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June 13, 2017

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) on Tuesday accused Attorney General Jeff Sessions of "obstructing" a congressional investigation after Sessions repeatedly refused to answer questions about his conversations with President Trump regarding the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. Heinrich leveled the accusation after Sessions refused to invoke executive privilege, yet continually declined to provide answers while testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Heinrich contended that Sessions' "silence ... speaks volumes."

Sessions did note that there are policies at the Department of Justice that, as Heinrich put it, "protect conversations made in the executive without invoking executive privilege." "Senator, I'm protecting the president's constitutional right by not giving it away before he has a chance to review it and, secondly, I am telling the truth in answering your question in saying it's a longstanding policy of the Department of Justice ... to make sure the president has full opportunity to decide these issues," Sessions said.

Heinrich pressed Sessions on whether this was the "legal standard for not answering congressional inquiries." "It's my judgment that it would be inappropriate for me to answer and reveal private conversations with the president when he has not had a full opportunity to review the questions," Sessions maintained.

Watch the back-and-forth below. Becca Stanek

1:41 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Rep. John Conyers' legacy was upended Monday when a BuzzFeed News report detailed sexual harassment allegations made against the Michigan Democrat. Now, the editorial board of the Detroit Free Press, his slightly left-leaning hometown paper, is calling for him to step down.

The longtime congressman is known as a civil rights icon and a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, facts the Free Press acknowledged in its scathing editorial published Tuesday. But he's also been accused of making sexual advances toward an employee — and having her fired when she refused.

That's enough to spark an inquiry into Conyers, the Free Press said. But his misconduct runs deeper: If the victim dropped her formal complaint against Conyers, his office said it would "re-hire" her and pay her as a temporary employee. The woman eventually agreed to those terms, receiving more than $27,000 over the course of three months. It's similar to a time Conyers kept paying his former chief of staff even after she was fired — payments the Free Press said look like "hush money."

While the editorial board did suggest reforming the Congressional Office of Compliance so these payoffs don't keep happening, that is "not the point with Conyers." "It's a betrayal that breaches the most fundamental trust that exists between a public servant and the people that person represents," the Free Press wrote.

And that's why, even after a "stellar" 53 years in office, the paper is calling on Conyers to step down. You can read the Detroit Free Press' full editorial here. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:03 p.m. ET
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Russian ads reportedly reached an estimated 126 million Facebook users during the presidential campaign, likely leaving some people wondering if they are among those who might have fallen for Kremlin propaganda. On Wednesday, the social media giant announced that it will be creating a page to help users identify which accounts they liked or followed that were discovered to be linked back to a Russian "troll farm," Axios reports. Facebook says to expect the tool to be available in its Help Center by the end of the year, The Hill reports.

The Senate Judiciary Committee's Richard Blumenthal's (D-Conn.) had demanded that Facebook "individually notify any and all users who received or interacted with [Russian] advertisements and associated content," issuing similar orders to Twitter and Google. Facebook, though, will not tell users "whether they were exposed to content from the [Russian troll farm's] pages in their Newsfeed, even if they didn't follow them," Axios notes.

Facebook admitted in September that it unknowingly sold $100,000 worth of ads to a Russian troll farm during the election. Check out one particularly humorous example of a Russian ad here. Jeva Lange

1:02 p.m. ET

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) told CNN on Wednesday that he once convinced White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn to pretend he had bad cell service to get off the phone with President Trump. Trump apparently called Cohn during the middle of a meeting and talked for 15 minutes before Carper gave Cohn some advice, saying: "Gary, why don't you do this, take the phone … and just say 'Mr. President, you're brilliant but we're losing contact and I think we're going to lose you now, so goodbye.'"

CNN's John Berman held back laughter as he asked if Carper actually convinced Cohn to fake a bad connection. The senator replied, "I don't want to throw [Cohn] under the bus, but yes." Berman's co-host Poppy Harlow then quipped, "I think you just did."

