back at it
October 10, 2020

President Trump on Saturday hosted somewhere between 300 and 400 people on the South Lawn of the White House, marking his first public event since he was hospitalized after contracting COVID-19 last week. It's been just two weeks since a crowd gathered in the Rose Garden for Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination, which experts believe may have been the catalyst for a coronavirus outbreak that affected both the Trump administration and Republican senators.

Trump was scheduled to speak Saturday for about 30 minutes, but wound up only utilizing 18, an unusual instance of efficiency for the president, who is known for going on tangents that drift far beyond the scope of his planned marks. His voice reportedly sounded "a touch hoarse," but he showed no outward signs of illness and said he was "feeling great," The Associated Press reports.

During his speech, Trump said the coronavirus "is going to disappear" largely thanks to "science, medicine," and "the American spirit." That's a familiar line for the president, although this time the optimism appeared based in his belief that newly-developed coronavirus therapies, rather than wishful thinking, would lead the charge.

The event was not billed as a campaign rally, but the president's rhetoric suggested otherwise. Read more at Axios. Tim O'Donnell

September 1, 2020

Another book-to-TV adaptation from the creators of Game of Thrones is coming.

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are set to adapt Liu Cixin's The Three-Body Problem book series as a Netflix show, Variety reports. Benioff and Weiss, who served as showrunners on HBO's Game of Thrones, will write and produce alongside Alexander Woo. The trilogy of books follows humanity coming into contact with a civilization of aliens.

"Liu Cixin's trilogy is the most ambitious science-fiction series we've read, taking readers on a journey from the 1960s until the end of time, from life on our pale blue dot to the distant fringes of the universe,” Benioff and Weiss said. "We look forward to spending the next years of our lives bringing this to life for audiences around the world."

Benioff and Weiss previously signed a $200 million deal to develop projects for Netflix. After Game of Thrones, they were initially expected to head to the Star Wars universe for a series of films, but they suddenly dropped out last year, saying at the time, "There are only so many hours in the day, and we felt we could not do justice to both Star Wars and our Netflix projects." Funnily enough, Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson will serve as executive producer on the Three-Body Problem series, as will Brad Pitt and Rosamund Pike.

Though Benioff and Weiss set out to adapt all of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels as Game of Thrones, the final seasons of the show went past published material after Martin failed to complete the next two books in time. Over a year after the show's controversial series finale, the next Game of Thrones book is nowhere to be found — leaving open the possibility that Benioff and Weiss end up fully adapting an entirely separate book series before Martin actually finishes his. Brendan Morrow

April 4, 2020

President Trump on Friday fired Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who informed Congress about the whistleblower complaint regarding Trump's communications with Ukraine that eventually led to his impeachment. The president said he "no longer" has the "fullest confidence" in Atkinson.

Democrats were not happy with the decision, especially considering it came as the novel coronavirus pandemic intensifies across the United States. "In the midst of a national emergency, it is unconscionable that the president is once again attempting to undermine the integrity of the intelligence community by firing yet another intelligence official simply for doing his job," said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The Trump administration has already removed numerous officials from their posts involved with Trump's impeachment proceedings, including Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a former National Security Council official, and former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. Others, like former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, resigned.

Atkinson won't be immediately removed — the statute for the intelligence community inspector general requires both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees be informed of a dismissal with 30 days notice, so there won't be an official change until next month. Read more at The Guardian and CNN. Tim O'Donnell

February 8, 2020

In case there was ever a doubt, the United States national women's soccer team took care of business Friday evening.

Fresh off their 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup victory in France last summer, the American side locked up a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after defeating Mexico, 4-0, in a semifinal in the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Samantha Mewis scored twice for the Americans, while Christen Press and Rose Lavelle — the hero of the World Cup final — each added a goal.

The U.S. has never failed to qualify for the Olympics since soccer became an event in 1996. They've won four gold medals, but lost in the quarterfinals to Sweden in 2016, so this year's tournament figures to be a meaningful one for the players.

Canada secured CONCACAF's other Olympic bid after escaping Costa Rica, 1-0, in the other semifinal. The U.S. and Canada will renew their rivalry in the tournament final Sunday, but the most important task for each team has already been completed. Tim O'Donnell

November 6, 2019

The United States and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces are apparently linking up again to continue their joint fight against the Islamic State, SDF commander Gen. Mazloum Abdi said Wednesday.

It looked like there was a fracture in the alliance between the U.S.-led coalition and the SDF after U.S. troops left northeast Syria, allowing Turkish forces to invade the region. That led to violence between Turkish and Kurdish forces, and was widely considered a major betrayal by Washington, although a fragile cease-fire was eventually brokered.

Now, though — if Abdi's announcement does indeed represent the direction the U.S. is heading — it appears the two sides have reconciled after a series of meetings. If the circumstances hold, it would also mean the SDF won't be joining up with the Syrian regime.

There is not yet word from Washington on the matter.

October 1, 2019

Robert Mueller is back at work, and he has probably the best summer vacation story of all time.

The former special counsel will return to his spot at the WilmerHale law firm after leaving in 2017 to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election, the firm announced Tuesday. He'll continue working in his specialty field of high-profile cases and crisis management — something he has even more experience in now.

In a Tuesday press release, Mueller said "it was an honor to serve as special counsel," and that he was "look[ing] forward" to getting his past job back. Mueller's deputies in the special counsel's office, Aaron Zebley and James Quarles, also worked at WilmerHale and will be returning with him.

Mueller's resume was pretty solid before he started working in the private sector in 2013: FBI director, deputy attorney general, to name a few highlights. There's no word on if the additional special counsel experience earned him a raise. Kathryn Krawczyk

April 26, 2019

President Trump once again accused his opponents of attempting a coup — this time telling the National Rifle Association he didn't even need a gun to fight it off.

Trump spoke to NRA members in Indianapolis on Friday and claimed that "bad apples ... tried for a coup" but it "didn't work out so well," also saying, "I didn't need a gun for that one, did I?"

This was the second time in the past day Trump had gone off about a coup against his government, having described Special Counsel Robert Mueller' investigation as a coup multiple times in an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity on Thursday night. On Friday, he continued this train of thought, saying that "spying" and "surveillance" took place and that his opponents were "trying for an overthrow" but "we caught them," a comment that prompted cheers from the audience. Brendan Morrow

August 7, 2017

Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler signed a one-year contract with the Miami Dolphins on Monday, ending his short-lived retirement from football. Cutler's deal with the Dolphins is worth $10 million, plus incentives, as Miami looks to bolster its roster following quarterback Ryan Tannehill's knee injury last week.

Cutler last played with the Chicago Bears, appearing in just five games last season before being sidelined with a shoulder injury. In May, he announced his retirement from football, saying he would join Fox Sports as a television analyst. The plan apparently changed when Miami head coach Adam Gase, who worked with Cutler in Chicago as the Bears' offensive coordinator in 2015, called Cutler and asked whether he was physically ready to step into the pocket this season.

Cutler said he told Gase he was "good to go." He joked at his introductory press conference Monday that his position allows him some conditioning leeway, anyway: "The good thing is I play quarterback, so I don't have to be in that great cardiovascular shape," Cutler quipped, per NBC Sports.

Cutler will likely assume the starting job, leap-frogging backup signal-caller Matt Moore. Kimberly Alters

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