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September 14, 2018

Stephen Colbert was impressed with The Weather Channel's terrifying new graphics for Hurricane Florence, less impressed with President Trump's tweets about Puerto Rico's hurricanes last year. "Folks, if you watch this show, you know we kid the president about being a terrible person, but in reality, it is much worse than we could have imagined," he said on Thursday's Late Show. He read Trump's tweets about the Hurricane Maria death toll being massively inflated to harm him politically, noting that "not only is this a sickening tweet, it is in no way true."

The estimated number of deaths — 2,975 U.S. citizens — came from a government-commissioned study by researchers from George Washington University, and while it might be politically damaging, it would probably have been buried under all the other Trump-related news if Trump hadn't tweeted about it, Colbert said. "It was kind of like he was on trial for littering and said on the stand: 'I only threw that cup out of my window because I was distracted by the homeless man I ran over. Pretty sure he died of old age, okay? Democrats pushed him in front of my car.'"

Speaking of chaos, Republicans think Trump is going to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions soon, but they also don't believe anyone could get confirmed to replace him and, in any case, no Republican wants the job, Colbert said, reading some responses. And meanwhile, the Trump Organization's former VP of construction just told a story in a New York Daily News op-ed about Trump ordering the Trump Tower architect to (illegally) get rid of Braille in the elevators, reportedly yelling: "No blind people are going to live in Trump Tower." Maybe, "but if you've seen Trump tower, I'm pretty sure blind people decorated it," Colbert joked. "You'd think Trump would love Braille — it's like reading through groping." Watch below. Peter Weber

10:12 p.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Since coming forward with her allegation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford has been "the target of vicious harassment and even death threats," her lawyers said Tuesday, forcing her and her family to leave their home.

Ford's legal team revealed this in a letter sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Tuesday. CNN obtained a copy of the letter, which demanded the FBI launch an investigation into Kavanaugh before Ford agrees to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in order to "ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a nonpartisan manner, and that the committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions."

Ford sent a confidential letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in July "so that lawmakers would have a fuller understanding of Brett Kavanaugh's character and history," the lawyers said, and she only came forward publicly after details of her letter were revealed. Since Sunday, Ford "has received a stunning amount of support from her community and from fellow citizens across our country," the lawyers said, but also "vicious harassment." In addition to receiving death threats, Ford's email has been hacked and people are pretending to be her online.

Ford, a professor, wants to cooperate with the committee and law enforcement, her lawyers said, but at the same time must take care of "her own health and security." Read the full letter — which includes a dig at senators like Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah, who called Ford "mixed up" — at CNN. Catherine Garcia

9:10 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers, said on Tuesday that she wants the FBI to investigate Kavanaugh before she testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The committee announced on Monday it would be holding a public hearing next Monday, giving senators a chance to hear from Kavanaugh and Ford and ask them questions. Ford's lawyers said the "first step" before having her go "on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident" would be an FBI investigation, but did not entirely rule out an appearance should an investigation not take place.

It is highly unlikely Republicans will agree to change the date, and they could still hold the hearing on Monday without Ford. The Senate Judiciary Committee had scheduled a vote on Kavanaugh for this Thursday, but delayed it for Monday's hearing. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News on Tuesday evening if Ford "does not come on Monday, we are going to move on and vote on Wednesday." Kavanaugh has denied the allegations. Catherine Garcia

8:23 p.m. ET
AP Photo/Fabian Bimmer

Due to their close relationship, many people have speculated that Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie are a couple, and a former writer for the show said those viewers are correct.

In an interview with Queerty, Mark Saltzman said while writing for the characters, he used his own experiences with his partner. "I didn't have any other way to contextualize them," Saltzman said. Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit that produces Sesame Street, quickly released a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying that not only are Bert and Ernie not gay, but they don't have a sexual orientation, period.

