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Trump slams 'ungrateful fool' LaVar Ball in tweets

President Donald Trump escalated his feud with NBA personality LaVar Ball in a pair of tweets Wednesday, calling Ball an “ungrateful fool” and taking full credit for getting Ball’s son and two of his UCLA basketball teammates back to the U.S. after the trio was accused of shoplifting in China.

>> Read more trending news

“It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence - IT WAS ME,” the president wrote in a tweet posted around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday. “Remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!”

Trump and Ball have engaged in a verbal back-and-forth since the president took credit for freeing Ball’s son, LiAngelo, and two of his teammates, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, from a Chinese jail earlier this month. The trio was facing shoplifting charges and as many as 10 years in China’s prison system.

>> Related: WATCH: LaVar Ball fires back at Trump in heated CNN interview

LiAngelo Ball, Riley and Hill were released and allowed to return to the United States last week after Trump said he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping on their behalf.

“The basketball players, by the way — I know a lot of people are asking — I will tell you, when I heard about it two days ago, I had a great conversation with President Xi,” Trump said, according to The Washington Post. “What they did was unfortunate. You know, you’re talking about very long prison sentences. (The Chinese) do not play games.”

>> Related: Trump again lashes out at UCLA basketball dad LaVar Ball: 'Very ungrateful!'

LiAngelo Ball, Riley and Hill thanked their fellow teammates, school officials and the U.S. government, including Trump, for the work they did to bring them back to the U.S. LaVar Ball, however, said in an interview Monday with CNN that he wouldn’t thank Trump.

"Did he help the boys get out? I don't know,” LaVar Ball said. “If I was going to thank somebody I'd probably thank President Xi (Jinping). ... It wasn't like he was in the US and said, 'OK, there's three kids in China. I need to go over and get them.' That wasn't the thought process.”

>> Related: Trump fires back after LaVar Ball minimizes role in getting UCLA players released

LaVar Ball told CNN that he felt if Trump helped to free his son, the president shouldn’t have felt like he needed recognition.

“If you helped you shouldn't have to say anything,” LaVar Ball said. “If I help somebody, I don't walk around saying, you know, ‘I helped you now, come on now, you give me some love, I helped you.’ Come on, for real?”

“Just think LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

The Palm Beach Post contributed to this report.

'Saturday Night Live' women defend Sen. Al Franken after groping allegations

More than 30 women who worked with Sen. Al Franken on “Saturday Night Live,” defended the embattled lawmaker in an open later Tuesday, writing that while working with him “not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior.”

>> Read more trending news

The women, including former SNL cast members Jane Curtin and Laraine Newman, writers and producers, wrote that they felt “compelled to stand up for Al Franken” in the wake of allegations that he forced himself on Los Angeles news anchor Leeann Tweeden in 2006.

Franken apologized after Tweeden made her allegations public last week in a blog post for KABC.

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of kissing, groping news anchor without consent

“What Al did was stupid and foolish, and we think it was appropriate for him to apologize to Ms. Tweeden, and to the public,” the letter said.

“In our experience, we know Al as a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer, and an honorable public servant. That is why we are moved to quickly and directly affirm that after years of working with him, we would like to acknowledge that not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior; and mention our sincere appreciation that he treated each of us with the utmost respect and regard.”

Franken worked on “Saturday Night Live” as a writer and a featured player from 1977 to 1980 and from 1988 to 1995.

Tweeden said last week that she was forcibly kissed by Franken, who was a radio host for Air America at the time, and groped in her sleep during a USO tour in 2006. She shared an image of herself sleeping as Franken’s hands hovered over her chest as evidence of the incident.

Franken apologized and called for an ethics investigation into the incident.

"I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter," Franken said in a statement released Thursday. "There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate. It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture."

A second woman came forward Monday, accusing Franken of groping her as they posed for a photo at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair.

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of groping woman in 2010

Lindsay Menz told CNN that Franken, “pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, (Franken) put his hand full-fledged on my rear.”

In a statement to CNN, Franken said he didn’t remember taking the photo but that he felt “badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”

Congressional investigation launched after sexual harassment allegations against Rep. John Conyers

Update 4:40 p.m. Nov. 21: The House Ethics Committee has started an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Michigan Democratic Congressman John Conyers at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s urging.

