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June 2019: Get the latest monthly headline news from multiple news sources and news links. Get real facts, real news from major news originations.  

By MATTHEW CHOI
The head of the Federal Election Commission released a statement on Thursday evening reiterating, emphatically, that foreign assistance is illegal in U.S. elections. “Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office: It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election,“ wrote Ellen Weintraub, chairwoman of the FEC. “This is not a novel concept.“ She also sent the statement via Twitter with the introductory line: “I would not have thought that I needed to say this.“ Weintraub‘s statement comes after President Donald Trump told ABC News that he would probably hear out opposition information offered by a foreign national if given the chance in 2020. He also said he might not tell the FBI about it, even though bureau Director Christopher Wray said such assistance would need to be reported. I would not have thought that I needed to say this. pic.twitter.com/T743CsXq79 — Ellen L Weintraub (@EllenLWeintraub) June 13, 2019. Trump‘s comments garnered fierce backlash from Republicans, Democrats and former law enforcement officials, who disputed the president's assertion that accepting opposition research from foreign sources is a common practice among members of Congress. Trump made the comments while responding to attention over his son Donald Trump Jr., who met in Trump Tower with Russian nationals offering dirt on then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the lead-up to the 2016 election. Trump told ABC News‘ George Stephanopoulos that hearing out foreign election information was not election interference, but rather “oppo research.“

By Maegan Vazquez, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump said Friday that he would not fire his adviser Kellyanne Conway, despite the US Office of Special Counsel's recommendation that she be removed from federal service for several violations of the Hatch Act. "No, I'm not going to fire her. I think she's a terrific person," Trump told Fox News' "Fox and Friends." "I got briefed on it yesterday and it looks to me like they're trying to take away their right of free speech. And that's just not fair," Trump added. "She's got to have the right of responding to questions." The US Office of Special Counsel recommended on Thursday that Conway be removed from federal service, saying she violated the Hatch Act on numerous occasions. The office said Conway erred by "disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media." The office is unrelated to Robert Mueller and his investigation. Trump said Friday he was going to briefed on this further later in the day. "I'm going to get a very strong briefing on it. I'll see. But it seems to me to be very unfair, it's called freedom of speech," he said. Special counsel Henry Kerner wrote in a letter to Trump Thursday that his office's investigative report found that Conway was a "repeat offender" of the Hatch Act. "Ms. Conway's violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act's restrictions. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system -- the rule of law," the letter said. "If Ms. Conway were any other federal employee, her multiple violations of the law would almost certainly result in her removal from her federal position," Kerner's letter said. "Never has (the office) had to issue multiple reports to the President concerning Hatch Act violations by the same individual."

By Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey
With his declared willingness to accept help from a foreign government in an election, President Trump upended long-held views that such outside assistance is anathema in American campaigns, both because of laws prohibiting foreign contributions and widely embraced norms of fair play. Trump blew through those notions this week, telling ABC News that if a foreign government offered him information on a political opponent, “I think I’d want to hear it.” “It’s not an interference; they have information — I think I’d take it,” he continued. “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI, if I thought there was something wrong.” He added that his own FBI director, Christopher A. Wray, was “wrong” when he said during congressional testimony that campaign aides should always report offers of assistance from foreign entities to the bureau. Trump’s comments came less than two weeks after his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said he wasn’t sure if he would report a future offer of foreign assistance to the FBI, calling questions regarding it “hypotheticals.” And Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, has been openly gathering information in recent weeks from Ukrainian officials that he says he hopes could be used in a 2020 race against former vice president Joe Biden, whose son Hunter sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. “There’s nothing illegal about it,” said Giuliani, who canceled an information-gathering trip to Kiev after public criticism. “Somebody could say it’s improper.”

By Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN Business
New York (CNN Business) - American retailers, manufacturers and tech companies warned President Donald Trump on Thursday that tariffs on China will damage the US economy, lead to job losses and harm millions of consumers. More than 600 companies and industry trade associations — including Walmart, Costco, Target, Gap, Levi Strauss and Foot Locker — wrote to the White House urging Trump to remove levies on China and end the ongoing trade war. "We know firsthand that the additional tariffs will have a significant, negative, and long-term impact on American businesses, farmers, families, and the US economy," the companies said in the letter. "An escalated trade war is not in the country's best interest, and both sides will lose." Last month, the Trump administration increased tariffs to 25% from 10% on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. The tariffs apply to consumer products such as luggage, mattresses, handbags, bicycles, vacuum cleaners and air conditioners. Additionally, Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on an additional $300 billion in goods imported from China — including toys, clothes, shoes, appliances and televisions. "Tariffs are taxes paid directly by U.S. companies," not China, the companies said to Trump. "Tariff increases and uncertainty around these trade negotiations have created turmoil in the markets, threatening our historic economic growth." The United States Trade Representative's office will hold public hearings on the proposed tariffs starting Monday. Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a business coalition formed to oppose tariffs, organized the letter to the White House ahead of the hearings. The coalition was backed by trade groups for the retail, tech, manufacturing and agricultural industries. - Only someone as dumb as Trump believes tariffs are a good thing, only someone as dumb as Trump believes tariffs are not a tax on the American people.

By DARREN SAMUELSOHN and NATASHA BERTRAND
Trump's willingness to accept foreign assistance has essentially invited overseas spies to meddle with 2020 presidential campaigns, undoing months of work, said law enforcement veterans. Nearly two years ago, FBI Director Chris Wray set up an office tasked solely with stopping the type of Russian interference efforts that infected the 2016 campaign. On Wednesday night, President Donald Trump undercut the whole operation in a matter of seconds. In an ABC News interview, the president first proclaimed he would have no problem accepting dirt on his opponents from a foreign power, then said Wray was “wrong” to suggest the FBI needs to know about such offers. The comments, according to interviews with nearly a dozen law enforcement veterans, have undone months of work, essentially inviting foreign spies to meddle with 2020 presidential campaigns and demoralizing the agents trying to stop them. And it has backed Wray into a corner, they added, putting him in a position where he might have to either publicly chastise the president and risk getting fired, or resign in protest. America’s enemies will see Trump’s comments and likely “come out of the woodwork like never before to try to influence the president,” said longtime FBI veteran Frank Figliuzzi, who served as the bureau’s assistant director for counterintelligence until 2012. “And it’s going to be more difficult to defend against because they’ll try harder than ever to mask their attempts.”

