February 22, 2019

Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, appears to be the only person arguing that the White House has complied with congressional demands that President Trump submit a report determining who is responsible for the murder of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October. Last November, Risch's predecessor, former Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), and ranking Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez (N.J.) had triggered the Global Magnitsky Act, giving Trump four months to report back.

Two weeks ago, when the 120-day deadline lapsed, the White House informed the Senate that Trump "maintains his discretion to decline to act on congressional committee requests when appropriate," which most senators took to mean Trump was violating the Magnitsky Act. But Risch has been telling his Republican committee colleagues that Trump has, in fact, complied with the law, Politico reports. A majority of senators, after getting a classified briefing on Khasoggi's murder, believe that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was at least complicit in the killing.

In effort to quell open GOP revolt on his committee, Risch sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a letter requesting a classified briefing on the administration's efforts to hold the Saudi government accountable. All but two committee Republicans — Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah) and Rand Paul (Ky.) — signed the letter, Politico reports, and Democrats declined to sign it after Risch rejected their insertion of a line about how the White House "is not in compliance" with the law, "which is of grave concern to members of this committee." Peter Weber

4:10 p.m.

One week out from Election Day, President Trump's campaign is reportedly pulling advertising out of Florida.

The president's re-election campaign has "all but pulled its advertising" out of the crucial state that he carried in 2016, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. The campaign reportedly canceled $5.5 million in ad spending in Florida during the final two weeks of the 2020 campaign and is now focusing on four states: Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Trump communications director Tim Murtaugh in a call with reporters on Tuesday predicted that Florida, where Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have been roughly tied in polls, is "going to go the president's way," citing his "ground game" in the state.

Trump's campaign reportedly does still have about $350,000 in advertising spending budgeted for Florida through Election Day, but Bloomberg notes that the president "has cut $24 million from his national ad budget" since Labor Day, whereas Biden "has added $197 million." Read more at Bloomberg. Brendan Morrow

3:11 p.m.

President Trump's receipts from his own properties keep piling up — but he's not the one paying the bill.

The U.S. government and Trump's supporters have paid at least a combined $8.1 million to Trump's properties throughout his presidency, documents and public records obtained by The Washington Post have so far revealed. Those payments covered everything from rooms for Secret Service agents, to a variety of candles, to even the $3 water Trump and Japan's former prime minister Shinzo Abe sipped at a summit in 2018.

Trump has visited his properties around the world more than 280 times since his inauguration, bringing Secret Service protection and often his family and foreign leaders along with him. During the summit with Abe at Mar-a-Lago, Trump's aides stayed in a $2,600-night house owned by the Trump Organization, records show. When Trump met with Xi Jinping of China, the club charged the government $7,700 for Trump and Xi's dinner. And when Abe returned a year later, taxpayers covered $6,000 worth of floral arrangements for the occasion. Trump's Christmas visit to the club — no foreign visits included — resulted in a $32,400 charge for the Secret Service's guest rooms, the Post reports.

And by holding government-funded events at his properties, Trump has turned them into "magnets for GOP events, including glitzy fundraisers for his own reelection campaign," the Post writes. Trump's campaign and fundraising committee have so far spent $5.6 million at Trump properties, "turning campaign donations into private revenue" even as his campaign war chest ran dry, the Post continues. It all flies in the face of Trump's insistence that he's losing money by serving as president.

"Any suggestion that the president has used his own official travel or the federal government as a way to profit off of taxpayers is an absolute disgrace and lie," White House spokesperson Judd Deere said. Read more at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:53 p.m.

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's critics are perplexed by his concurring opinion following the court's 5-3 ruling that Wisconsin can only count absentee ballots that arrive by Election Day, describing his reasoning as "sloppy."

One of the accusations hurled at Kavanaugh is that he confused receipt and submission deadlines while making his point. The Wisconsin case involved extending the former in light of U.S. Postal Service slowdowns, but Kavanaugh's analogies appeared more congruent with the latter.

Kavanaugh was also criticized for his stance that the deadline should remain intact so that the "apparent winner" on the morning after election night doesn't have their victory overturned by late-arriving ballots, which could spark allegations of a "rigged election." In response, observers argued that declaring an election winner on Nov. 3 isn't necessary and that it's reasonable for close races in states to remain uncalled.