Update 2:30 p.m. Nov. 21: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for an ethics investigation Tuesday after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced against Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of Congress.

"As members of Congress, we each have a responsibility to uphold the integrity of the House of Representatives and to ensure a climate of dignity and respect, with zero tolerance for harassment, discrimination, bullying or abuse,” Pelosi, D-California, said in a statement. “As I have said before, any credible allegation of sexual harassment must be investigated by the ethics committee.”

Conyers, D-Michigan, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he was unaware of any allegations that he acted inappropriately toward women.

BuzzFeed News reported Monday that Conyers’ office paid a $27,000 settlement in 2015 to a woman who claimed she was fired from the lawmaker’s office because she refused his sexual advances. 

Original report: U.S. Rep. John Conyers denied on Tuesday that he’s settled sexual harassment complaints by staff members in the wake of a report that his office paid a former female employee $27,000 to settle a harassment-related wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015.

>> Read more trending news

Conyers, D-Michigan, told The Associated Press that he was unaware of any allegations that he has acted inappropriately toward women. He told the news wire that he only learned of the BuzzFeed News report that detailed the complaints on Tuesday morning.

A woman told BuzzFeed that she filed a wrongful dismissal complaint against Conyers in 2014 after he fired because she would not "succumb to (his) sexual advances."

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of kissing, groping news anchor without consent

The case was settled in 2015. The woman, who was not identified, signed a confidentiality agreement and was rehired as a temporary employee with no job responsibilities. Over the course of three months, she was paid $27,000, BuzzFeed reported.

Documents from the case included signed affidavits from four other former Conyers staff members who said the lawmaker "repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sexual favors, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually and rubbing their legs and backs in public."

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of groping woman in 2010

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, called the BuzzFeed report “extremely troubling” and reiterated that a review of House of Representative workplace harassment and discrimination policies was underway.

Ryan announced last week that the House of Representatives was implementing a new mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training policy for members and staff.

“Additional reforms to the system are under consideration as the committee continues its review,” Ryan said Tuesday. “People who work in the House deserve and are entitled to a workplace without harassment or discrimination.” 

>> Related: George H.W. Bush accused of groping woman while in office

Since 1997, Congress’ Office of Compliance has paid federal employees $17.2 million to settle complaints of employment rule violations, including complaints of sexual harassment, The Washington Post reported. The $27,000 paid to Conyers’ former employee in 2015 is not among those numbers, as the funds came from the representative’s office budget, according to BuzzFeed.

Conyers, who was first elected in 1964, is currently the longest-serving member of Congress, with 52 years of service.

He is the second sitting senator to face accusations of inappropriate conduct toward women. A woman on Monday accused Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, of groping her as they posed for a photograph together at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair. Franken, who was accused last week of forcing himself on a Los Angeles news anchor in 2006, assumed office in 2009.

Trump again lashes out at UCLA basketball dad LaVar Ball: 'Very ungrateful!'

President Donald Trump continued his Twitter roasting of UCLA basketball dad and Big Baller Brand mogul LaVar Ball on Sunday evening, calling him “very ungrateful” for not thanking him for getting his son out of trouble.

>> See the tweet here

“Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar. Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!” Trump tweeted.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Trump fires back after LaVar Ball minimizes role in getting UCLA players released

Earlier Sunday, Trump said “I should have left them in jail!,” referring to the three UCLA basketball players arrested in China for shoplifting, one of whom was Ball’s son, LiAngelo.

>> See the tweet here

“Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!” Trump tweeted.

>> LiAngelo Ball, UCLA teammates arrested in China could get 10 years in prison if convicted

This was Trump’s response to Ball essentially saying “Trump who?” when asked on Saturday about the president’s role in helping LiAngelo.

This all started when Trump tweeted after returning from Asia that the three UCLA basketball players who got in trouble for allegedly shoplifting in China should thank him for saving them from a decade in prison.

>> Read the tweet here

“Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” he tweeted last Wednesday morning.

The players, for their part, did exactly that at an afternoon press conference the same day.

