December 11, 2018

Who will replace Kevin Hart as host of the 2019 Oscars? Turns out, maybe nobody.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is reportedly "freaking out" after Hart, who was hired to host the awards, relinquished the responsibility, Variety reports. Homophobic tweets of Hart's from years earlier had resurfaced, leading the Academy to tell him he must apologize or he'd be replaced. The group was reportedly hoping he would simply apologize and stay on as host, but Hart instead decided to step down, although he later apologized anyway.

But the Oscars are just two months away, and Variety reports the Academy was "blindsided" by all this and had "no contingency plans in place." The group is reportedly considering a variety of options for how to proceed, including the possibility of just putting on the show without a host. That wouldn't be unprecedented; it last happened in 1989. The idea would be to instead rely on a line-up of different presenters, or as one insider said, "a bunch of huge celebs, something SNL style, and buzzy people." This could include a monologue delivered by a group rather than a single host.

There's still the possibility of an actual host being hired to replace Hart, but the problem is the Academy is now reportedly quite worried about hiring someone who could be too "edgy." Whatever they decide, they better do it fast, as the 2019 Oscars is scheduled to take place on Feb. 24. Brendan Morrow

9:48 a.m.

Democrats have officially unveiled articles of impeachment against President Trump, in the process explaining why they feel it's crucial to do so sooner rather than later.

In a press conference Tuesday announcing the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress articles, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) offered his response to those would argue Congress should wait to impeach the president until it can get the testimony and documents that the White House has been blocking during the inquiry.

"People should understand what that argument really means," Schiff said. "It has taken us eight months to get a lower court ruling that Don McGahn has no absolute right to defy Congress. Eight months for one court decision."

Citing this as one example of how long such court battles can stretch on for, Schiff said, "The argument, 'why don't you just wait' amounts to this: 'why don't you just let him cheat in one more election? Why not let him cheat just one more time?'"

The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on the impeachment articles this week, at which point they would be recommended to the full House of Representatives. Brendan Morrow

9:21 a.m.

House Democrats have announced they will proceed with articles of impeachment against President Trump.

In a Tuesday news conference, Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced his committee was introducing two articles of impeachment against Trump, one for abuse of power and one for obstructing Congress. "We do not take this decision lightly," Nadler said, but continued to say that Trump continually "endangers the Constitution, he endangers our democracy, and he endangers our national security," forcing the Democrats to act.

The six committee chairs leading the impeachment probe all joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on what she called "this solemn day," and she recalled the late Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings' contributions to the impeachment investigation. Then, Nadler laid out the charges against Trump, which notably didn't include the "bribery" allegation Democrats had been using in weeks before.

Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) then explained Trump's "simple and terrible" acts, both of which stemmed from attempt to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. "In so doing he undermined our national security and jeopardized the integrity of our next election," Schiff said, adding that criticisms of the impeachment inquiry as rushed amount to one question: "Why don't you just let him cheat in one more election?"

The House will vote on advancing the articles as early as Wednesday, and with a Democratic majority, it's very likely to pass. The Senate Judiciary Committee will then vote on sending the articles to the whole Senate for a trial. The Senate seems well aware of this possibility, and has left its January calendar completely blank in anticipation. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:01 a.m.

President Trump is again lashing out at an FBI director.

This time, it's FBI Director Christopher Wray, who Trump publicly attacked on Twitter Tuesday morning following the release of the Department of Justice's inspector general report on the FBI's Trump-Russia investigation. The report found no evidence that the investigation was opened under "political bias or improper motivation," though there were some "significant errors" made.

Discussing the findings on Monday, Wray affirmed that "the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization," although he noted there were instances where employees "failed to follow our policies."

Trump, who has insisted the investigation was politically biased, blasted the "current" FBI director in a Tuesday morning tweet, declaring he will "never be able to fix the FBI."

The Washington Post's Aaron Blake observed in response, "Not to read too much into the Trump tweet, but it seems conspicuous that he called Wray the 'current' FBI director?" The tweet immediately drew speculation that Trump may be considering firing Wray.

"Key phrase here is 'he will never be able to fix the FBI,' which sounds a lot like the language in a memo used to fire his predecessor," the Post's Devlin Barrett wrote, referring to former FBI Director James Comey, who Trump fired in 2017. Axios' Jonathan Swan reports Trump officials believe he "can't stomach the trouble of firing another FBI director," but "he would like to." Brendan Morrow

8:11 a.m.

President Trump is hosting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the White House on Tuesday afternoon, in Lavrov's second Oval Office meeting with Trump. Likely topics of conversation include nuclear weapons and, a senior U.S. official said, "the state of the bilateral relationship." The last time Lavrov visited Trump in the Oval Office, Trump had just fired FBI Director James Comey and reportedly bragged that the move relieved pressure on an investigation into his campaign's ties with Russia; he also divulged highly classified intelligence from Israel with Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Americans only learned about the meeting after Russia released photos.

