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US Monthly Headline News September 2019 Page 9

The Liberty University president has 'hijacked the Gospel' to enrich himself, Faithful America contends.
By Corky Siemaszko
An activist Christian group has launched a petition drive to get the Virginia Attorney General’s office and the IRS to open criminal investigations into Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. So far Faithful America has collected 10,875 signatures and hopes to reach their goal of 15,000 by this weekend. “The response has been great so far, more than we expected,” said Rev. Nathan Empsall, the organization’s Campaigns Director. “But that shouldn't come as a surprise given how fed up so many Christians are with the way Falwell and others have hijacked the Gospel to represent their hypocritical own self-interests rather than Christ's teachings of love and justice.” The drive comes in the wake of exposés by Politico, The Miami Herald and other news outlets which have accused Falwell of, among other things, using the influential and ultra-conservative Christian college to enrich himself and his cronies. Falwell is also alleged to have engaged in activities that run counter to the Christian college’s ethos like sharing photos of his wife, Becki, in French maid costume with employees, graphically describing their sex life, and drinking and dancing in Miami Beach nightspots. In response, Falwell earlier this month asked the FBI to investigate a supposed “criminal conspiracy” against him by former board members of the Christian school who he blames for the spate of negative stories. Falwell, who took the reins of the university in 2007 after the death of his father, Moral Majority founder Rev. Jerry Falwell, has denied any impropriety. Empsall, who is also a priest associate at the Episcopal Church of St. Paul & St. James in New Haven, Connecticut, said Faithful America has been critical of Falwell before “when he’s made, for example, anti-Islamic statements.” “The difference is now we are calling for a criminal investigation because there has been this snowball of stories that point out that there is a potential pattern of criminal self-dealing at Liberty University,” he said. “We’ve always known this guy is an extremist and a hypocrite and he should face social consequences for that. This is the first time we’re calling for legal consequences.” “I’m not going to say Jerry Falwell Jr. is not a Christian, “ Empsall added. “But his behavior is not Christian.” NBC News has reached out to Liberty University spokesman Scott Lamb and Liberty University Board of Trustees chairman Dr. Jerry Prevo for a response. more...

By Stella Chan, Cheri Mossberg and Darran Simon, CNN
(CNN) - Democratic donor Ed Buck now faces a federal charge of giving methamphetamine to a 26-year-old man who died of an overdose, a federal prosecutor said Thursday. Buck, 65, is charged with one count of distribution of methamphetamine resulting in death, a criminal complaint said. He gave Gemmel Moore the dose of methamphetamine that led to Moore's death in Buck's West Hollywood apartment on July 27, 2017, according to court papers. A second man -- previously identified by authorities as 55-year-old Timothy Dean -- died from a drug overdose in Buck's apartment in January, and Buck also gave drugs to several other men, one of whom suffered two overdoses several weeks ago, court papers said. The prominent donor solicited men for sex in exchange for drugs and money, US Attorney Nick Hanna said. Buck is believed to have held victims against their will, and injected them with drugs against will, Hanna said. Buck's attorney Seymour Amster declined to comment after the federal charge was announced. Buck is expected to be arraigned in federal court on Thursday. Prosecutors will ask for Buck to be held without bond pending a trial because they believe Buck "poses a significant threat to public safety," Hanna said. If convicted, Buck faces up to life in prison. At the time of his death, Moore was living in Texas. Text messages between Moore and Buck "suggested that Buck purchased Moore's airline ticket," an affidavit said. American Airlines boarding passes showed Moore left Houston on the day of his death and landed in Los Angeles around nine hours before his death, court records said. Hanna said Buck brought Moore to Los Angeles "for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity. And then Mr. Buck agreed to pay the victim with money and narcotics." more...

By Salvador Rodriguez
The Menlo Park Police Department on Thursday said it responded to an apparent suicide at Facebook’s headquarters. Facebook confirmed the employee death on Thursday afternoon. A man jumped off of the fourth floor of a building at Facebook’s campus, the police said. He was pronounced dead on the scene, Menlo Park Police Department said. “Menlo Park Police Officers and Menlo Park Fire Protection District personnel responded, and when they arrived, found the victim unresponsive,” Menlo Park Police Department said on Thursday. “Firefighters and paramedics administered medical aid but were unable to revive the victim.” more...   

According to public records, the hotline received 563 contacts last year, and numbers for the latest fiscal year are on pace to be even higher.
By Ken Dilanian
WASHINGTON — The number of complaints made to a confidential hotline designed to allow the reporting of waste, fraud and abuse in the intelligence community has skyrocketed since Donald Trump took office, government records show. According to the latest public report by the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, the hotline received 563 contacts last year, up from 251 in 2016 and 369 in 2017. The numbers for the latest fiscal year are on pace to be even higher: There were 297 complaints in just the first six months — from October 2018 through last March, according to the report. The report doesn't describe the complaints or tally how many of those rose to the level of an "urgent concern"—a category of serious complaints that must be turned over to Congress. Officials involved in the process say that designation is rare. Intelligence agencies whose employees might use the hotline include the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, among others. more...   

By Augie Martin and Paul LeBlanc, CNN
(CNN) - A federal judge has ordered a temporary injunction against the California law requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns to secure a spot on the state's presidential primary ballot -- a law aimed at President Donald Trump, who has not released his tax returns. In a ruling Thursday, US District Court Judge Morrison England, Jr., said that California cannot force candidates to disclose their tax returns as outlined in the state's "Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act." England said he would make his final ruling on the law before October 1. Even as the temporary injunction will likely face appeals from state officials, the decision marks a clear victory for Trump who sued California last month to challenge the state law. The Trump administration has resisted various large-scale efforts to obtain the President's tax returns, a battle that has largely played out in courts. Trump has claimed that ongoing IRS audits have stopped him from making his tax returns public, even though audits don't prevent individuals from releasing tax returns. While the law in question covers all presidential candidates, those in court Thursday acknowledged it was all aimed at person. "The elephant in the room is President Trump's tax returns," England said. California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the law in July. "The United States Constitution grants states the authority to determine how their electors are chosen, and California is well within its constitutional right to include this requirement," he said in a statement at the time. Another lawsuit was filed in July by Republican voters along with the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of California who argue that this a political maneuver that takes voting rights away from Trump's supporters. more...  

By Pamela Brown, Evan Perez, Kevin Liptak and Manu Raju, CNN
(CNN) - The White House and the Justice Department have advised the nation's top intelligence agency that a controversial complaint involving President Donald Trump isn't governed by laws covering intelligence whistleblowers, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
The revelation is the first known evidence of the White House's involvement in the standoff between Congress and the intelligence agency. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said he didn't know whether the White House was involved. So far, the director of national intelligence has not allowed lawmakers access to the complaint, which earlier a source familiar with the case said was prompted by communication Trump had with a foreign leader. Trump responded to the reports Thursday, tweeting he would never "say something inappropriate" on a phone call with a foreign counterpart. The White House Counsel's office and Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel have both been involved in discussing the complaint with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which has refused to reveal the nature of it to Congress. In explaining their position, ODNI has suggested there is a question of privilege. The agency wrote in a letter to lawmakers on September 13 the complaint "involves confidential and potentially privileged communications by persons outside the Intelligence Community." The letter ends by noting the agency would work toward "protecting Executive Branch confidentiality interests." The refusal to provide the information to lawmakers has enraged Democrats, who emerged from a closed-door briefing with the agency's watchdog on Thursday accusing the administration of suppressing potentially damaging information. "There is an effort to prevent this information from getting to Congress," Schiff said. The California Democrat and other lawmakers said neither the nature nor the specific details of the complaint were revealed during the closed session. Previously, the White House has cited longstanding precedent in refusing congressional requests for documents related to Trump's meetings with foreign leaders, including his Russian counterpart. "It is settled law that the Constitution entrusts the conduct of foreign relations exclusively to the Executive Branch, as it makes the President 'the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations,' " White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a letter to Democrats in May. The complaint had spurred a standoff between Congress and Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence. more...   

Since automakers operate on a global scale and battery cars are being mandated in much of the rest of the world, it makes more sense to bring them to market in the U.S.
By Paul A. Eisenstein
The Trump administration formally announced plans Thursday to strip away the waiver that had allowed California to set its own fuel economy mandates, while also confirming that a rollback of federal mileage rules will be revealed in the coming weeks. Echoing the words of President Donald Trump, two senior White House officials said the moves would make tomorrow’s cars cleaner and safer, while also creating more U.S. jobs. As for the battery-electric vehicles the Obama-era rules would have encouraged, Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, dismissed them as little more than toys for the rich being subsidized by less affluent American motorists. While Wheeler said he hopes the administration’s moves will gain widespread support, that seems questionable. Several major automakers have already laid out plans to expand production of electric vehicles and other high-mileage models, despite Trump's rollback, and 14 states plus the District of Columbia have adopted the tougher California standards. The EPA chief stressed that the move to block California from setting greenhouse gas standards will not impact its ability to regulate other pollutants, such as ozone, adding that, “We hope the state will focus on these issues rather than trying to set fuel economy standards for the rest of the country.” The elimination of California’s ability to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases was announced first, administration officials acknowledged, in order to make it easier to defend against the anticipated legal challenges. On Wednesday, during a news conference in Sacramento, California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra made it clear the state will not readily accept losing its emissions waiver. “For us, this is about survival,” said Becerra. “Our communities are screaming for help to address the climate crisis. Unlike the Trump administration, we don’t run scared. We’re prepared to lead. We’re prepared to fight. We’ll do what we must.” The administration will announce the second part of the mileage rules change in a matter of weeks, explained Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who appeared with Wheeler in Washington Thursday morning. Both the EPA and the DOT are jointly charged with regulating CAFE, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations. “The updated standards will be reasonable,” said Chao, indicating they likely will not be rolled back as much as the administration had first suggested during a news conference late last year. more...   

By ARREN KIMBEL-SANNIT
Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that Israeli officials "played" President Donald Trump in their conversations with him, warning that a "healthy amount of skepticism" is needed in dealings with Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The comments came during a panel discussion at Harvard University in which Tillerson, who was fired by the president last year, touched on a variety of themes from his tenure, including Iran, his hiring freeze at the State Department and the unpredictable nature of Israel's longest-serving prime minister, Netanyahu. "They did that with the president on a couple of occasions, to persuade him that ‘We’re the good guys, they’re the bad guys,’" Tillerson said, according to the Harvard Gazette. "We later exposed it to the president so he understood, ‘You’ve been played.’” He cautioned that skepticism is necessary when dealing with Netanyahu, whom Tillerson called "a bit Machiavellian." The Israeli Prime Minister's office responded to the former secretary of state via Twitter, writing, "Secretary Tillerson, Israel *is* the good guy." Netanyahu, a close ally of Trump, faces an uncertain future. Israel held its second parliamentary election in six months this week, and it appears that Netanyahu's right-wing, Likud party will be unable to win a governing majority in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. Instead, it appears Likud and the centrist Blue and White Party will have an even number of seats in the Knesset, leaving Netanyahu's future as prime minister uncertain. more...   

The unrepentant political hitman who taught a younger Trump how to flout the rules didn’t get away with it forever.
By MICHAEL KRUSE
One of Donald Trump’s most important mentors, one of the most reviled men in American political history, is about to have another moment. Roy Cohn, who has been described by people who knew him as “a snake,” “a scoundrel” and “a new strain of son of a bitch,” is the subject of a new documentary out this week from producer and director Matt Tyrnauer. It’s an occasion to once again look at Cohn and ask how much of him and his “savage,” “abrasive” and “amoral” behavior is visible in the behavior of the current president. Trump, as has been well-established, learned so much from the truculent, unrepentant Cohn about how to get what he wants, and he pines for Cohn and his notorious capabilities still. Trump, after all, reportedly has said so himself, and it’s now the name of this film: “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” What Cohn could, and did, get away with was the very engine of his existence. The infamous chief counsel for the red-baiting, Joseph McCarthy-chaired Senate subcommittee in the 1950s, Cohn was indicted four times from the mid-’60s to the early ’70s—for stock-swindling and obstructing justice and perjury and bribery and conspiracy and extortion and blackmail and filing false reports. And three times he was acquitted—the fourth ended in a mistrial—giving him a kind of sneering, sinister sheen of invulnerability. Cohn, Tyrnauer’s work reaffirms, took his sanction-skirting capers and twisted them into a sort of suit of armor. It’s the past quarter or so, though, of Tyrnauer’s film that is perhaps most salient at this stage of Trump’s first term. It deals with the less discussed but arguably much more trenchant lesson of Cohn’s life—not his decades of dark-arts untouchability but his brutal comeuppance. Cohn did not, in the end, elude the consequences of his actions. He could not, it turned out, get away with everything forever. He was a braggart of a tax cheat, and the Internal Revenue Service closed in; he was an incorrigibly unethical attorney, and he finally was disbarred; and only six weeks after that professional disgrace, six months shy of 60 years old, Cohn was dead of AIDS. more...   

