On Sunday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the military should "continually" review its ban on transgender individuals in the armed forces.
Hagel made his comments on ABC's This Week, adding, "Every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it."
It's unlikely that any changes will happen soon, as the Pentagon has long said that the issue is under review. The New York Times reports that Defense Department guidelines "describe transgender people as sexual deviants and their condition as 'paraphilia,' with its connotations of the atypical and extreme." In March, a panel affiliated with San Francisco State University estimated that more than 15,000 transgender people serve in the military, National Guard, and the Reserve. Members of the study believe that the number is so high because "many male-to-female transgender individuals enlist to try to submerge their feminine sides, while many female-to-male transgender people enlist because they want to be in a hypermasculine environment." Catherine Garcia
On the eve of his inauguration, Donald Trump gave a familiar speech at a dinner for his donors, in which he boasted of breaking records, made jabs at political opponents, and effusively praised his family, including son-in-law Jared Kushner, whom Trump believes will solve all the problems in the Middle East.
Speaking at a candlelight dinner at Union Station in Washington, D.C., Trump called his win a "big victory," claiming "records were set that haven't been beaten since Ronald Reagan." Trump, who won the electoral vote but not the popular, said he believes he "outworked everybody who ever ran for office," and said he's already looking ahead to 2020, when he will "win the old-fashioned way, win because we did so well, because it was so overwhelming the thing that we did."
When discussing his Cabinet selections, Trump said he was a fan of all of them. "There's not a pick that I don't love," he added. "And if there was, I'd tell you right now." There's never been a Cabinet like his before, Trump said, and because of that, "the other side is going absolutely crazy." He singled out several people to thank, including campaign manager Kellyanne Conway — he told her "Thank you, baby, thank you," after calling her "my Kellyanne" — and Kushner, a senior adviser. "If you can't produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can," Trump said. His hair also received a shout out. "It may rain, it may not rain, I don't care, it doesn't matter," he said. "The truth is if it really pours it's okay, because people will realize it's my real hair and that's okay." Catherine Garcia
Izzy went from having one owner to dozens, after she was adopted by the residents of the Brookdale Kingston assisted living community in Tennessee.
Izzy, a 10-year-old mixed breed with vision problems, moved to Brookdale with her owner last fall. Staff and residents quickly became enamored with Izzy, a social dog who enjoyed visiting with people around the building. When Izzy's owner died and family members were not able to take her in, the community quickly came up with a solution. "We realized her home was here with us and so she has stayed," Lesa Fuller, Brookdale Kingston's sales and marketing manager, told WVLT. "She is part of the family here now. The residents always want to know where Izzy is and what she's doing. There's never a shortage of people to pet her." Izzy now spends her days greeting people at the front door, attending parties, and playing with her favorite toy — a rubber chicken. Catherine Garcia
U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies have been looking at intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a counterintelligence investigation into potential links between Russian officials and at least three of Donald Trump's close associates — former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, and longtime Republican operative Roger Stone, The New York Times reports.
The Times says that while it is unclear if the intercepted communications have anything to do with Trump or his campaign and which Russian officials are involved, the investigation centers at least in part on business dealings. The FBI is leading the multi-agency investigation, revealed Wednesday by the McClatchy news service, and after Trump is inaugurated, he will have the authority to redirect or end some of their efforts; six current and former officials who confirmed the investigation's existence told The Times they were sharing the information because they "feared the new administration would obstruct their efforts."
Manafort and Stone both told the Times they do not have relationships with Russian officials or the government, and Page said he "did nothing wrong, for the 5,000th time." Catherine Garcia
Robert De Niro, Alec Baldwin, Cher, Mark Ruffalo, Rosie Perez, Sally Field, and other celebrities joined thousands of protesters and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio Thursday night at an anti-Donald Trump rally organized by Michael Moore outside of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Manhattan.
The New York Police Department estimates that 20,000 to 25,000 people were at the "We Stand United" rally, Deadline reports. "We Americans, we New Yorkers, we patriots will stand united for our rights and the rights of our fellow citizens," De Niro told the crowd, while Cher said: "The only thing that can save us is you. Nothing happened to stop Vietnam until we got into the streets. The power of the people is bigger than the a—holes who are there in Washington." Catherine Garcia
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) wants to reach across the aisle in order to "fix" ObamaCare.
On Thursday, Johnson said the Republican idea of "repeal and replace" isn't right. "From my standpoint, I've been talking about repairing the damage and then transitioning to a system that actually works," he said on CNBC. "That takes some time. It's way more complex than simply repeal and replace. That's a fun little buzzword, but it's just not accurate."
Reforms are driving up the cost of coverage, Johnson said, and he wants to work with Democrats to "fix" ObamaCare "for the benefit of the American people." People are starting to realize it's "not particularly easy" to overhaul everything, he added, calling it a "daunting task." Catherine Garcia
When George W. Bush moved into the White House in 2001, there was a letter waiting for him from Bill Clinton, and eight years later, he wrote his own missive to Barack Obama. Today, those notes were made public for the first time.
Letter Bill Clinton left for George W Bush and the letter he left for Barack Obama. pic.twitter.com/bjwueznABA
— Yashar (@yashar) January 19, 2017
The letters were released by the National Archives and Records Administration, and include words of encouragement and reminders of the great responsibility that comes along with being president of the United States. Bush told Obama that there would be "trying moments. The critics will rage. Your 'friends' will disappoint you. But, you will have an Almighty God to comfort you, a family who loves you, and a country that is pulling for you, including me. No matter what comes, you will be inspired by the character and compassion of the people you now lead."
In his letter, Clinton told Bush that the "burdens you now shoulder are great but often exaggerated," and the "sheer joy of doing what you believe is right is inexpressible." He called Bush "fortunate" to lead the United States "in a time of profound and largely positive change, when old questions, not just about the role of government, but about the very nature of our nation, must be answered anew," and said his prayers were with Bush and his family. Catherine Garcia
Actor Miguel Ferrer, best known for his roles on NCIS: Los Angeles and Twin Peaks, died in his home Thursday of cancer. He was 61.
The son of singer Rosemary Clooney and actor Jose Ferrer, he also starred in RoboCop and Crossing Jordan, and voiced characters in Mulan, Rio 2, and Robot Chicken. Prior to his death, Ferrer completed voice work for the villain Deathstroke in the movie Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. "Miguel made the world brighter and funnier and his passing is felt so deeply in our family that events of the day, monumental events, pale in comparison," his cousin, George Clooney, told The Hollywood Reporter. "We love you Miguel. We always will."
NCIS: Los Angeles showrunner R. Scott Gemmill said in a statement he will remember Ferrer as a "man of tremendous talent who had a powerful dramatic presence on screen, a wicked sense of humor, and a huge heart," and his Crossing Jordan co-star Jill Hennessy called his death "unreal." He is survived by his wife, Lori; sons Lukas and Rafi; and brother Rafael Ferrer. Catherine Garcia