January 28, 2019

President Trump is not optimistic Congress will deliver him a spending bill he would sign before part of the government runs out of money again in less than three weeks, he told The Wall Street Journal on Sunday, and he said another shutdown "is certainly an option," as is an emergency declaration to build his border wall without approval from Congress.

A solid majority of voters blamed Trump for the 35-day shutdown, but he got some blowback from his hardline immigration backers for agreed to reopen the government without wall funding. Ann Coulter, for example, called him "the biggest wimp" to serve as president and called herself a "very stupid girl" for ever believing him. "I hear she's become very hostile," Trump said of Coulter. "Maybe I didn't return her phone call or something." Other backers, including Fox News host Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, are sticking with Trump and calling his government-reopening a sort of victory. "Trump can withstand Ann Coulter," a Republican senator told Axios last week. "He can't lose Hannity and the rest." Peter Weber

5:27 p.m.

There's a long way to go before California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has to seriously contemplate filling Sen. Kamala Harris' (D-Calif.) seat in the upper chamber. After all, the presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee, who was selected Tuesday as former Vice President Joe Biden's running mate, will need to be part of a victory in November's general election before her Senate seat actually opens. But that hasn't stopped some speculation about who could replace her.

One of the candidates people are talking about is Harris' fellow vice presidential contender, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who has also been touted as a potential replacement for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) one day. Bass appears to have been seriously considered for the Biden ticket, but it seems unlikely that was her last chance to move into an even more prominent role.

A few other names have been floated as possible Harris replacements, including Bass' colleagues in the House, Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Katie Porter (D-Calif.). Tim O'Donnell

Opinion
5:23 p.m.

Joe Biden just announced his running mate choice: Senator Kamala Harris of California. That means Harris, if she can govern well, could be the leader of both the Democratic Party and the country through 2030. If she can't, she might well be the last democratically-elected vice president in American history.

Biden is the heavy favorite against Trump this year. Given his age and his track record of working closely with President Obama when he was vice president, Harris will presumably play a significant role in major governing decisions. It's unpopular for the media to talk about, but there's a decent chance she would need to step in before Biden's term is up. What's more, there is a reasonable chance that Biden would choose not to run for re-election in 2024. If so, Harris would be the overwhelming favorite to run in his place.

The stakes could hardly be higher. Donald Trump is blatantly trying to steal the 2020 election, and the next Republican candidate will very likely try the same trick. A Biden administration would have four years, and perhaps another four or eight under a Harris administration, to address the pandemic, rebuild the shattered economy and federal government, root out Trump's gangrenous corruption, and fortify America's democratic institutions. If Biden and Harris instead muddle through letting everything fester, as happened under the Obama administration, the next would-be authoritarian probably won't be as incompetent as Trump. Let's hope they seize the moment. Ryan Cooper

4:59 p.m.

Just moments after Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was announced as Joe Biden's vice presidential pick, the Trump campaign jumped in to disparage her.

Dubbing her "Phony Kamala," the Trump campaign sought to paint Harris as inconsistent and shady. Most questionably, the statement condemns her as part of the "radical mob" that purportedly pushes "the left's radical manifesto." While, yes, Harris has championed several progressive causes the Trump administration would likely deem "radical socialism," among Democrats, she's considered fairly moderate.

In claiming Harris "will abandon her own morals," the Trump campaign pointed to the infamous Biden-Harris debate clash, in which Harris criticized Biden's previous stance on busing and criticized him for working with segregationists. Summer Meza

4:27 p.m.

The pick is in.

After months of anticipation, former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, selected Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate in the race against President Trump, his campaign announced in a text message to supporters Tuesday. Biden also tweeted the news.

Harris was long considered a favorite for the the role, and the senator wound up beating out a host of other contenders including, but not limited to, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who had emerged as another top choice in recent weeks.

Biden and Harris clashed during some of the Democratic primary debates, but the two have reportedly enjoyed a good relationship before and since then.

Harris is the first Black woman and first Indian woman to appear on a major party's presidential ticket. Tim O'Donnell

3:29 p.m.

As reports indicated Monday, the Big Ten Conference is postponing all fall sports, including football, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The league's presidents and chancellors voted on the decision Tuesday. In a statement, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said "it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall." The conference is reportedly hoping to move the affected sports to the spring, ESPN reports.

At least one Big Ten school was disappointed by the news. The University of Nebraska's chancellor, athletic director, and head football coach released a statement expressing a desire to find a way for their student-athletes to compete — perhaps through an agreement with another conference — arguing the university's "rigorous safety protocols" and testing procedures actually make it the safest place for them.

Elsewhere, the PAC-12 is expected to follow suit, but the ACC and SEC are still trying to play this fall, ESPN reports. Read more at ESPN. Tim O'Donnell

3:10 p.m.

Trump campaign Twitter account @TrumpWarRoom has tweeted and retweeted some questionable things in the past. Lately, it's been all systems go against former Vice President Joe Biden, who is set to oppose President Trump in November's election.

The latest effort to bring down Biden is a series of tweets that seem to claim Biden is pro-crime. In a blog post, the campaign points to Biden staffer's donations to bail funds amid the nationwide protests against police brutality. The campaign highlighted four alleged "regular criminals," all of them Black, who were supposedly freed from jail thanks to Biden.

The mugshots were posted alongside rhetorical questions like "Does Joe Biden regret his campaign putting women in danger?" The donations to the bail fund were made by individual staffers, not by the Biden campaign as a whole. Still, the post asserts the streets are now less safe "thanks in part to the Biden campaign."

The Trump campaign's strategy was quickly denounced as racist fearmongering. The Washington Post's Philip Bump pointed out that Biden himself is only loosely connected to the bailouts, and that it's not clear those pictured have been convicted of the crimes listed. Given Trump's insistence on respecting "due process," it seems like a significant oversight. Summer Meza

2:48 p.m.

In an attempt to disrupt nationwide protests following this week's disputed election, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko cut off internet across the country, forcing demonstrators to use VPNs and proxies to get online and share whatever news they can, The Guardian reports.

Katsiaryna Shmatina, a political analyst at the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies, called the move "unprecedented" and said that while the internet has been blocked in the past in Belarus, the current ban has been longer and more aggressive than in previous years.

The European Union, meanwhile, is prepared to take action — likely meaning sanctions — against Minsk, noting the elections were neither "free nor fair" and describing the actions taken against protesters as violent and unjustified.

Several other European countries, including Ireland, Lithuania (where Lukashenko's challenger Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is staying for safety reasons), and the other Nordic and Baltic states have spoken out against Lukashenko's response. Read more at The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell

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