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February 15, 2019

Police have arrested two potential suspects in connection with the alleged assault of Empire star Jussie Smollett, ABC News reported on Friday.

Chicago police told ABC that two men were arrested on Wednesday at the airport, with detectives having "probable cause that they may have been involved" in the alleged assault. The suspects have not yet been charged with a crime, however.

Authorities also told ABC that the suspects "have a relationship with" Smollett but did not offer specifics. According to CNN, they are two Nigerian brothers, and CBS 2 Chicago reports they have worked as extras on Empire.

This development comes after two local news stations reported Thursday that investigators now believe the attack on Smollett was staged, per Variety. But chief police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said that there is "no evidence to say that this is a hoax" at this time, USA Today reports. One of the Thursday reports had also said investigators believe Smollett staged the attack because he was being written off Empire, something 20th Century Fox denied in a statement, calling the notion "patently ridiculous." Brendan Morrow

February 15, 2019

The NFL and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick announced Friday that they have reached a settlement over Kaepernick's collusion lawsuit, The Washington Post reports. Kaepernick had sued the league after he was apparently blacklisted from playing football due to his protests during the national anthem; he has been out of the sport for the past two seasons.

While the terms of the settlement were not revealed, and the resolution is subject to a confidentiality agreement, NFL columnist Mike Freeman reported that "team officials are speculating to me [that] the NFL paid Kaepernick in the $60 million to $80 million range."

Separately, a similar lawsuit against the NFL by Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid also reached a settlement. In a joint statement, the NFL and lawyers for Reid and Kaepernick said: "For the past several months, counsel for Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL ... The resolution of this matter is subject to a confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party."

The NFL Players Association also released a statement: "We are not privy to the details of the settlement, but support the decision by the players and their counsel," it read. "We continuously supported Colin and Eric from the start of their protests, participated with their lawyers throughout their legal proceedings, and were prepared to participate in the upcoming trial in pursuit of both truth and justice for what we believe the NFL and its clubs did to them. We are glad that Eric has earned a job and a new contract, and we continue to hope that Colin gets his opportunity as well." Jeva Lange

February 8, 2019

A second woman, Meredith Watson, came forward on Friday to say that Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) sexually assaulted her.

Through her legal team, Watson alleges that she "was raped by Justin Fairfax in 2000, while they were both students at Duke University." The statement calls the alleged assault "premeditated and aggressive" and says former classmates have corroborated her account.

Fairfax was accused of sexual assault by Vanessa Tyson earlier this week, who says he forced her to perform oral sex while they attended the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Fairfax denied Tyson's allegation, calling it "false and unsubstantiated" and insisting it was a "consensual encounter."

The New York Times' Jonathan Martin reports that Fairfax is denying Watson's allegations; he has yet to release a statement in response to her claims. Read her full statement below, via The Guardian. Summer Meza

Update 5:10 p.m. EST: Fairfax issued a statement denying Watson's account, and said "I will not resign," instead calling for an investigation. He said there is a " vicious and coordinated smear campaign" targeting him and claimed her allegation is "demonstrably false."

February 6, 2019

The woman accusing Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax (D) of sexual assault has just come forward with a statement.

Dr. Vanessa Tyson on Wednesday described in her own words the alleged assault previously reported in The Washington Post, which did not disclose her name. Tyson, a professor at Scripps College who says she is a "proud Democrat," writes that in 2004, she met Fairfax at the Democratic National Convention and that he asked her to accompany him on a "quick errand" to his hotel room.

Once there, Tyson alleges that "what began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault." She describes in graphic detail how Fairfax allegedly forced her to perform oral sex, saying that she "tried to move away" but couldn't because "his hand was holding down my neck." Fairfax in a statement said the encounter was "consensual" and that "at no time did [Tyson] express to me any discomfort or concern." Tyson, however, says that she "cried and gagged" and said "I cannot believe, given my obvious distress, that Mr. Fairfax thought this forced sexual act was consensual."

Tyson also writes that she suffered "deep humiliation and shame" and therefore "did not speak about it for years" until 2017, when she reached out to the Post. In a report Monday, the Post had said it was unable to corroborate the account of either Tyson or Fairfax and, therefore, originally declined to publish the story. However, the Post denied that it initially didn't publish because of "red flags" in Tyson's account, as Fairfax had claimed, and Tyson says that "my only motive in speaking now is to refute Mr. Fairfax's falsehoods and aspersions of my character."

