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Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) resigned Friday amid reports he suggested aides have intercourse with him and serve as a surrogate for his child.

Franks had said Thursday that he would resign in February. Friday’s announcement was effective immediately.

The congressman also said his wife had been admitted to the hospital “due to an ongoing ailment.”

“Last night, my wife was admitted to the hospital in Washington, D.C. due to an ongoing ailment,” Franks said in a statement. “After discussing options with my family, we came to the conclusion that the best thing for our family now would be for me to tender my previous resignation effective today, December 8th, 2017.”

Politico reported Friday that, prior to Franks announcing that he would resign immediately, it had asked the congressman about allegations of unwanted advances toward female staffers. The outlet reported that Franks had approached staffers about serving as surrogates for his child, as he acknowledged Thursday, but also that “[i]t was not clear to the women whether he was asking about impregnating the women through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization.”

“Female aides said Franks suggested intercourse to impregnate them,” Politico headlined the article.

The outlet also reported that unnamed sources said a former staffer had alleged Franks had tried to persuade her they were in love “by having her read an article that described how a person knows they’re in love with someone,” and that one woman had believed she had had her access to Franks revoked as retribution for refusing his advances.

Politico reported Franks denied the allegations through a spokesperson.

And an unnamed former aide of Franks told the Associated Press that he had “repeatedly pressed her” to act as a surrogate for his child, including by offering $5 million at one point. The former staffer told the AP Franks had asked her to serve as a surrogate in exchange for money “at least four times,” the outlet reported Friday.

On Thursday, Franks announced he would resign from Congress in January, after he learned that the House Ethics Committee would probe what he said in a statement was “an inquiry regarding my discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable.”

Correction: This post originally misstated Franks’ home state. He is from Arizona, not Texas.

This post has been updated.

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By Monday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team will have handed over to Paul Manafort’s and Rick Gates’ attorneys 400,000 items of evidence in its case against the two former Trump campaign officials as part of the pre-trial discovery process, according to a court document Mueller filed Friday.

The filing, ahead of a status conference slated for Monday, sheds additional light on aspects of Mueller’s investigation into Manafort and Gates. The two men were charged with tax evasion, money laundering and failure to disclose lobbying for foreign agents as part of Mueller’s larger Russia probe. They both have pleaded not guilty.

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Here’s a new entry in the annals of Steve King.

The Iowa Republican congressman known for his racially insensitive rhetoric tweeted on Friday that “diversity is not our strength.”

And, descending further into the catacombs of nativism, he took it further, quoting a statement from the Hungarian prime minister who was advocating for the dissolution of the obligation of countries to accept immigrants.

“Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life, but to a lower one,” King wrote.

While Friday’s comments may be one of the most forward indications that he has a penchant for ethno-nationalism, King has a long history of making controversial comments, as TPM has documented over the years.

In 2006, while advocating for electric fences along the U.S.-Mexico border, he equated undocumented immigrants to livestock: “We could also electrify this wire with the kind of current that would not kill somebody, but it would simply be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it. We do that with livestock all the time.”

In 2008, he claimed that former President Barack Obama’s middle name, Hussein, is proof that he is linked to radical Islamic terrorists:

I will tell you that, if he is elected president, then the radical Islamists, the al Qaeda, the radical Islamists and their supporters, will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on September 11 because they will declare victory in this war on terror.”

Also, unsurprisingly, King’s a birther:

“(I) found a microfiche there of two newspapers in Hawaii each of which had published the birth of Barack Obama… That doesn’t mean there aren’t some other explanations on how they might’ve announced that by telegram from Kenya,” he said in 2012.

In 2013, he said that while some undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. by their parents could be “valedictorians,” most are drug dealers:

Some of them are valedictorians — and their parents brought them in. It wasn’t their fault. It’s true in some cases, but they aren’t all valedictorians. They weren’t all brought in by their parents. For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

In September 2016, he called the Congressional Black Caucus, the “self-segregating caucus” and in August this year he defended embattled former sherif Joe Arpaio, who the President pardoned for racially profiling Latinos in his county:

I don’t agree that profiling is wrong. … In fact, if you would take profiling away from the tools of law enforcement, you couldn’t describe a criminal in any way whatsoever.”

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Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell will leave her current role early next year, the White House announced Friday.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that Powell would serve “until early next year,” and that upon returning to New York, “she will continue to support the President’s agenda and work on Middle East policy.”

