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"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech," said Benjamin Franklin.
Everyone has an opinion and the right to speak that opinion our forefathers granted us that right it's called the First Amendment. Read it then discuss it in the Forums. Find out about Donald J. Trump’s time in the white house. Donald J. Trump is a crook, a con man and liar who uses alternative facts and projects himself on to other.

Donald J. Trump White House Page 47
By Daniel Dale
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump made a three-tweet argument Friday morning about why he should not be impeached, touting what he said were his accomplishments. Over the course of 139 words, he made six false claims -- plus three others that aren't false but could benefit from additional context. Let's go claim by claim. First the false claims, in the order he tweeted them:

CNN New Day - In an interview with CNN's John Berman, former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci said President Donald Trump's Twitter threat that the US is "locked and loaded," after an attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, has less of an impact because Trump's words show a "predictable level of irrationality."

By Jason Lemon
Senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Sunday that it was "important" to have a president like Donald Trump because he and his administration officials don't "study" or form "commissions" in order to inform decisions before they're made. "This is why it's so important to have a president who isn't a typical politician, because he and his team don't sit around and say, 'well, let's study it, let's have a commission about it,'" Conway said during an interview with Fox News Sunday as she discussed the Trump administration's response to a drone attack on Saudi oil fields that disrupted 5 percent of the global oil supply over the weekend. "Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo went right out there and pointed the finger at the aggressor here, the Iranian regime," she continued. The attack targeting Saudi Arabia's state oil company Aramco was claimed by the Houthis, a Yemeni group, which is allied with Iran. Yemen's Houthis overthrew their government back in 2015 and have been fighting against a Saudi-led coalition supported by the U.S. The coalition has reportedly killed large numbers of civilians in the conflict and has helped create a large-scale humanitarian crisis in the country. On Saturday, Pompeo tweeted: "Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen." Iran's Foreign Ministry dismissed the accusation in an official statement on Sunday. "In international relations, even 'hostility' [should have] a minimum degree of credibility and logical frameworks, but the U.S. officials have ignored even such minimum principles," foreign ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi said, according to Iran's Tasnim News Agency. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif followed that statement with a tweet of his own, calling out Pompeo specifically. "Having failed at 'max pressure', @SecPompeo's turning to 'max deceit'. US & its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory," Zarif wrote. Despite Pompeo's accusation, Conway suggested that Trump would still consider meeting with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani during the United Nations General Assembly later this month. "He said he'll consider it, and the conditions always must be right with this president," the Trump adviser said. - Kellyanne Conway must be a dumb as Trump, that is the dumbest thing ever said how can you make a decisions if you don’t know what is going on.

A congressional report Clinton helped pen during Watergate was later used to justify impeaching her husband. Now it's guiding Democrats angling to oust Trump.
By DARREN SAMUELSOHN
A document Hillary Clinton helped write nearly a half century ago has returned from the dead to threaten the man she couldn’t vanquish in 2016. The bizarre, only-in-D.C. twist centers on a congressional report penned by a bipartisan team of young attorneys that included Hillary before she was a Clinton and written in the throes of Watergate. Then, unlike now, not a single lawmaker had been alive the last time Congress impeached a president. They had little understanding of how to try and remove Richard Nixon from the White House. So they tapped Clinton and a team of ambitious staffers to dive into the history of impeachment, stretching back to the 14th century in England: How has impeachment been used? What were the justifications? Can we apply it to Nixon? The resulting document became a centerpiece of the congressional push to drive the Republican president from office. But then Nixon resigned. The memo was buried. That was just the report’s first life. In an ironic twist, the document was resurrected in the late 1990s. Republicans gleefully used it to bolster their unsuccessful bid to oust Clinton’s now-husband, President Bill Clinton. Then it faded from public conscience — again. Until now, that is. The 45-year-old report has become a handbook House Democratic lawmakers and aides say they are using to help determine whether they have the goods to mount a full-scale impeachment effort against President Donald Trump, the same man who three years ago upended Hillary Clinton’s bid for a return trip to the White House. Essentially, Clinton, albeit indirectly, might get one last shot at accomplishing what she couldn’t in 2016 — defeating Donald Trump. “I can only say that the impeachment Gods have a great sense of humor,” Alan Baron, an expert on the topic who has staffed four congressional impeachments against federal judges, said of the recurring role Hillary Clinton keeps playing in this story. It started in early 1974. The walls were closing in on a beleaguered Richard Nixon. His aides were going down one by one. He had tried — and failed — to halt the investigations into his behavior by cleaning house during the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre.” On Capitol Hill, Hillary Rodham, a 26-year-old law school graduate, was hired by the House Judiciary Committee to work on a bipartisan staff effort to help determine whether to impeach Nixon. She joined a team of aspiring lawyers that also included Bill Weld, who would go on to his own illustrious career as a top Justice Department prosecutor, Massachusetts governor and most recently as a longshot 2020 GOP primary challenger against Trump. Over a couple of months just before the climactic end of the Watergate scandal, the team dug deep into constitutional and legal arcana scouring documents that dated to the country’s founding, as well as century-old newspaper clippings in the Library of Congress.

By Zeke Miller & Jon Gambrell
WASHINGTON (AP) — Tensions are flaring in the Persian Gulf after President Donald Trump said the U.S. is “locked and loaded” to respond to a weekend drone assault on Saudi Arabia’s energy infrastructure that his aides blamed on Iran. The attack, which halved the kingdom’s oil production and sent crude prices spiking, led Trump to authorize the release of U.S. strategic reserves should they be necessary to stabilize markets. Trump said the U.S. had reason to believe it knew who was behind the attack his secretary of state had blamed Iran the previous day and said his government was waiting to consult with the Saudis as to who they believe was behind the attack and “under what terms we would proceed!” The tweets Sunday followed a National Security Council meeting at the White House and hours after U.S. officials offered what they said was proof that the attack was inconsistent with claims of responsibility by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels and instead pointed the finger directly at Tehran. A U.S. official said all options, including a military response, were on the table, but added that no decisions had been made. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the internal deliberations. Iran called the U.S. claims “maximum lies” and threatened American forces in the region. The attack dimmed hopes for potential nuclear talks between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the U.N. General Assembly this week. The U.S. government produced satellite photos showing what officials said were at least 19 points of impact at two Saudi energy facilities, including damage at the heart of the kingdom’s crucial oil processing plant at Abqaiq. Officials said the photos show impacts consistent with the attack coming from the direction of Iran or Iraq, rather than from Yemen to the south. Iraq denied that its territory was used for an attack on the kingdom. U.S. officials said a strike from there would be a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty. The U.S. officials said additional devices, which apparently didn’t reach their targets, were recovered northwest of the facilities and are being jointly analyzed by Saudi and American intelligence. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, did not address whether the drone could have been fired from Yemen, then taken a round-about path, but did not explicitly rule it out. The attacks and recriminations are increasing already heightened fears of an escalation in the region, after a prominent U.S. senator suggested striking Iranian oil refineries in response to the assault, and Iran warned of the potential of more violence.

Congressman Adam Schiff claimed on Sunday that the official who sits atop the intelligence community is rejecting a subpoena to turn over a whistleblower complaint in order to protect an even higher-ranking official, possibly a top administration official or even President Trump. "According to the director of national intelligence (DNI), the reason he's not acting to provide it, even though the statute mandates that he do so, is because he is being instructed not to. This involved a higher authority, someone above the DNI," Schiff, who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview with CBS News' "Face the Nation." Schiff had issued a subpoena Friday to Joseph Maguire, the acting DNI, alleging that he was unlawfully withholding the whistleblower complaint from the committee. A letter sent with the subpoena said that Maguire's office had "improperly" cited the complaint's "confidential and potentially privileged communications" as its reason for withholding it. "The Committee can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials," Schiff wrote in the letter. While he said he couldn't divulge the contents of the complaint, the fact that the DNI had cited "privileged communications" means that it would involve a "pretty narrow group of people." "So, I think it's fair to assume this involves either the president or people around him or both," Schiff said. Further, the complaint had been deemed "credible" by the inspector general of the intelligence community (IC IG). By Friday, more than 10 days had lapsed since Maguire was supposed to hand over the complaint. "At the end of the day, if the director of national intelligence is going to undermine the whistleblower protections," Schiff said. "It means that people are going to end up taking the law into their own hands and going directly to the press, instead of the mechanism that Congress set to protect classified information." That, he said would threaten U.S. national security and the whistleblower system "that encourages people to expose wrongdoing."

By Sarah Westwood, CNN
(CNN) - White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway said Sunday that President Donald Trump has "many options on the table" in terms of what he could do to respond to what his administration has described as Iran's role in a crippling strike on Saudi Arabia's oil production this weekend.
Conway, in keeping with the Trump administration's policy of declining to outline possible military responses to provocations, declined to say whether a retaliatory strike on Iranian oil is under consideration. But she did leave open the door to a potential meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani next week in New York -- something that was a possibility before the attack in Saudi Arabia. "The President will always consider his options," Conway said on "Fox News Sunday" when asked if Trump would still sit down with Rouhani under current circumstances. "We've never committed to that meeting at the United Nations General Assembly. The President's just said he's looking at it." "When you attack Saudi Arabia ... you're not helping your case much," she added. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pinned the blame on Iran for an attack at a Saudi oil field in a pair of tweets Saturday. Drone strikes on crucial Saudi Arabian oil facilities have disrupted about half of the kingdom's oil capacity, or 5% of the daily global oil supply, CNN Business reported earlier Saturday. Yemen's Houthi rebels took responsibility for the attacks but they are often backed by Iran. Yemen's Houthi rebels took responsibility for the attacks but they are often backed by Iran. But preliminary indications are that the attacks did not originate from Yemen and likely originated from Iraq, according to a source with knowledge of the incident. The same official said the damage was caused by an armed drone attack. Conway also downplayed the impact of likely disruptions to the global oil market by pointing to Trump's efforts to develop domestic energy. "This President also through his energy policy, Bill, has made us less dependent on these foreign leaders and bad regimes for our energy supply," she told Fox's Bill Hemmer. "We have energy under our feet and off our shore and this President is leading the way to responsibly develop it." CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen said there have been more than 200 drone attacks launched by Houthi rebels from Yemen into Saudi Arabia, and none have been as effective as Saturday's attack, lending credence to the belief that the attack did not originate from Yemen.

By Kate Sullivan, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump called on his Justice Department Sunday to "rescue" Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after The New York Times published an excerpt of a new book detailing sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh that he has previously denied.
The excerpt from "The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation," written by Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, revisits an allegation raised during the Supreme Court justice's confirmation process in 2018. That allegation from Deborah Ramirez accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her at a party when he was a freshman at Yale, according to an account published in The New Yorker. Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the allegation. The book revisits Ramirez's claim and contains a new allegation -- told to the authors -- by a former male classmate who sources say came forward to the FBI and senators concerning an incident he witnessed. The authors said the FBI did not investigate this incident. CNN is not reporting any details related to the allegation because we have not independently verified it. Trump tweeted Sunday that Kavanaugh "should start suing people for libel, or the Justice Department should come to his rescue." (The President initially misspelled the word "libel" before deleting the tweet and correcting the word in a subsequent tweet.) In nominating Kavanaugh, Trump seized a rare opportunity to solidify a conservative majority for a generation on the Supreme Court. The President and those who worked to get him on the bench are now waiting to see if their calculation was correct, and for a sense of how far and how fast the conservative majority will move. The President's pick for the Supreme Court faced allegations of sexual misconduct that threatened to derail his confirmation in 2018.

Donald Trump came storming to the defence of Brett Kavanaugh on Sunday, after the publication of new allegations about the supreme court justice’s behaviour while he was a student at Yale led to renewed calls for his impeachment. Trump is seriously, frighteningly unstable – the world is in danger “The Radical Left Democrats and their Partner, the LameStream Media, are after Brett Kavanaugh again,” the president tweeted. On Saturday, the New York Times, a leading target for Trump’s ire, published an essay adapted from a new book by two of its reporters, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly. In the extract from The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: an Investigation, Pogrebin and Kelly look into the judge’s time at Yale in the 1980s. The piece concerned a claim by another student, Deborah Ramirez, that at a drunken party, Kavanaugh “pulled down his pants and thrust his penis at her, prompting her to swat it away and inadvertently touch it”. Ramirez’s claim first surfaced during Kavanaugh’s stormy confirmation last year, though it did not attract as much attention as that of Dr Christine Blasey Ford, an academic who said Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a high school party. Pogrebin and Kelly wrote: “While we found Dr Ford’s allegations credible during a 10-month investigation, Ms Ramirez’s story could be more fully corroborated. During his Senate testimony, Mr Kavanaugh said that if the incident Ms Ramirez described had occurred, it would have been ‘the talk of campus’. Our reporting suggests that it was.” The reporters also said they had “uncovered a previously unreported story about Mr Kavanaugh in his freshman year that echoes Ms Ramirez’s allegation”. A classmate, they wrote, “saw Mr Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student”. The Times said senators and the FBI were notified about that claim but it was not investigated. Kavanaugh vehemently denied all allegations against him. He was confirmed on a 50-48 vote, the narrowest for a supreme court pick in more than a century. As Trump’s second pick, he has tilted the court firmly to the right. Pogrebin and Kelly’s book comes on the heels of another book by Times reporters, She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, about the investigation and downfall of Harvey Weinstein, which triggered the #MeToo movement.

By CHRISTIAN VASQUEZ
President Donald Trump on Saturday said he discussed a potential mutual defense treaty with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone call just days before the Israeli election. "I had a call today with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the possibility of moving forward with a Mutual Defense Treaty, between the United States and Israel, that would further anchor the tremendous alliance between our two countries," Trump wrote. "I look forward to continuing those discussions after the Israeli Elections when we meet at the United Nations later this month!" Trump continued. Netanyahu has been exploring a defense alliance with the U.S. for some months now, according to reports, and the issue is seen as a potential boost to his re-election bid. The Israeli elections are scheduled to take place Tuesday. The latest polls show a close race between Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party and the centrist Blue and White party led by former armed forces chief Benny Gantz. It's Israel's second snap election in several months after Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition following elections in April.

