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February 22, 2019

David and Louisa Turpin pleaded guilty in a horrifying case of abuse against 12 of their 13 children.

The California parents were arrested last year, with police alleging they underfed and shackled their children, ranging from ages 2 to 29, in decrepit conditions for nearly a decade. The Turpins pleaded guilty to 14 felony counts, including one count of torture, on Friday and will be sentenced in April, per CBS News Los Angeles.

One of the Turpin children escaped from their home outside of Los Angeles in January 2018 and was able to call for help. Police say they found some of the siblings chained to their beds in dark, disgusting conditions. The Turpin siblings detailed their parents' abuse in hundreds of journals, and more disturbing stories have been revealed in the year since. They've since been found to have suffered mental and physical injuries contracted via malnourishment and physical beatings.

The couple originally faced dozens of criminal charges, but they were reduced to 14 counts on Friday. They include torture, abuse of a dependent adult, child endangerment, and false imprisonment charges, per the Palm Springs Desert Sun. None of the charges pertained to the 2-year-old. The parents could end up in prison for life when they're sentenced in two months. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:19 a.m.

The Mueller report is now in the hands of U.S. Attorney General William Barr and the early reaction both inside the White House and from analysts is that things are looking good for the Trump administration. Especially because special counsel Robert Mueller is not recommending any further indictments as a result of the nearly two-year investigation.

CNN legal expert Jeffrey Toobin said the lack of indictments is "unambiguously good news" for the White House.

MSNBC's Chris Matthews, meanwhile, expressed incredulity that the investigation concluded without Mueller directly interviewing Trump, though NBC News reporter Ken Dilanian explained that Trump likely would have invoked the 5th amendment regardless.

CBS News' Major Garrett reported that Trump's attorneys also are expecting the investigation to end in the president's favor.

"The special counsel's office is essentially shuttered and they believe not only legally, but importantly politically, the president will be found to be largely, if not completely in the clear," Garret said.

CNN's Jim Acosta likewise reported that the White House was celebrating the news "quietly," and but "with a fair amount of glee." Acosta said a Trump campaign adviser told him, "This was a great day for America and we won." Tim O'Donnell

8:41 a.m.

A former Justice Department lawyer who helped write the regulations for special counsel investigations in 1998 and 1999 has added his name to the list of those calling for Attorney General P. William Barr to make the Mueller report, which was handed over to Barr on Friday, available to the public.

Neal Kumar Katyal, who is now a law professor at Georgetown University, wrote in The Washington Post that he and his colleagues drafted regulations for special counsel investigations following the Starr investigation into former President Bill Clinton. They wanted to avoid similar investigations in the future which might "produce a lurid document going unnecessarily into detail about someone's intimate conduct."

But he also wrote that the regulations serve as "a floor, not a ceiling" on the amount of transparency that the Attorney General can provide to Congress and the public after the special counsel completes an investigation.

"The canard that some Trump allies are floating, that a public release would violate the special counsel regulations, is false," Katyal wrote. "They require transparency and an 'explanation of each action' at the end of the special counsel investigation, but they don't forbid more transparency on top of that."

Katyal argued that Barr "has all the latitude in the world" to make the Mueller public and that he should, indeed, do so. Read the full article at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

8:06 a.m.

New Zealand continues to act swiftly in its response to the mass shootings that claimed 50 lives at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand last week.

The manifesto, believed to be written by Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian who has been charged with the murder of 50 people, is now illegal in the country, New Zealand's Office of Film and Literature Classification announced on Saturday. The manifesto, which is more than 80 pages long, is rife with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim content. It was made public online before the shootings occurred and was also sent to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office just minutes before Tarrant carried out the attack.

"Others have referred to this publication as a 'manifesto', but I consider it a crude booklet that promotes murder and terrorism. It is objectionable under New Zealand law," New Zealand's Chief Censor David Shanks said. "It crosses the line."

The decision follows another one made earlier this week which banned footage of the shootings, including edited clips and still images. The New Zealand government also banned semi-automatic rifles and accessories just six days after the shooting. Tim O'Donnell

7:47 a.m.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency shared private data, including banking information, of millions of hurricane and wildfire survivors, The Department of Homeland Security inspector general said in a memo that surfaced on Friday.

The unlawful disclosure places the survivors at "increased risk of identity theft and fraud."

The data was shared with an unidentified federal contractor that was helping the 2.3 million survivors from Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria, as well as the 2017 California wildfires find housing. It included 20 "unnecessary" fields such as electronic funds transfer numbers, bank transit numbers, and addresses.

FEMA said in a statement that it has already begun filtering the data to ensure it cannot be shared with the public, and the organization has said that there is so far no indication that the information has been compromised. But, per CNN, a more permanent fix may not be finalized until June 2020. Tim O'Donnell

March 22, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report is here, and pretty much no one knows what's in it.

The Justice Department announced Friday that Mueller had finished his investigation into potential ties between President Trump's campaign and Russian election interference. And within minutes, even the most unexpected lawmakers started calling for Attorney General William Barr to release it to the public.

First up came a wave of Democratic voices. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a joint call for public report, while 2020 candidates chimed in with some variation on the theme. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also surprisingly called for a public release, saying it was needed to "put an end to the speculation and innuendo that has loomed over the administration."

Those calls reflected a 420-0 House vote last week on a non-binding resolution to make the report public. Heck, even Trump said Tuesday that he wouldn't mind if Congress saw what Mueller had to say. But there's still one major holdout: Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). In his Friday statement, Graham reflected Barr's language in simply calling for "as much transparency as possible, consistent with the law." Graham also blocked the House's popular resolution from a vote in the Senate earlier this week.

Grassley did pointedly note Friday that he was in Graham's committee position just last year — perhaps something he's regretting giving up right about now. Kathryn Krawczyk

March 22, 2019

A senior Justice Department official said Friday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will not recommend any further indictments, ABC News reports.

Mueller, whose inquiry into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian election interference was completed late Friday afternoon, had issued indictments for more than three dozen individuals over the nearly two-year investigation, including for former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

While the lack of new indictments may come as a disappointment to those who saw Mueller's report as a potentially crippling blow to the Trump administration, it is still unclear what the completed report contains — and NBC News notes that evidence uncovered by the special counsel's probe could be used in other investigations, like in the Southern District of New York. But the spectacle of former Trump associates being led into court as a result of Mueller's investigation appears to have come to an end. Jacob Lambert

March 22, 2019

Although Special Counsel Robert Mueller missed his chance to deliver his report to Attorney General William Barr on the Ides of March, he picked another significant date to finish the long-awaited conclusion.

On March 22, 1973, a conversation between former President Richard Nixon and his former attorney general, John Mitchell, was recorded — a conversation that was later used to indict Mitchell on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury for his role in the attempted cover-up of the Watergate scandal of 1972. In this recording, Nixon can be heard instructing Mitchell to "stonewall" the ongoing Watergate trial and "save the plan."

Comparisons between Presidents Nixon and Trump have been endlessly drawn since Trump assumed office in 2017, which makes this historical coincidence particularly noticeable. But we won't know if a conspiracy on the scale of Nixon's has occurred in the Trump White House unless the conclusions of Mueller report are made public — which could happen as soon as this weekend.

Read the full transcript of the Nixon tape in question here, or listen to all of the tapes played during the Watergate trial here, courtesy of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. Shivani Ishwar

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