In further proof that there's not a single incident on Earth that cannot somehow be tied to the Clintons, members of the conservative media-sphere are leaping on a Daily Beast story that claims that the State Department under Hillary Clinton "fought hard" against designating Nigeria's Boko Haram a terrorist organization, which may have prevented the U.S. from constraining a group that went on to abduct more than 200 schoolgirls.
As Josh Rogin reports, there were many lawmakers and Obama administration officials who wanted the State Department to get tough on Boko Haram, a group that is obviously a nasty piece of work. However, there appear to be perfectly sound reasons not to label Boko Haram a terrorist group, some of which are outlined here and here. And, of course, it is a pure exercise in counterfactual thinking to suggest such a label would have prevented a mass kidnapping that has sparked global outrage. Who can say with anything approaching certainty?
Nevertheless, unflattering narratives can and will be drawn from this story as we approach the 2016 election season. Fox News has already connected the dots, with a headline that reads: "Hillary fought to keep Boko Haram off terror list." Andrew C. McCarthy at National Review writes that the latest reporting is evidence that Clinton "believes that appeasing terrorists...promotes peace and stability." Expect to see much more of the same in the coming weeks and months. Ryu Spaeth
FBI, CIA, and NSA agents have investigated communications between retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President Trump's national security adviser, and Russian officials to determine if the contact may have violated laws, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.
It's unclear when the inquiry began or whether any incriminating evidence has been found. Flynn plays a role in setting U.S. policy toward Russia, and the probe is looking into a series of calls Flynn made to the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced sanctions against Russia for interfering with the 2016 presidential election. Read more about the investigation at The Wall Street Journal. Catherine Garcia
The Atlanta Falcons will take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51 on Feb. 5 in Houston.
The Patriots will be making their record ninth appearance in the Super Bowl, while this will only be the second time for the Falcons, who last played in 1998. The Falcons, led by quarterback Matt Ryan, defeated the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game to advance to the Super Bowl, while the Patriots beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 in the AFC championship game. Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady began the season with a four-game suspension. Catherine Garcia
For two hours on Sunday night, every domestic United Airlines flight was grounded due to a computer outage, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
The ground stop was issued at United's request, the FAA said, and international flights were not affected. United blamed the ground stop on "an IT issue," and U.S. officials told NBC News the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was having issues with low bandwidth. The ground stop was originally scheduled to end at 8 p.m. ET, but it wasn't lifted until shortly after 9 p.m. Catherine Garcia
On Monday, a group of well-known Supreme Court litigators, constitutional scholars, and former White House ethics lawyers will file a lawsuit claiming that by letting his hotels and business operations accept payments from foreign governments, President Trump is violating the Constitution, The New York Times reports.
The team will argue that the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution bans payments from foreign entities to Trump's companies, including those from guests at Trump's hotels and golf courses and loans for his buildings from banks controlled by foreign governments. "The framers of the Constitution were students of history," Deepak Gupta, one of the lawyers behind the suit, told the Times. "And they understood that one way a republic could fail is if foreign powers could corrupt our elected leaders." The suit is not seeking any monetary damages, but rather that Trump stop taking foreign payments. Other members of the legal team include Harvard constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, U.C. Irvine law school dean Erwin Chemerinsky, and presidential ethics lawyers Norman Eisen (Obama) and Richard Painter (Bush).
Trump's lawyers have said the provision does not apply to fair-market payments, like a standard hotel room bill. "This is purely harassment for political gain, and, frankly, I find it very, very sad," Eric Trump, a vice president of the Trump Organization, told The New York Times on Sunday. Catherine Garcia
Pope Francis said in an interview Sunday it would be unwise to judge President Trump so soon after his inauguration, declining to offer an assessment of the new U.S. administration until more time has passed. "I think that we must wait and see. I don't like to get ahead of myself nor judge people prematurely," Francis said. "We will see how he acts, what he does, and then I will have an opinion. But being afraid or rejoicing beforehand because of something that might happen is, in my view, quite unwise."
The pope also issued a warning against turning to magnetic, populist "saviors" in times of fear. "Crises provoke fear, alarm," he mused. "In my opinion, the most obvious example of European populism is Germany in 1933. ... A people that was immersed in a crisis, that looked for its identity, until this charismatic leader came and promised to give their identity back, and he gave them a distorted identity, and we all know what happened." Bonnie Kristian
Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and former Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, and Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Andy Marte both died in separate car crashes in the Dominican Republic on Sunday.
To the families of Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte. I send my deepest condolences. RIP. pic.twitter.com/mC9EihLMXg
— andrew mccutchen (@TheCUTCH22) January 22, 2017
Just 25, Ventura signed with the Royals in 2008 and finished sixth in the American League Rookie of the Year Award voting in 2014. Marte, 33, was reportedly driving alone when he crashed around 3 a.m. He played seven Major League Baseball seasons, mostly with Cleveland. Bonnie Kristian
When President Obama arrived in Washington as a freshman senator from Illinois in 2005, he left an annual income of less than $100,000 from his work in the state Senate and as a professor at the University of Chicago Law School. Over the course of his 12 years in the District — four in the Senate and eight in the White House — Obama earned about $20 million, mostly from book deals and his government salary. Here's the breakdown from Forbes:
Michelle Obama, who worked as a lawyer and in Chicago's City Hall before becoming first lady, is herself worth an estimated $11 million, the bulk of which also comes from a trio of lucrative book deals. Bonnie Kristian