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

A third probe into the origins of the Russia investigation, even to pacify the paranoid president, may cause real harm. If you come at the king, you best not miss. That’s the message Attorney General William Barr is sending to FBI agents, whether intentionally or not. Barr has authorized yet another investigation into the FBI’s conduct probing links between Russian election interference and the Trump campaign. Even though two other entities are already investigating the same matter, reports indicate that Barr has appointed Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate the origins of the Russia probe. In doing so, Barr is playing into the hands of President Donald Trump, who has already characterized Durham’s assignment as an investigation into “how that whole hoax got started.” The most charitable interpretation of Barr’s behavior in defense of Trump is that he believes strongly in a “unitary executive,” where the president can order any investigation he wants. But in his quest to protect the presidency, Barr is damaging our national security. His complicity in Trump’s efforts to disparage the FBI will make it more difficult for agents to do their jobs and could discourage investigations of those in power.

(CNN) - Whose side is Lindsey Graham on? His constituents -- that is, the American people? Or the Trump family.
The ever more obsequious US senator from South Carolina has made his position clear: He's here to protect the Trump family, regardless of any alleged crimes, and regardless of the will of the American people, his Senate colleagues, or even the law. To Graham, defending the Trumps is more important than the pursuit of justice.  His latest lackeying: Publicly advising Donald Trump Jr. on Fox News last Sunday to ignore a subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee, or, if Jr. does testify, Graham clarified for reporters Monday, he should plead the Fifth so that he doesn't actually have to answer any questions. "You'd have to be an idiot as a lawyer to put your client back into this circus, a complete idiot," Graham told reporters. By Tuesday, Trump Jr. and the Senate Intelligence Committee reached a deal for the President's eldest son to appear before the committee behind closed doors in mid-June, a source told CNN.  

The Democrat-led House Intelligence Committee has launched an investigation into claims brought forth by Michael Cohen, the president's former personal attorney, who has suggested that members of President Donald Trump's legal team edited his statement to Congress about a prospective Trump Tower-Moscow project. During public testimony in March, before the House Oversight Committee,  Cohen said Trump's current personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, changed his  statement to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees regarding the duration of those discussions before he submitted it to Capitol Hill. In his initial statement to Congress, Cohen said discussions about the Moscow project  ended in January of 2016, when in reality conversations about the  prospective deal continued through the summer of 2016 -- well after  Trump became the Republican nominee for president. Federal prosecutors  in special counsel Robert Mueller's office later wrote that Cohen also  sought to "minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1,"  referring to then-candidate Trump.

A prominent board member of the National Rifle Association urged the  organization to clean “its own house” and move on from CEO Wayne  LaPierre’s leadership on Tuesday in a stunning escalation of the  internal crisis that has plagued the organization in recent months. Retired Lt. Col. Allen West, a former Republican congressman from Florida serving his second term on the board, announced in a blog post  that he was withdrawing his support from LaPierre, citing concerns  about alleged financial mismanagement within the organization and what  he called “outright lies” told by Carolyn Meadows, the group's new  president, and Charles Cotton, chairman of the NRA's audit committee, in  LaPierre’s defense. “There is a cabal of cronyism operating within the NRA and that exists  within the Board of Directors,” West wrote. “It must cease, and I do not  care if I draw their angst.” West said that he had called for LaPierre’s resignation before the  organization’s annual meeting in Indianapolis in April, where some of  the first signs of serious trouble at the organization emerged. “It is imperative that the NRA cleans its own house,” West wrote. “If we  had done so in Indianapolis, much of this could have been rectified.”

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) argued Monday that if President Trump's tax returns are not turned over to Congress following a subpoena, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig should face fines or jail time. “I  believe that the Justice Department should first fine the two persons  that we’re talking about, Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Rettig," Pascrell said  during an interview on MSNBC. “If they say no all the way, then I'd put  them in jail all the way.” Pascrell is a member of the Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee, which last week subpoenaed six years of  Trump’s tax returns from both Mnuchin and Rettig. The committee gave  the officials until 5 p.m. Friday to hand over the returns.

WASHINGTON —  President Trump’s tariffs were initially seen as a cudgel to force other  countries to drop their trade barriers. But they increasingly look like  a more permanent tool to shelter American industry, block imports and  banish an undesirable trade deficit. More  than two years into the Trump administration, the United States has  emerged as a nation with the highest tariff rate among developed  countries, outranking Canada, Germany and France, as well as China,  Russia and Turkey. And with further trade confrontations brewing, the  rate may only increase from here. On Tuesday, the president continued to praise his trade war with China, saying that the 25 percent tariffs he imposed on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods would benefit the United States, and that he was looking “very strongly” at imposing additional levies on nearly every Chinese import. “I  think it’s going to turn out extremely well. We’re in a very strong  position,” Mr. Trump said in remarks from the White House lawn. “Our  economy is fantastic; theirs is not so good. We’ve gone up trillions and  trillions of dollars since the election; they’ve gone way down since my  election.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo clashed with his Russian counterpart on Tuesday over Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election, with both men pointing fingers at the other as the U.S. ramps up its preparations for next year's presidential election. In a news conference during Pompeo’s first trip to Russia as America’s top diplomat, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov continued to reject the accusations that his government engaged in the kind of multifaceted meddling operation outlined in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report last month. After intercepting a question about election interference intended for Pompeo, Lavrov blamed Washington in a six-minute tangent, accusing the U.S. of conducting the “lion’s share” of attacks against Russian internet operations. He also told reporters of a memo he delivered to Pompeo that he said contained “actual information” to prove that the U.S. government had interfered in Russian domestic policy.

WASHINGTON  — Donald Trump Jr. and the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence  Committee reached a deal on Tuesday for the president’s eldest son to  sit for a private interview with senators in the coming weeks that will  be limited in time, an accord that should cool a heated intraparty  standoff. The deal came after an  aggressive push by the younger Trump’s allies, who accused the  Intelligence Committee’s chairman, Senator Richard M. Burr of North  Carolina, of caving to Democrats by issuing a subpoena for the  president’s son’s testimony. They called the effort a political hit job  against the White House, using the president’s son as fodder. Mr.  Burr told fellow Republican senators last week that the president’s son  had twice agreed to voluntary interviews but had not shown up, forcing  the subpoena. Mr. Trump’s lawyer had  prepared a blistering letter to send to the committee, telling its  members that Donald Trump Jr. would not submit to open-ended questions  before a panel that included multiple Democrats running for president,  according to people familiar with its contents. The lawyers had prepared  to send the letter on Monday, facing a deadline to respond to the  subpoena. But  they received a call from committee aides, asking if there was a  “reasonable” path forward, according to a person familiar with the  events.

In  only 318 words, the arch-conservative laid out a roadmap for  overturning decisions permitting abortion, same-sex marriage, and more. In 1992, the Supreme Court looked poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case protecting abortion rights. They didn’t, however, and the main reason was respect for precedent—specifically, the legal doctrine known as stare decisis, or “let the decision stand.” Would it do the same today, with over 250 laws meant to test the case pending in states across the country? An otherwise obscure case decided this week, Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt, suggests that a majority of the court would not. Hyatt was, in large part, about stare decisis. A 1979 Supreme Court case, Nevada v. Hall,  held that citizens can sue a state in another state’s court. In 1998,  Gilbert Hyatt did just that as part of a tax dispute, with tens of  millions of dollars at stake. This week, the court overruled its 1979  decision by a vote of 5-4 and tossed out Hyatt’s claim. The split was on  ideological lines, with the court’s five conservatives in the majority  and four liberals in the minority. Of the 18 pages in the majority  opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas, 17 are about the legal  question in the case, which revolves around states’ rights, sovereign  immunity, and the Constitution. It’s no surprise that Justice Thomas, in  particular, wrote this opinion, as states’ rights have been a focus of  his for three decades.

A National Rifle Association member and former congressman called on  the lobbying group to “clean its own house” and replace longtime CEO  Wayne LaPierre in a blog post Tuesday. In  the post, retired Lt. Col. Allen West, who represented Florida in the  House of Representatives from 2011 to 2013, said he was pulling his  backing for LaPierre’s re-election amid allegations of financial  mismanagement and accusing LaPierre’s defenders, including Carolyn  Meadows, who replaced Oliver North as president, of “outright lies.” West  said he had already called for LaPierre to step down ahead of the NRA’s  annual meeting, which took place in April in Indianapolis. Amidst the  meeting, LaPierre wrote  to the organization’s board to accuse North of extorting him and  demanding his resignation, which LaPierre called “a threat meant to  intimidate and divide us.” North had sent his own letter to the NRA  board citing over $200,000 of clothing purchases LaPierre allegedly  charged to a vendor.

Ollie  North claims the NRA faces unfathomably high legal expenses. Experts  say his concerns are serious. ‘The IRS would definitely be interested in  it,’ one tells The Daily Beast. “One hundred thousand dollars a day? That’s just off the charts.” That’s  how Deborah Rhode, a legal ethics expert from Stanford Law School, put  it after reviewing a memo from ex-NRA president Oliver North. In the  document, North laid out allegations against the embattled gun rights  group’s outside law firm, claiming the firm has billed the association  about $24 million since last March and $8.8 million in the first three  months of 2019—averaging to more than $97,000 per day. Meanwhile, the  NRA’s latest financial disclosures forms show its revenue has slumped under the gun-friendly Trump administration. North’s  memo—which NRA top brass dispute—raises new questions about the  association’s finances at an extraordinarily fraught moment for the  grassroots gun-rights powerhouse. On the one hand, it finds its most  powerful ally ever in President Trump. But at the same time, it faces  acute challenges from inside and out: an increasingly organized,  media-savvy movement calling for tighter gun laws, a belligerent foe in  the New York governor’s mansion, and internal turmoil that has left its  members’ heads spinning. Plus, there’s the whole money problem. Now North claims the group’s legal bills are a new, huge strain on its finances—which have contracted. “The  Brewer invoices are draining NRA cash at mindboggling speed,” reads the  memo, referring to the legal bills, and adding that they “pose an  existential threat to the financial stability of the NRA.”

Calls for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to resign began trending on Twitter Tuesday morning after the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman encouraged President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., to plead the Fifth. Graham on Monday said Trump Jr. should refuse to answer questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee, which subpoenaed Trump Jr. to testify about his communication with Russian officials. “You  just show up and plead the Fifth and it’s over with,” Graham told  reporters, referring to the amendment that protects citizens from  self-incrimination, according to The Washington Post. The  official Twitter account for Democratic Coalition, an anti-Trump super  PAC that targets Republican officials and candidates, called for Graham  to resign following the comments. “Retweet if you agree. #LindseyGrahamResign,” the group posted.

