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December 6, 2018

Now that the Golden Globe nominations have arrived, certain films' Oscar hopes are looking better than ever, while others seem all but dead.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association's picks for Best Picture don't always line up with the Academy's. But it's almost always the case that the eventual Oscar winner for Best Picture is nominated in one of the two top categories at the Golden Globes in January. Since 2000, that has been true every year except one: 2006, when Crash won Best Picture despite not being nominated at the Globes.

With that in mind, it looks like First Man may have to kiss its Best Picture hopes goodbye, as Damien Chazelle's Neil Armstrong biopic was shut out of the Best Picture - Drama category after bombing at the box office in October. That's also true of Widows, another box office bomb that didn't receive a single Globe nomination.

Sasha Stone from Awards Daily points out that the Golden Globes' director field is often indicative of the Oscars' Best Picture category, with The Shape of Water's Guillermo del Toro earning that prize in 2018. The films nominated for best director this year are A Star Is Born, Roma, Green Book, BlacKkKlansman, and Vice. Notably, First Man and Widows didn't make it into this category, nor did Green Book, despite earning five nominations total.

Meanwhile, the producers behind Black Panther and Vice should be feeling a lot better about their Oscar chances. The former film picked up a Best Picture - Drama nomination amid widespread speculation that it will be the first Marvel film to make it into the equivalent category at the Oscars, while the Dick Cheney biopic picked up six nominations, giving it some serious momentum as the race to the Oscars continues. Brendan Morrow

1:09 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence and German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced differing opinions on how to approach the Iran nuclear deal when they both spoke at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

Pence criticized European leaders for remaining in the deal, which the U.S. backed out of last year after leading negotiations in 2015 under the Obama administration. "We have the regime in Iran that's breathing out murderous threats, with the same vile anti-Semitic hatred that animated the Nazis in Europe," Pence said, arguing "the Iranian regime openly advocates another Holocaust and it seeks the means to achieve it."

Merkel, on the other hand, defended the agreement, describing it as an "anchor" that should be used to pressure Iran in other areas. The chancellor expressed concern over Europe's split with the U.S. on the matter, which she said "depresses" her.

Pence also criticized the European response to Venezuela and urged his fellow leaders to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president.

Read more about the implications of the Trump administration's stance on the Iran deal here at The Week. Tim O'Donnell

12:50 p.m.

Leading House Democrats told Politico for a report published Saturday they are consulting with House General Counsel Douglas Letter on how to compel President Trump or his administration to reveal the content of his one-on-one meetings with Russia President Vladimir Putin.

"I had a meeting with the general counsel to discuss this and determine the best way to find out what took place in those private meetings — whether it's by seeking the interpreter's testimony, the interpreter's notes, or other means," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who serves as House Intelligence Committee chair.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, is working with Schiff. "I'm not saying that I'm in favor of interpreters turning over all their notes, but I do think that it shouldn't be up to the president to hide the notes," Engel told Politico.

Of particular interest is Trump's private conference with Putin in Helsinki last summer, where the two presidents met alone with their respective interpreters for 90 minutes. At the press conference following the talks, Trump said he didn't "know any reason why it would be" Russia which sought to meddle in the 2016 election, contradicting the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies.

Last month, The Washington Post reported Trump has "gone to extraordinary lengths" to hide details of his conversations with Putin, including from his own administration. In one case, Trump reportedly took his interpreter's notes from a call with Putin and told the interpreter not to discuss the talk with other officials. Bonnie Kristian

12:20 p.m.

President Trump on Friday declared a national emergency to redirect about $6.7 billion from programs in the Departments of Treasury and Defense to border wall construction. Less than 24 hours later, the declaration already faces its first legal challenge.

A lawsuit has been brought by Public Citizen, a progressive advocacy group, on behalf of Texan landowners whose property would be used for the wall. The suit argues Trump "exceeded his constitutional authority and authority under the National Emergencies Act" and asks that he be banned from "using the declaration and funds appropriated for other purposes to build a border wall."

