October 15, 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden in a new interview concedes he exercised "poor judgment" in serving on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

Biden spoke with ABC News in an interview Tuesday about his work with Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian oil and gas company where he served on the board. He has faced criticism from those who say he was inappropriately profiting from his father's position while the former vice president was overseeing Ukraine policy, as well as unfounded allegations of illegal activity from President Trump, whose request that Ukraine's president investigate Biden sparked an impeachment inquiry.

In the interview, Biden concedes that "in retrospect," he used "poor judgment" in getting "in the middle of something that is a swamp in many ways." He also admits he "probably" wouldn't have gotten the position if his last name wasn't Biden, although he defended his qualifications and again denied anything allegations of illegality, saying he did "nothing wrong."

"Did I make a mistake? Well, maybe in the grand scheme of things, yeah," Biden said. "But did I make a mistake based upon some ethical lapse? Absolutely not." He also said it was a mistake in that he "gave a hook to some very unethical people to act in illegal ways to try to do some harm to my father." Biden denied ever discussing his work with Burisma with his father outside of one "brief exchange."

This interview aired the morning of the fourth Democratic presidential debate, though whether any of Biden's opponents will seize upon this criticism or dismiss it as a distraction remains unclear. Brendan Morrow

4:53 a.m.

Protests sparked by Minneapolis police killing George Floyd have spread to at least 430 U.S. cities and towns, Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. "This isn't happening just in our urban centers," he noted. "These demonstrations are everywhere" and they're "uniting Americans of all backgrounds — you may have noticed that Boise, Idaho, does not have a lot of black people."

"And please don't buy the false narrative that these are lawless mobs," Colbert said. "The vast majority of these protests have been peaceful," though "in many places, police are using curfew as an excuse to bring the smackdown on peaceful protesters." He showed several examples.

Still, Colbert said, "the attack that everyone is still talking about is Monday's military assault on peaceful protesters so that Donald Trump could shamble across the street to get handsy with a Bible. Trump has been criticized by a lot of people for misuse of the military," most powerfully his first defense secretary, James "Mad Dog" Mattis. Colbert re-nicknamed him "Principled Pooch."

"Mattis' decision to speak out is yet another indication of the truly precarious moment we're in," said Late Night's Seth Meyers. "Trump and the police establishment are obviously threatened by widespread popularity of the protests," which "have profoundly swayed public opinion. And this kind of massive, sustained political mobilization represents a direct threat to the unjust system of predatory policing we currently have, which is why the people who benefit from that system are lashing out so aggressively."

"Protests are continuing nationwide, but it seems that some common ground is being reached," at least in some cities, Jimmy Kimmel said. "In Washington, where law enforcement has taken a much more forceful approach, including tear-gassing peaceful protesters, things are not as amicable — authorities there are busy erecting another fence that will go around the existing White House fence," he said. "So it looks like Trump is finally getting his wall built after all. How long before we find out Don Jr. invested in a fence company?"

The new fence should work great — "unless protesters resort to the act of pushing," Jimmy Fallon deadpanned at The Tonight Show. "So far, Trump's turned out the White House lights, hid in a bunker, and is now building an ugly chain-link fence. He's like every crazy neighbor rolled into one." He recited a pitch-perfect Trump version of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:22 a.m.

In the 72 hours since the Trump administration used tear gas and other nonlethal force to violently clear Lafayette Square of peaceful protesters before President Trump's walk to St. John's Church, "the White House has been transformed into a veritable fortress," The Washington Post reports, with tall security fencing and concrete barriers erected to keep protesters from an expanded secure zone. "Armed guards and sharpshooters and combat troops are omnipresent." According to Google Maps, the new fencing stretches about 1.7 miles around the White House.

"The White House is now so heavily fortified that it resembles the monarchical palaces or authoritarian compounds of regimes in faraway lands — strikingly incongruous with the historic role of the executive mansion," known as "the People's House," the Post adds. "The resulting picture is both jarring and distinctly political — a Rorschach test for one's view of Trump's presidency. His supporters see a projection of absolute strength, a leader controlling the streets to protect his people. His critics see a wannabe dictator and a president hiding from his own citizenry."

"I think the need to fortify your house — and it's not his house; it's our house — shows weakness," said Deborah Berke, dean of the Yale School of Architecture. "The president of the United States should not feel threatened by his or her own citizens."

White House officials tell the Post that Trump wasn't involved in the decisions to ramp up security and put up the new fencing, and they noted he has left the White House twice this week, including the brief St. John's spectacle. "The president has been sensitive to the perception fanned by his critics that he is cowering in a bunker and fearful for his own safety," and he's "livid that the media found out" about him being rushed to the bunker last Friday, the Post reports. This probably won't help dispel that perception. Peter Weber

1:59 a.m.

The last person to receive a pension from the Civil War has died.

Irene Triplett, whose father Mose Triplett served in the Confederate Army before defecting and joining the Union, died Sunday at age 90, following complications from a broken hip. The North Carolina resident was able to receive her dad's Civil War pension — $73.13 every month — because she had cognitive impairments and qualified as a helpless adult child of a veteran.

