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LAS VEGAS — The Atlanta Falcons hired Ryan Nielsen as defensive coordinator Friday, taking him from their biggest rival after he spent last season as the co-defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints.
The 43-year-old Nielsen spent the past six seasons with the Saints, where he was the defensive line coach all six years while adding the assistant head coach title in 2021 and co-defensive coordinator last season.
Since 2017, the Saints have recorded 281 sacks — second-most in the NFL over that span — and have finished in the top four in run defense in four of the past five seasons.
The Falcons on Friday also let go of three defensive coaches — line coach Gary Emanuel, outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino and secondary coach Jon Hoke.
Nielsen is not in Las Vegas with the Falcons staff presently, as Atlanta is coaching in the East-West Shrine Bowl. Linebackers coach Frank Bush is the defensive coordinator for Atlanta at the East-West game.
The Falcons needed a new defensive coordinator after Dean Pees, the oldest coordinator in the NFL last season at age 73, decided to retire for the third time in his career to spend more time with his family, among other things.
Pees built a foundation for Atlanta’s defense, both in the style they want to run and the culture they needed to permeate throughout the roster.
“It was a different system from what they had,” Pees said. “So you had to get them to buy in.”
The Falcons also had a young defense and turned over all but two starters from the 2020 team — defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and cornerback A.J. Terrell — by the middle of last season. While Atlanta finished No. 23 in points allowed and No. 27 in yards allowed in 2022, there was progress toward the end of the year.
The Falcons allowed more than 19 points once in their last six games and over 350 yards in one game over the second half of the season (351 against Pittsburgh) after allowing over 350 yards in six of Atlanta’s first eight games.
After the season, Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said the franchise wanted to speak with a multitude of potential candidates before making a decision, but also wanted to focus on flexibility with whomever he brought in.
“When you are building that hybrid model, you’re not looking for an overhaul,” Smith said. “We’ve been building something here.”
He didn’t limit his search, having interviewed candidates with prior defensive coordinator experience, prior head coaching experience and those who have not been a full-time solo defensive coordinators.
When Smith hired Pees, he wanted an experienced playcaller who also could serve as a mentor for a first-time head coach to lean on. In Pees, Smith had that.
Where they are now, Smith said, is different than two seasons ago. By the end of 2022, the Falcons had only five defensive players left on the roster from the previous regime — Jarrett, Terrell, linebacker Mykal Walker, cornerback Isaiah Oliver and safety Jaylinn Hawkins. Oliver is a free agent this offseason and both Walker and Hawkins are in the final years of their contracts.
Smith compared what he was hoping Atlanta could do to the Baltimore Ravens, who have had multiple defensive coordinators over the years and have made alterations to their scheme, but not to the type of players they looked for or the vision they had for the overarching plan of the defense.
“The way we’ve built,” Smith said. “That won’t change.”
While with the Saints, Nielsen helped oversee the emergence of stalwart defensive end Cameron Jordan, who was named a first-team All-Pro in 2017 and second team in 2018 and 2019.
Jordan, for his part, took to Twitter to wish Nielsen farewell and to laud his strength in “developing (a) pass rush and emphasizing technique on run and gap integrity.”
Nielsen grew up in Southern California and then went to college at USC as a defensive tackle and then became a volunteer assistant coach.
He spent the first 15 years of his coaching career in college, working with the defensive line at every stop along with being a defensive coordinator at Central Connecticut State in 2008 and 2009 and the co-defensive coordinator at Northern Illinois in 2012.
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“GMA3” co-anchors T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach are no longer with ABC News, a spokesperson for the network said Friday, after news of their affair surfaced in December.
“After several productive conversations with Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes about different options, we all agreed it’s best for everyone that they move on from ABC News,” an ABC News spokesperson said in a statement. “We recognize their talent and commitment over the years and are thankful for their contributions.”
Spokespeople for both Holmes and Robach declined to comment Friday.