“To the three UCLA basketball players I say: You’re welcome, go out and give a big Thank You to President Xi Jinping of China who made your release possible and, HAVE A GREAT LIFE! Be careful, there are many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!” Trump said in reply.

LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were returned to the United States after being arrested on charges of shoplifting, in connection with the alleged theft of Louis Vuitton sunglasses in Shanghai. The university later announced that the players would be suspended indefinitely.

>> Read more trending news

Previously, Rare speculated that it was possible Trump wanted to hear a “thank you” not just from the basketball players, but also from the unapologetic LaVar Ball himself.

The president did not end up getting that thank you from the elder Ball.

“Who? What was [Trump] over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out,” Ball said, according to ESPN.

>> On Rare.us: LaVar Ball on Trump helping his son: 'Who?'

“As long as my boy’s back here, I’m fine. I’m happy with how things were handled. A lot of people like to say a lot of things that they thought happened over there. Like I told him, ‘They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes,’” Ball added, downplaying his son’s alleged mistake. “I’m from L.A. I’ve seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses. My son has built up enough character that one bad decision doesn’t define him.”

'SNL' slams former cast member Al Franken on 'Weekend Update'

"Saturday Night Live" slammed Sen. Al Franken just days after Los Angeles news anchor Leeann Tweeden accused the Minnesota Democrat and former "SNL" cast member of groping and kissing her without her consent during a 2006 USO tour.

>> Sen. Al Franken accused of kissing, groping news anchor without consent

Colin Jost and Michael Che took aim at the comedian-turned-senator during the show's "Weekend Update" segment.

"Thursday is Thanksgiving, and there is so much to be thankful for this year – unless you're a human woman," Jost said before showing a photo of Franken smiling as he appears to grope Tweeden's chest.

>> Read more trending news

"Now, I know this photo looks bad, but remember: It also is bad," Jost continued. "And sure, this was taken before Franken ran for public office, but it was also taken after he was a sophomore in high school. It's pretty hard to be like, 'Oh, come on. He didn't know any better; he was only 55!'"

>> Watch the clip here

Che added: "And without even looking, you can bet that President Trump called out Al Franken and not Roy Moore, who's accused of way worse, by the way. But Franken is a liberal and Trump and Moore are conservatives, and in this country, everybody has to pick a side – except for me. I think they're all [expletive]."

>> Watch the segment here (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised.)

Documents: Montana congressman misled investigators after assaulting reporter

A Montana congressman misled investigators about his assault on a reporter the day before he was elected in May, claiming that “liberal media” were “trying to make a story,” the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Saturday, citing audio and documents.

>> Read more trending news

U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, a Republican, told an officer in an audio interview after the attack that reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian newspaper had grabbed him by the wrist and pulled both of them to the floor.

Audio of Gianforte’s interview with Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Scott Secor was released along with documents requested by the Chronicle and other news organizations after Gianforte was cited for assaulting Jacobs on May 24.

Gianforte later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. 

The Chronicle requested the documents in June. After Gianforte, Jacobs and Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert did not object to the release, Gallatin County District Court Judge Holly Brown ruled this week that the documents could be released.

\The audio of the interview with Gianforte comes from a recording made by Sgt. Scott Secor outside of Gianforte’s headquarters shortly after the 5:07 p.m. call Jacobs made to 911, a minute after he posted on Twitter, “Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses.”

Once at the scene, Secor spoke with Jacobs first. “This is the weirdest day,” Jacobs told Secor. 

The documents include interviews with members of a Fox News crew who were in the room with Gianforte and Jacobs at the politician’s Bozeman campaign office. 

Gianforte told Secor that he was preparing for an interview with Fox News when “this man broke into a private room in the back and stuck a microphone in my face and started asking me obnoxious questions.”

Gianforte said he tried to explain to him that he was in the middle of an interview, but that Jacobs kept “waving” the microphone in his face, the Chronicle reported.

“I probably shouldn’t do it but I reached out for his phone ... he grabbed my wrist, he spun and we ended up on the floor ... so he pulled me down on top of him,” Secor quoted Gianforte as saying.

After the incident Gianforte’s campaign spokesman, Shane Scanlon, issued a statement that also blamed the attack on Jacobs, saying the reporter had grabbed the candidate’s wrist. 

