By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. Secret Service faced scathing criticism on Tuesday for the agency allowing an intruder with a knife to run into the White House and the Washington Post reported a separate security lapse of an armed contractor with a criminal record who rode an elevator with President Barack Obama. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson acknowledged the agency charged with protecting Obama had failed on Sept. 19 when it allowed a man to jump the fence at the home of the president, burst through the front door and run about 130 feet (40 meters) into the East Room, which is used for events and receptions. "This is unacceptable and I take full responsibility," Pierson told a U.S. House of Representatives committee. "We are all outraged within the Secret Service at how this incident came to pass. It is self evident mistakes were made," she said, promising lawmakers that it would never happen again. As a first step, Pierson said the front door of the White House now has an automated lock when there is a security breach. It did not have one at the time of the intrusion. Any disciplinary actions, however, would be based on an internal probe by the agency, Pierson said. The incident is the latest black mark for the Secret Service, which has suffered a series of scandals including a lone gunman firing shots at the White House in 2011, a prostitution scandal involving agents in Colombia in 2012 and a night of drinking in March that led to three agents being sent home from a presidential trip to Amsterdam. Factbox The Washington Post reported after Tuesday's hearing that according to three people familiar with a separate security lapse in Atlanta on Sept. 16, a contractor with a gun and who had a criminal record of three convictions for assault and battery, was allowed on an elevator with Obama. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, a Republican, said an internal probe was insufficient to rebuild trust in the agency. U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said he would introduce legislation to create an independent commission to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the agency. In a hearing of more than three hours, lawmakers criticized Pierson's initial post-incident statement, which made it appear intruder Omar Gonzalez was apprehended just inside the door. But she acknowledged on Tuesday that Gonzalez, an Iraq war veteran, struggled with an officer inside the door and crossed through a large foyer into a hallway and most of the way through the 80-foot (24-meter) East Room. Shortly before the intrusion, Obama and his family had left for the weekend. 'HOW ON EARTH DID THIS HAPPEN?' Gonzalez will return on Wednesday to federal court, where he has been charged with unlawful entry while carrying a weapon. A federal grand jury indicted him on Tuesday on that federal offense, along with District of Columbia charges of carrying a dangerous weapon outside a home or business and unlawful possession of ammunition. "The White House is supposed to be one of America's most secure facilities," Issa said. "How on earth did this happen?" Another Republican, U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz, pressed Pierson on when officers can use lethal force against intruders in a modern era of suicide bombers. She said such decisions were up to officers, but they first need to determine that they or others are in imminent danger. Chaffetz told Pierson: "I want it to be crystal clear. You make a run and a dash at the White House, we’re gonna take you down. I want overwhelming force. Do you disagree with me?" Pierson replied, "I do want officers and agents to execute appropriate force for anyone intending to challenge and breach the White House." White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama had confidence in Pierson and said she did not offer her resignation. Pierson said the Secret Service had apprehended 16 fence jumpers in the last five years, including six this year. On Sept. 11, someone was caught seconds after scaling the fence. Lawmakers questioned why Gonzalez had escaped more scrutiny. In July, he was arrested in Virginia for reckless driving, eluding police and possessing a sawed-off shotgun. In August, he was stopped, but not arrested, while walking along the south fence of the White House with a hatchet in his waistband. Pierson said the agency was down about 550 employees from its optimal level, and there had been staff reductions following automatic spending cuts and "other fiscal constraints." Obama appointed Pierson, 55, a 30-year Secret Service veteran, in March 2013. The first female director in the agency's 148-history, she was given the mission of cleaning up the agency's culture. (Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Tom Brown and Grant McCool)
- Yahoo News
Since he changed his legal address from Trump Tower in New York City to his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., some have assumed that’s where he'll go after leaving Washington. There’s just one problem.
