President Donald Trump broke tradition by not attendingApril&8217;s White House Correspondents&8217; Association dinner, but reporters at the event were treated to a rare appearance by both Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein which the New York Post described &8220;like a Simon and Garfunkel reunion.&8221; It seems like nearly every reporter working today hopes to be the next Woodward or Bernstein, which was made obvious last week after President Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey (his one-man &8220;Tuesday afternoon massacre&8221;) andincluded the word &8220;tapes&8221; (in quotation marks) in a follow-up tweet about his conversations with Comey.
Trump attacks single greatest witch hunt of a politician in US history as Mueller appointed special counsel to head federal inquiry
The Department of Justice has appointed the former #FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate alleged ties between the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump and Russian operatives. Mueller will also investigate questions of Russian intervention in the election generally.
Mueller, 72, was appointed FBI director by George W Bush and served 12 years, including for the majority of Barack Obamas presidency. He said in a statementon Wednesday: I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability.
The move to appoint such a substantial figure, coming in a week of multiple reports that have rocked the White House, was welcomed by many Republicans and Democrats.
However, early Thursday, Donald Trump expressed displeasure on Twitter.
Special counsel is a position that exists under a statute that allows the attorney general or a deputy, if the attorney general is recused, to mount an independent investigation. This particular provision has been invoked only once before, in the Bill Clinton administration, when the former senator John Danforth was chosen to investigate the Branch Davidian siege outside Waco, Texas.
The position is different from an independent counsel, the role in which Ken Starr investigated Bill Clinton throughout the 1990s. The law authorising that position expired in 1999.
The deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, made the decision to appoint Mueller. It was a letter from Rosenstein that the Trump administration initiallypresented last week as a central factor in the firing of James Comey as FBI director.
In an order announcing the appointment, Rosenstein explained he had taken the decision to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian governments efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.
My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted, Rosenstein wrote in a separate letter. I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.
In a statement released after Muellers appointment was announced, Trump said: As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly. In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the appointment. There is nothing to comment on. It is an internal matter for the United States, he said.
In exchange first reported by the Washington Post, House majority leader suggested to members that Trump was in Putins payroll but claims it was a joke
In a 2016 conversation with fellow members of House leadership, the majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, suggested that Donald Trump was on Vladimir Putins payroll.
In an exchange first reported by the Washington Post, McCarthy said: Theres theres two people, I think, Putin pays: [California Representative Dana] Rohrabacher and Trump [laughter] swear to God.
According to the transcript, speaker Paul Ryan immediately responded: This is an off-the-record [laughter] NO LEAKS [laughter] alright?!
On Wednesday night, Ryans spokesman, Brendan Buck, said in a statement to the Guardian: This entire year-old exchange was clearly an attempt at humor. No one believed the majority leader was seriously asserting that Donald Trump or any of our members were being paid by the Russians.
He added: Whats more, the speaker and leadership team have repeatedly spoken out against Russias interference in our election, and the House continues to investigate that activity.
Both Buck and a spokesman for McCarthy initially denied the remarks; the Washington Post listened to and verified an audio recording of the conversation. McCarthys spokesman did not respond to the Guardians request for comment. However, he tweeted: This was an attempt at humor gone wrong. No surprise @WashingtonPost tried to contort this into breaking news.
The McCarthy conversation came shortly after both McCarthy and Ryan had been briefed by the Ukrainian prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman, about Russian attempts to undermine democratic institutions in eastern Europe, and a day after it was reported that Russia had successfully hacked the DNC.
At the time, Ryan had still not endorsed Trump but McCarthy had already signed up to become a Trump delegate to the RNC and formally endorsed the real estate developers campaign.
At least some Democrats raised concerns about the statement. The California congressman Eric Swalwell, a member of the House intelligence committee, said the remark raised questions about whether the majority leader had additional information on the relationship the president had with President Putin.
If it was said they had their own concerns and so far they have done nothing to address concerns about the presidents ties to Russia, Swalwell told reporters. So I just want to know, were these concerns based on separate information that the majority leader had or had been told?
Rohrabacher, who has a history of expressing support for the Putin regime and has been described as Putins favorite congressman, told the Guardian on Wednesday night that McCarthy had reassured him it was a joke.
He said that the majority leader approached him on the floor during votes on Wednesday evening to ensure that he knew that the remark was intended as a joke.