Holmes and Robach were previously pulled from their co-hosting duties on the afternoon extension of “Good Morning America” temporarily, according to an editorial call Dec. 5 by ABC News President Kim Godwin.
Godwin said that while their relationship didn’t violate company policy, it was an internal and external “distraction.” Gio Benitez and Stephanie Ramos filled in for Holmes and Robach for the week while the company made a decision.
On the Dec. 5 show, Ramos told viewers that Robach and Holmes “have the day off.”
The decision to pull Robach and Holmes off the air permanently comes after the ABC anchors were seen holding hands in a car and spending time together in pictures published by the Daily Mail on Nov. 30.
The revelation of their relationship garnered a lot of attention on social media as they are both married to other people.
Robach and Holmes have been married to their respective spouses since 2010.
On Dec. 2, while hosting “GMA3” with Robach, Holmes poked fun about the “great week” the pair had.
“You know, it’s too bad it’s Friday,” he said. “It’s been a great week, just want this one to keep going and going and going.”
“Speak for yourself,” Robach responded. “I am very excited about the weekend.”
Both Holmes and Robach deactivated their Instagram accounts since their relationship made news.
Austin Mullen and Diana Dasrath contributed.
The U.S. Figure Skating Championships, in some ways marking a new era in the sport, air live from San Jose, California, on NBC Sports, USA Network and Peacock.
After last February’s Olympics, U.S. figure skating saw its greatest turnover from one season to the next in more than 20 years.
Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou, the top two men last season, are not competing this season and may be done altogether. Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell, the top two women, retired. As did the top ice dance couple of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue. Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc, last year’s national pairs’ champions, also left the sport.
So, for the first time since 1993, the U.S. Championships feature a reigning national champion in just one of the four disciplines.
Amid all that, U.S. skaters performed well in the fall Grand Prix Series and made the podium in all four disciplines at December’s Grand Prix Final for the first time. Note the absence of Russian skaters, banned from international events due to the war in Ukraine.
At nationals, skaters are vying for spots on the team — three per discipline — for March’s world championships in Japan.
Ilia Malinin, an 18-year-old from Virginia, is the headliner after becoming the first skater to land a quadruple Axel, doing so at all four of his events this season. He ranks second in the world by best total score, a whopping 38.28 points ahead of the next American (Camden Pulkinen).
Jason Brown is the lone Olympian in the men’s field, competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Games.
Isabeau Levito, 15 and a reigning world junior champion like Malinin, took silver at the Grand Prix Final against the world’s other top skaters. She enters nationals with a best score this season 18.13 points better than the next American, Amber Glenn. Bradie Tennell, a 2018 Olympian coming back from foot and ankle injuries, is also a threat to gain one of the three women’s spots at worlds.
Ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates are the lone defending national champions and will likely make the podium for an 11th consecutive year, which would be one shy of the record.
Bates, who last year at 32 became the oldest U.S. champion in any discipline in decades, has made 12 career senior nationals podiums with Chock and former partner Emily Samuelson. It is believed that a 13th finish in the top three would break the U.S. record for a single discipline he currently shares with Michelle Kwan, Nathaniel Niles and Theresa Weld Blanchard.
In pairs, Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier return after missing nationals last year due to Frazier contracting COVID-19 the week of the event. Since, they posted the best U.S. pairs’ finish at an Olympics in 20 years, the first world title for a U.S. pair in 43 years and the first Grand Prix Final medal ever for a U.S. pair.
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2023 U.S. Figure Skating Championships Live Broadcast Schedule
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Notebooks that President Joe Biden wrote in during his time as vice president are among the items the FBI took from one of his Delaware homes during a search there last week, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
The notebooks were seized because Biden’s writings on some of the pages relate to his official business as vice president, including details of his diplomatic engagements during the Obama administration, and may reference classified information, this person said. They said the notebooks do not have classified markings on them, but some of the handwritten notes inside of them could be considered as such given their sensitive content.
