Classified briefings — Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Thursday huddled in classified briefings about the origins of the FBI investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, a highly unusual series of meetings prompted by partisan allegations that the bureau spied on the Trump campaign. Democrats emerged from the meetings saying they saw no evidence to support Republican allegations that the FBI acted inappropriately in its early investigation into ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News he had learned “nothing particularly surprising,” but declined to go into detail. Still, the extraordinary briefings drew attention to the unproved claims of FBI misconduct and political bias. The meetings were sought by Trump’s GOP allies and arranged by the White House.
At the meetings — President Trump’s chief of staff and a White House lawyer representing him in the Russia investigation were present Thursday at the start of two classified meetings requested by members of Congress to review sensitive material about the FBI’s use of an informant in the inquiry. The two left both meetings after sharing introductory remarks “to relay the president’s desire for as much openness as possible under the law.” But their presence infuriated Democrats, and legal experts said their visit, at the least, could give the appearance that the White House abused its authority to gain insight into an investigation that implicates the president.
Border Patrol agent shoots woman dead — A Border Patrol agent shot and killed a woman who had crossed the border illegally Wednesday in Texas after the officer came under attack, authorities said. The officer was in a culvert on a street in Rio Bravo when a group of unauthorized immigrants started to hit him with “blunt objects,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection said. The officer, whose name was not released, fired at least one shot, fatally striking the woman in the head. A woman who lives next door to the shooting site disputed the agency’s account, saying the property does not have a culvert and that she did not see any weapons the group could have used.
New Ebola tactics — Although there is optimism that the Ebola outbreak in central Africa can still be quickly contained, the fight is already becoming more complex, health experts said this week. Novel tactics — a new vaccine already in use, and new antibody or drug treatments that may be deployed — raise hopes that the outbreak will be quickly extinguished. Nonetheless, they may sow confusion because the treatments are unfamiliar to a wary and terrified population. There are now 58 confirmed or suspected victims in Congo, of whom 27 have died, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. Three cases were in health care workers.
Taiwan loses another ally — The West African nation of Burkina Faso announced Thursday it was ending official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, a new challenge to the self-governing democracy as Beijing increasingly tries to isolate it on the global stage. The break leaves Taiwan with only one diplomatic ally in Africa — Swaziland — and formal relations worldwide with 17 other countries, along with the Vatican. China’s Communist Party has been ratcheting up pressure since President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan took office two years ago, but Tsai said Taiwan “will not cower at all” in the face of pressure from Beijing.
Morgan Freeman accused — Morgan Freeman, one of the most celebrated actors in the film industry, has been accused of sexual harassment by several women, according to a report by CNN on Thursday. The accusations ranged from unwanted touching to sexually suggestive comments — on movie sets, in office environments and during meetings with the news media. Three reporters said Freeman made inappropriate comments to them during publicity events to promote coming films. Freeman apologized Thursday to anyone who may have felt “uncomfortable or disrespected” by his behavior. Freeman won the 2005 Oscar for best supporting actor for “Million Dollar Baby.”