November 8, 2018

GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp has resigned as Georgia's secretary of state, he announced Thursday.

As the state's top election official, Kemp faced pressure to step down as he took on Democrat Stacey Abrams in Georgia's too-close-to-call gubernatorial race. But he remained in office through Election Day, only leaving to move forward with the gubernatorial transition, The Washington Post writes, since he has declared victory in the still-contested race.

Kemp's recent tenure was plagued with allegations of voter suppression, especially against minority voters. An investigation by The Associated Press showed Kemp had "purged" 1.4 million voters' registrations since 2012, and a follow-up lawsuit alleged that Kemp's "exact match" policy prevented thousands of voters from re-registering. Judges eventually ruled to halt Kemp's policy, restoring 53,000 Georgians' rights to vote. Still, critics said Kemp's oversight of his own election was fishy even without suppression allegations.

The race still hasn't been called, and Abrams has said the number of still-uncounted votes should lead to a December runoff, reports AP. Kemp's resignation is effective at 11:59 a.m. Thursday. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:52 p.m.

Deutsche Bank has been under a lot of scrutiny recently, mostly due to its role as the primary lender to President Trump. But it turns out the bank also has a questionable history in China, The New York Times, along with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, reports.

Beginning nearly two decades ago, Duetsche Bank, while seeking to make inroads in China, conducted a campaign that involved enriching Beijing's elite in exchange for contracts. This included some lavish gifts for the country's former president and premier and millions of dollars paid to Chinese consultants. It also meant that the bank hired more than 100 relatives of the country's political elite, even if they were unqualified.

For example, a man named Ma Weiji was considered "one of the worst candidates" for the job he applied for with the bank, but he was brought on anyway in 2007, likely because his parents were senior executives at state-owned companies. Ma reportedly then secured meetings for Deutsche Bank with his parents' companies.

In another instance, China's former propaganda minister's son was up for a gig. One Deutsche Bank employee wrote in an email that the son "cannot meet our standard," but — you guessed it — he was offered the job, anyway. The same goes for another candidate who was deemed unqualified, but happened to be the daughter of Li Zhanshu, who is now a top member of the Politburo Standing Committee. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

12:18 p.m.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is ready to cross the aisle.

Graham, normally a loyal supporter, has been one of the leading critics of President Trump's decision to remove U.S. troops from northern Syria, which — as many predicted — led to Turkey invading the region, placing the U.S.'s Kurdish allies in danger.

Graham can't reverse the Turkish incursion at this point, but he is rallying support to impose sanctions on Turkey for its actions, and he's ready to work with Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), to get the job done quickly.

Despite the negative reaction to his decision-making, Trump also appears to be on board after warning Turkey not to cross him following the U.S. withdrawal. Tim O'Donnell

Update: Pelosi later announced that she and Graham agreed to a "joint resolution to overturn the President's dangerous decision in Syria immediately."

11:33 a.m.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) is running for president again — at least in Anthony Scaramucci's dreams.

The famously short-lived White House communications director has since turned on the president who appointed him, and has publicly said he's trying to knock President Trump off the 2020 ticket. Now, it seems Scaramucci has decided on his dream candidate, and has launched a website and line of T-shirts to persuade him to run.

Scaramucci started making his support for Romney known earlier this month, tweeting a poll that showed the 2012 GOP nominee beating the presumptive 2020 nominee in a hypothetical primary. He then revealed last week he'd launched Mitt2020.org, and on Sunday night, showed off that the site was offering "commit to Mitt" campaign T-shirts. They are being sold at $20.20 each to "test demand," and so far Scaramucci has seen an "overwhelming" response, he told ABC News.

While Romney hasn't even hinted at granting Scaramucci's wishes, the "Mitt Happens" shirt is sure to be a collector's item in a few years. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:16 a.m.

Disney just announced the entire library of movies and TV shows coming to its streaming service, and, well, they can't all be classics.

With less than a month to go until Disney+ officially launches, the streaming service's official Twitter account Monday morning fired off a massive tweetstorm over several hours revealing virtually every movie and TV show coming to the platform on Nov. 12, one by one. This included tons of all-time classic films like Star Wars, The Lion King, and Toy Story.

It also included movies that definitely sound made up, including The Biscuit Eater, Fuzzbucket, The Cat From Outer Space, The Shaggy D.A., and Sultan and the Rock Star among many others. Nearly every family-friendly Disney film looks set to come to the service, regardless of how weird and forgettable, and the result is one heck of a strange collection. Disney+ may ultimately not only offer the opportunity to watch some of the biggest blockbusters of all time but also revisit childhood movies you previously assumed were just weird dreams.

