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June 28 2016 1:19 PM

More Brexit Chaos: Labour MPs Mutiny Against Leader Jeremy Corbyn

It’s now official: Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has lost the support of his fellow Labour MPs. In a vote on Tuesday afternoon, Labour MPs approved a motion stating that they had lost confidence in Corbyn’s leadership by a margin of 172 to 40.

The ostensible reason for the mutiny against Corbyn is his tepid support for the Remain campaign in the June 23 referendum. But the more pressing concern is that it seems likely that a general election will be held at some point in the next year, and Labour MPs don’t believe he could lead the party to victory. Tony Blair’s former consigliere Alistair Campbell summed up the legislators’ worries in a Tuesday blog post: “[Corbyn] is great when telling the converted what they already think … but hopeless at winning over the people we are going to need to prevent an even bigger Tory majority in the coming election.”

June 28 2016 11:26 AM

Democrats Accidentally Reveal How Much Top Clinton Crony Gets Paid for Being Top Clinton Crony

Well, this is embarrassing for everyone involved: House Democrats trying to pre-empt a Benghazi-committee report critical of the Obama administration accidentally released a deposition transcript in which controversial Hillary Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal says he makes $200,000 a year from what seems like a part-time job as an informal adviser to fellow Clinton ally David Brock's advocacy organizations.

"Democrats released but redacted a transcript of Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal answering the committee’s questions," the L.A. Times reports. "But the redaction marks are easily erased by anyone able to use a computer’s cut-and-paste function." In the transcript, Blumenthal says he is paid approximately $200,000 a year as a "consultant" for Brock's Media Matters, American Bridge, and Correct the Record groups, all of which are well-connected to the Democratic Party establishment and are major supporters of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Blumenthal says he gives Brock "ideas and advice" about these groups but does not appear to have any involvement with them on a day-to-day level. The only articles I could find online about Blumenthal's involvement with Media Matters merely involved him forwarding their work to other people, and he doesn't appear to be a member of the group's board of directors or executive staff. Nor is he listed anywhere as having an official position with American Bridge or Correct the Record.

Specifically, this is:

  • Embarrassing for House Democrats because they screwed up a process that can be successfully completed with a single black marker.
  • Embarrassing for House Republicans because it shows them sidetracking an investigation that was ostensibly about Benghazi to ask one of Hillary Clinton's friends a bunch of questions that have nothing to do with Benghazi. (Embarrassing the GOP in this manner was the ostensible purpose of the House Dems' botched release.)
  • Embarrassing for Sidney Blumenthal because now everyone knows how much he gets paid for doing a "job" that seems to consist solely of occasional networking and log-rolling.
  • Embarrassing for everyone who has a real full-time job at Media Matters, American Bridge, or Correct the Record and makes significantly less than $200,000 a year.

It's been previously reported that Blumenthal also made $10,000 a month for several years as an employee of the Clinton Foundation, during which time Politico says, "some officials at the charity questioned his value and grumbled that his hiring was a favor from the Clintons."

June 28 2016 9:29 AM

Legendary Women’s Basketball Coach Pat Summitt Has Died

Pioneering women's basketball coach Pat Summitt has died, her son Tyler announced in a post on the Pat Summitt Foundation website. Summitt, 64, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease five years ago. Summitt coached the Tennessee women's basketball team from 1974 until 2012, wining 1,098 games and eight national championships; she is the winningest basketball coach in NCAA Division I history.

When Summitt became head coach at Tennessee, CNN notes, "the NCAA did not even formally recognize women's basketball." NCAA sponsorship of the sport did not begin until 1982.

Summitt was the fourth of five children raised on a farm in Tennessee; the New York Times writes that in the early days of organized women's sports the game of basketball "thrived in rural enclaves in states like Tennessee and Texas" where "girls who worked on farms could not be told with any seriousness that they lacked the endurance to play sports."

Summitt also coached the United States women's basketball team to a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics and was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. A "public celebration" of her life is being planned and will be held at Tennessee's basketball arena in Knoxville.

June 27 2016 10:29 PM

Federal Judge Rules Mississippi Clerks Can’t Cite Religious Beliefs to Avoid Issuing Gay Couples’ Marriage Licenses

A federal judge ruled Monday that clerks in Mississippi may not recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples based on their religious beliefs. The ruling effectively bars the state from enforcing a provision of a new law, House Bill 1523, passed in the state in response to the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell last year legalizing gay marriage. The bill, also referred to as the "Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act," was signed into law in April and slated to go into effect on Friday.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, however, rejected the religious objection provision of the law citing the equal protection and due process clauses of the Constitution. "Mississippi's elected officials may disagree with Obergefell, of course, and may express that disagreement as they see fit — by advocating for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision, for example," Reeves wrote in his ruling. "But the marriage license issue will not be adjudicated anew after every legislative session."

The bill is backed by the state’s Republican Governor Phil Bryant and Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood.