By Clay Masters
Farmers in the rural Midwest say they are struggling because of President Trump's ongoing trade war and a recent decision the president made on renewable fuels made from corn and soybeans that benefits the oil industry. "We're tightening our belt," farmer Aaron Lehman says while driving his tractor down a rural road near his farm north of Des Moines. "We're talking to our lenders, our landlords [and] our input suppliers." Lehman, the president of the Iowa Farmers Union, says his members say they're trying to find any way to cut costs just to make ends meet. He says they're concerned about the escalating trade war. "Instead we chose to insult our trade allies, pick all sorts of fights with our trade allies," Lehman says. "And then go to China and make outrageous demands that we knew were not going to be met." The Trump administration has doled out billions of dollars in relief to farmers for taking the brunt of the trade war. It's an economic short-term positive deal to fill in a gap but it doesn't fix a long-term problem of not having access to foreign markets. Back in June, President Trump came to Council Bluffs, Iowa with an announcement meant to calm those concerns. His administration cleared the way for higher blends of corn-based ethanol. Forty percent of the United States' corn crop goes to ethanol production. "We lifted the restrictions on E-15 just in time to fuel America's summer vacations," President Trump said to cheers in Council Bluffs. "We just made it."  

The national security adviser departed abruptly after President Trump suggested he might lift some sanctions as an incentive for Tehran to get to the negotiating table.
By Carol E. Lee and Courtney Kube
WASHINGTON — Former national security adviser John Bolton’s abrupt departure on Tuesday came after President Donald Trump suggested he might lift some U.S. sanctions on Iran as an incentive for Tehran to come to the negotiating table, according to a person close to Bolton. This person said Trump raised the idea of lifting sanctions during a discussion with Bolton in the Oval Office on Monday afternoon. Bolton made clear to the president that he strongly disagreed with the idea, this person said. Bolton was out as national security adviser the following morning, though he and Trump disagree over who made that decision. The president has said he fired him, while Bolton has said he resigned. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. As national security adviser, Bolton was a leading advocate of the Trump administration’s so-called “maximum pressure campaign,” designed to squeeze Iran’s economy until its leadership was forced to curtail its aggression in the region and concede to U.S. demands to dismantle its nuclear program. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal last year. Iran has since decided not to comply with the agreement. Trump recently has said he would meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, perhaps later this month on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York, without preconditions. Iran has said it won’t negotiate with the U.S. until sanctions are lifted. This was not the first time Trump has brought up the idea of easing sanctions to bring Iran to the negotiating table, according to a U.S. official familiar with the Iran policy discussions.  

by AJ Gersh
ABILENE, Texas — President Donald Trump announced a proposal on Wednesday to ban flavored e-cigarettes amid a string of mysterious vaping-related illnesses and deaths. In the past few years, vaping among young non-smokers has risen drastically. But out of the six reported deaths from vaping in the United States, three of them are THC oil-related, while the other three deaths have not been connected to any specific underlying issue. ABILENE, Texas — President Donald Trump announced a proposal on Wednesday to ban flavored e-cigarettes amid a string of mysterious vaping-related illnesses and deaths. In the past few years, vaping among young non-smokers has risen drastically. But out of the six reported deaths from vaping in the United States, three of them are THC oil-related, while the other three deaths have not been connected to any specific underlying issue. "In response to the rising number of lung disease [cases] related to 'vaping', the CDC released a statement that people should avoid using e-cigarettes," Sam Salaymeh, the President and CEO of AMV Holdings, the largest brick-and-mortar vaping retailer in the country, said. "They failed to direct the public's attention to the fact that a large portion of patients reported that they were vaping illicit THC products." "It's a pretty new phenomenon," Pulmonologist Dr. Amelia Yeh said, when discussing vaping. Yeh said that vaping, whether with nicotine or THC, is especially dangerous due to the uncertainty and lack of long-term studies about it. "There isn't quite the wealth of data for example with cigarettes," said Yeh. "I think we're gonna see more and more of these [vaping] problems down the road, as unfortunately, more and more people are doing this. It's really an unfortunate new fad that people are picking up." However, Salaymeh said that what people do not understand is that the e-cigarettes with nicotine differ from the e-cigarettes with illicit THC oil, which is only intended for topical use and is dangerous if inhaled.

The Republican party has taken “a wrong turn” under Donald Trump, according to three GOP challengers to the president, and is heading down the road to totalitarianism as states cancel primaries in an attempt to give Trump an unimpeded path to the nomination in 2020. In a joint opinion column for the Washington Post, Mark Sanford, Joe Walsh and Bill Weld noted that “the Democratic primary challengers are still engaged in a heated competition of debates, caucuses and primaries to give their voters in every corner of our country a chance to select the best nominee”. They asked: “Do Republicans really want to be the party with a nominating process that more resembles Russia or China than our American tradition?” Sanford, a former South Carolina congressman and governor, and Walsh, a Tea Party congressman from Illinois turned talk radio host, recently joined Weld, a former governor of Massachusetts, in seeking to offer a Republican alternative to Trump. Pending any legal challenges, they will not be able to do so in Arizona, Nevada, Kansas and South Carolina, which have cancelled their nominating contests. “A president always defines his or her party,” the three men wrote, “and today the Republican party has taken a wrong turn, led by a serial self-promoter who has abandoned the bedrock principles of the GOP. “In the Trump era, personal responsibility, fiscal sanity and rule of law have been overtaken by a preference for alienating our allies while embracing terrorists and dictators, attacking the free press and pitting everyday Americans against one another. “No surprise, then, that the latest disgrace, courtesy of Team Trump, is an effort to eliminate any threats to the president’s political power in 2020.”

By Benjamin Fearnow
A New Mexico Republican congressional candidate has been forced to defend 2015 posts which blasted now-President Donald Trump as an "a**hole unworthy of the office" and railing against the man she now openly backs. Claire Chase, who is running to defeat Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District, was outed as a "Never Trump" Republican Party member during the 2016 presidential election. Right-wing website Breitbart News first reported on Chase's anti-Trump past despite her current candidacy portraying herself as an ardent supporter of the Trump administration. Facebook posts dating back to 2015 see her ridiculing Trump as a Vietnam War draft-dodger and threatening to vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson should Trump win the GOP primary. A representative for Chase's U.S. House campaign now insists that she voted for Trump in November 2016 despite ridiculing him for at least two years. Her post-election comments continued to deride Donald Trump on a personal level -- but now she has "come around." "For all my friends who like Donald Trump, I'm working on a fuller rant than he's an a**hole unworthy of the office and the power of the President of THE United States," Chase wrote on Facebook on August 30, 2015, as the New York businessman and reality TV host began surging against his GOP primary rivals. "Marco Rubio is the guy. Carly Fiorina is the woman. This is the ticket to beating Hillary Clinton," she added alongside a link to an article from The Washington Post touting the Florida Republican senator. A few weeks later in 2015, Chase shared a Politico article discussing whether former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin would become the Trump administration Energy Secretary should he win the following year. "This is reason enough not to vote for Trump, among the other 836,297 reasons not to vote for him," Chase wrote on Facebook.

CNN Reliable Sources - Hosts and guests on Fox News are questioning Joe Biden's "senility" and strength. Julie Roginsky, a former Fox contributor, says "everything that Shawn Hannity and everyone else has said about Biden applies to Trump times a thousand. And yet, that's never pointed out."

By Sarah Westwood, Evan Perez and Ryan Browne, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump in a statement on Saturday said late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's son Hamza bin Laden had been "killed in a United States counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region." He did not give a time period for the operation or the death. "The loss of Hamza bin Ladin not only deprives al-Qa'ida of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group," the President said in the statement. Trump also said "Hamza bin Ladin was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups." CNN previously reported on July 31 that the US believed Hamza bin Laden was dead, citing a US official. The official told CNN at the time that the US had a role in this death but did not provide details. CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank told CNN at the time that one thing puzzled researchers who are closely tracking al Qaeda: "If Hamza bin Laden has indeed been dead for months, you would expect al Qaeda to have released some form of eulogy before today. The fact they haven't is highly unusual, given his status in the group." US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper also appeared to confirm in a Fox News interview in August that Hamza bin Laden was dead.

By Joseph Zeballos-Roig
President Donald Trump astonished US officials at the G7 summit in France when he jokingly referred to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi as "my favorite dictator." According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, Trump made the comments while waiting to meet with the Egyptian president. He searched over a gathering of Egyptian and US officials and loudly called out: "Where's my favorite dictator?" The Journal reported that Trump's question was met with a shocked silence. It was unclear whether el-Sisi heard the remarks.   The White House declined Insider's request for comment. Trump's comments cast attention on his coziness with authoritarian leaders overseas. Others he has lavished praise on include Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and Chinese President Xi Jinping. El-Sisi seized power in a military coup that ousted Egypt's first elected government in 2013. And he has racked up accusations of gross human-rights violations that include imprisoning tens of thousands of political opponents, crushing press freedom, and torturing and killing prisoners. The Egyptian government has justified its actions by saying it is combating extremism.

By Caroline Kelly, CNN
(CNN) - All three Republican primary challengers lambasted state GOP leaders -- and President Donald Trump -- for opting to cancel their 2020 presidential primary elections in a show of support for the President. "In the United States, citizens choose their leaders," former Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, former Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld said in a Washington Post op-ed on Friday. "The primary nomination process is the only opportunity for Republicans to have a voice in deciding who will represent our party," they added. "Let those voices be heard." Their pushback comes after party leaders in Kansas, South Carolina and Nevada canceled their Republican primaries, with Arizona expected to make it official over the weekend. The scrapped primaries pose a further obstacle for the long-shot challengers, already fighting the incumbent President, who, according to a CNN/SSRS Poll, has an 88% approval rating among Republicans. It is not unprecedented for state Republicans or Democrats to decide not to hold a presidential primary when an incumbent is running essentially uncontested. In South Carolina, a key early primary state, Republicans decided to nix their presidential primaries in 1984 and 2004, when Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were up for their second terms, while state Democrats skipped their contests in 1996 and 2012, with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama running for reelection. "Each of us believes we can best lead the party. So does the incumbent. Let us each take our case to the public," the three GOP candidates wrote on Friday. "The saying 'may the best man win' is a quintessential value that the Republican Party must honor if we are to command the respect of the American people." "Cowards run from fights," they added, in a thinly veiled jab at Trump. "Warriors stand and fight for what they believe. The United States respects warriors. Only the weak fear competition."

by Mary Catherine Wellons
Representatives from VF Corporation, Columbia Sportswear, Nester Hosiery, and NEMO Equipment met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week, letting them know just how hard the U.S.-China trade war is hitting their bottom-line. “We want our message to get across that this is effecting American businesses, American jobs, American innovation and it’s just delaying all of that,” said Katie Kumerow, sustainability manager for Nester Hosiery, which manufactures specialty socks. From September 2018 to July 2019, outdoor recreation businesses have paid $1.8 billion more in tariffs compared to the year ago period, according to new data released Thursday by the Outdoor Industry Association. This tariff increase is nearly triple what outdoor industry companies paid last year, according to the trade group’s latest data. “Our growth is being hampered right now because we are not able to expand our workforce,” says Brent Merriam, Nemo Equipment Chief Operating Officer, who joined fellow association members on Capitol Hill Thursday. NEMO Equipment, a 30-person New Hampshire-based manufacturer of sleeping bags and tents, has paid $175,000 in tariffs so far. While that might not seem like much, Merriam says it means a lot to his business, and has resulted in putting three jobs on hold.

By Laura Davison and Erik Wasson
One of President Donald Trump’s favorite political promises is a second tax cut. But lawmakers in Congress -- who would need to develop and pass another reduction -- are more focused on making their first tax cut permanent. Trump on Thursday promised House Republicans another middle-class tax cut that he said would be “very substantial” and “very, very inspirational,” without giving details. Republican leaders say they support the idea, but they haven’t detailed what a plan would look like. Trump has said his proposal will be released next year, in time to be a campaign issue ahead of the 2020 election. “We will gather together the best ideas from the Hill and the administration and the outside groups to provide a significant new round of middle-class tax relief,” White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters Friday. “This is not a recession measure at all. The economy is very strong.” Congressional tax writers, led by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and the House Ways and Means panel’s top Republican, Kevin Brady, are focused on a different Tax Cut 2.0: Preserving the individual rate reductions from their 2017 law that are set to expire in 2025. “The first and most important step is we can make the cuts for families and small business permanent,” Brady told reporters Friday at a House GOP policy retreat in Baltimore. He was referring to the lower rates for individuals and pass-through companies that were made temporary in the GOP’s signature tax law to avoid running afoul of budget rules.

It’s not a matter of opinion, but Fox News treats it as such.
By Aaron Rupar
During a Friday morning interview on Fox & Friends, Donald Trump Jr. was asked if the Trump family is profiting off his office. He responded by lying. The question really isn’t a matter of opinion. The fact of the matter is that following Donald Trump’s precedent-breaking decision not to divest from his business interests, the Trump family is financially benefitting from his office — not necessarily intentionally, but benefitting nevertheless. Trump has claimed he loses “billions of dollars” as president, but there’s no evidence that’s true. Meanwhile, Trump’s most recent financial disclosures reveal the Trump International Hotel alone made him nearly $41 million alone last year. But, on Fox & Friends, Trump Jr. flatly denied reality. “Are you guys benefitting financially from the president holding office?” host Brian Kilmeade asked him. “It’s ridiculous,” Trump Jr. responded. “We voluntarily stopped doing any international deals. Just think of the opportunity cost.” Trump Jr.’s claim about how the Trump Organization has “stopped doing any international deals” is dubious — recent reports indicate they’ve actually been working on an “aggressive global expansion.” But facing no pushback from hosts, Trump Jr. went on to downplay the significance of people spending money at the president’s hotels, echoing a talking point his father used in response to a similar question earlier this week. “They talk, ‘someone bought a cheeseburger at the Trump hotel!’ It’s asinine,” Trump Jr. said. Fox & Friends’ interview with Trump Jr. came while multiple stories about the president profiting off his office are swirling in the news cycle. During a recent diplomatic trip, Vice President Mike Pence and his entourage went far out of their way to stay at one of the president’s resorts during a diplomatic trip to Ireland. The Air Force has increasingly been stopping at an airport in Scotland close to another Trump property for refueling stops, with personnel then staying overnight at a nearby Trump property. Attorney General William Barr was recently in the news for spending $30,000 on a holiday party at the Trump International Hotel. And on Thursday night, Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at an event at the hotel organized by one of the president’s paying customers. During yet another speech at the Trump International on Friday, Pompeo even pretended in a joking way to not know who owns the hotel.

