Better late than never
July 24, 2019

On Tuesday, a federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia, convicted Bijan Kian on charges that he worked with former business partner Michael Flynn as an illegal Turkish agent in the final months of the 2016 presidential campaign. Flynn was President Trump's top national security aide during the campaign and, briefly, his White House national security adviser, while Kian — whose full name is Bijan Rafiekian — was a top security official on Trump's presidential transition team.

Prosecutors had argued that Turkey secretly paid Kian and Flynn through Dutch intermediary Ekim Alptekin to use their political connections to discredit or even kidnap dissident Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, along with other lobbying and public relations work. "This isn't some regulatory violation," Assistant U.S. Attorney James Gillis said in his closing arguments Monday. "This is about the Turkish government trying to influence our political system." On Tuesday, Assistant Attorney General John Demers said "today's verdict should stand as a deterrent to any malign foreign influence that undermines the integrity of our political processes."

The unanimous verdict, handed down after about four hours of jury deliberation, amounts to "a belated courtroom victory for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who investigated the $600,000 lobbying and public relations contract at the heart of the case and then handed the matter off to other federal prosecutors after Flynn's guilty plea to a false-statement charge in 2017," Politico notes. Flynn's sentencing has been on hold, in part to assess his level of cooperation in the Kian case, and prosecutors decided not to call Flynn to testify at the last minute amid a dispute with Flynn's new legal team and the apparent slow-motion implosion of his plea deal.

Kian, 67, faces up to 15 years in jail when he's sentenced Oct. 18, though his lawyers are likely to appeal the conviction. Peter Weber

February 11, 2019

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) says he now has a full understanding of why blackface is offensive.

The embattled governor, who is refusing to resign after admitting to having worn blackface while in medical school, spoke with CBS This Morning and was asked what he learned from the scandal that he didn't know already. He said that he "was born in white privilege" and "didn't realize really the powerful implications of that" before.

"I have also learned why the use of blackface is so offensive and yes, I knew it in the past," he said. "But reality has really set in."

CBS News' Gayle King told Northam that it's hard to believe this and asked him, "You didn't know the history and know that it was offensive before?" Northam told her that "I think we're all on a learning curve." King continued to probe Northam about whether he had black friends growing up, and when he said he did, she asked how he could not have been more sensitive to these issues.

"I don't have any excuses for what I did in my early life but I can just tell you that I have learned," he said. "I have a lot more to learn." Watch the interview with Northam below. Brendan Morrow

January 14, 2019

President Trump on Monday firmly denied working for Russia after not explicitly doing so in an interview days earlier.

"I never worked for Russia," Trump told a reporter on the south lawn of the White House. He went on to say that the question itself is a "disgrace" because "it's a whole big fat hoax."

The question came in light of a bombshell report from The New York Times that the FBI opened an inquiry after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey in order to investigate whether the president was working for Russia. Trump called into Jeanine Pirro's Fox News show this weekend, and when she asked whether he has ever worked for Russia, Trump said it was the "most insulting thing I've ever been asked." But he did not actually use the word "no" in his answer, and The Associated Press reported Monday that Trump's aides had "expressed regret that the president did not more clearly and forcefully deny being a Russian agent."

Trump on Monday referred to the FBI officials who opened this investigation as "dirty cops," also saying that firing Comey was a "great thing I did for our country." Watch Trump's comments below. Brendan Morrow

May 15, 2018

Alaska, a conservative-leaning state heavily dependent on oil and gas, is urgently pursuing a number of policies to usher in greater efficient and renewable energy, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) commissioned a climate task force in October to create strategies for reducing emissions and addressing immediate effects of climate change. Much of Alaska's carbon footprint comes from the oil it exports for use in cars, Times explained, and in a drafted proposal the task force suggested instituting a tax on carbon emitters, and directing the generated revenue toward local energy efficiency programs.

Another ambitious policy proposal suggested generating 50 percent of the state's electricity from renewable sources, including hydropower, solar power, and wind power. The 50-percent target is an increase from a previous 33 percent goal, which was established in 2016.