Mitt Romney was the only Republican senator to vote against one of  President Donald Trump's judicial nominees on Tuesday. And he did so in  part to defend former President Barack Obama. Romney cast the lone GOP "no" vote against Michael Truncale, who was  confirmed 49-46 on Tuesday morning to the Eastern District of Texas.  Truncale called Obama an "un-American imposter" in June 2011, and  explained to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he was "merely  expressing frustration by what I perceived as a lack of overt patriotism  on behalf of President Obama." He also said he believed Obama was born  in Hawaii and did not subscribe to "birtherism," a racist theory that  the president was not an American citizen.

Some  members of the House Judiciary Committee think “stronger tools” are  needed to force the Trump administration to comply with requests. WASHINGTON — Democratic members of the House Judiciary  Committee have grown increasingly impatient with President Donald  Trump’s attempts to block their Russia investigation. And now, some of  them are urging the use of “stronger tools,” including impeachment  proceedings, in order to strengthen their access to documents and  witnesses, according to several lawmakers who spoke with NBC News. Attorney  General William Barr has resisted committee demands to release special  counsel Robert Mueller’s full and unredacted Russia report to Congress  and said he will not appear before the committee, which planned to use  staff lawyers to question him. In  the past week, Trump has said he does not want Mueller to testify  before the committee, although he said that decision is ultimately up to  Barr, and sought to withhold classified portions of the report from  Congress by invoking “executive privilege.” “The  obstruction stuff the president’s engaged in now is causing people to  give this a second look,” Rep. David Cicilline, a committee Democrat  from Rhode Island, said about impeachment. “Whatever you  think about the findings in the report itself, the blanket defiance of  lawfully issued subpoenas and refusal to cooperate with constitutionally  required oversight is — in and of itself — basis for impeachment,”  Cicilline said in an interview.

The Trump administration is preparing a new list of $300 billion worth of Chinese imports that would be hit with tariffs of up to 25%, after China retaliated Monday in the trade war between the world's two largest economies. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative published a list of Chinese goods that would be hit with new duties, ranging from artists' brushes and paint rollers to clocks and watches. The list also includes a wide range of sporting goods, from baseballs to fishing reels. And it dedicates several pages to agricultural products, from livestock to dairy, plants and vegetables. Staples such as rice and tea are on the list. "The proposed product list covers essentially all products not currently covered by action in this investigation," the USTR office says. It adds, "The proposed product list excludes pharmaceuticals, certain pharmaceutical inputs, select medical goods, rare earth materials, and critical minerals." The U.S. proposal will enter a public comment period and could take effect sometime in late June or July. On Monday, China's State Council Customs Tariff Commission announced it will impose tariffs of up to 25% on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods starting in June, in retaliation for Trump's tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods. The tit-for-tat exchange rattled stock markets on Monday, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 2.4%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite closed the day down 3.4%.

Trump Tower, once the crown jewel in Donald Trump’s property empire, now ranks as one of the least desirable luxury properties in Manhattan.
The  36-year-old building has been turned into a fortress since Trump won  the presidency, ringed with concrete barriers and the two main entrances  partially blocked off. It hasn’t been substantially updated in years.  And Trump’s name has been a huge turnoff in liberal New York City. For  anyone who owns a unit in the tower, the past two years have been  brutal. Most condo sales have led to a loss after adjusting for  inflation, property records show. Several sold at more than a 20% loss.  By contrast, across Manhattan, just 0.23% of homes over the past two  years sold at a loss, according to real-estate data provider  PropertyShark, although the firm doesn’t adjust for inflation. It’s all a far cry from the days when the New York landmark attracted  the likes of Michael Jackson, Johnny Carson and Steven Spielberg. These  days, it’s better known for a Trump campaign meeting with a Russian  lawyer documented in Robert Mueller’s Russia report. While  some corners of Trump’s business empire have thrived, such as his  Washington D.C. hotel, others have suffered from his high unpopularity.  Rounds of golf are down at his public course in New York, a clutch of  once Trump-branded buildings have torn his name off their fronts, and an  ambitious plan to launch a new mid-tier hotel chain across the country  fizzled.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Tuesday the Senate Judiciary Committee will "back off" its investigation into alleged Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuse. Addressing reporters on Capitol Hill, Graham, the committee  chairman, said he changed his mind after learning Attorney General  William Barr had tasked U.S. Attorney John Durham from Connecticut with examining the origins of the federal Russia investigation. "I'm glad you have a prosecutor not a politician," he said.  "I don't expect you to take my word about what happened with the FISA  warrant. I'm a Republican, and I want the president to do well. I don't  expect Republicans to take [House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry]  Nadler's word about anything wrongdoing toward Trump. We finally have  somebody outside of politics."

Trump seeks government help for “great Patriot farmers” who are being hit by China’s retaliatory tariffs. President Donald Trump is opposed to the government interfering in the market to pick winners and losers — at least when doing so doesn’t directly benefit voters crucial to his reelection prospects. In recent months, Trump has made his opposition to socialism — a system of government in which the government plays a leading role in distributing goods and services — a regular feature of his speeches. During his most recent State of the Union address, Trump alluded to rhetoric by Democrats and said, “Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country.” At a rally in Wisconsin last month, Trump vowed that America “will never be a socialist country.” He framed the crisis in Venezuela as a failure of socialism and suggested Democrats wanted to use the Mueller investigation to force him out of office and “institute Socialism.” Life, however, comes at you fast — especially when you launch a trade war with a country that represents the second-largest export market for American agriculture. During an Oval Office event with Hungary’s far-right leader Viktor Orbán on Monday, Trump outlined a plan to redistribute money from American importers to farmers hurt by his escalating trade war with China that might fall short of socialism, but is certainly a far cry from the values of free markets and free trade traditionally embraced by Republicans.

A federal judge on Tuesday gave lawyers for President Trump  and Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee until the end  of the week to make their final arguments on whether the court should  uphold a subpoena requesting Trump’s private financial records. District Judge Amit Mehta, during the first court hearing in D.C. over the subpoena issued by Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings  (D-Md.) for records from the accounting firm Mazars, said he considers  the matter to be “fully exhausted” after hearing arguments from  attorneys on both sides. And he promised to quickly issue a ruling on the matter. Attorneys  for Trump and his businesses argued that the House committee had no  standing to issue the subpoena, describing the request for documents as  “law enforcement” and going beyond Congress’s authorities. Trump  lawyer William Consovoy said that investigating the president for  potential wrongdoing was outside of Congress's constitutional bounds,  reiterating an argument that all congressional probes should be tied to  legislation. But Mehta pushed back against some of  Consovoy’s remarks by pointing to investigations like Watergate that  weren’t tied to specific bills.
“You mean to tell me  that because he is the president of the United States, Congress would  have no ability to investigate?” Mehta said, referring to Trump.

Democrats are fighting for access to the president's financial records. A federal judge raised pointed doubts Tuesday about arguments by President Donald Trump’s legal team that a Democratic effort to subpoena Trump’s financial records was an invalid exercise of congressional power. Amit Mehta, a U.S. District Court judge in Washington, indicated that he would have trouble ruling that Congress’ goal in accessing the president’s records was unconstitutional — as Trump’s lawyers have argued — and he underscored that he believes Congress has a significant “informing function” that doesn’t necessarily require an explicit legislative purpose to justify an investigation involving the president. “Does Congress have to do that — do they have to identify a bill in advance? The Supreme Court has said the opposite,” Mehta said during a round of questioning with Trump’s attorney William Consovoy during a hearing. Consovoy argued throughout Tuesday’s hearing that Congress has no basis for investigating whether Trump’s financial disclosures are accurate, contending that it’s a “law enforcement issue” that’s not tied to a specific legislative agenda. Mehta cast serious doubt on those claims, suggesting at one point that investigations of such financial violations are “strictly” under Congress’ purview and that the courts have “very little, if any” discretion over Congress’ asks. “I almost wonder whether I have no role,” Mehta told Consovoy at one point.

American farmers know they can't control Mother Nature, but they shouldn't have to worry about the climate for trade agreements, too. Growing up on the farm, my father would always say that the two things you could count on were death and taxes. And then he would quickly add the one thing you could not count on but on which we were dependent: Mother Nature, the weather. This year has been a particularly difficult time for our family farm in Indiana, as it has been for farmers throughout the Midwest, from Nebraska to Iowa, from Missouri to Ohio. Many are still waiting for the water to drain from their fields so they can begin spring planting of corn and soybeans. There is not much farmers can do about the weather in the short term. The crops need to be planted and May is a critical month. It turns out, however, that our nation’s farms are underwater in more ways than one. On Monday, China announced it is putting tariffs on more than 5,000 U.S. products, including vegetables, in retaliation for President Donald Trump’s decision late last week to increase tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10% to 25%. Just like last spring, agriculture producers can once again add trade policy as another unknown to their business model.

The thing to keep in mind about President Trump, as he thrashes around like a weak swimmer in a strong current, is that he has no idea what he’s doing. None. Not a clue. I know that he can be clever politically, in a tactical sense. I know that his lies are often both deliberate and effective. I know that his utter shamelessness can sometimes come off as some kind of warped genius. But the only thing that’s profound about Trump is the truly spectacular depth of his ignorance. As evidence, take a glance — if you dare — at your 401(k). The president’s decision last week to unilaterally boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports produced an entirely predictable response — retaliatory tariffs from Beijing on $60 billion worth of U.S. products, a freakout by the financial markets and a screaming plunge in the Dow and other major indexes.

Tell me again how loyal you are to the text of the Constitution. The greatest restraint on judges is that they are bound by a written text — or, at least, that they are supposed to be. Members of Congress gain their legitimacy from the will of the  people, so they have broad ranging authority to enact laws that, in  their opinion, will serve those people. Judges, by contrast, have no  democratic legitimacy and far less discretion. Their sole task, at least  in theory, is to apply written law to individual cases. Which is why Justice Clarence Thomas’ opinion for the Supreme Court in Franchise Tax Board v. Hyatt is troubling. Hyatt  does not simply overrule a longstanding precedent, it does so while  admitting that nothing in the text of the Constitution supports such an  outcome. Loyalty to constitutional text and loyalty to written  precedents are the twin pillars that stabilize our system of law. The  Supreme Court just abandoned both of them. The rule Thomas announces in Hyatt, by his own admission, is  “not spelled out in the Constitution.” It’s also not spelled out in the  Supreme Court’s precedents. Much to the contrary, Hyatt explicitly overrules a 40-year-old decision. The decision was 5-4, along familiar partisan lines.