Powell joined the National Security Council in March under H.R. McMaster’s leadership, and previously served in the Bush administration and was a partner at Goldman Sachs, Politico reported at the time.

In a statement, McMaster said Powell “is one of the most talented and effective leaders with whom I have ever served.”

He noted, hinting at a possible future role for his outgoing deputy: “All of us look forward to continuing to work with her, as she continues to support this Administration’s efforts on Middle East peace and other issues.”

“Dina has done a great job for the Administration and has been a valued member of the Israeli-Palestinian peace team,” Jared Kushner said of Powell in a statement. “She will continue to play a key role in our peace efforts and we will share more details on that in the future.”

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ATLANTA (AP) — Exactly how tight was Atlanta’s still too-close-to-call mayoral election? Expect an official answer next week.

Election officials in Fulton and Dekalb counties have scheduled meetings Monday to certify their official vote tallies from the runoff election between Keisha Lance Bottoms and Mary Norwood. Unofficial returns showed Bottoms barely ahead by a margin of 759 votes.

The Tuesday runoff between Bottoms, who is black, and Mary Norwood, who is white, split Atlanta along racial lines after a campaign punctuated by political grudges and allegations of corruption, and a turnout of less than 20 percent of the city’s roughly 500,000 residents.

Bottoms led the unofficial results with 46,464 votes, or 50.41 percent, to Norwood’s 45,705 votes, or 49.59 percent. If Monday’s certified results confirm a margin of less than 1 percent of the overall vote, Norwood could request a recount within 48 hours. Election officials would have recount results by the end of next week, Fulton County spokeswoman April Majors said.

A victory for Bottoms would give Atlanta its sixth consecutive black mayor since Maynard Jackson was elected to the office in 1973. An upset by Norwood would end the Democratic Party’s hold on the office that dates back to 1879.

For Norwood, the runoff outcome virtually mirrored her 2009 loss to Mayor Kasim Reed by a mere 714 votes. The recount Norwood requested in that election ultimately produced only one additional vote.

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Reporters on Friday criticized Fox News for saying that Beverly Young Nelson, who accused Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16, “forged” part of a yearbook inscription she’s attributed to Moore.

During an interview with Good Morning America’s Tom Llamas that aired Friday, Nelson re-affirmed that Moore signed her yearbook when she was 15, before the alleged assault, and said that she added “notes” underneath his signature.

“The message was all Roy Moore,” Llamas said in his report.

Reporting on the interview, Fox News said Nelson admitted that she “forged part of the yearbook inscription,” echoing a frequent attack from Moore’s camp against Nelson. The report’s headline was later changed — “Roy Moore accuser admits she wrote part of yearbook inscription attributed to Alabama Senate candidate” — but the the tweet stayed up for a bit longer, though it was later deleted.

The Moore campaign used the report to smear Nelson.

Reporters and commentators across the aisle were critical of the characterization.

The article itself changed after scrutiny, too: While the Fox News originally asserted “Beverly Young Nelson told ABC News she added the date and place in the inscription,” the article now says the “notes” Nelson admitting to adding “appear to be the handwritten date and location.” TPM had reached out to a Fox News spokesperson regarding the factual basis for the first assertion above, but received no response.

The article has no byline, aside from “Fox News.” An update to the story at the bottom reads: “An update to this story reflects that Beverly Young Nelson admits writing what ABC News characterized as ‘notes’ beneath what she says is Roy Moore’s signature, and that the only notes below the signature are the date and location. Furthermore, the headline on story now specifies that Nelson admits to writing part of the inscription herself, rather than forging part of it.”

Nelson and her attorney, Gloria Allred, announced they would hold a news conference on Friday “to present evidence that we think is important on the issue whether Roy Moore signed the yearbook,” ABC News reported, quoting Allred.

This post has been updated.

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Sculptor Lee Busby and University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban could play a key role in determining whether Republican Roy Moore or Democrat Doug Jones becomes Alabama’s next U.S. senator.

A race that was initially expected to be a GOP walkover feels surprisingly close following allegations against Moore of sexual misconduct, and state election officials already are laying the groundwork for a larger-than-normal number of write-in votes. That’s where Busby and Saban come in.

