Sam's Top 5 Things to Know for Monday

1. Documents from the FBI and Justice Department show "evidence of collusion" between some American citizens and Russians to interfere with U.S. elections.

The top two lawmakers on the House intelligence committee said yesterday that documents the Justice Department and FBI delivered late last week offer no evidence that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower, but the panel's ranking Democrat, Representative Adam Schiff from California, says the material offers circumstantial evidence that American citizens colluded with Russians in Moscow's efforts to interfere in the presidential election.

Schiff said, "There was circumstantial evidence of collusion; there is direct evidence, I think, of deception. There's certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation."

The House intelligence committee is to begin hearings Monday into Russia's role in cybersecurity breaches at the Democratic National Committee, as well as President Donald Trump's unsubstantiated claim that his predecessor had authorized a wiretap of Trump Tower. FBI Director James Comey and Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, are slated to testify.

2. The Senate is holding confirmation hearings this week to consider Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court

The process is pretty rigorous, with dozens of one-on-one meetings with senators in recent weeks giving way to days of testimony starting today.

Gorsuch and the Judiciary Committee's 20 members will give opening statements today. Gorsuch will answer questions Tuesday and Wednesday, and outside witnesses will testify Thursday.

The Senate has confirmed 124 Supreme Court justices since the United States was founded.

3. Chuck Berry passed away this weekend at the age of 90.

Fans mourning his passing may find solace in a new album the rock icon recorded months ago that's expected to be released later this year.

Chuck Berry's death came just weeks before the debut single off his first new studio album in nearly four decades was scheduled to go on sale. While studios often release tribute albums of classics or unused material after an artist dies, Berry's upcoming album featuring mostly original songs was announced in October. His last new studio album, "Rock It," was released in 1979.

Joe Edwards, the owner of the Blueberry Hill club in St. Louis where Berry performed regularly, said the tracks he has heard off the upcoming album, titled "CHUCK," are "sensational."

4. North Korea tested a new high-thrust rocket engine

North Korea's latest rocket-engine test showed "meaningful" progress, while an analyst said it was a dangerous step towards North Korea's possible goal of developing a rocket that could hit the United States. The North's announcement of a successful engine test came as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Beijing at the end of his first visit to Asia for talks dominated by concern about North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

The North's KCNA news agency said yesterday the engine would help North Korea achieve world-class satellite-launch capability, indicating a new type of rocket engine for an intercontinental ballistic missile.

5. Disney’s live-action “Beauty and the Beast” starring Emma Watson was a beast at the box office, opening with an estimated $170 million in North American ticket sales and setting a new high mark for family movies.

“Beauty and the Beast” blew past the previous record-holder for G- or PG-rated releases, according to studio estimates Sunday. Last year, Disney’s “Finding Dory” debuted with a then-PG-best $135 million.

“Beauty and the Beast” felled many other records, too. It’s the year’s top opening so far and a new best for March releases, and it ranks seventh all-time, not accounting for inflation.

The film, made for about $160 million, is the latest effort by Disney to re-create one of its animated classics with live action and digital effects. The makeover of the 1991 Oscar-winning film follows previous live-action remakes such as “Alice in Wonderland,” ”Cinderella,” ”Maleficent” and last year’s “The Jungle Book.” Many more are on the way, too, including those for “Dumbo,” ”Mulan,” ”Aladdin” and “The Lion King.”

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