July 10, 2019

Top Democrats and Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney all want Labor Secretary Alex Acosta out — but for different reasons.

In 2008, investigators in Florida found evidence that financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused dozens of underage girls. Acosta, then a federal prosecutor, cut a deal with Epstein that allowed him to plead guilty to a charge of soliciting prostitution, serving minimal time in prison. Over the weekend, Epstein was arrested and accused of operating a sex trafficking ring, bringing renewed attention to the 2008 agreement.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have both called on Acosta to resign, and at the White House, Mulvaney has been pushing Trump to dump the secretary, Politico reports. Mulvaney has told Trump Acosta is hurting the administration, but Mulvaney hasn't been a fan for awhile; people with knowledge of the matter told Politico Mulvaney and other conservatives have long complained that Acosta isn't doing enough to roll back Obama-era workplace regulations or tackle employment discrimination lawsuits, and they want him out for this reason.

Trump stood by Acosta on Tuesday, telling reporters he has "been just an excellent secretary of labor." Catherine Garcia

5:26 p.m.

There's little doubt it was challenging for the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors to focus on basketball following devastating news of Lakers great Kobe Bryant's death, considering many members of each team either played and coached against or grew up idolizing the Los Angeles legend.

Both teams put their competitive nature aside for a moment to start their game Sunday, agreeing that whoever won the opening tip would hold the ball for 24 seconds, resulting in a shot clock violation. Bryant, in the latter part of his 20-year career, wore no. 24.

The Raptors won the tip, took the violation, and the Spurs followed suit, running out the clock on their end, as well, before the game really began.

If there's any doubt about the respect Bryant garnered around the league just listen to Spurs fans — who consider the Lakers one of their biggest rivals as a result of epic clashes between the two teams that spanned Bryant's career — chant his name name as they began to realize what was unfolding on the court. Tim O'Donnell

3:22 p.m.

Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was reportedly killed in a helicopter crash in the Los Angeles area. He was 41.

TMZ initially broke the news, and ESPN and The Los Angeles Times have since confirmed, though details are still limited. The helicopter was reportedly over the suburb of Calabasas when it crashed around 10 a.m. P.T., and a tweet by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's office confirmed there were no survivors among the five people on board. The identities of the four people besides Bryant have not been confirmed. No homes or bystanders were reportedly affected by the crash.

Bryant, who played all 20 seasons of his career with Los Angeles before retiring in 2016, is considered one of the greatest players to ever suit up in the NBA. Just one day ago, the Lakers' current star LeBron James passed Bryant for third on the all-time scoring list while paying tribute to Bryant with an inscription on his shoes. Afterward, Bryant congratulated James on the milestone. Read more at ESPN. Tim O'Donnell

1:31 p.m.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a U.S. military veteran, stood by President Trump in wake of the backlash against the commander-in-chief's comments describing brain injuries suffered by U.S. troops after an Iranian missile attack on a base in Iraq earlier this month as "headaches" and "not very serious."

CBS' Margaret Brennan asked Cotton during Sunday's edition of Face the Nation if Trump should apologize to the soldiers, 34 of whom it turned out suffered traumatic brain injuries. She pointed out that Veterans of Foreign Wars, a prominent U.S. veterans advocacy group, called on Trump to apologize for his "misguided" comments about potentially dangerous injuries, while also noting Cotton likely knew several people who suffered from similar injuries during his time in the military, which included deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cotton, though, argued Trump wasn't "dismissing" the soldiers' injuries, but simply "describing them." Tim O'Donnell

1:03 p.m.

Sen. James Lankford didn't seem too perturbed by a tweet President Trump sent Saturday, in which the president said the House's lead impeachment prosecutor Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has not "paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our country."

Lankford told CNN's Jake Tapper during Sunday's edition of State of the Union that he doesn't consider the tweet a "death threat," which Tapper said Schiff has been receiving. Tapper wondered why Lankford wasn't bothered by Trump's words when he was offended by Schiff's comment earlier this week about how he had heard Republican senators were warned they're heads would end up on a pike should they defy Trump. Lankford said it's because Schiff's insinuation that GOP lawmakers act only out of fear invalidates their work.

On the other hand, Schiff, whom Trump described as "probably a very sick man," told NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday's edition of Meet the Press that he's pretty sure Trump was issuing a threat of some sort. Tim O'Donnell

12:24 p.m.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened to resign over the downing of a Ukrainian jet carrying 176 passengers earlier this month, The New York Times reports.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps accidentally shot down the passenger plane amid heightened tensions with the United States that have since cooled a bit. A series of communication errors reportedly led to an officer firing missiles at the plane, believing it was a hostile U.S. aircraft. Upon realizing what had actually happened, the IRGC began to cover their tracks, refusing to even tell Rouhani the truth for days.

Rouhani, left in the dark, reportedly deflected phone calls from other world leaders because he had no answers for them, and military commanders were doing the same thing to him when he tried to reach them. When finally informed of the truth, officials close to Rouhani told the Times, the president was "livid," demanding that Tehran admit the mistake and face the consequences. Military officials reportedly argued with Rouhani out of fear that the news would destabilize the country. That's when Rouhani said he would resign.

Eventually, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei got a message to the military, siding with Rouhani and ordering a public statement acknowledging what happened. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

11:14 a.m.

Andrew Yang will soon be returning to a debate stage near you — if you live in New Hampshire.

The entrepreneur and Democratic presidential candidate missed out on the last debate in Iowa, but his campaign said Sunday that he's back in the game after picking up the necessary polling numbers in the latest sweep of surveys. That makes him the 7th candidate to qualify for the Feb. 7 debate in New Hampshire, joining former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, billionaire Tom Steyer, and Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Part of the reason Yang's return is noteworthy is because the last debate came under scrutiny for featuring six white candidates. Yang, who is Asian-American, has been outspoken about the dwindling diversity in the Democratic race and has called for ways the Democratic National Committee could fix the issue, including simply introducing more qualifying polls. Turns out, he didn't need those extra polls this time. Tim O'Donnell

11:00 a.m.

China's central government announced Sunday that it's taking the reins in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus from local officials in Hubei province, home to the virus' city of origin, Wuhan.

Ma Xiaowei, the head of the country's National Health Commission, said "we are now in a critical period of prevention and control." It appears the coronavirus is becoming more contagious — Zhou Xianwang, the mayor of Wuhan, said experts will likely soon confirm another 1,000 infection cases. Meanwhile, the death toll resulting from the disease rose to 56, including the first fatality in Shanghai.

"The virus has become rampant," said Gao Fu, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

But despite the severity of the situation, Gao also doled out some optimism. He said the virus hasn't shown any signs of mutating into a more deadly form, and revealed that a vaccine may soon be available.

Most of the cases are confined to China, but a third case was confirmed in the United States, after a person in Orange County, California, tested positive. The patient is being treated and is reportedly in "good condition." Read more at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

See More Speed Reads