CNN  analyst Ana Navarro reacts to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) advising  Donald Trump Jr. to ignore the subpoena from the Senate Intelligence  Committee, saying that Graham is serving as President Trump's  accomplice.

The Democratic candidate said that she does not want to encourage additional ad dollars for the network. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is declining to participate in a Fox News  town hall, a move that comes after a number of her fellow 2020  Democratic competitors have agreed to engage with the network’s  audience. “I love town halls. I’ve done more than 70 since  January, and I’m glad to have a television audience be a part of them.  Fox News has invited me to do a town hall, but I’m turning them  down—here’s why,” she wrote Tuesday morning in a series of tweets.  “Fox News is a hate-for-profit racket that gives a megaphone to racists  and conspiracists—it’s designed to turn us against each other, risking  life & death consequences, to provide cover for the corruption  that’s rotting our government and hollowing out our middle class.” Warren  charged that the network “balances a mix of bigotry, racism, and  outright lies with enough legit journalism to make the claim to  advertisers that it’s a reputable news outlet.” She said that  participation in a town hall on the network sends a signal that it is  appropriate to still buy ads on the cable channel, which hosts a  primetime lineup of overtly pro-Trump hosts who engage in bigoted and conspiratorial rhetoric—something she doesn’t want to encourage.

The GOP governor said the incidents took place in 2016 and no election results were compromised. TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — After an FBI briefing, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says Russian hackers gained access to voter databases in two Florida counties ahead of the 2016 presidential election. DeSantis said Tuesday the hackers didn't manipulate any data and the election results weren't compromised. The governor said he signed an agreement with the FBI not to disclose the names of the counties, but elections officials in those counties are aware of the intrusions.

Washington (CNN) - American farmers are running out of patience with President Donald Trump's trade war with China. Farmers  have long stood behind Trump's mission to get a better trade deal with  Beijing that addresses long-standing issues with what they say are  unfair trading practices. But  after weeks of optimistic statements by Trump and members of his  administration about how trade talks were progressing, Trump abruptly  escalated tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods last week and opened  the door to even more -- prompting Beijing to hit back Monday by raising the tariff rate on $60 billion of US items. The  escalated tariffs don't hit agricultural products directly, since most  were already facing a 25% tariff imposed by China last year. But the  news still sent commodity prices plummeting. "The  President of the United States owes farmers like myself some type of  plan of action," John Wesley Boyd Jr., a soybean farmer in Baskerville,  Virginia, told CNN's Brianna Keilar on Monday. "Farmers  were his base. They helped elect this president ... and now he's  turning his back on America's farmers when we need him the most," he  added.

President Donald Trump cast a fog of misinformation over the U.S. trade dispute with China, floating inaccurate numbers and skewed economic theories as big tariffs kicked in on Chinese goods. At stake in the rupture is a trading relationship between the world's two largest economies that employs nearly 1 million Americans, supplies affordable goods to U.S. households and, in the view of Mr. Trump and a bipartisan group of trade hard-liners, puts U.S. business at an unfair disadvantage. President Trump's torrent of tweets on the subject Friday followed a rally infused with familiar falsehoods about his achievements (the economy, veterans' health) and grievances (the Russia inquiry). Here's a look at his words about trade between the U.S. and China over the past week, including tweets from Monday morning.

President Trump hosted Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the White House on Monday, a gesture that two past presidents have avoided granting to the hard-right European leader. "People have a lot of respect for this Prime Minister," said the president in a photo-op in the Oval Office before their meeting. Trump went on to warmly praise the Hungarian leader. "He's a respected man. And I know he's a tough man, but he's a respected man. And he's done the right thing, according to many people, on immigration." Orbán is on record calling Syrian refugees "Muslim invaders," and many human rights activists are concerned about the signals Trump is sending with this meeting, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports:

The bitter battle over the death penalty continued Monday at the U.S.  Supreme Court with the highly unusual release of explanatory statements  from the court's conservatives as to why they reached such apparently  contradictory decisions in two death cases in February and March. On  Feb. 7, the court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that Alabama could go ahead  with its execution of a Muslim prisoner convicted of murder. The newly  energized five-man conservative majority overruled the temporary stay  put in place by the lower court because Alabama only allowed a Christian  minister in the execution room and refused to allow the condemned man's  Imam to be present. The decision was widely condemned by  religious groups on the left and right. Not to mention the blistering  dissent from the court's liberals, who called the decision "profoundly  wrong."
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration wants to shift  money for Pell Grants for college education to fund new spending,  including a $1.6 billion bump for NASA to return American astronauts to  the moon by 2024. Under a budget amendment sent  to Congress Monday evening, the administration would use an additional  $1.9 billion in surplus Pell Grant money to fund other budget  priorities, including an infusion of new cash for NASA “so that we can  return to Space in a BIG WAY!” President Donald Trump tweeted. A  series of proposed changes reverses some of the most controversial cuts  Trump’s administration had proposed, including slashing funding for the  Special Olympics. The White House can send such requests, called  “rescissions,” to Congress to clawback unspent money the administration  views as wasteful or unnecessary. Congress, however, must approve.

WASHINGTON — Attorney General William Barr has appointed a U.S. attorney to examine the origins of the Russia investigation and determine if intelligence collection involving the Trump campaign was “lawful and appropriate,” a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Monday. Barr appointed John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to conduct the inquiry, the person said. The person could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. Durham’s appointment comes about a month after Barr told members of Congress he believed “spying did occur” on the Trump campaign in 2016. He later said he didn’t mean anything pejorative and was gathering a team to look into the origins of the special counsel’s investigation. Barr provided no details about what “spying” may have taken place but appeared to be alluding to a surveillance warrant the FBI obtained on a former Trump associate, Carter Page, and the FBI’s use of an informant while the bureau was investigating former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos.

Washington (CNN)Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented a military plan at a meeting of top national security officials last week that would send as many as 120,000 US troops to the Middle East in the event that Iran strikes American forces in the region or speeds up its development of nuclear weapons, The New York Times reported Monday. The Times said the plan, which does not call for a land invasion of Iran, was ordered in part by national security adviser John Bolton. Citing administration officials, the Times said it is unknown whether President Donald Trump has been briefed on the plan, including the number of troops. The Times said the meeting occurred days after the Trump administration cited "specific and credible" intelligence last week that suggested Iranian forces and proxies were targeting US forces in Syria, Iraq and at sea. The meeting included Bolton, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, according to the Times.

The decision could provide a blueprint for other judges deciding on the president's attempts to stop congressional investigations. President Donald Trump’s strategy of outright resistance to House subpoenas will face its first test in federal court on Tuesday, setting up a ruling that could boost Democrats’ efforts to investigate the president’s business dealings. U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta is set to rule on the Democrat-led House Oversight and Reform Committee’s subpoena to accounting firm Mazars USA for eight years of Trump’s financial records. The committee’s demand is part of its investigation into alleged financial crimes committed by Trump. Trump filed suit seeking to invalidate the subpoena three weeks ago — the first of two lawsuits aimed at hobbling House Democrats’ investigations targeting his administration, presidential campaign and business empire. Mehta’s ruling will represent a flashpoint in the myriad disputes between the White House and Congress — marking the first time the judiciary weighs in on Trump’s blanket strategy of refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas and oversight requests from House Democrats.

Regional experts and government officials are voicing their worry  over the potential for conflict — intended or accidental — to break out  between the U.S. and Iran. The price of oil spiked Monday, with  Brent crude jumping more than 1.5% at noon London time in a sign of  market concern over the unraveling nuclear deal and provocative behavior from both Washington and Tehran. “Both Iran and the United States are seemingly putting in place  networks and infrastructure to deter military attacks against one  another’s assets in the region,” Ellie Geranmayeh, a senior policy  fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told CNBC on  Monday. “In the absence of a serious diplomatic channel, the  current maximalist approach from the Trump White House could spark a new  cycle of intentional or inadvertent military confrontation in the  region.” Citing  “very real” threat reporting on Iran, but  withholding details of those specific threats, Secretary of State Mike  Pompeo emphasized during an interview with CNBC on Sunday that all  options — military and otherwise — were on the table in case Iran “makes  a bad decision.”

San Francisco police raided the home and office of a freelance journalist on Friday, taking a sledgehammer to the gate of his house and seizing his computers, phones and other devices. Their goal: To uncover the source of a leaked police report in the possession of freelance videographer Bryan Carmody. The raids on Carmody's home and office are the latest in a series of events concerning the death of San Francisco public defender Jeff Adachi in February, at age 59. Within hours of Adachi's collapsing in a San Franscisco apartment, details from a leaked police investigation into his death were already showing up in news reports, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. A number of the details in the police report were salacious, suggesting that perhaps one or more members of the police department were trying to tarnish the reputation of Adachi, who was known as a police watchdog and fierce advocate for criminal justice reform. In San Francisco, a public defender is an elected position.

This story originally appeared on Mother Jones and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. A few years ago I stood in a cramped trailer beside the busy 110 freeway in Los Angeles as researchers at the University of Southern California gathered soot thrown off by vehicles pounding by just a few yards from their instruments, which rattled whenever a heavy truck passed. I was there to learn about how scientists were beginning to link air pollution—from power plants, motor vehicles, forest fires, you name it—to one of the least understood and most frightening of illnesses: dementia. - Thanks to Trump and the GOP who have weakened air standards how more American with get dementia?

BEIJING — China moved to retaliate against the United States, announcing plans on Monday to raise tariffs on American goods ranging from beer and wine to swimsuits, shirts and liquefied natural gas. The decision, which follows President Trump’s increase in tariffs on Chinese goods last Friday, escalates the pressure in the ongoing trade war. Trade talks between the two sides broke down last week without a deal, causing tensions that have rippled through financial markets and the global economy. American stocks plunged on Monday, extending the recent losses. Beijing’s retaliation comes at a time when many in China feel that the United States has behaved highhandedly in threatening tariffs. “Mutual trust and respect are of the essence in handling the negotiations,” said Zhu Ning, a Tsinghua University economics professor. It isn’t clear whether China’s retaliation would end with the tariff increases. In the past, China has slowed imports at customs and launched investigations into foreign companies during times of tension.