By Jacob Pramuk
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will leave the job at the end of the month, President Donald Trump said Thursday. In a pair of tweets, the president said Sanders will return to her home state of Arkansas — and urged her to run for governor. He thanked her for what he called a “job well done” in the White House. Trump did not immediately announce who would succeed her. Sanders later told reporters that she has not talked to the president about potential successors. Speaking at a White House event on hiring former inmates released under legislation passed last year, Sanders called the job the “honor” and “opportunity of a lifetime.” She added that she “loved every minute, even the hard minutes.” Sanders stressed that she will “continue to be one of the most outspoken and loyal supporters of the president and his agenda.” In a separate gaggle with reporters, Sanders said she didn’t know if she would run for Arkansas governor. “I don’t know,” she said. “I learned a long time ago never to rule anything out.” She also declined to answer questions about whether she’s had conversations about a potential campaign. Sanders was on the 2016 Trump campaign’s communications team. She was a deputy press secretary when Trump took office before she succeeded Sean Spicer as press secretary in July 2017. Sanders had an often adversarial relationship with the media.

By JACK SHAFER
Everyone’s asking why on earth he said that stuff to George Stephanopolous. A better question is, could he ever have stopped himself? President Donald Trump unloaded a baffling cargo of words Wednesday after George Stephanopoulos asked him whether his son Donald Jr. should have contacted the FBI in June 2016 when a gang of Russians offered him “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Not necessarily, Trump implied in his first answer. Asked about his own FBI director’s assertion that of course a campaign should contact the FBI, Trump went full-tilt adamant. “The FBI director is wrong,” Trump said. The exchange detonated on cable news and Twitter like the mother of all truth bombs. Trump kept hedging and twisting around—implying you might both take the dirt and call the FBI—flummoxing normally voluble critics like former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. “I've run out of adjectives,” he said. “‘Unfit to be President’ is a gross understatement,” tweeted former CIA Director John Brennan in equal exasperation. The leading Democratic candidates for president—Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and even the undercard candidates—torched him as a danger to the electoral process. What was he thinking? Was he thinking? In a normal politician, the moment might have been what used to be politely called a “gaffe,” and more accurately called a career-ending self-own. With Trump, though, it’s better to understand it as the perfect melding of all the preoccupations and instincts and political acumen that got him where he is. If he’d held back, it might have been more prudent, but it would have been positively un-Trumpian.

By Philip Ewing
President Trump has conflated an infamous practice in and among political campaigns — "opposition research" — with foreign election interference like that launched by Russia against the United States in 2016. Are they the same thing? Is foreign interference just a kind of "oppo research," as Trump said in an interview with ABC? The short answer: No. Oppo research is part of politics. But the law prohibits American political campaigns from taking "a contribution or donation of money or any other thing of value" from foreigners. The ban isn't limited to money, as Justice Department investigators wrote. The long answer: Trump told ABC News that essentially every political candidate is willing to accept information that could be of use against an opponent. "You go and talk honestly to congressmen, they all do it. They always have. And that's the way it is. It's called 'oppo research,' " he said. What's the difference? Opposition research is what campaigns and political operatives use against each other. If one candidate running for office dug up a story about something embarrassing her opponent had done, the first candidate might bundle it together and see that it found its way into the newspaper.

“You don’t call the FBI,” Trump said. "Life doesn’t work that way.” Except it did for Trump.
By Aaron Blake
In the course of arguing for why he might accept foreign assistance in the 2020 election on Wednesday, President Trump dismissed the idea of calling the FBI about such things. “I’ll tell you what: I’ve seen a lot of things over my life,” he told ABC News. “I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI. In my whole life. I don’t — you don’t call the FBI. Life doesn’t work that way.” Except that, for Trump, it has. And he has most definitely called the FBI. During the 2016 election, The Post’s Robert O’Harrow reported extensively on Trump’s ties to an FBI informant and an FBI agent in the 1980s. The informant was a labor consultant with a criminal record and mob ties named Daniel Sullivan, whom Trump worked with. And through Sullivan, Trump cultivated a relationship with a young FBI agent named Walt Stowe. Stowe described their relationship in two days of interviews with O’Harrow, calling Trump a “professional friend.” (Trump said Stowe was a “high-quality guy” but not quite “a pal.”) And Trump sought to cash in on that friendship by cooperating with Stowe and the FBI in planning an undercover operation in one of his casinos. Internal FBI documents show Trump told Stowe and other agents about his concerns about opening a casino in Atlantic City, given the influence of the mob in that city in that era. Trump told them he wanted to cooperate. “TRUMP stated in order to show that he was willing to fully cooperate with the FBI, he suggested that they use undercover Agents within the casino,” the documents show.

By BURGESS EVERETT and MARIANNE LEVINE
GOP senators vowed they would immediately turn to the FBI if approached with foreign dirt. Soon after Donald Trump sparked his latest all-consuming controversy, Lindsey Graham spoke to the president and urged him to rethink his willingness to use foreign opposition research against his political opponents. “The law is pretty clear. You can’t take anything of value from a foreign government,” Graham said he told Trump. “He says, ‘I didn’t say I did.’ I said: ‘Sitting down and talking to somebody’s not a crime, but it’s probably not a good idea. … I don’t agree with you.’” Soon after Donald Trump sparked his latest all-consuming controversy, Lindsey Graham spoke to the president and urged him to rethink his willingness to use foreign opposition research against his political opponents. “The law is pretty clear. You can’t take anything of value from a foreign government,” Graham said he told Trump. “He says, ‘I didn’t say I did.’ I said: ‘Sitting down and talking to somebody’s not a crime, but it’s probably not a good idea. … I don’t agree with you.’”

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump threw up a smokescreen of deflection and confusing counter attacks Thursday as a furor mounted over his staggering comment that he would be open to dirt dug up on his 2020 opponents by foreign powers such as Russia or China. The President even implied -- clearly erroneously -- that he had been merely referring to the content of his conversations with foreign dignitaries such as the Queen of England and Prince Charles when he made the remark in an ABC News interview. Even in a presidency that long ago burned through all conceivable superlatives, Trump's statement was a stunner. This was more than a mere candidate calling on Russia to find Hillary Clinton's emails. It went further than dumping on US intelligence agencies by believing Russian President Vladimir Putin's smirking denials of election interference. Or Trump's claims that the Kremlin's 2016 interference caper is one big Democratic hoax. This was the President of the United States -- the man charged with protecting the Constitution, American democracy and the Western world -- sitting at the Resolute desk in the Oval Office, saying he would accept damaging information from Russia and China on his 2020 Democratic foe. "I think you might want to listen. There's nothing wrong with listening," Trump told ABC News on Wednesday. Anchor George Stephanopoulos brought up FBI Director Christopher Wray's warning that anyone who received incriminating information from a foreign power should call the bureau. "The FBI director is wrong," Trump said, anger hardening his voice. He denied that interfering in American elections -- as Russia did in 2016 to help him win -- is even a problem. "It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI, if I thought there was something wrong," the President said. Then again, Trump had said moments earlier: "I don't think in my whole life I've ever called the FBI." - Trump is lying once again he has called the FBI.