"As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends," Sesame Workshop declared. "They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation." A few hours later, Sesame Workshop followed up with another statement, saying Sesame Street has "always stood for inclusion and acceptance. It's a place where people of all cultures and backgrounds are welcome." Should Bert and Ernie weigh in on the matter, this report will be updated. Catherine Garcia

7:39 p.m. ET
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Polish President Andrzej Duda wants the United States to establish a permanent military base in his country, and knows that President Trump reacts well to flattery, so he came up with a pretty solid plan to get his way: promise to name the base Fort Trump.

Duda and Trump appeared at a joint news conference in Washington on Tuesday, where Duda invited Trump to "post more American military troops in Poland" as a "guarantor of security." Duda said he would "very much like for us to set up a permanent American base in Poland which we would call Fort Trump. I firmly believe that this is possible."

Trump said he would consider the request. "He would pay the United States, meaning Poland would be paying billions of dollars for a base," Trump said. "We're looking at that more and more from the standpoint of defending really wealthy countries." Poland is closely watching Russia and its military moves, and Trump believes that having a presence in the country would keep Russian President Vladimir Putin in check. "I think that Russia has acted aggressively," he said. "They respect force. They respect strength, as anyone does. And we have the greatest strength in the world, especially now." Catherine Garcia

6:52 p.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Diocese of Brooklyn on Tuesday paid a $27.5 million settlement to four men who were sexually abused by a religion teacher when they were children.

The abuse took place between 2003 and 2009 at St. Lucy's-St. Patrick's Church in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, when the boys were between the ages of eight and 12. The New York Times reports that the boys were repeatedly abused by 67-year-old Angelo Serrano, a lay teacher of religion and director of religious education; he was arrested in September 2009 and pleaded guilty in 2011 to first-degree sexual conduct charges. Serrano is now serving a 15-year prison sentence.

The victims, now between the ages of 19 and 21, will each receive $6,875,000. This is one of the largest settlements ever reached with victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. Catherine Garcia

5:48 p.m. ET

Mark Judge, the other man mentioned in Christine Blasey Ford's sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, wants no part in this situation.

In an interview with The Washington Post published Sunday, Ford described how Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a party when they were both in high school in the 1980s. Judge, Kavanaugh's high school classmate, was in the room when it happened, Ford said, and Ford was able to escape when Judge jumped on top of her and Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh has categorically denied the incident. Judge defended the nominee in a statement from his lawyer Tuesday, saying that he had "no memory of the incident" and that he "never saw [Kavanaugh] act in the manner Ford described." He also said he would not testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying he had "no more information to offer" and did not "wish to speak publicly" about the allegation any further.

Judge's first response to the situation came in Friday interview with conservative magazine The Weekly Standard, in which he said he didn't know about the alleged incident until a reporter called him for comment. Judge went on to deny the situation ever happened and that he "never saw Brett [Kavanaugh] act that way." Ford and Kavanaugh are both scheduled to testify publicly to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the allegation next week. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:35 p.m. ET

"You can see I'm a little upset by this, the unfairness of it," Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told reporters Tuesday in a massive understatement.

Hirono was part of a gaggle of Senate Democrats speaking to the media Tuesday regarding the sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. California professor Christine Blasey Ford over the weekend publicly accused Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her at a party while they were both high schoolers in the 1980s. Kavanaugh has steadfastly denied the claim — but while he was expected to pass through a Thursday vote by the committee and eventually on to full confirmation, Ford's allegation has upended the process.

Now, both Ford and Kavanaugh will testify before the Senate next week regarding the allegation. "I think we all know when something is unfair, when something smells," Hirono told reporters Tuesday. She explained that she resented the White House's "victimization" of Ford, who is "under absolutely no obligation to participate in a smearing of her and her family." When a reporter asked Hirono whether she felt her status as one of just four women on the Senate Judiciary Committee has affected the proceedings, Hirono lit up: "Of course it helps that there are women on that committee," she said. "But really: Guess who's perpetuating all of these kinds of actions? It's the men in this country. And I just want to say to the men in this country: Just shut up and step up. Do the right thing — for a change."

You can watch Hirono's fiery declaration — as well as her semi-sheepish acknowledgment that she was just "a little upset" — below. Kimberly Alters

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