Some of the Inventions African Americans created in America and their contribution to the advancement of America

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Sunday acknowledged that the Chinese do not directly pay tariffs on goods coming into the U.S., contradicting President Donald Trump’s claims that China will pay for tariffs imposed by the U.S. Kudlow  said that  “both sides will suffer on this,” but argued that China will  suffer significant GDP losses as export markets are hit. The blow to  U.S. GDP, on the other hand, won’t be substantial since the economy is  “in terrific shape,” he said. Fox News’ Chris Wallace pressed Kudlow about Trump’s claims. “It’s not China that pays tariffs,” Wallace said. “It’s the American  importers, the American companies that pay what, in effect, is a tax  increase and oftentimes passes it on to U.S. consumers.”
“Fair enough,” Kudlow replied. “In fact, both sides will pay. Both sides will pay in these things.” Kudlow  added, however, that China doesn’t actually pay the tariffs, but that  their GDP will suffer  “with respect to a diminishing export market.” “This is a risk we should and can take without damaging our economy in any appreciable way,” Kudlow said.

Trump and his allies are blocking more than 20 separate Democratic probes in an all-out war with CongressPresident Trump and his allies are working to block  more than 20 separate investigations by Democrats into his actions as  president, his personal finances and his administration’s policies,  according to a Washington Post analysis, amounting to what many experts  call the most expansive White House obstruction effort in decades. Trump’s  noncooperation strategy has shifted from partial resistance to all-out  war as he faces mounting inquiries from the Democratic-controlled House —  a strategy that many legal and congressional experts fear could  undermine the institutional power of Congress for years to come. All  told, House Democrats say the Trump administration has failed to respond  to or comply with at least 79 requests for documents or other  information. The president is blocking aides  from testifying, refusing entire document requests from some committees,  filing lawsuits against corporations to bar them from responding to  subpoenas and asserting executive privilege to keep information about  the special counsel’s Russia investigation from public view. One such  case will come to a head in court on Tuesday, when a federal judge is  expected to rule on whether Trump can quash a House Oversight Committee  subpoena demanding financial records from his personal accounting firm.

Washington seems to be barreling toward a constitutional crisis. Democrats are barraging President Trump with demands for witnesses and documents. Trump has answered by stonewalling, vowing to fight “all the subpoenas.” As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned, Trump seems to be goading the Democratic-controlled House toward impeachment, perhaps because it’s a battle he thinks he can win. Politicians on both sides are repairing to their tribal corners. Is there anyone who can serve as honest referees in this partisan standoff? One answer — don’t laugh — is lawyers. Specifically, Republican lawyers. Even as Republicans in Congress have fallen in line to defend Trump at every turn, a surprising number of conservative lawyers have broken ranks and are condemning the president for abuses of power and denouncing his blanket claims of executive privilege. Last week, John Yoo, the former Justice Department official who drafted a notorious memo justifying the torture of detainees under President George W. Bush, warned that Trump had gone too far in asserting unbridled presidential power. “That's what Nixon did,” Yoo told NPR. “That's what other presidents who have failed have done.”

It’s important to uphold the constitution through impeachment – even if it goes nowhere, even if it’s unpopular with many voters, even if it’s politically risky. It’s a constitutional crisis all right. So what happens now? An impeachment inquiry in the House won’t send Trump packing before election day 2020 because Senate Republicans won’t convict him of impeachment. So the practical political question is whether a House impeachment inquiry helps send him packing after election day. That seems unlikely. Probably no more than a relative handful of Americans are still unsure of how they’ll vote on 3 November 2020. An impeachment is unlikely to reveal so many more revolting details about Trump that these voters are swayed to vote against him, and their votes won’t make much of a difference anyway. Besides, the inquiry probably won’t reveal much that’s not already known because House subpoenas will get tangled up in the courts for the remainder of Trump’s term (even though courts give more deference to subpoenas in an impeachment inquiry). Worse yet is the chance that an impeachment inquiry plays into Trump’s hands by convincing some wavering voters that Democrats and the “deep state” are out to get Trump, thereby giving him more votes than he’d otherwise get. Does this mean House Democrats should avoid taking the political risk of impeaching Trump? Not at all.

(CNN) - "Saturday Night Live" brought together some GOP congressional members to ask a simple question: What would it take to stop supporting President Trump? The NBC variety show opened Saturday night's episode with a sketch version of "Meet the Press" with host Chuck Todd (Kyle Mooney) interviewing Sen. Susan Collins (Cecily Strong), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Beck Bennett) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (Kate McKinnon) about Trump. Mooney's Todd went through some hypothetical scenarios to test the loyalties of the senators to the President. The first hypothetical: Robert Mueller testifies before Congress and says he believes Trump committed obstruction of justice. "The best way to uphold the law is to be above it, Chuck," McKinnon's Graham said.

Trump tells China to ‘act now’ on trade or face a ‘far worse’ deal in his second termPresident Donald Trump on Saturday called for China  to act now on trade or risk facing a worse deal if negotiations  continue into a possible second term after the 2020 presidential  election. Trump claimed China was ‘beaten so badly’ in recent  trade negotiations that Beijing wanted to wait until after the 2020   election in the hope a Democrat would win the White House and offer them  a better deal. Trump,  however, said he would prevail in the upcoming election and warned that  a trade deal would be ‘much worse’ for China if it was negotiated  during his second term. Chinese and U.S. negotiators held trade talks in Washington on Friday after Trump more than doubled tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods,  raising the rate from 10% to 25%. The administration is also moving to  impose 25% tariffs on an additional $300 billion of Chinese goods. Trump said Friday’s talks were constructive and negotiations will continue while tariffs remain in place, though they could be lifted depending on how the situation progresses. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnunchin told CNBC no further trade talks are planned  between the two sides  “as of now.” Chinese state media has reported  that the next round of talks is expected to take place in Beijing. Trump  abruptly announced the tariff hike last Sunday, shattering hopes that a  trade deal was near and sending U.S. markets into turmoil for much of  the week. The president cited slow progress in negotiations as the  reason for his decision.

President Donald Trump lashed out at Don McGahn on Saturday, tweeting  that he was “Never a big fan” of the former White House counsel amid an  ongoing battle between House Democrats and the administration over  documents and testimony related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s  investigation. “I was NOT going to fire Bob Mueller, and did not fire Bob Mueller.  In fact, he was allowed to finish his Report with unprecedented help  from the Trump Administration,” the president wrote online. “Actually, lawyer Don McGahn had a much better chance of being fired than Mueller. Never a big fan!” The broadside follows a Friday report  by The Wall Street Journal that McGahn rebuffed a request from the  White House last month to publicly state that he did not believe the  president obstructed justice when Trump ordered McGahn to seek Mueller’s  firing in June 2017. According to the redacted version of the special counsel’s report  released by the Justice Department in April, Trump instructed McGahn to  inform Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that Mueller must be  removed. McGahn refused Trump’s subsequent request to refute press  reports of the president’s directive, according to Mueller’s report.

The administration of former President John F. Kennedy sent National  Guard troops to accompany the first black students admitted to the  universities of Mississippi and Alabama. Did Kennedy also wonder whether  God is black? "What if we go to heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the  Negro as an inferior, and God is there, and we look up and He is not  white?" begins a quote a May 6 Facebook post attributes to JFK. "What  then is our response?"
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false  news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) The photo of the Kennedy featured in the post isn’t JFK, though. It’s his brother, Robert F. Kennedy.

Docs  show former president Oliver North warning that legal fees “pose an  existential threat to the financial stability of the NRA.” The NRA has racked up huge legal bills over the last year that  threaten to debilitate the organization, according to documents posted  anonymously online that appear to be written by the group’s ex-president  Oliver North.  The bills highlight the organization’s extraordinary legal challenges. A  person close to the matter confirmed the authenticity of the documents  to The Daily Beast. Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon was the first reporter to flag the documents on Friday. Senior NRA officials disputed the documents’ claims but not their authenticity. The  documents include a confidential memo that North and NRA official  Richard Childress sent to the NRA’s general counsel and audit committee  chairman, dated April 18, 2019—the week before North was dramatically deposed as NRA president. (The NRA suspended its board’s longtime lawyer  at the same time.) In the memo, North claimed to be “deeply concerned  about the extraordinary legal fees the NRA has incurred” from outside  attorney Bill Brewer. North and Childress then called for an independent  review of Brewer’s invoices. Brewer has defended his fees in the past, telling the Wall Street Journal, “We’re a premium law firm, we make no bones about that.”

WASHINGTON – Venezuelan President  Nicolas Maduro is deriding President Donald Trump as foolish for trying  to oust him. Kim Jong Un is testing Trump’s “love” – and his resolve – in the North Korea negotiations. And Iran’s leaders are finding new ways to threaten the U.S. and to defy the president’s “maximum pressure” campaign. In short, Trump’s foreign policy agenda is hitting the diplomatic rocks, with potentially disastrous results. Some  say it’s by design – Trump doesn't mind sowing chaos and confusion, and  he has. Others say it’s a result of misguided policies and  contradictory, undisciplined decision-making inside the White House. Either way, the president has suffered a series of stunning foreign policy setbacks this week, raising fresh questions about his approach to military engagement and international affairs. “What  you see is a mismatch between means and ends across the board – whether  it’s in Venezuela, whether it’s in North Korea, whether it’s in Iran –  where the end’s always extremely ambitious and the diplomatic means tend  to be quite de minimis,” said Robert Malley, a senior White House  adviser on the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region in the  Obama administration. “We’re courting danger where there’s no reason  to.” Jon  B. Alterman, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and  International Studies, a nonpartisan think tank, said the series of  foreign policy crises that have come to a head in recent days seem part  of Trump’s design. “The president is a lot more  comfortable with chaos than any president in recent memory,” Alterman  said. “The president doesn’t see uncertainty and disorder as a  liability. He sees it as an asset.”

