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February 2, 2019

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Saturday refused to resign from his office despite increasing uproar over the Friday revelation that his 1984 medical school yearbook page contains a photo of a man in blackface and one in Ku Klux Klan robes.

In an statement Friday, Northam confirmed he was in the photo and apologized for the "clearly racist and offensive" costumes, though he did not clarify which costume he wore.

In phone calls Saturday morning, however, he reportedly told told Virginia Democratic lawmakers including State Sen. L. Louise Lucas that he may not be one of the men in the photo after all. He also said he does not plan to resign, though allies like the Democratic Party of Virginia, Planned Parenthood, and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) have called for him to do so.

"He should have said that yesterday then," Lucas told The Washington Post of Northam's suggestion that he may not be one of the men in the racist costumes. "He just told me he didn't think it's him. And I said, 'Ralph, this is a day late and a dollar short. It's too late.'" Bonnie Kristian

5:31 p.m.

The Robert Kraft saga continues.

The New England Patriots' owner was charged with soliciting a prostitute in Jupiter, Florida in February. He did not speak publicly on the matter until last Saturday when he issued a statement of apology.

"I am truly sorry," Kraft said at the time. "I know I have hurt my family, my close friends, my co-workers, our fans, and many others who rightfully hold me to a higher standard."

Kraft was provided with a way out of his bind when prosecutors offered to drop charges in exchange for Kraft paying a fine, doing community service, and admitting his guilt. But, per ESPN, the 77-year-old will not take the deal.

Instead, Kraft will plead not guilty to charges on two misdemeanor counts of first-degree solicitation. He asked for a jury trial.

Kraft is just one of more than 200 people who have been charged with solicitation after a police investigation into massage parlors throughout South Florida. Prosecutors say they have video evidence of Kraft's solicitation.

Kraft could be assigned 100 hours of community service and a $5,000 dollar fine if found guilty. He technically could face up to a year in prison, as well, but, per ESPN, that is unlikely. Tim O'Donnell

5:06 p.m.

Everyone wants a public Mueller report, and that's not an exaggeration.

Audible, a global audiobook producer and distributor owned by Amazon, announced Tuesday that it's desperately awaiting the results of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. And once it's maybe, possibly, released "by an official or sanctioned entity," Audible will record and release it as a free audiobook, the company said.

Attorney General William Barr revealed last week that he had received Mueller's investigation and released his preliminary findings from the report on Sunday. Mueller apparently indicated that it was up to Barr to decide whether "conduct" outlined in his report warranted charges against the president, but Barr declined to press them. Democrats and Republicans alike have since called for the report to be released to clear up any uncertainty.

Of course, Audible's promise relies on Barr actually releasing the report in its entirety. He hasn't committed to that, but maybe we'll get a few chapters in the future. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:03 p.m.

Pope Francis has talked a fairly big game when it comes to women playing a more decisive role in the future of the Catholic Church. At the Vatican's summit on clerical abuse in February, many of the conference's prominent speakers were women. But it appears that it the Holy See is still a long ways off from actually ushering this vision into reality.

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that the founder and all-female editorial board of the Vatican's women's magazine, Women World Church, resigned in protest. Lucetta Scaraffia, the founder of the magazine, told The Washington Post that the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano put an increasing amount of pressure on her magazine to change its editorial line, even threatening to replace her with the paper's male editor. In particular, the Post reports that the Vatican was intent on cutting down on women's voices on issues like clerical abuse of nuns.

Scaraffia is known as a "comparatively liberal" voice within the Vatican, per the Post, and AP described as "perhaps the most prominent woman at the Holy See." Despite her standing, she saw little point in continuing.

"We are throwing in the towel because we feel surrounded by a climate of distrust and progressive de-legitimization," Scaraffia wrote in an open letter to Pope Francis. She added that she saw a return to to the "antiquated" custom of Vatican authority granting power only to women they considered trustworthy and who would remain "under direct control of men."

AP described the resignations as a "blow to Francis' efforts to give greater decision-making roles to women at the Vatican." Andrea Monda, the editor of L'Osservatore Romano, denied that the paper tried to weaken Scaraffia's editorial freedom. Tim O'Donnell

4:19 p.m.

Following Attorney General William Barr's summary, a version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report is expected to be made public in a few weeks.

The Justice Department expects the Mueller report on Russian interference in the 2016 election to be publicly available in "weeks, not months," CNN and NBC reported on Tuesday. Barr reportedly provided this timeline to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), per Fox News' Jake Gibson.

