June 23, 2017

With House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) counting the days until he can head home to Utah, chairman-in-waiting Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) is walking into what has the potential to be a powder keg. But on Friday, Gowdy announced the committee will not investigate Russia's role in the 2016 election or President Trump's possible obstruction of justice, Politico reports.

Throughout the spring, Chaffetz navigated an investigation into Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and Flynn's interactions with Russia. Chaffetz was hesitant to expand the probe beyond Flynn, and now Gowdy has confirmed he wants to refocus on the panel's "original 'compulsory' jurisdiction, including overseeing more mundane issues like government procurement and the Census," Politico writes.

"Number one, [the Russia questions are] in the jurisdiction of [Special Counsel] Bob Mueller," Gowdy explained Friday. "And secondarily, I would think Judiciary has jurisdiction over the Department of Justice and the FBI. To the extent that any of those memos are classified, that would be [Intelligence]. And for those that think a third committee ought to look at it, Oversight would have secondary permissive jurisdiction but it would be secondary." Jeva Lange

2:43 a.m.

President Trump on Wednesday appointed Vice President Mike Pence his point person on the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak that is spreading disease and panic through much of the world. Pence's appointment was reportedly a surprise to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who had been in charge of the Trump administration's response up until Trump's announcement.

Pence has zero experience in the medical area and no real expertise in infections disease control, which would seem to make his appointment "A TOTAL JOKE," according to Trump, circa 2014.

To be fair, Azar is also not a doctor and doesn't have a robust public health background. His medical experience mostly involves a stint as the top lawyer at HHS and years as a lobbyist and executive for the pharmaceutical industry. But at least the large government agency he leads has "health" in its name. Speaking of Trump's old tweets....

Since Trump did not resign or step into a cannon aimed at the sun on Tuesday, it's a safe bet he has changed his mind on this critique. Peter Weber

1:59 a.m.

The Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to the sandwich chain Jimmy John's earlier this month, warning the company that it must take measures to fix food safety violations that are linked to several outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella.

The FDA told Jimmy John's it has "engaged in a pattern of receiving and offering for sale adulterated fresh produce, specifically clover sprouts and cucumbers," and its system for receiving these items is deficient. The letter was dated Feb. 15, and gave the company 15 days to come up with changes to address the issue.

In an email to CBS News, Jimmy John's President Jim North said food safety is the company's "top priority." Sprouts present "particular challenges," and Jimmy John's has decided to "permanently remove" them from all restaurants.

There are 2,800 Jimmy John's in 43 states, and since 2012, the FDA has traced one salmonella and four E. coli outbreaks back to the chain, CBS News reports. Those incidents left 90 people sick in 17 states. Late last year, there was an E. coli outbreak in Iowa that left 22 people sick; almost every person affected reported to state health officials that they ate at a Jimmy John's. Catherine Garcia

1:29 a.m.

Concerns about the global spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus "are growing, but fear not!" Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "The president knows he has a solemn duty to protect ... himself, because the Trump campaign is afraid coronavirus will hurt his re-election bid." On Tuesday, he noted, "Trump tried to reassure us all" with the "very comforting" reminder that "there's a very good chance you're not gonna die" from the virus.

Trump accused the media for "doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus [sic] look as bad as possible," and Colbert roasted him for the unfortunate typo, plus the attempts at reassurance from his economic adviser Larry Kudrow and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf. Concerns over the coronavirus have helped tank stock prices but they have also "led many to wear masks in the United States, and the CDC has released this actual graphic detailing which styles of facial hair are best for wearing respirator masks and which ones do not work," he said. "Oh God, all of Brooklyn is dead."

"Villain" facial hair could go either way, The Late Show illustrated.

The Daily Show also found Trump's "Caronavirus" typo less than reassuring.

The coronavirus is "the worst global pandemic since 'Baby Shark,'" Trevor Noah said. "And so today, the president of the United States held an emergency press conference to address people's concerns," during which he put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of America's response to the virus. "And I think this is great, because Mike Pence has a lot of experience in this area — he's been quarantining himself from women his whole life," he joked. Sure, "when Mike Pence was governor of Indiana, he enabled an HIV outbreak when he didn't follow the advice of public health officials," but "I'll be honest, I still feel safer with him than with Trump."