- The Daily Beast
Earlier this week, Project Veritas released the first of what it promised would be many shocking revelations from CNN’s internal editorial meetings, which founder James O’Keefe appears to have infiltrated and recorded over the course of several weeks.First, the right-wing group tried to make hay out of the fact that one high-level CNN staffer considered Fox News host Tucker Carlson to be racist—while simultaneously misidentifying the staffer in question. Their latest bombshell? CNN President Jeff Zucker thinks Rudy Giuliani is “crazy.”According to Project Veritas’ website, O’Keefe believes it will be “virtually impossible for the American public to take CNN’s reporting seriously after listening to these tapes.” And yet, once again, nothing that Zucker has said should surprise anyone who has been paying attention to Giuliani, especially in the weeks since Trump lost the presidential election to Joe Biden.“There is a term for what Rudy Giuliani is suspected of being, which is ‘useful idiot,’” a voice identified as Zucker’s can be heard saying in a tape made just a couple of days after the man formerly known as “America’s mayor” started pushing material supposedly obtained from Hunter Biden’s laptop.He goes on to call Giuliani’s efforts to undermine the election a “really important story,” adding, “It gets tied to the Hunter Biden email disinformation campaign. That’s the way we do this, because it’s all tied and part-and-parcel of one. I know Washington is working on putting that all together.”In a more recent call, when another staff member suggests that the “real craziness is the client,” referring to President Trump, “not the lawyers,” the voice ID’d as Zucker agrees before saying, “I think you raise a good point about not just pawning it off on the crazy legal team, but the client is the one who is directing the crazy legal team.”Other comments from Zucker that seem to have outraged Project Veritas concern the baseless allegations of pedophilia against Biden that circulated online, especially among QAnon Facebook groups, in the run-up to the election.“The president of the United States has just retweeted a post accusing Joe Biden of being a pedophile to his 86 million followers which is just beyond,” he says on another tape. “You know it also is just unacceptable that the president of the United States is trafficking in this and doing it.”Once again, an exposé intended to make Zucker and CNN look bad has only revealed that they are simply adhering to reality.Project Veritas’ CNN Sting Uncovers Explosive News That Tucker Carlson Is RacistRead more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- The Telegraph
Former US president Bill Clinton did visit Jeffrey Epstein's infamous private island despite his claims to the contrary, his former associate has claimed. Doug Band, who worked for Mr Clinton for around two decades, claimed the former president flew on Epstein's jet dozens of times and visited the convicted sex offender's private Carribean island in January 2003. Although ignorant of Epstein's crimes at the time, Mr Band claimed in an interview with Vanity Fair that he attempted to keep his boss away from the financier after a 2002 trip to Africa. Mr Band told the magazine the trip had left him with a bad impression of Epstein and he advised Mr Clinton to end his relationship with the multimillionaire financier. The two men were friends in the 2000s, with Mr Clinton taking several trips on Epstein’s private jet, which has come to be known as the "Lolita express" after it was alleged that the financier used the jet to traffic underage girls between his various properties.
- Yahoo News
While many countries seem determined to shield their citizens from the harshest economic side effects of COVID-19, President Trump and Congress have failed to agree on further assistance for Americans who are now suffering more than ever.
- NBC News
During a preliminary hearing at Kenosha County Circuit Court, commissioner Loren Keating ruled that there was enough evidence to send Rittenhouse to trial.
- The Independent
President-elect Joe Biden laid out his vision for his soon-to-be vice president’s role, saying Kamala Harris will be asked to take on “the urgent need of the moment” rather than pursue her own policy agenda. “I headed the  recovery act not because that’s what I said I wanted to do,” Mr Biden said Thursday night of his tenure as vice president – but because then-President Barack Obama instructed him to be the lead negotiator with Congress. “I have confidence in turning to her” to handle the “urgent need of the moment.”
- Associated Press
A diplomatic war of words between Australia and China over a graphic tweet seemed to finally cool on Thursday as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison struck a much more conciliatory tone. Morrison's change in approach came even after he was thwarted in getting his views out directly to Chinese people over the messaging app WeChat, after the Chinese company deleted his post on the grounds it could distort historical events and confuse the public. China has angrily rejected Morrison's complaints, but its foreign ministry on Thursday declined to comment further on the controversy.
- The Week
A team of Trump-adjacent lawyers are turning on the electoral process as a whole.Sidney Powell, a former lawyer for the Trump campaign who has since been disavowed, and high-profile lawyer Lin Wood, along with a bunch of other people falsely alleging the whole 2020 election was rigged, gathered Wednesday in Georgia for a so-called "Stop the Steal" rally. There, they brought up some old favorite Trump rally chants and election conspiracy theories, though with a decidedly non-GOP-approved twist.With Trump campaign flags flying, the scantily masked crowd was reminiscent of a rally for the outgoing president. But the "lock him up" chants at this rally were actually targeted at Brian Kemp, Georgia's Republican governor. Wood initiated the chants, calling for a protest outside Kemp's house and his resignation because he hasn't moved to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's win in the state.Powell added to that, calling for ballots that are signed and marked with a thumbprint -- an idea that doesn't jibe with the secret ballots mandated in Georgia and most of the U.S. "I would encourage all Georgians to make it known that you will not vote at all unless your vote is secure," Powell added, essentially advocating for a boycott of the January runoffs that will decide control of the Senate. And when Rep. Vernon Jones (R-Ga.) tried to butt in and encourage people to turn out, Wood jumped back in, telling everyone to stay home until Trump is given the win and even suggesting Trump should split from the GOP altogether.If all that wasn't enough, someone brought a literal pitchfork to the event. > Someone at the rally literally carrying a pitchfork. pic.twitter.com/y4lteN9Xwn> > -- Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) December 2, 2020More stories from theweek.com 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims Biden says he's concerned about reports Trump is considering preemptive pardons Trump reportedly derailed a GOP meeting about the Georgia Senate runoffs by praising QAnon
- Business Insider
Trump is reportedly considering preemptively pardoning as many as 20 associates before leaving office
Trump, his family members, and some of his allies will face a slew of civil and criminal investigations on a federal and state level after January 20.
- NBC News
The Bond Fire started with flames at one home, before it reached nearby vegetation and spread out of control.
