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December 13, 2017

Alabama Republican Roy Moore, who lost Tuesday's special Senate election to Democrat Doug Jones, released a video message Wednesday night in which he told supporters he's not conceding and warned that the United States is in the middle of a "struggle to preserve our republic, our civilization, and our religion."

With 100 percent of precincts reporting their results, Jones is nearly 21,000 votes ahead of Moore, but Moore said the race isn't over because military and provisional ballots have yet to be counted. It's important that he not give up because "the heart and soul of our country is at stake," he said. "Like most Americans, I'm concerned about the future of our country, both financially and morally."

That's where things got grim. Americans have "certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," Moore said. However, "many do not share the vision of those who built this country," he continued. "Today, we no longer recognize the universal truth that God is the author of our life and liberty. Abortion, sodomy, and materialism have taken the place of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Moore launched into a laundry list of ways Americans have "forgotten God," including ending prayer in school and recognizing "the right of a man to claim to be a woman, and vice versa." He ended his message of doom with a cheery "Merry Christmas!" Um, thanks? Catherine Garcia

11:59 a.m.

Friday marked six years since 28 people, mostly children, were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. On the same day, another threat to the school forced its evacuation.

At around 9 a.m. Friday, police say the Newtown, Connecticut school received a bomb threat and evacuated everyone inside, local ABC affiliate WCVB reports. Police later said the threat was likely not credible, but school was still canceled for the rest of the day, per local station Fox 61.

A wave of bomb threats were emailed to businesses, schools, and government buildings across the U.S. on Thursday, but were determined to be a hoax. Sandy Hook's threat didn't seem to be connected to these widespread threats, police told Fox 61. The building where the Sandy Hook shooting happened in 2012 was previously demolished and a new school was rebuilt. Police began sweeping the existing school after everyone was evacuated.

Local gun control group Newtown Action tweeted the news and asked readers to "please stand with our community as we attempt to survive another tragic anniversary." Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) quickly responded with the tweet below. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:19 a.m.

Conservative magazine The Weekly Standard is shutting down after 23 years in print, its owners announced Friday.

The Weekly Standard, once published by Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp, rose to prominence as it influenced former President George W. Bush's administration. It was sold to Clarity Media Group in 2008, and soon proved a persistent critic to President Trump and the rise of the far right.

That neoconservative voice may have been its downfall, though, CNN points out. The Weekly Standard's finances faltered as far-right publications such as The Daily Caller and Breitbart grew. It reportedly searched for a new owner earlier this year, but The Daily Caller later reported the magazine wouldn't last until 2019, per The Ringer.

The Weekly Standard editor Steve Hayes broke the news to staffers in an email on Friday. Read all of it below. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:18 a.m.

Facebook has just disclosed yet another leak, this time affecting millions of users' private photos.

The social media platform said Friday that it discovered a bug that may have given up to 1,500 third-party apps improper access to photos from up to 6.8 million users. Normally, the apps would only be permitted to access photos that a user has actually posted on their Facebook timeline, but because of this bug, the apps could access pictures that weren't publicly posted. This would include pictures shared on Facebook's Marketplace or on Facebook Stories, as well as pictures that a user uploaded but didn't end up posting.

The apps had access to these photos for 12 days in September 2018, Facebook says. This issue would have only affected users who authorized the app to access photos. "We're sorry this happened," Facebook said. You can find out whether any of your pictures were affected by the bug here.

This is just the latest security scandal for Facebook, which is still reeling from revelations earlier this year that a political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, was able to gain access to Facebook users' private information. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Congress the scandal was "my mistake, and I'm sorry." Brendan Morrow

10:49 a.m.

As expected, late Sen. John McCain's replacement is stepping down at the end of this year.

Following the longtime senator's death in August, fellow Arizona Republican Jon Kyl was appointed to take his spot. Kyl served three Senate terms alongside McCain before retiring in 2013, and only promised to serve until the end of the year. He officially submitted his resignation letter Friday, leaving Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) to appoint another senator before a 2020 special election.

Arizona's U.S. senators have had a tumultuous year, with Sen. Jeff Flake (R) opting not to run for re-election this year and making a few last-minute bipartisan stands along the way. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) narrowly beat Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) to win Flake's seat in November.

Still, McSally remains popular among other Republican senators, suggesting Ducey might appoint McSally to fill Kyl's shoes next year, CNN notes. Ducey's Chief of Staff Kirk Adams has also emerged as a potential appointee, as has state treasurer Eileen Klein, AZ Central says. Regardless, whoever Ducey appoints will only get to serve until 2020 before having to defend their seat in a special election. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:47 a.m.

"Truth isn't truth," and presidential inaugurations have nothing to do with presidents, apparently.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Thursday night that The Wall Street Journal's report about a criminal investigation into President Trump's 2017 inaugural committee is only distantly, vaguely related to Trump himself.

"That doesn't have anything to do with the president or the first lady," said Sanders. "The biggest thing the president did in his engagement in the inauguration was to come here, and raise his hand, and take the oath of office."

Federal prosecutors are reportedly looking into whether Trump's inaugural committee misspent any of its record $107 million haul and whether any of the committee's biggest donors sought access to or special favors from the incoming Trump administration for their donations. Improper spending could amount to a violation of federal corruption laws.

Even though the committee told the Journal that there is no such investigation, Sanders quickly distanced Trump from the entire situation. "The president was focused on the transition during that time and not on any of the planning," she said. Watch her comments below, via Vox's Aaron Rupar. Summer Meza

9:37 a.m.

Among allies of President Trump, "he did not break the law" has quickly evolved into "even if he did, who cares?"

Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told The Daily Beast in a story published Friday that the ongoing controversy over possible campaign finance violations isn't a big deal because "Nobody got killed, nobody got robbed," adding, "this was not a big crime." He went on to compare paying hush money to two alleged mistresses shortly before a presidential election to not paying parking tickets.

Trump's lawyer had previously argued that the payments were not related to the campaign and were "personal," and therefore were not in violation of campaign finance law, per The Washington Post. But this argument has become increasingly dubious in recent days considering American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, said this week that it paid Karen McDougal $150,000 to keep her silent about her alleged affair with Trump for the sole purpose of ensuring she did not affect the election. Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has also said the payments had everything to do with the election.

Giuliani separately told The Wall Street Journal on Friday that even if Trump did violate campaign finance law, it's not big deal. "It's campaign finance, my God," he said. "Everybody pays a fine to the FEC that is in politics. You can’t follow all the rules.” Brendan Morrow

8:59 a.m.

MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski apologized on Morning Joe Friday morning for having called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a "wannabe dictator's butt boy."

Brzezinski at the top of the show referenced her "terrible choice of words" two days prior. "The term is crass and offensive and I apologize to everyone, especially the LGBTQ community and to my colleagues for using it," she said, per Mediaite. This was a "mistake," Brzezinski added, saying she will "work hard to be better."

The Morning Joe host had apologized for the remark on Twitter Wednesday morning, saying that it was a "SUPER BAD choice of words" and that she should have said "water boy" instead. Brzezinski was not on Morning Joe the next day, which co-host Joe Scarborough said was because of a pre-planned family event.

President Trump weighed in on the controversy, tweeting that if a conservative made a similar mistake, they would "be banned permanently from television" but that Brzezinski, who he referred to as "crazed," will "probably be given a pass, despite their terrible ratings." Megyn Kelly, a conservative whose NBC show was canceled after she made comments defending wearing blackface on Halloween, said Thursday that Brzezinski should not be fired for her statement, per The Daily Mail. "I hope she's forgiven," Kelly said. Brendan Morrow

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