July 21, 2019

Fox & Friends may have been at the root of President Trump's racist tweets directed at four Democratic congresswomen last week.

A report from The Washington Post, which relied on information from 26 White House aides, advisers, and lawmakers, details how even Trump's own top aides believed he did not understand the political ramifications of what he had done last Sunday when he tweeted that Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) should "go back" to the "places from which they came."

It turns out that Trump was reportedly watching Fox & Friends, one of his favorite shows, after waking up in the morning when he decided it would be a good idea to "elevate" the congresswomen, whom he reportedly believes make good political foils.

Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway reportedly then had to explain to the president why the tweets had caused such stirring outrage throughout Washington and the media landscape.

While it's unclear what specifically about the show's segment on the congresswomen might have inspired the particular sentiment behind the tweets, it looks like another potential example of the reputed influence the cable news network has on the president's opinions. Read more about the fallout of Trump's tweets at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

11:31 a.m.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. 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

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

7:45 a.m.

Four more years? If former Vice President Joe Biden is elected, maybe not.

Biden is signaling to aides that he would not run for a second term should he be elected president, Politico reports, with a prominent adviser to the campaign telling the outlet, "he's going to be 82 years old in four years and he won't be running for re-election."

The former vice president's advisers have reportedly been debating whether he should make this pledge publicly, but Politico reports Biden "has for now settled on an alternative strategy: quietly indicate that he will almost certainly not" do so. Citing four people who regularly talk to Biden, Politico writes it's "virtually inconceivable" he would run for re-election.

Another Biden adviser suggested he's somewhat less definitive about it but has the attitude of, "I want to find a running mate I can turn things over to after four years but if that's not possible or doesn't happen then I'll run for re-election." This adviser added he will not make the pledge publicly, while another said he dismissed such a pledge as a "gimmick."

Still, Politico reports, "several advisers now quietly acknowledge that while Biden won't run for re-election he cannot say so publicly."

In April, Biden simply responded "no" when asked if he would only serve one term, but Politico notes that in October, he was less definitive about it.

"I feel good and all I can say is, watch me, you'll see," Biden said, The Associated Press reports. "It doesn't mean I would run a second term. I'm not going to make that judgment at this moment." Brendan Morrow

7:02 a.m.

Wednesday is the final day of campaigning before Britain votes on a new Parliament, and though Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives have consistently led in the polls, "the size of the margin is seen as narrowing before Thursday's contest," The Associated Press reports. "All of the parties are nervous about the verdict of a volatile electorate weary after years of wrangling over Brexit — and likely to dump traditional party ties." Johnson's main opponent is Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Neither man is popular.

"Welcome to the 2019 general election, a pre-Christmas present few British voters seem anxious to unwrap," writes BBC North America reporter Anthony Zurcher. "It's as if the 2016 U.S. presidential election, where both major candidates were deemed flawed and untrustworthy, is playing itself out again three years later, on the other side of the Atlantic." Johnson, campaigning for a parliamentary majority to push Brexit through, faces serious questions about his honesty and trustworthiness. Corbyn is inconsistent on Brexit, vows to pull Britain to the left, and faces criticism that he ignored anti-Semitism in his party.

The election was supposed to be about Brexit, but on Monday, the Daily Mirror published a photo of a 4-year-old boy sleeping on the floor of a hospital in Leeds, the photo went viral, and suddenly the Conservatives' decade of cuts to the beloved National Health Service (NHS) was the top campaign issue. Johnson initially refused to look at the photo on an iTV reporter's phone, pocketing the reporter's phone and saying he would "study it later."

Another echo of 2016 is the apparently organized spread of misinformation via social media. Soon after the photo of the Leeds boy went viral, for example, a Facebook post took off claiming — falsely — that the photo was staged. "False stories are getting out there and exploding in social media," Matt Walsh, a researcher at the University of Cardiff, told AP, and they're "being put in the public domain through some very dark networks." Peter Weber

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