May 18, 2020

The head of streaming for Disney is leaving the Magic Kingdom and headed to TikTok.

Kevin Mayer, chair of Walt Disney direct-to-consumer and international, resigned from the company on Monday to become TikTok's new CEO, The New York Times reports. Mayer will also become the chief operating officer of TikTok's owner, ByteDance.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek in a statement praised Mayer for having "had an extraordinary impact on our company over the years," adding, "having worked alongside Kevin for many years on the senior management team, I am enormously grateful to him for his support and friendship." Mayer was Disney's streaming boss during the launch of Disney+, which has exceeded analysts' expectations in terms of subscribers.

After Mayer's exit, the new head of streaming for Disney will be Rebecca Campbell, who last year was tapped to be president of Disneyland Resort.

This comes almost three months after Bob Iger in a surprise announcement said he was stepping down as CEO of Disney effective immediately. Mayer was widely considered to be a leading candidate to replace Iger, but the company went with Chapek, the head of the company's parks division. Since then, as Disney takes a major financial hit as its theme parks close during the coronavirus pandemic, Iger has reportedly "reasserted control" over the company. Brendan Morrow

11:11 a.m.

President Biden's plan to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by or before Sept. 11, 2001, has its critics among Republicans in the halls of Congress, but Republican voters are mostly on board.

A Morning Consult poll released Wednesday found that the strategy is widely popular in the United States (overwhelmingly so among Democrats), and that 52 percent of Republican voters are in favor of it, compared to just 33 percent who oppose.

The reason, it seems, is pretty simple: Americans just want troops to come home safely after two decades of conflict. The major counterargument to Biden's decision is that the absence of U.S. forces will allow the Taliban to regain control over Afghanistan, which, in turn, would provide an opening for terrorist groups to re-establish themselves, presenting a threat to the U.S. and its allies, both at home and abroad. But that stance doesn't appear to be resonating with Americans.

The Morning Consult poll was conducted between April 16-19 among 1,992 registered voters. The margin of error is 2 percentage points. Read more at Morning Consult. Tim O'Donnell

11:02 a.m.

The Department of Justice has opened a civil investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Wednesday in the wake of former officer Derek Chauvin's murder conviction.

Garland said the DOJ's investigation will focus on whether the Minneapolis Police Department "engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing." His announcement came after Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd after kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes during his arrest in May 2020.

"Yesterday's verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis," Garland said.

This probe will be separate from a previously-announced federal criminal investigation into Floyd's death, Garland also said. It will examine whether the Minneapolis Police Department has a pattern of "using excessive force, including during protests," as well as whether it "engages in discriminatory conduct" or unlawful treatment of people with behavioral health disabilities.

"Building trust between community and law enforcement will take time and effort by all of us," Garland added. "But we undertake this task with determination and urgency, knowing that change cannot wait." Brendan Morrow

9:53 a.m.

New legislation signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) earlier this week increases criminal penalties for crimes committed during protests. DeSantis called it "the strongest anti-looting, anti-rioting, pro-law-enforcement piece of legislation in the country," MSNBC reports, and it may be part of a trend in Republican-led states, The New York Times writes.

One of the most notable aspects of the law is that tearing down monuments, including Confederate ones, is now a second-degree felony offense, meaning anyone who is charged with doing so would face a maximum of 15 years in prison, the Times reports.

On the other hand, the legislation provides some extra protection for people who injure protesters by ramming into them with their car. If protesters block a road, MSNBC notes, Florida drivers who plow their vehicle into them can claim self-defense, giving them civil (as opposed to criminal) liability protection. That "all but [invites] people to commit vehicular homicide," Paul Waldman argued in The Washington Post. Read more about Florida's anti-protest law at MSNBC, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

9:49 a.m.

Queen Elizabeth II is expressing her gratitude for the public's "support and kindness" as she turns 95 less than a week after her husband Prince Philip's funeral.

The queen in a statement on Wednesday, her 95th birthday, said "my family and I would like to thank you all for the support and kindness shown to us in recent days" after a small funeral for Philip was held over the weekend, per NBC News. Philip died earlier this month at the age of 99; he and Elizabeth had been married since 1947.

