September 24, 2019

It was almost like listening to Rudy Giuliani, but with a Cajun twist.

Shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) appeared on Meet the Press Daily with Chuck Todd all fired up and ready to defend Trump. He first said, loudly, that he doesn't "think it's as newsworthy as some have argued," and he's "not sure what the speaker has done today. ... Either impeach or stop talking about it."

Todd asked him about the accusations Trump, his lawyer Giuliani, and other Republicans have made against former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, claiming that he's corrupt. "I'm trying to figure out why no one from the FBI has been contacted, not a single person," Todd said. "I don't understand why Rudy Giuliani thinks it's better to investigate an American, outsource it to a country that apparently they don't trust. Do you see why I'm skeptical that the Hunter Biden stuff is really that serious?"

Kennedy responded that Todd doesn't know if the FBI hasn't been contacted, and then said no one has looked into the allegations. Todd shot back that the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian and U.S. journalists have, adding, "You do realize you're looking for an outcome, not the facts. There have been four or five different entities, they have found nothing here."

Kennedy kept asking Todd to list the people and organizations who have investigated the accusations, and Todd finally gave up. "Maybe you're right, maybe there's magical missing information here," he said, adding, "If what Hunter Biden did was wrong, there are a lot of people with the last name of Trump who have some answering to do about their foreign work and their foreign entanglements." Todd didn't end there, also telling Kennedy that he was engaging in whataboutism and was trying to "gaslight" viewers. Catherine Garcia

June 13, 2019

Jessica Biel wants the world to know she is not against vaccines, just a proposed bill in California that she said would make it harder for her friends to protect the health of their child.

Earlier this week, the actress went to Sacramento to speak with state lawmakers about SB 276, a bill that would make it harder for doctors to grant exemptions to immunization requirements. Lawmakers in favor of the bill say it will cut down on doctors loosely granting exemptions. Biel became the focus of people on both sides of the issue, with some, like anti-vaccination activist Robert Kennedy Jr., praising her, and others saying she was an anti-vaxxer putting children in danger.

"I am not against vaccinations — I support children getting vaccinations and I also support families having the right to make educated medical decisions for their children alongside their physicians," Biel wrote on Instagram Thursday. "My concern with #SB276 is solely regarding medical exemptions." Biel said her closest friends have a child with a medical condition that makes him exempt from vaccinations, "and should this bill pass, it would greatly affect their family's ability to care for their child in this state." She did not explain why the child would lose his medical exemption under the bill.

It's important for doctors to "decide what's best for their patients and the ability to provide that treatment," Biel added, and she encourages people to "read more on the issue and to learn about the intricacies of #SB276." Catherine Garcia

April 28, 2019

Attorney General William Barr, unhappy with the format of an upcoming House Judiciary Committee hearing, has told Democrats he won't show up to testify unless changes are made, a person with knowledge of the matter told CNN on Sunday.

For Thursday's hearing regarding Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) plans on giving each member of the panel five minutes to question Barr, CNN reports. Each side — including both parties' committee counsels — will then have 30 minutes to ask Barr additional questions. The Department of Justice has told Nadler's office that Barr doesn't think the committee counsels should have the opportunity to question him, and he won't show up if that format is followed, CNN reports.

"The attorney general agreed to appear before Congress," Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said. "Therefore, members of Congress should be the ones doing the questioning. He remains happy to engage with members on their questions regarding the Mueller report."

Nadler told CNN on Sunday that Barr will not "dictate the format of the Judiciary Committee. The witness is not going to tell the committee how to conduct its hearing, period." If Barr doesn't appear, he added, his committee "will have to subpoena him, and we will have to use whatever means we can to enforce the subpoena." Catherine Garcia

April 7, 2019

There is no love lost between President Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who announced her resignation on Sunday.

Trump has long been frustrated with Nielsen, and vice versa, people with knowledge of the situation told NBC News. Nielsen became head of DHS in December 2017, and her biggest defender in the administration was her predecessor, former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Last May, it was reported that Trump berated her during a meeting, angry over the rising number of undocumented migrants crossing the southern border. Nielsen drafted a resignation letter, but chose not to submit it.

In November, just days after the midterm elections, Trump told advisers he wanted Nielsen out, The Washington Post reported. He allegedly didn't like it when she tried to talk to him about immigration laws and regulations, and would often complain that she wasn't tough enough. On Friday, there was more tension between the two when Nielsen found out that Trump had decided to withdraw the nomination of Ronald Vitiello as director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, without notifying Nielsen, a person close to the secretary told NBC News.

Kelly is now gone from the White House, and Nielsen doesn't have a lot of supporters in the administration. A senior official told CBS News that Trump's hardline adviser, Stephen Miller, is orchestrating an overhaul of the Department of Homeland Security, and Nielsen's departure is part of it. Throughout her tenure, Nielsen defended the administration's immigration policies, including separating families and shutting down the government in an attempt to get money for Trump's border wall. Catherine Garcia

April 1, 2019

Stephen Moore, President Trump's likely nominee for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, has supporters in the White House who are able to look past his earlier financial and legal troubles, a senior administration official told The Wall Street Journal Monday.

