Alayna Treene
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Tillerson breaks with Trump on North Korea for the second time this week

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged, for the second time this week, that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons and enter into negotiations with the U.S. and others, leaving room for a diplomatic solution.

Why it matters: Tillerson's rhetoric doesn't line up with the official position of the White House. President Trump has made clear that he doesn't think negotiations are a viable option in dealing with Pyongyang, and has instead focused on drawing attention to the strength of the U.S. military.

Tillerson's message to North Korea, made during a speech at a UN Security Council meeting Friday:

  • “We have been clear that all options remain on the table in the defense of our nation, but we do not seek, nor do we want, war with North Korea,” he said. “The United States will use all necessary measures to defend itself against North Korean aggression, but our hope remains that diplomacy will produce a resolution.”
  • "Our communication channels remain open. North Korea knows they're open. They know where the door is. They know where to walk through that door when they want to talk."
  • “It can reverse course, give up its unlawful nuclear weapons programs, and join the community of nations, or it can continue to condemn its people to poverty and isolation.”

Go deeper: Trump's gamble on North Korea

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New drug law hampers opioid crackdown efforts, DEA officials say

An arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen in New York. Photo / Patrick Sison / AP

A new law backed by opioid distributors and manufacturers is making it harder for the Drug Enforcement Administration to hold companies accountable for violating drug laws, according to retired DEA investigators.

The officials' accounts are the latest component of a deep-rooted investigation by the Washington Post and "60 Minutes," which initially exposed how the drug legislation was derailing the DEA's efforts to crack down on the opioid epidemic. That investigation ultimately led to the withdrawal of Rep. Tom Marino's drug czar nomination.

Why it matters: The opioid epidemic "claimed nearly 200,000 lives between 2000 and 2016," according to the Post.

Background:

  • The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016 was passed in Congress by a group of lawmakers supported by powerful drug companies.
  • Marino was the bill's main sponsor in the House, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) negotiated its final version with the DEA in the Senate.
  • Prior to the law, the DEA was able to immediately suspend drug shipments that posed an “imminent danger" to the community. Now the DEA must prove that a company’s actions represent “a substantial likelihood of an immediate threat,” according to the Post. The law also allows companies to submit “corrective action plans” before the DEA can sanction them, something one retired DEA employee called a "get out of jail free card."

What they're saying: DEA investigators say the law has undermined their agency and thwarted several of their efforts, such as stopping suspicious shipments of prescription pain pills and enforcing pharmaceuritical regulations.

The other side: Defenders of the law argue it protects patients' access to necessary prescriptions by encouraging cooperation between the DEA and drug companies. “This was an effort to ensure that DEA’s praiseworthy efforts to stem abuse don’t end up hurting legitimate patients,” Hatch said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday.

What's next: The DEA investigators' full interviews with the Washington Post and "60 Minutes" will be published and broadcast on Sunday.

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Trump tells police he has their back "100 percent"

President Trump speaks during the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony Friday. PhotoL Evan Vucci / AP

President Trump received a warm welcome at the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony Friday, less than an hour after continuing to make claims about how angry the American public is with the bureau and his Justice Department, calling it "a shame." But Trump took on a more optimistic tune during his speech to the academy:

"Know, with me as your president, America's police will have a true friend and loyal champion in the White House – more loyal than anyone else can be...The president of the United States has your back 100 percent."

Key quotes from Trump's speech:

  • He went after chain migration and the visa lottery system: "You think the country is giving us their best people? No... They give us their worst people, they put them in a bin ... really the worst of the worst." (Go deeper: How the diversity visa process works. Take note: Recipients of diversity visas are vetted through the same process as any other visa recipients).
  • And crime in Chicago: "What the hell is going on in Chicago? What the hell is happening there? ... Police departments are overstretched, they're underfunded and they're totally underappreciated — except by me." (Go deeper: Trump compares Chicago to Afghanistan; Chicago police tout 14% homicide drop)
  • His message "to those who threaten violence against our police": "We will protect those who protect us. And we believe criminals who kill police officers should get the death penalty." (Go deeper: Trump's history of calling for the death penalty)
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Trump: "People are very, very angry" with FBI and Justice Department

President Trump speaks with reporters before heading to the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images

"When you look at what's gone on with the FBI and this Justice Department — people are very, very angry... the level of anger with this FBI is certainly very sad."
— President Trump on his way to Quantico to participate in the FBI graduation

He also lamented how "it's a shame" what's happened with the Bureau, but added "we're going to rebuild the FBI, it'll be bigger and better than ever."

More from Trump:

  • He insisted that there has been "absolutely no collusion" with Russia, "that has been proven." Instead, he said the entire investigation is a "Democrat hoax" to provide cover for losing the election.
  • "That was a rigged system folks."His recent call with Vladimir Putin: "He said very nice things in terms of what I've done with the economy and this Congress ... we would love to have Russia's help on North Korea."
  • Did you know Mike Flynn lied to the FBI? "You know the answer," he said, adding that he doesn't want to talk about pardoning Flynn yet. "We'll see what happens."
  • Roy Moore should concede defeat to Doug Jones, he said.
  • Child tax credit, which Marco Rubio said is required to get him to vote yes on the tax bill: "The Democrats have done nothing in terms of children, in terms of child tax credit ... We're putting in a tremendous child tax credit."
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Trump's "really diverse team" is mostly white

President Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House. Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

Omarosa Manigault, who was the only African American woman among President Trump's senior White House staff, drew attention to the Trump administration's lack of diversity when she resigned on Wednesday. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders maintained that the White House has "a really diverse team" across all departments, and are always trying to add to it.

The reality: Manigault, along with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, was one of two black officials among Trump's three dozen-plus team of Cabinet members and senior staffers.

