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President Trump on Friday threatened to "close the Southern Border entirely" if Democrats do not agree to provide money to "finish" building a wall on the Mexican border. Trump made the threat in a series of tweets on the seventh day of a partial government shutdown that entered its seventh day on Friday with no end in sight. The shutdown began on Saturday after Democrats rejected demands from Trump that $5 billion be included for the wall in a measure to keep the government open. - Trump shut down the government now he wants to shut down the boarder if the American people do not pay for the wall that he promised Mexico would pay for.If you’re middle class and looking for insurance through the health law, chances are you’re paying a penalty courtesy of the G.O.P. The Affordable Care Act is still in effect, and the 2019 open enrollment period just ended for most Americans. The recent ruling by a Texas judge declaring the act invalid doesn’t change that. But the Trump administration and Republicans are still undermining the health law. People who earn too much to qualify for financial assistance for policies purchased through the A.C.A.’s health insurance exchanges or directly from insurers — five million now enrolled, including three to four million enrolled off-exchange — will pay for that sabotage in higher premiums. (Another nearly five million are uninsured and priced out of the market.) In the graphic below, I estimate how much more these unsubsidized enrollees will have to lay out in 2019 than they would have if not for the Trump administration’s actions.President Donald Trump's surprise visit to Iraq included a revelation that a Navy SEAL team was located there, information generally considered classified. Trump published video on Twitter of a meeting Wednesday with several members of the team, dressed in camouflage gear with night vision goggles. Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" plays on the video. "@FLOTUS Melania and I were honored to visit our incredible troops at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq," Trump tweeted. "GOD BLESS THE U.S.A.!" The president, as commander in chief, would have the right to declassify information. The Naval Special Warfare Command did not immediately return an email for comment from USA TODAY. - Donald J. Trump leaker in chief once again, Trump reveals classified information.On Christmas Day, the president claimed that "many" workers who are not being paid because of the government shutdown want him to hold out for the border wall. Just days after claiming that "many" furloughed government workers told him they're fine with not getting paid as long as he secures additional funding for a border wall, President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday morning that "most of the people not getting paid are Democrats." Trump, who offered no support for his claim, fired off the tweet early Thursday morning as the government shutdown entered its sixth day. Trump said on Christmas Day that he will not reopen the government until he gets $5 billion in funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.The Fact Checker’s ongoing database of the false or misleading claims made by President Trump since assuming office.Speaking to members of the military during his surprise trip overseas this week, President Trump spoke about the raises they received. “You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years — more than 10 years,” he said Wednesday. “And we got you a big one. I got you a big one. I got you a big one.” He continued: “They said: ‘You know, we could make it smaller. We could make it 3 percent. We could make it 2 percent. We could make it 4 percent.’ I said: ‘No. Make it 10 percent. Make it more than 10 percent.’ ” The problem with those statements? They’re not true.US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have made an unannounced Christmas visit to US troops in Iraq. They travelled there "late on Christmas night" to thank troops for "their service, their success and their sacrifice", the White House said. Mr Trump said the US had no plans to pull out of Iraq, Reuters reports. The trip came days after Defence Secretary Jim Mattis quit over divisions about strategy in the region. The US still has some 5,000 troops in Iraq to support the government in its fight against what remains of the Islamic State (IS) group.For nearly two years, President Trump has pursued an aggressive, far-reaching effort, lobbied for and cheered on by industry, to free American business from what he and many of his supporters view as excessive environmental regulation. The consequences are starting to play out in noticeable ways in communities across the United States. An investigation by The New York Times showed how Mr. Trump’s deregulatory policies are starting to have substantial impact on those who experience them close up — and often are economically dependent on the industries the president is trying to help. Trump has quickly undercut Obama’s legacy.Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker falsely claimed on his resume and on government documents that he was named an Academic All-American when he played football at the University of Iowa, according to a report. The former Hawkeyes tight end from 1990 to 1992 made the claim in the bio on his former law firm’s website and on a resume he sent in 2014 to a patent-marketing firm for which he sat on the advisory board, the Wall Street Journal reported. Whitaker — whom President Trump named acting AG last month after the ouster of Jeff Sessions — also made the claim when he applied to be a judge in Iowa in 2010, according to the Journal. And in 2009, when Whitaker left his post as US attorney in Iowa, a Justice Department press release said he had been “an academic All-American football player.”Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker misled the Federal Trade Commission’s investigators as he was stepping into his role as the Justice Department’s chief of staff last year, a new report said Friday. After trying to reach Whitaker about a Miami company where he was on the advisory board, an FTC investigator emailed colleagues to say that he finally got hold of Whitaker. The future acting AG told the investigator that he was willing to cooperate and declared that he “never emailed or wrote to consumers” in his consulting role, Bloomberg reported, citing new documents. But that statement, to James Evans of the FTC, appears to be inaccurate.Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker chose not to recuse himself from the Russia probe — even though Justice Department ethics officials urged him to step aside out of an “abundance of caution.” Whitaker reportedly rejected the advice based on his own advisers’ opinions, the Washington Post reported. Whitaker’s past criticism of the Russia investigation has raised questions about whether he can oversee it fairly. One official said a recusal was “a close call,” but suggested that Whitaker remove himself, even though he was not required to do so. Whitaker decided not to take the advice.President Donald Trump says he wants the border wall between Mexico and the United States finished by election day 2020.When it was first announced last spring, President Trump’s proposal for a new Space Force was resisted by the Pentagon and ridiculed by late-night comics who envisioned Luke Skywalker in the military. But it found a champion in Patrick M. Shanahan, the deputy secretary of defense who will soon become the Pentagon’s acting chief. “We are not the Department of No,” Mr. Shanahan told Pentagon officials after Space Force was announced, arguing that it was a presidential priority and could help develop new military capabilities more quickly. “There is a vision, and it makes sense.” - No is sometimes best if it is reckless, not practical or feasible.The Lead - Outgoing Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) told CNN's Manu Raju that some of her Republican Senate colleagues will say privately that President Donald Trump is "nuts," and she believes history will judge them for not standing up to the President. Source: CNN - Republicans may say that privately but publicly where it matters Republicans keep protecting Trump no matter what, no matter the harm he is causing our country at home and aboard.Two of the three contenders were President Donald Trump himself. In the ultimate on-air troll of Rudy Giuliani, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews crowned him the winner of the “Most Outrageous Diversion” award regarding the Russia investigation. The cable host treated viewers to the mockery on his Christmas Eve “Hardball” broadcast, bringing on a panel of political junkies to weigh in on the nominees before he announced the final result. Two of the three contenders were President Donald Trump himself. Revisiting some of the year’s most remarkable moments, Matthews pointed to his public doubt of U.S. intelligence on Russian hacking involving the 2016 election, and his claim last November that he didn’t know acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker.Donald Trump criticized President Barack Obama during the 2013 government shutdown for failing to "lead," "get everyone in a room," and "make a deal."In October 2013, during the administration of President Barack Obama, the United States government underwent a budget impasse that led to a shutdown, resulting in most routine government operations being curtailed for the first seventeen days of the month. The shutdown occurred because neither legislation appropriating funds for fiscal year 2014 nor a continuing resolution for interim appropriations was approved in time, largely due to Republican attempts to tie government funding to resolutions delaying or defunding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly known as “Obamacare”). - Once again lying hypocrite Donald J. Trump words have come back to bite him in the derriere.President Trump probably just ruined Santa Claus for a child on Christmas Eve. At what age do children wonder whether Santa really exists? President Donald Trump would like to know. In a Christmas Eve call, Trump asked a 7-year-old named Coleman whether the child still believes in Santa Claus. "Are you still a believer in Santa? Because at 7, it's marginal, right?" Trump asked Coleman. Coleman's response, though inaudible to the press, left Trump with a chuckle and a smile. - Trump the Grinch who stole the Christmas dream from little children.President had several chances to secure money for project. Administration demands to cut legal immigration scuttled deals. President Donald Trump has rebuffed numerous opportunities to secure billions for a border wall, and with Democrats set to take control of the House that goal could be out of reach for good. Trump’s best chance for border wall funding at the level he wants came in February 2018, when Republican Senator Mike Rounds teamed up with independent Senator Angus King on compromise immigration legislation. It included $25 billion over a decade to build a wall along the southern border and a path to citizenship for so-called Dreamers who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. It also barred green card holders from sponsoring adult children for permanent residency and reoriented enforcement priorities to focus on criminals in the country illegally. - Donald J. Trump is not a very good negotiator. Trump had a deal to get $25 billion for his wall before he blew it up, now he wants to shutdown the government to get $5 billion, $20 billion less.Sarah Huckabee Sanders Says Putin Isn't Happy About Syria Decision, After He Said He Was, Claims ‘It Puts Them at Greater Risk'White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday that it was ludicrous to assume that Russia was happy that the U.S. is pulling out its troops from Syria. "The idea that Putin is happy about this is ridiculous," Sanders said when asked about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reaction to the news that the U.S. will no longer have a presence in the war-torn country. "It puts them at a greater risk," she added, "so I think that's just silly."If Moscow was happy about the Syria pullout, it’s ecstatic about Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ resignation. The Kremlin is awash with Christmas gifts from Washington, D.C. and every move by the Trump administration seems to add to that perception. On Wednesday, appearing on the Russian state TV show “The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev,” Director of the Moscow-based Center for Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies Semyon Bagdasarov said that the U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis is “struggling to keep up” with the flurry of unexpected decisions by the U.S. President Donald Trump. The news that Mattis decided to step down sent shock waves across the world, being interpreted as “a dangerous signal” by America’s allies.Trump Administration to Lift Sanctions on Putin-linked Oligarch’s Companies and the Bank Linked to Trump Tower Moscow Project Will BenefitAfter eight months of lobbying to be taken off the U.S. sanctions list, companies tied to the Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska got their wish on Wednesday. The Treasury Department notified Congress on Wednesday that it plans to remove three companies belonging to Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, from the sanctions list on the condition that Deripaska relinquishes control over his companies.Matthew G. Whitaker, who was installed last month as acting attorney general by President Trump, has cleared himself to supervise the special counsel’s investigation, rejecting the recommendation of career Justice Department ethics specialists that he recuse himself, according to a letter the department sent to Senate leaders on Thursday night.Mazie Hirono dropped the curse word on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes.” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) pulled no punches Thursday talking about President Donald Trump’s bid to blame Democrats for a potential government shutdown on live television. Trump has indicated he will not sign a stopgap spending bill if it does not include funding for his long-promised border wall, which he has failed to deliver to his supporters. Hirono said on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes” that Trump himself had “to take responsibility” if he fails to sign spending legislation and the government shuts down over the holidays.“Any effort on his part to blame the Democrats, it will be such bullshit that, as I said before, I will hardly be able to stand it,” she added.Incoming White House acting-chief of staff Mick Mulvaney once called President Donald Trump's views on a border wall and immigration "simplistic" and "absurd and almost childish." A physical barrier would not stop undocumented immigrants from crossing the Mexican border and ranchers at the border say they don't need a fence, Mulvaney said in a 2015 interview uncovered by KFile.The Trump administration announced on Thursday that it would seek to put in place more stringent work requirements for adults who rely on food stamps, even as the president signed a sweeping farm bill in which lawmakers had rejected stricter rules. By moving to limit the ability of states to issue waivers to people who say they cannot make ends meet under the requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Agriculture Department found another route to create restrictions, bypassing Congress and drawing immediate criticism that the proposed rule was sure to harm Americans below the poverty line.Trump warns shutdown could last 'very long time,' urges McConnell to go 'nuclear' and end filibuster"Mitch, use the Nuclear Option and get it done! Our Country is counting on you!" Trump tweeted. President Donald Trump on Friday said the chances of a partial government shutdown were "very good" after meeting with Senate Republicans at the White House. He called the meeting with GOP lawmakers "great," and said, "Now it's up to the Democrats as to whether or not we have a shutdown tonight." "I hope we don't," Trump added in remarks at a bill signing event at the White House. "But we are totally prepared for a very long shutdown and this our only chance that we’ll ever have in our opinion, because of the world and the way it breaks out, to get great border security." "One way or the other, we are going to get a wall, get a barrier, we're going to get anything you want to name it," the president said. - Why do the American people have pay for a wall that Donald J. Trump promised Mexico would pay for?Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned Thursday on the heels of President Donald Trump's plans to withdraw troops from Syria, citing irreconcilable policy differences in a move that took Washington by surprise. "Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position," Mattis wrote in his letter to the President. Earlier Thursday, a senior administration official told CNN's Jake Tapper that Mattis was "vehemently opposed" to the Syria decision and a possible Afghanistan troop withdrawal. Indeed, Mattis' resignation letter amounts to a rebuke of several of Trump's foreign policy views, with the outgoing defense secretary touting the importance of US alliances and of being "unambiguous" in approaching adversaries such as Russia and China. It is devoid of any praise for the President. The resignation emerged at a chaotic moment in Trump's presidency: The US government is teetering on the edge of a government shutdown, the Trump administration is about to face the hot light of Democratic investigations and the President is grappling with the fallout of a series of firings and resignations. Trump, seeking to downplay the news, stepped out in front of Mattis' resignation, spinning it as a retirement.The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that it intends to lift sanctions against the business empire of Oleg V. Deripaska, one of Russia’s most influential oligarchs, after an aggressive lobbying campaign by Mr. Deripaska’s companies. The decision by the Treasury Department, which had been postponed for months, was both politically and economically sensitive, and drew criticism from some Democrats and foreign policy analysts that the administration was sending the wrong signal to Moscow about its conduct toward its neighbors and the United States. The companies are among the biggest in the aluminum industry, and questions about their fate had roiled global metals markets. And Mr. Deripaska’s stature in Russia made any decision seen to be in his favor tricky for the administration at a time when President Trump is under investigation by the special counsel in connection with Russian interference in the 2016 election. - Paul Manafort worked for Oleg V. Deripaska is this payback for Russia help in the election.President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Thursday welcomed President Trump’s announcement of a withdrawal of American troops from Syria, calling it “the right decision.” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday that he was ordering the withdrawal because the United States military had achieved its goal of defeating the Islamic State militant group in Syria. But the move caught many by surprise, including some of his military and diplomatic advisers. It has also drawn criticism, even among Republicans, for abandoning Kurdish allies in the fight against the Islamic State and for aiding the geopolitical ambitions of Iran and Russia in the Middle East. Speaking at his annual news conference, which typically runs for several hours, Mr. Putin said he broadly agreed that the Islamic State had been defeated in Syria. “Donald’s right, and I agree with him,” Mr. Putin said. - Did Putin tell Trump to leave Syria as part of their agreement for Russian helping Trump win the election?CNN's Jim Acosta appeared on 'The Situation Room' to discuss the White House reaction to Michael Flynn's sentencing hearing today. Acosta said "detachment from reality" was on full display at Tuesday's White House briefing when Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Flynn was "somehow ambushed" by the FBI. Acosta said the briefing room is no courtroom as "anything goes" when it comes to telling the truth. "The White House is continuing to claim that Michael Flynn was somehow ambushed by the FBI, resulting in his lying to federal investigators," Acosta