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January 9, 2017

On Friday, in its unclassified report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the FBI, NSA, and CIA concluded that Russian President Vladimir "Putin and the Russian government aspired to help President-elect Trump's election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him," and that Russian military intelligence "relayed material to WikiLeaks," then "used trolls as well as RT as part of its influence efforts to denigrate Secretary Clinton," an effort that "amplified stories on scandals about Secretary Clinton and the role of WikiLeaks in the election campaign."

Trump was particularly interested in asserting that even if Russia (and "China, other countries, outside groups, and people") did hack Democrats and the Clinton campaign, it didn't affect the election.

In fact, the intelligence agencies said in their report that they "did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election," and that "Russia collected on some Republican-affiliated targets but did not conduct a comparable disclosure campaign." In any case, Trump's insistence that the election wasn't affected sort of clashes with his repeated insistence during the campaign that the Russian-fed WikiLeaks leaks should disqualify Clinton.

ThinkProgress took a look and found that Trump publicly mentioned WikiLeaks at least 164 times between Oct. 10 and Election Day, saying things like, "Boy, that WikiLeaks has done a job on her, hasn’t it?" (Oct. 26) and "WikiLeaks, some new stuff, some brutal stuff. I mean I'd read it to you but to hell with it trust me it's real bad stuff" (Oct. 10).

On CNN Sunday, Jake Tapper brought this up with Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway. "I guess what I'm confused about is how can you say that the hacking had no impact on the election when Mr. Trump kept invoking WikiLeaks, which was printing, publishing things that the Russians had hacked?" he asked. "Obviously he thought it was going to have an effect on the election." Conway said that Trump did not know at the time that Russia was behind the leaks, and "we didn't need WikiLeaks to convince the American people they didn't like" Clinton. Peter Weber

8:42p.m.

One day after first lady Melania Trump's office called for her to get the boot, Mira Ricardel is no longer the deputy national security adviser.

"Mira Ricardel will continue to support the president as she departs the White House to transition to a new role within the administration," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Wednesday evening. "The president is grateful for Ms. Ricardel's continued service to the American people and her steadfast pursuit of his national security priorities."

On Tuesday, the first lady's communications director, Stephanie Grisham, released a statement blasting Ricardel, saying she "no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House." Sanders, White House chief of staff John Kelly, and other administration officials were all shocked by the statement, CNN reports.

A person familiar with the situation said during Melania Trump's trip to Africa in October, Ricardel fought with her staff over several things, including who would sit where on the plane. Ricardel was a key ally of National Security Adviser John Bolton, but often clashed with Kelly and his deputy, Zach Fuentes, as well as Defense Secretary James Mattis. CNN reports that Kelly and Fuentes believe Ricardel leaked negative stories about them, and she angered Mattis by blocking some of his choices to fill Pentagon positions, because they were former Obama administration officials. Catherine Garcia

7:55p.m.

Lisa Storie-Avenatti, the wife of Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti, is refuting reports that she was involved in a domestic dispute that led to Avenatti's arrest Wednesday in Los Angeles.

TMZ first reported Avenatti's arrest on suspicion of domestic violence Wednesday afternoon, saying his estranged wife was injured and filed a report against him on Tuesday. Storie-Avenatti's lawyer quickly released a statement to BuzzFeed News, saying that the TMZ article "is not true as it pertains to my client." Storie-Avenatti "was not subject to any such incident on Tuesday night," the attorney said. "Further, she was not at Mr. Avenatti's apartment on the date that this alleged incident occurred. My client states that there has never been domestic violence in her relationship with Michael and that she has never know Michael to be physically violent toward anyone."

In an update to the original article, TMZ says initially a law enforcement official told the outlet the "alleged victim was Avenatti's estranged wife. We now know it was not. The incident involved a different woman." Avenatti filed for divorce last November. Catherine Garcia

7:17p.m.

President Trump on Wednesday announced he is in favor of a bipartisan proposal to rewrite the country's prison and sentencing laws.

"It's the right thing to do," he said during an event at the White House. Called the First Step Act, this tentative legislative package adds to a prison overhaul bill the House passed earlier this year. It includes shortening mandatory minimum sentences for some nonviolent drug offenses and changes the "three strikes" penalty from life in prison to 25 years, The New York Times reports. It will also roll back some of the federal policies from the 1980s and 1990s that disproportionately affect blacks and fund anti-recidivism programs.

Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is the biggest proponent of the package in the administration, and presented the deal to Trump on Tuesday. Trump urged Congress to agree to a final bill quickly so he can sign it. There are 2.2 million prisoners in the United States. Catherine Garcia

6:28p.m.

Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing adult film star Stormy Daniels in her case against President Trump, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of felony domestic violence.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department told The Hollywood Reporter a report about the alleged abuse was filed on Tuesday.

A law enforcement official told TMZ Avenatti's estranged wife filed the report, and her face was "swollen and bruised." The official also said there was a confrontation between the two on Wednesday, which led to the police getting involved. The couple married in 2011.

UPDATE, 7:39 p.m. EST: An attorney for Avenatti's wife, Lisa Storie-Avenatti, told BuzzFeed News that TMZ's story saying she was injured is false. "Ms. Storie-Avenatti was not subject to any such incident on Tuesday night," the attorney said in a statement, adding that she was also not at his apartment on Wednesday. "My client states that there has never been domestic violence in her relationship with Michael and that she has never known Michael to be physically violent toward anyone." Catherine Garcia

5:28p.m.

Every day, 20 Americans die waiting for an organ transplant.

Scientists have long tried xenotransplantation — using organs from other species in humans — to combat a short supply of organ donors, with little success. But this method is seemingly on the verge of a massive breakthrough, and it could provide "a definitive solution to the organ crisis," a transplant researcher tells The New York Times Magazine.

The first attempt at xenotransplantation came in 1984, when doctors replaced a newborn's failing heart with a baboon's. The baby lived less than three weeks, but the story inspired a new generation of xenotransplantation researchers who are focused less on primates and more on inbred, pathogen-free pigs, per the Times Magazine.

Given primates' long breeding cycles, using them to essentially create an organ farm wasn't sustainable. But pigs ordinarily have multiple piglets in less than four months, and they're "uncannily humanlike in organ size and function," the Times Magazine notes. The main xenotransplantation complication came from humans' and pigs' divergent immune systems, which meant a human would probably reject swine tissue.

That's where Columbia University immunologist David Sachs' pathogen-free swine farm comes in. Sachs' pigs are genetically engineered so their organs grow to "about the same size as a human's," the Times Magazine writes, and Sachs says they're "very likely the most inbred large animals on Earth." Those swine, combined with what scientists call "brute-force immunotherapy," could lead to success in the first "pig-to-human skin graft" slated for later this month. If it's successful, a full kidney replacement for dialysis patients will come next. Read more at The New York Times Magazine. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:03p.m.

The secret to winning the lottery just might be persistence.

After playing the same numbers for 25 years, a man in Harlem, New York City, found a little bit of luck and won the largest jackpot in New York state lottery history — $343 million, reports Time. Robert Bailey, a retired federal government employee, was revealed as the Powerball winner at a news conference at the Resorts World Casino New York City on Wednesday.

Bailey, 67, purchased his ticket at a deli in Harlem ahead of the October 27 drawing, and was shocked when he saw the winning numbers online that night.

"I tried to remain calm and sat down to watch some shows I had on my DVR. I didn't sleep the rest of the night," he said, reports The Washington Post.

Bailey chose to receive the money in a lump sum, which, after taxes, is roughly $125 million, says Time. He will split the jackpot with a woman in Iowa, per the Post.

During the press conference, Bailey revealed that he plans to continue playing the lottery, and that he played Wednesday morning. He plans to use the winnings to buy a house for his mother and to travel. He also wants to use the money for the greater good.

“I plan to give back to Manhattan; that's where I'm from,” Bailey said to the Post. “I still want to be me. I can't let money change me. I'm going to keep doing the right thing.” Taylor Watson

4:37p.m.

The House's next GOP leader isn't blaming any Republicans for his party's smaller, largely homogenous new coalition.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) easily beat Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to become the GOP's next minority leader on Wednesday. Afterward, NBC News' Kasie Hunt reminded McCarthy that he's slated to lead an overwhelmingly white and male group in January, and he quickly jumped on the defensive.

Presidents typically lose seats "in their first off-year election," like how former President Barack Obama saw 63 spots flip red in 2010, McCarthy affirmed on Wednesday. After all, billionaire politician "Michael Bloomberg spent more than $100 million," to elect Democrats, McCarthy said, adding that "Bloomberg was very effective in defeating a lot of Republican women." House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) can be spotted behind McCarthy mouthing "That's true."

The number of Republican women in the House fell from 23 to 13 this election, reports The Associated Press. That means the House GOP will be 90 percent white men, while more than 60 percent of Democrats will be women, people of color, or LGBT.

McCarthy has long taken issue with Bloomberg's election contributions, declaring "we cannot allow [liberal philanthropist George] Soros ... and Bloomberg to BUY this election" in an October tweet. The tweet was sent just after a bomb arrived at Soros' home, and McCarthy later deleted it. Kathryn Krawczyk

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