US News August2019:
By Jake Tapper
Washington (CNN) - White House officials rebuffed efforts by their colleagues at the Department of Homeland Security for more than a year to make combating domestic terror threats, such as those from white supremacists, a greater priority as specifically spelled out in the National Counterterrorism Strategy, current and former senior administration officials as well as other sources close to the Trump administration tell CNN. "Homeland Security officials battled the White House for more than a year to get them to focus more on domestic terrorism," one senior source close to the Trump administration tells CNN. "The White House wanted to focus only on the jihadist threat which, while serious, ignored the reality that racial supremacist violence was rising fast here at home. They had major ideological blinders on." The National Counterterrorism Strategy, issued last fall, states that "Radical Islamist terrorists remain the primary transnational terrorist threat to the United States and its vital national interests," which few experts dispute. What seems glaring to these officials is the minimizing of the threat of domestic terrorism, which they say was on their radar as a growing problem. "Ultimately the White House just added one paragraph about domestic terrorism as a throw-away line," a senior source involved in the discussion told CNN. That paragraph mentions "other forms of violent extremism, such as racially motivated extremism, animal rights extremism, environmental extremism, sovereign citizen extremism, and militia extremism." It made no mention of white supremacists. (A separate paragraph in the report mentions investigating domestic terrorists with connections to overseas terrorists, but that does not seem to be a reference to white supremacists.)
Posted By Tim Hains
CNN contributor Rick Wilson responds to FOX News host Tucker Carlson, who has been arguing that the media's focus on racial divides is an effort to distract people from class divides: RICK WILSON: Tonight smelled like an awful lot like -- although FOX has an internal philosophy of "never apologize, never back down," that somebody finally said, wait a minute, every one of these idiots with a manifesto, it could be right off of Tucker Carlson's teleprompter...
By Asawin Suebsaeng
The president followed a familiar pattern set in the wake of past mass shootings: a nod toward solemnity followed by a day of histrionics. Shortly after he woke up at the White House on Wednesday, President Trump began preparing to travel to two different but similarly broken American cities. He was going there to comfort and visit the grieving communities, victims, and medical staff affected by recent high-profile mass shootings. But as he sought to comfort victims of gun violence on Wednesday, the president and his team couldn’t help but play the role of victims themselves. After tuning into Fox News and One America News Network, Trump tweeted about “Radical Left Democrats,” his political nemeses like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, the “Fake News” that he’s “up against,” and the specter of “ANTIFA” street fighters. Later in the day, he railed against Democrats for negatively portraying the reception he received at a hospital (though they did no such thing) and—once more—cable news hosts for being less than glowing in their coverage. It underscored a reality that’s become obvious to anyone who has ever worked for or even casually observed Trump: He’ll find a way to make nearly any national tragedy into an airing of his personal grievances, and neither he nor virtually anything else will change in the process.
Analysis by Kevin Liptak, CNN
(CNN) - As President Donald Trump departed the Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday, he told officials traveling with him the visit was a smash success. After flashing thumbs-up and taking selfies with nurses and staff, Trump deemed the reception at the level 1 trauma center — where dozens of victims were treated this weekend following a mass gun murder — sufficiently warm. It was only later, as he watched from Air Force One while two local Democratic officials described their frustration at his divisive rhetoric and unclear gun control priorities, that he soured. Jetting to the scene of a second massacre, Trump lashed out. Instead of imparting the sympathetic grief that his tour of killing zones was meant to illustrate, it was he who appeared aggrieved. And instead of highlighting his interactions with the shootings' victims, it was his own perceived victimhood — at the hands of Democrats and the media — that he thrust upon two stricken communities. By the time he was ready to return to Washington, the most memorable part of his trip, for him, seemed to be the doctors' and nurses' welcome of him, even after a day spent confronting the lingering pain of more mass shootings.
By ANNA PALMER and JAKE SHERMAN
THE WHITE HOUSE said Wednesday’s trip to El Paso and Dayton was not a photo op, and they completely shut out media. They said the media blackout was for good reason -- it would’ve disrupted people in the hospital who were trying to work, and heal. But they then claimed that people were going gaga for the president in the hospital, which would’ve been a great image for a leader who is often criticized for not being able to handle one of his most important roles: that of consoler in chief. The White House did release its own photos of the visit. WAPO: “None of the eight patients still being treated at University Medical Center in El Paso agreed to meet with Trump when he visited the hospital, UMC spokesman Ryan Mielke said. Two victims who already had been discharged returned to the hospital with family members to meet with the president.” WaPo.
By Abigail Williams and Corky Siemaszko
Matthew Q. Gebert was part of a cell called The Right Stuff in Northern Virginia, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. A State Department official was outed for his alleged involvement with white nationalist forums and for being part of a white nationalist group in Washington, researchers from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch program revealed Wednesday. Matthew Q. Gebert allegedly used the pseudonym “Coach Finstock” on white nationalist forums and hosted parties at his Virginia home for like-minded individuals, according to Hatewatch. The report says that Hatewatch connected “Coach Finstock” with Gebert after sourcing several Twitter accounts operated with some form of that handle to him, as well as by playing samples of his voice from appearances as “Coach Finstock” on white nationalist podcasts such as “The Fatherland” to people who know him. Hatewatch also spoke with three sources who said Gebert helped lead a Washington-area chapter of The Right Stuff, a network founded by neo-Nazi blogger Michael Peinovich, aka Mike Enoch. “[Whites] need a country of our own with nukes, and we will retake this thing lickety split,” “Coach Finstock” said on a May 2018 episode of “The Fatherland,” Hatewatch revealed. “That’s all that we need. We need a country founded for white people with a nuclear deterrent. And you watch how the world trembles.” Gebert, 38, works as a foreign affairs officer assigned to the Bureau of Energy Resources, which is a civil servant position, not a political appointment, a State Department spokesperson said.
By Ed Mazza - HuffPost US
At least one key Fox News personality isn’t playing along with Tucker Carlson’s claim Tuesday night that white supremacy is a “hoax” and “not a real problem in America.” Daytime news anchor Shepard Smith made it clear Wednesday on his show that white nationalism is an “unmistakable” problem. Smith didn’t mention Carlson by name, but his words seemed directed at the fellow network personality. “White nationalism is without question a serious problem in America,” Smith said. Smith was offering a recap of comments by former Vice President Joe Biden, who rebuked President Donald Trump for racist rhetoric.
By Arman Azad
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received 127 reports of seizures or other neurological symptoms possibly related to e-cigarettes, the agency announced Wednesday. Investigators have yet to determine, however, whether vaping was directly linked to the cases. "The FDA is continuing its scientific investigation to determine if there's a direct relationship between the use of e-cigarettes and a risk of seizure or other neurological symptoms," said Dr. Ned Sharpless, the acting FDA commissioner. Officials with the FDA said the reported cases occurred between 2010 and 2019, and in addition to seizures, some people reported fainting or tremors. Sharpless said that "we still don't have enough information to determine if e-cigarettes are causing these reported incidents" but called on the public to continue submitting reports. Additional information "may help us identify common risk factors and determine whether any specific e-cigarette product attributes, such as nicotine content or formulation, may be more likely to contribute to seizures," he said.
By John Kruzel, Amy Sherman
Fox News personality Tucker Carlson claimed white supremacy is a hoax and "not a real problem in America." But that’s not what the evidence shows. Speaking on his Aug. 6 show, which reaches around 3 million viewers nightly, Carlson said: "The combined membership of every white supremacist organization in this country would be able to fit inside a college football stadium. I mean, seriously. This is a country where the average person is getting poorer while the suicide rate is spiking. White supremacy, that's the problem. This is a hoax. Just like the Russia hoax, it's a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power. It's exactly what's going on." As a social ill, white supremacy is difficult to quantify — despite Carlson’s suggestion that a headcount is easily obtainable. But the available data suggests a more pressing story than Carlson's take. While the FBI doesn’t code incidents as being committed by white nationalists, officials reported a 17 percent increase in hate crimes in 2017 over the previous year, and more than half were motivated by biases based on race, ethnicity or ancestry. David Sterman, a policy analyst who studies violent extremism at the left-leaning think tank New America, said Carlson’s argument amounted to willful denialism.
Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN
(CNN) - The issue of white extremism is taking on a new and important role in the American political conversation, and it is separate from the problem of guns and the people who will use them to mow down their fellow citizens. The two issues mix together after mass shootings carried out by racially motivated killers. But they are often distinct. There was apparently no racial motivation for the gunman in Dayton, Ohio, who carried out his massacre hours after a gunman in El Paso, Texas, posted a racist screed and then shot up a Walmart. And there were no guns involved in the violence surrounding a 2017 gathering of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia. The issue of gun violence has divided Americans along political lines for decades and will continue to do so, but white extremism is jumping to the forefront of the political conversation in a new way: Democrats say it's a crisis that needs to be addressed immediately while President Donald Trump and some pundits appear to believe there is no problem at all. Two Democratic presidential candidates -- former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey -- gave speeches Wednesday in which they drew lines between the extremist hate that motivated the gunman in El Paso on Saturday to the rhetoric Trump used to build his nationalist political base. They also cast back to slavery and Jim Crow and decried the institutional racism that still poisons the United States.
By Justin Wise
President Trump on Wednesday renewed his criticism of Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, arguing that "Fake News CNN is better" and saying that he now tunes in to the conservative news outlet One America News Network whenever he gets the chance. "Watching Fake News CNN is better than watching Shepard Smith, the lowest rated show on @FoxNews," Trump tweeted on a day when he visited first responders and survivors of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. "Actually, whenever possible, I turn to [One America News Network]!" It was not immediately clear what Trump's tweet — which came during Smith's daily program and while Trump was aboard Air Force One to El Paso — was referencing. Trump earlier Wednesday visited Dayton to meet with those impacted by a mass shooting over the weekend that left nine people dead.
By Marina Pitofsky
Several National Rifle Association board members are defending the gun rights organization’s proposal to buy a $6 million Dallas-area mansion for NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre's use after it was reported in The Washington Post. David Keene, a board member and past NRA president, called it “PR problem.” “This is a PR problem, if you will. Our critics know that to get what they want, they have to take down the NRA, and the most effective way to do that is to take down Wayne LaPierre,” Keane told the post. “I don’t think Wayne is at any risk. This is the sort of distraction we’ve had to deal with in the past.” Keene added that he was the president of the NRA and received death threats after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. He added that he felt LaPierre’s request for a secure place to live after a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla. was warranted. LeRoy Sisco, a retired businessman in Texas who has been on the board for 10 years told the Post that the house was considered for safety concerns. “They were just trying to find a safe house to put him in,” Sisco said. “Other people could use it, too. They were just saying that they needed to get him to a safe place.”
By Abigail Hauslohner
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents swept through seven work sites in six cities across Mississippi on Wednesday, arresting approximately 680 people the agency said were undocumented immigrants in what officials said is the largest single-state workplace enforcement action in U.S. history. The raids targeted agricultural processing plants, part of a year-long investigation into illegal employment of immigrants in the state, officials said. They did not say how many individuals they were targeting in the operations, nor what proportion of those taken into custody were what ICE calls “collateral” arrests — those who were swept up along with those ICE was seeking. ICE acting director Matthew Albence said at a news conference in Jackson, Miss., that some of those arrested will be prosecuted for crimes, others will be swiftly deported, and some will be released pending immigration court hearings. Albence said the raids were part of normal ICE operations that seek to enforce U.S. immigration laws.
By Brian Ries, CNN
(CNN) - The billionaire owner of Equinox is planning a high-dollar Hamptons fundraiser for President Donald Trump, leading to calls for a boycott of the luxury gym and its associated businesses SoulCycle and Blink Fitness. Real estate developer Stephen Ross -- who is chairman and majority owner of the Related Companies, which oversees Equinox Fitness -- will host a luncheon on Friday, according to the invitation, at which attendees will pay up to $100,000 for a picture with the President and $250,000 to listen in on a roundtable discussion. The Washington Post first reported the fundraiser, sparking the outrage. The news didn't sit well with some people who frequent the gym, who assailed it as supporting a President whose inflammatory rhetoric and policies targeting people of color are out of sync with the gym's progressive and oftentimes famous clientele. "Hey @Equinox - what's your policy for canceling memberships once a member finds out your owner is enabling racism and mass murder?" comedian Billy Eichner asked. "Sorry @soulcycle ... you can't peddle 'inspiration' in your classes and have an owner funding hate and racism in the back room," actor Conrad Ricamora wrote. "Byyyeeeeeeeeeee."
