August 14, 2018

Christine Hallquist, a former electric company executive, defeated three other candidates to win Vermont's Democratic primary in the race for governor.

With her victory on Tuesday night, Hallquist becomes the first transgender candidate to win a major political party's nomination for governor. In November, she will face Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who also won his party's primary on Tuesday.

Hallquist, 62, considers herself a progressive, and in an interview with CBS News earlier in the day she said that "Vermonters are going to elect me for what I'm going to do for Vermont. Vermont has always been a leader in civil rights. We have some of the best transgender protection laws in the country. It's a state that's really welcomed me with open arms." Catherine Garcia


President Trump has your new go-to excuse for getting out of dreary mandatory functions: Blame it on the Secret Service.

On Saturday, Trump was scheduled to appear at an American cemetery in France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. But when a "light steady rain" persisted just outside Paris, per Reuters, the White House said Trump would skip out "due to scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather."

The change of plans inspired trolling from even the French army, and dredged up Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's rain-soaked 2017 speech honoring WWI troops who endured much more than wet suits and hair. "On that day ... the rain wasn't rain, it was bullets," Trudeau said. Three days later, a seemingly defensive Trump still hadn't let it go.

Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Emmanuel Macron all managed to make it to Saturday ceremonies throughout France. And somehow, Chief of Staff John Kelly made it to the cemetery visit Trump missed, the White House statement said.

Trump did ditch his umbrella for a cemetery visit in France the next day — where he complained about the weather. But when he returned to the U.S. on Monday, Trump didn't make a traditional Veterans Day appearance at Arlington National Cemetery. And as France's U.S. Embassy displayed in a tweet, the weather was perfect. Kathryn Krawczyk


About 200 of the firefighters battling California's deadly Camp Fire are inmates, a local ABC affiliate reports, who have joined a volunteer firefighting program through the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The inmate firefighters earn $2 per day plus $1 per hour for their work, which is well above average for prison wages in the state. They can also receive time off their sentences. Previous blazes have seen far larger groups of inmates at work; around 2,000 participated in efforts to stop the Mendocino Complex Fire earlier this year.

Despite the training and experience inmates accrue through the firefighting program, they likely will not be able to become firefighters upon release. California firefighters are required to be licensed emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and EMT licensure can be blocked for anyone with a criminal record.

"The persistent, horrific wildfires year after year make this human rights issue even more pressing for the men and women fighting these fires every day who cannot do so once released," Katherine Katcher of Root and Rebound, which works on prison re-entry issues in California, told Reason. The state's licensing rules, Katcher said, "shut people out of living wage careers that they are trained and qualified for solely because of old, expunged, and irrelevant convictions." Bonnie Kristian


CNN will press charges over a press pass.

After the White House suspended CNN reporter Jim Acosta's press credentials last week, the news network filed a lawsuit Tuesday, arguing that Acosta's First and Fifth Amendment rights are being violated, CNN reports.

There are six defendants in the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.: President Trump, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Bill Shine, Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy, and an unnamed Secret Service officer who took away Acosta's pass.

Acosta's access was suspended after he would not give over the microphone to a White House intern while attempting to ask Trump a follow-up question at a press conference. The White House subsequently claimed that Acosta was being suspended because he "[placed] his hands on a young woman," releasing a deceptively sped-up video as proof. Counselor Kellyanne Conway defended this decision Sunday. "You have to show respect to the White House, to the presidency certainly, to the president," she said.

The network is seeking a preliminary injunction so that Acosta's pass can be returned, as well as a ruling that Trump can not take such actions in the future. "If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials," CNN said. Brendan Morrow


A 26-year-old security guard at Manny's Blue Room in suburban Chicago apprehended a gunman who had opened fire in the bar early Monday, but when police arrived, they shot the guard, Jemel Roberson, who is black. He was the only one killed in the incident, though four other people were injured. "Everybody was screaming out, 'He was a security guard,' and they basically saw a black man with a gun and killed him," witness Adam Harris told Chicago's WGN.