said. "But that flies in the face of what Flynn said in court today. Still that detachment from reality on the part of the White House was on full display as the press secretary held a rare briefing with reporters, the first time in weeks." "Proving that the White House briefing room is no courtroom, and that when it comes to the truth, just about anything goes, press secretary Sarah Sanders all but accused the FBI of bullying former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, into lying to federal investigators," Acosta reported."Commingling of personal funds and charitable contributions is always known to be investigated in a criminal way" A veteran criminal trial attorney told MSNBC the publicly available evidence strongly suggested the Trump Foundation would soon fall under criminal investigation. The charitable foundation set up and operated by President Donald Trump and his children was ordered Tuesday to dissolve under court supervision, and former New Jersey prosecutor Robert Bianchi said criminal prosecution seemed inevitable. “It is going to become a criminal matter, I’ve been saying this for a long time,” said Bianchi, a defense attorney and former Morris County prosecutor. Bianchi said Barbara Underwood, New York’s attorney general, sent a strong signal that the lawsuit that forced the dissolution of the Trump Foundation had also uncovered criminal wrongdoing. “What she wrote in her press release yesterday talking about all of the improprieties, using it as a personal checkbook, is code word in criminal language for tax evasion, campaign finance violations, as well as fraud,” Bianchi said. He said the president should have known that holding public office would heighten scrutiny of his business and personal conduct.U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyer on Wednesday said Trump had signed an October 2015 letter of intent to develop a real estate project in Russia during his presidential campaign, after earlier denying it in a weekend television interview. Rudy Giuliani had told CNN on Sunday that "no one signed" the letter of intent to go forward with the Moscow project, although he acknowledged talks about the development had extended through November 2016 when Trump won the U.S. presidential election. Giuliani reversed course in comments to Reuters on Wednesday, however, after CNN reported late on Tuesday that it had obtained a copy of the Oct. 28, 2015 letter signed by Trump, who had announced his White House bid in June that year. "If I said it, I made a mistake," Giuliani said of his previous denial about Trump having signed the letter.A year after President Donald Trump's much-touted tax cuts were signed into law, at least some of the results are in, and there are clear winners: Millionaires. Big corporations. And that's about it. "It's a lot of fun when you win," Trump said at a public ceremony for the bill, but not even the GOP benefited from the tax cuts -- at least, not politically. Many Americans were underwhelmed by the legislation, and didn't see much of an impact on their lives or pocketbooks. Likely recognizing they had a losing issue on their hands, Republicans didn't campaign on them; they still lost big in the midterms. Electorally, the tax cuts were losers, because for the average American they were insignificant enough to go largely unnoticed. The average Republican politician, though, made out like a bandit. The median Republican senator was worth $1.4 million according to Roll Call when the tax cuts were signed into law. Thanks to the Trump tax breaks, millionaires, including these senators, collectively saved an estimated $17.4 billion according to a report from the Joint Committee on Taxation. The same men who pushed this law through, and their donors and backers likely even more so, also benefited immensely from it. At the same time, the Americans they are supposed to represent lost out. It's true that some middle-class folks did see an extra $30 or so on their paycheck each month, which is all good and fine for a Friday pizza night. But the tax cuts have now led the Republican Party to push the other half of their financial boondoggle: Cutting social welfare programs. - The Republican Party motto compassionate to the rich (1 percent), conservative to the poor and middle class (99 percent).It was set to be the most discreet yet potent measure of US influence in the Middle East. Over 2,000 American special forces in the north of Syria, fighting the fight against ISIS, but also providing a significant bang for their buck. But to widespread surprise, US President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that the US intends to rapidly withdraw from Syria. The troops out there had managed three things to date: First, they fought ISIS alongside the Syrian Kurds who run that area of north Syria. The fight was edging towards its end, but was also at a key stage of mopping up potent leadership and denying them the chance to regroup. They could have remained there indefinitely, chasing ISIS militants in the desert. But for now, their goals were palpable and persistent. ISIS has been regrouping and the fight was not done. As Charles Lister of the Middle East Institute pointed out, ISIS issued a claim of responsibility for an attack in Raqqa just ten minutes before Trump's announcement. Second, they kept the Syrian Kurds slightly in check. This may sound odd, given they are arming and assisting a group of Kurdish fighters that Turkey, the US's NATO ally to the north, considers terrorists. But the truth is that so long as the Americans remained there, the chance of the Syrian Kurds, known by their Arab partners as the SDF, attacking Turkey was limited. Third is the most important part of the US presence, which may be missed the most by Washington's allies. They provided a very forceful and blatant block to Iranian and Russian influence in the present and future Syria.The Islamic State has not been defeated in Syria. But even if it had been, the durable defeat of that terrorist organization requires a continuing American military presence in Syria. Let's be clear, President Trump's pledge on Wednesday to withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria is a great gift to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Iran, Russia, and ISIS 2.0. First off, let's consider what the U.S. military presence in Syria is and is not actually about. Because it's not about facilitating Assad's overthrow in Damascus. That effort ended years ago. Instead, the U.S. presence is about four other things: constraining ISIS cells (which are still operational, albeit in a covert fashion) and obstructing Russia, Iran, and (to a lesser degree) Turkey from their malfeasant purposes in Syria. There is no doubt that leaders in each of those capitals will be celebrating. Moscow, in particular, has been desperate to see