By William Saletan
The accused El Paso shooter, like other white extremists, says immigrants are outperforming whites on the merits. On Saturday, just before murdering 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, Patrick Crusius posted a manifesto online. Like the manifestos of other racist mass shooters, his screed was full of vile, incendiary nonsense about the people he hated—in this case, Hispanics. But if you read these manifestos, you’ll discover something odd: Many of the killers, in the course of their rants, acknowledge that the groups they’ve targeted have virtues or accomplishments that make them formidable—and in some cases superior—competitors. White nationalists are accidentally debunking white supremacy. Racist terrorists who have left behind manifestos or other writings—Dylann Roof (Charleston, 2015), Robert Bowers (Pittsburgh, 2018), John Earnest (Poway, California, 2019), and others—generally regard whites as victims. That’s their standard excuse for murder: that they were acting in self-defense. They’ve fretted about “ethnic replacement,” “demographic annihilation,” and “white genocide.” Crusius claimed to be fighting a “Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me,” he wrote. “I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.”
By Maegan Vazquez, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump called for unity during a prepared White House address in the wake of two mass shootings over the weekend, but ahead of his trip to visit the communities impacted by gun violence, the consoler-in-chief was back to wedging a partisan divide on Twitter and in front of cameras. On Tuesday ahead of the President's trip to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham suggested that the President would rise above the rhetoric. She tweeted that the visit would "be about honoring victims, comforting communities, and thanking first responders & medical professionals for their heroic actions." "President @realDonaldTrump is a true leader doing what's right for this nation," she continued. Overnight, however, Trump's teleprompter-prepared talking points fell by the wayside, and Trump returned to targeting Democrats, and in comments to reporters Wednesday morning, he again used the El Paso attacks to call for stronger immigration laws. Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, the President began attacking his political opponents, in a tit-for-tat response reminiscent of the language he used following deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, when he equally divvied up blame to white supremacist groups and what he called the "alt-left." "Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O'Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas, where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1% in the Democrat Primary, should respect the victims & law enforcement - & be quiet!" Trump tweeted shortly after midnight.
By Lachlan Markay, Adam Rawnsley
Cybersecurity experts say an effort to implicate Bolton in a global drug trafficking ring bears hallmarks of past Iranian influence operations. American intelligence officials are monitoring a social media disinformation campaign that attempted to falsely implicate the White House National Security Adviser in a global money laundering and drug trafficking operation. On Monday, a Twitter user claiming to be a high-ranking Canadian law enforcement official posted records supposedly showing a $350,000 wire transfer from a Canadian children’s apparel company to a Swiss bank account owned by National Security Adviser John Bolton’s daughter. “Police investigations show [the company] and its CEO are accused of laundering and transferring dirty money between Canada and some European countries, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States,” the Twitter account claimed. The claims are clearly fabricated, and the effort does not appear particularly sophisticated. But a U.S. official familiar with the apparent disinformation campaign said intelligence community officials were aware of the effort. And Lee Foster, an information operations intelligence analyst at the cybersecurity firm FireEye, told The Daily Beast that the hoax’s techniques are “consistent with what we've seen with previous pro-Iranian influence operations.”
By Deirdre Walsh
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is ignoring Democrats' efforts to pressure him into calling the Senate back from recess to vote on gun legislation to expand background checks following back to back mass shootings. But there is movement among some Republican lawmakers, who are calling for action on some gun control measures. GOP Rep. Mike Turner, who represents Dayton, Ohio, where a gunman used an assault-style weapon to kill nine people and injure at least 27, announced on Twitter on Tuesday that he now backs proposals to enact new limits on firearms. "I will support legislation that prevents the sale of military-style weapons to civilians, a magazine limit, and red-flag legislation," he said. "The carnage these military-style weapons are able to produce when available to the wrong people is intolerable." He added that he also backs so-called red-flag bills that make it so that it's easier to identify people who could harm others. "Too often after mass shootings," he said, "we hear there were early warning signs that were ignored." Turner's statement is stunning, considering the National Rifle Association endorsed him ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
By David K. Li
A 39-year-old man was arrested after the incident while the boy suffered injuries serious enough that he had to be airlifted to a hospital out of state. A 13-year-old was seriously injured when a man at a Montana rodeo slammed him to the ground after the boy did not remove his hat during a playing of the national anthem, authorities said Tuesday. Curt James Brockway, 39, was arrested on suspicion of felony assault on a minor following the alleged attack at the rodeo at the Mineral County Fair on Saturday. The boy was originally taken to a nearby hospital, but his injuries were so serious that he had to be airlifted to Sacred Heart Children's Hospital in Spokane, Washington, according to a statement by Mineral County Sheriff Mike Boone. "He was definitely bleeding out of his ears; he was scared," witness Taylor Hennick told NBC News on Wednesday about the incident. “He seemed shocked and out of it and wondering why he was being hit."
By Adam Serwer - Staff writer at The Atlantic
As long as the Republican Party and the conservative media are committed to defending Trump, their attempts to join their fellow Americans in eradicating the scourge of white supremacy cannot be realized. This time looks different, at least at first. After 22 people were killed in El Paso by a white supremacist seeking to halt a “Hispanic invasion” of Texas, many conservative outlets issued condemnations of white nationalism. National Review referred to white supremacy as an “evil” ideology that must be crushed. The Washington Examiner urged President Donald Trump to “name and condemn the evil of white nationalism.” On Monday morning, the president himself gave a speech announcing that “in one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated.” On Twitter, however, the president’s immediate instinct was less to defeat white nationalism than to concede to it, by urging Democrats to pass his unpopular, restrictionist immigration agenda in exchange for implementing popular gun-control policies. That leading conservative outlets have unreservedly condemned white nationalism is genuinely heartening. In a deeply polarized age, it will fall to those on the right to lead their comrades away from the right-wing ethno-nationalism that has captured the imagination of the party’s intellectuals, and its rank and file. But the underlying political factors that have led to this moment remain unaltered, and unless they change, these condemnations will not be sufficient to move the Republican Party and the conservative movement from their current course.
Microsoft does not explicitly say humans listen to the recordings
By Jon Porter
Microsoft contractors are manually reviewing voice recordings gathered via Skype’s automated translation feature and the Cortana voice assistant, a new report from Motherboard has revealed. In audio recordings shared with the publication, users could be heard having intimate conversations and discussing relationship issues as well as other personal topics like weight loss. “The fact that I can even share some of this with you shows how lax things are in terms of protecting user data,” the contractor who shared the audio files with Motherboard said. The unnamed contractor describes having heard what they describe as “phone sex” as part of the review process, and they also said that they have heard users entering their full addresses using Cortana commands as well as using the voice assistant to search for pornography. The contractor pointed out that they didn’t have access to user-identifiable information, but Microsoft customers probably wouldn’t like the fact that their private conversations were being joked about by “random people sitting at home in their pajamas.” Motherboard has since found job listings that confirm that contractors are able to work from home.
By Will Sommer
Whether accidental or not, the Trump campaign keeps nodding to QAnon conspiracy theorists, even after the FBI called them a potential source of domestic terror. Two signs promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory are visible in a video from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, marking the latest link between the president and followers of the fringe movement that the FBI recently described as a potential source of domestic terror. The signs, which were first noticed by Vox reporter Aaron Rupar, appear in a close-up shot in a “Women for Trump” video posted by Trump’s campaign late in July. Around halfway into the video, the first sign appears, with Trump’s “Keep America Great” slogan and a “Q” taped onto it. Another shows “Q”’s replacing the O’s on a “Women for Trump” sign. The inclusion of the signs in the campaign video could be entirely accidental, as Trump rallies have become prominent gathering spots for believers in the QAnon conspiracy, making it harder to grab footage from the rallies that do not include such images. At a Trump rally last week, for example, a warm-up speaker recited a QAnon slogan during his speech. But the campaign video will, nevertheless, be likely interpreted by the Q community as a cryptic acknowledgement by Trump that their beliefs are real.
By ANITA KUMAR
The president said he has taken tough action on guns. His administration has mostly focused on expanding gun access through little-noticed regulatory moves. President Donald Trump this week said his administration has done “much more than most” to help curb mass shootings in the United States. While Trump boasts of action on firearms, his administration has actually eased gun restrictions over the past two and a half years. Federal agencies have implemented more than half a dozen policy changes — primarily through little-noticed regulatory moves — that expand access to guns by lifting firearms bans in certain locations and limiting the names on the national database designed to keep firearms away from dangerous people. The administration asked the Supreme Court to overturn New York City restrictions on transporting handguns outside homes. And it pushed to allow U.S. gunmakers to more easily sell firearms overseas, including the types used in mass shootings. “This president has in a very intentional, sweeping way made it easier for people to access firearms, not more difficult,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), a vice chair of the House Gun Prevention Task Force. “He’s systematically gone and undone all the protections that were put in place to try to limit the ability of dangerous people to access firearms.”
CNN Digital Expansion 2018, BRIAN STELTER
By Brian Stelter, CNN Business
"White supremacy is the ideology that has killed more Americans than any other terroristic ideology in the history of America," Wesley Lowery said on Sunday's "Reliable Sources." On Monday John Avlon wrote about the feedback loop of "hate and extremism, cascading copy-cat violence and a pattern of white supremacists citing each other — and the President — in online forums like 8chan, where hate and conspiracy theories proliferate." Jelani Cobb came out Tuesday with a new column about "how the trail of American white supremacy led to El Paso." And the Los Angeles Times has an editorial in Wednesday's paper titled, "As the El Paso massacre showed once again, white supremacy is the poison in our well." I'm mentioning all of this because Tucker Carlson says the country's white supremacy problem "is a hoax. Just like the Russia hoax. It's a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power." This nonsensical claim came after several days of scrutiny of the El Paso suspect's racist views. Somehow Carlson asserted that "the whole thing is a lie." He downplayed the threat by saying it's "actually not a real problem in America. The combined membership of every white supremacist organization in this country would be able to fit inside a college football stadium." The point, of course, is that men like the suspect in El Paso aren't "members" of an "organization." Jonah Goldberg, knowing President Trump is a fan of Carlson's show, responded by saying this on Twitter: "If Trump apes these talking points, it'll be awful for the country and devastating for Trump's presidency."
President Donald Trump's focus on "mentally ill monsters" oversimplifies the role of mental illness in public mass shootings and downplays the ease with which Americans can get firearms, experts said. "Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun," Mr. Trump said Monday as he condemned the weekend shootings in Texas and Ohio that killed 31 people. The president described the perpetrators as "a wicked man" and "another twisted monster." He called for swift use of the death penalty and passage of red flag laws that would make it easier to take guns away from people believed to be dangerous. In response, mental health experts repeated what they have said after previous mass shootings: Most people with mental illness are not violent, they are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators, and access to firearms is a big part of the problem.
by Barbara McQuade
Is it too much to ask the president to stop exploiting differences of race and national origin, to protect our national security and public safety? From my work as a former national-security prosecutor, I know that many individuals who engage in terrorism are alienated from society and are looking for something larger than themselves to find meaning in their lives. They have endured loss or unfulfilled expectations, and are looking for scapegoats. A powerful leader who speaks to their grievances can inspire them to act. For many radical Islamist terrorists, that leader was Anwar al-Awlaki, a cleric who was born and lived in the United States before moving to Yemen. Even after his 2011 death by drone strike, records of Awlaki’s sermons posted online continued to motivate young men (or mostly young men) to commit atrocities, in the Middle East and in the West as well. Awlaki inspired a defendant who was prosecuted in my district of Eastern Michigan, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a graduate student from a prominent Nigerian family, who would become known as the “underwear bomber.” Abdulmutallab discovered Awlaki online and traveled to Yemen to meet him. Abdulmutallab agreed to conceal a bomb in his underwear on a commercial flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day, 2009. Only good luck and malfunction of the bomb prevented the 285 people onboard from dying and the wreckage from falling on residents of Woodhaven, Michigan, on Christmas morning.
By Aaron Rupar
The timeline is some of the strongest evidence yet that the “good guy with a gun” myth is just that. In America, guns in general are a big problem. But the mass shooting that took place early Sunday in Dayton, Ohio, is the latest illustration that some guns are bigger problems than others — even in situations when law enforcement is able to respond to almost instantaneously. According to Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl, the gunman who opened fire in the popular Oregon District in downtown Dayton around bar close time was “neutralized” by officers a mere 30 seconds after he fired his first shot. But largely due to the .223-caliber high-capacity rifle with 100-round magazines he was wielding, 30 seconds was all the time he needed to leave nine people dead and at least 27 others injured before he was killed by police. CNN, citing Dayton officials, reported that the gunman fired 41 shots in less than 30 seconds, and stuck 14 people with gunfire. Authorities said the Dayton gunman — who wore a bulletproof vest — purchased the rifle he used to carry out his attack legally online from a Texas retailer, though Biehl added during a news conference on Monday, without providing details, that it was modified to shoot more “like a rifle” and “to avoid any legal prohibitions.” Reporting from the scene on Monday, Brooke Baldwin of CNN counted to 30 to demonstrate just how quickly the Dayton shooter was able to carry out so much violence.
