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December 2018 page 1:

The Trump administration proposed on Friday major changes to the way the federal government calculates the benefits, in human health and safety, of restricting mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants. In the proposal, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a finding declaring that federal rules imposed on mercury by the Obama administration are too costly to justify. It drastically changed the formula the government uses in its required cost-benefit analysis of the regulation by taking into account only certain effects that can be measured in dollars, while ignoring or playing down other health benefits. The result could set a precedent reaching far beyond mercury rules. “It will make it much more difficult for the government to justify environmental regulations in many cases,” said Robert N. Stavins, a professor of environmental economics at Harvard University. - Trump and the Republicans do not care about America and Americans they only care making money for the rich, not the air we breathe or the water we drink. How many Americans will die due to bad air and bad water? If Trump  and the Republicans really care about America and Americans, they would protect our lands, our waters and the air we breathe.

In tweets on Friday morning, President Donald Trump warned of a new migrant caravan forming in Honduras and vowed to close the US-Mexico border and withhold aid to Central American governments. But the new caravan isn't heading to the US, according to immigration advocates and news reports. The caravan is estimated to have roughly 15,000 members, most of whom are traveling to Mexico's southern states to find work. Mexico's president has promised to grant work visas to Central American migrants. President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to close the US-Mexico border and cut off aid to Central American countries, citing a new caravan forming in Honduras — which reportedly isn't even heading to the US.

President Trump on Friday threatened to cut foreign aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, accusing the Central American countries of "doing nothing for the United States but taking our money." "Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are doing nothing for the United States but taking our money," Trump tweeted. "Word is that a new Caravan is forming in Honduras and they are doing nothing about it. We will be cutting off all aid to these 3 countries - taking advantage of U.S. for years!"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration on Friday said limits on mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants were unnecessary as they were too costly, sparking an outcry from environmentalists who feared the next step would be looser rules favoring the coal industry at the expense of public health. Under the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards, or MATS, enacted under former President Barack Obama, coal-burning power plants were required to install expensive equipment to cut output of mercury, which can harm pregnant women and put infants and children at risk of developmental problems. - How many Americans will die from Trump and the Republicans assault on air and water protections for the American people?

Nearly 60 percent of U.S. voters surveyed say President Trump should be either impeached and removed from office or formally censured, according to a new Harvard CAPS/Harris poll released exclusively to The Hill. The poll shows that a majority of voters polled think some kind of action should be taken against Trump, though they are divided on how far lawmakers should go as Democrats prepare to take over the House majority. Asked whether Trump should be impeached and removed from office for his actions, censured by Congress or whether Congress should take no action, 39 percent of respondents said Trump should be impeached and removed from office.

The House Judiciary Committee is looking for a few good lawyers. A recent committee job posting reviewed by CNN asked for legislative counsels with a variety of expertise: "criminal law, immigration law, constitutional law, intellectual property law, commercial and administrative law (including antitrust and bankruptcy), or oversight work." The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee needs lawyers, too, posting jobs for "executive branch investigative counsel." The advertisements give a window into the Democratic recruiting that's ramped up ahead of the party gaining subpoena power for the first time in eight years when it takes over the House in January.

The CNN host aired a Fox clip from 2013 where Trump said that the person to be fired “always has to be at the top.” CNN’s Don Lemon showed his viewers 2013 footage of Donald Trump saying then-President Barack Obama should be fired over a government shutdown. “If you say, ‘Who gets fired?’ it always has to be the top,” Trump said on an episode of “Fox & Friends” that aired in September 2013. “I mean, problems start from the top and they have to get solved from the top. The president’s the leader. He’s to get everyone in a room and he’s got to lead,” Trump said in the clip. Lemon aired the clip on Thursday night and deadpanned, “Starts from the top. If anyone should get fired, the president. Hm.” “Donald Trump suggesting that President Barack Obama should have been fired for a government shutdown. Priceless,” Lemon added before the end of the segment.

Court document by Concord Management asks how details about a “nude selfie” would threaten national security. In a court filing Thursday, a Russian company indicted early this year referred to a “nude selfie” obtained by special counsel Robert Mueller. No other details were provided, including the identity of the individual or individuals in the selfie. “Could the manner in which he [Mueller] collected a nude selfie really threaten the national security of the United States?” asked attorneys for Concord Management and Consulting LLC in the memorandum filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The startling reference was part of Concord’s argument in support of the company’s motion earlier this month to compel access to evidence concerning how confidential information was obtained by Mueller’s team in its case against Concord. Concord was one of three Russian organizations and 13 Russians indicted in February as part of an alleged plot to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election to promote the candidacy of Republican Donald Trump.

A federal judge on Thursday denied a request by special counsel Robert Mueller and several other federal agencies to delay an upcoming hearing in a lawsuit brought by Roger Stone-linked conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi. Mueller and the FBI, CIA, NSA and DOJ cited the ongoing government shutdown in their request for a delay. A lawyer for Corsi says that the request for a delay was being “proffered tactically,” and asserted “it is highly doubtful” that DOJ attorneys “are actually prohibited from working.”

The daughters of a Queens foot doctor say their late father diagnosed President Donald Trump with bone spurs to help him avoid the Vietnam War draft as a "favor" to his father Fred Trump, according to a new report Wednesday. Dr. Larry Braunstein, a podiatrist who died in 2007, often told the story of providing Donald Trump with the diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels so he could be exempt from military service, his two daughters -- Dr. Elysa Braunstein and Sharon Kessel -- told the New York Times. "It was family lore," Elysa Braunstein told the Times, adding that the story was "something we would always discuss" among family and friends. The Times did not find documentation to help corroborate the family's account, who described themselves as Democrats who dislike Trump, and Elysa Braunstein was unsure whether her father ever examined Donald Trump. The White House did not return the Times' request for an interview with the President nor respond to questions about his service record.

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 wants to shut down the boarder if the American people do not pay for the wall that he promised Mexico would pay for.

