November 16, 2018

In a video posted Thursday, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) is captured saying at a Nov. 3 campaign stop: "And then they remind me that there's a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who maybe we don't want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that's a great idea." Hyde-Smith, appointed earlier this year, is in a Nov. 27 runoff election against Democrat Mike Espy to fill the remaining two years of former Sen. Thad Cochran's (R) term.

Lamar White Jr., who posted both this video and the one where Hyde-Smith said if a supporter "invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row," said this is the only part of the clip he received. It was recorded in Starkville, during a Mississippi State University football game. It's not clear what "those other schools" are, CNN notes, but "Mississippi is home to several historically black colleges and universities, and black voters in the state overwhelmingly back Democrats."

"Obviously Sen. Hyde-Smith was making a joke and clearly the video was selectively edited," Hyde-Smith spokeswoman Melissa Scallan said Thursday. (White told The Clarion-Ledger the video clearly wasn't edited, and "this is what she said, verbatim.") Scallan told The Washington Post that Hyde-Smith made her comment while "talking to four freshmen at Mississippi State University about an idea to have polling places on college campuses," and "that's what she said was a great idea." Her comment "was a joke," she added. "The senator absolutely is not a racist and does not support voter suppression."

Espy spokesman Danny Blanton said the "joke" wasn't funny: "For a state like Mississippi, where voting rights were obtained through sweat and blood, everyone should appreciate that this is not a laughing matter." If you want a recap of Hyde-Smith's damage control on her "public hanging" comment, Late Night has a very stylized walkthrough below. Peter Weber

1:19 p.m.

In the latest example of a real news story that sounds like the premise of a Black Mirror episode, Amazon is reportedly developing a device capable of "recognizing human emotions," Bloomberg reports.

A voice-activated wrist device currently in development at the company would be able to "discern the wearer's emotional state from the sound of his or her voice," the report says. It would be equipped with microphones and paired with a smartphone app, and Bloomberg writes that internal Amazon documents suggest the technology could also "be able to advise the wearer how to interact more effectively with others."

Beta testing on this project, which is being code-named Dylan, is reportedly underway, although the report notes it's not exactly clear how far along work on it is or if this will become a commercial product. But the report cites a 2017 patent that suggests Amazon could "use knowledge of a user's emotions to recommend products or otherwise tailor responses."

This comes as Amazon is also developing a robot that's described as essentially a "mobile Alexa" with advanced cameras and that can "navigate through homes like a self-driving car" — and, if eventually combined with this Dylan technology, perhaps fully understand just how creepy you find it. Brendan Morrow

12:37 p.m.

President Trump is apparently begging to be tried for high crimes and misdemeanors.

As more and more Democrats keep joining the call for Trump's impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has ignored prodding from other House leaders and her own staff to remain a holdout on the process. Pelosi reiterated her stance in a Thursday press conference, saying "the House Democratic Caucus is not on a path to impeachment — and that's where [Trump] wants us to be."

Pelosi, along with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), held an infrastructure meeting with Trump on Wednesday that lasted all of three minutes. That's because Trump walked out of the meeting, chalking his exit up to Pelosi's allegation that Trump "engaged in a cover up" involving his finances. But Pelosi suggested Thursday that Trump's real problem was with how ongoing court cases are putting Democrats closer to his finances, as well as Democrats' will-they, won't-they attitude on impeachment.

Also on Thursday, Pelosi said she was holding out on backing impeachment because it's "a very divisive place to go in our country," but conceded yet again that Trump may have committed "impeachable offenses." Kathryn Krawczyk

11:03 a.m.

Former President Barack Obama has the endorsement every 2020 Democrat wants.

Unfortunately for them, Obama isn't handing out any hints about who he'll give it to — or if he'll even endorse a primary candidate at all. Instead, "Obama and his aides have carefully guarded when and how to deploy him," and are even prepared for him to step in and use his endorsement if there's a chance of a contested convention, The Atlantic reports.

The most obvious 2020 endorsement for Obama would be his former Vice President Joe Biden. And judging by the nostalgia-heavy campaign Biden is running, one would think he's already earned it. But no, Biden has claimed he asked Obama not to endorse him so early in the race — "despite firm statements from Obama's orbit making it clear that he'd decided himself not to endorse," The Atlantic writes.

That leaves the option of Obama endorsing someone else — Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), for one, made it clear to The Atlantic that she campaigned for Obama in 2007 when Biden was still running against him. But Obama is apparently more concerned with finishing his book, which was supposed to be released this year but is reportedly taking longer than the former president expected. But given the usual pre-holiday release of blockbuster books like Michelle Obama's Becoming, dropping it next year just after Election Day could make Obama "the voice of a party in despair after another defeat, or poised to grab the spotlight from a freshly elected Democratic president," The Atlantic writes.

