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Here we go again
August 25, 2019

Joe Arpaio marked the anniversary of President Trump pardoning him by announcing he is once again running for sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona.

"Watch out world!" the 87-year-old said in a statement. "We are back!" Arpaio served six terms as sheriff, and his jails were known for their harsh conditions, with immigrants housed in tents outside during extreme heat; inmates fed twice a day with food served at other institutions as a form of punishment; and prisoners forced to wear pink underwear. As a result, several civil rights lawsuits were filed against Arpaio, NBC News reports, and a federal judge ruled twice that his jails violated the constitutional rights of inmates because of poor medical care.

Arpaio was handily defeated in November 2016, and convicted in July 2017 of contempt of court after he disregarded a federal judge's order to stop arresting immigrants based on suspicion that they were undocumented. One of Trump's earliest supporters, he was pardoned by the president in August 2017. In his statement, Arpaio said he's been urged by "thousands" to run again, and "the last four years have proven to be a time of lost opportunities to continue the kind of tough policing this country needs." Catherine Garcia

August 12, 2019

Automattic Inc., the online software and publishing company that owns WordPress.com and Longreads, is adding Tumblr to its lineup.

Verizon, which acquired the multimedia blogging platform in 2017 when it bought out Yahoo, is selling Tumblr for an undisclosed amount considered "nominal" to its previous $1.1 billion worth, reports The Wall Street Journal. A source for Axios put the number "well below" $20 million.

This marks Automattic's largest ever acquisition, in terms of both monetary value and personnel. Tumblr's current staff of around 200 will reportedly join the company.

The Tumblr community went into an existential tailspin back in December when the site banned all NSFW content. Many users abandoned the platform for other websites in a move reminiscent of the exodus following Yahoo's takeover of the site in 2013. Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg says his company doesn't plan on changing what makes Tumblr "fun," but this shakeup may be the last straw for the remaining holdouts on the website. Cyrena Touros

August 8, 2019

A ninth Democrat has qualified for the third round of presidential debates, bringing us closer to another two-night affair.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang on Thursday became the latest Democratic candidate for president to qualify for the September debate following the release of a Monmouth University Iowa poll in which he has two percent support, The New York Times reports. Yang previously had the 130,000 individual donors needed for the September debate's qualification threshold, which is stricter than that of the previous two debates, and he has now met the requirement of two percent support in four polls as well.

This means the September debate will include at least the following nine candidates: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former congressman Beto O'Rourke, and Yang. As the Times points out, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is close to qualifying; he has enough donors and now needs to reach two percent support in one more qualifying poll. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) also has surpassed the 130,000 individual donor requirement, The Washington Examiner reports.

While the first two rounds of debates took place over two nights because there were so many candidates, it was thought raising the qualifying threshold for the September debate might cut the field down enough for only one night to be required. The New York Times previously reported that this September debate would take place on a single night should 10 candidates or fewer qualify. Were Castro and Gabbard to both squeeze in, there would be 11 candidates.

The Democratic National Committee also recently gave candidates even longer to qualify for the October debate, leaving open the possibility that the debate field will actually grow larger after September. The deadline to qualify for the September debate is Aug. 28. Brendan Morrow

July 27, 2019

Another weekend, another member of Congress for President Trump to target.

Trump tweeted about House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on Saturday morning, calling him as a "brutal bully" and criticizing his district, which contains the city of Baltimore, as "far worse and more dangerous" than the southern border, the conditions of which Cummings has criticized in the past. Trump went on to describe Baltimore as a "rat and rodent infested mess."

Like his racist tweets direct at four Democratic congresswomen earlier this month, Trump's shot at Cummings and Baltimore has already drawn heavy criticism from commentators. CNN news anchor Victor Blackwell, who is from Baltimore, delivered an emotional monologue about Trump's comments and said that people from Baltimore are "proud of their community." While fighting back tears, Blackwell said that Baltimore's citizens pledge allegiance to the flag just as people do in districts represented by lawmakers who support Trump. "They are Americans, too," he said.

Other journalists pointed out that Trump's tweets were hypocritical, especially in light of his attacks on the congresswomen, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who Trump has accused of being anti-American.