Bill Barr and his DOJ keep trying to satisfy Trump's demand for a show trial of enemies. Have they found a victim?
By Heather Digby Parton
One of the most dramatic moments during Attorney General William Barr's appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee last spring was an exchange between him and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., about whether he had ever been asked by Trump or anyone in the White House to investigate someone. Barr's reply was one of the few times the extremely self-assured  Trump lieutenant appeared to be rattled: He said, “I’m trying to grapple with the word ‘suggest,’ I mean there have been discussions of, of matters out there that uh ... they have not asked me to open an investigation.” When Harris then asked whether the White House had hinted at an investigation, Barr said, “I don’t know.” Not that there was any mystery. Trump has been publicly demanding investigations of his perceived adversaries since he took office. He's never tried to hide it. He's said it to reporters and tweeted it out frequently. He has no regard whatever for the principle that a president should not interfere with the Department of Justice in general, and has no comprehension of why a democratic society wouldn't want a president to use the power of federal law enforcement to punish his political enemies. Since that hearing, Barr has made it clear that he relishes the role of Trump henchman. He has launched a probe into the "origins" of the Russia investigation (the third such inquiry) and is personally looking into the intelligence community's conduct, having been given blanket access to all classified information by an unprecedented presidential edict. Barr may not have received a direct order to do these things, but there can be no doubt about the president's deep desire for retaliation against all those who investigated and pursued the Russia claims. It appears that Barr has found some fellow Trump travelers to help him fulfill the president's desires. On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, Rod Rosenstein's replacement and a longtime GOP player — with no previous experience in the Department of Justice — had given the go-ahead to prosecute former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe. Donald Trump has had a couple of rough weeks. But that must have made his day. You may recall that McCabe has been accused of lying to the FBI during a leak investigation, and then later to the inspector general, about whether he gave permission to agents to speak to the Wall Street Journal in 2016, regarding negative information about Hillary Clinton. McCabe claims it's all a misunderstanding and most legal observers think a prosecution is overkill, especially considering that the Justice Department fired him from the FBI one day before he would have qualified for a full pension, which would normally be considered a harsh penalty for such an infraction.    

By David Shortell, CNN
(CNN) - The Justice Department said Friday that a request to a federal court from House Democrats seeking access to secret grand jury material underlying special counsel Robert Mueller's report should be turned down because the lawmakers have "come nowhere close to demonstrating a particularized need" for the information. House Democrats first filed suit in July, days after Mueller's testimony on Capitol Hill, asking the court to order the release of grand jury information connected to the Mueller report to the House Judiciary Committee. The Democrats argue they need the information to consider whether to move toward impeachment proceedings. Specifically, the lawmakers are seeking the unredacted Mueller report, as well as transcripts of grand jury testimony related to President Donald Trump's knowledge of Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election and links between members of his campaign and Russians. Lawmakers also want any grand jury testimony related to Trump's knowledge of any potential "criminal acts" by him or his associates. In the filing, the the Justice Department called lawmakers' request an "extraordinary order" that is overly broad. "The Committee's failure to provide a tailored request accompanied by a concrete explanation for why this material is necessary is particularly striking given the extensive investigations Congress has already conducted into Russian inference with the 2016 election, gathering information to which the Committee already has access," the Justice Department wrote. The Justice Department argued that the committee's application for materials relies on authorization related to a "judicial proceeding." The department argues that impeachment proceedings in Congress "including hypothetical removal proceedings in the Senate -- are not 'judicial proceedings' under the plain and ordinary meaning of that term." When House Democrats first filed the lawsuit, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York and other committee Democrats said that the legal challenge was a new step that signals the committee is actively considering whether to introduce articles of impeachment. In the filing the Justice Department seizes on the ongoing debate among House Democrats over how to describe their impeachment inquiry, citing Speaker Nancy Pelosi's denial that the House is engaged in an impeachment proceeding. It also cites comments by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who earlier this week suggested that the ongoing effort in the House Judiciary Committee regarding the scope of the impeachment inquiry was an exercise to expedite litigation.

A team of Taliban negotiators from the militant group's Qatar office is in Moscow for talks with Russian officials, just days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced that peace talks with U.S. officials have collapsed. TASS quotes Mohammad Sohail Shaheen, the spokesman for the Taliban's Qatar office, as saying that the Taliban delegation had met with Russia's special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, on September 13. RFE/RL has independently confirmed that the Taliban delegation was in Moscow on September 13. Shaheen was quoted by TASS as saying that the Taliban's talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin's special envoy had focused on "the recent developments regarding the peace process in Afghanistan." Meanwhile, the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) has reported that the Taliban delegation in Moscow was headed by Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanikzai, the head of Taliban’s negotiation team in Qatar. It said the delegation also included Shaheen and Qari Din Muhammad Hanif. AIP reported that the Taliban delegation was considering a possible trip to China after it concludes its visit in Moscow, but it said a final decision on going China had not been reached by the Taliban delegates. Moscow has hosted two previous rounds of talks in 2019 between Taliban negotiators and prominent Afghan personalities.

By Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice examined using fentanyl in lethal injections as it prepared last year to resume executing condemned prisoners, a then untested use of the powerful, addictive opioid that has helped fuel a national crisis of overdose deaths. The department revealed it had contemplated using the drug in a court filing last month, which has not been previously reported. In the end, it decided against adopting the drug for executions. Attorney General William Barr announced in July his department instead would use pentobarbital, a barbiturate, when it resumes federal executions later this year, ending a de facto moratorium on the punishment put in place by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama. But the special consideration given to the possibilities of fentanyl, even as federal agents were focused on seizing illegal imports of the synthetic opioid, show how much has changed since the federal government last carried out an execution nearly 20 years ago. Many pharmaceutical companies have since put tight controls on their distribution channels to stop their drugs being used in executions.

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was hounded Thursday with multiple questions about whether the House Judiciary Committee is engaged an impeachment inquiry. Pelosi pushed back that six committees are and have been engaged the entire year in investigating the President and his administration. Source: CNN.

The fight over the fundraising platform WinRed highlights worries among Republicans that they won't win back the House.
By MELANIE ZANONA
BALTIMORE — House Republicans sparred behind closed doors with Trump-aligned political operatives at a GOP retreat over the new online fundraising platform backed by party leaders and the White House. The fight Thursday over WinRed's data and competitiveness highlights long simmering tensions between GOP lawmakers and operatives allied with the president, and underscores the growing frustrations in the party as they try to hash out a strategy to win back the House next year. The creation of WinRed was a top priority for the GOP that has been plagued with implementation problems over the last year. If the initiative isn't a success, Republicans fear their chances of taking back the House and holding on to the White House in 2020 will be imperiled. During a testy exchange on the first day of the House GOP’s annual retreat, members expressed misgivings with WinRed, a small donor apparatus designed to compete with the Democrats’ online fundraising behemoth ActBlue that was launched this summer by the national campaign arms after months of delays. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) specifically raised concerns about data sharing, while other lawmakers were confused with how the operation works and pressed operatives for more information about the fundraising tool, according to aides and lawmakers who were present. Stefanik, who formerly led recruitment efforts for the GOP’s campaign arm, pressed WinRed president Gerrit Lansing about whether lawmakers who use the apparatus would have to share their data with other people and questioned how it could be protected, several sources said. Lansing tried to assure lawmakers that their data is their own. But Stefanik expressed worry that once information is shared with the RNC’s clearinghouse for voter information, Data Trust, other people — including primary opponents — can access it. Lansing however, warned members that if they don’t build their donor files, they risk getting crushed by ActBlue again.

By Donna Borak, CNN Business
Washington (CNN Business) - The US budget deficit widened to $1.067 trillion for the first 11 months of the fiscal year, an increase of 19% over this time last year, the Treasury Department reported Thursday. The current shortfall exceeds the full-year deficit for fiscal 2018, which was $898 billion. President Donald Trump, who promised during the 2016 campaign to eliminate the federal debt, has instead overseen a dramatic increase in deficits. The White House's Office of Management and Budget has predicted that the deficit will exceed $1 trillion for the entire fiscal year, which ends on September 30. On Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the federal deficit had surpassed $1 trillion in the first 11 months of fiscal 2019, according to its budget review. The last time the gap was that big was in 2012, in the aftermath of the financial crisis. A number of factors are driving the US deficit increase, including the $1.5 trillion tax cuts signed into law by Trump in 2017 along with a massive spending package passed by Congress.

"The light is the worst," Trump said. His administration earlier this month announced it would roll back regulations for increased energy efficiency.
By Phil Helsel
On a night that featured the Democratic debate, President Donald Trump said he's being cast in a harsh light. Trump's complaint wasn't about the candidates vying for the nomination and the chance to make the 45th president a one-termer, but was rather was directed at light bulbs. "People said what's with the light bulb? I said here’s the story, and I looked at it: The bulb that we're being forced to use — No. 1, to me, most importantly, the light's no good. I always look orange," Trump said during a speech at a House Republican retreat dinner. The audience at the 2019 House Republican Conference Member Retreat Dinner laughed at the comment. It's not the first time the president has been described as orange. The hue of his hair and skin are often a source of jokes among his critics. He said he's not the only one that the bulbs affect: He told the crowd that they, too, take on an orange tone under the lights. The Trump administration last week said it would roll back requirements for energy-efficient light bulbs under two previous administrations. Under one action, the Department of Energy plans to repeal a regulation enacted under President Obama requiring an expanded number of light bulbs in the U.S. to be in compliance with stricter energy efficiency standards; and nixed new energy efficiency standards for all pear-shaped light bulbs that were also scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) - While 10 Democrats spent two-plus hours Thursday night making the case for why they are uniquely suited to beating Donald Trump in 2020, the President traveled to Baltimore to do what he does best: Throw red meat to adoring fans. In this case, the fans were House Republicans, who were in Baltimore -- a city Trump referred to as a "rodent and rat-infested mess" over the summer -- for their annual retreat. Trump's speech, which ran for 68 minutes, was a sort of greatest hits album for the President as he railed against paper straws, windmills and always, always, always Democrats. Below the most, er, notable lines from Trump's speech.

The tally represents the preliminary results of an Air Force review launched after POLITICO reported that an Air National Guard crew had stayed at Turnberry.
By BRYAN BENDER and NATASHA BERTRAND
The U.S. Air Force has lodged crews at President Donald Trump’s Scotland resort up to 40 times since 2015, a figure that is far higher than previously known. The tally represents the preliminary results of an Air Force review launched after POLITICO reported last week that an Air National Guard crew stayed at Turnberry in March. Congressional Democrats have also been investigating military stays at the property, but have yet to receive any information from the Pentagon. The figure does not indicate how many of the stays have occurred since Trump became president. But the Air Force has significantly ramped up its overnight stops in Scotland under Trump after signing a contract with the Prestwick Airport — situated 20-plus miles from Turnberry — in the waning months of the Obama administration. Since 2015, the service has lodged crews in the area 659 times, meaning up to 6 percent of those stays were at Turnberry. The figure also does not account for the total number of people the Air Force has put up at Trump Turnberry during those roughly 40 stays. POLITICO previously reported that Air Force crews of five to nearly 40 people have lodged at Trump's waterside property over at least four stays since September 2018. The Air Force has said the refueling stops at Prestwick — and all related overnight stays — are well within Pentagon guidelines. Prestwick frequently books the Air Force crews’ lodging at Turnberry, the airport acknowledged in a statement, and often arranges for their transportation to and from the resort. Officials have also said the Turnberry bookings fall within acceptable rates for military travel, as military members are charged a government rate as low as $130 per night. But the Air Force did concede that the appearance of staying at the president’s posh property might create a negative perception, and it has launched an internal review that will assess the “guidance associated with the use of civil airports and lodging selection for aircrew at en route locations,” according to a memo issued Monday. Still, the issue is the latest example of the intersection of Trump’s business interests and what used to be unremarkable government policies. Air Force crews have been lodging at Turnberry because of the increasing importance of Prestwick Airport for refueling military aircraft. In 2015, the Air Force made 95 stops there, lodging in the area 40 times. But through August of this year, the Air Force had made 259 stops at Prestwick, staying overnight nearby 220 times. The roughly 40 stays at Turnberry are likely to raise eyebrows among congressional Democrats, who have said the practice raises conflict-of-interest concerns and might violate the Constitution's domestic emoluments clause, which prohibits the president from receiving money from the federal government other than his salary. The House Oversight Committee has been investigating U.S. military expenditures at and around Turnberry since the spring, and has threatened to subpoena officials in an attempt to get more information from the Pentagon.

By Brett Samuels
A federal appeals court in New York on Friday ruled that a lawsuit accusing President Trump of violating the Emoluments Clause can proceed after a lower court had thrown out the case. A panel of judges with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in favor of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which has alleged that the president violated the constitutional clause by refusing to put his business assets in a blind trust while in office and profiting off the presidency. But the case had been dismissed by a lower court in December 2017. "Plaintiffs have plausibly pleaded that the President’s ownership of hospitality businesses that compete with them will induce government patrons of the hospitality industry to favor Trump businesses over those of the Plaintiffs so as to secure favorable governmental action from the President and Executive branch," Judge Pierre Leval wrote in the decision. CREW welcomed the reinstatement of the case. "If President Trump would like to avoid the case going further and curtail the serious harms caused by his unconstitutional conduct, now would be a good time to divest from his businesses and end his violations of the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution," Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement. The ruling revives yet another lawsuit for Trump to defend against. He is also warding off legal challenges involving his tax returns, and his administration is facing numerous legal challenges of its policies on immigration, health care and other topics. Watchdogs have raised concerns about the president's decision not to put his company in a blind trust, noting that lobbyists, foreign officials and political insiders may frequent his businesses to earn favor with the administration. The issue has gained new urgency as lawmakers and watchdogs raise concerns about government officials' use of Trump properties. The president last month suggested he may host world leaders at next year's Group of Seven (G-7) summit at his Doral resort near Miami, and the Air Force is looking into its pilots habit of staying at Trump's property in Turnberry, Scotland, while refueling.

