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

The New York Assembly passed a bill on Tuesday that closes the  so-called "double jeopardy" loophole, permitting state authorities to  prosecute someone who receives a pardon from the president. The vote was  90-52. Top Democrats in the state framed the change as a way  to stand up to President Trump by removing a shield that had protected  defendants from being prosecuted twice for similar crimes, and could  have benefited those receiving pardons. "Right now the  president's threatened use of the pardon power is very troubling. It  would be done to undermine an investigation to help out friends and  family members," state Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor  and the bill's sponsor, told NPR. The New York Senate passed its version of the bill earlier this month. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has promised to sign it. The  legal concept against double jeopardy says prosecutors cannot charge  and convict someone for the same criminal act twice. But it kicks in  only after a jury is convened or when a defendant enters a plea.

By Laura Jarrett, CNN
(CNN) - The Justice Department is trying to stave off an "enforcement action" against  Attorney General William Barr this week, making a rare offer to have  the House Intelligence Committee review materials from special counsel  Robert Mueller's report if House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff  agrees to back down. Last  week Schiff said that he would hold a business meeting Wednesday to  take an unspecified action against the Justice Department for not  providing the committee documents related to Volume I of Mueller's  report on links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. The  Justice Department had previously offered to show all committee members  a less redacted version of the Mueller report, but now says it's  continuing to review the initial tranche of 12 categories of documents  Schiff wants, and will make them available "in relatively short order,"  according to a letter obtained by CNN.

(CNN) - The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday issued subpoenas to former White House officials Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson for documents and testimony, setting the stage for another clash with the White House over former officials appearing before Congress. The  committee issued the subpoenas to Hicks and Donaldson as part of their  sweeping investigation into possible obstruction of justice, corruption  and abuse of power. The subpoena to Hicks, the former White House  communications director, includes a request for documents and her  appearance at a public hearing next month. The subpoena for Donaldson,  who was deputy White House counsel, seeks documents and her appearance  at a deposition in June. The committee asks for both to provide documents by June 4, for Hicks to appear on June 19 and Donaldson on June 24. "As  I said earlier today, the Judiciary Committee's investigation into  obstruction of justice, public corruption and abuse of power by  President Trump and his Administration will continue," House Judiciary  Chairman Jerry Nadler said in a statement. The  committee authorized subpoenas for Hicks and Donaldson at the same time  they did so for former White House counsel Don McGahn last month.  McGahn defied his subpoena on Tuesday at the direction of the White  House, not appearing for a scheduled hearing. Nadler has said he will  move to hold McGahn in contempt of Congress because he did not appear. The  committee wants to interview both Hicks and Donaldson about the  obstruction episodes documented in special counsel Robert Mueller's  report. The panel has also authorized subpoenas to two other former  White House officials — former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former  chief strategist Steve Bannon — but it has not issued those subpoenas. In his statement, Nadler called Hicks and Donaldson "critical witnesses" to his committee's investigation.

In its latest move to protect industry, the government has ensured that we'll see more deaths from asthma, heart problems and cognitive degeneration. In 1948, a severe bout of smog killed 20 people and sickened 7,000 in the small town of Donora, Pennsylvania. The fatal air pollution, spurred by a steel mill, was not unheard of during the time, but it catalyzed a national movement for better air. Two years later, President Harry Truman called the first national air pollution conference. By 1963, Congress had passed the Clean Air Act. More than six decades later—despite significant progress—air pollution continues to be a problem, with more than 40 percent of Americans still exposed to unhealthy air. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency under President Donald Trump has decided to pose an arbitrary threshold by which to define unhealthy air in order to protect fossil fuel companies and their unchecked emissions. Given that science has confirmed that no level of polluted air can be healthy, this will not only threaten us now, but for generations to come. “The newer science seems to show effects at lower and lower levels of pollution,” said Edward Avol, a professor of clinical preventive medicine at the Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of Southern California. “The EPA is saying ‘we don’t care about that anymore’.” Avol, who served on panels that advised both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, pointed to the mounting evidence that even minor amounts of air pollution can cause premature deaths, impacting heart health, asthma rates, and even cognitive performance. This is particularly dangerous for children and the elderly, since both are more vulnerable to pollutants. Stories of families that have moved because of air pollution are cropping up, most recently in California, where corporate entities exacerbate wildfires. - How many Americans will suffer and or die because of Trump and the GOP protecting business profits over American lives?

BY Richard Harris
Children who live in areas with bad air pollution are more likely to develop asthma, which is the most common chronic illness among young people. But when you clean up the air does that actually protect the health of kids? A study published Tuesday in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, looked to answer that question. The research focused on Southern California, long notorious for its smog. Over the past two decades, air quality has been markedly getting better, as stricter rules limit pollution from vehicles. The change led Erika Garcia, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Southern California, to ask a simple question. "We know there have been reductions in air pollution," she says. "Let's see if concurrently there are improvements in health outcomes during that same time period." As it happens, scientists have been checking in periodically on the health of students in 12 different communities in the Los Angeles area. The Southern California Children's Health Study studied three different time periods, 1993-2001, 1996-2004 and 2006-2014. Garcia and her colleagues reconstructed air-quality trends in these regions. "Some communities declined a little bit," she says. "Some communities declined a lot. Some communities didn't decline at all." Garcia wondered whether new cases of asthma would be lower in communities where the air improved the most. The answer was yes, especially for nitrogen dioxide, which is an indicator of tailpipe emissions, and fine particles, which are a major type of pollution from diesel engines.

(CNN) - Special counsel Robert Mueller's team has expressed reluctance to him testifying publicly in front of the House Judiciary Committee, according to sources familiar with the matter. The  special counsel's team has expressed the notion that Mueller does not  want to appear political after staying behind the scenes for two years  and not speaking as he conducted his investigation into President Donald  Trump. One option is to have him testify behind closed doors, but  sources caution numerous options are being considered in the  negotiations between the committee and the special counsel's team. Justice officials are  generally supportive of how the special counsel's team is proceeding  with negotiations. As Attorney General Bill Barr told The Wall Street  Journal last week: "It's Bob's call whether he wants to testify." Special counsel spokesman Peter Carr and the Justice Department declined to comment on the current status of negotiations. House  Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, has repeatedly  said that Mueller must appear publicly, and he will subpoena Mueller if  necessary. "Eventually  we will hear from Mueller because ... we will subpoena him if we have  to," Nadler told CNN earlier this month. "I certainly hope it doesn't  come to the, to our necessity to subpoena him," he added. Rep.  Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, suggested  at Tuesday's hearing, a meeting where former White House counsel Don  McGahn did not appear after being subpoenaed, that Democrats appeared to  have a lack of urgency scheduling Mueller's testimony.

A Daily Beast report reveals Hegseth’s private push to aid military members who have allegedly committed horrific crimes.
By Sebastian Murdock
Edward “Eddie” Gallagher was reported by his fellow Navy SEALs in 2017 after allegedly firing upon civilians in Iraq and fatally stabbing a 15-year-old enemy captive. President Donald Trump is now reportedly considering a pardon for Gallagher, along with other accused and convicted war criminals, and Fox News host Pete Hegseth is happy to take credit for it. While Gallagher is scheduled for trial starting May 28, Trump has considered pardoning him before then. Earlier this month, the president issued a pardon for former Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, who was convicted of unpremeditated murder after driving an Iraqi prisoner into the desert in 2008 and fatally shooting him. Hegseth has played an instrumental role in driving Trump to these decisions, The Daily Beast and CNN report.

By Kate Smith
A federal judge in Jackson, Mississippi said that the state's controversial "fetal heartbeat" law "smacks of defiance" after hearing arguments seeking to temporarily block the anti-abortion legislation on Tuesday morning, CBS affiliate WJTV reports. Judge Carlton Reeves, an Obama-appointed federal judge, heard arguments from the Center for Reproductive Rights which challenged the state's recently-passed ban that outlaws abortions after about six weeks. The new law was signed by the governor on March 21 and is scheduled to be implemented on July 1. Reeves is the same judge who struck down Mississippi's 15-week ban late last year. "Doesn't it boil down to six is less than 15?" Reeves said, according to local news reports. The judge later said that new law "smacks of defiance to this court."

