March 7, 2019

Don't expect a 2020 announcement from former Vice President Joe Biden for at least a few more weeks.

Biden at this point is "95 percent committed" to running for president, his strategist has been telling Democrats, The New York Times reports. But his announcement is not expected to come until early April.

Biden said in early January he would decide "soon," but a final decision seems to have been delayed again and again. The Times reports Biden first planned to make a decision at the end of 2018, then in January, and then in March.

So what's the holdup? With approval from loved ones in hand, it reportedly comes down to Biden being "uncertain about his place in the 2020 Democratic primary" and worried about his family being subject to vicious attacks during the election. The former vice president said during an event last week he needs to decide "whether or not I am comfortable taking the family through what would be a very, very difficult campaign." Brendan Morrow

12:08 a.m.

Your move, Mayor Pete.

On Sunday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released a 15-page document detailing her past corporate legal work, including cases she worked on as counsel, consultant, and expert witness. Some of the cases date back more than 30 years, and in total, she earned $1.9 million, Reuters reports. The document lists dozens of cases, and many were taken on pro bono. In April, Warren released 11 years of tax returns, and encouraged her fellow candidates to follow suit.

Warren came forward with the document on Sunday after her fellow Democratic presidential candidate, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, pressured her to share more about her corporate legal work. In return, Warren has called out Buttigieg for not releasing any information about his time spent with the consultancy company McKinsey; she also said he should let the media cover his private donor events.

Kristen Orthman, Warren's communications director, got in a dig against Buttigieg on Sunday night, saying in a statement that "any candidate who refuses to provide basic details about his or her own record and refuses to allow voters or the press to understand who is buying access to their time and what they are getting in return will be seen by voters as part of the same business-as-usual politics that voters have consistently rejected." Catherine Garcia

December 8, 2019

Whakaari/White Island, New Zealand's most active cone volcano, erupted on Monday, injuring as many as 20 people, authorities said.

The volcano is in the Bay of Plenty, and the island is a popular tourist attraction. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it is believed that "100 people were on or around the island" when the volcano erupted, and some are unaccounted for. The government does not yet know if there have been any deaths.

Radio New Zealand said there are five helicopters, an ambulance crew, and a mobile triage unit on the way to the island, which is about 30 miles off the northeast coast of New Zealand. Catherine Garcia

December 8, 2019

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) believes the Democrats have a "solid" case for the impeachment of President Trump, he declared on CNN's State of the Union Sunday.

In fact, the case is so strong he's convinced if presented to a jury, it "would be a guilty verdict in about three minutes flat," Nadler said. There is "considerable direct evidence," he continued, and it "ill behooves the president or his partisans to say you don't have enough direct evidence when the reason we don't have even more direct evidence is the president has ordered everybody in the executive branch not to cooperate with Congress in the impeachment inquiry, something that is unprecedented in American history and is a contempt of Congress by itself."

On Monday, the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing where evidence gathered by the Intelligence Committee will be presented. Nadler said the scope and nature of the articles of impeachment are still being considered, and won't be decided until after the hearing. "We'll bring articles of impeachment, presumably, before the committee at some point later in the week," he said on NBC's Meet the Press. The articles of impeachment are expected to center on abuse of presidential power in regards to Ukraine policy and obstruction of the impeachment probe. Catherine Garcia

December 8, 2019

The Saudi gunman who killed three people on Friday at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida went on Twitter before the shooting and accused the United States of being anti-Muslim, a U.S. official told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Saudi Royal Air Force 2nd Lt. Mohammad Saeed Alshamrani also apparently tweeted his anger over U.S. support of Israel. The FBI confirmed it is operating on the assumption the shooting was an act of terrorism, with investigators working to determine whether Alshamrani, 21, acted alone or with others. Alshamrani was in the U.S. for flight training, and was killed by a sheriff’s deputy during the attack.

The official also told AP that investigators believe Alshamrani went to New York City a few days before the shooting, and they are trying to figure out the purpose of his trip. A second U.S. official told AP on Saturday that Alshamrani hosted a dinner party prior to the attack during which he and three others watched videos of mass shootings.

Rachel J. Rojas, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s office in Jacksonville, said a Glock 9 mm weapon that had been legally purchased in Florida was used to carry out the shooting. In response, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said he is against a "federal loophole" that lets foreigners purchase guns in the United States, and while he supports the Second Amendment, it "does not apply to Saudi Arabians." Catherine Garcia

December 8, 2019

Caroll Spinney, the actor and puppeteer who made Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch come alive on Sesame Street, died Sunday. He was 85.

The Sesame Workshop said Spinney, who died at his home in Connecticut, lived with dystonia for many years. Spinney began working on Sesame Street in its earliest days in 1969, before retiring in 2018.

As Big Bird, Spinney traveled around the world, conducted symphony orchestras, danced with the Rockettes, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress.

In a statement, Sesame Workshop said Spinney's "enormous talent and outsized heart were perfectly suited to playing the larger-than-life yellow bird who brought joy to generations of children and countless fans of all ages around the world, and his loveably cantankerous grouch gave us all permission to be cranky once in a while." Catherine Garcia

December 8, 2019

The shooting — which is now being considered an act of terrorism — that resulted in three deaths at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Pensacola, Florida, on Friday has placed the United States' relationship with Saudi Arabia under a microscope.

The suspected shooter, identified as Saudi Royal Air Force 2nd Lt. Mohammad Saeed Alshamrani, was an aviation student at the base. The killing has led some people to question whether the partnership should continue, especially considering there have long been doubts about the alliance for a variety of reasons, most notably accusations of human rights abuses in Yemen and the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

But President Trump seems committed to U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia, especially as his administration remains wary of Iran's influence in the Middle East. Trump said he spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman after the shooting, who offered his condolences to family and friends of the deceased. There didn't, however, seem to be much in the way of rethinking the alliance.

That doesn't mean others haven't. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who is aiming to challenge Trump as the next Democratic nominee, called the U.S. partnership with Saudi Arabia "unacceptable."

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a supporter of Trump, said he was assured by Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud that Saudi Arabia would not interfere with the investigation into the matter, unless requested. But he still said that Friday's shooting "has to inform" the U.S.-Saudi relationship. Tim O'Donnell

December 8, 2019

NBC's Chuck Todd really isn't sure why Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), of all people, isn't more skeptical of President Trump.

Cruz, in an appearance on Sunday's edition of Meet the Press, said he still believes Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election, which has become a major talking point among Republicans defending Trump during the impeachment inquiry that was spurred, in part, by Trump asking the Ukrainian government to investigate the claim.

As he did last week, when Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) expressed a similar opinion, Todd seemed like he couldn't quite grasp what he was hearing. He then asked Cruz why he's so trusting of Trump considering he dealt with the president's attempts to manipulate a narrative about someone firsthand during the Republican primary battles in 2015 and 2016, including Trump's threat to "spill the beans" about Cruz's wife. The senator wasn't thrilled Todd brought that up, but he didn't backtrack on his comments about Ukraine.

Todd, for his part, wasn't buying Cruz's argument that Ukraine officials criticizing Trump during the election amounted to interference. The NBC host said Cruz, in comparing Ukraine's role in the elections to Russia, was basically comparing a pickpocket to Bernie Madoff. Tim O'Donnell

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