By Rebecca Klar
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is being criticized after his reelection campaign put up a tombstone-shaped sign with his Democratic challenger's name on it and the date of death listed as the 2020 elections. His campaign tweeted a photo of the tombstones at a campaign event in Fancy Farm, Ky., and called McConnell the “Grim Reaper of Socialism.” McConnell has embraced Democratic criticism of him, saying he was happy to be the grim reaper of liberal proposals. Among the five tombstones displayed by McConnell’s campaign is one reading, “R.I.P. Amy McGrath November 3, 2020.” Two more are dedicated to socialism and the Green New Deal, the progressive climate change plan championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). The campaign also displayed a tombstone in honor of Merrick Garland, former President Obama's final nominee to the Supreme Court, who was blocked by McConnell until Obama's term ended, leaving the spot open for President Trump to nominate a conservative justice.
By Rosie Perper
The Victoria's Secret billionaire Leslie Wexner says the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein "misappropriated vast sums of money" from Wexner's fortune while serving as his financial adviser. In a letter to members of his namesake Wexner Foundation, seen by The Wall Street Journal, the CEO and founder of L Brands, the parent company to Victoria's Secret, said that Epstein had "misappropriated vast sums of money from me and my family." "This was, frankly, a tremendous shock, even though it clearly pales in comparison to the unthinkable allegations against him now," Wexner continued in the letter.
He'd be doing exactly what he criticized Obama for.
by Zack Ford
In the wake of a string of mass shootings across the country, President Donald Trump is exploring taking some executive or administrative actions to address the gun epidemic, according to Politico. If he does circumvent Congress to enact gun reform, he would be directly contradicting his past criticisms of President Barack Obama. Trump’s core policy inclination has been to oppose anything that had Obama’s fingerprints on it. In 2013, when the Obama administration was considering using executive orders to address guns, Trump was vehemently opposed. “This is how it starts. Obama is now threatening to use an Executive Order for gun control,” he tweeted at the time. This is how it starts. Obama is now threatening to use an Executive Order for gun control http://t.co/buNU2IuD Welcome to his 2nd term. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2013. Ultimately, Obama never used an executive order to reform gun laws, but he did take several executive actions a few years later in 2016, such as overhauling the background check system and hiring more agents to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Obama also instituted a rule requiring the Social Security Administration (SSA) to keep the background check system apprised of recipients who are prohibited from owning a gun for mental health reasons — a rule Trump rescinded early into his administration.
By David Brunnstrom, Josh Smith
WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. national security adviser John Bolton reminded North Korea on Tuesday of its leader’s pledge to President Donald Trump not to resume launches of intercontinental-range missiles after Pyongyang conducted its fourth short-range missile test in less than two weeks and warned it might pursue “a new road.” Trump and his administration have played down the series of short-range tests since July 25 and on Tuesday U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the United States would not overreact and would keep the door open to talks. Bolton told Fox News Channel the testing appeared aimed at getting the short-range missiles fully operational and Trump was keeping a close eye on developments. “The president and Kim Jong Un have an understanding that Kim Jong Un is not going to launch longer range, intercontinental range ballistic missiles, and so I think the president is watching this very, very carefully.” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the launch of tactical guided missiles on Tuesday were a warning to the U.S. and South Korea’s joint military drills, state media KCNA said.
Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN
(CNN) - It is a strange fact of unfolding American history that the country's first black President should be followed in office by a President who has openly said racist things. Neither President, it is painfully clear, can solve the problem of gun violence or racism in the United States, but it is in the aftermath of mass shootings like those in Ohio and Texas that the difference between America's last President and its current one is most jarringly clear.
And while many Democrats want to lay blame for a racist's rampage at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, at President Donald Trump's feet -- since police said they found an anti-immigrant document espousing white nationalist and racist views, which they believe was written by the suspect there -- it is also true that racist shootings came before Trump, a point Trump was quick to point out Tuesday. Former President Barack Obama broke his self-imposed political silence for an obliquely worded but directly aimed statement calling out his successor, issuing a four paragraph statement condemning racism and leaders who foster it. "We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments," he wrote in the statement, a rare break from his pledge to give Trump room to lead the country.
By Merrit Kennedy
The FBI has opened a domestic terrorism investigation into last month's mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, after discovering that the shooter had a list that may have indicated potential targets of violence. The investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the attack. At this point, "we have uncovered evidence throughout the course of our investigation that the shooter was exploring violent ideologies," John Bennett, special agent in charge of the FBI's San Francisco Field Office, said at a news conference Tuesday. The gunman, 19-year-old Santino William Legan, killed three people, including two children, when he opened fire on July 28. The shooter also died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police have said. Legan appeared interested in multiple violent ideologies, Bennett said. Investigators are trying to determine "what if any ideology he had actually settled on" and "who, if anyone, he may have been in contact with regarding these ideologies," Bennett said. They are also trying to determine whether anyone else knew about the attack beforehand, Bennett said, and "why he committed this specific act of violence." A list of organizations found on the shooter's digital media, which Bennett says may have been potential targets, includes "religious institutions, federal buildings, courthouses, political organizations from both major political parties, and the Gilroy Garlic Festival."
By Justin Wise
President Trump's reelection campaign has yet to pay El Paso more than $500,000 for police and public safety services tied to a February rally, a city official said Monday. Laura Cruz-Acosta, communications manager for the city manager’s office, told The Texas Tribune that the Trump campaign owes the city $569,204.63 for services El Paso provided for a rally during which the president focused on building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. “The city staff have followed the process and procedures as it relates to any invoicing that we provide, and we will continue to do so accordingly as per city and state policies,” Cruz-Acosta told the news outlet. The Center for Public Integrity first reported the outstanding amount and accompanying invoice. The debt has come under renewed scrutiny following a mass shooting in El Paso over the weekend that has led to at least 22 deaths. Trump declared on Monday that the Texas border city would receive “all the support of the federal government." Trump plans to visit the city on Wednesday. Some Democrats, including 2020 presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, have said Trump should not come to El Paso. - Trump is a deadbeat; Trump does not pay his bills.
A former white supremacist who is now an anti-hate activist says that online platforms should treat white nationalism like other international threats from groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda. Arno Michaelis pointed to Saturday's mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, and an online manifesto being investigated in connection to the shooting that cited the Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque attack earlier this year and included anti-immigrant rhetoric. “White nationalism is an international threat as the El Paso shooter was inspired by the Christchurch shooter who was inspired by the Norway shooter,” Michaelis told Hill.TV, referencing the Christchurch shootings and the 2011 Norway attacks. “There’s very plain international connections that drive this kind of violence, so we need to start approaching white nationalism the same way we approach ISIS, al Qaeda, al-Shabaab and come down on them just as hard,” he added. Michaelis said there is a little more leeway with white nationalist content due to the First Amendment, but he argued that there must be a threshold, especially when such rhetoric incites violence. "I’m a huge proponent of the First Amendment, it’s probably the best thing about our Constitution, but at the same time we have to be wary of when this free speech actually becomes planning of terror and I think that threshold has certainly been reached," he said.
By NATASHA BERTRAND
The former FBI agent who opened the bureau’s Russia probe says the government violated his First and Fifth Amendment rights. Peter Strzok, the former FBI agent who opened the bureau’s Russia probe in 2016 and later became a symbol of alleged “deep state” animus for Donald Trump, is suing the government over his firing. In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Strzok excoriates the Justice Department and FBI for their handling of his dismissal over a trove of text messages he wrote to a colleague that were critical of Trump. Strzok accuses the president of inappropriately bullying law enforcement officials deciding his fate, raises questions about why his texts were leaked to the media and lambastes the administration for only defending its employees’ free speech rights when they are praising Trump. Specifically, Strzok’s lawsuit accuses the agencies of violating his First and Fifth Amendment rights by firing him over the texts and then depriving him of due process to challenge his expulsion. And, Strzok argues, DOJ’s decision to give the incendiary messages to reporters before handing them to Congress — generating blaring headlines — was “deliberate and unlawful,” a violation of the Privacy Act. The Justice Department and FBI did not immediately comment. Strzok became a lightning rod for efforts to undermine the Russia investigation when the texts he wrote to FBI lawyer Lisa Page — using his FBI-issued phone — were publicly released in December 2017. DOJ has not disclosed who authorized the release of the text messages, which were under investigation at the time by Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Strzok’s legal team said in the filing that it hopes to learn that in discovery.
By Yara BayoumyKathy Gilsinan
Christian Picciolini discusses the mainstreaming of white nationalism, what it takes to de-radicalize far-right extremists, and why the problem is metastasizing. It’s going to get worse. That’s the warning of a former violent extremist, Christian Picciolini, who joined a neo-Nazi movement 30 years ago and now tries to get people out of them. White-supremacist terrorists—the ones who have left dozens dead in attacks in Pittsburgh, New Zealand, and El Paso, Texas, in recent months—aren’t just trying to outdo one another, he told us. They’re trying to outdo Timothy McVeigh, the anti-government terrorist who blew up an Oklahoma City federal building and killed more than 100 people in 1995—the worst terrorist attack in the United States before September 11, 2001. On Saturday morning in El Paso, a gunman shot and killed 22 people, including children, at a Walmart. The store was crowded for back-to-school-shopping season. The victims included a high-school student, an elementary-school teacher, and a couple carrying their infant son, who survived. And the shooter, according to an online manifesto authorities attributed to the suspect, saw himself fighting a “Hispanic invasion” as he gunned them down.
by Erroll G. Southers , Opinion contributor
Talk is cheap. People are dead. If Donald Trump is serious about defeating white supremacy after Dayton and El Paso, it will take more than a speech. In the wake of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio,President Donald Trump made a statement from the White House: "In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America." In any other administration, these sentiments would be an essential salve on the national psyche reeling from yet more mass atrocities, at least one of them motivated by racist, anti-immigrant ideologies. But it is extremely challenging to see earnest grief and true leadership in these words, because the president’s previous statements and actions run 180 degrees counter to what he said Monday. The writing and news coverage on this administration increasingly opens with a recital of instances where the president has tacitly endorsed racist sentiments or made overtly prejudicial statements. Most articles one reads contain a laundry list of the terrible things spoken from the highest office in the land. Most recently, there was the "send her back" chant the president inspired at a rally in North Carolina, regarding four House members who are women of color. There was also the uncontested shout from a rally goer in Panama City Beach, Florida, suggesting illegal immigrants should be shot — a statement the president said one can “get away with” in the Panhandle. I could go on. Many others already have.
By Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter
(CNN) - President Donald Trump sued California Tuesday challenging a state law that requires candidates for president to disclose income tax returns before they can appear on the state's primary ballot. The federal lawsuit from Trump and his campaign is the latest move by the President to resist efforts to turn over his tax returns. The law adds an "unconstitutional qualification" to the fixed set of qualifications for the presidency set forward in the Constitution and violates the First Amendment, Trump's lawyer William Consovoy argued in the lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of California. California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the state's "Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act" last month. "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. A second similar lawsuit was also filed Tuesday 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.
Newsom responded to the challenge on Tuesday. "There's an easy fix Mr. President -- release your tax returns as you promised during the campaign and follow the precedent of every president since 1973," the California governor tweeted. Legal expert Rick Hasen of the University of California, Irvine, said the state law is of "uncertain constitutionality." - Trump must have something to hide in his taxes and it must be bad, once again, he is suing to prevent showing his taxes. What is Trump hiding? Why does Trump not show his taxes if he has nothing to hide.
By Jordan Weissmann
For what feels like the thousandth time now, China is showing why trade wars are not, as President Donald Trump put it, “good, and easy to win.” Last week, the president decided to ratchet up his confrontation with Beijing, announcing that he would soon impose tariffs on another $300 billion of Chinese imports. If he goes forward with the move, essentially all of the goods China sells to the U.S. will face taxes at the border. Now, the People’s Republic is hitting back. Government officials have told state-owned companies to “suspend purchases of U.S. agricultural products,” Bloomberg reported Sunday—a retaliatory move putting further pressure on American farmers that one analyst described as “an 11” on a scale of 1 to 10. And the Chinese aren’t stopping there. The government also allowed its currency to dramatically depreciate during trading Monday, letting it fall to an all-time low in the important offshore market.
By Steven Jiang, CNN Business
Beijing (CNN Business)Chinese companies have halted purchases of US agricultural products, marking the latest escalation of the trade war between the United States and China. The halt in purchases comes in response to the Trump administration's announcement of new tariffs on Chinese imports last week, China's Commerce Ministry said Tuesday morning. The new 10% tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports are set to take effect on September 1. China's Commerce Ministry called the new tariffs a "serious violation of the consensus reached by the two countries' leaders in Osaka." At the June G20 meeting in Osaka, American and Chinese officials had agreed to a cease-fire in the trade war. State media had earlier quoted officials as saying Chinese companies had ordered US agricultural products after the Osaka summit, but some deals fell through due to "competitive pricing." China's State Council Customs Tariff Commission also said Tuesday morning it "will no longer exempt US agricultural products purchased after August 3 from import duties." The latest salvo in the trade war sent global markets plunging Monday. In addition to the halt in American agriculture purchases, China devalued the yuan Monday morning, sparking fear that the United States could retaliate. The US Chamber of Commerce warned last week that new tariffs "will only inflict greater pain on American businesses, farmers, workers and consumers, and undermine an otherwise strong US economy."
