January 22, 2012

A man directs the campaign bus of presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who is on his way out of Walterboro, S.C., on Jan. 19. While in town, Gingrich enjoyed a barbecue hosted by the Lowcountry Sportsmen, and extolled the group's preferred hobby — hunting — saying, "people who hunt and fish are the real conservationists." Gingrich won a thumping victory on Jan. 21 in South Carolina's primary — one of only two wins for him in the 2012 campaign. The Week Staff

8:04 a.m. ET

A two-year Dutch-led investigation has reportedly confirmed that the Malaysia Airlines flight shot down over Ukraine in 2014 was hit by a Russian missile. Russia has denied the allegations, including that pro-Russian rebels were responsible for the missile that resulted in the deaths of 298 people.

Relatives of the victims were briefed on the investigation's findings ahead of a news conference, The Associated Press reports. "Investigators said they had proof, including communications intercepts and radar data, that a mobile Buk missile launcher had been moved into eastern Ukraine from Russia, then was returned after the Boeing 777 was destroyed," AP wrote based on information from Hans de Borst, whose 17-year-old daughter was a victim.

Investigators aren't expected to name who they think was responsible for the missile being launched, but that the findings are ultimately intended to serve as evidence in a criminal trial at an unspecified future date and time.

Russia said Monday they have radio-location data proving the missile was not launched from rebel-controlled territory, and that they will turn it over to investigators. Jeva Lange

7:29 a.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Donald Trump's campaign boasts Trump earned $18 million in online donations within 24 hours of the debate, a marked shift from his strategy in the primaries, when he emphasized his independence from donors, Politico reports. Still, Trump has broken Republican records for small-donor fundraising throughout the general election.

Many mega-donors are still hesitant to have their name associated with Trump, leading to greater appeal for nonprofit groups that allow unlimited donations and are not required to release donors' names. One such group is 45Committee, controlled by former Never Trump founder Todd Ricketts, whose family owns the Chicago Cubs.

"There is a substantial appetite for a non-disclosing vehicle, because it's embarrassing to support Trump. There are more donors who are willing to support Donald anonymously than with their names on it," a fundraiser familiar with Ricketts' efforts told Politico. Jeva Lange

7:24 a.m. ET
Ozier Muhammad-Pool/Getty Images

Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) was told about the punitive lane closings up to the George Washington Bridge at a 2013 memorial service for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, two days before the lanes were unblocked, David Wildstein, a confessed architect of the scheme, testified in federal court on Tuesday. When the governor was told of the closures — and that they were in retaliation for the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee declining to endorse Christie's re-election bid — "he laughed," Wildstein said.

Wildstein, a former Christie loyalist at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — which oversees the George Washington Bridge, the nation's busiest — is testifying against Bill Baroni, Christie's top appointee at the Port Authority, and former Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly; Christie himself is not charged in this "Bridgegate" case, and on Tuesday, he again insisted that he "had no knowledge prior to or during these lane realignments." New York magazine recounts Wildstein's testimony, accompanying photographs of Christie, himself, and Baroni in a "relaxed" huddle at Ground Zero:

"Mr. Baroni said, 'Governor I have to tell you about something,'" Wildstein testified, saying that Baroni and Christie often adopted a "very sarcastic tone" when they were talking politics. "Mr. Baroni said to Governor Christie, 'Governor, I can tell you there's a tremendous amount of traffic in Fort Lee this morning, major traffic jams, and Mayor [Mark] Sokolich is very frustrated." He alleged that Baroni then added, "You'll be pleased to know that Mayor Sokolich is having trouble getting his telephone calls returned."

According to Wildstein, Christie replied with similar sarcasm, "I imagine he wouldn't be getting his phone calls returned." ... The governor still called Wildstein by the pseudonym he used on the [influential political blog] website, "Wally Edge." So Christie surely understood the import of what Baroni allegedly told him next: "Mr. Baroni said to Governor Christie that I was monitoring the traffic, I was watching over everything," Wildstein testified. "Governor Christie said in the sarcastic tone of the conversation, 'Well. I'm sure Mr. Edge would not be involved in anything political." Then, Wildstein said, "he laughed."

"This was our one constituent. I was pleasing my one constituent," Wildstein said. "I was proud of it. I was happy that he's happy." [New York]

You can read more about the dramatic day of "Bridgegate" testimony at The New York Times or New York. Peter Weber

5:33 a.m. ET

Police officers have access to large amounts of personal information on you, and sometimes they misuse criminal-history and driver databases to find information about romantic or business partners, neighbors, fellow officers, politicians, and journalists, The Associated Press found in an investigation of police agencies in all 50 states. Between 2013 and 2015, AP says, officers and civilian employees at law enforcement agencies were disciplined — fired, suspended, or forced to resign — more than 325 times for misusing databases, and were reprimanded or sent to counseling more than 250 times.

"The misuse represents only a tiny fraction of the millions of daily database queries run legitimately during traffic stops, criminal investigations, and routine police encounters," note AP's Sadie Gurman and Eric Tucker, but the AP's tally "is unquestionably an undercount." The violations that do occur frequently involve an officer stalking a romantic interest or ex-lover. Police have access to "all your information," Alexis Dekany, an Ohio woman whose cop ex-boyfriend was convicted of stalking her last year, tells AP. "And when they use it for ill purposes to commit crimes against you — to stalk you, to follow you, to harass you... it just becomes so dangerous."

