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September 15, 2020

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton's recent book has reportedly sparked a criminal investigation at the Justice Department.

The DOJ is investigating whether Bolton criminally disclosed classified information in his book The Room Where It Happened, and a grand jury has issued a subpoena to its publisher, Simon & Schuster, for communications records, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Bolton published his book, which is critical of the president, in June after the Trump administration attempted to prevent it from being released. The administration in June asked a judge for an order to block The Room Where It Happened, but the judge denied the request, saying "the damage" was already "done" since at that point, there were "hundreds of thousands of copies" of the book out there. The judge also said, however, that Bolton had exposed himself "to civil (and potentially criminal) liability" and "likely jeopardized national security by disclosing classified information in violation of his nondisclosure agreement obligations." Bolton has said that the book doesn't contain classified information.

Trump has accused Bolton of revealing classified information in his book while also claiming the book is full of "made up stories," and in June, he tweeted that Bolton "should be in jail."

According to the Times, the director of national intelligence "referred the matter to the Justice Department last month," and the investigation was then opened by the head of the DOJ's national security division. Some lawyers for the National Security Council and the Justice Department, the Times also reports, "expressed reservations about opening a criminal case," partially because Trump's comments "made it seem like an overtly political act," while others reportedly argued the case "had merit." Brendan Morrow

September 14, 2020

Cheerleader Jerry Harris, who was featured in the hit Netflix documentary series Cheer, is reportedly being investigated by the FBI.

The FBI is examining allegations that 21-year-old Harris "solicited sexually explicit photos and sex from minors," USA Today reported on Monday, citing multiple sources. Agents executed a search warrant at a home in Naperville, Illinois, on Monday amid this investigation, says the report.

This probe reportedly came after allegations were brought to police by the private company Varsity, which conducts business in the cheerleading industry. Varsity's chief legal officer reportedly wrote to authorities regarding claims of "inappropriate sexual conduct" and included screenshots of Snapchat and text message exchanges.

An FBI special agent confirmed to USA Today that it is "conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in the area" but did not offer further information.

Harris was one of the breakout stars of Cheer, the cheerleading documentary series that debuted on Netflix in January to critical acclaim and which was nominated for six Emmys. He has not been charged and has not responded to the allegations in USA Today's report. Brendan Morrow

September 10, 2020

Hackers from Russia, China, and Iran have set their sights on the 2020 presidential election, including Russian hackers behind attacks in 2016, Microsoft has announced.

On Thursday, Microsoft said it has in recent weeks "detected cyberattacks targeting people and organizations involved in the upcoming presidential election," including "unsuccessful attacks" on people associated with the campaigns of both President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Microsoft laid out in a blog post how Russian hackers who have been identified as being responsible for attacks on the 2016 Democratic presidential campaign have attacked "more than 200 organizations," including political campaigns and parties, and that since 2016, their tactics have "evolved."

Additionally, Microsoft said Chinese hackers have attacked "high-profile individuals associated with the election," including people associated with Biden's campaign and at least one person formerly associated with the Trump administration, and Iranian hackers have attacked personal accounts of people associated with Trump's campaign. Most of the attacks were "detected and stopped," the company said.

The Washington Post reports that the Republican National Committee was "unsuccessfully targeted," but that it's "unclear by which country."

"We think Russian military intelligence poses the greatest foreign threat to the elections,” John Hultquist, intelligence analysis director at the cybersecurity firm FireEye, told the Post. "It's concerning to find them targeting organizations associated with campaigns again."

Microsoft said the activity "makes clear that foreign activity groups have stepped up their efforts targeting the 2020 election." Brendan Morrow

September 10, 2020

A major fire has broken out at the Port of Beirut just weeks after a deadly explosion there, The Associated Press reports.

Information about what caused the fire in Beirut on Thursday is not yet available. The AP reports that the state-run National News Agency said that it's occurring "at a warehouse where tires are placed" and that firefighters are responding, and the Lebanese army also said that army helicopters are involved in the response.

The fire "was burning in a warehouse that had been damaged in the previous explosion" in August, and it evidently "began in the teetering skeleton of one of the remaining buildings," The New York Times writes. Videos quickly spread on social media showing the fire. A small fire also broke out at the Beirut port earlier this week, the AP reports.