By DAVID SAITO-CHUNG
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 2.5% in afternoon trading Monday. It hit a session low of 25,715, extending its drop from a July 16 peak of 27,398 to more than 1,600 points, or 6.1%. Such a drop takes the stock market closer to a possible intermediate-level correction of 10% or more from 52-week highs. The Nasdaq composite slid even harder. The tech-centered, market-cap-weighted index fell more than 3% and hit a session low of 7754. That increases the Nasdaq's correction from an 8339 peak to just over 7%.
By DARREN SAMUELSOHN
‘That’s what open government is all about,’ Judge Reggie Walton said during court arguments over a FOIA lawsuit against the Justice Department. A federal judge signaled Monday he’s considering removing the Mueller report’s redactions. During more than two hours of oral arguments in Washington, D.C., U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton on several occasions appeared to side with attorneys for BuzzFeed and the non-profit Electronic Privacy Information Center seeking public disclosure of the blacked-out bars covering nearly 1,000 items inside special counsel Robert Mueller’s final 448-page final report. Walton didn’t issue an opinion from the bench on the case, which centers around a pair of consolidated lawsuits filed against the Justice Department under the Freedom of Information Act. But the judge, an appointee of President George W. Bush, sounded increasingly skeptical of the arguments from the government pressing him to leave the redactions untouched. “That’s what open government is about,” Walton said during one exchange, citing the controversial resolution of a 2008 sex crimes case against the financier Jeffrey Epstein as an example of how obfuscating the reasons behind not prosecuting high-profile people generates public distrust in the country’s criminal justice system.
By Leah Asmelash and Brian Ries, CNN
(CNN) - A Republican state representative is speaking out against what he believes is his own party's complicity in "enabling white supremacy," and says history won't judge his fellow Republicans kindly. Nebraska state legislator Rep. John McCollister tweeted Sunday night, "The Republican Party is enabling white supremacy in our country. As a lifelong Republican, it pains me to say this, but it's the truth." The Twitter thread came one day after a white supremacist killed at least 20 people in El Paso, Texas. The criticism came as some politicians began pointing to the rhetoric from the Republican Party and the current administration as a contributing factor for the violence. McCollister, who represents part of Omaha, said that he didn't think all Republicans are racist or white supremacists, but "the Republican Party is COMPLICIT to obvious racist and immoral activity inside our party." "We have a Republican president who continually stokes racist fears in his base. He calls certain countries 'sh*tholes,' tells women of color to "go back" to where they came from and lies more than he tells the truth," he added. He finished the tweets asking his colleagues to no longer look the other way. "When the history books are written, I refuse to be someone who said nothing," he said. "The time is now for us Republicans to be honest with what is happening inside our party. We are better than this and I implore my Republican colleagues to stand up and do the right thing."
By Ben Kesslen
Authorities found an AK-47, 17 magazines loaded with ammunition, and multiple knives in the hotel room the 19 year-old had rented. A month before a gunman murdered 20 people in an El Paso Walmart, a grandmother was able to stop another potential mass shooting in Texas — by her grandson. William Patrick Williams, a 19-year-old from Lubbock, told his grandmother in July he had bought an AK-47, and planned to “shoot up” a hotel and then take his own life, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Texas. Williams’ grandmother's concern for her grandson's well-being and the safety of others was able to convince him to go to a local hospital to get treatment, authorities said.
by George P. Bush - Texas Land Commissioner
Conservatives have not been afraid to confront extremism in our world, and we must not be afraid to confront terrorism here at home. Not long after the El Paso shootings occurred, I took to Twitter to denounce white-nationalist terrorism as a real threat to our country. I didn’t realize at the time that I was the first major Republican elected official to do so. But I certainly won’t be the last, as more details come out about the goals and views of this terrorist. What made me comment so soon? It’s simple: I read the shooter’s manifesto. We don’t have to guess what was on the shooter’s mind—he told us in plain, dark, and racist language. He wrote about protecting white people from an “invasion” of Hispanics and wanting to kill “Mexicans.” Plus, his actions underscored his words—he drove nine hours from Dallas to a shopping center in El Paso. Why didn’t he go to a mall in North Dallas to kill people? The answer is obvious—he wanted to kill Hispanic people. But for me, the real question now is: What comes next? Terrorism by white supremacists is indeed a real and present danger. We’ve seen it in this country in El Paso, Texas, and in Gilroy, California. We’ve also seen it in faraway places like New Zealand, where another white supremacist walked into a mosque and killed 51 and injured another 49. The recent attacks in the United States are shocking, but not surprising. Just a few days ago, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the U.S. Senate that most domestic terrorism arrests in 2019 have been related to white terrorism. Stop and think about that statistic. Islamic radical terrorism remains a real threat around the world and even here at home, but most of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. are a consequence of white-nationalist terrorism. No substantive debate exists about whether this threat is real. The only question is: What are we doing to do about it?
Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump tried to blame a lot of things Monday for a series of horrific shootings over the weekend. What he didn't do was take any of the blame onto himself or pledge to change his rhetoric. He did blame violent video games, mental illness, the internet and a culture that promotes violence for helping to foster white nationalism and hatred behind at least one of the shootings that shocked the country. He did not acknowledge the fact that he often traffics in some of the same language as white supremacists like the one who killed 22 people in El Paso. Reading from a teleprompter at the White House, the President sounded nothing like the Trump who goes off-script when he tweets or is whipping up crowds of political supporters at campaign rallies. That's why many are laying some blame for the shooting at the feet of the nation's leader. This is a politician who built his career around angry rhetoric and trying to pit groups of Americans against each other. No wonder that slightly more than half of Americans -- nearly all of them Democrats -- think their president is a racist. He's gained success by debasing the political conversation and appealing to Americans' fears and prejudices, so it was jarring to hear him suddenly and tersely condemn hatred. "In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy," Trump said Monday. "These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart and devours the soul."
By Daniel Politi
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fractured his shoulder Sunday and is recovering at his home in Kentucky. McConnell’s spokesman said the senator tripped and fell on his patio and now plans to work from home while he recovers. McConnell “has been treated, released and is working from home in Louisville,” David Popp, his spokesman, said. “This afternoon he contacted Sens. Cornyn and Portman to express his deepest sympathies for the people of El Paso and Dayton and discuss the senseless tragedies of this weekend.” McConnell’s injury came on the same day as several key Democrats called on the majority leader to reconvene the Senate to pass gun control legislation after the two mass shootings over the weekend killed 29 people. Among them was Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “One awful event after another,” Schumer tweeted as he called for McConnell to “call the Senate back for an emergency session.” The top Democrat in the Senate said his colleagues must “debate and vote” on a background check bill that easily passed the House in February.
by Lisa Eadicicco
The computer programmer Fredrick Brennan started the online image board 8chan in 2013 as a space for uncensored speech, a place where anyone could anonymously post whatever they wanted without moderation. It didn't take long for the site to become known as one of the darkest corners of the internet — a haven for extremist and hateful content. It has since become a platform for mass shooters to vocalize and spread their ideas, prompting Brennan to call for the site to be shuttered. "Shut the site down," Brennan said to The New York Times. "It's not doing the world any good. It's a complete negative to everybody except the users that are there. And you know what? It's a negative to them, too. They just don't realize it." 8chan has been linked to three mass shootings that took place this year, including the one in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday that left 20 people dead. Before the shooting, a racist manifesto appeared on 8chan, and police believe it was published by the shooting suspect. The attack was also celebrated on 8chan on Sunday, The Washington Post reported.
After a weekend of numbing carnage — at least 30 dead and more than 50 injured in mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, — President Trump stepped forward Monday morning with a tweet calling for a bilateral embrace of “strong background checks,” whatever that means, and “perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform.” So in the space of a single tweet the president called for laughably light legislative changes — neither gunman would likely have been stopped by a background check — and then turned his message to outrageously cynical politics. What does immigration reform have to do with what has become our national pastime, killing each other en masse and often with military-grade firearms and semiautomatic handguns? Trump infamously sees everything in terms of a deal, so it shouldn’t surprise us that he would seek to gain a political advantage in his fight to reduce immigration by trading on the bodies of the dead.
by Spencer Kimball
President Donald Trump overruled the adamant objections of nearly his entire trade team when he ordered the imposition of 10% tariffs on China’s remaining $300 billion of imports, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter. Trump, in his decision announced Thursday on Twitter, said China has not made good on a promise to buy American agricultural goods in large quantities, and as a consequence the U.S. would impose the new tariffs starting Sept. 1. The announcement sent the Dow and Treasury yields sharply lower. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer were in Shanghai last week in an effort to restart stalled trade talks. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed to a truce in the trade war on the sidelines of the June G-20 summit in Japan. Trump wanted to give farmers, who have been hit hard by the trade war, guarantees that China was boosting its U.S. purchases as he prepared for a rally in Ohio. But Lighthizer and Mnuchin conveyed to the president in an Oval Office meeting that the Shanghai talks did not have the results that he wanted, according to the Journal’s sources. Trump ordered new tariffs in response. Virtually everyone present at the Oval Office meeting — including national security advisor John Bolton, economic advisor Larry Kudlow and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — objected to his decision, according to the Journal. Only China hawk Peter Navarro did not object, it said.
by Fred Imber
Stocks fell sharply Monday as a trade war between the world’s largest economies intensified with China retaliating against President Donald Trump’s latest move. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 780 points, while the S&P 500 dropped nearly 3%. The Nasdaq Composite lagged, dropping 3.6%. The Nasdaq was on track to fall for a sixth straight session, which would be its longest losing streak since late 2016. The S&P 500 also headed for a six-day losing streak. The Dow was set to fall for a fifth straight day. The major indexes were headed for their worst day of 2019 and have also fallen more than 5% from their record highs set last month. Trade bellwethers Caterpillar and Boeing dropped 2.9% and 3.3%, respectively. Semiconductor stocks like Micron Technology, Skyworks Solutions and Advanced Micro Devices fell at least 4.6%. Apple shares slid 5%. Nike dropped 3%. Retail stocks like Etsy, Abercrombie & Fitch and Stitch Fix all fell at least 6.6%. Office Depot slid 7.5%. Party City fell 6.2%. Macy’s and Best Buy pulled back 5% and 4.9%, respectively. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) traded 3.3% lower. FedEx dropped 4.7%.
By Annie Palmer
Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince is defending his decision to pull the plug on the controversial website used by the El Paso shooting suspect. The company, which provides security software and other services to websites that help them stay online, announced in a blog post Sunday night that it was terminating services to 8chan after the suspected gunman in the El Paso shooting appeared to use it to post an anti-immigrant and anti-government screed. The shooting on Saturday left at least 20 people dead and another 26 wounded. Cloudflare initially said on Sunday that it would not cut off 8chan. Since announcing the move to cut off 8chan, the U.S. cybersecurity company has faced criticism from some who say it is wrongfully policing the internet. “If you are on Twitter right now, all of the 8chan supporters are saying ‘Why don’t you cut off Facebook or Twitter because there are horrible things that get posted to them?’ That’s true, there are horrible things that get posted to them,” Prince said in an interview with Ben Thompson, an independent analyst who runs Stratechery.
By Caroline Kelly, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate and El Paso, Texas, native Beto O'Rourke said that President Donald Trump was a white nationalist after a mass shooting in El Paso on Saturday left 20 dead and a separate rampage hours later killed nine more in Dayton, Ohio. CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday asked O'Rourke, a former El Paso congressman: "Do you think President Trump is a white nationalist?" "Yes. I do," O'Rourke said on CNN's "State of the Union." The Democrat also referenced Trump's record of insulting Mexicans as "rapists" and describing asylum seeking migrants as an infestation. "The things that he has said both as a candidate and then as the President of the United States, this cannot be open for debate," he said. Early Sunday morning, a shooter opened fire in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine people in the city's Oregon District, a popular downtown area. The shooter, who has not yet been identified, was shot and killed by responding officers. Hours before on Saturday, a shooter opened fire at an El Paso, Texas, shopping center, killing at least 20 people. The shooting suspect, a 21-year-old man, is in custody.
By Rick Wilson
The resume-padding backbencher raved at Mueller on camera and found himself at the peak of Trump’s regard. But like a gram of pure coke, there are consequences when the fun stops. The rule holds: Everything Trump touches dies. From standing on the verge of one of Washington’s most powerful offices to a tweeted shrug of dismissal from the President, Congressman John Ratcliffe (R-Coffeeboy) is the latest, inevitable victim of the career-ending, reputation-shattering career curse that is Donald Trump. As the two-term Congressman’s flimsy resume hit the light of day, the petty, easily discovered lies and contractions in his record exploded in his face like Trump 20 seconds into a lapdance. Far from being the terrorist-fighting superstar federal prosecutor, Ratcliffe turned out to be a bog-standard U.S. attorney. His sins were little beyond the usual campaign resume fluffing, but it turned out he was about as qualified to be the Director of National Intelligence as Hope Hicks is to pilot the next SpaceX flight into orbit. If Ratcliffe walked off the street to apply for a job at the Office of National Intelligence and told the same lies about his record he told to his constituents, he’d be laughed out of the room. Extreme vetting, my ass.
