May 31, 2018

In the aftermath of Hillary Clinton's loss in 2016, Green Party candidate Jill Stein asked for donations to mount a recount in three pivotal states where President Trump won by razor-thin margins. Nearly 161,000 donors sent her a total of more than $7.3 million, and 17 months after Trump was sworn in as president, Stein is still spending that dedicated 2016 recount money, The Daily Beast reports. It isn't entirely clear what she is spending it on, as her campaign hasn't filed a report with the Federal Election Commission since September 2017, but the campaign said on April 20 that it still had $932,178 in its 2016 recount account.

"Ongoing litigation, travel costs, and staff salaries are also likely to eat up whatever is left, meaning those who donated to Stein are unlikely to receive a once-promised chance to vote on how the post-recount money would be spent," writes Charles Davis at The Daily Beast. He runs down the known recount expenditures — mostly filing fees and attorney fees — plus the debatably relevant push to improve voting security for future elections and the legally and ethically questionable expenditures that could be seen as strengthening Stein's campaign.

The opacity is puzzling to sunlight-in-politics groups. "It is strange that they would just stop filing reports given they were a legitimate, professional campaign, and despite still having more than a million dollars in cash on hand," Andrew Mayersohn at the Center for Responsive Politics told The Daily Beast. The FEC is curious, too. "The failure to timely file this report may result in civil money penalties, suspension of matching funds, an audit, or legal enforcement action," the FEC wrote in a May 7 letter to Stein campaign treasurer Steven Welzer, noting pointedly that there is no grace period. Read more about the Stein recount money trail at The Daily Beast. Peter Weber

7:38 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden told NBC News' Lester Holt on Tuesday that since the General Services Administration notified him on Monday that the official transition can begin, the Trump administration has been in touch.

"And I must say the outreach has been sincere — it has not been begrudging so far and I don't expect it to be," Biden added.

Biden told Holt that national security officials "immediately" contacted members of his team, and they are "already working out my ability to get presidential daily briefs, we're already working out meeting with the COVID team in the White House and how to not only distribute but get from a vaccine being distributed to a person able to get vaccinated, so I think we're gonna not be so far behind the curve as we thought might be in the past."

When asked what his message is, Biden responded, "America's back. We're at the head of the table once again. I've spoken to over 20 world leaders, and they all are literally really pleased and somewhat excited America's going to reassert its role in the world and be a coalition builder." He also made it clear that Americans shouldn't expect "a third Obama term," because "we face a totally different world than we faced in the Obama/Biden administration. President Trump has changed the landscape. It's become America first. It's been America alone." Catherine Garcia

6:52 p.m.

President Trump chose Corn over Cob on Tuesday, during the traditional presidential turkey pardoning.

On Twitter, the White House asked people to vote on which turkey should receive the annual pardon, and Corn won by more than seven points. For his part, Cob accepted the results and has not asked for a recount.

The National Turkey Federation first started presenting turkeys to the president during Thanksgiving in 1947, but they were meant for eating, NPR reports. Some presidents decided to pardon the turkeys, and the event was formalized by George H.W. Bush in 1989. Because these turkeys are not wild, they don't usually live long after their pardons, but do spend the time they have left in comfort at Virginia Tech's Gobblers Rest. For those worried about Cob's fate, fear not — the turkey who doesn't get a pardon also gets to settle in at the farm. Catherine Garcia

5:25 p.m.

While President Trump says he will continue to challenge election results, his administration is simultaneously moving full steam ahead with the presidential transition.

The latest development, first reported by CNN, involves the White House granting formal approval for President-elect Joe Biden to receive the President's Daily Brief, a key step in the process. It's not exactly clear when Biden will first be briefed, but it appears it will be in the near future.

Receiving the intelligence briefings, which are prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and contain information on matters of national security, is "typically one of the first rights of a presidential candidate after winning the election," CNN notes. Several lawmakers, including Republicans, have been calling for Biden to have access to the briefs in recent weeks to ensure that he's up to speed when he's sworn in on January 20. Read more at CNN. Tim O'Donnell

4:36 p.m.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Sunday issued an ultimatum to the leaders of the country's northern Tigray region, telling them to surrender to federal forces within 72 hours. If the Tigray People's Liberation Front rejects the warning and holds out, as they say they intend to do, the government's troops will allegedly move to take Tigray's capital city Mekelle by force Wednesday.

