September 18, 2019

It's been a wild past day for the Carter family after Backstreet Boys singer Nick Carter publicly accused his brother, Aaron Carter, of threatening murder.

Backstreet Boys singer Nick Carter announced Tuesday he is filing a restraining order against his brother, citing his "increasingly alarming behavior." This includes an alleged threat, with Nick Carter claiming his brother confessed to harboring "thoughts and intentions of killing my pregnant wife and unborn child."

Aaron Carter, who recently opened up about being diagnosed with multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia, denied his brother's claim, tweeting, "I do not wish harm to anyone, especially my family" and writing that he "never threatened anyone."

He has gone on to rail against his brother in many tweets over the course of several hours, bringing up previous allegations of rape made against Nick Carter. Melissa Schuman in 2017 accused Nick Carter of raping her more than 15 years earlier, but he was not charged due to the statute of limitations having expired, CNN reports. Nick Carter denied the allegations.

"#CoverUp," Aaron Carter wrote in several tweets, in one publicly asking for help from actress and activist Rose McGowan and suggesting journalist Aphrodite Jones make an "r Kelly type documentary." Brendan Morrow

10:21 p.m.

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis cracked a few jokes Thursday night at the Al Smith Memorial Foundation dinner in New York — and all of them were at the expense of President Trump.

During the contentious meeting on Wednesday between Trump and top Democrats, an attendee shared something Mattis had said about the Islamic State. Trump reportedly responded by saying Mattis was "the world's most overrated general," and not "tough enough."

Mattis laughed it off during his keynote speech on Thursday, saying, "I'm not just an overrated general, I am the greatest, the world's most overrated." He also found common ground with one of the world's most acclaimed actresses. "I am honored to be considered that by Donald Trump, because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actress, so I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals. Frankly, that sounds pretty good to me. You do have to admit, between me and Meryl, at least we've had some victories." Catherine Garcia

9:32 p.m.

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified for 10 hours on Thursday as part of the House's impeachment inquiry against President Trump, telling lawmakers he was "disappointed" by Trump's order to work with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on Ukraine policy.

Before starting his closed-door testimony in front of members of three House committees, Sondland released his opening remarks, and distanced himself from Giuliani and attempts to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. "For purposes of the impeachment inquiry, it really doesn't matter whether Sondland was a knowing participant in this scheme or if he was an unwitting pawn," Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said. "He was still executing the policies of Rudy Giuliani and Rudy was following the orders of the president."

Lawmakers said Sondland responded "I don't know" and "I don't recall" throughout his testimony, but Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) told reporters that he was still able to shed light on something. "It is clear you have a shadow shakedown going on by Giuliani," he said. "I think it is just important for the American people to understand Rudy Giuliani is Donald Trump and Donald Trump is Rudy Giuliani. If Rudy Giuliani is doing something it is because he's the lawyer for Donald Trump, and lawyers don't take actions that are not authorized by their clients."

Sondland, a Trump donor and political appointee, has been mentioned by other witnesses, including George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for Ukraine. During testimony earlier this week, Kent said he was told in May by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney that he needed to "lay low," as Sondland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker — who called themselves the "three amigos" — would now handle Ukraine policy. Catherine Garcia

8:16 p.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said Brexit will go through on Oct. 31 with or without a deal, but European Union leaders aren't on the same page.

A new agreement was cobbled together on Thursday, which would allow Britain to leave the EU, but go through a transition period until the end of 2020. Over the next year, EU and British negotiators would work on a trade deal and other arrangements. "This is a great deal for our country — the UK — and our friends in the EU," Johnson said Thursday night. "Now is the moment for our parliamentarians to get this done."

The House of Commons will meet for a vote on Saturday, and already, the revised agreement has been rejected by the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party and dragged by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said it's an "even worse deal" than the one crafted by former Prime Minister Theresa May.

Under U.K. law, Johnson is required to seek a Brexit extension if a deal is not approved by Saturday, but he has been adamant about leaving the EU by the Oct. 31 deadline, deal or not. One EU diplomat told The Guardian they are leaving "the door open to the possibility of an extension," if needed. European Council President Donald Tusk said the "ball is in the court of the U.K. I have no idea what will be the result of the debate in the House of Commons on Saturday." Catherine Garcia

6:41 p.m.

