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December 8, 2017

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) asked two of his female staffers to be "surrogates" for him and his wife, and was unclear about the requests so as to lead the women to wonder whether he was suggesting that he wanted to have sex with them in order to impregnate them, Politico reported Friday. Franks, 60, has twins that were born via surrogate and reportedly was not clear "whether he was asking about impregnating the women through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization," Politico adds. Franks allegedly offered one woman $5 million to act as his surrogate, The Associated Press reports, and repeated the request multiple times when she did not immediately accept.

That was not the only odd story to come out of Franks' office, either:

A former staffer also alleged that Franks tried to persuade a female aide that they were in love by having her read an article that described how a person knows they're in love with someone, the sources said. One woman believed she was the subject of retribution after rebuffing Franks. While she enjoyed access to the congressman before the incident, that access was revoked afterward, she told Republican leaders. [Politico]

After reports Thursday that Franks sought a surrogate among his staff, the eight-term congressman said he would resign early next year. "I have recently learned that the Ethics Committee is reviewing an inquiry regarding my discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable," Franks said in a statement. "I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress." On Friday, he abruptly announced he would be resigning today instead, noting that his wife had been admitted to the hospital; the immediacy of his resignation was reportedly spurred by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Jeva Lange

December 8, 2017

The Los Angeles Angels signed 23-year-old Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani on Friday, putting an end to an intense Major League Baseball-wide pursuit of the dual pitcher and outfielder. Ohtani's agent explained to Yahoo Sports that "while there has been much speculation about what would drive Shohei's decision, what mattered to him most wasn't market size, time zone, or league but that he felt a true bond with the Angels."

By joining the Angels, Ohtani rejected offers of more than $1 million from the Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Miami Marlins, and Seattle Mariners. He also joins a team that already has one of the best players in the league — although it appears there is always room for more. Jeva Lange

December 8, 2017

A woman who accused Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of assaulting her when she was a teenager admitted Friday that she added "notes" to his inscription in her yearbook, which she had used as proof of her allegations. Beverly Young Nelson confirmed to Good Morning America that she made "notes to the inscription, but the message was all Roy Moore."

The message, which Moore has denied is in his handwriting, reads: "To a sweeter, more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas. Christmas 1977. Love, Roy Moore, D.A."

Nelson and her attorney, Gloria Allred, are holding a news conference later Friday to "present evidence that we think is important on the issue whether Roy Moore signed the yearbook," Allred said. Jeva Lange

December 8, 2017

Muslims around the world took to the streets after midday prayers on Friday to protest President Trump's decision to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. America's decision is highly controversial because Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as their future capital, and the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem comes across as taking Israel's side in the conflict and ruining the possibility of a two-state solution.

Protests were as widespread as Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey, and Indonesia, although the heart of the demonstrations took place across the West Bank. "In several cities and towns, angry protesters hurled stones at Israeli troops who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets," The Associated Press reports. "Smoke rose over Bethlehem."

The leaders of several militant groups have called for violence in the wake of Trump's decision. Hamas declared Friday a "day of rage" and demanded an uprising against Israel, while al Qaeda insisted followers target United States institutions worldwide. The State Department has already issued warnings to embassies around the globe.

Many religious leaders have condemned the Trump administration's decision as well. Pope Francis expressed concern about recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, an anti-apartheid activist and the former Archbishop of Cape Town, issued a rare statement in the wake of Trump's decision. "God is weeping," Tutu said. Jeva Lange

December 7, 2017
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Republican Rep. Trent Franks (Ariz.) announced Thursday night he will resign from office, with his last day Jan. 31, 2018.

"I have recently learned that the Ethics Committee is reviewing an inquiry regarding my discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable," Franks said in a statement. "I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress." Three Republicans who spoke to The Washington Post said Franks asked the staffers if they would serve as surrogates for Franks and his wife. The couple has two children, twins, who were born via surrogate.

First elected in 2002, Franks served eight terms, and recently announced he was going to run for re-election. He is an evangelical Christian, has written anti-abortion legislation, and is a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus. Franks is the third lawmaker this week to resign, following Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). Catherine Garcia

December 7, 2017
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The House on Thursday passed a stopgap measure to fund the federal government through Dec. 22. The measure passed 235-193, with 18 Republicans opposing and 14 Democrats supporting, and will now move to the Senate.

The so-called "continuing resolution" would allow lawmakers two more weeks to come up with a long-term solution; a first deadline for federal funding would have elapsed Friday. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that Democrats don't want to force a government shutdown, but could not support the stopgap measure because it did not address domestic issues like the legal status of young undocumented immigrants and opioid crisis relief. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said the bill amounted to "keeping the government going while we negotiate the final details."

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced Thursday that there would be no votes in the lower chamber Friday. Instead, the House will be in session the week of Dec. 18; it was originally scheduled to adjourn for the holidays on Dec. 14. Kimberly Alters

December 7, 2017
JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images

Former Team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison Thursday for child pornography crimes, The Associated Press reports. Investigators found more than 37,000 images of child porn on his hard drive while searching his home as part of the probe into assault allegations, the New York Daily News reports. Federal Judge Janet Neff said Nassar "should never again have access to children."

In total, Nassar, 54, is also accused of having abused more than 130 of his patients during medical exams between 1998 and 2015. Nassar previously agreed to a sentence of between 25 and 40 years for the abuse charges, the second of his three criminal cases. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has argued that he believes Nassar should serve a sentence of 125 years, MLive.com reports. "One year for every victim. That's 125 years, that sounds just about right," Schuette said. Jeva Lange

December 7, 2017

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced his resignation "in the coming weeks" Thursday after two more women came forward Wednesday to allege he had inappropriately touched them. "I am aware of the irony that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has preyed on underage girls is running for the Senate with the full support of his party," Franken told his colleagues from the Senate floor.

Franken has been accused by eight women in total and by Wednesday, more than three dozen Democratic senators were calling for him to resign. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) will name Franken's replacement for the intervening days until a 2018 special election, and sources familiar with his thinking say the likely choice will be Lt. Gov. Tina Smith (D).

Franken added that "I may be resigning my seat but I am not giving up my voice. I will continue to stand up for the things I believe in as a citizen and as an activist." Watch his comments in full below. Jeva Lange

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