What to Know
- An emerging theory among U.S. military investigators is that the Army Special Forces soldiers ambushed in Niger were set up by terrorists
- A non-partisan federal watchdog says climate change is costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year, with those costs expected to rise
- Celebrity chef John Besh stepped down from the restaurant group that bears his name amid sexual harassment allegations
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Niger Attack Was Likely a Set-Up by Terrorists, Say Officials
An emerging theory among U.S. military investigators is that the Army Special Forces soldiers ambushed in Niger were set up by terrorists, who were tipped off in advance about a meeting in a village sympathetic to local ISIS affiliates, three U.S. officials who have been briefed on the matter told NBC News. The group of American Green Berets and support soldiers had requested a meeting with elders of a village that was seen as supportive of the Islamic State, and they attended the meeting at around 11 a.m. local time Oct. 4, after a long night of patrolling, the officials said. Such meetings are a routine part of the Green Beret mission, but it wasn't clear whether this meeting was part of the unit's plan. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not address that theory when he briefed reporters on the incident. He said the troops had been on a reconnaissance mission. Three weeks after a deadly attack that has become a political flashpoint, the U.S. military is grappling to get a handle on the basic facts of what led to the deaths of four service members — and the growing chorus of questions about the U.S. mission in Niger and other parts of Africa.
Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen to Appear Before House Intel Panel
President Trump's personal lawyer is scheduled to speak Tuesday with investigators for the House probe into Russia's involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, NBC News reported. Sources familiar with the House Intelligence Committee's probe say Michael Cohen will talk with them in private. The sources requested anonymity to discuss private workings of the House probe. A source with first-hand knowledge told NBC News that Cohen will also appear before to Senate Intelligence Committee on. Cohen is a former executive with the Trump Organization. He was in talks to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, but ended those negotiations as Trump's White House bid grew stronger. It was later revealed that Cohen had written an email to Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, seeking help in getting the Moscow tower built. But Peskov said he never responded to the email.
Trump Lunches With GOP Senators as Focus Turns to Taxes
President Trump is planning lunch with GOP senators after sparring with several of them, as congressional Republicans turn to overhauling the tax code. It will be Trump's first appearance as president at Senate Republicans' regular policy lunch at the Capitol. The gathering has the potential for awkward moments, because it follows spats between Trump and GOP senators such as John McCain of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee, as well as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. McConnell and Trump had a joint news conference last week to announce they had smoothed things over and underscore their common focus on taxes. But Trump's comments at that event spawned the controversy over his treatment of fallen U.S. troops, underscoring how the president's lack of discipline repeatedly takes the White House off-message, a continuing frustration for members of Congress. Nonetheless, Republicans and the Trump administration are determined to get tax legislation into law this year, and all sides seem to think they can unite around that goal.
Climate Change Already Costing U.S. Billions in Losses, Report Says
A non-partisan federal watchdog says climate change is already costing U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars each year, with those costs expected to rise as devastating storms, floods, wildfires and droughts become more frequent in the coming decades. A Government Accountability Office report released said the federal government has spent more than $350 billion over the last decade on disaster assistance programs and losses from flood and crop insurance. That tally does not include the massive toll from this year's three major hurricanes and wildfires, expected to be among the most costly in the nation's history. The report predicts these costs will only grow in the future, potentially reaching a budget busting $35 billion a year by 2050. The report says the federal government doesn't effectively plan for these recurring costs, classifying the financial exposure from climate-related costs as "high risk." GAO undertook the study following a request from Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Star Chef Steps Down Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations
New Orleans celebrity chef John Besh stepped down from the restaurant group that bears his name after a newspaper reported that 25 women who are current or former employees of the business said they were victims of sexual harassment by male co-workers and bosses. New Orleans media outlets said Besh's departure from the business he co-owns was announced to employees. The allegations were published by NOLA.comThe Times Picayune after an eight-month investigation. Women interviewed said male bosses in the Besh Restaurant Group touched or verbally harassed them and, in a few cases, tried to leverage positions of authority for sex. Besh acknowledged a sexual relationship with an employee, saying in a written statement to NOLA.comThe Times-Picayune that it was consensual, despite the woman's assertions in a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that she felt pressured. The developments came as sexual harassment allegations have been dogging other famous men, including Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, former Fox News executive Roger Ailes and comedian Bill Cosby.