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January 31, 2017

Nearly one year after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, President Trump announced Tuesday he has selected Judge Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to fill Scalia's seat.

Trump promised during the campaign he would "find the very best judge in the country for the Supreme Court. I promised to select someone who respects our laws, and is representative of our Constitution and who loves our Constitution and someone who will interpret them as written."

Gorsuch is a 49-year-old federal appeals court judge from Colorado, who was nominated to the U.S. 10th Circuit appellate court by former President George W. Bush in 2006. If confirmed, Gorsuch said he will "do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the constitutional laws of this great country." He called Scalia a "lion of the law," and said he believes that it is "for Congress, not the courts, to write new laws. It is the rule of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people's representatives. A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge, stretching for results he prefers rather than those the law demands."

Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, and Democrats have threatened to filibuster Trump's pick. The GOP only has a 52-seat Senate majority, and 60 votes are needed for a confirmation. Catherine Garcia

11:05 a.m.

President Trump's appeal against an order from a federal judge which allowed for Deutsche Bank and Capital One to hand over financial records to Democratic lawmakers was successful in delaying the process, a Southern District of New York court filing revealed on Saturday.

Until a final decision is reached on the appeal, the two banks will not have to immediately comply with the subpoenas, which call for financial records of Trump, three of his children, and the Trump Organization. The delay is the result of what Reuters calls a "rare accord" between Trump's attorneys, the banks, and the House Intelligence and Financial Services Committees.

Trump's legal team has argued the subpoenas exceed the authority of Congress, but U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos found they do, in fact, fall under Congress' authority to conduct investigations to further legislation, Reuters reports. Tim O'Donnell

10:49 a.m.

Norway's foreign ministry confirmed on Saturday that delegates from both Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's government and the country's opposition led by Juan Guaidó will meet in Oslo next week to negotiate an end to Venezuela's political crisis.

Both sides met separately with Norwegian mediators last week for preliminary talks. Guaidó has been hesitant about sending representatives to meet with the government, arguing Maduro has used negotiations as nothing more than a stalling tactic in the past. But as the opposition continues to lose momentum, he confirmed he would support the Oslo talks during a rally on Saturday, though he insisted his side would maintain that a transfer of power is necessary. The U.S. State Department shares that sentiment. "As we have stated repeatedly, we believe the only thing to negotiate with Nicolás Maduro is the conditions of his departure," department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

Maduro has also publicly endorsed the Norway talks, but has shown no indication he would step down.

Norway has a history of successfully mediating foreign internal conflicts, including situations in Colombia, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines. Tim O'Donnell

7:52 a.m.

A likely tornado struck in El Reno, Oklahoma, a city of 16,700 residents west of Oklahoma City, on Saturday night, causing significant damage to the area.

While no details were immediately made available, the police department in nearby Union City announced in a Facebook post that "serious injuries and fatalities" occurred and El Reno's mayor and the county's emergency manager confirmed that there were two deaths. An unknown number of people are reportedly missing. The tornado hit a motel, a mobile home park, and other buildings.

"You could hear the roar and everything when it came through," Richard Griffin, a resident of the mobile home park, said. The tornado followed a series of severe weather in the Southern Plains in the last week; 104 tornadoes were reported across eight states between Monday and Thursday.

El Reno also suffered damage and fatalities during a tornado outbreak in 2013. Tim O'Donnell

7:19 a.m.

President Trump is not worried about North Korea, even though some of his "people" might be.

Trump on Sunday dismissed the idea he was concerned about North Korea's recent ballistic weapons tests in an early morning tweet from Tokyo. Trump wrote that he was not disturbed by the weapons testing, although others in his administration were. The Washington Post reports the tweet was a "direct rebuke" of national security adviser, John Bolton, who said on Saturday that North Korea's tests "no doubt" violated United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Trump said he has confidence North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "will keep his promise," to Trump, referring to an agreement between the two heads of state in which Kim said North Korea would not test intercontinental-range ballistic missiles — the recent tests were reportedly short-range missiles.

Trump also cited Kim's recent criticism of former Vice President Joe Biden, who could face off with Trump in the 2020 presidential election, as further reason to trust him. "Perhaps that's sending me a signal?," Trump wrote. Tim O'Donnell

May 25, 2019

People love a good mystery, and President Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, provided the public with an Italian restaurant-themed enigma that remains unsolved.

Giuliani told his Twitter followers late on Friday night to check out a Yelp review for a restaurant called Mama Lisa. There was just one problem — the former mayor of New York forgot to include a link, leaving everyone in the dark.

Giuliani didn't seem to notice his mistake, however, sending an unrelated tweet shortly after. But the fact that it slipped Giuliani's mind doesn't mean others missed it. This is the internet, after all, which means several people hopped right on it, relishing the opportunity to try out some of their best political humor.

It remains to be seen which review, exactly, Giuliani was referring to, but — for what it's worth — customers generally seem to agree with him about the high quality of Mama Lisa's food and service. Tim O'Donnell

May 25, 2019

Maine became the fourth state — joining California, Mississippi, and West Virginia — to end most non-medical exemptions for mandatory childhood vaccines, The Hill reports.

The state's governor, Janet Mills (D), signed the bill, which eliminates religious and philosophical exemptions and will go into effect 90 days after the state legislature adjourns. Now, only doctors and pediatric primary care givers can determine if there is need for a medical exemption.

Maine reportedly has one of the highest rates of non-medical vaccine exemptions in the country. Last year, The Hill writes, the kindergarten vaccination opt-out rate was 5.6 percent, more than three times the national average. But with a confirmed case of measles in the state, it appears Maine's government was not taking any chances. "It has become clear that we must act to ensure the health of our communities," state Rep. Ryan Tipping (D) said.

Still, there are opponents to the new bill, who emphasize religious freedom. "We are pushing religious people out of our great state," state Sen. Lisa Keim (R) said earlier this month. "And we will be closing the door on religious people who may consider making Maine their home. We are fooling ourselves if we don't believe an exodus would come about." Tim O'Donnell

May 25, 2019

Intelligence officials are concerned about the new authority Attorney General William Barr holds concerning classified information, The Washington Post reports.

On Thursday, by way of executive order, President Trump granted Barr the power to reveal government secrets during the attorney general's review of what the White House calls "surveillance activities during the 2016 election." Trump has long maintained that the U.S. government was spying on his campaign in an attempt to undermine the election process.

It is reportedly unprecedented for an official who does not head an intelligence agency to have the ability to disclose such information, which has some people worried that Barr could selectively declassify information, distorting the roles of the FBI and CIA during their investigations into 2016 Russian election interference. Others are concerned that Barr could compromise sources "deep inside the Russian government."

The Post reports that Trump's decision stems from his greater sense of trust in Barr than in Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats. "This is a complete slap in the face to the director of national intelligence," James Baker, the former FBI general counsel, said. Michael Morell, a former CIA deputy director, described the situation as "another destruction of norms that weakens our intelligence community." Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

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