A war over the limits of Trump’s power is about to get real.
By Ian Millhiser
On Tuesday, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to hear a lawsuit challenging the leadership structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) — taking the same side as the people suing the government in a major constitutional dispute. The administration essentially threw in the towel in the challenge to the consumer protection agency started by senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren. As a general rule, the Justice Department has a duty to defend federal laws challenged in court. The administration, however, decided not to defend the law at issue in this case. With the Justice Department urging the Court to weigh in, it is now very likely that the justices will do so. The policy implications of this suit, Seila Law v. CFPB, are unclear. In the narrowest sense, Seila Law is a case about whether a federal agency can be led by a single director that the president cannot remove at will. More broadly, however, the case is the most recent skirmish in a war over what kind of government our Constitution permits. Most likely, the Supreme Court will hold that the president may remove the CFPB director. In the short term, that could give a big boost to a future Democratic president — potentially allowing a President Warren to replace Trump’s CFPB director with her own on the first day of her presidency. But the Court could also go much further. There is a chance — albeit a very small one — that the Supreme Court could strike down the CFPB in its entirety. There’s a somewhat greater chance that the Supreme Court could disallow “independent” agencies in which the leaders of those agencies are protected against removal by the president. President Trump, in other words, could gain the power to fire members of the Federal Reserve board who refuse to inject steroids into the economy while Trump is running for reelection. Looming over all of this is an ideological battle over the “unitary executive,” the theory that all executive power in the United States government must be vested in the president, and over the legacy of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. The fight over who can fire the CFPB director: Most federal agencies are led by a Cabinet secretary or some other senior official who can be fired by the president. By contrast, independent agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are often led by bipartisan boards whose members serve staggered terms. Often, the members of such boards can only be fired by the president “for cause,” which typically prevents a president from removing a board member simply because they disagree with that board member’s policy views. The CFPB is unusual. It is led by a single director, not by a board. But that director also is protected from a president who wants to fire them. By law, the president may only remove the CFPB Director “for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office.” This unusual arrangement enrages many conservatives. Indeed, one particularly conservative federal judge claimed that “consent of the governed is a sham” if the CFPB’s structure is allowed to stand. more...

A new study finds 3 billion fewer birds are flying through our skies. But there’s a silver lining.
By Brian Resnick
One of the great environmental crises today — and there are many — is the loss of biodiversity on planet Earth. Human actions have lead to an extinction rate higher than anything seen on Earth in the last 10 million years, as a sweeping UN report recently explained. It’s estimated the average vertebrate (bird, fish, mammal, amphibian) population has lost around 60 percent of its individual members since the 1970s. Scientists keep telling us that something is going devastatingly wrong in the natural world. Today, a study in Science focuses on the birds of North America, and the results are again eye-opening and grim. A team of scientists at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, in collaboration with the US Geological Survey and several conservation groups, have estimated North America has lost nearly 3 billion birds since 1970. That’s an estimated decline of 30 percent in the total bird population. In other words: More than one in four birds has disappeared from American skies in the last 50 years. “It is shocking,” says Adriaan Dokter, a study co-author and bird migration ecologist at Cornell. But even more alarming is the speed at which animals are disappearing: All of this loss is happening, he says, “on the timescale of one human life.”  The bird species that have suffered the greatest population losses are some of the most common: The new study draws its analysis of 529 bird species from long-standing ground-based surveys, in which citizen scientists send in bird population counts. And the scale of the losses was also corroborated with weather radar data. Birds, when they’re flying in the sky, actually show up on weather radar. (Maybe you’ve seen: during a hurricane, birds will often show up on radar trapped in the eye of the storm.) And the analysis revealed the biomass (i.e. mass of living things) migrating in the skies at night declined around 14 percent in the past decade. One of the most surprising findings in the report is that it’s not just rare or endangered birds that have been declining; it’s some of our most familiar species: sparrows, blackbirds, larks, starlings, and finches that visit our birth baths and fill the air with song. Dokter went into the study thinking these common birds that live over a wide-ranging area would still be very abundant. But in fact, the greatest losses came from these popular species. The following chart breaks it down. “More than 90% of the total cumulative loss can be attributed to 12 bird families,” the study finds. more...

No longer hemmed in by aides, Trump has bent the presidency into the mold of the Trump Organization.
By NANCY COOK
The China trade war, talks with the Taliban, the response to Iran after Saudi attacks, gun control, new tax legislation and a long list of other policy issues are up in the air and awaiting decisions from President Donald Trump — and him alone — heading into the 2020 election season. In many ways, it’s the presidency Trump has always wanted. He’s at the center of the action. He’s fully in command. And he’s keeping world leaders on edge and unsure of his next moves, all without being hemmed in by aides or the traditional strictures of a White House. After four national security advisers, three chiefs of staff, three directors of oval office operations and five communications directors, the president is now finding the White House finally functions in a way that fits his personality. Trump doubters have largely been ousted, leaving supporters to cheer him on and execute his directives with fewer constraints than ever before. “It is a government of one in the same way in which the Trump Organization was a company of one,” said a former senior administration official. “In the first year in office, President Trump was new to the job. He was more susceptible to advisers and advice. There were more people urging caution or trying to get him to adhere to processes,” the former senior official added. “Now, there are very few people in the White House who view that as their role, or as something they want to try to do, or who even have a relationship with him.” This Presidency of One is now heading into an election year supported by campaign staffers and White House aides who are quick say Trump is the best political strategist as well as the most effective messenger, and they intend to follow his lead wherever 2020 goes. more...  

By ANDREW DESIDERIO, KYLE CHENEY and CAITLIN OPRYSKO
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Thursday threatened legal action against the Trump administration over its refusal to turn over a whistleblower complaint that reportedly involves President Donald Trump’s interactions with a foreign leader. The intelligence community’s top watchdog refused on Thursday to share details with the panel about the whistleblower complaint, according to multiple lawmakers who attended the classified briefing, which the director of national intelligence has been withholding from Congress. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire’s refusal to turn over the complaint to the panel prompted Schiff to threaten to go to court or even withhold funding from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Schiff issued a subpoena last week for the complaint, which reportedly involves a “promise” that President Donald Trump made to a foreign leader. Schiff accused the White House and Justice Department of intervening to prevent Maguire from sharing the complaint with Congress, and suggested that the House could go to court to obtain it. “Someone is trying to manipulate the system,” Schiff told reporters after the briefing, adding that the Justice Department is not providing an explanation about why it recommended withholding the whistleblower complaint from lawmakers. “There is no privilege that covers whether the White House is involved in trying to stifle a whistleblower complaint.” more...  

Rachel Premack
FedEx has been caught in the middle of the US-China trade debacle. Trade tensions are partially to blame for FedEx slashing its 2020 outlook by 18%, and the package giant even sued the Trump administration this summer over trade rules. And now, the impact of Trump's trade war is getting personal. According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, the Chinese government had a FedEx pilot in custody for a week. A FedEx representative told Business Insider that the pilot was later released. Todd A. Hohn, the FedEx pilot, reportedly was detained while waiting for a commercial flight home from the Guangzhou airport. Hohn's checked bag had "nonmetallic pellets used in low-power replica air guns." Because of that, people close to the situation said the Chinese government is now launching a criminal investigation for Hohn's alleged transportation of ammunition. Hohn is a married father and also served as a US Air Force pilot, The Journal said. Until 2017, he was the commander of the 97th Air Mobility Wing at Oklahoma's Altus Air Force Base, which is about two hours southwest of Oklahoma City. "FedEx confirms that Chinese authorities in Guangzhou detained and later released one of our pilots on bail after an item was found in his luggage prior to a commercial flight," a FedEx representative said in a statement sent to Business Insider. "We are working with the appropriate authorities to gain a better understanding of the facts." more...   

By Sarah McCammon
When Arlen found out she was pregnant this year, she was still finishing college and knew she didn't want a child. There's a clinic near her home, but Arlen faced other obstacles to getting an abortion. "I started researching about prices, and I was like, 'Well, I don't have $500,' " said Arlen, who is in her 20s and lives in El Paso, Texas. We're not using her full name to protect her privacy. "So I was like, 'OK, there's gotta be other ways.' " Her research led her to information about self-induced abortion using pills. "For me it was ... like taking my power back. Like, 'I'm going to do this, some way or another,' " Arlen said. "I don't want silly people and the government making silly laws." Abortion, using pills: The Food and Drug Administration has an approved two-drug protocol for medication abortions, a combination of misoprostol and mifepristone. Mifepristone is especially heavily regulated in the U.S., and the combination is typically prescribed by a doctor during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy to cause what's essentially a medically induced miscarriage. That two-drug combination is most effective, but the World Health Organization says misoprostol alone can also be used to safely induce abortion, provided patients get follow-up care. Arlen learned online that she could get misoprostol — sold to treat ulcers — at a pharmacy across the border in Juárez, Mexico. "Even my friend that was with me, she was kind of shocked about how easy it was," she said. more...   

By Gina Heeb
The Federal Reserve took action in financial markets for a second day on Wednesday in another attempt to keep interest rates from moving higher. It marked the first time the central bank has taken such steps since the global financial crisis 10 years ago. The New York Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that it would inject $75 billion into the market through another overnight repurchase agreement, or repo, aimed at keeping the federal funds rate within its target range of 2% to 2.25%. An initial round of the market operation of $53 billion on Tuesday only temporarily reined in borrowing costs. Short-term rates had shot up as high as 10%, threatening to disrupt the bond market and the overall lending system. more...  

By Manu Raju, CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent
(CNN) - The House Judiciary Committee is preparing to take initial steps to potentially hold former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in contempt over his refusal to answer questions at this week's hearing before the panel, multiple sources tell CNN. But it is a process that could take weeks: First, a letter is expected to be sent to Lewandowski asking him to answer questions and warning him he can be held in contempt if he doesn't answer. Then, they may offer a contempt resolution, officially notice a committee vote and then hold a vote in committee before any floor action.
Some Democrats have been irked by the failure to hold Lewandowski in contempt immediately during the hearing, according to Democratic sources. That flies in the face of current House rules that would have made the process quite cumbersome to immediately hold him in contempt at the hearing.
At a private meeting Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the committee should have immediately held Lewandowski in contempt, but doing so would have been an arduous undertaking under House rules. Her office says that Pelosi was merely expressing frustration at Lewandowski -- not the committee. But the fight over what to do after Lewandowski's testimony showcases the tensions that have been building within the Democratic caucus over the committee's handling of impeachment, with members of the party again at odds over their messaging and strategy during a crucial time facing their majority. In the aftermath of the hearing, some Democrats are openly questioning the wisdom of bringing forward Lewandowski, whose heated exchanges with Democrats and stonewalling of their questions may have overshadowed key aspects of his testimony. more...   

By Elliot Hannon
President Donald Trump, known lover of the environment, has some (more) environmental thoughts he’d like to share with you. Following a trip to San Francisco, Trump blamed the city’s homelessness problem for waste, specifically used needles, that he says is getting swept through the city’s storm drains and into the ocean. It’s unclear who told him this was the case—or a real problem—but it was clear Trump liked the idea of big city burn, so whether it’s true or relevant or not doesn’t really matter to the president of the United States. “It’s a terrible situation that’s in Los Angeles and in San Francisco,” Trump, who is currently fighting California to reduce state fuel efficiency standards, told reporters on Air Force One. “And we’re going to be giving San Francisco—they’re in total violation—we’re going to be giving them a notice very soon.” Trump didn’t give any indication of where he got his information, but San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement that the sewer system functions effectively, keeping waste from making it to the Bay or the Pacific Ocean. “In San Francisco we are focused on advancing solutions to meet the challenges on our streets, not throwing off ridiculous assertions as we board an airplane to leave the state,” Breed said. more...    

By Molly Olmstead
An alleged white supremacist has been charged with targeting a black Charlottesville, Virginia, activist running for city council with violent, racist threats, authorities said Wednesday. Those threats led the activist, a deacon and co-founder of Charlottesville’s Black Lives Matter chapter, to drop his campaign, according to prosecutors. Daniel McMahon, a 31-year-old resident of Brandon, Florida, was a known figure in hateful white supremacist circles on social media, according to the Associated Press. McMahon went by the alias “Jack Corbin” and wrote posts on the social media platform Gab that were shared by the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect, the AP reported. His alleged victim, who was named only with initials in the court filings, was identified by the Daily Progress as activist Don Gathers. Gathers, a deacon in a Baptist church and an activist for racial justice, had announced in January a plan to run for city council on a platform to help the city “heal” after the deadly “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017. But the next day, when Gathers was scheduled to formally announce his campaign, he instead told a crowd of supporters that he had decided to delay his run for office, citing a doctor’s warning that he was still recovering from a heart attack the previous fall. That night, he also resigned from the Civilian Police Review Board, according to the Daily Progress. more...   

