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Happening Today: Robert Mueller, USA Gymnastics, Flu, Smoking, Harvey Weinstein

What to Know

  • A source with firsthand knowledge close to the White House confirms for NBC News that Trump ordered his counsel to fire Robert Mueller
  • Smoking just one single cigarette a day can significantly raise your risk of heart disease and stroke, researchers said
  • A former assistant for Harvey Weinstein says she was forced to take dictation from him while he was naked, according to a federal lawsuit

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Trump Reportedly Ordered Mueller Fired, But Then Backed Off

A source with firsthand knowledge close to the White House confirms for NBC News that President Trump ordered his white house counsel to fire the special counsel, Robert Mueller last June. Don McGahn refused, threatened to quit and the president ultimately backed down. This was first reported by the New York Times. In a speech in Davos, Trump called the report "fake news." The newspaper reports that Trump demanded Mueller's firing just weeks after the special counsel was first appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. McGahn said he would not deliver the order to the Justice Department, according to The Times, which cites four people familiar with the request by the president. Trump argued at the time that Mueller could not be fair because of a dispute over golf club fees that he said Mueller owed at a Trump golf club in Sterling, Va. The president also believed Mueller had a conflict of interest because he worked for the same law firm that was representing Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner.

USOC Gives USA Gymnastics Board 6 Days to Resign or Else

Following the Larry Nassar scandal, the United States Olympic Committee has demanded that USA Gymnastics meet six conditions — including the resignation of its entire board by the end of next week — or else face decertification. USOC CEO Scott Blackmun sent a letter to the USAG board outlining the demands for the institution. In the letter he wrote, “While the USOC encourages USAG to think and act broadly on reforming its culture, we also believe that reform must start with an entirely new board." Additional measures include requiring all staff and board members to complete comprehensive ethics training within six months. The USAG board has six days to resign, or else its status as the sport’s governing body will be terminated, the USOC said.

Trump Plan Offers Citizenship Path to 1.8 Million Immigrants

The White House has unveiled a proposal that provides a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million young immigrants living in the country illegally, in exchange for new restrictions on legal immigration and $25 billion in border security. The plan was applauded by some in Congress, but blasted by conservative activists as "amnesty" and slammed by a slew of Democrats, who accused President Trump of holding "Dreamers" hostage to his hard-line immigration agenda. Senior White House officials cast the plan as a centrist compromise that could win support from both parties and enough votes to pass the Senate. But it comes with a long list of concessions that many Democrats, and also conservative Republicans, especially in the House, may find impossible to swallow. The plan would provide a pathway to citizenship for the roughly 690,000 younger immigrants protected from deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — as well as hundreds of thousands of others who independent estimates say qualify for the program, but never applied.

Fire at Hospital Kills at Least 37, Injures Scores in South Korea

A fire spread flames and smoke through a South Korean hospital, killing at least 37 people, mainly from suffocation, and injuring nearly 130 others in one of the country's deadliest blazes in years. The dead included three hospital staff and several people in an intensive-care unit for respiratory illnesses. The fire started in Sejong Hospital's emergency room and had engulfed the first floor when firefighters arrived. They approached the second floor through the windows to rescue trapped patients, said Choi Man-wu, a fire official in the southeastern city of Miryang. He said smoke could have spread quickly through the building's staircase at the center, but the flames were extinguished before reaching the third floor. The cause of the fire wasn't immediately known. The hospital's operations were suspended after the fire. All the dead were from the hospital's general ward, while all 94 people being cared for in a nursing ward for the elderly were safely evacuated after the fire, some carried on the backs of firefighters, Choi said.

NYC Hospital Seeing 30 to 50 More Flu Patients Per Day This Season, Doctors Say

Doctors at at least one New York City hospital said they are seeing a dramatic influx of flu patients amid this season's outbreak of the virus. The staff of Mount Sinai Children's Hospital said they've been seeing between 30 and 50 more patients per day than normal this flu season. It comes amid a deadly outbreak that killed on New York boy already left 1,600 other New Yorkers in the hospital last week alone. ER Dr. Peter Shearer and nurse Katherine Bermudez are just two of the countless health professionals working tirelessly to help the influx of patients in recent weeks. “It seems like they’re coming in more this year, this season, than previous winter seasons,” said Bermudez.

1 Cigarette a Day Still Raises Heart Disease Risk, Study Shows

Smoking just one single cigarette a day can significantly raise your risk of heart disease and stroke, researchers said in a new report that contradicts the notion that cutting way down from heavy smoking drastically reduces risks, NBC News reported. A team led by Allan Hackshaw at the UCL Cancer Institute at University College London went back through credible health studies dating back to 1946. For men, smoking one cigarette a day on average raised the risk of heart disease by 48 percent over a non-smoker, while smoking 20 cigarettes a day doubled the risk. For a woman, smoking one cigarette a day raised the heart disease risk by 57 percent and 20 cigarettes a day raised the risk 2.8 times. The findings come as the U.S. is considering how to regulate "heat not burn" cigarettes.

Assistant Forced to Take Dictation From Nude Weinstein, Lawsuit Alleges

A former personal assistant for Harvey Weinstein says she was forced to clean up messes from his sexual encounters and take dictation from him while he was naked, according to a federal lawsuit. Sandeep Rehal said she suffers from "severe emotional distress" because of "incessant sexual harassment" she endured working as the movie mogul's assistant from February 2013 to February 2015. She called her work environment "sexually hostile," and said she was subjected to unwanted touching by Weinstein. Weinstein spokeswoman Holly Baird said Weinstein "categorically denies these claims." She said Weinstein's lawyers "will respond in the appropriate legal forum with evidence proving they are untrue." According to the lawsuit, Rehal had to manage Weinstein's supply of erectile dysfunction injections, clean semen off his office couch and pick up used condoms. She maintained Weinstein's list of contacts and had to use an asterisk to identify his sexual partners, the suit says.

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