August 26, 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden is hopping on the defensive.

After months of gaffes on the 2020 campaign trail prompting even his brain surgeon to chime in and defend his mind, Biden made a pointed comment about the state of his brain over the weekend. "I want to be clear, I’m not going nuts," Biden said during a campaign rally in New Hampshire — a comment that surely extended beyond the confusion he was trying to clear up at the time, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Biden made the declaration while speaking to supporters at New Hampshire's Loon Lake, defending his inability to remember just where he'd spoken at Dartmouth College a few hours earlier. "I'm not sure whether it was the medical school or where the hell I spoke. But it was on the campus," he said, looking at the gathered reporters as he did it, per the Times.

The obviously defensive comment comes after months of Biden stumbling over some pretty important details at campaign rallies, namely the locations of two mass shootings earlier this month. There's also the time Biden said "poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids" in front of the the Asian & Latino Coalition in Iowa. Yet the man who performed surgery on Biden three decades ago following two brain aneurysms agrees with the 76-year-old's weekend comment, saying that he's clearly "as sharp as he was 31 years ago." Kathryn Krawczyk

1:58 p.m.

Fiona Hill might be a major threat to President Trump.

Hill, who serves as Trump's top adviser to Russia, was hired in March 2017 as an ally to then-National Security Adviser and fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. And as a story of her first time meeting Trump reveals, she's seemingly unafraid to hurt the president's feelings — something that could prove notable as she testifies for Congress on Monday.

As The Washington Post reported in 2017, Hill's hiring was "a reassuring selection among Russia hard-liners." But as the Post continues, Hill's "relationship with Trump, however, was strained from the start."

In one of her first encounters with the president, an Oval Office meeting in preparation for a call with Putin on Syria, Trump appeared to mistake Hill for a member of the clerical staff, handing her a memo he had marked up and instructing her to rewrite it. When Hill responded with a perplexed look, Trump became irritated with what he interpreted as insubordination, according to officials who witnessed the exchange. As she walked away in confusion, Trump exploded and motioned for McMaster to intervene.

Things got even worse for Hill "when she was forced to defend members of her staff suspected of disloyalty" after Trump's meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was leaked, per the Post. Read more about Hill and Trump's troubles at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:52 p.m.

Deutsche Bank has been under a lot of scrutiny recently, mostly due to its role as the primary lender to President Trump. But it turns out the bank also has a questionable history in China, The New York Times, along with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, reports.

Beginning nearly two decades ago, Duetsche Bank, while seeking to make inroads in China, conducted a campaign that involved enriching Beijing's elite in exchange for contracts. This included some lavish gifts for the country's former president and premier and millions of dollars paid to Chinese consultants. It also meant that the bank hired more than 100 relatives of the country's political elite, even if they were unqualified.

For example, a man named Ma Weiji was considered "one of the worst candidates" for the job he applied for with the bank, but he was brought on anyway in 2007, likely because his parents were senior executives at state-owned companies. Ma reportedly then secured meetings for Deutsche Bank with his parents' companies.

In another instance, China's former propaganda minister's son was up for a gig. One Deutsche Bank employee wrote in an email that the son "cannot meet our standard," but — you guessed it — he was offered the job, anyway. The same goes for another candidate who was deemed unqualified, but happened to be the daughter of Li Zhanshu, who is now a top member of the Politburo Standing Committee. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

12:18 p.m.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is ready to cross the aisle.

Graham, normally a loyal supporter, has been one of the leading critics of President Trump's decision to remove U.S. troops from northern Syria, which — as many predicted — led to Turkey invading the region, placing the U.S.'s Kurdish allies in danger.

Graham can't reverse the Turkish incursion at this point, but he is rallying support to impose sanctions on Turkey for its actions, and he's ready to work with Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), to get the job done quickly.

Despite the negative reaction to his decision-making, Trump also appears to be on board after warning Turkey not to cross him following the U.S. withdrawal. Tim O'Donnell

Update: Pelosi later announced that she and Graham agreed to a "joint resolution to overturn the President's dangerous decision in Syria immediately."

11:33 a.m.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) is running for president again — at least in Anthony Scaramucci's dreams.

The famously short-lived White House communications director has since turned on the president who appointed him, and has publicly said he's trying to knock President Trump off the 2020 ticket. Now, it seems Scaramucci has decided on his dream candidate, and has launched a website and line of T-shirts to persuade him to run.