By Ryan Browne, CNN
Washington (CNN) - US F-22 stealth jets intercepted four Russian bombers and two Russian Su-35 fighter jets off the coast of Alaska on Monday, according to a statement from North American Aerospace Defense Command. The Russian nuclear capable long-range bombers flew into the Air Defense Identification Zone, which extends approximately 200 miles off Alaska's western coast. The Russian bomber flights are seen by US military officials as part of Moscow's effort to train its military for a potential crisis while simultaneously sending a message of strength to adversaries. This latest intercept comes amid tensions with Russia on a wide range of geopolitical issues and a week after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Russian Vladimir Putin in the resort town of Sochi where he warned Russia about interfering in US elections, taking a tougher public line than President Donald Trump on the issue. US F-22s fighter jets and an E-3 Airborne Early Warning and Control System from North American Aerospace Defense Command "positively identified and intercepted a total of four Tupolev Tu-95 bombers and two Su-35 fighters entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on May 20," NORAD said in a statement.

Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — The White House's former  top lawyer, Don McGahn, defied a congressional subpoena and skipped a  hearing Tuesday where lawmakers had planned to press him on President  Donald Trump's efforts to thwart the investigation of Russian  interference in the 2016 election. McGahn's refusal to comply with a House Judiciary Committee subpoena came at the direction of the White House and after a legal opinion from the Justice Department on Monday said he could not be forced to appear before the panel. The  committee's chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., bristled at McGahn's  absence. “This conduct is not remotely acceptable,” he said Tuesday,  facing an empty witness chair. “Our subpoenas are not optional.” McGahn's move marked the latest in a series of clashes between Trump and lawmakers seeking to investigate him. The committee already found Attorney General William Barr in contempt  for refusing to provide Congress with a complete version of special  counsel Robert Mueller's report about the Russia inquiry. And Nadler  said Tuesday that he intended to pursue McGahn's testimony "even if we  have to go to court to secure it." McGahn  provided prosecutors hours of testimony about Trump's efforts to stymie  Mueller's investigation, and Democrats who lead the committee wanted to  press him to detail those episodes in public.

House Democratic leaders sparred internally on Monday over whether to  begin an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, with  Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her allies rejecting the call to move forward  for now, according to multiple sources. Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and  Joe Neguse of Colorado — all members of Democratic leadership — pushed  to begin impeachment proceedings during a leadership meeting in Pelosi's  office, said the sources. Pelosi and Reps. Rosa DeLauro of  Connecticut, Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, Hakeem Jeffries of New York  and Cheri Bustos of Illinois — some of her key allies — rejected their  calls, saying Democrats' message is being drowned out by the fight over  possibly impeaching Trump. Raskin — a former law professor — said he wasn't advocating  impeaching Trump but suggested that opening an impeachment inquiry would  strengthen their legal position while allowing Democrats to move  forward with their legislative agenda. Pelosi dismissed this argument, asking Raskin whether he wanted to  shut down the other five committees working on Trump investigations in  favor of the Judiciary Committee. “You want to tell Elijah Cummings to go home?” Pelosi quipped, referring to the chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee.

The president loves the Constitution when it helps  stop his advisers from testifying, less so when it’s used to demand the  disclosure of his finances.
By Timothy L. O'Brien
Just before boarding Marine One on the south lawn of the White House  on Monday evening, President Donald Trump was asked by a reporter why he  was defying a Congressional subpoena seeking testimony from Don McGahn,  his former counsel. McGahn was a key witness to the events weighed by  Special Counsel Robert Mueller when he was deciding whether the  president obstructed justice by trying to derail federal prosecutors’  Russia probe, but the Justice Department asserted  in a legal memorandum on Monday that “Congress may not constitutionally  compel the president’s senior advisers to testify about their official  duties.” Trump took that memo as a cue to order McGahn to stay mum. In the president’s view, none of this should be thought of as partisan  hardball or an effort to keep the Oval Office beyond the reach of the  law and Congressional oversight. Instead, as he explained on the White  House lawn, the Justice Department was embracing something larger and of  greater consequence than even him.

The agent's text messages speak to his state of mind and “intent on committing this civil rights crime," prosecutors say.
By Suzanne Gamboa
An Arizona Border Patrol agent, facing criminal charges for  hitting a migrant with a truck, sent text messages in which he referred  to immigrants as “mindless, murdering savages.” The use  of such words is commonplace in the Tucson, Arizona sector, the agent’s  attorney said in court documents, although he’s backpedaling from that  statement. Prosecutors  obtained the texts that Matthew Bowen, 39, sent to other agents through  a subpoena of phone records. The content of the text messages was first reported by the Arizona Daily Star. The  prosecutors wrote in a court document that Bowen’s text messages speak  to his state of mind and his “intent on committing this civil rights  crime.” They further stated the texts show “his subsequent effort to  cover up his crime.”

By  Erik Wemple
Fox News host Chris Wallace broke with a vaunted journalistic tradition on Sunday night while moderating a town hall event with Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.  Addressing a controversy among Democrats about whether to appear on the  conservative cable-news network, Buttigieg acknowledged that there’s a  solid case for boycotting Wallace and his cohort: “We’ve  got to find people where they are,” said Buttigieg. “You know, a lot of  folks in my party were critical of me for even doing this with Fox  News.” “I’ve heard that,” responded Wallace, with intentional understatement.

The president's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen told lawmakers during a closed-door hearing earlier this year that Trump attorney Jay Sekulow instructed him to lie about when negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow ended, The Washington Post reported Monday. Cohen  falsely claimed in 2017 testimony that talks on the Moscow project  ended in January 2016 before later admitting that discussions continued  into June of the presidential election year. Democrats in the House are currently investigating whether attorneys representing Trump and his family obstructed the panel’s investigation into Russian interference by shaping or editing false testimony. “We’re  trying to find out whether anyone participated in the false testimony  that Cohen gave to this committee,” House Intelligence Committee  Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told the Post in an interview. The  Moscow Trump Tower, which never came to fruition, was under discussion  while the intelligence community says Russian was engaging in a  multipronged election interference campaign with the intention of  helping to elect Trump. During two closed-door hearings before the  House Intelligence Committee, Cohen was more specific about the changes  Sekulow asked him to make, including saying Jan. 31, 2016, was the  date on which discussions about the Moscow project ended, people  familiar with his testimony told the Post.

By Jennifer Rubin
We should take Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) at his word when he says, as he did on CNN’s "State of the Union," that he has read the entire Mueller report. He told the show’s host, Jake Tapper: “I just don’t think that there is the full element [of intent] that you need to prove an obstruction of justice case. I don’t think a prosecutor would actually look at this and say, okay, we have here all the elements that would get this to a conviction.” The 2012 Republican presidential nominee added, “I think, in part — one of the things that is difficult in order to make a case for obstruction of justice or impeachment is whether or not there was intent. And when there’s not an underlying crime, I think it’s difficult to put together an effective case to prosecute for those crimes.” So Romney is merely “troubled by it” and found it “very disappointing, for a number of reasons.” More than 900 prosecutors found there to be sufficient evidence that, absent the Office of Legal Counsel memo opining that a sitting president cannot be indicted, they would have found sufficient evidence to indict.

By Morgan Chalfant and Olivia Beavers
The House Intelligence Committee has released transcripts of its private interviews with Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former attorney. The  panel voted 12-7 at a closed-door meeting Monday evening to release the  transcripts, according to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).  The  committee interviewed Cohen behind closed doors on February 28 and  March 6 – before he reported to prison to serve a three-year sentence  for bank fraud, campaign finance violations and other charges – as part  of an investigation into the president’s business dealings in Russia and  other foreign countries. The  interviews marked a return appearance for Cohen, who pleaded guilty  last November to lying to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees  about discussions to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Along with transcripts of Cohen’s testimony, the committee has also released exhibits that Cohen provided the panel. Monday’s vote came roughly a week after it was revealed the  committee has been investigating whether attorneys connected to  President Trump and his family helped obstruct the investigation by  editing or shaping Cohen’s false testimony.

