No thanks
May 19, 2020

Former President Barack Obama may not be hosted at the White House for a portrait unveiling while President Trump is in office — not that he apparently wants to be.

The sitting U.S. president for decades has traditionally hosted the former president at the White House for a ceremony in which his predecessor's official portrait is unveiled, but NBC News reports "this modern ritual won't be taking place" between Obama and Trump in possibly the "latest casualty of the political divide."

Obama doesn't sound too upset about it, though, as according to the report, the 44th president "has no interest" in participating in the ceremony while Trump is in office. Former President George W. Bush's portrait unveiling took place under Obama in 2012, while former President Bill Clinton's took place under Bush in 2004. According to the report, the portrait process for Obama "stalled" in 2017.

In recent days, after Obama in a graduation speech criticized the "folks in charge" during the coronavirus pandemic and in a private call blasted Trump's response to the crisis as an "absolute chaotic disaster," Trump has attacked Obama as "incompetent." He's also been baselessly accusing Obama of criminal actions while not offering evidence or expanding on his claims when questioned.

Although NBC notes the ceremony typically happens in a president's first term, according to the report, it's also unlikely to occur for Obama during a second Trump term should the president win re-election, meaning "it could be 2025" before his portrait unveiling happens. Brendan Morrow

March 25, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden is hoping his most recent debate against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was the Democratic primary's last.

During a virtual news conference on Wednesday, Biden was asked about a recent comment from Sanders' campaign that he would participate in an April primary debate should one be held. There are no more primary debates on the schedule at the moment.

Asked whether he thinks there should be another debate, Biden said Wednesday he "hasn't thought about" it because he's been focused on the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis but ultimately came down against the idea.

"I think we've had enough debates," Biden said. "I think we should get on with this."

Biden and Sanders most recently faced off during a CNN debate on March 15, which was held without an audience due to the coronavirus crisis. The Associated Press reports that there's "doubt among the candidates' advisers that" another debate will happen, although before the coronavirus pandemic, one was expected to occur in April. Democratic National Committee debate organizer Xochitl Hinojosa told AP, "We are taking things day by day."

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Biden recently began delivering speeches and appearing on cable news while broadcasting from his house, saying Wednesday's virtual conference took four days to set up. "The new technologies are quite effective," he said. Brendan Morrow

February 12, 2020

Pope Francis has declined a controversial proposal that would have allowed for the regular ordination of some married men as priests.

A summit of bishops back in October recommended to Pope Francis allowing the ordination of married men in the Amazon region as a way of dealing with a shortage of priests there, as The New York Times reported. It was a potentially revolutionary proposal, as The Wall Street Journal notes that if approved, it "would have been the first time in almost a thousand years that the Roman Catholic Church routinely ordained married men as priests."

Pope Francis, however, released a papal document in response to the bishops on Wednesday that ignored the proposal, CNN reports. The editorial director of the Vatican's communications office told the Journal that Francis, "after praying and reflecting, has decided to respond not by foreseeing changes or further possibilities of exceptions (to priestly celibacy) from those already provided for."

The original proposal drew a backlash from conservatives in the church, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in a move seen as undercutting Francis' upcoming decision recently co-authored a book that argues for the necessity of celibacy among priests. Benedict later asked for his name to be taken off the book.

CNN reports Francis' document "offers few, if any, pragmatic changes for the church," while the Times writes that his decision "raised the question of whether Francis' promotion of discussing once-taboo issues is resulting in a pontificate that is largely talk." Brendan Morrow

December 17, 2019

Adam Driver recently walked out of an interview with NPR's Terry Gross "after expressing displeasure at the idea" of listening to a clip of his performance in Marriage Story, The Daily Beast reports.

The executive producer of NPR's Fresh Air confirmed to The Daily Beast that the Oscar-nominated actor walked out of an interview earlier this month while a clip from the film was playing, reportedly the scene in which Driver's character sings "Being Alive."

"We don't really understand why he left," the producer said.

The interview never aired, with NPR instead running a previously-recorded conversation with Conan O'Brien.

The Beast notes, however, that Driver's reluctance to watch or listen to himself act has been well documented and actually came up in a previous interview with Gross, during which Driver said he didn't want to listen to a clip because "[I] always hate it." According to a New Yorker profile of Driver earlier this year, he "swore off" watching his own movies for a time after "I hated what I did" in Inside Llewyn Davis, with the piece saying Driver's "reluctance amounts to a phobia."