Kevin didnt mean any harm, Im sure, said Rohrabacher told reporters.
You have to be very careful when youre using humor, he said, recalling a joke he made during a hearing.
I remember I was trying to make fun of the scientist who claimed that cow farts make global warming, Rohrabacher said. And so at a hearing I said, Oh, do you think maybe the dinosaurs disappeared because of dinosaur flatulence?
To this day, he said environmentalists still fault him for believing that dinosaur flatulence killed the dinosaurs.
Family announces death of channels ousted founder and former presidential adviser, a key force in shaping contemporary #media and politics
Roger Ailes, the controversial, visionary founder of Fox News who was forced out of the company amid a sexual harassment scandal, has died aged 77.
Ailes, a former presidential adviser, joined the network in 1996, building it into the major conservative force in American politics, a profits powerhouse for Rupert Murdochs 21st Century Fox and a company now mired in scandal.
I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning, said his wife, Elizabeth Ailes, in a statement published on the Drudge Report.
Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many. He was also a patriot, profoundly grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise and to give back.
Arguably no contemporary figure has shaped media and politics as profoundly as Ailes. A successful local TV producer who went on to become a key adviser to a succession of Republican presidents, he jumped at the chance to lead Fox News when the service was launched in 1996.
In a statement Murdoch called Ailes a brilliant broadcaster. Roger and I shared a big idea which he executed in a way no one else could have. In addition, Roger was a great patriot who never ceased fighting for his beliefs. At #21st Century Fox we will always be enormously grateful for the great #business he built. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Elizabeth and son Zachary.
David Folkenflik, NPRs media correspondent and author of Murdochs World: The Last of the Old Media Empires, called Ailes a a towering and twisty figure with a very complicated legacy.
Ailess intentional collision of politics and TV redefined broadcast journalism. He had a willful disregard of where lines should be drawn, and he denigrated the work of others in the same field, Folkenflik said. There has been real journalism at Fox News, he said, but that was never the point of the network.
Ailes provided the mirror for the distorted image that many conservatives had of how the mainstream media worked. This was enormously successful financially; it was enormously successful at morphing Republican party politics. His successes allowed for his excesses. … You cannot understand this scandal [that led to his ousting] without understanding the paranoid and punitive atmosphere he created inside Fox News, said Folkenflik.
His shocking departure from Fox News in July 2016, after two decades of leadership, signaled the end of an era for the network, which has been in turmoil ever since.
Ailes was forced out following allegations that he sexually harassed employees including the former host Gretchen Carlson, who alleged in a lawsuit that Ailes fired her after she refused to have sex with him. She worked at the network for 11 years, and said during that time, Ailes subjected her to severe and pervasive sexual harassment.
He denied all allegations.
Ailes reportedly received a $40m payout for his departure and was to remain as a consultant to the network through 2018.
The departure of Ailes was followed later by that of his star presenter Bill OReilly, also forced out over claims of sexual harassment, which he denies.
Douglas Wigdor, a lawyer representing 21 alleged victims of racial and sexual harassment at 21st Century Fox, said that Ailes passing would not affect the legal process.
In terms of our cases, I dont see his sudden passing having any impact as, to the extent relevant, our clients will still be able to testify about his conduct, which presumably will be more difficult for Fox News to counter given that his testimony was not secured by sworn testimony to date.
The harassment scandal cast a shadow over Murdochs 11.7bn takeover bid for Sky, the British television network. His attempt to acquire Sky in 2011 was thwarted amid the phone hacking scandal.
Wigdor travelled to London last week to meet with the British media regulator, Ofcom, which is investigating whether Murdoch and 21st Century Fox are fit and proper owners of Sky.
Wigdor said that Ofcom could only properly consider the companys fitness if Fox waived gagging orders on victims and allowed them to speak to the UK media regulator.
Though Ailes left Fox in disgrace, network hosts honored the former chairman on-air through the morning broadcasts.
Roger gave every single one of us on this couch an opportunity. He put food on our table, and you know, he went out in such a sad way but who doesnt have sins? We all have our sins, we all have our cross to bear, and Roger, I will love you forever.
Shortly after Ailess death was announced, the Fox News host Bill Hemmer said: This is not an easy day.