Military records show that after two years as a Confederate soldier, Mose Triplett "deserted" in 1863, just one week before his old regiment was nearly wiped out during the Battle of Gettysburg. He applied for his pension in 1885, and Irene Triplett was born in 1930, when her father was 83 years old. Her mother, 27 at the time, was his second wife. Mose Triplett died in 1938 at age 92.

One of Irene Triplett's relatives told The Wall Street Journal she had a rough childhood, with kids saying her father was a "traitor." Later in life, she found friendship with other residents at Accordius Health, a nursing home in Wilkesboro. Jamie Phillips, the activities director, told The Washington Post Triplett like playing Bingo, listening to gospel music, and telling her friends about what she heard on the news. "I never saw her angry," she said. "Everything was funny." Catherine Garcia

Editor's note: The dates in this story have been amended to reflect the correct order of events leading up to Mose Triplett's defection to the Union. We regret the error.

1:05 a.m.

Brazil's coronavirus death toll hit 34,021 on Thursday, with the country surpassing Italy to become third in the world when it comes to COVID-19 fatalities.

Only the United States and United Kingdom have higher death tolls. Brazil's health ministry also announced on Thursday night that there were 1,473 coronavirus deaths in the country over the last 24 hours, a daily record. Brazil now has 615,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with more than 70 percent of cities affected.

Despite the numbers skyrocketing, Brazil's far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, complained on Thursday about lockdown efforts by state governors and mayors who want to slow the spread of COVID-19. "We can't go on like this," he said. "Nobody can take it anymore. The collateral impact will be far greater than those people who unfortunately lost their lives because of these last three months here."

Miguel Lago, director of Brazil's Institute for Health Policy Studies, told The Guardian he is "very worried" about the number of cases in the country, adding, "we are going to witness hospitals collapsing in almost every state. I think the worst is still to come." Lago believes Bolsonaro is rushing to reopen the economy in order to help him get re-elected in 2022, telling The Guardian, "He doesn't care about the lives of the Brazilians who will die because of his absolutely irresponsible behavior." Catherine Garcia

12:26 a.m.

The Maryland-National Capital Park Police are looking for a cyclist in sunglass and an orange helmet who was caught on camera earlier this week accosting a young girl, grabbing a flyer out of her hand, and ramming the man filming it all with his bike.

The group was putting up flyers in Bethesda, a D.C. suburb, supporting the protests inspired by George Floyd, a black man killed by police in Minneapolis. The flyer read "Killer Cops Will Not Go Free," a message the cyclist evidently found objectionable. The incident took place June 1, but news and social media took note on Thursday.

Maryland-National Capital Park Police have apparently not yet identified the man, but the video's virality seems to have increased the number of tips. "We want to thank the community for their support," the department tweeted Thursday night. "Please remember all people are innocent until proven otherwise. Keep the tips coming and we will follow up. Please contact Park Police at 301-929-2774 with any information." Peter Weber

12:02 a.m.

Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) criticized Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Thursday and his attempt to add an amendment to anti-lynching legislation.

The Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act, named after a 14-year-old black teenager who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955, would make lynching a federal crime. The House passed it in February, but Paul wants to add an amendment that would "simply add a serious bodily injury standard," he said in a statement. On Wednesday, Paul told reporters he is afraid that "bruises could be considered lynching. That's a problem, to put someone in jail for 10 years for some kind of altercation."

Paul attempted to make changes to the measure on Thursday, at the same time a memorial service was being held in Minneapolis for George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died last week after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Paul said by defining the meaning of lynching so broadly, the bill would "cheapen" it, a remark Harris called "ridiculous" and an insult to black members of the Senate.

Paul's changes would "weaken" the bill, Harris said, and put a "greater burden on victims of lynching than is currently required under federal hate crime laws." There was no reason for Paul to propose the amendment, she added, beyond "cruel and deliberate obstruction on a day of mourning."

Booker said Paul was "standing in the way of the law of the land changing because of a difference of interpretation," and Paul pushed back, saying: "You think I'm getting any good publicity out of this? No. I will be excoriated by simple-minded people on the internet who think somehow I don't like Emmett Till or appreciate the history and the memory of Emmett Till." The amendment failed, and the measure is now in limbo. For it to pass quickly, the Senate would have to agree unanimously and not add any amendments. Catherine Garcia

June 4, 2020

Police out to enforce curfew in Buffalo, New York, shoved an older man Thursday evening, causing him to fall backward and audibly hit his head on the pavement, Buffalo NPR affiliate WBFO reports. Blood ran from the man's head as he lay motionless, and the cops who pushed him glanced down and walked on. The unidentified man, treated by two medics, was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and is in stable condition, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz tweeted Thursday night.

A spokesman for the Buffalo Police Department issued a statement Thursday night saying that during a "skirmish invoking protesters, one person was injured when he tripped and fell." It isn't clear if the spokesman had seen the video, but Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood later said the two officers involved have been suspended without pay, and a full Internal Affairs investigation has been launched.

"This is happening in multiple cities across the country," New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted over another viral video involving the Los Angeles Police Department. "Police striking protesters with batons without an apparent provocation, or in the case of the man in Buffalo, shoving them."

"Imagine where we would be if they didn't put cameras on cell phones?" wrote veteran news anchor Dan Rather. "And now imagine all that we aren't seeing. And didn't see. And will not see." Peter Weber

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