There is no foolproof way to prevent database abuse, experts say, due to the volume of queries and difficulty in discerning which searches are legitimate. "There's no system that could prohibit you from looking up your ex-wife's new boyfriend, because your ex-wife's new boyfriend could come in contact with the criminal justice system," Peggy Bell, head of Delaware's Criminal Justice Information System, tells AP. Police are people, and this free access to information is tempting. "A lot of people have complicated personal lives and very strong passions," says ACLU privacy expert Jay Stanley. "There's greed, there's lust, there's all the deadly sins. And often, accessing information is a way for people to act on those human emotions." You can learn more, and witness some cases of abuse, in the AP video below. Peter Weber

4:25 a.m. ET

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump faced off in their first presidential debate on Monday night, and "a lot of people wanted this debate to be decisive, to change something," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. "And today, everyone's trying to figure out who won. Which is kind of a silly question to ask, okay? Both sides are going to say they won." But how do you prove that? "This isn't the Olympics, there are no judges," Colbert said, "and if there were, the Russians would have given Trump a 10."

In the debate, Clinton immediately tried to get under Trump's skin, and "I've gotta say, she brought the orange peeler," Colbert said. "She got in there, man, first by using her nasty new nickname for Trump," Donald. "Apparently, Donald doesn't like being called Donald, do you Donald?" he asked. Now, Trump seemed to get under Clinton's skin a bit, too, like when he provoked the Clinton shimmy, Colbert said. "She may not have pneumonia, but she is showing all the signs of dance fever." After dancing, he returned to his original question: Who won?

The markets say Clinton — the peso rose, the price of gold slumped — as did a CNN/ORC poll Trump dismissed as partisan on Tuesday's Fox & Friends, where he bragged about winning a lot of online polls, name-checking one in particular. "Yeah, he won the CBS poll," Colbert said. "That's impressive, except for the fact that CBS did not conduct a post-debate poll.... But do you know what?" he asked. "Just because it doesn't exist doesn't mean he didn't win it. He's doing very well in Narnia. He got a firm endorsement from the Lollipop Guild." Trump also blamed moderator Lester Holt and his microphone — "Yes, there was clearly something terribly wrong with his microphone," Colbert deadpanned. "I mean, who left that thing on?" — and it turns out he was proudest of the one thing he did not say. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:34 a.m. ET

More than 80 million people watched Monday night's debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and some number of them were taking shots or chugging beers whenever one of the candidates said a certain word, or they played some other form of debate-related drinking games. But what if Clinton and Trump — who is a notorious teetotaler — had warmed up for the debate with a little hooch, or sipped from a flask when the cameras weren't looking? On Tuesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kimmel gave us a plausible, if too-brief, look at what could have been. Watch. Peter Weber

3:13 a.m. ET

One of the most remarkable things about the 2016 election is that the presidential nominees of both major parties, plus the Libertarian and Green candidates, think it was a big mistake for President George W. Bush to have invaded Iraq in 2003. This despite the fact that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton voted in 2002 to authorize Bush to invade if Saddam Hussein did not comply with demands, as did Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence, then a congressman. (Clinton has called her vote a mistake; Pence apparently has not, and Trump doesn't care.) Donald Trump says he was always against the war, despite fact-checkers calling that an outright lie, and he doubled down during Monday's debate.

Trump shrugged off a 2002 comment he made on the radio when Howard Stern asked if he was in favor of invading Iraq — "Yeah, I guess so. You know, I wish the first time it was done correctly." — then said: "I then did an interview with Neil Cavuto. We talked about the economy as more important. I then spoke to Sean Hannity, which — everyone refuses to call Sean Hannity. I had numerous conversation with Sean Hannity at Fox. And Sean Hannity said, and he called me the other day. And I spoke to him about it. He said you were totally against the war, because he was for the war."

Hannity, an avid Trump supporter and informal adviser, did back Trump up about these private conversations after the debate, and on Tuesday, Fox News reposted the Cavulto clip, under the headline: "2003 clip backs up Trump on Iraq War opposition."

The interview, two months before Bush invaded, is classic Trump, with references to poll numbers and Gen. Douglas MacArthur. "They're getting a little bit tired of hearing 'We're going in, we're not going in,'" Trump said of the public. "You know, whatever happened to the days of Douglas MacArthur? I mean, he'd go and attack, he wouldn't talk. It's sort to, like, either do it or don't do it." Bush "has either gotta do something or not do something," Trump added. "Because perhaps he shouldn't be doing it yet. And perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations."

Debate moderator Lester Holt tried to prove that Trump backed the Iraq War, Fox News says, but "history backs The Donald." Except that Cavuto himself disagreed with that assessment in February 2016, the fact-checkers already accounted for that clip when they awarded Trump's anti-war claim "false" and "4 Pinocchios" ratings, and even Fox News elder statesman Brit Hume isn't buying it.

Is it possible that Trump and Hannity had late-night fights over the Iraq War in 2002? Sure, but if Trump publicly opposed the Iraq War — and you can read his known public statements at The Washington Post — or was among the hundreds of thousands of people marching against the invasion in the streets of New York, there's still no record of it. Peter Weber

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