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April 14, 2017
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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ramped up his denial of responsibility for the April 4 sarin gas in Idlib province, The New York Times reports, saying that videos showing children killed in the incident were faked. Assad has countered U.S. claims that Syrian government forces conducted the attack by saying that his warplanes bombed a terrorist weapons depot that contained the chemical weapons, releasing them into the rebel-held area.

More than 80 people reportedly were killed by poison gas in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, prompting President Trump to authorize firing 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian base the U.S. believes launched the chemical attack.

"We don't know whether those dead children were killed in Khan Sheikhoun," Assad told Agence France-Presse in his first television interview since the bombing. "Were they dead at all?" Harold Maass

7:11 p.m. ET
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In March, President Trump approached Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, and Daniel Coats, director of national intelligence, and asked them to publicly deny that there was evidence of collusion between his campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election, current and former officials told The Washington Post.

Both men refused to go along with Trump's request, which they found inappropriate, the officials said; one person close to Coats told the Post, "The problem wasn't so much asking them to issue statements, it was asking them to issue false statements about an ongoing investigation." Trump contacted Rogers and Coats separately, the officials said, after former FBI Director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee on March 20 about an investigation into links between Trump associates and the Russian government. Senior White House officials also reportedly went to top intelligence officials to see if they would contact Comey and urge him to drop the FBI's probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, with one person with knowledge of the request saying they asked, "Can we ask him to shut down the investigation? Are you able to assist in this matter?"

A White House spokesperson told the Post it "does not confirm or deny unsubstantiated claims based on illegal leaks from anonymous individuals. The president will continue to focus on his agenda that he was elected to pursue by the American people." Read the entire report at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

6:41 p.m. ET
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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) isn't a fan of Michael Flynn, President Trump's scandal-plagued former national security adviser, and told reporters Monday that he would never have let him have such a prominent role in the administration.

"I think it's safe to say that Gen. Flynn and I didn't see eye-to-eye," he said during a press conference in Trenton, New Jersey. "I didn't think that he was someone who would bring benefit to the president or to the administration, and I made that very clear to candidate Trump, and I made it very clear to President-elect Trump." Flynn was fired just a few weeks after the election and 18 days after then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned the White House that Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail due to his communications with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

Flynn was not Christie's "cup of tea," he added, and he never would have let "Gen. Flynn into the White House, let alone give him a job." After dropping out of the Republican race, Christie became a supporter of Trump's, and led the transition team until he was replaced by Vice President Mike Pence following the election. While he was not friendly with Flynn, Christie said the rumors that they battled during intelligence briefings are false. Catherine Garcia

5:43 p.m. ET
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In 1998, Roger Ailes used the titillating scandal of then-President Bill Clinton's affair with a 22-year-old White House intern to build his cable news network, Fox News. Ailes passed away last week, one year after being ousted from Fox News amid sexual harassment allegations. Now, that intern — also known as Monica Lewinsky — has put voice to how it felt watching her life become hysterical cable news fodder.

Writing in The New York Times on Monday, Lewinsky offered an obituary not for Ailes, but for the "culture he purveyed." Ailes' directive to his employees to cover the affair and subsequent trial "ceaselessly" meant that her life became a "nightmare," Lewinsky wrote:

My character, my looks and my life were picked apart mercilessly. Truth and fiction mixed at random in the service of higher ratings. My family and I huddled at home, worried about my going to jail [...] or worse, me taking my own life. Meantime, Mr. Ailes huddled with his employees at Fox News, dictating a lineup of talking heads to best exploit this personal and national tragedy.

For myriad reasons — information gathering, boredom (I couldn't leave my home without being trailed by paparazzi), and a touch of masochism — I watched the news around the clock. On Fox, it seemed, no rumor was too unsubstantiated, no innuendo too vile and no accusation too abhorrent. [Monica Lewinsky, via The New York Times]

Lewinsky is quick to clarify that Fox News was not the only cable network to make ratings out of her personal life, but she points out Fox's almost gleeful coverage of it. "Just days after the story broke," Lewinsky recalls, "Fox asked its viewers to vote on this pressing question: Is Monica Lewinsky an 'average girl' or a 'young tramp looking for thrills'?" She also notes a particular irony in Ailes' career: that "he harnessed a sex scandal to build a cable juggernaut and then was brought down by his own."

