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July 29, 2014

This isn't something you want to see when the state of California is experiencing a severe drought: a water main break Tuesday afternoon flooded UCLA and Sunset Boulevard with thousands and thousands of gallons of water.

The break on Sunset Boulevard caused a geyser to shoot water 20 to 30 feet into the air, the Los Angeles Times reports. By 5:15 p.m. local time, the water had been flowing for two hours, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said it would take another hour for the line to be shut down. He also tweeted that the pipe involved in the incident is from 1921.

Three people were trapped inside of their cars, and the water has flooded underground parking lots and UCLA's Pauley Pavilion and athletic fields. Sunset Boulevard remains closed in both directions, adding to the nightmare that is Los Angeles rush hour traffic.

Television news crews are filming students wading through the water and using boogie boards, which Los Angeles Fire Dept. Capt. Jaime Moore said is "probably one of the most dangerous things you can do. For somebody to try and boogie board in this, it's just going to be an asphalt bath."
--Catherine Garcia

10:55 a.m. ET

President Trump and the White House have vehemently denied renewed accusations of Trump's sexual misconduct, with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling reporters Monday that "the president has denied [all] of these allegations, as have eyewitnesses." How, exactly, eyewitnesses can confirm that something didn't happen has been a bit of a head-scratcher, though:

Nevertheless, Sanders promised reporters Monday: "In terms of the specific eyewitness accounts … there have been multiple reports, and I'd be happy to provide them to you after the briefing has completed."

While Sanders hasn't delivered a list just yet, the White House is known to have eyewitnesses — two, for at least 13 separate allegations. Jessica Leeds claimed Trump groped her on an airplane, but a man named Anthony Gilberthorpe said he was also on the plane and that "Leeds was the aggressor," The Washington Post writes. There are questions surrounding Gilberthorpe's claim, though, as he "has a history of making unproven claims, including that he had once regularly provided underage boys to members of Britain's Parliament for sex parties."

In another case, Natasha Stoynoff claims Trump forcibly kissed her at Mar-a-Lago, and The Washington Post reports that five people heard her story around the time of the alleged event. While the White House did not technically present an eyewitness rebuttal, "a longtime family butler who came into the room after the incident said that nothing seemed unusual."

Review The Washington Post's entire tally of allegations and eyewitness rebuttals here. Jeva Lange

10:19 a.m. ET
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images

The brutality of prison camps in North Korea is on par with that of Nazi concentration camps, says Thomas Buergenthal, a former judge on the International Court of Justice who is now serving on a panel of human rights investigators probing whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Un should be tried for crimes against humanity. Buergenthal is also a survivor of the Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen concentration camps as well as a Polish ghetto.

"I believe that the conditions in the [North] Korean prison camps are as terrible, or even worse, than those I saw and experienced in my youth in these Nazi camps and in my long professional career in the human rights field," Buergenthal said after the panel completed its review.

"There is not a comparable situation anywhere in the world, past or present," said another panelist, Navi Pillay, a South African judge who served as the United Nations' high commissioner for human rights. "This is really an atrocity at the maximum level," Pillay added, "where the whole population is subject to intimidation."

The panel's investigation was initiated by the International Bar Association and examined testimony from experts as well as North Korean defectors, including camp prisoners and guards. A full report of the probe's findings will be published Tuesday. Bonnie Kristian

10:03 a.m. ET
JORGE SILVA/AFP/Getty Images

When President Trump posts a tweet, it is shared with and analyzed for Russian President Vladimir Putin as any official statement by the president of the United States would be, Moscow indicated Tuesday.

"In any case, everything which is published from [Trump's authorized] Twitter account is perceived by Moscow as his official statement," said Putin representative Dmitry Peskov, Reuters reported. "Naturally, it is reported to Putin along with other information about official statements by politicians."

Trump averages about seven tweets per day. Since becoming president, he has used his Twitter account for everything from major policy announcements to petty feuds and name-calling. The implications of Russia's assumption may be most troubling in regards to North Korea, as it transforms into official American policy Trump's tweets declaring it is a waste of time for the U.S. to negotiate with "short and fat" Little Rocket Man. Bonnie Kristian

9:53 a.m. ET

President Trump took to Twitter Tuesday to attack Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), suggesting she had a history of trading favors for campaign donations.

