Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee decided in a closed-door meeting Tuesday that they will not hold hearings or vote on a President Obama nomination to the Supreme Court.
"We believe the American people need to decide who is going to make this appointment rather than a lame-duck president," Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says the "consensus" among members is that the next president should pick the Supreme Court Justice who replaces Antonin Scalia, the court's leading conservative justice who died earlier this month. Obama has vowed that he will pick a nominee. Becca Stanek
Update 3:54 p.m.: Two police officers have been killed in the shootout with at least six gunmen, officials announced. The New York Times' Rukmini Callimachi reported that the Islamic State's news agency Amaq has claimed responsibility for the ongoing standoff. Our original post appears below.
Gunmen have taken an estimated 20 people hostage in a popular cafe near the diplomatic zone of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, officials reported Friday. Several foreigners are among those being held, and three people are reported to be wounded after police exchanged gunfire with the attackers.
Police and security forces have blocked off the area and have a bomb disposal unit on standby as they try to negotiate for the hostages' release. The gunmen's identities and motives have yet to be reported, though one police officer suspected they were Islamic radicalists, the BBC reports.
This attack is one of many in Bangladesh recently, as violent extremism and political tensions continue to rise despite government efforts to control hostilities. The hostage incident is Friday's second attack, following the murder of a Hindu priest while he was gathering flowers outside his temple in the southwestern district of Jhenaidah. Becca Stanek
On Friday, the Obama administration revealed that the U.S. has killed between 64 and 116 civilians and 2,500 members of terrorist groups in counterterrorism airstrikes conducted outside of active war zones. The death count is "hundreds lower than most estimates compiled by independent organizations," The New York Times reports. The announcement, made in the spirit of greater transparency, came alongside an executive order from President Obama that will require his successors to disclose civilian death tolls annually going forward.
However, critics of the controversial war tactic say the large range in the death toll underscores the government's uncertainty as to who exactly they're killing in these strikes. "They're guessing, too,” Bill Roggio, editor of the Long War Journal at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told The New York Times. "Theirs may be a little more educated than my guesses. But they cannot be completely accurate." Becca Stanek
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, announced Friday that Akhmed Chatayev, a Russian militant, is believed to have organized the suicide bombings that killed 44 people at Istanbul's Ataturk airport Tuesday.
Known as "Akhmed One-Arm" due to his missing limb, the Chechen terrorist is known to have traveled to Syria and is "probably the No. 1 enemy in the Northern Caucasus region," McCaul said. Chatayev is believed to have 130 people under his control, and his current whereabouts are unknown, CNN reports.
"We believe [Chatayev] coordinated with the three suicide bombers in Istanbul to conduct this attack during the season of Ramadan," McCaul said. The bombers were identified as hailing from Russia, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Chatayev was on the known list of terrorists in the U.S. after intelligence revealed last year that he was planning attacks against America as well as Turkey. He is believed to have connections to the leadership of the Islamic State.
Rumor has it that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) could be a contender on Donald Trump's VP short list. While the socially conservative governor said Thursday that he had yet to speak to Trump about the possibility, the two are reportedly set to meet Friday, which, Reuters reports, is "part of the vetting process.'
Adding further fuel to the flames, Pence also declined Thursday to comment on whether he is being vetted by Trump and if he would rule out the possibility of serving as vice president. Trump is planning to head to Indiana just a week ahead of the GOP convention for a fundraising event.
However, an aide to Pence insists that the governor hasn't been in contact with Trump. "Gov. Pence hasn't spoken to Mr. Trump since pre-Indiana primary, nor has he ever spoken to them about being VP — ever," the aide told NBC News.
The Indiana governor, who made headlines last year for signing a controversial religious freedom bill into law, had once considered running for president himself. Pence is currently planning to run in November for re-election to his post as Indiana governor. Becca Stanek
Hillary Clinton has burned Donald Trump with stern words and with humor, but on Friday her campaign took its audaciousness to a whole new level by waltzing right into the heart of enemy territory: Trump Tower.
Filming in and around the Tower, Clinton campaign staffers Jess McIntosh and Zac Petkanas investigated the manufacturing locations for Trump's clothing line, revealing that the items were made at a range of locations outside of the U.S., from South America to Africa to Asia.
To add insult to injury, the pair then stood on the sidewalk outside Trump Tower to ask passersby where they thought the Trump-branded clothing had been made:
— Ian Sams (@IanSams) July 1, 2016
"Turns out Donald Trump only wants to make America great again if he can't make it cheaper elsewhere," McIntonish burns at the end. Ouch. Jeva Lange
With Chipotle still struggling to get back on its feet after a string of E. coli and norovirus outbreaks, the burrito chain is now facing another setback. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.'s chief creative and development officer, Mark Crumpacker, has been put on administrative leave after he was indicted in a New York City cocaine bust.
Crumpacker, one of the company's top four executives, was found to be one of 18 alleged buyers in the Lower East Side drug ring, and he has reportedly been charged with "a single count of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, which is a misdemeanor offense," The Wall Street Journal reports. The charges became public Thursday.
"We made this decision in order to remain focused on the operation of our business, and to allow Mark to focus on these personal matters," Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold told The Wall Street Journal of the decision to put Crumpacker on leave. "Mark's responsibilities have been assigned to other senior managers in his absence."
While the charges don't have anything to do with Chipotle itself, the indictment of the man who has been the face of Chipotle's comeback efforts doesn't necessarily bode well for the company's image repair, analyst Brian Vaccaro of investment company Raymond James told Bloomberg. "This news creates some headline risk that could temporarily negatively impact same-store sales trends," Vaccaro said. Becca Stanek
Samantha Bee stormed onto the late night comedy scene and has taken no prisoners with her signature and undiscriminating outrage. Part of her success — Full Frontal has twice as many viewers as The Daily Show — certainly comes from her writers' room. Thanks to a blind application process, Bee ended up with a team that was 50 percent female, 30 percent nonwhite, and entirely unafraid of taking sexism and racism head-on.
In a recent profile of Bee, Rolling Stone offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what Full Frontal's writing room looks like when it's firing on all cylinders. The writers, including Jo Miller and Bee's husband, Jason Jones, were working with a clip from last July, in which Rep. Keith Ellison warned a panel that Trump could get enough momentum to be a political threat. "I know you don't believe that," George Stephanopoulos had mocked while The New York Times' Maggie Haberman blurted, "Sorry to laugh!"
Then Bee's team got to work:
"Hahahahahaha," Bee had guffawed in rehearsal, addressing the pundits frozen on the screen behind her. "Not as sorry as you'll be in 12 months."
"I don't know, I think we need a more outraged sentiment here," says Jones. "'It's your job to prognosticate. You're f--king terrible!'"
"'It's funny 'cause we're white'?" Miller tries. "'Hahaha, you suck at your job'?"
"'Hahaha, you could've helped to make this a reality that didn't happen,'" suggests Bee. "'You could've stopped this, hahaha.'"
A woman sitting next to Bee says, "They give him so much f--king coverage."
"'Hahaha, we've given him 20 million in free advertising,'" Jones throws out.
"No, how many billions has it been?" asks Miller. She types on her laptop. "Two billion. New York Times. That's in March!" She types more. "It's $3 billion now." She pauses. "'Hahaha, that'll never happen unless people like you give him $3 billion in free advertising!'" Bee narrows her eyes and nods. [Rolling Stone]