Gianforte publicly apologized to Jacobs and told supporters he wasn’t proud of his actions. His spokesman, Travis Hall, insisted on Friday that the documents contained “nothing new.”

“No one was misled, and anyone who says otherwise is mistaken. Greg took responsibility for his actions and is focused on serving the people of Montana,” Hall said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press.

Trump delays lifting ban on import of elephant trophies from Africa

Update (Friday, November 17)

President Donald Trump said in a tweet Friday he’s delaying a new policy allowing the body parts of African elephants shot for sport to be imported until he can review “all conservation facts.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday that it will allow the importation of body parts from African elephants shot for sport. The agency said encouraging wealthy big-game hunters to kill the threatened species would help raise money for conservation programs.

Animal rights advocates and environmental groups criticized the decision. On Friday, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee urged the administration to reverse the policy, calling it the “wrong move at the wrong time.”

Trump said that the policy had been “under study for years.” He says he will review the issue with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Earlier

The Trump administration plans to lift a ban on Friday that barred big game hunters from bringing trophies from elephants killed in a pair of African nations to America, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

A spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told ABC News in a statement Wednesday that the decision was made after officials in Zimbabwe and Zambia provided them with information to support a reversal of the ban.

"Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation," the spokesperson told ABC News.

The decision will overturn a 2014 ban implemented by President Barack Obama’s administration in response to falling elephant populations. 

African elephants are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A provision in the act, however, allows for the government to give permits that let people import trophies from such animals if evidence shows that hunting them helps conservation efforts, according to NBC News.

The rule reversal will apply to elephants hunted in Zimbabwe from Jan. 21, 2016, to Dec. 31, 2018, the news station reported. It will also apply to elephants killed in Zambia in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and “applications that meet all other applicable permitting requirements,” a Fish and Wildlife spokesperson told NBC News.

According to the 2016 Great Elephant Census, Savanna elephant populations fell by 30 percent between 2007 and 2014. About 352,000 elephants were spotted during the survey, 82,300 in Zimbabwe and 21,700 in Zambia.

Both countries had areas that saw substantial declines in elephant populations along the Zambezi river in Zambia and in Zimbabwe’s Sebungwe region, according to the census.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rev. Jesse Jackson diagnosed with Parkinson's disease

Well-known civil rights activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson announced Friday that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

>> Read more trending news

“Recognition of the effects of this disease on me has been painful, and I have been slow to grasp the gravity of it,” he wrote in a statement released Friday. “For me, a Parkinson’s diagnosis is not a stop sign but rather a signal that I must make lifestyle changes and dedicate myself to physical therapy in hopes of slowing the disease’s progression.”

Pentagon accidentally re-tweets call for Trump's resignation

A post on the Pentagon’s official Twitter account called for President Donald Trump’s resignation on Thursday when a message was mistakenly re-tweeted, according to officials with the Department of Defense.

>> Read more trending news

The tweet was quickly deleted, Politico reported.

The original message was posted by Ryan Knight, who goes by the Twitter handle @proudresister. Knight pointed to calls for U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, of Alabama, to step down amid allegations that he sexually assaulted multiple women, and for Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, to resign after recent allegations that he forcibly kissed a woman in 2006 and groped her as she slept.

>> Related: Roy Moore's accuser, wife pictured in yearbook under same high school class, report says 

“The solution is simple,” Knight wrote. “Roy Moore: Step down from the race. Al Franken: Resign from congress. Donald Trump: Resign from the presidency. GOP: Stop making sexual assault a partisan issue. It’s a crime as is your hypocrisy.”

Moore has denied any wrongdoing. Franken apologized on Thursday and called for an investigation into the 2006 incident.

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of kissing, groping news anchor without consent

The post was shared for a brief time Thursday on the Department of Defense’s official Twitter account.

Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said that the re-tweet was posted accidentally.

“An authorized operator of the @DeptofDefense’s official Twitter site erroneously retweeted content that would not be endorsed by the Department of Defense,” White said in a tweet Thursday. “The operator caught this error and immediately deleted it.”

