December 6, 2018

About a month after ousting former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, President Trump appears to have found his replacement.

William Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush from 1991 to 1993, is Trump's leading candidate for the job, The Washington Post reports. Two sources told the Post that Trump has told his advisers he will nominate Barr, while others said Barr is just the leading candidate but a decision isn't final.

Trump was apparently advised that Barr would be a solid pick because he has the experience and "a bluntness that is likely to resonate with the president." If Trump doesn't end up going with Barr, someone else he's reportedly been considering is Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas). Trump is expected to make the announcement in the coming days.

Sessions was replaced by Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, a controversial choice considering he was not Senate confirmed and had publicly spoken out against Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, which he now oversees.

Unlike Whitaker, Barr has not spoken much about the Russia investigation specifically, although he did offer criticism when it was reported that some members of Mueller's team had donated to Democrats, calling for more "balance." Barr also argued in a Washington Post op-ed that Trump was right to fire former FBI Director James Comey, seeming skeptical of the idea that Trump did so because of the Russia investigation. "Comey's removal simply has no relevance to the integrity of the Russian investigation as it moves ahead," he said. Barr also told The New York Times in 2017 there's more basis to investigate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the uranium deal she approved in 2010 than there is to investigate Trump over potential Russia collusion. Brendan Morrow

12:54 a.m.

The Marine Corps on Wednesday confirmed the suspicions of three historians who believed that one of the six men in the famed photo of a U.S. flag being raised over Iwo Jima had been misidentified.

One of the most recognizable photos from World War II, the picture earned Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal a Pulitzer Prize. It was snapped during the second flag raising on Mount Suribachi — the first flag was deemed too small, and a larger one was put up a few hours later.

Historians Stephen Foley, Dustin Spence, and Brent Westemeyer studied film footage and pictures taken by soldiers on Iwo Jima, and decided that the person identified in the famous photo as Pfc. Rene Gagnon was actually Cpl. Harold "Pie" Keller, a Purple Heart recipient from Iowa. The Marine Corps told NBC News on Wednesday that investigators from the FBI's Digital Evidence Laboratory have concluded that the historians were correct.

The Marine Corps said in a statement Gagnon was responsible for "returning the first flag for safe keeping," and regardless of who appears in the photograph, "each and every Marine who set foot on Iwo Jima, or supported the effort from the sea and air around the island is, and always will be, a part of our Corps' cherished history." Keller's daughter Kay Maurer told NBC News the family was shocked to learn he was in the picture, as her father "never spoke about any of this when we were growing up." Both Keller and Gagnon died in 1979. Catherine Garcia

12:28 a.m.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry led the U.S. delegation to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's inauguration in May. In a subsequent May 23 meeting in the White House, President Trump said he wouldn't agree to meet Zelensky until the Ukrainians "straightened up their act," Perry told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, adding that he later understood Trump to be referring to concerns about his 2016 presidential campaign. In order to resolve those concerns, Perry said, Trump told him to "visit with Rudy," meaning Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Perry says he agreed to call Giuliani in the hopes it would ease the way for Trump to meet with Zelensky. "And as I recall the conversation, he said, 'Look, the president is really concerned that there are people in Ukraine that tried to beat him during this presidential election,'" Perry told the Journal. "Rudy didn't say they gotta do X, Y, and Z," he added. "He just said, 'You want to know why he ain't comfortable about letting this guy come in? Here's the reason.'"

Those reasons, Perry recalled, involved three conspiracy theories: That Ukraine was responsible for former British spy Christopher Steele's dossier on Trump; that Ukraine had Hillary Clinton's email server; and that Ukrainian's "dreamed up" evidence that led to Paul Manafort's conviction and imprisonment.

Trump's former homeland security adviser, Thomas Bossert, said last month he was "deeply frustrated" that Giuliani had poisoned Trump's mind with those "completely debunked" conspiracy theories. Perry had a more detached response. "I don't know whether that was crap or what," he said, "but I'm just saying there were three things that he said. That's the reason the president doesn't trust these guys."

