January 5, 2017

One of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's more memorable lines in his interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity is that "a 14-year-old" could have hacked the gmail account of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta — it was the phrase Donald Trump used when he cited the Assange interview Wednesday morning to cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community's consensus that Russia hacked Podesta's emails. Trump fans in the conservative media have latched on to Assange's evidence to back up the claim: "We published several Podesta emails which shows Podesta responding to a phishing email. Now, how did they respond? Podesta gave out that his password was the word 'password.'" It's a good anecdote — Trump boosters ran with it:

But Podesta's password was not "password," according to the emails published by WikiLeaks. One stolen 2015 email from Podesta's assistant did list "p@ssw0rd" as the login for his Windows 8 computer, but the only password tied to his gmail account was a more-respectable combination of the word "runner" and four digits. The actual way hackers broke into Podesta's email account is bad enough — an unfortunate typo by Clinton's tech adviser and Podesta's decision to use the corrupt link in the phishing email instead of the legitimate one sent by Clinton tech support. There's no need to make stuff up. Or as Sen. Lindsey Graham puts it:

Assange's steady release of Podesta's emails in the campaign's final months kept "Clinton" and "email" in the news, and while there were no bombshells, the emails did lead to a gunman shooting up a D.C. pizza restaurant. WikiLeaks did not publish any emails from Trump's campaign or the Republican Party. Peter Weber

8:20 a.m.

Time has selected 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg as its 2019 person of the year.

Thunberg, who this year led a worldwide movement demanding action on climate change and delivered a scathing United Nations speech scolding world leaders for "failing us," is the youngest Time person of the year ever by almost a decade; the previous youngest was 25-year-old Charles Lindbergh in 1927.

"For sounding the alarm about humanity’s predatory relationship with the only home we have, for bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends backgrounds and borders, for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads, Greta Thunberg is Time's 2019 Person of the Year," Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said.

The four other final candidates considered for person of the year were President Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint led to the impeachment inquiry, and the Hong Kong protesters. Brendan Morrow

7:45 a.m.

Four more years? If former Vice President Joe Biden is elected, maybe not.

Biden is signaling to aides that he would not run for a second term should he be elected president, Politico reports, with a prominent adviser to the campaign telling the outlet, "he's going to be 82 years old in four years and he won't be running for re-election."

The former vice president's advisers have reportedly been debating whether he should make this pledge publicly, but Politico reports Biden "has for now settled on an alternative strategy: quietly indicate that he will almost certainly not" do so. Citing four people who regularly talk to Biden, Politico writes it's "virtually inconceivable" he would run for re-election.

Another Biden adviser suggested he's somewhat less definitive about it but has the attitude of, "I want to find a running mate I can turn things over to after four years but if that's not possible or doesn't happen then I'll run for re-election." This adviser added he will not make the pledge publicly, while another said he dismissed such a pledge as a "gimmick."

Still, Politico reports, "several advisers now quietly acknowledge that while Biden won't run for re-election he cannot say so publicly."

In April, Biden simply responded "no" when asked if he would only serve one term, but Politico notes that in October, he was less definitive about it.

"I feel good and all I can say is, watch me, you'll see," Biden said, The Associated Press reports. "It doesn't mean I would run a second term. I'm not going to make that judgment at this moment." Brendan Morrow

7:02 a.m.

Wednesday is the final day of campaigning before Britain votes on a new Parliament, and though Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives have consistently led in the polls, "the size of the margin is seen as narrowing before Thursday's contest," The Associated Press reports. "All of the parties are nervous about the verdict of a volatile electorate weary after years of wrangling over Brexit — and likely to dump traditional party ties." Johnson's main opponent is Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Neither man is popular.

"Welcome to the 2019 general election, a pre-Christmas present few British voters seem anxious to unwrap," writes BBC North America reporter Anthony Zurcher. "It's as if the 2016 U.S. presidential election, where both major candidates were deemed flawed and untrustworthy, is playing itself out again three years later, on the other side of the Atlantic." Johnson, campaigning for a parliamentary majority to push Brexit through, faces serious questions about his honesty and trustworthiness. Corbyn is inconsistent on Brexit, vows to pull Britain to the left, and faces criticism that he ignored anti-Semitism in his party.

The election was supposed to be about Brexit, but on Monday, the Daily Mirror published a photo of a 4-year-old boy sleeping on the floor of a hospital in Leeds, the photo went viral, and suddenly the Conservatives' decade of cuts to the beloved National Health Service (NHS) was the top campaign issue. Johnson initially refused to look at the photo on an iTV reporter's phone, pocketing the reporter's phone and saying he would "study it later."

Another echo of 2016 is the apparently organized spread of misinformation via social media. Soon after the photo of the Leeds boy went viral, for example, a Facebook post took off claiming — falsely — that the photo was staged. "False stories are getting out there and exploding in social media," Matt Walsh, a researcher at the University of Cardiff, told AP, and they're "being put in the public domain through some very dark networks." Peter Weber

5:27 a.m.

