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September 11, 2019

New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey won a Pulitzer Prize for their giant-toppling reporting on Harvey Weinstein's sexual misconduct, one of the #MeToo lodestars they detail in their new book, She Said. "When you went to publish that original article, did you know what was coming in its wake?" Stephen Colbert asked them on Tuesday's Late Show. "We had no idea," Twohey said.

Kantor explained they decided to write their book because "a lot of what originally happened in this investigation was off the record, so we needed to go back and find a way to share those secrets" and let people witness "the final confrontations with Harvey Weinstein." Colbert asked for details, and Twohey ran through some of the threats and bounties, ending when Weinstein, in the 11th hour, "basically barged into The New York Times himself."

Colbert asked about criticisms that the #MeToo movement has sometimes gone too far. "What we've seen in our reporting is that there's a kind of mounting sense of unfairness on both sides, and actually, I don't think anybody feels that our system works for the accused or the accusers," Kantor said. She laid out the three big questions she sees as unresolved: What kind of behavior merits #MeToo sanctions, how do you discern the truth of what happened, and what's the just punishment? "And the answers to all three are..." Colbert asked. "Clearly, we're going to settle this right here and right now," Kantor deadpanned.

The #MeToo movement has felt like "a nonviolent revolution," Colbert said. "Why hasn't that revolution swept up in any way a man who's been accused 17 times, credibly, of sexual assault, Donald Trump? Why is he untouched by any of this?"

"Jodi and I have spent a lot of time wondering about why certain stories stick and why they don't," Twohey said, "and what we've found is, time and again, when these allegations push into the political realm — whether it's a Democrat, whether it's a Republican, whether it's Trump over the years — they quickly descend into holy war, and oftentimes the women basically are almost forgotten as both political sides go to war against each other." Watch below. Peter Weber

2:46 a.m.

"Everyone can breathe easy," Stephen Colbert joked on Wednesday's Late Show. Because President Trump has finally replaced John Bolton in the critical role of "future former national security adviser."

Trump announced that he has selected State Department hostage negotiator Robert O'Brien in Los Angeles, "which explains why the guy looks like the second male lead on Suits," Colbert said. "So that's interesting — he hired a hostage negotiator, someone who is known to talk madmen down from the brink. That will come in handy."

Still, "hostage negotiator doesn't seem like a natural résumé for national security adviser, so what possibly brought him to Trump's attention at this critical juncture?" Colbert asked. First, "Trump sent him as a special envoy to A$AP Rocky's Swedish assault trial. I did not realize that A$AP Rocky was being held hostage! What was Sweden asking for in return? Mamma Mia 3?" And also, as Trump himself noted yesterday, O'Brien once called him "the greatest hostage negotiator in history," Colbert noted. "Oh, I would love to see Hostage Negotiator Trump."

But Colbert was essentially right about O'Brien's selling points. Trump had "narrowed his shortlist for the post to Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg and O'Brien, but the envoy's high-profile work to help free A$AP Rocky ... was a key factor in Trump's decision to name him to the post," Yahoo News reports — though "family members of American hostages," The Washington Post adds, "were furious when O'Brien spent a week in Sweden monitoring the trial" when he could have been working to free actual hostages.

O'Brien also published a book in 2016 criticizing former President Barack Obama's foreign policy as weak, and he has heaped praise on Trump during televised hostage-release ceremonies. "His physical appearance did not hurt, either," The New York Times reports. "Whereas Mr. Trump was known to grouse about Mr. Bolton's famous bushy mustache, the president has been taken with Mr. O'Brien's well-tailored looks and easy demeanor, and thinks he 'looks the part,' as one person close to the president said."

1:02 a.m.

President Trump on Tuesday said that when it comes to the issue of homelessness in California, the government will "be doing something about it at the appropriate time." The time must not be now, and the plan must not involve money, as the state's requests for federal help were rejected by Trump and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on Wednesday.

In a letter sent to Trump earlier this week, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and several mayors asked for federal help to get more people off the streets immediately and into housing. Carson responded by sending his own letter — written, he said, at the direction of Trump — that stated the "hardworking American taxpayers" shouldn't have to fund this. Carson claimed California is over-regulating the housing market, and also accused the state of undercutting "the ability of police officers to enforce quality-of-life laws, remove encampments, and connect our most vulnerable populations with supportive services they need."

On Wednesday night, Trump brought up the topic of homelessness in California again, telling reporters on Air Force One that used needles are going into storm drains and then emptying into the ocean. The Environmental Protection Agency will soon send San Francisco a notice, he added, saying the city is in "total violation" of an unspecified environmental law. "EPA is going to be putting out a notice," he said. "They're in serious violation. ... They have to clean it up. We can't have our cities going to hell." Catherine Garcia

12:58 a.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his close personal relationship with President Trump a centerpiece of his just-concluded election campaign, even picturing the two leaders together on campaign billboards. Trump apparently doesn't see it that way.

