On Wednesday night, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he had assured President-elect Donald Trump that he was dismayed by the release of the "private security document" alleging Russian ties with and dirt on Trump. Clapper also told Trump he does "not believe the leaks came from within" the U.S. intelligence community. On CNN on Wednesday, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell said that's likely true, noting that the dossier released by BuzzFeed was raw intelligence from a former British spy and not the two-page summary presented to Trump last Friday (also, U.S. intelligence agents would likely have been more careful redacting sensitive information).
CNN's Christiane Amanpour asked what we can learn from this development. "I was a bit surprised that our intelligence community would take a private document and summarize it for the president and president-elect if they didn't know anything about the credibility of the information in it — that would be, quite frankly, unprecedented," Morell said. "If there was some reason why they thought some part of it or certain aspects of it were credible, if they'd done some work, then it might make sense to bring it to his attention and say, 'You need to know this, we're working on this, we have some reason to believe that certain aspects of this are credible, we just don't know which one it is right now.'"
Amanpour suggested the dossier's files are either explosively true or libelously false, and Morell took the middle road. "Or certain parts of it might be true and certain parts of it might be false," he said. He read all 18 documents Tuesday night, he said, "and I felt myself transformed back into an intelligence analyst at CIA, and I felt like I was reading raw intelligence reports from sources." Some bits of information he knew were true, other "small bits" he knew to be false, and a lot he had no idea about: "This is what you see when you look at raw intelligence. And, very important to remember, sources — even the best CIA sources — get things wrong all the time," and raw intelligence doesn't mean much without corroboration. His "bottom line," Morell said, is that he doesn't know what's true in the dossier and what's not, and doesn't know how much or for how long the FBI has been investigating this — or what they might have found. Watch below. Peter Weber
Prominent Southern Baptist leader Paige Patterson was retired by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary amid #MeToo furor
On Wednesday, after 13 hours of meeting behind closed doors, the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, removed prominent Southern Baptist leader Paige Patterson as president "for the benefit of the future mission of the seminary." Patterson, 75, is at the center of what's being described as a #MeToo moment in the Southern Baptist Convention, America's largest Protestant body. Earlier this month, two recordings emerged of Patterson, one from 2000 in which he talked about counseling a woman being physically abused to stay in the relationship and pray for her "abusive husband" and another, from 2014, in which he discussed a 16-year-old girl in a biblically and morally questionable manner.
The recordings prompted more than 1,400 thousand Southern Baptist women to call for Patterson's resignation, and on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that Patterson had urged one woman in 2003 to forgive the man who raped her, a fellow student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and told her not to report the indent to police, before suspending her for two years.
Kevin Ueckert, chairman of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary board, said the 30 male and three trustees had decided to appoint D. Jeffrey Bingham, dean of the seminary's school of theology, as interim president and "appoint Dr. Patterson as president emeritus with compensation, effective immediately." Patters and his wife will also be allowed to retire on campus, on the grounds of the near-complete Baptist Heritage Library, as offered last September.
Washington University's R. Marie Griffith called Patterson's ouster a "turning point moment" for Southern Baptists. “The tide has shifted so strongly on these issues of sexual harassment and assault, all I can think is: Enough leaders knew they’d really be condemned and look terrible if they stood up for him at this point,” she told the Post. Peter Weber
On Tuesday, Stephen Colbert revealed that his autism research fundraising offer — spend one taping of The Late Show under his desk — had raised $451,000, and he introduced the raffle winner, Rachel Olmer, who was, in fact, under his desk. Colbert spent much of his monologue on an unfortunate bit of graduation cake censorship by a Publix grocery store, but he let Olmer tell the punch line to a joke about President Trump shunning "anti-virus protection" on his smartphones.
Olmer was joined under Colbert's desk by Jon Stewart, who described the shared quarters as "cozy." But the show had to go on, so Colbert tried to do a bit about Barack and Michelle Obama signing on as Netflix producers — "After the last year and a half I would totally binge-watch a show called A Single Still Image of the Obamas for an Hour," he joked — but finally gave up after Stewart continually upstaged him with apocryphal stories of the royal wedding, a shuriken, and a game of Twister. Watch below. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert explains why Trump's meddling in the Trump investigation isn't technically a 'constitutional crisis'
Tuesday was another milestone "on Trump's highway to American greatness," because President Trump "has ordered the people investigating him to investigate their investigation of him," Stephen Colbert said on The Late Show. "Some people are calling this a constitutional crisis, but I don't know about that. A constitutional crisis technically requires that one branch of the government push back against another branch of the government. Everybody here is pushing in the same direction, and it's down — with a pillow over the Constitution's face, going 'Shhhhh, it'll be over soon.'"
Colbert ran the story back to May 2016, read Trump's recent tweets about a "spy" in his campaign, and returned to Monday's high-stakes White House meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray, where Trump pushed them to divulge classified information about a covert U.S. intelligence asset. "And here's the thing: They're gonna do it. They're gonna show the evidence to congressional Republicans — and no Democrats — but it's not political, it's all perfectly innocent, according to Trump lawyer and man seeing the evidence against Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani."
