Trump ‘Absolutely’ Considering Breaking Up 9th Circuit Court

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

President Trump on Wednesday said he is “absolutely” considering proposals to “break up” the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has blocked two of his executive orders. “There are many people that want to break up the 9th Circuit. It’s outrageous,” Trump complained to the Washington Examiner. “Everybody immediately runs to the 9th Circuit. And we have a big country. We have lots of other locations. But they immediately run to the 9th Circuit. Because they know that's like, semi-automatic.” The comments come the day after U.S. District Judge William Orrick temporarily blocked the president’s order to withhold funds from so-called “sanctuary” cities that do not comply with federal immigration orders. Contrary to Trump’s rants against the court, Orrick does not serve on the Ninth Circuit.


Comey to Testify Before Senate Judiciary Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee announced on Wednesday that FBI Director James Comey will testify during a hearing on May 3. The hearing was reportedly announced for FBI oversight purposes and is not necessarily related to ongoing congressional investigations into alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election. During a March hearing before the House Intelligence Committee, Comey publicly acknowledged that there was an open investigation into possible collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s campaign. The judiciary committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism announced this week that former acting attorney general Sally Yates and former director of national intelligence James Clapper would be testifying at a May 8 hearing.


Venezuela to Quit OAS Regional Bloc

Carlos Garcia Rawlins


Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said on Wednesday that the country will quit the Organization of American States over pressure from the bloc about the Venezuelan government’s response to a violent political crisis. “Tomorrow, as President Nicolas Maduro has instructed, we will present a letter of complaint to the OAS and we will begin a process that will take 24 months,” Rodriguez said in a televised address. The OAS, a Washington-based diplomatic grouping, has voiced concern about the state of democracy in Venezuela, where Maduro is resisting calls that he be removed from office. Twenty-eight people have been killed this month alone in anti-government protests.

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4. UH, OK

Bill Cosby: I Hope to Resume My Career

Chloe Elmer/Reuters

Bill Cosby (R) re-enters Montgomery County Courthouse after a break during the second day of his pre-trial hearing in his sexual assault case in Norristown, Pennsylvania, December 14, 2016.

Bill Cosby told a news service that he is working on new material and hopes to resume his career just a month before jury selection begins in his Pennsylvania sex assault trial. “I think about walking out on stage somewhere in the United States of America and sitting down in a chair and giving the performance that will be the beginning of the next chapter of my career,” Cosby said in what his publicist described as an email exchange with the National Newspaper Publishers Association that began several months ago. The upcoming trial involves former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, who said she was drugged and sexually assaulted in 2004 at Cosby’s home.


Roy Moore to Run for Jeff Sessions’ Senate Seat

REUTERS/Bob Ealum/File

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, currently serving a suspension for the remainder of his term, plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant when Jeff Sessions became U.S. attorney general. According to AL.com, the judge will seek the Republican Party’s nomination to succeed Sessions, who held the seat for 20 years before being appointed by President Trump. Moore was suspended last year after being found guilty of ethics violations in his defiance of a Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriages. Moore had issued an administrative order informing Alabama’s 68 probate judges of their “ministerial duty” not to issue same-sex marriage licenses, despite the U.S. high court’s ruling to the contrary. This was the second time he’d faced ethics charges—the first was for his infamous refusal to allow the removal of a Ten Commandments monument in the state court’s lobby. Moore will battle for the 2018 nomination with interim Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed by then-Gov. Robert Bentley to serve out the remainder of Sessions’ term.


