November 1, 2017

After nearly the entire defense team for the USS Cole bombing suspect resigned under the suspicion that the U.S. government was spying on their conversations with their client at Guantanamo Bay, the judge in the case on Wednesday sentenced chief defense counsel Brig. Gen. John Baker to 21 days in confinement in his quarters and a $1,000 fine for contempt, the Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg reports.

The issue boiled down to the mid-October departure of three defense lawyers from the bombing suspect's case. Baker had released the attorneys, citing secret information. The judge, Air Force Col. Vance Spath, ruled Baker acted out of turn:

Spath ruled that only a judge, not Baker, had the authority to excuse lawyers of record — and ordered the general to swear an oath and answer questions about the episode.

Baker stood three rows behind the defendant and refused, invoking a privilege.

The judge then ordered the general to rescind his decision to excuse the three lawyers. "I'm definitely not doing that," the Marine general replied. Baker maintains that under the war court rule book he has the unchecked authority to release defense attorneys for "good cause." [Miami Herald]

In addition to finding Baker guilty of contempt, Spath voided Baker's order releasing the three defense attorneys.

The defense's client, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri of Saudi Arabia, stands accused of organizing the 2000 al Qaeda suicide bombing on the USS Cole off of Yemen, which killed 17 Americans. After the departure of the attorneys in October, Nashiri was only represented by the legal team's most junior member, who has no death penalty experience. Legally, the case cannot move forward without an experienced capital punishment lawyer, although Spath ruled Wednesday for the case to proceed because no alternatives were available. Read more about the case at the Miami Herald. Jeva Lange

5:10 p.m.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has taken a step toward revealing his Supreme Court plans.

The last-minute nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court has raised allegations from Democrats that Republicans are unfairly gaming the system. It has also led some Democrats to suggest Biden either expand and pack the court with liberal justices if he's elected, or adopt term limits to replace the current lifetime appointments.

Biden has so far refused to give a decisive answer on how he'll handle the courts if he wins next week's election. But on Monday, Biden did reveal a bit of his plan, saying "it's a lifetime appointment. I'm not going to attempt to change that at all."

Last month, three Democrats in the House introduced a bill to instill 18-year term limits on Supreme Court justices, granting presidents two nominees during each of their terms. Biden has brushed off questions about whether he will support expanding and packing the court, saying he'll give an answer when the election is over. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:27 p.m.

There's been a lot of debate over who should be regarded as President Trump's most accurate historical parallel, and New York's Jonathan Chait suggested Monday that former President Herbert Hoover may be the most apt comparison, at least right now.

Hoover was in office in 1929 when the stock market crashed, ushering in the Great Depression, and his reaction to the economic catastrophe was similar to Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic, Chait argues.

Just as Trump has tried to assure Americans the virus will dissipate and the country has things under control, Hoover expressed unwarranted optimism that the depression was over years before the situation improved. But what really binds the two, Chait writes, is their reliance on markets to solve their respective issues. Hoover believed the economy would rebound as consumer confidence grew, and therefore he remained a proponent of maintaining the "fiscal soundness of the monetary supply and the federal budget."

Trump, on the other hand, has flirted with spending big to keep things afloat economically during the crisis, Chait notes, but he argues the president ultimately failed to "reclaim his populist identity" and gave into the GOP's "anti-spending impulse" heading into the election. Chait anticipates the Republican Party will blame Trump's "erratic and undisciplined personal behavior" if he fails to win his re-election bid, but he also said the president "sacrificed himself on the Hooverite altar of laissez-faire" economics. Read Chait's full argument at New York. Tim O'Donnell

3:45 p.m.

Black Americans have been overwhelmingly hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. That's even more true for Black health care workers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data Monday revealing about one in every 16 Americans hospitalized with COVID-19 have been health care personnel. Even though just 10 percent of all American nurses and 5 percent of doctors are Black, more than half of those hospitalized health care workers have been Black.

The CDC data also reveals that of those health care workers who were hospitalized coronavirus, more than a third were nurses. Around three quarters of those hospitalized were under age 57, calling into question claims that COVID-19 is harmless for younger people.

Black Americans, who make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, are 4.7 times more likely than whites to be hospitalized with COVID-19, CDC data from August showed. They're also twice as likely to die of the virus than white Americans, and have the highest chance of any racial or ethnic group of dying of the coronavirus. That's likely due to health care and economic inequities that have hurt Black Americans for decades. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:33 p.m.