Andrew Chung, Jan Wolfe
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. federal appeals court on Friday revived a lawsuit alleging President Donald Trump violated the U.S. Constitution by profiting from foreign and domestic officials who patronized his hotels and restaurants, adding to the corruption claims against Trump. The New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set aside a lower court ruling that had thrown out the case because the people who sued could not prove they were harmed by Trump’s actions and his role as president. Friday’s ruling dealt with preliminary questions relating to whether the case should be heard, without directly addressing whether Trump violated the law. The lawsuit, initially filed by plaintiffs including the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, accused the Republican president of failing to disentangle himself from his hotels and other businesses, making him vulnerable to inducements by officials seeking to curry favor. The case alleged violations of the U.S. Constitution’s anti-corruption “emoluments” provisions, which ban the president from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments without congressional consent. A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Trump, a wealthy real estate developer who as president regularly visits his own hotels, resorts and golf clubs, maintains ownership of his businesses but has ceded day-to-day control to his sons. Critics have said that is not a sufficient safeguard. Friday’s ruling comes in a lawsuit filed days after Trump took office in January 2017. The plaintiffs included a New York hotel owner, an events booker in Washington and a restaurant trade group that allege lost patronage, wages and commissions from clients who now prefer Trump’s businesses over theirs because of the ability to gain the president’s favor. The plaintiffs cite examples of foreign government entities, including the Embassy of Kuwait and a delegation from Malaysia, choosing Trump’s properties, such as the Trump International Hotel in Washington, over other venues.

Trump talked about fake tax cuts while Democrats debated how to pay for their ambitious policies.
By Aaron Rupar
While the Democratic presidential candidates debated in Houston on Thursday night about environmental policy, the role of racism in American society, health care access, and other issues, President Donald Trump gave a speech to a House Republican retreat in Baltimore. The contrast between the president and the Democrats who are vying to take his job was remarkable. Perhaps the clearest distinction came as Trump resurrected his fake middle-class tax cuts while Democrats had a detailed conversation about how to provide affordable health care to more people without dramatically raising taxes — within minutes of each other. “We’re now working on a tax cut for middle-income people that is going to be very, very inspirational,” he told House Republicans, bringing up an idea he hyped just before last November’s midterm elections, only to forget about it as soon as it came and went. “It’s going to be something that I think it’s what everybody is looking for. We’ll be announcing it sometime in the next year.” While one can pick holes in the tax plans offered by Democrats, at least they’re coherent plans. Trump, on the other hand, is offering soundbites that he thinks will play well with voters without seemingly having any intention of following through. But Trump has a long history of this sort of thing. On Tuesday, for instance, he vowed that Republicans “will always protect patients with preexisting conditions,” despite the fact that two years ago he wholeheartedly embraced health care legislation that would’ve resulted in millions of people losing coverage. Trump even mocked the late Sen. John McCain during his speech for voting against it. That was par for the course in Trump’s more than hour-long speech, during which he made a number of outlandish and self-refuting claims. He began by bragging about the move his administration made earlier in the day to repeal an Obama-era rule meant to limit pollution in America’s rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands. But a short time later, he seemed to accidentally admit that rules of that sort have helped the country’s water remain relatively clean. “The Clean Waters act didn’t give you clean waters — by the way, today we have the cleanest air, we have the cleanest water that we’ve ever had in the history of our country,” Trump said, falsely, combining two statements that directly contradict each other.  

By Brett Samuels and Morgan Chalfant
President Trump on Thursday said he'd prefer to reach a full agreement with China on trade, intellectual property and other issues rather than take a piecemeal approach, but did not rule out the possibility of the latter. "I’d rather get the whole deal done," Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a GOP retreat in Baltimore. "Look, if we’re going to do the deal let’s get it done," he added. "I see a lot of analysts that are saying an interim deal, meaning we’ll do pieces of it, the easy ones first. But there’s no easy or hard. There’s a deal or there’s not a deal. "But it’s something we would consider I guess, but we’re doing very well." The response came after Bloomberg reported that some Trump advisers were mulling an interim deal that would scale back some tariffs while U.S. and Chinese officials dealt with more complex aspects of negotiations. The president on Thursday touted the stock market gains that came after he announced the previous night that he would delay an upcoming increase in tariffs on $250 billion in goods from China by two weeks at the request of Beijing, calling it a "gesture of good will." Trump said Chinese officials had asked him for the delay because Oct. 1 — the day the tariffs were set to increase — is the same day the People’s Republic of China will be marking its 70th anniversary. The tariffs will now increase on Oct. 15, Trump said.

Hawks, after all, are mighty birds of prey, while doves are just smaller, weaker pigeons.
By Tina Nguyen
The terms “hawks” and “doves” might have very specific meanings in the realm of international relations—hawks tend to be for strong military action as a way to promote America’s interests and values, while doves tend to believe diplomacy and negotiation are a better way to achieve the same ends—but in the most nonmetaphorical definition, hawks are mighty birds of prey, while doves are just smaller, weaker pigeons. No surprise, then, that Donald Trump, who struggles to think figuratively, is apparently growing frustrated with the media coverage surrounding John Bolton’s ouster, which has generally described the president as less warlike than the warmongering national-security adviser he recently kicked to the curb. “You know, John wasn’t in line with what we were doing, and, actually, in some cases, he thought it was too tough what we were doing,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday. He seemed visibly agitated by the reputation that preceded Bolton: “‘Mr. Tough Guy.’ You know, ‘You have to go into Iraq.’ Going into Iraq was something that he felt very strongly about,” he explained. The appearance of a power differential continued to irk Trump into Thursday, when he felt compelled, once again, to set the story straight. “In fact, my views on Venezuela, and especially Cuba, were far stronger than those of John Bolton,” he wrote. “He was holding me back!”

By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration is moving forward with a plan to revoke California’s authority to set its own vehicle greenhouse gas standards and declare that states are pre-empted from setting their own vehicle rules, three people briefed on the matter said on Thursday. President Donald Trump met with senior officials on Thursday at the White House to discuss the administration’s plan to divide its August 2018 proposal to rollback Obama era standards through 2025 and revoke California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act to set state requirements for vehicles, the people said. The meeting included Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and acting Office and Management and Budget director Russell Vought, the sources said. The White House and the agencies declined to comment. On Tuesday, Wheeler told reporters the administration had not made a final decision to divide the rule into two parts. Following the meeting, sources said the administration plans to move ahead in coming weeks to divide the final regulation and finalize first the portion dealing with preempting states before issuing the new yearly standards. The EPA in August 2018 proposed revoking a waiver granted to California in 2013 under the Clean Air Act as part of the Trump administration’s plan to roll back Obama-era fuel economy standards. Under Trump, federal regulators backed freezing emissions requirements for new cars and trucks at 2020 levels through 2026. Administration officials say its final regulation will include a modest boost in annual efficiency requirements but far less than what the Obama administration set in 2012. The Obama-era rules called for a fleetwide fuel efficiency average of 46.7 mpg by 2025, with average annual increases of about 5%, compared with 37 mpg by 2026 under the Trump administration’s preferred option to freeze requirements. Last week, Reuters and other news outlets reported the U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether the decision of four automakers in July to reach a voluntary agreement with California to adopt state emissions standards violated antitrust law.

By John Haltiwanger
The Trump administration is planning to provide the identity of a Saudi official who allegedly helped the 9/11 hijackers to family members of victims of the terror attacks that occurred 18 years ago. The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday. The victims' family members have been pressuring the Trump administration to release the information. In a recent letter to President Trump, they called on him to "instruct Attorney General Barr not to invoke privileges and to give us the FBI documents so that we can finally learn the full truth and obtain justice from Saudi Arabia." The FBI said they would release the identity of the Saudi official the victims' families most wanted, according to The Journal's report, citing the "exceptional nature of the case." Other information the families were after will not be released. The name of the Saudi official will be released to lawyers representing the family members but will not be disclosed publicly for now, CNN reported. Barr made the final decision to release the name. This is linked to a lawsuit from the family members against Saudi Arabia that alleges it was involved in the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001. The vast majority of the hijackers who carried out the 9/11 terror attacks — 15 out of 19— were from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attacks.

By Lizbeth Diaz, Stefanie Eschenbacher
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The Mexican government protested and Central American migrants feared deportation back to their violent homelands on Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump to slam the door on asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexican border. The court on Wednesday found that Trump’s restrictive asylum rule could go into effect nationwide while a lawsuit challenging its underlying legality proceeds, handing the president a victory as he brandishes his anti-immigration credentials for the November 2020 presidential election. The rule requires immigrants who want asylum to first seek safe haven in a third country through which they travel on the way to the United States, enabling the United States to combat a record surge in Central American asylum-seekers. Trump’s immigration crackdown has animated his base of supporters while immigrant advocates in the United States fear the court decision will endanger the lives of migrants, many of them fleeing poverty, street gangs and domestic violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. With the threat of automatic rejection hanging over the most recent arrivals, thousands of migrants are cramped into shelters or sleeping in the streets of Mexican border cities in places such as the state of Tamaulipas, where the U.S. State Department has placed a “do not travel” advisory due to violent crime similar to its warnings against visiting war-torn Sudan or Syria. One asylum-seeker from El Salvador who staying in a Tijuana shelter while awaiting her immigration hearing in San Diego said she could only hope to God she would not be sent back.

By Jacob Pramuk
President Donald Trump signaled Thursday that he would consider an interim trade deal with China, even though he would not prefer it. The president told reporters he would like to ink a full agreement with the world’s second largest economy. However, he left the door open to striking a limited deal with Beijing. “If we’re going to do the deal, let’s get it done,” he told reporters as he left for a congressional Republican retreat in Baltimore. “A lot of people are talking about it, I see a lot of analysts are saying an interim deal — meaning we’ll do pieces of it, the easy ones first. But there’s no easy or hard. There’s a deal or there’s not a deal. But it’s something we would consider, I guess.” Trump’s statements add to confusion sparked earlier in the day about what the White House would accept in its ongoing negotiations with China. U.S. stock indexes initially climbed on a report that the Trump administration talked about crafting an interim agreement. A White House official then said the U.S. is “absolutely not” considering such a deal, causing markets to give up some of those gains. Asked to clarify if Trump’s position had changed from earlier in the day, White House spokesman Judd Deere emphasized the president’s comment that he would prefer a complete agreement. Trade negotiators from the world’s two largest economies plan to meet next week as they continue efforts to salvage a trade pact and end a widening conflict. The trade war between the U.S. and China has led to concerns about hurt for U.S. consumer and helped to fuel fears of flagging global economic growth. On Wednesday, Trump said he would hold off on hiking tariff rates on $250 billion in Chinese goods until Oct. 15 instead of Oct. 1. He called it a “gesture of good will” because of “the fact that the People’s Republic of China will be celebrating their 70th Anniversary.” As the trade war rages, Trump has downplayed its effects on American consumers and the U.S. economy. The president has said he is fine to leave tariffs in place, arguing China has taken a bigger hit from the duties than the U.S. (American businesses bear much of the cost of Trump’s tariffs).

By Matt Zapotosky and Spencer S. Hsu
Justice Department prosecutors were authorized to seek an indictment alleging former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe lied to investigators, and on Thursday he was told one of his last bids to persuade them not to had failed, people familiar with the matter said. But with the green light to proceed — and a grand jury summoned back after a months-long hiatus to consider the case — the day came and went with no public charges being filed. Grand jurors were sent home and McCabe remained in limbo, waiting to see whether the investigation that began more than a year ago would end with a fight to stay out of prison. The flurry of activity kicked off around noon, when a top official in Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen’s office notified McCabe’s team that his appeal to Rosen to abandon the case had failed. “The Department rejected your appeal of the United States Attorney’s Office’s decision in this matter,” the official wrote, according to one person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private communication. “Any further inquiries should be directed to the United States Attorney’s Office.” McCabe’s team had been told last month that line prosecutors recommended charges and later that U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu of the District of Columbia had endorsed that decision, a person familiar with the matter said. McCabe’s team had then appealed to Rosen in what was considered one of his final chances to persuade officials not to move forward and seek an indictment from a grand jury. The legal team had been waiting for a response. The notification was notable in its own right but particularly suggestive that charges were imminent, because a federal grand jury investigating McCabe was suddenly recalled this week after a months-long hiatus. But the panel was released Thursday with no immediate signs of an indictment. That could be a sign they balked, though it is also possible they have filed a determination under seal or could be asked to return later.

Chris Grant was honored for his "courage" in a ceremony at the White House, but police say video evidence "does not support Mr. Grant’s assertions."
By Elisha Fieldstadt
A Texas man who was honored by President Donald Trump for his "courage, character, and strength" on Monday was "inaccurate" when he told a reporter he had bravely tried to thwart the shooter at an El Paso Walmart last month, according to police. "I did what any good man would have done," Chris Grant told CNN's Chris Cuomo from his hospital bed, following the Aug. 3 shooting that left 22 people dead. He said when he heard the shots, he shielded his mother as he ushered her to safety and then decided to confront the shooter. "I started throwing random bottles at him," he said. "I'm not a baseball player, so one went this way, one went that way." But he said one of the bottles hit the shooter, who then targeted and shot him. Grant was wounded, but El Paso Police Department spokesman Enrique Carrillo told NBC News that "Mr. Grant provided an inaccurate account of the actions he took." Carrillo said that hours of surveillance footage reviewed by detectives "does not support Mr. Grant’s assertions." "We are not demeaning his reaction, which are of basic human instincts, but they amount to an act of self-preservation and nothing above that," Carrillo said. Grant was honored by Trump in a Medals of Valor and Heroic Commendations ceremony at the White House Monday. In the East Room ceremony, Trump honored six police officers who responded to the Dayton, Ohio, shooting that left nine people dead, and five El Paso residents "who displayed tremendous bravery" during the shooting there a day earlier.