June 27 2016 8:32 PM

Volkswagen Reportedly Agrees to Nearly $15 Billion Settlement for Emissions Scandal

Volkswagen has agreed to a nearly $15 billion settlement with car owners and the federal government after the German automaker admitted in Sept. 2015 to installing illegal software in 11 million cars worldwide that allowed certain diesel models to circumvent the Clean Air Act and surreptitiously emit 40 times the allowable amount of nitrogen oxide. “The figure would be the largest auto scandal settlement in U.S. history and a huge step in Volkswagen's efforts to address the legal fallout from its admission that its vehicles were designed to fool emissions tests,” according to the Associated Press.

Here’s more on the specifics of the deal from Bloomberg:

Under the deal, VW will set aside $10.03 billion to cover costs including buying back vehicles at pre-scandal values and compensating drivers as much as $10,000 per car for their troubles, two people familiar with the negotiations said. Those figures could rise if VW misses certain deadlines. In addition, Volkswagen will pay $2.7 billion in fines that will go to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, and $2 billion on clean-emissions technology, one of the people said. The carmaker is also expected to announce a settlement with states, including New York, for about $400 million, another person said.

The settlement would be the largest U.S. civil settlement ever with an automaker, but the company also faces a host of other legal troubles, including a criminal inquiry by the Department of Justice and a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit.

June 27 2016 8:10 PM

The Monday Slatest Newsletter

Today's biggest stories:

Have a good night out there.

June 27 2016 6:05 PM

Today’s Trump Apocalypse Watch: A Really Odd Time to Stop Tweeting

The Trump Apocalypse Watch is a subjective daily estimate, using a scale of one to four horsemen, of how likely it is that Donald Trump will be elected president, thus triggering an apocalypse in which we all die.

Today in Trump:

  1. The presumptive GOP nominee had absolutely nothing to say about the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in a major abortion case.
  2. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, used the occasion to remind everyone of that time Trump suggested women who have the procedure should be “punished.”
  3. Elizabeth Warren joined Clinton on stage in Cincinnati for some more Trump bashing (and, perhaps, to offer a preview of Clinton-Warren ticket).
  4. Former Massachusetts senator and current Trump fan Scott Brown suggested that Warren should take a DNA test to prove her Native American heritage.
  5. Trump did Brown one worse by suggesting that Warren is “racist.”
  6. Politico found that hardly any big name Republicans are interested in speaking at Trump’s coronation in Cleveland—though three of his adult children are likely to get key speaking slots.

All in all, not the best day for a man who’s currently trailing his general election rival by an average of about 7 points in the most recent polls, and for a presumptive nominee who is still devoting time and money to stamping out a possible convention coup.

Still, there is silver lining in today’s news for Trump if you're willing to squint: the SCOTUS ruling offers him a prime opportunity to shore up his standing with the religious right and to more generally remind conservatives what’s at stake in this election. In order to do that, though, Trump will have to prove he can speak the language of the anti-abortion crowd fluently, or at least semi-coherently—and so far there’s little evidence he can. Our danger level remains low.


Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images, Wikimedia Commons

June 27 2016 5:13 PM

The GOP’s Presumptive Nominee Has Nothing to Say About Today’s Abortion Ruling

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down Texas’ stringent regulations on abortion clinics. The landmark ruling was the high court’s most sweeping statement on the issue in more than two decades, and reaffirmed a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion. Unsurprisingly, then, Hillary Clinton didn’t hesitate to weigh in on such major news.

And from Donald Trump? Crickets.

His silence on SCOTUS—seven hours and counting at the time I’m publishing this—came while he and his campaign instead found time to offer his thoughts on Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s liberal record and columnist George Will’s conservative bona fides. (I’ve reached out to the Trump campaign for comment on the ruling, but have not heard back.) In a very basic sense, his decision to stay out of this one, even for a news cycle or two, is remarkable—he tends to tweet first and think later, if at all. But his silence is even more surprising if you consider the political stakes involved in this particular decision. As journalist Sarah Posner points out, this ruling should be manna from heaven for a man desperate to shore up his standing with the religious right.

While conservative evangelicals have plenty of reasons to be skeptical of the man who once claimed to be “very pro-choice,” it shouldn’t be too difficult for Trump to convince them that he’s better than their alternative when it comes to the issues most important to them. Or at least it wouldn’t be if he, like so many other Republicans, had been ready with a Supreme Court-scolding tweet after a decision like today’s. (Trump wasn’t nearly as gun-shy last week following the high court’s immigration ruling that broke Republicans’ way.)

Why, then, the delay? The obvious answer is that Trump is either unwilling or unable to quickly sum up his thoughts on a topic that he has expressed so many conflicting views on in the past and that has caused him so many problems in the present. Early in the GOP primary, he angered some conservatives when he staked out a relatively moderate position on Planned Parenthood. Later, he swung so far back the other way that he even scared some anti-abortion hardliners by suggesting that women should be “punished” for having the procedure. Those remarks were met with such swift bipartisan backlash, in fact, that Trump scrambled to pretend he never made them. Subsequent explanations only muddled things further. And if that recent history wasn’t enough to give Trump pause on a day like today, there’s also the reality that any talk of abortion will inevitably end in him being asked whether any of his sexual partners ever had one—a question he has refused to answer.

