×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
May 19, 2017
Eric Thayer/Getty Images

The ongoing probe into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign has reportedly identified a current White House official as "a significant person of interest," The Washington Post reports. The individual was described by people familiar with the matter as being "someone close to the president," although the sources declined to name names.

So far, President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, have been the public centers of the investigation. Neither is a part of the current administration. "Current administration officials who have acknowledged contacts with Russian officials include Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as Cabinet members Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson," the Post writes.

Kushner, for one, was a "prominent voice advocating Comey's firing," CBS writes. On Friday, The New York Times reported that Trump told Russian officials he had fired Comey in order to ease the pressure of the ongoing probe.

The White House also has acknowledged that Kushner met with [Sergey] Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., in late November. Kushner also has acknowledged that he met with the head of a Russian development bank, Vnesheconombank, which has been under U.S. sanctions since July 2014. The president's son-in-law initially omitted contacts with foreign leaders from a national security questionnaire, though his lawyer has said publicly he submitted the form prematurely and informed the FBI soon after he would provide an update.

Vnesheconombank handles development for the state, and in early 2015, a man purporting to be one of its New York-based employees was arrested and accused of being an unregistered spy. [The Washington Post]

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told the Post that "as the president has stated before, a thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity."

The Washington Post adds that "people familiar with the matter said investigators on the case are more focused on Russian influence operations and possible financial crimes" and that "the probe has sharpened into something more fraught for the White House, the FBI, and the Justice Department — particularly because of the public steps investigators know they now need to take." Read the full scoop at The Washington Post. Jeva Lange

2:28 p.m. ET

Ahh, Thanksgiving. That special time of year when you set out your most over-the-top centerpiece, strap on your eating pants, and gather around the table to talk tax policy with relatives you only see once a year.

That's what Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) imagines happens, anyway. On Monday, Schumer tweeted a chart made by the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, instructing his followers to bring it to "Thanksgiving dinner" to whip out when "that family member who always talks politics tells you the Republican tax bill helps the middle class," the Washington Examiner reports.

But Schumer wasn't done delivering graphics for you to surprise your unsuspecting relative with at some point between the turkey carving and the pumpkin pie:

Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Chuck! Jeva Lange

1:41 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Rep. John Conyers' legacy was upended Monday when a BuzzFeed News report detailed sexual harassment allegations made against the Michigan Democrat. Now, the editorial board of the Detroit Free Press, his slightly left-leaning hometown paper, is calling for him to step down.

The longtime congressman is known as a civil rights icon and a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, facts the Free Press acknowledged in its scathing editorial published Tuesday. But he's also been accused of making sexual advances toward an employee — and having her fired when she refused.

That's enough to spark an inquiry into Conyers, the Free Press said. But his misconduct runs deeper: If the victim dropped her formal complaint against Conyers, his office said it would "re-hire" her and pay her as a temporary employee. The woman eventually agreed to those terms, receiving more than $27,000 over the course of three months. It's similar to a time Conyers kept paying his former chief of staff even after she was fired — payments the Free Press said look like "hush money."

While the editorial board did suggest reforming the Congressional Office of Compliance so these payoffs don't keep happening, that is "not the point with Conyers." "It's a betrayal that breaches the most fundamental trust that exists between a public servant and the people that person represents," the Free Press wrote.

And that's why, even after a "stellar" 53 years in office, the paper is calling on Conyers to step down. You can read the Detroit Free Press' full editorial here. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:03 p.m. ET
David Ramos/Getty Images

Russian ads reportedly reached an estimated 126 million Facebook users during the presidential campaign, likely leaving some people wondering if they are among those who might have fallen for Kremlin propaganda. On Wednesday, the social media giant announced that it will be creating a page to help users identify which accounts they liked or followed that were discovered to be linked back to a Russian "troll farm," Axios reports. Facebook says to expect the tool to be available in its Help Center by the end of the year, The Hill reports.

The Senate Judiciary Committee's Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) had demanded that Facebook "individually notify any and all users who received or interacted with [Russian] advertisements and associated content," issuing similar orders to Twitter and Google. Facebook, though, will not tell users "whether they were exposed to content from the [Russian troll farm's] pages in their Newsfeed, even if they didn't follow them," Axios notes.

