March 6, 2018

The U.S. military has wrapped up its investigation into the Oct. 4 raid in Niger that ended with four U.S. service members and four Nigerien troops dead after an ambush by Islamic State-linked fighters. The investigation found that the Army Special Forces team did not have the required approval for the mission from senior commanders in Chad or Germany, meaning U.S. commanders could not accurately assess its risk, several U.S. officials tell The Associated Press. The report will not identify a single point of failure in the mission, and it doesn't blame the mission's failure on the lack of authorization, the officials say.

Initially, the mission was reported to have shifted from a meeting with local Nigerien leaders to providing assistance to a raid searching for militant Doundou Chefou, but officials now say the Special Forces team was targeting Chefou from the start. The U.S. and Nigerien forces were ambushed by ISIS fighters after they stopped in Tongo Tongo for water and supplies, and the report said there is no compelling evidence that anyone in the village tipped off the ISIS fighters to the Americans' presence in the area. The head of U.S. Africa Command, Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, is expected to recommend greater oversight of missions in Africa. He testifies before a House committee on Tuesday. Peter Weber

5:51 p.m.

The old boss approves.

Former President Barack Obama on Tuesday said his old right hand man and the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, "nailed" his running mate selection. Earlier in the day, Biden tapped Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate in the race against President Trump, and Obama said he "couldn't be more thrilled," describing Harris as "an ideal partner" for Biden.

Not only has Obama known for Harris for many years, he's been an active supporter of her political career for a while too. Back in 2010, when Harris was running for California attorney general, she was the only down-ballot Democrat the then-president raised funds for, Politico reported at the time. Tim O'Donnell

5:27 p.m.

There's a long way to go before California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has to seriously contemplate filling Sen. Kamala Harris' (D-Calif.) seat in the upper chamber. After all, the presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee, who was selected Tuesday as former Vice President Joe Biden's running mate, will need to be part of a victory in November's general election before her Senate seat actually opens. But that hasn't stopped some speculation about who could replace her.

One of the candidates people are talking about is Harris' fellow vice presidential contender, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who has also been touted as a potential replacement for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) one day. Bass appears to have been seriously considered for the Biden ticket, but it seems unlikely that was her last chance to move into an even more prominent role.

A few other names have been floated as possible Harris replacements, including Bass' colleagues in the House, Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Katie Porter (D-Calif.). Tim O'Donnell

Opinion
5:23 p.m.

Joe Biden just announced his running mate choice: Sen. Kamala Harris of California. That means Harris, if she can govern well, could be the leader of both the Democratic Party and the country through 2030. If she can't, she might well be the last democratically-elected vice president in American history.

Biden is the heavy favorite against Trump this year. Given his age and his track record of working closely with President Obama when he was vice president, Harris will presumably play a significant role in major governing decisions. It's unpopular for the media to talk about, but there's a decent chance she would need to step in before Biden's term is up. What's more, there is a reasonable chance that Biden would choose not to run for re-election in 2024. If so, Harris would be the overwhelming favorite to run in his place.

The stakes could hardly be higher. Donald Trump is blatantly trying to steal the 2020 election, and the next Republican candidate will very likely try the same trick. A Biden administration would have four years, and perhaps another four or eight under a Harris administration, to address the pandemic, rebuild the shattered economy and federal government, root out Trump's gangrenous corruption, and fortify America's democratic institutions. If Biden and Harris instead muddle through letting everything fester, as happened under the Obama administration, the next would-be authoritarian probably won't be as incompetent as Trump. Let's hope they seize the moment. Ryan Cooper

4:59 p.m.

Just moments after Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was announced as Joe Biden's vice presidential pick, the Trump campaign jumped in to disparage her.

Dubbing her "Phony Kamala," the Trump campaign sought to paint Harris as inconsistent and shady. Most questionably, the statement condemns her as part of the "radical mob" that purportedly pushes "the left's radical manifesto." While, yes, Harris has championed several progressive causes the Trump administration would likely deem "radical socialism," among Democrats, she's considered fairly moderate.

In claiming Harris "will abandon her own morals," the Trump campaign pointed to the infamous Biden-Harris debate clash, in which Harris criticized Biden's previous stance on busing and criticized him for working with segregationists. Summer Meza

4:27 p.m.

The pick is in.

After months of anticipation, former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, selected Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate in the race against President Trump, his campaign announced in a text message to supporters Tuesday. Biden also tweeted the news.

Harris was long considered a favorite for the the role, and the senator wound up beating out a host of other contenders including, but not limited to, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who had emerged as another top choice in recent weeks.

Biden and Harris clashed during some of the Democratic primary debates, but the two have reportedly enjoyed a good relationship before and since then.

Harris is the first Black woman and first Indian woman to appear on a major party's presidential ticket. Tim O'Donnell

3:29 p.m.

As reports indicated Monday, the Big Ten Conference is postponing all fall sports, including football, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The league's presidents and chancellors voted on the decision Tuesday. In a statement, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said "it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall." The conference is reportedly hoping to move the affected sports to the spring, ESPN reports.

At least one Big Ten school was disappointed by the news. The University of Nebraska's chancellor, athletic director, and head football coach released a statement expressing a desire to find a way for their student-athletes to compete — perhaps through an agreement with another conference — arguing the university's "rigorous safety protocols" and testing procedures actually make it the safest place for them.

Elsewhere, the PAC-12 is expected to follow suit, but the ACC and SEC are still trying to play this fall, ESPN reports. Read more at ESPN. Tim O'Donnell

3:10 p.m.

Trump campaign Twitter account @TrumpWarRoom has tweeted and retweeted some questionable things in the past. Lately, it's been all systems go against former Vice President Joe Biden, who is set to oppose President Trump in November's election.

The latest effort to bring down Biden is a series of tweets that seem to claim Biden is pro-crime. In a blog post, the campaign points to Biden staffer's donations to bail funds amid the nationwide protests against police brutality. The campaign highlighted four alleged "regular criminals," all of them Black, who were supposedly freed from jail thanks to Biden.

The mugshots were posted alongside rhetorical questions like "Does Joe Biden regret his campaign putting women in danger?" The donations to the bail fund were made by individual staffers, not by the Biden campaign as a whole. Still, the post asserts the streets are now less safe "thanks in part to the Biden campaign."

The Trump campaign's strategy was quickly denounced as racist fearmongering. The Washington Post's Philip Bump pointed out that Biden himself is only loosely connected to the bailouts, and that it's not clear those pictured have been convicted of the crimes listed. Given Trump's insistence on respecting "due process," it seems like a significant oversight. Summer Meza

See More Speed Reads