Still, the thread confirmed some omissions. Not every Marvel Cinematic Universe film will be available at launch, with The Avengers and Captain America: Civil War among those missing. The two most recent Star Wars films also won't be available at first, though they'll be added at a later date.

The most notable television addition is probably The Simpsons, every episode of which will be made available thanks to Disney's recent acquisition of Fox, not to mention the 1992 X-Men animated series. And with reboots of properties like Home Alone and Lizzie McGuire already announced for Disney+, one can only assume Sultan and the Rock Star: The Next Generation can't be far away. Look out, Netflix. Brendan Morrow

11:11 a.m.

The first White House official to be deposed by House investigators in the impeachment saga is heading to Capitol Hill on Monday to testify about Ukraine.

The testimony from Fiona Hill, President Trump's former top Russia and Europe adviser, is reportedly highly anticipated, and although she may limit answers regarding any direct interactions with President Trump, she is expected to hit a few important notes, a personal familiar with Hill's account told The New York Times.

Hill will reportedly testify that she and other officials opposed the removal of former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, that she objected to a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and that she was cut out of the loop by Trump allies like former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on matters concerning Ukraine even though she was Trump's leading adviser on the country.

Hill reportedly considered Yovanovitch's removal an "egregious abuse of the system," and she didn't get why Trump was hopping on the phone with Zelensky for a "congratulatory" call months after a similar conversation. Hill left her post a few days before the phone call, which wound up being the catalyst for Trump's impeachment inquiry. As for Giuliani, Hill reportedly viewed his activities as "essentially co-opting American foreign policy toward Ukraine."

The testimony reportedly will not include anything about a quid pro quo involving Trump withholding military aid for Ukraine until Kyiv investigated former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Read more at The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Tim O'Donnell

10:32 a.m.

Impeachment has President Trump more hooked on Twitter than ever before.

In the week before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) officially launched an impeachment inquiry into the president, he was still pretty addicted to social media, tweeting an average of 18 times per day. But the start of the inquiry has led Trump to double his tweet time, sending an average of 36 tweets a day, The Washington Post reports.

Trump set the single-day tweeting record of his presidency just five days after the impeachment inquiry began, suggesting across 48 tweets and retweets on Sept. 29 that his impeachment would cause a "civil war" and attacking Fox & Friends host Ed Henry 18 times. He then set another record last Friday, hitting "59 total tweets, including 33 in just 20 minutes," The Post writes. That included the announcement that Kevin McAleenan was leaving his spot as acting homeland security secretary.

Trump's tweet storm has coincided with another devastating new fact: He's now averaging more false claims per day than ever before. Throughout his presidency, Trump has averaged 14 false claims per day, with a graph from the Post showing the daily total has consistently increased as he approaches his 1,000th day in office. In fact, over the past 65 days, Trump has relayed an average of 22 false claims per day, per the Post. That's largely thanks to Trump's phone call with Ukraine's presidency and all the ways he's tried to cover it up in the weeks since. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:03 a.m.

NBC News' war with Ronan Farrow just keeps escalating.

Farrow's new book Catch and Kill hits stores Tuesday after a week of excerpts revealing some of the most damning allegations against the network, including that it paid settlements to Matt Lauer accusers years before his firing and that Harvey Weinstein may have pressured it to kill Farrow's investigation into his alleged sexual abuse using dirt about Lauer. Farrow's investigation into Weinstein was originally intended for NBC News, but he ultimately had to take it to The New Yorker.

Now, NBC News President Noah Oppenheim is out with a forceful response to Farrow's allegations, in an email accusing him of pushing conspiracy theories and smears.

"Farrow's effort to defame NBC News is clearly motivated not by a pursuit of truth, but an axe to grind," Oppenheim writes in the email, per journalist Yashar Ali. "It is built on a series of distortions, confused timelines, and outright inaccuracies."

Oppenheim refutes Farrow's reporting that settlements were made to Lauer accusers before his 2017 firing, writing "there is no evidence of any reports of Lauer's misconduct before his firing, no settlements, no 'hush money' — no way we have found that NBC's current leadership could have been aware of his misdeeds in the past." He also refers to the suggestion that Farrow's Weinstein report may have been killed because Weinstein had dirt on Lauer as a "conspiracy theory."

"We have no secrets and nothing to hide," Oppenheim writes.

Farrow has continued to stand by his reporting amid criticism from NBC, telling Good Morning America on Friday it's "indisputable based on the evidence in this book that there was a chain of secret settlements at this company that were covered up ... this was a pattern." Brendan Morrow

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