not going to get what they want," Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said of Manchin and his fellow Democrats. "They ought to actually be grateful for what they got." Manchin and several other of the coal-state Democrats are up for re-election in 2018.

Democrats pointed out that President-elect Donald Trump pledged to support coal miners during the campaign, and also a "Buy American" provision that was not included in a separate water infrastructure bill. A meeting on Thursday afternoon strengthened Democratic resolve to block the measure, though incoming Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he "can't predict the exact path" they'll use to win the fight. Current spending runs out at midnight Friday, and Democrats can use procedural measures to block the bill until at least Sunday night.

Republican leaders in Congress had planned to fund the federal government for fiscal 2017 though separate spending bills hammered out in committee, but after Trump won they decided on an omnibus package so they could pass more favorable spending legislation without the threat of President Obama's veto. Peter Weber

December 8, 2016
Rob Kim/Getty Images

When The New Celebrity Apprentice, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, debuts early next year, President-elect Donald Trump's name will appear in the credits as executive producer, right after series creator Mark Burnett. Trump will get more than just credit: He will also receive a fee for every episode that's "likely to be in the low five-figures, at minimum," Variety reports, noting that MGM, not NBC, will be paying Trump — MGM, Burnett's company, produces the reality TV show, and NBC licenses and broadcasts it.

"Mr. Trump has a big stake in the show and conceived of it with Mark Burnett," Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said Thursday, confirming that she was referring to a financial stake but giving no details about the arrangement. MGM and NBC declined comment when contacted by several news organizations. NBC had said it was "ending its business relationship" with Trump in July 2015, after he launched his presidential campaign by calling many Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. In May 2016, Trump signaled that he was still invested in the show. "You know I have a big chunk of that show, going forever," he said. "Mark and I did it together. We were 50-50 partners."

President Obama received royalties for books he wrote before taking office, but "the fact that a sitting president will be on the payroll of a current TV show is another example of the thicket of potential conflicts of interest raised by Trump's segue from private businessman and TV star to commander-in-chief," Variety says. Ethics experts, already dismayed that Trump appears unwilling to divest himself of his business, threw up their hands at the reality TV deal. "We need him to be president — full time — and not to have other contractual commitments elsewhere," Richard Painter, ethics counsel to former president George W. Bush, told The Washington Post. "He's testing the limits on everything."

Still, reality TV is a big part of Trump's story — The Apprentice saved his business career in many ways — and the skills he mastered in the medium have served him well in politics, The Washington Post notes: "Even his transition has been marked by the kind of drama that, while abnormal for the practice of building a government, is familiar to fans of the show. Just as Apprentice contestants had to battle for Trump's approval, potential Cabinet picks are publicly competing with each other and paraded before cameras at Trump Tower." Peter Weber

December 8, 2016
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) Senate farewell Thursday was filled with moments both heartfelt and humorous, as the Senate minority leader prepares to retire after 30 years in Congress.

Hillary Clinton made her first appearance on Capitol Hill since losing the presidential election to deliver a farewell — and a joke about the recent unexpected turn of events. "This is not exactly the speech at the Capitol I hoped to be giving after the election," Clinton said, after receiving a standing ovation. "But after a few weeks of taking selfies in the woods, I though it would be a good idea to come out." Clinton proceeded to praise Reid's work passing "landmark legislation that made life better for American families, specifically mentioning his role in making the Affordable Care Act law.

Vice President Joe Biden started his tribute by saying, "My name is Joe Biden and I work for Harry Reid." He proceeded to reminisce on Reid's habit of ending phone calls abruptly, saying, "Every time I hear a dial tone, I think of Harry." But Biden — who worked alongside Reid in the Senate for 25 years — put the jokes aside to honor his friend and colleague. "I love you, pal," Biden said. "I know that embarrasses you, but I do."

Reid's incoming replacement as Senate minority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), also delivered a tribute, as did Reid's Republican counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and his Democratic counterpart in the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Reid's portrait will be unveiled and hung on Capitol Hill later Thursday. Becca Stanek

See More Speed Reads