More than 50 Afghans are believed to be dead or wounded after a Taliban-led attack Friday on an Afghan Army base in Afghanistan's Balkh Province, a U.S. military Central Command spokesman told Reuters. The Taliban fighters reportedly stormed the base brandishing firearms, and some were strapped with explosives.
The spokesman said the base's mosque and dining facility appeared to be the targets of the attack, which he called "significant." No American service personnel or U.S.-led coalition forces appeared to be injured.
Sen. Bob Menendez 'severely admonished' by ethics committee after failing to disclose gifts from disgraced donor
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) has been publicly admonished.
The Senate Ethics Committee has issued a public letter of admonition to the senator after he refused to disclose gifts from Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen and allegedly used his job in the Senate to advance Melgen's interests.
Melgen was sentenced to 17 years in prison after swindling $73 million from Medicare, per the Sun Sentinel. Menendez accepted flights and hotel stays from the doctor, and intervened when Medicare discovered it had been overbilled by Melgen, per the letter. A federal judge acquitted Menendez and Melgen on several charges of bribery earlier this year, though the Justice Department said it intends to retry the pair.
Menendez has denied all charges against him and so far, he has escaped severe punishment — until now, with the Senate's stern warning letter. The activist group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington notes that Thursday's note from the Ethics Committee is actually the "harshest thing they've done in years."
It's pretty rare to see the Senate Ethics Committee give out any type of punishment. This Public Letter of Admonition to Senator Menendez is the harshest thing they've done in years. https://t.co/l8pdHgjHQd pic.twitter.com/HXw302dJZK
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) April 26, 2018
It even finishes with this stinger: "Finally, by this letter, you are hereby severely admonished." Kathryn Krawczyk
The White House apparently knew about Rob Porter's abuse allegations for nearly a year before he resigned
The FBI warned the White House of former Staff Secretary Rob Porter's abuse allegations in three separate reports months before he resigned, The New York Times reported Thursday.
Porter resigned in February after two of his former wives publicly alleged that he had physically abused them. The White House claimed that no senior officials knew about the allegations until the week of his departure, but documents reviewed by the Times show that the FBI gave White House Counsel Don McGahn a report that "contained derogatory information" back in March 2017.
A former federal law enforcement official said that the abuse allegations were included in the report, which the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is reviewing in order to determine how Porter was given high-level security clearance despite abuse claims. The FBI reportedly reached out to the White House about Porter a second time, in July 2017, and a third time in November 2017.
The Times report casts doubt on the previous explanation from the White House about Porter's employment. At the time of Porter's resignation, officials claimed that the report they received in March didn't include anything about spousal abuse. One White House official insisted to the Times that McGahn never saw the July report and explained that lower-level staffers must have failed to pass it along to the "right people." Read more at The New York Times. Summer Meza
The parents of a college student held captive in North Korea have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the country.
Otto Warmbier, 22, was held in North Korea for 17 months after allegedly stealing a political poster while touring the country. He was medically evacuated from North Korea last June and died a few days after returning home in a coma.
Now, his parents say he was "brutally tortured and murdered" and forced to "falsely 'confess' to an act of subversion on behalf of the United States government," per the lawsuit. They are suing to hold the government of North Korea "legally accountable" for their son's death, per The Washington Post, and are seeking damages.
North Korea alleges Warmbier died after contracting botulism and has denied nefarious involvement. But a U.S. coroner said an injury more than a year old, which starved Warmbier's brain of oxygen, caused his death. There were no clear signs of torture to Warmbier's body, the coroner said.
The suit comes amid a softening of tensions between North Korea and the U.S. Just-confirmed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Kim Jong Un over Easter weekend, and President Trump is narrowing down a time to meet with the North Korean leader, per CNN.
The anchors of Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" will bring their hi-jinks to the 70th annual Emmy Awards. Michael Che and Colin Jost were named co-hosts of the television award ceremony, NBC announced in a statement Thursday. The network also revealed that Lorne Michaels, SNL's creator and executive producer, will be executive producing the Emmys this year.
"NBC is thrilled to be the home of this year's Emmy Awards and with Colin and Michael in the driver's seat as hosts, along with surprise appearances by other cast members of Saturday Night Live, I think we are in for one of the funniest awards shows in a long time," said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, in the statement.