By Nicole Chavez and Melissa Gray, CNN
(CNN) - A beloved Northern California festival, a neighborhood Walmart in Mississippi, another Walmart near the US-Mexico border and a popular entertainment district. All four were the scenes of shootings in the last week -- events that together left at least 34 people dead and more than 50 wounded. A week bookended by violence has left residents shaken, frustrated and grieving. One of the nation's safest large cities is mourning. El Paso sits at the border of Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. The town, which prides itself on being one of the nation's safest cities, became paralyzed Saturday morning when a gunman opened fire in the heart of its popular shopping area. Families were buying school supplies ahead of the first day of classes next week, were buying groceries or had traveled from across the border in Mexico to shop at the Walmart. At least three of the dead were Mexican nationals, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador tweeted, and six Mexicans were among the injured. Police arrested the suspected gunman, a 21-year-old white man from a suburb of Dallas, more than 650 miles away, El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said. Gov. Greg Abbott said the case will be prosecuted "as both a capital murder but also as a hate crime." Police said they believe the gunman wrote a four-page document posted online that espouses white nationalist and racist views. The FBI opened a domestic terrorism investigation into the shooting, according to a source familiar with the investigative process.
By Justin Baragona
“Just to be clarifying, China isn’t paying these tariffs. You are,” Cavuto told his audience. Immediately after President Donald Trump boasted to White House reporters that the United States rakes in billions of dollars from China because of his tariffs, Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto issued an on-air fact-check of the president’s remarks, directly telling his viewers that Trump is wrong. While taking questions on the White House lawn Friday afternoon, the president insisted Americans farmers are fully behind his trade war and support his latest tariffs on $300 billion worth of goods from China. “Remember this, our country is taking in billions and billions of dollars from China,” Trump exclaimed. “We never took in ten cents from China. Out of that many billions of dollars, we’re taking a part of it and giving it to the farmers because they’ve been targeted by China. The farmers, they come out totally whole.” Right away, Cavuto cut away from the president’s impromptu press gaggle to point out that, once again, Trump was not telling the truth when it came to who pays for tariffs. “I don’t know where to begin here,” the Fox News host said. “Just to be clarifying, China isn’t paying these tariffs. You are. You know, indirectly and sometimes directly.”
By Matt Egan, CNN Business
New York (CNN Business) - President Donald Trump's escalating trade war against China threatens to inflict a powerful shock to the American economy that not even the Federal Reserve can fully absorb. The Fed cut interest rates this week for the first time in nearly 11 years, effectively lowering the odds of a recession in the United States. Just 24 hours later, Trump raised those odds by vowing to unleash tariffs on $300 billion of US imports from China, which will for the first time directly impact American shoppers. The new front in the trade war will only add to the downturn in manufacturing spanning the globe. It will further dent shaky business confidence and could even puncture the optimism among consumers. In short, little good can come from these new tariffs — and the ensuing retaliation from Beijing. "It could be incredibly damaging to the global economy. The risk of a recession has gone up because of the ratcheting up of the trade war," said Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco. Trump blindsided investors on Thursday by announcing an abrupt end to the trade truce between the United States and China. Although talks will continue, Trump tweeted that he plans to impose a 10% tariff on the remaining US imports from China. US stocks plummeted on the tweet, a selloff that deepened on Friday. Cash rushed into ultra-save government bonds, sending Treasury yields to multiyear lows. "That's telling me there is a lot of concern we are headed toward a significant global slowdown," Hooper said. Trump has also kept open the possibility that tariffs on China will go up to 25%.
By Owen Daugherty
Protesters interrupted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as he spoke during a political picnic on Saturday with chants of “Moscow Mitch.” The nickname, which was popularized last month after McConnell blocked another set of election security bills, has followed McConnell recently after a Washington Post columnist called the senator a “Russian asset” and “Moscow Mitch” trended on Twitter. McConnell was apparently unfazed by the protestors Saturday during his speech at the St. Jerome Catholic Church’s annual political picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. “I’m going to spend as much time talking about [Democrats] as Kentuckians will voting for them this November — none,” McConnell said. Those in the crowd also had T-shirts and signs featuring the “Moscow Mitch” slogan, the Courier-Journal noted. McConnell used the speech to tout his work in the Senate during President Trump’s tenure, particularly his track record of confirming conservative Supreme Court Justices, according to the newspaper. He also reportedly noted that he "saved the Supreme Court for a generation" by blocking President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016.
By Anna Edney
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told a crowd in his home state of Kentucky that he “saved the Supreme Court for a generation” by blocking President Barack Obama’s nominees ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The Republican added that he “led the way” for Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, both nominated to the bench by President Donald Trump. McConnell refused to allow a Senate hearing for Judge Merrick Garland, Obama’s pick to succeed the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, in 2016, saying that a top court vacancy shouldn’t be filled during a presidential election year. He’s since said things would be different should a vacancy occur in 2020, while Trump is seeking re-election. “Oh, we’d fill it,” McConnell said at an event in Paducah, Kentucky, in May. - Moscow Mitch is a thief who deprived American of a fair court by stealing Obama Supreme Court pick.
By mark osborne
The shooting Saturday afternoon that killed 20 people and injured more than two dozen more at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, brought immediate reactions from the crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates on the campaign trail. Calls for a period of reflection before discussing politics, a familiar refrain for years in the wake of mass shootings, ceded to calls for increased gun control before all of the details of the attack were even known. Many of the 2020 presidential candidates -- 19 of 24 -- were in Las Vegas for the AFSCME Convention as news of the shooting started to spread in the media. Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, a native of El Paso and a speaker at the convention, tweeted the shooting was "truly heartbreaking" before any news of injuries or deaths was even reported. It was just minutes before all of the 20-plus candidates addressed the shooting, many initially on Twitter, and turned the conversation to increased gun control measures.
Erin Banco- National Security Reporter, Asawin Suebsaeng - White House Reporter
Trump blamed the media for his nominee’s withdrawal, but it may have to do with his proximity to a company accused of being instrumental in reprisal against a whistleblower. An email disclosing Rep. John Ratcliffe’s (R-TX) alleged involvement in a controversial whistleblowing case reached the White House prior to the announcement Friday that he was withdrawing his name from consideration for Director of National Intelligence, according to two sources with knowledge of the correspondence. The email, originally sent to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, laid out how Ratcliffe promoted a company accused of being instrumental in the reprisal against a whistleblower and their cybersecurity efforts, according to one of those sources. The Government Accountability Project, an organization that protects whistleblowers, is helping represent the unnamed government employee. Details about the case are being closely held in part because of security reasons. The organization sent information on its client’s disclosure to the committee Wednesday morning. The email then circulated among Republicans in Washington, including some White House officials, who did not think Ratcliffe was up to the job of DNI, according to two sources with direct knowledge. White House spokespeople did not provide comment for this story. Ratcliffe did not respond to a request for comment.
By Joey Garrison, Olivia Sanchez, Samuel Gaytan and Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY
EL PASO, Texas — Twenty people were shot to death and 26 were wounded after a lone gunman went on a shooting rampage Saturday morning in a packed Walmart store in this border city, authorities said. The suspect, identified by two law enforcement sources as Patrick Crusius, 21, of Allen, Texas, surrendered to officers and was being interviewed, police said. Allen is a suburb of Dallas, about 660 miles east of El Paso. The first calls came in at 10:39 a.m. MDT, and the first officer arrived six minutes later in what would become a massive response, according to El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen. With the shooting, a busy weekend shopping day turned into horror. The Walmart was "at capacity," and at a mall across the parking lot, 1,000 to 3,000 people were shopping, police Sgt. Robert Gomez said. Videos posted to social media show shoppers scrambling for cover, their hands raised. The suspect had posted a "manifesto" and the shooting was being investigated as a hate crime, Allen said. He gave no details about the contents of the manifesto. El Paso, situated at the U.S.-Mexico border, is about 83% Hispanic, according to 2018 Census estimates, and boasts a large population of immigrants. The Mexican government said three Mexican citizens were killed and six were wounded.
20 people were killed and at least 26 were injured in a shooting Saturday at a shopping center in El Paso, Texas. Sources have told CNN that the suspect is Patrick Crusius, 21, of Allen, Texas. The information provided to CNN came from two federal law enforcement sources and one state government source. Crusius was taken into custody. Hours later in Dayton, Ohio, a gunman opened fire on people in a popular downtown area. Nine people were killed and 16 additional people were injured. The suspect in Dayton was shot and killed by officers.
By Adam Edelman
“In America, no one is above the law," Pelosi said in a statement that outlined the House’s investigations into Trump and his administration. Hours after a majority of her House Democrats came out in support of opening an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that “no one is above the law” and that Trump “will be held accountable.” In a statement, Pelosi, D-Calif., stuck to her existing position on impeachment: that her caucus should focus their attention on ongoing congressional investigations and legal battles. But the speaker also referred to the 10 examples of Trump possibly having obstructed justice that were outlined in former special counsel Robert Mueller's report and said the president's “more recent attempts to prevent us from finding the facts” represented “further evidence” of obstruction.
By Scott Horsley
Higher prices will be coming to stores this fall, retailers warn, if President Trump follows through with his threat to slap new tariffs on Chinese imports. The White House pressed the tariff threat on Friday, even as Trump announced a new agreement aimed at boosting beef exports to Europe. A day earlier, Trump threatened to set a new 10% tariff on $300 billion worth of products imported from China. Rising trade tensions prompted another sell-off on Wall Street on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down nearly 100 points, or 0.4%, recovering from steeper losses earlier in the day. More than 40% of all the clothes sold in the United States are made in China, as are nearly 70% of the shoes and 88% of the toys.
It’s unclear what the White House will do with the list. People on it may be eligible to temporarily lead the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
By Betsy Woodruff, Erin Banco
The Trump administration is taking inventory of many of America’s top spies, The Daily Beast has learned. The White House recently asked the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) for a list of all its employees at the federal government’s top pay scale who have worked there for 90 days or more, according to two sources familiar with the request. The request appears to be part of the White House’s search for a temporary director of national intelligence—a prospect that raises concerns in some quarters about political influence over the intelligence community. The request, which specifically asks for people in ODNI at the GS-15 level (the pay grade for most top government employees, including supervisors) or higher, comes as ODNI’s leadership faces turmoil. Earlier this week, President Trump tweeted that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats will step down on Aug. 15, and that he plans to nominate Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe for the post. But Ratcliffe faces a contentious confirmation process that’s all but certain to stretch past the 15th, and the White House needs someone to take the DNI role in the meantime. - We hope Trump does not give the names to Putin.
By Clare Foran and Ashley Killough, CNN
(CNN) - A majority of House Democrats are now on record publicly supporting an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, according to a CNN count -- a sign of momentum for pro-impeachment lawmakers that is likely to ramp up pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic leaders. The current number of impeachment backers may not necessarily, or immediately, change the calculation for House Democratic leadership on how to proceed as Democrats continue their investigations into the President and his administration. But it nevertheless shows that support among Democrats on Capitol Hill for an inquiry is continuing to grow. Rep. Salud Carbajal of California became the 118th Democrat to publicly support the start of an impeachment inquiry in a statement on Friday, at least the 23rd lawmaker to do so since special counsel Robert Mueller testified on Capitol Hill last week. "I've read the full Mueller Report, the president knew the rules and he broke them—he cannot be above the law," Carbajal said in the statement. "That is why I believe it is time to open an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump." There has been a steady increase in the number of House Democrats who have announced they back an inquiry in the wake of Mueller's hearings, including Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, a member of House Democratic leadership. Mueller's uneven testimony did not immediately prompt a wave of Democrats to back an impeachment inquiry, and many congressional Republicans declared his appearance the official end of the House Democratic impeachment push. But since the House departed for its six-week recess at the end of last week, the number of Democrats backing an impeachment inquiry has steadily ticked upward, with more nearly two dozen Democrats publicly announcing their decision following Muller's appearance.
By Asher Stockler
Republican support for impeaching President Donald Trump has nearly doubled since the former special counsel investigating Russian election interference testified before Congress in late July, a new Hill-HarrisX poll has found. Moreover, Democratic support for impeachment proceedings has slipped slightly during the same period. In May, 71 percent of Democrats supported beginning impeachment proceedings against Trump, compared with just 67 percent in the poll conducted days after former special counsel Robert Mueller's testimony. This dip is well within the margin of error for Democratic voters of 5.1 percentage points, suggesting that Mueller's proclamations on Capitol Hill did little to move the needle for Democrats. On the other hand, while significantly lower, Republican support for impeachment surged from 9 percent in May to 17 percent at the end of July, well outside the margin of error of 5.5 percentage points. Many independents were similarly moved to the pro-impeachment camp, growing from about a quarter favoring impeachment to more than a third. Overall, voters are now evenly divided on whether to begin the constitutional process of impeachment, a trend away from the largely impeachment-skeptical U.S. public that surveys in previous months had measured.