By Brian Naylor
Presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway has repeatedly criticized Democratic candidates in her official capacity in violation of the Hatch Act and should lose her job, according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. The OSC, which oversees federal personnel issues, issued a stinging report Thursday, calling Conway "a repeat offender." "As a highly visible member of the Administration, Ms. Conway's violations, if left unpunished, send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act's restrictions. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system—the rule of law," the office wrote to President Trump. OSC is an independent federal ethics agency that has no relationship with former Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election. The Hatch Act forbids executive branch employees from taking part in political activities while engaged in their official duties. The OSC says Conway has made statements "directed at the success" of Trump's reelection campaign "or at the failure of candidates for the Democratic Party's nomination for President." In March 2018, the ethics agency found Conway broke the law twice in interviews about the Alabama Senate race. Conway has downplayed the significance of the law, the report says, telling an interviewer on May 29, "If you're trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it's not going to work," and "Let me know when the jail sentence starts."

By Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly
The Fact Checker is keeping a running list of the false or misleading claims Trump says most regularly. Here's what you need to know. (Meg Kelly, Sarah Cahlan/The Washington Post). President Trump’s pitter-patter of exaggerated numbers, unwarranted boasting and outright falsehoods has continued at a remarkable pace. As of June 7, his 869th day in office, the president has made 10,796 false or misleading claims, according to the Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement the president has uttered. The president crossed the 10,000 threshold on April 26, and he has been averaging about 16 fishy claims a day since then. From the start of his presidency, he has averaged about 12 such claims a day. About one-fifth of these claims are about immigration, his signature issue — a percentage that has grown since the government shut down over funding for his promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. In fact, his most repeated claim — 172 times — is that his border wall is being built. Congress balked at funding the concrete barrier he envisioned, so he has tried to pitch bollard fencing and repairs of existing barriers as “a wall.” False or misleading claims about trade and the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign each account for about 10 percent of the total. Trump’s penchant for repeating false claims is demonstrated by the fact that The Fact Checker database has recorded more than 300 instances in which he has repeated a variation of the same claim at least three times. He also now has earned 21 “Bottomless Pinocchios,” claims that have earned Three or Four Pinocchios and which have been repeated at least 20 times.

By Paul Baldwin
DONALD TRUMP’S USA boasts the most powerful armies the world has ever seen – but today military experts warned they would NEVER beat Iran in a military conflict even as the possibility of a hot war between Iran and the USA increased as British and US servicemen raced to the aid of two oil-tankers attacked off the Iranian coast in the Gulf of Oman. Military threats and sabre-rattling rhetoric have littered dialogue between the two nations in recent months with Iran’s foreign minister warning the US just hours ago it “cannot expect to stay safe” while Donald Trump counter-warned any conflict would be “the end of Iran”. But military experts on both sides of the potential conflict know that despite a massive firepower advantage a USA victory is far from certain, especially accordng to one former ranking US Air Force strategist who now lives on the Straits of Hormuz.

By Jordain Carney
President Trump is facing a political firestorm over his suggestion that he would accept dirt on a political opponent from a foreign government. Democrats have lashed out at Trump’s comments to ABC News that if information was offered he would “take it,” while Republicans showed obvious discomfort with the president’s remarks. “I think that’s wrong. That’s a mistake,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a frequent Trump defender, told reporters. “I’ve been consistent on this. If a public official is approached by a foreign government offering anything of value ... the right answer is 'no.'” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said accepting information from a foreign government with the intent to meddle in the electoral process would be “unthinkable.” “It would be totally inappropriate and it would strike at the heart of our democracy,” said Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee for president who has memorably clashed with Trump. “I’ve run for Senate twice, I’ve run for governor once, I’ve run for president twice, so far as I know we never received any information from any foreign government … We would have immediately informed the FBI,” Romney said.

By CRISTIANO LIMA
The widespread existence of deepfakes could even make some people dismiss legitimate videos as fabricated.
Facebook’s latest stumbles in handling fake videos of Nancy Pelosi and its own CEO offered an early glimpse at the swarm of phony footage that could swamp the 2020 presidential race — and questions are mounting about readiness in Silicon Valley and on the campaign trail to meet the challenge. Off-the-shelf video-editing and artificial intelligence software has made it easier than ever to create so-called deepfakes — sophisticated video forgeries that turn people into digital puppets, doing or saying things they never said or did. And if left unchecked, the phenomenon could supercharge fake news of the sort that pervaded Facebook and other online sites during the 2016 campaign, which spread false rumors that Hillary Clinton was dying of Parkinson’s disease or that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump. Eventually, the widespread existence of deepfakes could even make some people dismiss legitimate videos as fabricated — in yet another blow to public faith in objective reality. “I think it’s a grave threat and I don’t think we’re at all prepared,” said House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), whose panel has spent the past two years investigating the role of Kremlin-backed online trolls in injecting fakery into the 2016 campaign. “There’s no end to the pernicious abuse of this technology.” The tech is still in its early stages: The deepfake videos produced so far tend to have clunky audio and a halting, uncanny appearance that don’t take an expert eye to spot. Then again, it doesn’t take especially sophisticated phoniness to fool people by the millions.


By Greg Sargent
President Trump’s appalling new declaration that he’d gladly accept help from a foreign power if it tries to sabotage the 2020 election should intensify scrutiny of Mitch McConnell’s handling of this whole affair — not just right at this moment, but dating back to 2016. Trump is openly inviting another attack on our political system. But the Senate majority leader is actively making that attack more likely — and ensuring that such an assault could be more damaging — by refusing to allow the Senate to proceed on multiple election security bills that really could mitigate its impact. In a new interview with ABC News, Trump telegraphed as clearly as one could want how he’ll greet another foreign interference effort. He was asked whether Donald Trump Jr. should have called the FBI when he was offered dirt on Hillary Clinton provided by the Russian government. “Let’s put yourself in a position — you’re a congressman,” Trump replied. “Somebody comes up and says, ‘Hey, I have information on your opponent.' Do you call the FBI?” Trump added: “I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI.” When ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos pointed out that his own FBI director, Christopher Wray, has called for exactly that, Trump said: “The FBI director is wrong.” Asked whether he’d call the FBI if a foreign power again offers his campaign information on an opponent, Trump said: “I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. There’s nothing wrong with listening.” Trump declared: “I think I’d want to hear it.” “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI,” Trump said, while also clarifying that such an effort would not be “an interference. They have information.”

