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December 21, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden has received a COVID-19 vaccine dose, and Dr. Anthony Fauci is among the health officials next in line.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Tuesday will receive a dose of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, as will Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, and frontline workers, Politico reported on Monday.

Azar confirmed the plans in a tweet, saying "we believe it's important to publicly receive the vaccine as part of our efforts to demonstrate that these vaccines are safe and effective." Numerous officials have previously received a vaccine dose in public including Vice President Mike Pence and Biden. Biden received the Pfizer vaccine on Monday, afterward telling Americans they have "nothing to worry about" and should get the vaccine when they can.

Politico reports that Fauci "and other NIH scientists spent last week waiting for updates on when they'd get the vaccine" while Pence and members of Congress got theirs, and the "NIH as of Friday had yet to receive a single shipment of the vaccine." The Moderna vaccine Fauci and the other officials are set to receive was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday, becoming the second COVID-19 vaccine to be approved in the United States. Brendan Morrow

September 28, 2020

Amy Coney Barrett has a reasonably clear path to the Supreme Court, and top Republicans reportedly know it.

President Trump formally nominated the 7th Circuit Court judge to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Saturday. And with Republicans firmly in the Senate majority, Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are "so confident" in Barrett's confirmation that they're already dreaming up her appeals court replacement, Axios reports.

Republican senators nearly universally said they'd like to vote on Trump's Ginsburg replacement even before he announced it would be Barrett. Just Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) definitively said they would rather not consider a nominee, citing the 2016 precedent in which Republicans refused to consider former President Barack Obama's election year nominee. But two senators won't be enough to keep Barrett off the bench before Election Day.

If Barrett is quickly confirmed after her mid-October hearings, it's possible Republicans could quickly shove her 7th Circuit replacement through the Senate as well. That would be "the cherry on top" of conservatives' Supreme Court victory, and "one that McConnell won't pass up," a GOP Senate aide told Axios. McConnell and Republicans are reportedly considering nominating Kate Todd, a White House lawyer who was also on Trump's Supreme Court shortlist, to fill Barrett's slot. Todd is "a favorite of White House counsel Pat Cipollone," Axios writes, though an administration official said no one is formally in consideration for the appeals court yet. Kathryn Krawczyk

September 13, 2019

Lori Loughlin must be shaking in her boots after the sentencing of Felicity Huffman, according to CNN legal analyst Elie Honig.

Huffman received a 14-day prison sentence Friday after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, admitting she paid $15,000 to have her daughter's SAT answers corrected. She was the first parent to be sentenced in the college admissions scandal, but there's plenty more to come, including Loughlin. Unlike Huffman, Loughlin has pleaded not guilty, and she is accused of paying far more money — $500,000 — to get her daughters admitted to college by having them falsely designated as recruits for a sport they don't play.

So Honig noted on CNN Friday that this Huffman sentencing is "really bad news" for Loughlin, and, indeed, every other defendant in the case.

"I mean, this is the absolute floor in this case," Honig explained of Huffman's two-week prison sentence. "This is the low end of conduct, the low end of the dollar amount. She was contrite from the start. So everyone else in this case has got to be shaking in their boots right now."

Honig also explained that Huffman essentially received a "symbolic sentence," which was meant to send the message that "wealth and privilege can't get you out of this." US Weekly previously reported that Loughlin's friends are "concerned," believing she "should have followed Huffman's lead and taken a plea deal and accepted responsibility." Brendan Morrow

July 23, 2019

Six months after airing the hit documentary series Surviving R. Kelly, Lifetime is tackling the Jeffrey Epstein case.

The network on Tuesday announced its new documentary Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, which comes after the financier earlier this month was arrested and hit with sex trafficking charges as prosecutors say he sexually abused dozens of underage girls. The series will examine how Epstein "used his money and connections to wealthy and powerful people to allegedly shield predatory behavior with girls," reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Lifetime's Surviving R. Kelly, which delved into the years of sexual abuse allegations against the R&B singer and interviewed some of his alleged victims, brought renewed outrage to the case and was a ratings hit for the network. The month after it aired, Kelly was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and he was recently arrested on additional federal sex crime charges. Page Six recently reported that these federal charges came "after a Homeland Security Investigations agent watched the Lifetime series Surviving R. Kelly." Kelly has denied the allegations.

Prior to his recent arrest, Epstein previously pleaded guilty to prostitution charges in Florida but ultimately only served 13 months, during which time he was allowed to leave for hours a day. New criticism over the controversial plea deal offered to Epstein led to the recent resignation of President Trump's former Labor Secretary, Alex Acosta, a former Florida prosecutor.