Scaramucci started making his support for Romney known earlier this month, tweeting a poll that showed the 2012 GOP nominee beating the presumptive 2020 nominee in a hypothetical primary. He then revealed last week he'd launched Mitt2020.org, and on Sunday night, showed off that the site was offering "commit to Mitt" campaign T-shirts. They are being sold at $20.20 each to "test demand," and so far Scaramucci has seen an "overwhelming" response, he told ABC News.

While Romney hasn't even hinted at granting Scaramucci's wishes, the "Mitt Happens" shirt is sure to be a collector's item in a few years. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:16 a.m.

Disney just announced the entire library of movies and TV shows coming to its streaming service, and, well, they can't all be classics.

With less than a month to go until Disney+ officially launches, the streaming service's official Twitter account Monday morning fired off a massive tweetstorm over several hours revealing virtually every movie and TV show coming to the platform on Nov. 12, one by one. This included tons of all-time classic films like Star Wars, The Lion King, and Toy Story.

It also included movies that definitely sound made up, including The Biscuit Eater, Fuzzbucket, The Cat From Outer Space, The Shaggy D.A., and Sultan and the Rock Star among many others. Nearly every family-friendly Disney film looks set to come to the service, regardless of how weird and forgettable, and the result is one heck of a strange collection. Disney+ may ultimately not only offer the opportunity to watch some of the biggest blockbusters of all time but also revisit childhood movies you previously assumed were just weird dreams.

Still, the thread confirmed some omissions. Not every Marvel Cinematic Universe film will be available at launch, with The Avengers and Captain America: Civil War among those missing. The two most recent Star Wars films also won't be available at first, though they'll be added at a later date.

The most notable television addition is probably The Simpsons, every episode of which will be made available thanks to Disney's recent acquisition of Fox, not to mention the 1992 X-Men animated series. And with reboots of properties like Home Alone and Lizzie McGuire already announced for Disney+, one can only assume Sultan and the Rock Star: The Next Generation can't be far away. Look out, Netflix. Brendan Morrow

11:11 a.m.

The first White House official to be deposed by House investigators in the impeachment saga is heading to Capitol Hill on Monday to testify about Ukraine.

The testimony from Fiona Hill, President Trump's former top Russia and Europe adviser, is reportedly highly anticipated, and although she may limit answers regarding any direct interactions with President Trump, she is expected to hit a few important notes, a personal familiar with Hill's account told The New York Times.

Hill will reportedly testify that she and other officials opposed the removal of former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, that she objected to a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and that she was cut out of the loop by Trump allies like former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on matters concerning Ukraine even though she was Trump's leading adviser on the country.

Hill reportedly considered Yovanovitch's removal an "egregious abuse of the system," and she didn't get why Trump was hopping on the phone with Zelensky for a "congratulatory" call months after a similar conversation. Hill left her post a few days before the phone call, which wound up being the catalyst for Trump's impeachment inquiry. As for Giuliani, Hill reportedly viewed his activities as "essentially co-opting American foreign policy toward Ukraine."

The testimony reportedly will not include anything about a quid pro quo involving Trump withholding military aid for Ukraine until Kyiv investigated former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Read more at The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Tim O'Donnell

10:32 a.m.

Impeachment has President Trump more hooked on Twitter than ever before.

In the week before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) officially launched an impeachment inquiry into the president, he was still pretty addicted to social media, tweeting an average of 18 times per day. But the start of the inquiry has led Trump to double his tweet time, sending an average of 36 tweets a day, The Washington Post reports.

Trump set the single-day tweeting record of his presidency just five days after the impeachment inquiry began, suggesting across 48 tweets and retweets on Sept. 29 that his impeachment would cause a "civil war" and attacking Fox & Friends host Ed Henry 18 times. He then set another record last Friday, hitting "59 total tweets, including 33 in just 20 minutes," The Post writes. That included the announcement that Kevin McAleenan was leaving his spot as acting homeland security secretary.

Trump's tweet storm has coincided with another devastating new fact: He's now averaging more false claims per day than ever before. Throughout his presidency, Trump has averaged 14 false claims per day, with a graph from the Post showing the daily total has consistently increased as he approaches his 1,000th day in office. In fact, over the past 65 days, Trump has relayed an average of 22 false claims per day, per the Post. That's largely thanks to Trump's phone call with Ukraine's presidency and all the ways he's tried to cover it up in the weeks since. Kathryn Krawczyk

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