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April 16, 2014

Nearly a year after Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was accused of sexual assault, a state attorney announced in December he would face no charges. Yet from the beginning, there were questions about whether police, either out of deference to the football team or through astounding incompetence, dropped the ball on the investigation.

A stunning deep dive by Walt Bogdanich in Wednesday's New York Times concludes the investigation wasn't just botched, but rather that "there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university."

A sampling of some of the most incredible investigative failures:

* Police didn't pull security camera footage from the local bar where Winston's accuser said she met him and two other men. The state attorney would do so 11 months later, after the tapes had been reused.

* Even after the accuser identified Winston in class, police waited two more weeks before contacting him — by phone. Winston said he had baseball practice and would call back later; his lawyer then called for him and said he wouldn't talk.

* The lead detective, Scott Angulo, was a booster for a $150 million nonprofit that funds FSU football. He waited two months to file his first report, and closed the case at the time without even getting a DNA sample from Winston.

The university, too, apparently failed to follow proper investigative procedures after the athletic department learned of the incident. And it failed to follow up on a witness' admission he'd filmed the sexual encounter. (Winston admits to the encounter, but claims it was consensual.)

Again, Winston has never been charged and must be presumed innocent. But the baffling failures by the police and university look terrible in light of quotes like this one, from Chief Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman: "I believe that Mr. Winston cannot be convicted. I don't necessarily believe that he's innocent."

Read the entire story here. Jon Terbush

March 24, 2017

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has declared Friday — the day House Republican leadership pulled the vote on the American Health Care Act — a "great day for our country." "It's a victory ... for the American people. For our seniors, for people with disabilities, for our children, for our veterans," Pelosi said in a press conference shortly after the House Republican leadership's announcement.

Other Democrats were just as gleeful. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) similarly deemed Friday a "good day for the American people," while Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he has "never seen an administration as incompetent as the one occupying the White House." "So much for the art of the deal," Schumer said, referring to President Trump's bestselling book.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez borrowed the words of former Vice President Joe Biden to describe the moment:

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) tweeted this sick burn:

Hillary Clinton also came out of the woods to celebrate, starting off with this tweet and continuing on with several more:

Trump on Friday blamed Democrats for Republicans' health-care bill's failure, deeming Pelosi and Schumer the real "losers" because now Democrats have to "own" ObamaCare, which he said is "exploding." Democrats were unfazed by that prospect: "We owned it yesterday and the day before and in November," Hoyer said. Becca Stanek

March 24, 2017

House Republican leadership pulled the American Health Care Act from the chamber floor Friday, after it became apparent it did not have the necessary party consensus to pass. The bill, which was drafted by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and backed by President Trump, was Republicans' first attempt at realizing their nearly decade-long promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

While former President Barack Obama was in office, Republican lawmakers repeatedly passed bills calling for the repeal of his signature Affordable Care Act, only to have the Democratic president veto that legislation when it arrived on his desk. With the government currently 100 percent controlled by the GOP, some reporters asked after the bill failed Friday why Republicans had been able to pass countless measures under Obama, but not one under a Republican president who might actually sign their bills into law — and Texas Rep. Joe Barton (R) offered a shockingly frank answer:

In this case, "fantasy football" turned into "possibly leaving millions of Americans without health insurance." Kimberly Alters

March 24, 2017

President Trump declared Friday that the real reason the GOP plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare failed was because there were "no votes from the Democrats." "I think the losers are [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi and [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer, because now they own ObamaCare. They own it, 100 percent own it," Trump said, shortly after the planned vote on the American Health Care Act was called off by House Republican leadership. Trump said he was "a little surprised" by the House Freedom Caucus' refusal to support the GOP-backed bill, but insisted they were still his "friends."

Though Trump claimed "a lot of people don't realize how good" the GOP's health-care proposal was, he maintained that Republican leaders' decision Friday to pull the vote was "perhaps the best thing that could happen." "The best thing politically speaking is to let ObamaCare explode," Trump said, predicting Democrats will eventually "come to us."

Watch Trump's remarks below. Becca Stanek

March 24, 2017

At a press conference Friday after GOP leadership canceled the vote on the American Health Care Act, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) admitted "doing big things is hard." "Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains," Ryan said. "Well, we're feeling those pains today."

Though Ryan conceded the House Freedom Caucus contributed to the GOP being short on votes, he laid the blame on the Republican Party as a whole. He noted the party will "need time to reflect" and consider what could've been done better.

Ryan said Republicans "came really close" but ultimately "came up short," explaining why he advised President Trump earlier Friday that "the best thing to do" would be to pull the bill. "ObamaCare is the law of the land," Ryan said. "It's going to remain the law of the land until it's replaced."

After a seven-year battle to repeal and replace ObamaCare, Ryan confirmed the GOP will be "moving on" for now from health care to tax reform. Catch a snippet of Ryan's comments below. Becca Stanek

March 24, 2017

House Democrats had the perfect GIF picked out and ready to go when House Republicans pulled the vote on the American Health Care Act on Friday afternoon. Within minutes of the announcement, the official account tweeted this out:

Sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words. Becca Stanek

March 24, 2017
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Those of us still recovering from the Google Reader massacre might want to sit down to read this one. Starting in June, Google will kill off yet another of its most beloved products — this time, the instant messaging app Google Talk, better known as "Gchat," New York reports.

Gchat first launched in 2005 as a hip alternative to AOL Instant Messenger and it persisted due to its simplicity and ease of use. Google will still offer its other instant messaging platform called Hangouts, and Gchat users who haven't already transitioned will seamlessly be rolled over to the service when Gchat pings its last ping on June 26. Hangouts is actually not a new service; it has been around for about four years, and is a glitzier messaging app (you can doodle in it, for example).

As New York writes in its eulogy to the platform, "giving somebody your personal Gmail account to message was an offering of friendship, an invitation to gossip freely away from the potentially prying eyes of company-owned Slack channels and Campfire rooms. If somebody wanted to Gchat, you knew to expect some good dish about your boss, or your ex, or your boss' ex."

RIP Gchat. You will live on in our hearts. Jeva Lange

March 24, 2017
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump reportedly spoke to Paul Ryan around 3 p.m. ET on Friday and agreed the House speaker should pull the health-care bill, a leadership aide told Politico. The vote was originally scheduled for Thursday afternoon before being pushed back to Friday.

Many organizations counting "no" votes found as many as 34 Republicans said they would oppose the bill ahead of the planned vote; if the legislation lost more than 22 Republican votes, the proposal would not have passed the lower chamber. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had indicated in his early afternoon news conference that the vote was going to go ahead anyway, despite apparently not having enough support to pass, but refused to reveal the president's "strategy."

Trump had issued an ultimatum to House Republicans on Thursday night: Pass the American Health Care Act on Friday, or lose the opportunity to repeal ObamaCare once and for all. Despite two days of tense negotiations — mostly with the far-right House Freedom Caucus, members of which oppose the bill for retaining too much of ObamaCare — it appears Ryan failed to get enough votes. Jeva Lange

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