October 27, 2019

U.S. lawmakers have responded positively to the military raid that resulted in the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but that doesn't mean President Trump is getting off scot-free in their eyes.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) praised the "heroism" of the military effort, but was not pleased with the fact that Moscow — whose airspace U.S. forces reportedly flew through to reach Baghdadi's compound — was allegedly briefed on the raid and congressional leadership was not. Trump said the U.S. told Russia it was entering their airspace for an unspecified reason, although Moscow has since said they were unaware of the operation. Regardless, Pelosi argued she and other leaders of the House should have known what was going on much sooner.

Trump also faced some criticism for thanking Russia first, when listing off the countries or other allies, such as the Kurds, who aided the U.S. in some way en route to the mission's completion.

Others just didn't love how the president spoke so brazenly about the military operation, in which he described Baghdadi as "whimpering and crying" before he "died like a dog." Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, told Jake Tapper during an appearance Sunday on CNN's State of the Union that he was "a little uncomfortable" with Trump's description, though he did say "there's a value" in making Baghdadi look "less inspirational" to potential followers. Tim O'Donnell

1:56 p.m.

Mick Mulvaney has all the Ukraine beans and nowhere to spill them.

That's why the acting White House chief of staff is reportedly convinced that even as Trump seemingly sours on his performance, his job is safe. And, as The New York Times reports, he's going around telling everyone in the White House that he's got a lock on his position as Trump's right-hand man.

Mulvaney has been in his "acting" spot for nearly the whole year, and has also run the Office of Management and Budget for all of Trump's presidency. That puts Mulvaney in two very consequential spots when it comes to Trump's Ukraine dealings. Mulvaney would've been running the OMB when it withheld security funds from Ukraine, allegedly over Trump's desire to have Ukraine probe his political rivals, and he's also been right by Trump's side as the whole impeachment inquiry goes down.

As a result, Mulvaney is telling his associates "there is no easy way for Trump to fire him in the midst of the impeachment fight," implying that "he knows too much" about Trump's Ukraine "pressure campaign," the Times writes. He seemed to solidify that allegiance to Trump on Tuesday when his lawyers said he wouldn't file an impeachment lawsuit but still "rely on the direction of the president" when it comes to possible impeachment testimony. And if Trump doesn't want another John Bolton situation on his hands, he'll probably keep Mulvaney on the payroll. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:52 p.m.

Werner Herzog is challenging Gwyneth Paltrow for the title of Jon Favreau collaborator who knows the least about Jon Favreau projects.

Herzog stars in the new Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian, working with Favreau, who serves as showrunner and producer. The legendary German filmmaker already revealed that he never saw a single Star Wars movie before accepting the role, but that's not all: he is also apparently not even fully aware of who Favreau himself is.

"I do not know what other films he has made," Herzog said in an interview with Variety.

This came in response to a question about whether Herzog feels pressure working with Favreau, given his record of highly successful films. After all, Favreau started the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe by directing Iron Man, and earlier this year, he helmed Disney's live-action remake of The Lion King, which is now the seventh highest-grossing film of all time.

"Well I like The Lion King, but the animated version 30 years back or so," Herzog, informed of Favreau's direction of the remake, said.

In fact, Herzog explained that "I hardly see any films," sometimes as few as two a year. But there is one thing Herzog would definitely like to plug on the day his highly-anticipated new show launches: Keeping Up with the Kardashians, opining, "Do not underestimate the Kardashians." Brendan Morrow

12:53 p.m.

Who shot first?

It might not be one of Forky's questions, but it is perhaps the greatest conundrum of our time, up there with "what happens after you die," "what existed before the Big Bang," and "is the hit movie Frozen actually a giant cover up so people don't stumble onto the 'truth' about Walt Disney having been cryogenically frozen?" But truth-seekers who want to know which version of Han Solo's showdown with Greedo made it onto Disney+ are going to have more questions than just that. Chiefly: What on Earth is a Maclunkey?

In the original 1977 Star Wars film, Han Solo famously shot the bounty hunter Greedo, who was holding him at gunpoint, after a few threats. When director George Lucas re-released the film in 1997, he went back to edit the scene so Greedo actually fires on Han first, making Han's shot a return-fire, so the murder of Greedo is a little more justified. The question of who shot first has been the subject of controversy and endless discussion ever since.

On Tuesday, Disney+ uploaded a completely new version of the divisive scene in Star Wars: A New Hope. In this one, Han and Greedo still exchange their barbs, but then Greedo has an extra line of dialog before shooting first: He shouts "Maclunkey!"

