August 24, 2018

Allen Weisselberg, the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, has been granted immunity to speak with federal prosecutors, sources told The Wall Street Journal on Friday.

Weisselberg was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in the investigation into Michael Cohen, President Trump's former lawyer who earlier this week pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and tax fraud. The Journal reports that Weisselberg's cooperation increases pressure on Trump, who gave Weisselberg control of his company's financial assets upon his election. The CFO has worked for the Trump family since the 1970s, reports Bloomberg, and has handled bills, the organization's purchases, and Trump's investments.

Weisselberg reportedly helped Cohen facilitate hush payments to two women who say they had affairs with Trump. In a recording Cohen made of his conversation with Trump about the payments, Cohen says he spoke to Weisselberg about how to arrange the deal. The New York Times reported Thursday that the Manhattan district attorney's office is considering criminal charges against the Trump Organization, related to the payment's improper documentation as an effort to aid the Trump campaign. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Summer Meza

3:50 p.m.

Twitter seems to have a not-so-public answer to why white supremacist content is permeating its site.

Over the past few years, Twitter has found success in algorithmically banning content and accounts linked to ISIS and other terrorist groups. It sometimes leads to "innocent accounts" such as Arabic language broadcasters being caught up in anti-ISIS sweeps, Vice News' Motherboard reports a Twitter executive saying at a recent all-staff meeting. But "society, in general, accepts" that sacrifice, the executive reportedly continued.

That apparently isn't the case when it comes to white supremacist content, though. "In separate discussions" beyond the meeting, one Twitter employee says the site "hasn’t taken the same aggressive approach to white supremacist content because the collateral accounts that are impacted can, in some instances, be Republican politicians," Vice News writes. Vice News then explained further:

The employee argued that, on a technical level, content from Republican politicians could get swept up by algorithms aggressively removing white supremacist material. Banning politicians wouldn't be accepted by society as a trade-off for flagging all of the white supremacist propaganda, he argued.

A Twitter spokesperson said that this “is not [an] accurate characterization of our policies or enforcement — on any level." Still, it raises questions about why Twitter doesn't have a public explanation for why white supremacist posts persist, and how "societal norms" could be stopping Twitter from banning that content altogether, Vice News writes. Read more from Vice News here. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:43 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden expressed "regret" in a private conversation with Anita Hill, his 2020 campaign says.

Biden, who on Thursday officially announced he is running for president in 2020, spoke with Hill and "shared with her directly his regret for what she endured and his admiration for everything she has done to change the culture around sexual harassment in this country," a campaign spokesperson said, CNN's Manu Raju reports.

The spokesperson did not offer any other details about the conversation and did not specify when it occurred. Biden was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when Hill accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991, and he has faced criticism for his handling of the hearings, including for not calling more witnesses to testify and back up Hill's account.

Biden said in March that "to this day I regret I couldn't come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved." He also said in December, "I owe her an apology." But Hill noted in September 2018 that Biden had not apologized to her, telling Elle, "it's become sort of a running joke in the household when someone rings the doorbell and we're not expecting company. 'Oh,' we say, 'is that Joe Biden coming to apologize?'" Brendan Morrow

3:11 p.m.

Avengers: Endgame may offer an ending for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But it's certainly not the ending. So what will the franchise's next chapter look like?

Marvel has only officially set a release date for one post-Endgame film: Spider-Man: Far From Home, which hits theaters in July. But a number of other projects are in the works, one being a Black Widow solo movie, in which Scarlett Johansson's co-stars will reportedly include Rachel Weisz and David Harbour. A 2020 release is rumored.

Also in the works is The Eternals, which revolves around a race of super-powered beings and will reportedly star Angelina Jolie and Kumail Nanjiani. It could land in 2020 as well.

Another new franchise is Shang-Chi, which is based on the Kung Fu master hero and will be Marvel's first film centering around an Asian lead. That might make its way in 2021, a year that could also bring Black Panther 2 and Doctor Strange 2.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is also on the way; it's set to close out the trilogy and be the last film featuring the current version of the Guardians. It was originally expected for 2020 but was delayed after the firing — and re-hiring — of director James Gunn. Now, don't expect it until 2022.

A third Spider-Man is also happening, and a Captain Marvel follow-up is all but confirmed. Plus, a third Ant-Man seems likely, and there have reportedly been discussions of a fourth Thor. And yes, eventually, there will be another Avengers film.

Marvel's future will also rely heavily on Disney+, the streaming service where shows based on Loki, Scarlet Witch and Vision, Falcon and Winter Soldier, and Hawkeye are all on the way, and they'll tie directly into the film universe.

