When Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev bombed the finish line of the Boston Marathon a year ago, Russia and the U.S. were still at least frenemies. Now, as the two countries are increasingly at loggerheads over the situation in Ukraine, a new report has found that Russia withheld potentially critical information from the FBI that could have helped the U.S. nab Tamerlan Tsarnaev before the bombing, according to The New York Times.
"They found that the Russians did not provide all the information that they had on him back then, and based on everything that was available the FBI did all that it could," a senior American tells The Times. The report, from the inspector general of the intelligence community, has not been made public, but it reportedly largely exonerates the FBI. So what did Russia fail to do?
First, here's what Russia did do: In 2011, after Tamerlan visited the restive Russian province of Dagestan, Russian officials told the FBI that he "was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer" and "had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country's region to join unspecified underground groups," The Times reports.
Based on these warnings, the FBI examined Tamerlan's school, criminal, and internet records, and interviewed him, his parents, and friends. When that turned up nothing, FBI agents in Moscow asked Russian intelligence for more information. Russia declined. After the bombing, Russia turned over some other information, like an intercepted call between Tamerlan and his mother in which they discussed Islamic jihad. According to the inspector general's report, that information could have given the FBI more legal authority to monitor Tamerlan.
That's a lot of what-ifs. It does sound like Russia could have been more generous with its intelligence, but it's also still kind of incredible that Russia and the U.S. were sharing the fruits of their spying at all. This final quote, from a senior U.S. official to The New York Times, kind of sums it up: "Had [the FBI] known what the Russians knew they probably would have been able to do more under our investigative guidelines, but would they have uncovered the plot? That's very hard to say." It always is with counterfactuals. Peter Weber
"For those plotting world domination from the comfort of their own living rooms, this is the ultimate armchair," says Margaret Abrams at New York Observer. A statement piece in any home, the Gold Skull Armchair ($500,000) from Harow, a Paris design studio, looks almost conventional when viewed head-on. From every other angle, it's "worthy of the next Game of Thrones season" — menacing, faceted like a diamond, and plated in 24-karat gold. You can also get the chair in black or chrome, but shiny gold "seems to be the newest (and oldest) trend when it comes to luxury items."
President Donald Trump's inaugural address about "American carnage" and "America first" apparently went over swimmingly with America's citizens. A Gallup poll released Monday revealed that 53 percent of Americans who watched or read about Trump's inaugural address Friday rated it as "excellent" or "good." Just 20 percent said the president's speech was "poor" or terrible."
However, Trump's ratings lag behind those of former President Barack Obama in both 2013 and 2009, and of former President George W. Bush in 2005. Sixty-five percent gave Obama's 2013 address an "excellent" or "good" review, while 81 percent did so in 2009; Bush's 2005 address got a positive rating from 62 percent.
Still, Trump's address did make Americans somewhat more optimistic about the future, Gallup found. While 30 percent reported feeling "less hopeful" after listening to Trump speak, 39 percent reported feeling "more hopeful." Another 30 percent said his address made "no difference" at all.
The poll surveyed 508 adults from across all 50 states immediately after Trump's inaugural address on Jan. 20. Its margin of error is plus or minus 5 percentage points. Becca Stanek
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer really, really, really, really does not like Dippin' Dots.
we may not have inauguration attendance data yet, but one set of record turnout numbers are in:
Sean spicer's angry dippin dots twetes pic.twitter.com/KSXlXLLEeB
— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) January 22, 2017
But Dippin' Dots just wants to be loved. The confection company sent an open letter to Spicer on Monday looking to become "friends rather than foes":
We understand that ice cream is a serious matter. And running out of your favorite flavor can feel like a national emergency! We’ve seen your tweets and would like to be friends rather than foes. After all, we believe in connecting the dots.
As you may or may not know, Dippin' Dots are made in Kentucky by hundreds of hard working Americans in the heartland of our great country. As a company, we're doing great. We've enjoyed double-digit growth in sales for the past three years. That means we're creating jobs and opportunities. We hear that's on your agenda too.
We can even afford to treat the White House and press corps to an ice cream social. What do you say? We'll make sure there's plenty of all your favorite flavors. [Dippin' Dots]
Eric Trump has replaced his father, President Donald Trump, as the head of Trump International Hotels Management LLC, Florida public records show. CNN confirms with documents provided by the Trump Organization that Trump resigned from more than 400 entities on Jan. 19, one day before he was sworn into office.