What does it mean? Even Star Wars superfans are stumped by the utterance, although there is a rumor that "maclunkey" was added back during a 4K restoration that was never released.

Most impressive of all: Who'd have thought that after all these years, we'd have a new question about Greedo to keep us up at night? Jeva Lange

12:42 p.m.

Mark Sanford is officially calling it quits.

The former congressman and South Carolina governor, who sought to challenge President Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2020, announced Tuesday he's ending his campaign, Axios reports.

Sanford, who while in Congress said that Trump has "fanned the flames of intolerance," said in July he was considering a run against the president, announcing in September he'd be joining the race and saying, "As a Republican Party, we have lost our way." His campaign was, to put it mildly, a long shot effort; a formal kickoff event he held in October drew just a single person.

Upon announcing Tuesday he'd already be exiting the race, Sanford said Tuesday, per The Washington Post's Dave Weigel, "I don't think on the Republican side there's any appetite for a serious nuanced debate with impeachment in the air." Brendan Morrow

12:14 p.m.

The families of Newtown, Connecticut shooting victims officially have a path to pursue justice.

The Sandy Hook families had previously sued Remington, the gun manufacturer that produced the weapon used in the 2012 shooting, prompting Remington to try to to get the case taken down. But the Supreme Court on Tuesday decided it wouldn't hear Remington's appeal of a ruling in favor of the families, letting the families proceed in their suit.

Earlier this year, Connecticut's Supreme Court ruled 4-3 against throwing out Sandy Hook victims' families' suit against Remington. Remington tried to appeal the decision to the highest federal court, saying a 2005 federal law meant it couldn't be sued when its weapons were used in a deadly shooting. But the Supreme Court decided against hearing it, giving no comment on its decision. "The families are grateful that the Supreme Court upheld precedent and denied Remington’s latest attempt to avoid accountability," Josh Koskoff, a lawyer for the families, told The Associated Press.

The Sandy Hook school shooting left 20 young children and six adults dead after a 20-year-old man with a Remington AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle opened fire. Families of the victims later sued Remington over the availability and marketing of the weapon, saying it was "targeted younger, at-risk males," per AP. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:50 a.m.

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has dropped his plans for an impeachment lawsuit, saying he'll defy a congressional subpoena.

Mulvaney after receiving a subpoena for testimony had been trying to join in a lawsuit that essentially meant, as the New York Times reported, he aimed for the courts to "tell him whether to listen to his own boss, who wants him to remain silent, or to comply with a subpoena from the House, which wants his testimony." Mulvaney later decided he would file his own lawsuit.

The acting chief of staff "finds himself caught in that division, trapped between the commands of two of its co-equal branches — with one of those branches threatening him with contempt," his attorneys said in a filing, per The Hill. "He turns to this court for aid."

But now, Mulvaney has dropped this effort entirely, deciding upon listening to his old boss.

"After further consideration, Mr. Mulvaney does not intend to pursue litigation regarding the deposition subpoena issued to him by the U.S. House of Representatives," his attorneys said, CNN reports. "Rather, he will rely on the direction of the President, as supported by an opinion of the Office of Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice, in not appearing for the relevant deposition."

Mulvaney already skipped his scheduled impeachment deposition last week, as two witnesses testified he was involved in tying a White House meeting with Ukraine's president with investigations Trump wanted. Brendan Morrow

10:59 a.m.

The race to fill the late Rep. Elijah Cummings' seat has its first contender.

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Cummings' widow and the chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, will run in the Baltimore district's special election, she told The Baltimore Sun in an interview published Monday night. While she is "of course devastated at the loss of my spouse," Rockeymoore Cummings said his "spirit is with me" in making this decision.

Cummings died last month at age 68 after a long fight with cancer, capping his congressional career as House Oversight Committee chair, leading one of the groups investigating President Trump for impeachment. As Cummings' health declined, he had considered resigning, but ultimately decided to stay in because "we thought there might be a turnaround," Rockeymoore Cummings told The Baltimore Sun. Cummings told his wife in the months before he died that he'd like her to take his congressional seat, with Rockeymoore Cummings saying she'd run "as if he's still right here by my side."

Rockeymoore Cummings will maintain Cummings' focus on the opioid crisis and "fighting for the soul of our democracy," and also campaign on her specialties in health care and education, she said. The seat will be decided in an April 28 special election. Meanwhile, several House Democrats are looking to take Cummings' spot on the Oversight committee, with Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) serving as acting chair.

Read more about Rockeymoore Cummings' decision at The Baltimore Sun. Kathryn Krawczyk

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