By Brett Samuels
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) on Monday doubled down on his critical remarks of President Trump, detailing in a series of tweets why he thinks the case can be made that Trump should be impeached for obstruction of justice. "People who say there were no underlying crimes and therefore the president could not have intended to illegally obstruct the investigation—and therefore cannot be impeached—are resting their argument on several falsehoods," Amash tweeted. In a series of subsequent tweets, Amash sought to shoot down a number of prominent defenses of the president's behavior illustrated in special counsel Robert Mueller's report. Amash argued it would be inaccurate to say "there were no underlying crimes" revealed by Mueller's investigation, that obstruction of justice requires an underlying crime, that the president should be allowed to use any means to end a so-called frivolous investigation, and that the threshold of "high crimes and misdemeanors" requires actual criminal charges.

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
(CNN) - Republicans are moving fast to squelch Justin Amash's rebellion against Donald Trump before his conclusion that the President "engaged in impeachable conduct" -- the first by a GOP lawmaker -- can gather momentum. But  Democrats who want a more hardline strategy against the President are  seizing on the Michigan congressman's sudden intervention to pile  pressure on their own leaders for tougher action. Amash's  act of conscience on Saturday sparked immediate speculation over  whether a tiny leak in the Republican dam could grow into a torrent of  support running away from the President. After  all, it was a rising tide of Republican disgust that eventually became  the unstoppable force that led to the resignation of President Richard  Nixon in 1974. The  early signs are that Amash's protest will not materially shift  political dynamics in Washington that mean any attempt to impeach Trump  remains a long-shot scenario. But  it introduced an unpredictable dimension into the building political  storm over potential House testimony by Robert Mueller as Democrats  accuse Attorney General William Barr of slow rolling a decision on a  date for the special counsel to appear. Amash  accused Barr of "deliberately" misrepresenting Mueller's report -- an  explosive charge that will ensure Mueller will face an uncomfortable  spotlight whenever he arrives on Capitol Hill -- for a hearing that now  seems unlikely to occur before early June.

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN
Washington (CNN) - A federal district judge has told the accounting firm Mazars it will need to turn over Donald Trump's accounting records from before he was President to the Democratic-controlled House Oversight Committee. In a 41-page opinion, Judge Amit Mehta of the DC District Court rejected Trump's attempt to block the committee's subpoena, asserting that Congress is well within its authority to investigate the President. Mehta's opinion will now likely become fodder for other judges to consider as Trump and his Cabinet try to hold off Congress from getting his business records, such as through the IRS, banks and in other court fights. Congress specifically can probe the President for conflicts of interest and ethical questions, Mehta wrote. "History has shown that congressionally-exposed criminal conduct by the President or a high-ranking Executive Branch official can lead to legislation," Mehta wrote, citing the Watergate investigation by the Senate. "It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct -- past or present -- even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry," he added. Mazars has seven days until it will have to comply with the subpoena, Mehta said in his opinion Monday, but the judge refused to halt the subpoena after that. Another court would have to do so. Trump's team has not yet appealed the ruling.

By Pamela Brown, Manu Raju, Jeremy Herb and Laura Jarrett, CNN
(CNN) - Former White House counsel Don McGahn will not appear Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee, defying the committee's subpoena and setting the stage for another contempt vote to retaliate against the Trump administration for rejecting the demands of Congress. The White House argues that as a former senior adviser to the President, he is exempt from having to appear before Congress. The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel concluded that former McGahn was not legally required to appear before the House Judiciary Committee and testify about matters related to his official duties as counsel to the President, according to a memo issued Monday and obtained by CNN. "The Department of Justice has advised me that Mr. McGahn is absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony with respect to matters occurring during his service as a senior adviser to the President," White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that McGahn "cannot be forced to give such testimony, and Mr. McGahn has been directed to act accordingly." "This action has been taken in order to ensure that future Presidents can effectively execute the responsibilities of the Office of the Presidency," she said.

“We know for a fact that Donald Trump has been involved in money laundering in the past," Johnston points out
By Joseph Neese
The New York Times broke a story Sunday that revealed staff of Deutsche Bank were hired especially for their expertise of money-laundering. The bank staff recommended that they contact federal investigators about possible criminal activity in the accounts of President Donald Trump and his senior aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner. “The transactions, some of which involved Mr. Trump’s now-defunct foundation, set off alerts in a computer system designed to detect illicit activity, according to five current and former bank employees,” the Times reported. “Compliance staff members who then reviewed the transactions prepared so-called suspicious activity reports that they believed should be sent to a unit of the Treasury Department that polices financial crimes.” The bank rejected the recommendation, and it appears now it might spark another investigation, according to Trump biographer David Cay Johnston. “We know for a fact that Donald Trump has been involved in money laundering in the past, fined for it,” Johnston said. “We know that Deutsche Bank is fined over $600 million just for laundering money for Russian oligarchs and are nondenial denials. The Trump Organization said we never heard of this. Why would you? It was locked up in the bank. The bank said we didn’t stop anyone. The story makes it clear.”

By David Enrich
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Anti-money-laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving legal entities controlled by Donald J. Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog. The transactions, some of which involved Mr. Trump’s now-defunct foundation, set off alerts in a computer system designed to detect illicit activity, according to five current and former bank employees. Compliance staff members who then reviewed the transactions prepared so-called suspicious activity reports that they believed should be sent to a unit of the Treasury Department that polices financial crimes. But executives at Deutsche Bank, which has lent billions of dollars to the Trump and Kushner companies, rejected their employees’ advice. The reports were never filed with the government. The nature of the transactions was not clear. At least some of them involved money flowing back and forth with overseas entities or individuals, which bank employees considered suspicious.

By perpetuating Trump's falsehoods about the FBI and Mueller's report, Barr has become the kind of threat capable of doing severe harm. On Monday, Attorney General William Barr, acting more like defense counsel for a cornered president than the nation’s top law enforcement official, ordered a U.S. Attorney review the FBI's decision to open a counterintelligence investigation into alleged ties between Trump associates and Russia in 2016. This action, coupled with Barr’s previous reckless conduct, unwittingly promotes the interests of America’s enemies as Barr perpetuates dangerous conspiracy theories about secret Washington cabals and FBI corruption. Counterintelligence professionals often refer to their mission as “the three D’s:” detect, deter and defeat the efforts of foreign intelligence services targeting the United States. Per Executive Order 12333, our government’s lead counterintelligence agency is the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The counterintelligence program is the second most important priority for the FBI, just after preventing the next terror attack. FBI agents assigned to this work are hunters at heart. They seek and find those whose efforts would weaken our nation, make us more vulnerable to attack, undermine the rule of law and wreak havoc with our democracy.

The children were separated from their parents before the government's "zero tolerance" policy went into effect in May 2018.
By Jacob Soboroff and Julia Ainsley
The Trump administration has identified at least 1,712 migrant children it may have separated from their parents in addition to those separated under the “zero tolerance” policy, according to court transcripts of a Friday hearing. U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the Trump administration to identify children separated before the zero tolerance policy went into effect in May 2018, resulting in the separation of over 2,800 children. Sabraw previously ordered those migrant families to be reunited, but the additional children were identified more recently when the Inspector General for Health and Human Services estimated “thousands more” may have been separated before the policy was officially underway. Other potentially separated migrant children could still be identified. The government has reviewed the files of 4,108 children out of 50,000 so far.

By Fred Kempe
The Trump administration is engaged in a global juggling act involving so many strategically significant balls that it would confound the capabilities of the most skilled circus performer. President Trump’s allies praise him for his willingness to take on issues long neglected by U.S. policy makers: confronting China’s unfair trade practices, taking on Iran’s malign regional behavior, working to replace Venezuela’s dictator with democracy, and deploying carrots and sticks to denuclearize North Korea, to name just a few. Succeeding at any one of those challenges would be a major win. Score them all and President Trump’s name would be written large in history books. By the same token, dropping any of those balls – and any juggler knows that likelihood grows with the volume of what must be managed – would have long-lasting consequences, for the regions involved and for U.S. credibility globally. Even so, Juggler-in-Chief Trump keeps adding complexity to this high-risk, uncertain-return show. Whether by increasing tariffs further on China and further restricting Huawei’s access to U.S. markets, or by sending a carrier strike group to the Middle East, President Trump ratchets up pressures in the hope of leveraging that into success.