Other pages in the notebooks, while they may not contain potentially classified information, could still be considered government property under the Presidential Records Act because they pertain to official business Biden conducted as vice president, the person familiar with the investigation said.
The notebooks include a mix of handwritten notes from Biden on various topics, both personal and official, this person said. On some pages Biden wrote down things about his family or his life unrelated to public office, they said. On other pages, they said he memorialized in writing some of his experiences or thoughts as vice president at the time.
The number of notebooks Biden kept is large, according to the person familiar with the investigation, but they did not know the precise number.
When asked about the notebooks, a spokesperson for Biden’s personal lawyer Bob Bauer reiterated the position the president’s legal team has taken in previous statements about the Justice Department’s investigation into Biden’s possession of classified material from the Obama administration that was found in his Wilmington, Delaware, residence and an office in Washington, D.C. that he used after leaving the vice presidency.
“As noted in the statement released on January 14, consistent with our view of the requirements of our cooperation with DOJ in this matter, we will not comment on the accuracy of reports of this nature,” the spokesperson said.
The Justice Department declined to comment. The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bauer’s spokesperson on Friday declined to comment when asked whether Biden knew the notebooks were packed in boxes that left with him at the end of the Obama administration, if he’s accessed them since leaving the vice presidency and whether he thought the notebooks were his personal property.
In a letter this week to former presidents and vice presidents, the National Archives requested their offices search for any materials in their possession that might relate to their tenures in office, including “to determine whether bodies of materials previously assumed to be personal in nature might inadvertently contain presidential or vice presidential records subject to the [Presidential Records Act], whether classified or unclassified.”
The request followed a battle between former President Donald Trump and the Archives over his possession of classified documents after leaving office, which led to the FBI obtaining a search warrant in August to retrieve them from his Mar-a-Lago estate; Biden aides’ discovery in November of classified documents from his time as vice president at his private office, as well as subsequent discoveries; and former Vice President Mike Pence’s disclosure that his aides had found classified documents at his Indiana home this month.
Trump and Biden’s possession of classified documents is the subject of separate special counsel investigations. Attorney General Merrick Garland has so far not named a special counsel to investigate Pence’s handling of classified documents.
Biden’s possession of notebooks from his time as vice president that include notes about official business he conducted in that role raises questions about whether he appropriately followed procedures for preserving presidential records. It also raises questions about whether the notebooks are considered personal or official, and how other vice presidents and presidents who kept similar notebooks while in office have handled theirs.
Federal law allows presidents and vice presidents to write and, upon leaving office, keep diaries and notes of a “personal” nature, so long as they hadn’t shared the material with anyone in the time they held office. (Former President Ronald Reagan kept a hand-written diary during his eight years in the White House, storing them in a dresser drawer and only his wife, Nancy, knew they were there, according to Douglas Brinkley, the presidential historian who later edited and published the diaries.)
Jason R. Baron, a former director of litigation at the National Archives, said when it comes to notebooks containing handwritten notes about personal matters, intermixed with notes about government business, they would likely be considered personal property if Biden never shared them with any government staffers during the vice presidency.
Baron said that holds true whether Biden jotted a note to himself about buying a birthday president for his wife or wrote about a meeting with a foreign leader.
But if Biden did share the contents of the notebooks with staff while serving as vice president, the material would be deemed official records belonging to the government, Baron said.
“Handwritten personal notes of a former president or vice president are only considered presidential records if they were shared or communicated with other White House or federal agency personnel for use in transacting government business,” Baron said. “A former president or vice president has the right to take out of the White House personal notes — they are not official records that come into the legal custody of the National Archives at the end of an administration.”
On Jan. 20, the FBI spent more than 12 hours searching Biden’s Wilmington home for any possible records from his eight years as vice president, including potentially classified materials.