With just over a week to go until Election Day, Twitter has rolled out a new feature to combat voting misinformation on its platform.

The company on Monday launched new messages that will appear on the top of users' news feeds, which Twitter is referring to as "pre-bunks," NBC News reports. As the name suggests, the idea is to pre-emptively debunk inaccurate voting information that users may come across, as opposed to responding to specific posts.

A message that rolled out on Monday warned users that they "might encounter misleading information about voting by mail" but that "election experts confirm that voting by mail is safe and secure, even with an increase in mail-in ballots." Users can click a button to find out more. This is the first such message Twitter is rolling out, and the next one set to launch on Wednesday will be about "the timing of election results," NBC News says.

This is the latest step Twitter is taking ahead of the election after earlier this month announcing it would be adding "additional warnings and restrictions" to certain tweets containing misleading information, as well as urging users to quote-tweet rather than retweet and slowing down "how quickly tweets from accounts and topics you don't follow can reach you." Twitter has also said that it will label tweets "that falsely claim a win for any candidate" in the election.

Facebook has similarly announced some pre-election measures, such as its decision not to accept new political ads in the week before Election Day. Facebook, according to The Wall Street Journal, is also discussing the possibility of having to roll out "emergency measures" and slow "the spread of viral content" in the case of "dire circumstances, such as election-related violence." Brendan Morrow

3:11 p.m.

Jason Lewis, the Republican candidate challenging incumbent Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) for her seat in the upper chamber, underwent "successful and minimally invasive" emergency surgery Monday.

Lewis, a one-term congressman whose 2018 re-election bid failed, was rushed into surgery after he was diagnosed with a severe internal hernia. His campaign said the condition was potentially life-threatening if not treated quickly. Fortunately it was, and Lewis' campaign manager, Tom Syzmanski, said doctors anticipate he could be released from the hospital within the next few days.

Smith, who polls suggest is favored to win the race, sent a tweet out wishing Lewis "a successful surgery and speedy recovery" earlier in the day. Read more at The Associated Press and The Hill. Tim O'Donnell

2:30 p.m.

Hillary Clinton has no plans to come out of the woods.

With Election Day less than a week away, the Clinton is doing everything she can to stop Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris from repeating her fate. But in contrast to a common motivation for boosting a campaign, Clinton wants no role in a potential Biden presidency, she told The New York Times' Kara Swisher in a podcast aired Monday.

Throughout this election, Clinton has stayed out of ads and the public eye for the Democratic party — probably wisely, considering how contentious the 2016 election was. She's instead focusing on fundraising events for Biden, as well as Democratic House and Senate races. And she's convinced it will pay off, to the point that she won't even "entertain the idea" of Trump winning again. "It makes me literally sick to my stomach to think that we'd have four more years of this abuse and destruction of our institutions, and damaging of our norms and our values, and lessening of our leadership, and the list goes on," Clinton said.

Clinton's vision of a Biden/Harris administration is clearer. She'll be happy to "answer any questions they have" and "provide any information that they need," Clinton said — generally to act as an outside "counselor," as Swisher put it. But "No, I don’t want a job" within the administration, Clinton said. "I just want to be able to exhale." Read Clinton's whole interview at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:23 p.m.

Marvel is reportedly recruiting one hell of a pilot to join Earth's mightiest heroes.

Oscar Isaac is in talks to star as Moon Knight in a new show about the Marvel character for Disney+, numerous outlets including Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter revealed on Monday.

This would be the first Marvel Cinematic Universe role for Isaac, who starred as Poe Dameron in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. The actor did, however, play the villainous Apocalypse in 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse, which took place in a separate Marvel universe under 20th Century Fox. Moon Knight, Variety explains, is an "elite soldier and mercenary who decides to fight crime after he becomes the human avatar of Khonshu, the Egyptian god of the moon."

Moon Knight is one of a number of shows Marvel has in the works at Disney+, including The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Loki, and Hawkeye. Series based on She-Hulk, who will reportedly be played by Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany, and Ms. Marvel, Marvel's first Muslim superhero set to be played by newcomer Iman Vellani, are also in development. Brendan Morrow

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