Two years after he was fired by the president, the former FBI Director sits down with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
By Cody Fenwick
Two years after his firing by President Donald Trump, former FBI  Director James Comey sat down with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday  night for a town hall discussion about the Russia investigation and  related matters. He disputed Attorney General Bill Barr’s arguments that a president  cannot obstruct justice through the use of his constitutional powers,  criticizing that idea sharply. “I don’t accept the notion that because the president is the head of  the executive branch, that he can’t ever obstruct justice in connection  with executive branch activities,” he said. “That’s just crazy and a  recipe for lawlessness.” He later added that Barr’s public discussions  about the report have been “less than honorable” and that he’s acting  like Trump’s defense lawyer. He continued: “So the question is did the  president act in a way  that manifested a corrupt intent — not the discharge of his  constitutional duties — but a corrupt intent to interfere with an  ongoing proceeding or to intimidate or tamper with a  witness.” And on those fronts, Comey told Cooper, there was substantial  evidence that Trump had committed such crimes in at least several of the  incidents laid out in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. He said,  for example, that Trump’s efforts to get ex-White House Counsel Don  McGahn to fire Mueller was a “flaming example” of corrupt intent.

By  Gillian Edevane
As Vice President Mike Pence gave the Saturday morning commencement  address at Taylor University — a Christian school in Pence's home state  of Indiana — dozens of graduating seniors and faculty walked out in  protest. The small demonstration came after Taylor students and  members of the surrounding Upland, Indiana, community started an online  petition to bar Pence from giving the address, citing concerns that it  could be construed as an endorsement of President Donald Trump’s  policies. Not everyone who protested the speech walked out. Some  remained at the ceremony but quietly denounced Pence’s presence by  sporting buttons that declared, “I am Taylor Too,” which  appeared intended to show that the university houses a multitude of  viewpoints and should not be defined by its invitation to Pence. Close to 10,000 people signed the Change.org sheet,  although only a fraction of the roughly 500 graduating students  actually ended up walking out of the speech. Still, the demonstration  marked a rare instance in which a member of the Trump administration was  rebuffed in what was supposed to be friendly territory.

By  Colby Itkowitz
Rep.  Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a critic of President Trump who has entertained  a run against him in 2020, became the first Republican congressman to  say the president “engaged in impeachable conduct” based on the Mueller report. The Michigan lawmaker, often the lone Trump dissenter on his side of the House aisle, shared his conclusions in a lengthy Twitter thread Saturday after reviewing the full report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Amash  wrote that after reading the 448-page report, he had concluded that not  only did Mueller’s team show Trump attempting to obstruct justice, but  that Attorney General William P. Barr had “deliberately misrepresented”  the findings. He added that “few members of Congress even read Mueller’s  report.”
“Contrary to Barr’s portrayal,  Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific  actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for  impeachment,” Amash wrote. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The  president often claims the report shows “no collusion, no obstruction,”  though neither is true. Mueller did not establish a conspiracy between  the Trump campaign and Russia, which interfered in the 2016 election.  Mueller did not rule on the question of obstruction of justice, saying  it was something Congress should determine.

Conspiracy  theories, racist outbursts, and a whole lot of Putin love. Working for  the far-right One America News Network was a deeply weird experience,  former employees say.
By Kevin Poulsen
Ernest Champell realized there was something unusual about One America News Network  during his first day on the job as a writer, when the young staffer  assigned to show him the ropes announced matter-of-factly, “Yeah, we  like Russia here.” Founded and helmed by 77-year-old circuit-board  millionaire Robert Herring Sr., OANN launched in 2013 as an answer to  the chatty, opinionated content of mainstream cable news channels—and a  place for viewers too conservative for Fox News. Under Herring’s  direction the network embraced Trumpism enthusiastically starting in  2016, and in recent months the once-obscure cable news channel has been  basking in a surge of attention from Donald Trump.  Nearly all of  OANN’s 24-hours of daily programming is centered at an anchordesk, with a  polished TV anchor delivering headlines and introducing packaged  segments in the time-honored manner of Edward R. Murrow or Walter  Cronkite. But there’s a twist: The segments, the interviews, the words  the anchors are speaking and even the crawl at the bottom of the screen  are a slurry of fake news mixed with genuine reporting; internet  conspiracy theories blended with far-right rhetoric and drizzled with  undiluted Kremlin propaganda. If you don’t live in a world where Donald Trump’s inauguration drew record crowds, Roy Moore won the Alabama special election  in a landslide, and Hillary Clinton has her political enemies  assassinated, viewing OANN for a couple of hours is a surreal experience  that inspires the same vague, uneasy dread you get from a David Lynch  movie. Working there is a million times worse.

Just months into a cooperation agreement with special counsel Robert  Mueller, former national security adviser Michael Flynn sent an  unsolicited text message to one of President Donald Trump's top allies  in Congress, urging him to "keep the pressure on." "You stay on top of what you're doing. Your leadership is so vital  for our country now," Flynn wrote to Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), one of  Congress' most vocal critics of the Mueller investigation. "Keep the  pressure on." POLITICO confirmed the details of the exchange, first reported by  CNN, which came in April 2018, just five months into Flynn's cooperation  agreement with Mueller. Flynn began assisting Mueller's probe after a  Dec. 1, 2017 guilty plea on charges that he made false statements to the  FBI about contacts with Russia's ambassador. Flynn sent Gaetz a separate set of messages on Feb. 14, 2019, the day  Attorney General William Barr was confirmed: images of a bald eagle and  an American flag. Gaetz confirmed the substance of the messages and  said he didn't reply. He also emphasized he had no past relationship  with Flynn or his son, Michael Flynn Jr. It's unclear if Mueller was aware of Flynn's outreach to lawmakers,  particularly to one of the special counsel's top antagonists on Capitol  Hill. It's also unclear if Flynn sent messages to other lawmakers.  Flynn's attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.  The special counsel's office declined to comment.

To the editor: With drumbeats for war against Iran coming from Washington,  those of us who recall how we entered two fraudulently and tragically  failed wars during the past 55 years cannot help being concerned by  alarming echoes of past disasters. The  bogus Gulf of Tonkin attack set off a full-scale war in Vietnam in  1964, and contrived evidence of Iraqi nuclear weapons development  resulted in the 2003 invasion. We must not repeat this by launching an  attack on the Iranians based on suspicious claims of the danger they  pose to the United States and its allies. President  Trump could well benefit by starting a conflict and diverting our  attention from the investigations into his administration, the failure  of his trade war with China, and the declining prospects for his  reelection in 2020. He has a willing accomplice in national security  advisor John Bolton, who downplays the value of diplomacy and has rarely  seen an adversary he didn’t want to go to war against. For  the sake of our young men and women, our nation’s integrity and our  international credibility, we must say no to the hawks in Washington who  threaten other people’s lives to achieve their own political goals.

MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace declared Friday that Attorney General William Barr is the “most dangerous person” in the Trump administration.
Wallace  expressed concern on her show that Barr was pushing “demagoguery” with  his comments about the origins of the Russia investigation.
“I think Barr’s the most dangerous person that works for Donald Trump because he has Donald Trump’s worldview, Sean Hannity’s worldview, but he oversees the Justice Department,” Wallace said. Wallace,  a vocal critic of Trump, served as White House communications director  during the George W. Bush administration. She also served as a senior  adviser to the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for his 2008 presidential run. The  MSNBC host’s comments Friday came after Barr appeared on Fox News  earlier this week and discussed the “multiple” investigations into the  origins of the Russia probe. “His answer — so  perplexing, so potentially dangerous to the institutions of law and  justice that he oversees — we don’t want to air it without a  disclaimer,” Wallace said. “What you’re about to hear from the sitting attorney general ... is not normal,” she continued.

