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January 31, 2019

In the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, expect to see either former Vice President Joe Biden or former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — but not both.

As Bloomberg continues to float a possible presidential bid, The Atlantic reports that his advisers are paying close attention to Biden, believing that Bloomberg "almost certainly won't run" if Biden decides to do so. These advisers "doubt there's room in the Democratic field for both" candidates, the report says, especially because they're both white men in their 70s whose views on a number of issues are closely aligned.

In fact, Bloomberg's team is reportedly so anxious to learn what Biden's decision will be that they've frequently been "asking around for intel," while building a massive political operation and laying the groundwork should Bloomberg decide to jump into the race. Bloomberg's team has been weighing a number of other factors, though, including whether his record is right for this particular election cycle.

Like Bloomberg, Biden has been publicly flirting with a 2020 run for months, recently saying he's getting closer to making a final decision but is in no hurry to announce it, CNN reports. If that decision is a yes, it looks like it'll be safe to count Bloomberg out. Brendan Morrow

5:30 p.m.

Justice Department officials have reportedly told former Special Counsel Robert Mueller that the department expects him to limit his congressional testimony on Wednesday to already-public information from his office's report on its investigation into 2016 Russian election interference, Politico reports. Any material beyond the public findings is being considered "presumptively privileged."

However, both the White House and the Justice Department are expected to refrain from placing lawyers in the room during the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committee hearings, leaving Mueller to "police" himself.

The Trump administration doesn't seem too worried about that — Mueller is known for sticking to the rules and has previously said that the report is his testimony, so it was always unlikely that he'd go off script.

"[The report] contains our findings and analysis, and the reasons for the decisions we made," Mueller said in May. "We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself."

All of this could prove a hurdle for Democrats on the panels, who are hoping to glean new information from the now-private citizen. But Politico reports that some Democrats have said that even if Mueller simply reads the report word-for-word, it would help "educate the American public" about President Trump's conduct during the Mueller's probe. Read more about Politico. Tim O'Donnell

4:37 p.m.

Decriminalizing unauthorized border crossing is not a particularly popular idea among Americans, a new NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist poll suggests.

In total, 66 percent of those surveyed think it's a bad idea, compared to just 27 percent who support it. The debate is more split among party lines, with 87 percent of Republicans opposed compared to 47 percent of Democrats. The Democrats are split internally, as well, as 54 percent of self-identified "progressive" Democrats believe decriminalization is a "good idea," while only 34 percent of "moderate" Democrats feel the same.

There is little variation regionally (all regions hover between 66 and 67 percent in the "bad idea" category), racially (68 percent of white voters and 63 percent of non-white voters think it's a bad idea), or economically (those who make more than $50,000 per year oppose decriminalization at a 70 percent clip, while those making less oppose it at 63 percent.)

There are larger gaps between men (75 percent for bad idea) and women (57 percent), as well as among age groups, with 76 percent those between the ages of 39 and 54 opposing decriminalization, compared to 59 percent between the ages of 18 and 38. Similarly, among adults over the age of 73, 60 percent think it's a bad idea.

Essentially, the poll indicates that political persuasion is the most important indicator when it comes to stances on the issue. That's not great news for Democratic presidential candidates like former Housing Secretary Julián Castro who have pushed for decriminalizing crossings, as only the progressive left appears staunchly in favor.

The poll surveyed 1,346 adults in the United States over the phone between July 15 and July 17. The margin of error ranged from 3.5 to 5.4 percentage points across the survey's subsets. See the results on page 13 and page 26 at Marist Poll. Tim O'Donnell

3:56 p.m.

Facebook reportedly dodged a Federal Trade Commission fine several times larger than the one it's ultimately expected to receive.

Regulators, according to a Monday report in The Washington Post, "stopped short of some even tougher punishments it initially had in mind" for Facebook as part of the FTC investigation into the company's data practices, including a potential fine of "tens of billions of dollars." But Facebook thought it should have to pay less than $1 billion and "felt it could easily prevail in court" over the FTC, the report says.

