August 22, 2019

Andrew Yang's 2020 campaign just got a little bit weirder.

The tech entrepreneur has peppered his Democratic presidential run with charmingly odd tidbits about himself, notably promising to be the first "ex-goth" president and constantly reiterating how much he loves math. Yet in a Politico profile published Thursday, Yang let his pectoral muscles do the talking, with slightly disturbing results.

Yang, like his fellow millennials, spent his adolescence and young adulthood working through several phases. To Politico, he described himself as an "angsty" and "brooding" kid who read a lot of sci-fi and listened to a mix of Pearl Jam and Sarah McLachlan. Yang's personality evolved in college at Brown University, where he "started to lift weights, mostly to try to get dates, and was proud to be able to bench press 225 pounds eight to 10 times in a row," Politico writes.

Thus sums up the origin story of "Rex" and "Lex," Yang's right and left pectoral muscles, respectively. And back in college, Yang "could jostle them on command" to make them "talk," he wrote in his 2014 book Smart People Should Build Things. Today, Yang acknowledges, they're "almost mute," though Rex did sputter out a few sentences to Politico: "Andrew, I still have a little bit of voice left. You haven’t fed me in a long time. You used to looooove meeeeeee.'"

Read about more than just Yang's abandoned workout regimen at Politico. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:08 p.m.

The battle over Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's now-vacant seat was already in full swing just hours after it begun.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear he wants to fast-track the confirmation of Ginsburg's replacement and said President Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the Senate floor. The president, for his part, said Republicans have an "obligation" to confirm his nominee, whoever it may be, "without delay."

But Democrats also made their position clear. In the 9 p.m. ET hour after Ginsburg's death was announced, donors gave $6.2 million online. That's the most money ever given in a single hour since ActBlue, the party's donation-processing site launched 16 years ago, The New York Times reports. Then, in the 10 p.m., Democratic donors set another record by giving $6.3 million.

ActBlue doesn't specify where donations go in real time, but one page created by Crooked Media — a media company set up by former Obama administration aides and home to the Pod Save America podcast — called "Get Mitch or Die Trying" (in reference to McConnell) raised more than $3 million in about three hours, the Times reports, and will divide the proceeds between 13 different Democrats running for Senate this year, indicating that the party is prioritizing the high court. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

10:45 a.m.

That didn't take long.

President Trump on Saturday urged Senate Republicans to confirm a new Supreme Court Justice, who he will nominate, to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday night at 87. Trump told GOP lawmakers "we have this obligation, without delay."

Ginsburg's death has already sparked a debate over the vacant seat. In 2016, Senate Republicans blocked then-President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, because it was an election year. So is 2020, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has argued it's a different situation because the Senate majority and president are from the same party and, therefore, he is aiming to fast-track a nomination. Democrats — and some Republicans — have said a confirmation hearing should wait until at least after the November election, if not January's inauguration.

Days before she died, Ginsburg reportedly said her "most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed." With Trump and McConnell on the same page about confirming her replacement as soon as possible, it appears whether her wish is granted will depend on how individual Republican senators approach the situation.

10:21 a.m.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Saturday posted a photo to his Instagram account in which he is walking down a flight of stairs as part of his recovery after he was poisoned last month.

In the photo's caption, Navalny, one of Russia's most prominent Kremlin critics, wrote that he has a "clear path" to recovery, but suggested it will be a long one. He was removed from a ventilator five days ago and said he is still having trouble climbing stairs, pouring water, and using his phone. Still, he has apparently made significant progress since, he said, he was previously considered only "technically alive."

Navalny fell ill in August while in Siberia and was airlifted to a hospital in Berlin while in a coma. Multiple labs in Europe have confirmed he was poisoned by a Soviet-era nerve agent called Novichok. His supporters suspect Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind the assassination attempt, but Moscow has denied any involvement and has accused Navalny's aides of removing evidence, jeopardizing the official inquiry into the poisoning. Read more at Deutsche Welle and The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell

8:36 a.m.