By Katie Sewell
HURRICANE HUMBERTO will continue to generate large swells and dangerous surf along Bermuda, the northwestern Bahamas and the much of the US coast over the next few days, according to the 11am (AST) NHC public advisory. Hurricane Humberto is expected to become a powerful extratropical cyclone later today, with large swells affecting Bermuda and much of the US east coast. With maximum sustained winds of 110mph, the storm is now 415 miles northeast of Bermuda - and tracking in a northeasterly direction. Powerful energy from the storm will track towards the UK into next week, bringing with it torrential rain and fierce winds, according to the latest weather maps. The 11am (AST) NOAA update read: "At 1100 AM AST (1500 UTC), the center of Hurricane Humberto was located near latitude 36.8 North, longitude 60.0 West. "Humberto is moving toward the northeast near 24 mph (39 km/h). A slower north-northeastward motion is expected later today and tonight. "A turn toward the east-northeast is expected to commence on Friday. "Maximum sustained winds are near 110 mph (175 km/h) with higher gusts. more...   

By MARIANNE LEVINE
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday he is backing a measure to improve election security after Senate Democrats slammed him for blocking bipartisan election security legislation. The amendment to an appropriations package would provide an additional $250 million to the Trump administration to assist states with improving their voting systems and preventing foreign interference. “I am proud to have helped develop this amendment and to co-sponsor it in committee,” McConnell said on the floor. McConnell has previously supported addressing election security through appropriations. McConnell added that the amendment brings the total funding for election security to $600 million since fiscal year 2018. more...  

By Elliot Hannon
A U.S. intelligence official alarmed by President Trump’s communications with a foreign leader filed an official whistleblower complaint last month with the inspector general for the intelligence community, the Washington Post reports. Trump’s interactions with the leader, whose identity has not been disclosed, included what the Post described as “a promise” the official “regarded as so troubling” that the official came forward. It’s not clear what form the interaction took place, though one intelligence official told the Post that it was a phone call. Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson found the complaint, which was filed on Aug. 12, to be credible and designated the matter of “urgent concern,” a legal classification that is supposed to prompt the notification of oversight committees in Congress. Acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire, however, has so far refused to share the whistleblower’s concerns with Congress, setting off yet another power struggle between congressional leaders and the Trump administration, as well as speculation over what leader Trump may have acted inappropriately with. more...   

By Elliot Hannon
President Trump, known lover of the environment, has some (more) environmental thoughts he’d like to share with you. Following a trip to San Francisco, Trump blamed the city’s homelessness problem for waste, specifically used needles, that he says is getting swept through the city’s storm drains and into the ocean. It’s unclear who told him this was the case—or a real problem—but it was clear Trump liked the idea of big city burn, so whether it’s true or relevant or not doesn’t really matter to the president of the United States. “It’s a terrible situation that’s in Los Angeles and in San Francisco,” Trump, who is currently fighting California to reduce state fuel efficiency standards, told reporters on Air Force One. “And we’re going to be giving San Francisco, they’re in total violation, we’re going to be giving them a notice very soon.” Trump didn’t give any indication of where he got his information, but San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement that the sewer system functions effectively, keeping waste from making it to the Bay or the Pacific Ocean. “In San Francisco we are focused on advancing solutions to meet the challenges on our streets, not throwing off ridiculous assertions as we board an airplane to leave the state,” Breed said.  President Trump, known lover of the environment, has some (more) environmental thoughts he’d like to share with you. Following a trip to San Francisco, Trump blamed the city’s homelessness problem for waste, specifically used needles, that he says is getting swept through the city’s storm drains and into the ocean. It’s unclear who told him this was the case—or a real problem—but it was clear Trump liked the idea of big city burn, so whether it’s true or relevant or not doesn’t really matter to the president of the United States. “It’s a terrible situation that’s in Los Angeles and in San Francisco,” Trump, who is currently fighting California to reduce state fuel efficiency standards, told reporters on Air Force One. “And we’re going to be giving San Francisco, they’re in total violation, we’re going to be giving them a notice very soon.” Trump didn’t give any indication of where he got his information, but San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement that the sewer system functions effectively, keeping waste from making it to the Bay or the Pacific Ocean. “In San Francisco we are focused on advancing solutions to meet the challenges on our streets, not throwing off ridiculous assertions as we board an airplane to leave the state,” Breed said. more...    

Kevin Breuninger, Dan Mangan, Tucker Higgins
President Donald Trump on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and his longtime accounting firm, days after news broke that the prosecutor had subpoenaed years of Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns. Vance’s office had issued a subpoena last month to accounting firm Mazars. The firm said in a statement issued Monday that it “will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.” “In response to the subpoenas issued by the New York County District Attorney, we have filed a lawsuit this morning in Federal Court on behalf of the President in order to address the significant constitutional issues at stake in this case,” Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow said in a statement Thursday morning. The suit marks the latest attempt by Trump to take legal action against prosecutors and lawmakers who have attempted to acquire tax documents that Trump has avoided publicly disclosing since his presidential campaign. Modern presidential candidates have shared years of their tax returns with the public while on the campaign trail. Trump, the head of a global real estate empire, had promised to release his returns after the completion of an audit — even though an audit was never an obstacle to disclosure. Trump never disclosed those tax returns during the 2016 election, or after, and has fought against attempts by House Committees and state agencies to force their release. A copy of the legal complaint in the new case, filed in U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan, was not immediately available. William Consovoy, a lawyer in Virginia, had filed a motion Thursday morning, asking to represent Trump in New York federal court. He did not immediately provide a comment to CNBC. In addition to Vance and Mazars, the lawsuit names as a defendant Solomon Shinerock, the prosecutor who is chief of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau in the DA’s office. more... - Trump promised to show his taxes to the American people when his faked audit was done. Why does he not want to show his taxes, what is Trump hiding?

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff says he wasn’t properly informed, and he wants answers.
By Andrew Prokop
An internal Trump administration whistleblower has filed a complaint about a troubling “promise” made during a conversation between President Trump and a foreign leader, per the Washington Post’s Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima, and Shane Harris. The complaint was passed on to the inspector general for the intelligence community, who determined it was credible and a matter of “urgent concern” — a legal standard that normally requires congressional oversight committees be notified. But Trump’s acting director of national intelligence has stepped in to block key congressional committee chairs from receiving the details of the whistleblower complaint — which some legal analysts say could be a violation of the law requiring they be informed. So over the past week, Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) has been demanding answers. The fact that the complaint involved Trump’s own conduct wasn’t known right away; that important detail was first reported by the Post on Wednesday night and further confirmed shortly after by NBC News. So, this could be a major new scandal in the making. And the two huge questions are: which foreign leader? And what was the promise? On Thursday morning, Trump responded on Twitter, calling the story “Fake News” and saying he wouldn’t have said “something inappropriate” on such a call. What we know so far about the whistleblower complaint about Trump: The saga began on August 12, when a whistleblower inside the government filed a complaint about Trump. All we know about the content of the complaint is that it reportedly involved a communication between Trump and a foreign leader — and that communication involved a “promise” of some kind, according to the Washington Post. NBC News’s Ken Dilanian reports that the communication was a phone call. more...    

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
(CNN) - A smoldering Washington intelligence mystery exploded late Wednesday into a full-on confrontation between House Democrats and the White House over communications between President Donald Trump and an unidentified foreign leader. A showdown over a whistleblower's "credible and urgent" complaint was revealed -- first by The Washington Post and later confirmed by CNN -- to concern the President himself, raising new questions about the motivation of the acting director of national intelligence's refusal to reveal details of the case to Congress. The revelations have unleashed a new firestorm in the nation's capital over Trump's perplexing foreign policy dealings and the administration's across-the-board efforts to frustrate Congress' constitutionally authorized role of oversight of the executive branch. But they will also open debate about the extent of the President's powers, which give him expansive latitude in national security. The whistleblower's claims are also certain to bolster the belief among Trump and his supporters that nefarious forces are operating within America's intelligence establishment to undermine him -- a refrain conservatives have used in the wake of the Russian election interference operation. And they will likely further damage the President's trust in America's spy agencies. The Post reported that an official in the American intelligence community was so bothered by a "promise" Trump had made while communicating with a foreign leader that the official filed a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general of the intelligence community, according to two former US officials familiar with the matter. CNN has not confirmed the detail about the "promise." It is unclear to whom Trump was speaking at the time. The President dismissed the reporting on Thursday morning, rhetorically asking if there is "anybody dumb enough to believe" it. more...   

Donald Trump has denied saying anything “inappropriate” to a foreign leader after a Washington Post report, confirmed by other news outlets, revealed that a whistleblower in the US intelligence community filed a formal complaint alleging that the president made a troubling “promise” to that leader. In a series of tweets, Trump said he is aware that US intelligence agents and their foreign counterparts listen to these phone conversations and asked if there was “anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially “heavily populated’ call.” Scalia, son of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, is facing sharp questions from Democrats who are uneasy with his career as an attorney for corporate clients. Scalia, who was introduced to the committee by Transportation secretary, who was the former labor secretary under president George W Bush (and is the wife of the Senate majority leader) Elaine Chao, said in his opening remarks that his previous work as the department’s top lawyer proved that, once there, he “had new clients, new responsibilities and a public trust.” The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation, opposes his nomination. They have described Scalia as a “union-busting lawyer seeking new opportunities to ruthlessly advance corporate interests”. Democrats have accused Republicans of rushing the confirmation hearing, giving them little time to scour his record. Senator Lamar Alexander, chair of the HELP committee, has defended the decision. more...  

CBS This Morning - There is new information about a whistleblower's claim that led to a subpoena from the House Intelligence Committee. It reportedly started with something that President Trump did. Weijia Jiang reports. more...   

By Zachary Cohen, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump's communications with a foreign leader, which included a "promise," sparked the whistleblower complaint that has led the acting director of national intelligence to agree to testify amid a showdown with Congress, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. The Post reported that an official in the American intelligence community was so bothered by a "promise" Trump made to a foreign leader that the official filed a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general of the intelligence community, according to two former US officials familiar with the matter. It's unknown which leader Trump was speaking to and it's the first time his direct involvement in the complaint has been reported, according to the Post. The complaint was filed on August 12 and White House records show Trump had spoken to or interacted with five foreign leaders in the previous five weeks, the Post reports: Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands and the Emir of Qatar. However, it's not clear that the communication that inspired the complaint was with any of those leaders. The White House did not respond to the Post's requests for comment and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and a lawyer representing the whistleblower declined to comment to the Post. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence also declined to comment when reached by CNN on Wednesday. The complaint has led to a standoff between Congress and acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, who has refused to turn over the complaint to the House Intelligence Committee. Maguire has agreed to testify next week in an open session before the committee after refusing to comply with Tuesday's deadline to hand over the whistleblower complaint, which had been deemed by the intelligence community inspector general to be "credible and urgent." The committee's chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, announced Wednesday that Maguire will appear at 9 a.m. on September 26. The California Democrat also announced that the intelligence community inspector general will brief the House committee Thursday behind closed doors about how it handled the whistleblower complaint. In a subpoena issued last week, Schiff said he would force the acting intelligence chief to testify this Thursday if he did not comply with a request to turn over the complaint and all corresponding records. On Tuesday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence sent letters to Schiff and ranking Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California, saying not only that Maguire was refusing to provide the requested information -- as the complaint "does not meet the definition of 'urgent concern' " -- but also that he would not appear before the committee as scheduled because he "is not available on such short notice." But by Wednesday, the two sides appeared to have reached a compromise, if only on the timing of the hearing, setting the stage for what could be a contentious public hearing. Maguire will likely be grilled by lawmakers concerned that the administration may have violated whistleblower protections and whether President Donald Trump or top White House officials were involved in the case. Schiff said Monday that he does not know the exact nature of the complaint, as he has not yet received the details from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, nor does he know the whistleblower's identity. He has argued that Maguire has taken unprecedented steps to withhold the information from Congress. According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's letter Tuesday to Schiff, obtained by CNN, the complaint does not involve anyone in the intelligence community but rather "stakeholders within the Executive Branch." As a result, its lawyer argues, the complaint is not of "urgent concern" to the office. more...   