USS Arlington carrying Patriot missiles to join USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, currently in the Red Sea. The US government has approved the deployment of a Patriot missile defence battery and another warship to the Middle East amid increasing tensions between the US and Iran. The USS Arlington, which transports marines, amphibious vehicles, and rotary aircraft, as well as the Patriot missiles, will join the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, which already passed through Egypt's Suez Canal on Thursday, and is currently sailing in the Red Sea, according to CNN. The US says the deployments of military hardware to the region comes in response to "heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations". The Patriot missile system is a defence mechanism against aircraft, drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, and is currently deployed in Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Meghan McCain: the postergirl for toxic femininity Meghan McCain seems to have appointed herself the leading authority on antisemitism  in America. She may not be Jewish herself but some of her best friends  are Jewish, you know? And of course, she’s also the daughter of the late  senator John McCain, something she is not shy about pointing out, which  automatically qualifies her as an expert on everything. According to McCain, the rise of antisemitism in America has little to  do with white nationalism and everything to do with Ilhan Omar. McCain  is obsessed with the Muslim congresswoman and has repeatedly  misrepresented Omar’s comments about the Israel lobby in America. In an  April appearance on This Week With George Stephanopoulos McCain even  tried to blame Omar for the horrific Chabad of Poway synagogue shooting  in San Diego. To be clear, the man suspected of being responsible for  that shooting is a white nationalist who also claims he burned down a nearby mosque.

President Trump said Friday it would be "appropriate" for him to discuss opening an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his family with Attorney General William Barr. Trump told Politico in  an interview Friday that he hasn’t talked with Barr about investigating  Biden and his family's business dealings but said "certainly it would  be an appropriate thing" to bring up with the attorney general. "Certainly  it is a very big issue and we’ll see what happens. I have not spoken to  him about it. Would I speak to him about it? I haven’t thought of that.  I mean, you’re asking me a question I just haven’t thought of," he told  the outlet. The  president noted that it could be "a very big situation" for Biden, who  has led the Democratic presidential primary field in polling since he  launched his campaign last month. "Because he’s a  Democrat it’s about 1/100 the size of the fact that if he were a  Republican, it would be a lot bigger," Trump alleged. Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani last week called for an investigation into Biden for his previous ties to Ukraine after The New York Times reported  that while Biden was vice president in 2016, he allegedly threatened to  withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees unless the country removed a  top prosecutor. The prosecutor, who had been accused of ignoring  corruption in his own office, was later voted out. - Trump wants to investigate democrats but does not believe he should be investigated. If it is ok to investigate Democrats then it is ok to investigate Trump and Republicans. Trump and Republicans are not above the law even if they believe they are.

Financial markets should abandon any remaining illusion that U.S.-China trade talks are a time-constrained, tradable event that ultimately will result in a deal reassuring investors. Near dead is the notion that both sides would inevitably compromise because they so badly need agreement for their own political and economic purposes. What markets have misunderstood since the negotiations resumed last December – but U.S. and Chinese officials have grasped – is that the talks had become just one of many events of a new era of geopolitical and systemic competition that will define our times. To earn their pay, market analysts will have to get a lot better at pricing in geopolitical risk. Trump’s decision to more than double tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, from 10% to 25%, received the most global attention this week. His move, which was fueled by the argument that China was backing out of already-negotiated terms of a draft agreement, has the potential to be the most significant of the many trade moves of his administration.

Tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports went up 150% Friday morning as President Trump sought to increase pressure on Chinese leaders to cut a more favorable trade deal. The higher tariffs will apply to new shipments from China, not products already en route or in U.S. inventories, so the effects won’t be felt immediately. But they will be felt. Most of the Chinese products targeted by these tariffs are purchased by businesses, not consumers (for example, automobile components and telecommunications equipment), and at the initial level of 10%, some of the cost may have been absorbed by the suppliers rather than being passed on to consumers. At the new level of 25%, however, consumers are going to wind up covering much more of the cost. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is preparing to slap 25% tariffs on the $325 billion in Chinese goods not currently subject to tariffs, most of which are bought by consumers, not businesses. So there’s no question who will be paying those levies. Well, no question in the mind of anyone who understands the basics of how tariffs are imposed and collected. But Trump continues to cling to the fantasy that the tariffs are being paid by the Chinese, and that the money rolling into the Treasury is coming from someone other than his constituents.

President Trump is undermining the credibility of his trade policies by falsely claiming that China is paying the bill. President Trump’s new tariffs on Chinese imports, which took effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, are taxes that will be paid by Americans. That is a simple fact, and it remains true no matter how many times Mr. Trump insists the money will come from China. Mr. Trump’s latest escalation of his trade fight with China is a 25 percent tariff, or import tax, on products that compose about one third of China’s exports to the United States, including Chinese bicycles, circuit boards and wooden doors. The tariff rate on those goods was previously 10 percent. Mr. Trump also has threatened to impose the 25 percent rate on virtually all products imported from China — more than $500 billion in goods last year.

The state is the 25th to decriminalize or legalize weed. North Dakota quietly decriminalized marijuana earlier this month, making it the 25th state to do so.
As the news outlet Marijuana Moment and the advocacy group NORML reported, Republican Gov. Doug Burgum signed a bill decriminalizing marijuana last week — but the issue got little to no attention from his office or news media. The law  makes it so first-time possession of up to half an ounce of marijuana  is no longer a criminal misdemeanor that carries the potential for jail  time, but instead is an infraction that only carries a fine. This is different from marijuana legalization.  Under decriminalization, penalties carrying jail or prison time are  removed, but lower-level penalties, like a fine, remain in place and  sales remain illegal. Under legalization, all penalties for marijuana  possession are removed, and sales are typically allowed. Some opponents of legalization favor decriminalization as  a step toward peeling back America’s harsh drug and criminal justice  policies. They see “tough on crime” policies as too punitive and costly,  but they don’t want to resort to full legalization, which they fear  would make pot too accessible in the US and allow big corporations to  sell and market the drug irresponsibly.

A  federal judge on Friday struck down a Kentucky abortion law that would  halt a common second-trimester procedure to end pregnancies. The state’s  governor, who is against abortion, immediately vowed to appeal. U.S.  District Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr. ruled that the 2018 law would  create a “substantial obstacle” to a woman’s right to an abortion,  violating constitutionally protected privacy rights. Kentucky’s  only abortion clinic challenged the law right after it was signed by  Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. A consent order had suspended its  enforcement pending the outcome of last year’s trial in which Bevin’s  legal team and American Civil Liberties Union attorneys argued the case. The  law takes aim at an abortion procedure known as “dilation and  evacuation.” The procedure was used in 537 of 3,312 abortions in  Kentucky in 2016, according to state statistics.

(CNN) - Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens accused President Donald Trump of exceeding his presidential powers in an interview published Thursday, telling The Wall Street Journal that the President "has to comply with subpoenas." Stevens' remarks come as the court battle over Trump's financial records ramps up, with Judge Amit Mehta overseeing the first hearing in the standoff between the Democrat-led House Oversight Committee and the President next week. The committee has subpoenaed Trump's long-standing accounting firm Mazars USA for several years' worth of the President's financial statements, and the President has sued the committee and Mazars to block the firm from complying. Asked about the modern political landscape, Stevens told the Journal, "I think there are things we should be concerned about, there's no doubt about that." "The President is exercising powers that do not really belong to him," Stevens added. "I mean, he has to comply with subpoenas and things like that."

(CNN) - During his rally in Florida Wednesday night, President Donald Trump hit on a lot of familiar themes -- the strong economy, building the wall, defeating ISIS and the 2020 election. Among his "greatest hits," Trump also repeated several false claims he's made in the past. First, the President claimed that Puerto Rico had received $91 billion after being hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, adding that was the highest amount ever given to "anybody" for disaster relief.

WASHINGTON — Senior officials at the Environmental Protection Agency disregarded the advice of their own scientists and lawyers in April when the agency issued a rule that restricted but did not ban asbestos, according to two internal memos. Because of its fiber strength and resistance to heat, asbestos has long been used in insulation and construction materials. It is also a known carcinogen. Last month’s rule kept open a way for manufacturers to adopt new uses for asbestos, or return to certain older uses, but only with E.P.A. approval. Andrew Wheeler, the E.P.A. administrator, said when the rule was issued that it would significantly strengthen public health protections. But in the memos, dated Aug. 10, more than a dozen of E.P.A.’s own experts urged the agency to ban asbestos outright, as do most other industrialized nations. “Rather than allow for (even with restrictions) any new uses for asbestos, E.P.A. should seek to ban all new uses of asbestos because the extreme harm from this chemical substance outweighs any benefit — and because there are adequate alternatives to asbestos,” staff members wrote.

WASHINGTON — North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr is not one to make a splash. So when the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Burr chairs, issued a subpoena to Donald Trump Jr., it didn’t leak out for a couple of weeks. When the news finally broke, Burr refused to talk about it. That didn’t stop the onslaught from fellow Republicans, including President Donald Trump who said he was “very surprised” by the move. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul called it “persecution of the president’s family.” Even Burr’s fellow North Carolina Republican, Sen. Thom Tillis, facing a primary challenge in 2020, tweeted “It’s time to move on.” Burr is not the usual target for Republican ire. He’s been in Washington since 1995, first in the House then the Senate, and is a reliable conservative vote. The mild-mannered senator is a far cry from the president’s Democratic critics, who have suggested Trump is "goading" impeachment by trying to overturn constitutional norms. The subpoena “is a courageous move for Burr, for the senator, because he knew that the angriest people would be members of his own party,” Frank Luntz, a GOP pollster told USA TODAY.

WASHINGTON — The acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, notified Congress on Friday that he intended to shift $1.5 billion that had been designated for the war in Afghanistan and other projects to help pay for work on President Trump’s border wall. The money from the Pentagon’s other programs will be the last that it moves to help build about 80 miles of fencing and barriers along the southern border, Mr. Shanahan said. The newest shift in funding is in addition to the $1 billion that the Defense Department transferred to wall construction in March from the Army’s personnel budget. Mr. Shanahan insisted on Friday that the budget transfer would not affect “readiness,” the military catchall term that refers to the ability of American troops to fight when called up. But some of the funds — officials say $600 million — “did come from money we were under-running or saving or whatever, you know, terminology you want to use, from Afghanistan,” he said.

A shooting at a school in Highlands Ranch, Colo., on Tuesday in which one student was killed and eight others were injured swiftly drew comparisons to the 1999 attack on nearby Columbine High School and the dozens of shootings like it in the years since. The attack was the fourth such school shooting in the Denver area and at least the 111th in the country since 1970, according to a New York Times analysis — the latest in a decades-long series of violent episodes that have shocked the nation and traumatized generations of students. The Times examined hundreds of episodes in a database of shootings at elementary, middle and high schools to identify those cases where, like at Highlands Ranch and Columbine, the assailants planned their attacks and fired indiscriminately.

