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March 20, 2017

President Trump on Monday dismissed widespread reports of Russia's meddling in the presidential election as "FAKE NEWS." In a series of tweets, Trump alleged Democrats "made up and pushed the Russian story," seemingly referring to the FBI- and CIA-backed reports that Russia interfered in the election to dash Hillary Clinton's chances, thus helping Trump.

Trump claimed Democrats fabricated the story "as an excuse for running a terrible campaign":

Trump then noted former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's remark earlier this month that a paper compiled by the DNI, NSA, FBI, and CIA included "no evidence" of Trump associates' collusion with Russia. Clapper said neither he nor the agencies had uncovered any "evidence of such collusion."

Top House Intelligence Committee Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) later said he was "surprised" by Clapper's comment because he did not think that claim could be made "categorically." "I would characterize it this way: At the outset of the investigation, there was circumstantial evidence of collusion," Schiff said. "There was direct evidence, I think, of deception."

Later Monday, FBI Director James Comey and NSA chief Mike Rogers will testify before Congress about possible connections between Trump's campaign and Russia. Becca Stanek

4:54 a.m. ET

"A lot of presidents might look at a week in which their Supreme Court nominee's being accused by multiple women of sexual assault and think, 'It can't get any worse than this,'" Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday's Kimmel Live, but that's where President Trump really "shines — it can always get worse." In this case, Trump is meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Thursday amid speculation he'll fire him over a New York Times report about Rosenstein suggesting wearing a wire to record Trump. "It would be very fishy if Trump fires Rosenstein, because he's the guy overseeing the special counsel and the Russia investigation," Kimmel said, "but Thursday's also the day of the [Brett] Kavanaugh testimony, and some people believe Trump might fire Rosenstein just to change the news coverage that day."

Stephen Colbert saw an immediate flaw in Rosensteins alleged plot. "The wire is really smart, because — think about this — if Trump were caught on tape saying something horrible, he could win the 2016 election," he deadpanned on The Late Show. "The whole damn thing came to a head this morning when one news report claimed that Rod Rosenstein had verbally resigned to John Kelly — to which Kelly replied, 'Damnit, I was going to resign to you!' But, they were wrong." Cable news networks went crazy chasing the rumors anyway, Colbert said, laughing over "the first ever cable news car chase of a parked car."

On Late Night, Seth Meyers noted the absurdity of "a constitutional crisis because nobody could tell if Rod Rosenstein was joking of not," then ran through the crazily shifting reports on Rosenstein's job status, including the CNN anchors "talking in circles about how confused they were." He ended with some dodgy theories Republicans are trotting out to explain away the Kavanaugh sexual misconduct allegations, including Jeanine Pirro's hypnosis theory and Ben Carson's ideas about a vast Fabian conspiracy. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:19 a.m. ET

On Sunday night, lawyer Michael Avenatti announced he is representing a third woman with sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and on Monday, he told reporters that "within 48 hours we will release additional details relating to the allegations relating to Brett Kavanaugh," including the woman's name. That will put the big reveal very close to Thursday's high-stakes Senate Judiciary Committee testimony from Kavanaugh and his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. Avenatti's client "may sit for a televised interview at that time," he said. "She is 100 percent credible, and when the American people hear from her, they will determine, as I have, that she is to be believed."

Kavanaugh denies all the allegations and says he has never sexually assaulted anyone. Avenatti described the woman as a former State Department and U.S. Mint employee and said her information relates to how Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge "behaved at countless house parties" in high school. The woman will "literally risk her life" by coming forward, he claimed, and she will be willing to take a polygraph test if Kavanaugh does, too.

Democrats aren't necessarily thrilled with Avenatti's late entry into the Kavanaugh imbroglio. "Mr. Avenatti has a tendency to sensationalize and make his various crusades more about himself than about getting at the truth," a senior Senate Democratic aide told The Daily Beast. "This moment calls for the exact opposite." Avanatti dismissed the criticism as "certain Democrats being weak-kneed and not up for the fight." Peter Weber

2:04 a.m. ET
STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Thanks to sustained and successful conservation efforts, Nepal is on track to hit its goal of doubling the country's tiger population by 2022.

A recent tiger survey found that there are an estimated 235 tigers living in the wild in Nepal, up from 121 in 2009. In 2010, representatives from the 13 countries where tigers roam wild met in St. Petersburg for a summit, and they agreed to try to double the world's tiger population within 12 years. It's believed that worldwide, there are only 3,900 tigers in the wild.