By Vanessa Romo
An administrative judge with the New York Police Department has recommended that Officer Daniel Pantaleo be fired for his role in the 2014 death of Eric Garner. The judge found Pantaleo guilty of using a banned chokehold but did not find him guilty of intentionally restricting Garner's breathing. Garner's repeated cry of "I can't breathe" triggered national outrage and galvanized activists concerned about police use of force. As a result of the decision, the NYPD announced that Pantaleo has been suspended, "as is the longstanding practice in these matters when the recommendation is termination." It's not whether he will be paid during this suspension. The judge, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado, issued her recommendation Friday. Pantaleo's attorney and the Civilian Complaint Review Board now have two weeks to comment on Maldonado's decision. NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill will have the final word on whether to accept the judge's recommendation or decide on a different outcome. "This has been a long battle. Five years too long," Garner's daughter, Emerald Garner, said at a press conference alongside Al Sharpton. "Finally, somebody has said that there's some information that this cop has done something wrong." "Commissioner O'Neill, fire Pantaleo," she pleaded. New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement, "I strongly urge Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O'Neill to follow through on this recommendation and take this overdue, but critical action to ensure our communities finally feel some semblance of justice."
By Zachary Cohen, Pamela Brown, Allie Malloy and Kaitlan Collins, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump said Friday that Rep. John Ratcliffe will no longer be nominated as director of national intelligence to replace Dan Coats. Ratcliffe was announced as Trump's choice for the job less than a week ago but it became more apparent with each passing day that his nomination was in serious trouble even as the President continued to defend him publicly. Even after the fact, Trump blamed the press for Ratcliffe's downfall even though he nominated a lawmaker with minimal national security experience to one of the most sensitive jobs in government. "Our great Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe is being treated very unfairly by the LameStream Media," Trump wrote on Twitter. "Rather than going through months of slander and libel, I explained to John how miserable it would be for him and his family to deal with these people John has therefore decided to stay in Congress where he has done such an outstanding job representing the people of Texas, and our Country. I will be announcing my nomination for DNI shortly." Trump has privately voiced concern in recent days about Ratcliffe's ability to be confirmed as the next director of national intelligence, according to two people who spoke with him. The President had been assured by allies before selecting Ratcliffe that he would be an easy pick and was surprised when Ratcliffe started facing issues from senators who had their own concerns. A Republican Senate source told CNN that they "not know anyone who was enthusiastic about his appointment with the exception of a couple of friends whom he served with in the House." "The intelligence community was truly up in arms and very worried," and a couple even broke traditional protocol to call and express that concern, the source said.
By Alex Lockie
President Richard Nixon in 1971 declared a US "war on drugs" that hasn't saved the US from the dangers of drugs, but has fueled migrant crises and the mass incarceration of minorities in the US. A top Nixon aide told an author that the policy was specifically designed to target opposition to Nixon: Blacks and Hippies. Today, hundreds of thousands of people of color languish in jail for drug charges as the US's seemingly insatiable appetite for drugs wreaks havoc on countries in Latin America, fuelling humanitarian crises at the border and far beyond it. President Richard Nixon in 1971 declared a US "war on drugs" that, over the decades, fueled mass incarceration and the crisis at the US's southern border without preventing Americans from accessing dangerous drugs, and one of his top aides say it's because it was a racist policy implemented as a power grab. Criminalizing possession of drugs like heroin and marijuana was intended to "disrupt" two of the biggest anti-establishment forces that opposed Nixon, one of his top advisors later admitted. Nixon, the only US president to resign in scandal, presided over the waning days of the Vietnam war, a relentlessly brutal fight over far away lands that nominally represented a fight between the free world and communism.
By Shane Croucher
U.S. President Donald Trump has a lower approval rating than all four of The Squad, a group of progressive, Democratic congresswomen of color he told to "go back" to their ancestral homelands in a tweet, according to a new The Economist/YouGov poll. Trump's net approval rating, excluding don't knows, was -11. By comparison, The Squad—which includes Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley—who also all had negative approval ratings, were significantly better. New York's Ocasio-Cortez's was -3, Minnesota's Omar was -6, Michigan's Tlaib was -3, and Massachusetts' Pressley was -3. The four women had larger "don't know" answers than Trump, who has far greater name recognition among the wider American public. The poll of 1,500 adult American citizens was conducted between July 21 and 23, several days after Trump's controversial tweet targeting the freshwomen congressmembers, who are prominent campaigners against his administration, which they argue is racist. They have focused recently on the plight of undocumented migrants held in detention centers at the southern border, where there are allegations of human rights abuses, sexual assault, and the maltreatment of young children against border agents and officials. Ocasio-Cortez, who has visited the facilities, characterized them as concentration camps, and reported back that some detainees were told to drink from the toilet if they were thirsty because a water tap was broken. Trump's infamous "go back" tweet targeted the ethnic backgrounds of The Squad, all of whom are American citizens and three of whom were born in the U.S. Omar arrived in America as a child refugee in the early 1990s after fleeing the war in Somalia. He wrote on Twitter that they "originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe...Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."
By Anneken Tappe, CNN Business
New York (CNN Business) - Trade war fears are back, and they're back with a vengeance. Stocks are bracing for a dramatic finish this week, after President Donald Trump announced new tariffs on Chinese imports yesterday. Starting September 1, $300 billion worth of goods from China, including toys and iPhones, will be hit with a 10% tariff. That's on top of the existing 25% tariff on $250 billion worth of imports. US stocks and global markets are flashing red in response. The Dow (INDU) shed more than 100 points at its worst on Friday, adding on from previous losses. The S&P 500 (SPX) and the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) sold off 0.4% and 0.7%, respectively. The July jobs report did little to change the narrative. The US economy added 164,000 jobs in July, in line with the Refinitiv consensus estimate. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7%. More drama on the trade front adds to the odds that the Federal Reserve will make a deeper interest rate cut in September, according to Goldman Sachs economists led by Jan Hatzius. That said, with one month left until the new tariffs are implemented and on-going talks with Beijing, there is a chance they will never actually come into effect.
The Goldman economists anticipate the new tariffs will shave up to 0.2 percentage points off of US GDP growth. That will rise to a 0.5- to 0.6-percentage point cut if the tariffs rise to 25%, they said. The risk of US tariffs on European auto imports has risen with Thursday's tariff announcement, they said.
By Kara Scannell, CNN
(CNN) - The Manhattan District Attorney's Office sent a subpoena to the Trump Organization as part of an investigation into the hush money paid to two women who alleged affairs with President Donald Trump, according to a lawyer for the company. Marc L. Mukasey, attorney for the Trump Organization, said on Thursday, "This is a political hit job. It's just harassment of the President, his family and his business, using subpoenas and leaks as weapons. We will respond as appropriate." The subpoena, which was sent on Thursday, is seeking communications between the company and representatives for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, the women who alleged they had affairs with Trump more than a decade ago, according to a person familiar with the matter. A spokesman for District Attorney Cyrus Vance declined comment. The new investigation by state prosecutors was first reported by The New York Times. It comes after federal prosecutors announced they had closed their investigation a few weeks ago. This is the second time Vance has stepped into an investigation swirling around the President after federal prosecutors completed their own investigation. In March, Vance's office announced a 16-count indictment charging Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, with state crimes. That announcement came just one hour after Manafort had been sentenced on multiple financial and lobbying charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller. Federal prosecutors with the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District in New York investigated the hush money payments after a referral from Mueller. For months, federal prosecutors examined whether company officials broke the law, including in their effort to reimburse Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney and employee of the Trump Organization.
By Aamer Madhani and Ledyard King, USA TODAY
CINCINNATI — When Donald Trump slammed majority black Baltimore as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess", 80-year-old Mary Harper found herself recalling a painful memory from decades ago. It was the 1960s, and Harper, who is black, had been working at the Cincinnati offices of a big national insurance company that was just beginning to hire more African Americans for entry level jobs. As she stepped on the elevator one day, a white worker turned to her and sneered, "I guess they're hiring more roaches now." Trump’s attacks last week on Rep. Elijah Cummings, who is black, and his Maryland Congressional district took Harper back to that deeply hurtful moment in her own life. “Trump’s racist words have been giving me flashbacks,” Harper told USA TODAY this week at a meeting of activists in a Cincinnati church sanctuary. “You never forget the hurt of something like that, but why am I being reminded of it by the president?” Days after the president's attack on Cummings, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Harper’s hometown Thursday for a political rally at the U.S. Bank Arena downtown. The visit to Ohio’s third-largest city, one with a long history of racial tension, segregation and inequality, comes as the president has thrown a series of racial broadsides at opponents as he ramps up his reelection effort.
By Owen Daugherty
Former FBI director James Comey called out Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) Thursday night after the lawmaker tweeted about him without tagging him. Meadows tweeted about Comey’s “silence” at the release of a report from the Department of Justice inspector general (IG) over the leak of memos to a reporter approaches. “As the IG report on Comey approaches, we’re getting the sound of silence. No Comey tweets. No softball interviews,” Meadows tweeted, neglecting to tag Comey’s account. “Must be tougher when you get questioned by a DOJ Inspector General. The truth is coming. His actions will come to light. And the verdict won’t be pretty.” Comey quickly fired back with a tweet Thursday night, saying he is waiting “for facts before I talk about them.” “I love transparency. I just wait for facts before I talk about them. I’m confident the results of all IG reports will show honest public servants worked hard to protect this country from a threat this president and his enablers won’t acknowledge,” Comey tweeted at Meadows, adding “And @ me next time, bruh.”
By Nicole Gaouette and Barbara Starr, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The US military is set to test a new non-nuclear mobile-launched cruise missile developed specifically to challenge Russia in Europe, according to a senior US defense official. The news comes as the US is expected to formally withdraw Friday from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Moscow, putting an end to a landmark arms control pact that has limited the development of ground-based missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. Analysts fear the US test will mark the start of a new arms race with Moscow. It is expected to take place in the next few weeks and will essentially be the Trump Administration's answer to Russia's years-long non-compliance with the INF treaty, the official said. Russia has been violating the treaty since the Obama Administration; this year the Trump Administration began taking steps to notify Russia and NATO that it would withdraw unless Moscow reverses course.
By Rachel Frazin
A granddaughter of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy reportedly died after an apparent overdose at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Mass. Saoirse Kennedy Hill, 22, the daughter of Courtney Kennedy Hill, died Thursday afternoon, The New York Times reported, citing two people close to the family. “Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse,” the Kennedy family said in a statement to The Times. “Her life was filled with hope, promise and love.” "The world is a little less beautiful today,” Ethel Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, said in the statement. Tara Miltimore of the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office told The Times in a statement that police responded to a residence on Marchant Avenue in Hyannis Port after the report of a death. “The matter remains under investigation by the Barnstable police as well as state police detectives assigned to the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office,” Miltimore said but did not confirm the identity of the deceased. Hyannis Fire Lt. David Webb told CNN that a person was taken to Cape Cod Hospital.
By Chris Sommerfeldt - New York Daily News
Chuck Schumer is bringing the “Moscow Mitch” moniker to a whole other level. The New York senator speculated Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been blocking election security bills from becoming law because he wants "the Russians to interfere” in 2020. Appearing on Joe Madison’s namesake radio show, Schumer said he could only think of two reasons for why McConnell derailed a couple of proposals last week that would have beefed up election security ahead of next’s year presidential contest — “neither of them good.” “One, they want the Russians to interfere because they think it’ll help them,” Schumer said. “The second, is another reason not so good. Donald Trump in his puerile, babyishness, if that’s even a word, is so upset at the fact that the Russians might have interfered, that it delegitimizes his election, and McConnell is so scared of Trump that he goes along.” Referring to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress last month, Schumer added, “Mueller made this clear: the Russians wanted Trump to win.”
By Brian Niemietz , Chris Sommerfeldt and Nelson Oliveira - New York Daily News
The home of Maryland congressman Elijah Cummings was broken into Saturday. “The Baltimore Police Department is investigating a report of a burglary that occurred on July 27, 2019, at approximately 3:40 a.m., at a home in the 2000 block of Madison Avenue. At this time, it is unknown if any property was taken from the location,” Baltimore Police confirmed to the Daily News. “Detectives from the Central District are investigating this incident.”
By Gregory Wallace
Washington (CNN) - A federal judge on Thursday issued an order blocking New York state from turning over President Donald Trump's tax returns to congressional Democrats for now, should the House Ways and Means Committee request them through a newly passed New York law. The limitation will be in place, Judge Carl Nichols wrote, while allowing New York to challenge whether Nichols' courtroom in Washington is the proper place for this case, brought by Trump, to move forward, and in what form it could proceed. In a court hearing on Wednesday ahead of the order, Nichols said that his intention was to ensure "Mr. Trump cannot suffer any harm" while arguments play out.