The justices effectively blocked asylum claims at the southern border, for now.
By Nicole Narea
The US Supreme Court left the future of the US asylum system uncertain Wednesday night by allowing the Trump administration to proceed with its plan to bar most asylum seekers at the southern border while a lawsuit over the rule makes its way through the courts. The justices’ decision effectively reinstated a Trump administration rule that prevents migrants from applying for asylum if they passed through another country other than their own before arriving in the US. That means that asylum seekers from any country but Mexico will now be ineligible for asylum if they show up at the southern border. There are limited exceptions to the rule: those who apply for asylum in another country, but are rejected may bring their claims in the US. Victims of human trafficking and migrants who traveled through countries that are not parties to certain international human rights agreements are also exempt. But for the most part, it effectively closes the door on seeking asylum at the southern border. The Court did not rule on whether the Trump rule is legal — just that the administration has the right to impose it temporarily. A case about the legality of the rule itself is still making its way through the courts and the justices are expected to eventually weigh in. But in the meantime, the Trump administration is moving forward to use it to block most asylum seekers’ cases. The decision outraged immigrant advocates: It represents a “massive reversal of American leadership to protect the most vulnerable people fleeing extreme violence and persecution from around the world,” Todd Schulte, president of the immigrant advocacy group FWD.us, said in a statement.

The Trump administration thinks the court is its personal fixer. The court isn’t doing much to disabuse it of this idea.
By Ian Millhiser
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a brief but pointed dissent Wednesday evening from a Supreme Court order that effectively locked nearly all Central American migrants out of the asylum process. Asylum allows foreign nationals who face certain forms of persecution to seek refuge in the United States. The Court’s order is temporary, and it only allows the asylum ban to remain in effect while the case is working its way through the courts. It stays a lower court decision that blocked the ban. Though this litigation will continue to percolate in lower courts, other judges are likely to read the Supreme Court’s order as a sign that a majority of the justices will ultimately uphold the ban. As is often the case with such temporary orders, there was no majority opinion — and thus no explanation of why the Court ruled the way it did or even how each member of the Court voted. We only know that Sotomayor voted against the stay, and that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined Sotomayor’s dissent. The sharpest part of Sotomayor’s opinion may be its final paragraph, which accuses a majority of her colleagues of bypassing the Court’s ordinary procedures in order to bail out the Trump administration.     [G]ranting a stay pending appeal should be an “extraordinary” act. Unfortunately, it appears the Government has treated this exceptional mechanism as a new normal. Historically, the Government has made this kind of request rarely; now it does so reflexively. See, e.g., Vladeck, The Solicitor General and the Shadow Docket, 133 Harv. L. Rev. (forthcoming Nov. 2019). Not long ago, the Court resisted the shortcut the Government now invites. I regret that my colleagues have not exercised the same restraint here. I respectfully dissent. To translate this paragraph a bit, a “stay pending appeal” is an order that suspends a lower court’s decision while the case is working its way through an appeals court. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court granted such a stay of a lower court order that blocked a Trump administration policy preventing most Central American migrants from seeking asylum. As Sotomayor notes, the Supreme Court rarely granted such stays in the past, and for good reason. Because the Supreme Court is the final word on any legal dispute, it typically likes to hang back for a while as lower court judges wrestle with new legal questions. If a lower court hands down an erroneous order, and the Supreme Court does not take immediate action, then the erroneous order may remain in place for months. But a lower court decision will eventually work its way through the appeals process and can be reversed by the Supreme Court if it is wrong about the law.

By ANNIE SNIDER
The Trump administration on Thursday announced the repeal one of the Obama era's most sweeping environmental rules — a set of pollution protections for small streams and wetlands that had riled up opposition from coal miners, home developers, farmers and oil and gas drillers. The action creates instant doubts about the legal status of myriad seasonal or isolated wetlands and thousands of miles of waterways, including vast swaths of the arid West. And it clears the way for the Environmental Protection Agency to finish a follow-up regulation in the coming months that could leave most of the nation's wetlands without any federal safeguards. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed the repeal at the D.C. headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers, one of the industry groups that had opposed the Obama administration's Waters of the U.S. rule. That 2015 regulation, also known as the Clean Water Rule, had cemented federal protections for headwater streams, Western rivers and nearby wetlands, in an effort to resolve questions raised by two muddled Supreme Court decisions. The repeal "removes an egregious power grab" by the Obama Administration, Wheeler said. "When President Trump took office he immediately set into motion a process to remove and replace regulations that were stifling economic development," he said. “This climate of regulatory certainty is breathing new life into local economies around the country and today’s action is a perfect example.” Environmental groups vowed to challenge the rollback, arguing that it jeopardizes drinking water supplies for 117 million Americans. Jon Devine, director of federal water policy for the Natural Resources Defense Council, defended the Obama administration rule in a statement, saying it "represented solid science and smart public policy."

By Chris Mills Rodrigo
Gregory Cheadle, the black man singled out by President Trump as "my African American" at a rally, is leaving the Republican Party and pursuing a congressional run as an independent, PBS News reported Thursday. The 62-year-old real estate broker told the outlet that he sees the GOP as pursuing a “pro-white” agenda and using black people like him as “political pawns.” The moment that convinced Cheadle to leave the party was when many Republicans did not condemn Trump's tweets telling four congresswomen of color to back to their countries and defended Trump's attacks on Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Baltimore. “President Trump is a rich guy who is mired in white privilege to the extreme,” Cheadle, who switched from being an independent to a Republican in 2001, told PBS. “Republicans are too sheepish to call him out on anything and they are afraid of losing their positions and losing any power themselves.” He said that after the two attacks from the president, many of his Republican friends defended Trump.

They love the president, and appear at Trump rallies in their favorite merch. Now believers in the mega-conspiracy theory are posing a challenge to their idol’s re-election.
By Will Sommer, Asawin Suebsaeng
In late August 2018, Lisa and John Welch weren’t feeling great about the future of QAnon, the ludicrous conspiracy theory that posits that Donald Trump is engaged in a secret battle with pedophilic elites in Hollywood, big banks, and the Democratic Party. Lisa had bought into the theory first, then convinced her husband to sign on. But none of the mysterious Q’s predictions in anonymous internet forums had come to pass nearly a year after it started in October 2017, and QAnon believers were starting to lose faith. After yet another Q prediction failed to materialize in 2018, an armed, crazed QAnon fan allegedly shut down a bridge near the Hoover Dam with an improvised armored truck. The Welches decided they needed some way to show how many Trump supporters believed in the mega-conspiracy theory, which has pulled in Pizzagate and a wide range of other conspiracy theories. They printed up T-shirts and signs that said “We Are Q” and passed them out at a Trump rally in Tampa, Florida. “We took ’em to the rally and handed ’em out, and the rest is history,” Lisa Welch told a crowd of roughly 100 QAnon believers who gathered to rally across the street from the White House on Wednesday. The Welches’ signs and T-shirts, along with other QAnon-related signs and “Q” cut-outs, were unavoidable in cable news coverage of the rally. Suddenly, people all over the country were asking what why a segment of Trump fans adored the letter Q, and QAnon believers were invigorated. “By the time the rally was over, they didn’t have any choice but to put us on [TV],” said John Welch. The Tampa rally wasn’t the first time QAnon believers had appeared among Trump’s faithful, but it did show QAnon fans that showing up to the rallies with Q signs and clothes could have a real world effect.

By Randall W. Forsyth
President Donald Trump now wants the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates to zero or below. But he should consider the minuses of negative rates, which have failed to spur strong growth in Europe and Japan and would likely cause a firestorm among U.S. savers. Stock-market investors, meanwhile, should note that this month’s rally has come while bond yields have reversed part of their recent sharp declines. In his latest broadside against the central bank, Trump tweeted Wednesday: “The Federal Reserve should get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less, and we should then start to refinance our debt. INTEREST COST COULD BE BROUGHT WAY DOWN, while at the same time substantially lengthening the term.” The president concludes by calling the Fed “boneheads” for not following other central banks to negative rates. That’s the view of the self-proclaimed King of Debt. “As a highly leveraged property developer, Trump is thinking about negative rates from the perspective of a borrower,” writes Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics. But the Fed has been lukewarm at best about such a possibility, “partly because officials know that it could cause outrage among savers and drag the central bank into a political maelstrom,” he adds. Money-market funds also could see large-scale outflows, which could disrupt short-term funding for businesses, banks, and perhaps even the Treasury. Moreover, the record of negative rates in the euro zone, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, and Japan has been mixed, Ashworth continues. While bond yields have fallen below zero, banks been reluctant to impose negative rates on depositors, resulting in a squeeze on their profits. Trump thinks the U.S. deserves to have subzero interest rates since it has “a great currency, power, balance sheet.” In fact, negative interest rates reflect the economic torpor in Europe and Japan. By contrast, U.S. interest rates were at their peak in real terms (that is, after adjusting for inflation) when it was “Morning in America” in the mid-1980s.

By Coral Davenport
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Thursday is expected to complete the legal repeal of a major Obama-era clean water regulation, which had placed limits on polluting chemicals that could be used near streams, wetlands and water bodies. The rollback of the 2015 measure, known as the Waters of the United States rule, has been widely expected since the early days of the Trump administration, when President Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to begin the work of repealing and replacing it. Weakening the Obama-era water rule had been a central campaign pledge for Mr. Trump, who characterized it as a federal land-grab that impinged on the rights of farmers, rural landowners and real estate developers to use their property as they see fit. Environmentalists say Mr. Trump’s push to loosen clean-water regulations represents an assault on the nation’s streams and wetlands at a moment when Mr. Trump has repeatedly declared his commitment to “crystal-clean water.” The repeal of the water rule, which is scheduled to be announced Thursday aft at the headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers, will take effect in a matter of weeks. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, which had worked together to write the original Obama rule, are expected to issue a new, looser replacement rule by the end of this year. The rollback is the latest in a series of actions by the Trump administration to weaken or undo major environmental rules. Others include proposals to loosen regulations on planet-warming emissions from cars, power plants and oil and gas drilling rigs; moves designed to push new drilling in the vast Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and efforts to weaken Endangered Species Act protections.

By Christina Zhao
Ex-U.S. attorney Joyce Vance told MSNBC on Wednesday that President Donald Trump could be facing an "unpleasant" jail sentence after reports indicated that his former personal attorney Michael Cohen is cooperating with the New York district attorney's office as part of its probe into the Trump Organization. Prosecutors with the New York district attorney's office recently interviewed Cohen for their investigation into the Trump Organization's handling of hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, sources familiar with the probe told CNN. The interview reportedly took place at Otisville federal prison, where Cohen is currently being held on a three-year sentence after pleading guilty last year to various crimes including campaign finance violations, tax fraud and bank fraud. NBC News also cited an anonymous source in reporting that Cohen struck an agreement with the prosecutors to "provide information about the president's business operation." NBC's source also confirmed that a meeting took place between Cohen and officials from the DA's office at Otisville prison last month.

Trump says he hates the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran. But he’s toying with a French proposal to get the Iranians to comply with it: a $15 billion line of credit to Tehran.
By Erin Banco - National Security Reporter, Asawin Suebsaeng - White House Reporter
President Donald Trump has left the impression with foreign officials, members of his administration, and others involved in Iranian negotiations that he is actively considering a French plan to extend a $15 billion credit line to the Iranians if Tehran comes back into compliance with the Obama-era nuclear deal. Trump has in recent weeks shown openness to entertaining President Emmanuel Macron’s plan, according to four sources with knowledge of Trump’s conversations with the French leader. Two of those sources said that State Department officials, including Secretary Mike Pompeo, are also open to weighing the French proposal, in which the Paris government would effectively ease the economic sanctions regime that the Trump administration has applied on Tehran for more than a year. The deal put forward by France would compensate Iran for oil sales disrupted by American sanctions. A large portion of Iran’s economy relies on cash from oil sales. Most of that money is frozen in bank accounts across the globe. The $15 billion credit line would be guaranteed by Iranian oil. In exchange for the cash, Iran would have to come back into compliance with the nuclear accord it signed with the world’s major powers in 2015. Tehran would also have to agree not to threaten the security of the Persian Gulf or to impede maritime navigation in the area. Lastly, Tehran would have to commit to regional Middle East talks in the future. While Trump has been skeptical of helping Iran without preconditions in public, the president has at least hinted at an openness to considering Macron’s pitch for placating the Iranian government—a move intended to help bring the Iranians to the negotiating table and to rescue the nuclear agreement that Trump and his former national security adviser John Bolton worked so hard to torpedo. At the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France last month, Trump told reporters that Iran might need a “short-term letter of credit or loan” that could “get them over a very rough patch.”

By Arden Farhi
The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce Thursday that it has finalized a repeal of the Obama-era clean water rule that spells out protections for large and small bodies of water, according to two congressional aides familiar with the plans. The EPA will then write a new rule to replace the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulation, which was established in 2015. The Trump administration rule is expected to cover fewer waterways than the current one and weaken existing protections.  Soon after he was inaugurated, President Trump signed an executive order directing the EPA and the Army to "review and rescind or revise" the regulation. The order said that it's in the nation's interest to keep waterways free of pollution, while still promoting economic growth and cutting regulatory uncertainty. Many businesses have opposed the WOTUS rule, arguing that it was overly broad. The National Federation of Independent Business sued the Obama administration over the rule, complaining that it gave the federal government "jurisdiction over seasonal streams, ponds, ditches, and even depressions fields that are dry through most of the year." The federation also took issue with the fact that business owners could be fined $50,000 per day for violating the rule. In December 2018, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler unveiled the Trump administration's revision of the rule, touting it as one that would provide states and landowners with greater clarity and "certainty" about protected bodies of water. "For the first time, we are clearly defining the difference between federally protected waterways and state protected waterways," Wheeler said in a press release at the time. "Our simpler and clearer definition would help landowners understand whether a project on their property will require a federal permit or not, without spending thousands of dollars on engineering and legal professionals."

