The TAKE with John Verhovek
With the news that Michael Cohen has postponed his highly anticipated public testimony before the House Judiciary Committee due to what his lawyer described as "ongoing threats against his family" from President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, we now seem to have entered yet another bizarre chapter that's ensnared the White House for months.
Trump claims that Cohen is "threatened by the truth."
But whatever the truth behind the nature of the alleged threats Cohen described, it would ultimately be an unfortunate development that the public may not get to hear from the man who seems to be at the center of so many unanswered questions.
In December, a federal judge in Manhattan sentenced Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, to three years in prison for various crimes including campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress.
Cohen is due in federal prison March 6.
Questions remain as to whether the public will ever be able to hear and judge for themselves Cohen's answers to key questions only the House Judiciary Committee is in a position to ask.
The RUNDOWN with Adam Kelsey
Typically, the first news of a mass shooting leads to an immediate response from Washington -- expressions of condolences, an offer of thoughts and prayers, calls for gun control or calls for more good guys with guns. But on Wednesday, it was unusually quiet.
Five people were killed in a shooting at a bank in Sebring, Florida, but, whether because of the government shutdown, the related wrangling over the State of the Union or something else entirely, America's leaders didn't seem to notice.
It could be, in part, that such acts of violence have become all too common, but the indifference may also be reflective of the political navel-gazing that's allowed some 800,000 federal employees to work a month without pay, with many unable to pay bills and put food on the table.
A number of potential Democratic presidential candidates -- former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, in particular -- are pledging to make gun control a centerpiece of their campaigns, but at a point in time in which five lives can be lost in an instant without registering so much as a blip on the political radar, it could require quite a bit of wrangling to remind the country's leaders that it's a debate worth pursuing.
The TIP with Ben Siegel
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a veteran and high-profile Democratic lawmaker, is temporarily taking herself out of consideration to be chairman of a House Judiciary subcommittee, following an ex-staffer's claim she was fired in retaliation for making a rape allegation against a former supervisor at a previous job.
According to recent court documents published by the New York Times, the ex-Jackson Lee staffer, identified only as Jane Doe, claims she was raped in 2015 by her then-supervisor at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the fundraising arm of the caucus. She’s suing the CBCF and Jackson Lee’s office, alleging economic and emotional injury.
She claims she reported the incident to police and informed CBCF and others at the time but did not pursue a lawsuit.
Jackson Lee became CBCF chairwoman in 2017.
The former staffer claims that in 2018, when she was then working for Jackson Lee, she informed the congresswoman’s chief of staff she was going to pursue the rape allegation legally, but was fired three weeks later without being allowed to speak to Jackson Lee as requested.
Her lawsuit claims Lee’s office unlawfully retaliated against her after she told Jackson Lee’s chief of staff that she was going to sue the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, an alleged violation of the Congressional Accountability Act, meant to protect congressional employees who claim retaliation. She also alleges a violation of the District of Columbia’s Human Rights Act.
When asked by ABC News whether she had retaliated, Jackson Lee declined to comment but pointed to a statement her office posted on Facebook.
“The Office adamantly denies the allegations that it retaliated against, or otherwise improperly treated, the plaintiff,“ the statement reads.
Jackson Lee resigned Wednesday as CBCF chairwoman. "The congresswoman values the Foundation’s ideals and does not want to be a distraction during the legal proceedings of the suit filed against the CBCF," interim president and CEO Elsie Scott said in a statement.
"I fully support her decision to voluntarily and temporarily step back from the Crime Subcommittee Chair position to ensure the Subcommittee's important work continues," Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the House Judiciary Committee chairman said in a statement. "This decision does not suggest any culpability by Representative Jackson Lee."
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., will serve as the interim chair until the matter is resolved and Jackson Lee can resume her role, Nadler's statement said.
ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Today's episode features ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce, who explains the back and forth between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the State of the Union address. ABC News' Luke Barr says the ongoing shutdown could soon impact conditions in federal prisons. And ABC News' Aaron Katersky explains why Michael Cohen has postponed his upcoming congressional testimony. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
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