President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday that he has no recordings of his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey. “With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings,” the president said, confirming a report that was published just an hour earlier in Bloomberg. Trump himself had raised the question of whether such tapes existed when he blasted out a tweetstorm in May. “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” he wrote at the time.
Three Republican senators announced their opposition on Thursday to the Senate’s version of the Obamacare repeal legislation. Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ron Johnson issued a joint statement saying the bill doesn’t go far enough to repeal Obamacare but they are open to negotiations. “There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs,” the joint statement reads. In his own statement, Paul—who has been openly critical of the back-door process by which the legislation was written—said in its current form the bill “does not repeal Obamacare.”
Senate Republicans unveiled their version of a health-care overhaul Thursday that eliminates many provisions included in the Affordable Care Act. The bill would cut Medicaid, end the ACA’s mandate that Americans must have health insurance or pay a fine, and allow states to drop previously required benefits. The Senate bill maintains the structure of the bill passed by the House last month, but offers more financial assistance to some lower-income people.
Bill Cosby's attorney said he will hold a series of town halls this summer to educate young people on how to avoid being accused of sexual assault. The class will apparently inform attendees about warning signs from potential victims. On Saturday, a Pennsylvania judge declared a mistrial after jurors could not reach a consensus on three charges of sexual assault against Cosby. Prosecutors say they will recharge Cosby.
A federal appeals court said on Thursday that Mississippi can enforce a law allowing merchants and government employees to deny services to same-sex couples on the grounds of their religious beliefs. This decision reverses a previous ruling to block the law, which a judge said unconstitutionally created unequal treatment for LGBT people. Supporters of the law say it protects religious beliefs about marriage and gender.
The hackers who targeted U.S. state and local election databases last year were successful in altering voter information at least once, officials told Time. Investigators have not yet identified whether Russian agents are behind the alleged alterations. Private data was also stolen, including drivers license numbers and the last four digits of Social Security numbers. Congressional investigators and special counsel Robert Mueller are looking into whether the Trump campaign received any of the stolen information.
Edgar M. Welch was sentenced to four years in prison on Thursday for firing an assault rifle in a D.C. pizza shop he wrongly believed was harboring child sex slaves based on the Pizzagate internet conspiracy theory. Shortly before Welch fired shots on Dec. 4 of last year, he sent an internet video to a friend by InfoWars' Alex Jones that baselessly alleged the Hillary Clinton campaign was trafficking sex slaves through the pizza shop's basement, even though it has no basement. Prosecutors asked that he be sentenced to 4-1/2 years in prison, while his defense team asked for 18 months.
President Trump claimed in a tweet that the Russian leak of DNC documents in 2016 was a “hoax.” He posted: “...Why did Democratic National Committee turn down the DHS offer to protect against hacks (long prior to election). It’s all a big Dem HOAX! ...Why did the DNC REFUSE to turn over its Server to the FBI, and still hasn’t? It’s all a big Dem scam and excuse for losing the election!” DNC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson on Thursday told CNN that the Department of Homeland Security didn’t even reach out to the DNC until August of last year, after the hack had already been made public and the security gap fixed. “The DNC has and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement on Russia’s interference in our election,” Watson said. “The DNC has been in regular contact with the FBI for many months and the FBI confirmed the DNC has provided all the information it needed to make its assessment. The DNC was contacted by DHS months after the DNC worked closely with the FBI to remedy the intrusion. The DNC then provided DHS with detailed information about the intrusion.”
Senior officials in the Church of England “concealed” evidence of sexual abuse by a former bishop, an independent review found. The disgraced former cleric was sentenced to 32 months in prison October 2015 after admitting to abusing young men for more than two decades. The report criticizes former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord George Carey for withholding from police written abuse allegations in the 1990s. Carey’s successor, Rowan Williams, was also criticized for delaying reforms.
America’s top intelligence officials reportedly told Senate investigators and special counsel Robert Mueller’s team that President Trump asked them to publicly refute allegations of collusion between his 2016 campaign and the Russians, CNN reports. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers told investigators about their interactions with the president in two separate meetings last week, according to the report. Both men said the suggestion from Trump made them uncomfortable—and was surprising—but that it was not perceived as an order to interfere in the probe. Mueller’s team, which has just begun its investigation in earnest, will ultimately decide whether such interactions are relevant to the Russia inquiry.