Read more reactions at Mediaite. Tim O'Donnell

July 9, 2019

Maybe President Trump just needed to vent on Monday. After all, a prominent U.K. official — ambassador to the United States Kim Darroch — was caught red-handed calling him "insecure," "incompetent," and predicting that his administration could "crash and burn." That would probably rile most people up — although, it must be said, lashing out on Twitter may not be the best way to dispel the notion that you're insecure.

But apparently Monday's Twitter rant wasn't enough for the president. He came out swinging again on Tuesday morning, this time referring to Darroch as a "very stupid guy" and, more formally, a "pompous fool." For what it's worth, reports indicate that Darroch is well-liked by Trump officials, and the U.K. is standing behind him.

The president also used the opportunity to once again insult the U.K.'s Brexit troubles.

And, lest we forget, he ended the tirade by boasting about the strength of the U.S. economy and military and made sure, as he so often does, to give thanks where thanks is due. Tim O'Donnell

June 7, 2019

Another contempt vote against Attorney General William Barr is likely to take place next week.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee is proceeding with plans to hold Barr in contempt, as the Justice Department and the Commerce Department did not provide documents subpoenaed by the committee by the Thursday deadline, The Hill reports. These documents have to do with the committee's investigation into the Trump administration adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The panel will also vote on holding Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt.

"We gave Attorney General Barr and Secretary Ross every opportunity to produce the documents the Committee needs for our investigation, but rather than cooperate, they have decided that they would rather be held in contempt of Congress," Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said.

This comes after the committee on Monday threatened Barr and Ross with this contempt vote but again asked for the requested documents by Thursday. Now that the documents were not provided, The Hill reports the vote is likely to take place the very same week the House of Representatives is to vote on holding Barr in contempt for not turning over Special Counsel Robert Mueller's full, unredacted report and its underlying evidence. The House Judiciary Committee in May voted in favor of holding Barr in contempt.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd in a letter to Cummings criticized the House Oversight and Reform Committee's action as "premature," CNN reports, also saying that "we are disappointed by the Committee's mischaracterization of the Department's continued and ongoing efforts to accommodate the Committee's oversight interests." Brendan Morrow

April 24, 2019

President Trump on Wednesday repeated a conspiracy theory that British intelligence spied on his 2016 campaign, an idea that Fox News backed away from years ago.

Trump tweeted out a quote from a former CIA analyst, who on the right-wing One America News Network alleged that U.K. intelligence helped former President Barack Obama's administration spy on Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Trump added that eventually, "the truth comes out."

If this sounds familiar, it should. This conspiracy theory was previously promoted by the White House in 2017, with Press Secretary Sean Spicer referencing it in a briefing. He got the idea from Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano, who had used former CIA analyst Larry Johnson as a source, per The New York Times.

After this theory was elevated by the White House, Fox News pushed back on it, with Shepard Smith saying on air, "Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano's commentary. Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-president of the United States was surveilled at any time, any way. Full stop.”

Napolitano was subsequently pulled from the network for a time, while Spicer defended himself as simply "passing on news reports." A spokesperson for U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May called the claims "ridiculous," also saying that "we've received assurances that these allegations won't be repeated," per CNN.

Still, Trump repeated the allegations two years later on Wednesday, just one day after announcing his upcoming U.K. visit — a visit that likely just became a lot more awkward. Brendan Morrow

March 9, 2019

It might soon be déjà vu all over again for Alabama.

Reuters reported on Friday that Roy Moore, the former chief justice of Alabama's Supreme Court and the Republican candidate in the 2017 Alabama special election for Jeff Sessions' Senate seat, said that he is "seriously considering" challenging Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who defeated Moore during that previous campaign, in 2020.

Moore was a heavy favorite early on in 2017, but allegations that he sexually assaulted or pursued teenaged girls while in his 30s derailed his campaign, and Jones won the vote by a narrow margin, becoming the first Alabama Democrat in a quarter-century to win a Senate election.

Moore spoke about the possibility of running again on Friday during an appearance on the radio show "Focal Point", a Christian-based program which airs on American Family Radio. Per The Washington Post, Moore said that the 2017 election "was stolen" thanks to a "disinformation" campaign (he has denied the allegations against him.) The Post noted that there were a slew of misleading online tactics geared toward influencing the election, but most political analysts agree that those tactics were not the reasons behind his defeat. They argue that the allegations remain the impetus for Jones' victory. Tim O'Donnell

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