While Saban isn’t running for anything other than a national championship, ‘Bama coaches typically wind up with write-in votes in state elections. Busby, meanwhile, is a retired Marine colonel from Tuscaloosa who’s launched a write-in candidacy in response to a campaign upended by allegations that Moore was involved in sexual misconduct decades ago.

Busby, describing himself as a typical Alabama Republican who supports President Donald Trump, said Thursday he’s running partly out of frustration.

“I did it because I could not bring myself to bring myself to pick either of the two binary choices we have as Alabama voters,” he said. “I’m not attracted to the Moore campaign … and I cannot bring myself to cast a vote for the Democratic Party to represent Alabama in the United States Senate.”

Busby isn’t alone, and several other people also are touting themselves as write-in alternatives, including Libertarian Ron Bishop.

At least one write-in vote already has been cast: Sen. Richard Shelby said he wrote in the name of a “distinguished” Republican on an absentee ballot rather than vote for Moore or a Democrat. But there’s no guarantee that any write-in votes will be counted.

Anticipating questions about write-in voting, the secretary of state’s office released a statement saying such votes won’t be counted unless the total number of write-in ballots exceeds the difference between the two leading candidates once other votes are tallied.

Even then, the agency said, write-in votes wouldn’t be counted until the seventh day after the election, when provisional ballots and absentee ballots cast by military personnel and overseas residents are compiled. So yes, the election suspense could drag on for days if it’s close.

Alabama’s last write-in campaign of statewide importance was in 1986, when Democrat Charlie Graddick launched a write-in bid after being stripped of a narrow win in a gubernatorial runoff election against Bill Baxley. A party subcommittee ruled Republicans swayed the race illegally by voting in the Democratic election and gave Baxley the nomination.

Graddick dropped the write-in campaign eventually and Guy Hunt was elected to become the state’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction. Graddick switched parties and is now a Republican state court judge in Mobile.

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Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) said Friday that special counsel Robert Mueller “is not being favorable to the President.”

During an interview, CNN’s Poppy Harlow asked Russell if the House Oversight Committee, of which he is a member, would investigate a whistleblower’s claims that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had texted a business associate on Inauguration Day to tell him that an elaborate plan to build nuclear reactors across the Middle East was “good to go.” The plan, according to the whistleblower’s account, had been hindered by America dropping sanctions against Russia.

“Do you think it should be investigated by your committee?” Harlow asked.

“I think that you have to look at the fact that we already have a special investigator that’s been appointed by the President, one that, you know, quite frankly many people see that he is not being favorable to the President, depending upon what political viewpoint you have,” Russell said.

“I don’t think there’s some issue on the other side of the aisle that, you know, Mr. Mueller is being unfair,” he added. “Those investigations are handled by special investigators.”

Harlow pressed on why Russell’s committee couldn’t handle the probe itself.

“We are already looking at it, it’s already been brought to our attention,” Russell said before hedging.

“We’ve made a determination at this stage that it’s already being handled in other ways with the evidence that we see. If new evidence should come to light or something that would cause us to want to go into a deeper investigation, well then, we’ll have to see that evidence.”

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DETROIT (AP) — The son of a former Detroit mayor plans to run for the 13th Congressional District seat vacated by John Conyers following allegations by former staffers of sexual harassment and inappropriate touching.

Spokesman Adolph Mongo says state Sen. Coleman Young II will announce his candidacy Monday. Mongo says Young would run in the scheduled Democratic primary and a special election if, Gov. Rick Snyder calls one.

Young’s father was the late Mayor Coleman A. Young.

Democratic state Sen. Ian Conyers, a grandson of John Conyers’ brother, also plans to run.

The 88-year-old John Conyers first was elected in 1964. He endorsed his son, John Conyers III, during Wednesday’s retirement announcement.

Some U.S. House members had urged the senior Conyers to resign as a House Ethics Committee investigates the harassment claims.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has signed a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown and keep the federal government running through Dec. 22.

The president signed the two-week spending bill at the White House after the House and Senate acted to prevent a government shutdown this weekend.

The White House and congressional leaders are negotiating a longer-term agreement.

The measure funds government agencies from the Defense Department to the IRS. It also makes money available to several states running out of funds for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The popular program provides medical care to more than 8 million children.

The White House and lawmakers say the bill will give them more time to negotiate several end-of-year agenda items, including the budget, a children’s health program and hurricane aid.

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