Four educators who smiled for a photo with a noose are all suspended, along with their principal, who reportedly shared it in a mass email. Linda Brandt, the principal of Summerwind Elementary School in Palmdale, California, allegedly emailed the photo to her staff, attaching a second image of the noose hanging in an office, according to Los Angeles television station Fox 11. Other parents found the photo on Instagram. Palmdale School District Superintendent Raul Maldonado tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “Yesterday, it was brought to the Palmdale School District’s attention that an incident involving the discovery of a noose and possibly inappropriate responses to that discovery occurred at Summerwind Elementary School. The Principal and the personnel involved in this matter have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of the matter. We will follow process and procedures to conduct the investigation.”

U.S. President Donald Trump's new sanctions on Iran and deployment of a carrier strike group to the Middle East are "deliberately provocative," Jarrett Blanc from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said Thursday. Not only do these sanctions target Iran's export revenue, it also affects a "very large employment sector of the Iranian economy," said Blanc, a senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank. This will be "understood as an effort to destabilize the middle class," he added. Trump on Wednesday slapped fresh sanctions on Iranian industrial metals — the country's second-largest source of export revenue after petroleum — and threatened further action unless Tehran "fundamentally" changes its behavior. That came hours after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced Tehran's intention to violate two provisions of the 2015 nuclear agreement — also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. On Sunday, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton announced that the Trump administration would deploy a carrier group and bombers to the Middle East in response to "troubling and escalatory indications and warnings" from Iran.

The  suspected shooter, Devon Erickson, "would whisper, like get really  close and kinda put his arm around you, and whisper in your ear, ‘don’t  come to school tomorrow,'" former student Kevin Cole said. One of the students accused of opening fire at a Denver area STEM school,  killing one student and wounding eight other people, bullied younger  kids and would make jokes about shooting up the school, students said. The  suspected shooter, Devon Erickson, "would whisper, like get really  close and kinda put his arm around you, and whisper in your ear, ‘don’t  come to school tomorrow,'" said Kevin Cole, a former student of STEM  School Highlands Ranch, during an interview on "Today." Erickson,  18, and a juvenile, who police identify as a girl but who prefers male  pronouns, are accused of entering the K-12 school with handguns Tuesday.  NBC News is not identifying the juvenile suspect. Kendrick  Castillo, 18, was fatally shot, and eight others were hospitalized.  Several of the shooting victims have been released, and two are still in  serious condition.

(CNN) - Donald Trump just laid another risky global bet -- escalating a trade war with China by imposing additional tariffs on Chinese goods in the midst of ongoing trade talks -- and neither he nor anyone else can be sure of what happens next. The  sharp escalation could rattle investors and is the latest manifestation  of the building superpower conflict across the Pacific. It will stoke  new concern about the President's unapologetically unpredictable  statesmanship. The confrontation comes at a  time when anxiety is already growing over Trump's stewardship of several  other foreign policy crises, including with Iran, North Korea and  Venezuela. The US imposed new  tariffs on a further $200 billion in Chinese goods following a midnight  deadline and after the President accused Beijing of backtracking on a  deal between the world's two largest economies. It's  possible that the gambit could work as negotiators from the two sides  are meeting again in Washington on Friday. But the fear will be that the  US and China are now heading for a prolonged showdown that could hurt  the world economy. Trump  said on Friday that there was no rush to reach a deal since tariffs of  up to 25% were now "being paid" on some of China's exports to the US. "Tariffs will bring in FAR MORE wealth to our country than even a phenomenal deal of the traditional kind," Trump tweeted. - How dumb is Trump, he must be the dumbest person on the planet. Trump must think the American people are as dumb as he is, tariffs are a tax on the American people.

The more  President Trump escalates his trade war with China, the more American  shoppers will notice higher prices in their favorite grocery stores,  hardware shops and big-box retailers. On Friday, the Trump administration increased tariffs that Mr. Trump imposed last year on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 percent, from their previous rate of 10 percent. The official $200 billion tariff list  starts with “frozen retail cuts of meat of swine” and ends with  “monopods, bipods, tripods and similar articles of aluminum.” In between  are 194 pages of products that you can find on store shelves across the  country. Economists and business owners expect the tariff increases to hit consumers  in two ways. Stores that were already passing on the cost of the 10  percent tariffs will now pass on a higher cost. And businesses large and small  that previously tried to shield customers from the smaller tariffs will  now find it almost impossible to avoid passing some or all of that tax  on to Americans who buy their products.

A TERRIFYING bladed weapon nicknamed the “ninja bomb”, which kills terrorists while leaving civilians unharmed, has already been used by the US military - with devastating results. The drone-deployed R9X, which is also known as the Flying Ginsu, a reference to a razor-sharp knife used by chefs, is a modified version of the Hellfire missile, which has been used to target terrorists with precision strikes. However, rather than exploding, the weapon, which has been nicknamed the Ninja Bomb, uses sheer force to kill its target, and has been compared to a speeding anvil falling from the sky. What makes it particularly lethal is the six long blades it is fitted with, which extend outwards just prior to impact, cutting anything close by to ribbons - including metal and concrete.

It took President Trump 601 days to top 5,000 false and misleading claims in The Fact Checker’s database, an average of eight claims a day.
But on April 26, just 226 days later, the president crossed the 10,000 mark — an average of nearly 23 claims a day in this seven-month period, which included the many rallies he held before the midterm elections, the partial government shutdown over his promised border wall and the release of the special counsel’s report on Russian interference in the presidential election. This milestone appeared unlikely when The Fact Checker first started this project during his first 100 days. In the first 100 days, Trump averaged less than five claims a day, which would have added up to about 7,000 claims in a four-year presidential term. But the tsunami of untruths just keeps looming larger and larger.

Over the course of 17 hours, President Donald Trump repeated 17 false and misleading claims that we have written about since he became president.
Trump began with an evening rally in Panama City Beach, Florida, on May 8, that lasted more than an hour, and followed it up a day later with an impromptu afternoon press conference at the White House. Here are the repeated claims that the president made, from when the rally started at about 8 p.m. on May 8 to the end of the press conference at 12:49 p.m. on May 9.

Media  coverage depicted the president as a brilliant deal maker, but he  claimed more than a billion dollars in losses over the course of a  decade. Over  the course of a decade beginning in the mid-1980s, Donald Trump  publicly presented himself as a highly successful entrepreneur even as  he claimed business losses exceeding $1 billion, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. “Over all,” the newspaper explained, “Mr. Trump lost so much money that he was able to avoid paying income taxes for eight of the 10 years.” The  scoop reflects poorly on Trump, who willfully misled the public for a  decade in hopes of fraudulently representing himself as a man with a  Midas touch. But he could not have succeeded without the assistance of  many Americans, some mercenary, others over-credulous, who helped to  spread the deceit and deception, generating countless newspaper  articles, magazine stories, and TV segments that misinformed the public  about the publicity hound’s record in business. New evidence of  his staggering losses in that decade therefore provides an apt occasion  to reflect on the media’s complicity in Trump’s brazen deceit and  deception. Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter who penned The Art of the Deal,  has already apologized for falsely portraying the huckster from Queens  as “a charmingly brash entrepreneur with an unfailing knack for  business,” telling The New Yorker,  “I put lipstick on a pig. I feel a deep sense of remorse that I  contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider  attention and made him more appealing than he is.”

Pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences  has agreed to donate drugs that reduce the risk of HIV transmission for  up to 200,000 people a year, the Trump administration says. The agreement between Gilead and the  Trump administration will last until at least Dec. 31, 2025, and  possibly through the end of 2030, Health and Human Services Secretary  Alex Azar said in a statement Thursday. Gilead will donate its PrEP  medication Truvada, which is used to reduce the risk of HIV infection  and usually sells for $1,600 to $2,000 a month in the United States. The deal will "help us achieve our goal of ending the HIV epidemic in America!," President Donald Trump said in a tweet.

Newly obtained documents describe what happened when two now-infamous  Russians took their outreach campaign into the Treasury Department and  the Federal Reserve in 2015. Alexander Torshin, then a Russian  central banker, brought his protégée, Maria Butina, for meetings with  senior officials and even sought another with the then-chair of the Fed,  the documents confirm. Agency officials described what  happened before and since in internal materials obtained by NPR under  the Freedom of Information Act. The fact of the meetings has previously been reported, but their contents have not been fully described until now. Torshin has since been sanctioned by the Treasury Department and cannot return to the United States.

My colleague Tim Arango followed up on the massive cache of guns  pulled over the course of hours from a multimillion dollar house in Los Angeles. Here’s his dispatch: It reads like the plotline from an L.A. noir novel: A sprawling house in Bel-Air, close to the Playboy Mansion. An early morning raid. Stacks of bullets and guns of every sort. And a tantalizing connection to a wealthy and famous family. In the early morning darkness on Wednesday, Los Angeles police detectives and federal agents, working on an anonymous tip, moved on the mansion in the affluent Bel-Air neighborhood. “Lo and behold, they found over a thousand guns of all makes, models and calibers,” said Lt. Chris Ramirez, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, who was at the scene on Wednesday, after officers had spent hours cataloging the cache of weapons. There was seemingly every kind of gun — shotguns, pistols, assault rifles, even Civil War-era weapons — along with over a thousand rounds of ammunition, he said. “They were found just laid out in various rooms in the house,” he said. “There were piles of ammunition on one side of a room. There were piles of guns on the other side of a room.”

President Trump on Friday defended his decision to impose steep tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports and promised much steeper penalties would follow, putting the rest of the world on notice that he will follow through on his protectionist agenda no matter the blowback. In a series of tweets, Trump said that talks with Chinese leaders would continue, but he repeatedly warned that China should “not renegotiate deals with the U.S. at the last minute.” White House officials accused China of reneging on prior details of the talks earlier this week, something Trump’s chief trade negotiator Robert E. Lighthizer told reporters was “unacceptable.” Chinese officials have denied backing away from any commitments. The chain of events that began with higher tariffs and continued through Trump’s tweets have sown unrest in financial markets around the world and have left investors and business executives unsure of what is to come. Trump in the past has threatened severe penalties only to back down days later, but he has also shown a willingness to dig in and trust his instincts, even if advisers have warned against it. He believes the strength of the economy gives him leverage to use aggressive trade tactics.

Analysis: An increasingly isolated and beleaguered American president is creating a dangerous confrontation with a hostile regime in Tehran. WASHINGTON — As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to be sounding the drums of war against Iran Thursday, and U.S. warships were steaming toward the region, a reporter asked President Donald Trump if there is a risk of military confrontation. After the requisite caution that “I guess you could say that always,” Trump added, “hopefully, that won’t happen.” Then, in comments that were notably pacific, Trump suggested he would welcome talks with Tehran: “But they should call, and if they do, we’re open to talk to them," he said. "We have no secrets.” It was a striking departure from the rhetoric of his secretary of state and his national security adviser, both of whom have stepped up their warnings that the U.S. would retaliate against Iran for any attack on U.S. interests by Iran’s proxies.

