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Acting AG Matthew Whitaker testifies; the Supreme Court halts a Louisiana abortion law.
Whitaker denies interfering with Mueller probe
- Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker testified to Congress under oath on Friday that he has not taken action to interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 presidential election. [Vox / Jen Kirby]
- In tense questioning led by House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Whitaker also denied ever speaking with President Trump or anyone in the White House about the Mueller probe. [NYT / Katie Benner, Nicholas Fandos, and Charlie Savage]
- In a confusing statement last month, Whitaker said the Mueller investigation was “close to be[ing] completed.” This contradicted other accounts that Mueller needed more time to finish the probe. [Politico / Andrew Desiderio and Darren Samuelsohn]
- Democrats on the panel asked about a range of topics, including whether Trump had lashed out against Whitaker over federal charges against Michael Cohen, how Whitaker even became acting AG, and whether he believes the Mueller probe is a “witch hunt.” [The Hill]
- “Bring your popcorn,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), the head GOP in the committee, calling the trial mere “political theater.” Collins even called to adjourn the hearing, but Democrats outvoted the move. [CNN / Jeremy Herb and Alex Rogers]
- A snapshot of the contentious hearing: “Mr. Chairman, I see that your time is up,” Whitaker said to Nadler when asked if he ever approved actions taken by the special counsel. The Democratic panel responded with laughter at Whitaker’s avoidance of the question. The comment was also a breach of protocol — as chair, Nadler is the one who sets the talking time, not Whitaker. [Vox / Aaron Rupar]
- There was even doubt that Whitaker would show up to testify; he refused on Wednesday to come to questioning unless Democrats promised they wouldn’t subpoena him, which Nadler eventually agreed to. The set of exchanges symbolizes the tense relationship between the Trump administration and the Democratic House. [Washington Post / Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky]
Are we one step closer to revisiting Roe v. Wade?
- The Supreme Court blocked Louisiana on Thursday night from enforcing a law that would have closed at least two of the state’s three remaining abortion clinics. It’s a temporary decision while the Court decides whether to hear the case. If they do, Roe v. Wade could ultimately be overturned. [Vox / Anna North]
- The law requires abortion providers in Louisiana to have hospital admitting privileges, which are often difficult for them to get. In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that a similar law in Texas was unconstitutional. [NPR / Nina Totenberg, Domenico Montanaro, Richard Gonzales, and Barbara Campbell]
- Chief Justice John Roberts, who is generally conservative but is now the Court’s likely swing vote, voted with the 5-4 majority — although he may have sided with liberals just to stall until the case is heard in court again. [NYT / Adam Liptak]
- Although only Justice Brett Kavanaugh issued a dissent on the stay, this ruling may set a tone that the conservative Roberts Court is not yet ready to overturn Roe v. Wade. [Rolling Stone / Tessa Stuart]
- Jeff Bezos wrote a post on Medium accusing the National Enquirer of “extortion and blackmail” because the publication threatened to release embarrassing photos of him. The Amazon founder, who also owns the Washington Post, came out looking like the defender of truth. And Trump may be involved. [Atlantic / Alana Semuels]
- Democrats said sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh should’ve removed him from consideration for the Supreme Court last fall. Now that Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of Virginia faces sexual assault allegations, members of his party have been slower to comment. [Vice News / Matt Laslo]
- A recently transcripted conversation reveals that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in 2017 he would “use a bullet” if journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi didn’t stop reporting articles criticizing the Saudi government. [NYT / Mark Mazzetti]
- We are demanding more oil at the same time as we want more answers to climate change. Energy giants like ExxonMobil plan to increase investments despite popular sentiments to address costs to the planet. [Economist]
- You can get on FaceTime again. Apple fixed a bug that allowed users to access receivers’ audio even if they didn’t pick up. [Wired / Lily Hay Newman]
“John fought to pass Medicare — and he won. He fought to pass Medicaid — and he won. He fought for civil rights — and he won. He fought for the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Air Act — and he won.” [Fomer Sen. Carl Levin in a 2005 statement about former Rep. John Dingell Jr. (D-MI), the longest-serving member of Congress, who died Thursday, via the New York Times]
Watch this: America’s cocaine habit fueled its migrant crisis
And it’s destroying Guatemala and Honduras. [YouTube / Christina Thornell and Sam Ellis]