In April 2014, several Republican state lawmakers went to rural Nevada to support the armed standoff rancher Cliven Bundy had forced with the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and during the standoff, they formed a group, the Coalition of Western States, or COWS. When Bundy's son, Ammon Bundy, led a group of armed anti-government protesters to take over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge outside Burns, Oregon, in January, the COWS members knew his rough plans in advance, and they actively tried to help the occupation once it had begun, John Sepulvado reports at Oregon Public Broadcasting.
In one instance, Washington State lawmaker Matt Shea — one of the COWS cofounders — led a group of elected officials from four states to try to negotiate with the Harney County sheriff and FBI on behalf of the occupiers, first presenting themselves as interested in de-escalating the conflict but then trying to elicit tactical information from local and federal law enforcement officials, OPB says. Near the end of the meeting, Nevada Assemblywoman Michelle Fiore raised the stakes. "The BLM has become a bureaucratic agency of — basically — terrorism," she said over the phone. "So at what point do we band together as elected officials, and say, 'Enough is enough of the BLM?'"
After that Jan. 9 meeting, "COWS representatives visited the refuge, which was closed to the public," Sepulvado reports. "The lawmakers acknowledge they fed the militants information gathered from that meeting, and militant leaders talked openly about what they learned from those disclosures." In another case, COWS member Anthony Bosworth, a failed candidate for sheriff of Washington's Yakima County, traveled to occupied Malheur at Shea's request as a "security specialist," stayed on, and helped one of the occupation leaders escape. You can read more about the GOP lawmakers' goals and involvement at OPB, and listen to the radio report below. Peter Weber
The 13 California siblings discovered Sunday held captive in deeply abusive conditions were permitted to keep journals, investigators have learned. In fact, authorities have found hundreds of journals in the California home where the malnourished children's parents, David and Louise Turpin, allegedly chained them to furniture, refused to let them outdoors, and gave them only one meal per day.
The journals are difficult to read because of the siblings' limited language development, but investigators expect them to provide "strong evidence of what occurred in that home" as the case proceeds to trial. "There is a good chance that being able to write may have kept them sane," James Pennebaker, a psychologist with expertise in writing as a response to trauma, told USA Today. "In an interesting way, this may have helped them come to terms with the bizarre world they lived in."
A man in Texas who purchased the Turpins' former home also shed light on their living conditions, sharing photos of the property's filthy, unlivable interior at the time of the sale. After the house became uninhabitable, the Turpins brought a double-wide trailer to their property and lived in that instead. Bonnie Kristian
The march in Washington proceeded despite the government shutdown, which many demonstrators referenced as part of their critique of the Trump administration. Immigration policy, the #MeToo movement, health care, and the 2018 midterm elections were of central concern to many participants. One protest sign in Washington referenced President Trump's notorious Access Hollywood comments, urging demonstrators to "Grab him by the midterms."
"I'm done with men feeling like they have some sort of power over women," Amanda Kowalski, a protester in Los Angeles, told The New York Times, "and I'm definitely done with having a president who believes that he has the power to take things from them, to take things that are provided — like Planned Parenthood — from women, when they deserve the same sort of health care as anybody else."
See scenes from demonstrations in several cities below. Bonnie Kristian
— Trevor Hughes (@TrevorHughes) January 20, 2018
Standing in solidarity with everyone marching today! I am committed to keeping Oregon moving forward as a place where diversity is celebrated, and where we are welcoming & inclusive to ALL who call our state home. #WomensMarch2018 pic.twitter.com/L9CH4awPcf
— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) January 20, 2018
— ACLU of Texas (@ACLUTx) January 20, 2018
Intelligence officials reportedly worried China tried to manipulate Jared Kushner via his business interests
President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, rapidly established himself as "Mr. China" in his father-in-law's nascent administration last year, a New Yorker piece published Saturday reports. He talked repeatedly with Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai, conversations that happened alone or with a limited retinue of American officials, a break with past administrations' practice of marshaling a collection of experts for U.S.-China meetings.
According to current and former officials briefed on U.S. intelligence about Chinese communications, Chinese officials said that Cui and Kushner, in meetings to prepare for the summit at Mar-a-Lago, discussed Kushner's business interests along with policy. Some intelligence officials became concerned that the Chinese government was seeking to use business inducements to influence Kushner's views. The intelligence wasn't conclusive, according to those briefed on the matter. "I never saw any indication that it was successful," a former senior official said, of Chinese efforts to compromise Kushner. The Chinese could have mischaracterized their discussions with Kushner. [The New Yorker]
In a statement to The New Yorker, Kushner's representative strenuously denied all wrongdoing, saying there "was never a time — never — that Mr. Kushner spoke to any foreign officials, in the campaign, transition, and in the administration, about any personal or family business. He was scrupulous in this regard." Read the full New Yorker story here. Bonnie Kristian
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said Friday he believes there is a "really good chance" the matter will be resolved by Monday, but many lawmakers' remarks were not so optimistic. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) accused Senate Democrats of "holding government funding hostage," while House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the shutdown should be blamed on President Trump's "confrontation and chaos."
After completing an autopsy, the coroner's office in Los Angeles concluded rock legend Tom Petty's October death resulted from an accidental drug overdose. Petty was found to have fentanyl, oxycodone, temazepam, alprazolam, citalopram, acetylfentanyl, and despropionyl fentanyl in his system when he died.
"Unfortunately Tom's body suffered from many serious ailments including emphysema, knee problems, and most significantly a fractured hip" for which he was prescribed strong painkillers, his family said in a statement Friday night.
"As a family we recognize this report may spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis and we feel that it is a healthy and necessary discussion and we hope in some way this report can save lives," the statement continued. "Many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications." Bonnie Kristian
Boucher's alleged assault was primarily motivated by anger over Paul stacking a pile of trimmed branches and other brush, officials said. The stack was on Paul's land, but close to Boucher's property line, and when Boucher saw Paul making the stack, he reportedly reached a breaking point. Paul was surprised by the attack because he was wearing sound-canceling headphones, and he suffered five fractured ribs, pleural effusion, and pneumonia linked to his lung injuries.
The prosecutors said Boucher admitted to tackling Paul and maintains he was not motivated by politics. Boucher is charged with assaulting a member of Congress. He has signed a plea deal and faces up to a decade in prison with fines up to $250,000. Bonnie Kristian
While GOP senators plan a DACA vote to help end the shutdown, the White House refuses to talk DACA until the shutdown ends
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ended Senate negotiations around 1:30 a.m. Saturday after no deal was reached by the midnight deadline to avert a government shutdown, proposing a three-week temporary spending bill to re-open the government through Feb. 8 while talks continue. Senate Democrats already rejected a similar four-week proposal, and so far they do not seem eager to support the condensed timeline.
However, Republican Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) told reporters on their way home for the night that they secured McConnell's agreement for a vote with "an open amendment process" on Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) by the same Feb. 8 deadline. DACA, which protects from deportation immigrants illegally brought to the U.S. as children, is primary among Democrats' demands in the spending talks.
The White House, meanwhile, issued a statement early Saturday morning indicating the Trump administration will not discuss DACA until the shutdown is over. "We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, labeling congressional Democrats "obstructionist losers" and the situation a "politically manufactured Schumer Shutdown." Bonnie Kristian