There are two vacancies on the seven-member board, and last month, President Trump said he planned on picking Moore, a conservative commentator, for one of the seats. Since then, it's been reported that Moore owes the IRS $75,000; a judge found him in contempt of court for not paying his ex-wife spousal and child support; and he was fired from The Wall Street Journal's editorial board due to his questionable choices in speaking engagements. The White House continues to stand behind him, the official said, and nothing that has come out has changed anyone's opinion.

Last week, Moore's wife, Anne Carey, explained the $75,000 debt to the IRS as a filing error on his 2014 taxes involving a deduction for both alimony and child support payments; Moore was only allowed to deduct alimony. Over the weekend, The Guardian obtained court records showing that in November 2012, Moore was found in contempt of court for not paying his ex-wife $300,000 in spousal and child support and divorce settlement payments. In 2013, a judge ordered Moore to sell his house in Virginia to pay off the debt, but his ex-wife stopped this after he paid her two-thirds of what was owed.

Moore joined the Journal's editorial board in 2005, leaving in 2014 after a dispute with editorial page director Paul Gigot, people familiar with the matter told the Journal. Writers for the editorial page are prohibited from getting paid for speaking to nonprofit organizations, and Gigot became uneasy with some of Moore's speaking engagements, feeling they were entering partisan territory. "I told him he had to make a choice between politics and journalism," Gigot told the Journal. Read more about Moore's apparent missteps at The Wall Street Journal. Catherine Garcia

March 14, 2019

Olivia Jade Giannulli's spring break vacation in the Bahamas was interrupted on Tuesday with news that she was in the center of a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal.

Olivia Jade wasn't just hanging around on a dinghy, either — the 19-year-old YouTube personality was staying on billionaire developer Rick Caruso's luxury yacht, TMZ reported Wednesday, along with Caruso's daughter, Gianna, and their friends. Caruso told TMZ they headed down to the Bahamas well before authorities announced that Olivia Jade's parents — actress Lori Loughlin and clothing designer Mossimo Giannulli — stood accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get her and her older sister into the University of Southern California.

Caruso, the chair of USC's Board of Trustees, said that "once we became aware of the investigation, the young woman decided it would be in her best interests to return home." Olivia Jade has not been charged with any crimes. Giannulli was arrested and posted bond Tuesday, and Loughlin, who was filming out of the country, returned to California and turned herself in on Wednesday; she has been released on a $1 million bond. Catherine Garcia

February 20, 2019

The son of Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris testified in front of the North Carolina State Board of Elections on Wednesday that he cautioned his father against hiring a political operative who used illegal tactics in earlier elections.

The Board of Elections is investigating allegations of voter fraud in November's election in the 9th Congressional District; the race is still undecided, with Harris leading Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes. John Harris, an assistant U.S. attorney in North Carolina, testified that he told his father that he believed political operative McCrae Dowless illegally collected absentee ballots while working for another Republican candidate in 2016. Despite his son's warning, Mark Harris hired Dowless for his 2018 campaign.

On Monday, Dowless' stepdaughter testified that he hired her to collect absentee ballots, and when she picked up a ballot that was unsealed or not fully filled out, she would mark the Republican candidates. John Harris said he has "no reason to believe that my father or mother knew Dowless was doing the things that have been described. I think they were lied to, and they believed the person who lied to them." Mark Harris, who has said he knew nothing about Dowless' tactics, is expected to testify on Thursday.

If the board decides that "irregularities or improprieties occurred to such an extent that they taint the results of the entire election and cast doubt on its fairness," a new election will be held. Catherine Garcia

January 23, 2019

No one at the White House expected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to disinvite President Trump from giving this year's State of the Union address in the House chamber, so when she did, they clambered to come up with a way to respond, CNN reports.

Last week, Pelosi asked Trump to postpone the address until the government shutdown is over, so on Wednesday, White House staffers were prepared for her to just delay the speech, officials told CNN. Trump thought he had the upper hand when he sent her a letter pushing back against her concerns that it's not safe for him to deliver the State of the Union during the shutdown. Pelosi responded by sending Trump a letter informing him that "the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the president's State of the Union address in the House chamber until the government has opened."

White House staffers are now scrambling to find a different venue, but running into issues everywhere they turn. Several officials are concerned that if Trump decides to give the State of the Union during a rally, it not only won't be covered by the networks, but Trump will go off track and start rambling about something else. There's talk that Trump should deliver the address from the Oval Office or another area in the White House, officials told CNN, but Trump was not a fan of the speech on immigration he gave in the Oval Office earlier this month, and judging by polls, voters weren't either. Catherine Garcia

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