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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.  

"The media is trying to split me with DT and family by lies and untruths," Manafort wrote to Hannity in August 2017. "It is such a dirty game."
By Tom Winter, Pete Williams and Rich Schapiro
Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort exchanged hundreds of text messages with Fox News host Sean Hannity after the longtime GOP operative was charged in the special counsel's probe, according to court documents released Friday. "The media is trying to split me with DT and family by lies and untruths," Manafort wrote to Hannity in August 2017. "It is such a dirty game." In another, Manafort says: "I have new lawyers who are junk yard dogs and will undo a lot of this injustice. But it is going to be a painful and expensive fight for me." Hannity, for his part, offers Manafort consoling words and an open invitation to his show. "I pray that God give you grace and peace in this difficult moment," Hannity, one of Trump's most vocal supporters, wrote that same month. "If you ever just want to talk, grab dinner, vent, strategize -- whatever, I am here. I know this is very hard. Stand tall and strong." Hannity and Manafort, who is serving a 7 1/2 year prison sentence on charges brought by ex-special counsel Robert Mueller, sometimes texted multiple times a day between July 2017 and June 2018, according to the newly-released court documents. In late January of this year, Manafort said in one message, "Sean, per our conversation this morning, my attorney -- Kevin Downing -- will call you at 11:30 am tomorrow. He will update you on what we are doing and how it connects to your reporting. What number should I give him to call you?” Hannity replies, "Awesome," and says "I asked him to feed me every day" and later says, "HE HAS TO SEND ME STUFF."

By Nicole Goodkind  
A writer for Elle magazine has accused President Donald Trump of raping her about 24 years ago, and says she still has the unwashed coat she was wearing when it happened. E. Jean Carroll, a well-known advice columnist and writer, said the assault took place at Bergdorf Goodman, a high-end department store in New York City, where Trump recognized her while shopping. Trump was married to his second wife, Marla Maples at the time and had a young daughter, Tiffany Trump, with her. The White House and Carroll did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Newsweek. The White House called the allegations, "completely false and unrealistic" to New York. The story surfaced 25 years after the allegations, they said, and "was created simply to make the President look bad." According to Carroll, the president recognized her as "that advice lady" and asked her to help him pick out a gift for "a girl." The pair settled on a piece of lacy lingerie and Trump asked Carroll to try it on. Carroll said she deflected the offer and told him to try it on instead. The pair then made their way to a dressing room where, Carroll alleges, Trump sexually assaulted her. Carroll did not go to the police after the encounter, but did say she told friends, both journalists, one told her to go to the police she said and the other advised her to tell no one. Both confirmed the account to New York.

E Jean Carroll alleges that Trump assaulted her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman in 1995 or 1996, potentially raping her. Donald Trump is facing a fresh allegation that he sexually assaulted a woman in his days as a real estate developer in the mid 1990s, adding to the long list of claims against him of sexual misconduct. In a cover story in New York magazine, the writer E. Jean Carroll relates an incident in which she encountered Trump in the Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman some time in late 1995 or early 1996. She was 52 years-old, and he would have been 49 or 50, at a time when he was married to Marla Marples. The account is taken from Carroll’s new book, What Do We Need Men For?, which is published next month. Carroll alleges that Trump assaulted her in a dressing room in the store after he had asked her for advice on a present to buy a female friend. He selected a “lacy see-through bodysuit of lilac gray” and asked her to model it for him; she quipped back that he should try it on.

Al Jazeera English
The US Senate has rebuked President Donald Trump over his support for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. A handful of Republicans joined Democrats in voting to block $8bn in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other countries. Two resolutions passed 53-45, with the support of six Republicans, and a third passed 51-40. Al Jazeera's John Hendren reports.

Trump has downplayed or hidden evidence that points the finger at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The battle is on to force that proof into the open.
By Christopher Dickey
PARIS—There is no longer any question that the Saudi government was behind the savage murder of dissident journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. A meticulous report from the United Nations on Wednesday made that absolutely clear, once again. The details are grisly, transcribed from bugged conversations in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where Khashoggi was murdered and chopped up for disposal on Oct. 2. Minutes before the journalist arrived to pick up papers for a civil marriage, Dr. Salah Mohammed Tubaigy, a forensic scientist with the Saudi interior ministry, is heard explaining to the head of the hit team how they’ll get rid of the heavy-set Khashoggi, referred to as “the sacrificial animal.” “Joints will be separated. It is not a problem,” says the doctor. “If we take plastic bags and cut it into pieces, it will be finished. We will wrap each of them.” But there was nothing in the U.N. report that Donald Trump did not know long ago from U.S. intelligence agencies that had access to the same recordings and transcripts. And it’s clear Trump won’t do a damn thing about it beyond some toothless sanctions against a handful of alleged Saudi murderers not including the allegedly complicit Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

US President Donald Trump threatened a Time magazine photographer with prison for apparently taking a picture of a letter from Kim Jong-un. Mr Trump rebuked the photographer in the Oval Office after he was warned by an aide not to take a photo, according to Time's transcript. The interview continued, but grew heated after the special counsel's investigation of Mr Trump came up. "You can go to prison instead," the president is quoted as saying. The interview took place at the White House on Monday, two days before Mr Trump travelled to Florida to formally launch his 2020 re-election campaign. At several points during the interview, Mr Trump asked to speak off-the-record, including in the moments after showing the Time reporters a letter he said was from the leader of North Korea. "Here's a letter, OK, now I'm going to show you this letter," said the Republican president. "So this was written by Kim Jong-un. It was delivered to me yesterday. By hand." As the conversation turned to his potential Democratic challengers in next year's election, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told the journalists: "You can't take a picture of that, sorry." "What was that?!" Mr Trump exclaims. The interview continues as the reporters ask about who Mr Trump sees as his toughest political opponent for 2020. "Uh, I don't know. Look, I think I've done so much. Could you bring the list of things, please, give me four of them," Mr Trump tells an aide, who quickly presents one, saying it was made "for today". The president becomes more prickly when Time challenges an assertion by him, according to the transcript.

By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. federal agency in charge of mine safety said on Thursday he has no plans to fast-track new limits for coal miner exposure to silica dust because he believes exposure rates are already falling. The comments come as the national coal miners and steel workers unions urge the Trump administration to regulate silica on the basis of research showing it is causing a resurgence of black lung disease among coal miners in central Appalachia here. “We have increased our sampling, we have lowered the average exposure and we continue to do that every day,” Zatezalo told a Congressional committee hearing, adding that setting an “emergency standard” that set limits on the amount of crystalline silica miners can be exposed to would be “uncalled for.” Government research and reports from black lung disease clinics in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky show the incidence of black lung rebounding despite improved safety measures adopted decades ago that had almost eradicated the progressive respiratory disease.

The president’s favorite morning team ditched their white couch for a fire-red set to argue for war, while Twitter panicked that he’s watching with his finger on the button.
By Barbie Latza Nadeau
The Fox & Friends morning crew was fired up Friday morning, ditching their usual white sofa for a red-backed war room set to discuss President Trump’s last-minute abandoning of airstrikes against Iran overnight. Hosts Brian Kilmeade and Ainsley Earhardt were at odds about what the news meant. An unusually dovish Earhardt insisted Trump “knows more than we do” and that “something’s happening behind the scenes, there’s a reason he hunkered down.” Kilmeade instead seemed to goad the president, implying that his hesitance to attack Iran was a weakness. At times almost sounding like he was directly addressing the president, who is known to be a fan of the show, Kilmeade insisted that “North Korea’s watching. Turkey’s watching. Russia’s watching. China...” They then brought on a retired general who insisted that Trump was playing checkers with Iran when he should be playing chess. Earhardt repeated the Trump mantra that sanctions on Iran were working and tried to assure the audience that the president surely has a strategy. Kilmeade, clearly worked up, all but yelled at his co-host. “No! The sanctions have been in place before. This is Iran’s response to the sanctions,” he said. “Where is America’s response to Iran’s belligerence?”

