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NBC News to rescind Ronna McDaniel’s contract after outcry from top talent, report says – live


NBC News will cut ties with former RNC chair Ronna McDaniel after outcry – report

NBC News will drop former Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel after an outcry from its top talent over her promotion of Donald Trump’s false claims of fraud in the 2020 election, Puck reports:

SCOOP @PuckNews: NBC NEWS plans to drop ex RNC-chair Ronna McDaniel as a paid contributor following on-air revolt from NBC/MSNBC talent. Execs are deliberating over details; announcement pending. Meanwhile, McDaniel is seeking legal representation.

Full details, scoops &…

— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) March 26, 2024

McDaniel’s hiring by the network attracted criticism from former lawmakers and historians, who argued they were elevating a voice who had helped Trump attack US democracy. On Sunday, McDaniel acknowledged that the 2020 election had not been stolen, though maintained it was acceptable to say there were “problems” with the vote:

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Key events

Joanna Walters

The White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, has just been speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One, on the way to Raleigh, North Carolina.

Joe Biden and the vice-president, Kamala Harris, are holding a joint event there to talk about healthcare.

Reporters were firing off their questions, in a short gaggle on a short flight. Jean-Pierre is confirming the US president’s position is he will “move heaven and earth” to reopen the port and rebuild the bridge.

She’s being asked about the state of US infrastructure but emphasizes that although the government pledges to work with Congress for funding to rebuild the bridge, the search and rescue effort that’s still under way in Baltimore is the main focus.

Joe Biden walking across the tarmac as he boards Air Force One at Andrews air force base in Maryland en route to Raleigh, North Carolina, to participate in campaign events with Vice-President Kamala Harris. Photograph: Stephanie Scarbrough/AP
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Here’s what Yale University historian Timothy Snyder had to say about the danger of NBC News hiring former RNC chair Ronna McDaniel, as told by the Guardian’s Martin Pengelly:

The former Republican National Committee chair turned NBC politics analyst Ronna McDaniel “tried to disassemble our democracy” by supporting Donald Trump’s electoral fraud lies and should not be given such a media role, a leading historian said amid uproar over the appointment.

“What NBC has done is they’ve invited into what should be a normal framework someone who doesn’t believe that framework should exist at all,” Timothy Snyder, a Yale professor and author of On Tyranny, told MSNBC, part of the network now employing McDaniel.

“What NBC has done of its own volition is bring into a very important conversation about democracy, one which is going to take place for the next seven months or so, someone who … tried to disassemble our democracy. Who personally took part in an attempt to undo the American system.”

NBC announced the hire on Friday. Carrie Budoff Brown, the senior vice-president for politics, said McDaniel would contribute analysis “across all NBC News platforms”.

On Sunday, McDaniel told Meet the Press Joe Biden won the 2020 election “fair and square”, adding that she did “not think violence should be in our political discourse”.

NBC News will cut ties with former RNC chair Ronna McDaniel after outcry – report

NBC News will drop former Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel after an outcry from its top talent over her promotion of Donald Trump’s false claims of fraud in the 2020 election, Puck reports:

SCOOP @PuckNews: NBC NEWS plans to drop ex RNC-chair Ronna McDaniel as a paid contributor following on-air revolt from NBC/MSNBC talent. Execs are deliberating over details; announcement pending. Meanwhile, McDaniel is seeking legal representation.

Full details, scoops &…

— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) March 26, 2024

McDaniel’s hiring by the network attracted criticism from former lawmakers and historians, who argued they were elevating a voice who had helped Trump attack US democracy. On Sunday, McDaniel acknowledged that the 2020 election had not been stolen, though maintained it was acceptable to say there were “problems” with the vote:

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Joe Biden did not say when he expected the Francis Scott Key Bridge to be rebuilt or, more crucially for the nation’s economy, the port of Baltimore to be able to resume operations.

The president also gave no update on the six people still missing from the collapse, but said the search and rescue operation to find them is a “top priority”.

For the latest on this developing story, follow our live blog:

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Biden says government will ‘move heaven and earth’ to rebuild collapsed Baltimore bridge, reopen port

Joe Biden says he has instructed the federal government to “move heaven and earth” to rebuild the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore and reopen its economically vital port.

The government will also cover the cost of the reconstruction, the president added in a speech from the White House.

“I’m directing my team to move heaven and earth to reopen the port and rebuild the bridge as soon as humanly possible,” Biden said.

