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January 11, 2019

Friday is Day 21 of the partial government shutdown stalemated over President Trump's spurned demand for $5.7 billion for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. This gives Trump the dubious distinction of overseeing the longest partial shutdown in U.S. history, tied with a 21-day shutdown during President Bill Clinton's administration. Clinton was widely seen as having won that standoff against House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), which ended on Jan. 6, 1996. But it caused enough damage that no White House or Congress has repeated the feat since. With talks deadlocked, it appears Trump will have the record all to himself by Saturday.

Some 800,000 federal employees are working without pay — including Secret Service agents — or furloughed, like most of the White House staff. Trump is taking the brunt of the blame for the shutdown, polls show, but "lengthy shutdowns can be disastrous for the White House for other reasons," notes Katie Rogers at The New York Times:

The last time a shutdown went on for this long, President Bill Clinton put himself on the long road to impeachment when he approached a young intern named Monica Lewinsky in an empty corner of the West Wing. Nonessential employees had been sent home, unpaid interns were brought in to work, and the rest is bitter history. The Obama administration barred interns from coming to work during a shutdown, and the Trump White House's new class of interns has not yet started, according to a senior official. [The New York Times]

Not allowing interns in during the shutdown would be "a smart move," Leon Panetta, Clinton's chief of staff during the shutdown, told the Times. Peter Weber

6:58 p.m.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the Catholic diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and its former bishop, Michael Bransfield, alleging that they violated the state's consumer protection laws by "knowingly" employing pedophiles.

The suit alleges that the diocese and Bransfield did not conduct substantial background checks on people hired to work in Catholic schools and camps, The Washington Post reports, and then tried to "cover up and conceal arguably criminal behavior of child sexual abuse." The first incident mentioned in the suit took place in 1965, when a priest accused of sexually abusing a child was hired by the diocese, and later became director of Camp Tygart despite new alleged victims coming forward. Morrisey is seeking to block the diocese from "continuation of any such conduct."

By using consumer law to file a civil lawsuit, the church's files could be viewed through legal discovery. The diocese, which covers the whole state, released a statement Tuesday saying it "strongly and unconditionally rejects the complaint's assertion that the diocese is not wholly committed to the protection of children." Last week, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori prohibited Bransfield from conducting any priestly duties, after multiple adults accused him of sexual harassment. Catherine Garcia

5:51 p.m.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein apparently likes being the Department of Justice's punching bag.

Multiple outlets reported Tuesday that Rosenstein, who once oversaw Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, was planning to keep his job "a little longer" than he once thought. His decision to stay on reportedly came after a discussion with Attorney General William Barr, and CNN's Pamela Brown seems to have a reason why.

Rosenstein has long been seen as a stable voice in a tumultuous DOJ under Trump. He survived what seemed like an inevitable ouster late last year, and was reported to be considering an exit in mid-March. After plans of him staying on longer were reported Tuesday morning, national security expert Clint Watts devised his own explanation: that Barr found a first briefing on Mueller's report too "complicated" to work out on his own, he tweeted. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:51 p.m.

A group of German archaeologists found about 400 artifacts from World War II after excavating three rural sites near the towns of Warstein, Suttrop, and Eversberg, LiveScience reported on Tuesday.

While exploring the sites of former Nazi camps, the researchers said that most of the 400 artifacts came from Langenbach Valley near Warstein, where LiveScience says 60 women, 10 men, and a child "were taken into the forest, under the pretense of being moved to a different labor camp, and then shot." The vast array of personal items included everything from prayer books and dictionaries to shoes, harmonicas, and Soviet coins — all believed to have been owned by and buried with the massacre's victims.

Bullet cartridges were also found scattered in the area, which could suggest that some of the Polish and Russian forced laborers tried to escape the firing squad. Nazis killed 208 laborers in the region at the end of the war, and only 14 of the victims have ever been identified by name, due to Nazi efforts to conceal their crimes.

Matthias Löb, the director of the Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe — the group behind the excavation — said in a statement that despite the tragic finds, these discoveries serve as an essential reminder of the atrocities committed during that period. Löb also said Germany has seen an increase in "trivialization" and denial of Nazi crimes, and that the discovery of these artifacts are proof of a part of German history "that we have to face." Read more at LiveScience. Marina Pedrosa

5:23 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) 2020 Democratic presidential campaign team announced 15 new hires today, including 10 women.

Among the slew of hirings is Briahna Joy Gray, a former attorney and the senior politics editor at The Intercept, who will join the staff as Sanders' national press secretary.