More than a dozen women accused Trump of sexual misconduct in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. He emphatically denied the accusations, which dated back to the 1980s.

>> Related: Who is accusing Trump of sexual misconduct?

The accusations were made after a 2005 video surfaced in which Trump made derogatory comments about women.

"You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful women — I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” Trump said in the video. “Grab them by the (expletive). You can do anything."

First lady Melania Trump defended her husband's comments, telling Fox News in 2016 that her husband's words were offensive and inappropriate but that they did not reflect his views on women.

George H.W. Bush accused of groping woman while in office

A woman on Thursday said President George H.W. Bush groped her during a photo-op in 1992, while he was still in office, becoming the latest in a string of women who have made similar accusations against him.

>> Read more trending news

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, told CNN that she was in Dearborn, Michigan, attending a fundraiser for Bush’s re-election campaign when the president groped her buttocks.

“We got closer for a family photo and it was like, ‘Holy (expletive)!’” she told the news network. “It was like a gentle squeeze.”

At least eight other women have accused Bush of grabbing them during photo-ops, although Thursday’s accusation was the first alleged to have happened while the former president was in office.

"All the focus has been on 'He's old.' OK, but he wasn't old when it happened to me," the latest accuser told CNN. "I've been debating what to do about it."

The president apologized last month in a statement through his spokesman, Jim McGrath, after actress Heather Lind accused Bush of groping her during a 2014 photo-op in a since-deleted Instagram post.

>> Related: George H.W. Bush apologizes after actress Heather Lind accuses him of sexual assault

“At age 93, President Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures,” McGrath said. “To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke -- and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner. Some have seen it as innocent; others clearly view it as inappropriate. To anyone he has offended, President Bush apologizes most sincerely.”

Previous accusations

Lind, who plays Anna Strong in AMC’s “Turn: Washington’s Spies,” said the president told a dirty joke and grabbed her rear end while taking a photo. She said that first lady Barbara Bush saw her husband groping Lind and just rolled her eyes.

Shortly after Lind went public with her accusation, actress Jordana Grolnick told Deadspin that she was groped by Bush during a photo-op in August 2016.

>> Related: George H.W. Bush apologizes, says he 'patted women's rears' after 2nd groping allegation

“We all circled around him and Barbara for a photo, and I was right next to him,” Grolnick told Deadspin. “He reached his right hand around to my behind, and as we smiled for the photo he asked the group, ‘Do you want to know who my favorite magician is?’ As I felt his hand dig into my flesh, he said, ‘David Cop-a-Feel!’”

Author Christina Baker Kline said Bush made a similar joke to her in 2014 when he groped her during a photo-op at a luncheon in Houston. She wrote about the incident in an article for Slate.

In a Facebook post, former journalist Liz Allen accused Bush of inappropriately touching her during a 2004 business event. She told the Erie Times-News that she wasn’t happy about the incident but that, “It did not rise to the level of assault … it was in my (personal) space.”

Former Republican state Senate candidate Amanda Staples said in an Instagram post that she was groped by Bush during a 2006 photo-op, the Portland Press Herald reported. She said Bush “grabbed my butt and joked saying, ‘Oh, I’m not THAT President.’”

Another woman, who asked to remain anonymous, told CNN that Bush squeezed her rear “a couple times” during a 2015 event in Houston.

"It was unmistakable," she told the news network. "It was not just a pat. It was a serious squeeze."

Broadway actress Megan Elizabeth Lewis told NJ Advance Media this week that she was groped by Bush in 2009 while taking a photo at a performance of “Legally Blond: The Musical” in Houston.

“I was like, ‘wow,’” she told the news site. “I remember being really grossed out.”

Roslyn Corrigan told Time magazine that she was 16 years old when Bush, then 79, groped her in 2003 during an event in Texas.

“My initial reaction was absolute horror. I was really, really confused,” Corrigan told Time. “The first thing I did was look at my mom and, while he was still standing there, I didn’t say anything. What does a teenager say to the ex-president of the United States? Like, ‘Hey dude, you shouldn’t have touched me like that?’”

Bush, 93, served as president from 1989 to 1993. He was vice president under President Ronald Reagan before his election to the highest office in the nation, from 1981 to 1989.

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