By Barbie Latza Nadeau Correspondent-At-Large
Brian Kilmeade said the president should know that Russia or China would demand something in return. Fox & Friends’ co-host Brian Kilmeade directly criticized the president Thursday morning for saying he would welcome foreign intel on his political opponents. The rare attack followed Donald Trump’s candid remarks to Good Morning America anchor George Stephanopoulos in which he indicated that he would not immediately alert the FBI to more interference in U.S. politics. “I think the president has to clarify that,” Kilmeade said. “He opened himself wide up to attacks.” Trump had told Stephanopoulos that he would likely take information from a foreign entity about a political opponent, adding that he did not think it was wrong to do so. He said he would call the FBI only if he saw something wrong with the information. FBI Director Christopher Wray has explicitly explained that any politician should alert the bureau in such cases. “Put it this way: Nothing is free in this world,” Kilmeade said. “You don’t want a foreign government or foreign entity giving you information because they will want something back.”

By lucien bruggeman
President Donald Trump may not alert the FBI if foreign governments offered damaging information against his 2020 rivals during the upcoming presidential race, he said, despite the deluge of investigations stemming from his campaign's interactions with Russians during the 2016 campaign. Asked by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in the Oval Office on Wednesday whether his campaign would accept such information from foreigners -- such as China or Russia -- or hand it over the FBI, Trump said, "I think maybe you do both." "I think you might want to listen, there isn't anything wrong with listening," Trump continued. "If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent' -- oh, I think I'd want to hear it." President Trump made the remark during an exclusive interview with ABC News over the course of two days, wherein Stephanopoulos joined the president on a visit to Iowa and back to Washington for a day inside the White House.

By alexander mallin, katherine faulders and benjamin siegel
The House Oversight Committee voted Wednesday to recommend the full House hold Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress, after President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege over materials related to the committee's census investigation.  The panel adopted the contempt resolution on a mostly party line vote of 24-15 on Wednesday afternoon, with Republican Rep. Justin Amash notably joining all Democrats in voting for the resolution while all other Republicans voted against. The privilege assertion marks the latest escalation in the battle between the Trump Administration and House Democrats investigating Ross' move to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, which Democrats claim was intended to intimidate immigrants and minorities, and depress the party's representation across the country.

By sruthi palaniappan
Don’t look for the name "Trump" in George Will’s new book, "The Conservative Sensibility." The renowned columnist says that's because Trump doesn't “have much to do with American conservatism.” On the “Powerhouse Politics” podcast on Wednesday, Will said the departure from traditional conservatism predates Trump, but the impact Trump has had on the Republican party and the country will create significant lasting damage beyond his term in office.  ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl asked Will why Trump got elected and why he now enjoys such strong support from Republican officeholders and voters alike. "It helped that the Republicans had what 17 people on stage at the beginning of the nominating process and the most lurid stood out. But beyond that, Mr. Trump's manner appeals to people," Will responded. Will explained that what many criticize about Trump -- his blunt language and manner -- are what got him to the Oval Office. “A lot of people say, 'Well, we ought to impeach him for being a boor,'" said Will. “He promised to be a boor. This is promise keeping that he was going to overturn the norms.”

By Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb, CNN
(CNN) - Former White House aide Hope Hicks has agreed to testify next Wednesday behind closed doors, the House Judiciary Committee announced Wednesday. The committee plans to release a transcript of the interview afterward. The scheduled interview with Hicks, a longtime Trump campaign aide and former White House communications director, is the first case where a member of Trump's inner circle will appear before the committee as part of its investigation into possible obstruction of justice. The first official to be subpoenaed by the panel, former White House counsel Don McGahn, did not appear before the committee last month, prompting a vote in the House this week to go to court to enforce the subpoena. The Judiciary Committee plans to ask questions about Hicks' time at the White House and during the campaign, according to two sources, but it remains to be seen whether the White House will assert executive privilege to prevent her from answering about her time at White House. Hicks is expected to address executive privilege issues on a question by question basis, one of the sources said. "It is important to hear from Ms. Hicks, who was a key witness for the Special Counsel," Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said in a statement. "Ms. Hicks understands that the Committee will be free to pose questions as it sees fit, including about her time on the Trump Campaign and her time in the White House. Should there be a privilege or other objection regarding any question, we will attempt to resolve any disagreement while reserving our right to take any and all measures in response to unfounded privilege assertions." Last week, the White House directed Hicks and former White House deputy counsel Annie Donaldson not to provide any documents to the committee involving their time at the White House, in what could be a sign of how the White House will respond to questions from the committee next week.

Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege Wednesday to keep secret the documents related to adding a citizenship question to the census as a House panel voted to hold two Cabinet members in contempt for defying subpoenas for the documents. In a further escalation of conflicts between Congress and the administration, the Oversight and Reform Committee voted 24-15 to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for defying subpoenas for documents about how a citizenship question was added to the 2020 census. The Judiciary Committee found Barr in contempt for defying a subpoena for the full report from former special counsel Robert Mueller, who investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Constitution calls for the census to count everyone in the country every decade. The administration's decision to ask people whether they are citizens in 2020 has been contentious because of Democratic concerns it could discourage participation. Republicans said the census included a citizenship question from 1820 to 1950, and the question appeared on more detailed questionnaires in recent decades.