A number of Twitter users were quick to point out that the president's tweet was loaded with unsavory implications.

Gillibrand, who on Monday called for Trump to resign over the numerous allegations of sexual assault and harassment made against him, did indeed take some money from Trump before he ran for office. In 2010, Gillibrand's campaign raised more than $13 million, and Politico's Kyle Cheney points out that Trump donated $4,800. In 2014, his daughter Ivanka Trump donated $2,000.

Gillibrand was apparently in the middle of a "bipartisan bible study group" when she heard about Trump's tweet. Fifty minutes later, she fired back. Kelly O'Meara Morales

9:45 a.m. ET

Republican pollster Frank Luntz admitted Monday night that for the first time in his career, he can't call an election. Looking at Tuesday's Alabama Senate race between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, Luntz said he's told people to ignore all the polls "because you really don't know what's going to happen."

Luntz explained to Fox News that he hasn't seen much enthusiasm among African American voters, who are expected to heavily favor Jones at the ballot box, but that he has seen many conservatives eager to vote for Moore as a message to Washington. "That said, I can't call it," Luntz confessed, "and I've never been afraid to call an election up until this point. Because I don't know the makeup of that actual electorate tomorrow."

Luntz additionally noted that whatever happens Tuesday night, there is "anger against both sides." He added: "I gotta wonder how long it is going to take the state to heal itself after this election, because it really has torn itself apart." Watch Luntz break down why it is so difficult to call the race below, and read more about why the polls are showing "a massive spread" at FiveThirtyEight. Jeva Lange

9:06 a.m. ET
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Who investigates the investigators? President Trump's legal team, frustrated by the ongoing probe into their client's potential ties with Russia, is now proposing naming a second special counsel to investigate the FBI and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Axios reports.

The idea of naming an additional special counsel beyond Robert Mueller stems from a Fox News article that found a "senior Justice Department official" had been demoted after "concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump 'dossier' had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than have been disclosed." The wife of the demoted official reportedly worked at Fusion GPS during the presidential campaign.

The article spurred Trump attorney Jay Sekulow to tell Axios that "the Department of Justice and FBI cannot ignore the multiple problems that have been created by these obvious conflicts of interests. These new revelations require the appointment of a special counsel to investigate."

If everyone got their way, there could be four different special counsels running about Washington. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) has demanded support for "a special counsel to investigate ALL THINGS 2016" and Sessions himself "is entertaining the idea of appointing a second special counsel to investigate a host of Republican concerns," The Washington Post reports. Read more at Axios. Jeva Lange

9:06 a.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) is not stepping down despite an $84,000 sexual harassment settlement he reached with his former press secretary, Lauren Greene, a new House Ethics Committee investigation of that settlement, and five Republican challengers in his safe GOP district. "It's lonelier than it's been in past times, but he's not alone," Farenthold's chief of staff, Bob Haueter, told The Texas Tribune on Monday evening.

Also on Monday evening, The New York Times took "a peek into the inner workings" of Farenthold's Capitol Hill office, revealing a "hostile work environment, rife with sexual innuendo" and fueled by alcohol, where "sexually explicit conversations are routine, pickup lines are part of daily life, hiring can be based on looks, tolerance is expected, and intolerance of such behavior is career-ending." The Times based its report on House aides, former Farenthold staffers, and legal documents. Some of the details make Farenthold's office sound like the fraternity in Animal House, the Times reports:

The refrigerator in the "bullpen" — the open area where aides worked — was filled with beer, and sometimes happy hour would begin at 4:30 p.m., which his aides called "beer-thirty." [Former Press Secretary Elizabeth] Peace said women would discuss which male lobbyists had texted them pictures of their genitals, and both men and women would talk about strip clubs and whether certain Fox News anchors had breast implants. [The New York Times]

Greene's complaint alleged that Farenthold liked redheads especially, "regularly drank to excess, and because of his tendency to flirt, the staffers who accompanied him to Capitol Hill functions would joke that they had to be on 'redhead patrol' to keep him out of trouble." Farenthold's lawyers denied that there client's attraction to redheads "was a source for, or cause of, concern for any staffer." You can read more at The New York Times. Peter Weber

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