"We're proud to be the first duo hosting the Emmys since Jenna Elfman and David Hyde Pierce," said Che and Jost in a joint statement. "And somehow that's a real fact." Elfman and Pierce were co-hosts of the Emmys in 1999, per CNN.
Jost and Che both began on "Weekend Update" in 2014 and were named co-head writers of SNL in 2017, per the statement. SNL swept nine awards during last year's Emmys and continues to see "strong ratings," especially in the 18-to-49 demographic, Variety reports.
"We're proud of our deep comedy roster at NBC," said Paul Telegdy, president of NBC Entertainment's Alternative and Reality Group, per NBC's statement. "And Michael and Colin — along with the return of king of comedy producer Lorne Michaels — will make this the must-see comedy event of the year."
The 2018 Emmys will air Monday, Sept. 17, at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. Mary Catalfamo
Trump reportedly thinks Michael Cohen is like a 'bull in a china shop' when it comes to fixing problems
For attorney Michael Cohen, President Trump's move to Washington was something of a breakup — one he's still not over.
Cohen, who has been Trump's personal attorney for years, is apparently going through a bit of a rough patch with the president, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. Trump reportedly sought to distance himself from his longtime fixer once he decided to run for office, and apparently privately described him as a "bull in a china shop" with a tendency to make problems worse.
Cohen was disappointed that Trump didn't tap him to run his campaign or to work as White House chief of staff, the Journal reports. And his frustration has mounted as Trump publicly downplays his relationship with Cohen in the face of allegations of an affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels, whom Cohen paid $130,000 in a hush agreement in 2016.
The attorney reportedly shared his feelings with the president from afar, telling him in a phone call last year: "Boss, I miss you so much. I wish I was down there with you."
Trump on Thursday admitted to Fox & Friends that Cohen represented him in the Daniels case, but said that Cohen only handled a "tiny, tiny little fraction" of his legal work. Trump's delayed repayment of the hush money reportedly pushed Cohen to consider "defecting" from Trump's side, even though he has publicly said he'd "take a bullet" for the Trump family.
The Journal reports that Trump is likely paying close attention to his legal bull lately, hoping his crash through the metaphorical china shop doesn't take the president down with him. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Summer Meza
The Senate confirmed Mike Pompeo as President Trump's next secretary of state Thursday. Pompeo, who was previously serving as CIA director, was sworn into office Thursday afternoon by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and immediately departed to Brussels for a summit with NATO allies.
In celebration of Pompeo's confirmation, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted never-before-seen images of Pompeo meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un over Easter weekend. Reports of Pompeo's secret meeting with Kim leaked earlier this month, and Trump later confirmed the summit occurred. See the photos below. Kimberly Alters
Great to have Secretary Pompeo confirmed. He will do an excellent job helping @POTUS lead our efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. (photos from previously confirmed Easter weekend trip) pic.twitter.com/o4RNDKVmah
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) April 26, 2018
The Trump-supporting vlog duo testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday after alleging their conservative content was censored on social media. Their testimony was quite combative — here are three of the wildest moments from the hearing. Kathryn Krawczyk
1. Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson (Ga.) asked why Diamond and Silk were "bashing" Facebook even after they profited from its ads. Lynette "Diamond" Hardaway said that Facebook had stopped the pair from monetizing videos for "six months, 29 days, five hours, 43 minutes, and 40 seconds."
When a remarkably calm Johnson countered that diamonds are "a girl's best friend," Hardaway added: "And they're hard too. And if I have to be hard and be firm with you, I will."
2. When the duo confirmed they were "not paid by the Trump campaign," Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) asked about a $1,274.94 payment from the campaign to Diamond and Silk for "field consulting." "We are familiar with that particular lie," Rochelle "Silk" Richardson said. "We can see that you do look at fake news."
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries confronts Diamond and Silk with the FEC record showing the duo were paid $1,274.94 for field consulting work despite them repeatedly telling a congressional committee that they’ve never been paid by the Trump campaign. (via ABC)pic.twitter.com/HBQVYYu38o
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 26, 2018
3. Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu (Calif.) got right to the point. "This is a stupid and ridiculous hearing," he said. "The only reason I'm still here is I want to enter some facts into the record to at least try to salvage some of this hearing."
Ted Lieu on the social media hearing featuring Diamond and Silk: "This is a stupid and ridiculous hearing." (via ABC) pic.twitter.com/2LkkBq1HYM
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 26, 2018