The Justice Department reportedly warned the president in advance of his Friday announcement that the declaration would be held up in court. Trump himself acknowledged as much, musing in a sing-song voice that after his declaration, the White House "will then be sued, and they will sue us in the 9th Circuit [Court] ... and then we'll end up in the Supreme Court, and hopefully we'll get a fair shake, and we'll win at the Supreme Court, just like the ban [on travel from majority-Muslim nations]."

Whether Trump's forecast is correct remains to be seen. Conservative radio pundit Hugh Hewitt on Friday predicted the emergency declaration would move through the courts fairly quickly, and that Trump would win on appeal, perhaps before reaching the Supreme Court.

Few echoed that expectation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promised Congress would use "every remedy available," including the courts, to fight Trump's action, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) likewise pledged a court challenge to this presidential "vanity project."

George Conway, a conservative lawyer and the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, tweeted that Trump knows he will lose in court and that the emergency declaration is unconstitutional. And Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) warned the declaration will "likely get tied up in litigation, and most concerning is that it would create a new precedent." Bonnie Kristian

10:53 a.m.

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a case challenging the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. census.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman blocked the addition with a ruling in January, calling it unlawful "for a multitude of independent reasons." At the administration's request, the Supreme Court will consider the issue in April without requiring the case to go through the normal appeals process. A ruling is expected by the end of June. The matter is time-sensitive because census forms must be printed soon.

Citizenship status has not been part of the census questionnaire for more than half a century, and its inclusion has been challenged by 18 states. Several civil rights organizations and 15 cities are also pushing back against the addition.

Opponents consider the citizenship question to be a ruse by the Trump administration to intimidate immigrant communities and "diminish the electoral representation of Democratic-leaning communities in Congress," Reuters notes. The administration has dismissed that idea, arguing the data the question gathers will help protect Americans' voting rights by better informing House district allocations. Tim O'Donnell

10:36 a.m.

Nigeria's election commission postponed the country's presidential election early Saturday morning, announcing the delay only hours before polls were set to open. The vote has been rescheduled for next Saturday, Feb. 23.

Both Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and the leading opposition candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, urged the public to remain calm about the delay, though Abubakar also accused Buhari of orchestrating the postponement to disenfranchise opposition voters.

Election officials attributed the wait to difficulty transporting ballots to all polling locations in time for voting to begin. "This was a difficult decision to take but necessary for successful delivery of the elections and the consolidation of our democracy," said the election commission's chair, Mahmood Yakubu, who will explain the postponement further in an afternoon press conference. Bonnie Kristian

10:21 a.m.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team in a court filing Friday recommended between 19 and 25 years in prison for Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chair, who was convicted last year of eight counts of financial fraud, including tax evasion.

"Manafort did not commit these crimes out of necessity or hardship," the sentencing memo said. "He was well-educated, professionally successful, and financially well off. He nonetheless cheated the United States Treasury and the public out of more than $6 million in taxes at a time when he had substantial resources."

If the court accepts Mueller's recommendation, Manafort, 69, could spend the rest of his life in prison. This is the lengthiest proposed prison sentence on the table in Mueller's investigation to date, and Friday's memo argues it "reflect[s] the seriousness of these crimes" and serves as a deterrent for both Manafort and anyone else considering "engaging in such conduct." Bonnie Kristian

8:36 a.m.

Pope Francis made what has been described as an "almost revolutionary" decision, the Vatican announced Saturday, expelling Theodore McCarrick from the priesthood. The decision came after an expedited Vatican trial found the former cardinal and archbishop of Washington guilty of sexually abusing three minors and harassing adult seminarians and priests.

This is believed to be the first time the church has defrocked a U.S. cardinal. McCarrick is also the highest-ranking church official to be dismissed for sexual abuse. "Bishops and cardinals are no longer immune to punishment," Kurt Martens, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, told the The New York Times.

Allegations against McCarrick reached church officials as early as 2000, CNN reports, just months before he became a cardinal. After the accusations became public in 2017, McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals but denied he had any recollection of the incidents. Francis ordered a Vatican investigation into the matter, as did the Archdiocese of New York, where several of the alleged incidents occurred. The probes found the accusations to be "credible and substantiated."

The news comes just ahead of this week's meeting of top Catholic officials from around the world, who will gather in Rome to discuss the church's sex abuse crisis. The summit is the first of its kind. Tim O'Donnell

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