CNN reported Monday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions did in fact receive guidance from the FBI instructing him not to disclose contacts with foreign officials if they occurred as part of his activities as a senator. A spokesperson for Sessions had made that claim in May after the attorney general faced fierce criticism for not listing conversations he had with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, but Monday's report is the first indication by the FBI that it gave such instruction.
The email, sent in March and obtained by CNN, shows an unnamed FBI agent telling an aide to Sessions that he could leave foreign contacts made as a senator off of his security clearance application. Sessions' spokesperson said earlier this year that he had been "instructed not to list meetings with foreign dignitaries and their staff connected with his Senate activities."
During his confirmation hearings in January, Sessions told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he was not aware of any contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, stating unambiguously, "I did not have communications with the Russians." That claim was called into dispute in March when The Washington Post reported that Sessions had met with Kislyak in September 2016. A spokesperson for Sessions said that "there was absolutely nothing misleading about [Sessions'] answer" because he had met with Kislyak as part of his duties as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the hearing question had specifically concerned acts undertaken as a surrogate for the Trump campaign.
While the newly released email does give Sessions cover regarding his foreign contacts disclosures, it does not clarify why Sessions does not remember talking to Kislyak at all, nor his presence at a meeting where a Trump campaign aide suggested setting up a meeting with Russian government officials, as he has claimed. Kelly O'Meara Morales
More than a dozen Michigan State University employees knew of their colleague Larry Nassar's serial sexual abuse, The Detroit News reported Thursday. Since 1997, no fewer than 14 university figures had heard of the now-disgraced doctor's actions, the paper reported — despite the school's claim that it was unaware until a woman reported Nassar's behavior in 2014.
In 1997, Michigan State's then-gymnastics coach Kathie Klages was told by two girls from the school's youth gymnastics program that Nassar had digitally penetrated them during treatments, The Detroit News wrote. One of the girls, Larissa Boyce, said she told Klages that Nassar had been "fingering" her. Boyce recalled to the paper that Klages' response was to warn her against speaking out: "I can file this, but there are going to be serious consequences for you and Nassar," Boyce quoted Klages as saying.
Kelli Bert, a former assistant coach at Michigan State, reportedly dismissed similar reports two years later. Former track athlete Christie Achenbach told The Detroit News that she was digitally penetrated by Nassar during treatment in 1999, and when she reported the incident to Bert, Bert replied: "He's an Olympic doctor and he should know what he is doing." Bert denied to The Detroit News that she knew about Nassar's behavior. "If he had done something sexual, I believe I would have reported that immediately," she said.
The school has claimed it was unaware of Nassar's predation until 2014. A lawyer for Michigan State wrote to Michigan's attorney general last December defending the school, saying: "We believe the evidence in this case will show that no one else at MSU knew that Nassar engaged in criminal behavior."
In his capacities as a doctor for Michigan State and USA Gymnastics, as well as during treatments he administered in other volunteer positions, Nassar is accused of sexually abusing over 150 women. Read more at The Detroit News. Kelly O'Meara Morales
Another year, another dubious climate achievement.
NASA announced Thursday that per its annual temperature analysis, 2017 was the second-hottest year ever recorded. The space authority has been tracking global climate since 1880, and 2017 ranked second only to 2016 in terms of highest average temperature. Overall, in 2017 the planet was 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th-century temperature average.
Quartz notes that 2017's extreme heat is particularly noteworthy because the year did not see any El Niño weather patterns — which brew over the Pacific Ocean and "typically add significant heat to global average temperatures," Quartz explains. In 2016, El Niño accounted for more than one-tenth of a degree of temperature increase, but "in 2017, none of the temperature anomaly could be attributed to that natural heat source," Quartz writes.
Still, 2017 was ranked only the third-warmest year (behind 2016 and 2015) by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which uses slightly different metrics for its climate examination. So maybe there's nothing to worry about after all. Kimberly Alters
The Trump administration on Thursday instituted new guidelines protecting pro-life medical workers. The new rules will protect medical professionals who oppose abortion, contraceptive use, or gender reassignment, allowing them to adhere to any personal objections they may have to facilitating those procedures without penalty.
Politico reported the coming announcement Tuesday, and it was confirmed by the Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday. A new department within HHS, called the "conscience and religious freedom division," will exist as a branch of the department's civil rights office for individuals to report "discrimination" against these pro-life workers, The New York Times reported.
Conservative groups celebrated the initiative, saying it properly shielded health-care workers from being compelled to betray their personal convictions. The Times noted that the HHS announcement occurred just one day before the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., an event celebrated by social conservatives that protests abortion. Kimberly Alters
With one tweet, Jackie Garza saved her family's bakery. The Houston teenager was heartbroken after her father, Trinidad Garza, confessed that sales at La Casa Bakery and Café had slowed after Hurricane Harvey, and that he might need to shutter the business for good. Taking matters into her own hands, Jackie tweeted a video of her father hand-making Mexican pastries like pan dulce, along with a call for support.