CNN
President Donald Trump abruptly called off military strikes against Iran after previously approving the strikes in retaliation for Iran shooting down a US military drone, The New York Times reports. The operation was already underway in its initial stages -- ships were in position and planes were in the air -- but no missiles had been fired when the order came to stand down, a senior administration official told the Times. The strike had been scheduled for just before dawn on Friday in Iran to minimize the risk to civilians and the Iranian military, and military officials received word shortly after then that the strike was off, at least temporarily. The United States remains locked in a standoff with Iran, with US military or diplomatic responses having the potential to provoke further escalation from Tehran. Iran's downing of a US drone earlier Thursday has left the President caught between Republicans demanding a response and congressional Democrats warning that Trump -- and the Iran policy hardliners on his national security staff, who welcome the confrontation -- could lose control of the situation and lead the US into war.

By Mark Joseph Stern
Donald Trump’s Department of Justice has decided to run interference for Paul Manafort, protecting him from harsh imprisonment and even questioning the validity of charges brought against him by state prosecutors. This effort to aid the president’s loyal associate behind bars is a startling escalation of Attorney General William Barr’s campaign to help Trump and his confederates evade consequences for their misdeeds. Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was convicted of fraud and tax evasion in 2018 then pleaded guilty to illegal foreign lobbying and witness tampering. He was first prosecuted by special counsel Robert Mueller, who secured a 7.5-year federal prison sentence earlier this year. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance then brought 16 additional charges under New York law. Manafort is currently housed in Loretto, a federal prison in southwest Pennsylvania, and Vance’s office requested his transfer to a New York facility. (Typically, federal prisoners awaiting trial in New York state court are held in the notoriously brutal Rikers Island jail.)

By Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's former aide Hope Hicks sat down with the House Judiciary Committee for nearly eight hours on Wednesday to answer questions about her time in the White House. The former White House communications director, the first senior administration official mentioned in former special counsel Robert Mueller's report to appear before Congress, was subpoenaed because of her proximity to Trump. Most notably, the committee members wanted to know about several episodes described in the Mueller report as attempts to thwart the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. But throughout her marathon testimony, Hicks did not answer many questions related to her time in the Trump administration. Two White House lawyers were present during the testimony and often interjected with a quick "objection" to lawmakers' questions. In total, 155 questions went unanswered. The queries she refused ranged from where her desk was in the White House to the president's actions raised in Mueller's report, according to a transcript published by the Judiciary Committee.

By Mark Joseph Stern
The Supreme Court declined to upend the administrative state on Thursday in a split decision that augurs coming earthquakes in constitutional law. Think executive agencies have too much power to interpret and enforce the law? Want courts to dismantle landmark statutes protecting the environment, consumers, and employees? You may be in luck: The conservative justices are eager to take a hatchet to the federal bureaucracy that governs much of modern America. Thursday’s ruling in Gundy v. United States revolves around a statute known as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. Passed in 2006, SORNA established a national sex offender registry and compelled convicted offenders to register with state officials. Those who failed to register or update their whereabouts faced 10 years’ imprisonment. The law expressly applies to everyone convicted after its passage. But what about the roughly 500,000 people convicted of a sex offense before SORNA? Here, the statute was hazy, stating that the attorney general “shall have the authority to specify” its retroactive application and “prescribe rules” for these pre-SORNA offenders.

The situations all seem far-fetched, but the president's comments have people chattering in the halls of Congress and throughout the Beltway.
By NATASHA BERTRAND and DARREN SAMUELSOHN
In 2016, Donald Trump waffled over whether he would accept the election results if he lost. Since then, Trump has repeatedly joked about staying in office beyond the two terms the Constitution allows. Jerry Falwell Jr., Trump’s most prominent evangelical supporter, has suggested Trump should get two years tacked on to his first term as “pay back” for the Mueller investigation. The president’s own former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has warned that “there will never be a peaceful transition of power” should Trump fail in his reelection bid. The scenarios all seem far-fetched — “It’s almost a question for science fiction movies,” cracked a former top Secret Service official — but the constant drumbeat nonetheless has people chattering in the halls of Congress and throughout the Beltway: What if Trump won’t accept defeat in 2020? And one scenario in particular has Democrats nervous: the lawsuit-happy Trump contests the election results in court. “It’s been a worry in the back of my mind for the last couple years now,” said Rep. Brendan Boyle, a Pennsylvania Democrat. California Rep. Ted Lieu, a frequent Trump critic and early impeachment inquiry supporter, acknowledged the same concern but said he trusted law enforcement “would do the right thing” and “install the winner” of the election. Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has told her party to prepare for the possibility that Trump contests the 2020 results. Constitutional experts and top Republican lawmakers dismiss the fears as nonsense, noting there are too many forces working against a sitting president simply clinging to power — including history, law and political pressure.

‘I mean, you’re getting great ratings, in all fairness, Sean,’ the president says of the ‘tremendous’ ratings his rally got on Tuesday night.
By Justin Baragona
A night after Fox News ran President Trump’s 2020 re-election “kickoff” rally uninterrupted in primetime, Fox News host Sean Hannity handed over almost the entirety of his show to a phone interview with the president. And while their friendly conversation on Wednesday night broke little news, the president did find time to boast about his rally’s ratings—and to take an apparent jab at Hannity. Discussing Trump’s penchant for using Twitter, Hannity noted that many people would like for Trump to “turn off the switch,” prompting the president to say he uses social media to circumvent the media. Trump then quickly pivoted to his TV ratings. “If I don’t use social media—outside of you and a few other great people—I call them patriots,” the president told Hannity. “But actually, you’re not REALLY patriots as much as you want ratings.” “I mean, you're getting great ratings, in all fairness Sean. It’s like, last night, you got tremendous—I heard the speech. That was an easy night, you and Tucker [Carlson] and everyone else said let’s do it and you did it.”

By Morgan Gstalter
A former U.S. Marine accused of spying in Russia reportedly made a public plea to President Trump for help on Thursday. “Mr president [Trump], we cannot keep America great unless we aggressively protect and defend American citizens wherever they are in the world,” Paul Whelan told reporters, according to Reuters. “I am asking the leaders and governments in Ottawa, Dublin, London and Washington for their help and public statements of support,” he said from inside a glass cage. Whelan, who holds U.S., British, Canadian and Irish passports, has been detained since his December arrest in Moscow. He was formally charged with espionage in January and faces up to 20 years in jail if found guilty, Reuters noted. Whelan has denied the allegation and said he was traveling in the county to attend a wedding. U.S. officials have remained adamant that he is not a spy. U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman has visited Whelan in custody and been in contact with his family. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has demanded more information about Whelan’s arrest and detention from Russia.

The war drums get louder after Iran announces that it will exceed the uranium stockpile limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal.
By Elham Khatami
As the Trump administration works to drum up support for military action against Iran, many GOP lawmakers and mainstream media outlets have predictably and conveniently fallen in line, accepting the narrative that the country is hell-bent on building nuclear weapons and destroying the Middle East. Tensions between the United States and Iran have escalated since the Trump administration blamed Iran for an attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week, mere hours after the investigation into the attack began. In the days that followed, the United States has presented little evidence — beyond images, mine fragments, and a magnet — to prove Iran’s alleged role in the attack. The U.S. Navy, for its part, has stopped short of directly blaming Iran, which denies responsibility for the attacks. Last Friday, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an independent investigation into the matter, adding that “it is very important to know the truth.” Despite the lack of clarity, media outlets like CBS News, FOX Business, The Hill, and BBC News parroted Trump administration claims that “Iran did do it” with little context.