"Our world — of cyberbullying and chyrons, trolls and tweets — was forged in 1998," Lewinsky writes, burnished by Ailes' round-the-clock coverage of her dalliance with Clinton. Read her entire op-ed at The New York Times. Kimberly Alters

5:27 p.m. ET
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In a letter released Monday, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) revealed ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn apparently lied to Pentagon investigators about his foreign income and contacts with Russian officials when he was re-applying for his top-secret security clearance last year.

Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said the committee had obtained documents that "appear to indicate" Flynn "lied to investigators" while applying to renew his clearance in February 2016. Flynn claimed income that came from Russian state news site RT in return for his attendance at a Moscow gala actually came from "U.S. companies," Cummings wrote; Flynn received more than $45,000 for attending the event, at which he was seated next to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Flynn also told investigators he had had "insubstantial contact" with foreign government representatives, Cummings wrote.

Cummings sent the letter to House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) after obtaining the Pentagon's own report on Flynn's clearance application, which was compiled in March 2016, and urged Chaffetz to subpoena Flynn. Earlier Monday, Flynn declined to cooperate with a Senate subpoena related to the upper chamber's Russia probe, invoking the Fifth Amendment.

Read Cummings' letter at The New York Times. Kimberly Alters

4:57 p.m. ET

After a picture of the two celebrities went viral on Twitter last month, Netflix is reportedly bringing together Grammy-winning singer Rihanna and Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o to co-star in a new film. Sources told Entertainment Weekly that Selma director Ava DuVernay will helm the project, while Issa Rae, the creator of HBO's Insecure, is in talks to write the screenplay.

Fans clamored for a film uniting Rihanna and Nyong'o after this picture, taken at a fashion show in 2014, took Twitter by storm:

Twitter users conjured storylines and characters based on the snapshot and even suggested directors and writers who could lead the project. Entertainment Weekly reported that a potential film based off the photo sparked a contentious bidding war at the Cannes Film Festival, with Netflix eventually winning out with a "very aggressive bid."

Netflix did not comment to Entertainment Weekly about the rumored project, but both Rihanna and Nyong'o have voiced their support for the idea on Twitter before, as have DuVernay and Rae. Production would reportedly start in 2018, after DuVernay's current project, A Wrinkle in Time, is complete. Shivani Ishwar

3:05 p.m. ET

An experimental D.C. restaurant is drawing horrified criticism for its "Pill Cosby" cocktail — a tequila-based hibiscus drink garnished with empty red-and-white pill capsules.

The name is a play on actor and comedian Bill Cosby, who is accused of having drugged and sexually assaulted dozens of women. Cosby has gone as far as to admit to acquiring Quaaludes to give to women he wanted to have sex with.

"This is so disgusting," tweeted Allure magazine's Rosemary Donahue. "Encouraging rape jokes, [especially] in an environment alcohol is served [in], is just unconscionable."

Davin Gentry, who is the co-founder of Diet Starts Monday, where the drinks are being sold, said the intention is to bring awareness to "drugging in bars," The Washingtonian writes.

"It lets people be a little more aware," Gentry said. Jeva Lange

2:54 p.m. ET
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Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment right and refuse to comply with a Senate Intelligence Committee subpoena, citing the "escalating public frenzy against him," The Associated Press reports.

Flynn is at the heart of ongoing investigations into Russia's influence over the 2016 election, and whether any of President Trump's associates knowingly colluded with the Russians. Flynn ousted from the administration after the public learned he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his interactions with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. Flynn's legal team's letter of intent claims "any testimony he provides could be used against him."

A Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee told The Associated Press, "We will get to the truth one way or another." Jeva Lange

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