U.S. forces out of Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin is furious about the U.S. military's ability to prevent Russia and Assad from dominating eastern and northern Syria for their own interests. Trump's excellent Syrian special representative Jim Jeffrey should resign. His leverage pulled out from under his feet, Jeffrey is destined to become Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov's new toy. Russia will double down on its absurdly false political reconciliation track in Syria.Some the Republican Party's more hawkish legislators expressed dismay Wednesday when asked about President Trump's decision to remove some 2,000 U.S. troops currently operating in Northwest Syria. "If these media reports are true, it will be an Obama-like mistake made by the Trump Administration," South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said. "While American patience in confronting radical Islam may wane, the radical Islamists' passion to kill Americans and our allies never wavers." Graham, an unabashed supporter of American intervention overseas and a close ally of Mr. Trump, added that a trip to the country earlier this year made it "abundantly clear the approximately 2,000 American troops stationed there are vital to our national security interests." He said that an withdrawal of U.S. forces would also be a boon to America's rivals in the region, including Iran and Russia, as well as the terror group ISIS. Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday that ISIS had been defeated. But in fact, ISIS still controls pockets of territory in the region.Russian billionaire will cut ownership stake below 50 percent. Treasury also plans to lift sanctions on his EN+ Group. The Trump administration is ready to remove sanctions on Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s aluminum company, United Co. Rusal, after reaching an agreement to significantly reduce his ownership stake. Deripaska will remain under U.S. sanctions and his property will remain blocked, but Treasury intends to remove financial restrictions on Rusal, En+ Group Plc and JSC EuroSibEnergo. The move will take effect in 30 days unless Congress blocks the action, the Treasury Department said in a statement Wednesday.A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the Trump administration's policy that makes it difficult for victims fleeing domestic and gang violence to qualify for asylum in the United States and ruled that some people deported under the policy have to be returned. In a rebuke of the policy established by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Judge Emmet Sullivan agreed with a group of women and children who argued the policy unlawfully imposed a heightened standard in reviewing their claims, concluding that the administration must stop deporting migrants currently in the US "without first providing credible fear determinations consistent with the immigration laws." "It is the will of Congress -- not the whims of the Executive -- that determines the standard for expedited removal," wrote Sullivan of the US District Court for the District of Columbia.The White House has ordered the Pentagon to pull U.S. troops from Syria immediately, a U.S. defense official confirmed to CBS News correspondent David Martin. President Trump, who has long wanted to withdraw troops from the war-torn region, suggested on Twitter Wednesday that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is defeated and therefore, there is no reason to be there. "We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump presidency," Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, without explicitly confirming an order to look to withdraw troops. The Pentagon was not as definitive, and Mr. Trump's own administration has suggested the work in Syria isn't over. "At this time, we continue to work by, with and through our partners in the region," Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning told reporters in a statement.The Trump administration on Tuesday issued a new rule banning bump stocks, the attachments that enable semiautomatic rifles to fire in sustained, rapid bursts and that a gunman used to massacre 58 people and wound hundreds of others at a Las Vegas concert in October 2017. The new regulation, which had been expected, would ban the sale or possession of the devices under a new interpretation of existing law. Americans who own bump stocks would have 90 days to destroy their devices or to turn them in to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The Justice Department said A.T.F. would post destruction instructions on its website. Bump stocks work by harnessing a firearm’s recoil energy to slide it back and forth to bump against a squeezed trigger, so that it keeps firing without any need for the shooter to pull the trigger again. The Justice Department said that this function transforms semiautomatic weapons, like assault rifles styled on the AR-15, into fully automatic machine guns, which Congress sharply restricted in 1986 — allowing the ban.The White House signaled on Tuesday that President Trump may be backing down on his demand for $5 billion from Congress for a wall on the border with Mexico, easing fears of a Christmas government shutdown that would begin at midnight Friday. Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said on Fox News there were other ways to secure his demand and deliver on a signature campaign promise — one that Mr. Trump previously said was willing to shut down the government over. She said the administration has a “number of different funding sources we could use” to reach $5 billion, suggesting that the money could be found for border security in the spending bills still pending in Congress. But she also conceded that the administration could settle for the highest number offered by congressional Democrats — $1.6 billion — in a Homeland Security spending bill that already contains about $26 billion in all for border security. That $1.6 billion offer from the Democrats expressly prohibits the additional border money to be used on a wall.CNN's Don Lemon responds to President Trump's attacks on the Justice Department, special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and the FBI.After former FBI Director James Comey testified again Monday before a House panel about the 2016 FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server, he talked with reporters outside the room, weighing in on President Trump's recent tweet calling Michael Cohen "a rat." "It undermines the rule of law," Comey said. "This is the president of the U.S. calling a witness who is cooperating with his own Justice Department a 'rat.' Say that again to yourself at home and remind yourself where we ended up. This is not about Republicans and Democrats. This is about — what does it mean to be an American? ...There's a set of values