By Joshua Rhett Miller
Seventy-two police officers in Philadelphia have been placed on desk duty as department officials investigate racist, offensive or violent Facebook posts, the city’s top cop said. Police Commissioner Richard Ross said Wednesday that he expects several dozen officers to be disciplined and some to lose their jobs after a team of researchers compiled a database of troubling public posts on the social media platform purportedly written by cops in eight jurisdictions nationwide. “We are equally disgusted by many of the posts that you saw, and that in many cases the rest of the nation saw,” Ross told reporters, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We are in a position to know better.” Ross said the posts on the Plain View Project defied common sense and made him “sick,” prompting department brass to put the largest number of officers on desk duty at one time in recent history after 330 officers of the city’s 6,500 cops were included in the database. The database allows users to browse more than 5,000 Facebook posts allegedly authored by 3,500 active duty or former officers in Philadelphia; Dallas; St. Louis; Phoenix; York, Pennsylvania; Twin Falls, Idaho; Denison, Texas; and Lake County, Florida. Users can also search by an officer’s name, badge number, rank or keyword — like “kill” or “hate.”

By Nick Bastone
A new report may have you thinking twice, if you were planning on buying a used Nest Cam. According to a Wirecutter report on Wednesday, some users who have sold their Nest Cam Indoor devices are still able to access images from those devices, even after a factory reset had occurred. That means those who sold their Nest Cams can tap into the security feeds of the new owners. The report said only Nest Cam Indoor devices that have been paired with a Wink hub— a hardware product that allows users to connect and sync an array of smart home devices — are vulnerable to the newly discovered privacy issue. Previous owners are reportedly able to view the images via their Wink app.

By Daniel Politi
Washington is intensifying its campaign to install malware in Russia’s power grid in an illustration of how the administration is getting more aggressive as the cyber war between the two countries intensifies. In a bombshell report released Saturday afternoon, the New York Times reveals the United States is stepping up its digital attacks on Russia’s electric grid. The move is seen as part warning to President Vladimir Putin and part a readiness effort to be ready to carry out a significant cyberstrike if a conflict breaks out. The stepped up incursion into Russia’s power grid is part of the broader response to Moscow’s efforts to affect the outcome of the 2018 midterm elections and comes after many within the administration had been calling for more aggressive action despite the “risk of escalating the daily digital Cold War between Washington and Moscow.” And officials say the difference is noticeable. “It has gotten far, far more aggressive over the past year,” a senior intelligence official told the Times. “We are doing things at a scale that we never contemplated a few years ago.”

By Tom Vanden Brook and Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — The FBI has been examining a violent domestic dispute from nine years ago between acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and his then-wife as part of a background investigation ahead of his possible confirmation hearing to be President Trump’s permanent defense chief. Tuesday afternoon, Trump said he would replace Shanahan as acting secretary. The incident, in which Shanahan and his then-wife Kimberley both claimed to the police that they had been punched by the other, did not surface when Trump nominated Shanahan to be the Pentagon’s second-in-command two years ago, or when he was selected to be the interim defense chief this year. Shanahan said he "never laid a hand on" his former wife. His former wife, who now goes by the name Kimberley Jordinson, said she stands by her account. The episode could have been a potential roadblock for Shanahan if Trump formally nominated him for the secretary’s post, which requires Senate confirmation, because a key lawmaker and Senate aides said it could have raised questions about his ability to combat longstanding problems of violence against women in the military. Among the concerns of Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services committee, and Senate aides: They were not fully aware of the incident when Shanahan was confirmed for the No. 2 position; and the Senate should have the opportunity to assess whether he was the aggressor or victim and how that could affect his ability to lead the armed forces. “The question is going to be whether or not he’s credible on the issue. If he’s credible, he’ll be OK,” said Leon Panetta, who was defense secretary and CIA director during President Barack Obama’s administration. “These days nothing is out of bounds.”

The Affordable Clean Energy rule replaces the Clean Power Plan. It could increase carbon emissions.
By Umair Irfan
The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday killed President Obama’s signature climate change policy, the Clean Power Plan (CPP). It’s one of the few definitive wins in the Trump administration’s full-court press to undo and weaken environmental regulations. Speaking before an audience that included coal miners wearing reflective shirts and hard hats, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler criticized the Obama policy, which required states to meet targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and aimed to reduce US power sector emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. “The CPP would have asked low- and middle-income Americans to bear the costs of the previous administration’s climate plan,” Wheeler said. “One analysis predicted double-digit electricity price increases in 40 states under the CPP.” The EPA is still required to regulate greenhouse gases, but the CPP’s new replacement, the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, is drastically weaker. The ACE rule would lower power sector emissions by 11 million tons by 2030, or between 0.7 percent and 1.5 percent. The EPA noted that long-term industry trends are expected to still push emissions down 35 percent, but that’s largely independent of the ACE rule. Speaking at the announcement, White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Wednesday that US emissions are “flat or down.” That is wrong. In fact, US greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise after years of decline. So the new ACE rule is likely to do little to slow the US power sector’s impact on the global climate. According to some researchers, the new policy itself could actually increase greenhouse gas emissions, even compared to business as usual. And according to the EPA’s own assessments last year, the proposal will lead to thousands more deaths from air pollution. However, environmental groups are gearing up to file legal challenges to the ACE rule. And despite its intentions, the new regulation would do little to slow the decline of the US coal industry.

By Elena Moore
California Democratic Rep. Katie Porter publicly backed an impeachment investigation Monday evening, posting a video on Twitter on her decision. Porter is one of just two House Democrats who represent competitive districts and are publicly backing impeachment of President Trump. Porter's announcement was met with immediate GOP backlash and a threat that the move "will cost Porter her seat" in 2020. Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey is the other so-called "Frontline" Democrat who says the House should launch an inquiry. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee designated 44 legislators whose districts are seen as key to holding on to the House in 2020. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who has the most influential voice in the decision on whether to move forward, has repeatedly stated that she plans to focus on current congressional committee investigations into Trump before talking about an impeachment inquiry.

By Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak, CNN
(CNN) - For Hope Hicks, President Donald Trump is "boss man" no more. Once the President's closest West Wing confidante -- the recipient of his repeated phone calls, the witness to his angriest moments, and according to other campaign aides, the person who steamed wrinkles out of his pants -- sources now say their relationship has changed. Instead of carrying out a near-constant conversation, they rarely speak. Hicks returns to Washington on Wednesday to testify behind closed doors before the House Judiciary Committee for its investigation into possible obstruction of justice by the President. This account is based on interviews with several current and former administration officials, as well as people close to Trump and Hicks. The once-close pair's communication first slowed, then came to a virtual halt, after she left the White House. She told those around her that it wasn't a representation of her feelings toward the man she worked for, but a desire to distance herself from the orbit she had occupied for so long: his. There were several times when she didn't return Trump's call. According to two people familiar with his remark, Trump asked on multiple occasions, "What happened to Hope?"

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s nominee to be United Nations ambassador publicly broke with the White House over climate change on Wednesday, calling it a "real risk" and promising to take the issue seriously if confirmed to the high-profile diplomatic position. The statement by Kelly Knight Craft – made during a contentious Senate confirmation hearing – marked a sharp reversal from her previous comments, in which she said she believed "both sides" of the science on climate change. "Climate change needs to be addressed as it poses real risk to our planet," Craft, who is currently the U.S. ambassador to Canada, said in opening remarks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Let there be no doubt" that human behavior is contributing to global warming, she added. "I will be an advocate in addressing climate change," Craft promised, although she also said the United States should not shoulder an "out-sized burden" in curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Craft's statement was particularly remarkable because of her family ties to the coal industry and because Trump has claimed that global warming is "a hoax" perpetrated by China.

President Donald Trump boasted with abandon in launching his 2020 re-election campaign, overreached in excoriating his critics and promised progress on his border wall and health care that is improbable at best. In those respects, his latest campaign rally was much like any other by the president. Here’s a look at his rhetoric from Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday night: JOBS - TRUMP: “Almost 160 million people are working. That’s more than ever before.” THE FACTS: Yes, but that’s not a feather in a president’s cap. More people are working primarily because there are more people. Population growth drives this phenomenon. Other than during recessions, employment growth has been trending upward since 1939, when the Labor Department started counting. The annual rate of job growth is 1.6% through May. That rate has been within the same range since roughly 2011.

