December 11, 2018

It looks like White House Chief of Staff John Kelly might stay in the role a bit longer than expected.

White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway told Fox News Tuesday that Kelly will remain in the White House until "at least" Jan. 2, reports The Washington Post. President Trump specifically said that Kelly would be leaving by the end of the year, but that was before Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, decided to turn down the job and leave Washington entirely. The New York Times reported that Ayers was Trump's only real choice to replace Kelly and that he had no back-up plan.

When asked whether Kelly might stick around beyond Jan. 2, Conway suggested that's a possibility. "That's up to the president and that's up to the chief of staff, General John Kelly, certainly," she told Fox News. But there will be "a very peaceful and pragmatic transition" to whomever Trump chooses, Conway said. Trump on Tuesday insisted that "many" people want the chief of staff job but said that he's in "no rush" to find his replacement, per The Hill. Brendan Morrow

6:43 a.m.

Leon Black, the chairman and chief executive of private equity giant Apollo Global Management, told investors Monday he will step down as CEO "on or before my 70th birthday in July," after an independent review revealed that he paid disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein $158 million over a five-year period ending in 2017. The amount Black paid Epstein, who killed himself in jail in 2019 while awaiting trial on child sex-trafficking charges, was larger than expected. Black will stay on as chairman.

Apollo's board had ordered the inquiry at Black's request in October, after The New York Times reported he paid Epstein at least $75 million, bringing unwelcome scrutiny to the company. The review, conducted by the law firm Dechert LLP, found no evidence that Black had participated in any of Epstein's criminal activities or been introduced by Epstein to any underage girls. Black viewed Epstein as a "confirmed bachelor with eclectic tastes," the report found, and believed he deserved a second chance and had "served his time" after pleading guilty to a prostitution charge with a teenage girl in 2008.

The review also found that Epstein had provided "legitimate advice" to Black that resulted in tax savings of between $1 billion and $2 billion. Black's personal fortune is estimated at more than $8 billion, the Times reports. Monday's report said Black plans to donate $200 million to charities that fight sex trafficking and support women's causes.

Black confounded Apollo with two younger partners, Marc Rowan and Joshua Harris, in the early 1990s from the ashes of notorious junk bond financier Michael Milken's investment bank Drexel Burnham Lambert. In an unexpected move, the semi-retired Rowan will take over as CEO when Black steps down. Harris had urged Black to resign immediately in a series of meetings Sunday, arguing that his poor judgment in consorting with Epstein and funding his depraved lifestyle posed an urgent risk to Apollo's reputation, the Times reports. Peter Weber

5:08 a.m.

"It is so exciting that we can finally stop spending all our time talking about Donald Trump's presidency," Trevor Noah said on Monday's Daily Show. "Yes, instead we get to talk about cleaning up the mess from Donald Trump's presidency," starting with his looming second impeachment trial. He made fun of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) "erection" gaffe — "I knew the Democrats were horny for Trump's impeachment, but that was ridiculous" — and mocked Senate Republicans for trying to avoid voting in Trump's trial by glomming on to a possible technicality.

Yes, "more and more Republican senators seem to be rallying the defense that conviction is unnecessary since Trump is already out of office," James Corden said at The Late Late Show. "I mean, sure, his supporters were looking for some of you with torches and pitchforks, but come on, that was like three weeks ago! Republican senators are the reason why there've been nine Nightmare on Elm Street movies."

Not everyone is getting off as easy as Trump, he added. "The company that makes Dominion voting machines is suing Rudy Giuliani over all of the false election claims that he made, and they're asking for $1.3 billion. ... Rudy's lies on behalf of Donald Trump could cost him more than $1 billion. But hey, at least he'll always have his dignity."

Yes, "the folks at Dominion are now suing Rudy for $1.3 billion — billion," Jimmy Kimmel said at Kimmel Live. "They are suing his pants off — although to be fair, Borat's daughter already had them halfway there."

"It's funny, if you sue someone for a billion dollars, it sounds like a joke — but when you sue them for $1.3 billion, you start to think, 'Oh, they might have some evidence,'" Seth Meyers joked at Late Night. "And $1.3 billion from Rudy? Good thing vampires are immortal, because he'll have to work the rest of his life to pay that off."

Stephen Colbert had some other suggestions for Giuliani at The Late Show, and he was underwhelmed with the GOP's new anti-impeachment argument. "So you just want to let him get off scot free for insurrection because he's no longer in power? That's like acquitting Jeffrey Dahmer because he's full." He explained the new evidence from the Justice Department that makes Trump's conviction more urgent, and he noted Dr. Anthony Fauci's liberation.

The Late Show also explored the depths of Fauci's new freedom. Peter Weber

2:14 a.m.