The main threats tigers face are poaching and a loss of habitat, and Nepal is showing other countries what can be done when there's an increase in anti-poaching efforts and policing at national parks. Bishwa Nath Oli, secretary of Nepal's ministry of forests and environment, said that "protecting tigers is a top priority of the government," and the country's World Wildlife Federation representative, Dr. Ghana Gurung, declared that "every tiger counts, for Nepal and for the world." Catherine Garcia

1:40 a.m. ET

Stephen Colbert ran through the new allegations of sexual misconduct by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and they are mildly NSFW. His new accuser, Deborah Ramirez, "acknowledges that she has gaps in her memory, because she had also been drinking that night, but she remembers that somebody yelled down the hall, 'Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie's face,'" he said on Monday's Late Show. "And a little further down the hall, a 50-year-old Chuck Grassley yelled, 'Get that man on the Supreme Court!'"

Colbert noted that the allegations originated not from Ramirez but from emails among Ramirez's classmates in July, before Kavanaugh's first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, came forward. "Obviously this is a disturbing allegation that has to be investigated," he said. "You don't want to confirm a perv to a job where you get to wear a robe every day." Kavanaugh, to rebut Ford's allegations, "is attempting a bold new defense strategy," Colbert said: Handing over his calendars from 1982. "Who hangs on to their high school calendars?" he asked "The only things I have left over from high school are deep emotional scars."

The Late Show also had some jokes about Kavanaugh's yearbook, the focus of some real questions on Monday

On The Daily Show, Trevor Noah also mocked Kavanaugh's 1982 calendars gambit. "Come on, man, a calendar just says what you plan on doing, not what you actually did," he said. "It's also pretty ballsy that Kavanaugh, as a judge, would bring up an old calendar as his defense, because I wonder if that would hold up in his court?" Look, Noah said, "I get why Republicans are doing this. Getting five conservative justices onto the Supreme Court is something they've been dreaming of for 40 years, so they'll do anything to get it done, even if it means normalizing sexual assault." He had a focus group to prove it. Watch below. Peter Weber

1:32 a.m. ET
AP Photo/Jim Urquhart, File

On Monday, a federal judge reversed a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to lift protections for 700 grizzly bears living in and around Yellowstone National Park.

Wyoming and Idaho had already issued 23 hunting permits for this fall, setting up the first grizzly hunt to take place in the United States outside of Alaska in 27 years, but U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen's decision cancels the hunt. Christensen said this was "not about the ethics of hunting" but rather that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service "failed to make a reasoned decision" when it concluded grizzly bears are no longer a threatened species that needs federal protections.

Grizzly bears were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1975, when there were only about 136 of the animals still in Yellowstone. Catherine Garcia

12:47 a.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of Instagram, are leaving the company, saying they plan on "taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again."

They founded the photo-sharing app in 2010 and sold it to Facebook for $1 billion in 2012. Systrom is the company's CEO and Krieger the chief technology officer, and in a blog post Monday night, Systrom said in order to build something new, they need to "step back, understand what inspires us, and match that with what the world needs."

People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that Systrom and Krieger were clashing with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the direction of Instagram, frustrated that he was spending more and more time in the day-to-day operations of the brand. In a statement, Zuckerberg called Systrom and Krieger "extraordinary product leaders" with "creative talents. I've learned a lot working with them for the past six years and have really enjoyed it." Catherine Garcia

12:29 a.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

In a Fox News interview Monday, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh portrayed his high school days at Georgetown Prep as dedicated to sports, service, church, and academics, said he's "always treated women with dignity and respect," and suggested he never drank to excess. His senior high school yearbook page paints a different picture, including naming himself "treasurer" of the "Keg City Club" ("100 Kegs or Bust") and "Beach Week Ralph Club — Biggest Contributor."

Kavanaugh also identified himself as a "Renate Alumnius" [sic]. That and 13 other mentions of "Renate" in Georgetown Prep's 1983 yearbook — including a "Renate Alumni" tag under a photo of Kavanaugh and eight other football players — refer to Renate Dolphin née Schroeder, a student at a nearby Catholic girls' school, The New York Times reports. Dolphin, one of 65 women who signed a letter attesting to Kavanaugh's respectful behavior toward women in high school, wasn't previously aware of the suggestive references to her in the yearbook, and she isn't happy.

"I learned about these yearbook pages only a few days ago," Dolphin told the Times. "I don't know what 'Renate Alumnus' actually means. I can't begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful, and simply untrue. I pray their daughters are never treated this way."

Four "Renate Alumni" released a statement saying the Renate references "were intended to allude to innocent dates or dance partners." Kavanaugh's lawyer said "Kavanaugh and Ms. Dolphin attended one high school event together and shared a brief kiss good night following that event," and that's what he referred to in his yearbook, "nothing else." Dolphin told the Times, "I think Brett must have me confused with someone else, because I never kissed him."

Classmates of Kavanaugh said the "Renate Alumni" tags were part of his "fratty" clique's bragging about sexual conquests, real or imagined. Read more, and see the yearbook pages in question, at The New York Times. Peter Weber

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