Anderson Cooper's interview with Janet Porter, spokeswoman for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, got off to a testy start Wednesday night, with Cooper asking why Alabamians should believe Moore over the several women who accuse him of predatory sexual behavior when they were teenagers.
"Your campaign has blamed an awful lot of people for accusations being made by women against Roy Moore," he said, listing "Doug Jones, George Soros, the DNC, Mitch McConnell, mainstream Republicans, The Washington Post, the 'lynch mob media' as you called them, homosexuals, transgender people, and criminals. Can you just explain to me how all these people got together and came up with this plot against Roy Moore? ... I don't know if there's like a conference call that Mitch McConnell and radical homosexuals are on, but it would be fascinating to hear that." "When you have false allegations that are generated by The Washington Post, there tends to be a pile-on," Porter said. "That's how a lynch mob works."
Cooper noted that Moore has spoken about abortion and gun rights, then asked "where the judge stands on a number of issues that he's spoken of in the past but not as much recently." Porter said she didn't know if Moore still believes that homosexual conduct should be illegal, that 9/11 may have happened because "we've distanced ourselves from God," that U.S. Muslims shouldn't be allowed to serve in Congress, or that Barack Obama was born outside the U.S.
"You know, you can ridicule Biblical beliefs if you want, but it's not going to fly in Alabama," Porter said. "I'm not ridiculing," Cooper said, "I'm giving you quotes of exactly what your candidate has said, you're the spokesperson, and you ... seem either not to know what his positions are or unwilling to actually tell me what his positions are." Watch the entire interview, including Cooper's suggestion that Porter — from Ohio — is carpetbagging and lots of talk about the Bible, the Constitution, and Sharia law. Peter Weber
About once a week, Shira Josephson grabs one of her favorite books, snuggles up to her stuffed animals, and records herself reading out loud so children who are too sick to leave their hospital beds can enjoy hearing stories.
The videos are part of her series Shira's Story Corner, posted to her YouTube page. The 8-year-old came up with the idea to read to seriously ill kids via YouTube after going through training to become a Junior Ambassador a Children's Hospital Los Angeles. While at the hospital, she learned there is a special area for kids who are too sick to leave their rooms. It bothered her to think that they couldn't even visit the hospital's reading area, and she thought it would make them feel better if she recorded videos for them to watch. "It's been exciting to watch her come up with all these ideas and to help her make them come to life," her mother, Brooke Josephson, told People.
Josephson reads classics like Corduroy, Paddington Bear, and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and also takes requests. When she's not reading, Josephson is raising money for Children's Hospital Los Angeles and writing her own books, and she has a message for the kids she hopes she's helping: "I will do everything I can to make the videos special for you, so you don't feel alone." Catherine Garcia
On Thursday, the government did something most Americans opposed and there was chaos and drama at the White House — so, just your average day in Washington.
On Thursday's Late Night with Seth Meyers, the host examined the Federal Communications Commission's deeply unpopular decision to repeal former President Barack Obama's net neutrality rules, as well as Chairman Ajit Pai's love of gigantic coffee mugs and the term "light touch regulation." While this is huge news, it's being overshadowed by the drama surrounding former Apprentice villain Omarosa Manigault Newman's exit from her role as director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison.
The White House announced her departure on Wednesday, and it's been reported Chief of Staff John Kelly made the decision to fire her, with President Trump signing off. In an interview Thursday, Manigault Newman said she notified Kelly she was resigning while in the Situation Room, which impressed Meyers. "Wow, the Situation Room," he said. "Though I have a feeling any room Omarosa goes into becomes a Situation Room. You know it's bad when they have to fire you in the same place they killed Osama bin Laden." He then played clips of pundits reacting to the news of Manigault Newman's exit, plus a bonus of Good Morning America's Robin Roberts giving her the shadiest "bye Felicia." "I wish all news anchors signed off that way," Meyers said. "That's how Edward R. Murrow should have signed off during the McCarthy era. 'Good night, good luck, and bye Felicia.'" Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia
The Wall Street Journal reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has requested Cambridge Analytica, the data firm that worked for President Trump's campaign, turn over the emails of all employees who were involved with the campaign.
WSJ says it was a voluntary request, as was another from the House Intelligence Committee, which the company went along with. The paper also reports Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix was interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee via video call this week as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
In October, The Daily Beast reported that Nix sent an email to a third party that said he contacted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about how he could assist his website with releasing some of Hillary Clinton's deleted emails. Assange told The Daily Beast he was able to "confirm an approach by Cambridge Analytica and can confirm that it was rejected by WikiLeaks." Catherine Garcia
Three women have come forward to accuse actor Dustin Hoffman of sexual misconduct, including one who said he exposed himself to her when she was in high school, Variety reports.