Obama's spokesperson summed up this political distance in a cautious statement, saying "big, bold ideas are a sign of the Democratic Party's strength, and President Obama urges everyone running to be transparent with voters about how these ideas will work." Read more at The Atlantic. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:55 a.m.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Thursday tried his best not to directly attack the 2020 race's frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden. But he did offer some criticism of his record and argued that he hasn't earned the nomination just yet.

Buttigieg during a live interview with The Washington Post was asked about those who say that Biden has "earned the nomination" because of his experience, to which Buttigieg rebutted, "I think you earn the nomination by winning it. Nobody's earned the nomination in 2019."

He went on to say that to earn the Democratic nomination, each of the candidates must not only present a vision for the party and for America, but also prove that they can beat President Trump. He later cautioned that Democrats could "very well lose again" in 2020 if they're perceived as "replicating a system that let people down," although he insisted that he's "not talking about any one of my competitors" in particular.

Buttigieg during this interview also offered some subtle criticism of Biden's record. When asked if Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was right when she said that the former vice president was "on the side of the credit card companies," Buttigieg responded, "I have a difference of opinion with anybody who favors credit card companies over consumers." He also criticized the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that Biden worked on, and when asked if those who supported the bill should be held to account, Buttigieg said, "that's what elections are for."

Still, Buttigieg multiple times avoided more directly attacking Biden, at one point telling the reporter, "I can't help but get the impression there's more interest in one of my competitors than any of the others." Brendan Morrow

Brendan Morrow

10:26 a.m.

Pete Buttigieg doesn't want to give President Trump his attention.

Yet that's just what the 2020 candidate did during an interview with The Washington Post's Robert Costa broadcast live on Thursday. After asserting that "any energy that goes [Trump's] way ... turns into a form of food. He just devours it and gets bigger," Buttigieg went on to dispute the legitimacy of Trump's bone spur exception to the Vietnam War draft.

Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana and an Afghanistan veteran, has noticeably avoided talking about Trump on the campaign trail. Still, Buttigieg said Thursday he has to respond "when [Trump] lies" or "when he does something wrong." A prime example of that seems to be when Trump "use[d] his privileged status to fake a disability to avoid serving in Vietnam," Buttigieg continued.

Also in the Thursday interview, Buttigieg agreed with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) assessment that Trump engaged in a "cover up." When asked if Trump is a racist, Buttigieg said "I think so." Kathryn Krawczyk

9:52 a.m.

This November, she'll be back.

Paramount Pictures on Thursday debuted the first trailer for Terminator: Dark Fate, which features the first footage of Linda Hamilton returning to the franchise as Sarah Connor for the first time since Terminator 2: Judgment Day in 1991. After starring in the first two films, Hamilton sat out the subsequent three installments, although she was technically heard via audio recordings in Terminator Salvation. Emilia Clarke starred as Sarah Connor in the 2015 reboot Terminator Genisys.

But Dark Fate is following in the recent Hollywood trend of ignoring a franchise's recent sequels — which Hamilton has called "very forgettable"— and going back to basics, as this film directly follows up on Judgment Day. The footage released on Thursday initially revolves around a set of new characters, including one named Grace played by Mackenzie Davis, who is revealed to be part machine. As Grace fights a liquid metal Terminator, an armed-to-the-teeth Sarah Connor makes her triumphant return to pitch in. There's also a new character played by Natalia Reyes, who Grace and Sarah Connor must keep alive.

Arnold Schwarzenegger also returns briefly in the trailer after previously starring in 2015's Terminator Genisys. Unlike that film, which gave away one of its main twists in the marketing, the trailer for Dark Fate is fairly light on plot, something that appears to be a deliberate choice. Schwarzenegger himself posted the trailer on Reddit and noted in the headline that it "doesn't give the movie away," leaving the implied "unlike last time" unsaid.

Dark Fate will hit theaters on November 1. Brendan Morrow

9:10 a.m.

President Trump on Thursday said that Rex Tillerson, who served as his secretary of state for more than a year, was ill-prepared and ill-equipped for the job.

Trump lashed out after Tillerson reportedly told lawmakers that Russian President Vladimir Putin out-prepared Trump in a 2017 meeting. "There was a discrepancy in preparation" between Trump and Putin that "created an unequal footing," Tillerson reportedly said.

In response, Trump claimed that it was Tillerson who was actually not only ill-prepared but ill-equipped for the job that Trump himself selected him for. He also claimed that Tillerson's account of the Putin meeting is false and that "I don't think Putin would agree" with the characterization.

Trump repeatedly praised Tillerson before and during his tenure as secretary of state, such as when in December 2016 he touted the former ExxonMobil CEO's "vast experience." That same month, The New York Times' Maggie Haberman reports Trump proudly told Mar-a-Lago guests that Tillerson has "just got that..." while doing a chef's kiss pose.

During an interview on CNN Thursday morning, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, asked for a comment about this tweet, said that Trump's 2017 meeting with Putin went "extremely well" but offered no explanation as to why Trump would hire an ill-prepared and ill-equipped person for his administration. Brendan Morrow

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