The likely Israeli spying efforts were uncovered during the Trump presidency, several former top U.S. officials said.
By DANIEL LIPPMAN
The U.S. government concluded within the last two years that Israel was most likely behind the placement of cell-phone surveillance devices that were found near the White House and other sensitive locations around Washington, D.C., according to three former senior U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter. But unlike most other occasions when flagrant incidents of foreign spying have been discovered on American soil, the Trump administration did not rebuke the Israeli government, and there were no consequences for Israel’s behavior, one of the former officials said. The miniature surveillance devices, colloquially known as “StingRays,” mimic regular cell towers to fool cell phones into giving them their locations and identity information. Formally called international mobile subscriber identity-catchers or IMSI-catchers, they also can capture the contents of calls and data use. The devices were likely intended to spy on President Donald Trump, one of the former officials said, as well as his top aides and closest associates -- though it’s not clear whether the Israeli efforts were successful. President Trump is reputed to be lax in observing White House security protocols. POLITICO reported in May 2018 that the president often used an insufficiently secured cell phone to communicate with friends and confidants. The New York Times subsequently reported in October 2018 that “Chinese spies are often listening” to Trump’s cell-phone calls, prompting the president to slam the story as “so incorrect I do not have time here to correct it.” (A former official said Trump has had his cell phone hardened against intrusion.) By then, as part of tests by the federal government, officials at the Department of Homeland Security had already discovered evidence of the surveillance devices around the nation’s capital, but weren’t able to attribute the devices to specific entities. The officials shared their findings with relevant federal agencies, according to a letter a top DHS official, Christopher Krebs, wrote in May 2018 to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

By Emma Newburger
The Trump administration is expected on Thursday to repeal a major Obama-era clean water regulation that limited the amount of pollution and chemicals that can be used near bodies of water like streams and wetlands. The rollback of the Waters of the United States rule is scheduled to be announced at the headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers, a trade group that has pushed for its repeal and replacement.  The Environmental Protection Agency proposed replacing the 2015 water rule in December following an executive order from President Donald Trump, who has criticized the regulations for curbing the rights of farmers, developers and landowners. The new rule would limit the number of waterways the federal government can protect from pollution, including ditches, storm water control facilities and groundwater systems. It would also limit the government’s oversight to larger bodies of water. The repeal could take effect in just a few weeks. The clean water rollback is the latest in a string of moves by the administration to dismantle major environmental protections against pollutants, from rolling back regulations on methane emissions and energy-efficient light bulbs, to pushing for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Environmental groups condemned the move to weaken water regulations, claiming that loosening restrictions will substantially harm the country’s sources of safe drinking water and threatening the administration with lawsuits over the repeal. “The Clean Water Rule represented solid science and smart public policy. Where it has been enforced, it has protected important waterways and wetlands, providing certainty to all stakeholders,” said Jon Devine, director of federal water policy at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The Trump administration’s wild-eyed attempts to reward polluters, however, knows no bounds, so it is repealing these important protections without regard for the law or sound science.”

By Tamara Keith 2016 square
To work at the pleasure of President Trump is to never know when your last day will come and whether the exit will be on your own terms. National Security Adviser John Bolton's resignation this week (or was it firing?) is just the latest example. When former Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein woke up on the morning of March 13, 2018, he didn't know he was about to be fired. He went to the gym and rowed 13,000 meters on the indoor rower, the longest he had ever done. Then, things went south. "I think when you first get fired, and especially in my case where I saw it unfold on CNN and then got a call from the White House, it is rather shocking," Goldstein said. Goldstein's boss, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, had been forced out that morning after months of rumors about a breakdown of his relationship with Trump. The announcement came via tweet, as they often do. But Tillerson didn't go quietly. Goldstein put out a statement on his behalf contradicting the official account of the firing and saying "The Secretary did not speak to the President this morning and is unaware of the reason." And, then, Goldstein himself was fired, after just three months on the job. "You know going into it that that can happen," Goldstein said. "I mean, I wasn't naïve to this and honestly, it is the purview of the president to have whomever he or she chooses to have work for them." But this very uncertainty is contributing to the high number of vacancies in the Trump administration and the increasing length of time it's taking to get someone permanent (or as permanent as anyone can be) into these key roles. There has been a dramatic uptick in the amount of time it takes the Trump administration to fill cabinet and high level staff vacancies and there's been a proliferation of people in "acting" roles with no end in sight. An NPR analysis finds that since David Shulkin's forced resignation as secretary of Veterans Affairs in late March 2018, none of the cabinet-level vacancies have had new leaders confirmed in fewer than 90 days. But the hang-up isn't in Congress. It is taking Trump longer to name successors for ousted aides and agency heads, and several of his initial picks have had to withdraw. Of the departures announced in the past five months, only one has a successor named and formally nominated.

By Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker
In President Trump’s renegade orbit, there are unspoken rules he expects his advisers to follow. He tolerates a modicum of dissent, so long as it remains private; expects advisers to fall in line and defend his decisions; and demands absolute fealty at all times. These rules and more were broken by John Bolton, the national security adviser who left the White House suddenly Tuesday on acrimonious terms. The rupture between Trump and Bolton, as chronicled in public and in private accounts of administration officials, is a case study of the president’s sometimes Kafkaesque management style — an unusual set of demands and expectations he sets for those in his direct employ. The episode also illustrates the varied forces that propel advisers into the president’s inner circle — and often churn them out with similar velocity. “You’re there more as an annoyance to him because he has to fill some of these jobs, but you’re not there to do anything other than be backlighting,” said Anthony Scaramucci, a former White House communications director who is now critical of Trump. “He wants, like, a catatonic loyalty, and he wants you to be behind the backlights. There’s one spotlight on the stage, it’s shining on Trump, and you’re a prop in the back with dim lights.” Trump’s desires for his advisers range from the trivial — someone who looks the part — to the traditional — someone willing to vigorously support him and defend his policies in media appearances. But these demands can be grating and at times terminal for members of his staff — especially for those who, like the national security adviser, may find themselves at odds with the president on critical issues. “There is no person that is part of the daily Trump decision-making process that can survive long term,” said a former senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment. “The president doesn’t like people to get good press. He doesn’t like people to get bad press. Yet he expects everyone to be relevant and important and supportive at all times. Even if a person could do all those things, the president would grow tired of anyone in his immediate orbit.”

By Ariane de Vogue and Priscilla Alvarez, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The Supreme Court cleared the way for the Trump administration's rule that dramatically limits the ability of Central American migrants to claim asylum to go into effect nationwide while the appeals process plays out. Wednesday's order is a major victory for the administration, which argued the rule was necessary to screen out "asylum seekers who declined to request protection at the first opportunity." "BIG United States Supreme Court WIN for the Border on Asylum!" President Donald Trump said on Twitter. The rule, from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, prohibits migrants who have resided in or traveled through third countries from seeking asylum in the US, therefore barring people traveling through Mexico from being able to claim asylum. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted their dissent. Five justices were needed to grant the request; the votes of the others were not publicly announced. "Once again the Executive Branch has issued a rule that seeks to upend longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution," Sotomayor wrote, joined by Ginsburg, later referring to "some of the most vulnerable people in the Western Hemisphere." "Although this Nation has long kept its door open to refugees -- and although the stakes for asylum seekers could not be higher -- the Government implemented its rule without first providing the public notice and inviting the public input generally required," Sotomayor added. The Supreme Court's order is the latest move in a case that has bounced around between lower courts. Late Tuesday night, a California federal judge's attempt to issue a nationwide injunction on the asylum restrictions was blocked, in part, for the second time by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. Amid the back and forth, the Justice Department had asked the Supreme Court to step in. In her dissent, Sotomayor criticized both the implementation of the new regulation and the majority for ruling before the 9th Circuit could fully resolve the government's emergency request to put the district court's injunction on hold. "The court," Sotomayor wrote, "side-steps the ordinary judicial process." Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, agreed the justices are allowing the administration to "jump the queue."
"Once again, the Supreme Court is allowing a controversial Trump administration policy to go into effect even as the legal challenges to the policy proceed through the lower courts," said Vladeck.

By The Washington Post
Democrats on the House Science Committee are launching an investigation into the Commerce Department’s involvement in NOAA’s unusual decision to back President Donald Trump’s position that Hurricane Dorian posed a significant threat to Alabama as of Sept. 1, in contrast to what the agency’s forecasters were predicting at the time. Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, and Oversight and Investigations Chairwoman Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross requesting information related to the department's dealings with NOAA regarding Hurricane Dorian. The committee, which has jurisdiction over NOAA, is requesting a briefing with Commerce Department staff who may have been involved in issuing instructions to NOAA that led to several directives issued to Weather Service staff and culminated in the Sept. 6 unsigned statement, which disavowed a tweet sent by the agency's Birmingham Weather Service forecast office on Sept. 1. That tweet definitively stated that Alabama would not see any impacts from Dorian, and came in response to a flood of phone calls to the office from worried residents.

By Matt Egan, CNN Business
New York (CNN Business) - The Federal Reserve is running out of runway to lower interest rates. President Donald Trump wants the Fed to keep cutting anyway. Trump on Wednesday urged the "boneheads" in charge of the Fed to import the controversial negative interest rate policies from foreign central banks. "The Federal Reserve should get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less," the president tweeted. Desperate to boost growth, central bankers in Europe and Japan in recent years dropped interest rates into negative territory for the first time in modern history. Jerome Powell, Trump's handpicked Fed chief, has already cut interest rates to a range of 2% to 2.25%. Although many on Wall Street believe the Fed will need to keep lowering rates to avert a recession, perhaps even near zero, negative rates would be an extreme step. There is a growing chorus warning that the Bank of Japan and European Central Bank's subzero regimes have backfired. Critics and some new academic research argue these unorthodox policies are crushing banks, keeping a lid on inflation and failing to juice growth. Worse, they harm savers and retirees hoping to earn safe returns in bonds. "Negative interest rates have failed in Europe and Japan," Richard Fisher, former president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, told CNN Business in an email. "They are anathema for savers and our community and regional banks that bank the average American."

By Jessica Dickler
If it were up to President Donald Trump, there would not be much for the Federal Reserve to discuss. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that the central bank should cut interest rates to zero or even set negative interest rates. The president also called Fed officials “boneheads” in the tweet. The president has been vocal in his resistance to higher rates, raising concerns that increased borrowing costs will put the brakes on economic growth. However, “zero percent interest rates are not a panacea,” said Greg McBride, the chief financial analyst at Bankrate. “We know this firsthand because we lived it.” Since the recession, rising rates have paved the way for pay raises and a better return on savings, despite the impact on borrowing costs. And still, interest rates are historically low, which leaves the central bank with little wiggle room in the event of a recession or if the economy stumbles. The current target range for its overnight lending rate is 2% to 2.25%. “Cutting interest rates to zero would throw savers under the bus,” McBride said. Saving vs. borrowing Only recently have savers started to benefit from higher deposit rates — the annual percentage yield banks pay consumers on their money — after those rates hovered near rock bottom for years. The prime rate, which is the rate that banks extend to their most creditworthy customers, is typically 3 percentage points higher than the federal funds rate. That not only determines your savings rate, but also the rate used for many types of consumer loans, particularly credit cards.

By MARIANNE LEVINE and JAMES ARKIN
Vulnerable Senate Republicans are standing with President Donald Trump and his efforts to build the wall. And it may cost them. Last week, the Trump administration unveiled its plan to divert $3.6 billion in military construction funding to build the president’s border wall, a move which came after Trump declared a national emergency in February to access the funds. Among the states with projects the administration plans to raid are Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina, Texas and South Carolina -- all of which have senators up for re-election in 2020. But Democrats are seeking to pressure Republicans to go on the record with their support for Trump’s national emergency by forcing another vote disapproving of it in the next month. Under federal law, Democrats can bring up the disapproval vote every six months. Republicans insist that the money will be replenished later on and reiterated their support for the border wall, and as of now, it doesn’t appear that anyone will change their vote. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is up for reelection in 2020 and whose state will see military money diverted for the wall, said he’s confident that the money for those projects will be restocked. “I’m willing to divert funding for the wall since we couldn’t get a legislative outcome we can deal with these projects later in the next budget cycle,” Graham said. “But I’m willing to divert the funding and absorb some pain to get the wall moving forward.”

By QUINT FORGEY
President Donald Trump on Wednesday savaged former national security adviser John Bolton one day after unceremoniously dismissing him via Twitter — blasting his hawkish ex-aide’s hard-charging brand of diplomacy and partly blaming him for launching the Iraq War. In a winding assessment of his tenure atop the White House’s National Security Council, delivered to reporters assembled in the Oval Office, Trump alternated between vicious criticism of Bolton and an insistence that they had maintained a warm working relationship. “John is somebody that I actually get along with very well. He made some very big mistakes,” Trump said, repeatedly referencing Bolton’s invocation of a “Libya model” for North Korean denuclearization in April 2018. “It set us back, and frankly, he wanted to do things not necessarily tougher than me,” Trump said. “You know, John’s known as a tough guy. He's so tough, he got us into Iraq. That’s tough.” Trump again claimed later in his remarks that it was he, not Bolton, who at times advocated for a more muscular foreign policy approach, despite Bolton’s perceived proclivity for military intervention and championing of the 2003 invasion of Iraq from within former President George W. Bush's administration. “You know, John wasn't in line with what we were doing, and actually, in some cases, he thought it was too tough what we were doing,” Trump said. “‘Mr. Tough Guy.’ You know, ‘You have to go into Iraq.’ Going into Iraq was something that he felt very strongly about.”

Garret Marquis, John Bolton's spokesman, ran communications for the National Security Council under Bolton.
By CAITLIN OPRYSKO
The expected turnover at the National Security Council has begun. A day after Trump ousted national security adviser John Bolton, Garret Marquis, Bolton's top spokesman, has also departed the administration. Marquis ran communications for the NSC under Bolton, joining the administration shortly after Bolton came on board last year. The longtime Bolton loyalist left the administration on good terms, a source familiar with the situation said, adding that it was simply a case of being lumped in with Trump’s third national security adviser. “It was an honor to serve my country, and I wish the president and the administration success moving forward,” Marquis said in a statement.