When  Californians voted in 2016 to allow the sale of recreational marijuana,  advocates of the move envisioned thousands of pot shops and cannabis  farms obtaining state licenses, making the drug easily available to all  adults within a short drive. But  as the first year of licensed sales comes to a close, California’s  legal market hasn’t performed as state officials and the cannabis  industry had hoped. Retailers and growers say they’ve been stunted by  complex regulations, high taxes and decisions by most cities to ban  cannabis shops. At the same time, many residents are going to city halls  and courts to fight pot businesses they see as nuisances, and police  chiefs are raising concerns about crime triggered by the marijuana  trade.

President Donald Trump's former personal attorney on Thursday denied he was in Prague in 2016 or that he had ever visited the Czech Republic after a new report claimed his cell phone was traced near the Eastern European city, evidence that potentially could confirm a key part of the unverified dossier on Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign. "I hear #Prague #CzechRepublic is beautiful in the summertime," Michael Cohen wrote on Twitter. "I wouldn’t know as I have never been. #Mueller knows everything!"

Former Watergate prosecutor said President Donald Trump's tweet about being "all alone" in the White House reminded him of Richard Nixon's last days before his resignation. Nick Akerman said Nixon "really kept to himself" in the last days of his presidency. He was referring to Trump's tweet on Christmas Eve that he was by himself waiting for Democrats to meet his demands on border security. Akerman suggested that Trump was having trouble with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's progress in the Russia investigation. A former Watergate prosecutor said President Donald Trump's tweet that he was "all alone" in the White House on Christmas Eve reminded him of Richard Nixon's final days as president before his resignation.

With “The Apprentice,” the TV producer mythologized Trump—then a floundering D-lister—as the ultimate titan, paving his way to the Presidency.

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.

Iraqi lawmakers Thursday demanded U.S. forces leave the country in the wake of a surprise visit by President Donald Trump that politicians denounced as arrogant and a violation of Iraqi sovereignty. Politicians from both blocs of Iraq’s divided Parliament called for a vote to expel U.S. troops and promised to schedule an extraordinary session to debate the matter. “Parliament must clearly and urgently express its view about the ongoing American violations of Iraqi sovereignty,” said Salam al-Shimiri, a lawmaker loyal to the populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Trump, making his first presidential visit to troops in a troubled region Wednesday, said he has no plans to withdraw the 5,200 U.S. forces in the country.

Many corporations made good on promises to raise wages and pay bonuses. But others announced layoffs, even as the $1.5 trillion tax cut added billions to their bottom lines. Stock buybacks by publicly traded companies continue to set records.  They neared $200 billion in the third quarter for S&P 500  companies. Goldman Sachs analysts have predicted that the total amount  of buybacks across the economy could top $1 trillion for the full year. Some  workers did reap rewards from the law, as many companies followed  through on — and even exceeded — their promises to raise wages and pay  bonuses. Yet other firms have announced layoffs, despite reporting  higher profits and billions of dollars in tax savings. While  the long-term effects remain to be seen, the evidence so far does not  suggest the sustained investment and productivity growth boosts that  Republicans and supply-side economists predicted. Many economists,  including those at the Federal Reserve, are cutting their growth  forecasts for 2019, in part because of the waning effect of the tax  cuts.

Former President Barack Obama was voted most admired man for the 11th consecutive year. Former first lady Michelle Obama has been named this year’s “most admired woman” in Gallup’s annual poll, marking the first time in 17 years that Hillary Clinton didn’t nab the top spot. The annual survey, conducted Dec. 3-12 this year, asks Americans to name the man and the woman living anywhere in the world they most admire. The question is open-ended so participants can write in whomever they choose. About 15 percent of survey participants named Michelle Obama this year. Media mogul Oprah Winfrey came in second with 5 percent of the votes. Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, a former secretary of state and a former first lady, tied for third place with current first lady Melania Trump. They each received 4 percent. Winning most admired man this year was Michelle Obama’s husband, former President Barack Obama. The 44th president has won the title for 11 consecutive years, garnering 19 percent of the votes this year.

In 700 days, President Trump has made 7,546 false or misleading claims
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.

In the fall of 1968, Donald J. Trump received a timely diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels that led to his medical exemption from the military during Vietnam. For 50 years, the details of how the exemption came about, and who made the diagnosis, have remained a mystery, with Mr. Trump himself saying during the presidential campaign that he could not recall who had signed off on the medical documentation. Now a possible explanation has emerged about the documentation. It involves a foot doctor in Queens who rented his office from Mr. Trump’s father, Fred C. Trump, and a suggestion that the diagnosis was granted as a courtesy to the elder Mr. Trump.

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.

Russian operations meant to polarize American voters continued during the midterm elections, but did not compromise the voting systems used, according to a study by the intelligence community. The assessment by Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, was the result of a request by the White House before the November vote that he examine election meddling by Russia and other powers. The agency did not release that report, but Mr. Coats released a statement on the document. “Russia, and other foreign countries, including China and Iran, conducted influence activities and messaging campaigns targeted at the United States to promote their strategic interests,” Mr. Coats said in the statement.

The Trump administration is now considering a rule change that would significantly expand the definition of a "public charge" and would make it more difficult for certain low-income immigrants to secure permanent residency or temporary visas. The "public charge" standard was first codified into U.S. immigration law in 1882 and again in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which stipulated that those who were deemed a "public charge" would be subject to deportation or barred from entering the country.

Hundreds of immigrants have been dropped off by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at a bus station in downtown El Paso and hundreds more may be released in the southwest Texas city in coming days, reports the CBS affiliate there, KDBC-TV. El Paso's outgoing and incoming representatives in Congress and local charity officials said ICE didn't give the city and charities time to prepare to handle the migrants. ICE fired back, blaming Congress for the sudden releases.

An 8-year-old migrant boy from Guatemala apprehended by immigration authorities near the U.S.-Mexico border died on Christmas morning, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In a press release Tuesday afternoon, the agency said the Guatemalan child showed "signs of potential illness" on Christmas Eve and was transferred, along with his father, to Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico. The boy was initially diagnosed with a common cold and fever and was released after being prescribed antibiotics, authorities said. During the evening on Dec. 24, however, officials said the boy experienced nausea and vomiting, and was again transferred to the same hospital, where he died the next day.

