Last October, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) sent FBI Director Christopher Wray a letter stating that he had relevant information regarding the allegations of sexual assault made against President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, but the FBI appears to have ignored him, The New York Times reports.
The Times obtained a copy of this letter, which states that Coons heard from multiple people who said they had information on Kavanaugh. He told Wray that he "cannot speak to the relevance or veracity of the information that many of these individuals seek to provide, and I have encouraged them to use the FBI tip portal or contact a regional FBI field office. However, there is one individual whom I would like to specifically refer to you for appropriate follow-up."
Coons was asking the FBI to contact one of Kavanaugh's former Yale classmates, Max Stier, Coons' spokesman Sean Coit confirmed. Over the weekend, the Times reported that during Kavanaugh's freshman year, Stier saw Kavanaugh with his pants down, and his friends pushed his penis into a female student's hand. Stier notified senators and the FBI about the incident, the Times says. The incident has similarities to an allegation made by a former classmate named Deborah Ramirez, who said Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a party at Yale their freshman year.
Several Democratic presidential candidates have called for Kavanaugh's impeachment, while Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.) on Monday said there should be a "full, fair investigation, as was never done at the time. It was a sham, as we said then, and there should be a full inquiry now." Catherine Garcia
President Biden, facing calls from Democrats to push harder for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, has been privately encouraging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to start slowing down the airstrikes in Gaza, a person with knowledge of the talks told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Administration officials are having the same conversations with other high-ranking Israeli officials, the person said, letting them know that after nine days of fighting, it is in their best interest to begin winding down the military operation.
Israeli officials say the airstrikes in Gaza are targeting Hamas in an attempt to degrade its military capabilities; in return, Hamas has fired thousands of rockets into Israel. At least 213 Palestinians and 12 Israelis have been killed since the conflict began.
On Monday, the White House said Biden called Netanyahu and expressed his support for a ceasefire. A person familiar with the discussions taking place between the U.S. and Israel told AP that the White House believes its best course of action is to avoid making public demands and instead focus on privately pressuring Israel to stop the airstrikes. Israel has indicated its military campaign could end in a few days, the person added.
While speaking to reporters on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden has been "doing this long enough ... to know sometimes diplomacy has to happen behind the scenes." Catherine Garcia
With a vote of 364-62, the House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which directs the Department of Justice to task a point person with expediting the review of coronavirus-related hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
All of the opposing votes were from Republicans. The Senate approved the legislation 94-1 in April, with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) the lone vote against it. President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law later this week.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began last spring, there has been a sharp increase in the number of attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the bill also calls on federal agencies to work with community-based organizations to spread awareness of hate crimes and establish a way for law enforcement to report hate crimes online.
Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) introduced the legislation with Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and said on Tuesday it is "a necessary step to confront the second pandemic of racism and discrimination. We cannot mend what we do not measure." Catherine Garcia
If Republicans take back the House in 2022, at least one sitting GOP member of the chamber doesn't think House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is the right fit to serve as speaker — and you can probably guess who.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who some observers believe isn't a shoo-in to hold her seat, told Politico she won't vote for McCarthy in that hypothetical situation. "I think that we've got to have leaders who lead based on principle, and that's not what we've seen from him," Cheney said.
The rift between the two lawmakers, who not too long ago were leading the House GOP together, has grown significantly since the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, culminating in a vote to oust Cheney — who has remained fiercely critical of former President Donald Trump and his role in the future of the Republican Party — as the House Republican conference chair, so her candid words didn't exactly come out of the blue. Read more about Cheney's own potential path forward in the party at Politico.Tim O'Donnell
Researchers have estimated the Earth's individual bird population to be about 50 billion, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday. That's roughly one human for every six birds, CNETreports. Per National Geographic, the study is "the first attempt to estimate the world population of birds, species by species."
Since birds are flighty creatures (pun intended) by nature, researchers, of course, weren't able to count them individually. Instead, scientists used a combination of computer algorithms and "citizen-scientist" observations from bird watching database eBird to arrive at their monumental number.
