November 9, 2018

There has been some argument over whether President Trump violated the Vacancies Reform Act when he appointed Matt Whitaker acting attorney general, bypassing Senate-confirmed candidates and ignoring the Justice Department's statutory line of succession. But that's beside the point, argue prominent lawyers and Constitution defenders Neal Katyal and George Conway III in a New York Times op-ed published Thursday. Trump's installation of Whitaker "is unconstitutional," they argue. "It's illegal. And it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does, or tries to do, in that position is invalid."

The constitutional issue involves Article II, Section 2, Clause 2, known as the Appointments Clause. "Under that provision, so-called principal officers of the United States must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate under its 'Advice and Consent' powers," explain Katyal, an acting solicitor general under former President Barack Obama, and Conway, a prominent conservative lawyer most famous for being married to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. "A principal officer must be confirmed by the Senate" and answers only to the president. They continue:

We cannot tolerate such an evasion of the Constitution's very explicit, textually precise design. Senate confirmation exists for a simple, and good, reason. Constitutionally, Matthew Whitaker is a nobody. ... Because Mr. Whitaker has not undergone the process of Senate confirmation, there has been no mechanism for scrutinizing whether he has the character and ability to evenhandedly enforce the law in a position of such grave responsibility. The public is entitled to that assurance, especially since Mr. Whitaker's only supervisor is Mr. Trump himself, and the president is hopelessly compromised by the Mueller investigation. That is why adherence to the requirements of the Appointments Clause is so important here, and always. [The New York Times]

On CNN, Jake Tapper's panel looked at the legal arguments but took special interest in Conway's role and the concurrence of Fox News pundits. Watch below, and read the entire op-ed at The New York Times. Peter Weber

11:28 p.m.

Singer Andrea Bocelli shared on his Facebook page Tuesday that he and some members of his family tested positive for coronavirus in March, but were "fortunate enough to have a swift and full recovery recovery" by the end of the month.

Bocelli shared that he had a mild case, and waited to tell fans because he did not want to "unnecessarily alarm" them. Bocelli also said he has donated blood to help researchers find a cure. Last week, Bocelli told The Wall Street Journal he had been infected and had a "fever" and "a little bit of a cough."

For Easter on April 12, Bocelli sang alone inside the Duomo in Milan, with his performance livestreamed on YouTube. He set a record for biggest audience to watch a classical livestream, with more than 2.8 million concurrent viewers at one point. Catherine Garcia

10:40 p.m.

Health officials in Missouri and Kansas are calling on people who packed the Lake of the Ozarks over Memorial Day weekend to go into self-quarantine for 14 days.

Lake of the Ozarks is a popular reservoir in central Missouri, and video posted online showed revelers standing shoulder to shoulder in the water, with most not wearing masks. On Monday night, the St. Louis County Department of Health issued an advisory saying anyone who was there and ignored social distancing guidelines should self-isolate for 14 days or until they test negative for coronavirus. On Tuesday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment made the same recommendation.

"This reckless behavior endangers countless people and risks setting us back substantially from the progress we have made in slowing the spread of COVID-19," St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said in a statement. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) said during a press conference on Tuesday that "poor decisions were made and the social distancing was not followed," which is "potentially dangerous for everyone, especially our most at-risk individuals."

As of Tuesday evening, there are 12,291 confirmed coronavirus cases in Missouri, a 1.3 percent rise over the last 24 hours and an 8.3 percent increase over the last week, ABC News reports. Catherine Garcia

9:05 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that President Trump is "supposed to lead by example" when it comes to wearing a mask and social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, but has failed at both those things and keeping the death toll down.

The United States is close to reaching the grim milestone of 100,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths. During an interview with CNN's Dana Bash, Biden said it is as important as ever to stay safe by social distancing and wearing a face covering, as the COVID-19 threat is "not over."

Biden then appeared to reference a recent report by Columbia University researchers, who found that if federal social distancing measures had been enacted nationwide just one week earlier in March, about 36,000 coronavirus deaths would have been prevented, with even more lives saved if they were released on March 1. The first imported case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was reported on Jan. 20, with community transmission following a few weeks later.

"One hundred thousand deaths and at least 35,000 to 50,000 were avoidable, but for a lack of attention and ego," Biden said. Catherine Garcia

8:38 p.m.

President Trump on Tuesday night accused Twitter of "interfering" in the 2020 presidential election after the company attached a fact check to two of his tweets that made false claims about mail-in ballots.

Trump declared that mail-in ballots are fraudulent, which led Twitter to include links in the tweets redirecting users to a page with facts on the issue. This was the first time Twitter has labeled Trump's tweets as being misleading, and he was quick to respond, claiming that the company is "completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!"

Twitter did not delete any of his tweets, despite calls to do so by people directly affected by his messages, nor did the company ban his account. In a statement, a Twitter spokesperson said his tweets "contain potentially misleading information about the voting process and have been labeled to provide additional context." Trump dismissed Twitter's fact checking, saying the research was conducted by "Fake News CNN and the Amazon Washington Post." Catherine Garcia

7:45 p.m.

Twitter on Tuesday labeled two of President Trump's tweets about mail-in ballots as being misleading, the first time the company has tagged false claims he has made on the platform.

The tweets, which incorrectly declared that mail-in ballots are fraudulent, now have labels that say, "Get the facts about mail-in ballots." The links redirect users to a fact-check page with articles about the matter. A Twitter spokesperson said Trump's tweets "contain potentially misleading information about the voting process and have been labeled to provide additional context."

Brad Parscale, Trump's campaign manager, said in a statement his team "always knew that Silicon Valley would pull out all the stops to obstruct and interfere with President Trump getting his message through to voters."

Trump has long faced criticism for spreading falsehoods on Twitter, and over the last few days has used the platform to insult several Democratic lawmakers and spread a conspiracy theory about Lisa Klausutis, a woman who died while working for Joe Scarborough when he was a member of Congress. On Tuesday, Klausutis' widower asked Twitter to delete Trump's tweets, saying he has "struggled to move forward with my life" because of the "barrage of falsehoods, half-truths, innuendo, and conspiracy theories" about his wife's death. Catherine Garcia

6:33 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday fired back at President Trump for sharing a tweet that mocked Biden for wearing a mask during a Memorial Day event, calling him an "absolute fool."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that people wear masks to slow the spread of coronavirus, but Trump has opted out of publicly wearing a face covering during visits to factories, despite the companies requiring masks for the safety of their employees. This is irresponsible, Biden told CNN's Dana Bash, and Trump's refusal to listen to health experts is "costing people's lives." Presidents, Biden added, "are supposed to lead, not engage in folly and be falsely masculine." Catherine Garcia

6:08 p.m.

After coming under fire for wearing blackface in an old Saturday Night Live sketch, Jimmy Fallon has issued an apology.

The Tonight Show host this week became a trending Twitter topic when a clip resurfaced of him wearing blackface while playing Chris Rock on SNL in 2000. In a tweet on Tuesday afternoon, Fallon apologized, saying "there is no excuse" for wearing blackface and that he is "very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive" and "terrible" decision to do so.

Fallon had faced criticism over the old sketch prior to this week's controversy, with Nick Cannon previously blasting not just Fallon, but also Jimmy Kimmel and Sarah Silverman, who also wore blackface in old sketches. Silverman disclosed last year that she had recently been fired from a movie for wearing blackface on her show in 2007, at the time saying she's "not that person anymore." Brendan Morrow

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