But, Al Jazeera reports, even the capture of Tigray may not end the conflict that broke out earlier this month after long simmering tensions. Already, hundreds of people have died and tens of thousands have fled, but "the conflict could evolve," Ahmed Soliman, a research fellow at London think tank, Chatham House, told Al Jazeera. "There is the frightening possibility it could become entrenched," he said. "Both sides are heavily armed and this could lead to a prolonged insurgent warfare."

There is also the concern, Soliman added, that "the conflict could also spill over into neighboring countries."

The United Nations fears major hostilities may soon break out, as well, and U.N. Security Council will hold a meeting Tuesday to discuss the fighting. Read more at Al Jazeera and BBC. Tim O'Donnell

3:56 p.m.

One America News Network is getting a time out on YouTube after violating the platform's policy against COVID-19 misinformation.

The pro-Trump news network has been suspended from posting new videos for a week because it broke YouTube's rules with a video promoting a "phony cure for COVID-19," Axios reports. The video in question was taken down. YouTube doesn't allow videos that claim "there's a guaranteed cure" for the coronavirus.

Additionally, according Axios, One America News was suspended from YouTube's Partner Program and will need to reapply in order to continue monetizing videos. Should One America News earn two more strikes from YouTube, its account would be terminated.

Previously, YouTube faced criticism for not taking action against One America News, especially after it left up a video from the network falsely claiming President Trump won the 2020 election before a winner had been projected. That video remains online, though with a label stating that the race has been called for President-elect Joe Biden. Prior to Biden being projected as the winner, the label said that election "results may not be final." This same label was also added to accurate election videos. Brendan Morrow

2:05 p.m.

Purdue Pharma, which produces on OxyContin, on Tuesday admitted its role in the growth of the United States' opioid epidemic, pleading guilty to a set of criminal charges as part of a settlement with the federal government, The Associated Press reports.

The guilty plea included admissions that the pharmaceutical giant impeded the Drug Enforcement Administration's efforts to combat the opioid crisis. The company admitted it failed to maintain an effective program (despite assuring the DEA otherwise) focused on preventing prescription drugs from making it onto the black market. It provided the agency with misleading information so it could boost manufacturing quotas, and paid doctors through a speakers program as incentive for them to write more painkiller prescriptions.

The company will pay the federal government $225 million in the settlement, which is just a fraction of the $8.3 billion it owes in penalties and forfeitures. Paying the smaller amount is dependent on Purdue executing settlements while moving through bankruptcy court with state and local governments, and other groups that are also suing the company.

Many of the other plaintiffs are unsatisfied with the settlement, AP notes, especially because members of the Sackler family who own Purdue are not facing criminal charges and, despite owing the U.S. government millions and giving up control of the company, will not see their overall wealth affected significantly. Several state attorneys general also oppose Purdue's plans for future settlements, which include transforming into a public benefit corporation that would use its proceeds to address the opioid crisis. Read more at The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

1:55 p.m.

The 2021 Grammy nominations are here, and the Beyhive should be quite satisfied with them.

The nominations for the 63rd Grammy Awards were announced on Tuesday, and Beyoncé scored the most nods of any artist with nine, Variety reports. Taylor Swift, Roddy Ricch, and Dua Lipa also picked up six nominations each.

Beyoncé earned not one but two nominations in the category of Record of the Year, one for "Black Parade" and another for her work on Megan Thee Stallion's "Savage." The former song was also nominated in the categories of Song of the Year, Best R&B Performance, and Best R&B Song, while the latter song was also nominated in the Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song categories. Additionally, Beyoncé is nominated for her film Black is King and her "Brown Skin Girl" music video, as well.

For Album of the Year, the nominees were Jhené Aiko's Chilombo, Black Pumas's Black Pumas, Coldplay's Everyday Life, Jacob Collier's Djesse Vol. 3, Haim's Women In Music Pt. III, Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia, Post Malone's Hollywood’s Bleeding, and Taylor Swift's Folklore. Meanwhile, in addition to "Black Parade" and "Savage," the other Record of the Year nominees were Black Pumas' "Colors," DaBaby's "Rockstar" featuring Roddy Ricch, Doja Cat's "Say So," Billie Eilish's "Everything I Wanted," Dua Lipa's "Don't Start Now," and Post Malone's "Circles."

Beyoncé fared better than expected after not actually having a new album in contention, and one of the other biggest surprises, The Associated Press noted, was that The Weeknd didn't pick up any nominations. This, Variety writes, may "go down as one of the most shocking complete shutouts in modern Grammy history."

The 63rd Grammy Awards, which will be hosted by Trevor Noah, are set for Jan. 31. Read the full list of nominees here. Brendan Morrow

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