US actor Kevin Spacey has been charged with sexually assaulting a teenager at a bar in Massachusetts. He will appear in court on 7 January over the incident, which allegedly occurred in Nantucket in July 2016. On Monday, Mr Spacey posted a video in which he appears to deny any wrongdoing while in character as Frank Underwood from House of Cards. "I'm certainly not going to pay the price for the things I didn't do," he says in the clip. "You wouldn't believe the worst without evidence, would you?" he asks. "You wouldn't rush to judgements without facts."

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.

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.

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."

After 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.

US stocks suffered one of the worst  weekly falls in a decade as trade tensions with China, interest rate  rises and a possible government shutdown rattled markets. All  three indexes closed lower, with the technology-focused Nasdaq down 20%  since its peak, placing it in so-called "bear market" territory.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average recorded its biggest weekly drop in percentage terms since 2008. The S&P 500 fell 7% for the week. It is the biggest weekly percentage drop since August 2011 while the Nasdaq's 8.36% decline is the sharpest since November 2008. The Dow Jones fell 6.8% during the week. - The Trump economy in full effect.

“Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade on Friday said President Trump had "re-founded ISIS" and was giving Russia "a big win" with his decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria. “He also is doing exactly what he criticized President Obama for doing. He said President Obama is the founder of ISIS,”  Kilmeade pointed out. “He just refounded ISIS because they have 30,000  men there and they are already striking back with our would-be  evacuation. The president is really on the griddle with this.”

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.

The Supreme Court won't let the Trump administration begin enforcing a ban on asylum for any immigrants who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Chief Justice John Roberts joined his four more liberal colleagues Friday in ruling against the administration in the very case in which President Trump had derided the "Obama judge" who first blocked the asylum policy.Justice Brett Kavanaugh and three other conservative justices sided with the administration. There were no opinions explaining either side's votes.

The  residents of Harlan County, Ky., depend heavily on federal assistance.  That hasn’t deterred, and may explain, their swing to Republican voting. Harlan County is the nation’s fifth most dependent  on federal programs, according to the government’s Bureau of Economic  Analysis. In 2016 some 54 percent of the income of the county’s roughly  26,000 residents came from programs like Social Security and Medicaid,  food stamps — formally known as SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition  Assistance Program — and the earned-income tax credit. That is up from  28 percent in 1990.

America’s allies in Europe and Asia thought they had learned to digest  and compensate for the instinctive unpredictability of President Trump.  But the bitter resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the abrupt announcement of plans to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan are being viewed as watershed moments for Washington’s relations with the world.

Hawkish Republican lawmakers, still reeling from President Trump’s decision on Wednesday to yank American forces from Syria, found fresh cause for alarm on Thursday, after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned in protest and reports circulated that the president was preparing to pull thousands of troops out of Afghanistan. Coming on the same day that Mr. Trump balked at an agreement  to avert an imminent government shutdown, the rapid-fire developments  prompted rare warnings from within Mr. Trump’s own party that his  foreign policy could be leading toward dangerous instability on the  global stage.

A  Florida deputy came on the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office main  radio line early Wednesday to deliver a horrifying update.
Deputy Terry Strawn had harmed his family at one home. He harmed another family member at a different location. And he was going to kill himself.
A  supervisor immediately joined the line to try and calm him down, and  three other deputies located Strawn outside a high school in Plant City  near Tampa, Sheriff Chad Chronister said Wednesday. Despite efforts to  convince him otherwise, the deputy killed himself in front of his  colleagues, the sheriff said.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan has some strong feelings about the potential government shutdown. The  Niles-area Democrat gave an impassioned speech on the House floor  Thursday night chastising Republicans for chaotic nature of Washington  politics. The message: get it together and govern.

Top Democrats on Thursday called for William Barr to step aside as President Trump’s nominee for attorney general, saying he is too tainted after he wrote a memo in June suggesting special counsel Robert Mueller couldn’t pursue obstruction of justice charges against a president. The memo came to light as part of Mr. Barr’s submission to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is processing his nomination ahead of action next year.

A GoFundMe page has raised $10 million in a quest to build Trump's border wall with private donations.
Its founder Brain Kolfage has previously complained that news sites he ran got banned by Facebook for "Inauthentic Activity" in October.

Two 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.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein continues to oversee special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation even though acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has decided not to recuse himself, the Justice Department says. President Trump tapped Whitaker, who had been serving as then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions' chief of staff, to lead the Justice Department on an interim basis after Sessions stepped down under pressure from the White House. The career ethics official concluded there was no actual conflict of interest or personal relationship that would require Whitaker to recuse himself. But the official did say Whitaker's past comments about the special counsel's investigation could raise reasonable questions about his impartiality. The acting attorney general wasn't required to recuse, the official concluded, but said it was a "close call" and advised him to do so.

CNN's John Avlon takes a look at the very rare high-profile breaks with presidents over policy throughout the years. #CNN #News

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.

The former president’s activist group Organizing for Action will be folded into a fight to end gerrymandering. Former President Barack Obama has taken to heart one cause above others since leaving the White House: the fight to end gerrymandering. On Thursday he announced that the progressive Organizing for Action group, which formed out of the pieces of Obama’s re-election campaign, would be folded into the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.
In a Medium post, Obama called gerrymandered maps “undemocratic” and “unrepresentative,” saying they have “too often stood in the way of change.”

"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?

"They clearly are tying up loose ends," said a lawyer who has been in contact with the Mueller team. Special counsel Robert Mueller is nearing the end of his historic investigation into Russian election interference and is expected to submit a confidential report to the attorney general as early as mid-February, government officials and others familiar with the situation tell NBC News. "They clearly are tying up loose ends," said a lawyer who has been in contact with the Mueller team. The sources either did not know or would not say whether Mueller has answered the fundamental question he was hired to investigate: Whether Trump or anyone around him conspired with the Russian intelligence operations to help his campaign. Mueller has not made public any evidence proving such a conspiracy, though he has rebutted in court filings the president's assertion that neither he nor any of his top aides had met or talked with Russians during the 2016 race. They did, according to Mueller; and, in the case of his lawyer's negotiations over a Trump Tower in Moscow, Trump knew about it, court filings say.

