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February 5, 2019

On Tuesday, Pope Francis for the first time publicly acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by priests and bishops.

"It's not that everyone does this, but there have been priests and bishops who have," he told reporters while flying from the United Arab Emirates to Rome. "And I think that it's continuing because it's not like once you realize it that it stops. It continues. And for some time we've been working on it. Should we do something more? Yes. Is there the will? Yes. But it's a path that we have already begun."

In November, the International Union of Superiors General said there is a "culture of silence and secrecy" that keeps nuns from reporting their abuse, and urged them to come forward and speak with their superiors and law enforcement. Last week, the Vatican newspaper's women's magazine, Women Church World, reported that nuns impregnated by priests have had abortions or given birth to children who aren't recognized by their fathers. The pontiff said that the issue is being dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and he prays that Vatican efforts to fight abuse "go forward." Catherine Garcia

1:23 a.m.

President Trump made some promises during the 2016 campaign: He would release his tax returns, "build the wall," "drain the swamp," protect Medicare and Social Security, and champion law and order, to name a few.

Like all presidents, he has been pretty selective about which campaign promises merit follow-through. The "wall", for example, was worth shutting down the government and sparking a constitutional crisis; his tax returns were deemed worthy of going to court and threatening a constitutional showdown to keep hidden. One of the "promises" he has tried to keep, according to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, is "lock her up," his enduring campaign chant about 2016 rival Hillary Clinton.

Mueller's report "brimmed with examples of Mr. Trump seeking to protect himself from the investigation," The New York Times reports, but it also shows at least three instances of him "trying to wield the power of law enforcement to target a political rival, a step that no president since Richard M. Nixon is known to have taken." As with many potential crimes Mueller records, Trump's orders or suggestions to prosecute Clinton were apparently ignored or redirected by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former White House Counsel Don McGahn.

Still, Trump's attempt to target Clinton "reeks of a typical practice in authoritarian regimes where whoever attains power, they don't just take over power peacefully, but they punish and jail their opponents," political historian and professor Matthew Dallek tells the Times. It appears from Mueller's report that Trump, encouraged by his Fox News allies, didn't appreciate the difference between political self-preservation and weaponizing the law enforcement tools he seems to think work for him, adds Duke University law professor Samuel W. Buell. "All of his demands fit into a picture that he believes the apparatus is mine"

You can read the details of Trump's attempts to "lock her up" in Mueller's report and at The New York Times. Peter Weber

April 24, 2019

George Conway was, by all accounts, happy when his wife, Kellyanne Conway, helped campaign-manage President Trump into office. But that was so 2016. Since then, Conway has become one of Trump's loudest conservative critics, to the consternation of his wife, who is one of Trump's top White House aides and most ardent defenders in the media.

When Trump's 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post on Wednesday night, arguing that Vladimir Putin is trying to make Russia great again by attacking U.S. democracy and Congress needs to hold Trump accountable for aiding him, using Special Counsel Robert Mueller's newly released report as a road map, George Conway repurposed Clinton's 2016 slogan: "If she's with the Constitution, I'm with her. "

Ouch. Peter Weber

April 24, 2019

Soon after Katie Pollak adopted her dog Chipper seven years ago, she discovered that he wasn't obsessed with traditional toys, but rather with discarded plastic water bottles they would find while out on walks and hikes.

"He started picking them up immediately, so I encouraged it and rewarded it," Pollak told Today. "And he motivated me to do the same. I really started getting out and picking up more than I was before, so we created kind of a team."

Pollak and Chipper, now 8, live in Mesa, Arizona, and enjoy spending time outdoors. Pollak carries garbage bags with her every time they go hiking or paddleboarding, and together, they pick up recyclables, including cans and bottles, and trash, like old clothes and wrappers. They have filled countless bags, and often meet with friends to clean up spaces across Mesa. Chipper, Pollak said, "reminds me all the time to be my best self and do everything I can, and he's so much fun to do it with." Catherine Garcia

April 24, 2019

Mohammad Yusuf Ibrahim, a politically connected millionaire spice trader, has been detained in connection with the coordinated suicide bombings that killed more than 350 people on Easter Sunday, Indian officials told The New York Times.

