August 24, 2019

In a three page letter from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd to the leaders of the House Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department acknowledged on Friday that a psychologist at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan had approved millionaire financier and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein's removal from suicide watch before he killed himself in his cell at the detention center in August.

Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell in July, though it's unclear if that was why Epstein was put on suicide watch in the first place, as Boyd's letter did not give a precise reason for the decision. Regardless, after being evaluated by a doctoral-level psychologist, it was determined those measures were no longer necessary. No reason was given for Epstein's removal, either, but Reuters reports that suicide watch is typically imposed as a short-term restriction. An inmate can only be removed, however, after a face-to-face meeting with a U.S. Bureau of Prisons psychologist.

Attorney General William Barr has said there were "serious irregularities" at the MCC, which falls under his authority. He reassigned the facility's warden and placed two guards who were responsible for watching Epstein on leave. Tim O'Donnell

August 13, 2017

President Trump came under broad criticism this weekend for failing to explicitly denounce white nationalism while commenting on the violence in Charlottesville on Saturday. As outrage grew — including within the president's own party — the White House released a statement Sunday saying "of course" Trump meant all that stuff he didn't say:

In his original remarks, Trump condemned "in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence," adding, crucially, "on many sides, on many sides." For a deeper look at why Trump's words came up short, read this analysis from The Week's Simon Maloy. Bonnie Kristian

August 9, 2017

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Americans that there is not thought to be "any imminent threat" from North Korea during his scheduled refueling stop in Guam while traveling back to the mainland United States on Wednesday, The Associated Press reports. "Americans should sleep well at night," Tillerson added in a calm contrast to President Trump's threat of raining "fire and fury" down on North Korea on Tuesday.

Addressing Trump's comments, Tillerson said the president was "sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong Un can understand, because he doesn't seem to understand diplomatic language. I think the president just wanted to be clear to the North Korean regime on the U.S. unquestionable ability to defend itself, will defend itself and its allies."

Not everyone thinks that message was so clear, though. "It's hard to think of a president using more extreme language during crisis like this before," presidential historian Michael Beschloss told The New York Times. "Presidents usually try to use language that is even more moderate than what they may be feeling in private, because they've always been worried that their language might escalate a crisis." Jeva Lange

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