that represent the glue of this country, and they are under attack by things just like that. We have to stop being numb to it." Comey also had harsh criticism for Republican lawmakers, who he urged to "stand up and speak the truth — not be cowed by mean tweets or fear of their base. There is a truth and they're not telling it." He added, "Their silence is shameful."The Trump administration is planning to roll back Obama-era policies aimed at ensuring that minority children are not unfairly disciplined, arguing that the efforts have eased up on punishment and contributed to rising violence in the nation’s schools, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. The decision culminates a nearly yearlong effort begun by the Trump administration after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The deaths of 17 students and staff members on Feb. 14 prompted lawmakers in both parties to demand tougher gun laws, but after a brief flirtation with gun control, President Trump abandoned that focus and instead empowered a school safety commission, led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Almost immediately, the commission turned away from guns and instead scrutinized the Obama administration’s school discipline policies, though none of the most high-profile school shootings were perpetrated by black students.At least six entities linked to President Donald Trump are the focus of investigations, with the possibility of others that have not been made public. CNN's Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul take a closer look.CNN's SE Cupp breaks down the multiple investigations President Trump is facing in addition to the Mueller probe.Weeks of devastating legal revelations have left Donald Trump's political career clouded by criminality and his life, presidency and business empire under assault by relentless prosecutors on multiple fronts. Days of court filings, flipped witnesses, damaging disclosures and sentencing hearings over the last month have delivered blows that appear to expose Trump and key associates to deep legal and political jeopardy. But the head-spinning volume of material being churned out by special counsel Robert Mueller and other jurisdictions often also blurs the bigger picture of a presidency beset by a span of scandal that is staggering in its breadth. Simply put, Trump's campaign, transition, inaugural committee and presidency are now under active criminal investigation. His business -- the Trump Organization -- and his defunct charity -- The Trump Foundation are also under investigation (the charity investigation is a civil one). His college -- Trump University -- has already been deemed a fraud. The President himself has been indirectly fingered by New York prosecutors overseen by his own Justice Department of directing criminal attempts to subvert campaign finance laws. Then there is a civil lawsuit brought by Democratic-led states rooted in claims that Trump's refusal to fully disengage from his businesses means he is using his position to profit from deals in his hotel chain that contravene the Constitution.Mick Mulvaney, named acting White House chief of staff on Friday by President Trump, said in a debate shortly before Election Day 2016 he was supporting Mr. Trump for president even though "he's a terrible human being." The White House chief of staff is one of the most powerful jobs in government. "Yes, I'm supporting Donald Trump. I'm doing so as enthusiastically as I can given the fact that he's a terrible human being," Mulvaney said on Nov. 2, 2016. "But the choice on the other side is just as bad."The FBI on Friday released a redacted version of the memo that top intelligence officials, including former FBI Director James Comey, used to brief President Donald Trump about the compilation of information detailing his possible connections to Russia -- a document which came to be known as the Trump dossier. The two-page document says, "An FBI source ... volunteered highly politically sensitive information ... on Russian influence efforts aimed at the US presidential election." The document was provided to CNN by the public records advocacy group James Madison Project, which, alongside Politico, had sued for it and received it from the FBI on Friday night following a judge's order. The dossier, which was compiled by ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, has been at the center of the political firestorm over probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The investigations, including a special counsel probe, have looked into any potential ties between Trump campaign associates and the Kremlin. Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion. Mueller probe shows some material contained in the Steele dossier to be true.Mounting legal threats surround Trump as nearly every organization he has led is under investigationTwo years after Donald Trump won the presidency, nearly every organization he has led in the past decade is under investigation. Trump’s private company is contending with civil suits digging into its business with foreign governments and with looming state inquiries into its tax practices. Trump’s 2016 campaign is under scrutiny by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, whose investigation into Russian interference has already led to guilty pleas by his campaign chairman and four advisers. Trump’s inaugural committee has been probed by Mueller for illegal foreign donations, a topic that the incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman plans to further investigate next year. Trump’s charity is locked in an ongoing suit with New York state, which has accused the foundation of “persistently illegal conduct.”. The mounting inquiries are building into a cascade of legal challenges that threaten to dominate Trump’s third year in the White House. In a few weeks, Democrats will take over in the House and pursue their own investigations into all of the above — and more.Mick Mulvaney will become the acting White House chief of staff at the end of the year, President Donald Trump announced in a tweet on Friday. He most recently served as the Office of Management and Budget director. While Mulvaney was named as an acting chief of staff, he will step down from his role as OMB director, a White House official said. A senior administration official said there is "no time limit" for Mulvaney to remain in the top White House post. Mulvaney could lose the "acting" part of his title if things go well, according to another senior administration official. "It's his to lose," this administration official told CNN. The President's decision to appoint Mulvaney as his chief of staff began to materialize around 4 p.m. Friday afternoon, this official said. Trump had been marinating on this idea throughout the day and ultimately decided to pull the trigger because the