Giuliani said Trump is acting not in his capacity as subject of the investigation but as president. "Yes, Donald Trump is kind of wearing two hats in this investigation," Colbert said. "One is president, the other is criminal." You can see an image of both hats below.
But The Late Show has one way to short-circuit this crisis — it has found Trump's "mole." Peter Weber
Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy has subpoenaed The Associated Press over hacked emails it obtained about his apparently successful efforts to sour President Trump on Qatar while Broidy and a partner, George Nader, solicited business with Qatar's Gulf rivals Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. According to the emails, Broidy met with Trump about Qatar on Dec. 2, 2017, and a few days later, the UAE awarded Broidy a five-year, $600 million intelligence contract.
Oddly, on Nov. 30, 2017, as New York's Paul Campos points out, Broidy wired $200,000 to a law firm that transferred it to a lawyer representing former Playboy model Shera Bechard (and also Stormy Daniels), the first installment of a $1.6 million hush agreement he had reached Bechard through his lawyer in this one case, Michael Cohen. When The Wall Street Journal confronted Broidy about the payment in April, he readily confessed to an extramarital affair with Bechard that ended in pregnancy and an abortion. On Tuesday night, MSNBC's Chris Hayes explained some other strange coincidences.
Two weeks ago, Campos laid out a detailed circumstantial case that it was Trump, not Broidy, who had an affair with Bechard. "If it's difficult to imagine Broidy being willing to take the fall for Trump's affair with Bechard and then paying her a seven-figure sum, it's much simpler to imagine it simply as a perfectly timed and fantastically profitable bribe," Campos wrote Tuesday.
"If I had to guess, I'd say that Cohen, as usual, got the job of dealing with Bechard's demands," Kevin Drum speculated at Mother Jones. "But he didn't want the money to come from Trump, even under a phony name, now that Robert Mueller was scouring every inch of Trump's business. Somehow this reached Broidy's ears — he and Cohen were both deputy finance chairs of the RNC at the time — and he offered to help." We may never know if this is true," he adds, "but it seems pretty plausible." Peter Weber
Texas Democrats pick Lupe Valdez for governor race, Lizzie Fletcher over Laura Moser for key House contest
Texas Democrats narrowly chose former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez over Andrew White in Tuesday's gubernatorial primary runoff election, and in the state's highest-profile contest, attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher trounced liberal activist Laura Moser in the Democratic runoff in the Houston-area 7th congressional district. Fletcher, a former Planned Parenthood board member backed by the Democratic Party, will take on Rep. John Culberson (R) for a House seat Democrats hope to flip in November.
Valdez, the first openly gay gubernatorial nominee in Texas and the first Latina nominee, faces Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who has high approval ratings and a $41 million war chest. Only 430,000 Democrats voted in the gubernatorial runoff, compared with the 1 million who voted in the March Democratic primary, The Texas Tribune sighs, making it both "the largest primary-to-runoff decline — and the smallest number of ballots cast — in the 14 Democratic gubernatorial primary runoffs held since 1920."
In other notable races, Democratic former Air Force intelligence officer Gina Ortiz Jones beat former high school teacher Rick Treviño and will take on Rep. Will Hurd (R) in the fall. And in the race to replace Rep. Lamar Smith (R), Republican Chip Roy, a former chief of staff for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), will face Democrat Joseph Kopser, a tech entrepreneur. Peter Weber
U.S. soccer legend Brandi Chastain tried to be diplomatic after her Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame plaque was unveiled on Monday, revealing what was supposed to be her likeness but looked more like a Biff Tannen and Babe Ruth hybrid dressed up like Mrs. Doubtfire.
"I didn't feel it was a perfect representation," she told KTVU on Tuesday. "But I'm not an artist. I don't know how hard it is to make one of these things." Her husband, Jerry Smith, was more blunt, saying, "It's really not flattering," while the San Francisco Chronicle's Ann Killion described it as a "freaking embarrassment." Born and raised in San Jose, Chastain is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Cup champion, remembered for the iconic image of her ripping off her jersey after scoring in the 1999 World Cup final against China.
Chastain told Killion on Tuesday that the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame — which never shared the name of the artist behind the bronze plaque, likely to help them avoid a public shaming — asked her to send in a photo of her own choosing so the plaque could be remade. "Bottom line, the good that BASHOF does for the kids in the community is important and necessary," she said. "I'm proud to be in the class of such talented individuals who have elevated our sports teams to the highest heights." Catherine Garcia
They were already a tight-knit group, and now seven firefighters with the Glenpool Fire Department in Oklahoma have something else to bond over — over the last year, they've all become fathers.
On Sunday, they decided to take a big fire family photo, and while it took a lot of effort to wrangle all the babies, their parents were happy with the results — in one photo, the babies — five girls and two boys — sat on their dads' jackets, and in another, they rested in their arms. "We're a really close group so we were glad we took the time to capture the babies with their daddies," mom Melanie Todd told CBS News. "Now we just look forward to seeing them all grow up together."
Firefighter Mick Whitney said his colleagues and their spouses are all friends, and it feels fitting to go through parenthood together. "It's a little different in our group," he said. "We go out fishing, hanging out. It's a unique dynamic." Catherine Garcia