Driver's performance in Marriage Story, especially in the "Being Alive" scene, has drawn widespread acclaim, and he's one of the frontrunners for Best Actor at the 2020 Oscars. Brendan Morrow

November 2, 2019

The Washington Nationals are set to celebrate their first ever World Series title with a parade through the nation's capital Saturday, and the team will then head to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Monday to meet with President Trump, who is welcoming the team with open arms despite the chorus of boos he heard last week at Nationals Park during Game 5.

It'd be hard to imagine any member of the team is skipping out on Saturday's festivities, but at least one player has decided to skip out on the White House visit. Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle, who bounced back from an up-and-down regular season with a strong performance throughout the playoffs says he just can't do it, citing Trump's penchant for insults and racist language, The New York Times reports. "The rhetoric, time and time again, has enabled those kind of behaviors," Doolittle, who has never been shy about brandishing his liberal viewpoint, said. "That never really went away, but it feels like now people with those beliefs, they maybe feel a little bit more empowered. They feel like they have a path, maybe. I don't want to hang out with somebody who talks like that."

While Doolittle is the first Nationals player to confirm he won't be attending the visit, others are still mulling it over, The Washington Post reports. Athletes have skipped out on the tradition frequently since Trump took office. For example, the U.S. women's national soccer team, which won the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, and the Golden State Warriors, who won the 2018 NBA title, decided as teams not to attend at all. Tim O'Donnell

August 28, 2019

Speculation that Stacey Abrams might run to succeed Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) didn't even last a full hour.

Isakson on Wednesday announced he would retire from the Senate for health reasons at the end of 2019, immediately sparking speculation that Abrams, the Democratic candidate for Georgia governor in 2018, might run for the seat. But Abrams was quick to shoot that speculation down, tweeting out a statement attributed to her spokesperson saying that she will "not be a candidate" for the seat.

Instead, Abrams' spokesperson says that she will "lead voter protection efforts in key states across the country, and make sure Democrats are successful in Georgia in 2020." Abrams is also "committed to helping Democratic candidates win both Senate races next year."

Abrams' decision wasn't entirely surprising considering she previously announced she would not run for Senate in 2020 and recently told The New York Times, "I do not want to serve in the Senate." Isakson's unexpected retirement, which will put two Georgia Senate seats into play in 2020, has apparently not changed that fact. Brendan Morrow

May 29, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday said that he hopes not to testify before Congress.

Mueller spoke publicly on Wednesday for the first time in two years to announce his resignation as special counsel and discuss the findings of his investigation into 2016 election interference. Although Democrats have called for him to testify before Congress, Mueller said that "I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak to you in this manner."

Mueller went on to say that "no one" has told him whether he can or should testify, but he suggested his potential testimony would not yield any new information.

"Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report," Mueller said. "...The work speaks for itself, and the report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress." He also said that "I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation."

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) had previously indicated Democrats would subpoena Mueller for his testimony if necessary. Brendan Morrow

May 14, 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) isn't into this whole Fox News town hall thing.

The Democratic candidate for president in 2020 on Tuesday revealed that she has turned down an offer from Fox News to participate in a town hall, blasting the network as a "hate-for-profit racket that gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracists" and that is "designed to turn us against each other, risking life and death consequences."

The Democratic National Committee in March announced it would not be partnering with Fox News for any 2020 debates, citing the network's "inappropriate relationship" with President Trump. But since then, a number of prominent 2020 contenders have participated in town hall events with Fox News, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), whose April event was a ratings hit. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) also recently held a Fox News town hall, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg have both agreed to do so.

Since being rejected for 2020 debates by the DNC, Fox News personalities like Bill Hemmer have urged the committee to reconsider, arguing that their news division is different than the opinion programming. House Democrats have also recently been encouraging members to make appearances on Fox News to reach voters to the right who might be sympathetic to some of their ideas.

Warren said on Tuesday that Fox has "enough legit journalism to make the claim to advertisers that it's a reputable news outlet," but she says that a town hall event gives the sales team "a way to tell potential sponsors it's safe to buy ads on Fox" and "adds money to the hate-for-profit machine." For that reason, she concludes, "hard pass." Brendan Morrow

See More Speed Reads