speculation and bowing out of candidates had begun to get out of hand.Michael Cohen, President Trump's onetime lawyer and fixer, says his former boss knew it was wrong to order hush money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to two women who say they had affairs with Trump — but he directed Cohen to do it anyway to help his election chances. Cohen also said in an interview with ABC News that aired Friday that the president's repeated assertions that Cohen is lying about the payments and other aspects of his work for Trump were false. "He knows the truth. I know the truth. Others know the truth," Cohen said. "The man doesn't tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds."President Donald Trump sought the open arms of Twitter and Fox News to creatively explain away inconvenient facts about his legal peril and his promised border wall before GOP senators dragged him back to reality with a rebuke from his own party for ignoring a cold-blooded murder OK'd by a foreign colleague. In Trump's universe, Mexico is already paying for the wall. And the crimes for which Michael Cohen is going to jail aren't crimes after all; they were added to his rap sheet by prosecutors as a dig at Trump. But alternative facts, to borrow the phrase coined by White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway to reject facts they reject without evidence, only go so far. Trump learned their limits Thursday afternoon when Republican senators lobbed at him a resolution condemning Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump had ignored the clear conclusion of the CIA that bin Salman was involved in the killing when he issued an exclamation point-laden official statement last month that it was unproven that Saudi Arabia and its crown prince were complicit. It wouldn't matter anyway, the President said, since Saudi Arabia is buying US military equipment.A leaked federal study showing that refugees to America brought in $63 billion more in government revenues than they cost in the last 10 years was "banned" by the Trump administration. That study was not "banned"; rather, mention of the fiscal benefits of admitting refugees was excised from it before it was finalized.Recent revelations in memoranda filed by the government against Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort describe even more widespread and troubling contacts with the Russians. However, since the inception of the Mueller investigation, President Donald Trump, his lawyers, legal pundits on both sides of the aisle, and everyone in between has either claimed or conceded that "collusion" is not a crime. President Trump has tweeted, "Collusion is not a crime. ..." Rudy Giuliani told Fox News, "I have been sitting here looking in the federal code trying to find collusion as a crime. ... Collusion is not a crime." Jay Sekulow told The New Yorker, "For something to be a crime, there has to be a statute that you claim is being violated. ... There is not a statute that refers to criminal collusion. There is no crime of collusion." Having worked as a federal prosecutor for 13 years in the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, I can report that the President and his lawyers are wrong. Collusion is a crime. The federal criminal code says so. The federal bribery statute -- 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2)(B) -- makes it a federal crime for a public official to "collude" in a fraud on the United States. More specifically, the federal bribery statute expressly states that a crime is committed when a public official "directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value ... in return for ... being influenced to ... collude in ... any fraud ... on the United States." - Trump and the Republicans trying to protect Trump tell us that collusion is not a crime, the federal bribery statute -- 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2)(B) -- makes it a federal crime for a public official to "collude" in a fraud on the United States.President Donald Trump claimed Thursday that "money we save" from a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada would make good on his long-standing promise to have Mexico pay for a new southern border wall. Trump's highly questionable assertion, in a morning tweet, comes as he is lobbying Congress for $5 billion to help fund construction of the wall and threatening a partial government shutdown if he does not get his way. In recent days, as the debate over the wall has come to the fore, Trump has faced renewed criticism for appearing to have abandoned his campaign pledge to make Mexico pay for it. "I often stated, 'One way or the other, Mexico is going to pay for the Wall,'" Trump wrote on Twitter. "This has never changed. Our new deal with Mexico (and Canada), the USMCA, is so much better than the old, very costly & anti-USA NAFTA deal, that just by the money we save, MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL!" Mexican officials have said there was no discussion in the trade-deal negotiations of mechanisms under which Mexico would pay for the wall. And on Thursday, both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., ridiculed Trump for his assertion. - Now that is just plain stupid, how dumb does Donald J. trump think we are?Comments by science review board chairman add weight to fears that Trump administration is aiming to discredit research to justify scrapping regulations. A conservative science adviser to the Trump administration is casting doubt on longstanding research linking fossil fuel pollution to early deaths and health problems, worrying environmental experts. At a meeting to review air pollution science compiled by staffers at the Environmental Protection Agency this week the advisory board chairman, Tony Cox – a consultant and statistician who has worked for the industry and criticized EPA standards – questioned whether soot from coal plants and cars can be directly blamed for asthma and cardiopulmonary problems. Cox pushed staffers to specify what percentage of health problems are directly caused by the pollution or are just associated with it, a figure that the US government has not required in order to restrict pollutants that are known to harm people.Federal prosecutors are examining whether foreigners illegally funneled donations to President Trump’s inaugural committee and a pro-Trump super PAC in hopes of buying influence over American policy, according to people familiar with the inquiry. The inquiry focuses on whether people from Middle Eastern nations — including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — used straw donors to disguise their donations to the two funds. Federal law prohibits foreign contributions to federal campaigns, political action committees and inaugural funds. The line of questioning underscores the growing scope of criminal inquiries that pose a threat to Mr. Trump’s presidency. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is focusing on whether anyone in the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to tip the 2016 presidential election in Mr. Trump’s favor, while prosecutors in New York are pursuing evidence he secretly authorized illegal payments of hush money to silence accusations of extramarital affairs that threatened his campaign.Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee misspent some of the record $107 million it raised from donations, people familiar with the matter said. The criminal probe by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, which is in its early stages, also is examining whether some of the committee’s top donors gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions or to influence official administration positions, some of the people said.US President Donald Trump has said he never directed his former private lawyer to break the law, a day after he was was sentenced to prison. "He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law." Mr Trump tweeted of Michael Cohen, adding that he pleaded guilty "to embarrass the president". His comments came a day after Cohen received a three-year jail sentence for campaign finance and fraud crimes. Cohen had blamed Mr Trump's influence and "dirty deeds" at his sentencing. In a series of tweets on Thursday, Mr Trump also insisted that he "did nothing wrong" in regards to campaign finance laws. He said Cohen "probably was not guilty" of those campaign violations but pleaded guilty to benefit himself. "As a lawyer, Michael has great liability to me!"A new proposal would threaten waterways and drinking-water supplies. On Tuesday, in the Trump administration’s latest assault on the environment, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed rolling back Clean Water Act protections that have helped make America’s rivers and streams fishable and swimmable, in the process threatening drinking-water supplies across the country. Once again, the E.P.A. is disregarding basic science. This latest proposal obscures its harmful effects with legalese that draws dubious distinctions between certain streams even though pollution flows downstream regardless of the legal terminology the agency deploys. This is a thinly veiled effort to slash water pollution protections that have long been embraced by both Republican and Democratic administrations.New York (CNN Business)Federal prosecutors announced Wednesday that they have struck a non-prosecution agreement with National Enquirer parent company American Media Inc., effectively ruling out charges for the tabloid publisher over its role in securing hush money from President Trump's longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen. As part of the agreement, AMI admitted to making a payment of $150,000 in cooperation with members of Trump's presidential campaign in order to prevent former Playboy model Karen McDougal's claims of an affair with Trump from being made public during the 2016 race. AMI chairman David Pecker is a longtime friend of Trump's, and the Enquirer was one of Trump's most reliable and enthusiastic media boosters during the campaign. Pecker met with Cohen "and at least one other member of the campaign" in August of 2015, according to the non-prosecution agreement, which was struck with prosecutors from the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. "At the meeting, Pecker offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate's relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided," the agreement read. "Pecker agreed to keep Cohen apprised of any such negative stories."Incoming New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) told NBC News on Wednesday that she plans to launch an exhaustive investigation into President Trump and his business dealings once she takes office in January. "We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well," James said. "We want to investigate anyone in his orbit who has, in fact, violated the law." James said she plans to probe any illegitimacies concerning Trump's real estate holdings in New York, particularly in light of an October New York Times investigation, which found that Trump participated in "dubious tax schemes" in the 1990s that helped him earn additional wealth from his father's real estate business. James said she will also investigate a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer, as well as any potential violations of the Constitution's Emoluments Clause. The meeting, along with a number of other events being probed by special counsel Robert Mueller, would fall under James's jurisdiction, NBC News noted. "Taking on President Trump and looking at all of the violations of law I think is no match to what I have seen in my lifetime," she said.James floated the idea of pursuing investigations into the president on the campaign trail.Trump 'catch and kill': SDNY won't prosecute National Enquirer (AMI) because they're helping investigatorsThe company that owns The National Enquirer tabloid will not be prosecuted for its efforts to protect Donald Trump during his presidential campaign. AMI, which owns the tabloid National Enquirer, admitted to making a $150,000 hush money payment, and will cooperate with investigators. AMI chief David Pecker is (was?) a longtime friend of Donald Trump, long before the campaign. Pecker has been granted immunity. He is singing. Trump should be worried. The U.S. Southern District of New York reached a non-prosecution agreement with AMI, in which the firm admitted it made "catch and kill" payment to Trump's alleged ex-paramour Karen MacDougal. AMI admitted that it paid her “in concert with” the Donald Trump presidential campaign. Said the SDNY prosecutors, “AMI admitted that it made the $150,000 payment in concert with a candidate’s presidential campaign, and in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election.” Prosecutors say AMI admitted “its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election.”As the 2018 midterm election nears, President Donald Trump is disseminating false and misleading statements at a pace that leaves even his own past prevarications in the dust. In the month of October, Trump said 1,104 things that were totally or partially untrue -- more than double his next most prodigious month (September), according to the tireless cataloging by The Washington Post's Fact Checker blog. Trump is averaging -- AVERAGING -- 30 false or misleading claims a day in the last seven weeks. And, per the Fact Checker, he often of late soars far above that average. As one example: On October 22, when he traveled to Houston to hold a rally for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R), Trump, said 83 untrue things in a single day. 83!
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