By Caroline Kelly and Kate Sullivan, CNN
(CNN) - California Gov. Gavin Newsom slammed the Trump administration and Republicans for their "complete silence on state's rights, but also free enterprise" in light of President Donald Trump's decision to curtail state-set emissions standards. "They're calling private sector corporations to the mat and threatening them," Newsom, a Democrat, told CNN's Don Lemon on Wednesday night on "CNN Tonight." "I don't think this, I know this from the personal conversations I've had and by the actions of the Department of Justice," he continued. "What happened to the Republican Party?" Newsom, who frequently spars with the President, made the comments as Trump scraps with California's Democratic officials over auto-emission standards and the state's homeless crisis. Earlier this month, the Trump administration opened an antitrust investigation into four auto companies -- Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen -- that agreed with the state of California to raise their fuel economy standards in coming years. "Federalism be damned; state rights, 10th Amendment be damned; Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon be damned," Newsom said Wednesday when asked why he thought a Republican administration was exerting its power over a state-level decision -- traditionally a cornerstone of conservative policy. Newsom pointed to Reagan's efforts as the state's governor in 1967 to address smog in Los Angeles, arguing that it led to the bipartisan Clean Air Act signed by Nixon, a fellow California Republican, in 1970. "They'd be rolling in their graves right now of what the Republican administration is doing," Newsom said. "And moreover, what the Republican Party is doing -- complicit, complete silence on state's rights, but also free enterprise." more...  

The “View” crew also took issue with Lewandowski saying he has “no obligation to be honest to the media,” noting that he once worked as a CNN contributor.
By Justin Baragona
The day after former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski's House Judiciary Committee combative testimony that culminated in him proudly confessing that he lies to the press, The View’s Meghan McCain—your favorite pundit on the planet, dear reader—blasted the combative Trump ally for being an “absolute clown show.” Recapping the House hearing during Wednesday’s broadcast of The View, the panel all took various shots at Lewandowski, including slamming him for announcing during his testimony that he’s weighing a possible run for Senate in New Hampshire. “I have had kids who were murderers and pimps who behaved better than this,” liberal co-host Joy Behar yelled at one point, referencing her time teaching juvenile delinquents. After Abby Huntsman wondered aloud what House Democrats expected from Lewandowski considering his pugnacious reputation and history of being a full-on Trump sycophant, McCain jumped in to remind viewers of Lewandowski’s past instances of alleged physical assault. “This is a guy that I signed a petition years ago with many other conservative women in media because he assaulted [former Breitbart reporter] Michelle Fields on the campaign trail,” she noted. “Let’s not let that go.” McCain continued: “I was one of the people... I remember going on air, I believe at Fox, saying this man shouldn’t have a platform anywhere let alone be working for any candidate. So, years ago, he’s an absolute clown show, and also don’t forget—excuse me, and I’m so upset by this—that he mocked an immigrant child with Down syndrome. Remember that?” more...    

By Dawn Gilbertson, USA TODAY
The saga of the American Airlines mechanic charged with sabotaging a plane took another disturbing turn Wednesday when a federal judge in Florida denied bail over concerns about the worker's potential terrorism ties. Prosecutors cited two factors in pushing for the continued jailing of Abdul-Majeed Maroud Ahmed Alani, a 60-year-old mechanic who was with American since 1988 and previously worked for Alaska Airlines: he has a brother in Iraq who may be involved with the Islamic State extremist group and has made statements about wishing harm on non-Muslims, according to the Miami Herald and the Associated Press. “I have evidence before me that suggests you could be sympathetic to terrorists,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Chris McAliley said during the bond hearing, the Herald reported. McAliley called Alani's alleged tampering with the aircraft “highly reckless and unconscionable,'' the newspaper said. Since Alani's arrest, the Herald said, investigators with the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force found out Alani lied about taking a trip to Iraq in March to visit his brother and that he told a co-worker at American this summer that his brother was a member of the extremist group and was kidnapped. Also reportedly found: Alani's smart phone had a "disturbing'' ISIS video on it that he shared and that he sent $700 to someone in Iraq, where he was born and has family. Alani is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Iraq. He is not charged with a terror-related crime. His court appointed attorney suggested the government is overblowing Alani's motives. The mechanic previously told investigators he was only trying to get the flight canceled or delayed, not hurt passengers. He said he was motivated by a bitter labor dispute between American and its mechanics that has canceled thousands of flights and hurt overtime. "We don't believe he intentionally endangered the safety of people'' on that flight, said Christian Dunham, an assistant federal public defender representing Alani. "I think the government is blowing this out of proportion.'' more...   

By Chris Mills Rodrigo
A former staffer in the George W. Bush administration wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post on Wednesday urging his "fellow Latinos" to vote President Trump out of office in 2020. "I am a Republican. I worked in the George W. Bush White House," Abel Guerra wrote in the op-ed. "And I say to my fellow Latinos: I’m not asking you to become a Democrat. But I am asking you to vote President Trump out of office." "Republicans have lost control of the monster they helped create. Trump hasn’t changed," he continued. "From day one, Trump spewed his white-supremacist views, promising to halt the invasion of immigrants and spurring a rhetoric of resentment and retaliation against the 'other.' No matter our background, we have been vilified as invaders, marked as illegal and degraded as subhuman. The silence from prominent Republicans is deafening," he wrote. Guerra highlighted last month's shooting in El Paso, Texas, where 22 people died and dozens more were injured, saying that it "was the inevitable outcome of 30 straight months of hate speech coming from the White House." Patrick Wood Crusius, the alleged gunman, drove eight hours from the Dallas-Fort Worth area to El Paso, which is directly across the border from Mexico’s Ciudad Juárez and has a high concentration of Hispanic people. Authorities have investigated Crusius in connection to a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto posted online before the attack that described fears of a Latino "invasion." more...    

By Bobby Allyn
A Pennsylvania state senator has stepped down following his arrest on charges of possession of child pornography. Sen. Mike Folmer submitted his letter of resignation on Wednesday to Republican colleagues in Harrisburg, according to leadership in the state chamber. "We are sickened and disturbed by the charges brought against Mike Folmer," the Pennsylvania lawmakers said in a statement. After reviewing the charges and speaking to Folmer, they said they insisted that he resign. On Tuesday, police arrested Folmer at his home about an hour outside of the state capital after tracing what prosecutors say was an explicit image involving a minor to the senator's personal computer. During a search of Folmer's cellphone, investigators say they found two other suspected images of child pornography. Folmer, 63, who is married and has seven grandchildren, told police that he "had been dealing with some personal problems," according to a criminal complaint filed by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office. Folmer told investigators that he had received the initial image, apparently showing a sex act involving a young girl, through his Tumblr blog, according to court documents. But prosecutors say it was Folmer who uploaded the image to the social media site in December 2017 under the screen name hoser44. more...

By Graham Kates
The last migrant child to be held at the Homestead facility for unaccompanied minors left on August 3 – but, since then, the U.S. government has likely spent more than $33 million to staff the massive, empty space.  The spending was revealed Wednesday during congressional testimony with Jonathan Hayes, director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Hayes said Homestead remains staffed to support up to 1,200 children. "I think it's about $600" per day, Hayes estimated — a total of roughly $720,000 per day, or more than $33 million in the nearly seven weeks since it stopped sheltering children. Homestead, now an empty facility for migrant children, costs $720,000 a day to staff "So $600 a day for 1,200 invisible, imaginary, nonexistent human beings at Homestead right now?" asked Wisconsin Democratic Representative Mark Pocan. "It's the beds, but yes sir," Hayes replied. Hayes explained that because the site is intended for use in case of a sudden influx of unaccompanied migrant children, his agency prefers to keep it staffed. "What I was told by my planning and logistics team, the senior career professionals at ORR, you're looking at a minimum of 90 to 120 days in order to reactivate the staff back for that," Hayes said. "And again, given the extreme uncertainty of referrals coming across our nation's southern border, and how many kids we might have to care for, that wasn't a switch that was turned off at this point." Hayes was speaking at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the mental health needs of migrant children in custody, and two inspector general reports that found migrant children receive insufficient mental health care in government custody. more...   

By Monique O. Madan
The government has spent more than $33 million in 46 days to keep the Homestead detention center up and running even though there no children are housed there, according to federal officials. On Wednesday, Jonathan Hayes, the Acting Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement— the agency in charge of housing unaccompanied migrant children— testified at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing, along with other Department of Homeland Security leaders, about mental health services for migrant children. In an exchange with U.S. Rep Mark Pocan, a Democrat of Wisconsin, Hayes clarified that Homestead — which officially closed down Aug. 3— is costing taxpayers $720,000 a day. That’s $600 a day for each of 1,200 empty beds. When kids are present at the facility, the cost is $750 a day per child. Hayes: “It’s the beds, yes, sir, to keep them there.” Hayes continued to address the committee, which was chaired by U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Democrate of Connecticut. Ann Maxwell, the assistant inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, also testified, along with Jonathan White, incident commander for the Office of Refugee Resettlement. “One thing you and I can agree on is this is an expensive program to operate,” Hayes said. “I will state if we remove the staff at Homestead, what I was told by my planning and logistics team, you’re looking at a minimum of 90 to 120 days in order to reactivate the staff back for that. And again, given the extreme uncertainty of referrals coming across our nation’s southern border, and how many kids we might have to care for, that wasn’t a switch that was turned off at this point.” Since Homestead’s closing on Aug. 3, at least $33,120,000 has been paid to Caliburn, the company contracted by the government to run Homestead. more...

By Zack Budryk
President Trump doubled down Wednesday on his disagreement with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) about the president’s approach to Iran, where Graham has renewed his calls for military strikes. “Ask Lindsey how did going into the Middle East, how did that work out? And how did going into Iraq work out? So, we have a disagreement on that,” Trump told reporters in San Diego after Graham said the U.S.’s failure to retaliate earlier this summer after Iran downed an American drone was received in Tehran as “a sign of weakness.” “No I actually think it’s a sign of strength. We have the strongest military in the world now. And I think it’s a great sign of strength,” Trump told reporters, echoing a tweet he sent out Tuesday evening in response to Graham, calling his response “a sign of strength that some people just don’t understand!” Trump reportedly authorized a military strike on Iran after the drone was shot down but said he recalled it at the last minute upon learning the strike could cause 150 casualties. more...   

“Kids stood here and didn’t help Khaseen,” a detective said of slain teen Khaseen Morris. “They’d rather video. They videoed his death instead of helping him.”
By David K. Li
A teenager near New York City was stabbed to death in an attack witnessed by dozens of onlookers — some who rolled video of the slaying rather than help stop it, police said Tuesday. Khaseen Morris, 16, and a friend were set upon by as many as a half-dozen people Monday in an after-school brawl in front of a pizzeria in a strip mall parking lot in Oceanside, a Long Island community about 30 miles east of Manhattan, authorities said. Morris was fatally stabbed in the chest, and a 17-year-old friend suffered a broken arm and swelling to his head, police said. Nassau County Det. Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick told reporters the attack appears to have stemmed from a dispute over a girl "and the perception of who she might be dating or who she might be hanging with." more...    

By Mary Hanbury
Silicon Valley hosted a secretive fundraiser for President Donald Trump in Palo Alto, California, on Tuesday, with tickets costing as much as $100,000 a couple. The Wall Street Journal reported that attendees weren't told in advance where the event would be or who would be hosting, in part over worries that protesters might turn up en masse. Instead, attendees were asked to meet at a remote location before being shuttled to the host's house. Campaign aides and advisers declined to disclose the location and its host, citing privacy and security concerns, The Journal said. It turned out that Scott McNealy, the cofounder and former CEO of Sun Microsystems, was hosting the fundraiser at his Palo Alto home. Crowds of protesters caught wind of the event and duly gathered nearby along with, apparently, a giant balloon depicting Trump as a baby. It turned out that Scott McNealy, the cofounder and former CEO of Sun Microsystems, was hosting the fundraiser at his Palo Alto home. more...

By Elizabeth Joseph, CNN
(CNN) - Purdue Pharma has filed for bankruptcy as part of its plan to settle litigation with dozens of states and and other plaintiffs who say the company fueled the opioid crisis. Now the billionaire family that that owns the pharmaceutical giant is hoping the move "will end our ownership of Purdue." Purdue Pharma, maker of the painkiller OxyContin, said its bankruptcy filing Sunday is part of an agreement to pay billions of dollars to states and local and tribal governments. The company has denied any wrongdoing. "This court-supervised process is intended to, among other things, facilitate an orderly and equitable resolution of all claims against Purdue, while preserving the value of Purdue's assets for the benefit of those impacted by the opioid crisis," the company said in a statement. Purdue estimates after bankruptcy filings are complete, it will provide more than $10 billion in funding to address the opioid crisis. That will include settlements with 24 state attorneys general, five US territories and attorneys in multi-district litigation, the statement said. "This settlement framework avoids wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and years on protracted litigation, and instead will provide billions of dollars and critical resources to communities across the country trying to cope with the opioid crisis," said a statement from Steve Miller, chairman of Purdue's board of directors. "We will continue to work with state attorneys general and other plaintiff representatives to finalize and implement this agreement as quickly as possible." more...  