You may be asking yourself, "Why now?" or just, "Why?" The answer is simple: "For the fields of ecology, evolutionary biology, and conservation, abundance estimates of organisms are essential," write the study's authors. "The distribution of species abundances is fundamental to numerous longstanding questions in ecology."
Although the researchers make sure to qualify their results as estimates (the census focused on only about 92 percent of "all living bird species"), their findings do "represent the best-available data" at the moment, per CNET.
Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle company is standing behind its vagina-scented candle that has now been accused of exploding on more than one occasion.
A Texas man is suing Goop, the company Paltrow founded, alleging he purchased one of its "This Smells Like My Vagina" candles and that it "exploded" and became "engulfed in high flames" after burning for around three hours, NBC News reports.
Colby Watson, who filed the class-action complaint, reportedly acknowledges that Goop provides a "limited" warning to customers that the candle shouldn't burn for more than two hours at a time, but he alleges Goop "knew the candles were defective." In January, a U.K. woman also alleged the candle "exploded and emitted huge flames," at which time Goop said it was in touch with her to see "if she followed the specific fire safety instructions."
A representative for Goop on Tuesday dismissed the lawsuit as "frivolous" and an "attempt to secure an outsized payout from a press-heavy product," per TMZ. They added that "we stand behind the brands we carry and the safety of the products we sell" and that the brand that supplies the candle has "substantiated the product's performance and safety through industry standard testing."
According to NBC, Watson is seeking over $5 million in punitive damages for himself and for others who "through no fault of their own, purchased defective and dangerous vagina-scented candles." Brendan Morrow
Back in February, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration considered the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will transport natural gas from Russia to Germany, "a bad deal" that "exposes Ukraine and Central Europe" to Moscow and "goes against Europe's own stated energy and security goals." Similarly, during his confirmation hearing, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he is "determined to do whatever we can to prevent" the completion of the controversial pipeline. But on Tuesday, Axios reported the Biden administration is set to waive sanctions on the company overseeing its construction, as well its CEO, Matthias Warnig, who is considered a "crony" of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
That doesn't mean President Biden now supports Nord Stream 2 — on the contrary, the White House reportedly still hopes it doesn't go into use — but it does suggest his administration feels sanctions are ultimately a bigger risk than safeguard. Per Axios, sources close to the situation said that Biden officials have determined sanctioning the German-end users of the gas is the only way to stop construction, 95 percent of which is already complete, at this point. The administration simply doesn't want to jeopardize its relationship with Berlin over the pipeline.
The waivers reportedly could be lifted, and sanctions reinstated, at any moment, so administration sources told Axios the looming threat should still give Washington leverage in the situation. Read more at Axios.Tim O'Donnell
Unlike House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) seems open to a negotiated House bill that would set up a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Even though a bipartisan deal was struck in the lower chamber last week, McCarthy slammed the result Tuesday morning, and it was widely assumed the proposal was dead on arrival in the Senate anyway after it presumably passes the Democratic-majority House. But McConnell surprised some analysts Tuesday when he said Senate Republicans were "undecided" about the bill and are "willing to listen" to arguments in favor of it. The senator certainly seems to have his concerns — namely that the commission may be unbalanced in favor of Democrats — but he didn't reiterate his previous suggestion that it needs to expand its scope beyond the riot (which is McCarthy's main gripe).
McConnell says Senate GOP is “undecided” about Jan. 6 commission. expresses a bit of pause about Democrats controlling staff hiring.
But this is surprising, given what we had been hearing from the rank and file.
Regardless, Brian Rosenwald, a contributer at TheWeek.com, thinks that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) may be able to get to 60 votes without too much haggling. If all seven senators who voted to convict former President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial back the bill, the Senate would need just three more defectors, and Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) has already hinted at his support. Tim O'Donnell
This makes me think Schumer can get to 60 votes. Because you had 7 Rs who voted for impeachment and Rounds wasn’t one of them. https://t.co/m3bOA2ShOB