This time, Lavrov's visit comes as House investigators unveil articles of impeachment against Trump tied to his withholding of anti-Russia military aid and a crucial White House visit from Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky at the same time he was asking Zelensky to announce investigations into Trump's Democratic rivals and a baseless conspiracy theory meant to absolve Russia of 2016 election interference. Zelensky still has not been invited to the White House.

"We didn’t pick this date to coincide with the process on Capitol Hill, but we can't allow the zaniness that's taking place on Capitol Hill to impact our job," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the conservative One America News Network on Monday. "We're not going to let that activity distract us from this important work." Peter Weber

8:05 a.m.

President Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Avengers: Endgame produced some of 2019's most notable quotes, according to the editor of the Yale Book of Quotations.

Yale Law School's Fred Shapiro each year compiles a list of most notable quotes as an update to his book first published in 2006. Topping Shapiro's list for 2019, per The Associated Press, is "I would like you to do us a favor, though," said by Trump on his phone call with Ukraine's president that led to the impeachment inquiry.

A quote delivered by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate change activist who spoke at the United Nations in September, came in at number two, reading in part, "How dare you!" Number three was the closing statement of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings during the congressional testimony of Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

"When we're dancing with the angels, the question will be asked: 'In 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact?'" Cummings said. "'Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing?'"

At number four is British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's declaration that he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than ask for another Brexit delay (which he ultimately did), while number five is Britain's Supreme Court's finding that Johnson's suspension of Parliament was "unlawful."

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's statement that he "would have said so" if he was confident Trump "clearly did not commit a crime" was number six, while "I have a plan for that" from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was number seven. Another 2020 Democrat's quote occupies number eight: Biden's gaffe, "Poor kids are just as bright, just as talented, as white kids."

Finally, the list's last two quotes are Emma Watson's description of herself as "self-partnered," and the memorable line from Avengers: Endgame first said by Tony Stark's daughter: "I love you 3000." Read the full quotes at The Associated Press. Brendan Morrow

6:54 a.m.

At least six people are confirmed dead and eight more suspected dead after Monday's eruption of White Volcano, also called Whakaari, a private scenic reserve island about 30 miles off New Zealand's North Island. Police estimate that 47 people, mostly tourists from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Ovation of the Seas, were on the island when the volcano erupted, and about 30 survivors remain hospitalized with serious burns. Some of those hospitalized are not expected to live.

Russell Clark, a paramedic who flew in one of the helicopters trying to rescue survivors from White Island, compared the scene to something out of "the Chernobyl miniseries," telling TVNZ, "Everything was blanketed in ash."

Richard Arculus, an Australian National University volcanologist, told The Associated Press that the eruption probably wouldn't have just sent rock and ask flying into the air, but also blasted out in a vertical ring close to the ground. "In that crater, it would have been a terrible place to be," he said. "There would have been nowhere safe for you to be hiding."

Police say 24 of the people on the island during the eruption were Australian, nine were American, five were from New Zealand, four from Germany, two each from China and Britain, and one person from Malaysia. New Zealand's Deputy Police Commissioner John Tims initially said Tuesday that police were opening a criminal investigation into the deaths apart from health and safety inquiries, but police later said "it is too early to confirm whether there will also be a criminal investigation. Peter Weber

5:39 a.m.

On Friday, President Trump "went on a rant about deregulation," especially "environmental regulations that limit water use in the bathroom," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. And he had a very memorable, very strange example involving prolific toilet-flushing. "People are flushing toilets 15 times?!?" Colbert asked. "What? Are they trying to get rid of a body?" He asked "who in the world needs to flush 15 times," then showed a photo of Trump's diet of choice: "Okay, yeah, that checks out."

"After confirming that he takes huge dumps and doesn't wash his hands," Colbert said, "Trump discussed the big shower in the sky," explaining what rain is.

Yes, Trump "claimed that 'people are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times,'" Seth Meyers said at Late Night. "Apparently it's harder than I thought to get rid of a wedding ring."

Trump's flushing comment "might top all of the things he's said," including "covfefe," Jimmy Kimmel said on Kimmel Live. "Fifteen times?!? What are you eating? The only time you flush a toilet 15 times is if the DEA is banging on your door and you have a kilo of cocaine up you." Apparently, "this is a big issue for anti-regulation conservatives, and Trump is embracing it," he added. "He even has a new campaign slogan: 'Drain the Toilet.'"

"Let's just assume that people are flushing their toilets 10 or 15 times," Jimmy Fallon said at The Tonight Show. "Does that mean that people are telling the president of the United States about their flushing habits, or Trump is asking about them?" Trump went on to attack modern light bulbs for making him look orange, he said, "which means there's a decent chance Trump might not know the difference between a light bulb and a mirror."

The Daily Show's Trevor Noah was more receptive to Trump's concern about lackluster toilets. "If Trump can solve that problem, he's getting four more years," he said, conceding that it's "crazy how Trump had so much more emotion talking about toilets than he does about most tragedies." Watch below. Peter Weber

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