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.

President Donald Trump, seeking to discredit the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign colluded with Russia, claimed without evidence that thousands of text messages exchanged between former FBI officials were deliberately erased. There is no evidence the texts show that the special counsel investigation is, as Trump called it, a "hoax." We rate this claim Pants on Fire.

William P. Barr, who has been nominated to become the next attorney general, wrote a memo to Justice Department leaders earlier this year criticizing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III for a “fatally misconceived” legal theory of how President Trump may have obstructed justice. The memo, written in June and addressed to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, is likely to raise alarms among Democrats who have sought to protect the Mueller investigation. And it could intensify the partisan fights surrounding Barr when he comes before the Senate Judiciary Committee for confirmation next year. Even before the memo, Barr was expected to be grilled about his past statements regarding special counsel investigations, controversial decisions President Trump has made and whether he would publicly pledge to protect the Mueller investigation from political interference.

Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has consulted with ethics officials at the Justice Department and they have advised him he does not need to recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, a source familiar with the process told CNN Thursday. The source added Whitaker has been in ongoing discussions with ethics officials since taking the job in early November following the ouster of Jeff Sessions, who had stepped aside from overseeing the investigation due to his role as a Trump campaign surrogate during the 2016 election.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein oversaw the investigation following Sessions' recusal and his office is still managing the investigation on a day-to-day basis, as CNN has previously reported. When, exactly, ethics officials signed off on Whitaker's role was not immediately clear, but as of last month, he had not stepped aside from participating in significant developments in the Russia investigation. He was informed ahead of time that Trump's former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen would plead guilty to lying to Congress about the proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow. Whitaker is expected to inform senators, many of whom have raised ethics concerns given his past criticism of Mueller's investigation, about this development later Thursday, the source said.

Some of Donald Trump's supporters in early states are making moves to protect the president from an intra-party primary challenge and mitigate any bruising ahead of the general election. The South Carolina Republican Party is considering canceling its primary in 2020, and a few members of the New Hampshire state GOP have been pushing to amend the organization's bylaws to allow the party to endorse the president. This comes amid news this week that the Trump re-election campaign will merge with the Republican National Committee--a move that is designed to streamline resources ahead of a highly competitive re-election fight but also demonstrates Trump's dominance over the party. Mr. Trump remains broadly popular among Republican voters and no party figure has stepped forward to challenge him for the nomination yet. Even if a GOP Trump critic were to enter the fray, the formula for a winning coalition is unclear. And South Carolina has canceled primaries before, including in 2004. - Republican are protecting Trump by to taking away people’s right to choose candidates they want.

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 host Don Lemon discusses how President Donald Trump's assault on various American institutions is starting to backfire on him.

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.

Federal judges reviewing complaints lodged against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh said Tuesday that the allegations against the former federal appeals court judge are “serious.” But they ruled that it must dismiss them without determining their merits because of Kavanaugh’s October confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Judge Timothy Tymkovich wrote that “the complaints must be dismissed because an intervening event — Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court — has made the complaints no longer appropriate for consideration under the [Judicial Conduct and Disability Act].” In the order, Tymkovich said that most of the complaints include allegations of false statements under oath during Kavanaugh’s D.C. Circuit confirmation hearings in 2004 and 2006 as well as during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings earlier this year. Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s second nominee to the top court, was accused of sexual misconduct before he was confirmed. He emphatically denied the allegations.Tymkovich disclosed copies of the complaints with identifying information redacted on the 10th Circuit’s website.

The real legacy of the GOP House majority isn’t about the deficit. It’s about manipulation. There are many things for which we’ll remember the 2010 to 2018 GOP House majority. It stopped the Obama administration’s legislative agenda cold. Smoothness of operation was never its forte, as constant standoffs between leaders and far-right factionalists made it the most dramatic party conference in the Capitol. And its dogged and frequently conspiratorial oversight of the Obama administration was surpassed only by its subservience to the Trump administration. But nothing was more telling about this majority than the way it dismissed the issue it rode in on as soon as Trump replaced Obama. So before House Republicans come apologizing again for their past mistakes and begging for another chance, it’s important to emphasize right now: Republican have not, do not, and will not care about deficit reduction except as a rhetorical ploy for stymieing a Democratic government. To me, then, the defining moment of this Congress was when House Republicans decided to effectively eliminate the Tea Party’s deficit-reduction law once the White House switched from Democratic to Republican control. The 2018 budget deal increased spending by about $300 billion, without offsets, over two years. House Republicans would have treated such a budget as the actual apocalypse had it been negotiated with Barack Obama. Under the unified Republican government, though, it was framed as “rebuilding the military” and received 167 Republican votes.

"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.

The allegations date back decades and include some priests who are now deceased. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Wednesday issued a  blistering report about clergy sexual abuse, saying that Catholic  dioceses in Illinois has not released the names of at least 500 clergy  accused of sexually abusing children. The preliminary  report found that the church's six archdioceses have done a woefully  inadequate job of investigating allegations and in some cases did not  investigate them at all or notify the state's child welfare agency.  Madigan's office said that while the dioceses have disclosed 45 more  names of those credibly accused, the total number of names disclosed is  only 185 and raises questions about the church's response to the crisis.

Richard Anthony Jones spent 17 years in prison for a crime he says was committed by his doppelganger. Now, he will receive a $1.1 million settlement in a lawsuit that was resolved under a new mistaken-conviction law, Kansas officials announced Tuesday. "We are committed to faithfully administering the new mistaken-conviction statute the legislature enacted," Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a statement. "In this case, it was possible on the existing record to resolve all issues quickly, satisfy all of the statute's requirements, and agree to this outcome so Mr. Jones can receive the benefits to which he is entitled by law because he was mistakenly convicted." Jones, who was released from prison last year, filed a petition in August asking the state to pay him $1.1 million and to officially proclaim his innocence. This is the first lawsuit filed under the mistaken-conviction statute enacted by the legislature earlier this year, according to Schmidt.

