President Trump said payments made to two women during the 2016 presidential election weren’t illegal because they came from him and not from his campaign funds. Trump said this during an interview taped Wednesday with Fox News that’s due to air this morning. Trump’s ex-attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations tied to the payments, and he said he knowingly violated the law at the President’s direction.
As Trump tried to explain all this, the White House struggled to defend him. Press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump “did nothing wrong” with the payments and dismissed as “ridiculous” reporters’ questions about whether the President had lied about what and when he knew about the payments. Trump and his White House also are sticking to their game plan of attacking special counsel Robert Mueller, as evidenced by this all-caps tweet Trump sent out at about 1 a.m. (!!!!): “NO COLLUSION - RIGGED WITCH HUNT!”
After days of waiting, it’s here. Devastating winds and rain from Florence hit the Carolinas today. The Category 2 hurricane now has maximum sustained winds of 110 mph and is about 200 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina. At this point, it looks like Florence’s center will be somewhere over the Carolina coasts late tonight or tomorrow. And as it moves inland, people in Georgia, Virginia and Maryland need to stay alert. The big concern remains that Florence will stall, pounding the region with nonstop rain, catastrophic winds and potentially deadly flooding for days. One of five huge threats is storm surge, possibly as high as 13 feet. And there are six nuclear power plants in Florence’s projected path – but not everyone thinks they can withstand it.
2. Ukrainian airline crash
The escalating clergy sex abuse scandal that’s raging within the church prompts Pope Francis to call an unprecedented meeting. The Pope will meet the presidents of the Catholic bishops conferences from around the world in February at the Vatican. Francis has come under withering criticism for his handling of the crisis (and his poll numbers have nosedived). A meeting between the Pope and leaders of the US church on the crisis is set for today.
President Trump signed an executive order that intends to punish foreign entities for meddling in US elections. The order lets the director of national intelligence identify groups responsible for election interference and direct the Treasury Department to apply sanctions. This order aims to hit more than just the Russians. But Democrats and Republicans criticized it as insufficient and want to see mandatory sanctions instead.
California has a shiny, new net neutrality law, and the Trump administration is already working to knock it down. The law stops internet service providers from blocking or slowing specific types of content or applications, or charging apps or companies fees for faster access to customers. It’s the strictest net neutrality protection in the country and could serve as a blueprint for other states. The Department of Justice says the law is illegal and is taking the state to court. Remember, the FCC repealed net neutrality regulations earlier this year.
Dancing with the ‘stars’
Fresh off its bigger-than-expected box office triumph, the folks behind “Crazy Rich Asians” are already planning a sequel.
Out with a bang
Get ready to say good-bye to Sheldon and the gang. The next season of “The Big Bang Theory” – season No. 12 – will be the last for the hit sitcom.
Nothing says Thanksgiving like watching two golfers duke it out for $9 million. That’s what we’ll get when Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson face off in “The Match.”
Your teens are just as sick of their phones as you are, and if they ever lift their eyes from their devices, they’d tell you themselves.
The robots are coming
These robotic dogs, while impressive, may be too complex and expensive for practical applications. Excuse us if we don’t cry for them.
“Any time they don’t leave a trust or will, there always ends up being a fight.”
Don Wilson, Aretha Franklin’s attorney, on the battle brewing within the late singer’s family after word got out she didn’t have a will or trust
The number of games for which Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer will be suspended without pay. The university says he’s being punished for not taking “sufficient management action” against a former assistant coach accused of abusing his wife.
Mom knows best
When the baby elephant had trouble standing up in the slippery mud pit, mom knew just what to do. (Click to view.)