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Franken Says He Won’t Resign

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he plans to stay in the U.S. Senate despite sexual misconduct allegations against him by four women and will try to win back Minnesotans’ trust.

Franken said that he “feels terribly that I’ve made some women feel badly.” He called himself “a warm person” who likes to hug people when they’re being photographed with him, but clearly, his embrace “crossed a line for some women.”

Quote of the Day

“The fact that there was any doubt in anyone’s mind about who the president was blows my mind.”

— Former President George W. Bush, quoted by Politico, adding that Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld “didn’t make one fucking decision.”

Manafort Had Deeper Russia Ties Than Known

Paul Manafort “took at least 18 trips to Moscow and was in frequent contact with Vladimir Putin’s allies for nearly a decade as a consultant in Russia and Ukraine for oligarchs and pro-Kremlin parties,” McClatchy reports.

“Even after the February 2014 fall of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, who won office with the help of a Manafort-engineered image makeover, the American consultant flew to Kiev another 19 times over the next 20 months while working for the smaller, pro-Russian Opposition Bloc party. Manafort went so far as to suggest the party take an anti-NATO stance, an Oppo Bloc architect has said. A key ally of that party leader, oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, was identified by an earlier Ukrainian president as a former Russian intelligence agent, ‘100 percent.’”

“It was this background that Manafort brought to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, which he joined in early 2016 and soon led. His web of connections to Russia-loyal potentates is now a focus of federal investigators.”

Signs Suggest Flynn Cooperating with Mueller

“Lawyers for Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, notified the president’s legal team in recent days that they could no longer discuss the special counsel’s investigation, according to four people involved in the case, an indication that Mr. Flynn is cooperating with prosecutors or negotiating such a deal,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Flynn’s lawyers had been sharing information with Mr. Trump’s lawyers about the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is examining whether anyone around Mr. Trump was involved in Russian efforts to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.”

A Father’s Lesson

Bret Stephens: “Many years ago, I committed an offense for which famous men are now being publicly, and rightly, shamed. I patted an office secretary on her behind. I won’t offer the usual lame defense that I didn’t know my advance was unwanted or that social attitudes were different back then.”

“My only excuse is that at the time of the incident I was about 7 years old.”

“I remember the moment because of what happened immediately afterward. The secretary, who worked at my father’s business in Mexico City, turned around and slammed a heavy stack of papers on my head. I marched indignantly over to my dad’s office to report her behavior — only so that he could march me over to her desk and have me apologize. He followed that up with a stern warning never to do anything of the sort again.”

“I don’t remember the secretary’s name. But what a service she did me by giving me a knock I’ll never forget, one that took courage and self-respect considering I was her boss’s son. What a service, too, that my dad defended her and gave me the talking-to that he did. It’s a lesson every boy should get — loud, clear, and early — from a male role model.”

Virginia GOP Seeks to End Gendered Titles

“With Virginia’s first openly transgender elected official preparing to take her seat in the House of Delegates, the Republican leader of that chamber says it is time to end a tradition of addressing lawmakers by formal male and female pronouns,” the Washington Post reports.

“Instead of the ‘gentleman’ or ‘gentlewoman’ from a given jurisdiction, lawmakers will all be referred to as “delegate” if Republicans maintain control of the chamber.”

“Conservative lawmakers hailed the change as a way to avoid what they said could be a potentially awkward situation. But one of the longest-serving House Democrats called the decision ‘shameful’ and said lawmakers ‘ought to be big enough to get over these hang-ups we have.'”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“The 14-year-old girl that was there, I can tell you right now if it was my daughter, I’d break his face, I’d break his fingers, and I’d probably do a lot worse.”

— Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA), in a CNN interview, saying he didn’t “feel comfortable” with Roy Moore’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

Two More Women Say Franken Touched Them

Two more women have told HuffPost that Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) touched their butts in separate incidents. These are the third and fourth such allegations against Franken in the past week.

”The two additional women, who said they were not familiar with each others’ stories, both spoke on condition of anonymity. But their stories, which describe events during Franken’s first campaign for the Senate, are remarkably similar — and both women have been telling them privately for years.”

Barton Told Woman He Would Call Police

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), “who apologized for a lewd photo of him that circulated on the Internet, told a woman to whom he had sent sexually explicit photos, videos and messages that he would report her to the Capitol Police because she could expose his behavior,” according to a recording reviewed by the Washington Post.

“The woman described encounters and contact spanning a five-year period that began online after she posted a message on Barton’s Facebook page in 2011, leading to the sexually explicit exchanges and ultimately a pair of physical sexual encounters in Washington and Texas. Over time, she said, she became aware of and corresponded with multiple other women who engaged in relationships with Barton, who represents a suburban Dallas district and is one of the most senior Republicans in the House.”

CIA Told Mossad Putin Had Leverage Over Trump

An Israeli source told Vanity Fair about a meeting between a small group of Mossad officers and other Israeli intelligence officials at CIA headquarters just weeks before the inauguration of Donald Trump.

“The meeting proceeded uneventfully; updates on a variety of ongoing classified operations were dutifully shared. It was only as the meeting was about to break up that an American spymaster solemnly announced there was one more thing: American intelligence agencies had come to believe that Russian president Vladimir Putin had ‘leverages of pressure’ over Trump, he declared without offering further specifics.”

Just 22% Say Franken Should Stay In Office

A new KSTP/SurveyUSA poll in Minnesota finds that just 22% of Minnesotans surveyed said Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) should remain in office. Another 33% say he should resign, while 36% say he should wait for results of a Senate Ethics Committee investigation.

Nate Silver: “I think Democrats have underestimated how seriously voters are taking the Franken allegations and how hypocritical it makes them look.”

Quote of the Day

“There is no compassion whatsoever in the White House. I’m just beside myself with sadness because our president is a bully, our president is a punk, and he just doesn’t get it. I don’t know where he was raised, but his family didn’t do a good job raising that guy.”

— Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D), quoted by NBC Philadelphia.