The US Treasury announced a new set of sanctions on Wednesday against Russian individuals and entities over what it called Russia's "continued disregard for international norms." The sanctions were announced against entities tied to "Project Lakhta," which Treasury said was part of an effort tied to the infamous Internet Research Agency and a slew of current and former members of the GRU, the Russian intelligence service, for trying to influence the 2016 US presidential election. The announcement also named GRU and Russian military intelligence officers who it accused of targeting the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and other international organizations "using cyber hacking techniques."

In a preview of the aggressive oversight Democrats plan to unleash in the next Congress, the incoming Democratic chairman of the House Oversight Committee sent more than 50 letters Wednesday to the Trump administration demanding answers about everything from family separations at the border to the Flint water crisis to security clearances and Cabinet secretary travel. Many of the questions are ones Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, has asked before, but the letters have new weight behind them now that Democrats will control the House of Representatives in January and will have subpoena power. "These are documents that even the Republicans on the Oversight Committee -- at least at some point in time -- believed we needed to conduct effective oversight, but when the Trump administration refused to comply fully, the Republicans would not issue a single subpoena," Cummings wrote in a statement. "Many of these requests were bipartisan, and some are now more than a year old. As Democrats prepare to take the reins in Congress, we are insisting -- as a basic first step -- that the Trump administration and others comply with these Republican requests.

Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016 with the electoral college. But in three states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin), his margin over opponent Hillary Clinton was less than 50,000 votes each. In fact, just 77,744 total votes in those three states separated the two candidates. If Clinton had won all three, she would've been victorious over Trump. But she wasn't. Every vote mattered in the 2016 election. But not everyone voted. Not by a longshot. Exit polls show concern with both candidates. And helping to fuel that was the Russian election interference campaign, which in particular targeted African-Americans on social media and spread doubts about Clinton and specifically shought to decrease turnout, according to a new report commissioned for and released by the Senate Intelligence Committee Monday. It's impossible to say that the Russian influence campaign specifically changed the minds of African-American voters or turned them off to Clinton or that it didn't play into divisions that were already festering in the country and the party.

CNN's Erin Burnett reacts to President Trump's announcement that he is pulling troops out of Syria.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III asked the House Intelligence Committee on Friday for an official transcript of Trump adviser Roger Stone’s testimony, according to people familiar with the request, a sign that prosecutors could be moving to charge him with a crime. It is the first time Mueller has formally asked the committee to turn over material the panel has gathered in its investigation of Russian interference of the 2016 campaign, according to the people. The move suggests that the special counsel is moving to finalize his months-long investigation of Stone — a key part of Mueller’s inquiry into whether anyone in President Trump’s orbit coordinated with the Russians.

Sworn statements could potentially be used against president. Legal experts say that could be critical if investigators pursue a case over hush-money payments to women in the 2016 campaign. Sworn statements by President Trump dating back several decades indicate he has a deep understanding of campaign-finance laws, legal experts say, which could be critical if investigators ever pursue a case against him over his alleged direction of hush-money payments in the 2016 campaign. Trump’s statements were made as part of a 2000 regulatory investigation into his casino company and in 1988 testimony for a government-integrity commission. They contrast with the portrayal by some of the president’s allies that he is a political novice with little understanding of campaign-finance laws and therefore couldn’t be charged with violating them. In 2000, the Federal Election Commission investigated allegations that Trump Hotels & Casinos violated the law related to a fundraising event for a Senate candidate. Trump’s sworn affidavit “indicates that Trump had a very thorough understanding of federal campaign finance law, especially regarding what he could and could not legally do when raising money for a federal candidate,” said Brett Kappel, an election-law lawyer at Akerman LLP. In the four-page affidavit that Trump signed, he stressed he had a particular familiarity with laws governing corporate contributions to candidates. Trump said he was acting in his “individual,” not corporate, capacity when he hosted the event, that he had paid for the reception costs “from my personal funds,” that he “took no action, of any nature, kind or description, to compel or pressure” any employee to donate to the campaign ahead of the event and that he wasn’t reimbursed for any of the costs.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence announced Wednesday it is suing the Trump administration over the State Department’s decision in April to permit blueprints for 3D-printed weapons to be uploaded to the internet. “When the U.S. State Department in April shockingly reversed its opposition to 3-D guns, which it originally stated would endanger national security, the Brady Center filed a FOIA request with the State Department for documents explaining why it suddenly reversed course. Five months later, with zero response from State, the Brady Center today sued the State Department to force it to produce such documentation,” the group said in a press release.

The judge found BuzzFeed was protected by a "fair report privilege" because the article involved an official proceeding. A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a defamation lawsuit against BuzzFeed News over the publication of a dossier in January 2017 that alleged several years of links between Russia and then–president-elect Donald Trump. A Cypriot businessman, Aleksej Gubarev, was named in the dossier, and his name wasn't redacted in the version originally published by BuzzFeed. Gubarev sued shortly after the article came out, claiming he was defamed by having his name included. US District Judge Ursula Ungaro in Florida found that BuzzFeed News was shielded against defamation claims because the dossier was the subject of official proceedings — both Trump and then-president Barack Obama had been briefed on it, according to reporting at the time, and the FBI investigated allegations in the documents. The judge concluded that BuzzFeed News was protected by what's known as the "fair report" privilege. Ungaro also found that the BuzzFeed News article was "fair and true" because it just reproduced the dossier — it didn't express any opinions about it.

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.