President Trump delivered remarks in Florida in a formal start to his re-election effort.  
By Linda Qiu
President Trump officially began his campaign for re-election on Tuesday at a rally in Orlando, Fla., touching on themes and promoting accomplishments that are likely to be staples of his appearances from now until Election Day. Here’s a fact-check of his remarks. Russia: “Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than Donald Trump.” This is misleading. Whether Mr. Trump has been “tougher” than any other president is subjective. But it’s worth noting that observers of American relations with Russia point to a disconnect between aggressive policies enacted by the Trump administration and not-so-tough language from Mr. Trump himself. In his resignation letter in December, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis emphasized that his views on “treating allies with respect and also being cleareyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors” — Russia, for example — were not shared by Mr. Trump.

By Ellie Kaufman
Washington (CNN) - The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday said states can set their own carbon emissions standards for coal-fired power plants -- a rule that the agency itself says could result in 1,400 more premature deaths by 2030 than the Obama-era plan it will replace. The move fulfills part of President Donald Trump's promise to help the coal industry, but will likely face court challenges from environmental groups and several states who see the rollback as detrimental to clean air and efforts to fight the climate crisis. Former President Barack Obama's plan, if implemented, would have prevented 3,600 premature deaths a year, 1,700 heart attacks and 90,000 asthma attacks, according to analysis conducted by the EPA under his tenure. The Obama Clean Power Plan was set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to the climate crisis, by up to 32% compared to 2005 levels by the same year. "We are gathered here today because the American public elected a president with a better approach," EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said Wednesday. In an initial announcement about the proposal last summer, the Trump EPA labeled Obama's plan as "overly prescriptive and burdensome." Instead, the administration says the plan rule "instead empowers states, promotes energy independence, and facilitates economic growth and job creation," the release stated.

Posted By Ian Schwartz
MSNBC: Former CIA agent Valerie Plame hammers Trump's embrace of collusion adding his attack on the intelligence community is "humiliating" for national security people that "try to keep us safe" every day. VALERIE PLAME: We still haven't really gotten to the bottom of that and I really don't, and none of the American people really understand what has Congress done to prepare for the 2020 elections and make sure nothing like this happens again. To hear Secretary of State Pompeo laugh this off as though, oh, what a foolish ridiculous question, is absolutely horrifying that he would be so dismissive of this.

In 2014, the City of New York settled a wrongful conviction lawsuit with the five men for $41m
By Clémence Michallon
Donald Trump has refused to apologise for saying the Central Park Five should be executed, 17 years after they were exonerated with DNA evidence. The president was asked about the case on Tuesday, in light of Ava DuVernay’s four-part Netflix series about the 1989 case. “You have people on both sides of that. They admitted their guilt,” Mr Trump said after a reporter asked him whether he would apologise to the five men. Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise, five black and Latino teenagers, were convicted of attacking 28-year-old white female jogger Trisha Meili, who was raped and beaten almost to death during a run in Central Park on 19 April, 1989. Authorities vacated their convictions in 2002, after convicted murderer and serial rapist Matias Reyes confessed to the attack and said he had committed it alone. DNA evidence backed up his confession.

By Daniel Dale, CNN
Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump kicked off his formal reelection campaign Tuesday night with a rally in Orlando. His 76-minute speech featured more than 15 false statements, many of them ones that he's repeated frequently in the past. Here's a fact check: Energy Trump boasted about his administration's energy policies. "And we've ended the last administration's cruel and heartless law on American energy. What they were doing to our energy should never be forgotten. The United States is now the number-one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world." "We are, by the way, the number-one producer of energy in the world because of what we've done right now." Facts First: The US was the world's number-one energy producer before Trump took office — since 2012, under the very president Trump accused of waging the heartless war. The government's official source for energy data, the Energy Information Administration, said in 2016: "US petroleum and natural gas production first surpassed Russia in 2012, and the United States has been the world's top producer of natural gas since 2011 and the world's top producer of petroleum hydrocarbons since 2013." It is crude oil production in particular in which the US became top in the world under Trump, according to the EIA: it surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia in 2018.

McConnell, with GOP Senate leaders, just "stands there and twiddles their thumbs and almost says, ‘Come on Putin, let it happen," the minority leader said.
By Rebecca Shabad
WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Tuesday slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for blocking legislation that would protect U.S. elections from future interference, including by foreign governments. “It is irresponsible for the Republican leader to declare 'mission accomplished' about the 2018 elections,” Schumer told reporters on Capitol Hill, speaking about McConnell's remark in which he claimed an absence of problems in last year's midterms. “The Republican Senate, Leader McConnell just stands there and twiddles their thumbs and almost says, ‘Come on Putin, let it happen,'” said Schumer, who added that any leader in Congress who doesn’t work to protect the nation’s elections is “abdicating their responsibilities to our grand democracy.” In an effort to push election security measures, Democrats have a three-pronged strategy, Schumer said. First, lawmakers will press McConnell to allow debate on legislation that’s been introduced by holding standalone votes on those bills. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, for example, called for a unanimous consent vote on his legislation last week that would legally require a presidential campaign to notify the FBI about foreign interference, but Republicans blocked it. Second, Democrats plan to press McConnell to allow votes on amendments for the 2020 defense policy bill that the Senate will consider this week that deal with election interference, which Schumer called a “national security issue.” Finally, the Democratic leader said that he will also push for election security funding as part of negotiations for a two-year deal to lift spending ceilings. - If the Russians had helped the democrats during the elections, McConnell and the GOP would be up in arms and passing all kinds of laws to protect election security.

By Elliot Hannon
The Trump administration announced Monday it is sending an additional 1,000 American troops to the Middle East after it accused Iran of orchestrating attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week. The Defense Department said the troops would be deployed for “defensive purposes” and, NPR reports, would primarily consist of intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance, or ISR, as well as force protection and engineers. The increase in troop levels is part of a more general, though still modest buildup that began last month after another series of attacks on ships in the region that the U.S. similarly suspects is Iran’s doing. The U.S., it’s worth noting, is still without a confirmed Secretary of Defense as relations in the region are increasingly strained. “In response to a request from the US Central Command for additional forces, and with the advice of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in consultation with the White House, I have authorized approximately 1,000 additional troops for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East,” acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a statement. “The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region.”

But the administration is looking to pressure the clerical regime, not fight it, a senior official said.
By ELIANA JOHNSON
The Trump administration and its domestic political allies are laying the groundwork for a possible confrontation with Iran without the explicit consent of Congress — a public relations campaign that was already well under way before top officials accused the Islamic Republic of attacking a pair of oil tankers last week in the Gulf of Oman. Over the past few months, senior Trump aides have made the case in public and private that the administration already has the legal authority to take military action against Iran, citing a law nearly two decades old that was originally intended to authorize the war in Afghanistan. In the latest sign of escalating tensions, National Security Adviser John Bolton warned Iran in an interview conducted last week and published Monday, “They would be making a big mistake if they doubted the president's resolve on this.” Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan announced on Monday evening that the U.S. was deploying an additional 1,000 troops to the region for “defensive purposes.” And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo jetted to Tampa, home of Central Command, on Monday evening to huddle with military officials to discuss “regional security concerns and ongoing operations,” according to a State Department spokeswoman. The developments came as Iran announced it was on course to violate a core element of its nuclear deal with major world powers, exceeding the amount of enriched uranium allowed under the agreement in 10 days unless European nations intervened to blunt the economic pain of American sanctions. And they came as U.S. officials promoted video footage and images showing what they say were Iranian forces planting explosive devices on commercial oil tankers.

