May 20, 2019

President Trump doesn't want former White House Counsel Don McGahn in front of Congress.

The West Winger turned fascinating Mueller report witness was subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee for testimony last week, though Trump has publicly said he wouldn't let McGahn attend. McGahn isn't in the administration anymore, but that didn't stop the Justice Department from issuing a 15-page letter spelling out why McGahn could not legally be called to testify, and it didn't stop Trump from publicly directing him not to testify on Monday.

In the Monday letter to current White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel wrote that "Congress cannot constitutionally compel the president's senior advisers to testify about their official duties." He specifically cited an opinion from former President Bill Clinton's Attorney General Janet Reno, along with precedents from throughout presidential administrations. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders summed up this "bipartisan and constitutional precedent" in a statement, and affirmed that Trump had directed McGahn not to testify.

McGahn still hasn't said if he'll comply with Trump's order, but he faces a pitfall either way. If McGahn ignores Trump and testifies, he'll likely "damage his own career in Republican politics, but also put his law firm" at risk because Trump could tell its GOP clients to "withhold their business," The New York Times explains. But if McGahn steps out on Congress, he could face a contempt charge. Judging by Attorney General William Barr's jokes in the past few days, though, that doesn't seem to matter much. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:59 p.m.

Just moments after Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was announced as Joe Biden's vice presidential pick, the Trump campaign jumped in to disparage her.

Dubbing her "Phony Kamala," the Trump campaign sought to paint Harris as inconsistent and shady. Most questionably, the statement condemns her as part of the "radical mob" that purportedly pushes "the left's radical manifesto." While, yes, Harris has championed several progressive causes the Trump administration would likely deem "radical socialism," among Democrats, she's considered fairly moderate.

In claiming Harris "will abandon her own morals," the Trump campaign pointed to the infamous Biden-Harris debate clash, in which Harris criticized Biden's previous stance on busing and criticized him for working with segregationists. Summer Meza

4:27 p.m.

The pick is in.

After months of anticipation, former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, selected Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate in the race against President Trump, his campaign announced in a text message to supporters Tuesday. Biden also tweeted the news.

Harris was long considered a favorite for the the role, and the senator wound up beating out a host of other contenders including, but not limited to, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who had emerged as another top choice in recent weeks.

Biden and Harris clashed during some of the Democratic primary debates, but the two have reportedly enjoyed a good relationship before and since then.

Harris is the first Black woman and first Indian woman to appear on a major party's presidential ticket. Tim O'Donnell

3:29 p.m.

As reports indicated Monday, the Big Ten Conference is postponing all fall sports, including football, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The league's presidents and chancellors voted on the decision Tuesday. In a statement, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said "it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall." The conference is reportedly hoping to move the affected sports to the spring, ESPN reports.

At least one Big Ten school was disappointed by the news. The University of Nebraska's chancellor, athletic director, and head football coach released a statement expressing a desire to find a way for their student-athletes to compete — perhaps through an agreement with another conference — arguing the university's "rigorous safety protocols" and testing procedures actually make it the safest place for them.

Elsewhere, the PAC-12 is expected to follow suit, but the ACC and SEC are still trying to play this fall, ESPN reports. Read more at ESPN. Tim O'Donnell

3:10 p.m.

Trump campaign Twitter account @TrumpWarRoom has tweeted and retweeted some questionable things in the past. Lately, it's been all systems go against former Vice President Joe Biden, who is set to oppose President Trump in November's election.

The latest effort to bring down Biden is a series of tweets that seem to claim Biden is pro-crime. In a blog post, the campaign points to Biden staffer's donations to bail funds amid the nationwide protests against police brutality. The campaign highlighted four alleged "regular criminals," all of them Black, who were supposedly freed from jail thanks to Biden.

The mugshots were posted alongside rhetorical questions like "Does Joe Biden regret his campaign putting women in danger?" The donations to the bail fund were made by individual staffers, not by the Biden campaign as a whole. Still, the post asserts the streets are now less safe "thanks in part to the Biden campaign."

The Trump campaign's strategy was quickly denounced as racist fearmongering. The Washington Post's Philip Bump pointed out that Biden himself is only loosely connected to the bailouts, and that it's not clear those pictured have been convicted of the crimes listed. Given Trump's insistence on respecting "due process," it seems like a significant oversight. Summer Meza

2:48 p.m.

In an attempt to disrupt nationwide protests following this week's disputed election, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko cut off internet across the country, forcing demonstrators to use VPNs and proxies to get online and share whatever news they can, The Guardian reports.

Katsiaryna Shmatina, a political analyst at the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies, called the move "unprecedented" and said that while the internet has been blocked in the past in Belarus, the current ban has been longer and more aggressive than in previous years.

The European Union, meanwhile, is prepared to take action — likely meaning sanctions — against Minsk, noting the elections were neither "free nor fair" and describing the actions taken against protesters as violent and unjustified.

Several other European countries, including Ireland, Lithuania (where Lukashenko's challenger Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is staying for safety reasons), and the other Nordic and Baltic states have spoken out against Lukashenko's response. Read more at The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell

1:21 p.m.

Actress Alyssa Milano took to Instagram to warn her followers of the lasting effects of COVID-19. She posted a video of herself brushing her wet hair, and after three strokes with a clean brush, she reveals a clump of hair that fell out. She then repeats the process a few times.

Milano said she was sick with coronavirus symptoms late March into April, but multiple COVID-19 tests came back negative. After four months of lingering symptoms, she got a blood-drawn antibody test, which showed she was positive for COVID-19 antibodies.

Shilpi Khetarpal, a dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic, said in an article that she is seeing an increase in reports of hair loss in patients who had COVID-19 two to three months ago. The condition is called telogen effluvium, which is temporary hair loss due to a "shock to the system," she said. "[It] isn't a symptom of COVID-19 as much as it is a consequence of the infection." The condition can last up to nine months, and most cases resolve on their own.

Milano concluded her video by saying, "One brushing, this is my hair loss from COVID-19. Wear a damn mask." Watch the video below. Taylor Watson

1:06 p.m.

Since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the United States has emphasized ratcheting up vaccine production even before federal approval so that, if and when the time comes, the stockpile is ready to go. The same can't be said about a potential treatment known as monoclonal antibodies, however, Stat News reports.

Monoclonal antibodies are pretty much what they sound like — antibodies that have been genetically engineered into new medicines. Immunologists and virologists are reportedly optimistic they could play a role in fighting COVID-19, and data from two separate clinical trials run by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly are expected to be released in the fall, possibly indicating whether the therapies are safe and effective.

But even if they are, it may be too late. Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the U.S. "may have a missed a window" to scale up production of the treatments, which otherwise "could have been an important bridge to a vaccine." Perhaps more importantly, he added, they could also serve as a "hedge in the event vaccines are delayed or don't work." Ultimately, despite the antibodies' potential to change the tides of the pandemic, Gottlieb said, "we just don't have enough doses to realize that goal." Read more at Stat News. Tim O'Donnell

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