Not long after acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney publicly admitted President Trump's decision to hold up aid to Ukraine was partly linked to his wish for the country to launch an investigation based on an unproven conspiracy theory about the 2016 Democratic National Committee hack, Mulvaney walked back his comments.

The theory pins the hack on Ukraine, not Russia. Mulvaney made his initial remarks on Thursday in front of reporters, during a televised press conference. It was a surprising acknowledgement, as Trump has repeatedly denied engaging in any quid pro quo. Mulvaney said this was something "we do all the time," and anyone with a problem should "get over it." Almost immediately, Trump's legal team distanced the president from Mulvaney, with Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow saying his "legal counsel was not involved" in the press conference.

In his follow-up statement, Mulvaney said "there was never any condition on the flow of aid related to the matter of the DNC server," and tried to shift the blame for his words onto the media, claiming they were misconstrued to "advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump." Catherine Garcia

5:23 p.m.

Rick Perry is out, and he's taking his glasses with him.

Perry informed President Trump on Thursday that he'll be resigning as energy secretary in the near future, The New York Times reports. The decision isn't a surprise, but it's hard not to see a connection between his resignation and Perry's Wednesday interview that dragged him deeper into the Trump administration's Ukraine scandal.

Perry is one of Trump's few Cabinet officials who have been on the job since the beginning of his presidency — not that he and Trump were exactly friends during the 2016 campaign. The former Texas governor has been supportive of Trump's environmental platform throughout his tenure, but was reportedly looking to leave by the end of this year earlier this month.

That exit plan became official after Perry explained his ties to Rudy Giuliani and the Ukraine controversy to The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. Perry led the U.S. delegation to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky's inauguration this year in what a whistleblower said was Trump's attempt to avoid Zelensky until he was sure the leader would "play ball" and probe former Vice President Joe Biden. Perry backed up the characterization of Trump refusing to meet Zelensky when talking to the Journal, but said Trump only wanted to ensure Ukraine "cleaned up their act" before a meeting. Perry also said Trump told him to call Giuliani to facilitate a Ukraine meeting, which Perry said he did. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:03 p.m.

Maybe there's a reason Mick Mulvaney's gig never went full time.

The acting White House chief of staff admitted on Thursday the Trump administration had engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine, withholding aid from the country until its role in the 2016 DNC email hack was further investigated. But the rest of the Trump administration isn't being so forthcoming, with Justice Department officials brushing off possible roles in the exchange entirely.

"If the White House was withholding aid in regards to the cooperation of any investigation at the Department of Justice, that is news to us," a senior DOJ official said in a statement to reporters Thursday. This comes after another DOJ official told reporters they "have no idea what [Mulvaney] is talking about."

But over on President Trump's personal legal team, things aren't going so well. "I think people are a bit stunned," one person familiar with the team's thinking told CNN. Another source called Mulvaney's briefing "not helpful," per CNN. Trump's top attorney Jay Sekulow, meanwhile, briefly said "the legal team was not involved in the acting chief of staff's press briefing."

Mulvaney's shocking comments were briefly characterized as taking the impeachment inquiry "from very, very bad to much, much worse," House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Thursday. After all, "no quid pro quo" has been Trump's simple defense from the day his call with Ukraine's president was first made public. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:17 p.m.

It's not Facebook's job to keep false information off your timeline.

At least that's the perspective of Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, which he shared with shared with The Washington Post ahead of a speech at Georgetown University on Thursday. While Zuckerberg says he's worried about "the erosion of truth" in society, he's just not ready to root out falsehoods on his platform altogether.

Zuckerberg and Facebook have been criticized for letting false news stories and even false claims from politicians stand on the site. That issue was the focus of an experimental ad from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), in which she claimed Zuckerberg endorsed President Trump for re-election just to see if the site would take it down. Facebook didn't, and on Thursday, Zuckerberg gave a reason why. "I don't think people want to live in a world where you can only say things that tech companies decide are 100 percent true," he said, adding that he fears "potentially cracking down too much" on free expression even if it can lead to confusion.

Still, Zuckerberg acknowledged that the power Facebook has on political systems is very much on his mind. He even considered banning political ads on Facebook altogether, he said Thursday at Georgetown. But that would result in a site that "favors incumbents and whoever the media covers," Zuckerberg added. Read more of Zuckerberg's political thoughts at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

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