March 28, 2014

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Friday announced the resignation of David Samson, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who became the latest casualty in the scandal surrounding the closure of several lanes of the George Washington Bridge in late 2013.

The move comes a day after Christie's internal inquiry into the scandal cleared Christie of any wrongdoing in Bridgegate. (Shocker, we know.) The most curious part of Team Christie's review was the fact that Samson was never interviewed, despite the fact that the Port Authority is in charge of operating the bridge.

At his Friday presser, Christie explained that Samson — who has denied involvement in Bridgegate — had considered stepping down long ago. Why? "He's 74 years old and he's tired," Christie said.

Christie's recent flurry of activity — which included an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer — has been seen as an attempt to put the scandal behind him. Indeed, the presser was something of a return to form for the governor, who tangled with reporters with gusto. But with Samson resigning so quickly after the release of an internal review that conspicuously excluded his input, Christie may have raised more questions than he answered. Ryu Spaeth

War Games
5:33 a.m. ET
Alexei Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images

One of the two Russian pilots who parachuted out of a Su-24 fighter jet shot down by Turkey on Tuesday is believed dead, possibly killed by a Syrian rebel faction, but the second pilot is "alive and well," Russia said on Wednesday. Russian President Vladimir Putin elaborated in televised remarks that the pilot is "safe and sound" at Russia's airbase in a government-held area of Syria following a 12-hour rescue operation involving Russian and Syrian special forces.

Putin has called the downing of the warplane an unprovoked "stab in the back" with "serious consequence," and Russia says its plane never entered Turkish airspace. On Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Russia is sending its new S-400 anti-aircraft missile system to Syria. Turkey says the Su-24 was warned repeatedly that it was in Turkish airspace before shots were fired. Turkey is the first NATO member to shoot down a Russian warplane in half a century. Peter Weber

last night on late night
4:35 a.m. ET

"We're just two days from Thanksgiving, and I just want to take this time to mention something I'm thankful for: Donald Trump," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. Why? "Because he gives all of us on TV something to talk about." On Tuesday's show, he wanted to talk about Trump's widely discounted claim that Muslims in New Jersey cheered the fall of the Twin Towers on 9/11, and Trump's recent claim to be able to foretell terrorist threats. After playing clips of Trump boasting how he predicted Osama bin Laden was dangerous in a 2000 book, Colbert noted bin Laden's long history of proving that he was dangerous dating back to at least 1993.

"That's spooky — it's like Trump has some kind of fifth sense that lets him see what's in newspapers and on TVs," Colbert said. Well, "NostraDonald is not the only one with this power," he added, launching an elaborate "attempt to predict the predictable." Colbert says there will be an iPhone 7 next year, for example, and a short-lived frozen yogurt shop in your neighborhood. The fortune in his fortune cookie, though, seemed like a shot at his audience: "Crowds will be easy to pander to, especially here in New York City, the greatest city in the world." Well, people do like hearing about Donald Trump. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:58 a.m. ET

The Netflix series Jessica Jones debuted on Netflix last Friday night, and if you're not familiar with one of Marvel's darker superheroes, star Krysten Ritter was on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Tuesday to explain her character's superpowers (she's really strong and can fly, sort of) and why it's not exactly your typical family-friendly superhero fare. (There's a lot of sex and violence, Jimmy Kimmel noted, often).

In the interview portion below, Ritter and Kimmel discuss the rules for spoilers on Netflix series, where you can watch all the episodes at once. Ritter said that it would be better to give people a little more time before ruining plot developments, then mentioned that her mother has already watched the entire first season. In fact, she did it in the first 24 hours. Her mom watched the first five episodes Friday night, then continued Saturday — "she's watching it on her phone while her oil's being changed," Ritter recounted. And what about the sex and dark pallor? "She was fine with it," Ritter said, "though she did have to watch Don't Trust the Bee as a palate-cleanser." Watch below, and be warned: Even though Ritter says she hates spoilers, she drops a few for Homeland and Breaking Bad. Peter Weber

Watch this
3:11 a.m. ET

If you're wondering how Jimmy Kimmel Live got to air the first trailer for Captain America: Civil War, it helps to remember that both the Avengers movie franchise and ABC are part of the Disney universe. In this new clip, Captain America (Chris Evans) has to choose between his evidently most-wanted friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and his Avengers allies, especially Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and War Machine (Don Cheadle). The whole gang is there, and it looks like it gets ugly. "Sometimes I want to punch you in your perfect teeth," Downey's Tony Stark tells Cap, and by the end of the trailer, he gets his chance. Wired has a more detailed breakdown of the trailer, but you can also just watch below. Peter Weber

By the numbers
2:38 a.m. ET

The U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State sends off two bombing sorties every hour, and has for more than 450 days. That can be hard to visualize, so BBC News added an audio component in this fascinating look at how the anti-ISIS bombing campaign compares with previous wars. If two bombing raids an hour "sounds relentless," says the BBC's Neal Razzell, "listen to what Serbia faced during the 1999 NATO bombing campaign," or Iraq faced in the 2003 U.S. invasion. All of those pale to the number of bombs the U.S. alone dropped each hour during World War II — though it should be noted that bombs before 1945 were generally neither as precise nor as powerful as the ones being deployed against ISIS, and WWII was fought on a much larger stage. Still, the comparison is eye-opening as the world tries to figure out the best way to defeat ISIS. Watch below. Peter Weber

Late Night Antics
2:13 a.m. ET

Can't keep track of what Donald Trump has been up to this week? Seth Meyers is here to help you catch up, with his Late Night segment "A Closer Look." Meyers breaks down the Republican presidential candidate's claims that he saw American Muslims cheering in New Jersey following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks; his inability to understand how television works; and his retweeting of a chart with incorrect data on crime statistics. "The source of this was the Crime Statistics Bureau San Francisco, which it turns out isn't a real thing," Meyers said. "It doesn't exist. It's one of those names that sounds less like a government agency and more like a police drama on CBS." Watch the clip below. Catherine Garcia

Voting Rights
1:45 a.m. ET
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) issued an executive order granting voting rights to about 140,000 nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences. "Once an individual has served his or her time and paid all restitution, society expects them to reintegrate into their communities and become law-abiding and productive citizens," Beshear said at a news conference. "A key part of that transition is the right to vote."

Beshear noted that Governor-elect Matt Bevin (R) or some future governor can reverse his order, and urged the state legislature to amend the state constitution. Bevin has been supportive of restoring some felon voting rights, but his transition team said it had no prior warning of Beshear's order and needs to study it. Kentucky was one of three states, along with Iowa and Florida, where felons were barred from voting for life unless they received a special exemption from the governor. These restrictions disproportionately affect African-Americans, and in Kentucky, more than 22 percent of black voters are disenfranchised, three times the national average and among the highest rates in the nation, according state Sen. Gerald Neal (D).

Beshear's order automatically restores voting rights for newly released felons who were not convicted of violent or sex crimes, bribery, or treason. Felons already out of prison will have to fill out a form available online or at parole and probation offices. Eligible felons will also get back the right to hold public office but not possess a firearm and are not pardoned of their crimes.

"This disenfranchisement makes no sense," Beshear said. "It makes no sense because it dilutes the energy of democracy, which functions only if all classes and categories of people have a voice, not just a privileged, powerful few. It makes no sense because it defeats a primary goal of our corrections system, which is to rehabilitate those who have committed crimes." Peter Weber

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