The order is based on a compromise proposal developed by New York that Trump's attorneys told the judge on Wednesday that they could live with. Nichols is a Trump nominee confirmed by the Senate earlier this year. The House committee, which is a defendant in the lawsuit, objected strenuously to a different proposal from Trump that the committee be required to notify the court when making a request for the records. Blocking New York from producing the records was a way around that. The Democratic-led Ways and Means panel escalated the fight for the President's personal financial information last month by filing a separate lawsuit to enforce subpoenas and obtain Trump's tax returns. Andrew Amer, the attorney representing New York, told the judge on Wednesday that his clients believe the DC court does not have jurisdiction, and it would seek to have the case moved or dismissed. The judge gave New York until next Friday to file its motion outlining why the case should not be heard in DC.
US election jurisdictions with histories of egregious voter discrimination have been purging voter rolls at a rate 40% beyond the national average, according to a watchdog report released Thursday. Activists say new Tennessee law aims to suppress African American votes At least 17 million voters were purged nationwide between 2016 and 2018, according to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice. The number was basically unchanged from the previous two-year period. While the rate of voter purges elsewhere has declined slowly, jurisdictions released from federal oversight by a watershed 2013 supreme court ruling had purge rates “significantly higher” than jurisdictions not previously subjected to oversight, the Brennan Center found in a previous report. That trend has continued, the watchdog said, with the disproportionate purging of voters resulting in an estimated 1.1 million fewer voters between 2016 and 2018. Voter purges accelerated in the United States with the 2013 Shelby County v Holder ruling, which released counties with histories of voter discrimination from federal oversight imposed by the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The voting rights act barred jurisdictions with “evidence of actual voting discrimination” – for example registration tests and a voter rate at least 12% below the national average – from changing their voting procedures without “pre-clearance” from federal authorities. In Shelby county, the supreme court declared that “nearly 50 years later, things have changed dramatically” and released the so-called section 5 jurisdictions from oversight. Chief justice John Roberts wrote that “the tests and devices that blocked ballot access have been forbidden nationwide for over 40 years”. But the ruling was criticized for apparent blindness to contemporary voter suppression practices including strict voter identification laws, partisan gerrymandering, and aggressive voter purges.
By Reid Wilson
State and local election offices have purged more than 30 million voters from registration rolls in the past five years, according to a new report — and the number may be far higher. The report from the Brennan Center for Justice found election officials removed at least 17 million voters from the rolls between 2016 and 2018, on top of the 16 million registrations that were canceled between 2014 and 2016. States routinely clean up voter lists and cancel registrations either because those voters moved to another state, died or have gone for long periods of time without casting a ballot. But there are signs that some elections officials — particularly in areas with long histories of discrimination against minority voters — are acting more aggressively than others. In a 2013 case known as Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which required counties or states with histories of discrimination to submit any proposed changes to voting rules or procedures to the federal Justice Department or a federal court, a process known as "preclearance."
By Jessica Campisi
The hashtag #LeningradLindsey trended on Twitter Thursday after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) forced a controversial asylum bill through committee. The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday advanced a bill to overhaul U.S. asylum laws, waiving committee rules to force the bill through to the full Senate, where it likely won’t get the 60 votes it needs to pass. But Graham’s move to push the bill through the panel outraged Democrats who say the South Carolina senator broke the rules on how lawmakers take up legislation in order to move a partisan bill along. Hundreds started using the hashtag invoking Leningrad — the Soviet-era name of the Russian city of St. Petersburg — slamming Graham for the move. “#LeningradLindsey is breaking procedural code, lying to the American people, and has betrayed the principles this country was founded upon,” one person tweeted."
By Anneken Tappe, CNN Business
New York (CNN Business) - When President Donald Trump announced a new round of tariffs on Chinese imports on Thursday, the Dow was up 311 points. Then it was down nearly 300 points. That was the biggest swing since early January. The market had been strong for investors; stocks had bounced back from the day before. The S&P 500 was on pace for its best day in six weeks, after a poor manufacturing report gave investors hope that the Fed will once again cut rates later this year. But Trump said on Twitter that the United States would be "putting a small additional tariff of 10% on the remaining 300 billion dollars of goods and products coming from China into our country." That's on top of the $250 billion worth of goods that got hit with a 25% tariff. Trump said that China hadn't been buying the US agricultural products it had agreed to buy. He added that the United States was looking forward to "continuing our positive dialogue with China on a comprehensive trade deal," and called the trade talks earlier this week constructive. The Dow (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq Composite (COMP) all dropped into negative territory following the tweets. The Dow closed down 1.1%, or 280 points, while the S&P finished down 0.9% and the Nasdaq dropped 0.8%. Investors sold off well-known retail and tech stocks, because they would get hit hardest by the additional tariffs. Trump told reporters that he wasn't concerned about the selloff in stocks. "I think everyone loses in a trade war," Former Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn said during an interview with the BBC on Thursday.
Ronald Reagan made racist remarks about African delegates to the United Nations, newly released audio recordings have revealed. 'Damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes,' Reagan tells Richard Nixon, who erupts in laughter. At the time of the call, Nixon was still president and Reagan was governor of California.
Now they say they care about the debt.
By Josh Israel
The Senate passed a two-year budget agreement on Thursday, 67-28, sending the bipartisan legislation to President Donald Trump’s desk. The agreement includes a suspension of the debt ceiling until after the November 2020 elections. Despite Trump’s stated support for the deal and his previous urging, 23 of the 53 Republicans in the Senate voted against the deal. Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tom Carper (D-DE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Jon Tester (D-MT) also voted nay. The common refrain from those Republicans voting no on Thursday was that, while they liked the bill’s increases in defense spending, they were concerned that it did not do enough to address the Trump administration’s all-time record budget deficit and national debt. But a large reason for the nation’s projected trillion dollar annual deficit in 2019 is that two years ago, the Republican Congress passed the so-called “Tax Cut and Jobs Act,” a massive tax cut that mostly benefited the wealthiest Americans and corporations. Though the bill’s supporters claimed it would pay for itself with economic growth, even its main author now admits that was not true. As Trump repeatedly touts the greatest economy ever, revenues are down since its enactment. The cost of the tax cuts is estimated to be in the trillions over a decade.
By Mike Lillis
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday fiercely defended Rep. Elijah Cummings in the wake of President Trump's attacks on the Maryland Democrat and the Baltimore-area district he represents. Pelosi, who was born in Baltimore and whose father and brother were both mayors of the city, accused the president of projecting his own "insecurity" on Cummings. She also hammered Jared Kushner — Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, whose family operates a real estate empire — as a "slumlord." "To see the president demean a great leader like Elijah Cummings shows his own insecurity and his own lack of understanding about what progress really is," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. "You really have to consider the source," she continued. "The president without — and this comes as no surprise — really doesn't know what he's talking about. But maybe he could ask his son-in-law, who's a slumlord." The biting remarks come several days after Trump lashed out at Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, with a series of tweets suggesting the 13-term Democrat is corrupt and his district unlivable. The region, Trump said, is “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” “No human being would want to live there,” Trump tweeted over the weekend. Since then, a number of reports have emerged noting that the company operated by Kushner's family owns thousands of apartments and other properties in and around Baltimore. Some of them, the reports reveal, have their own problems with rodent infestations.
By Michael Brice-Saddler and Reis Thebault
The sign warns of the “4 Horsemen” — typically a reference to biblical imagery symbolizing the end of the earth: conquest, war, famine and death. But the North Carolina billboard that went up over the weekend does not depict horsemen. It shows photos of the freshman congresswomen also known as “the Squad”: Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. The billboard calls the progressive Democratic members of Congress “idiots” and is signed by “the Deplorables.” Cherokee Guns, a Murphy, N.C., gun shop about a mile away from the sign, took responsibility for the billboard. An image shared to the shop’s Facebook page Sunday went viral this week and drew a sharp rebuke from the women pictured, as well as anti-gun-violence advocates. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence on Monday called the billboard “violent rhetoric.”
By Michelle Lou, CNN
(CNN) - Relatives of notorious Depression-era American gangster John Dillinger plan to exhume his body because they want to confirm whether it's him buried in an Indiana cemetery, according to affidavits filed with the Indiana State Department of Health.
The department approved an application submitted by Dillinger's nephew on July 3. His body is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, according to the permit. Mike and Carol Thompson say in the affidavits that they are Dillinger's nephew and niece, respectively. They claim to have evidence that the person shot at the Biograph Theater in Chicago on July 22, 1934, "may not in fact have been" Dillinger. The affidavits say that several of the man's physical attributes, including eye color, fingerprints, anterior teeth, ears and head shape, did not match Dillinger's. The FBI's Chicago office disputed the theory that agents got the wrong guy. "A wealth of information supports Dillinger's demise including 3 sets of fingerprints, all positively matched," the FBI tweeted Thursday. The exhumation will be filmed as part of a documentary for the History Channel, A&E Networks spokesman Dan Silberman said, declining to offer any further details. Born in Indianapolis in 1903, Dillinger was a "notorious and vicious thief" who ran a gang that terrorized the Midwest from 1933 to 1934, according to the FBI. They killed at least 10 people and staged violent robberies of banks and police arsenals and three jailbreaks, the FBI says.
NEW YORK — It used to be considered the retailer's crown jewel — a large format store on a swank corridor that showed off the best of what a brand had to offer. But now the so-called flagship store is disappearing from high-profile shopping thoroughfares like Manhattan's Madison Avenue and Chicago's Magnificent Mile because of skyrocketing rents and the shift to online shopping. Over the last year or so, Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, Lord & Taylor and Polo Ralph Lauren have closed their flagship stores on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue. Abercrombie announced in May that it was closing three more of its big locations — an Abercrombie store in Milan, an Abercrombie store in Fukuoka, Japan and a Hollister-branded store in Manhattan's SoHo area. The announcement came after the teen retailer shut down flagships in Hong Kong and Copenhagen.
By Jordain Carney
The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill to overhaul U.S. asylum laws on Thursday, waiving committee rules to force the legislation through over objections from Democrats. The Judiciary Committee voted 12-10 to send the bill, spearheaded by committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), to the full Senate, where it's not expected to get the 60 votes needed to ultimately pass. The decision by Graham to force his bill through the committee sparked outrage from Democrats on the panel, who accused him of busting up the rules on how legislation gets taken up in order to push through a partisan bill. As Graham asked for a vote to formally schedule a time to pass his bill, Democrats protested and argued that Republicans were breaking the rules. Graham ignored them. "You're breaking the rules of the committee," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said as Graham directed committee staff to ignore Democratic attempts to speak ahead of the vote. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) interrupted the roll-call vote, questioning what rule Graham was using "that allows you to do this." When a committee staffer asked Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) how he was voting, he replied, "I decline to vote on the grounds that this is an illegitimate process."
By Yun Li
President Donald Trump said Thursday the U.S. is putting 10% tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, effective Sept. 1. “Trade talks are continuing, and during the talks the U.S. will start, on September 1st, putting a small additional Tariff of 10% on the remaining 300 Billion Dollars of goods and products coming from China into our Country...We look forward to continuing our positive dialogue with China on a comprehensive Trade Deal, and feel that the future between our two countries will be a very bright one!” Trump said in a tweet on Thursday. The surprise tariff announcement came after the U.S. and China restarted trade talks in Shanghai this week, the first in-person trade talks since a G-20 truce. The White House said on Wednesday before this Trump tweet the meetings were “constructive,” adding that China confirmed their commitment to increase purchases of U.S. agricultural exports. Trade negotiations will continue in Washington in early September, according to the White House statement. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 200 points following the news, erasing the 300-point gains earlier in the day.
By Evan Perez, CNN Justice Correspondent
Washington (CNN) - The Justice Department inspector general's office referred former FBI Director James Comey for potential prosecution over his handling of memos that the FBI later determined contained classified information, a person familiar with the matter confirmed Thursday. Justice Department prosecutors declined to prosecute Comey, in part because they didn't believe there was evidence to show Comey knew and intended to violate laws on handling classified information.
By Jacqueline Thomsen
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., on Thursday denied longtime GOP operative Roger Stone’s request to dismiss the charges against him, finding that Stone “has not identified any legal ground” to do so. Judge Amy Berman Jackson refused to dismiss charges of lying to Congress, interfering with a congressional investigation and witness tampering. She also rejected an attempt by Stone to investigate “selective prosecution” by former special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. Jackson noted in her ruling that Stone’s own legal team had conceded that their arguments did not hold up against past precedent that the judge is bound to follow in overseeing the case. “Based on the allegations in the indictment which are assumed to be rue for the purposes of these motions, it is fair to say that Stone has no one but himself to blame for the fact that he was investigated by the Department of Justice,” Jackson wrote. However, Jackson did hand Stone a small victory by ruling that he can view some of the redacted portions of the Mueller report relating to his case. The judge said that Stone cannot view parts of the report that are redacted due to grand jury information, an ongoing investigation, national security matters or information that would expose intelligence-gathering techniques.