The spending paid for the equivalent of hundreds of nights of rooms over approximately three dozen separate stays, the committee said.
By NATASHA BERTRAND and BRYAN BENDER
Since Donald Trump took office, the U.S. military has spent nearly $200,000 at the president’s luxury Scotland resort, according to figures and documents the Pentagon provided to the House Oversight Committee. The spending, which has all occurred since August 2017, paid for the equivalent of hundreds of nights of rooms at the Turnberry resort over approximately three dozen separate stays, the committee said. The Air Force confirmed last week that its crews had stayed up to 40 times at Trump’s property since 2015, but it has not provided a breakdown of the number of stays since Trump was elected. The figures provided to the House Oversight Committee suggest the vast majority of stays have occurred since Trump took office, raising concerns among Democrats about a conflict of interest. POLITICO first reported earlier this month that the Oversight Committee had been probing military spending at Turnberry since April to determine whether the money constituted a violation of the Constitution’s domestic emoluments clause, which prohibits the president from receiving any compensation from the federal government other than his salary. After being elected, Trump chose not to fully divest himself from his business interests, choosing instead to put his holdings in a trust that he can receive money from at any time. The committee’s probe has ramped up in the wake of POLITICO’s reporting on several overnight stays at the resort by U.S. Air Force crews, some of which have been multinight stays involving dozens of crew members and passengers. The Pentagon documents showed that U.S. taxpayer funds “have been used to pay for more than three dozen separate stays involving hundreds of nights of rooms — all after the President was sworn into office,” according to a letter the committee’s chairman, Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) wrote to acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday. more...   

“If we want to make America great again we will have to make evil people fear punishment again,” the caption said.
By Ben Kesslen
A New York municipal judge has resigned and been permanently barred from judicial office after posting an image to Facebook of a noose with a “Make America Great Again” caption. Kyle Canning, 29, a town court justice in Altona, New York, just south of the Canadian border, posted the image in February 2018 that read in all capital letters, “If we want to make America great again we will have to make evil people fear punishment again.” The post was public, according to New York state’s Commission on Judicial Conduct, which launched an investigation into Canning’s conduct. The commission served the justice with a formal written complaint in May, charging him with conveying racial and political bias. Canning resigned in June, and on Tuesday, the commission released the results of its investigation with a statement. “The noose is an incendiary image with repugnant racial connotations. It is the very antithesis of law and justice,” Commission Administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian said in the statement. “For a judge to use the image of the noose in making a political point undermines the integrity of the judiciary and public confidence in the courts.” Canning had been a town justice for only a month before he posted the image to Facebook, with his term set to expire in 2021. In addition to resigning, he agreed to never seek or accept judicial office in the future. In his resignation letter to the Altona town supervisor, Canning said he felt like he was “coerced into resigning.” more...

By Maggie Haberman
When President Trump attended a fund-raiser at a private home in Beverly Hills on Tuesday night, there was a familiar face in the crowd: Thomas J. Barrack Jr., the billionaire investor and old friend of the president’s who has come under scrutiny by federal prosecutors looking into possible foreign influence over Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign. Mr. Barrack was among Mr. Trump’s relatives, party and campaign officials and the well-heeled attending the event at the home of Geoffrey Palmer, a real estate developer, according to two people familiar with what took place. Mr. Barrack spoke during the round-table portion of the event, and the president acknowledged him pleasantly, one of the people said. Mr. Barrack also attended a fund-raising breakfast for Mr. Trump on Wednesday morning in Los Angeles. And he has given $360,600, the maximum amount allowable, to the Trump Victory Committee, a joint entity between the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, according to three people familiar with the donor list. As federal prosecutors examine the presidential inaugural committee, which Mr. Barrack led, and possible lobbying efforts by foreign governments looking to influence the new administration, Mr. Barrack is sending signals that the attention on him has not deterred his interest in engaging in the 2020 campaign. People close to both Mr. Trump and Mr. Barrack said that talk of a permanent strain in their decades-long relationship has been overstated. The two men still speak, those people say, and Mr. Trump appeared pleased to see Mr. Barrack at his events. Whether Mr. Barrack will become more involved in the campaign, either by advising the president or fund-raising for him, as he did in 2016, remains to be seen. more...   

By Alexander Bolton and Jordain Carney
Senate Republicans are responding cautiously to a new proposal to expand background checks for gun sales that the Trump administration is circulating on Capitol Hill. President Trump has yet to endorse the proposal, but the White House is taking the temperature of Senate Republican support for the idea. “There are some ideas floating around that different members of the administration are coming up with and at this point it’s probably too early to say” if Republicans will support it, said Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.). “Our members are going to be very — proceed with caution — very skeptical of some of the ideas that have been put out there in the past, but I think they’re willing to listen,” Thune added. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he has not yet reviewed the administration’s memo on expanding background checks, which is along the lines of the amendment sponsored in 2013 by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). “I haven’t seen it but I talked to [Attorney General William] Barr yesterday. He’s going around talking to people. If he’s good with it, I’m good with it,” Graham said of the memo. The memo, titled, “Idea for New Unlicensed-Commercial-Sale Background Checks,” proposes expanding background checks to all advertised commercial sales, including sales at guns shows, along the lines of the Manchin-Toomey proposal. The document was first reported on by The Daily Caller. more...  

By Brandon Specktor
In December 2017 and March 2018, The New York Times released three allegedly declassified videos showing U.S. Navy pilots trailing some unidentified flying objects. The mystery crafts moved at hypersonic speeds, flying tens of thousands of feet above the Earth with no distinct wings, engines or visible signs of propulsion whatsoever. Were they flying saucers? Incredibly high-tech drones? The pilots had no idea — and, according to a recent statement from Navy intelligence officials, neither does the U.S. government. In a statement delivered to the intelligence news website The Black Vault, Joseph Gradisher, a spokesperson for the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare, announced that the Navy officially considers the craft in these three videos "unidentified aerial phenomena." That means that the eerie videos are authentic — and that the objects, which were detected in restricted military training airspaces in 2004 and 2015, were not supposed to be there. The objects still have not been successfully identified as any known type of aircraft. The UFO footage was also never cleared for public release, Gradisher told The Black Vault — meaning these are three unidentified phenomena you were never supposed to know about. more...   

By Leada Gore | lgore@al.com
Former President Jimmy Carter said four more years of President Donald Trump would be a “disaster” for the country.
Speaking at an Atlanta event for his namesake Carter Center, the 94-year-old said he has not decided who he will support for the White House in 2020, according to reports in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Whoever it is, he would like to see them support the same things backed by his namesake Carter Center: ending wars, addressing global warming, human rights, working on treating people better and constructively criticizing the United States. “If they do those things, I would probably vote for them. I don’t know who I will vote for, but I will vote for one of them,” Carter said. “I voted for Bernie (Sanders) the last time. But one of the major factors I have in my mind is who can beat Trump. Because I think it would be a disaster to have four more years of Trump.” Carter’s wife, Rosalynn, agreed with her husband, saying she was concerned about the racial climate under Trump. “I think we need a new president,” the former first lady said. “I am so disturbed about white power. He (Trump) says he is not a racist and maybe he is not. But some of the things he says, encourages racism.” more...    

Fed watchers may have just witnessed Powell’s ‘Bernanke moment’
By Sven Henrich
Read this paragraph carefully in light of the Fed’s latest rate cut: Since last year real GDP growth in the U.S. has been slowing. The chair of the Federal Reserve has been signaling that while growth is slowing, there is no recession risk and the Fed is forecasting continued positive growth. Warning signs in the economy, including an inverted yield curve, have been ignored and stock markets continued to make new highs in July. In August a correction took a place and subsequently a rally ensued into early September. On September 18 the Fed cut rates. Sound familiar? It fairly describes market and economic conditions in the U.S. over the past couple of months. Except that this paragraph would be as true for the U.S. economy and stock market in September 2007 as it is today. Consider that 12 years ago the yield curve was inverted and U.S. economic growth was markedly slower than it had been in 2006. Yet the Standard & Poor’s 500 SPX, +0.05%   made a new high in July 2007 (same as 2019), there was an August correction (same as 2019), and then the Fed cut rates on September 18 (ditto — same day even). U.S. stocks proceeded to make another marginal high that October — and that was it. Lights out. We all know what happened next. It seems we are at a curious moment in time. Parallels to late 2007 are running through the markets now. This doesn’t mean the market’s fate will play out as it did then, but the ingredients are there and all that’s needed is a trigger. Perhaps the trigger was the attack on Saudi oil installations last weekend. It’s too early to tell, but clearly this is something to keep in mind. Markets topped in October 2007 following the Fed’s September rate cut. That November, Ben Bernanke, then Fed chair, said there wouldn’t be a recession. According to a November 2007 Reuters report, Bernanke told a congressional committee: “Our assessment is for slower growth, but positive growth, going into next year.” The U.S. economy entered recession in December 2007.  Does this not sound eerily similar to what Fed Chairman Jay Powell has been saying? Here’s Powell on September 6: “We’re not forecasting or expecting a recession,” he said. “The most likely outlook is still moderate growth, a strong labor market and inflation continuing to move back up. Our main expectation is not at all that there will be a recession.” more...

By Maeve Reston, CNN
Los Angeles (CNN)Even before President Donald Trump arrived in California on Tuesday, his administration issued yet another pre-emptive strike at the state that likes to pride itself as the center of the resistance to his agenda. Following vague threats that his administration might seek to commandeer what Trump views as the state's feckless response to its homeless crisis, White House officials also signaled a second battle on the environmental front -- doing away with the state's right to put in place more stringent vehicle emissions standards than the federal government. Even with that threat looming, California's leaders have taken a softer approach on the homeless crisis gripping the Golden State. Still, leaders here are concerned that a heavy-handed intervention from the Trump administration could upend carefully calibrated plans for building thousands of new units of affordable housing and wrap-around-services for those living on the streets. Trump made his way to the Bay Area for a West Coast swing that is expected to net as much as $15 million in campaign fundraising. He took the opportunity to weigh in the state's homeless crisis -- namely the nuisance that businesses and high-dollar tenants must deal with as homeless Californians erect tents on sidewalks and in the doorways of corporations and businesses. 'They can't believe what's happening' "We can't let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what's happening. And I'm speaking to tenants -- in some cases foreign people ... where they're tenants in buildings throughout various cities in California, and other places ... where they want to leave the country. They can't believe what's happening," Trump told reporters on Air Force One. "We have people living in our ... best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings and pay tremendous taxes," Trump added, noting they are places "where people in those buildings pay tremendous taxes, where they went to those locations because of the prestige." The President said that he would work with Housing Secretary Ben Carson to confront the issue. "The people of San Francisco are fed up, and the people of Los Angeles are fed up. And we're looking at it, and we'll be doing something about it," Trump said as he was flying to the Bay Area for a fundraiser. At a separate event, Carson was vague when asked whether the administration's plans would use police to get homeless people off the street and into federal facilities. "The policy includes being logical and looking at things that work and are effective and looking at best practices wherever they exist around the world and trying to be fair to all the people. That's what the policy entails," he said on Tuesday. Before Trump arrived, several top California leaders extended an olive branch, hoping to persuade him to join with them in building out an effective strategy for getting the homeless housed across the Golden State. more...  

The former Trump campaign manager’s disastrous performance shows that impeachment hearings work.
By Dahlia Lithwick
The most striking moment of Corey Lewandowski’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday came near the end of a long day, when the former Trump campaign manager was surprisingly open in revealing his disdain for the truth. For much of the testimony, Lewandowski alternated between filibustering by slow reading the Mueller report and filibustering by saying he was under White House orders to be silent. He clearly delighted in stymying House Democrats, even as he used the hearing to tease his potential run for Senate in New Hampshire. (During a break, Lewandowski tweeted out a link to the website for a brand new super PAC, “Stand With Corey.”) At the end, though, came a few key moments when Lewandowski was made to all but openly confess his own lies. This critical portion of the hearing was a disaster for Lewandowski and showed why Democrats should be champing at the bit to hold more hearings like this one, rather than fulminating and hand-wringing over whether they are even taking part in an impeachment inquiry. Lewandowski’s confession should, at minimum, preclude him from ever being booked on a television news program again and in a sane world would instantly doom his nascent Senate run. Following the frustrated questioning by House members, Barry H. Berke, a private attorney who consults for the committee, put on a cross-examination that should be mandatory viewing for every law student in the history of time. For starters, Berke got Lewandowski to admit that conversations with the president for which Donald Trump was claiming some imaginary version of privilege to block his adviser’s testimony had been recounted in detail in Lewandowski’s own book. Crucially, Berke then further pressed Lewandowski into conceding that he had overtly lied in interviews on national television about matters cited by special counsel Robert Mueller as potential episodes of obstruction of justice by Trump. Finally, Berke opened the door to new questions about whether Lewandowski was granted immunity from criminal prosecution in exchange for his Mueller testimony—questions Lewandowski refused to respond to one way or the other, and that would speak to the potential criminality of his and the president’s behavior. more...   