By Clare Foran and Lauren Fox, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The Department of Justice informed the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday that President Donald Trump has asserted executive privilege over materials related to the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The move comes ahead of a vote in the committee about whether to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress over a dispute related to the census and for not complying with subpoenas issued by the committee. In a letter to Committee Chair Elijah Cummings, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote, "this letter is to advise you that the President has asserted executive privilege over certain subpoenaed documents identified by the Committee in its June 3, 2019 letters to the Attorney General and the Secretary." Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, has said that he scheduled the vote because the attorney general and commerce secretary have not complied with subpoenas issued by the committee as it investigates the Trump administration's push to add the question to the census. Cummings criticized the assertion of executive privilege Wednesday morning. "This does not appear to be an effort to engage in good-faith negotiations or accommodations," he said. "Instead, it appears to be another example of the administration's blanket defiance of Congress' constitutionally-mandated responsibilities." Cummings told the committee on Wednesday that he would postpone the contempt vote until later in the afternoon so lawmakers could review the letter. The specific documents at the heart of the fight -- mainly a set of drafts memos and letters exchanged between Commerce and Justice -- are covered by certain privileges, according to the Justice Department. At least one federal court in a different, but related case, agreed with the administration and concluded that the documents were appropriately withheld -- a fact that may bolster DOJ's case if House Democrats take the document production issue to court.

House Intel Committee Chair Schiff said Wednesday's hearing is meant to address unanswered questions from the Mueller report about Russian influence.
By Ken Dilanian
WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller's report failed to address crucial questions about President Donald Trump's relationship with Russia that the FBI may still be investigating, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday as he kicked off a hearing designed to spotlight those issues. "Of all the questions that Mueller helped resolve, he left many critical questions unanswered — what happened to the counterintelligence investigation?," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said as he opened a hearing on counterintelligence issues. "Were there other forms of compromise, like money laundering, left out, uninvestigated or referred to other offices? Were individuals granted security clearances that shouldn't have them? And are there individuals still operating in the administration that leave America vulnerable?" Schiff said he is determined to get to the bottom of those questions, but he wasn't likely to do so at Wednesday's hearing, which featured testimony from two former FBI counterintelligence officials and a conservative commentator. The former FBI officials, Stephanie Douglas and Robert Anderson, each ran the FBI's National Security Division, a job that entails hunting for Russian spies in the United States. Neither of them is in a position to know what the FBI is doing now, but they sought to interpret the spare language of Volume One of special counsel Mueller's report, the section that details more than 100 contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians. Douglas, for example, said that when then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort handed polling data to a person the FBI said was linked to Russian intelligence, that amounted to the Russians "tasking" Manafort, a term spy hunters use to describe the actions of people under the influence of a spy service.

By Mike Lillis
The House voted Tuesday to grant new legal powers to a key committee investigating the Trump administration, handing Democrats another tool in their battle to bore deeper into Robert Mueller's report on Russia's election meddling and potential obstruction by President Trump. The 229-191 vote broke down strictly along partisan lines with no defectors from either party, highlighting the entrenched divisions on Capitol Hill between Democrats accusing Trump of conducting a "cover-up" related to Mueller's findings, and Republicans fighting to protect their White House ally from what they consider a political "witch hunt" heading into 2020. The resolution empowers the House Judiciary Committee to go before a federal court in seeking the Department of Justice's (DOJ) compliance with subpoenas for disputed materials and witness testimony. Two figures are named explicitly in the text: Attorney General William Barr, who has refused to release some parts of Mueller's report and the underlying documents; and Don McGhan, the former White House counsel who has defied a Democratic subpoena to appear before the committee. But in a late-debate twist, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced Monday that he's reached a deal with DOJ officials to access "Mueller's most important files."

By Scott Detrow
California Sen. Kamala Harris says that if she's elected president, her administration's Department of Justice would likely pursue criminal obstruction of justice charges against a former President Donald Trump. "I believe that they would have no choice and that they should, yes," Harris told the NPR Politics Podcast, pointing to the 10 instances of possible obstruction that former special counsel Robert Mueller's report detailed without making a determination as to whether the episodes amounted to criminal conduct. "There has to be accountability," Harris added. "I mean look, people might, you know, question why I became a prosecutor. Well, I'll tell you one of the reasons — I believe there should be accountability. Everyone should be held accountable, and the president is not above the law." The former San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general said she wasn't dissuaded by the prospect of a former American president facing trial and a potential prison sentence. "The facts and the evidence will take the process where it leads," she said. "I do believe that we should believe Bob Mueller when he tells us essentially that the only reason an indictment was not returned is because of a memo in the Department of Justice that suggests you cannot indict a sitting president. But I've seen prosecution of cases on much less evidence."

WASHINGTON – After the release seven weeks ago of special counsel Robert Mueller's report, House Democrats demanded millions of pages of evidence they said were crucial to understanding both Russian election meddling and the president's conduct. The House Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing to question Attorney General William Barr, who blacked out portions of the report. Democrats subpoenaed former White House counsel Don McGahn, a key figure who described President Donald Trump's potential obstruction of justice, for another hearing. And they've negotiated with Mueller himself to testify so Americans could hear directly from the people involved. After all that, the committee will hear from its first witnesses Monday: a panel of cable television regulars who weren't. So far, nearly every attempt by House Democrats to air evidence about Trump's conduct during the investigation that shadowed his presidency has run – for now, at least – into a wall. Barr refused to appear and defied a subpoena to provide Congress the full report. McGahn defied his subpoena under a White House claim of executive privilege, as have other former aides who spoke to investigators about the president's actions.  And Mueller said the report should speak for itself. House Democrats have launched a series of wide-ranging probes of Trump and his administration, and the pace of those inquiries has sparked complaints from his fiercest critics and his most stalwart allies. A growing faction of 59 lawmakers urged a start to impeachment proceedings. House Republicans, who note Mueller found no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, have said they should already be over. "There's been no evidence that would necessitate an impeachment,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said Wednesday.

Overseas investment flowed to Cadre while Trump’s son-in-law works as US envoy, raising conflict of interest questions. A real estate company part-owned by Jared Kushner has received $90m in foreign funding from an opaque offshore vehicle since he entered the White House as a senior adviser to his father-in-law Donald Trump. Investment has flowed from overseas to the company, Cadre, while Kushner works as an international envoy for the US, according to corporate filings and interviews. The money came through a vehicle run by Goldman Sachs in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven that guarantees corporate secrecy. Kushner, who is married to Trump’s elder daughter Ivanka, kept a stake in Cadre after joining the administration, while selling other assets. His holding is now valued at up to $50m, according to his financial disclosure documents. Cadre’s foreign funding could create hidden conflicts of interest for Kushner as he performs his work for the US government, according to some ethics experts, who raised concerns over the lack of transparency around the investments. “It will cause people to wonder whether he is being improperly influenced,” said Jessica Tillipman, a lecturer at George Washington University law school, who teaches government ethics and anti-corruption laws.

