Congressional investigators have uncovered emails that indicate parties involved in the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower had subsequent communication after their summit, CNN reported Thursday. The meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya has come under the microscope because Trump Jr. accepted the invitation from British publicist Rob Goldstone after being promised Veselnitskaya would provide incriminating information about Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr. has maintained that it quickly became clear Veselnitskaya had no such information and the meeting revolved around the subject of Russian adoption. He has also said that nothing came of the event and he never followed up with any of the attendees. None of the emails CNN reported on Thursday were sent to Trump Jr. directly, but were instead missives sent by Goldstone to Dan Scavino, then a top aide to the Trump campaign and now the White House's social media director, as well as Ike Kaveladze, a Russian who was present at the meeting.
Just days after the meeting, Goldstone apparently forwarded a message to Kaveladze referencing a report about Russia's breach of the Democratic National Committee. He sent the missive while "describing the news as 'eerily weird' given what they had discussed at Trump Tower five days earlier," CNN reported.
An attorney for Kaveladze said Kaveladze did receive the email but found it to be "odd because hacking was never discussed in the meeting," CNN wrote. Two sources told CNN that when Trump Jr. published the email chain that resulted in the June 2016 meeting, Kaveladze's son emailed his father asking why Trump Jr. was "admitting 'collusion,'" though it is unclear whether the younger Kaveladze was joking.
The other Goldstone email in question urged Scavino to put then-candidate Donald Trump on the Russian social networking site VX. While testifying before Congress on Wednesday, Trump Jr. reportedly said he did not remember the messages in question. Read more at CNN. Kimberly Alters
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines to scrap net neutrality rules, allowing broadband internet providers to treat traffic to websites differently (choke certain sites, speed up others), and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai released a self-consciously geeky video through The Daily Caller in which he claimed to "restore internet freedom" by, among other things, dancing with a light saber. Mark Hamill, who knows some stuff about light sabers, was not amused, and said so.
Cute video Ajit "Aren't I Precious?" Pai -but you are profoundly unworthy 2 wield a lightsaber-A Jedi acts selflessly for the common man-NOT lie 2 enrich giant corporations. Btw-did you pay John Williams his royalty? @AjitPaiFCCorpShill #AJediYouAreNOT pic.twitter.com/SpIcOEySUY
— @HamillHimself (@HamillHimself) December 16, 2017
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) jumped in, trying to explain Star Wars to Luke Skywalker with a condescending tweet that presupposes people hate Google and Netflix but love Comcast and Time Warner/Spectrum.
.@HammillHimself Luke, I know Hollywood can be confusing, but it was Vader who supported govt power over everything said & done on the Internet. That's why giant corps (Google, Facebook, Netflix) supported the FCC power grab of net neutrality. Reject the dark side: Free the net! https://t.co/nARkMvIEYk
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 17, 2017
And, well, yeah.
Thanks for smarm-spaining it to me @tedcruz I know politics can be confusing, but you'd have more credibility if you spelled my name correctly. I mean IT'S RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU! Maybe you're just distracted from watching porn at the office again-mh https://t.co/nHpJVG1Wpe
— @HamillHimself (@HamillHimself) December 17, 2017
"Smarm-splaining" — the neologisms are strong with this one (even if the spelling isn't). You can decide who won that spat — the iconic actor with a hit movie in theaters or the unpopular senator — and read more about what net neutrality (or lack thereof) actually means for you from The Week's Jeff Spross. Peter Weber
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) returned to Arizona on Sunday, after spending half a week at Walter Reed Medical Center amid chemotherapy treatment for a malignant brain tumor. McCain's office released a statement from Dr. Mark Gilbert, the chief of neuro-oncology at the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute, saying McCain "continues to improve" after responding well to treatment for a viral infection and is "responding positively" to the cancer treatment. McCain's office also said the 81-year-old senator "looks forward to returning to Washington in January," confirming that he will miss this week's vote on the Republican tax plan.
