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April 17, 2019

Five Democratic House committee chairs are calling on Attorney General William Barr to cancel his press conference scheduled for Thursday morning to discuss Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, saying it will be "unnecessary and inappropriate."

In a joint statement released Wednesday night, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said the presentation, announced by Barr on Wednesday afternoon, "appears designed to shape public perceptions of the report before anyone can read it."

The press conference is set to start at 9:30 a.m., hours before the report is released to the public or sent to Congress. It will not involve Mueller or any members of his team. Barr's press conference, as well as a New York Times report that the Justice Department has been speaking with White House lawyers about Mueller's findings, "reinforce our concern that [Barr] is acting to protect President Trump," the chairs said, adding that Barr should "let the full report speak for itself. The attorney general should cancel the press conference and provide the full report to Congress, as we have requested." Catherine Garcia

8:13 a.m.

In a three page letter from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd to the leaders of the House Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department acknowledged on Friday that a psychologist at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan had approved millionaire financier and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein's removal from suicide before he killed himself in his cell at the detention center in August.

Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell in July, though it's unclear if that was why Epstein was put on suicide watch in the first place, as Boyd's letter did not give a precise reason for the decision. Regardless, after being evaluated by a doctoral-level psychologist, it was determined those measures were no longer necessary. No reason was given for Epstein's removal, either, but Reuters reports that suicide watch is typically imposed as a short-term restriction. An inmate can only be removed, however, after a face-to-face meeting with a U.S. Bureau of Prisons psychologist.

Attorney General William Barr has said there were "serious irregularities" at the MCC, which falls under his authority. He reassigned the facility's warden and placed two guards who were responsible for watching Epstein on leave. Tim O'Donnell

7:58 a.m.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro announced plans on Friday to send armed forces to fight forest fires in the Amazon, reversing course after days of dismissing concern about the ecological disaster.

"Whatever is within our power we will do," Bolsonaro told reporters. "The problem is resources." He added that the government will take a "zero tolerance" approach to environmental crimes. Researchers and environmental groups said the Amazon fires were started by humans.

This comes after Bolsonaro, who has made pledges to ease restrictions on protected areas and under whom deforestation has increased sharply across the country, said the fires were the result of warmer weather and criticized international concern as "sensationalist." But environmental groups blame Bolsonaro's policies, which have reportedly "emboldened" farmers and ranchers to clear land by setting fire to it.

However, Bolsonaro changed his stance as European leaders threatened a trade agreement, protesters took to the streets outside Brazilian embassies, and calls for a boycott of Brazilian products gained momentum. The New York Times notes that any punitive measures could "severely damage" Brazil's economy, which is already in trouble.

CNN reports that the Group of Seven leaders, who are convening in France on Saturday, are in accordance that stopping the fires is a priority. France's President Emmanuel Macron called it an "international crisis," and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said international action is necessary to protect the world's rainforests and that "we will use G-7 to call for a renewed focus on protecting nature and tackling climate change together." President Trump, whose past praise of and cordial relationship with the right-wing Bolsonaro has drawn criticism, offered U.S. assistance. Tim O'Donnell

August 23, 2019

President Trump's tweets have sent the stock market tumbling yet again.

After China announced increased tariffs on the U.S. and Trump tweeted a heated response, the Dow Jones Industrial Average immediately began falling and eventually closed down 623 points for the day. The S&P 500 also closed down 2.6 percent and the Nasdaq Composite dropped another 3 percent — just ahead of yet another tariff announcement by Trump.

China said Friday that it would instill tariffs on $75 billion of American products next month in retaliation for the White House's proposed levies. After an inflammatory response which sparked the stock market's Friday afternoon fall, Trump at 5 p.m. sent out a string of tweets announcing he'd increase the current 10 percent tariff rate on $300 billion of Chinese goods to 15 percent starting Sept. 1. He also announced that, starting Oct. 1, the 25 percent tariff on $250 billion in Chinese goods would be upped to 30 percent.

Trump's immediate reaction after China's announcement was to tweet "we don't need China and, frankly, would be far better off without them." He additionally "ordered" American companies "to immediately start looking for an alternative to China." Trump also lashed out at his own Federal Reserve chair after the central bank failed to guarantee lower interest rates, tweeting "my only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?"

Kathryn Krawczyk

August 23, 2019

The Supreme Court said Friday that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has finished three weeks of radiation treatment for a malignant tumor on her pancreas, which was discovered during a July blood test, The Washington Post reports. "The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body," the court said, adding that "no further treatment is needed at this time." Ginsburg was treated at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

This is Ginsburg's latest cancer bout after being treated for lung cancer last December; she subsequently worked from home and returned to the court within two months. She was also treated for pancreatic cancer in 2009, as well as for colon cancer in 1999.

