April 22, 2019

President Trump is suing to block House Democrats' subpoena of his financial statements.

Trump and the Trump Organization have filed a lawsuit against House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) over his recent subpoena of the president's accounting firm, The Washington Post reports. The filing accuses Democrats of waging an "all-out political war" against Trump and using subpoenas as their "weapon of choice," per Axios.

Cummings had previously requested financial records from an accounting firm Trump and his business have used, Mazars USA, and this lawsuit seeks to block the subpoena. The subpoena was issued after Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, testified that the president in the past has inflated his wealth on financial statements, with Cummings seeking to corroborate these claims, per Politico.

The suit says that the subpoena from Democrats "lacks any legitimate legislative purpose, is an abuse of power, and is just another example of overreach by the president's political opponents," per NBC News. Cummings has not yet responded, but he previously said per The Wall Street Journal that his committee has "full authority to investigate whether the president may have engaged in illegal conduct before and during his tenure in office." Brendan Morrow

12:19 p.m.

Pete Buttigieg has some very presidential explaining to do.

As the South Bend, Indiana, mayor and 2020 Democrat began talking about his consulting work with McKinsey Co., former health insurance executive turned Medicare-for-all advocate Wendell Potter suspected Buttigieg worked with a client that would be "very significant in this campaign." And when Buttigieg's client list came out, Potter's hunch proved true: Buttigieg had worked with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan just before it hiked its insurance premiums and axed nearly 1,000 employees.

Potter first shared his theory in a Monday Twitter thread, saying the health insurance company he'd previously worked for "had McKinsey on retainer," and that the consulting firm was brought in "when one division or another wasn't making enough profit." Buttigieg described his work for BCBS as "identifying savings in administration and overhead costs," which to Potter are "code words" meaning "cutting costs through layoffs, restructuring, and potentially denying health coverage." Buttigieg spent three months with the health insurance provider in 2007 — a year BCBS reported a 27 percent drop in net earnings. That exact loss was mentioned by BCBS exectuives when, two years later, the provider announced layoffs of up to 1,000 workers and double-digit premium increases.

Buttigieg's mysterious work for McKinsey had been a subject of criticism throughout his campaign, especially after a New York Times report showed McKinsey's work with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement led to severe cuts in detainee care. Buttigieg said he wasn't able to release the details of his work until Tuesday. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:38 a.m.

Robert De Niro has once again been snubbed at a key Oscars precursor, putting his chances of a best actor win in doubt.

The nominations for the 2020 Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced Wednesday, and in the lead actor category, De Niro was surprisingly not nominated for his performance in The Irishman. That's not a great sign considering the winner of the best actor award at the Oscars is almost always at least nominated in this equivalent category the SAG awards.

Instead, the nominees for the SAG best actor prize this year are Christian Bale for Ford v Ferrari, Leonardo DiCaprio for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Adam Driver for Marriage Story, Taron Egerton for Rocketman, and Joaquin Phoenix for Joker. DiCaprio, Driver, and Phoenix were all widely expected to get nominations, though Egerton's nod for some came as a surprise.

De Niro will be honored by SAG with a Life Achievement Award this year, however, and The Irishman itself earned a nomination for best cast, so Gold Derby wonders if "perhaps voters thought he'd be duly rewarded there."

Still, this snub comes after De Niro was also conspicuously left out in the cold at the Golden Globe Awards, where Bale, DiCaprio, Driver, Egerton, and Phoenix all received nominations, although in separate fields since the Golden Globes divides its awards into drama and musical or comedy categories.

De Niro isn't the only actor whose Oscars prospects are looking worse this week than last, with Uncut Gems' Adam Sandler also getting snubbed at both the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards, while Dolemite Is My Name's Eddie Murphy got nominated at the Golden Globes but missed at the SAG Awards.

After these two snubs, when it comes to picking up an Oscar nomination let alone a win, The Washington Post's Thomas Floyd observes it seems De Niro now "faces an uphill climb." Brendan Morrow

11:31 a.m.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) just spent more than 40 minutes tearing into the FBI for its handling of the 2016 investigation into Russian election interference.