By KYLE CHENEY
The nation's top intelligence official has refused to comply with a House Intelligence Committee subpoena to provide the contents of a whistleblower complaint a government watchdog deemed "urgent" and credible, the panel's chairman, Adam Schiff, said late Tuesday. The California Democrat warned the agency might be acting to conceal high-level wrongdoing by President Donald Trump or his immediate advisers. "The committee's position is clear — the acting DNI [Director of National Intelligence] can either provide the complaint as required under the law, or he will be required to come before the committee to tell the public why he is not following the clear letter of the law, including whether the White House or the attorney general are directing him to do so," Schiff said. "He has yet to provide the complaint in response to the committee's subpoena, so I expect him to appear on Thursday — under subpoena if necessary,” he added. Schiff sounded an alarm last week after acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire intervened to block Congress from receiving the contents of the still-secret whistleblower complaint. Maguire, according to Schiff, diverted it to the Justice Department and told the committee he would refuse to share it because it involved someone outside the intelligence community and might involve matters of confidentiality and privilege. Schiff ripped Maguire for breaching a law that requires him to share with Congress any whistleblower complaint deemed urgent by the intelligence community's inspector general. He said the confluence of factors led him to believe the complaint involved Trump or other senior executive branch officials. But DNI general counsel Jason Klitenic insisted in a letter to Schiff on Tuesday that Maguire had followed the letter of the law in blocking the transmission of the complaint to Congress. The whistleblower statute governing his agency, he said, only applies when the complaint involves a member of the intelligence community. Because it was aimed at a person outside the intelligence community, he said, the whistleblower statute does not apply to this scenario. more...   

By Jeff Cox
The Federal Reserve approved a much-anticipated quarter-point interest rate cut Wednesday but offered few indications that further reductions are ahead. Following its two-day policy meeting, the central bank announced that it would take down its benchmark overnight lending rate to a target range of 1.75% to 2%. That comes nearly two months after the policymaking Federal Open Market Committee went ahead with its first cut in 11 years. In addition to the reduction, the Fed cut the interest it pays on excess reserves by 30 basis points, greater than the funds rate cut, amid a breakdown this week in the overnight repurchase lending market. The move was aimed at keeping the funds rate within its target range; the interest on excessive reserves (IOER) historically has acted as a guardrail for the funds rate, which traded 5 basis points above the target. While the committee as a whole has not pointed to further cuts, divisions remain among individual policymakers. Three Fed regional presidents — Esther George of Kansas City, Eric Rosengren of Boston and James Bullard of St. Louis — each voted no. George and Rosengren have said they prefer to keep the funds rate steady while Bullard has advocated for a 50 basis point cut. That was the most dissents for a Fed decision since December 2014. more...   

California originally was granted authority to set tougher standards as an acknowledgement of the poor air quality in cities such as Los Angeles.
By Paul A. Eisenstein
President Donald Trump on Wednesday barred California from setting its own vehicle emissions standards, kicking off a battle that is likely to last well beyond the 2020 presidential election. "The Trump Administration is revoking California’s Federal Waiver on emissions in order to produce far less expensive cars for the consumer, while at the same time making the cars substantially SAFER," Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, noting that the move will lead to "older, highly polluting cars" being replaced by "new, extremely environmentally friendly cars." The widely anticipated move comes as the White House also prepares to roll back the strict Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards set under President Barack Obama. Using its authority to set emissions targets, California had set even tougher standards that effectively required the auto industry to begin rolling out fleets of zero-emissions vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, pure battery-electric vehicles and hydrogen-powered cars. California has already filed legal efforts to forestall such a move and has been joined by other states that have adopted the stricter California mandates. "There will be very little difference in emissions between the California Standard and the new U.S. Standard, but the cars will be far safer and much less expensive." Trump wrote. "Many more cars will be produced under the new and uniform standard, meaning significantly more JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! Automakers should seize this opportunity because without this alternative to California, you will be out of business." California originally was granted authority to set tougher standards as an acknowledgment of the poor air quality in cities such as Los Angeles. Responding to reports that the White House was preparing to follow through on plans to eliminate that waiver, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statement warning the move “could have devastating consequences for our kids’ health and the air we breathe, if California were to roll over.” The administration is engaged in a “witch hunt against California and carmakers,” said the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit advocacy group, picking up a phrase that Trump often applied to the Mueller investigation into possible collusion with the Russians. Earlier this month, the Justice Department announced an antitrust investigation into the deal reached with California regulators by four automakers — Ford, VW, Honda and BMW — that would have them hold to stricter emissions and mileage standards than the Trump administration is expected to set under the revised CAFE mandate. more...  

By Thomas Franck
DoubleLine Capital CEO and longtime bond investor Jeffrey Gundlach said Wednesday that the odds of a recession before the 2020 presidential election are rising. “I think the economic data has gotten a little bit better, yet I still think, when we put it all together ... it seems that there is an increasing probability of a recession before the 2020 election,” Gundlach said in an interview with CNBC’s Scott Wapner. Though Gundlach said he looks at a variety of measures when trying to gauge recession odds, his preferred indicator is a measure of consumer sentiment. He explained said the metric he likes shows that consumers feel more and more grim about the future but still feel OK about the present, a divergence that typically occurs before recessions. Gundlach also mentioned ISM manufacturing readings showing a contraction as suggestive of a future downturn. “What happens before recession every time in a very convincing pattern is that first consumers start to feel bad about the future. They say ‘the future looks worse than how I feel about the present.’ And that started a while ago now, where the view of the future was much grimmer than the view of today,” Gundlach said. “That puts you on kind of a notice, just like the yield curve inverting, that maybe you’re supposed to be on recession watch,” he added. “But then what happens is that the consumer continues to be pessimistic about the future, but then their attitudes about the present start to deteriorate. And that has started to happen.” Gundlach acknowledged, however, that the economic data is “nowhere as scary” as it was a month ago when the yield curve inverted, another market phenomenon heralded as a recession warning across Wall Street. more...   

By Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – On Wednesday morning, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., responded to a tweet from President Donald Trump that insinuated she held a party on September 11, saying that Trump's "lies" endangered her life. Earlier Wednesday, Trump had retweeted a video from comedian Terrence Williams that had accused Omar of having a party on the anniversary of 9/11. "You were seriously partying on the anniversary of 9/11?" Williams says in his video. Omar said Williams was wrong and that the video showed her at a Congressional Black Caucus event from that weekend to celebrate black women in Congress. "IIhan Omar, a member of AOC Plus 3, will win us the Great State of Minnesota," Trump wrote. "The new face of the Democrat Party!" Omar responded. "The President of the United States is continuing to spread lies that put my life at risk," she wrote on Twitter. Omar responded. "The President of the United States is continuing to spread lies that put my life at risk," she wrote on Twitter. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a progressive political action committee, tweeted to say the video had been cut from a video filmed by their founder Adam Green. According to Green, the video had been of Omar dancing to a Lizzo song at an event on Sept. 13, not Sept. 11. Green posted the video on Sept. 13. more...   

Believe it or not, cable news networks are not obligated to showcase liars.
By Aaron Rupar
You might think that Corey Lewandowski’s admission during his congressional testimony on Tuesday that he has no qualms about lying to the media would cause cable news networks to think twice about booking him. If you did, however, you would’ve been proven wrong within a matter of hours. On Wednesday morning, hours after the former Trump campaign manager’s chaotic and hyper-partisan testimony before the House Judiciary Committee ended with him admitting, under sharp questioning from committee Democrats’ counsel, to not playing it straight with the media regarding his involvement in President Donald Trump’s efforts to curtail the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump and Russia, both Fox & Friends and CNN booked Lewandowski for interviews. Lewandowski’s interview on Fox & Friends — a show that regularly legitimizes the Trump administration’s talking points — was predictably chummy. But Lewandowski’s appearance on CNN, a network where he once worked as a paid contributor, produced the jarring image of him being interviewed over a chyron that seemingly refuted the rationale for booking him in the first place. Predictably, Lewandowski’s interview on CNN devolved into a pro wrestling-style confrontation in which he deflected from questions about the veracity of his congressional testimony by raising questions about Trump critics who, as he once did, work as paid contributors for the network, such as former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe. more...

Trump’s former campaign chief admitted Tuesday to lying to the media, and yet CNN decided to bring him on for a bonkers 16-minute chat on Wednesday.
By Justin Baragona
Less than 24 hours after former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski admitted that he has “no obligation to be honest to the media” while being caught lying red-handed, CNN brought on the pugnacious Trump loyalist for an interview that predictably went sideways. Appearing on CNN’s New Day on Wednesday morning, Lewandowski and anchor Alisyn Camerota spent a frustrating and headache-inducing 16 minutes going round and round over his contentious and combative testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. The lengthy CNN segment, in fact, basically came across like a microcosm of Tuesday’s hearing—lots of deflection, insults, contradiction, and condescension. For instance, Camerota began the interview by asking Lewandowski about his tactic of stonewalling or just straight-up refusing to answer questions from House Democrats during his testimony, prompting the possible Senate hopeful of doing the same exact thing to her. “You just mischaracterized saying I didn’t answer the majority of questions,” Lewandowski complained at one point. “You and I both know that’s not an accurate statement. You and I both know I answered the majority of their questions.” This prompted a mini-argument between the two over whether or not Lewandowski invoking executive privilege during the hearing was the same as refusing to answer a question. This was merely the beginning of the insufferability. Later on, Lewandowski—a one-time CNN political commentator—used a Trumpian line to mischaracterize the findings of the Mueller Report, claiming the report was “very clear” that there “was no collusion, there was no obstruction.” “That’s not what the Mueller Report said, Corey!” Camerota shouted back, adding: “Did you read the Mueller Report?” Lewandowski admitted he “never did,” prompting Camerota to ask how he even knows what is in the report. The Trump operative, however, decided to flip it back to the CNN anchor, asking her whether she read the 400-plus page report. more...

By Kevin Liptak and Nicole Gaouette, CNN
Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump said Wednesday he's ordered new sanctions on Iran, the latest escalation in tensions between the two countries and one that follows the attack over the weekend on Saudi oil facilities that US officials have pinned on Iran. "I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!" Trump tweeted. The President made the announcement as some Republican lawmakers have called for military strikes against Iran and Vice President Mike Pence has suggested a military response is possible. But Trump, who campaigned on getting the US out of foreign entanglements, faces a battle for reelection that would be complicated by a new war. The sanctions announcement may signal his desire to avoid military conflict, analysts said. "This is important because it appears to be Trump's effort to respond to the Iranian attack by sanctions measures and not by military steps," Henry Rome, an Iran analyst at the Eurasia Group, said about Trump's Tuesday tweet. "The way I look at it, this is the substitute for a military response, not the prelude to it." 'Fairly marginal' It wasn't immediately clear to whom or which sectors the new sanctions would apply. The US has ratcheted up sanctions on the country after withdrawing last year from a multi-nation nuclear deal that constrained Iran's nuclear activity in return for an easing of economic sanctions. The US "maximum pressure" policy has undermined the nuclear deal, creating tensions with European allies who are trying to keep the nuclear deal afloat. The Trump administration has sanctioned all key Iranian economic sectors, including aviation and shipping. And in May, it hit the lifeblood of Tehran's economy, sanctioning its energy exports. The Trump administration has ratcheted sanctions up to the point that, Rome said, "at this point the US is scraping the bottom of the barrel with sanctions. After the decision to sanction Iranian oil in May, everything else is fairly marginal. When you look at effectiveness or impact, you're really out of significant sanction tools at this point." Iran, unable to gain the economic benefits promised under the nuclear pact, has begun to violate certain aspects of the agreement. more...

ABC News - The president selected Robert O'Brien, his fourth national security adviser, to replace John Bolton. more...  