The following day, Bauer, the president’s personal lawyer, said in a statement that federal investigators had taken with them more than just documents with classified markings after accessing Biden’s “personally handwritten notes, files, papers, binders, memorabilia, to-do lists, schedules, and reminders going back decades.”
The Department of Justice “took possession of materials it deemed within the scope of its inquiry, including six items consisting of documents with classification markings and surrounding materials,” Bauer said in the statement. “DOJ also took for further review personally handwritten notes from the vice-presidential years.”
The revelations of that Trump, Biden and Pence all possessed classified materials after they had left office has elicited calls for changes in the process for when presidents and vice presidents depart.
Norman Eisen, who worked as a special counsel for ethics in former President Barack Obama’s White House, said he is advocating for a closer review of a president and vice president’s papers before they leave office so that government documents aren’t packed away with their other belongings.
Eisen outlined a hypothetical scenario where an outgoing president or an aide wanted to pack up a medical bill that needed to be paid and was required to call the National Archives to have an employee determine whether it’s a personal or government record.
On Friday, Pence apologized for having classified documents in his possession and said he takes full responsibility for it.
Biden has said he was surprised to learn classified documents were found at his former office in November and has said “there’s no there there” in terms of the federal investigation. The White House counsel’s office has said the documents were inadvertently packed in boxes and taken after Biden left the vice presidency.
One person close to Biden said it’s impossible to imagine that he packed up boxes himself upon leaving the vice presidency. That would have been his staff’s job, this person said, speaking on condition of anonymity to talk more freely.
“He’s not putting anything in boxes,” this person said.
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Two highways were impacted by the winter conditions in the Southeastern Wisconsin area.Tomorrow more snow and colder temperatures are expected. With these weather conditions, impacts on the roads could be worse.9:10 p.m. Lanes reopened on I-39/90 between Janesville and Beloit.5:40 p.m. Lanes reopen on I-94 in Kenosha County after multi-vehicle crash in Kenosha near Pleasant Prairie.4:48 p.m. Beloit Memorial Hospital confirms they have received 27 patients from the Rock County pile-up.4 p.m. both pile-ups continue to affect traffic conditions, and all lanes continue to be closed.The first massive pile-up happened in Rock County around 12:30 p.m. on Interstate 39 NB/SB at I-39 – Interstate 90 in Rock County near Beloit. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the crash is related to severe winter weather conditions with snow, ice and whiteout conditions.The second pile-up occurred after 1 p.m. in Kenosha County. The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department says that at least 20 vehicles are involved and reported injuries.TOP STORIESUWM Employee fired, accused of threatening to leak nude photos of teen girlVideo: Driver drags West Allis police officer during traffic stopMilwaukee woman, 59, killed in shooting on south side
Two highways were impacted by the winter conditions in the Southeastern Wisconsin area.
Tomorrow more snow and colder temperatures are expected. With these weather conditions, impacts on the roads could be worse.
9:10 p.m. Lanes reopened on I-39/90 between Janesville and Beloit.
5:40 p.m. Lanes reopen on I-94 in Kenosha County after multi-vehicle crash in Kenosha near Pleasant Prairie.
4:48 p.m. Beloit Memorial Hospital confirms they have received 27 patients from the Rock County pile-up.
4 p.m. both pile-ups continue to affect traffic conditions, and all lanes continue to be closed.
The first massive pile-up happened in Rock County around 12:30 p.m. on Interstate 39 NB/SB at I-39 – Interstate 90 in Rock County near Beloit.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the crash is related to severe winter weather conditions with snow, ice and whiteout conditions.
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The second pile-up occurred after 1 p.m. in Kenosha County. The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department says that at least 20 vehicles are involved and reported injuries.
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The Justice Department request also asked that the FEC provide any relevant documents to the Justice Department, according to the knowledgeable people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment. An FEC spokeswoman said the regulator “cannot comment on enforcement.” Neither Santos nor his attorney responded to requests for comment.
