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A former Playboy model who allegedly had an affair with President Donald Trump in 2006 sued the media company that owns the National Enquirer on Tuesday, demanding to be released from her contract with the company, the New York Times reported.

Karen McDougal signed an agreement with American Media, Inc. (AMI), selling her story about her relationship with Trump in August 2016, as the Wall Street Journal has reported. The agreement reportedly keeps McDougal from sharing her story elsewhere and promised to run columns by McDougal and place her on two covers.

She told the New Yorker recently that her lawyer at the time, Keith Davidson, the same lawyer who represented porn actress Stormy Daniels, pushed her to sign the agreement. McDougal told the New Yorker that she did not fully understand the agreement at the time and that she regrets signing it.

“AMI lied to me, made empty promises, and repeatedly intimidated and manipulated me. I just want the opportunity to set the record straight and move on with my life, free from this company, its executives, and its lawyers,” McDougal said in a statement provided to TPM.

In the complaint, McDougal claims that Trump attorney Michael Cohen was involved in her agreement with AMI, and she argues that AMI and Davidson were misleading when urging her to sign the deal, according to the New York Times. McDougal also claims that she was not aware that AMI chief executive David Pecker, a close friend of Trump, often bought stories only to keep them under wraps, per the New York Times.

AMI told the New York Times that it spoke with Cohen about McDougal’s story, but only while trying to fact-check her story.

McDougal also claims in the complaint that AMI promised to run fitness columns by her and feature her on two covers but failed to live up to that agreement, per the Times.

Also on Tuesday, a judge in New York ruled that former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos can proceed with her lawsuit against Trump. Zervos filed a defamation suit against Trump in January 2017 over Trump’s comments calling her a liar for coming forward with groping allegations. Trump’s lawyers attempted to dismiss the case by arguing that Zervos could not sue a sitting President in state court, an argument the judge dismissed.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday defended the President’s weekend attacks against special counsel Robert Mueller. 

Trump attacked Mueller by name for the first time over the weekend on his Twitter account, part of a string of tweets that lasted several days.

At a White House press briefing, one reporter asked about Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (R-SC) comment over the weekend, addressed to Trump’s lawyer (though the reporter incorrectly said it was addressed to Trump): “If you have an innocent client, Mr. Dowd, act like it.” 

Look, the President has been very clear about the fact that there was no collusion between his campaign and any other entity,” Sanders responded. “However, to pretend like going through this absurd process for over a year would not bring frustration seems a little bit ridiculous.” 

She added that members of Congress wouldn’t like it “if they had been accused of taking their seat in Congress by doing something nefarious when they hadn’t, particularly if it had went on for more than a year into their time in office.” 

“My guess is they would be more than anxious to push back and certainly would defend themselves as the president has clearly done in this situation and has since day one,” Sanders said. 

Later, a reporter asked what was “behind” Trump’s tweets attacking Mueller.

“Clearly, we have not been shy about the fact that there is frustration of this process,” Sanders said. “We would like it to end quickly and soon and the President has contended since day one and will continue to do so, that there was absolutely no collusion between his campaign and any outside force or country and so I don’t understand why it’s hard for anyone to process.” 

“If you had been attacked mercilessly and continuously day in, day out, every single second while you’re trying to work hard to do good things for this country,” she continued, “and literally every day you wake up to an onslaught of people saying that you’re there because of reasons that are completely false, that’s frustrating and certainly I think fair for him to be frustrated.” 

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As they near completion of one aspect of their Russia probe, lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee outlined for reporters where federal officials fell short in responding to Russian cyberthreats in 2016.

“We were all disappointed that states, the federal government and Department of Homeland was not more on their game in advance of the 2016 elections,” Intel Vice Chair Mark Warner (D-VA) said.

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who serves as the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, slammed President Donald Trump Tuesday for congratulating Russian President Vladimir Putin for his “sham” election victory Monday.

“An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,” McCain said in a statement Tuesday. “And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country’s future, including the countless Russian patriots who have risked so much to protest and resist Putin’s regime.”

McCain’s statement came minutes after Trump told reporters that he had congratulated Putin on his March 18 election during a phone call with the Russian president on Tuesday. Trump also said the two discussed getting together sometime in the near future. Minutes later the White House verified that Trump congratulated Putin on the election.

The White House responded to McCain’s criticism on Tuesday, saying it is “important to have a dialogue with Russia so we can focus on areas of shared interest.”

“At times we’re going to be tough on them,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “Certainly the President finds there to be an importance in having that dialogue with Russia so we can talk about some of the big problems that face the world.”

McCain tweeted similar comments on Sunday, saying the U.S. “stands with all Russian yearning for freedom.”

The Associated Press reported there was widespread allegations of ballot meddling and forcible voting in Russia leading up to the election. Also, Putin’s main opponent was blocked from the ballot. 

The White House said that Trump and Putin did not discuss on Tuesday’s call Russian meddling in the 2016 election or the recent condemnation from the U.S. and Britain over the alleged poisoning of a former Russian spy by Russia in the UK.

