A model is suing Playboy and Los Angeles radio host Kevin Klein after he bruised her buttock while trying to hit a golf ball off a tee placed on her partially bare behind. Elizabeth Dickson claims she never expected that Klein would actually try to hit the ball at the Playboy-sponsored event, and is seeking $500,000 in damages for the "pain, suffering, worry, and anxiety" she suffered after the missed swing left her butt cheek swollen and purple.
Last week, Fox News chairman Rupert Murdoch brushed off the sexual misconduct cases that ended the careers of the network's top star, Bill O'Reilly, and its top executive, Roger Ailes, telling Britain's Sky News that "it's all nonsense" and "isolated incidents," suggesting the sexual abuse claims were "largely political because we are conservative." CNN's Brian Stelter played Murdoch's comments on Sunday, then gave the floor to former Fox News contributor Tamara Holder, who said Murdoch's statements freed her of the silence imposed under her $2.5 million settlement with Fox News.
Fox News will probably sue her, but "I legally have a right to respond if I am disparaged or defamed," Holder said. "What Mr. Murdoch said, in my opinion as a lawyer, not as a victim or a survivor, is that this gives me a legal right to respond," both for herself and the other victims who can't come forward. "If this is political, then let's take these cases to trial," she added. "Let's open it up. You're the ones who wanted to settle. You're the ones who wanted us to be quiet."
Part of the settlement was a lifetime ban from even applying to work for a 21st Century Fox company, Holder said. "Fox News ruined people's lives," she said. Murdoch "ruined my life. I don't have a job in TV anymore because the place he has secured down like Fort Knox allowed abusive predators to prey on women who just wanted to work." Without naming names, she gave some details of her sexual assault, and criticized Murdoch's characterization of what went on at his company. "He said there were cases that amounted to flirting. Let me be clear. I had a man pull out his penis in his office and shove my head on it — that was not flirting, that was criminal."
"It's just pain on top of pain on top of pain," Holder said. Peter Weber
President Trump plans to unveil a new national security strategy on Monday presenting China and Russia as rivals seeking to realign global power in a potential threat to U.S. interests, Trump administration officials said Sunday. Trump's policy statement is expected to reflect the America First themes of his campaign, reversing Obama-era warnings about climate change and emphasizing the economic implications of U.S. foreign policy. "This strategy advances what I would call a principled realism," one official said. "In some ways, the global balance of power has shifted in unfavorable manners to American interests. This new strategy presents a plan of how America can regain momentum to reverse many of these trends." Harold Maass
Republican leaders said Sunday that they expected the House and the Senate to pass their joint tax overhaul this week in time for President Trump to sign it before Christmas, as promised. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the GOP whip, said on ABC's This Week that he was "confident" the Senate would pass the bill, as early as Tuesday. He said the legislation would "get the economy roaring back again" and give "everybody in every tax bracket a tax cut. So this is good news any way you cut it."
The vote promises to be tight, however. Republicans have a narrow 52-48 majority in the Senate, and Sen. John McCain plans to return to Arizona for the holidays after being hospitalized last week for what his office described as "normal side effects of his ongoing cancer therapy," meaning he will likely miss the vote. Harold Maass
Stephen Bannon has apparently confused "the little guy" with J.R.R. Tolkien's second-breakfast-eating heroes, the Hobbits, The Japanese Times reports. In his Tokyo speech lauding Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for being "Trump before Trump" this weekend, Bannon implicitly likened the "elites" to orcs by claiming the "hobbits" and "deplorables" that elected Trump "will never allow" him to be ousted.
"They will only be there for him to make sure he wins a glorious re-election," said Bannon, who himself was ousted this summer from his role as White House chief strategist.
Oddly, this weekend was not the first time Bannon has called Trump's supporters "the hobbits." That being said, any Trump-opposing Tolkien fans getting up in arms can rest assured that someone has already pointed out the flaws in Bannon's metaphor. Jeva Lange
America Rising, a conservative campaign research group that questions the global and scientific consensus on climate change, has filed at least 20 Freedom of Information Act requests focused on emails from Environmental Protection Agency employees days after the employees were critical of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, President Trump, or Pruitt's direction of the agency, The New York Times reports. Now the EPA has hired a close affiliate of America Rising, Definers Public Affairs, to perform "media monitoring" for the agency, tracking when the EPA is mentioned in the news or on social media.
Allan Blutstein, who works for both America Rising and Definers, told The New York Times he filed the FOIA requests as "more of a fishing expedition" to see if he could find Pruitt or Trump critics inside the EPA who violated agency rules or used the EPA's email system inappropriately. An EPA spokesman said the $120,000 Definers contract is just for media clipping services, not employee surveillance. It's not clear what role Pruitt, who is more secretive and has a much larger security detail than his predecessors, played in the hiring. William K. Reilly, the EPA administrator under George H.W. Bush, said Pruitt is demoralizing his workforce: "This shows complete insensitivity, complete tone-deafness, or something worse."
EPA employees, especially those targeted by the FOIA requests, are a little on edge. "This is a witch hunt against EPA employees who are only trying to protect human health and the environment," Gary Morton, an EPA employee in Philadelphia, tells the Times. "What they are doing is trying to intimidate and bully us into silence." Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a critic of Pruitt, said of all the "nefarious activities from Trump," having the EPA hire "a fossil fuel front group that specializes in political hits and is doing FOIA investigations of your agency's own employees is a new low." You can read more at The New York Times. Peter Weber
President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone Sunday, marking the second time in a week that the leaders have reached out to exchange praise, AFP reports. The weekend call involved the Kremlin thanking the CIA for intelligence that prevented an Islamic State terrorist attack at the Kazan Cathedral, one of the most famous buildings in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
"No Russian lives were lost and the terrorist attackers were caught and are now incarcerated," the White House wrote. "President Trump appreciated the call and told President Putin that he and the entire United States intelligence community were pleased to have helped save so many lives."
Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, also commented publicly: "There are certain sporadic contacts between our security services but in this particular instance this [was] rather useful information that helped save a lot of lives," he said.
As Americans get to know first lady Melania Trump, their opinion of her has improved, according to a new Gallup poll. In early January, the percentage of people who viewed Trump favorably and unfavorably was tied at 37 percent; as of early December, a 54 percent majority of Americans view her favorably while 33 percent view her unfavorably and 13 percent have no opinion. President Trump's approval rating has notched up 1 point in that same time period, to 41 percent now, but so has his unfavorable number, 56 percent.
The fact that more people like Melania Trump than President Trump "is consistent with Gallup's findings that recent first ladies are, on average, more popular than their husbands," Gallup says, though "Hillary Clinton averaged 1 point lower favorability than Bill Clinton over the course of his presidency." Still, like her husband, Melania Trump's popularity lags behind her predecessors at this point in her first year as first lady — Michelle Obama had a 61 percent favorable rating, Laura Bush's was 77 percent, and Hillary Clinton's was 58 percent.
Fewer women than men view Melania Trump favorably, 51 percent versus 57 percent, and the same is true of President Trump, with 33 percent of women and 50 percent of men viewing him favorably. Gallup conducted its poll Dec. 4-11 among 1,049 U.S. adults; it has a margin of sampling error of ±4 percentage points. Peter Weber