By Matt Novak
President Donald Trump suggested this morning that Attorney General Bill Barr might go after the big tech companies, seeming to confirm rumors that the U.S. Justice Department would soon launch an onslaught against Silicon Valley. The DOJ is reportedly thinking about an antitrust investigation of Google but Trump’s comments today hint that “antitrust” might be a smokescreen for other motives. Trump spent his morning talking to CNBC’s TV show “Squawk Box” live by phone and said that while the European Union, which the U.S. president called “a fantastic group of negotiators,” is pursuing antitrust action against the big tech companies, his approach might be different. “The European Union is suing them all the time. We’re going to maybe look at it differently. We have a great Attorney General. We’re going to look at it differently,” Trump said, repeating himself as he often does because his brain is basically just mashed potatoes at this point. “But when they give European Union 7 billion dollars, and 5 billion and 2 billion,” Trump said trailing off and just naming numbers without context. “And Apple gets sued for $10 billion, and you know, that’s right now it’s going on but they’ll end up settling...” Trump also said that the EU doesn’t actually care about antitrust laws and viewed the legal actions against companies like Facebook and Google as a pure money-making endeavor. The president also seemed conflicted about whether the EU should be punishing American companies, briefly sounding territorial and defensive, like a mobster who doesn’t like outside interlopers muscling in on his turf.

By Devan Cole, CNN
Washington (CNN)Former White House counsel John Dean, whose testimony in the Watergate investigation helped topple Richard Nixon's presidency, said Monday he plans to tell Congress that he sees similarities between Nixon and President Donald Trump. Dean, who is a CNN contributor, is set to testify Monday afternoon before the House Judiciary Committee during a hearing about lessons from special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election interference. The hearing comes as congressional Democrats look to step up their efforts to highlight findings in the special counsel's probe amid a swirling debate over impeachment. "I'm clearly not a fact witness, but I hope I can give them some context and show them how strikingly like Watergate what we're seeing now, and as reported in the Mueller report, is. So I've taken several examples from the Mueller report relating to obstruction of justice, which is their focus today and looked at those and made the comparisons," Dean told CNN's Alisyn Camerota and John Berman on "New Day." Asked by Berman what the most "apt comparison" between Nixon and Trump is, Dean said, "the fact that Nixon was hands-on very early is just like Trump hands-on very early." "The firing of (former FBI Director James) Comey is certainly not dissimilar from some of the actions that Nixon took," Dean added. "Nixon waded in and tried to influence the FBI investigation, as did Trump. So there are lots of comparisons." Dean, who resigned from the Nixon administration in April 1973, testified before a Senate select committee in June of that year about the White House and Nixon's involvement in the Watergate break-in and cover-up. He later served time in prison for his involvement in the Watergate scandal. In recent months, Dean has called for the impeachment of Trump, saying in December that he thinks Congress will have "little choice" but to begin impeachment proceedings against the President after a court filing said Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen acted at the direction of Trump when the former fixer made payments to silence women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump prior to his time running for office.

By Heather Digby Parton
Far-right House members spent years trying to impeach Obama appointees. Suddenly they're concerned with civility. The Democrats have held the majority in the House for five months and the only public oversight hearing to shine a light on the administration's behavior happened four months ago. I'm speaking of Michael Cohen's testimony in which he figuratively pointed a finger at the Republicans and said: I’m responsible for your silliness, because I did the same thing that you’re doing now for 10 years — I protected Mr. Trump for 10 years. Everybody’s job at the Trump Organization is to protect Mr. Trump. Every day, most of us knew we were coming in and we were going to lie for him on something. And that became the norm. That’s exactly what’s happening right now in this country, and it’s exactly what’s happening here in government. It was riveting testimony from a witness who was anxious to testify against the president. He was probably the last of those. Trump's other accomplices have shown no inclination to see the error of their ways. As Cohen was when he worked for the Trump Organization, they are fully committed to protecting the boss. They also seem to be quite sure they won't end up like Cohen if they refuse to cooperate with Congress and they don't seem to fear of other legal consequences. If you didn't know better you'd think they were part of a mob syndicate that has the system wired and all the important people in their pockets. There have been some exciting moments since the Democrats took over the House, such as the flurry of activity around Robert Mueller's report and his recent press conference. But mostly what the public has seen is Democrats arguing among themselves over whether or not to initiate an impeachment inquiry and news stories about haggling between the Congress and the White House over testimony and documents, with the White House stonewalling absolutely everything. Finally, that seems about to change. Today the House Judiciary Committee will begin a series of hearings on the Mueller report. They are starting out with testimony from former prosecutors and former White House counsel John Dean, of Watergate fame, to talk about “presidential obstruction and other crimes" as laid out in the Mueller report. The next day the House will vote on whether to authorize contempt charges against Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn for failing to comply with subpoenas. On Wednesday, the House Intelligence Committee will also open a series of hearing it's calling “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Counterintelligence Implications of Volume 1.”

By TUCKER DOHERTY and TANYA SNYDER
A top Transportation official helped coordinate grant applications by McConnell’s political allies. The Transportation Department under Secretary Elaine Chao designated a special liaison to help with grant applications and other priorities from her husband Mitch McConnell’s state of Kentucky, paving the way for grants totaling at least $78 million for favored projects as McConnell prepared to campaign for reelection. Chao’s aide Todd Inman, who stated in an email to McConnell’s Senate office that Chao had personally asked him to serve as an intermediary, helped advise the senator and local Kentucky officials on grants with special significance for McConnell — including a highway-improvement project in a McConnell political stronghold that had been twice rejected for previous grant applications. Beginning in April 2017, Inman and Chao met annually with a delegation from Owensboro, Ky., a river port with long connections to McConnell, including a plaza named in his honor. At the meetings, according to participants, the secretary and the local officials discussed two projects of special importance to the river city of 59,809 people — a plan to upgrade road connections to a commercial riverport and a proposal to expedite reclassifying a local parkway as an Interstate spur, a move that could persuade private businesses to locate in Owensboro.

By Makini Brice
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Monday hinted more details were to come about a migration pact the United States signed with Mexico last week, saying another portion of the deal with Mexico would need to be ratified by Mexican lawmakers. He did not provide details but threatened tariffs if Mexico’s Congress did not approve the plan. “We have fully signed and documented another very important part of the Immigration and Security deal with Mexico, one that the U.S. has been asking about getting for many years. It will be revealed in the not too distant future and will need a vote by Mexico’s legislative body,” Trump tweeted. “We do not anticipate a problem with the vote but, if for any reason the approval is not forthcoming, tariffs will be reinstated.” Last month, Trump threatened 5% tariffs on Mexican goods to be imposed on Monday. The duties would have increased every month until they reached 25% in October, unless Mexico stopped illegal immigration across its border with Mexico. On Friday, the tariffs were called off, after the United States and Mexico announced an agreement on immigration. The joint communique issued by the two countries provided few details.