Man, 41, had no teeth and could barely speak after his mother locked him in their suburban apartment for 28 years, say reports
A 70-year-old Swedish woman has been arrested for imprisoning her son in her Stockholm flat. He was found by a relative covered in wounds and pus.
- Associated Press
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has named Tina Flournoy, a veteran Democratic strategist and aide to the Clintons, as her chief of staff, the transition team announced Thursday. Flournoy's appointment as Harris' top staffer adds to a team of advisers led by Black women. Harris, who is of Jamaican and Indian heritage, is the nation's first female vice president.
- Architectural Digest
From a private island to a tiny Vermont tree houseOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- Yahoo News Video
China on Thursday accused critics in the U.S. government of “an escalation of political suppression” against Beijing following a report of new visa restrictions on members of China’s ruling Communist Party and their immediate family members.
- USA TODAY
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been a top official dealing with the pandemic.
- The Week
President Trump reportedly needs no encouragement to start praising the dangerous, baseless QAnon conspiracy theory.The most pressing matter for federal Republicans right now is the upcoming Senate runoffs in Georgia, which will determine control of the body. But in a meeting with advisers and top Senate Republicans about that matter, Trump totally derailed the conversation by bringing up QAnon, people familiar with the discussion tell The Washington Post.Trump is reportedly not thrilled with Georgia and that fact that it flipped for President-elect Joe Biden, and is publicly upset with Republican leaders in the state who haven't somehow overturned the election for him. So even though Republican advisers say Trump's help is "key to convincing his die-hard supporters to vote for Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue" in the January runoff election, the president isn't thrilled about doing so, the Post reports. "Advisers say he has been frustrated at how some GOP senators have criticized him," leading Trump to appear "disinterested" when discussing Senate campaign plans, the Post continues.That was clear in a recent meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Todd C. Young (R-Ind.), and other aides. As they discussed Georgia's Senate races, Trump brought up the QAnon-supporting soon-to-be congressmember Marjorie Taylor Greene. Trump mispronounced the name of the group as "Q-an-uhn," and then said supporters of the theory that purports Democrats are a cannibalistic, pedophilic cabal "basically believe in good government," people familiar tell the Post. Everyone reportedly went silent until White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows mentioned he had "never heard it described that way," the Post reports.Trump has been asked to denounce QAnon several times, but usually gives the theory his tacit approval instead.More stories from theweek.com 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims Biden says he's concerned about reports Trump is considering preemptive pardons White House communications director Alyssa Farah resigns
- Associated Press
Authorities in Bangladesh have begun relocating thousands of Rohingya refugees to an isolated island despite calls by human rights groups for a halt to the process, officials said Thursday. The United Nations has also voiced concern that refugees be allowed to make a “free and informed decision” about whether to relocate to the island in the Bay of Bengal. The island's facilities are built to accommodate 100,000 people, just a fraction of the million Rohingya Muslims who have fled waves of violent persecution in their native Myanmar and are currently living in crowded, squalid refugee camps.
After apparent criticism from Dr Fauci, the UK defended the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
- The Week
Trump gives 45-minute speech about voter fraud — which 1 analyst says he'd be making in court if it had any merit
President Trump has combined dozens of his favorite conspiracy theories about the 2020 election into one incredibly debunked Facebook video.In a 45-minute video posted Wednesday, Trump repeated debunked lie after lie about the 2020 election, including claims that Dominion voting machines were rigged; Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that the Department of Homeland Security had looked into claims about the machines changing ballots and found no evidence. Trump also falsely suggested mail-in ballots were somehow rigged against him, despite it being known before the election that mail-in ballots would tend to go for President-elect Joe Biden, and that there have been no instances of widespread fraud found since.Trump made several more false claims throughout the video, but because it was pre-recorded, there was no chance for the press to question him.> Making this speech full of blatantly false attempts to undermine the election in a Twitter video rather than at the White House means the president doesn't have to face questions about his comments from the press. He has almost entirely avoided questions since election night. https://t.co/iiHMyEDeLr> > -- Hunter Walker (@hunterw) December 2, 2020One question that might be asked is why Trump isn't heading to court with these seemingly serious claims, as the team leading his legal challenges in several states has yet to bring forward compelling evidence. Republican pollster and consultant Frank Luntz had an answer: It's because they don't have any "substance." > If the claims had substance, he would be presenting them in a courtroom - not a Facebook video. https://t.co/tgfTUm1Zg7> > -- Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) December 2, 2020More stories from theweek.com 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims Biden says he's concerned about reports Trump is considering preemptive pardons Trump reportedly derailed a GOP meeting about the Georgia Senate runoffs by praising QAnon
U.S. House of Representatives Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Thursday he is more optimistic that a coronavirus relief bill can get done in Congress now that the national election is over. "The election is over so I'm more optimistic now that we can get something done," McCarthy, whose party is in the minority in the House, told reporters. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is also a Republican, said earlier Thursday said there was some positive movement in efforts to reach a compromise.