November 8, 2019

We're no closer to knowing the identity of the anonymous Trump administration official behind the upcoming book A Warning, but they have given some insight into why they are keeping their name under wraps — and whether they will ever publicly reveal who they are.

The official first made waves last year, when they penned an op-ed for The New York Times, talking about a resistance against President Trump taking place inside the White House. In A Warning, the author writes that shrouding their identity deprives Trump of "an opportunity to create a distraction. What will he do when there is no person to attack, only an idea?" It's not an act of "cowardice" to remain anonymous, the author writes, and they shared that in the future, they could attach their name to criticism of Trump.

The author says that all administration officials "have draft resignation letters in our desks or on our laptops. That's the half-teasing, half-true advice you get on day one in the Trump administration or immediately following Senate confirmation." There was talk of a mass exodus, the author writes, but Trump is such a "mess" that the officials "thought we could keep it together. That answer feels more hollow than it used to."

It's clear that the author doesn't lean liberal — they complain about former President Barack Obama, saying he was "out of touch with mainstream America," and cheer for Trump's tax cuts and the appointments of conservative judges. It was Trump's lack of decorum that first got under the author's skin, and the final straw for Anonymous came when Trump tried to raise the White House flag when it was half-staff following the death of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). When asked for a response to A Warning, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said the book is "nothing but lies." Catherine Garcia

7:10 p.m.

On Thursday, six Republican senators and multiple White House officials met to privately discuss strategy for a potential impeachment trial of President Trump, several officials with knowledge of the matter told The Washington Post.

The meeting was attended by Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.), John Kennedy (La.), Ted Cruz (Texas), and Tom Cotton (Ark.); White House Counsel Pat Cipollone; acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner; counselor Kellyanne Conway; advisers Tony Sayegh and Pam Bondi; and White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland, the Post reports.

During the meeting, the senators and White House officials came up with several different ways to deal with a Senate hearing, including not having a defense for Trump, in an attempt to show the trial is so flawed it doesn't need to be legitimized. There was some agreement that the best bet would be a two-week trial, a speedy affair that wouldn't damage Trump as much as a longer trial. Former President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial, which ended in an acquittal, lasted five weeks.

In public hearings this week, several witnesses testified before the House Intelligence Committee, painting a picture of Trump pressuring Ukraine to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden in exchange for the release of $400 million in military aid and a meeting at the White House. If the House, which is controlled by Democrats, votes to impeach Trump in December, the Senate trial could start as early as January, the officials said. The impeachment inquiry is making Trump "miserable," people familiar with his feelings told the Post, and he wants a trial dismissed immediately. Catherine Garcia

5:34 p.m.

Republicans are getting ready to pull the impeachment ball back into their court.

Within minutes of Thursday's impeachment hearings closing out two weeks of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who runs the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a letter. In it, Graham requested a bevvy of documents from the Obama administration, including any that involved Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden, and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Hunter Biden's work with the Ukrainian company Burisma essentially started this whole impeachment inquiry, seeing as the company was under investigation by Ukraine's prosecutor general Viktor Shokin and Joe Biden later pushed Poroshenko for Shokin's firing. Graham spells this out in his letter, saying that he'd like to "answer questions regarding allegations" that Biden got Shokin fired to "end the investigation" into Burisma. So he's seeking "documents and communications" between Joe Biden and Poroshenko from the days they presumably talked about Shokin, as well as any documents from a meeting between a business partner of Hunter Biden's and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

Graham's move directly contradicts what he told CNN's Manu Raju a few weeks ago: that investigating Hunter Biden wasn't within his committee's jurisdiction. So what's changed this time around? Well, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) just wrapped up impeachment hearings with what sounded like an endorsement of the next step in the impeachment process: a trial in the Senate. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:25 p.m.

The disappointing final season of Game of Thrones has led many fans to wish for a do-over (even if that petition for HBO to film a whole new final season seems a little pie-in-the-sky).

But a new glimmer of hope has come from actor Kristofer Hivju, who played Tormund Giantsbane in the HBO drama. "We shot an alternative ending," Hivju told Metro, adding that it was "mostly for fun" and that he wasn't sure if he was allowed to talk about it. (Our guess: Probably not!)

