October 16, 2020

Twitter after drawing criticism by blocking a story from the New York Post about former Vice President Joe Biden's son is making some key policy changes.

The company this week prevented users from tweeting an article with unconfirmed allegations about Biden and his son Hunter, which the outlet claimed was based on alleged emails purportedly obtained from a laptop dropped off at a repair shop and that ended up in the hands of President Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani. Twitter said the article violated its hacked materials policy, which "prohibits the use of our service to distribute content obtained without authorization."

The step was controversial especially among Republicans including President Trump, and days later, Twitter's Vijaya Gadde has announced "we have decided to make changes" to this policy on hacked materials after "reflecting on" the "significant feedback." Now, Gadde said, Twitter will "no longer remove hacked content unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them," and the company will also label tweets with these links to "provide context" rather than blocking them.

"We want to address the concerns that there could be many unintended consequences to journalists, whistleblowers and others in ways that are contrary to Twitter's purpose of serving the public conversation," Gadde said.

This was a "stunning policy reversal" from Twitter, The Washington Post wrote, although according to the Post, the Hunter Biden story in question will remain blocked by Twitter based on a different policy preventing private information from being shared.

Facebook had also taken action against the Hunter Biden story, saying it would reduce its distribution before it could be reviewed by fact-checkers. But Twitter's block drew far more criticism, and Senate Republicans subsequently announced they planned to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Dorsey earlier this week admitted the company's communication around the New York Post block was "not great." Brendan Morrow

January 27, 2021

First lady Jill Biden intends on taking an active role in a Biden administration task force set up to reunite migrant children and their parents who were separated at the southern border during the Trump era, three people familiar with the matter told CNN.

In 2017 and 2018, under the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy, several thousand migrant children were separated from their parents. A federal judge instructed advocacy groups and law firms to find the parents so they can be reunited with their children, but according to the latest court filing, they have been unable to reach the parents of 611 kids.

Michael LaRosa, a spokesman for Biden, told CNN on Wednesday that the first lady's chief of staff, Julissa Reynoso, will "monitor the federal reunification effort given her background as a lawyer." President Biden is expected to announce the creation of a reunification task force in the near future, and a person familiar with the matter told CNN that high-ranking officials from the Health and Human Services Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department will lead the effort. Catherine Garcia

January 27, 2021

During a Wednesday phone call, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) let GOP lawmakers know he wants all infighting to stop, asking them to "cut this crap out."

Two representatives and an aide on the call told CBS News and CNN that McCarthy made the plea without calling anyone out by name. One known issue involves Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who as conference chairwoman is the No. 3 House Republican. Ardent supporters of former President Donald Trump want her pushed out of the role, angry at Cheney because she voted to impeach Trump earlier this month on a charge that he incited an insurrection.

McCarthy made it clear that if Republicans are turning on one another, they won't be able to focus on blocking Biden administration policies and winning the majority in 2022, people on the call said. The congressional aide told CBS News McCarthy sounded frustrated, while one lawmaker told CNN he relayed a hopeful message, saying "the only thing that can stop us from taking the majority is us."

McCarthy has held some private conversations with members, and reminded lawmakers on the call "no attacks on one another," the lawmaker told CNN. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) also asked his colleagues not to get angry in public about the metal detectors installed outside the House floor in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Several Republican lawmakers have been seen angrily confronting security officers after setting the detectors off, and Hudson said rather than throw a public fit, they need to let leadership know they are unhappy so they can work on modifications. Catherine Garcia

January 27, 2021

Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) supports sanctions against colleagues who make extremist remarks, saying he hopes House leadership takes "measures that will send the message that this is unacceptable."

On Tuesday, CNN reported that before being elected last year, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) liked a comment on social media that said "a bullet to the head" would be a quick way to remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Greene, an adherent of the QAnon conspiracy, also liked comments about executing FBI agents for being members of the "Deep State" and responded to a person asking if "we get to hang" former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton now by saying the "stage is being set. Players are being put in place. We must be patient."

In an interview with ABC News' Powerhouse Politics podcast, Reed said he doesn't know Greene but has "expressed concern about the rhetoric and the information that I'm seeing with her, and I would hope some folks would maybe talk to her." Greene represents the Republican Party as well as her constituents, and her fellow members of the GOP "all have to answer for" her remarks, Reed said. Democrats and Republicans both have to call out "any rhetoric that is of that extreme nature," Reed continued, and Greene's online behavior was "offensive" and "appalling. It cannot be accepted."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Wednesday morning said he "planned to have a conversation" with Greene. In a statement, Greene said that CNN wants to "cancel me and silence my voice," and called the report about her online comments "a hit piece on me focused on my time before running for political office." Catherine Garcia

January 27, 2021

Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) sensible fashion non-statement raised $1.8 million for charitable organizations in Vermont.

For President Biden's inauguration last Wednesday, Sanders wore a simple Burton Snowboards jacket and mittens made from recycled wool. Agence France-Presse photographer Brendan Smialowski snapped a photo of a cozy Sanders sitting in a folding chair, legs and arms crossed, that resonated with the internet — soon, images began appearing showing Sanders sitting on the moon, riding the New York subway, and hanging out with the Golden Girls.