The former San Francisco mayor has spent the better part of the last decade waiting his turn. Now he's on the attack.
By JOSEPH J. SCHATZ and CARLA MARINUCCI
SACRAMENTO — Don’t look now, but Gavin Newsom is making some noise. He’s coming out swinging at Donald Trump (and Fox News). Emerging from Jerry Brown’s shadow. Pushing an ambitious state policy agenda backed by a fatter-than-ever budget. Preparing the ground, many believe, for his own potential run at national office after the 2020 circus winds down. The generously coiffed former San Francisco mayor, who spent the better part of the last decade waiting his turn back in the political klieg lights, is on the attack, and on multiple fronts. Speaking to POLITICO in his office at the state Capitol, California’s new governor uses superlatives like “magnificent” to describe his achievements in his first six months, basks in the bliss (for now) of leading a Democratic super-majority in Sacramento and wastes no opportunity to score points on the national stage. “America in 2019 is California in the 1990s,” Newsom says, not approvingly. “The xenophobia, the nativism, the fear of ‘the other.’ Scapegoating. Talking down or past people. The hysteria. And so, we’re not going to put up with that. We are going to push back.” If Newsom doesn’t yet have the national profile he might want, he also knows California’s status as a virtual nation-state, as so many pols and pundits here are fond of saying, makes him more than just one of 50 governors. He demands to be watched, and will be.

The president portrays himself as a straight talker, but he tends to try every possible response to tough questions to see what sticks.
By David A. Graham Staff writer at The Atlantic
Chris Wallace’s question for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wasn’t complicated, or at least it shouldn’t have been. “Is accepting oppo research from a foreign government right or wrong?” the Fox News Sunday host asked. Yet it had the nation’s top diplomat sputtering. “Chris, you asked me not to call any of your questions today ridiculous. You came really close right there. President Trump has been very clear,” Pompeo said. “He clarified his remarks later.” Of course, had Trump been very clear the first time he addressed the subject, the president wouldn’t have needed to clarify anything later on. Trump’s answers have been a confusing mess; he even contradict himself in a long interview with George Stephanopoulos last week.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) - On Sunday night, ABC released the full transcript of George Stephanopoulos' two-day(!) interview with President Donald Trump. And, well, wow.
I went through the whole thing -- and pulled out the best lines. They are amazing(ly) odd.

Having exploited foreign assistance in 2016 and gotten away with it, the president is already trying it again in the 2020 race.
By David A. Graham Staff writer at The Atlantic
“I’m actually a very honest guy,” Donald Trump told George Stephanopoulos in an interview aired Monday. And while that claim holds no water in general, Trump was jarringly honest on one topic: his willingness to welcome foreign interference in the 2020 election. “It’s not an interference, they have information—I think I’d take it,” Trump said. “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI—if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, ‘Oh let’s call the FBI.’ The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it.” There are several plausible ways to interpret this. One, as my colleague David Frum shows, is as an astonishing confession. Another, laid out by my colleague Peter Nicholas, is that Trump has completely failed to learn the lessons of the 2016 campaign. Trump’s declaration, though, is neither especially surprising nor especially irrational. While the president has paid hefty political penalties for his behavior during the 2016 election, and while his latest comments will only stoke the fervor for impeachment among Democrats, the fact remains that the Trump campaign profited from foreign interference in 2016. It did not rebuff explicit offers of assistance from Russia, and capitalized on the roundabout assistance Russia’s release of hacked material provided. Whatever collateral damage Trump has received since the election, Russia’s interference helped him pull off a shocking upset victory in November 2016, and he’s so far escaped serious personal consequences for exploiting that aid.

He’s  making it harder for future presidents to govern.
By Neal K. Katyal
President Trump has been on an executive privilege extravaganza. In the past month, he’s asserted it to block Congress from obtaining documents about the census citizenship question, invoked it to try to bar the full Mueller report from being given to Congress, and used it to bar his former White House counsel, Don McGahn, from providing documents to Congress. Executive privilege has a legitimate core, but Mr. Trump’s attempts are going to wind up undermining that core, and make it harder for future presidents to govern. He is essentially saying that he will not turn over information to Congress about potential wrongdoing — the absolute weakest claim to executive privilege along the spectrum of possible claims. Our constitutional system is defined by a balance between the public’s need for transparency and the government’s need to have a zone of secrecy around decision making. Both are important, yet they are mutually exclusive. The Constitution erred on the side of transparency, with no mention whatsoever of executive privilege in its original text. But the experience of constitutional government (what some might call a “living Constitution”) is that presidents over time have found a need for their advisers to give them frank information without fear of embarrassment, and the privilege has been used for these sorts of routine matters, by both Democratic and Republican presidents alike. Then came Richard Nixon. He asserted executive privilege to try to block turning over tapes that implicated him and his staff in criminal activity. It didn’t go well for him. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled against Mr. Nixon, saying a president was not above the law. Because the evidence contained on the tapes suggested wrongdoing, the privilege could not be used to shield his and his staff’s misconduct from sunlight. The Supreme Court decision was signed by three justices appointed by none other than Mr. Nixon.

A government watchdog says that the aide to the president is undermining the rule of law, and should be fired.
By David A. Graham Staff writer at The Atlantic
The Office of Special Counsel says that Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, repeatedly violated the Hatch Act and should be fired. OSC says Conway broke the law by disparaging Democratic candidates for president, both while appearing on TV in her official capacity as an adviser to the president and on her Twitter feed. The Hatch Act prohibits most executive-branch employees from politicking. OSC, not to be confused with the office of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, is the federal agency that polices the federal civil service. OSC’s recommendation is important not because it is likely to result in Conway’s firing, but because it is almost certain not to. There’s no question of Conway’s guilt here: OSC doesn’t waffle about whether she broke the law, and there’s no Mueller-style legalistic parsing. The report’s conclusion is clear, as is the recommended punishment. And yet the only person who can punish Conway is the president—the very man on whose electoral behalf she broke the law, and who has made clear, as recently as Thursday, his willingness to break the law in order to win elections. “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,” OSC wrote in a letter to the president. The office identified at least 10 instances of Conway breaking the law.

Arson, but for the rule of law.
By Ian Millhiser
Justice Clarence Thomas has long approached the law the same way that Heath Ledger’s Joker approaches urban peace. He’s suggested that federal child labor laws and the ban on whites-only lunch counters are unconstitutional, written opinions that would blow up multiple federal agencies, and argued that high school students lack First Amendment rights because 17th century self-help books told parents to be cruel to their children. Yet, on Monday — after nearly three decades on the Supreme Court — Thomas finally articulated his approach to stare decisis, the principle that courts should generally follow the rules announced in past decisions. And, oh boy, is Thomas’ opinion in Gamble v. United States a doozy. Though Thomas dresses up his concurring opinion in Gamble with a few paragraphs that seem to soften his conclusion, the rule he ultimately articulates would give his court free reign to burn down any decision that five of its members do not like. It’s the kind of judicial arson one might expect from a justice who, after spending much of his career writing lone dissents that had little impact on his colleagues, now thinks he may have the votes to do things his way. “When faced with a demonstrably erroneous precedent, my rule is simple,” Thomas writes. “We should not follow it.” That may seem like a workable rule — how bad does a decision have to be before it is “demonstrably erroneous?” — but bear in mind that this rule comes from a man who has serious doubts about child labor laws. There are many reasons why courts typically adhere to stare decisis. Stability in the law is an important virtue, for one thing. Legislatures will pass laws, companies will make investments, and individuals will shape their actions based on their assessment of existing precedents. If those precedents can be wiped away on a whim, all of this planning will be for naught. And many crucial investments may never happen because investors cannot plan for an uncertain future.