By Jacqueline Thomsen
A Republican group is urging GOP members of Congress to take seriously allegations of obstruction of justice made against President Trump, in a new ad released Monday. Republicans for the Rule of Law is airing the ad on "Fox & Friends" on Monday, ahead of the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing with Watergate star witness and former Nixon White House counsel John Dean to discuss the evidence of potential obstruction uncovered by special counsel Robert Mueller. In the 60-second ad, first shared with The Hill, Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate hearings are shown raising concerns about potential obstruction of justice as committed by then-President Richard Nixon. A Republican group is urging GOP members of Congress to take seriously allegations of obstruction of justice made against President Trump, in a new ad released Monday. Republicans for the Rule of Law is airing the ad on "Fox & Friends" on Monday, ahead of the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing with Watergate star witness and former Nixon White House counsel John Dean to discuss the evidence of potential obstruction uncovered by special counsel Robert Mueller. In the 60-second ad, first shared with The Hill, Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate hearings are shown raising concerns about potential obstruction of justice as committed by then-President Richard Nixon. “When Nixon was alleged to have obstructed justice, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee took these allegations seriously,” the ad begins. Footage of several GOP lawmakers serving on the panel at that time is then shown, as they called for action to be taken over the then-president’s obstruction efforts. “It is we, not the Democrats, who must show we are capable of enforcing the high standard we would set for them,” Rep. M. Caldwell Butler (R-Va.) is shown saying. “Republicans stood for the rule of law then. Republicans should stand for the rule of law now,” the ad ends. Chris Truax, a spokesperson for Republicans for the Rule Law, called the group’s new ad a “reminder of what patriotism and political bravery can look like.”

By Miriam Valverde
Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard said that some immigrants in the U.S. military are getting the "door slammed on their face" when they apply for U.S. citizenship. At a meeting with veterans in California, Gabbard was asked what she would do about immigrant veterans who are deported. "We got to bring our veterans home," said Gabbard, a U.S. representative from Hawaii who served two tours of duty in the Middle East and is a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard. Many immigrant veterans and active service members don’t know their rights and opportunities, Gabbard said. "Even those who apply for citizenship, we’re seeing now, are getting rejected at higher numbers than those who are not veterans," Gabbard said. "This dishonors their service, their sacrifice, the sacrifices that are made by their family members." Is Gabbard right about citizenship denials for immigrants in the military? Official immigration data supports her claim.

By Quinta Jurecic
Some troubling-to-outright-damning episodes have been lost in the noise around its release.
After two years of silence, the special counsel Robert Mueller recently made his first public remarks — to complain, it seemed, that no one had read his report. “We chose those words carefully,” Mr. Mueller said, “and the work speaks for itself.” But at a dense 440-plus pages, if the report speaks for itself, it takes a great deal of time and focus to listen to what it has to say. Mr. Mueller tells a complicated story of “multiple, systematic” efforts at Russian election interference from which the Trump campaign was eager to benefit. And he describes a president eager to shut down an investigation into his own abusive conduct. This is far from, as the president put it, “no collusion, no obstruction.” The document is packed with even more details, ranging from the troubling to the outright damning. Yet these have been lost in the flurry of discussion around the report’s release. Even the most attentive reader could have trouble keeping track of the report’s loose ends and dropped subplots. Here are four of the most surprising details that you might have missed — and none of them are favorable to the president. Coordinating with WikiLeaks? (Volume I, pp. 52-54) How much did Mr. Trump personally know about Russian efforts to assist his campaign, and when did he know it? Three pages of heavily redacted text provide hints.

By Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman
WASHINGTON — The deal to avert tariffs that President Trump announced with great fanfare on Friday night consists largely of actions that Mexico had already promised to take in prior discussions with the United States over the past several months, according to officials from both countries who are familiar with the negotiations. Friday’s joint declaration says Mexico agreed to the “deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border.” But the Mexican government had already pledged to do that in March during secret talks in Miami between Kirstjen Nielsen, then the secretary of homeland security, and Olga Sanchez, the Mexican secretary of the interior, the officials said. The centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s deal was an expansion of a program to allow asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their legal cases proceed. But that arrangement was reached in December in a pair of painstakingly negotiated diplomatic notes that the two countries exchanged. Ms. Nielsen announced the Migrant Protection Protocols during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee five days before Christmas. And over the past week, negotiators failed to persuade Mexico to accept a “safe third country” treaty that would have given the United States the legal ability to reject asylum seekers if they had not sought refuge in Mexico first.

By Fred Kempe
The effectiveness of President Donald Trump’s unprecedented weaponization of tariffs in addressing non-trade issues is facing its most significant tests yet in Mexico and China. In the case of Mexico, he had threatened new 5% tariffs on Mexican goods – which were to be imposed as early as Monday. The aim was to force the Mexican government to stem the flood of undocumented migrants across U.S. borders. The United States and Mexico reached a deal Friday night in which Trump dropped the tariff threat in return for Mexico’s commitment to increased immigration enforcement. In the case of China, Beijing officials have grown convinced that the Trump administration’s aim is – at the very least – to alter the way the autocratic capitalist regime does business. At the very most, they believe Trump officials would like to slow or stop China’s rise and perhaps change the regime itself. A draft trade agreement, which U.S. officials say the Chinese initially accepted before rejecting, appears to have included a Chinese commitment to change its laws to rein in illegal tech transfers, intellectual property theft and anti-competitive state subsidies.

President Trump tweeted late Friday that a deal had been signed with Mexico to avoid tariffs that were set to start Monday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo more formally announced the agreement shortly thereafter. The announcement avoids what economists and Republicans feared would be damaging to the U.S. economy. According to Mexico's foreign minister, the agreement calls for Mexico to deploy its national guard throughout the country, as well as allow migrants to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are adjudicated. The agreement also calls for Mexico to offer jobs, health care and education. "I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico," the president tweeted Friday night. "The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended. Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to...stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border. This is being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States. Details of the agreement will be released shortly by the State Department. Thank you!"