Lack of diversity of Trump's cabinet: Ben Carson; Elaine Chao, who is Asian American; and Nikki Haley, who is Indian American, are the only non-white members of Trump's cabinet.

Omarosa also suggested traces of racial tension within the White House, as she said on "Good Morning America": "

"As the only African-American woman in the White House, I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people."
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Women twice as likely to say they face gender discrimination at work

Photo: Jeff Chiu / AP

42% of working women in the U.S. say they have faced gender discrimination on the job, ranging from earning less than their male counterparts to being overlooked for important assignments and new positions, according to new Pew Research Center data. Only 22% of working men say the same.

Why it matters: The survey — which was conducted over the summer, prior to the #MeToo movement — reveals that the scales are still vastly tipped in men's favor.

Other key findings that highlight the disparity between men and women:

  • 25% of working women say they have earned less than a man who was doing the same job, while 5% of working men say they earn less than a female peer.
  • 15% of working women say they have received less support from senior leaders than a man who was doing the same job, while only 7% men say the same.
  • 10% of working women say they have been passed over for the most important assignments because of their gender, compared with 5% of men.

The Pew survey was conducted July 11–Aug. 10, 2017, with "a nationally representative sample" of 4,914 adults.

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U.S. retail sales beat November expectations

A holiday sale display greets shoppers entering a JCPenney store. Photo: Elaine Thompson / AP

U.S. retail sales were higher than expected in November, the Commerce Department announced Thursday, signaling the growing strength of demand from American consumers this holiday shopping season.

Get smart: Overall sales were 0.5% higher than in October thanks to a strengthening jobs market, which helped boost demand. Bloomberg notes that "solid hiring, gains in stock prices and property values, and limited inflation" are also expected to sustain demand for the remainder of the year, after two quarters of seeing above-trend growth of around 3%.

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Tavis Smiley: PBS investigation "went too far"

Tavis Smiley says he plans to "fight back" at PBS. Photo: Rich Fury / Invision via AP

Late-night talk show host Tavis Smiley, who was suspended by PBS after an internal investigation led to several allegations of sexual misconduct, said he was shocked by the way PBS handled their investigation. "Variety knew [about my suspension] before I did," he said in a Facebook post.

His side of the story: "To be clear, I have never groped, coerced, or exposed myself inappropriately to any workplace colleague in my entire broadcast career ... PBS overreacted and conducted a biased and sloppy investigation, which led to a rush to judgment, and trampling on a reputation that I have spent an entire lifetime trying to establish. This has gone too far. And, I, for one, intend to fight back."

Smiley's full statement:

“On the eve of the 15th season and 3,000th episode of my nightly talk show, I was as shocked as anyone else by PBS’ announcement today. Variety knew before I did.

I have the utmost respect for women and celebrate the courage of those who have come forth to tell their truth. To be clear, I have never groped, coerced, or exposed myself inappropriately to any workplace colleague in my entire broadcast career, covering 6 networks over 30 years.

Never. Ever. Never.

PBS launched a so-called investigation of me without ever informing me. I learned of the investigation when former staffers started contacting me to share the uncomfortable experience of receiving a phone call from a stranger asking whether, I had ever done anything to make them uncomfortable, and if they could provide other names of persons to call. After 14 seasons, that’s how I learned of this inquiry, from the streets.

Only after being threatened with a lawsuit, did PBS investigators reluctantly agree to interview me for three hours.

If having a consensual relationship with a colleague years ago is the stuff that leads to this kind of public humiliation and personal destruction, heaven help us. The PBS investigators refused to review any of my personal documentation, refused to provide me the names of any accusers, refused to speak to my current staff, and refused to provide me any semblance of due process to defend myself against allegations from unknown sources. Their mind was made up. Almost immediately following the meeting, this story broke in Variety as an ‘exclusive.’ Indeed, I learned more about these allegations reading the Variety story than the PBS investigator shared with me, the accused, in our 3 hour face to face meeting.

My attorneys were sent a formal letter invoking a contractual provision to not distribute my programming, and that was it.

Put simply, PBS overreacted and conducted a biased and sloppy investigation, which led to a rush to judgment, and trampling on a reputation that I have spent an entire lifetime trying to establish.

This has gone too far. And, I, for one, intend to fight back.

It’s time for a real conversation in America, so men and women know how to engage in the workplace. I look forward to actively participating in that conversation.”

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Doug Jones' message to Roy Moore: "It's time to move on"

Doug Jones (left) beat Roy Moore in the Alabma senate race. Photos: AP

Senator-elect Doug Jones told NBC's Savannah Guthrie Thursday that he understands Roy Moore's frustration in losing in Alabama but it's time for him "to move on."

Key quote: "Every race is tough, it's bitter sometimes... the people of Alabama have now spoken... I think he would do well to go ahead and [say] let's get this behind us." Jones added that there's "no doubt" in his mind that he won, despite Moore's unwillingness to concede defeat.

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Omarosa denies being fired and escorted off White House grounds

Omarosa Manigault said she resigned from the White House. Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Omarosa Manigault, who met Trump when she was a contestant on the first season of "The Apprentice," asserted Thursday that she resigned from the Trump administration. She called reports that she was fired for trying to break into the White House residence and escorted of the grounds "100% false."

"Certainly I had more access than most, and people had problems with that," Manigault told Good Morning America. "People had problems with my 14-year relationship with the president. I've always been loyal to him."

Manigault's version of events: She said she and chief of staff John Kelly sat down in the situation room and had "a very candid conversation" about her wanting to resign. Her resignation will take effect on January 20.

Her issues with her WH role:

  • "There were a lot of things that I observed during the last year that I was unhappy with, that I was uncomfortable with ... When I can tell my story, it is a profound story."
  • "As the only African-American woman in the White House I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people."