Manny's is in Robbins, Illinois, but police from neighboring suburbs responded to the call about shots fired at the bar. It was an officer from the Midlothian Police Department who fatally shot Roberson. Illinois State Police will investigate the killing. Midlothian Police Chief Daniel Delaney did not say whether the officer who shot Roberson has been placed on administrative leave. Roberson had a valid permit to own a gun.

Roberson grew up in Wicker Park, he played the organ at several local churches, and he was studying to become a police officer. He is at least the 840th person shot and killed by a police officer in the U.S. this year, by The Washington Post's count, and one of 181 — or 22 percent — who were black. The U.S. is about 13 percent African American. Peter Weber


The results of Georgia's tight gubernatorial election were expected to be certified tomorrow, but the state — and the country — will have to wait a few more days.

A federal judge has ordered Georgia Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden to hold off on certifying the results until at least the evening of Friday, Nov. 16, The New York Times reports. Republican Brian Kemp leads Democrat Stacey Abrams in the closely-watched race with just 50.3 percent of the vote. If his lead drops below 50 percent, a runoff election will be held in December.

The delay would give the state a few more days to review the 27,000 provisional ballots cast this year, with Judge Amy Totenberg ordering counties to ensure provisional ballots are not improperly rejected, The Wall Street Journal reports. Totenberg also ordered the state to set up a hotline voters can call to ensure their provisional ballot is counted, or to find out why it was rejected.

Kemp leads by more than 50,000 votes, but Abrams has refused to concede. She would need to gain about 21,000 votes for a runoff to be triggered, per The New York Times. Brendan Morrow


President Trump's appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general is already facing a legal challenge.

The state of Maryland is preparing to ask a federal judge to declare Whitaker's appointment illegal. This would mean Rod Rosenstein would be declared the legitimate acting attorney general, The New York Times reports. Plaintiffs argue Trump cannot "bypass the constitutional and statutory requirements for appointing someone to that office," and they are seeking an injunction.

Critics have taken issue with the fact that Whitaker did not receive Senate confirmation before being appointed as Jeff Sessions' replacement at the Justice Department. Others have argued it's constitutional for Trump to fill Sessions' role with someone who was not confirmed by the Senate, so long as it's on a temporary basis. Whitaker has been an outspoken critic of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and many have called for Whitaker to recuse himself from that investigation.

The court challenge is part of an unrelated Affordable Care Act lawsuit brought by the Maryland attorney general in which Sessions is named. The judge, Ellen L. Hollander, needs to replace Sessions as a defendant with his successor, which requires her to determine whether Whitaker is actually Sessions' legal successor, the Times reports.

If the judge rules Whitaker's appointment is illegal, the case would likely head to the Supreme Court, per NBC News. Brendan Morrow


Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) jumped into the GOP pile-on of Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes on Monday, tweeting that "there is no question ... Snipes failed to comply with Florida law on multiple counts." Snipes, first appointed by Bush, has made some errors, but state law enforcement and election officials have found no evidence of illegal behavior by Snipes, and on Monday a judge ruled against Gov. Rick Scott's (R) motion to impound the voting equipment in heavily Democratic Broward County.

In heavily Republican Bay County, however, election supervisor Mark Andersen acknowledged Monday that he had allowed some voters to cast their ballots over email, which is not allowed under state law.

Bay County was hit hard by Hurricane Michael on Oct. 10, and Scott issued an executive order on Oct. 18 extending early voting and expanding more voting locations in the eight affected counties. His order, The Associated Press reports, explicitly prohibited votes being returned by email or fax. Andersen defended his decision to let 150 people scan their ballots and email them in, telling NBC affiliate WJHG/WECP, "If you want to turn around and take away these votes away from voters because it's not the normal prescribed issue, I would just say you ought to be ashamed of yourself because what we did is take care of voters."

Democrat Andrew Gillum, whose race against Republican Ron DeSantis is being recounted, was not moved. "These are the stories that we know," he said Monday evening. "Imagine the ones that we don't." Democrats have filed their own lawsuits, including one by Sen. Bill Nelson (D) seeking to force the counting of mail-in ballots postmarked before Election Day but not delivered in time. You can learn more about the election results from MSNBC's Steve Kornacki and about the lawsuits and the recount below in Ari Melber's report Monday night from Broward County. Peter Weber

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