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June 15, 2017

A week after reports surfaced that an Uber executive obtained the medical records of a woman raped by one of Uber's drivers, the woman filed a lawsuit against the ride-sharing company and three of its current and former top executives:

The woman, identified only as Jane Doe, a resident of Texas, is suing Uber and its chief executive, Travis Kalanick, as well as two former senior executives, Emil Michael and Eric Alexander, for intrusion into private affairs, public disclosure of private facts, and defamation. She said in her suit that the three executives believed her rape, in 2014, may have been part of a conspiracy hatched by a competing ride-hailing company or a taxi company. [The New York Times]

The Uber executive, Eric Alexander, reportedly traveled to India, where the woman was raped in 2014 during an Uber ride, to get ahold of the woman's medical records. It's not entirely clear how he did so or if the files were obtained "legally," Recode reported.

Alexander then shared those documents with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and senior executive Emil Michael, who are both also named in the lawsuit. His intent was apparently to question whether the woman's account was true. The accused Uber driver has been convicted of kidnapping and sexual assault and sentenced to life in prison.

“Rape denial is just another form of the toxic gender discrimination that is endemic at Uber and ingrained in its culture," said lawyer Douglas Wigdor, who is representing the woman.

The lawsuit comes days after Uber announced that it had fired more than 20 employees following an investigation into company culture. Kalanick announced Tuesday that he would be taking a leave of absence to "work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader that this company needs." Becca Stanek

June 12, 2017
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Senate Republicans do not plan to publicly release their draft health-care bill, two senior Senate GOP aides tell Axios. The draft is expected to be completed Monday evening. One of the aides explained that Senate Republicans are "still in discussions about what will be in the final product, so it is premature to release any draft absent further member conversations and consensus."

By not releasing a draft of the GOP-backed American Health Care Act, Republicans will likely further enrage Democrats already irked about the lack of transparency surrounding the writing of the plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Last week, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) erupted on the Senate floor after Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) confirmed there would not be any hearings on the bill. "We have no idea what's being proposed," McCaskill said. "There's a group of guys in a back room somewhere that are making these decisions."

Senate Republicans are eyeing a vote on the bill before the July 4 recess. Becca Stanek

June 9, 2017
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If the "tapes" of President Trump's conversations with former FBI Director James Comey actually exist, the House Intelligence Committee wants them handed over in two weeks. On Friday, Reps. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) sent a letter to White House Counsel Don McGahn, asking him to let the committee know if the "tapes" Trump once threatened Comey with on Twitter "now exist or have in the past."

"To the extent they exist now, the committee's letter asks that copies of such materials be produced to the committee by June 23," a statement from the House Intelligence Committee said.

The committee announced its request shortly after Trump, while speaking at a joint press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at the White House, refused to answer questions about the "tapes." He said he'd respond "in the near future," adding that everyone was "going to be very disappointed" by his answer.

Also Friday, the House Intelligence Committee requested that Comey turn over "any notes or memoranda in his possession memorializing discussions" that he had with Trump. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee asked Comey associate Daniel Richman, who leaked Comey's memos to the press, to hand over anything that Comey had shared with him. Becca Stanek

June 6, 2017
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Russian attacks on the U.S. voting system are even "broader than has been reported so far," Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told USA Today on Tuesday. On Monday, The Intercept reported that it had obtained a highly classified National Security Agency report that revealed Russian military intelligence tried to hack a major U.S. voting software supplier and also sent "spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials" just before the 2016 elections.

Warner maintained that he does not believe Russia "got into changing actual voting outcomes," but he seemed to further corroborate reports that Russia did indeed breach aspects of the U.S. voting system, such as U.S. voter registration.

Warner warned that "none of these actions from the Russians stopped on Election Day." He said he is now working to get intelligence agencies to make public the states affected in the 2016 elections to "put electoral systems on notice" before the midterm elections in 2018, USA Today reported. Becca Stanek

June 2, 2017
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On Friday, former Penn State University President Graham Spanier was sentenced to at least two months in prison and several additional months under house arrest for failing to report allegations of sexual molestation involving the university's former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky. Two other university administrators, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz, were also sentenced to jail time.

All three men were convicted of the same misdemeanor charge of child endangerment for failing to promptly alert authorities about reports of Sandusky's behavior.

Spanier reportedly plans to appeal his sentence, as Sandusky has continued to do. Sandusky, who was convicted in 2012 on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, is sentenced to up to 60 years in prison. Becca Stanek

May 26, 2017
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President Trump on Friday condemned the "merciless slaughter of Christians in Egypt" and urged "all who value life" to confront terrorists' "war against civilization." At least 26 people, including children, were killed Friday when eight gunmen dressed in military uniforms attacked a bus and a pickup truck carrying Coptic Christians. The Coptic Christians, a minority group that has long faced discrimination in Egypt, were traveling to St. Samuel Monastery in Egypt's Minya province, located south of Cairo.

"Civilization is at a precipice — and whether we climb or fall will be decided by our ability to join together to protect all faiths, all religions, and all innocent life," Trump said in the statement, pushing for everyone to unite "for the righteous purpose of crushing the evil organizations or terror, and exposing their depraved, twisted, and thuggish ideology." Becca Stanek

May 23, 2017

While testifying Tuesday before the House Intelligence Committee, former CIA Director John Brennan revealed that FBI intelligence uncovered "contacts and interactions" between Russian officials and individuals involved with the Trump campaign. Brennan said he had grown "concerned" that those individuals may have been influenced to act on behalf of the Russian government.

Those worries persisted when he stepped down as CIA director on Jan. 20, Brennan testified. "I had unresolved questions in my mind, as to whether or not the Russians had been successful in getting U.S. persons involved in the campaign or not to work on their behalf again, either in a witting or unwitting fashion," Brennan said, calling the FBI investigation into Trump associates and Russians "well-founded."

Though he's certain that "Russia brazenly interfered in the 2016 election process," Brennan noted he does not "know whether such collusion [with Trump associates] existed."

Brennan said he explicitly warned Russia against meddling in the U.S. presidential election in a phone call on Aug. 4 to the head of the Russian intelligence service. Brennan testified that he'd threatened such interference would "destroy any near-term prospect of improvement" in U.S.-Russia relations. "I believe I was the first U.S. official to brace Russia on this matter," Brennan said. Becca Stanek

May 19, 2017
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In a closed-door meeting Friday with House and Senate members, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stood by the memo he wrote to President Trump outlining his concerns with FBI Director James Comey. After opening with a candid statement about his "personal affection" for Comey, he detailed the series of missteps he felt Comey had made that led him to believe "it was appropriate to seek a new leader" for the FBI.

Rosenstein confirmed he had learned on May 8 that Trump intended to dismiss Comey and wanted his advice; the memo is dated May 9, the day that Trump fired Comey. "I wrote it. I believe it. I stand by it," Rosenstein said. He insisted there has not been "any political interference."

House members described Rosenstein's statement as "very guarded" and "frustratingly cautious." "It's clear he just wanted to defer to Mueller on everything tough," one Democratic lawmaker told CNN, referring to former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to probe Trump's ties to Russia.

Rosenstein also claimed Friday that neither he nor his staff were "aware of any such request" by the FBI for "additional resources" for the FBI's investigation into Russia's election interference. Reports have indicated Comey asked for more resources to expedite the investigation just days before Trump fired him. Becca Stanek

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