Freedom Caucus Says Yes to Zombie Trumpcare

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

On Wednesday afternoon, the House Freedom Caucus officially announced its support for a revised version of the American Health Care Act, a.k.a. Trumpcare or Ryancare. The announcement comes after weeks of attempts to revive the previously failed Obamacare-repeal legislation in the House and following negotiations that produced a proposed amendment from Rep. Tom MacArthur. The caucus’ declaration of its support means the new incarnation of Zombie Trumpcare now has at least 80 percent of the HFC to a “yes.” The caucus said in a statement that retooled Trumpcare now has its support even though “the revised version still does not fully repeal Obamacare.” It is unclear how many of the more moderate Republican House members the revised text will frighten off or win over—and chances of the revised Trumpcare making it through the Senate as is remain very slim. President Donald Trump publicly blamed the Freedom Caucus for the failure of Trumpcare the first time around. (The president had previously tweeted that conservatives should line up to “fight” both Democrats and the hardline-conservative Freedom Caucus.) With the caucus now on board, other House Republicans are in a tough spot: They risk having the blame shifted to them for tanking Trumpcare again or risk receiving blowback for voting for deeply unpopular measures. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) told a huddle of reporters Wednesday afternoon that the Zombie Trumpcare negotiations and revision have been “an exercise in blame-shifting” among Republican factions.

—Asawin Suebsaeng


ESPN Lays Off 100 Staffers, Including On-Air Talent

Mike Blake/Reuters

As ESPN’s financial struggles continue, the sports channel will shed 100 staffers, including on-air talent, network president John Skipper announced on Wednesday. “A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions,” he wrote in a note to employees. “Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent—anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play—necessary to meet those demands.” Though Skipper did not name specific staffers who’d be exiting, many of them took to Twitter to announce they’d gotten the fateful call—including MLB analyst Jim Bowden, college basketball reporter Dana O’Neil, NFL reporter Ed Werder, ESPNU anchor Brendan Fitzgerald, and college basketball writer Eamonn Brennan. Additionally, The Hollywood Reporter claimed that some major personalities, including anchor Hannah Storm and Baseball Tonight host Karl Ravech, will see their roles “significantly reduced.”


Ann Coulter Cancels Her Berkeley Speech

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Conservative commentator and author Ann Coulter said Wednesday she has canceled her upcoming appearance at the University of California, Berkeley, as she felt planned protests threaten her safety and law-enforcement officials have not done enough to guarantee her protection. “It’s a sad day for free speech,” Coulter told The New York Times. The firebrand pundit had initially said she’d appear, even after the school indicated it could no longer host her on the scheduled date and requested she speak at a later date when there is less likelihood of the type of violent protests sparked by alt-right troll Milo Yiannopoulos’s appearance at the school. The organization sponsoring her appearance, Young America’s Foundation, backed out of the event on Tuesday evening, saying, “Young America’s Foundation will not jeopardize the safety of its staff or students.” As such, Coulter told the Times, “Everyone who should believe in free speech fought against it or ran away.” Additionally, she confirmed to Reuters, “There will be no speech. I looked over my shoulder and my allies had joined the other team.”


Guards Streamed Netflix as Inmate Hanged

Google Maps / Screengrab

Employees at the Missouri Department of Corrections allegedly streamed Netflix movies on state computers while an offender in the halfway house they were meant to guard hanged himself. They didn't find him for another 10 hours. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, surveillance footage shows that the employees skipped the necessary security checks at the facility and opted instead to watch the movies. Meanwhile, they claimed on a document that they had been checking on him. Lying on a government document is illegal. The 41-year-old, identified as David Garceau, killed himself in the 550-bed facility on Oct. 23, but he was wasn't pronounced dead until he was found many hours later and paramedics arrived in the early morning hours of the 24th. Garceau struggled with mental illness and drug addiction, according to the Post-Dispatch.


Doctors Indicted Over Genital Mutilation Case

via Henry Ford Hospital

Jumana F Nagarwala, MD

Three people were indicted on Wednesday by a grand jury, in a genital mutilation case involving 7-year-old Minnesota girls. The new indictment adds charges in the first case ever filed in federal court regarding the procedure, which has been illegal for more than 20 years. Two doctors and a spouse were allegedly involved. Jumana Nagarwala, Fakhruddin Attar, and his wife, Farida Attar, are all accused of committing female genital mutilation, and the case alleges they were involved in a conspiracy that targeted young victims starting in 2005. The indictment also accuses the trio of trying to cover up the crimes through deleting evidence and lying to federal agents.