The 34-year-old congressman, whose election to Congress from Long Island last year helped the GOP secure its narrow House majority, has apologized for what he called “résumé embellishment” while rebuffing calls for his resignation.
Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday interviewed two people about Santos’s role in Harbor City Capital, an investment firm that was forced to shut down in 2021 after the SEC accused it of operating a “classic Ponzi scheme.” SEC interest in those people came after they were quoted Wednesday in The Washington Post describing how Santos solicited an investment in Harbor City at an Italian restaurant in Queens in late 2020.
The FEC ordinarily complies with DOJ requests to hold off on enforcement. Those requests arise from a 1977 memorandum of understanding between the agencies that addresses their overlapping law enforcement responsibilities.
“Basically they don’t want two sets of investigators tripping over each other,” said David M. Mason, a former FEC commissioner. “And they don’t want anything that the FEC, which is a civil agency, does to potentially complicate their criminal case.”
The request “indicates there’s an active criminal investigation” examining issues that overlap with complaints against Santos before the FEC, said Brett Kappel, a campaign finance lawyer at D.C.-based Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg.
Those complaints, including one filed earlier this month from the Campaign Legal Center, direct particular attention to more than $700,000 that Santos claims to have loaned his 2022 campaign. CLC’s complaint alleged that Santos masked the source of that funding, while also misrepresenting campaign spending and using campaign resources to cover personal expenses.
On Wednesday, the Santos campaign submitted paperwork to the FEC replacing treasurer Nancy Marks, a longtime accountant for GOP candidates in New York, with Wisconsin-based Thomas Datwyler. Datwyler’s lawyer previously told The Post that his client never signed or authorized the documents and had communicated to the campaign that he did not intend to serve as treasurer.
On Thursday, the FEC sought more information about the disputed filing. “It has come to the attention of the Federal Election Commission that you may have failed to include the true, correct, or complete treasurer information,” the regulator wrote to Datwyler in a letter requesting further information.
Datwyler’s lawyer told The Post on Friday that he plans to tell the FEC that his client did not submit the filing and that it should be withdrawn.
Marks has not responded to requests for comment.
Over the past two years, FEC analysts have repeatedly identified problems with Santos’s filings with the regulator, sending multiple letters seeking clarification or correction of apparent issues, including accepting contributions beyond the allowable limit, omitting required donor information and failing to fill out required forms to report details about the loans Santos claims to have made to his campaign.
Late last year, the offices of New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly (R) and Queens County District Attorney Melinda Katz (D) all said they were looking into whether Santos broke any laws in their jurisdictions. Spokespeople for each office told The Post this week that they had no further updates.
At the SEC, regulators alleged in federal court in 2021 that Harbor City was running a Ponzi scheme that raised $17.1 million from more than 100 victims. Santos, who was not named in that lawsuit, worked for the firm for more than a year, receiving his last payments in April 2021, the same month the SEC sought to freeze its assets, The Post has previously reported. Santos has said he was unaware of any alleged fraud by Harbor City.
Christian Lopez, who says Santos pitched him on investing with the firm at a dinner in 2020, said that SEC officials asked him Friday for his recollections of what Santos had told him as well and for any documents and messages Santos sent him.
“They were asking things like ‘What did he talk about? What did he offer you? What were the names that he mentioned?’” Lopez said.
Tiffany Bogosian, an attorney who says she has known Santos since junior high school and also attended the 2020 dinner, said she also was interviewed by SEC officials Friday.
“They wanted to know specifics of George’s involvement and the pitch,” Bogosian said.
An SEC spokeswoman declined to comment. J.P. Maroney, Harbor City’s founder and a named defendant in the SEC action, has denied wrongdoing in court. Harbor City has not responded. Maroney secured a stay last fall in that litigation after disclosing that the same matters are the subject of an active criminal probe.
Perry Stein contributed to this report.