McCain's absence doesn't appear to put the $1.5 trillion tax bill's passage in jeopardy, as all 51 other Republican senators have indicated they will vote in favor. "The word is John will come back if we need his vote," President Trump said Sunday. "It's too bad. He's going through a very tough time, there's no question about it. But he will come back if we need his vote." A Republican close to McCain told CNN he left Walter Reed "exhausted, but okay." Peter Weber
A blackout at the Atlanta airport has forced the cancellation of more than 1,000 flights a week before Christmas
At 1:06 p.m. on Sunday, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport went dark, after an electrical fire damaged two Georgia Power substations serving the airport, including its "redundant system" in case of power failure. Thousands of passengers at the world's busiest airport were trapped for hours on grounded airplanes, trams between terminals, or in the dark airport, and the FAA quickly declared a ground stop, causing the cancelation of about 1,000 flights in and out of Atlanta on Sunday, with hundreds of flights scrapped for Monday, a week before Christmas.
Power crews restored electricity at Concourse F at 7:30 p.m., six and a half hours after the blackout began, and several other areas got power shortly before midnight. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said officials don't yet know what caused the fires, adding, "We certainly understand that the outage has caused frustration and anger and we are doing everything that we can to get folks back home right away."
CNN's Betsy Klein was stuck on a Delta airplane on the tarmac for seven hours, and she live-tweeted the experience. When she finally got off the plane at 9 p.m., she said, the airport was sweltering, nobody appeared to be in charge, and it was hard to find the exit — a trip that entailed a lot of walking, including up and down stalled escalators. She described people sleeping on baggage claim carousels and jockeying for power outlets.
— Betsy Klein (@betsy_klein) December 18, 2017
Still, after seven hours on a packed plane, with no food or water for the last few hours, she was happy to finally deplane.
The deplaning pic.twitter.com/UZlQmxs69Z
— Betsy Klein (@betsy_klein) December 18, 2017
Alabama's Senator-elect Doug Jones (D) made an appearance on CNN's State of the Union Sunday, talking with host Jake Tapper about his win at the polls this past week, his plans for his new role in Washington, and President Trump.
Jones broke with fellow Democrats who have said the president should resign because of sexual harassment accusations made against him. "Those allegations were made before the election, and so people had an opportunity to judge" last year, Jones said. "We need to move on and not get distracted by those issues."
Jones also indicated he won't be a strict party-line voter in the Senate given his may GOP constituents. "Now, don't expect me to vote solidly for Republicans or Democrats," he said. "I'm going to talk to people on both sides of the aisle, try to figure out what I think is in the best interest of my state and in the country."
Watch the full CNN interview below. Bonnie Kristian
White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short had a testy conversation with NBC's Chuck Todd on Meet the Press Sunday in which he maintained the Trump administration is not internally debating whether to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller from his probe into Russian election meddling efforts.
Todd raised the subject of emails the Trump transition team claims Mueller obtained unlawfully, but Short pleaded ignorance of the specifics of that situation. Instead, he argued the Russia investigation in general has been wasteful and unnecessary, which led to this rapid-fire exchange:
Todd: Ok, but is the president going to continue to cooperate?
Short: He is continuing to cooperate —
Todd: Or is he setting the stage —
Short: No, come on, Chuck.
Todd: For firing Bob Mueller?
Short: No, there's no conversation —
Todd: There's no way he's going to fire him?
Short: There's no conversation about that whatsoever in the White House, Chuck.
Todd: None whatsoever?
Short: You guys keep bringing that up. We have continued to cooperate in every single possible way with that investigation. [NBC]
Mueller's office denied accessing the emails unlawfully, stating it has always "secured either the account owner's consent or appropriate criminal process" when obtaining communications for the investigation. Watch an excerpt of the NBC interview below. Bonnie Kristian
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) December 17, 2017
Britain's Prince Harry has interviewed former President Obama for a radio show set to air later this month. Though recorded in September, the first teaser clip of the conversation was shared by Kensington Palace social media accounts Sunday.
Clocking in under a minute, the short video sees Obama and the prince joking as they prepare to begin their interview. "Do I have to speak faster, because I'm a slow speaker?" Obama asks. "Do I need a British accent?" Harry assures him that won't be necessary, but warns against leaving Obama's trademark "long pauses between the answers." Watch the teaser below. Bonnie Kristian
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) December 17, 2017
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not the only federal agency reportedly prohibited by the Trump White House from using words and phrases including "vulnerable," "entitlement," "diversity," "transgender," "fetus," "evidence-based," and "science-based."
The Washington Post reported Saturday evening that other divisions in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have been given the same list of banned terms. Furthermore, staff at one agency were reportedly told to say "ObamaCare" instead of "Affordable Care Act," and ObamaCare "exchanges" instead of "marketplaces," while the State Department is calling sex education "sexual risk avoidance."