Children  of U.S. citizens are falling victim to a policy that de-recognizes  their parents’ marriage—and strips them of their birthright citizenship.
By Scott Bixby
No parent can ever be fully prepared for the arrival of a new baby.  But when Roee and Adiel Kiviti brought home their newborn daughter  Kessem two months ago, they figured that they were as ready as they  could be. After all, they’d gone through the same process two years  earlier with their son Lev, who, like Kessem, was born with the help of  an egg donor and a gestational surrogate in Canada. “It was as  straightforward as one can imagine,” Roee told The Daily Beast,  recalling the ease of bringing Lev home in late 2016, the infant’s newly  printed Canadian passport in hand, soon to be supplanted by an American  one. But this February, when Kessem’s fathers contacted the U.S.  consulate in Calgary to obtain a Consular Report of Birth Abroad for  their daughter—the legal equivalent of a birth certificate for Americans  born outside of the United States—something was different this time. “They  first indicated that they needed proof of our marriage, which I found  quite odd,” Roee said. “They needed the original marriage certificate,  which we didn’t have with us, but I didn’t actually think anything more  about it. I thought, ‘We don’t have time for this, we’ll just deal with  it in the U.S.’” Roee and Adiel obtained Kessem’s Canadian  passport—a stopgap, they figured, until they could get her U.S. passport  back home—and traveled back to their home in the United States.

By Ashley Turner
Toyota Motor said President Donald Trump’s latest move in the administration’s international trade war was a “major setback” for American consumers, shows the company’s investments in the U.S. are “not welcomed” and that contributions from its American employees are “not valued.” Trump issued a new directive Friday giving Japan and the European Union six months to renegotiate their trade deals with the U.S. so that the “American automobile industry, its workforce, and American innovation” are protected. The Japan automaker’s comments Friday come after the White House said U.S.Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will “address the threatened impairment” of national security from auto imports. “Our operations and employees contribute significantly to the American way of life, the U.S. economy and are not a national security threat,” Toyota said in a statement. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom also denounced Trump’s comments, saying “we completely reject the notion” that Europe’s car exports are a national security threat. Toyota said it has been “deeply engrained” in the U.S. for more than 60 years and has invested over $60 billion in the country, employing more than 475,000 Americans.

By Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis
An increasing number of House Democrats are frustrated by their stalled investigations into President Trump, with an uncooperative chief executive, their own leader’s reluctance about impeachment and courts that could be slow to resolve the standoff. Democrats have yet to hear from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who led the nearly two-year investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election and possible involvement with the Trump campaign. Even with negotiations, the earliest Mueller could testify would be next month. And any hopes of former White house counsel Donald McGahn facing a congressional panel on Tuesday are slim, as the White House moves to block all current and former aides from cooperating with congressional inquiries. Weighing all options, Democrats have raised the specter of imposing fines or jailing people who ignore subpoenas, extreme measures that have prompted some legal experts to wonder whether Democrats have a strategy for this constitutional conflict.  

Trump tries to shift blame — and rewrites history in the process.
By Aaron Rupar
President Donald Trump wants you to believe that he had  no way of knowing about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s  shady dealings with Russia before he made him his first national  security adviser. In reality, the president is trying to rewrite  history.
On Friday, Trump tweeted his lament that nobody warned  him about Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general who was dismissed  from his job as director of national intelligence by then-President  Barack Obama in 2014. After his dismissal, Flynn wasted little time cozying up to the Kremlin, and then spent 2016 as one of Trump’s key campaign surrogates.
“It now seems the General Flynn was under investigation  long before was common knowledge,” Trump tweeted. “It would have been  impossible for me to know this but, if that was the case, and with me  being one of two people who would become president, why was I not told  so that I could make a change?”

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will suspend tariffs on steel and aluminum that were imposed on Canada and Mexico a year ago in an effort to gain leverage in broader trade negotiations, the White House said Friday. Trump was poised to lift the tariffs in coming days, said two sources familiar with the deal who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of an announcement not yet made public. The president announced a deal in broad outlines during a previously scheduled speech in Washington on Friday. "I’m pleased to announce that we've just reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico and we’ll be selling our products into those countries without the imposition of tariffs, or major tariffs," Trump said during an address to the National Association of Realtors. "Big difference." Trump drew howls from allies last May when he used an obscure provision of a 1962 law to claim a trade imbalance in metals presented a national security risk to the U.S. In one of the first concrete steps Trump took on trade, the president levied a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

(CNN) - Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Friday defied subpoenas from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal for President Donald Trump's tax returns. In a new letter, Mnuchin again says the request "lacks a legitimate legislative purpose" and that he is "not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information." The denial is not a surprise. The Trump administration already turned down Neal's April request for six years of tax information about the President's personal and business finances. But, the disregard for the subpoena brings into sharper focus the eventual court fight and raises questions about what Neal might do next. The Ways and Means Chairman said he was consulting with counsel about "moving forward." "Issuance of these subpoenas should not have been necessary," Neal said in a statement Friday evening. "The law provides clear statutory authority for the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee to request and receive access to tax returns and return information. The law, by its terms, does not allow for discretion as to whether to comply with a request for tax returns and return information." While other chairmen like House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler have held or are entertaining holding members of the administration in contempt of Congress, Neal -- a Democrat who shuns political showdowns even with the Trump administration-- has said he would prefer to now move to court without the show of a contempt citation. "I don't see what good it would do at this particular time," Neal said Friday before the Mnuchin's announcement about holding the Treasury Department or IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig Rettig in contempt. "I think if both sides have made up their minds, better to move it to the next branch of government, the judiciary."

By David E. Sanger
WASHINGTON  — Pressed this week to define President Trump’s goals in escalating  military and economic pressure on Iran, one of his top foreign policy  aides ticked through a familiar list: End the country’s support for  terrorism, stop its missile launches and then, most importantly, keep  Iran more than a year away from the capability to build a nuclear  weapon. The United States would  insist on “zero enrichment for Iran,” Brian H. Hook, the State  Department’s special envoy for Iran, told a small group of reporters.  That would assure Tehran could produce no new nuclear material, and thus  never get closer to building a weapon than it is now. It  was a telling moment in a strange, circular week of mutual threats and  missed signals between bitter adversaries. Designing an agreement that  would assure it would take Iran a year or more to “break out” and make  the fuel to build a bomb — giving the United States, Israel and others  plenty of time to respond — was the driving force behind the 2015  nuclear deal that was negotiated under former President Barack Obama. Every  requirement, every concession in the deal, was measured against how it  would affect that timeline. And by all accounts, that deal was working  before Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from it in May 2018, calling  it a “disaster.”

By  Isaac Stanley-Becker
Florida  officials are raising alarm and pressing for details about the  purported intention of the Trump administration to send hundreds of  immigrants a week to two heavily Democratic counties in South Florida. Customs  and Border Protection has not publicly disclosed its plans. But a  partial picture of a new approach to managing a record influx of  immigrants at the southern border came into view on Thursday based on  the accounts of local leaders in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Even  allies of the president were nonplussed. The state’s Republican  governor, Ron DeSantis, joined federal lawmakers from Florida —  Republicans and Democrats alike — in questioning the apparent effort to  foist the immigration and asylum burden on two local jurisdictions  without equipping them with the resources to house, feed, educate and  protect new arrivals.

For nearly two decades, a doctor at The Ohio State University sexually abused at least 177 male students, according to an exhaustive independent investigation  commissioned by the university. Most of the doctor's abuse happened  under the auspices of providing the students with medical treatment. Richard  Strauss worked at OSU from September 1978 through March 1998, primarily  as a doctor with the Athletic Department and the Student Health Center.  The investigation found that university personnel became aware of  Strauss' abuse as early as 1979. However, "despite the  persistence, seriousness, and regularity of such complaints, no  meaningful action was taken by the University to investigate such  concerns until January 1996," when they were first elevated to officials  beyond Student Health or the Athletics Department, the report reads. As  a result, Strauss was suspended from working as a treating physician at  OSU. The school eventually removed him from his departments, but it  kept him on as a tenured faculty member. He voluntarily retired in 1998  with "emeritus" status from the university. Strauss took his own life in  2005.

“Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace weighed in on the Fox News exclusive interview with Attorney General William Barr, saying Friday that Barr “clearly is protecting this president and advocating his point of view.” Speaking on “America’s Newsroom,” Wallace said, “What really comes across to me most of all is that for two years, Donald Trump  sat there and said I don't have an attorney general, I don't have  somebody out there looking for and protecting my interests. He clearly  has that now with Bill Barr.” “Not saying that Barr isn't right in everything he says, but he  clearly is protecting this president and advocating his point of view on  a lot of these issues.” “And I suspect that President Trump, who  probably has watched some of this interview himself, is saying finally,  'No Jeff Sessions, Bill Barr instead,'” Wallace added.