By Daniel Dale, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump spoke for 95 minutes at a campaign rally in New Mexico on Monday night, among the longest speeches he's given as President. We're still working through the long transcript, but we know he made at least 27 false claims -- most of them ones he's said before in recent months. Here's the list so far: Trump repeated his claim that a "Google executive," someone who "worked at Google," reported that Google bias may have cost Trump up to 10 million votes in the 2016 election. That flawed study (which we fact-checked last month) was conducted by a psychologist, not a Google employee or executive. Trump said Venezuela was "one of the wealthiest countries in the world" 15 years ago, when it wasn't. Venezuela was 67th in the world in GDP per capita in 2004. He boasted that he was the one who got the Veterans Choice health care program passed, saying, "They've tried to get that for 45 years. They haven't been able to get it. But I'm good at getting things." The program was created in 2014 in a bill signed by President Barack Obama. He said of his USMCA trade agreement, "Unions love it." The agreement is generally opposed in its current form by major US unions, who have demanded changes to the text; the president of the AFL-CIO federation says it will be a "disaster for workers" if it is not amended. He said, "They wanted a wall in San Diego -- good mayor in San Diego, by the way. They wanted a wall." There is no apparent basis for this repeated claim; even that mayor, Republican Kevin Faulconer, opposes the wall. more...   

By Jordan Weissmann
Democrats are not fond of the Electoral College these days, for obvious reasons. Two Republicans, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, have won the presidency in the past 20 years, and both of them galumphed into the Oval Office after losing the popular vote. In this era of tight national races, the system has clearly given Republicans a built-in advantage that allows them to govern with a minority of the public’s support. And now, a new working paper by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin has quantified just how big that edge might have been in recent decades. In their baseline results, the authors find that during the past 30 years, a hypothetical Republican who earned 49 percent of the two-party popular vote—that is, the vote total won by Democrats and Republicans, excluding third parties—could expect to win the Electoral College about 27 percent of the time. A Democrat with that share of the vote would have just an 11 percent chance of winning. At 49.5 percent of the popular vote, a Republican would have enjoyed a 46 percent probability of walking away with the presidency, versus a 21 percent chance for a Democrat. In a photo finish where the two parties split the vote about 50-50, a Republican would have had a 65 percent chance of spending the next four years in office. Before Bush and Trump, only two American presidents had ever won the Electoral College while losing the popular vote: Rutherford B. Hayes and Benjamin Harrison, both of whom pulled it off in the 19th century. Academics call these sorts of results “electoral inversions,” and economists Michael Geruso and Dean Spears wanted to know how likely they were to actually occur, and which parties were most likely to benefit from them. Were the 2000 and 2016 races statistical flukes, low probability bad breaks for the Democrats? Or were they the kind of finishes Americans should regularly expect to see in tight White House races? more...

The USDA wants to “modernize” inspections of slaughterhouses. Critics say they’re letting the industry rule itself.
By Kelsey Piper
Federal inspectors make regular visits to the nation’s slaughterhouses where they do quality control, test for diseases, and look out for unsafe slaughter practices that might result in contaminated meat. But now, the process they use is set to change, and critics say it will give pork producers far too much power and leave consumers in danger. The US Department of Agriculture moved forward this week with new regulations that will simplify oversight of slaughterhouses where pigs are killed and processed. The new regulations have been under consideration for a long time, but while under previous administrations they were repeatedly delayed for more research, under the current administration they’ve raced ahead. Most Americans don’t pay attention to regulatory requirements at slaughterhouses — at least, until there’s a massive outbreak of foodborne illness as a consequence of inadequate safety procedures. Critics of the USDA’s new regulations argue that such an outbreak is nearly inevitable because, they say, the new process doesn’t allow for adequate food safety testing. The way we raise and slaughter animals on factory farms makes for cheap meat, but also introduces serious public health, sustainability, and animal welfare problems. The cramped conditions on factory farms are perfect for breeding disease, and the mass use of antibiotics to manage that disease risk leads to antibiotic resistance. Pig factory farms produce huge amounts of biohazardous waste that is poorly contained in large hog waste lagoons, which overflow during serious storms. All in all, it’s a mess, one that, ideally, regulators would be fighting to improve. We have to do better, and the new regulations for pork slaughter are a move in the wrong direction. The new pig slaughter regulations and what they mean: Our current procedures for oversight of pig slaughter facilities are decades old and there’s no question that they need to be reconsidered. But critics worry that the new regulations in effect privatize many of the key duties of USDA inspectors and make the rest of their duties harder. more...    

All the latest news about Mueller Trump-Russia inquiry from the BBC. more...   

A former Trump campaign manager has lashed out at Democrats during the first congressional hearings to explore possible impeachment of the president. Corey Lewandowski repeatedly refused to answer questions during an ill-tempered House of Representatives session that devolved into shouting matches. One Democratic lawmaker called for Mr Lewandowski to be held in contempt of the proceedings. President Donald Trump praised Mr Lewandowski's "beautiful" remarks. Mr Lewandowski testified under oath on Tuesday before the House judiciary committee, which had issued him with a legal summons, known as a subpoena, to give evidence. In fractious exchanges with Democrats, he said he could not answer any question about his conversations with Mr Trump. On the eve of the hearing, the White House had instructed Mr Lewandowski not to divulge his discussions with the president. White House lawyers sat behind Mr Lewandowski during the session. He was fired by Mr Trump in June 2016 and never worked in the White House, but remains a staunch supporter. The president's fellow Republicans criticised the Democratic-controlled committee hearing as unfair and unsuccessfully moved to adjourn it. more...    

Los Angeles — A West Hollywood man who has made large donations to the Democratic Party was charged Tuesday with running a drug house out of his apartment, where two men died of overdoses. Ed Buck was also charged with providing methamphetamine to a 37-year-old man who suffered an overdose last week, CBS Los Angeles reports. The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office said Buck, 65, was charged with one felony count each of battery causing serious injury, administering methamphetamine and maintaining a drug house. more...    

By Caroline Kelly, CNN
(CNN) - Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said he has "no obligation" to tell the truth to the media while acknowledging that he had not told the truth when asked earlier this year about his interactions with President Donald Trump. During congressional testimony on Tuesday, Lewandowski -- a former CNN political commentator -- acknowledged that "perhaps I was inaccurate" during a February interview on MSNBC. In that interview, Lewandowski said he did not remember the President ever asking him to get involved with then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions or the Department of Justice, which differs from what he told special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller's report stated that Lewandowski said that in June 2017, Trump instructed him to tell Sessions to curtail the Mueller investigation, and that Lewandowski did not follow through. While being questioned by Barry Berke, a lawyer for the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, Lewandowski was shown a video of the interview. He said the clip "can be interpreted any way you'd like." "I have no obligation to be honest with the media," he told the panel. more...    

By Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY
LOS ANGELES – Taking direct aim at California, a new report from President Donald Trump's administration says homelessness could be dramatically reduced by slashing restrictions on housing construction and being less tolerant of people sleeping on the streets. The Council of Economic Advisers' report was released as Trump takes a two-day swing through California for speeches and fundraising, while taking aim at liberal policies on homelessness. “We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening,” Trump told reporters Tuesday aboard Air Force One. He avoided offering specific solutions. “The people of San Francisco are fed up and the people of Los Angeles are fed up, and we’re looking at it, and we will be doing something about it at the appropriate time,” Trump said. The report, issued days after a delegation of Trump officials visited Los Angeles to discuss homelessness, presents a conservative approach to focusing on the problem. More liberal prescriptions favored in the city include a massive and costly plan to build apartments for the homeless. more...   

By Zachary Cohen and Alex Marquardt, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, led by acting director Joseph Maguire, has refused to comply with a deadline to hand over a whistleblower complaint to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that had been deemed by the intelligence community inspector general to be "credible and urgent." Tuesday night, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence sent letters to committee Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, and ranking Republican Devin Nunes of California, saying the complaint "does not meet the definition of 'urgent concern' because it does not relate to 'intelligence activity.' " The complaint "involves confidential and potentially privileged matters relating to the interests of other stakeholders within the Executive Branch," a copy of the letter, obtained by CNN, says, adding that complying with the committee's requests "will necessarily require appropriate consultations." In the letter, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence reveals that the complaint does not involve anyone in the intelligence community but rather "stakeholders within the Executive Branch." As a result, its lawyer argues, the complaint is not of "urgent concern" to them. The office says it plans to work with the House intelligence Committee but given that executive branch members are involved, there are "confidential and potentially privileged matters" that "will necessarily require appropriate consultations." Maguire won't appear at Thursday hearing Schiff's subpoena was issued Friday evening, and the national intelligence director's office says that wasn't enough time to comply. Maguire will also not appear at a scheduled congressional hearing on Thursday; his office says he "is not available on such short notice." In response, Schiff said: "The IC IG determined that the complaint is both credible and urgent, which is why the Committee must move quickly. The Committee's position is clear -- the Acting DNI can either provide the complaint as required under the law, or he will be required to come before the Committee to tell the public why he is not following the clear letter of the law, including whether the White House or the Attorney General are directing him to do so. He has yet to provide the complaint in response to the Committee's subpoena, so I expect him to appear on Thursday, under subpoena if necessary." more...   

By Alex Rogers, CNN
(CNN) - A few days after the Abqaiq and the Khurais oil facilities in Saudi Arabia were attacked, members of Congress sought information about the culprit and debated whether US military action would be necessary. Vice President Mike Pence told a group of Republican senators at lunch Tuesday in the Capitol that the US goal is to "restore deterrence" after the attacks, which caused oil prices to fluctuate, but he did not suggest any specific retaliatory measures, according to Sen. Lindsey Graham. "He said that the goal was to 'restore deterrence' and he left it at that," said the South Carolina Republican. White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters that the Trump administration "can't say definitively" that Iran was behind the attacks, but that "in all likelihood" it was. Iran has denied responsibility for Saturday's attack. Saudi and US investigators have determined "with very high probability" that the weekend attack was launched from a base in Iran close to the border with Iraq, according to a source familiar with the investigation. Members of Congress pointed the finger there, too -- even though Yemen's Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility -- while others called for more information. Brian Hook, US special representative for Iran and a senior policy adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, held a call with Capitol Hill staffers on Monday to discuss the attacks, according to four sources familiar with the call. During that conversation, Hook said the attack was definitely not carried out by the Houthi rebels, but wouldn't say who did conduct it when pressed, a source familiar with the call told CNN. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, told reporters Tuesday that "there's no doubt" that the Iranians were behind the attacks. He claimed that the Houthis have taken responsibility because "it makes them look more capable than they actually are." Other Republican senators agreed that Iran is the perpetrator but disagreed over how to define the US response. Graham, perhaps the senator most keen on a military response, pushed for attacking Iranian oil facilities. "It's got to be a blow beyond what we're doing today," said Graham. "And I think it's got to be something other than sanctions. So, to me, what would 'restore deterrence' is for them to pay a price in terms of their capability to produce oil." Other Republicans think such a response is far too aggressive. Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, said on CNN's "Newsroom" that the US should continue enforcing its sanctions, which are crippling the Iranian economy. "They are biting," he said. "They are punishing -- and making a difference." Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, told CNN that if there is a response, it should come from the Saudis. "I do not believe we should be involved with kinetic, military action," said Romney. "I believe our role should be a support role -- non-kinetic." "Saudi Arabia is fully capable of defending itself," Romney added. "We've been providing or selling them the weapons they need to do so. It's an attack on their homeland, not ours." more...   

By Caitlin Gibson
At first, it wasn’t obvious that anything was amiss. Kids are naturally curious about the complicated world around them, so Joanna Schroeder wasn’t surprised when her 11- and 14-year-old boys recently started asking questions about timely topics such as cultural appropriation and transgender rights. But she sensed something off about the way they framed their questions, she says — tinged with a bias that didn’t reflect their family’s progressive values. She heard one of her sons use the word “triggered” in a sarcastic, mocking tone. And there was the time Schroeder watched as her son scrolled through the “Explore” screen on his Instagram account and she caught a glimpse of a meme depicting Adolf Hitler. Schroeder, a writer and editor in Southern California, started paying closer attention, talking to her boys about what they’d encountered online. Then, after her kids were in bed one night last month, she opened Twitter and began to type. “Do you have white teenage sons?” she wrote. “Listen up.” In a series of tweets, Schroeder described the onslaught of racist, sexist and homophobic memes that had inundated her kids’ social media accounts unbidden, and the way those memes — packaged as irreverent, “edgy” humor — can indoctrinate children into the world of alt-right extremism and white supremacy. She didn’t know whether anyone would pay attention to her warning. But by the time she awoke the next morning, her thread had gone viral; as of Sept. 16, it had been retweeted more than 81,000 times and liked more than 180,000 times. Over the following days, Schroeder’s inbox filled with messages from other parents who were deeply concerned about what their own kids were seeing and sharing online. “It just exploded, it hit a nerve,” she says of her message. “I realized, okay, there are other people who are also seeing this.” Over recent years, white-supremacist and alt-right groups have steadily emerged from the shadows — marching with torches through the streets Charlottesville, clashing with counterprotesters in Portland, Ore., papering school campuses with racist fliers. In June, the Anti-Defamation League reported that white-supremacist recruitment efforts on college campuses had increased for the third straight year, with more than 313 cases of white-supremacist propaganda recorded between September 2018 and May 2019. This marked a 7 percent increase over the previous academic year, which saw 292 incidents of extremist propaganda, according to the ADL. As extremist groups have grown increasingly visible in the physical world, their influence over malleable young minds in the digital realm has become a particularly urgent concern for parents. A barrage of recent reports has revealed how online platforms popular with kids (YouTube, iFunny, Instagram, Reddit and multiplayer video games, among others) are used as tools for extremists looking to recruit. Earlier this year, a viral essay in Washingtonian magazine — written by an anonymous mother who chronicled a harrowing, year-long struggle to reclaim her teenage son from the grips of alt-right extremists who had befriended him online — sparked a flurry of passionate discussions and debates among parents across social media. more...   