His campaign put the image on sweatshirts, T-shirts, and stickers last Thursday, and the items immediately sold out; more products were released over the weekend, and those were snapped up by Monday morning. Sanders announced on Wednesday that in just five days, $1.8 million was raised for a variety of charitable organizations in Vermont, including Meals on Wheels and senior centers. He said he was "amazed by all the creativity shown by so many people over the last week," and happy to use his "internet fame to help Vermonters in need."

Fundraising is not enough, Sanders added, as "even this amount of money is no substitute for action by Congress, and I will be doing everything I can in Washington to make sure working people in Vermont and across the country get the relief they need in the middle of the worst crisis we've faced since the Great Depression."

The mittens Sanders wore were crafted by Vermont elementary school teacher Jen Ellis, who has made additional pairs for Passion 4 Paws Vermont and Outright Vermont to auction off. Burton Snowboards also donated 50 jackets to the Burlington Department for Children and Families in Sanders' name. Catherine Garcia

January 27, 2021

Cloris Leachman, the award-winning actress known for such roles as Phyllis Lindstrom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, has died at 94.

Leachman died from natural causes at her home in California on Tuesday, Variety reported.

The beloved actress rose to fame while portraying landlady Phyllis on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, one of the most iconic sitcoms of all time, in the 1970s. She won two of her eight Primetime Emmy Awards for the role, which she reprised in the spinoff, Phyllis, and she's tied with Julia Louis-Dreyfus for most acting honors at the Emmys, NBC News reports.

Leachman also won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1972 for her performance in The Last Picture Show, and the long list of her other memorable work includes Young Frankenstein and Malcolm in the Middle, with the latter winning her two additional Emmys in the 2000s. In 2011, she was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame — and Variety notes that at age 82, she became Dancing With the Stars' oldest contestant in 2008.

"Cloris Leachman was a comedy legend," the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tweeted Wednesday. "From a groundbreaking role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show to the films of Mel Brooks and her Oscar-winning turn in Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show, she never lost her ability to shock, delight and surprise us. She will be missed." Brendan Morrow

January 27, 2021

Frank Biden, President Biden's brother, was featured in a newspaper ad for the Florida-based law firm where he works that ran on Inauguration Day in the Florida-based Daily Business Review, CNBC reports. In the ad, which promotes an environmental lawsuit against a group of Florida sugarcane companies, a picture of Frank Biden, a non-attorney senior adviser for the firm, is accompanied by quotes touting his relationship with his brother.

"My brother is a model for how to go about doing this work," one quote reads, while another states "the two Biden brothers have long held a commitment to pushing environmental issues to the forefront; the president-elect has vowed to rejoin the Paris Agreement and wants to set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets, for example."

Richard Painter, who served as former President George W. Bush's chief White House ethics lawyer, said Frank Biden had a right to run the ad, but suggested it wasn't a good look for him or the new administration, which he said should encourage Frank Biden not to promote the family name and make it clear senior White House officials shouldn't engage with him. "The Biden White House has to have a very strict protocol on the using of the Biden name," Painter told CNBC. "Brothers, law firm associates, and anyone else who is using the Biden name should not be contacting the president or anyone else working with the president."

Frank Biden told CNBC in an email he has never "used my brother to obtain clients for my firm." Read more at CNBC. Tim O'Donnell

January 27, 2021

Dr. Anthony Fauci is continuing to look back — and get brutally honest — about his experience working under former President Donald Trump.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, opened up about the Trump administration in a new interview with The Atlantic, recalling how the White House "became a different place" where officials broke from previous administrations' "deep respect for science," making for a "surrealistic experience."

For instance, Fauci recalled his frustration over Trump hearing things about the COVID-19 pandemic from random people like "a buddy he knew from somewhere" and taking it as seriously as what the experts were saying, as well as surrounding himself with "strange people" promoting "garbage" science. He also said Trump showed an apparent lack of interest in the pandemic.

"It's really tough to get into his head, but I think what was going on with him is he was not interested in the outbreak," Fauci said. "The outbreak to him was an inconvenient truth that he didn't accept as a truth."

Fauci remembers making administration officials "furious" by contradicting Trump's "nonsense," and at one point, the White House even sent out a list of things he allegedly got wrong about the pandemic that "was complete crap." In the end, Fauci said he tried not to let things like this bother him.

"People's lives are at stake," Fauci said. "I'm a physician. I'm a scientist. I'm a public-health expert. I know what I need to do. All that other stuff is just a distraction. Quite frankly, it's bulls--t."

At the same time, Fauci said he and Trump actually "really liked each other," and the president was "charismatic and likable on a personal basis," if "not on a policy basis." But with President Biden in office, Fauci said, it's as if "we went from an alternative world into a real world." Read the full interview at The Atlantic. Brendan Morrow

See More Speed Reads