Reaction from American chief executive officers to the escalating U.S. trade war and stalled trade talks with China ranges from thinking President Donald Trump is  “stupid” for taking such a hard line to thinking they can actually stop him, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Friday. “There are some CEOs who think Trump is stupid and that this is all bad and it will go away in the election,” Cramer said on “Squawk on the Street.  ” “There are CEOs who say, ‘You know what, we’re not going to let this  happen.’” Cramer continued, “Then there are CEOs who have been trying to  get into China for years — and never been allowed — and they’re the  companies, the companies going higher.” Cramer  also speculated Friday that Trump does not want  “sincere talks” with  China over trade because the president feels like he has “got them on  the run” and “feels this is how you get re-elected.” Last week, Cramer reported people were saying that U.S. companies that did not reduce their China exposure after months and months of watching Washington and Beijing clash over trade and economic issues have only themselves to blame.

By Tom Winter, Adiel Kaplan and Rich Schapiro
The communications could have affected the ex-national security adviser's "willingness to cooperate," Robert Mueller wrote in court filings. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn told investigators that people linked to the Trump administration and Congress reached out to him in an effort to interfere in the Russia probe, according to newly unredacted court papers filed Thursday. The court filing from special counsel Robert Mueller is believed to mark the first public acknowledgement that a person connected to Capitol Hill was suspected of engaging in an attempt to impede the investigation into Russian election interference. “The defendant informed the government of multiple instances, both before and after his guilty plea, where either he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the Administration or Congress that could’ve affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation," says the newly revealed section of a sentencing memo originally filed in December.

By Eric Schmitt, Maggie Haberman and Mark Landler
WASHINGTON — President Trump has told his acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, that he does not want to go to war with Iran, according to several administration officials, in a message to his hawkish aides that an intensifying American pressure campaign against the clerical-led government in Tehran must not escalate into open conflict. Mr. Trump’s statement, during a Wednesday morning meeting in the Situation Room, came during a briefing on the rising tensions with Iran. American intelligence has indicated that Iran has placed missiles on small boats in the Persian Gulf, prompting fears that Tehran may strike at United States troops and assets or those of its allies. No new information was presented to the president at the meeting that argued for further engagement with Iran, according to a person in the room. But Mr. Trump was firm in saying he did not want a military clash with the Iranians, several officials said.

The U.S. aviation system needs urgently to restore the world’s confidence after two crashes of Boeing 737 Max jets. Instead, the Trump administration’s top aviation official, goaded by some Republican lawmakers, informed the world Wednesday that the problem isn’t that Boeing put a faulty aircraft into the skies, nor that the Federal Aviation Administration’s lax oversight kept it flying. The trouble, they argued, comes from lousy foreign pilots — particularly the ones on Ethiopian Airlines and Indonesia’s Lion Air who died struggling to pull the Max jets from death plunges. “I’m trying to be respectful because they’re deceased,” Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.) said of the doomed crews. But, “do we not have concerns not only with the training of pilots in other nations, but the reliability of their logs?”

The White House on Wednesday declined to join a global call to fight online terror, citing concerns about freedom of speech but in the process stoking a new controversy over its response to extremism. The move drew condemnation from lawmakers on Capitol Hill who have been calling for tech giants to rein in the scourge of potentially radicalizing material on their platforms in the wake of the livestreamed attacks on worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March. “It’s disappointing that once again the White House wants to put the U.S. at odds with our allies in establishing reasonable global internet norms,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a vocal tech industry critic, told The Hill in a statement. The White House’s decision to opt out puts the U.S. at odds with France, Canada, the European Union and the rest of the 17 countries that signed on to the so-called Christchurch Call, the largest-ever international campaign against online extremism and terrorist content to date. Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube — all American companies — also signed on to the nonbinding pledge, which was unveiled at a summit with global leaders in Paris on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON — President Trump moved on Wednesday to ban American telecommunications firms from installing foreign-made equipment that could pose a threat to national security, White House officials said, stepping up a battle against China by effectively barring sales by Huawei, the country’s leading networking company. Mr. Trump issued an executive order instructing the commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, to ban transactions “posing an unacceptable risk” but did not single out any nation or company. The action has long been expected and is the latest salvo in the administration’s economic and security battle with China. It is also the most extreme move in the Trump administration’s fight against China’s tech sector. The executive order was “agnostic,” White House officials said in a call with reporters, declining to single out China as the focus. “This administration will do what it takes to keep America safe and prosperous and to protect America from foreign adversaries” targeting vulnerabilities in American communications infrastructure, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement. Over the next 150 days, the Commerce Department will write the rules for reviewing transactions that fall under the ban, the officials said. The Commerce Department said it would work across the administration on the new rules, consulting with the attorney general, Treasury secretary and other agency heads.

If Attorney General William P. Barr is worried about being held in contempt of Congress, he didn’t show it Wednesday. At an event outside the West Front of the Capitol honoring slain law enforcement officers, Barr approached House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who last week joked about locking up members of the Trump administration in “a jail down in the basement of the Capitol.” According to a person who witnessed the exchange, Barr shook Pelosi’s hand and said loudly, “Madam Speaker, did you bring your handcuffs?” Pelosi smiled and responded that the House sergeant at arms was present should it be necessary to arrest anyone, the person said, adding that Barr “chuckled and walked away.” A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment. The exchange comes amid escalating tensions between the Trump administration and Democratic lawmakers over investigations on issues that include Russian election interference, the president’s financial records and his family separation policy. Democrats have accused the Trump administration of stonewalling their requests. The troubles at Trump Doral — detailed here for the first time, based on  documents and video obtained under Florida’s public-records law —  suggest the Trump Organization’s problems are bigger than previously  known. This is also the first known case in which a Trump Organization  representative has publicly acknowledged the president’s name has hurt  business.

Late last year, in a Miami conference room, a  consultant for President Trump’s company said business at his prized  643-room Doral resort was in sharp decline. At  Doral, which Trump has listed in federal disclosures as his biggest  moneymaker hotel, room rates, banquets, golf and overall revenue were  all down since 2015. In two years, the resort’s net operating income — a  key figure, representing the amount left over after expenses are paid —  had fallen by 69 percent. Even in a vigorous  economy, the property was missing the Trump Organization’s internal  business targets; for instance, the club expected to take in $85 million  in revenue in 2017 but took in just $75 million. “They  are severely underperforming” other resorts in the area, tax consultant  Jessica Vachiratevanurak told a Miami-Dade County official in a bid to  lower the property’s tax bill. The reason, she said: “There is some  negative connotation that is associated with the brand.”

Confusion and mixed signals have characterized the past couple  of days when it comes to the escalating tensions between the U.S. and  Iran. The New York Times reported late Monday that the White House had reviewed updated military plans,  prepared by Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, to deploy up  to 120,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East if Iran were to attack U.S.  forces or resume work on nuclear weapons. In this case, “the White  House” seems to mean national security adviser John Bolton, who ordered  the update and has been spearheading the recent U.S. pressure campaign  against Iran (and several other countries). The Times noted that it was  “unclear whether the president has been briefed on the number of troops  or other details.” On Tuesday, President Donald Trump dismissed the report  as “fake news,” saying no plans were in the works to send troops but  that if conflict did break out, “we’d send a hell of a lot more” than  120,000. Trump has reportedly questioned  his adviser’s bellicose approach to the crisis in Venezuela, and it  seems like there’s daylight between them on Iran as well. Trump still  seems to be holding out hopes that the pressure campaign will lead to  direct talks with the leaders of Iran,  as it did with Kim Jong-un of North Korea, while Bolton views such  negotiations as a waste of time and has long sought regime change.