New report suggests law enforcement as ‘tool’ to deal with crisis, as Trump laments people sleeping in ‘best entrances to buildings’
By Sam Levin
The White House has said it is exploring using police to remove homeless people from the streets, a vague threat that has escalated concerns about Trump pushing a law enforcement crackdown in California. A new report from the president’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) said “policing may be an important tool to help move people off the street and into shelter or housing where they can get the services they need”. The policy document was published just before Trump’s visit to California on Tuesday and comes amid his increasing attacks on Democrats in Los Angeles and San Francisco over the homelessness crisis. Trump further griped about the presence of homeless people while speaking to reporters on Tuesday, saying they live in “our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings” where people “pay tremendous taxes”. He said LA and San Francisco “destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening” and that some residents want to move away because of tent encampments. The president further mentioned the creation of an “individual taskforce”, but did not provide details, saying: “We’ll be doing something about it.” Advocates across the Golden State, which has a growing homeless population and severe affordable housing shortage, have urged the US government not to further criminalize people living in poverty and instead increase funding for housing and other services, some of which Trump has cut in his budgets. The president, who is visiting the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles this week for fundraisers, has made his attacks on liberals in California a theme of his campaigning, and Democrats in the state have sued his administration dozens of times. Los Angeles’ Skid Row, an area considered the epicenter of the homelessness crisis, has also received increasing national attention, including a tour by Trump administration officials last week and a visit Tuesday by the Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. The CEA report noted that almost half of all unsheltered homeless people live in California, and said that “policies such as the extent of policing of street activities” may play a role in why some states have larger homeless populations. The report also said “more tolerable conditions for sleeping on the streets … increases homelessness”. Tom Philipson, the CEA chairman, did not elaborate on how policing could be used in a call with reporters, according to the Washington Post. It’s unclear if the president would have any legal authority to use law enforcement to move people from the streets, and homelessness is an issue typically handled by local governments. more...   

By Christopher Brito
An Oklahoma woman has been arrested after she allegedly threatened to "shoot 400 people for fun" at her former high school, CBS affiliate KOTV reports. Deputies with the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office seized an AK-47 and a shotgun from Alexis Wilson, 18, who was charged Monday with making a terroristic threat. Wilson was arrested after deputies got an anonymous tip that she told friends and coworkers she was going to shoot up McAlester High School, authorities said. They added that she had been posting videos of herself shooting guns. One of the coworkers allegedly told the sheriff's office that Wilson threatened "to shoot 400 people for fun." "You know, it may not have been anything — we don't know 100%, but we are glad we got it before it turned into something," Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris said. Wilson had an AK-47 with six magazines and a 12-gauge shotgun with a stock sleeve for extra shells, according to Morris. He said Wilson picked up the AK-47 last week from a local gun shop with five extra high capacity magazines and 160 rounds of ammunition. Wilson went to McAlester High School but dropped out in 9th grade, according to authorities. Wilson denied making to threats to shoot up the school, but deputies said she admitted she'd been suicidal and borderline homicidal in the past and had thoughts of hurting people. She told deputies she was just trying to convince a coworker that not everyone who owns a gun is bad. "In today's times, you can't say stuff like that," Morris said. "And anytime something is said like that we are going to take it serious. And we are going to investigate it to the fullest extent and make an arrest if possible because we do not want any of our schools getting shot up. Nobody does." more...   

It’s the first step to getting an impeachment inquiry underway.
By Li Zhou
Amid politicians’ calls for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s impeachment, Rep. Ayanna Pressley is actually trying to get the process started. Pressley on Tuesday filed an impeachment resolution that presses the House Judiciary Committee to kick off an investigation that would mark the first step in an impeachment process. The resolution urges the House panel to look into sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh, and grants the committee subpoena power and resources as part of its investigation. Specifically, the resolution would enable the committee, or a task force it establishes, to conduct a probe into Kavanaugh, subpoena witnesses, and receive funding for this effort. The full House would have to approve the resolution for it to go into effect. “I believe Christine Blasey Ford. I believe Deborah Ramirez. It is our responsibility to collectively affirm the dignity and humanity of survivors,” Pressley said in a statement to WBUR. Her push follows a recent New York Times report that detailed a new sexual misconduct allegation against Kavanaugh, who has declined to comment on it. Kavanaugh has also previously denied sexual misconduct allegations brought by Ford and Ramirez. Though the Democratic-controlled House could begin an investigation of its own, as Pressley is urging, impeachment of President Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court justice is pretty much a moot point, given the current make-up of the Senate. As Vox’s Dylan Matthews writes, impeachment of a Supreme Court justice works pretty much the same way it would for a president: more...

By Devan Cole, CNN
Washington (CNN)Democratic Sen. Chris Coons said Tuesday that the FBI's investigation into sexual misconduct allegations during confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was a "sham." During an interview with CNN's Alisyn Camerota on "New Day," the Delaware senator also said he's interested in figuring out who handled the probe and that a new investigation should be opened into the allegations by two women who came forward last year. "The question that we don't have answered, Alisyn, is given that that investigation is a sham, at whose direction did that happen? The FBI doesn't just make these things up. They were acting in response to a client, whether they considered that White House counsel or the Senate Judiciary Committee majority," Coons said. Coons' comments come in the wake of new developments in the Kavanaugh saga, which began a year ago after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against the nominee during the confirmation process. Following an outcry from congressional Democrats, including Coons, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the FBI opened a supplemental background investigation into Kavanaugh, which ultimately found none of the allegations to be true. Kavanaugh has vehemently denied all of the allegations against him. Sen. Chuck Grassley, who chaired the Judiciary Committee during Kavanaugh's confirmation, defended the committee's review of allegations against Kavanaugh, calling it "incredibly thorough" and saying "in the end there was no credible evidence to support any of the allegations." CNN reported last year that the FBI's supplemental investigation was limited in scope from the beginning. Last year, Senate Republicans and the White House say they allowed the FBI to pursue leads within the parameters that Sen. Jeff Flake and other undecided Republican senators agreed to: credible, current allegations against Kavanaugh. Asked by Camerota if he thinks Kavanaugh should be on the Supreme Court, Coons replied: "Look, I want this question answered: at whose direction was this narrowed? Why didn't a more fulsome investigation happened? I think that frankly Judge Kavanaugh and the American people and certainly Dr. (Christine Blasey) Ford and Ms. (Deborah) Ramirez deserved the sort of fuller investigation that was entirely possible within a week, and I'm hoping that's what will happen next." Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat and 2020 presidential hopeful who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Tuesday urged the House Judiciary Committee to open an investigation into Kavanaugh, writing in a letter to its chairman, Jerry Nadler, that he needs to "hold Mr. Kavanaugh accountable for his prior conduct and testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee." "We must protect the integrity of our justice system, and it is imperative that we pursue a legitimate search for truth for the benefit of the American people," Harris said in the letter. more...  

By Christopher Brito
An Oklahoma woman has been arrested after she allegedly threatened to "shoot 400 people for fun" at her former high school, CBS affiliate KOTV reports. Deputies with the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office seized an AK-47 and a shotgun from Alexis Wilson, 18, who was charged Monday with making a terroristic threat. Wilson was arrested after deputies got an anonymous tip that she told friends and coworkers she was going to shoot up McAlester High School, authorities said. They added that she had been posting videos of herself shooting guns. One of the coworkers allegedly told the sheriff's office that Wilson threatened "to shoot 400 people for fun." "You know, it may not have been anything — we don't know 100%, but we are glad we got it before it turned into something," Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris said. Wilson had an AK-47 with six magazines and a 12-gauge shotgun with a stock sleeve for extra shells, according to Morris. He said Wilson picked up the AK-47 last week from a local gun shop with five extra high capacity magazines and 160 rounds of ammunition. Wilson went to McAlester High School but dropped out in 9th grade, according to authorities. Wilson denied making to threats to shoot up the school, but deputies said she admitted she'd been suicidal and borderline homicidal in the past and had thoughts of hurting people. She told deputies she was just trying to convince a coworker that not everyone who owns a gun is bad. "In today's times, you can't say stuff like that," Morris said. "And anytime something is said like that we are going to take it serious. And we are going to investigate it to the fullest extent and make an arrest if possible because we do not want any of our schools getting shot up. Nobody does." more...  

By MARIANNE LEVINE
President Donald Trump will not consider the House-passed universal background checks bill as part of his proposed gun package, according to a source familiar with the conversation on guns. Trump’s position on the House-passed bill is not exactly a surprise. The White House issued a veto threat against the bill in February. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have called on Trump repeatedly to bring up the House-passed universal background checks bill. Over the weekend, Pelosi and Schumer issued a statement following a phone call with Trump that anything other than the House-passed bill “will not get the job done.”  Schumer reiterated his calls Monday for the White House to back the House proposal. “We’re certainly willing to discuss the finer points of legislation with our Republican colleagues, but we made one thing clear to the president — the effectiveness of gun safety measures will be severely compromised if we allow the loopholes in our background check system to remain intact,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. But Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said Monday that Schumer and Pelosi were merely trying to score political points. “The things that they are proposing just aren’t realistic and they know that and so it’s designed more to talk to their political base and it’s a lot more about that than I think an actual solution,” Thune said. Trump met again with aides Monday to discuss proposals to address gun violence. The White House expects to release the package of proposals this week but Trump is on a campaign trip to New Mexico and California though Wednesday night. On Friday, he will host an all-day state visit for officials from Australia. His schedule makes Thursday the most likely day, though nothing has been scheduled. While Trump will not support the House-passed universal background checks bill, he could still back a more limited form of background check legislation as well as so-called red flag laws. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who is working on a red flag bill with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that background checks and red flag bills should go hand in hand. more...   

By Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – House Democrats resumed Tuesday what they call an impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump and immediately ran into a roadblock as his former campaign manger, Corey Lewandowski, largely refused to answer lawmakers' questions and two other Trump aides refused to appear at all. The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Lewandowski to describe what special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation concluded were attempts to thwart the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Investigators said Trump instructed Lewandowski to pass on an order to limit the scope of the Russia investigation to prevent meddling in elections, but he never delivered it. The combative campaign operative, who remains friendly with Trump, instantly proved an uncooperative witness for Democrats trying to shine a spotlight on Trump's conduct during the investigation that clouded the first two years of his presidency. He quarreled with Nadler and refused to answer a succession of questions about his interactions with Trump.  more...   

By WESLEY MORGAN
The United States and Saudi Arabia lack virtually any allies as they consider how to respond to this weekend's attacks on Saudi oil refineries, raising doubts about whether the Trump administration could build any coalition for military action in the region. The attacks have crippled Saudi oil production, creating one of the largest oil disruptions in decades. But while Defense Secretary Mark Esper tweeted that the U.S. is working with "our partners to address this unprecedented attack,” President Donald Trump has alienated key allies by unilaterally pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and re-imposing sanctions. It has already been unable to enlist allies to protect shipping in the region from Iranian attacks. “In a normal administration, we should be able to get 40 or 50 countries on board for something like this but we can’t because nobody trusts the Trump administration and everybody thinks they’re going to take them into war," said Ilan Goldenberg, a former Obama administration national security official who worked on Iran policy at the Pentagon, referring to the maritime security initiative — which he called "pathetic.” “There is no offensive coalition against Iran, not there or anywhere else in the world right now,” added Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who studies Iranian military activity in the Middle East. Even leading Republicans in Congress called on Trump to take action only with the help of allies. "The best way to counter Iran is by working by, with and through regional partners — including making sure they have what they need to defend themselves and our shared interests," Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma said in a statement late Monday. The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, said earlier that “I hope our international partners will join us in imposing consequences on Iran for this reckless destabilizing attack.” Successive U.S. administrations have used coalitions to bolster the legitimacy of military actions and to relieve some of the pressure on heavily used U.S. military forces — from the 1991 Gulf War and the Clinton administration’s actions in the Balkans to the much-maligned “coalition of the willing” that the George W. Bush administration recruited for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. more...   


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