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed an Australian woman in July turned himself in Tuesday after a warrant was issued for his arrest, his attorney said. A jail roster said he was held on third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.

Officer Mohamed Noor shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a 40-year-old life coach on July 15 minutes after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home. Damond’s death drew international attention, cost the police chief her job and forced major revisions to the department’s policy on body cameras.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, planned a Tuesday afternoon news conference to discuss the charges.

Noor has not spoken publicly about the case. His attorney, Thomas Plunkett, confirmed Noor turned himself in, but had no other immediate comment.

A policeman who was with Noor at the time of the shooting, Matthew Harrity, told investigators that he was startled by a loud noise right before Damond approached the driver’s side window of their police SUV. Harrity, who was driving, said Noor then fired his weapon from the passenger seat. Damond died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

The officers did not turn on their body cameras until after the shooting, and there was no squad camera video of the incident.

The lack of video was widely criticized, and Damond’s family members were among the many people who called for changes in procedure, including how often officers are required to turn on their cameras.

The shooting also prompted questions about the training of Noor, a two-year veteran and Somali-American whose arrival on the force had been celebrated by city leaders and Minnesota’s large Somali community. Noor, 32, had trained in business and economics and worked in property management before becoming an officer.

Then-Chief Janee Harteau defended Noor’s training and said he was suited to be on the street, even as she criticized the shooting itself. But Harteau — who was on vacation when the shooting happened and didn’t make her first public appearance until several days after the shooting — was forced out soon after by Mayor Betsy Hodges, who said she had lost confidence in the chief.

Harteau’s replacement, Medaria Arradondo, quickly announced a policy change requiring officers to turn on their body cameras in responding to any call or traffic stop.

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked a new Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks’ gestation — the most restrictive abortion law in the United States.

The law took effect as soon as Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed it Monday. The state’s only abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, quickly sued the state, arguing the law is unconstitutional because it bans abortion weeks before a fetus can survive outside the womb.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves heard arguments Tuesday before granting the clinic’s immediate request for a temporary restraining order that would block the law during the legal fight.

“The Supreme Court says every woman has a constitutional right to ‘personal privacy’ regarding her body,” Reeves wrote in a brief decision that quoted previous legal rulings on abortion. “That right protects her choice ‘to have an abortion before viability.’ States cannot ‘prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision’ to do so.”

Reeves said in court that the “ultimate question” is whether a state can ban abortion before viability. He asked: “Does the state have the right to trump the woman’s right to have control over her decisions, over her body?”

Reeves did not rule from the bench but granted the temporary restraining order about an hour later, noting that lawyers for the clinic said a woman who is at least 15 weeks pregnant was scheduled to have an abortion Tuesday afternoon.

One of those lawyers, Rob McDuff, said the woman’s next available appointment would be March 28 because physicians travel from out of state to work there. He said the clinic does not perform abortions after 16 weeks of pregnancy, and March 28 would put her beyond that.

The law and responding challenge set up a confrontation sought by abortion opponents, who are hoping federal courts will ultimately prohibit abortions before a fetus is viable. Current federal law does not.

Some legal experts have said a change in the law is unlikely unless the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court changes in a way that favors abortion opponents.

Dr. Sacheen Carr-Ellis, medical director of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, argues in the lawsuit that viability varies from pregnancy to pregnancy depending on the health of the mother and the fetus, but that “no fetus is viable after 15 weeks of pregnancy.”

Paul Barnes, a special assistant state attorney general, argued that the law serves Mississippi’s “interest in protecting maternal health and the state’s interest in protecting unborn life.” He said medical advances and legal decisions continue to define viability earlier. He said viability was considered to be around 28 weeks when the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide was handed down in 1973, and it was defined as being about 23 or 24 weeks in more recent court cases.

Reeves said in his order that the Mississippi law “places viability at 15 weeks — about two months earlier than where the medical consensus places it.”

McDuff said the law keeps women “from making their own decisions about whether to bear children.”

“There has been no case in which a law like this setting a ban at some point prior to viability has been upheld on the merits in the face of a constitutional challenge,” McDuff said.

The law’s only exceptions are if a fetus has health problems making it “incompatible with life” outside of the womb at full term, or if a pregnant woman’s life or a “major bodily function” is threatened by pregnancy. Pregnancies resulting from rape and incest aren’t exempted.

Mississippi previously tied with North Carolina for the nation’s strictest abortion limits, at 20 weeks. Both states count pregnancy as beginning on the first day of a woman’s previous menstrual period, meaning their restrictions kicked in about two weeks before those of states whose 20-week bans begin at conception.

The lawsuit opposing the 15-week ban argues that it violates other federal court rulings that have said a state can’t restrict abortion before a child can survive on its own outside the womb.

The suit says the clinic performed 78 abortions in 2017 when the fetus was identified as being 15 weeks or older. That’s out of about 2,500 abortions performed statewide, mostly at the clinic.