(CNN) - Dallas  police searched the headquarters of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas and  other properties Wednesday as part of the church's widening sex abuse  scandal, police and church officials said. Maj.  Max Geron of the special investigations division said the raids are  related to five new allegations of sexual abuse that emerged after  police issued an arrest warrant for a priest named Edmundo Paredes, who  was previously assigned to St. Cecilia's Parish in Dallas. Dallas authorities said they consider Paredes a fugitive. The parish was one of the locations searched Wednesday, along with the diocese headquarters and a storage facility, Geron said. "In  addition to the allegations against Mr. Paredes, detectives are  investigating at least five additional allegations of child abuse  against other suspects," Geron told reporters. "These investigations stem from additional allegations made after the case against Mr. Paredes became public." Geron  said police were searching for "any documentation, any data that would  tend to further the investigation into these allegations of child  abuse." In August, the diocese  informed parishioners at St. Cecilia of allegations of sexual abuse by  Paredes, the former pastor. The alleged criminal offenses occurred more  than a decade ago, church officials said.  

The woman reportedly walked away after shoving the man, and didn't bother to offer any help. A woman has been charged with murder after pushing a 74-year-old man off a bus and to his death. The 25-year-old woman, Cadesha Bishop, was arrested after Las Vegas  police released a video of the incident, and encouraging potential  witnesses to come forward with any information they might have. The man, Serge Fournier, initially survived the fall, but later died from injuries. In the video, Ms Bishop can be seen speaking with Fournier after  she entered the bus, and as he moved to get out of the vehicle with a  metal cart. As Fournier passes the suspect, she then pushes him from behind  forcefully. He can be seen falling out of the bus and onto the sidewalk  outside, landing on top of the metal cart he was carrying.

The U.S. birthrate fell again in 2018, to 3,788,235 births  —  representing a 2% drop from 2017. It's the lowest number of births in 32  years, according to a new federal report. The numbers also sank the  U.S. fertility rate to a record low. Not since 1986 has the  U.S. seen so few babies born. And it's an ongoing slump: 2018 was the  fourth consecutive year of birth declines, according to the provisional birthrate report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Birthrates  fell for nearly all racial and age groups, with only slight gains for  women in their late 30s and early 40s, the CDC says. The news  has come as something of a surprise to demographers who say that with  the U.S. economy and job market continuing a years-long growth streak,  they had expected the birthrate to show signs of stabilizing, or even  rising. But instead, the drop could force changes to forecasts about how  the country will look — with an older population and fewer young  workers to sustain key social systems. "It's a national problem," says Dowell Myers, a demographer at the University of Southern California.

The White House said it supports the goals of the call to action in the name of Christchurch, but would not sign on because of freedom of speech concerns. The United States says it supports an international effort  to find ways to stop social media from spreading hate — but won't take  part in it. In a statement issued Wednesday, the White  House praised the call to action in the name of Christchurch being  spearheaded by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French  President Emmanuel Macron. "The  United States stands with the international community in condemning  terrorist and violent extremist content online in the strongest terms,"  the White House said, but added that it is "not currently in a position  to join the endorsement." That makes the U.S. an outlier.  Allies including the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Italy, India,  Germany and Spain are all listed as signing on to the effort. Numerous  technology giants are involved as well, including Amazon, Facebook,  Google, Twitter and YouTube. In its statement, the White  House suggested that First Amendment concerns were stopping the Trump  administration from joining in the agreement. "We  continue to be proactive in our efforts to counter terrorist content  online while also continuing to respect freedom of expression and  freedom of the press," the statement said. - Of course, Trump and his White house will not support it the Alt right and the white supremacist would one of their best tools to spread hate and fear.

The White House’s top lawyer told the House  Judiciary Committee chairman Wednesday that Congress has no right to a  “do-over” of the special counsel’s investigation of President Trump and  refused a broad demand for records and testimony from dozens of current  and former White House staff. White House  Counsel Pat Cipollone’s letter to committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler  (D-N.Y.) constitutes a sweeping rejection — not just of Nadler’s request  for White House records, but of Congress’s standing to investigate  Trump for possible obstruction of justice. In his letter, Cipollone  repeated a claim the White House and Trump’s business have begun making:  that Congress is not a law enforcement body and does not have a  legitimate purpose to investigate the questions it is pursuing. But  Cipollone stopped short of asserting executive privilege. Instead, he  told Nadler he would consider a narrowed request if the chairman spells  out the legislative purpose and legal support for the information he is  seeking. - Congress’s job is oversite they can and should investigate a corrupt president and White House. How many times did the GOP investigate Benghazi?

If elected president, Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke said he’d  launch a $5 trillion plan to combat climate change and invest in  communities already dealing with its impact. "Climate change has a distressingly disproportionate impact on poor  and minority communities across the United States and around the world," said O’Rourke in his plan released April 29. "Race is the No. 1 indicator for where toxic and polluting facilities are today." We rated Mostly False  another claim in O’Rourke’s plan regarding the number of people with  "unsafe" drinking water. This time, we wondered if he was right about  race and the placement of toxic facilities. O'Rourke's claim mirrors a statement  by an NAACP program that highlights environmental and climate issues  affecting communities of color and low-income, and draws from a 2016  editorial in The Nation citing examples of "environmental racism." We asked about half a dozen experts to weigh in to help us evaluate  the claim and O’Rourke’s evidence. They said that while different types  of studies can yield varying results, there’s research supporting  O’Rourke’s point.

Republican senators are breaking ranks to criticize  President Donald Trump's trade war with China, with no end in sight for  tariffs levied by Beijing against US produce. Sen.  Chuck Grassley of Iowa has been among the most vocal GOP critics of the  president's trade policies, which saw the US raise tariffs on $200  billion worth of Chinese goods on Friday. On Tuesday,  Grassley took the rare step of openly accusing the president of not  listening to concerns he had expressed about the latest escalation of  the confrontation between Beijing and Washington. "I'm not sure if you talk to him face to face, he hears  everything you say," said the senator, who is chairman of the Senate  Finance Committee,  as quoted by The Washington Post on Tuesday. Grassley also said the trade war would most likely have an influence at the polls.

On Tuesday, 25 white male Republicans in Alabama voted to ban abortion in the state at every stage of pregnancy, unless the mother’s physical or mental health is in jeopardy. If Gov. Kay Ivey signs the bill, it will become the most restrictive abortion law in the country. A  dozen states in 2019 have either passed or attempted to pass stricter  abortion legislation. With the appointments of Neil Gorsuch and Brett  Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, anti-abortion activists and conservative  lawmakers are betting the bans will lead to lawsuits that could push  the high court to overturn Roe v. Wade, which recognizes a woman’s constitutional right to abortion. But polling shows the recent abortion bans are out of line with most American's beliefs. "If  you look at national polling, this isn't where the American public is  and it frankly isn't even where mainstream Republicans are," said Debbie  Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at  Rutgers University. "The harshness of it is pretty shocking."

(CNN) - There is always a tweet. That has become accepted fact in the Trump presidency: For every pronouncement the President makes, there is at least one tweet from his past that directly contradicts his current view. Which brings us to Iran. In the past week, the Trump administration has significantly ramped up pressure on the country. First, the US ordered an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers into the Middle East -- citing reports that Iran was putting short-range missiles on boats in the Persian Gulf. Then, came a report in The New York Times that national security adviser John Bolton had proposed one plan that would include sending 120,000 troops into the region in the event Iran continued to walk away from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a nuclear pact that Iran agreed to in 2015. Asked about the troop proposal, which the Times made clear Trump had not yet seen, the President said this on Tuesday: "Now would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully, we're not going to have to plan for that, and if we did that, we'd send a hell of a lot more troops than that." Which is pretty remarkable! The President of the United States saying he would be willing to commit more than 120,000 troops to a war with Iran! But not as remarkable as this flurry of tweets that private citizen Donald Trump sent back in the fall of 2012. Here we go! "Now that Obama's poll numbers are in tailspin -- watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate."(10/9/12) "Don't let Obama play the Iran card in order to start a war in order to get elected--be careful Republicans!" (10/22/12)
He then followed those up the following year with these two tweets: "Remember what I previously said--Obama will someday attack Iran in order to show how tough he is." (9/23/13) "Remember that I predicted a long time ago that President Obama will attack Iran because of his inability to negotiate properly-not skilled!" (11/10/13) So........

