December 3, 2019

Attorney General William Barr has told colleagues he disagrees with Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's conclusion in an upcoming report that the FBI had adequate legal and factual bases to open an investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia in July 2016, The Washington Post and The New York Times report. Horowitz's 400-page report, the culmination of a nearly two-year investigation, will be released Dec. 9; he will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Dec. 11.

Republicans have been looking forward to Horowitz validating President Trump's accusations that the FBI had abused its surveillance power to target him for political reasons. The report is not expected to support those allegations. It isn't clear whether Barr will publicly express his disagreement with Horowitz, or how — he could rebut Horowitz in the written response the Justice Department typically appends to such reports, or he could make a public statement. The inspector general's office is independent of Justice Department leadership, the Post notes, "so Barr cannot order Horowitz to change his findings."

Barr reportedly argues that Horowitz does not have enough information to clear the FBI, and he is relying in part on a separate investigation he initiated, nominally headed by U.S. Attorney John Durham, that is also examining any role the CIA played. But "the threshold to open the Russia investigation was not particularly high," the Times reports. "The FBI can open a preliminary inquiry based on 'information or an allegation' that a crime or threat to national security may have occurred or will occur, according to bureau policy."

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement Monday that "the inspector general's investigation is a credit to the Department of Justice," that Horowitz's "excellent work has uncovered significant information that the American people will soon be able to read for themselves," and "rather than speculating, people should read the report for themselves next week" and "draw their own conclusions." Peter Weber

December 6, 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wants you to know she has "no health problems that would keep her from fulfilling the duties of the President of the United States," per a doctor's letter that the 70-year-old senator publicly released Friday.

Her medical record also showed that she has never "smoked, used drugs or had any problem with alcohol use," and "exercises regularly and follows a healthy diet," and only takes medication for "an underactive thyroid gland," CBS News observes.

This comes a day after the Los Angeles Times published a poll revealing a third of voters are worried about the age of several top presidential candidates, possibly due to potential health concerns. The poll found voters are less concerned about Warren's age than that of her fellow White House aspirants, former Vice President Joe Biden, 77, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), 78, who had a heart attack in October. Meanwhile, President Trump, 73, also faces speculation about an unscheduled doctor's visit last month.

Though the Times survey found only 7 percent expressed concerns regarding Warren's age, 50 percent of Democratic voters told Pew Research Center they would prefer a candidate in their 50s.

Warren is the first Democratic candidate in the top trio to release a medical report, reports Politico, though Biden and Sanders have also pledged to release their medical records before the Iowa caucuses in early February, according to CNN. Warren's early move will likely initiate "a new primary-within-a-primary...to be the hardiest septuagenarian running for president," predicts Boston Globe. Ramisa Rob

December 6, 2019

Earlier this year, Friends star and human mortal Jennifer Aniston turned 50 years old, because that's how time works.

Of course, Aniston is also a famous actress, which means she also has to answer weird questions about how she manages to "embrace" the completely involuntary process of aging. Her answer: "What's the alternative?" Because, frankly, that's the only sensible response to an inquiry that stupid. Read more at People. Scott Meslow

December 6, 2019

Big news from the Garden State: Nicole Polizzi, better known as Snooki, has gym'ed and tanned her last laundry.

On the podcast It's Happening With Snooki & Joey, the Jersey Shore star announced her preemptive retirement from the fourth season of MTV's sequel series Jersey Shore: Family Vacation, reports Deadline.

Of course, Jersey Shore: Family Vacation hasn't even been ordered for a fourth season yet, so this might just be the reality-star equivalent of a "you can't fire me, I quit." Read more at Deadline. Scott Meslow

December 6, 2019

President Trump is taking "no obstruction" very seriously.

Trump is apparently sick of flushing toilets, the world unnecessarily learned on Friday. In some unknown place, some unknown people are cursed with "flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times" before everything goes where it needs to go, Trump said in a White House tirade against environmental protections.

"We have a situation where we're looking very strongly at sinks and showers, and other elements of bathrooms," Trump said, perhaps hinting at toilet paper or even hand towels. "You turn on the faucet, you don't get any water," Trump said of these places where there are "tremendous amounts of water." "They take a shower, the water comes dripping out. People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times," Trump said of this mystery population. "So the EPA is looking at this very strongly," Trump reassured the nation's stressed-out flushers.

Earlier in the same rant, Trump complained about the energy efficient lightbulbs that are apparently giving him an "orange look," which he does not want. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 6, 2019

We've all been there: You're expected to attend the annual Diplomatic Corps reception at Buckingham Palace, but you just can't figure out which tiara to wear.

For the record, the prevailing theory is that Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, will wear the century-old "Lover's Knot" tiara, which consists of diamonds and pearls bound in pretzel-shaped knots.

If you're looking for a similar effect without breaking the bank, we hear your local Burger King may still have some of those cardboard crowns in the back room. Read more at People. Scott Meslow

December 6, 2019

The Trump administration wants to keep impeachment off your holiday menu.

Democrats have spent the past few weeks holding impeachment hearings to build a case against President Trump. But a White House spokesperson seems to think that's a waste of time, mostly because impeachment doesn't... feed anybody?

Yes, that's what White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley said to argue against continuing impeachment proceedings in a Friday Fox News appearance. "As you head into Christmas, as you head into the holiday season, people are going to want results," Gidley said. "But now all they're getting is hatred, vitriol, and a sham impeachment hearing that doesn't put food on the tables of the America people."

Gidley is uh, right on that one thing: Impeachment doesn't have anything to do with feeding families. But the Trump administration's recent rule change that could cut 600,000 people off from food stamps? Well, that certainly does. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 6, 2019

A prosector is looking for Harvey Weinstein's bail to be raised after he allegedly mishandled his ankle monitor.

Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi at a pretrial hearing Friday said Weinstein, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of rape and sexual assault and will go on trial in January, violated his bail conditions "repeatedly" by leaving a piece of his monitoring technology at home, The Associated Press reports. This, AP writes, "left his whereabouts unrecorded for hours at a time." Illuzzi is asking for Weinstein's bail to be raised from $1 million to $5 million.

Illuzzi also argued Friday that it would not be "unreasonable" to remand Weinstein to jail until the trial, USA Today reports.

Weinstein's defense attorney, Donna Rotunno, is denying that he intentionally misused his ankle monitor, saying "technical glitches," including dead batteries, are to blame. She did say that Weinstein once forgot a part of the device at home but that "the minute he realized he forgot it, he made a phone call." Weinstein's trial is set to begin on Jan. 6. Brendan Morrow

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