The new Biden administration has yet not disclosed the secrets of Area 51 or explained what the Air Force really knows about UFOs, but it did clarify, at least, the mystery of the vanished "Diet Coke button" former President Donald Trump would use to summon refreshments in the Oval Office. The usher button, as it is formally known, is not gone, even if it is no longer used to summon Diet Cokes, a White House official tells Politico.

The White House official "unfortunately wouldn't say what Biden will use the button for," Politico's Daniel Lippman writes, suggesting Biden might summon Orange Gatorade and not the obvious answer, ice cream — or, let's get real, coffee. What's more, there are evidently two usher buttons in the Oval Office, one at the Resolute Desk and the other next to the chair by the fireplace, a former White House official told Politico, adding that Trump didn't actually use the Diet Coke button all that much because "he would usually just verbally ask the valets, who were around all day, for what he needed."

In any case, it is not the placement of the button that matters, of course, but how you use it. And Biden will presumably know better than to order ice cream treats during a top-secret national security briefing. Peter Weber

2:03 a.m.

At 6 p.m. on the dot, they start to appear on their front lawns, ready to belt out everything from "God Bless America" to "Baby Shark."

In this Minneapolis neighborhood, residents have been participating in nightly singalongs since the beginning of the pandemic. Each family is a safe distance apart, as no one leaves their yard. They have a 200-song repertoire, and neighbor David O'Fallon told the Star Tribune they gather "rain, shine, or meteor shower."

About 20 people — ranging in age from 2 to 80-something — usually join the chorus. Over the last 300 or so nights, they have become closer, despite the physical distance. "We know each other better now," O'Fallon said. "We are stronger as a small community. We lift each other's spirit." Catherine Garcia

1:34 a.m.

For the third night in a row, riots broke out in the Netherlands on Monday as people angry over a new COVID-19 curfew clashed with police.

For the first time since World War II, the Netherlands has a curfew in place, from 9 p.m.to 4:30 a.m.; violators face a $115 fine. In The Hague on Monday night, groups of men threw rocks and fireworks at police officers, with some also setting fires, BBC News reports. In Rotterdam, after the crowd did not disperse, law enforcement fired warning shots and tear gas. More than 150 people were arrested across the country in connection with the riots.

The situation was worse on Sunday, when more than 250 people were arrested; Dutch police said they witnessed the worst unrest they've seen in 40 years. Prime Minister Mark Rutte condemned the rioting, saying it is "unacceptable. All normal people will regard this with horror. What motivated these people has nothing to do with protesting, it's criminal violence and we will treat it as such."

To try to combat the coronavirus pandemic, bars and restaurants have been shuttered in the Netherlands since October, and non-essential stores and schools closed in December. The country has reported almost 1 million COVID-19 cases and more than 13,500 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus database. Catherine Garcia

1:17 a.m.

At least one person was killed and five more injured in Portland, Oregon, on Monday afternoon as an unidentified driver went on a hit-and-run spree, steering his silver Honda Element on sidewalks and over laws as he apparently targeted pedestrians along a 15-block stretch in the Southeast quadrant of the city. After the man crashed into an El Camino, neighbors and bystanders prevented him from escaping by foot until police arrived and took him into custody.

Videos of the arrest show the man, who appears to be white and middle-aged, in a standoff with bystanders before police arrived and struggled to put him in cuffs. Several witnesses told The Oregonian the car had Washington plates. Police have not released the name of the driver or any of his victims.

Larry Wolfe told The Oregonian he had an appointment to meet the person killed, a woman in her 70s, and he saw the car hit the woman, turn around and hit her again, then do a U-turn and drag her down the street. Another witness, Arun Gupta, gave a similar account to OPB. "She was struck once, knocked up on the sidewalk ... and then the car did a U-turn, came up on the sidewalk, struck her and dragged her down to Stark and 19th," he said.

Other witnesses described a chaotic scene where the driver, speeding and running red lights, hit cyclists, struck several pedestrians, and pinned two people between and SUV and a retaining wall. Read more witness accounts at The Oregonian. Peter Weber

12:36 a.m.

President Biden is expected to announce several executive actions on Wednesday meant to fight climate change, including one asking government agencies to determine the extent of a drilling ban on federal land, two people with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times on Monday.

Additionally, Biden intends to direct the government to conserve 30 percent of all federal land and water by 2030, make climate change a national security priority, and form a task force to create an action plan on ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Times reports. He will also create multiple commissions to focus on environmental justice and green jobs, specifically helping minority communities and people who live in coal country.

Environmentalists say to really curb harmful emissions, Biden will have to enact legislation; otherwise, he will need to rely heavily on the regulatory process. "The climate reality of today is higher temperatures, stronger storms, more destructive wildfires, sea-level rise, acidifying oceans, and extended drought," Sherri Goodman, senior fellow at the Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Program, told the Times. "We need a climate security plan for America that climate-proofs American infrastructure and puts climate and clean energy innovation front and center." Catherine Garcia

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