"While as a family we are in a period of great sadness, it has been a comfort to us all to see and to hear the tributes paid to my husband, from those within the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and around the world," the queen said, adding that "we have been deeply touched, and continue to be reminded that Philip had such an extraordinary impact on countless people throughout his life."

The queen also said that "I very much appreciate" the "many messages of good wishes" she has received on her birthday. According to Buckingham Palace, she will remain at Windsor Castle as the period of mourning for Philip continues, and NBC News reports there is "no public plan to mark her birthday" this year both due Philip's death and the pandemic.

Prince Harry, the queen's grandson, had returned to the U.K. for the first time since stepping back from the royal family for Philip's funeral, and there had been some reports that he might stay for the queen's birthday. But The Daily Mail reports Harry has now arrived back in California, as he wanted to get home to his wife, Meghan Markle, who was advised against traveling to the funeral due to her pregnancy. Brendan Morrow

8:58 a.m.

Norfolk, Virginia has fired a veteran police officer who donated $25 to Kyle RIttenhouse, the Illinois teenager awaiting trial for killing two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last August, The Virginian-Pilot reports. Lt. William K. Kelly III, the No. 2 officer in the Norfolk Police Department's internal affairs department, also used his official email address to praise Rittenhouse when giving him money through a Christian crowdfunding website, GiveSendGo, according to private records obtained by the group Distributed Denial of Secrets.

"God bless. Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You've done nothing wrong," Kelly wrote in his Sept. 3 donation note, The Guardian first reported, citing GiveSendGo's data breach. "Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don't be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership."

Kelly's "egregious" comments violated departmental policies and "erode the trust between the Norfolk Police Department and those they are sworn to serve," Norfolk City Manager Chip Filer said Tuesday afternoon. Clay Messick, president of the local police union, called the decision hasty, "disappointing," and lacking in transparency. Kelly is not a member of the union, Messick added, but "it is hard to call this fair." The city said Kelly can appeal his firing. Kelly did not respond to the Pilot's requests for comment.

An unidentified veteran Norfolk Police officer told the Pilot that Kelly was a "golden boy" and said what he is purported to have done is "absolutely crazy" and threatens to further exacerbate racial tensions inside the department. Kelly's claim that every officer supports Rittenhouse is also flat-out wrong, the officer said. "Many of us here are pissed off because he doesn't speak for us and those views are certainly not mine."

Rittenhouse raised $586,940 at GiveSendGo between Aug. 27 and Jan. 7, The Guardian reports, and among the other donors using their official accounts were a city official in Huntsville, Alabama; a paramedic in Utah; and an engineer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. GiveSendGo has hosted crowdfunding campaigns for the Proud Boys and other groups banned from other platforms. Peter Weber

8:03 a.m.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) may be set to throw his hat in the 2024 ring — even if former President Donald Trump does, too.

Christie is "seriously considering" running for president in 2024, Axios reported on Wednesday, citing three people familiar with his thinking. The former New Jersey governor previously ran for president during the 2016 Republican primaries, but he ended his bid in February 2016 and backed Trump.

The former governor, according to the report, has been talking up his 2024 potential to friends, telling them he would be the only person in the Republican field with both executive experience and who has previously run for president — in what Axios describes as a "clear shot" at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who's also seen as a serious 2024 contender.

A source also told Axios that Christie "could run on a reputation for toughness that appeals to Trump's base minus the former president's recklessness."

Among the other Republicans who may enter the 2024 primaries include former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Of course, there's also the question of whether Trump himself will run again, a possibility the former president says he is "beyond considering."

But Axios reports Christie has been telling associates that whether Trump does seek a second term wouldn't affect his decision. Indeed, the former governor said in an interview in December that he wouldn't rule out the possibility of once again running against Trump. Brendan Morrow

7:11 a.m.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that it will extend emergency school meal waivers through the 2021-22 school year, not Sept. 30, the previous cutoff date. The child nutrition program waivers give schools more flexibility to offer free meals to all students, but especially the estimated 12 million children and teenagers experiencing food insecurity during disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"States and districts wanted waivers extended to plan for safe reopening in the fall." Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. "This action also increases the reimbursement rate to school meal operators so they can serve healthy foods to our kids. It's a win-win for kids, parents, and schools."

The waivers allow school districts more options to get meals to students, including offering free meals outside regular meal times, home delivery to distance learners, and curbside pickup of meals for multiple days at a time. Peter Weber

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