Trump thinks Obama had it out for him in 2016. George Stephanopoulos debunked that idea with one question.
By Aaron Rupar
During an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that aired in full on Sunday, President Donald Trump accidentally undercut the conspiracy theory he’s been pushing about how the Obama-era FBI leadership purportedly conspired to keep him from winning the 2016 election. After Trump demeaned top FBI brass as “lowlives,” claimed that the entire investigation into Russian interference and his campaign’s role in it was “a setup” that President Barack Obama “must have known about,” and referenced an August 2016 text message in which then-FBI agent Peter Strzok mentioned “an insurance policy,” Stephanopoulos asked him a critical question. “If they were determined to prevent you from becoming president, why wouldn’t they leak it beforehand?” he said. But instead of pushing back, Trump acknowledged that Stephanopoulos’s premise was correct. “You know what, you’d have to ask them,” Trump said. “And you know what — had that gone out before the election, I don’t think I would have had enough time to defend myself.” In other words, even Trump agrees that had top FBI officials leaked word about the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia being under investigation in the months leading up to the election, it likely would have been fatal to his presidential hopes.

House Democrats hope to make an end run around Trump’s executive privilege by calling witnesses like Lewandowski and Christie.
By DARREN SAMUELSOHN and KYLE CHENEY
Democrats investigating Donald Trump for obstruction of justice are eyeing a new strategy to break the president’s all-out oversight blockade: calling witnesses who never worked in the White House. Key lawmakers tell POLITICO they hope to make an end run around Trump’s executive privilege assertions by expanding their circle of testimony targets to people outside government who nonetheless had starring roles in Robert Mueller’s final report. That includes presidential confidants like former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Other Russia-related figures who never served in Trump’s administration and would make for prime congressional witnesses include Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, the former top campaign officials who both pleaded guilty and faced extensive questioning by federal prosecutors working on the Mueller probe, as well as a former attorney for Michael Flynn who is cited in the special counsel’s report in an episode involving a dangled presidential pardon. “These people could be called without any reasonable shred of a claim of executive privilege,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a pro-impeachment member of the Judiciary panel that’s leading the obstruction probe. The new line of thinking comes amid Democrats’ mounting frustration at the White House’s ability to slow their investigations to a crawl by blocking witnesses and documents. Such a move might circumvent the president’s resistance and show much-needed momentum for the party.

Urban African American neighborhoods are hardest hit as nearly 100,000 loans have failed.
By Nick Penzenstadler and Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, USA TODAY
In a stealth aftershock of the Great Recession, nearly 100,000 loans that allowed senior citizens to tap into their home equity have failed, blindsiding elderly borrowers and their families and dragging down property values in their neighborhoods. In many cases, the worst toll has fallen on those ill-equipped to shoulder it: urban African Americans, many of whom worked for most of their lives, then found themselves struggling in retirement. Alarming reports from federal investigators five years ago led the Department of Housing and Urban Development to initiate a series of changes to protect seniors. USA TODAY’s review of government foreclosure data found a generation of families fell through the cracks and continue to suffer from reverse mortgage loans written a decade ago. These elderly homeowners were wooed into borrowing money through the special program by attractive sales pitches or a dire need for cash – or both. When they missed a paperwork deadline or fell behind on taxes or insurance, lenders moved swiftly to foreclose on the home. Those foreclosures wiped out hard-earned generational wealth built in the decades since the Fair Housing Act of 1968 1. Leroy Roebuck, 86, rode the bus his entire career to a nearby curtain manufacturer. When he needed to make home repairs, he turned to reverse mortgages after seeing an ad on television.

By Robert Barnes
The Supreme Court dismissed the challenge to a lower court’s findings that some of Virginia’s legislative districts were racially gerrymandered, saying Monday that House Republicans did not have legal standing to challenge the decision. The decision could give an advantage to the state’s Democrats. All 140 seats in the legislature are on the ballot this fall, and the GOP holds two-seat majorities in both the House (51 to 49) and the Senate (21 to 19). Democrats have been hoping that a wave of successes in recent Virginia elections will propel them to control of the legislature for the first time since 1995. The party that controls the General Assembly in 2021 will oversee the next statewide re­districting effort, following next year’s census — potentially cementing an advantage in future elections.

By Pete Williams
Trump's former campaign manager might have been helped if the case involving an Alabama man on gun and robbery charges had been overturned. The Supreme Court declined on Monday to change the longstanding rule that says putting someone on trial more than once for the same crime does not violate the Constitution's protection against double jeopardy — a case that drew attention because of its possible implications for President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. The 7-2 ruling was a defeat for an Alabama man, Terance Gamble, convicted of robbery in 2008 and pulled over seven years later for a traffic violation. When police found a handgun in his car, he was prosecuted under Alabama's law barring felons from possessing firearms. The local U.S. attorney then charged Gamble with violating a similar federal law. Because of the added federal conviction, his prison sentence was extended by nearly three years. The Fifth Amendment says no person shall be "twice put in jeopardy of life or limb" for the same offense. But for more than 160 years, the Supreme Court has ruled that being prosecuted once by a state and again in federal court, or the other way around, for the same crime doesn't violate the protection against double jeopardy because the states and the federal government are "separate sovereigns."

By Jacqueline Thomsen
The Supreme Court has ruled against the Virginia House of Delegates in a racial gerrymandering case that represents a victory for Democrats in the state. In the 5-4 ruling, the justices found that the House didn't have the standing to appeal a lower court ruling that found that the new district maps must be used ahead of statewide elections later this year. Those new maps are already in use. Democrats had claimed that previous districts were unlawful because they featured too many black voters, diminishing their power across the state and in other districts. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion and was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch. Justices Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh dissented.

“They’re giving out phony polls."
By Josh Israel
Days after President Donald Trump was caught gaslighting the American people about an embarrassing campaign poll that he falsely claimed did not exist, he has taken action. Rather than change the conduct and message that has made him the most consistently unpopular president in modern times, he has instead opted to change the messenger. Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign reportedly dismissed three longtime pollsters over the leak of an internal poll that showed him trailing Joe Biden badly in several key states. They included Michael Baselice, Adam Geller, and Brett Loyd. The latter name is particularly noteworthy: he is president and CEO of the polling company inc./WomanTrend, the public opinion firm created by Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway back in 1995. While polling about an election that’s still more than a year away is notoriously unreliable, it is significant that the president of the United States — who, as a candidate, vowed to America “I will never lie to you” — flat out lied about the existence of his own poll. “They were fake polls that were released by somebody that is — it’s ridiculous,” he said last Wednesday after the numbers were first reported.

By Aaron David Miller, Opinion contributors
Tensions in the volatile U.S.-Iran relationship are increasing, and the two sides are ever closer to the possibility of a direct military confrontation since President Donald Trump condemned what was almost certainly an Iranian mine attack disabling two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week. A serious and sustained conflict isn’t inevitable, but the odds have increased. How did we get here and, more troubling, exactly where are we going? Amidst all the hype, spin and storytelling from both sides, here are some harsh truths about the Trump administration and its Iranian adversaries. The Iranian regime is authoritarian, ideological and repressive, a serial human rights abuser and regional troublemaker. But we now find ourselves in a dangerous situation largely as a result of a great unraveling begun by the Trump administration's unilateral decision last year to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. The accord — known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — was flawed, to be sure, and didn’t address Iran’s aggressive regional behavior or its ballistic missile programs. Even so, it was still a highly functional arms control agreement that imposed significant constraints on Iran's nuclear program for at least for a decade or more. 'Maximum pressure' and no Plan B: Campaigning hard against the agreement, candidate Trump vowed to renegotiate or leave what he deemed the worst agreement ever negotiated. Then as president, he pulled out of the agreement and launched his "maximum pressure" campaign. The administration reimposed sanctions on banking and petrochemicals and, in the past several months, has made a major effort to reduce Iran's lifeblood — its oil exports — to zero. As intended, all of this has wreaked havoc on the Iranian economy. Not surprisingly, the regime, which the Iranian foreign minister quipped had a Ph.D. in sanctions busting, signaled through mine attacks on six oil tankers in the past month that it had options, too. Within hours of Thursday's attacks, oil prices spiked. No matter how egregious the regime’s behavior in other areas, pulling out of the JCPOA without a Plan B other than "maximum pressure" has more than any other factor brought us where we are today.  