The latest revelations about President Trump’s past tax reports underscore the importance of examining his more recent returns. President Trump owes the American people a fuller account of his financial dealings, including the release of his recent tax returns, because politicians should keep their promises, because the public deserves to know whether his policies are lining his pockets and because the integrity of our system of government requires everyone, particularly the president, to obey the law. Mr. Trump promised to release his tax returns before his presidential campaign and in the early stages of that campaign, then reneged, offering a long series of inconsistent excuses for breaking his promise. Now Mr. Trump is resisting the lawful request of the House Ways and Means Committee for the Treasury secretary to release the last six years of his tax returns. In seeking the president’s returns, the House is clearly acting in the public interest.

Democrats are unlikely to obtain the testimony and documents they seek using court proceedings or tricky parliamentary maneuvers. The House Democrats have their work cut out for them. It’s become inescapably, ineluctably clear: The Trump administration isn’t going to comply with, acquiesce in or submit to congressional requests. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin won’t turn over President Donald Trump’s tax returns. Attorney General William Barr won’t give Congress the unredacted Mueller report, contempt charge or no contempt charge. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross won’t testify any more about the census citizenship question. Former White House Counsel Don McGahn won’t produce, for now, either testimony or documents. Trump himself, expansive as ever, has declared that his administration will resist “all” congressional subpoenas. If a third party, like Deutsche Bank, wants to comply with a House subpoena, the Trumps will sue the bank. No cooperation, nothing, nada. So, what do Democrats do now? What strategies have the best chance of eliciting or compelling the testimony and documents they need for oversight, impeachment or both?

WASHINGTON — The United States has seized a North Korean shipping vessel that was violating American law and international sanctions, the Justice Department announced Thursday, a move certain to escalate tensions already on the rise between the two nations because of recent North Korean weapons tests. Prosecutors said the carrier ship, the Wise Honest, was being used to export North Korean coal, a critical sector of the North’s economy that the United States and the United Nations have aggressively imposed sanctions on in an effort to force Pyongyang to end its nuclear weapons program. The ship was also being used to import heavy machinery. It was the first time the United States has seized a North Korean cargo vessel for international sanctions violations, the Justice Department said. The Wise Honest is the second-largest cargo ship in Pyongyang’s fleet.

For the past 21 years, I have had the high privilege  of holding a White House press pass, a magical ticket that gives the  bearer a front-row seat to history. I was in the  White House the night Bill Clinton admitted his affair with Monica  Lewinsky, and the day he was impeached. I was there on Sept. 11, 2001,  and the fearful days thereafter, when we were trained to use escape  hoods. I watched George W. Bush make the case for the Iraq War and  Barack Obama pitch his remedies for the market crash. There, too, I have  witnessed the carnival-like briefings and high histrionics of Donald  Trump’s presidency. But no more. The White House  eliminated most briefings and severely restricted access to official  events. And this week came the coup de grace: After covering four  presidents, I received an email informing me that Trump’s press office  had revoked my White House credential.

The slain Colorado student is credited with saving lives by lunging at a shooter. The father of a Colorado teenager who died protecting classmates from a school shooter said he had actually discussed with his son what to do if he was ever confronted by a gunman. "You don’t have to be the hero," John Castillo told NBC News on Wednesday, recalling his words to his son, Kendrick Castillo. But the younger Castillo, who hoped to study electrical engineering in college, rejected that advice, telling his dad he wouldn't think twice about acting to save others if ever face-to-face with an armed intruder. "'You raised me this way. You raised me to be a good person. That’s what I’m doing,'" John Castillo quoted his slain son as saying. Kendrick Castillo's classmates said the 18-year-old lunged at one of the shooters at STEM School Highlands Ranch in suburban Denver on Tuesday, taking fatal gunfire — but giving others the precious moments they needed to take cover.

WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary  Committee voted Wednesday to recommend the House hold Attorney General  William P. Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over Robert  S. Mueller III’s unredacted report, hours after President Trump asserted  executive privilege to shield the full report and underlying evidence  from public view. The committee’s  24-16 contempt vote, taken after hours of debate that featured  apocalyptic language about the future of American democracy, marked the  first time that the House has taken official action to punish a  government official or witness amid a standoff between the legislative  and executive branch. The Justice Department decried it as an  unnecessary and overwrought reaction designed to stoke a fight. The  drama raised the stakes yet again in an increasingly tense battle over  evidence and witnesses as Democrats investigate Mr. Trump and his  administration. By the day’s end, it seemed all but inevitable that the  competing claims would have to be settled in the nation’s courts rather  than on Capitol Hill, as Democrats had initially hoped after the initial  delivery of Mr. Mueller’s report.

THE CONFLICT between President Trump and  congressional Democrats is intensifying. But these equal branches of  government do not bear equivalent amounts of blame. Congress has a  profound interest in robust executive branch oversight. Meanwhile, Mr.  Trump and his circle have abused whatever legitimate concerns exist  about protecting executive branch deliberations and the secrecy of grand  jury investigations. Their “just say no” approach to congressional  requests places them squarely — if not yet technically — in contempt of  Congress. Attorney General William P. Barr  appeared before the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee last week  to testify about his handling of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s  report, but he refused  to attend a similar hearing before the Democratic-run House Judiciary  Committee the following day, citing lame concerns about the proposed  hearing format. Though Mr. Barr reiterated at  the Senate hearing his view that he has no objection to Mr. Mueller  testifying, the president undercut his attorney general’s position in a tweet, insisting that the special counsel should not appear before Congress.

A statement from the (TOTALLY EXONERATED) President of the United States (Donald Trump): My  fellow Americans (except for the losers and haters who don’t recognize I  am an amazing president, possibly the best in history): Today I have made the remarkably good decision to assert executive privilege over the entire Mueller report (WITCH HUNT!) because the stupid Democrats  want to see the whole thing even though I’ve already told them it  totally exonerates me and there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION. The loser Democrats are voting to hold our wonderful attorney general, Bill Barr,  who is just so great, truly, probably the best attorney general pick  ever, in Contempt. I don’t know where Contempt is, but I can’t have my  attorney general hauled off to some place I’ve never heard of by a bunch  of sore-loser Democrats. I need him here, doing his job, which is  protecting your favorite president. That’s in the Constitution, folks. So I have made the bold and very smart decision to deny  Democrats access to the full Mueller report and all the underlying — and  totally exonerating — evidence. I have also told all my employees to  ignore subpoenas from Jerry “Nerd” Nadler and “Shifty” Adam Schiff and  Nancy “Nancy” Pelosi and any other dummy who thinks it’s their job to  ask questions. And I sent my adviser Stephen Miller to stand outside  Nadler’s house and stare into the window. You’ve seen that guy’s stare,  right? So creepy. What a great patriot he is.

The attorney general could have redacted parts of the  Mueller report to protect presidential confidentiality. He didn’t, and  now’s too late. President Donald Trump’s administration invoked executive privilege  Wednesday to explain why Attorney General William Barr won’t hand over  special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report to Congress. There’s just  one problem: Executive privilege has nothing whatsoever to do with the  parts of the report that were redacted in its earlier release. Executive privilege covers communications between the president and his closest aides on matters that must be kept from Congress or the courts to protect the effective operation of the executive branch. Barr already had a chance to redact anything from the Mueller  report that in his judgment would’ve violated executive privilege —  when he did the redaction in the first place. But Barr didn’t redact anything at all from the report on the  basis of executive privilege. In fact, he included plenty of material  in the report, such as conversations between Trump and White House  counsel Donald McGahn, that arguably could have been included within the  privilege. In  other words, Barr has already effectively determined that nothing in  the Mueller report needed to be redacted for executive privilege  reasons.

(CNN) - The US has suspended its effort to retrieve American remains from North Korea, an effort that has long been touted by President Donald Trump as evidence of the success of his first Singapore summit with Kim Jong Un. The US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency told CNN that the effort was suspended due to a lack of communication from North Korean officials following the second summit between the two leaders in Hanoi earlier this year.
"DPRK officials have not communicated with DPAA since the Hanoi Summit," Chuck Prichard, a spokesman for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said. "As a result, our efforts to communicate with the Korean People's Army regarding the possible resumption of joint recovery operations for 2019 has been suspended," he added.

The House speaker's remark came as the congressional showdown with the president over executive privilege escalated sharply. WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said  Wednesday that President Donald Trump is “becoming self-impeachable”  because of his administration's noncompliance with subpoenas and other  requests by House chairs. “The point is that every single  day, whether it’s obstruction, obstruction, obstruction — obstruction  of having people come to the table with facts, ignoring subpoenas. ...  Every single day, the president is making a case — he’s becoming  self-impeachable, in terms of some of the things that he is doing,” she  said at a Washington Post Live event in Washington.

President Trump is defending the practice of using tax shelters as a "sport," after the New York Times released a massive report detailing how he lost roughly $1 billion over a decade in the 1980s and 1990s, more than nearly any other American over that timer period. The president — who prides himself on being a dealmaker and businessman and authored the "Art of the Deal" during that same time period — took to Twitter to defend his reported massive losses while also claiming the information the Times reported was a "highly inaccurate Fake News hit job." The president's personal attorney cited in the Times' story could not cite a single specific data point the Times got wrong. "Real estate developers in the 1980's & 1990's, more than 30 years ago, were entitled to massive write-offs and depreciation which would, if one was actively building, show losses and tax losses in almost all cases," Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. "Much was non monetary. Sometimes considered 'tax shelter,' ... you would get it by building, or even buying. You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes....almost all real estate developers did - and often re-negotiate with banks, it was sport. Additionally, the very old information put out is a highly inaccurate Fake News hit job!"

WASHINGTON  — President Trump asserted executive privilege on Wednesday in an  effort to shield hidden portions of Robert S. Mueller III’s unredacted  report and the evidence he collected from Congress. The  assertion, Mr. Trump’s first use of the secrecy powers as president,  came as the House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Wednesday  morning to recommend the House of Representatives hold Attorney General  William P. Barr in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for the  same material. “This is to advise you  that the president has asserted executive privilege over the entirety  of the subpoenaed materials,” a Justice Department official, Stephen E.  Boyd, wrote Wednesday morning, referencing not only the Mueller report  but the underlying evidence that House Democrats are seeking. Mr.  Barr released a redacted version of the special counsel’s 448-page  report voluntarily last month. But Democrats say that is not good  enough, and they have accused the attorney general of stonewalling a  legitimate request for material they need to carry out an investigation  into possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by Mr. Trump.