President Trump is denying a New York Times report that he's considering  sending 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran escalates tensions  into a full-blown conflict. The report comes as the Pentagon says it's  highly likely the country was behind attacks on tankers off the Persian  Gulf. CBS News national security correspondent David Martin joins CBSN  to discuss. - Trump also said there were no contacts with Russians, he had no business deals in Russia and he did not know about the payments to Stormy Daniels.

President Donald Trump  is poised to delay a decision by up to six months to impose auto  tariffs to avoid blowing up negotiations with the EU and Japan and  further antagonize allies as he ramps up his trade war with China,  according to people close to the discussions. Trump  faces a May 18 deadline over how to proceed with his threat to slap a  tariff of as much as 25% on imported cars and parts in the name of U.S.  national security. The news was welcomed by an equities market that has been  battered by renewed trade concerns since last week. The S&P 500  erased its earlier losses of as much as 0.7% and was trading 0.6% higher  as of 11:49 a.m. in New York. Shares of BMW AG surged as much as 5%,  while Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles  also gained.

Washington (CNN) - A Democratic state senator from Alabama equated a state bill that would ban abortion with no exceptions for rape and incest to the rape of Alabama women. A  day after the Republican-led Senate voted 25-6 to pass HB 314, state  Sen. Bobby Singleton told CNN's Alisyn Camerota on "New Day" Wednesday,  "I think that we raped women last night." "We made women of Alabama the model of the new Roe v. Wade. I think that this is just a horrible bill," Singleton continued. The bill would punish doctors who  perform abortions with up to 99 years in prison and does not allow  exceptions for cases of rape and incest -- making it the most  restrictive abortion bill in the country. "I  hate to think the fact that if someone would rape my daughter at 12  years old ... that is just sad to tell my daughter that she had to carry  that baby for nine months here in the state of Alabama and look that  rapist in the face for the rest of her life. I just couldn't take it as a  father, so I had to speak up for women all over the country, for the  women in the state of Alabama because this was just wrong," said  Singleton, who voted against the bill. HB  314 now goes to the desk of Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, who has six days  to sign the bill. Ivey has not publicly taken a stance on the bill but  has previously aligned herself as anti-abortion rights. The  bill's Republican sponsors said the intent of the legislation is to  overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case legalizing abortion.

On April 18, 2019, a redacted copy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election” (Mueller Report) was released to the public. The Mueller report builds on the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that there were two campaigns to elect Donald Trump— one run by Trump and one run by the Russian government. The Mueller report clearly identified collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, despite repeated denials from Trump and many of his senior advisers and close associates that there were any connections between the two campaigns. A total of 251 contacts between Trump’s team and Russia-linked operatives have been identified, including at least 37 meetings. And we know that at least 33 high-ranking campaign officials and Trump advisers were aware of contacts with Russia-linked operatives during the campaign and transition, including Trump himself. None of these contacts were ever reported to the proper authorities. Instead, the Trump team tried to cover up every single one of them. Beyond the many lies the Trump team told to the American people, Mueller himself repeatedly remarked on how far the Trump team was willing to go to hide their Russian contacts, stating, “the investigation established that several individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign lied to the Office, and to Congress, about their interactions with Russian-affiliated individuals and related matters. Those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference.” Below is a comprehensive chronological list of the contacts that have been discovered to date and some of the many lies Trump’s campaign, transition team, and White House told to hide them.

San Francisco on Tuesday became the first city in  the United States to ban the use of facial-recognition software by city  agencies and the police, dealing a swift symbolic blow to a key  technology rapidly being deployed by law enforcement nationwide. The  8-to-1 vote by the city’s Board of Supervisors will forbid public  agencies from using the artificial-intelligence software to find the  identity of someone based on a video clip or photograph. Privacy and  civil rights advocates have worried that the capability could be misused  for mass surveillance and possibly lead to more false arrests. The  law will not regulate local businesses, and the technology is still  largely unregulated across the United States. But San Francisco’s ban  will resonate because of the city’s identity as a friendly backyard for  some of the world’s most powerful tech firms, including Google and  Facebook, whose engineers have designed systems that can detect and  recognize faces for business and consumer use.

A series of internal National Rifle Association documents leaked online over the weekend, detailing lavish six-figure spending on clothing and travel expenses for CEO Wayne LaPierre. The disclosures prompted board member Allen West to speak out. On Tuesday he announced that he had previously called for LaPierre's resignation, and argued that "it is imperative that the NRA cleans its own house." A second NRA board member followed suit on his Facebook page by writing, "it is time for new management." These developments, combined with a cascade of stories about other incidents of runaway spending at the gun rights organization, especially rankled former rank-and-file NRA employees. They told NPR about low wages, pension problems and a culture of fear within the organization that treated ordinary staff very differently than its leadership. Especially upsetting was the disclosure of these enormous costs despite the fact acknowledged in documents obtained by NPR: that the company has underfunded pensions affecting hundreds of former and current employees — even as LaPierre made $1.4 million in 2017, according to the group's most recent financial disclosures.

There’s (maybe) a method to Trump’s madness. President Trump’s years-long trade war with China is heating up, and nobody is exactly sure why or when it will end. Last week, Trump raised an existing 10 percent tax on many Chinese imports to 25 percent when talks originally designed to deescalate the earlier round of trade warring collapsed. China responded by raising its own taxes on many American imports. Then Trump started talking about taxing an even wider range of Chinese products. Naturally, Trump has tweeted a lot about this. His  narrative is that tariffs are good because they force China to pay money  to the government (which isn’t true) and that farmers shouldn’t worry  about losing access to the Chinese market because he can organize  bailouts for them anyway. His own economic policy team, meanwhile,  concedes that this is wrong and trade war will cause pain on both sides. Global financial markets agree with Trump’s advisers rather than the president, and stocks fell on the news.  

(CNN) - On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Alabama state legislature passed a measure  that would ban abortion -- with the exception of when the life of the  mother is in jeopardy -- in all circumstances. The state's Republican  governor -- Kay Ivey -- is expected to sign it. When she does, two  things will happen: 1) Alabama will become the state with the country's  most restrictive abortion law and 2) the law will immediately become  fodder for the swirling debate over if (and when) the Supreme Court  might consider overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling. That  two-pronged goal was clearly the intent of the bill's sponsor -- state  Rep. Terry Collins (R), who said after the vote: "This bill is about  challenging Roe v. Wade and protecting the lives of the unborn, because an unborn baby is a person who deserves love and protection."

U.S. retail sales declined last month, as Americans cut back their spending on clothes, appliances, and home and garden supplies. Sales dropped 0.2% in April, the Commerce Department said Wednesday, after a big 1.7% jump in March. The March figure was revised upward from the originally reported 1.6% jump. Car sales dropped 1.1% last month and sales at electronics and appliance stores dropped 1.3%. Economists are having a difficult time gauging the mood of consumers this year. Retail sales have been on a seesaw pattern, rising at a healthy pace in January, then falling in February, followed by the big jump in March and now a drop in April. The data suggests Americans are reluctant to spend freely, despite steady job gains and modest wage increases. Retail sales are closely watched because they make up about one-third of consumer spending, which drives most economic activity. Overall consumer spending, which includes spending on services such as haircuts and travel, jumped in March by the most in nearly a decade, but that followed small increases in the previous two months. As a result, even though the economy grew a healthy 3.2% at an annual rate in the first quarter, consumer spending grew at a modest pace and was not a primary driver of that growth. The weakness sales last month was widespread. Sales at clothing stores fell 0.2% and plunged 1.9% at home and garden supply stores. Furniture store sales were unchanged. Even the category that includes online retailers dropped. Excluding the volatile auto and gas categories, retail sales also fell 0.2%.

The Alabama Senate passed a bill Tuesday evening to ban nearly all  abortions. The state House had already overwhelmingly approved the  legislation. It's part of a broader anti-abortion strategy to prompt the  U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the right to abortion. It  would be one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the United States.  The bill would make it a crime for doctors to perform abortions at any  stage of a pregnancy, unless a woman's life is threatened or in case of a  lethal fetal anomaly. The vote was 25-6, with one abstention. Doctors  in the state would face felony jail time up to 99 years if convicted.  But a woman would not be held criminally liable for having an abortion.

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