Cori Thomas said in 1980, she spent an afternoon with Hoffman and his daughter, her classmate Karina, in New York City. Instead of picking her up at a restaurant, Hoffman changed the plans and told the restaurant to tell Thomas' parents to pick her up at his hotel room. Karina left and Hoffman decided to take a shower, coming out in a towel and then dropping it. "It was the first time I had ever seen a naked man," Thomas, who was 16 at the time, said. "I was mortified." Thomas said he asked her to massage his feet, which she did because she "didn't know that I could say no," and he made suggestive comments, which she ignored.
Two other women told Variety Hoffman sexually assaulted them while filming 1987's Ishtar. Melissa Kester said her boyfriend at the time was working on the movie's music, and brought her to the recording studio several times. During one visit, Hoffman called her into the recording booth, Kester said, and he "just stuck his fingers down my pants. He put his fingers inside me. I didn't know what to do." Variety also spoke to a woman who was an extra in Ishtar, who shared a similar story. While shooting in New York City, Hoffman offered her a ride home with several other people, the woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said. In the back of the station wagon, Hoffman "just took his hand and stuck his fingers right up inside of me," she said. "I didn't know what to do." He asked her to go to his hotel room, and there, they had intercourse.
The woman told Variety she considered the station wagon incident non-consensual, and when asked if the hotel encounter was, she said, "I don't know." Hoffman's attorney, Mark A. Neubauer, called the accusations "defamatory falsehoods." Earlier this year, Anna Graham Hunter accused Hoffman of groping her in 1985, while she was a teenager. Catherine Garcia
In July 2015, British music publicist Rob Goldstone suggested in an email his client, Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, would be able to set up a meeting between then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, The Washington Post reports.
The Post obtained the email Goldstone sent to Trump's personal assistant Rhona Graff one month after he announced he was running for president, which asked if Trump would be able to attend a birthday party later in the year for the pop star's father, Aras Agalarov, and contained the line, "Maybe he would welcome a meeting with President Putin." There is no indication that Graff or Trump followed up on the offer, the Post reports, although Trump did send a birthday note to Agalarov. Agalarov licensed the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in 2013, bringing it to Moscow, and while in Russia, Trump appeared in one of Emin Agalarov's music videos.
Goldstone is the same publicist who arranged a meeting in June 2016 at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-linked Russian attorney, with Trump Jr. told he'd be receiving compromising information on Hillary Clinton. Read more about Goldstone's first overture at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) could complicate things for the Republicans as they try to pass their tax overhaul, having told reporters on Thursday he won't support the legislation unless it increases the refundable portion of the child tax credit.
Senate and House Republicans say they have reached an agreement on a tax bill, which lowers the corporate tax rate to 21 percent and top individual tax rate from 39.6 to 37 percent, and are just ironing out the final details. As it stands now, the bill sets the child tax credit at $2,000 per child, and Rubio wants it to be refundable against both payroll and income taxes. He "can't in good conscience support" the legislation unless this happens, Rubio said, adding, "There's a way to do it, and we'll be very reasonable." Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has said he agrees with Rubio on the child tax credit issue.
The GOP can only afford to lose two votes in the Senate, but several GOP aides and lawmakers told Politico they believe Rubio will come around before a final vote, which they hope happens next week. "The goal is to get a $2,000 per child tax credit with a significant portion of that to be refundable," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said. "I think Sen. Rubio would like to see us do a little more and we're trying to work with him." Catherine Garcia
A firefighter from San Diego died Thursday while fighting the Thomas Fire in Southern California, the state's fourth-largest fire in modern history.
He's been identified as Cal Fire San Diego Unit Fire Apparatus Engineer Cory Iverson, 32, a married father of two. The Thomas Fire started Dec. 4 in Santa Paula, and quickly spread to the southwest and northwest. It is now at 242,500 acres, having moved from Ventura County to Santa Barbara County, and has destroyed more than 900 homes. It's been fueled by dry winds, which have died down for now but are expected to kick back up starting Friday.
The fire is only 30 percent contained, and fire officials said they do not expect it to be fully out until Jan. 7. Fire behavior analyst Tom Chavez told the Los Angeles Times the blaze is "60 miles long and 40 miles wide. There's a lot of fire out there." Catherine Garcia