The campaign says that now every single one of its teams "has women, and predominantly women of color, in leadership positions," per Refinery29. Indeed, women make up around 70 percent of the national leadership team.

The campaign, HuffPost reported, was surely determined to address concerns leftover from the Vermont senator's 2016 presidential run, when the staff was criticized for including few women and people of color. That campaign staff was also plagued by allegations of sexual harassment, which several female staffers said were ignored.

Sanders also hired journalist Dave Sirota, who used to serve as Sanders' press secretary in the House of Representatives, as a speechwriter and senior adviser. Sirota, whom The Atlantic has called Sanders' "Twitter attack dog" because of his reputation for "savaging" Democratic opponents, had reportedly been working for the senator in an unofficial capacity for several months, despite Sanders' remarks that suggested he wanted his campaign to remain free of antagonism. Read more on Sirota's hiring at The Atlantic. Tim O'Donnell

5:04 p.m.

President Trump once reportedly considered nominating his personal pilot to manage the Federal Aviation Administration.

That was a year ago, and there's still no Senate-confirmed head of the FAA. But now, amid a worldwide crisis surrounding Boeing's 737 MAX 8 planes, Trump has decided on a candidate.

Trump announced Tuesday that he's nominating former Delta Airlines official Steve Dickson to the post, with The Wall Street Journal reporting the announcement earlier in the day. Dickson has been under consideration for the job since last November, the Journal also reported at the time. No other FAA head has come directly to the job from a senior position at an airline in 30 years. The White House reportedly planned to announce Dickson's appointment earlier this month, but put it on hold as two Boeing planes crashed in similar circumstances in October and two weeks ago, industry officials tell the Journal.

There hasn't been a permanent FAA head since Michael Huerta's five-year term ended in January 2018. Former President Barack Obama had nominated Huerta to the post. Since then, Daniel Elwell, who'd served in the FAA under former President George W. Bush, has led the agency in an acting capacity but was never brought to the Senate for a formal confirmation. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:21 p.m.

MoviePass is allowing subscribers to see virtually unlimited movies in theaters again — but there are a whole lot of caveats to keep in mind.

The movie subscription service made headlines in 2017 when it announced that for just $9.95 per month, users could see one 2D film in theaters every day. But as essentially giving away free movie tickets took an increasingly significant toll on the company, MoviePass slowly rolled back this promise, first by not letting users see certain movies and eventually by restricting them to three a month rather than one a day.

Now, the original $9.95, one-movie-a-day plan is back, but to get that price, users have to pay for a full year up front, whereas the old version allowed them to go month-to-month. This year commitment might create some concern among subscribers given MoviePass' past unreliability and tendency to frequently change its offerings. You can pay for the plan monthly, but in that case, the price goes up to $14.95. The monthly price will rise to $19.95 after this promotion is over, The Hollywood Reporter writes.

The description for the plan also notes that "your movie choices may be restricted due to excessive individual usage," with the terms of service saying the company can "limit the selection of movies and/or the time of available movies." MoviePass last summer began locking users out of popular films in order to cut down on its financial losses, and it seems new users have no guarantee they won't face similar limitations. MoviePass simply promised on Tuesday subscribers will have access to a "large selection of blockbusters and independent films," per Deadline, giving them plenty of wiggle room to limit that selection as they see fit.

While there are those who continue to doubt that MoviePass will even be around in another year, Ted Farnsworth, the CEO of parent company Helios and Matheson, told The Wrap, "we're still here, not going anywhere." Brendan Morrow

4:11 p.m.

As the infamous 'side door' college admissions scandal continues to unfold, the University of Southern California has begun taking action against students who are connected to the case. The engineer of the scheme, William Singer, parents, and university employees have already faced arrests, suspensions, and lost jobs.

But USC has now turned its attention the recipients of the ploy, blocking any students who might be connected to the scandal from registering for courses. An official notice from USC was sent to the students on Monday. The school said that following an internal investigation, "we will take the proper action related to their status, up to revoking admission or expulsion."

USC said that all applicants who are connected to the scandal will be denied admission, per Fox 11. The school has also already fired two employees who were involved. No students were charged or accused of wrongdoing in the Justice Department's investigation into the admissions scheme.

The sweeping scheme involved parents allegedly bribing college coaches and other university officials at elite colleges across the country to get their children athletic scholarships even when they did not play the sport. Other parents allegedly paid for Singer's consultancy firm to doctor SAT scores. As a result, prosecutors charged 50 people, including actresses Lori Laughlin and Felicity Huffman, in what has become America's largest college admissions scandal ever uncovered. Tim O'Donnell

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