Indian media reports that two of Ibrahim's sons were among the eight suicide bombers, and during a raid at his villa near the Sri Lankan capital Colombo on Sunday, a female suspect detonated a suicide vest, killing herself, two of her children, and several police officers. Ibrahim is now being interrogated by police, investigators said.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Sunday's attacks, but Sri Lankan officials said they do not know how the bombers are linked to the terrorist group. During a press conference on Wednesday, Sri Lanka's minister of defense, Ruwan Wijewardene, said most of the bombers were well-educated and from families that "are stable financially." Catherine Garcia

April 24, 2019

Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report has been released, some people are demanding President Trump's impeachment while others say there's no need to act, but there is a middle ground, Hillary Clinton writes in an op-ed published Wednesday night by The Washington Post.

The Mueller report's "definitive conclusion" is simple, Clinton said: The 2016 presidential election "was corrupted, our democracy assaulted, our sovereignty and security violated." History has shown a way forward from here, she said, and that involves Congress holding "substantive hearings" and forming an independent and bipartisan commission to "help protect our elections."



Clinton admits that the matter is "personal for me, and some might say I'm not the right messenger," but while serving as a senator and secretary of state, she said, she saw the ascent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and "knows firsthand that he seeks to weaken our country." Congress must take the Mueller report and use it "as a road map," she writes. "It's up to members of both parties to see where that road map leads — to the eventual filing of articles of impeachment, or not."

Along with hearings that "build on the Mueller report and fill in its gaps, not jump straight to an up-or-down vote on impeachment," Clinton argues, a commission like the one created after the 9/11 attacks is necessary because "the president of the United States has proved himself unwilling to defend our nation from a clear and present danger."

She also has a message for House Democrats, reminding them that during Watergate, Congress was able to pass the Endangered Species Act, Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973, and War Powers Act. "Stay focused on the sensible agenda that voters demanded in the midterms, from protecting health care to investing in infrastructure," Clinton advised, as it's "not only possible to move forward on multiple fronts at the same time, it's essential." Read the entire op-ed at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

April 24, 2019

Bridget Anne Kelly was sentenced to 13 months in federal prison on Wednesday for her role in the New Jersey Bridgegate scandal, and while standing outside the courthouse, she asked why her onetime boss, former Gov. Chris Christie (R), got off scot-free.

Prosecutors accused Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, of purposely closing lanes near the George Washington Bridge in 2013 in order to cause a traffic nightmare and get back at the town's Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie's re-election. They were found guilty in November 2016, but after a federal appeals court tossed out part of the corruption case against her, Kelly had to be re-sentenced, NJ.com reports.

Kelly has long said Christie, who was never charged in the scandal, and others knew about the plan and did not attempt to intervene. "How did all these men all escape justice?" she asked. "Chris Christie was allowed, without rebuttal from anyone, to say out of one side of his mouth that I was a low-level staffer. A woman only good enough to plan menus and invite people to events. And then say out of the other side that I was somehow powerful enough to shut down the George Washington Bridge."

Christie, she continued, is "a bully, and the days of you calling me a liar and destroying my life are over." A spokesman for the former governor told NJ.com he "had no knowledge of this scheme prior to or during these lane realignments, and had no role in authorizing them." Catherine Garcia

April 24, 2019

The National Security Agency has recommended the White House drop the controversial phone surveillance program that was secretly launched during the George W. Bush administration following the 9/11 attacks, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.

The program, which collects metadata on U.S. phone calls and text messages, was started without a court order, and its existence wasn't known until former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden leaked information to journalists about it in 2013. After saying for years that the program is a key tool in finding and thwarting terrorism plots, senior NSA officials now believe its many logistical and legal issues outweigh any intelligence benefits, the Journal reports.

Earlier this year, the NSA had to stop the program due to "frustrations about legal-compliance issues," several people told the Journal. While it is authorized by Congress, the White House ultimately decides whether to press for the program's renewal. If the White House follows the NSA's recommendation, the program's legal authority will expire in December. Catherine Garcia

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