In his opening statement before Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's testimony before the Senate panel on his report on the probe, Graham said FBI agents were "biased" against President Trump and questioned whether the agency had selected its top individuals. Graham did say he respects the FBI as a whole, but is still troubled by Horowitz's report.

Several observers noted that during his oration, Graham didn't mention that Horowitz — despite finding several issues with the probe — also concluded that it was justified and free from political bias when launched.

Graham also surprised a few people when he mused over whether the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court should continue unless it's reformed. That's because he's been an ardent supporter in the past. Tim O'Donnell

10:25 a.m.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is giving the media the cold shoulder.

Johnson made an early-morning visit to a dairy business in England on Wednesday when a producer for Good Morning Britain, hosted by Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, walked up and asked if he'd go live with the show. "I'll be with you in just a minute," Johnson said, before turning and walking into a giant fridge full of milk.

Jonathan Swain, the Good Morning Britain producer, made several attempts to get Johnson on the air. His first one was rebuffed by Johnson's press secretary, who can be seen mumbling an expletive. Swain then continues trying to milk Johnson for an interview, asking him to "deliver on your promise to talk to Piers and Susanna" and telling him he has an earpiece ready. But Johnson stays glued to his tour, lifts some milk crates, and eventually escapes into the fridge. Watch the whole chilling scene below. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:07 a.m.

The sanctions keep on coming.

The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control on Wednesday announced sanctions on Iran's largest shipping company and airline in an attempt to stop the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the Financial Times reports.

The shipping company, the Islamic Republican of Iran Shipping Lines, has been accused of smuggling weapons into Yemen on behalf the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps; OFAC said the U.S. seized weapons on a small boat last month believed to be on their way to Houthi rebels. OFAC also said Mahan Air has aided the IRGC and has also "moved weapons and personnel for Hezbollah" and the Assad regime in Syria.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. will continue a maximum pressure campaign of sanctions against Iran. Tim O'Donnell

9:50 a.m.

Disney's streaming service, Avengers: Endgame, and the definitions of "boomer" and "quid pro quo" were among 2019's top trending searches, according to Google.

Google has released its list of the year's top trending searches, which are determined by looking at spikes in search activity compared to the year prior. In the United States, the top trending search for all of 2019 was Disney+, the new streaming service that launched domestically in November.

That's far from Disney's only presence here, with its blockbuster Avengers: Endgame being the number seven trending search in the U.S., while Baby Yoda, the breakout star of the Star Wars series The Mandalorian, was the top trending baby search of the year. Yes, Baby Yoda came in above the term "royal baby." On the list of top trending movies of the year in America, half of them are Disney films: Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, Toy Story 4, The Lion King, and Frozen 2.

When it comes to news stories, the top trending search in the U.S. was Hurricane Dorian, followed by the Notre Dame Cathedral fire, the Women's World Cup, and the "Area 51 raid," referring to when millions joined a Facebook event declaring their intention to storm the facility to "see them aliens." Needless to say, that didn't happen.

On the list of searches beginning in "what is...," the top trending question posed to Google was also related to this meme, with users asking, "What is Area 51?" In fourth place on the questions list was "what is a boomer," no doubt due to the rise of the "OK boomer" meme, while "what is quid pro quo" came in at number five due to the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. And, of course, Disney remains inescapable even on this list, with number seven being, "What is Disney+?" and number nine being "What is a Mandalorian?"

Read the full list of top trending searches here. Brendan Morrow

8:20 a.m.

Time has selected 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg as its 2019 person of the year.

Thunberg, who this year led a worldwide movement demanding action on climate change and delivered a scathing United Nations speech scolding world leaders for "failing us," is the youngest Time person of the year ever by almost a decade; the previous youngest was 25-year-old Charles Lindbergh in 1927.

"For sounding the alarm about humanity’s predatory relationship with the only home we have, for bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends backgrounds and borders, for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads, Greta Thunberg is Time's 2019 Person of the Year," Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said.

The four other final candidates considered for person of the year were President Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint led to the impeachment inquiry, and the Hong Kong protesters. Brendan Morrow

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