Hemmer, with his co-host Shannon Bream, discussed how much Ailes loved this country and recalled how Ailes would invite Fox News employees to his house in the Hudson Valley. And we would stand and salute the flag, and that is how the evenings began at Rogers house, he said.
After reports that President Trump would like to seeMichael Flynn eventuallyrejoin the White House in some capacity,it&8217;s pretty clear by now that he&8217;s going to surround himself with whomever he chooses, ignoring the advice of Democrats and often Republicans as well. Still, it was a shock to many this week whenMilwaukee Co. #Sheriff David Clarke told WISN he was acceptingan appointment tothe Department ofHomeland Security. Clarke&8217;s officeis being investigated after aninmatedied of dehydration, and the man&8217;s sons have filed suit, claiming their father was &8220;subjected to a form of torture&8221; while in solitary confinement.
It wouldn&8217;t seem as though the case against Clarke could be more damning, and yet
Former Fox News chairman and founding CEO Roger Ailes died on Thursday morning at 77 years old, a statement from his family says.
In the statement, his wife, Elizabeth, said,
I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning.Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many. He was also a patriot, profoundly grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise and to give back.
No cause of death was specified in the statement, which was read live during Thursday mornings broadcast of Fox and Friends, the video of which can be seen below.
Ailes is most known for leading Fox News from an upstart network to the nations highest ratedcable news channel.
His journey with the network began in mid-90s, when 21st Century Fox owner Rupert Murdoch hiredAiles, who at the time was an executive at NBC.
At NBC, Ailes led CNBC and Americas Talking, a channel that eventually became MSNBC.
Since Fox News debut in October 1996, Ailes has been credited with shaping conservative politics and changing the style cable news networks applied to their broadcasts.
After two decades, though, his journey ended last summer, after former Fox and Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Ailes, alleging sexual harassment.
The suit prompted at least six other women to come forward with similar allegations, including former primetime show host Megyn Kelly, who reportedly told investigators that Ailes made unwanted sexual advances.
Kelly eventually left the network and signed a contract in January with NBC. Meanwhile, Carlson settled with the network for an amount reported to be around $20 million.
The Drudge Report,which first broke the news, posted an alert on Thursday morning with a statement from Ailes&8217; wife, Elizabeth Ailes.
I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning, she wrote. Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many. He was also a patriot, profoundly grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to riseand to give back. During a career that stretched over more than five decades, his work in entertainment, in politics, and in news affected the lives of many millions. And so even as we mourn his death, we celebrate his life.
No cause of death was given in the statement.
Rupert Murdoch, chairman of 21st Century Fox and Fox News, said in a statement that everyone at the channel is shocked and grieved by Ailes death. Murdoch called Ailes a brilliant broadcaster, adding that he had a huge role in shaping American media during his career.
Roger and I shared a big idea which he executed in a way no one else could have, Murdoch said.
Ailes founded and served as the chairman and CEO of Fox News. He resigned in July 2016 amid allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues. Ailes also served as an adviser to President Donald Trumps campaign.
It is a testament to the incredible vitality of queer spirituality that, despite centuries of both physical persecution and theological abuse,many queer people still have faith.
According to a Pew Research Center survey, about 59 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans report being affiliated with a religious tradition. Forty-eight percent identified as Christian, while a significant number identified with non-Christian faiths like Judaism and Buddhism.
And with vehemently anti-queer religious conservatives filling out the ranks of President Donald Trumps administration, its clear that the complicated relationship between Christianity and the LGBTQ community will get even more tense.
Still,because the relentless work of queer Christian activists and theologians, there is much to be thankful for. Their activism has revitalized and challenged Americas faith community in important, history-altering ways that must not be forgotten.
And the victories certainly arent contained to Christianity there have been advances in Judaism, Islam, and other faiths.
In honor of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, which falls on May 17 every year, HuffPost has gathered together these 15 iconic moments of hope in queer Christianity from around the world.From evangelical churches embracing their LGBTQ members to Christian musicians making the choice to come out, these moments from the past five years are reminders of how far weve come, and how much more we need to accomplish.
Being out in the Christian music industry could cost you your career. But over the past five years, a number of queer Christian artists have taken that difficult step — British rock star Vicky Beeching (pictured here), Everyday Sunday’s Trey Pearson, and country singer Ty Herndon are a few.