Lawmakers, Commerce Department launch investigations into NOAA’s decision to back the president over forecasters
By Andrew Freedman, Josh Dawsey, Juliet Eilperin and Jason Samenow
President Trump told his staff that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration needed to correct a tweet that seemed to contradict his statement that Hurricane Dorian posed a significant threat to Alabama as of Sept. 1, in contrast to what the agency’s forecasters were predicting at the time, senior administration officials said. This led chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to call Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to tell him to fix the issue, the officials said. Trump had complained for several days about the issue, according to the senior officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. Mulvaney then called Ross but did not instruct him to threaten any firings or make any punitive threats, officials said. He simply told Ross that the agency needed to fix the matter immediately, leading to a new statement that was issued Friday, Sept. 6. The New York Times reported some elements of these events earlier Wednesday. The NOAA statement criticized the agency’s Birmingham National Weather Service Forecast Office for issuing a definitive tweet Sept. 1 that there would not be “any” impacts from Dorian in the state. Trump told reporters Wednesday afternoon that he did not direct NOAA to issue such a statement. “No, I never did that,” he said. “I never did that. It’s a hoax by the media. That’s just fake news. Right from the beginning, it was a fake story.” Democrats on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology are launching an investigation into the Commerce Department’s involvement in NOAA’s unusual decision to side with Trump over its scientists. Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.) and Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), chairwoman of the oversight and investigations subcommittee, sent a letter to Ross requesting information related to the department’s dealings with NOAA regarding Dorian. The Science Committee, which has jurisdiction over NOAA, is requesting a briefing with Commerce Department staff who may have been involved in issuing instructions to NOAA that led to several directives being issued to Weather Service staff and culminated in the Sept. 6 unsigned statement, which disavowed a tweet sent by the Birmingham office Sept. 1. That tweet definitively stated that Alabama would not see any impacts from Dorian and came in response to a flood of phone calls to the office from worried residents.

By Dana Milbank
This is how the Trump administration goes about the quiet business of incapacitating the U.S. government. President Trump spent his summer making war on Denmark, attacking Baltimore, destabilizing the world economy, sending an imaginary hurricane to Alabama and ousting his national security adviser, among other things. But while everybody was watching those fireworks, Trump’s underlings — some far more competent than he — were toiling in the shadows to hand over public lands to the tender mercies of oil and gas companies. The scheme, rolled out over the summer, was ostensibly to put the Bureau of Land Management closer to the lands it manages by moving personnel out of Washington. That makes sense until you consider: 1. Ninety-seven percent of the BLM’s employees already are outside of Washington, and the few hundred in the capital do things such as coordinate with Congress and other agencies; now half the congressional affairs staff, I’m told, will work out of Reno, Nev. — 2,600 miles from Capitol Hill. 2. BLM organized this with cursory analysis of impacts and costs and no significant consultation with Congress, American Indian tribes or BLM staff. 3. BLM decided to locate its new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colo., hours from a major airport but just down the road from the hometown of Interior Secretary (and former oil and gas lobbyist) David Bernhardt, who presides over BLM.

By Devan Cole, CNN
Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, instructed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to pressure the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to disavow a tweet from a National Weather Service's regional office that contradicted Trump's false claim that Hurricane Dorian was likely to hit Alabama, The New York Times reported Wednesday. The Times said a senior administration official told the paper that Mulvaney wanted to set the record straight because he thought the NWS' Birmingham, Alabama, office had "gone too far" when it contradicted Trump's false claim last week. According to the paper, Ross called Neil Jacobs, NOAA's acting administrator, and told him to "fix the agency's perceived contradiction of the president." The Times previously reported that Ross threatened to fire top NOAA employees if they didn't disavow the tweet. A White House official confirmed to CNN on Wednesday that Mulvaney spoke with Ross about NOAA's handling of the NWS tweet that contradicted Trump. The Times report did not say Trump told his acting chief of staff to tell Ross to contact NOAA about the tweet. Still, Trump, speaking to reporters in the Oval Office later Wednesday, denied instructing Mulvaney to speak to Ross about the issue, calling the report "a fake story." A White House official also told CNN that the President did not ask his chief of staff to tell Ross to pressure NOAA about the tweet. Meanwhile, the Democratic-controlled House Science Committee launched an investigation earlier Wednesday into the department's role in NOAA's actions surrounding Trump's claim. In a letter to Ross, whose department oversees NOAA, Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson said she was "deeply disturbed by the politicization of NOAA's weather forecast activities for the purpose of supporting incorrect statement by the President." The probe adds to a growing list of investigations by House committees overseen by Democrats who have been flexing their oversight power since taking control of the chamber earlier this year.

By Maggie Fitzgerald
U.S. oil prices dropped 2% on Wednesday after Bloomberg News reported that President Donald Trump discussed easing sanctions on Iran in order to reopen negotiations. WTI crude oil futures fell 2.75% to $55.84 a barrel, while Brent crude fell 2.5% to $60.83 a barrel. Trump entertained the idea of easing sanctions on Iran in order to arrange a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani later this month, the report said.  Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have escalated since June, following attacks on oil tankers and a U.S. drone near the Strait of Hormuz that the U.S. alleges were executed by Iran. Although Iran denies it carried out the tanker attacks and said the drone was in Iranian airspace, President Donald Trump signed an executive order imposing new sanctions on Iran in response to the downing of an unmanned U.S. drone. The Strait of Hormuz, a narrow channel between the borders of Iran and Oman, accounts for approximately 30% of the world’s seaborne oil traffic. When asked if he would consider easing sanctions to secure a meeting with Iran, Trump said “we’ll see what happens.” Trump said he believes Iran wants to make a deal.  It is unclear whether Iran would even agree to talk with the White House. In July, Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh told CNBC that Iran is not ready to engage in talks with the U.S. until sanctions are completely lifted.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) - Empathy has never been a strong suit for Donald Trump. Even as President, he tends to see everything through a simple lens: Me, me, me and how does this affect, well, me.
Which brings me to Wednesday morning and the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Trump started his day -- as he so often does -- on Twitter. And even as 8:46 a.m. approached -- the exact time that the first plane hit the World Trade Center -- Trump kept at it.
"In a hypothetical poll, done by one of the worst pollsters of them all, the Amazon Washington Post/ABC, which predicted I would lose to Crooked Hillary by 15 points (how did that work out?), Sleepy Joe, Pocahontas and virtually all others would beat me in the General Election," tweeted Trump at 8:12 a.m. "This is a phony suppression poll, meant to build up their Democrat partners. I haven't even started campaigning yet, and am constantly fighting Fake News like Russia, Russia, Russia. Look at North Carolina last night. Dan Bishop, down big in the Polls, WINS. Easier than 2016!" (The poll in question -- conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News -- showed Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden by 15 points.)
But he wasn't done. "If it weren't for the never ending Fake News about me, and with all that I have done (more than any other President in the first 2 1/2 years!), I would be leading the [Partners" of the LameStream Media by 20 points. Sorry, but true," he tweeted at 8:19 a.m. Once Trump got to the Pentagon to lay a wreath at the site of the memorial to those lost when a plane hit the building 18 years ago, he quickly turned the subject to himself.
"I vividly remember when I first heard the news," Trump said. "I was sitting at home watching a major business television show. Early that morning Jack Welch, the legendary head of General Electric was about to be interviewed, when all of a sudden, they cut away." Trump then went on to talk about the various theories circulating in real time about what had happened -- "It was a boiler fire, but I knew that boilers weren't at the top of a building. It was a kitchen explosion at Windows on the World. ... Nobody knew what happened" -- before adding that he "saw a second plane go into the second tower" from his office window in midtown Manhattan.   

By Charlie D'Agata
Kabul, Afghanistan — It was just after midnight on the morning of September 11 in Kabul when the sound of an explosion echoed across the capital. A couple of phone calls confirmed that a rocket had blown up inside the compound of the U.S. Embassy. Mercifully no one was hurt. It was the first incident since President Trump abruptly announced that the U.S. peace talks with the Taliban were off. "They're dead. They're dead," Mr. Trump wrote. "As far as I'm concerned they're dead." In response, the Taliban has doubled down. "We had two ways to end occupation in Afghanistan, one was jihad and fighting, the other was talks and negotiations," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. "If Trump wants to stop talks, we will take the first way and they will soon regret it." The Taliban's fight against Afghan and coalition forces had already ratcheted up significantly in the past two weeks, and that was during the peace talks in Doha. Deputy Interior Minister General Khoshal Sadat told CBS News the Taliban has suffered "hundreds" of casualties in the last 10 days, after the militants launched major offensives across three provinces. That claim was backed up by sources CBS News contacted at Resolute Support, the U.S.-led NATO mission in Afghanistan. But the fighting has only intensified, and it's now likely to escalate significantly more. The country faces a presidential election on September 28. The Taliban has targeted elections in the past, and they've threatened to go on the attack again, warning voters to stay away from the polls or face the consequences.

By Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner
President Trump vowed Wednesday to strike back with power the United States “has never used before” if the country faces another attack similar to those that occurred Sept. 11, 2001, pledging that any would-be perpetrators “will never have seen anything like what will happen to them.” The president was speaking at the Pentagon during a memorial on the 18th anniversary of the attacks, in which nearly 3,000 people were killed in New York, Shanksville, Pa., and Arlington, Va. “The last four days, we have hit our enemy harder than they have ever been hit before, and that will continue,” Trump said, apparently referring to the Afghanistan war and drawing applause from the crowd. “And if for any reason they come back to our country, we will go wherever they are and use power the likes of which the United States has never used before — and I’m not even talking about nuclear power. They will never have seen anything like what will happen to them.” The appearance was Trump’s third commemorating the Sept. 11 attacks since becoming president. Last year, he visited Shanksville, where he paid tribute to the passengers of Flight 93, who died disrupting the plan of terrorists to crash one of their hijacked planes into the U.S. Capitol. At the Pentagon on Wednesday, Trump told attendees that “for every American who lived through that day, the September 11 attack is seared into our soul.” He noted that he had called off negotiations over the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan after the Taliban took responsibility for an attack last week that killed a U.S. soldier. Trump had invited Afghan and Taliban leaders to Camp David but abruptly announced via Twitter that he had canceled the previously-undisclosed summit. “We had peace talks scheduled a few days ago,” Trump said. “I called them off when I learned that they had killed a great American soldier from Puerto Rico and 11 other innocent people. They thought they would use this attack to show strength, but actually, what they showed is unrelenting weakness.”

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called Wednesday on Muslims to attack U.S., European, Israeli and Russian targets in a speech on the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks online activity of jihadist groups, reported that in a video released by the militant group, the 68-year-old al-Zawahiri also criticizes "backtrackers" from jihad, referring to former jihadis who changed their views in prison and called the 9/11 attacks unacceptable because innocent civilians were harmed. "If you want Jihad to be focused solely on military targets, the American military has presence all over the world, from the East to the West," he said. "Your countries are littered with American bases, with all the infidels therein and the corruption they spread." The coordinated al Qaeda hijackings on Sept. 11, 2001 killed nearly 3,000 people, when airliners slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and another crashed in rural Pennsylvania. Al-Zawahiri's speech was recorded in a 33-minute, 28-second video produced by the group's as-Sahab Media Foundation. As an indicator of when the speech may have been recorded, al-Zawahiri references President Donald Trump's recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, which was announced on March 25. He calls on Palestinians to seek "martyrdom" by attacking Israelis with a suicide vest in response. Al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian, became leader of al Qaeda following the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan by U.S. Navy SEALs. He is believed to be hiding somewhere in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions. A July report by the U.N. cited reports that he is "in poor health" but provided no details.  

By Peter Baker, Lisa Friedman and Christopher Flavelle
WASHINGTON — The White House was directly involved in pressing a federal scientific agency to repudiate the weather forecasters who contradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian would probably strike Alabama, according to several people familiar with the events. Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to have the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publicly disavow the forecasters’ position that Alabama was not at risk. NOAA, which is part of the Commerce Department, issued an unsigned statement last Friday in response, saying that the Birmingham, Ala., office was wrong to dispute the president’s warning. In pressing NOAA’s acting administrator to take action, Mr. Ross warned that top employees at the agency could be fired if the situation was not addressed, The New York Times previously reported. Mr. Ross’s spokesman has denied that he threatened to fire anyone, and a senior administration official on Wednesday said Mr. Mulvaney did not tell the commerce secretary to make such a threat. The release of the NOAA statement provoked complaints that the Trump administration was improperly intervening in the professional weather forecasting system to justify the president’s mistaken assertion. The Commerce Department’s inspector general is investigating how that statement came to be issued, saying it could call into question scientific independence.

By Angelica LaVito
The Trump administration is preparing to ban flavored e-cigarettes as federal health officials call for restrictions to combat an outbreak of a mysterious lung disease that has sickened hundreds and killed at least six people, U.S. health secretary Alex Azar told reporters Wednesday. The Food and Drug Administration is finalizing its guidance to remove e-cigarette flavors other than tobacco from the market because children are attracted to other flavors, Azar said, following a meeting at the Oval Office with President Donald Trump. It could take the FDA several weeks to develop the guidelines, he said. The administration will also take enforcement action if it finds e-cigarette makers are intentionally targeting children, Azar said. Azar and acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless briefed Trump on new data showing a surge in teen vaping. Results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey have not been made public yet. Last year’s survey showed skyrocketing use among middle and high school students, prompting the FDA to label teen vaping an “epidemic.” The meeting comes as members of Congress increasingly pressure the administration to rein in the e-cigarette industry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating more than 450 cases of lung disease officials suspect were caused by vaping.

By Jacob Pramuk
For much of Trump’s presidency, Americans have broadly held glowing views of the economy — even as a majority of them disapprove of how he has handled his job overall. The good grades for Trump started to slip in recent weeks as fears about a looming recession crept into financial markets and pockets of the general public. A CNN/SSRS poll released Tuesday found 48% of registered voters approve of how the president is handling the economy — down from a peak of 56% in April. In a separate Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week, 46% of adults surveyed said the same, a drop from 51% in July. In addition, 56% of respondents said the economy is either excellent or good, a decline from 65% in November 2018. A majority, or 60%, of those surveyed said they consider a recession either somewhat or very likely in the next year. Trump’s approval rating on the economy dropped to 46% in a Quinnipiac University survey released late last month, down 2 percentage points from May. The 61% share of voters describing the economy as excellent or good was the lowest in a Quinnipiac poll since April 2018.