By Zack Budryk
An FBI document, first reported by Yahoo News, identifies conspiracy theories as potential domestic terrorism threats, specifically identifying QAnon, a group that believes there is a "deep state" working against President Trump, in the memo. The FBI specifically points to QAnon and Pizzagate, a conspiracy theory that claims Hillary Clinton and other top Democratic figures are running a child sex-trafficking ring beneath a pizza shop in Washington, D.C., as examples of groups whose messages could lead to “violent acts.” “The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts,” the document, dated May 30, reads. Acts of violence or attempts thereof have already been tied to both of the conspiracy theories. In December 2016, a man fired a gun in the Comet Ping Pong pizza shop in D.C., claiming he was there to “self-investigate” the Pizzagate conspiracy, and an attorney for the man charged with the murder of the alleged boss of the Gambino Mafia family claimed his client, Anthony Comello, was inspired by QAnon. The revelation of the document comes a week after FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee that white supremacist violence was the motivator for the majority of domestic terrorism cases the bureau has investigated in fiscal 2019.
By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent
Washington (CNN) - The top US Navy SEAL recently sent a blistering letter to the force, writing in boldface type, "We have a problem," following several high profile incidents of alleged misbehavior by the US Navy's elite service members, CNN has learned. Rear Adm. Collin Green has given commanders until August 7 to detail the problems they see and provide recommendations on how they will ensure troops are engaging in ethical and professional behavior. The letter -- dated July 25 and exclusively obtained by CNN -- comes in the wake of several high profile incidents of alleged misbehavior by SEALs. "I don't know yet if we have a culture problem, I do know that we have a good order and discipline problem that must be addressed immediately," Green said. Although Green, commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, does not mention specific incidents, the letter comes on the heels of an entire SEAL team being sent home from Iraq following allegations of sexual assault and drinking alcohol during their down time -- which is against regulations. Another case involved an internal Navy investigation that found members of SEAL Team 10 allegedly abused cocaine and other illicit substances while they were stationed in Virginia last year. The members were subsequently disciplined. Green said in the letter that "some of our subordinate formations have failed to maintain good order and discipline and as a result and for good reason," the culture of the Navy's special operations forces "is being questioned."
By Matthew Yglesias
Let’s remember for the next time they flip-flop. Republicans used to profess to be extremely worried about the budget deficit. Many of us suspected at the time that they were full of it. And one big thing we’ve learned this week is that they were, indeed, full of it. The budget deal the Senate is passing today will raise spending by $320 billion, split between defense and non-defense measures, in the context of deficits that have already soared to more than $1 trillion per year. In 2012, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the budget deficit “the nation’s most serious long-term problem.” That same year, House Speaker Paul Ryan called it a “serious threat” to the economy. They were full of it. Not just in the narrow sense that they both went on to enthusiastically endorse a $1.5 trillion tax cut in 2017 — a tax cut that the Congressional Budget Office says did little to boost the economy but a great deal to boost payouts to rich shareholders. Nor even in the somewhat broader sense that the real cost of that tax cut is much higher than $1.5 trillion when you consider the various accounting gimmicks and bad-faith phaseouts. Even under the weird linguistic conventions of American conservative politics where deficits caused by tax cuts don’t count as real deficits, this week’s budget deal — a big, multibillion-dollar increase in military spending “offset” by a nearly as large increase in nonmilitary spending — gives up the game entirely. Republicans don’t care, on any level, about the size of the federal deficit.
By KYLE CHENEY
Pelosi will now face increased pressure to back impeachment proceedings. The impeachment dam has broken. More than half of House Democrats say they would vote to launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, a crucial threshold that backers said will require Speaker Nancy Pelosi to reconsider her steadfast opposition. Though Pelosi has given no indication that even a significant majority of House Democrats embracing impeachment proceedings would shift her view, supporters of an inquiry argue that crossing the halfway mark among the caucus isa symbolic boost that could shift the political dynamic. “The president’s repeated abuses have brought American democracy to a perilous crossroads," said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who announced his support on Tuesday. "Following the guidance of the Constitution — which I have sworn to uphold — is the only way to achieve justice." The number of House Democrats who support impeachment proceedings passed the halfway mark — 118 out of 235 voting members now support the effort — on Thursday when Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida announced his support. Deutch was also the 23rd Democratic lawmaker to support impeachment proceedings in the days after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified to Congress, affirming publicly his damning evidence suggesting Trump attempted to obstruct justice.
By Scott Neuman
Military awards given to prosecutors in a case against a SEAL who was acquitted of murder in the death of a prisoner in Iraq have been revoked by the Navy's top official after President Trump tweeted Wednesday that the commendations should be withdrawn. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer ordered seven Navy Achievement Medals and three letters of commendation given to the prosecution team be rescinded, Navy spokesman Cmdr. Jereal Dorsey said Wednesday, hours after a pair of scathing tweets from the president. In the high-profile case, Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher was found not guilty by a military jury of premeditated murder of the 17-year-old Islamic State prisoner in 2017. In early July, Gallagher was sentenced to a demotion in rank and a reduction in pay for posing with the dead captive's body. The jury heard testimony from fellow SEALs that Gallagher stabbed the captive in the neck, but one of the witnesses dramatically changed his story at trial, saying that in an act of mercy, he had killed the prisoner by blocking his airway after Gallagher stabbed him.
By Rich Schapiro
The building was supposed to be a music pavilion. But the actual structure bears little resemblance to the plans that were submitted to agency officials. The bizarre blue-striped building on Jeffrey Epstein's private Caribbean island was supposed to be a music pavilion with a strikingly different design, according to permit records viewed by NBC News. The building, shaped like a giant box and initially topped with a gold dome, has fueled rampant speculation and online conspiracy theories. Drawings supplied by Epstein's architects to the U.S. Virgin Islands agency that oversees coastal development show that it was designed to be a haven for music: an octagonal 3,500-square foot pavilion housing a grand piano. But questions remain over whether it was built according to the plans that were submitted to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Those 2010 plans, which were part of a permit application that raised concerns inside the agency, included drawings of a building that looks almost nothing like the structure that was built.
By Jordain Carney
Tensions are boiling over in the Senate over Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) threat to ram through legislation to overhaul U.S. asylum laws, including changing the number of days minors crossing the border can be held in custody. The fight is the latest high-profile battle on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Graham says he’s ready to waive panel rules to force a committee vote Thursday on his legislation. Graham’s bill touches on the detentions of families who cross the border, as well as their possible separations, one of the most sensitive issues in politics right now. It would increase the number of days a family can be held together from 20 days to 100 days, preventing family separations but lengthening the period children could be held in custody with their parents. It would also require asylum claims be filed in Mexico or a home country instead of the United States, provide funding for 500 new immigration judges and allow unaccompanied minors from Central America to be sent back to their home countries, similar to unaccompanied minors from Canada or Mexico. Graham’s threat to forego rules that require at least two members of the minority party to be present to vote on legislation and speed up consideration of the bill has sparked fierce pushback from Democrats, who believe Republicans have nixed Senate rules when it benefits them politically.
By Theresa Waldrop
(CNN) - Five Columbus, Ohio, police officers face disciplinary measures in connection with the July 2018 arrest of Stormy Daniels at a local club, police said Wednesday. "Chief Tom Quinlan made this decision because these officers violated the Columbus Division of Police rules of conduct," police said in a news release without specifying the violations or naming the officers, all members of the now disbanded vice section. The officers may face a reprimand, suspension, demotion or termination, the release said. Quinlan will make a recommendation, and the director of public safety will make the final decision based on that. Police charged Daniels with three misdemeanor counts of illegally touching a patron at the Sirens Gentlemen's Club. She was detained for 12 hours, posted $6,054 bail and was released. The charges were dropped because the law did not apply to her as she was a guest performer and did not regularly appear at the club, the Columbus city attorney said at the time. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, in January filed a suit against several members of the police department, seeking more than $1 million in compensatory damages and more than $1 million in punitive damages and costs and fees associated with the case.
By Mark Moore
President Barack Obama wasn’t on the debate stage with the 10 Democratic presidential hopefuls Wednesday night — but his legacy was, and it was trashed by many of the candidates, leaving some Democrats scratching their heads in disbelief. Obama’s record on immigration was widely criticized by the participants and his signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, became a casualty of the discussion around “Medicare for All,” as his former Vice President Joe Biden attempted to defend the administration’s work. Eric Holder, Obama’s attorney general, warned Democrats to tread lightly. “To my fellow Democrats. Be wary of attacking the Obama record. Build on it. Expand it. But there is little to be gained – for you or the party – by attacking a very successful and still popular Democratic President,” he posted on Twitter. The Rev. Al Sharpton said Democrats piling on Obama would alienate the Democratic base. ”This whole suicide mission of going after Barack Obama smells like desperation, and I think it certainly shows that some of them are just not ready for where they are,” he said. During an appearance on CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former White House chief of staff, warned Democrats on the stage not to toss aside how ObamaCare benefited Americans.
By Jeff Zeleny and Kevin Liptak, CNN
(CNN)He's the most popular figure in the Democratic Party by far, revered by liberals, moderates and even some Republicans.
But former President Barack Obama -- who has remained largely silent amid a rancorous Democratic primary -- came under a harsh spotlight as candidates vying for his onetime job picked apart aspects of his legacy during Wednesday night's debate. The skeptical examination of the party's de facto leader left several veterans of the Obama administration outraged that more attacks were trained on the former President than the current one. And Obama has privately expressed some disapproval of what he views as unrealistic proposals from some Democratic candidates, according to a source familiar with those conversations. From health care to immigration to trade, key accomplishments of the Obama administration came under fire and faced a sometimes-unflattering re-examination by candidates eager to keep their campaigns alive by trying to prove their progressive credentials. Their direct target wasn't Obama himself, but rather his former vice president, Joe Biden, who leads a large pack of Democrats looking to distinguish themselves in the party's crowded presidential primary fight. Biden has tied himself closely to Obama, casually referring to his former boss as "Barack" in a bid to illustrate their closeness and benefit from his popularity. The flipside of that strategy, it turns out, is tarnishing the very record Biden hopes to ride into the White House.
By Michael Scherer
DETROIT — Democratic presidential contenders have opened a surprising new front in their effort to retake the White House — calling into question the legacy and leadership of former president Barack Obama, the party’s most beloved leader. Like young adults seeking to break away from their father’s shadow, the candidates who gathered in Detroit to debate the party’s future this week repeatedly challenged Obama’s record, both directly and indirectly, as too timid, misguided or insufficient for the moral challenge of the moment. “It looks like one of us has learned the lessons of the past and one of us hasn’t,” said former Obama housing secretary Julián Castro at a key moment in Wednesday’s debate, when he attacked former vice president Joe Biden, with whom he served under the former president, for refusing a more dramatic departure from his immigration approach.
By John C. Eastman
The much-touted testimony of Special Counsel Robert Mueller before the House judiciary and intelligence committees last week yielded little beyond what was already in the “confidential” report Mueller submitted to the attorney general (and that has largely been made public). But there was one dramatic revelation from the testimony that should give every American pause, because it reveals not only a complete dereliction of duty on the part of the special counsel and his team of crack prosecutors, but also one of the greatest political scandals in American history. When asked about meetings between Glenn Simpson, the co-founder and president of Fusion GPS, and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, whose clients include high-ranking Russian officials, that occurred both the day before and the day after Veselnitskaya’s 20-minute meeting at the Trump Tower in New York with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort, Mueller declined to answer because the question was, he claimed, “beyond the scope” of his investigation. This is stunning, for it revealed that Mueller and his team believed they were tasked only with investigating Russian contacts with the Trump campaign, not Russian interference in the 2016 election more broadly.
By Jeremy Stahl
It was one of a number of disturbing revelations. One of the country’s top border officers cannot say whether a 3-year-old child might pose a “criminal or national security threat.” This was one of a number of astonishing takeaways from Thursday’s latest hearing into family separation. The 3-year-old in question was Sofi, a little girl who was separated from her grandmother after they arrived at a port of entry in El Paso, Texas, last June seeking asylum. She was separated from her family for 47 days, until the Trump administration was forced to reunite them by court order. Chief of Law Enforcement Operations for Customs and Border Protection Brian S. Hastings still isn’t sure if she posed a threat, he told Rep. Ted Lieu during the Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday. The Judiciary Committee hearing into family separation came one day after Robert Mueller testified before the committee on presidential obstruction of justice, and it was greeted with a tiny fraction of the attention the former special counsel received. While Mueller’s testimony was ultimately banal political theater that revealed no new facts, though, the family separation hearing was full of revelations and is likely to have real-world consequences. Hastings repeatedly contradicted his boss, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, including on a key issue pending before the same court that brought family separation to an end. Hastings’ disastrous testimony could now be used in that court to end some of the administration’s ongoing separations that might be in violation of that court’s order. In short, the hearing was a dramatic demonstration of what Democrats might be able to accomplish if they actually forced Trump officials to answer for the incompetence and cruelty that have resulted from the administration’s treatment of asylum-seekers and migrants. It’s worth reviewing some of the highlights of the day’s testimony to truly grasp how effective the hearing was.
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