What to Know
- The White House says Trump will call for optimism and unity in his State of the Union address, using the moment to attempt a reset
- Gov. Ralph Northam consulted with top administration officials about whether to resign amid a furor over a racist photo in his 1984 yearbook
- 'Empire' star Jussie Smollett, who told police he was attacked last month, did not want to report the incident but was convinced to
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Trump to Call for Unity, Face Skepticism in State of the Union
The White House says President Trump will call for optimism and unity in his State of the Union address, using the moment to attempt a reset after two years of bitter partisanship and deeply personal attacks. But will anyone buy it? Skepticism will emanate from both sides of the aisle when Trump enters the House chamber for the prime-time address to lawmakers and the nation. Democrats, emboldened after the midterm elections and the recent shutdown fight, see little evidence of a president willing to compromise. And even the president's staunchest allies know that bipartisan rhetoric read off a teleprompter is usually undermined by scorching tweets and unpredictable policy maneuvers. Still, the fact that Trump's advisers feel a need to try a different approach is a tacit acknowledgment that the president's standing is weakened as he begins his third year in office.
Virginia Governor Weighs His Future Amid Pressure to Resign
A political death watch took shape at Virginia's Capitol as Gov. Ralph Northam consulted with top administration officials about whether to resign amid a furor over a racist photo in his 1984 yearbook. Practically all of the state's Democratic establishment — and Republican leaders, too — turned against the 59-year-old Democrat after the picture surfaced late last week of someone in blackface next to another person in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe. The photo was on Northam's medical school yearbook page. The sense of crisis deepened as the politician next in line to be governor, Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, denied an uncorroborated allegation of sexual misconduct first reported by a conservative website. Fairfax told reporters that the 2004 encounter with a woman was consensual, and he called the accusation a political "smear." Protest chants, meanwhile, echoed around Capitol Square. Lobbyists complained they were unable to get legislators to focus on bills. Security guards joked about who was going to be the next governor. Cafeteria workers and members of the cleaning staff shook their heads in wonder. And banks of news cameras were set up outside the governor's Executive Mansion.
Federal Prosecutors Subpoena Trump's Inaugural Committee
Federal prosecutors in New York issued a subpoena seeking documents from Donald Trump's inaugural committee, furthering a federal inquiry into a fund that has faced mounting scrutiny into how it raised and spent its money. Inaugural committee spokeswoman Kristin Celauro told The Associated Press that the committee had received the subpoena and was still reviewing it. "It is our intention to cooperate with the inquiry," she said. A second spokesman, Owen Blicksilver, declined to answer questions about which documents prosecutors requested. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan, which issued the subpoena, declined to comment. The investigation is the latest in a series of criminal inquiries into Trump's campaign and presidency.
'Empire' Actor Did Not Want to Report Attack, Document Shows
"Empire" star Jussie Smollett, who told police he was attacked last month in Chicago, did not want to report the incident but was convinced it was "in the best interest" to do so, according to a police report. Smollett told police on Jan. 29 two masked men punched him, subjected him to racist and homophobic insults, threw an "unknown chemical substance" on him and put a thin rope around his neck before fleeing. It's unclear why the television star was hesitant to report the attack, but the person who called it in -- whose name is redacted in the document but who police have said was Smollett's manager -- convinced the actor to do so. That person also requested the officers turn off their body-worn cameras, according to the police report. The report also states that Smollett's injuries were minor and he was "bruised." Under "weapon used" section of the document, it reads "Hand/Feet/Teeth/Etc." Smollett has recently thanked fans for their support.
Liam Neeson Recalls Racist Response to Rape of Person Close to Him
Liam Neeson has said he is ashamed to admit he had violent thoughts about killing a black person after learning that someone close to him had been raped. In an interview, Neeson said after being told the attacker was black, he "went up and down areas with a cosh (stick or truncheon)" hoping a black person "would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him." "It took me a week, maybe a week and a half, to go through that," Neeson said. Many social media users expressed shock at his admission, accusing the "Taken" star of racism. he Northern Ireland-born actor recounted the story in an interview with The Independent while promoting his new thriller "Cold Pursuit," about a father who seeks violent revenge for his son's death. He said the incident happened some time ago.