President  Donald Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani said on Wednesday he was "wrong"  to say Trump had not signed a letter of intent for a Trump Tower in  Moscow. "I was wrong  if I said it," Giuliani told CNN's Dana Bash. "I haven't seen the  quote, but I probably meant to say there was never a deal, much less a  signed one." The comment  from Giuliani marked an acknowledgment from the former New York mayor  that Trump had indeed signed the letter that set the stage for  negotiations for Trump condominiums, a hotel and commercial property in  the heart of Moscow. Giuliani suggested over the weekend  that Trump had spoken with his former attorney Michael Cohen past  January 2016 about a Trump Tower in Moscow. Asked to clarify by CNN,  Giuliani also asserted, "There was a letter of intent to go forward, but  no one signed it." CNN's Chris Cuomo obtained a copy of the letter, however, which showed Trump signed the document dated October 28, 2015.

The departing GOP House speaker leaves a legacy of willful ignorance. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) hopes you’ll remember him as a deeply conservative leader who fought for tax reform and against special interests. But his refusal to take a stand against President Donald Trump ― even in the commander in chief’s darkest moments ― is a legacy he won’t soon shake. As Ryan pats himself on the back for a job well done during his final weeks in office, an authoritarian-loving habitual liar sits behind the Resolute Desk with little rebuff from his party’s leaders.

The Senate voted to make lynching a federal crime Wednesday, 153 years after the end of the Civil War. The bill, passed by unanimous consent, was sponsored by a bipartisan trio of black lawmakers: Democratic Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, and Republican Sen. Tim Scott. The measure insures that lynching would have an enhanced sentence, like other federal hate crimes. The crime could trigger a sentence of up to life in prison. Harris pointed out that Congress has previously tried to pass anti-lynching legislation over 200 times. While the House has passed anti-lynching bills in the past, Southern senators blocked the bills introduced in the Senate. In 2005, the Senate passed a resolution apologizing for its failure to pass anti-lynching legislation in the past.

Washington DC's top prosecutor is suing Facebook in the first significant US move to punish the firm for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine filed the lawsuit on Wednesday, said the Washington Post. It accused Facebook of allowing the wholesale scraping of personal data on tens of millions of users. The action adds to a number of regulatory investigations, following a year of privacy and security missteps. A Facebook spokesperson told the BBC: "We're reviewing the complaint and look forward to continuing our discussions with attorneys general in DC and elsewhere." As well as this lawsuit, Facebook is being probed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice. In the UK, the company was fined £500,000 over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the maximum fine the British data regulator can impose. Bigger trouble may arise from the Irish data protection regulator, which is investigating Facebook for multiple admissions of security flaws, in what is being seen as the first major test of Europe’s new privacy rules as dictated by the General Data Protection Regulation.

Senate Republicans blocked for the third time bipartisan legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday. The bill, which was denied by voice vote, was brought forward by Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). It would ensure that the special counsel could only be fired for good cause by a senior Justice Department official and would give the special counsel the ability to ask for an expedited review of his or her firing. “The continuity of this investigation is critical to upholding public trust in our institutions of government,” Flake, who is retiring, said on the Senate floor. “This is not a witch hunt. Russia attempted to interfere in our elections...we are seeking truth here and that’s what the special counsel is doing.” Flake’s push for the bill, which the Senate Judiciary Committee approved earlier this year, faced opposition from Republican leadership. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said there's no need for legislation protecting the special counsel, calling the bill “a solution in search of a problem.” - Mitch McConnell is protecting Donald J. trump (aka. Criminal Don, aka Don the Con).

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.

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.

CNN's Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon discuss Fox News' Tucker Carlson's "dirtier" immigration comment, claiming Carlson uses his platform to spin the truth and spread division.

The Senate overwhelmingly approved on  Tuesday the most substantial changes in a generation to the  tough-on-crime prison and sentencing laws that ballooned the federal  prison population and created a criminal justice system that many  conservatives and liberals view as costly and unfair.
The  First Step Act  would expand job training and other programming aimed at reducing  recidivism rates among federal prisoners. It also expands early-release  programs and modifies sentencing laws, including mandatory minimum  sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, to more equitably punish drug  offenders. But the legislation falls  short of benchmarks set by a more expansive overhaul proposed in  Congress during Barack Obama’s presidency and of the kinds of changes  sought by some liberal and conservative activists targeting mass  incarceration.

In a swift reversal, the White House on Tuesday dropped its demand that a government funding measure include $5 billion for President Trump’s wall on the Mexican border. Trump’s  concession paves the way for lawmakers to reach a compromise and end  the Congress without a partial government shutdown. It also raises  questions over whether Trump will ever get full funding for his wall now  that Democrats are poised to take control of the House in a few weeks. Republican  and Democratic leaders still need to iron out the details of a possible  deal, but the biggest wild card in the debate, Trump, appears to have  taken a shutdown off the table. Still, the walk-back is a  stunning blow to the White House and Republicans, who stared down and  out-maneuvered Democrats in a three-day shutdown in January. This time  around, Republicans caved.

The Fox News host is facing backlash after suggesting that immigrants make our country “poorer and dirtier and more divided” on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” Fox News’ Tucker Carlson is rapidly losing advertisers amid a controversy over his recent comments on his show regarding immigrants. On “Tucker Carlson Tonight” last week, the host suggested that immigrants are making the United States “dirtier.” “We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor, they tell us, even if it makes our own country poorer and dirtier and more divided,” he said, before criticizing immigrants with his take on the Emma Lazarus poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty. “Huddled masses yearning to breathe free? Nope, cynical shakedown artists who have been watching too much CNN.”

Unveiling a report commissioned by President Trump in the aftermath of a mass shooting last winter at a Florida high school, administration officials on Tuesday played down the role of guns in school violence while focusing instead on rescinding Obama-era disciplinary policies, improving mental health services and training school personnel in the use of firearms. The report — by the Federal Commission on School Safety, which consists of four cabinet officials and is led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — drew on months of research marked by political conflict and mixed messaging from the administration on how to handle violent events like the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Seventeen students and staff members were killed and 17 others were injured in the shooting. The commission released its findings on the same day that the Justice Department, as expected, issued a rule banning bump stocks, the devices that effectively convert semiautomatic rifles into fully automatic ones by permitting the guns to continuously fire with one squeeze of the trigger. The gunman in the October 2017 massacre of concertgoers in Las Vegas had used bump stocks while killing 58 people and wounding hundreds.

