September 21, 2020

The White House said Sunday that President Trump will announce a Supreme Court nominee soon but will let Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) determine the calendar for a potential confirmation vote.

Trying to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday, before the election or in the lame-duck session afterward would be a rushed process — and extremely contentious, especially given that McConnell blocked President Barack Obama's nominee in early 2016 on the grounds that voters should decide who gets to pick the nominee in an election year.

Two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine), have publicly opposed filing Ginsburg's seat before the next president is chosen, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) — who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2016 — suggested in August he would oppose holding hearings if a seat opened up before the election. Four Republicans have to oppose Trump's pick for the nomination to fail. But if McConnell waits until the lame-duck session, that number might fall to three, thanks to Arizona's Senate race.

Former astronaut Mark Kelly, the Democratic nominee, is leading Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) in most or all polls, and if he wins on Nov. 3, he could be sworn in by Nov. 30, NBC News reports. That's because this is actually a special election to fill the seat vacated when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) died. McSally was sent to Congress by Gov. Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.), not the voters, and state law says the winner of the election will take office once the results are certified. It's possible Ducey or McConnell could try to slow the process if Kelly wins.

Ginsburg's dying wish was for the president inaugurated next January to pick her successor. "But the decision of when to nominate does not lie with her," Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, said Sunday. Peter Weber

10:38 p.m.

The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Buffalo Bills 38-24 on Sunday night, securing the team's spot in Super Bowl LV against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Chiefs are now heading to their second consecutive Super Bowl, hoping to become the eighth NFL franchise to win back-to-back titles. The Chiefs were down 9-0 to start, but led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the team made a quick comeback, scoring 21 straight points. The Chiefs also had one of their longest plays of the season, with a 71-yard pass from Mahomes to Tyreek Hill.

The Buccaneers won three straight road games to get to the Super Bowl, defeating the Green Bay Packers 31-26 earlier Sunday. Quarterback Tom Brady will be making his 10th Super Bowl appearance — his first away from the New England Patriots. Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl in 2002, during the team's first — and until now, only — appearance.

Super Bowl LV is set for Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, airing on CBS. This will be the first time in NFL history the team from the host city will play in the Super Bowl. Catherine Garcia

10:02 p.m.

There could soon be another Huckabee in the Arkansas Governor's Mansion.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former President Donald Trump's second White House press secretary, is expected to announced on Monday that she will run for governor of Arkansas, two people familiar with the matter told NBC News. Her father, Mike Huckabee, served as Arkansas' governor from 1996 to 2007.

Due to term limits, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) will be out of office in 2022, and Sanders has been thinking of throwing her hat into the ring since leaving the White House in 2019, NBC News reports. Her time as press secretary was tumultuous, with Sanders, a Trump loyalist, regularly accusing the media of spreading falsehoods and later admitting to federal investigators that she couldn't back up her assertion that FBI agents told the White House they had no confidence in former FBI Director James Comey. Catherine Garcia

9:35 p.m.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced on Sunday he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Lopez Obrador tweeted that he is experiencing mild symptoms and has received medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he said. "We will move forward." The president added that he will continue to work through his illness, and a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled for Monday will still take place.

Mexico has been hit hard by the coronavirus, with the country recording more than 1.7 million cases and at least 149,084 deaths. Close to 30 public hospitals in Mexico City have reported they are at 100 percent capacity, and residents there have been encouraged by the mayor to stay home as much as possible. Lopez Obrador has been criticized throughout the pandemic for his slow response, the fact that he rarely wears a mask, and the scarcity of testing across the country. Catherine Garcia

9:02 p.m.

President Biden is expected to lift restrictions on transgender service members in the military as early as Monday, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal on Sunday.

This would reverse a ban former President Donald Trump announced via tweet in 2017, which blindsided former Defense Secretary James Mattis. The Pentagon has said there are about 9,000 service members who identify as transgender, with independent estimates putting the number closer to 16,000, the Journal reports.

During his Senate confirmation hearing last week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was asked by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) if he would support lifting restrictions on transgender service, and Austin indicated that he would. "I truly believe ... that if you're fit and you're qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve," he said. "And, you can expect that I will support that throughout." Catherine Garcia

8:04 p.m.

President Biden will soon reinstate COVID-19 travel restrictions on most non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, and 26 European countries that allow travel across open borders, a senior U.S. public health official told Reuters on Sunday.

During his last days in office, former President Donald Trump lifted the restrictions on Europe and Brazil, effective Tuesday, and Biden's order rescinds this. Additionally, Biden is adding South Africa to the list, due to the spread of a new COVID-19 variant in the country that is 50 percent more infectious.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's principal deputy director, told Reuters the agency is "putting in place this suite of measures to protect Americans and also reduce the risk of these variants spreading and worsening the current pandemic." Because there are "more contagious variants emerging," Schuchat added, "it's not the time to lift restrictions on international travel." Catherine Garcia

3:01 p.m.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers will square off for the NFC title on Sunday, followed by the AFC championship between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs. Both games are expected to be competitive, with all four teams viewed as legitimate contenders. The winners will meet in two weeks for Super Bowl LV. For neutral fans, here's a breakdown of why all four potential Super Bowl matchups are intriguing.

Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs — This would pit two of the NFL's best quarterbacks — Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes — against each other, and it's likely a dream matchup for State Farm's advertising team, but it would also be a treasure for anyone interested in sports history. The Packers beat the Chiefs in the first ever Super Bowl in 1967.

Packers vs. Buffalo Bills — Buffalo and Green Bay, both mid-sized cities in the Great Lakes region, are home to two of the most ardently loyal, passionate fan bases in the NFL. The enthusiasm would be infectious.

Chiefs vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — There aren't a lot connections between these two franchises, but who wouldn't want to watch a rematch between Mahomes and Tom Brady after the latter eked out a win over the Chiefs in the AFC championship game two seasons ago when he was still with the New England Patriots.

Bills vs. Buccaneers — The Bills and Brady go way back, having played twice per year during his Patriots days, and it generally hasn't been pretty for Buffalo — the future Hall of Famer is 32-3 against his longtime rival. On the one hand, that could set it up a storybook ending for the Bills and their fans, who may have a chance to capture their first ever Super Bowl victory by getting revenge on their nemesis. On the other hand, Bills fans may prefer to just avoid Brady altogether. Tim O'Donnell

2:19 p.m.

Dr. Deborah Birx, who served as the White House coronavirus response coordinator while former President Donald Trump was still in office, opened up about her time working with the Trump administration during an exclusive interview with CBS News' Margaret Brennan on Sunday.

Birx was often criticized for not pushing back enough on Trump's comments about the pandemic, and while she suggested her reactions could be misinterpreted — like the time Trump asked her about whether COVID-19 could be treated with a bleach injection — she did anticipate the gig would likely be the end of her federal career. "You can't go into something that's that polarized and not believe you won't be tainted by that experience," she told Brennan, adding that she'll "need to retire" within the next few weeks.

Birx did say she wished she had "been more publicly outspoken" about certain things like COVID-19 testing, especially because she's been known to "push the envelope" in private. But she suggested that, ultimately, the culture of the White House proved too unfamiliar. Tim O'Donnell

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