March 3, 2017

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday that it is ending its review of the Memphis Police Department, which was requested last year by the city's Democratic mayor and police director. "The Department of Justice's [Office of Community Oriented Policing Services] will no longer proceed with the collaborative reform process with the City of Memphis and Memphis Police Department," the official statement read. It did not include an explanation for why the review was being halted.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has, in the past, questioned policy reports published by the DOJ, calling "some" investigations into the police departments in Chicago and Ferguson, Missouri, "pretty anecdotal and not so scientifically based."

"You have 800,000 police in America, imagine a city of 800,000 people," Sessions said last month. "There's going to be some crime in it, some people are going to make errors."

The review of the Memphis Police Department was expected to take two years and began last October under former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. While there wasn't one single incident that led to the review, The Commercial Appeal reports:

... U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III mentioned a reform initiative last year after a federal review of the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old black man by a white police officer in 2015.

The Justice Department review concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support charges against former Memphis police Officer Connor Schilling in the death of Darrius Stewart. Schilling shot Stewart twice during a fight that began when Schilling tried to arrest Stewart on an active warrant at a traffic stop. [The Commercial Appeal]

There has also been talk of the White House eliminating the COPS program, which supports police departments around the country. It is not clear if the end of the Memphis review is related to the possible end of the COPS program as a whole. The DOJ said COPS would still provide training resources and technical assistance to the Memphis police. Jeva Lange

1:04 p.m.

For cursing out a reporter and accusing her of lying, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has earned high praise from President Trump.

Trump on Tuesday celebrated Pompeo after his recent confrontation with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly. Kelly last week said Pompeo angrily berated her after an interview in which she asked about Ukraine, cursing her out and demanding she find Ukraine on a map. Pompeo in a subsequent statement only doubled down, claiming Kelly "lied to me" and that she incorrectly pointed to Bangladesh and not Ukraine, even though Kelly has a master's degree in European studies from Cambridge University. The State Department subsequently removed another NPR reporter from an upcoming Pompeo trip in apparent retaliation.

This earned Trump's seal of approval on Tuesday, as after Pompeo received a round of applause during a White House event, Trump said, "That reporter couldn't have done too good a job on you yesterday, huh? I think you did a good job on her, actually."

Trump then asked if Pompeo is running for Senate but quickly added, "I guess the answer's no after that, huh?" The New York Times' Michael Barbaro wrote Tuesday this is "the latest case of Trump celebrating poor treatment of the media." Brendan Morrow

12:41 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden isn't bashful about the reason he's running for president.

Biden, though not bereft of policy plans, isn't leading a specific "movement" like some of his Democratic competitors, namely Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). In that sense, there doesn't appear to have been an ideological motivation that spurred the 77-year-old's decision to jump into the crowded Democratic primary last year, except for defeating the incumbent, President Trump, The New York Times reports.

In fact, Biden reportedly told the Times while campaigning in Iowa before the state's caucus kicks off the election process next week that he likely wouldn't even have launched a campaign if someone like Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) was the one seeking re-election, amplifying Biden's message that Democrats and Republicans need not be in a state of "perpetual war" in a post-Trump America. It's Trump, and Trump alone, that compelled former President Barack Obama's right hand man to take one last crack at the Oval Office. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

12:41 p.m.

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton has another ex-Trump official on his side.

Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly spoke to a crowd in Sarasota, Florida, on Monday, where he was asked about Bolton's forthcoming book that reportedly says Trump spoke to Bolton about a Ukraine quid pro quo. "If John Bolton says that in the book, I believe John Bolton," Kelly said, per the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

Kelly, a retired general, left the Trump administration more than a year ago, but a good chunk of his tenure overlapped with Bolton's. A Sunday New York Times report describes how Bolton's memoir reportedly describes how Trump told Bolton he wanted to withhold Ukraine's security aid until the country agreed to investigate his Democratic rivals.

Kelly said if the reporting was true, he believed Bolton. "Every single time I was with him ... he always gave the president the unvarnished truth," Kelly said of Bolton, calling him an "honest guy." Kelly then said "half of Americans think this process is purely political and shouldn't be happening, but since it is happening," Americans should "hear the whole story." "If there are people that could contribute to this, either innocence or guilt ... I think they should be heard," Kelly continued, per the Sarasota Herald Tribune. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:22 p.m.