Former FBI Director James Comey defended the FBI's interview of Michael Flynn that later prompted the former national security adviser's guilty plea, sparring with Republicans in closed-door House testimony Monday over the circumstances surrounding the January 2017 interview. The FBI interview with Flynn at the White House has come under renewed scrutiny and criticism from Republicans after Flynn's attorneys questioned the setting last week, although Flynn told a federal judge Tuesday that he was responsible for his false statements about his contacts with then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. A transcript of Comey's testimony was released publicly Tuesday. The five-hour interview Monday was the second that the House Oversight and Judiciary committees conducted with Comey this month as part of the Republican-led congressional investigation into the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton and Russia investigations.

“Actually, mockery and brutality is more the norm than the exception for modern first ladies." In an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham last week, network media critic Howard Kurtz claimed that Melania Trump is “subjected to a particularly brutal kind of treatment and mockery” from the media, arguing “no other modern First Lady has been treated like this.” Howard Kurtz: "Melania is subjected to a particularly brutal kind of treatment and mockery... No other modern First Lady has been treated like this." pic.twitter.com/OQ6xds38SJ — Contemptor (@TheContemptor) December 14, 2018. Unfortunately for Kurtz, that description of Melania’s coverage ignores troves of evidence to the contrary, as Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty pointed out Sunday. “Actually, mockery and brutality is more the norm than the exception for modern first ladies, the Nush wives being an exception,” Tumulty wrote on Twitter. “In 1992 (even before Bill was elected), a poll found only 22 percent of Americans thought the Clintons had a "real marriage.” As Tumulty noted, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd called Hillary Clinton "the single most degraded wife in the history of the world” adding “she was burned in effigy during the ’94 campaign.”

The appellate court that heard a sealed grand jury case believed to be linked to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe handed down a decision Tuesday, available publicly, upholding a lower court’s decision denying a request from an unknown company that it quash a subpoena. While it is still mystery who exactly challenged the subpoena, the public judgment revealed that it was a company in a foreign country that had sought to fight it. It has not been officially confirmed that the subpoena was related to Mueller’s investigation. However there have been sightings and comments overheard at the courthouse that suggest it’s Mueller related, and at an early stage in a proceeding, an appellate judge who previously worked in President Trump’s White House recused himself. When the appellate court heard the case on Friday, court staff kicked reporters off the floor of the courtroom so they couldn’t stakeout lawyers entering and exiting the hearing. However, two Mueller attorneys were spotted arriving at his office about 10 minutes after the hearing was believed to have wrapped up. The decision doesn’t reveal much about the legal dispute, nor does it confirm that it was a Mueller issued subpoena that was being challenged. According to the judgment, an unnamed corporation owned by a country dubbed “Country A” had claimed that it was immune from the subpoena under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Judge Beryl Howell, the chief of the U.S. District Court for D.C., apparently held that, regardless whether the company in general was immune, the matter in question fell within an exception in the law for commercial activities. She then held the company in contempt when it continued to resist the subpoena, prompting the appeal, where the appellate court upheld her judgment.

While popular memory today remembers Watergate as five DNC burglars leading inexorably to Richard Nixon’s resignation two years later, history recalls that the case and special prosecutor’s investigation at the time were much broader; ultimately 69 people were charged as part of the investigation, 48 of whom pleaded guilty or were found guilty at trial. After three weeks of back-to-back-to-back-to-back bombshells by federal prosecutors and special counsel Robert Mueller, it’s increasingly clear that, as 2018 winds down, Donald Trump faces a legal assault unlike anything previously seen by any president—at least 17 distinct court cases stemming from at least seven different sets of prosecutors and investigators. (That total does not count any congressional inquiries, nor does it include any other inquiries into other administration officials unrelated to Russia.) While the media has long short-handed Mueller’s probe as the “Russia investigation,” a comprehensive review of the cases unfolding around the president and the question of Russian influence in the 2016 campaign harkens back to another lesson of Watergate: Deep Throat’s dictum, “Follow the money.”

Just over a week ago, on Friday December 7, the Special Counsel’s Office headed by Robert Mueller for the first time outlined in a court filing the grand narrative of the Russia Probe. The court filing revealed what many had long suspected, that Trump and his family had used, or tried to use, his presidential candidacy, and then his presidency, to enhance their own wealth. We also learned finally what hold Russian President Vladimir Putin has over Trump. It’s not as some suspected, a money laundering episode from more than a decade ago. It was something that happened in real time during the presidential election itself. Thus, Trump himself repeatedly stated since entering the presidential race in June 2015 that he had no business in Russia and no interactions with representatives of Russia. It now turns out that Putin knew what the American people didn’t, namely that Donald Trump was throughout the 2016 presidential primary campaign secretly negotiating to build a huge and lucrative hotel in Moscow, which required the personal support of Vladimir Putin. The fact that Putin knew about Trump’s secret dealings, while the American people didn’t, meant that if Trump didn’t do what Russia wanted, Russia could expose Trump’s lies and so bring him down.

The former Trump adviser’s retractions will run on social media and as ads in multiple newspapers. Roger Stone, former campaign adviser to President Donald Trump, settled a defamation suit on Monday, agreeing to publicly apologize for publishing false information on the right-wing conspiracy site Infowars. The settlement, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, marks the culmination of a $100 million lawsuit filed against Stone by Chinese businessman Guo Wengui, a vocal critic of Beijing whom Stone, a contributor to Infowars, falsely claimed had been convicted of financial crimes by donating to 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon. In lieu of paying the damages, Stone must publish a retraction of the false statements on social media and run ads in the Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post apologizing for his claims about Guo, who applied for asylum in the U.S. last year after the Chinese government grew hostile toward him.

