April 24, 2019

Northern Irish journalist Lyra McKee's death is forcing politicians to face hard truths, as dormant sectarian violence threatens to resurface in Northern Ireland.

At McKee's funeral in Belfast on Wednesday, the priest administering the service, Father Martin Magill, commended Northern Irish politicians — unionists and republicans alike — for their joint statement condemning violence and urging for calming following McKee's murder.

Many notable political leaders were sitting in the front pews, including Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. But after the compliment, Magill directly challenged those in front of him, sparking a standing ovation from attendees.

The 29-year-old journalist was killed last Thursday while watching a riot in Derry, Northern Ireland, by stray bullets from dissident republicans believed to be affiliated with the New Irish Republican Army, a recently formed Irish nationalist militant group that does not recognize the terms of the Good Friday Agreement signed in 1998, which put a halt to sectarian violence in North Ireland.

In addition to McKee's murder, a large bomb detonated in Derry in January, though there were no casualties.

The New IRA apologized for McKee's death, but the response from Derry's citizens was not positive.

Tim O'Donnell

12:15 a.m.

In a new legal memo, the Office of Management and Budget says the agency often puts temporary holds on money already signed into law, and did nothing wrong when it withheld security aid to Ukraine, The Washington Post reports.

After President Trump questioned the spending, the aid was delayed eight times over the summer, before he finally released it on Sept. 11. Trump's dealings with Ukraine and the delay in getting aid to the country have been central in his impeachment probe.

Several OMB officials have said freezing the aid was unusual, but OMB general counsel Mark Paoletta disagrees, writing in the memo that this was a routine matter. "Often, in managing appropriations, OMB must briefly pause an agency's legal ability to spend those funds for a number of reasons, including to ensure that the funds are being spent efficiently, that they are being spent in accordance with statutory directives, or to assess how or whether funds should be used for a particular activity," he said. Paoletta wrote the memo after the U.S. Government Accountability Office asked why the aid was delayed. Catherine Garcia

December 11, 2019

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) made a prediction on Wednesday night, one that he hopes will steer Democrats when they vote on whether to impeach President Trump.

Buck sits on the House Judiciary Committee, which debated the articles of impeachment on Wednesday night. When it was his turn to speak, Buck declared that Democrats were looking for "any excuse" to impeach Trump, and that won't end well for them.

"Democrats are so righteous in their belief the president must be impeached that they ignore plain facts," he said. "I tell my colleagues: Go ahead, vote to impeach President Trump tomorrow. But when you walk out of this hearing room, call your freshmen colleagues and tell them they're not coming back and you hope they've had their fun. Say goodbye to your majority status and please join us in 2021 when President Trump is inaugurated again." Catherine Garcia

December 11, 2019

In a passionate plea to his Republican colleagues, Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) implored them to "wake up" and remember that they "didn't swear an oath to Donald Trump. You swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Cicilline made his remarks on Wednesday night as the House Judiciary Committee debated the articles of impeachment against President Trump. He first quoted Alexander Hamilton, who said impeachable offenses are "abuses of public trust, injuries done to society itself," and said he would use his time to help the public understand why Trump's decision to stop aid to Ukraine affects every American.

Trump, Cicilline said, "wielded the enormous powers of the presidency to cheat in the 2020 election. Specifically, he used our nation's leverage over an ally, undermining our national security to try to smear the opponent he feared most in the general election. That wasn't an attack on Vice President Biden, it was an attack on our democracy, and if we don't hold the president accountable for it, we will set a catastrophic precedent."

In the future, he warned, a president afraid of losing re-election will "feel entitled to do whatever it takes to win, even if they have to abuse their power to do it. If we set that precedent, if we decide the president is above the law, then we will no longer live in a democracy. We will live in a dictatorship, trading the values of Madison for the values of Moscow."

Speaking directly to the GOP lawmakers on the committee, Cicilline urged them to "stop thinking about running for re-election, stop worrying about being primaried, stop deflecting and distracting and treating those you represent as if they don't see what's going on, like they're not smart enough to realize that you are willfully ignoring the facts to protect a corrupt and dangerous president." He then asked each person to "reach deep within yourself to find the courage to do what the evidence requires and the Constitution demands: to put our country above your party." Catherine Garcia

December 11, 2019

Starting in 2020, Major League Baseball will begin testing players for opioids, the Los Angeles Times reports.

A person with knowledge of the matter told the Times the league and its players' union have agreed to the new policy, and they expect it will be formally announced on Thursday.

Major league players have not had to undergo opioid or marijuana testing, unless there is reasonable cause or they are in a treatment program, the Times reports. Minor league players have been subject to marijuana testing, but under the new policy, all players will be able to use pot for medicinal purposes.

In July, Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his Texas hotel room while on the road, and tests found he had opioids in his bloodstream. Catherine Garcia

December 11, 2019

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday said in a court filing that Rudy Giuliani's associate Lev Parnas has misrepresented his income and failed to disclose that he received $1 million from Russia in September.

Parnas, they said, poses "an extreme risk of flight" that is "only compounded by his continued and troubling misrepresentations." Parnas was arrested in October and charged with campaign finance violations, and prosecutors have asked the judge to revoke his bail and send him to jail.

Prosecutors said the $1 million was put into a bank account belonging to his wife, Svetlana Parnas, and this seemed "to be an attempt to ensure that any assets were held in Svetlana's, rather than Lev's, name."

Parnas and another indicted Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, went to Ukraine to try to dig up dirt on Democratic presidential candidates. They have also been accused of working on behalf of Ukrainian government officials to get Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine known for her anti-corruption efforts, removed from her post. Beyond that, not much is known about who the pair worked for and what they did, Bloomberg notes, and this court filing rises new questions about their clients. Catherine Garcia

December 11, 2019

With a 377-48 vote, the House on Wednesday passed a $738 billion defense policy bill that authorizes the creation of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the military and gives federal workers 12 weeks of paid parental leave.

The bill also gives troops a 3 percent pay raise. The House passed a version of the bill in July, and negotiators spent the last several months working out details and making concessions. The compromise bill does not include any provisions related to President Trump's border wall, and also drops several items touted by progressive Democrats, including blocking Trump from taking military action against Iran and banning the sale of certain munitions to Saudi Arabia.

The bill still has to pass in the Senate. Trump tweeted that he will sign it "immediately." Catherine Garcia

December 11, 2019

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has returned.

While she never actually quit her day job, Harris had one of her most high profile days in the Senate on Wednesday since ending her Democratic presidential bid earlier in December. She took a seat with the rest of Senate Judiciary Committee to listen to testimony from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on his report on the FBI investigation into 2016 Russian election interference.

When it was her turn to ask questions — after a hearty welcome from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the committee chair — Harris quickly fell back into the swing of things. The senator used a good chunk of her time to go after Attorney General William Barr for "doing the bidding of President Trump."

Some observers praised her performance and even dropped some suggestions about what she should do next. Tim O'Donnell

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