By Tom Dreisbach
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says one of his "highest priorities" is to take on the leading cause of preventable death in the United States: smoking. McConnell has sponsored a bill, along with Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, that would increase the tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21. In a speech on the Senate floor last month, McConnell said, "The sad reality is that Kentucky has been the home to the highest rates of cancer in the country. We lead the entire nation in the percentage of cancer cases tied directly to smoking." Indeed, nearly 9,000 Kentuckians die every year from smoking — roughly 24 people every day. Kentucky also spends $1.9 billion on smoking-related health problems like lung cancer, strokes and premature birth. "Our state once grew tobacco like none other," said McConnell. "And now we're being hit by the health consequences of tobacco use like none other." Still, McConnell noted, "I might seem like an unusual candidate to lead this charge." For many public health advocates, that was a vast understatement. Following the industry's lead: An NPR review of McConnell's relationship with the tobacco industry over the decades has found that McConnell repeatedly cast doubt on the health consequences of smoking, repeated industry talking points word-for-word, attacked federal regulators at the industry's request and opposed bipartisan tobacco regulations going back decades.

By Daniel Politi
Washington is intensifying its campaign to install malware in Russia’s power grid in an illustration of how the administration is getting more aggressive as the cyber war between the two countries intensifies. In a bombshell report released Saturday afternoon, the New York Times reveals the United States is stepping up its digital attacks on Russia’s electric grid. The move is seen as part warning to President Vladimir Putin and part a readiness effort to be ready to carry out a significant cyberstrike if a conflict breaks out. The stepped up incursion into Russia’s power grid is part of the broader response to Moscow’s efforts to affect the outcome of the 2018 midterm elections and comes after many within the administration had been calling for more aggressive action despite the “risk of escalating the daily digital Cold War between Washington and Moscow.” And officials say the difference is noticeable. “It has gotten far, far more aggressive over the past year,” a senior intelligence official told the Times. “We are doing things at a scale that we never contemplated a few years ago.”

By Felicia Sonmez
President Trump on Sunday floated the possibility of staying in office longer than two terms, suggesting in a morning tweet that his supporters might “demand that I stay longer.” The president, who will kick off his reelection campaign on Tuesday with an event in Orlando, has previously joked about serving more than two terms, including at an event in April, when he told a crowd that he might remain in the Oval Office “at least for 10 or 14 years.” The 22nd Amendment of the Constitution limits the presidency to two terms. In tweets Sunday morning, Trump also voiced dissatisfaction with recent news coverage of his administration, calling both The Washington Post and the New York Times “the Enemy of the People.” He added: “The good news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT), both of these horrible papers will quickly go out of business & be forever gone!”

By Allison Quinn Breaking News Reporter
President Trump has accused The New York Times of committing a “virtual act of treason” by publishing a story Saturday saying his administration has been targeting Russia’s power grid as part of an ongoing operation to counter cyber threats. “Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country,” Trump wrote on Twitter late Saturday. “ALSO, NOT TRUE! Anything goes with our Corrupt News Media today. They will do, or say, whatever it takes, with not even the slightest thought of consequence! These are true cowards and without doubt, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!” he said. The Times report relied on three-months worth of interviews with several current and former government officials, who described the deployment of American computer code into Russia’s electrical power grid in a move meant partly as a warning to Russian intelligence and partly as a pre-emptive strike in case of a cyberattack. Trump himself reportedly granted new authorities to the United States Cyber Command last year, and is also said to have personally signed off on an operation to take Russian internet troll farm Internet Research Agency offline during the 2018 midterm elections. National Security Adviser John Bolton also appeared to hint at a more aggressive cyber strategy toward Russia earlier this week. “We thought the response in cyberspace against electoral meddling was the highest priority last year, and so that’s what we focused on. But we’re now opening the aperture, broadening the areas we’re prepared to act in,” he said at a conference sponsored by The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. “We will impose costs on you until you get the point.”

By Maxwell Tani Media reporter
According to The Washington Post, the gun rights groups’ took out a $28 million line of credit, and scaled back its services including cancelling some gun-training sessions. The National Rifle Association reportedly ended 2018 about $10.8 million in the red as the organization’s spending has come under legal scrutiny and sparked internal turmoil. The Washington Post reported late Friday that documents showed the company had taken measures to cut its spending last year as it continued to lose money. The NRA took out a $28 million line of credit, and scaled back its services for members and employees, including cancelling some gun-training sessions and freezing its staff pension plan. The company’s electoral spending also decreased dramatically from past elections. According to the Post, which obtained an audit of the company that included its nonprofit arm, its political action committee, and several affiliated foundations, the company spent more money on expenses classified as travel and entertainment than it did on the 2018 midterm elections. The NRA told the Post that it was making “financial and administrative decisions that work in the best interests of its members,” and said President Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 was a sign of the organization’s strength. Over the past year, the nation’s most high-profile gun advocacy group has been rocked by internal and external tumult related to its finances and spending. Earlier this year, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that her office had opened an investigation into the organization’s tax exempt status after various groups complained that the company’s leaders were making millions of dollars off the organization, which is a nonprofit.

By jonathan drew, associated press
Voting rights activists argue that newly discovered 2015 correspondence between a GOP redistricting expert and a current Census Bureau official bolster arguments that discrimination motivated efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 population survey. The plaintiffs, who successfully challenged the question in a Maryland federal court, said in a filing late Friday that the email exchange between the late Republican consultant Thomas Hofeller and the Census Bureau official was discovered earlier this week. They say the documents give a federal judge, who previously ruled in their favor, latitude to re-examine whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross intended to discriminate against minorities by adding the citizenship question to the 2020 census. While U.S. District Judge George Hazel issued a ruling in April to block the addition of the census question, he said the Maryland plaintiffs failed to prove that their equal protection rights were violated because they hadn't shown that Ross and other officials acted with discriminatory intent. Plaintiffs, citing the new documents, say the judge should reconsider on the equal protection question. "The trial record and the Hofeller documents both reveal that the central purpose of adding a citizenship question was to deprive Hispanics and noncitizens of political representation," the plaintiffs argue, adding that the evidence "explains precisely why Secretary Ross pressed ahead with adding the citizenship question in the face of ... evidence that it would cause a disproportionate undercount of noncitizens and Hispanics."

By Diane Samson Tech Times
Everyone who will visit the NASA headquarters will be reminded of three African American women who made significant contributions to the agency's space flight program in the 1960s. NASA Honors Contribution Of African American Human Computers On Wednesday, June 12, a street in Washington, D.C. was renamed "Hidden Figures Way" to honor the work of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. The street name was a nod to the book authored by Margot Lee Shetterly and the subsequent Oscar-nominated movie that chronicled the struggles and successes of the "human computers." "I just want to say these were the three hidden figures in a very prominent book that became a magnificent movie that started a movement that brought all of us here today," stated NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "Here we are, 50 years after the landing of the Apollo 11 Moon lander, celebrating those figures who were, at the time, not celebrated." The event was attended by U.S. Senator Ted Cruz who, along with Senators Ed Markey, John Thune, and Bill Nelson, introduced the bipartisan bill to give the street a new name last August. D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Shetterley, and members of the Johnson, Jackson, and Vaughan families were also there to witness the official designation.

