January 30, 2018

Jess O'Connell, the chief executive of the Democratic National Committee, is stepping down after less than a year on the job, she told DNC staff in an email on Monday night. O'Connell joined the DNC in May, leaving her position as head of Emily's List, and "when Jess walked in the door, the Democratic Party was broken," DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in the email, thanking O'Connell for helping begin the needed repairs.

The CEO is the top staff member at the DNC, running day-to-day operations and strategy while the chairman is off raising money or making public appearances, NBC News explains. O'Connell did not give a reason for her departure next month in the email, but it's a personal decision, a DNC official tells NBC News, and she is leaving now to cause minimal disruption before the midterm elections in November.

Since O'Connell took over day-to-day management of the DNC right before the party lost a closely fought special congressional election in suburban Atlanta, the Democrats racked up a string of big wins in Virginia, New Jersey, and Alabama, plus in local races across the country. O'Connell "presided over strategic — and often quiet — investments" in many of those winning races, The Washington Post reports. One marker of her success, as NBC's Alex Seitz-Wald notes, is that "the party has found itself subject to fewer negative headlines of late as fundraising started to improve and vacancies are filled." Peter Weber

8:03 a.m.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) may be set to throw his hat in the 2024 ring — even if former President Donald Trump does, too.

Christie is "seriously considering" running for president in 2024, Axios reported on Wednesday, citing three people familiar with his thinking. The former New Jersey governor previously ran for president during the 2016 Republican primaries, but he ended his bid in February 2016 and backed Trump.

The former governor, according to the report, has been talking up his 2024 potential to friends, telling them he would be the only person in the Republican field with both executive experience and who has previously run for president — in what Axios describes as a "clear shot" at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who's also seen as a serious 2024 contender.

A source also told Axios that Christie "could run on a reputation for toughness that appeals to Trump's base minus the former president's recklessness."

Among the other Republicans who may enter the 2024 primaries include former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Of course, there's also the question of whether Trump himself will run again, a possibility the former president says he is "beyond considering."

But Axios reports Christie has been telling associates that whether Trump does seek a second term wouldn't affect his decision. Indeed, the former governor said in an interview in December that he wouldn't rule out the possibility of once again running against Trump. Brendan Morrow

7:11 a.m.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that it will extend emergency school meal waivers through the 2021-22 school year, not Sept. 30, the previous cutoff date. The child nutrition program waivers give schools more flexibility to offer free meals to all students, but especially the estimated 12 million children and teenagers experiencing food insecurity during disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"States and districts wanted waivers extended to plan for safe reopening in the fall." Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. "This action also increases the reimbursement rate to school meal operators so they can serve healthy foods to our kids. It's a win-win for kids, parents, and schools."

The waivers allow school districts more options to get meals to students, including offering free meals outside regular meal times, home delivery to distance learners, and curbside pickup of meals for multiple days at a time. Peter Weber

6:21 a.m.

European soccer was shaken by Sunday night's formation of a breakaway Super League of 12 elite soccer clubs, threatening the more-or-less egalitarian nature of the continent's favorite sport. On Tuesday, six of the teams — all from the English Premier League — pulled out of the potentially lucrative project, bowing to pushback from fans, Britain's government, and soccer's governing authorities.

Chelsea and Manchester City were the first teams to say they were quitting the $4 billion enterprise, and Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Tottenham soon joined them. The six remaining teams — Spain's Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, and Barcelona, and Italy's Juventus, AC Milan, and Inter Milan — said in a statement Tuesday night that "given the current circumstances, we shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project."

The idea of a U.S.-style European soccer league, with a set number of teams splitting a huge pot of money, has been discussed for at least 20 years. What elite soccer teams "saw in the NFL was a model for making money from modern sports, complete with glitz, lionized dynasties, and lavish television contracts," The Wall Street Journal explains. "The odd crummy season wouldn't matter — the Super League could have its own New York Jets and that club would still make money."

At least half of the 12 Super League teams are owned by foreign investors, including four American-owned franchises: Arsenal (L.A. Rams owner Stan Kroenke), Liverpool (Boston Red Sox investment group), Manchester United (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Glazer family), and AC Milan (Elliott Management Corp.). The Glazers were one of the key drivers of the Super League plan, the Journal reports, but Real Madrid President Florentino Perez is the public face. Peter Weber

5:21 a.m.

"Today was a very tense day," and "if you're looking for a way to take the edge off, may I remind you, it is 4/20," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. "For those of you not in the know, 4/20 is the one day a year weed smokers celebrate smoking weed every other day of the year. And this April 20 is the big one, because today 4/20 turned 50."

But thanks to the big push for legalization, pot smoking looks much different now than in 1971, and 4 in 10 pot smokers say even it should be a national holiday, Colbert said. "Okay, that's insane. I mean, there's no holiday for drinking — other than St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, New Year's Eve, the day before Thanksgiving, the 4th of July, and the whatever day this is."