The election did not go well for Netanyahu. Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he hasn't spoken with the Israeli leader since the vote, adding, "Our relations are with Israel, so we'll see what happens."

In the election, Netanyahu fell far short of his goal of a 61-seat parliamentary majority — with 90 percent of votes tallied, his conservative Likud party has 32 seats, versus 33 for challenger Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White Party. Some Israeli commentators are writing Netanyahu's political obituary, and even if he is able to cobble together a governing coalition or power-sharing agreement, he's now unlikely to get the immunity from three pending corruption charges he was hoping a majority government would grant him.

For Trump, that all smells like weakness, and he wants little to do with a "loser," Dan Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, tells The Washington Post. An Israeli official concurred, telling the Post: "Yes, he is friends with Bibi, but he also likes winners and he does want to move his peace plan forward no matter who the prime minister is." Aaron David Miller, a longtime U.S. adviser on Mideast issues, said Trump doesn't think he needs Netanyahu to please Jewish Republicans and Israel-fixated evangelical Christian voters. "Trump only cares about one election, and it's not Benjamin Netanyahu's," Miller said.

Trump liked that Netanyahu was a political "survivor" and viewed him as a partner in undermining former President Barack Obama's legacy, people who've talked Israeli politics with Trump told the Post. But he differed with Netanyahu about whether any deal with Iran is good — Netanyahu doesn't think so, Trump believes he can make a better deal than Obama. And he might be able to do that better with another Israeli in power. Peter Weber

12:22 a.m.

Slowly but surely, the coral reefs in Jamaica are making a comeback.

In the 1980s and '90s, Jamaica lost 85 percent of its coral reefs due to hurricanes, overfishing, and water pollution that caused algae and seaweed to take over. Coral sustains one-quarter of all marine species, and as the reefs disappeared in Jamaica, so did the fish.

To revive the reefs, at least 12 organizations have launched "coral nurseries" underwater, where pieces of staghorn coral are tied to suspended ropes, slowly growing until they reach the size of a human hand, The Associated Press reports. Then, those pieces are taken to reefs and tied to rocks, where the limestone skeleton ultimately becomes attached. The groups have had great success restoring sections of different reefs through this process.

Thanks to the hard work of coral gardeners, as well as the volunteers who patrol the nurseries and fish sanctuaries to stop illegal fishing, the reefs are growing and the fish populations are increasing. "When you give nature a chance, she can repair herself," marine biologist Stuart Sandin told AP. "It's not too late." Catherine Garcia

September 18, 2019

The White House is expected to soon announce it will withdraw the nomination of Jeff Byard, President Trump's choice to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency, CNN reports.

Byard's nomination was announced seven months ago, and several lawmakers recently said issues came up during his background check. Trump has now settled on nominating Acting FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor, people with knowledge of the matter told CNN.

In a letter obtained by the network, Byard wrote to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan last week, letting him know that he wanted his nomination withdrawn as it "would be best for me to focus entirely on pressing issues related to my current role as the associate administrator for response and recovery." Catherine Garcia

September 18, 2019

A whistleblower complaint filed on Aug. 12 by an official in the U.S. intelligence community involves President Trump's communications with a foreign leader, two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter told The Washington Post on Wednesday.

During the interaction, Trump made a "promise" to the foreign leader that the whistleblower found so troubling they decided to file the complaint to Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, the Post reports. In turn, Atkinson found the complaint worrisome enough that he marked the matter of "urgent concern" and submitted it to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire. Maguire replaced former DNI Dan Coats, who resigned in August.

By law, Maguire was supposed to send the complaint on to Congress, but after asking Justice Department officials for legal guidance, he refused, the Post reports. The House and Senate intelligence committees only learned of the complaint after Atkinson, not Maguire, notified them earlier this month, though he did not say what was in the complaint. House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is trying to get intelligence officials to share the details with lawmakers, and Atkinson is scheduled to appear before Schiff's committee for a private session on Thursday.

One former official told the Post the communication in question was a phone call. It's not immediately clear which foreign leader Trump was speaking to or what he promised them. In the five weeks before the complaint was filed, White House records show that Trump spoke and interacted with at least five foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Catherine Garcia

September 18, 2019

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized on Wednesday night for a 2001 photo showing him at an Arabian Nights–themed gala wearing brownface makeup.

At the time, Trudeau was 29 and working as a teacher at West Point Gray Academy in Vancouver. The picture, published on Wednesday by Time, appeared in the private school's 2000-2001 yearbook. Trudeau is seen wearing a turban and robe, with his face, neck, and hands darkened. A Vancouver businessman gave the yearbook to Time, saying that after he saw the photo in July, he thought it needed to be made public.

Trudeau confirmed he attended the gala, dressing up as Aladdin and donning makeup. "I shouldn't have done that," he said. "I should have known better, but I didn't, and I'm really sorry." Trudeau is running for a second term, and the election is scheduled for Oct. 21. He is already facing one scandal, as the former attorney general says Trudeau's administration pressured her into settling corruption charges against a major engineering firm. Catherine Garcia

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