Finally, analysts called Kavanaugh out for apparently misreading a source that influenced his decision. Tim O'Donnell

2:16 p.m.

Netflix is drafting Jaden Michael to star as Colin Kaepernick in a new series.

The streaming service on Tuesday revealed that Michael has been cast as Kaepernick in Colin in Black & White, the upcoming limited drama series about the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback from Ava DuVernay, Variety reports. The young actor has starred in shows like The Get Down and movies like Vampires vs. The Bronx and Wonderstruck.

Netflix previously announced that DuVernay was working on this six-episode drama series, which according to The Hollywood Reporter will "examine Kaepernick's adolescent life, focusing on his high school years and the acts and experiences that led him to become the activist he is today."

Kaepernick, who will narrate the show and also produce it, has said the series will "explore the racial conflicts I faced as an adopted Black man in a white community." He wrote on Tuesday that he "never thought I would be casting a young me in a show about my life" but that he "can't wait for the world to see" Michael "be an all-star." Brendan Morrow

2:10 p.m.

Former President Barack Obama brought some big dad energy to his latest rally for Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Obama held a drive-in rally Tuesday in Florida, a state Obama won twice and is critical to Biden's election. He spent his speech mocking Republicans, asking attendees to imagine a world without Trump, and even bringing back some old favorite catchphrases to encourage Floridians to vote.

Obama kicked off the rally by calling out voters for being "complacent" in 2016. "And look at what happened," Obama said. America has ended up with a president and Republican Senate that's constantly promising a better health care plan and never following through, like a Popeye character who "always needed to borrow some money for a hamburger," Obama said. He acknowledged the audience may have been too young for the reference, but it still got some approving boos. That's when Obama brought out a popular line: "Don't boo, vote."

Obama then turned his attention to President Trump, his pandemic response, and his overall "bizarre behavior." Trump has bragged about having the support of "some of our greatest adversaries" and advised Americans to "inject bleach to cure COVID," to name a few confusing choices, Obama noted. "Even Florida man wouldn't be doing some of this stuff," Obama joked.

And at the end of it all, Obama made a very wholesome request: "Honk if you're fired up. Honk if you're ready to go." Kathryn Krawczyk

1:35 p.m.

Regardless of whether President Trump leaves office after a November election defeat or sticks in the White House for another four years, there's already questions among Republicans about the direction of the party in the post-Trump era, The New York Times reports.

Trump is the most significant player in American politics currently, and his presence in the Oval Office is a major, if not singular, factor in the national discourse, but Liam Donovan, a Republican strategist, told the Times he doesn't think there's really all that much to show for his takeover of the party. "You end up with this weird paradox where [Trump] stands to haunt the GOP for many years to come, but on the substance it's like he was never even there," Donovan said.

The Times compared Trump's tenure in office to that of former President Ronald Reagan. Reagan, per the Times, merged the Republican Party with "a conservative movement that had been gestating since the 1950s," and by the end of his first term, "there was not much ambiguity about what the GOP ... was transforming into." Trump, on the other hand, has similarly "co-opted virtually every power center" in the party and "disassembled much of the old order," but "has built very little in its place," therefore leaving both his ardent loyalists and uneasy supporters unsure of what comes next. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

1:12 p.m.

YouTube is set to roll out new warnings in hopes of slowing the spread of misinformation about 2020 election results.

The company on Tuesday said that on Election Day, it will "prominently" display a new "information panel" both in search results related to the election and under videos about the election. This panel will "note that election results may not be final and link to Google's election results feature, which will enable you to track election results in real time," YouTube said.

Because mail-in ballots are expected to be used far more widely this year than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, experts have warned that a winner in the presidential race may not be called by news networks on the night of the election.

Outside of the warning about election results potentially not being final, YouTube also said Tuesday it will continue to remove content that violates its policies against voter suppression, such as videos that falsely claim "that mail-in ballots have been manipulated to change the results of an election," and its "recommendations systems will also keep limiting the spread of harmful election-related misinformation and borderline content," among other steps.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg previously announced that the platform would be using its voting information center to "help people understand that there is nothing illegitimate about not having a result on election night." And Twitter this week began rolling out new messages on the top of users' news feeds called "pre-bunks" to pre-emptively debunk election misinformation. On Wednesday, NBC News reports Twitter will display a "pre-bunk" addressing "misinformation about the timing of election results." Brendan Morrow

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