A federal judge in El Paso ruled Tuesday that President Trump can't use $3.6 billion in repurposed military constructions funds to build his Mexico border wall. The nationwide permanent injunction strips Trump of about a third of the $10 billion he has claimed for border barrier construction, specifically the funds Trump planned to use to build 175 miles of steel barriers. U.S. District Court Judge David Briones said Trump does not have the lawful authority to use the National Emergencies Act to sidestep Congress and reprogram money appropriated for different purposes. The Trump administration has signaled that it will appeal the decision by Briones, a Bill Clinton appointee. Peter Weber

4:49 a.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) and President Trump agreed Tuesday that their final version of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA) is better than NAFTA and great for America. Pelosi and Senate Republicans also agreed that House Democrats had wrested significant concessions from Mexico and from the White House over months of tough negotiations. "We stayed on this, and we ate their lunch," Pelosi told fellow Democrats in a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning, according to Politico and The Washington Post.

"The deal didn't come easy — and it was on the brink of death multiple times over the past year," Politico reports. "Getting to yes required negotiations with an ideologically diverse coalition that included congressional Democrats, organized labor and Mexico's private sector, Canadian ministers, and Trump's hard-charging U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer." Lighthizer started negotiating with Pelosi and nine hand-picked House Democrats over the summer, and the Democrats steadily won concessions on prescription drug patents, enforcement mechanisms, environmental protections, and — finally and crucially — labor.

Senate Republicans weren't thrilled when Lighthizer briefed some of them on the USMCA changes Tuesday morning, the Post reports. The negotiations "seemed to be a, you know, just a one-way direction in the direction of the Democrats," Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) told the Post. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said his "concern is that what the administration presented has now been moved demonstrably to Democrats, the direction they wanted. And anything that gets the AFL-CIO's endorsement ...  could be problematic."

The compromises on the revamped NAFTA pact "reflect Trump's eagerness to secure legislative accomplishments he can highlight during his 2020 presidential campaign, as well as the White House's confidence that it risks little backlash from a GOP increasingly molded in Trump's image," the Post reports. One GOP Senate aide told the Post that the Republicans "complaining they are not included are also too scared to vote against [Trump]. So why would he bother negotiating with them?" Peter Weber

3:18 a.m.

"It is an historic day," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. "For only the fourth time in American history, articles of impeachment were drafted against a sitting president." He explained the two articles and made a joke about President Trump only looking at "the impeachment centerfold." Some critics said Democrats should have waited until the courts forced Trump officials to defy Trump and testify, but Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) argued that waiting would let Trump "cheat just one more time."

"Fun fact," Colbert joked: "'Why Not Let Him Cheat Just One More Time?' was what Trump had inscribed on Melania's wedding gift."

"I know this sounds weird, but I'm actually proud of Donald Trump," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. "I didn't think he would make it three years. ... Trump getting this far into his presidency without being impeached is a lot like when a dog accidentally drives a car into a tree: Yeah, the dog crashed, but he made it like eight blocks!"

Democrats debated over how many articles of impeachment to draft, "but in the end they decided to strike with surgical precision" — and obvious restraint, Noah said. "The good news for Trump is that he's only facing two charges, although in a way that's also kind of sad for him. Because Nixon had three articles brought against him, Bill Clinton had four, and Andrew Johnson had 11, which means Trump will have the smallest impeachment of all time. You know that's going to make him insecure."

"Democrats are charging Trump with obstruction of Congress and abuse of power," Jimmy Kimmel said on Kimmel Live. "Who would have ever imagined that the guy who bragged about being able to walk in on contestants in his beauty pageant while they're changing clothes would abuse his power?" Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have reportedly been arguing about how the inevitable Senate trial should go, he said, puzzled at why Trump gets any say: "The Republicans are screaming that the process is unfair as the defendant is telling them how long he wants the trial to last."

Harry Styles, standing in for James Cordon on The Late Late Show, noted Trump's complaints about impeachment and responded with an unsympathetic lyric to one of his songs. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:21 a.m.

Members of President Trump's re-election campaign either never saw Avengers: Endgame — or they did, and could only see similarities between Trump and Thanos, the genocidal villain who wanted to wipe out half of the universe's population.

On Tuesday, not long after House Democrats introduced two articles of impeachment against Trump, his campaign tweeted a video showing Trump's face superimposed over Thanos. "House Democrats can push their sham impeachment all they want," the caption reads. "President Trump's re-election is inevitable." This is a riff on Thanos' famous line from the movie, which he says right before he thinks he's about to kill a bunch of people with a snap of his finger.

In the Trump campaign's clip, after the snap several Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), disintegrate. In the actual movie, however — spoiler alert! — Iron Man was able to defeat Thanos by taking back the Infinity Stones he needed to go through with his plan. Thanos then turned to dust.

Comic book writer and artist Jim Starlin, who created Thanos in 1973, told The Hollywood Reporter that the tweet irked him. "After my initial feeling of being violated, seeing that pompous fool using my creation to stroke his infantile ego, it finally struck me that the leader of my country and the free world actually enjoys comparing himself to a mass murderer," he said. "How sick is that? These are sad and strange times we are going through. Fortunately, all things, even national nightmares, eventually come to an end."

Avengers: Endgame is the highest-grossing film of all time, and for the few who still haven't seen it — astronauts just back from the International Space Station, people who recently escaped doomsday cults, Trump campaign officials — it is now streaming on Disney+. Catherine Garcia

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