The state's infrastructure and residential coastlines have already taken significant damage from warming temperatures, the Times reports, and the task force also calls for more research on ocean acidification and food insecurity. Read more about Alaska's efforts at The New York Times. Mary Catalfamo

June 27, 2017

On Tuesday, Paul Manafort, a former chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, retroactively filed paperwork showing that his consulting firm received $17.1 million for work done from 2012 to 2014 for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.

Manafort worked with the Party of Regions and politician Viktor Yanukovych, who served as president from 2010 until 2014, when he fled to Moscow after protesters demanded he step aside. Manafort's Foreign Agents Registration Act filing did not reveal how much he received personally, but did show that he met in 2013 with a pro-Russia and now pro-Trump congressman, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.). Any American who works in the U.S. on behalf of a foreign government or political party has to register within 10 days of agreeing to conduct the work, The Washington Post reports, and Manafort's spokesman told the paper he started preparing the filing in September.

Last August, Manafort resigned as chairman of the Trump campaign after it was reported that the Party of Regions secretly paid him millions of dollars, an allegation Manafort denies. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is looking at Manafort as part of his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and he's the second close Trump associate to retroactively file as a foreign agent; in March, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn disclosed that in 2016, he worked with a Turkish businessman active in his country's politics. Catherine Garcia

June 15, 2017

Nearly five decades after John Lennon's iconic ballad "Imagine" was released, Lennon's 84-year-old widow Yoko Ono might finally be getting credit for co-writing the song. The surprise announcement was made Wednesday evening at the annual meeting of the National Music Publishers Association in New York.

On Thursday morning, Ono tweeted a portion of an old interview in which Lennon admitted "Imagine" was inspired by Ono's poetry collection, "Grapefruit," and "should be credited as a Lennon-Ono song." "But those days I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho, and I sort of omitted to mention her contribution," Lennon said.

National Music Publishers Association CEO David Israelite, who made the announcement as he awarded "Imagine" with the Centennial Song award, called the credit "well-deserved." "While things may have been different in 1971, today I am glad to say things have changed," Israelite said.

He noted that while the process of adding Ono to the credits has begun, it's not yet been confirmed. Becca Stanek

May 2, 2017

Nearly two years after being denied a marriage license by Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, a gay couple has finally won court approval to move forward with a lawsuit. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court reversed a lower court's ruling, granting the couple, David Ermold and David Moore, the right to sue Davis for damages.

In an incident captured in a video that went viral, Davis, citing her religious beliefs, refused the couple a marriage license despite the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. The couple's case was originally tossed out by a lower court in August because of a state law excusing county clerks like Davis from signing same-sex marriage licenses, and because Davis' office did eventually grant the couple a marriage license.

However, the court ruled Tuesday that the lower court incorrectly characterized the case as "simply contesting the 'no marriage licenses' policy," when in fact the couple "only sought damages." "The next step will be to go to discovery and go to trial, where I am confident we will obtain a judgment against Davis," said Michael Gartland, a lawyer for the couple. Becca Stanek

August 5, 2016

That video of $400 million in American cash being unloaded off a plane in Iran? Turns out, Donald Trump didn't actually see it (because it doesn't actually exist).

In a rare admission of error, the Republican nominee tweeted Friday that what he thought was a plane carrying a U.S. government payment to Iran was actually just footage of four American prisoners arriving in Geneva, Switzerland, after they were freed from Iran.

Trump's concession came a day after President Obama insisted the $400 million sent to Iran was not "some nefarious deal," but part of the settlement of Iran's claim that the U.S. didn't follow through on a decades-old arms deal. The timing of the payment has raised eyebrows, however, as it happened on the same day in January that four American prisoners were released.

Although Trump's campaign spokeswoman had already corrected her boss' claim of seeing the cash handover video on Thursday, clarifying that Trump was actually referring to the video from Geneva, Trump went ahead and said it again at a rally in Maine just hours later. "It was interesting because a tape was made, you saw that? With the airplane coming in?" Trump said. "Nice plane. And the airplane coming and the money coming off, I guess. That was given to us, has to be, by the Iranians." Oops. Becca Stanek

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