“We’re going to work with our partners in Congress to make sure the state gets the support it needs. It’s my intention that federal government will pay for the entire cost of reconstructing that bridge, and I expect the Congress to support my effort. It’s gonna take some time, and people of Baltimore can count on us so to stick with them at every step of the way till the port is reopened and the bridge is rebuilt.”

The port is currently closed due to the span’s collapse, which occurred early this morning after the cargo ship Dali collided with it. The president noted that 15,000 workers rely on the its operations, and “we’re gonna do everything we can to protect those jobs and help those workers”.

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As we wait for Joe Biden to begin his speech on the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, here are some scenes from earlier today in Baltimore:

The cargo ship Dali is pictured after striking the bridge and causing it to collapse. Photograph: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
A shot of the freeway that used to go over the Francis Scott Key Bridge. Photograph: Kyle Mazza/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock
A closer look at the cargo ship Dali. Photograph: Matt Rourke/AP
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The Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, reaches deal to resolve securities fraud charges

Ken Paxton, Texas’s attorney general and a key player in the world of conservative legal theory, has reached a deal with special prosecutors to resolve longstanding securities fraud charges against him, the Associated Press reports.

However, Paxton is still under investigation by federal prosecutors, though it’s unclear if they will bring charges.

Here’s the latest on this breaking story, from the AP:

Prosecutors on Tuesday announced an agreement with the Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, that would ultimately dismiss securities fraud charges he has been facing for nearly a decade.

Under the 18-month, pre-trial agreement, the special prosecutors in the case would drop three felony counts against Paxton. As part of the deal, Paxton must pay full restitution to victims – roughly $300,000 – and must also complete 100 hours of community service as well as 15 hours of legal ethics education.

The resolution lets Paxton avoid a trial, which had been set to begin in less than three weeks on 15 April. Paxton was first indicted in 2015 after being accused of duping investors in a tech startup near Dallas before he was elected attorney general.

If he had been convicted at trial, Paxton could have been sentenced to life in prison.

The agreement with prosecutors, which lets Paxton remain in his elected position and doesn’t affect his law license, is another huge legal and political victory for one of the nation’s most visible Republican state attorneys general. The end of the case comes six months after Paxton was acquitted of corruption charges in an impeachment trial in the Texas senate.

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Biden to address Baltimore bridge collapse in White House speech

The White House just announced that Joe Biden will at 12.30pm speak about the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, which has left six people missing and threatens to cause long-term disruptions to one of the biggest ports on the east coast.

We’ll cover the remarks live on this blog. For more on the disaster, follow our separate live blog:

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The just-concluded supreme court arguments over mifepristone were a deep dive into the technicalities of how the US government approves and regulates medication. The Guardian’s Carter Sherman has taken a close look at what the case entails, and when the nation’s highest court may rule:

Less than two years after it overturned Roe v Wade and ended the national right to abortion, the US supreme court is back on the frontlines of the American abortion wars.

On Tuesday, the court will hear oral arguments in one of the most highly watched cases of the session, which could dramatically curtail access to mifepristone, a drug typically used in medication abortions. The court is reviewing decisions made by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to loosen restrictions on the drug, such as allowing non-physicians to prescribe it, as well as letting providers prescribe it through telehealth rather than in-person appointments.

Any decision to restrict mifepristone will affect everyone in the US, not only those who live in the 16 states that have banned nearly all abortions. This case could also have wide-ranging consequences for the FDA’s future decision-making.

A decision from the nation’s highest court in the case will probably arrive by summer 2024.

Supreme court appears skeptical of challenge to abortion pill as oral arguments conclude

The supreme court has just wrapped up more than an hour and a half of oral arguments in the case challenging access to the abortion pill mifepristone.

The last third of the hearing was dominated by the justices, liberal and conservative alike, peppering anti-abortion attorney Erin Hawley with questions that signaled skepticism with her case. Neal Katyal, who argued before the court under Barack Obama, said that based on their inquiries, all the justices appear ready to turn down the challenge, perhaps with the exception of Samuel Alito:

Justice Kagan really pierces the probabilistic nature of this. Ms. Hawley is doing a good job with what she has to work with, but it’s not nearly enough I would think. The Court appears very very skeptical about this theory of a lawsuit.

— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) March 26, 2024

Justice Alito now tries to shore up standing, pointing to census case which he says was probabilistic. Ms. Hawley agrees. This is the only standing point I’ve heard so far that is helpful to the abortion drug challengers.

— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) March 26, 2024

My thread covering the abortion drug argument that my fabulous law partner Jess Ellsworth is arguing is below. The argument is close to over and right now it appears there is a wide consensus on the Court that the challenge to the drug will fail. Only Justice Alito appeared to… https://t.co/PSs4wYP65y

— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) March 26, 2024

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Carter Sherman

The arguments have repeatedly returned to the question of emergency abortions and the role of a federal law known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, or Emtala, which broadly requires hospitals to stabilize patients who are facing medical emergencies rather than turning them away.

Erin Hawley, a lawyer representing the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, has said that in emergency situations, the anti-abortion doctors she represents do not have the time or ability to turn down cases that involve complications from abortions -even though working on such a case could run counter to their objections to abortion. (More than 100 studies have concluded that mifepristone is a safe and effective way to end a pregnancy.)

Solicitor general Elizabeth Prelogar, however, has contended that hospitals prepare and protect doctors from being forced to work on cases to which they object. “The federal government has never taken the position that Emtala would override an individual doctor’s conscience objections,” she said.

As for Emtala, the court will turn to that law next month, when the justices consider if it requires doctors to perform emergency abortions. Oral arguments are set for 24 April.

Jessica Glenza

Jessica Glenza

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson gave Danco’s lawyer Jessica Ellsworth some air to explain why pharmaceutical companies have lined up in opposition to undermining the FDA’s authority.

“Do you have concerns about judges parsing medical and scientific studies?” Jackson asked.

Ellsworth, the lawyer for the manufacturer of mifepristone, said pharmaceutical companies have “significant concerns” and rely on the “FDA’s gold standard review process”.

“The reality is … you have a district court that, among other things, relied on one study that was an analysis of anonymous blog posts,” said Ellsworth. Other studies “have since been retracted for lack of scientific rigor and misleading data”.

“Precisely because judges are not experts in statistics and the methodologies used for studies in clinical trials – that is why FDA has many hundreds of pages of analysis in the record of what the scientific data showed, and courts are just not in a position to parse and second-guess” that, she said.

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Lawyer for anti-abortion group argues FDA downplayed danger of mifepristone

Now arguing before the court is Erin Hawley, who represents the anti-abortion Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine. In her opening arguments to the justices, she characterized mifepristone as posing risks that the FDA has not done enough to manage.

“The lower court’s decision merely restored longstanding and crucial protections under which millions of women used abortion drugs,” she said, referring to earlier rulings in the case. “That respondent doctors will be forced to manage abortion drug harm is not a bug in FDA system, but part of its very design.”

Hawley is married to Republican senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, a longtime abortion foe:

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Jessica Glenza

Jessica Glenza

Justice Samuel Alito’s question about complications from mifepristone goes to the heart of why the medical and pharmaceutical industry considers it so scary for judges to decide questions of science.

Alito asked whether the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shouldn’t have provided a more extensive explanation of why telehealth prescribing of mifepristone could lead to an increase in emergency room visits.

“The increase in ER visits is just of no consequence? It doesn’t even merit some comment?” Alito asked Elizabeth Prelogar, the US solicitor general.

Defending the FDA, Prelogar said: “It fully explained its decision-making and I think it falls well within the realm of reasonableness.” To researchers, the FDA comment in question made an obvious point: an increase in emergency room visits does not denote greater risk for adverse events. An emergency room visit is a proxy measure – in other words, it might indicate the possibility of adverse events, but it may also indicate only an increase in women seeking reassurance, particularly in connection with a drug like mifepristone, which induces bleeding.

This is exactly the kind of complicated parsing of science that the FDA considers every day when looking at studies on the safety and efficacy of drugs.

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Ruling in favor of abortion foes would threaten ‘virtually every drug approval’, attorney for mifepristone maker warns

Up now before the supreme court is Jessica Ellsworth, an attorney for Danco Laboratories, which manufactures mifepristone.

She warned the justices that if they allowed anti-abortion doctors’ challenge to mifepristone to stand, it could have unpredictable ripple effects across the pharmaceutical industry:

Respondents’ view of the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act is so inflexible it would upend not just mifepristone, but virtually every drug approval … FDA has made for decades.

Ellsworth argued that “respondents lack standing under every prong of the analysis”, and added that the FDA “exhaustively” studied the drug to ensure it’s safe.

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Lauren Gambino

Lauren Gambino

Speaking of the Comstock Act, Mr Comstock himself turned up outside the court:

That would be Anthony Comstock, the former US postal service inspector and 19th century anti-vice crusader. Outside of Washington DC, abortion foes have seized on the legislation bearing his name to attempt to get the procedure banned:

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