The epidemic "hurting the economy" is "Trump's real nightmare," Noah said, imagining Trump's response: "No, not my poor stock market! Not Wall Street! I'll nurse you back to health with my special chicken soup: it's a KFC bucket poured with Diet Coke." But he also found Trump's actual response a little unnerving: "Okay, we're definitely all going to die. You know, Trump is great for jokes, but in times of crisis, Trump is the worst person to reassure the nation." Watch below. Peter Weber

February 26, 2020

At a CNN town hall in South Carolina on Wednesday night, a Bernie Sanders supporter asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) about a moment in the Nevada Democratic debate where all the candidates but Sanders said if nobody has a majority of votes by the convention, the process should play out as written, potentially handing the nomination to somebody with fewer delegates. "Can you explain why the will of the voters should not matter if no candidate reaches a majority of delegates?" he asked. Warren began her answer with a question: "So, you do know that was Bernie's position in 2016?"

"That was Bernie's position in 2016, that it should not go to the person who had a plurality," Warren continued. "And remember, his last play was to superdelegates. So the way I see this is, you write the rules before you know where everybody stands. And then you stick with those rules." Sanders "had a big hand in writing these rules — I didn't write them, but Bernie did," she added. "Those are the rules that he wanted to write and others wanted to write. Everybody got in the race thinking that was the set of rules. I don't see how come you get to change it just because he now thinks there's an advantage to him for doing that."

The system could work to Sanders' advantage, too. In the Nevada caucuses, for example, Sanders got 34 percent of the votes in the first round and ended up at 40 percent in the final preference, 47 percent of the final vote, and 22 delegates; Warren got 13 percent in the first round, ended up with 11.5 percent of the final voter preference, 10 percent of the final vote, and zero delegates.

Goose, gander, ect. Peter Weber

February 26, 2020

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) and the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus are calling on a white judge who used racial slurs to resign immediately.

After initially denying it, District Judge Jessie LeBlanc admitted on Sunday to WAFB-TV that in texts she sent to Assumption Parish Chief Deputy Bruce Prejean, she used a racial slur to describe a black sheriff's deputy and a black law clerk. LeBlanc and Prejean were having an affair at the time. She told WAFB she "profusely" apologized and "should have never said it."

Edwards on Wednesday said there is "never any circumstance or context in which such derogatory and degrading language is okay," and the "state deserves better" than LeBlanc. By compromising her ability to preside as a judge, "she has damaged the judiciary," he added. "She should resign."

LeBlanc on Sunday said she will not step down, and will seek re-election for Louisiana's 23rd Judicial District in December. The district attorney and lead public defender have filed a court motion asking LeBlanc recuse herself from criminal cases in Assumption Parish, The Associated Press reports, and hundreds of her cases are now under review. LeBlanc's attorney, Jill Craft, said Edwards needs to leave her client alone, as her comments were made during a "private conversation" and she made her "contrition clear." Catherine Garcia

February 26, 2020

After spending weeks leading the government's coronavirus task force, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar found out he was being pushed aside just minutes before President Trump made the announcement during a Wednesday evening press conference, five people with knowledge of the situation told The Washington Post.

Trump revealed that Vice President Mike Pence will now head the task force, and everyone involved will report to him. A senior administration official told the Post Pence will lead his first meeting on Thursday, and decided to hold it at HHS "as a show of support to Azar."

Azar was asked Wednesday morning about the possibility of the administration appointing a czar to guide the government's response, and responded that he "didn't anticipate" this happening, as things were "working extremely well." At the end of Trump's press conference, Azar made sure to tell reporters he was still chairman of the task force, and was "delighted" to have Pence on board. Catherine Garcia

February 26, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday night that a person in California who tested positive for coronavirus may be the first case of community spread in the United States.

This person did not recently travel out of the country or come into contact with anyone infected with the coronavirus, known as COVID-19. The case was "detected through the U.S. public health system," the CDC said, and "picked up by astute clinicians." The CDC said this could be an "instance of community spread of COVID-19," which means the source of infection is unknown, but also acknowledged that "the patient may have been exposed to a returned traveler who was infected."

Lawrence Gostin, director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, told the Los Angeles Times this is "the first signal that we could be having silent transmission in the community. It probably means there are many more cases out there and it probably means this individual has infected others and now it's a race to try to find out who that person has infected." There are 60 cases of COVID-19 in the United States. Catherine Garcia

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