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March 14, 2019

A Republican senator who announced he would vote to terminate President Trump's national emergency declaration just flip-flopped completely.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) in an op-ed for The Washington Post last month said that he would vote with Democrats to terminate Trump's declaration of a national emergency over the southern border. Trump made this declaration after a partial government shutdown in an attempt to obtain southern border wall funding without congressional approval. Tillis also told the Post it was an easy decision, saying: "It's never a tough vote for me when I'm standing on principle."

Tillis had warned that a future Democratic president could similarly bypass Congress in an attempt to pass an agenda conservatives may not be happy with, saying that "as a U.S. senator, I cannot justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress." He also compared the use of emergency declarations to "acting more like an 'emperor' or 'king' than a president" and said that he would, therefore, vote in favor of blocking it.

But the Senate on Thursday voted to pass a resolution doing just that, and despite Tillis previously saying he would vote yes on it, he voted no. Tillis is up for re-election in 2020, and The Washington Post's Robert Costa reports that conservative activists and donors were "ready to start drafting primary challengers" if he voted in favor of the resolution. CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports the White House threatened to play a role in primarying Republican defectors. The resolution ultimately passed the Senate with 59 votes, without help from Tillis. Brendan Morrow

January 31, 2019

Following widespread backlash to a report that several original songs were being cut from the 2019 Oscars, at least one will be allowed on the show after all.

Variety reported last week that, in an attempt to cut down the length of this year's Academy Awards, the show's producers would only be allowing two of the five nominees for original song to perform. According to the report, "Shallow" from A Star Is Born and "All the Stars" from Black Panther made the cut, but "I'll Fight" from RBG, "The Place Where Lost Things Go" from Mary Poppins Returns, and “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs didn't. Typically, all five original songs are performed, and the decision to cut three of them was not received well, especially not by Mary Poppins Returns star Lin Manuel-Miranda.

But the Academy is responding to this controversy right on time — a full week later — by saying that Jennifer Hudson will, in fact, perform "I'll Fight" from RBG.

The Hollywood Reporter now quotes inside sources as saying Variety's original report was not accurate, suggesting there may turn out to be a place for "The Place Where Lost Things Go" and "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings," too. No other performances have been officially lined up, though. The Academy should probably get around to clarifying this pretty soon, as the 91st Academy Awards will air on Feb. 24. Brendan Morrow

January 14, 2019

President Trump has decided he won't declare a national emergency to build his border wall.

Amid an ongoing government shutdown, Trump has floated the idea of declaring a national emergency to pay for a border wall with Mexico. But asked Monday if he's still considering that option, Trump said he's "not looking to do that" because "this is so simple, you shouldn't have to."

Most lawmakers, including Republicans, warned Trump against declaring a national emergency, saying a potential Democratic president could do the same regarding climate change. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), though, strongly compelled Trump to "declare a national emergency NOW" on Friday. He then suggested Trump reopen the government and, if border wall negotiations don't move forward, declare a national emergency later.

Trump turned down that idea on Monday, hitting Democrats for visiting Puerto Rico this past weekend instead of discussing the longest-ever government shutdown. If Democrats would give in to Trump's $5.7 billion border funding demand, reopening the government would be "simple," he says. With both national emergency options rejected and Democrats still unwilling to bend, it's unclear just how Trump intends to reopen the government and get what he wants. Kathryn Krawczyk

November 20, 2018

The Pentagon may not begin winding down its mission at the southern border this week after all.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Northern Command told Politico Tuesday that "no specific timeline for redeployment has been determined," adding that more details would be provided "as they become available." Just one day earlier, Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, who heads the deployment, actually provided a specific timeline, telling Politico some troops would begin coming home as early as this week and would all be leaving the border by Dec. 15. "Our end date right now is Dec. 15, and I've got no indications from anybody that we'll go beyond that," Buchanan said.

The new Army statement disputes that, and merely says that some troops may be shifted "to other areas of the border," such as in California. These members of the military were sent by Trump in response to an approaching caravan of Central American migrants, which he has dubbed an "invasion" even though most are fleeing poverty and violence. After Buchanan said Monday that the mission was about to be wrapped up, Democrats pointed to this as evidence that the whole thing was nothing more than a stunt to energize Trump's base on Election Day, but now, whether it's true that the troops actually will be leaving in the immediate future remains unclear. Brendan Morrow

May 7, 2018

After examining detailed scans and cross-checking results, researchers at the University of Turin made a disappointing announcement: King Tutankhamen's tomb does not contain a hidden chamber.

In 2015, English archaeologist Nicholas Reeves published a paper called "The Burial of Nefertiti," and in it, he claimed King Tut's tomb, which is on the smaller side, was actually designed for Queen Nefertiti, whose remains have never been found. Reeves came up with his theory after looking at scans of the tomb and seeing traces of doors beneath the plaster, BBC News reports.

Based on this, Egyptian authorities said they were "90 percent sure" that there was a secret room in the tomb. Researchers at the University of Turin looked at new penetrating radar scans and determined that the hidden room just doesn't exist. "It is maybe a little bit disappointing that there is nothing behind the walls of Tutankhamen's tomb, but I think on the other hand that this is good science," said Dr. Francesco Porcelli, head of the research team. Egypt's antiquities minister said he accepts the results. Catherine Garcia

November 10, 2016

Two days after Donald Trump was elected president, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an ardent Trump supporter, admitted the president-elect's promise to get Mexico to fund his proposed border wall may have just been "a campaign device." "He may not spend much time trying to get Mexico to pay for it," Gingrich said of a hypothetical border structure. "But it was a great campaign device."

Gingrich, who is reportedly being considered for the role of secretary of state, said what Trump will "spend a lot of time" on is "controlling the border." Gingrich suggested the flow of refugees into the U.S. could be reduced "by 99 percent in one day by just being practical." "He knows how to build big buildings. He knows how to build golf courses. He knows how to build lots of stuff," Gingrich said of Trump. "The idea that Trump can't figure out how to control the southern border is just silly." Becca Stanek

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