Facebook admitted in September that it unknowingly sold $100,000 worth of ads to a Russian troll farm during the election. Check out one particularly humorous example of a Russian ad here. Jeva Lange

1:02 p.m. ET

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) told CNN on Wednesday that he once convinced White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn to pretend he had bad cell service to get off the phone with President Trump. Trump apparently called Cohn during the middle of a meeting and talked for 15 minutes before Carper gave Cohn some advice, saying: "Gary, why don't you do this, take the phone … and just say 'Mr. President, you're brilliant but we're losing contact and I think we're going to lose you now, so goodbye.'"

CNN's John Berman held back laughter as he asked if Carper actually convinced Cohn to fake a bad connection. The senator replied, "I don't want to throw [Cohn] under the bus, but yes." Berman's co-host Poppy Harlow then quipped, "I think you just did."

Although Trump may not hear about this incident, as he claims to watch CNN only when forced, Carper's story would likely reignite the president's displeasure with Cohn. In September, The New York Times reported Trump was refusing to make eye contact with Cohn after the Goldman Sachs alum publicly disagreed with Trump's response to the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August.

The White House has denied Carper's recollection of the phone call. Kelly O'Meara Morales

12:23 p.m. ET
Courtesy image

Your inner goddess will undoubtedly say "Yeah, right" when she hears all the supposed benefits of using a Vortix Eye Massager ($485). The battery-operated plastic mask aims foremost to soothe the fine muscles and nerves of the eyes and temples using vibration, air massage, and heat. Fine: Every goddess with a desk job or smartphone has once said, "Mine eyes, they are strained and sore." Vortix promises more than relief, though, claiming that eye massage tames stress, insomnia, migraines, and dark circles. Oh, and one more thing: Because it stimulates neglected nerves, it can, ostensibly, restore a user's vision. The Week Staff

11:39 a.m. ET

Former Team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar admitted Wednesday to molesting seven girls, including three under the age of 13, NBC News reports. In total, Nassar, 54, is accused of having abused more than 130 of his patients during medical exams between 1998 and 2015.

Among Nassar's accusers are gold medalists Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, and Aly Raisman. In an Instagram post Tuesday, Douglas, 21, said she didn't tell anyone about the abuse because "for years we were conditioned to stay silent, and honestly, some things were extremely painful." Maroney accused Nassar of repeated abuse, including drugging her: "He'd given me a sleeping pill for the flight and the next thing I know, I was all alone with him in his hotel room getting a 'treatment,'" she wrote. "I thought I was going to die that night."

While entering his guilty plea, Nassar said Wednesday: "I am so horribly sorry that this was like a match that turned into a forest fire out of control." He agreed to a sentence between 25 and 40 years. Jeva Lange

11:31 a.m. ET

A former intern for Charlie Rose said Wednesday that the former talk show host made her watch a sexually explicit scene from a movie for 20 minutes under the guise of work obligations. Rose, a veteran journalist who was fired from PBS and CBS News after allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct were reported by The Washington Post, apparently additionally asked the intern, Sarah Gordon, if the scene made her feel aroused.

Gordon told NBC News that she was delivering mail to Rose's house when the incident occurred. "I proceeded to go into the living room, and he said I want to show you this scene from this movie," Gordon said. "And he said have a seat, you know, relax, and he proceeded to turn on the film Secretary, which is a sexually involved film involving S&M, unfortunately."

Although Gordon said Rose did not touch her during the incident, NBC News noted that the film in question "portrays a young woman becoming sexually involved with her boss." Gordon said that eventually, she was able to change the subject of conversation and leave the apartment.

Rose has been accused of sexually harassing young women who worked for him. On Monday, he issued a statement calling himself "an advocate for the careers of the women with whom I have worked" and apologized for his "inappropriate behavior," including reported inappropriate touching, sexually suggestive remarks, and exposing himself.

Gordon was rather forgiving of her former boss, telling NBC News, "I think he's probably troubled, and I have empathy for people that are troubled." Still, she added, his firings were justified: "I don't think someone like that deserves to have a position like that if they're going to abuse their power," she said. Kelly O'Meara Morales

See More Speed Reads