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December 9, 2018

President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner continued to privately advise Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The story says Kushner "has offered the crown prince advice about how to weather the storm" caused by the killing, for which the CIA has reportedly concluded with "medium-to-high confidence" MBS is responsible. Kushner also counseled MBS to "resolve his conflicts around the [Mideast] region and avoid further embarrassments," the Times report says.

This close relationship "constitutes the foundation of the Trump policy not just toward Saudi Arabia but toward the" entire Middle East, Martin Indyk, a former Middle East envoy and current Council on Foreign Relations fellow, told the Times. Indyk attributed decisions including the Trump administration's continued support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen to the Kushner-MBS "bromance."

While National Security Council staff are supposed to sit in on all communications with foreign leaders, Kushner and MBS reportedly have informal, one-on-one chat and text conversations. The White House declined to comment on this apparent breach of protocol. Bonnie Kristian

December 1, 2018

President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen "remained in close and regular contact with White House-based staff and legal counsel," his lawyers said in a court filing late Friday, while preparing what he now says was a false statement to Congress about the president's real estate endeavors in Russia during his campaign.

The filing sought a reduced sentence for Cohen, who pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to the Senate Intelligence Committee about a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen crafted that statement, his lawyers wrote, to maintain Trump team messaging which "portray[ed] contact with Russian representatives" as "having effectively terminated before the Iowa caucuses of February 1, 2016."

"Seeking to stay in line with this message," Friday's filing says, Cohen wrote the comments to Congress he now labels false. He also continued outreach to Russian contacts after January of 2016 "and kept [Trump] apprised of these communications," the filing continues. "[Cohen] and [Trump] also discussed possible travel to Russia in the summer of 2016, and Michael took steps to clear dates for such travel."

Trump has sought to dismiss, deny, or downplay Cohen's claims and the Mueller investigation more broadly.

The portions of the filing arguing for lenient sentencing highlight Cohen's cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation in spite of Trump's vocal critique of the probe. Cohen's attorneys are pushing to keep him out of prison. Sentencing is set for Dec. 12. Bonnie Kristian

November 30, 2018

Another day, another data breach putting millions of people's personal information at risk.

Marriott International said Friday that it had discovered a data breach of the online system used to make reservations at its Starwood hotels; Starwood is a Marriott subsidiary that includes chains like Westin and Sheraton. "Unauthorized access" to the database was discovered going back to 2014, and the system includes information on up to 500 million guests.

Information that could have been exposed includes guests' names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, dates of birth, genders, arrival and departure information, reservation dates, and even credit card information.

Marriott says it has reported the breach to law enforcement and opened a call center to take questions from concerned customers. "Marriott deeply regrets this incident happened," the company added.

If the 500 million number is right, this would be one of the largest data breaches in history, per NBC News. In addition to the extraordinary size and scale of the breach, The Verge points out that it's unusual for a company like Marriott to not uncover something like this for four years. But data breaches are not uncommon in the hotel industry. In 2017, Hilton Hotels was fined after two breaches on 363,000 accounts, per BBC News, and Trump Hotels were also hacked that year via a third party reservation system for the third time. Industry research published in Hospitality Tech in 2017 found that 74 percent of hotels don't have breach protection, with the trade magazine observing that, despite it being "a favorite for hackers," the hotel industry is "woefully unprepared" for breaches. Brendan Morrow

November 17, 2018

About 500 Georgians have been told to evacuate their homes after a train carrying propane derailed in their small town.

"Several" railroad cars tipped off the tracks in Byromville, Georgia, which is 55 miles south of Macon, CSX Railroad tells The Associated Press. Some of the cars contained pressurized propane, prompting the county's sheriff to order anyone within half a mile of the incident to evacuate.

That radius contains "practically the whole town" of Byromville, town fire chief Brett Walls tells local CBS affiliate WMAZ. Walls put the number of derailed cars anywhere from 15 to 30, and said the propane that spilled from them was odorless. No injuries have been reported.

Check out the station's footage of the incident below. Kathryn Krawczyk

November 3, 2018

A group of elementary school teachers in Middleton, Idaho, have found themselves in hot water after one set dressed up as President Trump's border wall and another donned cartoonishly stereotypical "Mexican" costumes, including sombreros, ponchos, and fake mustaches.

Asked about the costume in conversation with host Chris Cuomo, CNN's Don Lemon was briefly struck speechless. "I don't know what to say. It's a sign of the times," he finally answered.

Cuomo pressed Lemon to explain "why is the wall crossing a line." Watch him make his case below. Bonnie Kristian

October 18, 2018

A group called "Black Americans for the President's Agenda" says that Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) is the lawmaker who will keep America from going "back to the bad old days of race verdicts, life sentences, and lynchings when a white girl screams rape."

A radio advertisement in support of Hill has reportedly been aired in Arkansas to promote support for the congressman among black voters. In the ad, two women discuss the sexual assault allegations that confronted Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh ahead of his confirmation, and warn of the dangers of abandoning the presumption of innocence, "especially for black men."

"If the Democrats can do that to a white justice of the Supreme Court with no evidence, no corroboration, and all of her witnesses including her best friend say it didn't happen, what will happen to our husbands, our fathers, or our sons when a white girl lies on them?" asks one woman.

"Girl, white Democrats will be lynching black folk again," the other responds. Listen for yourself below. Summer Meza

October 16, 2018

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's (D-N.D.) crumbling path to re-election just took another wrong turn.

Heitkamp's campaign published an open letter attacking her opponent Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) for his disparaging comments about the "#MeToo" movement, running it as an ad in several North Dakota newspapers on Monday. Now, she's apologizing after finding out the letter outed some of its signers as abuse survivors, The Associated Press reports.

Heitkamp's re-election chances have evaporated over the past few months; the newest Fox News poll shows Cramer ahead by 12 points. She's tried to win over voters with a focus on fighting sexual assault, notably opposing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation despite the possibility of damaging her chances in the midterms. Cramer, meanwhile, called #MeToo a "movement toward victimization" an in interview with The New York Times last week.

The controversial Heitkamp letter decried Cramer's comments, and was signed by over 125 people. But some signers soon criticized the ad's publication, saying they "either hadn't authorized it or are not survivors of abuse," AP reports. Cramer quickly slammed the mistake as "revictimization of victims" when talking with AP, and one survivor whose name was unwittingly published said she would no longer vote for Heitkamp.

Heitkamp issued a statement saying she's "in the process of issuing a retraction" of the ad and "personally apologizing to each of the people impacted by this." AP reports that a "clearly emotional" Heitkamp also said she would investigate how her campaign got these names. Heitkamp said she didn't see the ad before its publication, but still took responsibility for the "very flagrant error." Kathryn Krawczyk

October 12, 2018

An interview clip that resurfaced this week is not a great look for Michigan's Republican gubernatorial nominee.

In a 1989 video posted by a Democratic opposition research organization, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, then a member of Congress, seems to creepily hit on a woman behind the camera as she sets up for an interview. When she asks him to move closer to a lamp, he tells her, "I will do anything you want," adding "some things I may not let you run the camera on." Next, Schuette compliments the woman for her "tenacity" and compares her camerawork to that of "Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Toulouse-Lautrec."

Schuette says he doesn't remember the clip, but that it seems to be a "poor attempt to be humorous 30 years ago," adding that it's "embarrassing" and "I regret it," The Detroit Free Press reports. Even before the video surfaced, Schuette was trailing Democrat Gretchen Whitmer by nine points in Michigan's gubernatorial race, according to Real Clear Politics' poll tracker.

Watch the video below. Brendan Morrow

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