According to the statement released on Friday, Ginsburg maintained "an active schedule" amid her treatment, aside from canceling a summer trip to Santa Fe. NPR reports that she continued work and has not canceled any of the 11 events she has scheduled for September. In an interview with NPR published not long before this latest treatment began, Ginsburg opened up about her health, saying, "There was a senator, I think it was after my pancreatic cancer, who announced with great glee that I was going to be dead within six months. That senator, whose name I have forgotten, is now himself dead, and I am very much alive." Brendan Morrow

August 23, 2019

Good Morning America's Lara Spencer has apologized after coming under fire for seemingly mocking Prince George for his interest in ballet.

During a Thursday segment, Spencer reported on the prince's "demanding" curriculum, noting that it includes not only "the usual" courses but also things like "religious studies" and "ballet." When Spencer got to "ballet" at the end of her list of activities, George Stephanopoulos and others in the room immediately broke out into laughter. Spencer played into their amusement by joking in response to a photo of the prince, "He looks so happy about the ballet class!" She concluded the segment by saying, "Prince William says George absolutely loves ballet. I have news for you Prince William: We'll see how long that lasts."

Spencer is now apologizing, captioning an unrelated Instagram photo on Friday with, "My sincere apologies for an insensitive comment I made in pop news yesterday." She added, "From ballet to anything one wants to explore in life, I say GO FOR IT [because] I believe we should all be free to pursue our passions."

Spencer might have intended to emphasize George's surprisingly busy schedule with her comment, seeing as she noted while wrapping up the segment that he "might end up" just wanting to "go back to the Play-Doh." Clearly, that's not how it came across to viewers, though; the video received more than 1,000 thumbs down on YouTube and went viral. A since-deleted Twitter clip drew strong reactions on Friday, with New York magazine's Olivia Nuzzi writing, "This is so out of touch it's like from another dimension."

Luckily, Prince George can breathe a sigh of relief knowing he now has Good Morning America's permission to pursue his interests. Brendan Morrow

August 23, 2019

President Trump's wild morning tweets have left Fox News' Chris Wallace fairly baffled.

Wallace appeared on America's Newsroom shortly after the president not only questioned whether the Federal Reserve chair he appointed was an "enemy" of the United States but also claimed American companies "are hereby ordered" to find an "alternative to China." The latter tweet was read to Wallace for the first time live on-air by host Sandra Smith, who — in a vast understatement — informed Wallace that Trump "had moved on to more tweets." Wallace then tried, and mostly failed, to make sense of the "order" issued by Trump.

"The best I can tell, the American president can't order U.S. companies how they're going to do their sales ... we have a free market, capitalist system," Wallace said, suggesting that "most people in this country wouldn't want to see a president be able to" control sales in such a way either.

Wallace then pivoted back to Trump's earlier tweet that suggested Powell is an enemy of the country, reminding viewers that the alleged antagonist "was appointed by President Trump" himself.

"When you have the president of the United States sort of flailing around this way ... is that going to create more consumer confidence about the state of the economy or not?" Wallace rhetorically asked. Perhaps to push viewers toward the answer, Smith immediately noted that the Dow Jones Industrial Average had taken a plunge amid "the president's tweeting."

Wallace concluded the segment by dryly noting that Trump "clearly isn't responding well" to China announcing retaliatory tariffs and suggested we might be in for a "bumpy" G-7 summit this weekend if his tirade keeps up.

"Hold on to your hats," Wallace suggested. Brendan Morrow

August 23, 2019

In response to new tariffs from China, President Trump is making some demands of American companies.

After China announced Friday that it would be hitting the U.S. with tariffs on $75 billion worth of goods next month, Trump tweeted that "our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China." The president is also demanding that business owners "bring ... companies HOME" and make products in the U.S., declaring the situation to actually be "a GREAT opportunity for the United States."

Trump's demand is seemingly more of a strongly-worded suggestion, with The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey noting, "What authority does the president have to order companies to do things?" If Trump has an answer to that question, he might attempt to provide it in a few hours, as he also promises in his tweets that he "will be responding to China's tariffs this afternoon."

The president's initial reaction following the news of China's retaliatory tariffs was to wonder aloud whether Chinese President Xi Jinping or Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell was the "bigger enemy" to the United States. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 400 points amid his tweets. Brendan Morrow

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