Carr-Ellis, in a sworn statement, said the law would strip her of her Mississippi medical license if she continued to provide abortions to women past the 15-week ban. She said women shouldn’t be forced to carry their pregnancies to term against their will or leave the state to obtain abortions.

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday personally addressed, for the first time, a series of bombings in recent weeks in Texas.

“It’s terrible,” Trump told reporters during a press availability with Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. 

“The bombings in Austin are terrible,” he continued. “Local, state and federal are working hand in hand to get to the bottom of it. This is obviously a very, very sick individual or maybe individuals. These are sick people, and we will get to the bottom of it.” 

“We will be very strong,” Trump said. “We have all sorts of federal agencies over there right now. We are searching. What’s going on in Austin, a great place, a tremendous place, is absolutely disgraceful. So we have a lot of power over there, we’re looking. It’s not easy to find, but these are sick people and we have to find them as soon as possible. We have to find them, really, immediately.” 

“I will say, working with Texas, working with the local governments has been great, but we have produce, we have to find this very sick person or people.” 

The first bombing, which killed Anthony Stephan House, 39, occurred on March 2 in Austin.

Two more bombs went off in Austin on March 12, one of them killing Draylen Mason, 17. Another bomb exploded on Sunday in the city, and again on Tuesday in a FedEx facility near San Antonio.

The President, who frequently pounces on potential terrorist events, had been silent on the Texas bombings. Critics point out the majority of victims thus far — and all of them before March 18 — have been non-white.

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Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on Tuesday morning defended his role in the purchase of a $31,000 dining set for his office suite, claiming that he had little involvement in the decision-making process.

Carson told members of the House Appropriations Committee that he was too busy running the department to keep track of plans to purchase a new dining set and that he wasn’t “concerned” about the furniture.

“If it was up to me, my office would probably look like a hospital waiting room,” he told the committee.

Carson said that when he was informed that the dining set needed to be replaced because a chair collapsed and someone was stuck with a nail, he asked his wife to help. When they were shown catalogues, Carson says he was unhappy with the options.

“The prices were beyond what I wanted to pay. I made it clear that that just didn’t seem right to me,” he said.

Carson said Tuesday that he was not involved in the rest of the process and delegated to his wife, Candy Carson.

“I left it with my wife,” he told the committee.

The next Carson heard about the dining set was that a $31,000 set had been ordered, he told the committee. He said he immediately had it cancelled.

“I thought that that was excessive,” Carson said.

Asked about a statement from his spokesman shortly after the story on the dining set broke that the Carsons were not involved in the purchase, Carson said he could not speak for others’ statements and argued that he has always been truthful about his involvement.

Carson also addressed brochures that include guidelines for homeless shelters on how to prevent discrimination against transgender individuals that were taken off the HUD website last year. Carson said that he and HUD general counsel were looking over the brochure to ensure the “equal rights for the women in the shelters and shelters where there are men and their equal rights.”

“We want to look at things that really provide for everybody and doesn’t impede the rights of one for the sake of the other. It’s a complex issue,” he said.

Asked how protecting the rights of transgender individuals could impact others’ rights, Carson said that “there are some women who said they were not comfortable with the idea of being in a shelter, being in a shower, and somebody who had a very different anatomy.”

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A St. Louis prosecutor has subpoenaed a former veterans’ charity founded by Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.

The subpoena suggests that the probe into Greitens — who was indicted last month in connection with allegations that he blackmailed a woman with whom he as having an affair — may be widening.

The Kansas City Star reported Monday that St. Louis Circuit Court Attorney Kim Gardner has issued subpoenas to The Mission Continues, indicating she is looking into long-swirling questions about the links between the charity and the fundraising operation of Greitens’ 2016 campaign.

A grand jury empaneled by Gardner, a Democrat, indicted the Republican governor for taking a partially nude, non-consensual photo of the woman with whom he was having an affair in 2015.

Greitens has admitted to the affair but denied the blackmail claim and insisted he “committed no crime.” The governor’s legal defense team is currently fighting to have his invasion of privacy trial moved up from mid-May to early April, insisting he deserves to have the case heard quickly.

The team did not respond to TPM’s request for comment on the subpoena requests.

Two other entities have also issued subpoenas to The Mission Continues, according to the Star. Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley, who said early this month he has an open investigation into the charity, issued them last week. The Missouri state House panel convened after Greitens was indicted is also seeking information from the charity.

The Associated Press has documented the striking overlap between people who donated to The Mission Continues, which Greitens left in 2014, and those who subsequently donated to his 2016 campaign. If Greitens’ campaign used The Mission Continues’ donor list, it could have violated campaign finance laws.

Through his Nov. 2016 election, Greitens denied using the list. But last spring, after Missouri Democrats filed a complaint with the state ethics commission, he agreed to a settlement that required his campaign to retroactively disclose that it received the donor list and to pay a $100 fine.

The charity has denied giving the list to the campaign. Mission Continues spokeswoman Laura L’Esperance told the Star on Monday that the charity was cooperating with all documents requests.

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