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January 10, 2019

The White House is already preparing for another possible Supreme Court showdown — one that may or may not even take place any time soon.

Politico reported Thursday that the White House counsel's office, with the help of some Senate Judiciary Committee aides, has been assembling a shortlist of potential nominees to the Supreme Court should Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat open up, either because of her death or her retirement.

Ginsburg, who had cancerous growths removed from her lungs last month, on Monday missed a day of oral arguments for the first time since she was appointed in 1993, and the White House apparently wasted no time in, as Politico's source puts it, "taking the temperature" on replacements. The Supreme Court said after Ginsburg's surgery in December there was "no evidence of any remaining disease."

The White House's shortlist reportedly includes some names that were considered for the seat that ultimately was filled by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, including Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The process, however, is happening "very quietly" a source told Politico. Should Ginsburg actually create a vacancy, this would be President Trump's third appointment to the Supreme Court.

Ginsburg said in January 2018, per The Los Angeles Times, that "As long as I can do the job full steam, I will be here." Brendan Morrow

4:58 a.m.

The Democratic presidential field is large and growing, and The Late Show tried to break it down Wednesday with a March Madness bracket.

With 2020 slowly approaching, "the Democrats have narrowed their choices down to everyone," Stephen Colbert said in his monologue. There are so many candidates running that those "without a signature hair style, they've been experimenting with signature issues." Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), for example, wants to eliminate the Electoral College. The audience at Warren's town hall loved the idea, Colbert said, "but come on, if you get rid of the Electoral College, you turn the election into some kind of popularity contest."

Joe Biden, meanwhile, "still needs something to stand out," Colbert said. "One option he's reportedly considering is actually running for president. Another is selecting a running mate early. It is adorable that Joe Biden thinks the thing everyone really cares about is who the vice president is gonna be." And Andrew Yang has found his issue, he said, taking "a public stand that he wants to keep male genitals intact. I can see the yard sings now: Andrew Yang for a Better Wang."

"If you're having trouble keeping track of everyone in this guess-who game of candidates, don't worry, we are here to break it down for you," Samantha Bee said on Full Frontal. Pete Buttigieg, for example, would "seem like a great candidate, but his own husband has revealed something incredibly damning: Pete Buttigieg is a Hufflepuff," she said. "Listen, no one wants to be a Hufflepuff. ... All Hufflepuffs are narcs."

Of the 16 candidates, "15 will lose while one, let's be honest, will also probably lose and we'll be stuck with this toilet monster for another four years," Bee said. "So tonight, I'm announcing that I, too, am running ... far away, because this campaign is already exhausting and it makes me want to hide in a hole." There's some NSFW language. Watch below. Peter Weber

4:01 a.m.

The remarkably lenient plea deal Jeffrey Epstein reached with federal prosecutors is the best-known case involving the millionaire financier's history of paying underage girls for sex, but one of Epstein's alleged victims also sued one of his alleged enablers, Ghislaine Maxwell. That case was settled before trial for an undisclosed sum in 2017, but U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet had "accepted almost all filings in the case under seal, without specific orders justifying the secrecy." Three parties sued to have the files unsealed, and on Tuesday night, "two mystery litigants" objected, Politico reports.

Since Sweet declined to unseal the files, the U.S. 2nd Court of Appeals is deciding the fate of the documents submitted to court and Sweet's sealed ruling. "Just prior to a court-imposed deadline Tuesday, two anonymous individuals surfaced to object to the unsealing," arguing "they could face unwarranted speculation and embarrassment if the court makes public records from the suit," Politico reports. In the lawsuit, Virginia Giuffre accused Maxwell of sex trafficking by allegedly facilitating Epstein's sexual interactions with teenage girls; Maxwell denied the charge.

One of the requests to quash the unsealing was filed on behalf of "John Doe" by Manhattan-based lawyer Nick Lewin and the other by Washington-based attorney Kerrie Campbell on behalf of "J. Doe." The three parties who had requested the files be unsealed were the Miami Herald, alt-right social media personality Mike Cernovich, and prominent lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who said several of the sealed records would disprove allegations from two women that they had sex with him at Epstein's direction. You can read more about the case at Politico. Peter Weber

2:17 a.m.

"Everybody is breathlessly waiting for the Mueller report to come out, and there have been signs today that it might, maybe, possibly, definitely, or not be really soon," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. Wednesday's sign was yet another senior member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team wrapping up her work. "You know what that means?" Colbert asked. "Probably something."

With all the clues out there, "it's like we're three-quarters of the way through a Scooby-Doo episode," he said. "Just pull the mask off the monster, okay? We know it's Old Man Trump! 'I would've gotten away with it, too, if I wasn't totally guilty.'" At the same time, "some of the clues are pointing to the investigation not being over," he said, nodding to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein disclosing he's going to stay on the job just a little bit longer.