Party officials want the state to certify a Republican congressional candidate the winner of a race amid a probe into election irregularities. North Carolina Republican Party officials accused state officials of being secretive and said they must swiftly certify a GOP congressional candidate the winner of an election unless they can present evidence the outcome of the contest was changed by illegal activity. The call comes as state election officials continue to probe irregularities in the race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready in the state’s 9th Congressional District. The state board announced Friday it was pushing back the date for a public evidentiary hearing in the probe as it continues to gather evidence and now plans to hold the hearing on Jan. 11, eight days after the new Congress is seated. The resolution from the GOP executive committee in the 9th District came Monday after Harris, who leads McCready by 905 votes, suggested Republicans weren’t supporting him the way Democrats were backing his opponent. The GOP-controlled legislature passed a law last week that would require a new primary if the state board orders a do-over, leading to speculation that Republicans were trying to distance themselves from Harris. Much of the evidence that has emerged during the investigation so far suggests that McCrae Dowless, an operative working on Harris’ behalf, improperly collected absentee ballots from voters in Bladen and Robeson counties in the district. In those two counties, there was an unusually high number of absentee ballots that went unreturned to state officials.

Two more voters reported handing over their ballots to canvassers who came to their home. The day after their absentee ballot arrived in the mail in September, Luis Reyes and Yomayra Torres, a couple in Robeson County, got a nighttime visitor. It was a familiar face. The woman, Jennifer Boyd, had come with another woman a few months earlier to help the couple request their absentee ballots. Now she was back to see if they wanted help filling out the actual ballots. Reyes and Torres didn’t know who to vote for, and Boyd explained why she had voted for Mark Harris, a Republican pastor running for Congress in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. Torres remembers Boyd saying she was with Harris’ campaign, and she told them about all the good he had done for their community but said they should vote for whomever they wanted. Reyes and Torres didn’t know about any of the other candidates in the race, so they both decided to vote for Harris. Once they filled out their ballots, Torres says, Boyd offered to take their ballots from them, and they agreed. Torres said Boyd left with both. It’s illegal for anyone in North Carolina, other than a “close relative,” to take custody of an absentee ballot. Reyes and Torres didn’t know that. Torres said she thought Boyd was just trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for them to cast their votes.

Incoming White House acting-chief of staff Mick Mulvaney once said Donald Trump's past words and actions would disqualify him from becoming president in an "ordinary universe."

Longtime Donald Trump associate Roger Stone settled a defamation lawsuit on Monday, admitting and apologizing for making false statements about a Chinese businessman on the right-wing conspiracy website Infowars. Stone reached a settlement with exiled Chinese businessman Guo Wengui, who is seeking asylum in the US. Guo, who also goes by the name Miles Kwok, fled China after using social media to make allegations of corruption against China's political elite. The settlement, earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal, was reached in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Guo filed a defamation lawsuit against Stone in March, arguing that Stone had made false statements about him from around September 2017 to January 2018. Stone falsely claimed that Guo was found guilty and convicted of financial crimes in the US, violated election law by making political donations to Hillary Clinton, and bankrolled a presidential run by former White House adviser Steve Bannon. In the settlement, Stone apologized and retracted his comments about Guo. "All of these statements are not true," Stone said, adding that he "failed to do proper research before making those statements."

Special counsel Robert Mueller had a busy year. His investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election ramped up on multiple fronts, with subpoenas, indictments and guilty pleas. And he referred some of his cases to federal prosecutors in New York, who also brought charges. This year saw the first charges against Russians for hacking Democratic targets and spreading propaganda on social media. Mueller also raised the stakes for several associates of President Donald Trump, bringing one to trial and securing guilty pleas and cooperation deals from others. There’s no telling what 2019 might bring. Perhaps Mueller will drop his final report or bring new criminal charges. But in the meantime, here’s a look back at the key developments from 2018.

African Americans in a rural Virginia county worried they were at risk after hearing that an emergency medical technician made racist comments on a white supremacist podcast. "I'm mad as hell is bad," one man said, as a series of people demanded action from officials in Patrick County. Residents were outraged at comments made by Alex McNabb, who cohosts a podcast in which he has compared black patients to gorillas and claimed "immense satisfaction" as he "terrorized" an African American boy with a needle in an emergency room. McNabb also addressed the meeting, which became heated. Supervisors decided to do nothing, refusing to take up calls to cut funding to the rescue service that employs McNabb.

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.

A federal judge on Tuesday postponed the sentencing of Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s first national security adviser, after warning Mr. Flynn that he could face prison for lying to federal investigators about his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition and hiding his role lobbying for Turkey. At Mr. Flynn’s sentencing hearing in Federal District Court in Washington, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan called Mr. Flynn’s crimes “a very serious offense” and said he was not hiding his “disgust” at what Mr. Flynn had done. “All along you were an unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the national security adviser,” the judge told Mr. Flynn. “Arguably that undermines everything that this flag over here stands for. Arguably you sold your country out.” But Judge Sullivan gave Mr. Flynn the option of delaying the sentencing until he had completed his cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors. “I cannot assure that if you proceed today you will not receive a sentence of incarceration,” Judge Sullivan told Mr. Flynn.After a short recess, Mr. Flynn returned to the courtroom to take the judge up on his offer.

The sentencing for President Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn was postponed until 2019 after a dramatic federal court hearing Tuesday. Flynn, who pleaded guilty last year, said "I was aware" that lying to the FBI was a crime, but prosecutors from special counsel Robert Mueller's office had called for him to get little to no jail time because he has cooperated extensively. They also said Flynn may continue to cooperate in a future trial. Judge Emmet Sullivan of the US District Court for the District of Columbia had very strong words for Flynn and suggested he could face prison. "I want to be frank with you, this crime is very serious," Sullivan said. "Not only did you lie to the FBI, you lied to senior officials in the incoming administration." "All along, you were an unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the national security adviser to the President of the United States," Sullivan said. "That undermines everything this flag over here stands for. Arguably you sold your country out." Sullivan later corrected himself, noting Flynn's foreign lobbying ended prior to the beginning of the Trump administration.

Late-night hosts poked fun at the increasing amount of legal troubles facing President Donald Trump and his administration.

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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