The announcement of Surviving Jeffrey Epstein came during the Television Critics Association press tour, during which Lifetime also announced a film based on the college admissions scandal as well as a follow-up to Surviving R. Kelly itself called The Aftermath. A+E Networks President Rob Sharenow, Deadline reports, touted the network on Tuesday as providing a "platform for women to have their voices heard." Brendan Morrow

December 28, 2018

Thousands of migrants who arrived in October's caravan are camped out in Mexico, waiting to make asylum claims in America. Yet another, bigger caravan is still preparing to make a similar trek, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

An estimated 15,000 Hondurans have organized to leave their violent, poverty-stricken country, per Spanish-language media and migrant rights activists. "They say they are even bigger and stronger than the last caravan," migrant activist Irma Garrido tells the Union-Tribune. And that's not counting Guatemalan and Salvadoran migrants who are expected to join along the way.

After traveling a few thousand miles north, most migrants from the last caravan still haven't been allowed to claim asylum in the U.S. They're waiting in makeshift tents in Tijuana as human rights groups' and government resources run dry, creating what The Washington Post calls Mexico's own "border crisis."

That's seemingly why this new caravan won't rush to the U.S.-Mexico border right away, Garrido tells the Union-Tribune. Previous arrivals don't have visas to work as they wait to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, so these newcomers will stay in southern Mexico and look for work there. Newly inaugurated Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has promised to expand work permits for Central American migrants. The U.S. and Mexico have also agreed to devote billions of dollars in aid to slow Central American migration.

Read more about the next caravan at The San Diego Union-Tribune. Kathryn Krawczyk

November 8, 2018

The Trump administration has taken the next step toward barring migrants who illegally cross the border from claiming asylum.

President Trump announced changes to the asylum process in a press conference last week, saying he'd soon issue an executive order requiring asylum seekers to enter the U.S. at official ports of entry. All people caught crossing in other locations would be detained indefinitely, Trump said. The Justice Department published that change to the federal record on Thursday, but added that it won't be official until Trump issues a proclamation, likely on Friday, Bloomberg reports.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen released a statement introducing the rule change. In it, they said America's "asylum system is overwhelmed with too many meritless asylum claims" and claimed Trump has the "authority to suspend or restrict" any immigration into the U.S. based on "national interest." That authority is similar to what Trump cited to back up last year's travel ban, The Washington Post notes, so it's likely this proposal will also be challenged in court. The Immigration and Nationality Act says that anyone who arrives in the U.S. "whether or not at a designated port of arrival" may apply for asylum, reports CNN.

Thursday's plan doesn't explicitly apply to just Central American migrants, per the Post. But Trump did tie the proposal to the "caravan" of Central American migrants headed toward the border in his press conference, claiming the military was building facilities at the border to detain the group. The Pentagon countered, saying the military isn't building any detention facilities. Read the entire massive asylum change here. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 9, 2018

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley's unexpected resignation sent speculators scrambling to uncover her replacement. Several signs are pointing to former Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell.

On Tuesday, Haley announced she'd be stepping down by January, writing in her resignation letter that she would give President Trump time to appoint and the Senate time to confirm a replacement. It looks like Trump has a head start on that process, with CNBC reporting that White House officials have already talked to Powell about taking the role, and Trump telling reporters Tuesday that Powell is "under consideration."

Powell spent less than a year as Trump's deputy national security adviser, leaving on good terms in January to be closer to her family in New York City and take a job at Goldman Sachs. The U.N. ambassadorship is, perhaps not so coincidentally, also based in New York. One problem: Powell's policy positions "do not line up with" National Security Adviser John Bolton's, Politico's Nancy Cook pointed out.

Still, Trump has "many names" to consider for the role, he told reporters Tuesday. He even somewhat jokingly said there wasn't "anybody more competent in the world" to take the job than his daughter Ivanka Trump. Unfortunately, choosing Ivanka would get him "accused of nepotism," Trump said. Another realistic choice might be Richard Grenell, the current ambassador to Germany who Trump ally Andrew Surabian has already called "the best choice to replace Nikki Haley." Kathryn Krawczyk

February 1, 2017

Former Vice President Joe Biden may have ended his chapter in politics, but he's not done fighting for the causes he believes in. On Wednesday, Biden and his wife Jill Biden will launch a nonprofit organization to continue the work Biden did in his decades in government.

The Biden Foundation will focus on cancer research, military families, education, and the prevention of sexual assault. "We look forward to this new chapter where we will continue our work to ensure that everyone — no matter their income level, race, gender, age, or sexuality — is treated with dignity and gets a fair shot at achieving the American Dream," the Bidens said in a statement.

The foundation is incorporated in Biden's home state of Delaware, but it will be headquartered in Washington, D.C. Former Biden Senate staffer and Facebook official Louisa Terrell will run the foundation. Becca Stanek

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