Although Trump may not hear about this incident, as he claims to watch CNN only when forced, Carper's story would likely reignite the president's displeasure with Cohn. In September, The New York Times reported Trump was refusing to make eye contact with Cohn after the Goldman Sachs alum publicly disagreed with Trump's response to the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August.

The White House has denied Carper's recollection of the phone call. Kelly O'Meara Morales

12:23 p.m. ET
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Your inner goddess will undoubtedly say "Yeah, right" when she hears all the supposed benefits of using a Vortix Eye Massager ($485). The battery-operated plastic mask aims foremost to soothe the fine muscles and nerves of the eyes and temples using vibration, air massage, and heat. Fine: Every goddess with a desk job or smartphone has once said, "Mine eyes, they are strained and sore." Vortix promises more than relief, though, claiming that eye massage tames stress, insomnia, migraines, and dark circles. Oh, and one more thing: Because it stimulates neglected nerves, it can, ostensibly, restore a user's vision.
The Week Staff

11:39 a.m. ET

Former Team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar admitted Wednesday to molesting seven girls, including three under the age of 13, NBC News reports. In total, Nassar, 54, is accused of having abused more than 130 of his patients during medical exams between 1998 and 2015.

Among Nassar's accusers are gold medalists Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, and Aly Raisman. In an Instagram post Tuesday, Douglas, 21, said she didn't tell anyone about the abuse because "for years we were conditioned to stay silent, and honestly, some things were extremely painful." Maroney accused Nassar of repeated abuse, including drugging her: "He'd given me a sleeping pill for the flight and the next thing I know, I was all alone with him in his hotel room getting a 'treatment,'" she wrote. "I thought I was going to die that night."

While entering his guilty plea, Nassar said Wednesday: "I am so horribly sorry that this was like a match that turned into a forest fire out of control." He agreed to a sentence between 25 and 40 years. Jeva Lange

11:31 a.m. ET

A former intern for Charlie Rose said Wednesday that the former talk show host made her watch a sexually explicit scene from a movie for 20 minutes under the guise of work obligations. Rose, a veteran journalist who was fired from PBS and CBS News after allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct were reported by The Washington Post, apparently additionally asked the intern, Sarah Gordon, if the scene made her feel aroused.

Gordon told NBC News that she was delivering mail to Rose's house when the incident occurred. "I proceeded to go into the living room, and he said I want to show you this scene from this movie," Gordon said. "And he said have a seat, you know, relax, and he proceeded to turn on the film Secretary, which is a sexually involved film involving S&M, unfortunately."

Although Gordon said Rose did not touch her during the incident, NBC News noted that the film in question "portrays a young woman becoming sexually involved with her boss." Gordon said that eventually, she was able to change the subject of conversation and leave the apartment.

Rose has been accused of sexually harassing young women who worked for him. On Monday, he issued a statement calling himself "an advocate for the careers of the women with whom I have worked" and apologized for his "inappropriate behavior," including reported inappropriate touching, sexually suggestive remarks, and exposing himself.

Gordon was rather forgiving of her former boss, telling NBC News, "I think he's probably troubled, and I have empathy for people that are troubled." Still, she added, his firings were justified: "I don't think someone like that deserves to have a position like that if they're going to abuse their power," she said. Kelly O'Meara Morales

10:37 a.m. ET

President Trump got a head start on the holiday weekend Wednesday when he arrived at Trump International Golf Club in sunny West Palm Beach to play 18 holes. But don't let his 77th visit to a golf club since becoming president fool you — it is absolutely not a "low-key day," his staff insists.

The White House made the specification that Trump, who is golfing, is not having a "low-key day" after Washington Post reporter Jenna Johnson sent this pool report at 7:56 a.m. ET:

[White House Deputy Press Secretary] Lindsay Walters briefly addressed the pool and said that the president has been briefed on the Navy aircraft crash. She also said that the president plans to make a number of calls this week, especially related to tax reform, and that the White House will provide readouts of those calls. Otherwise, she expects a low-key day. [Public Pool]

The report was followed not 10 minutes later by a correction:

A third pool report eventually followed: "At 9:26 a.m. the motorcade arrived at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach." Jeva Lange

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