There has been no shortage of current and former American politicians on both sides of the aisle expressing their admiration for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, including the last two Democratic presidents.

In a statement, former President Barack Obama called Ginsburg a "warrior for gender equality" who "helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isn't about an abstract ideal of equality; that it doesn't only harm women; that it has real consequences for all of us." Obama also weighed in on the possibility of the Republican-led Senate fast-tracking the confirmation of Ginsburg's replacement before the election, suggesting that Ginsburg herself would want her legacy to be honored by the Senate sticking to the precedent it set in 2016 when the GOP blocked Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland because it was an election year. (Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said 2020 is different because the president and Senate majority are of the same party.)

Former President Bill Clinton, who nominated Ginsburg to the high court in 1993, also shared his thoughts on her life and legacy, describing her "as one of the most extraordinary justices" ever to serve on the bench. Tim O'Donnell

8:09 a.m.

Both presidential candidates paid tribute to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday night from metastatic pancreatic cancer complications.

President Trump, who found out about Ginsburg's passing in real time after finishing a rally speech in Minnesota, called her "an amazing woman who led an amazing life," and later, in a formal statement, referred to the justice as a "titan of the law" who was "renowned for her brilliant mind and her powerful dissents at the Supreme Court."

Trump's Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, echoed those sentiments, describing Ginsburg as "an American hero, a giant of legal doctrine, and a relentless voice in the pursuit of that highest American ideal: Equal Justice Under Law." Biden's respect for Ginsburg has been on record for some time. Back in 1993, during her Senate confirmation hearing, then-Sen. Biden (D-Del.) said Ginsburg "came before the committee with her place already secured in history" for arguing "a series of landmark cases that changed the way our laws could distinguish legally between women and men, and you significantly narrowed the circumstances under which they could."

In addition to praising Ginsburg on Friday, Biden addressed the unavoidable question of the possibility a Republican-led Senate would try to confirm a Trump-selected replacement on the Supreme Court. The Democratic nominee made it clear the decision should not come until at least after the election. "The voters should pick a president, and the president should select a successor to Justice Ginsburg," he said. Tim O'Donnell

September 18, 2020

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) says she won't vote on a Supreme Court nomination until after the election. Or at least that's what she said in an interview with Alaska Public Media only hours before the news of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's passing was reported late Friday.

"I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. We are 50 some days away from an election," she reportedly said, referencing the 2016 case of Merrick Garland, when Republicans in the Senate, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), blocked President Obama's nomination to replace Justice Antonin Scalia after he died that February. "That was too close to an election, and the people needed to decide."

McConnell, for his part, has already said he has no problem moving forward right away. "President Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate," he said in a statement Friday night. With that stance, tremendous pressure will fall on Murkowski and other moderate Republican senators like Susan Collins (Maine) and Mitt Romney (Utah) to stick to Murkowski's stated position.

Republicans could attempt to have it both ways and wait for the lame duck session after the election. Of course, confirming a Trump nominee at that point could be even more fraught if Joe Biden wins the presidency or if Democrats win the Senate. Bryan Maygers

September 18, 2020

After news of the passing of legendary Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wasted no time making it clear where he stood on the timeline to confirm a successor. "President Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate," he said in a statement.

That position seemingly contradicts the stance McConnell took in February 2016 when Justice Antonin Scalia died, nearly nine months prior to that year's presidential election. That time around, the Republican leader blocked President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, saying "the American people should have a say in the court's direction." President Trump won in November, and Neil Gorsuch was eventually confirmed to replace Scalia more than a year after he died.

In his Friday statement, McConnell drew a distinction between this year and 2016, saying this time is different because the president and the Senate majority are of the same party. He did not specify, however, whether the Senate vote on a Trump nominee would come prior to Election Day or during a potential lame duck session. Bryan Maygers

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