Unfortunately, Hivju didn't spill any other details, so for now let's just go ahead and assume it ended with, you know, literally anyone else on the Iron Throne. Read more at Metro. Scott Meslow

5:12 p.m.

Daniel Radcliffe: Boy wizard, adolescent multimillionaire, surprisingly well-adjusted human adult, and… walking drink cart?

That's the story told by his Harry Potter costar Helena Bonham Carter, who described Radcliffe on The Late Show as a boy who was so well-mannered that he routinely agreed to hold her beverages on set.

"He was really handy because I like my tea and my coffee and my Diet Coke and things and he'd hold them all for me," explained Carter. (We guess Hogwarts saves the holdus yourown beverageus spell for graduate-level witches and wizards.) Read more at The Hollywood Reporter. Scott Meslow

5:03 p.m.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) saved his harshest words for last.

The committee wrapped its second week of public impeachment hearings after hearing from former top adviser on Russia Fiona Hill and diplomat to Ukraine David Holmes. And while Democrats and Republicans still have more witnesses they'd like to hear from, Schiff delivered what felt like a finale at the end of Thursday's testimonies.

Schiff used much of his closing statement to tear down a constant refrain heard from Republicans throughout the hearings. They constantly brushed off witnesses' and the Ukraine whistleblower's testimonies as "hearsay," which Schiff called "absurd" because it requires taking President Trump at his word, and then "imagin[ing] he said something else ... about actually fighting corruption."

Schiff then compared what witnesses have said about Trump to former President Richard Nixon's impeachment scandal, saying today's situation is "far more serious than a third-rate burglary of the Democratic headquarters." But the reason there isn't more definite action being taken against Trump is summed up in "the difference between that Congress and this one," Schiff continued. "Where is Howard Baker? Where are the people that are willing to go beyond their party to look to their duty?"

And with that, Schiff adjourned. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:01 p.m.

Getting merchandise in time for Christmas, Baby Yoda is.

Merchandise of everyone's favorite little green friend from The Mandalorian, the new Disney+ Star Wars series, will be going on sale for this holiday season, CNBC reported Thursday.

That might have seemed like a sure bet from the very first appearance of the adorable creature, who isn't actually Yoda as a baby but has been given that moniker since no official name for the character or the character's species has been revealed. But there were fears Baby Yoda merchandise might not go on sale until after the holiday season, as Disney had apparently held back in an attempt to prevent leaks of the surprise character. CNN just this morning observed that Disney "appears to have missed a big opportunity to sell a bunch of 'Baby Yoda' Star Wars toys to boost its holiday toy sale numbers."

But CNBC reports that "apparel and accessories featuring the yet unnamed creature will soon be available through Amazon, Zazzle, Target, Kohl's, Macy's, Hot Topic and Box Lunch," and these products "could arrive as early as Friday." Baby Yoda products are also headed to the Disney Store, ShopDisney, and to Disney Parks before the holidays as well, and "presales for toys and plush will be available in the coming weeks," the report says, though it's "uncertain when that merchandise will be shipped."

Disney will be striking while the iron is hot, then, presumably covering all its bases with everything from Baby Yoda dolls to Baby Yoda mugs to Baby Yoda, well, fill in the blank. And for those who don't believe what a phenomenon Baby Yoda has become in just over a week, that is why you fail. Brendan Morrow

4:57 p.m.

Here's news that might ruffle some feathers: Mark Ruffalo — who has appeared as Bruce Banner, a.k.a. the Incredible Hulk, in seven different Marvel movies — may have worn his last pair of shockingly stretchy pants.

In a recent interview with Collider, Ruffalo said he asked Hollywood executives if there would be room for the Hulk in the Marvel movies after Avengers: Endgame, and was given an extremely noncommittal answer about seeing where things landed in the future. "I just took that as a really nice way of saying 'probably not,'" Ruffalo says — which was a wise approach, because you wouldn't like him when he's angry.

Read more at Collider. Scott Meslow

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