"Now, we've been on high Muller alert" since Feb. 21, when CNN noted some boxes being removed from the special counsel's office, Colbert said. "Yes, CNN is stalking Robert Mueller," but "the media has to look for whatever signs they can find, because the Mueller team has been completely silent. It's like trying to divine messages from the great volcano god — which, come to think of it, is exactly what Robert Mueller looks like."

Whenever Mueller submits his report, Attorney General William Barr will decide what parts of it to release to Congress or make public. But according to CNN, the White House expects to review whatever he plans to release — "you know, the way we let criminals edit their own indictment," Colbert said. Watch below. Peter Weber

1:38 a.m.

When DeLauren McKnight found out she was a perfect kidney donor match for her father, Billy Houze, it just made sense.

"My dad saved me 27 years ago when I was eight months old," the North Carolina resident told Inside Edition. "He saved my life so I could later save his." Houze and his wife adopted McKnight in 1992, and he has "always provided for me," McKnight said. "There is nothing I wouldn't do for my dad to see him live the life he is destined for."

Houze had gallbladder surgery in 2016, and soon after, his kidneys began to fail. A pastor, he is now on dialysis three times a week. His name was put on a kidney donation list, but doctors warned it could take up to eight years to find a donor. All of Houze's children were tested, and only McKnight was a match. "I was just amazed," she said. The pair are now undergoing follow-up tests, and surgery should be scheduled within the next few weeks. Catherine Garcia

1:12 a.m.

President Trump continues to snipe at the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and The Daily Show's Trevor Noah continues to be amazed. "I really can't believe Trump is beefing with a dead man — and losing," he said Wednesday night. But don't worry, "Trump still has time to fight with people who are still alive, and this week his opponent of choice is George Conway."

Conway, a conservative lawyer and husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, has gotten Trump's goat by repeatedly tweeting the clinical definition for narcissistic personality disorder. "Look, I'm not saying Trump is a normal person, but you can't just sit at home and diagnose a mental illness over Twitter," Noah said, and then he started reading the symptoms. "I take it back, this is the most perfect match between disease and person I have ever seen."

Trump's pushback was unequivocally bad, though, Noah said. "Damn, Donald Trump calling someone 'the husband from hell' is pretty amazing. I mean, this is the same dude who has a separate checkbook for paying off porn stars." Stuck in the middle, meanwhile, is Kellyanne Conway, and "you've gotta admit this sucks for her," Noah said. "No discussion of someone's marriage problems should ever be on cable news, all right? It should be on Dr. Phil." And since Dr. Phil wasn't available, Noah took matters into his own hands.

Late Night's Seth Meyers marveled that "the guy who called his opponents 'babies' has spent his entire term as president whining about people being mean to him, from Saturday Night Live to John McCain to Google," and now Conway. "I'm sorry, but you are the last person who should call anyone else 'the husband from hell,'" he said. "You've been divorced twice, you paid hush money to a porn star, your affairs were all over the tabloids, and you misspelled your wife's name. If anything, 'Husband From Hell' sounds like the name a Lifetime movie about you." Peter Weber

12:58 a.m.

At least 1,500 hotel guests in South Korea had no idea there were spy cameras hidden in their rooms and the footage was being livestreamed to the internet, police said Wednesday.

The cameras were concealed inside 30 hotels in 10 cities. The videos were streamed to a site that has more than 4,000 members who pay for access. Police said they have arrested four men in connection with the case.

Law enforcement agents in South Korea have been dealing with an uptick in spy cameras recording unsuspecting people, and it's become such a problem that female inspectors now search Seoul's public bathrooms to make sure there aren't any hidden cameras, BBC News reports. In 2017, police investigated more than 6,400 reports of illegal filming, and last year, tens of thousands of women marched in cities across South Korea to demand an end to such recordings. Catherine Garcia

12:19 a.m.

Born 16 weeks early, Isabella Ciriello spent the first three months of her life in the neonatal intensive care unit, listening to Mozart sonatas inside her incubator.

Ciriello's doctor at New York-Presbyterian Komansky Children's Hospital, Jeffrey Perlman, told her mother that premature babies find classical music soothing, and she began playing it for her daughter when she was about 49 days old. Now 12, Ciriello plays the guitar, piano, and drums, and believes that this early exposure sparked her interest in classical music.

Last summer, Ciriello asked to meet the doctor who took care of her in the NICU, and during lunch with Perlman, he told her that he would love to have an "orchestra of all my favorite patients" come back and play for the babies now in the NICU. Ciriello took him up on his offer, and held a performance in the NICU to mark World Prematurity Month, playing five songs on her guitar. It wasn't just the babies taking in the music — nurses and doctors, including some who took care of Ciriello 12 years ago, came in to listen. "I was in their position once," Ciriello said of the babies, and "it feels good to give back and help them." Catherine Garcia

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