December 3, 2019

Missed FBI deadlines may have made it easier to purchase guns, Roll Call reports.

Roll Call obtained previously unpublished data, which is not included in the FBI's annual public report on gun background checks, that showed the FBI has left hundreds of thousands of gun background checks unfinished for years, despite an internal 2015 report that flagged the problem and suggested solutions. The incomplete checks result from an 88-day deadline after which the FBI must purge the checks from its computers, even if they aren't done. Last year, for example, the agency processed 8.2 million checks, but 201,323 were purged.

Little has reportedly changed since the 2015 report — between 2014 and 2019, the FBI failed to complete over 1.1 million checks. The number even rose in 2016 and 2017 before dipping back down in 2018.

"We have no way of knowing how many of those records where a background check did not come back resulted in the sale of a gun to someone who was a prohibited purchaser," said Kris Brown, president of the gun control advocacy group Brady.

The 88-day deadline isn't the only one, either. There's also a three-business day window in which the FBI must complete a check before the dealer can follow through with the sale. Many retailers wait for the 88-day deadline, per Roll Call, but the FBI still determined that there were 3,960 cases last year in which the buyer shouldn't have been able to purchase if not for the three-day rule. In those cases, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is tasked with retrieving the weapons. The shorter deadline is how Dylann Roof, who committed a mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015 was able to purchase his weapon. Read more at Roll Call. Tim O'Donnell

9:16 p.m.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) sharply rebuked President Trump during the House Judiciary Committee's hearing on Thursday night, saying that because of his "selfish" actions, Ukrainians died.

"In my colleagues' efforts to defend this president, you want him to be someone he's not," Swalwell said. "You want him to be someone he is telling you he is not." Trump's decision to freeze security aid to Ukraine, given to help the country fight Russian military aggression, resulted in the deaths of innocent Ukrainians, he continued, adding, "People died, and you may not want to think about that, but they died when this selfish, selfish president withheld the aid for his own personal gain."

Swalwell then pivoted to Russia. "To my colleagues who believe we have such an anti-corruption president in the White House, I ask you this: How many times did this anti-corruption president meet with the most corrupt leader in the world, Vladimir Putin?" he said. "How many times did he talk to him? Sixteen times, between meetings and phone conversations. And how many conditions did the president put on Vladimir Putin to get such an audience with the most powerful person in the world at the highest office? Zero conditions. That's who you're defending. So keep defending him. We will defend the Constitution, our national security, and our elections." Catherine Garcia

8:29 p.m.

A resolution recognizing the 1915 Armenian genocide unanimously passed the Senate on Thursday.

"From 1915 to 1923, the Ottoman Empire carried out a force deportation of nearly 2 million Armenians, of whom 1.5 million were killed," bill co-author Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said. "We must never be silent in the face of atrocity."

Turkey has denied a genocide occurred, and after the House passed its version of the bill in October, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan complained about it to President Trump, NBC News reports. Previously, the resolution was blocked three separate times by three Republican senators, at the request of the White House.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a co-author of the bill, said he is "thankful this resolution has passed at a time in which there are still survivors of the genocide. [They] will be able to see the Senate acknowledge what they went through." Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also praised the move, calling it a "victory of justice and truth. On behalf of the Armenian people worldwide, I express our profound appreciation to the Senate for this landmark legislation." Catherine Garcia

7:14 p.m.

During the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment hearing on Thursday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) tried to shift the focus away from President Trump to former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden.

Gaetz introduced an amendment to the articles of impeachment that would refer to the "corrupt" hiring of Hunter Biden by the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Hunter Biden has a history of alcohol and drug abuse, which Gaetz gleefully mentioned. "It's a little hard to believe that Burisma hired Hunter Biden to resolve their international disputes when he could not resolve his own dispute with Hertz rental car over leaving cocaine and a crack pipe in the car," he said.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) was next to speak, and without uttering any names, he reminded the entire room that Gaetz himself was arrested for driving under the influence (the case was later dropped). "I would say the pot calling the kettle black is not something that we should do," Johnson said. "I don't know what members, if any, have had any problems with substance abuse, been busted in a DUI, I don't know, but if I did, I wouldn't raise it against anyone on this committee. I don't think it's proper." As Johnson spoke, CSPAN's cameras zoomed in on Gaetz, who looked pained. Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia

5:33 p.m.

If you love Keanu Reeves, clear your schedule on May 21, 2021, because Hollywood is treating you to a double feature.

Warner Bros. has announced that The Matrix 4 will arrive in theaters on that date, which also happens to be the date Lionsgate had previously scheduled for the fourth John Wick movie. Honestly: Just cut out the middleman and give us the John Wick vs. Neo movie of our collective dreams. Read more at The Wrap. Scott Meslow

5:22 p.m.

Let's hope Vacation is all you ever wanted, because you're about to get a lot more of it.

The Griswold family — immortalized on the big screen in the movies Vacation, European Vacation, Christmas Vacation, Vegas Vacation, and an Ed Helms-starring reboot you probably forgot about — is bound for the small screen, reports Deadline.

The new TV series, titled The Griswolds, will premiere on the upcoming streaming service HBO Max, and promises to explore the family's "daily lives in the suburbs of modern-day Chicago," because nothing says "Vacation adaptation" like a bunch of people sitting around at home. Read more at Deadline. Scott Meslow

4:55 p.m.

The upcoming Game of Thrones prequel spinoff House of the Dragon is set hundreds of years before the events of the original series, which makes it rather unlikely that fan favorites like Tyrion Lannister or Arya Stark will be popping in for cameos.

But one Game of Thrones actor who could actually, plausibly appear in House of the Dragon says she might be down to reprise her role: Carie van Houten, who played the "red witch" Melisandre.

Melisandre was eventually revealed to be very, very old in one of many Game of Thrones plot twists that didn't actually go anywhere — but hey, at least that gives the spinoff something to explore. Read more at Entertainment Weekly. Scott Meslow

4:52 p.m.

Between HBO's Big Little Lies and and Apple TV+'s The Morning Show, Reese Witherspoon has spent much of 2019 on the small screen. But there's one big-screen character she's keen to revive: Elle Woods, the protagonist of 2001's Legally Blonde and its sequel.

A third Legally Blonde hasn't formally been greenlit, but Witherspoon confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that it's on her list: "We discussed it and thought, maybe it's time to revisit" — and given that the last Legally Blonde movie ended with Elle Woods setting her sights on the White House, the 2020 election could be about to get very interesting.

Read more at The Hollywood Reporter. Scott Meslow

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