By Erin Banco National Security Reporter, Asawin Suebsaeng White House Reporter
The president’s lawyer says he welcomes the scrutiny and plans to turn it to his advantage. Top congressional Democrats are actively discussing opening a probe into Rudy Giuliani for his overseas political and consulting work, including a recent attempt to uncover dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, a source with direct knowledge tells The Daily Beast. The contours of a potential probe are still under consideration. But it would likely look at whether Giuliani’s relationships with foreign politicos interfered or intersected with American foreign-policy efforts. Asked about the prospect of lawmakers investigating his foreign work, President Donald Trump’s lawyer had a defiant response: Bring it on. “If they want to come after me, I gladly accept it, because we could just make the Biden stuff bigger news,” Giuliani told The Daily Beast. “Do it! Give me a chance to give a couple speeches about it and hold a press conference. I’d love that… I think it’d be a fun fight. I’ll just compare it to all the things they’re not investigating… If they want, we can have a big fight over this.” The former New York City mayor insisted there was “nothing illegal or unethical about” any of his overseas trips or foreign work in the Trump era, and accused Democrats on Capitol Hill of “trashing the Constitution” and potentially engaging in the “biggest misuse” of congressional power “since Joe McCarthy.”

By Nick Valencia, CNN
(CNN) - Two days before he died, Everett Palmer Jr. called his brother, Dwayne, to tell him he was on his way from Delaware to New York to visit him and their sick mother. But first, he said, he wanted to resolve an outstanding DUI warrant from an incident in 2016 in Pennsylvania to make sure his license was valid for the drive to see his family. The phone call was the last time the family would hear from the 41-year-old US Army veteran and father of two. On April 9, 2018, two days later, the family was told that Palmer had died in police custody at the York County Prison. Fourteen months later, the Palmers say they still don't know what really happened. But they are suspicious because when Palmer's body was returned to them, his throat, heart and brain were missing. "This entire case smacks of a cover-up," civil rights attorney Lee Merritt told CNN by phone. The family hired Merritt to help find answers because so far, they have been unable to get them on their own, they say. Merritt says prison and county officials have not been cooperative with providing an official manner of death. Representatives for the prison could not be reached for comment Friday. An initial autopsy by the York County Coroner's Office stated Palmer died after an incident "following an excited state" during which he "began hitting his head against the inside of his cell door" and was restrained. The report says Palmer became agitated as a result of "methamphetamine toxicity." A probable "sickling red cell disorder" as listed as a contributing factor. According to his family, Palmer never had any health problems leading up to his death. They also say the autopsy report of him hitting himself are completely out of character.

By mike levine
In a video clip that has now gone viral, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pressed the FBI’s top counterterrorism official over what she called "discrepancies" between the FBI’s handling of violent white supremacists and Muslim extremists. "There are holes, and there are gaps here," the Democrat from New York told FBI Assistant Director Michael McGarrity during a House hearing on Tuesday, claiming Muslim perpetrators have been charged as "domestic terrorists" while white supremacists have avoided such charges. But is that true? Not exactly. She's right that federal authorities have prosecuted such cases differently – but it's not in the way Ocasio-Cortez claimed or for the reasons she seemed to imply. Any "discrepancies" in prosecution are largely rooted in the laws as passed by Congress, not policy decisions made inside the FBI. During Tuesday's hearing, Ocasio-Cortez acknowledged, "It could be our fault as Congress." And, as their back-and-forth escalated, McGarrity tried to caution her: “Some of the definitions we’re using, I think we’re talking past each other.” But Ocasio-Cortez doubled-down the next day, posting to Twitter: “[T]he FBI witness tried to say I was wrong. … but then we checked. I wasn’t.”

By Morgan Gstalter
White House officials blocked a State Department intelligence agency from submitting written testimony warning Congress that human-caused climate change could be “possibly catastrophic,” The Washington Post reported Friday. The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research prepared testimony for the House Intelligence Committee and declined to take out the document’s mentions of scientific data on climate change. Rod Schoonover, who works in the office of the geographer and global affairs, was prepared to present his testimony in person during a Wednesday hearing, the newspaper reported. Officials from the White House’s Office of Legislative Affairs, Office of Management and Budget and National Security Council all raised objections to his remarks, The Post reported. They wished to cut several pages because the descriptions on climate science did not match the Trump administration’s official stance, according to senior administration officials who spoke with the newspaper on the condition of anonymity. Schoonover, a former professor of chemistry and biochemistry at California Polytechnic State University, was given permission to appear before the House panel but was not allowed to submit his office’s statement for the record. He ultimately did not submit his testimony to the committee, an aide said.

Samuel Little may be the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history.
By Associated Press
DALLAS — A Texas prosecutor said Friday that investigators have linked more than 60 killings in at least 14 states to a 79-year-old California inmate who may be the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history. Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland said Samuel Little continues to cooperate with investigators from around the country who interrogate him in prison about cold case killings dating back to the 1970s. Among those who spoke to him were investigators from Ohio, where Little grew up and where he's suspected of killing at least five women. Little was convicted of killing three Los Angeles-area women and pleaded guilty to killing a Texas woman, and he's serving life sentences in California. Little, who lived a nomadic lifestyle, claims to have killed 93 women as he crisscrossed the country over the years. Bland said Little is in failing health and has exhausted his appeals, leading him to be forthcoming with investigators. "At this point in his life I think he's determined to make sure that his victims are found," he said.

By John Bowden
A judge on Friday declined to throw out a war crimes case against a Navy SEAL but reduced his maximum potential sentence over murder charges after he said prosecutors secretly tracked the defendant's emails. The military judge, Capt. Aaron Rugh, ruled that attorneys for Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher were hampered by efforts from prosecutors to track emails sent between them and their client, The Associated Press. The secret tracking, Rugh declared, was so intrusive that it tarnished the Navy's image as supportive of fair trials and impeded Gallagher and his attorneys' ability to successfully defend his case. “It hampered the defense’s opportunity to prepare for trial as they became necessarily enmeshed in discovery and litigation related to the operation, thereby harming the accused’s right to competent counsel,” Rugh said, according to the AP. It also “placed an intolerable strain on the public’s perception of the military justice system," the judge said. Rugh added that he would reduce the maximum sentence Gallagher faces for the charges of murder and attempted murder for his actions towards two civilians in Iraq as well as a wounded Iraqi militant. The defense was also given the right to dismiss two potential jurors, according to the AP. Gallagher has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and maintains that reports of his behavior were made by those who disapproved of his leadership style.


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