Read Tyson's statement below. Brendan Morrow

February 2, 2019

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Saturday refused to resign from his office despite increasing uproar over the Friday revelation that his 1984 medical school yearbook page contains a photo of a man in blackface and one in Ku Klux Klan robes.

In an statement Friday, Northam confirmed he was in the photo and apologized for the "clearly racist and offensive" costumes, though he did not clarify which costume he wore.

In phone calls Saturday morning, however, he reportedly told told Virginia Democratic lawmakers including State Sen. L. Louise Lucas that he may not be one of the men in the photo after all. He also said he does not plan to resign, though allies like the Democratic Party of Virginia, Planned Parenthood, and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) have called for him to do so.

"He should have said that yesterday then," Lucas told The Washington Post of Northam's suggestion that he may not be one of the men in the racist costumes. "He just told me he didn't think it's him. And I said, 'Ralph, this is a day late and a dollar short. It's too late.'" Bonnie Kristian

January 28, 2019

The U.S. has levied charges of selling trade secrets against Chinese company Huawei and criminal charges against its Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou.

In a Monday press conference, FBI, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and Commerce Department officials announced two separate federal cases against China's largest smartphone manufacturer. These suits come just after Meng was arrested in Canada at America's request, and are sure to inflame tensions between China and the U.S. even further, Bloomberg says.

A 13-count indictment from Brooklyn, New York says Huawei, two affiliated companies, and Meng committed "fraud and conspiracy in connection with deals in Iran," per The Wall Street Journal. A 10-count indictment from Washington state alleges Huawei stole information about T-Mobile's "Tappy" robot that tested smartphones. The Tappy controversy has already sparked several civil lawsuits, with FBI Director Chris Wray saying Huawei "systematically sought to steal valuable intellectual property from an American company" to "circumvent hard-earned, time-consuming research."

The U.S. and China are already in a long-running and tense trade skirmish, inflamed by long-running allegations that Huawei's products spy on Americans. Monday's charges, and America's request for Canada to extradite Meng to the U.S., were expected. Meng's arrest also prompted China's detention of 13 Canadian citizens, some of whom have been released, the country says. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 28, 2019

The U.S. is stepping up its efforts to force out Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

In a Monday press briefing, National Security Adviser John Bolton and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced sanctions against Venezuela's state-owned oil company. The move comes after the White House's decision to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country's legitimate leader.

Maduro began another term last May after what opposition leaders and the U.S. government called a fraudulent election. Guaidó declared himself the interim president as Venezuela's opposition party calls for new elections. After Guaidó received public support from the Trump administration, Maduro told American diplomats to leave the country.

At Monday's announcement, Bolton echoed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's call for all nations to acknowledge Guaidó as Venezuela's leader — something Russia and China have refused to do. Mnuchin then said the U.S. would sanction Venezuela's state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, costing the country $7 billion in assets and $11 billion in oil revenue, effective immediately, per ABC News. Maduro has refused to step down, and Axios reports that the White House hopes sanctions will divert power and influence to Guaidó. When asked if the U.S. would take military action if Maduro continues to remain in office, Bolton said "all options are on the table."

Maduro has indicated he'd like to talk with President Trump, ABC News says. Bolton only said Monday that Vice President Mike Pence would likely meet with Guaidó's ambassador soon. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 23, 2019

Michael Cohen's congressional tell-all won't come as soon as we'd thought.

President Trump's former fixer long ago left his ex-boss' side, providing hours of testimony to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into the Trump campaign's potential involvement with Russian election interference. Cohen was scheduled to publicly testify about Trump to Congress on Feb. 7, but revealed Wednesday he'd postpone that appearance due to "ongoing threats against his family from President Trump" and Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

In a statement from Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis, Cohen confirmed his "continued cooperation with ongoing investigations," presumably including Mueller's. But he also said he had to "put his family and their safety first" and put his House Oversight Committee hearing on hold indefinitely.

Cohen is probably best known for paying porn star Stormy Daniels to conceal her story of an affair with Trump, as well as reportedly handling the Trump Organization's plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. He's since fallen out of Trump's good graces and landed a three-year jail sentence for lying to Congress about the Moscow discussions and financial crimes. Cohen promised in his December sentencing to "state publicly all he knows about Mr. Trump" after the Mueller investigation concluded, and reportedly planned to "say things that will give you chills" in his February testimony. Kathryn Krawczyk

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