This comes after a major explosion in Beirut's port on Aug. 4, which officials said was caused by 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate. That blast left nearly 200 people dead, and the Times notes the recovery efforts remain underway. Brendan Morrow

August 26, 2020

Police have arrested a suspect in the killing of two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday night.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse of a nearby Illinois town was arrested Wednesday and will be charged with first degree intentional homicide. Video captured someone holding a long gun and shooting at protesters in Kenosha, killing two people. The gunman was also seen on video raising his arms and walking toward police vehicles, but they drove past him, per the Journal Sentinel.

Protests have gone on for three days in Kenosha, and have devolved into some fires and violence at night, after police shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man. Blake was walking to his car where his children were sitting inside, and witnesses say he had just broken up a verbal fight. Blake survived, but is now paralyzed from the waist down, at least temporarily, his father said.

Armed people purporting to be a "militia" have come to downtown Kenosha over the past few days, writing online that they were trying to "defend" the city, per the Journal Sentinel. Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said he wasn't sure if Rittenhouse was part of one of these groups.

On Wednesday, President Trump announced he would send federal law enforcement and more National Guard members to Kenosha, joining an already militarized police force and the National Guard members Gov. Tony Evers (D-Wisc.) had deployed to the city. Kathryn Krawczyk

Update 3:30 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to specify that Rittenhouse has been charged with homicide, not murder.

August 24, 2020

A Russian hospital claimed last week that a leading critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin wasn't poisoned — but a hospital in Berlin says tests suggest that he was.

Charite Hospital in Berlin on Monday said that Alexey Navalny, the Russian opposition leader and Putin critic who fell ill last week, is suffering from "intoxication by a substance from the group of cholinesterase inhibitors," CNN reports. It did not identify the substance he was allegedly poisoned with.

Navalny was hospitalized last week after falling ill on a flight to Moscow from Siberia, and his press secretary said at the time that "we suspect that Alexei was poisoned by something mixed into [his] tea." A state-run hospital in Siberia, however, subsequently said that "we do not believe that the patient has suffered poisoning," claiming that he suffered from "a sudden drop in blood sugar" due to a "metabolic disorder," CBS News reports.

The Russian doctors at that point were not permitting Navalny to be transferred to a hospital in Germany, saying he was too unstable, but he later did arrive in Berlin to be treated. Charite Hospital on Monday said that Navalny is still in a coma and that "his state of health is serious, but there is currently no acute danger to his life."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a statement on Monday said that after the hospital's findings, "those responsible must be identified and held accountable." Brendan Morrow

August 6, 2020

The governor of Ohio has tested positive for COVID-19 just before he was to meet with President Trump.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) on Thursday took a COVID-19 test "as part of the standard protocol" to meet with President Trump at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio, as the president visits the state, and the result came back positive, the governor's office said. DeWine, who will return home to quarantine for two weeks, said he isn't showing any symptoms.

DeWine is the second governor in the United States to test positive for COVID-19 after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R), Axios notes.

Additionally, CNN's Jeremy Diamond observes that this is another instance in which the White House's testing protocol prevented Trump from being exposed to the coronavirus. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) recently tested positive for COVID-19 at the White House after he had been set to travel with Trump to Texas. Brendan Morrow

August 4, 2020

A massive explosion has just rocked Beirut, as captured in a number of shocking videos from the scene.

The capital of Lebanon on Tuesday was hit by a huge explosion that caused damage for miles and left an unknown number of people injured, The Associated Press reports. Numerous staggering videos quickly emerged on social media showing the blast.

The explosion in central Beirut damaged buildings in "several neighborhoods," and "many roads were blocked by the debris, forcing people wounded in the blast to walk through the smoke to hospitals," The New York Times reports.

Further details about the explosion and the extent of the damage weren't immediately available, but Lebanon Health Minister Hamad Hasan reportedly said there were a "very high number of injuries," per Reuters, and according to CNN, the state-run National News Agency is reporting that the source of the explosion was "believed to be a major fire at a warehouse for firecrackers near the port in Beirut." Brendan Morrow

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