Marvel likely has even more surprises up its sleeve, especially after obtaining Fox's characters like the Fantastic Four. But one thing is certain: beyond Endgame, the Avengers will return — in some form, at least. Brendan Morrow

2:37 p.m.

Biden 2020 is taking on some very Bernie 2016 vibes.

Just hours after Joe Biden announced his 2020 candidacy on Thursday, his campaign also revealed it had hired Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) 2016 national press secretary. Symone Sanders will serve as Biden's senior adviser, a surprising addition seeing as Sanders criticized the former vice president just a few weeks ago, The Daily Beast reports.

Sanders built a prominent name for herself as part of Bernie Sanders' 2016 run, notably bringing the Black Lives Matter cause to a campaign criticized for its lack of diversity. She previously said she was waiting to make a 2020 move because there were "a lot of good candidates this time."

When Biden faced accusations of inappropriately touching women last month, though, Sanders "chastised" him for joking about it, The Daily Beast writes. Yet she did it in a way that almost seemed like she was preparing for a Biden hire, suggesting that Biden say "I'm sorry" so those words would appear in "all the chyrons and headlines."

Sanders' move to Biden's side comes not long after Bernie Sanders lost several of his top 2016 staffers just a month into his 2020 campaign. Bernie Sanders' 2016 staff was also marred by sexual harassment allegations that apparently went unacknowledged, though he's since built a leadership team featuring a 70-percent woman staff. About a month ago, Sanders' staffers also took the unprecedented step of unionizing, and Sanders heralded his presidential campaign as the first to do so. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:27 p.m.

If you're already planning your summer vacation at the shore, maybe it's time to reconsider.

Scientists have traveled all around the world, taking more than 100 samples from the ocean along the way, and discovered nearly 200,000 new species — of viruses. Separated into five different subgroups, these 195,728 viral populations expand our knowledge of marine viruses by a factor of 12.

While the sheer number of invisible viruses in the oceans might make you cringe, it's actually valuable information, Gizmodo explained. This giant catalog of viruses is essential to understanding how marine ecosystems function, especially with regards to microbes, which are tiny cellular organisms that make up over half of the life in the ocean, pound by pound.

The exciting new find was published on Thursday in the journal Cell, by a team of researchers led by Ann Gregory, a postdoctoral researcher at VIB, a life science research institute in Belgium. The new research "expands our knowledge of what the biological entities on our planet are," Gregory told Gizmodo.

Despite the huge set of data provided, this is still far from a complete list of every virus in the oceans, the study authors noted. But it will certainly prove useful to all sorts of scientific inquiry, from examining marine life to discovering new antibiotics. Learn more at Gizmodo. Shivani Ishwar

2:26 p.m.

North Korea presented the United States with a $2 million bill for Otto Warmbier's hospital care — and the U.S. agreed to pay it, The Washington Post reports.

When a U.S. envoy, Joseph Yun, went to Pyongyang in 2017 to bring the detained American student home, the Post reports he was issued a $2 million bill. Warmbier had fallen into a coma after he was detained in 2016 and remained unconscious for 15 months, dying six days after he finally returned to the U.S.

Yun signed a pledge agreeing the U.S. would pay this $2 million bill under orders from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Trump, the report says. Otto Warmbier's father, Fred Warmbier, told Post he hadn't heard about the hospital bill but that it sounds like a "ransom" for his son.

Trump had previously touted the fact that "we got our hostages back" from North Korea and "I paid nothing." CNN reports that the U.S. has not paid the bill, with a Trump administration official saying, "We made clear that they never going to get anything." Another source said that the bill did not come up during Trump's summits with Kim Jong Un but noted that it could come up in the future. Brendan Morrow

12:57 p.m.

It's not former Vice President Joe Biden's first time on the presidential train. But seeing as he's safely boarded — albeit a bit late — for 2020, let's take a look back at his past journeys.

Biden's first bid was for the 1988 presidential race and, in no surprise given his Amtrak obsession, he revealed it in a June 1987 speech in Wilmington, Delaware's train station.

Yet Biden failed to keep his run on the rails, and hopped out of the contenders' car just a few months later.

As promised in that 1988 speech, there were "other presidential campaigns," namely 2008's. Biden formally revealed his run in a Jan. 31, 2007 Meet the Press appearance, and followed it up with a video on his website.

Biden's withdrawal from the race didn't come until nearly a year later after rolling into fifth place in the Iowa caucus, and he made that choice in a small speech to supporters and staffers. Of course, Biden still ended up in the White House, becoming former President Barack Obama's running mate at this Aug. 23, 2008 event in Illinois.

Compare these past announcements to Biden's 2020 video here. Kathryn Krawczyk

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