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January 20, 2017

Former Vice President Joe Biden has left the capital. Not long after President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were sworn into office, Biden and his wife Jill Biden were pictured hopping on a train in Washington, D.C., to head back home to Delaware. "Back on Amtrak," Biden said, giving a thumbs up to the cameras.

Biden rode Amtrak nearly every day when he was a senator, reportedly racking up 8,000 round-trips. Becca Stanek

12:15 p.m.

The United Auto Workers said its roughly 49,000 members who work at General Motors plants across the country will strike beginning at 11:59 p.m. Sunday evening.

A four-year contract between GM and the union expired Saturday and the two sides failed to reach a new agreement as talks broke down. GM said Sunday the auto company's offer to the union includes more than $7 billion in investments, more than 5,400 jobs, higher pay, and improved benefits.

"We have negotiated in good faith and with a sense of urgency," the automaker said in a statement. "Our goal remains to build a strong future for our employees and our business."

But union leaders said the sides are far apart on economic issues, despite some progress being made in the negotiation. "We are standing up for job security for our members and their families," Terry Dittes, director of the UAW GM department, said. He added that the the strike "represents great sacrifice and great courage on the part of our members."

The last time a national strike was called was 2007. It lasted for 17 hours. Read more at The Associated Press and The Detroit News. Tim O'Donnell

10:59 a.m.

President Trump is offering some of his favorite advice for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. He wants him to sue.

The New York Times on Saturday reported a previously unknown sexual misconduct allegation made against Kavanaugh by a former Yale University classmate who reportedly witnessed the incident at a party during Kavanaugh's freshman year at the Ivy League school. The classmate reportedly alerted senators and the FBI about it during Kavanaugh's confirmation process last year, but the agency did not investigate the claims.

Kavanaugh, of course, faced several accusations of sexual misconduct before his confirmation, and the latest one has led to calls for a new investigation into the matter. But Trump, apparently, won't stand for that, instead chalking the news up to a conspiracy theory being pushed by the Democrats and the media in the hopes of impeaching the Trump-appointed justice.

Trump is therefore suggesting Kavanaugh defend his reputation by suing for libel. If he doesn't, the president vaguely called for the Justice Department to "come to his rescue." Tim O'Donnell

8:33 a.m.

Max Stier, a former Yale University classmate of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, reportedly notified senators and the FBI during the justice's confirmation process last year about a previously unreported sexual misconduct allegation involving Kavanaugh when he was a student at Yale.

Stier reportedly said he saw Kavanaugh — a freshman at the time — at a drunken dorm party with his pants down when his friends then pushed his penis into a female student's hands. The story is similar to an allegation against Kavanaugh made by another Yale student, Deborah Ramirez, but it is unclear if they are the same incident. It is also unclear if Stier knew the female student, or if she has verified the incident as described.

The FBI reportedly did not investigate the allegation and Stier has declined to speak about it publicly, but The New York Times reports it corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Stier.

Kavanaugh faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct during his confirmation process, though only one of his accusers, Christine Blasey Ford, was permitted to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee last year. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

8:18 a.m.

Iran on Sunday denied U.S. accusations that it was behind Saturday's drone strikes on two major oil sites in Saudi Arabia, which forced Saudi Aramco to suspend its production output by half.

Yemen's Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran in a civil war against a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, claimed responsibility for the attacks, but U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Tehran, arguing there was "no evidence the attacks came from Yemen."

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, said Pompeo was "turning to 'max deceit'" after "having failed at 'max pressure,;" and Abbas Mousavi, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, called Pompeo's allegations "pointless."

Regardless of whether Pompeo's claims are correct, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia already accuse Tehran of providing Houthi forces with military equipment and training. So, if the rebels did in fact launch the attacks, it is unlikely Washington would ignore Iran's potential role in the incident.

The situation is just the latest example of heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington, which have risen since the U.S. departed the 2015 nuclear pact and placed sanctions on Iran. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

September 14, 2019

President Trump tweeted Saturday that he's been in talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the possibility of moving forward with a mutual defense treaty between the two nations.

The fact that the treaty has been discussed is only surprising in the sense that the two countries already have a close military partnership. It appears, then, that Trump's statement might be linked to Israel's election which is set next week.

Axios reports that Trump's announcement was "exactly the kind of support" Netanyahu has long been seeking from Trump as he looks to hold on to his post. In response, Netanyahu thanked the president, saying Israel has "never had a greater friend in the White House." Tim O'Donnell

September 14, 2019

A two-and-half-years old lawsuit finally came to a close Friday, when Judge Richard E. Moore ruled that two confederate statues of Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, must remain standing. Moore, however, did not award any damages after plaintiffs argued that the 188 days the statues remained covered by tarps encroached on a state law protecting war memorials and caused the plaintiffs emotional distress. He did say he would award attorney fees.

The city had said the law was unconstitutional because the war memorials send a racist message, The Guardian reports. But the argument was unable to sway Moore, even though he did acknowledge the authors of the historic preservation statute likely had more sinister intent.

"I don't think I can infer that a historical preservation statute was intended to be racist," Moore said. "Certainly, [racism] was on their minds, but we should not judge the current law by that intent."

The statues were covered by tarps following the death of Heather Heyer at a violent "Unite the Right" rally in the Virginia city in August 2017. Read more at The Daily Progress and The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell

September 14, 2019

The possible Massachusetts Senate showdown between Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) might not shape up the way most people think.

Kennedy hasn't officially announced he's challenging Markey, the incumbent, but the signs are pointing to it becoming ever more and more likely. Many expect the 38-year-old Kennedy, if he were to run, to receive votes from the younger, more progressive wing of the Democratic Party (even though the 73-year-old Markey is considered a progressive himself), in what some Massachusetts Democrats fear could become a distracting election that could take away the time, energy, and money they think is required to beat Republicans.

"You know, I think you'll see the establishment-type people gravitate toward Ed, and the more non-establishment-type people gravitate toward Joe," one Boston-based donor told Politico.

But, so far, that hasn't been the case, The Hill reports.

Some younger progressives like Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — who partnered with Markey on the Green New Deal — are backing the senator. Ocasio-Cortez called Markey "a proud and strong progressive champion for working families" and reportedly urged Kennedy not to run for his seat. Instead, she reportedly encouraged him to run for the other Massachusetts seat that could open up if Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) leaves the state for the Oval Office next year. Warren is also supporting Markey. Read more at Politico and The Hill. Tim O'Donnell

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