Yes, "40 percent of people who smoke think 4/20 should be a national holiday, while the rest skipped work today because they thought it was a national holiday," Jimmy Fallon joked at The Tonight Show. "Right now there's so much smoke in New York City, every apartment looks like it elected a new pope. Even Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer acknowledged the day's significance from the Senate floor," he said, which felt "exactly like the moment everyone's parents joined Facebook."

It's true, 4/20 is "not really as edgy, is it, as it used to be," James Corden said at The Late Late Show. "Now that marijuana's legal in California, you know, it sort of feels like the equivalent of, like, white wine day. ... I hope we don't get caught up in the commercialism of 4/20 and forget the real meaning of 4/20." Willie Nelson is pushing President Biden to make 4/20 a national holiday, he said, "and he's even gone so far as to propose that 4/20 through to his birthday on 4/29 be recognized as the high holidays."

"Today is a special holiday, because it's the first 4/20 since marijuana has been legalized in New York City," Late Night's Seth Meyers said. He tried to celebrate by eating a weed gummy on air.

"According to polls, most Americans are more interested in trying edibles than any other type of cannabis product," Meyers said. "Wow, America is the only country that starts with the munchies." But Tuesday wasn't just weed day, he said. It was also "Lima Bean Respect Day. In that case, you taste like ass, good sir." Watch below. Peter Weber

4:11 a.m.

Somewhere tonight, Matt Damon is probably sitting in some tiny green room, either crushed or elated that Jimmy Kimmel has a new celebrity feud.

Kimmel began Tuesday's Kimmel Live by celebrating the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. "Today also happens to be April 20, the day on which Hitler, Killer Mike, and Joey Lawrence were born — just goes to show you astrology is dumb, it doesn't make any sense," he said. "4/20, of course, is a holiday for pot smokers and pot eaters to celebrate 4/20 by doing pretty much exactly what they do every day."

"Speaking of drugs, our new pillow pal Mike Lindell" spent yesterday "passionately ranting from 8 in the morning until 11 at night" to launch his new social media platform "for people like him who are no longer welcome on Twitter," Kimmel said. "I was glued to this, I want this Frank-a-thon to go on forever. Mike Lindell is kind of like Saul Goodman from Better Call Saul: He had a funny supporting role in one of the most incredible dramas of all time, but now that he's got his own show, you really appreciate what a character he is."

Kimmel showed parts of Lindell's telethon on Monday night's show, and Lindell reciprocated by reading a transcript of Kimmel's jokes about his telethon. "That was weird, me sitting in my kitchen while the MyPillow guy reads my jokes to his sidekick, and he's going, 'I wonder if Jimmy is watching?'" he said. "And yes, Jimmy was watching."

Lindell reminded Kimmel that their paths have crossed before — "I was at a concert with Kid Rock and Mike Lindell; little did I know it would turn out to be the holy trinity of Trump," Kimmel joked — and then accepted his invitation to come on Kimmel Live for a live interview in a pillow-heavy bed. "I haven't seen most of my friends for 13 months, I'm going to be spooning with the MyPillow guy next week," Kimmel deadpanned.

The nice thing about celebrity feuds is that everybody wins. Peter Weber

2:48 a.m.

Nobody on James Corden's Late Late Show wants to stay at Pharrell Williams' new lifestyle hotel in Miami. "I knew Pharrell had money to burn," Corden said Tuesday night. "I did not know he had open-a-hotel-during-a-global-pandemic money to burn." But "if you could pick a celebrity to open a hotel, whose would you want to stay in?" he asked his band. Drummer Guillermo Brown picked Oprah Winfrey, to general agreement, and guitarist Tim Young even came up with a name, "O-tel."

The next challenge was trying to contact Oprah, and it wasn't flawless — "Neil Patrick Harris is going to be hosting this show tomorrow!" sidekick Ian Karmel said after Corden nearly broadcast Winfrey's possible phone number to the world — or fruitless. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:07 a.m.

After a night of negotiations, the European Union agreed early Wednesday to a tentative deal that would make its 27 member states carbon-neutral by 2050.

"Our political commitment to becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 is now also a legal commitment," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. "The Climate Law sets the EU on a green path for a generation."

As part of the preliminary agreement, the EU will also commit to slashing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, The Associated Press reports. The EU's member states and legislature still have to officially sign off on the deal, but it's expected to be approved, AP says.

Starting Thursday, President Biden is hosting a two-day virtual climate summit, and Chinese President Xi Jinping has accepted Biden's invitation to attend the event; this will be their first meeting since Biden's inauguration in January. China's foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday that Xi plans on delivering an "important" speech during the summit.

The U.S. and China emit the most greenhouse gases, accounting for nearly half of the world's total emissions. China has said it will hit peak emissions by 2030, before becoming carbon-neutral by 2060, and Biden is expected to announce this week that the U.S. will cut its greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by 2030. Catherine Garcia

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