By Peter Waldman
The NIH and the FBI are targeting ethnic Chinese scientists, including U.S. citizens, searching for a cancer cure. Here’s the first account of what happened to Xifeng Wu. The dossier on cancer researcher Xifeng Wu was thick with intrigue, if hardly the stuff of a spy thriller. It contained findings that she’d improperly shared confidential information and accepted a half-dozen advisory roles at medical institutions in China. She might have weathered those allegations, but for a larger aspersion that was far more problematic: She was branded an oncological double agent. In recent decades, cancer research has become increasingly globalized, with scientists around the world pooling data and ideas to jointly study a disease that kills almost 10 million people a year. International collaborations are an intrinsic part of the U.S. National Cancer Institute’s Moonshot program, the government’s $1 billion blitz to double the pace of treatment discoveries by 2022. One of the program’s tag lines: “Cancer knows no borders.” Except, it turns out, the borders around China. In January, Wu, an award-winning epidemiologist and naturalized American citizen, quietly stepped down as director of the Center for Public Health and Translational Genomics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center after a three-month investigation into her professional ties in China. Her resignation, and the departures in recent months of three other top Chinese American scientists from Houston-based MD Anderson, stem from a Trump administration drive to counter Chinese influence at U.S. research institutions. The aim is to stanch China’s well-documented and costly theft of U.S. innovation and know-how. The collateral effect, however, is to stymie basic science, the foundational research that underlies new medical treatments. Everything is commodified in the economic cold war with China, including the struggle to find a cure for cancer.

By MATTHEW CHOI
President Donald Trump said he'd been briefed on Navy pilots reporting increased sightings of unidentified flying objects, adding that he doesn't particularly believe in UFOs. Speaking with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in an interview segment released Saturday, Trump raised his eyebrows and grinned incredulously when asked what he made of the reports. "I want them to think whatever they think," Trump said of the Navy pilots. "I did have one very brief meeting on it. But people are saying they’re seeing UFOs. Do I believe it? Not particularly." The Navy recently drafted new guidelines for how to report encounters with "unidentified aircraft" in response to reports of sophisticated vessels intruding on Navy strike groups, POLITICO reported in April. Pilots reported seeing objects flying at 30,000 feet with no exhaust plumes and at supersonic speeds, according to The New York Times.

By Graham Rapier
United States President Donald Trump on Saturday warned without evidence of a massive market crash if he's not re-elected in 2020. "The Trump Economy is setting records, and has a long way up to go," he said. "However, if anyone but me takes over in 2020 (I know the competition very well), there will be a Market Crash the likes of which has not been seen before! KEEP AMERICA GREAT)." The stock market, a close but far from perfect measure for some aspects of the economy's health, are indeed up about 27% since the President's inauguration on January 20, 2017, but those gains have been mired by massive sell offs sparked by trade war fears amid tariff fights with China, Mexico, and other countries. Leading economists, meanwhile, are warning more trade disputes could unfurl economic gains from even before Trump's election. But even professionals struggle to forecast when — and why — economic recessions occur. "The trade war has so far offset all benefits of fiscal stimulus and, if continued, may lead to global recession," Marko Kolanovic, JPMorgan's global head of quantitative and derivatives strategy, said on Thursday. "If this recession materializes, historians might call it the 'Trump recession' given that it would be largely caused by the trade war initiative."

Analysis by Kevin Liptak, CNN
Washington (CNN) - To one crowd, Vice President Joe Biden was a "low-IQ individual." To another, President Donald Trump wondered aloud whether his front-running rival could ever inspire high esteem: "People don't respect him," Trump scoffed, "even the people that he's running against." To a third, he widened his sights: Sen. Bernie Sanders was "crazy," Sen. Elizabeth Warren was "probably out," former Rep. Beto O'Rourke "was made to fall like a rock" and mayor Pete Buttigieg -- well, he just had a name that's hard to pronounce. Crowd-baiting patter at a rollicking campaign rally? Not quite. Trump offered those assessments underneath crystal chandeliers at the Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, in front of a dry-mill grain processing facility in Iowa and amid a tangle of pipes transporting natural gas in Louisiana. All were official events -- not political ones -- funded by taxpayers for the President to ostensibly advance his governing agenda. As Trump prepares to wage re-election battle against one of the nearly two-dozen Democrats vying to replace him, the line dividing his official work as President and his electoral pursuits has largely been erased. Instead of keeping the two lanes separate, Trump has merged them into one political stream -- a reflection, some aides said, of his interest in campaigning over nearly everything else. This week, a federal watchdog agency determined one of Trump's top aides -- White House counselor Kellyanne Conway -- had so blurred the lines between her official duties as a public servant and her role as a political operative that she should be removed from public office. But in an indication of the dismissive view Trump has taken toward federal rules regulating the political activity of officeholders, the White House said the Office of Special Counsel findings were "deeply flawed." And Trump said in an interview on Fox News he had no plans to dismiss his longtime aide. "It looks to me like they're trying to take away their right of free speech. And that's just not fair," Trump said. "She's got to have the right of responding to questions."

By Jesse Byrnes
Mexico's government on Friday released a copy of a letter that President Trump touted in front of cameras earlier this week in teasing additional details of a deal reached with the country to stem the flow of migrants heading toward the U.S. The letter, first published by the Mexican newspaper Reforma, states that the U.S. and Mexico "will immediately begin discussions to establish definitive terms for a binding bilateral agreement to further address burden-sharing and the assignment of responsibility for processing refugee claims of migrants." The document, signed and dated June 7, states that under such an agreement both countries would commit to "accept the return and process refugee status claims, of third-party nationals who have crossed that party's territory to arrive at a port of entry or between ports of entry of the other party." It adds that if the U.S. determines after 45 days from the joint declaration reached last week that the measures adopted by Mexico "have not sufficiently achieved results in addressing the flow of migrants to the southern border" then Mexico will take steps to bring the agreement into force within another 45 days. Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico's top diplomat, presented the document to the Mexican Senate on Friday and said there was no other agreement from the negotiations with the U.S., Reforma reported. Ebrard has said the two sides will reassess the migrant situation after 45 days and again after 90 days.

Russia, if you’re listening, La Cosa Nostra has moved into La Casa Bianca
By Lucian K. Truscott IV
The FBI had to wiretap mafia bosses like John Gotti and Vincent “The Chin” Gigante to catch them breaking the law. All they had to do to catch Donald Trump on Wednesday night was turn on ABC News. Trump proceeded to commit multiple felonies out in the open on national television when he told George Stephanopoulos he would be happy to accept dirt on his opponent from foreign governments in his 2020 re-election campaign. "Somebody comes up and says, ‘hey, I have information on your opponent,' do you call the FBI?" Trump asked rhetorically. "It's not an interference, they have information — I think I'd take it," Trump said. "I'll tell you what, I've seen a lot of things over my life. I don't think in my whole life I've ever called the FBI. In my whole life. You don't call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you do.” He paused for a moment. “Oh, give me a break — life doesn't work that way." He looked like he’d been gobbling Adderall. His pupils were pinned, and he kept doing that thing with his hands, holding them in front of himself and moving them apart and then together impatiently, talking to Stephanopoulos like he was a school child just learning about politics rather than the seasoned operative he is (Stephanopoulos was one of the architects of the Bill Clinton campaign when he won the presidency in 1992 and has covered political campaigns as a reporter and news anchor in the decades since then). But perhaps Trump was right. Maybe Stephanopoulos needs a good talking to from the Capo du tutti capo on Pennsylvania Avenue. Doesn’t George get it that politics in the age of Trump is a criminal enterprise, that politicians are no different from gangsters? They don’t go to the FBI and turn each other in. They don’t report crimes. They commit them, and they keep their mouths shut. My buddy’s having sex with underage girls? Call the FBI? Are you kidding?

By Tal Axelrod
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) hammered the Justice Department on Friday over a legal opinion it wrote backing the Treasury Department’s defiance of a House subpoena for President Trump’s tax returns. “What is the President hiding in his tax returns? And since when does 'shall' mean 'unless it displeases Trump?'" the House Intelligence Committee chairman tweeted late Friday."And, perhaps more importantly: What will be left of DOJ’s independence and reputation for impartial justice after Barr? The answer? Very little,” he added. What is the President hiding in his tax returns? And since when does “shall” mean “unless it displeases Trump”? And, perhaps more importantly: What will be left of DOJ’s independence and reputation for impartial justice after Barr?


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