Andy Samberg's new movie just set a new record for biggest Sundance Film Festival sale ever, and when it comes to teeing up Twitter jokes, the sum sure didn't disappoint.

Palm Springs, the new Groundhog Day-esque comedy that Samberg stars in with Cristin Milioti, was purchased by Neon and Hulu for $17,500,000.69, making it the highest-selling film in Sundance history, Variety reports.

The previous record for biggest sale was set by The Birth of a Nation, the 2016 Nate Parker film that sold for $17.5 million, meaning the record was broken by exactly 69 cents.

Directed by Max Barbakow, Palm Springs stars Milioti as bridesmaid who, as Polygon explains, "attempts to tough out her sister's wedding without being noticed, until she accidentally gets stuck in an endlessly repeating day with an amiable slacker and his would-be murderer." Samberg produced the film with his Lonely Island partners, who said in a statement, "We spent over $85 million of our own money on this movie, WE ARE TAKING A BATH on this deal."

After earning a warm reception at Sundance, Deadline previously reported that Palm Springs was set to sell for closer to $15 million. But apparently, the opportunity to break the previous record and spawn more "nice" tweets than one could ever hope for was simply too good to pass up. Brendan Morrow

11:09 a.m.

Even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wants to hear from John Bolton.

After a report indicated former National Security Adviser John Bolton's forthcoming book would describe President Trump calling for a Ukraine quid pro quo, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said Monday that senators "should get access to that manuscript to see what they're actually saying." Graham agreed with Lankford's proposal in a Tuesday tweet, but added he would like the manuscript to be viewed "if possible, in a classified setting."

Bolton's manuscript had gone to the National Security Council for review before its publication, and according to a Sunday New York Times report, it describes how Trump told Bolton he wanted to withhold Ukraine's security aid until the country agreed to investigate his Democratic rivals. Lankford said Monday that "we may" need "witnesses and additional testimony and additional evidence" if "questions are not answered" by the manuscript, though he did say "there’s plenty of microphones all over the country" Bolton should use to speak out now. It's unclear if Graham agreed with that part of the statement. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:51 a.m.

Stocks in East Asia have taken a hit since the outbreak of the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, and has since resulted in an increasing number of confirmed cases in several different countries, including the United States.

Investors are reportedly concerned the virus' spread could turn into a "longer event" and harm global growth. But one company that hasn't suffered in the wake of the contagion is Japanese face mask manufacturer, Kawamoto, which has seen a rapid spike in shares since the outbreak of the respiratory virus that is transmitted from person-to-person (though it's still unclear how).

What's really telling about Kawamoto's surge is the apparent escalation of fears about the virus, exemplified by the expediency in purchasing products that can serve as preventative measures against its spread even as governments and health experts try to urge a sense of calm. Tim O'Donnell

10:04 a.m.

Republicans have compared the Senate impeachment trial to the 2018 hearing to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The main parallels they see are the leaks from former National Security Adviser John Bolton's forthcoming book or the release of a secret recording of President Trump ordering the dismissal of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. These revelations, the GOP says, are akin to Christine Blasey Ford's allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were high school students in the 1980s.

From this point of view, the Ford allegations and Bolton leaks are 11th hour attempts to "undermine" the Senate trial and have no bearing on the facts surrounding the confirmation and impeachment, respectively. But Republican critics have argued the GOP is off base, despite being right about similarities between the two cases.

It's not "Democratic gamesmanship" that's reminiscent of the Kavanaugh hearing, but rather "the power of stonewalling," Mother Jones reports.

The results of the confirmation hearing have left some observers doubtful that Democrats' efforts to bring in new information will be effective. In the Kavanaugh situation, former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) looked like he would change the course of the process, but ultimately "didn't close the deal." Now, those observers say, if Democrats want to achieve their goals, they'll need lawmakers in similar positions to Flake — like Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) — to really follow through, otherwise there's a good chance Republicans will do what they can to keep things sealed as tightly as possible. Tim O'Donnell

See More Speed Reads