Trump will surely weigh in on today’s ruling eventually, if not in a statement than in an interview, and when he does his silence will be mostly forgotten. But for right now, it’s pretty remarkable that the presumptive GOP nominee for president hasn’t said a word about the most important Supreme Court abortion decision in years.

June 27 2016 4:08 PM

Leaders of Germany, France, and Italy Push for a Speedy Brexit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande, and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi have agreed that no talks will be held with the United Kingdom on leaving the European Union until the British government invokes Article 50 of the EU’s main governing document, the Treaty of Lisbon.

"We are in agreement that Article 50 of the European treaties is very clear—a member state that wishes to leave the European Union has to notify the European Council," Merkel said after a meeting in Berlin with Hollande and Renzi.

Article 50 stipulates that countries wishing to leave the EU must inform the European Council of their intentions to begin a process of exit negotiations that can last a maximum of two years. Once Article 50 is invoked, there is no turning back. But British Prime Minister David Cameron and leaders of the campaign to exit the EU in the U.K. have shown no urgency to do so, despite the Leave campaign’s victory in Thursday’s EU referendum.

On Friday, Cameron laid out a three-month timetable for preparations to begin exit negotiations, which he announced would take place under the leadership of a new prime minister. He reiterated this stance in a speech to Parliament on Monday. “I think it’s right not to trigger Article 50,” he told members, “because that starts a process that within two years has to result in an exit and it might be an unmanaged exit if it started too soon.”

But in their post-meeting comments, Merkel, Hollande, and Renzi urged Britain to expedite preparations to quell uncertainty and dismissed the idea that negotiations could happen without the invocation of Article 50. “Our responsibility is not to lose time in dealing with the question of the U.K.'s exit and the new questions for the 27 [other EU nations]," Hollande told the press.

The trio’s comments echoed statements made over the weekend after a separate meeting of the foreign ministers from the EU’s six founding states as well as comments made on Saturday by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who explicitly criticized Cameron’s three-month timetable in an interview. “Britons decided that they want to leave the European Union,” he said. “It doesn't make any sense to wait until October.”

June 27 2016 1:46 PM

This Is What a Hillary Clinton–Elizabeth Warren Ticket Would Look Like

Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton shared the stage in Cincinnati on Monday for the first time this year. The joint appearance was widely considered to be a vice-presidential-nomination audition for Warren—but watching the action you would be forgiven for thinking she already has the part.

Though the entire appearance seemed like one big commercial for a Clinton-Warren ticket, one moment stood out: Late in her speech, Clinton appeared to break from her script to fan the VP flames. “Let's provide debt relief as soon as we can, as soon as we start to work, Elizabeth,” Clinton said. “We'll take the day off for the inauguration, and then the Senate, the Congress, the White House, we're going to get to work to give students and their families relief from this debt.” You can read that a number of ways, but those Democrats fantasizing of a Clinton-Warren dream team will hear the words “Elizabeth” and “inauguration” in the same breath and start to hold their own.

Warren, though, spoke first, making not just a we-need-to-stop-Donald-Trump endorsement by default, but an affirmative case for the presumptive Democratic nominee. She touted Clinton’s support for progressive goals like raising the minimum wage and regulating Wall Street. “We’re here with someone who gets up every single day and fights for us,” the Massachusetts senator said as Clinton looked on approvingly. “Someone who has spent her whole life fighting for children. Spent her life fighting for women. Spent her life fighting for families. Fighting for health care. Fighting for human rights. Fighting for a level playing field. Fighting for those who need her most. We're here to fight side by side with Hillary Clinton.”

The lovefest between the two didn’t end there. The pair hugged on stage, and later hugged off of it. Warren paused at one point to lead the crowd in applauding Clinton and chanting her name. Hillary returned the favor, lavishing praise on Warren for the work she has done in Washington and on the campaign trail taking on Trump. Clinton even recounted a story of a recent phone conversation between the two that ended when Warren had to go buy her granddaughter “some sparkly shoes,” the type of anecdote not-so-subtly designed to suggest the two interact like real-life friends, not simply politicians.

The political case against Warren has been well covered by now. It could cost Clinton with her Wall Street donors, voters unprepared to go for an all-female ticket, and Democrats a Senate seat. Warren, too, has her own reasons to say no, including fears that she’d be marginalized in a Clinton administration. If either woman has those concerns, though, they didn’t show them on stage.

Clinton, most notably, struck a populist tone that sounded a good deal like the one we more often hear from Warren (and a certain senator from Vermont.) “This is not a time for half measures,” she said, which likely came as a surprise to those progressives who fumed this spring as she made the case for incremental progress on things like expanding health care and fighting climate change.

It’s possible that, even after this successful joint appearance, Clinton will instead go the “safer” route and pick someone like Tim Kaine, the Virginia senator reportedly atop her current VP shortlist. But judging by the excitement that Warren seemed to create—both at the event and on the cable news channels that broadcast it live—the question may no longer be whether Clinton can afford to pick Warren, but instead whether she can risk the letdown of picking someone else.