New Washington Post-ABC polling shows Trump’s approval rating sinking. His response was to lash out.
By Aaron Rupar
A new Washington Post-ABC News survey contains bleak news for President Donald Trump on nearly every front. Heading into the 2020 campaign, it shows his approval rating slipping significantly over the last month, in large part because people blame him for the possibility of an economic downturn. Trump shot back in a characteristic manner: by attacking the Post in particular and mainstream media polling in general. But there are a couple of glaring problems with his response. “ABC/Washington Post Poll was the worst and most inaccurate poll of any taken prior to the 2016 Election,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday. “When my lawyers protested, they took a 12 point down and brought it to almost even by Election Day. It was a Fake Poll by two very bad and dangerous media outlets. Sad!” In a follow-up tweet, Trump opined that “[o]ne of the greatest and most powerful weapons used by the Fake and Corrupt News Media is the phony Polling Information they put out. Many of these polls are fixed, or worked in such a way that a certain candidate will look good or bad. Internal polling looks great, the best ever!” Trump, of course, has a long history of attacking polls that don’t reflect well on him. But his specific claim about “inaccurate” 2016 polling is simply false, and there’s good reason to believe he’s also not telling the truth about his internal polling. More broadly, Trump’s tweets on Tuesday suggest that instead of trying to have a sincere reckoning with his political shortcomings, he’s in denial about them. If his approval rating is sagging, that’s because the poll was rigged. If more than one poll indicates that, a conspiracy must be at play.

By Shane Croucher
Economists at Moody's Analytics estimate in a report that further escalation of President Donald Trump's trade war with China could cost the American economy hundreds of thousands of jobs and plunge it into a deep recession. Moody's says there is a 35 percent probability that the trade war will escalate. It modeled the potential impacts of an escalating trade conflict between the U.S. and China, which has seen tariffs imposed on much of the $540 billion in Chinese goods imports. "Given the high-stakes game of chicken, it is not difficult to imagine a darker scenario in which tariffs on all U.S.-China trade rise further and additional nontariff barriers are imposed," the Moody's report says. "In this scenario, we assume that tariffs on all U.S.-China trade rise to 30 percent and that a series of nontariff barriers take effect. "These include Chinese bans on U.S. technology exports, voluntary boycotts of U.S. brands, revoked market licenses for U.S. firms, a sharp devaluation of the yuan, and a threat to sell China's vast holdings of U.S. Treasuries." The scenario also assumes U.S. retaliation, the failure of Congress to ratify the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, a 25 percent tariff on all vehicle imports, and a substantial knock-on effect of the escalation on the global economy, damaging demand and sentiment. "The result is a large pullback in investment that, along with price increases and ruffled consumers, causes U.S. and global GDP to contract sharply," according to the Moody's model for trade war escalation.

By Allyson Chiu
After hosting a rally in North Carolina with Vice President Pence earlier this week and then blasting out endorsements for two GOP candidates running in special elections there, President Trump closely tracked the returns on Tuesday night. When it became clear that both men vying for open House seats had won, the president took to Twitter in triumph. In a flurry of tweets sent well into early Wednesday morning, Trump celebrated the “TWO BIG VICTORIES” and boasted about his influence on the results — while also taking time to bash the “Fake News” and share a photo suggesting a third term for himself. “BIG NIGHT FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY,” he tweeted in all-caps. “CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!” The wins came as Trump has faced downturns in national polling and amid new White House turmoil as he ousted national security adviser John Bolton. A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Tuesday found that 56 percent of voting-age Americans say they disapprove of Trump’s performance in office, and his approval rating among that demographic stands at 38 percent.


Opinion by Elie Honig
(CNN) - When I was a new Justice Department prosecutor preparing for one of my first trials, a supervisor gave me a valuable piece of strategic advice: Go for the jugular, not every capillary. Don't get bogged down trying to prove every detail of every last bad act or misdeed. Instead, pick out the subject's worst conduct, offer up your strongest proof and make it hit hard. I'd offer the same advice to the House Judiciary Committee as it considers a resolution to define the substance and scope of its impeachment inquiry. The Judiciary Committee reportedly will focus on a wide range of topics, including four pillars: (1) involvement by Trump associates in Russian interference in the 2016 election, (2) Trump's alleged role in illegal hush money payments to two women who claim they had affairs with him, (3) Trump's alleged dangling of pardons to immigration officials who might break the law to get a border wall built and (4) Trump's potential Emoluments Clause violations and use of the presidency for personal profit. If you look at that list and wonder, "What's the connective tissue?" the answer is simple: President Donald J. Trump. However, beyond the fact that all four areas touch on potential wrongdoing by Trump, they share little or nothing in common. There is no substantive through-line. The audience -- Congress and the American public -- will have its focus fragmented, and the committee will find itself trying to run in four (or more) directions at once. Sure, Trump has opened many doors by his norm-defying -- and potentially illegal -- conduct. But, strategically, Democrats won't get far if they try to tackle everything Trump may have done wrong all at once. The Judiciary Committee should focus primarily on the issue of emoluments and Trump's alleged use of the presidency for personal enrichment. First, the notion of elected officials using public office to line their own pockets carries visceral appeal; people care and will not be apt to simply brush it aside. The Constitution prohibits a president from receiving any income or gift (beyond his regular government salary) from a foreign government, the US government or any state. And it is inherently offensive to fundamental notions of democracy for a president to profit from his office. Even Trump's ideological supporters will have a hard time justifying profiteering.

“I thought it was a joke and then I started screaming,” McCain said of the revelation that Trump invited terrorists to Camp David but refused entry for Bahamian refugees.
By Justin Baragona
The women of The View on Tuesday tore into President Donald Trump for rejecting over a hundred Bahamian survivors of Hurricane Dorian, with conservative co-host Meghan McCain taking the president to task for inviting the Taliban to Camp David but refusing entry into the United States for refugees of a natural disaster. After more than one-hundred evacuees were forced off a ferry heading to Florida because they didn’t have visas, acting Customs and Border Protection chief Mark Morgan reassured hurricane survivors that they would be allowed to enter the United States, claiming there was just “some confusion” in the aftermath of the devastating storm that nearly wiped out the islands. Trump, however, saw things differently, claiming America needed to be extra careful with who it allows in from the Bahamas. “I don’t want to allow people that weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers,” he said to reporters on Monday. “You know, this is a guy who has the Taliban—he’s going to have a big meeting with the Taliban,” liberal co-host Joy Behar exclaimed. “He loves Kim Jong-Un and Putin, and yet these people who are fleeing a hurricane are suddenly criminals. He’s so despicable. He makes my head stand up—my hair. I can’t stand him!”

By KATY O'DONNELL
The U.S. housing finance system is worse off today than it was on the cusp of the 2008 financial crisis, Republican lawmakers and Trump administration officials warned on Tuesday. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-controlled enterprises that stand behind half the country's mortgages, are way too undercapitalized, and lending standards have actually deteriorated since the housing crash, the officials said. “This whole thing is a car wreck. It’s a dumpster fire,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the White House’s proposal to overhaul the way the nation finances mortgages. “We spent $190 billion of taxpayer money, and we’re in worse shape,” he said, referring to the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were seized by Treasury a decade ago to stave off catastrophic losses in the crisis. The hearing kicked off what promises to be a highly contentious debate over the plans released last week by the Departments of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development to scale back the federal government’s massive role in the mortgage market. Republicans are focusing on what they say are growing risks in the system, while Democrats are mostly concerned about providing affordable housing. The Treasury blueprint would overhaul Fannie and Freddie before releasing them from government control. A major component of the plan is building the companies’ capital so they would be able to withstand an economic downturn without turning to taxpayers again. Right now, the companies are only allowed to retain a combined $6 billion in capital despite owning or guaranteeing $5.5 trillion of mortgages. “I will tell you as a safety-and-soundness regulator, when I look at a $3 trillion institution that is leveraged 1,000 to 1, it keeps me up at night,” Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria, the companies’ regulator, told the committee.

By Owen Daugherty
China on Wednesday announced that it is waiving tariffs on 16 types of U.S. products ahead of trade negotiations between Beijing and Washington. The tariff exemptions apply to various U.S. goods including some anti-cancer drugs, and whey and fish meal, which are used in animal feed, China’s Ministry of Finance announced, according to Reuters. The tariff exemptions reportedly mark the first time Beijing has made such a move since the trade war with the United States began. The exemptions will go into effect Sept. 17, just a few weeks before negotiators from the two countries are scheduled to meet face-to-face in Washington. Iris Pang, economist for Greater China at ING, noted that the exemptions do not mean a deal between the two sides is imminent, according to Reuters. “The exemption could be seen as a gesture of sincerity toward the U.S. ahead of negotiations in October but is probably more a means of supporting the economy,” she wrote. “There are still many uncertainties in the coming trade talks. An exemption list of just 16 items will not change China’s stance.” Pang also reportedly pointed out that the U.S. in July exempted tariffs from 110 Chinese products, including some medical equipment.

By Jeff Cox, John Melloy
President Donald Trump on Wednesday continued his verbal assault on the Federal Reserve, which he blames for slowing the economy, tweeting that the central bank should cut interest rates to zero or even set negative interest rates. The president also called Fed officials “boneheads” in the tweet. “The Federal Reserve should get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less, and we should then start to refinance our debt. INTEREST COST COULD BE BROUGHT WAY DOWN, while at the same time substantially lengthening the term,” he said. The president also made a new suggestion not seen in some of his past attacks on the Fed, saying that the country should refinance its debt load. The U.S. has $22.5 trillion in debt, $16.7 trillion of which is owed by the public. That debt load has grown $2.6 trillion, or 13% under Trump, due in part to the 2017 tax cut that Trump shepherded through Congress. Taxpayers have shelled out $538.6 billion in interest costs in the 2019 fiscal year, easily a record. The idea for “refinancing” federal debt is without any modern precedent. “It’s not viable and could be a significant problem for investors, financial markets and ultimately the economy,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “The debt is not prepayable. There’s a contractual relationship the Treasury has with investors. This isn’t a mortgage, this is U.S. Treasury debt. I think it would be incredibly disruptive to financial markets, and interest rates would ultimately rise, not fall.” - No Trump is the bonehead if they cut the rate to zero then when the economy collapses they will not have any tools to help. If the economy is as good as Trump says it is then why do they need to cut the rate.

By JOSH GERSTEIN
A federal appeals court has temporarily lifted a nationwide injunction against President Donald Trump’s effort to deny asylum to immigrants who enter the U.S. after passing through another country. Acting at the request of the Trump administration, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an administrative stay Tuesday night that put on hold the injunction issued Monday by San Francisco-based U.S. District Court Judge Jon Tigar. The temporary hold implemented while the appeals court considers a longer stay essentially restores the legal situation that existed prior to this week, with Trump’s policy blocked only in the Ninth Circuit, which includes the border regions of California and Arizona.

By JEREMY B. WHITE and CARLA MARINUCCI
OAKLAND — California officials scrambled Tuesday to decipher a report that the Trump administration is planning to intercede in the state’s homelessness crisis. No issue is dominating the agenda in California like the housing shortage and homelessness spike, with mayors, state lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom grappling to ameliorate an epidemic that is unavoidable on city streets. OAKLAND — California officials scrambled Tuesday to decipher a report that the Trump administration is planning to intercede in the state’s homelessness crisis. No issue is dominating the agenda in California like the housing shortage and homelessness spike, with mayors, state lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom grappling to ameliorate an epidemic that is unavoidable on city streets. A day earlier, the chief of state and federal affairs for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti revealed the Trump delegation’s visit, saying it was an opportunity for the city to explain “our strategic plan around homelessness and sanitation deployment and Skid Row engagement.” “They’re just not thoughtful, and quite frankly not smart enough, to know what we’re doing,” Garcetti aide Breelyn Pete said at a POLITICO event.

By Rachel Frazin
President Trump has directed officials to crack down on homelessness in California, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing four government officials familiar with the matter. Officials have reportedly discussed getting homeless people off the streets in areas including Los Angeles and into government-backed facilities. The Post reported that the talks have ramped up in recent weeks. Two officials told the Post that ideas such as tearing down existing homeless camps and creating new facilities or refurbishing old ones to give the federal government more control over health care and housing are being considered. The administration reportedly has not completed a final plan. Officials from the White House, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Domestic Policy Council were in California this week for discussions, according to the Post. Officials said that Los Angeles' "skid row" area was one focus.

By Zack Budryk
The Trump Organization and President Trump himself have been directly involved in developing a partnership between his Turnberry golf resort in Scotland and Glasgow Prestwick Airport since 2014, according to The New York Times. The partnership, which began a year before Trump’s presidential campaign kicked off, worked to add Trump Turnberry to a list of hotels used by the airports aircrew, despite the fact that it is significantly farther away from the airport than other hotels used in a similar manner and has higher advertised prices, according to the Times. Executives with the organization met with airport officials for talks on how to drive more referrals, according to the Times, citing documents obtained through the Scottish Freedom of Information law. The Pentagon and the airport both confirmed to the Times that the airport has a separate arrangement with the U.S. Air Force to refuel American planes and arrange hotel accommodations. “We provide a full handling service for customers and routinely arrange overnight accommodation for visiting aircrew when requested,” the Prestwick airport said in a statement on Monday. “We use over a dozen local hotels, including Trump Turnberry, which accounts for a small percentage of the total hotel bookings we make,” it added. The report comes amid controversy over U.S. military personnel staying at the resort while traveling through the airport in March.

By Justine Coleman
FEMA official arrested on bribery, fraud charges from power restoration efforts in Puerto Rico. A former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) official was reportedly arrested on Tuesday, charged with taking bribes from a company responsible for restoring power in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Federal officials arrested former Deputy Administrator Ahsha Tribble, who oversaw the FEMA region including Puerto Rico, and the former president of Cobra Acquisitions, Donald K. Ellison, accusing them of conspiring to defraud the federal government, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office. “They took advantage of one of the most vulnerable moments in the history of Puerto Rico to enrich themselves,” the U.S. attorney for Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, told The New York Times. Ellison would allegedly reward Tribble with gifts such as a helicopter tour over Puerto Rico, plane tickets and hotel stays. In exchange, the FEMA official would advocate to Cobra's advantage during the recovery efforts.

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Donald J. Trump News   Find out more about the real Donald j. Trump and the Mueller investigation. Is Donald j. Trump a traitor? Was there collusion with the Russians? Did the trump campaign collude or conspire with Putin and the Russians? Trump is the king of fake news alternative facts. Donald Trump is a liar. Donald Trump is a racist. Find out more about trump the Mueller investigation Russia. Learn about don the con trump and Russia. Find out about the trump Russia Putin connection. Find out more about don the con, con man don and learn about the trump university, trump foundation, trump Russia, Russian collusion, money laundering, Trump the money launder and more…      

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