Christians Rallied With Other Faith Groups For Transgender Rights
Some Evangelical Churches Pledge To Wholeheartedly Embrace Queer Christians
In January 2015, Tennessee pastor Stan Mitchell announced that his congregation, GracePointe Church, would from fully embrace LGBTQ members into its fold, welcoming them to take up leadership roles and celebrate the sacraments. Other evangelical mega-churches have done the same — including Highlands Church in Colorado and EastLake Community Church in Washington state. Although some churches have faced financial repercussions and a drop in membership, that hasn’t always been the case. When Denver Community Church, an evangelical megachurch in Colorado publicly affirmed their pro-queer stance earlier this year, its pastor Michael Hidalgo claimed that only a handful of people decided to leave the church as a result. And some evangelical pastor who were kicked out of their denominations for supporting queer Christians now have thriving new congregations. Rev. Danny Cortez (pictured here, left) is one of those pastors. After the former Southern Baptist pastor’s son came out as gay, Cortez expressed his love for his son in front of his congregation. Cortez later went on to form a new, queer-inclusive church.
A New, Inclusive Christian College Campus Ministry Is Born
Niklas Emmoth via Getty Images
In May 2016, Christian activists formed a new campus ministry called Incarnation. The group is founded on principles of racial equality and LGBTQ inclusion. So far, Incarnation has chapters at five campuses across the country, and has partnered with four other organizations.
The Episcopal Church Refused To Back Down On Equality
Philip Dumas via Getty Images
In 2015, the bishops of the Episcopal Church decided to allow clergy members to perform same-sex weddings. The church defended that decision in 2016 in front of its international umbrella organization, the Anglican Communion. That resulted in a three-year suspension from the Anglican Communion — but the Episcopalians aren’t backing down. Michael Curry, the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop, said after the suspension that “Many of us have committed ourselves and our church to being ‘a house of prayer for all people,’ as the Bible says, [where] all are truly welcome.”
The Gay Christian Network’s Annual Conference Continued To Grow
Since 2005, the Gay Christian Network Conference has brought hundreds of queer Christians and their allies together to share stories and renew their faith. Today, the conference bills itself as the “world’s largest annual LGBTQ Christian event.”
The Rev. Karen Oliveto Became The Methodist Church’s First Openly Gay Bishop
The Chicago Consultation is a group of Episcopal and Anglican clergy and lay people who work toward full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the Anglican Communion. In 2015, the group had its third meeting in Africa, this time in Elmina, Ghana. The Rev. Broderick Greer, an Episcopal priest and queer theologian, described the important work of this group in an email to HuffPost. “Every day, I heard a new story about the ingenious ways they were resisting stigma around HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ visibility, and equitable access to health care. People from five different countries told stories of courage and resilience motivated by a nagging sense that their full humanity should and will be affirmed. The small scale and quiet setting of the gathering is indicative of the manner in which social transformation often takes place: over a drink, in a huddle, or elbow-to-elbow.”
Mormons March At Pride
Jim Urquhart / Reuters
Mormons Building Bridges brings together members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who want to show support for the queer community. In 2012, this group marched at Utah Pride for the first time. For John Gustav-Wrathal, a gay Mormon activist, this was an iconic moment. “Since then, there have been some crushing, traumatizing moments as well… Most of the hope has come from queer Mormons themselves. Attendance at Affirmation conferences has quadrupled since 2012,” he told HuffPost. “LGBT Mormons are coming together in a spectacular way and finding new ways to provide mutual support and engage with their faith.”
A Gay Couple Became The Pastors Of A Historic DC Church
skynesher via Getty Images
The Calvary Baptist Church in Washington DC hired Sally Sarratt and Maria Swearingen as the leaders of their 155-year-old congregation this year. The Baptist ministers told HuffPost their mission is “to sit at bedsides, to march for justice, to proclaim ‘belovedness’ when the world (sometimes even the religious world) proclaims ‘otherness,’ and to set the table of hospitality for those who need it most.”
Transgender Pastors Celebrate Mass In Cuba
Pekic via Getty Images
As part of a conference on queer theology earlier this year, three pastors from Brazil, Canada and the United States flew into Cuba to lead an LGBTQ-friendly worship service. The mass is believed to be a first for Cuba. One participant, a 26-year-old Cuban trans woman named Malu Duardo, told Reuters, “I leave with having learnt a lot of things I can share with other trans, in particular that there is a God for everyone.”