Barr on Sunday released his summary of Mueller's report, saying it showed that the special counsel found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. He also said Mueller did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice, but Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined there was insufficient evidence that the president did so.

Since then, Trump has celebrated the findings, while Democrats have demanded to see the full report, with committee chairs having demanded it by April 2, per NBC. CNN's Manu Raju reports the DOJ hasn't said whether it will make that deadline.

As far as whether the Justice Department will send the report to the White House before its release, CNN and NBC both report there are "no plans" to do so. Brendan Morrow

3:57 p.m.

President Trump's personal Twitter is only personal sometimes.

That's what the Department of Justice claimed Tuesday in an ongoing lawsuit, fighting back against Twitter users who argue being blocked from @realDonaldTrump violates their constitutional rights. A DOJ attorney conceded that yes, Trump's tweets are official, but said when he "blocks individuals from his personal Twitter account," he "is doing so in his personal capacity," CNN reports.

A handful of users first launched the lawsuit against Trump after he ignored a June 2017 request to unblock them. A U.S. District Court in New York ruled in their favor last May, saying Trump's Twitter feed was a "public forum," and by blocking users, he was violating the First Amendment.

A subsequent DOJ appeal brought the case back to court on Tuesday, where Judge Barrington Parker seemed to make his opinion on the matter pretty clear. Parker listed off a slew of announcements made on @realDonaldTrump that seemed pretty official, including a new Federal Reserve board member and revocation of North Korean sanctions, The Washington Post notes. "Are you seriously urging us to believe the president isn't acting in his official capacity when he’s tweeting?" Parker asked, going on to question why a public DOJ defender was representing Trump in a so-called private matter.

Trump unblocked at least 20 accounts in August, though as of Tuesday, at least seven plaintiffs in the case remain blocked. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:30 p.m.

Marvel will do whatever it takes to break fans' hearts over the Avengers: Infinity War ending nearly a year after its release.

The studio on Tuesday debuted brand new character posters for Avengers: Endgame, depicting those who survived Thanos' decimation of half the universe at the end of Infinity War in color, and the many, many people who didn't survive in black and white.

In addition to the main leads, characters whose fates were not revealed at the end of Infinity War are featured, including Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie. She's in color, implying she lived and suggesting she's actually in Endgame, something Thompson had hinted at but never officially confirmed. Happy Hogan, Pepper Potts, and Wong also get color posters.

That's the good news, but on the flip side, Black Panther's Shuri gets a black and white poster, which seemingly confirms her off-screen death. The first Endgame trailer suggested as much, with Shuri being designated missing, but then again, so was Scott Lang, even though he lived. Anyone hoping Shuri similarly made it out unscathed just had those dreams shattered.

The tagline on the new posters is "Avenge the fallen," tying into the plot of the heroes attempting to undo Thanos' actions. While their success may be a foregone conclusion, one question has been whether Endgame will revive only the characters who died in Thanos' snap or also bring back those who died normal, pre-snap deaths like Loki. While that's still an open question, Loki, Gamora and Vision, who all died before the snap, got black and white posters on Tuesday, and since this places them in the same category as the snap victims, Slashfilm posits this could suggest everyone will return.

These questions won't remain unanswered for long, as with a month left to go until the film's April 26 release, we truly are in the endgame now. Brendan Morrow

3:11 p.m.

The Trump administration may not ultimately get to create the highly-anticipated Space Force — that will fall on congressional shoulders — but the White House has made strides in expanding the U.S. military's role beyond the Earth's atmosphere anyway.

Per CNN, defense officials confirmed on Tuesday that four star Air Force general, John Raymond, will head up the newly established U.S. Space Command.

Raymond currently oversees the Air Force Space Command (an entity separate from U.S. Space Command) and will remain in both jobs indefinitely. Defense News reported that if Space Force is, indeed, approved by Congress and established as a sixth branch of the military under the Department of the Air Force, Air Force Space Command could dissolved into the new unit. U.S. Space Command, however, will remain separate either way and will focus particularly on coordinating satellite efforts of all military branches.

Space Force remains highly controversial in Washington, but Space Command, which actually existed between 1982 and 2003 and does not require Congressional approval, has generally proven itself popular among lawmakers, as it will reportedly help the U.S. counter growing anti-satellite capabilities from possible hostile nations like China and Russia, per the Colorado Springs Gazette. President Trump announced the re-establishment of a U.S. Space Command last December. Tim O'Donnell

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