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
Trump tweets he'll order Justice Department to investigate if FBI 'infiltrated' his campaign. The DOJ tries to defuse crisis.
I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018
After Trump's tweet, which Jonathan Swan at Axios likened to "rolling a grenade into the Department of Justice," the Justice Department said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had asked Inspector General Michael Horowitz to expand an ongoing review to "include determining whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election," and any "evidence of potential criminal conduct" would be referred to "the appropriate U.S. Attorney."
Trump spent much of the weekend tweeting angrily about the investigation, now headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, following reports Friday night that a covert FBI and CIA informant who served in the Reagan, Ford, and Nixon administrations had approached three Trump campaign aides in 2016 after the FBI became concerned they might be acting as Russian agents.
Analysts said Rosenstein is attempting to defuse a crisis some Trump allies say the president is creating to force Rosenstein to quit. Trump has the constitutional right to do this, but "I can't think of a prior example of a sitting president ordering the Justice Department to conduct an investigation like this one," University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck tells The New York Times. "That's little more than a transparent effort to undermine an ongoing investigation," and if Trump follow through on his threat, "it seems to me that the recipients of such an order should resign." Peter Weber
Venezuela's electoral council declared President Nicolas Maduro the winner Sunday night of a presidential election boycotted by many opponents and marred by claims of irregularities. With 93 percent of precincts reporting, Maduro had 68 percent of the vote versus 21 percent for the main opposition candidate allowed to run, Henri Falcon. Turnout was just over 46 percent, despite extended polling hours, electoral authorities said; The Associated Press estimated that about 40 percent of voters participated, while the opposition put the figure at closer to 30 percent. The U.S. said earlier Sunday that it won't accept the results of the election.
Falcon, a former governor who defected from Maduro's Socialist Party in 2010, blamed the opposition boycott for his low numbers but also rejected the results, saying Maduro's victory "without any doubt lacks legitimacy and we categorically refuse to recognize this process." He specifically pointed to the 13,000 pro-government "red spots" set up near voting stations where poor Venezuelans were encouraged to scan their "fatherland cards" — which entitle them to government benefits — for a chance to to win a "prize." A third candidate, evangelical pastor Javier Bertucci, also slammed voting irregularities and, like Falcon and the opposition coalition, urged a new election.
Maduro declared victory, embarking on a second six-year term. Oil-rich Venezuela is five years into a brutal recession with annual inflation of 19,000 percent and rampant shortages of food and medicine. Maduro has stacked the Supreme Court and replaced the opposition-controlled National Assembly with a second legislature made up of supporters. That National Constituent Assembly had pushed up the presidential election, originally scheduled for December. The two most popular opposition candidates were barred from running and other potential candidates fled Venezuela. Peter Weber
The United States will not recognize the results of Venezuela's presidential election, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan announced Sunday.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is expected to secure another six-year term as his country goes to the polls despite the dire conditions Venezuelans face under his leadership. Venezuela has been in a state of crisis for several years, suffering grave shortages of food, medicine, and other necessities as well as hyperinflation.
Some of Maduro's critics are boycotting the election, which they say will be rigged regardless of participation, in an attempt to delegitimize Maduro's win. The two most popular opposition candidates have been banned from running by the Maduro government.
Sullivan indicated the U.S. is also considering oil sanctions on Venezuela and will broach the topic at Monday's G20 meeting in Buenos Aires. "We need to make sure we adhere to our goal which is to target corrupt regime officials and not the people of Venezuela," he said. "We don't want to damage the country in a way that makes it difficult to repair after democracy is restored." Bonnie Kristian
A North Korean military officer and a civilian defected from their country early Saturday morning. They were found in the Yellow Sea, the ocean area between the Korean Peninsula and mainland China, close to the border between North and South Korea. The two North Koreans reportedly expressed a desire to defect and were taken to South Korea.
In August of 2016, President Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., met in Trump Tower with an emissary of two Saudi princes offering his father help in winning the presidential election, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Per the Times report, the meeting was arranged by Erik Prince, founder of the private military firm formerly known as Blackwater and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Also present was an Israeli social media specialist who wanted to work for the campaign.
Trump Jr. said through a representative the meeting happened, but he rejected the offers. The Times story says otherwise, citing unnamed sources to report "Trump Jr. responded approvingly," and the emissary, George Nader, "was quickly embraced as a close ally by Trump campaign advisers — meeting frequently with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump's son-in-law, and Michael T. Flynn, who became the president's first national security adviser." The social media specialist, Joel Zamel, was later paid a "large sum of money" by Nader, though the reason for the payment is disputed.
Saturday Night Live veteran Tina Fey closed out the show's 43rd season hosting a star-studded episode. Her 30 Rock costar, Alec Baldwin, returned once again as President Trump, and Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller reprised their recent appearances as Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Trump attorney Michael Cohen, respectively.
But not every cameo happened in character: Jerry Seinfeld, Fred Armisen, Donald Glover, Anne Hathaway, Tracy Jordan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Rock, and more showed up for a meta bit about whether the show is disadvantaging newer cast members by bringing in so many celebrities for choice roles.
Watch the cold open and Fey's monologue below. Bonnie Kristian
After extensive trade negotiations, Washington and Beijing said in a joint statement Saturday China will buy more American exports.
"To meet the growing consumption needs of the Chinese people and the need for high-quality economic development, China will significantly increase purchases of United States goods and services," the statement said. "This will help support growth and employment in the United States. Both sides agreed on meaningful increases in United States agriculture and energy exports."
The statement did not specify the quantity or timeline of the increase, nor did it say whether China would be exempted from President Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs. Rather, the "United States will send a team to China to work out the details." Bonnie Kristian