HEY YALL MY DAD HAS A LITTLE PANADERIA/ RESTAURANT. HE MAKES ALL OF THE PAN DULCE HIMSELF. HE BEEN THINKING ABOUT CLOSING BUT I CANT LET THAT HAPPEN, SPRED THE WORD 1 RT COULD BRING IN A POTENTIAL CUSTOMER! LA CASA BAKERY AND CAFE 1002 HOGAN STREET 77009!! pic.twitter.com/cc2fEDwuyB
— glo girl (@basicjackz) December 6, 2017
Within days, customers from all over Texas were pouring in, causing Trinidad — who had never even heard of Twitter — to almost run out of bread. "I've had messages from Japan, Australia, Europe," a flabbergasted Jackie told ABC13. Christina Colizza
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo might want to brush up on his slang.
During an interview Thursday with Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, Cuomo challenged McDaniel over accusations that Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) had "mansplained" to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Nielsen appeared before the committee Tuesday, and Booker attacked her for tolerating President Trump's reported vulgar remarks about immigrants.
"You [and the RNC] accused Booker of 'mansplaining' to Nielsen," Cuomo said. "Why? Why did you call it that?" McDaniel replied that a male Republican senator would have been lambasted for talking to a woman the way Booker did to Nielsen. "I know he's auditioning for 2020, I understand that, but he was disrespectful and he did mansplain to her. And she's an intelligent woman, she's the secretary of homeland security, and she deserved an opportunity to answer his rant," she said.
Cuomo then — with no apparent sense of irony — interrupted McDaniel to show a clip of Booker responding to the RNC's accusation. Then Cuomo asked: "In this age of recognizing women as equal, once and for all, at all levels, why would [Booker] have to treat Nielsen differently?" As McDaniel tried to point to "hypocrisy" in the treatment of Nielsen compared to, say, the sympathy afforded Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cuomo interrupted again to ask, "How is it mansplaining ... just because she's a woman, that's what you're saying? ... [Senators] talk to people like that all the time, Ronna, they talk to men like that all the time."
"Here's the deal," McDaniel said. "Cory Booker was grandstanding, he was lecturing her, he didn't give her a chance to respond. It was disrespectful." Watch the full interview at Mediaite. Kelly O'Meara Morales
For the first time on TV, Dylan Farrow has spoken out about abuse allegations she made against her adoptive father, Woody Allen.
Farrow appeared Thursday on CBS This Morning in her first on-air interview about her allegation that Allen molested her when she was a child. Farrow first revealed the abuse in The New York Times in 2014 after it had been rumored for years. "I want to show my face and tell my story. I want to speak out literally," she told CBS's Gayle King.
Farrow told King that when she was 7 years old, Allen molested her while her mother, Mia Farrow, was out shopping. She described the incident in graphic detail: "He instructed me to lay down on my stomach and play with my brother's toy train that was set up. And he sat behind me in the doorway and as I played with the toy train, I was sexually assaulted." Farrow added, "As a 7-year-old, I would have said he touched my 'private parts,' which I did say. As a 32-year-old: He touched my labia and my vulva with his finger."
King pointed out that Allen has long maintained that Farrow's mother Mia manipulated her into making a false allegation. Farrow shot down the idea, saying, "What I don't understand is how is this crazy story of me being brainwashed and coached more believable than what I'm saying about being sexually assaulted by my father."
Allen has consistently denied Farrow's allegation. He wrote to CBS that the Farrows were "cynically using the opportunity afforded by the Time's Up movement to repeat this discredited allegation." Watch the full interview below. Kelly O'Meara Morales
Amazon on Thursday released the list of 20 finalists in its headquarters contest, dubbed HQ2. Last September, the tech giant invited cities across North America to explain why they were the best location for its second headquarters, following its main hub in Seattle.
Among the 20 contenders still vying for Amazon's heart are a few major destinations, like Los Angeles and New York City, as well as an international option in Toronto. But the company is also considering some smaller-market areas, like Raleigh, North Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; and Nashville, Tennessee.
Those cities are joined by: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Indianapolis; Miami; Montgomery County, Maryland; Newark, New Jersey; Northern Virginia; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; and Washington, D.C.
Whichever city is the lucky winner will likely receive a dramatic economic boost due to Amazon's presence, as the company has said it expects to create roughly 50,000 jobs with its headquarters expansion as well as invest $5 billion in the winning city. Still, seven states didn't submit proposals to Amazon at all, Business Insider notes, due to concerns that either they could not meet the behemoth company's needs or that being home to an Amazon headquarters would create monstrous — and expensive — demands for housing and other goods.
Competition was fierce, as Amazon received 238 proposals from cities across the U.S, Mexico, and Canada. The company has said it will pick the winning city this year. Kimberly Alters