Ultimately, the FTC reportedly settled with a $5 billion fine. The settlement is expected to be officially finalized and announced in the coming days, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The FTC also considered punishments as part of its settlement that would have held CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally liable for the company's privacy scandals, the Post reports, with this, too, being scrapped as Facebook resisted. The Post cites some sources as now expressing "concern that Facebook may not have had to admit guilt" in the settlement.

Criticism had already emerged last week after reports about the Facebook settlement, with a bipartisan group of senators blasting it as "egregiously inadequate," Engadget reports, also warning that it is "sending the wrong message to tech companies." Read the full report at The Washington Post. Brendan Morrow

3:17 p.m.

Who do you think should win the pity contest?

During a meeting at the White House with President Trump on Monday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan tried to brush off the idea that his government was cracking down on press freedom, despite journalists staging nationwide protests last week and the removal of three television stations from the airwaves after they showed a live speech by opposition leader Maryam Nawaz.

Khan said that, on the contrary, Pakistan has one of the freest presses in the world; his reason being that he faces "unprecedented" criticism from the press. An incredulous Trump said "there's no way" Khan was "treated worse" than he is.

Trump's comments didn't set off any drama between the two heads of state, though. Instead, it drew a chuckle from Khan.

The exchange wasn't the only shot Trump took at the U.S. media, though. He also made sure to let the Pakistani press know he was much fonder of them than he was of American reporters. Tim O'Donnell

3:01 p.m.

Hundreds of thousands took to the streets across Puerto Rico to protest Governor Ricardo Rosselló's decision not to resign his post, despite announcing that he would not seek re-election and would step down as the leader of his party.

There are estimates that the already-massive protests could reach up to 1 million participants, which is a little less than one-third of the territory's total population. For some perspective on the sheer size of the demonstrations — which have shut down a major highway and caused vacation cruises to cancel port stops — check out the crowds from above.

The marchers have been calling for Rosselló's resignation for days, after a private chat with some of his aides was leaked, revealing profanity-laced homophobic and misogynistic messages. Several of Rosselló's former administration officials are also currently embroiled in a corruption scandal, which has not helped his standing.

The protests have received support from baseball players, singers, and presidential candidates, but not everyone is satisfied with the amount of traction the demonstrations have gained beyond Puerto Rico's shores. Tim O'Donnell

2:21 p.m.

President Trump on Monday suggested he could win the war in Afghanistan in a "week" but that doing so would involve killing millions of people.

"If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I would win that war in a week," Trump said. "I just don't want to kill 10 million people."

Trump went on to again say that "if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth" and that "it would be over literally in 10 days," but "I don't want to go that route."

These comments came as Trump sat in the Oval Office with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, and he said that the United States is working with Pakistan and other countries to "extricate ourselves" from Afghanistan because "we've been there for 19 years" and "we don't want to stay as policemen." Trump also teased some unspecified "very good answers" on Afghanistan in the future. Brendan Morrow

2:01 p.m.

A new Trump administration rule will make thousands more immigrants subject to immediate deportation every year.

The Department of Homeland Security has issued an expansion of "expedited removal" proceedings to immigrants anywhere in the U.S., it announced in a Monday notice. That means immigrants who've arrived in the U.S. within the past two years can be deported without a court hearing, expanding a policy that currently only covers areas within 100 miles of the border and migrants who've been here for less than two weeks.

As it stands, America's immigration court system is facing case backlogs that have some migrants waiting years for hearings. This rule change would help mitigate those numbers, but advocates argue it would also strip migrants of their due process rights. An estimate in the notice suggests it could put an additional 20,000 people into expedited proceedings each year. It could even force migrants who've been in the U.S. longer onto the expedited path, seeing as it's up to them to prove to authorities how long they've been in the U.S.

The American Civil Liberties Union quickly tweeted to say it would be suing to challenge this new rule.

The rule change is set to be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday. Find the notice in its entirety here. Kathryn Krawczyk

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