Trump finally called Zelensky on July 25, and their conversation — specifically Trump's request that Zelensky investigate Joe Biden and his son — led to a whistleblower complaint and a House impeachment inquiry. In that inquiry, several diplomats have expressed concerns about Giuliani's shadow diplomacy in Ukraine on behalf of Trump and possibly other clients. Federal prosecutors in New York are also reportedly investigating Giuliani's Ukraine business dealings. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Peter Weber

12:01 a.m.

More than 30,000 Chicago Public Schools teachers and support staff will go on strike Thursday, after the unions were unable to reach a deal with the district.

"We have not achieved what we need to bring justice and high quality schools to the children and teachers of Chicago," Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said Wednesday night. "We need to have the tools we need to do the job at our schools. We need pay and benefits that will give us dignity and respect. We are on strike until we can do better." In response to the strike, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that at "every turn, we bent over backwards to meet the unions' needs."

About 300,000 students attend Chicago's public schools; Lightfoot canceled classes for Thursday, but said administrators will be at all schools in case kids need a safe place to go. Negotiations will start again on Thursday. Chicago has the United States' third-largest school district. Catherine Garcia

October 16, 2019

Well, that backfired.

After an explosive meeting on Wednesday afternoon between President Trump and Democratic leaders — which included Trump insulting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democrats walking out — the president decided to unwind by continuing the fight on Twitter. He posted several photos from the meeting, including one showing Pelosi standing and pointing at a sitting Trump. "Nervous Nancy's unhinged meltdown!" he captioned the picture.

Trump may have thought this was a sick burn, but most of the comments under the picture were not favorable. Some people told him he was the one who appeared nervous, and others pointed out that several of his advisers looked like they would rather be anywhere else in the universe than in that room. As for Pelosi, she's a big fan of the photo that literally shows her standing up to the president — it's now her Twitter banner. Catherine Garcia

October 16, 2019

During a closed-door lunch on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told his fellow GOP senators an impeachment trial of President Trump could start as early as November.

McConnell explained what would take place during a Senate trial, held after the House voted on formal impeachment charges, and answered questions alongside Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). McConnell also shared that the pacing of the trial would depend on Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who would preside over it. "There's sort of a planned expectation that it would be sometime around Thanksgiving, so you'd have basically Thanksgiving to Christmas — which would be wonderful because there's no deadline in the world like the next break to motivate senators," Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) told The Washington Post.

The House impeachment inquiry was launched on Sept. 24 by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), sparked by a whistleblower's complaint about Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Catherine Garcia

October 16, 2019

The U.S. military conducted an airstrike on Wednesday against the base in Syria it used to train and equip Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State.

Col. Myles Caggins, spokesman for the coalition to defeat ISIS, announced that two planes bombed the base, destroying, among other things, facilities used to store ammunition. The goal was to "reduce the facility's military usefulness," he said, and the airstrike was "successful."

On Tuesday, Turkish-backed militia members started approaching the base, and the U.S. military used Apache helicopters and F-15 fighter jets to keep them from getting closer, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Kurds set fire to their part of the base and left, Caggins said, and the U.S. military then pulled its forces out of the facility. The "precision airstrike" was carried out before the Turkish-backed fighters could gain control of the base. Catherine Garcia

October 16, 2019

On Thursday, California will make MyShake, a smartphone app that sends out early earthquake warning alerts, available to all residents.

This app is the first of its kind, the Los Angeles Times reports, and is being released on the 30th anniversary of the deadly Loma Prieta earthquake that hit San Francisco. The state will also begin issuing early warnings through the Wireless Emergency Alert system, sending text messages to people, whether or not they have the app.

Funded by the California Office of Emergency Services and developed at the University of California, Berkeley, MyShake uses sensors throughout the state to detect when an earthquake is beginning, then calculates the intensity and location. Alerts are then pushed out if the earthquake is expected to have a magnitude of 4.5 or greater. Catherine Garcia

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