Eric Trump has replaced his father as president of Trump International Hotels Management pic.twitter.com/PhxzRMIPFg
— Nicholas Nehamas (@NickNehamas) January 23, 2017
Trump will still receive reports that detail the profits of the Trump Organization, but he will not speak to his adult sons — Eric and Don Jr., who will lead the company — about the business. "Company records will be updated with the various states in the ordinary course as and when required by law," Trump Organization General Counsel Alan Garten said in a statement.
Prior to the announcement, a group of constitutional scholars and ethics lawyers had planned to file a lawsuit Monday accusing President Trump of violating the U.S. Constitution by letting his hotels and other businesses take payments from foreign governments. Jeva Lange
After being pilloried for peddling falsehoods, Press Secretary Sean Spicer insists the 'intention is never to lie to you'
On Saturday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declared the audience at President Trump's inauguration "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," slamming the media for reporting photos that showed a noticeably sparser crowd at Trump's ceremony Friday than appeared at former President Obama's first inauguration. Spicer also claimed — in contradiction with official data from the Washington, D.C., Metro system — that more people rode the Metro for Trump's swearing-in than for Obama's.
But on Monday, when pressed by ABC News' Jonathan Karl on his claims absent evidence, Spicer assured the American people that "our intention is never to lie to you." "Yes, I believe we have to be honest with the American people. I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts," Spicer said, when Karl asked if he would always "tell the truth from that podium." When Karl asked Spicer if he'd like to issue any corrections to his Saturday statements, Spicer resisted: "I came out to read a statement," he said of Saturday's press conference, "and I did."
Spicer then pointed out that the media makes mistakes "all the time." If anyone should be apologizing for falsehoods, Spicer suggested, it's the reporter who mistakenly reported that the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office. The Daily Beast's Olivia Nuzzi pointed out the reporter had in fact apologized — and that Spicer had acknowledged that apology:
Spicer just said he didn't receive the apology that he publicly accepted on January 20th. pic.twitter.com/uEEJdR3d1O
— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) January 23, 2017
After his vow to tell the truth, Spicer proceeded to double-down on his claim that Trump's inaugural address was the "most-watched ever," both "in person and around the globe." Watch the entire exchange below. Becca Stanek
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 23, 2017
Sean Spicer says it's time for Democrats to 'stop playing political games' over Trump's Cabinet nominees
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer slammed Democrats for delaying the confirmations of President Trump's Cabinet nominees at his first official White House press conference Monday. "It's time for Senate Democrats to stop playing political games with the core functions of government, and to allow President Trump's unquestionably qualified and talented group of Cabinet nominees to get to work on behalf of the American people," Spicer said.
Spicer pointed out that former President Obama in 2009 had "seven of his nominees confirmed on day one." "As it stands today," Spicer said, "we have two," noting that Democrats had delayed the confirmation of Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) as CIA director.
Catch Spicer's rebuke below. Becca Stanek
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 23, 2017
Vice President Mike Pence met his wife, Karen, at church while he was studying in law school; their first date was a dinner of taco salad. "Karen carried a gold cross with the word 'yes' on it in her purse in anticipation of the moment when Mike would propose," Rolling Stone writes. The two have been married since 1985, and have three children together.
But Pence apparently has a somewhat strange way of addressing Karen, Rolling Stone reports:
While Mike Pence was governor, his relationship with the Democratic minority in the legislature was crap. Someone on his staff suggested having the Democratic leaders over to the governor's mansion for dinner. The table was set for 20, but there were only around seven in attendance. One unlucky legislator stuck next to Pence tried to make conversation, but found even at dinner she couldn't shift Pence off his talking points. Gov. Pence shouted to his wife, Karen, his closest adviser, at the other end of the table.
"Mother, Mother, who prepared our meal this evening?"
The legislators looked at one another, speaking with their eyes: He just called his wife "Mother."
Maybe it was a joke, the legislator reasoned. But a few minutes later, Pence shouted again.
"Mother, Mother, whose china are we eating on?"
Mother Pence went on a long discourse about where the china was from. A little later, the legislators stumbled out, wondering what was weirder: Pence's inability to make conversation, or calling his wife "Mother" in the second decade of the 21st century. [Rolling Stone]