January 23, 2019

Bohemian Rhapsody director Bryan Singer has been accused of sexual abuse by four more men in a massive new exposé.

The Atlantic published an investigation Wednesday on Singer's history of alleged misconduct that took 12 months to produce and included interviews with more than 50 people. The first of several new accusers is Victor Valdovinos, who says he was 13 when Singer, who was in his 30s, approached him in his school's bathroom while he was there filming the movie Apt Pupil. He says he was asked to be an extra and that on set, Singer molested him.

Another accuser, referred to under the pseudonym Andy, says he and Singer had sex when he was 15 and Singer was 31. Andy says Singer brought actor Brad Renfro into the bedroom. Renfro was 15 at the time, and two sources say Singer sometimes referred to him as his boyfriend. A third man, referred to as Eric, says he had sex with Singer beginning when he was 17 and Singer was 31.

Singer reportedly hosted parties that were frequently attended by underage boys, and one man, referred to as Ben, says that he and Singer had oral sex at one of the parties when Ben was 17 or 18, the latter of which is the age of consent in California. Singer "would stick his hands down your pants without your consent" at these parties, said Ben.

Singer has previously faced misconduct allegations, including a lawsuit from a man accusing him of rape, but he has continuously denied accusations of sex with underage boys and has not been charged with a crime. The Atlantic writes that 20th Century Fox had concerns about hiring him to direct Bohemian Rhapsody, but did so because members of Queen supported the decision. The studio ultimately fired Singer over reported erratic behavior on set, but he's still the credited director on the film, which was just nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Brendan Morrow

Update 12 p.m. EST: Singer responded to The Atlantic's story in a statement, calling it a "homophobic smear piece" based on interviews with "disreputable" sources and "bogus lawsuits" seeking "money or attention." Read the full response here.

11:33 a.m.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller never had an in-person interview with President Trump for his investigation into Russian election interference, and he didn't think he needed it.

Attorney General William Barr released a redacted version of Mueller's report on Thursday, including information from numerous interviews with Trump's associates, but only written answers from the president himself. Mueller's team found Trump's written answers to be "inadequate," and wrote in the report that they "considered whether to issue a subpoena for his testimony."

But by the time this question arose, the "investigation had made significant progress," Mueller's team wrote. So the investigators "determined" that the information they gathered from other sources "allowed us to draw relevant and factual conclusions on intent and credibility ... without direct testimony from the subject of the investigation," the report continues.

Read the whole report here. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:08 a.m.

The redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report has finally arrived.

The Justice Department on Thursday posted a PDF of the entire report into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which as expected contains redactions, on its website. You can read the report here.

The report was posted online just as Attorney General William Barr was set to deliver it to Congress. He spoke earlier in the morning in a press conference, reiterating his previous statements that Mueller concluded that President Trump's campaign did not collude with Russia and that Mueller did not make a determination on obstruction. Now, reporters are ready to dig in for themselves. Brendan Morrow

11:05 a.m.

White House lawyers were allowed to see Special Counsel Robert Mueller's private report days before a redacted version of it was to be released to Congress and the public, The New York Times reports. Department of Justice officials apparently had "numerous conversations with White House lawyers about the conclusions made by Mr. Mueller," with Axios' Jonathan Swan confirming that Trump's personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, "just told me he first saw the Mueller report on Tuesday afternoon."

Some critics have cried foul over Trump's team getting to see the report ahead of the public. CNN's Jeffrey Toobin called it a "cherry picking" of legal strategy that Barr would let the White House team review the report before letting it go to Congress.

While Barr emphasized in his press conference that Trump's team did not exercise any power over what portions of the report were redacted, the decision to let the White House get a sneak peek could still be consequential, the Times reports, writing "the information that Justice Department officials have provided to the White House could potentially be valuable for Mr. Trump's legal team as it finalizes a rebuttal to the Mueller report" and that "the president's aides have devised a strategy for numerous lawyers and political aides to quickly read different parts of the document to develop a rebuttal strategy." Read more about the White House legal team's early access to the report at The New York Times. Jeva Lange

10:34 a.m.

Fox News' Chris Wallace thinks Attorney General William Barr sounds a lot like a counselor to the president right about now.

The Fox anchor spoke after Barr's press conference about the impending release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, noting that the attorney general got into a "curious area" when he sympathetically talked about Trump's frustrations with the Mueller probe and the media's "relentless" coverage of it to argue Trump did not have corrupt intent.

Wallace observed that Barr "almost seemed to be acting as the counselor for the defense, the counselor for the president rather than the attorney general, talking about his motives, talking about his anger, his feeling that this was unfair … really making a case for the president.”

As a result of this, Wallace imagined that "Democrats' heads on Capitol Hill were exploding." Brendan Morrow

10:30 a.m.

Attorney General William Barr's press conference about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Thursday appeared to let President Trump off the hook for any "collusion" with Russian agents. But sharp-eared listeners also caught some particularly slippery language when it came to Barr addressing the 2016 Wikileaks scandal.

"The Special Counsel ... investigated whether any member or affiliate of the Trump campaign encouraged or otherwise played a role [in the dissemination of hacked Democratic emails]," Barr said. The attorney general added that "under applicable law, publication of these types of materials would not be criminal unless the publisher also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy. Here too, the special counsel's report did not find that any person associated with the Trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination of the materials."

That's the point reporters are hung up on: The report "did not find that any person associated with the Trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination." As Jon Swaine, a reporter for The Guardian, tweeted, in Barr's comments the attorney general seemingly "left open the possibility that Mueller did find Trump associates were involved in the dissemination of hacked emails by WikiLeaks."

The public version of the Mueller Report will be released later Thursday, and you can bet all eyes are going to be on figuring out exactly what Attorney General Barr means with that "illegally." Jeva Lange

10:26 a.m.

House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) is already unsatisfied.

Attorney General William Barr delivered a press conference Thursday ahead of releasing a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report. He finished about an hour before Congress was expected to receive the report, yet Nadler still sent a letter to Mueller right as Barr wrapped, asking the special counsel to testify before his Judiciary Committee. Nadler had apparently made this same request in the past, he noted in his letter, and is now asking Mueller to appear "no later than May 23."

Nadler had already called on Barr to postpone his press conference until after the public saw the report, and his committee issued a subpoena to receive the full, unredacted report earlier this month. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:14 a.m.

Attorney General William Barr on Thursday painted a sympathetic picture of President Trump's actions and criticized the media for its coverage of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Barr spoke about Mueller's probe into whether President Trump tried to obstruct justice, saying it's "important to bear in mind the context" of what Trump did because he faced an "unprecedented situation" and had to deal with "relentless speculation in the news media about the presidency's culpability" even though "there was, in fact, no collusion."

Mueller in his report acknowledges, according to Barr, that there is "substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by his sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency." This, Barr suggests, is "evidence of non-corrupt motive," which "weighs heavily against any allegation that the president had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation."

The attorney general had previously told Congress that Mueller did not make a determination about whether Trump committed an obstruction of justice offense but that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded there wasn't enough that he did, pointing to this evidence he says shows the president did not have a corrupt motive. Upon taking questions, Barr objected to the idea that he was being "generous" to the president with this description. Brendan Morrow

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