The State Senate passed bills to create a path to release Mr. Trump’s state tax returns, and to curtail the impact of presidential pardons in New York. Taking aim at President Trump, New York lawmakers voted on Wednesday to allow congressional committees to seek the president’s tax returns and to close a potential loophole for those he might pardon. The two bills passed by the Democratic-controlled State Senate do not explicitly mention President Trump, but there was little question that he was the focus of both efforts. One bill would eliminate the so-called double jeopardy loophole that gives individuals who have been pardoned at a federal level indemnity from New York State prosecutors. Its sponsor, Senator Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat from Long Island, said the bill would address “wanton threats of the use of the pardon power” by Mr. Trump. The other bill would authorize the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance to release any state tax return requested by a leader of one of three congressional committees for any “specified and legitimate legislative purpose.” The vote on the bills broke mostly along party lines with Democrats delivering the votes to secure its passage. The bills are expected to be discussed internally on Monday by the State Assembly, also led by Democrats, and are considered likely to pass there as well.

The Trump administration on Wednesday imposed fresh sanctions targeting Tehran as both countries escalate their rhetoric over Iran's nuclear ambitions.
The White House announced sanctions on the steel, iron, aluminum and copper sectors of the country hours after Iran said it would stop complying with certain parts of the Obama-era nuclear agreement. President Trump's executive order imposing new sanctions on Tehran also came on the one-year anniversary of his announcement that he would withdraw the U.S. from the nuclear deal. "It remains the policy of the United States to deny Iran all paths to both a nuclear weapon and intercontinental ballistic missiles, and to counter the totality of Iran's malign influence in the Middle East," Trump said in the order released Wednesday. "It is also the policy of the United States to deny the Iranian government revenue, including revenue derived from the export of products from Iran's iron, steel, aluminum, and copper sectors, that may be used to provide funding and support for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorist groups and networks, campaigns of regional aggression, and military expansion." The sanctions could impact other countries conducting trade with Iran, and Trump warned in a statement that the executive order "puts other nations on notice that allowing Iranian steel and other metals into your ports will no longer be tolerated."

The Florida Bar on Wednesday said it will move forward with an investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) regarding his tweet about President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen. The case is advancing to the the Grievance Committee, which will determine if there is probable cause that Gaetz, a licensed attorney in the state, violated Florida Bar rules. If probable cause is established, a complaint will be filed with the Florida Supreme Court, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The investigation follows a February tweet that Gaetz, a Trump ally, sent ahead of Cohen's testimony before Congress. The tweet was widely criticized, with some characterizing it as witness intimidation. “Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot...” Gaetz wrote at the time. He has since deleted the tweet and apologized.

There  are press conferences. And then there are press conferences put on by  notorious dirty tricksters in their home’s driveway, featuring grainy  video and loud planes overhead. Pro-Trump operatives Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman were left scrambling yet again Wednesday, this time in an attempt to salvage their failed sexual assault smear against Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg. Burkman  and Wohl had promised to reveal plenty of video and documentary  evidence proving that Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, had  committed sexual assault. Instead, the two hosted a bizarre press  conference in the driveway of Burkman’s Arlington, Va. home, while being  frequently interrupted by noise from nearby garbage trucks. Much  of the event—the portion audible over the trucks—was focused on Wohl  closely analyzing some grainy, inconclusive video of a fake Buttigieg  victim, Hunter Kelly. Kelly had travelled from Michigan to Virginia as  part of a scheme to frame the South Bend mayor. But he got cold feet  while staying in Burkman’s home (where the video was shot) and has since  denounced the allegation, saying Wohl and Burkman coerced him into  making it up.

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday defended the more than $1 billion he reported in business losses between 1985 and 1994, a previously undisclosed amount revealed in a New York Times investigation, as a best practice that other real estate developers had also used. Yet even as he tried to explain in a pair of Twitter posts that showing “losses for tax purposes” was considered a “sport” among real estate developers like himself, the president also said The Times’s account was “a highly inaccurate Fake News hit job!” It was not immediately clear what specifically in The Times investigation Mr. Trump disputed. The article reported the staggering figure of $1.17 billion in losses between 1985 and 1994, an amount calculated from 10 years of his tax information obtained by The Times. It also raised questions about the image that Mr. Trump presented of himself, and whether he is a tarnished, not triumphant, businessman. In some years, Mr. Trump appears to have lost more money than any other single taxpayer among an I.R.S. sampling of high earners. Mr. Trump has portrayed himself as a self-made billionaire and master deal maker. The new details about the president’s steep financial losses provide the fullest picture yet of his taxes. And his defense of the losses that he reported in the 1980s and 1990s will fuel House Democrats in their fight to get his tax returns for the past six years.

Former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams warned on Tuesday that  President Donald Trump may soon choose to fire FBI Director Christopher  Wray.
Williams, who served as a deputy assistant attorney general  in President Barack Obama's administration, appeared on CNN on Tuesday  to respond to Wray's comments in which he distanced himself  from Attorney General William Barr’s use of the term “spying” to  characterize the investigation into Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. “Well,  that’s not the term I would use,” Wray said during a Senate  Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, when he was questioned  about Barr’s use of the word “spying.” He then said that he believed the  FBI “is engaged in investigative activity and part of investigative  activity includes surveillance activity of different shapes and sizes.”

Georgia Just Criminalized Abortion. Women Who Terminate Their Pregnancies Would Receive Life in Prison.On Tuesday, Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed a “fetal heartbeat” bill that seeks to outlaw abortion after about six weeks. The measure, HB 481,  is the most extreme abortion ban in the country—not just because it  would impose severe limitations on women’s reproductive rights, but also  because it would subject women who get illegal abortions to life  imprisonment and the death penalty. The primary purpose of HB 481 is to prohibit doctors from  terminating any pregnancy after they can detect “embryonic or fetal  cardiac activity,” which typically occurs at six weeks’ gestation. But  the bill does far more than that. In one sweeping provision, it declares  that “unborn children are a class of living, distinct person” that  deserves “full legal recognition.” Thus, Georgia law must “recognize  unborn children as natural persons”—not just for the purposes of  abortion, but as a legal rule.         

"I don't think I personally have any evidence of that sort," Wray said when asked if illegal surveillance had occurred. FBI Director Chris Wray said Tuesday that he would not describe the federal government's surveillance, such as that conducted on President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, as "spying," as Attorney General William Barr has. During a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing, Wray was asked by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., about Barr's statement last month that "spying did occur" on the Trump campaign. "I was very concerned by his use of the word spying, which I think is a loaded word," Shaheen said. "When FBI agents conduct investigations against alleged mobsters, suspected terrorists, other criminals, do you believe they're engaging in spying when they're following FBI investigative policies and procedures?"

AUSTIN, Tex. —  As Trooper Brian Encinia angrily threatened her with a stun gun from  just outside her car window, Sandra Bland recorded the encounter on her  cellphone, shown in a newly-released, 39-second video that has prompted  Ms. Bland’s family to call for a renewed investigation into her arrest  and death nearly four years ago. Ms.  Bland, a 28-year-old African-American from the Chicago area, was taken  into custody in southeast Texas following the confrontational 2015  traffic stop and was found hanging in a jail cell three days later in  what was officially ruled a suicide. The case, which drew international  attention, intensified outrage over the treatment of black people by  white police officers and was considered a turning point in the Black  Lives Matter movement. The video surfaced for the first time publicly Monday night in an investigative report  on the Dallas television station WFAA that included interviews with Ms.  Bland’s family and supporters, who accused officials of concealing  information that they say should have been made public early in the  investigation.

Trump Pardons Soldier Convicted of Killing Iraqi PrisonerPresident Donald Trump has pardoned Michael Behenna, a former  Army officer who was convicted of murder for the killing of an Iraqi  prisoner in 2008, the White House announced Monday night. Behenna was sentenced to 25 years in prison and was released  on parole in 2014 after serving five years. His case has been championed  by a number of influential people, including former Oklahoma Gov. Mary  Fallin and more than 30 retired generals and admirals. In 2008, U.S. forces captured Ali Mansur, a suspected al-Qaida  member, after a roadside bomb killed two American soldiers in a convoy  traveling north of Baghdad, according to the Washington Post.  An intelligence report linked Mansur to the attack, but the military  couldn’t conclusively prove his involvement and was forced to free him.         

Wall Street’s top investment banks are preparing clients for the worst possible trade war outcomes as the U.S. prepares to ratchet up its tariffs on goods imported from China, telling clients to “fasten your seatbelt and don’t hold your breath.” Strategists from UBS to Bank of America detailed their worst case scenarios for the U.S., Chinese and European stock markets, with all forecasting more selling if Washington can’t remedy its trade spats around the world. Market jitters stemming from an escalated trade fight between the globe’s two largest economies could be so bad that is could send the S&P 500 in a correction, wrote UBS strategist Keith Parker. In that bear case scenario, Parker added, European markets and cyclical U.S. sectors including metals, mining and automobiles could be in for the most pain.

(CNN) - The White House has instructed former White House Counsel Don McGahn not to comply with a subpoena for documents from House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, teeing up the latest in a series of escalating oversight showdowns between the Trump administration and congressional Democrats. McGahn's decision not to comply with the subpoena could push Nadler to hold McGahn in contempt of Congress, just as he's moving to do with Attorney General William Barr after the Justice Department defied a subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report and underlying evidence. Nadler issued a subpoena to McGahn for documents and testimony related to the committee's obstruction of justice investigation, setting a Tuesday deadline for McGahn to turn over documents and proposing a May 21 hearing date. McGahn's attorney William Burck told Nadler in a letter Tuesday that McGahn was deferring to the White House's position that it maintains control of the documents Nadler had set a Tuesday deadline for McGahn to turn over.

The mayor said in a statement that she doesn't recall making such a comment. HOSCHTON, Ga. — The mayor of a mostly white north Georgia city is being criticized for comments attributed to her that the community isn't ready to have an African American city administrator, a newspaper reported Monday. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that interviews and documents it obtained show that Hoschton Mayor Theresa Kenerly expressed concerns regarding a black finalist for the job, Keith Henry. Hoschton, a small community in Jackson County northeast of Atlanta, has 1,662 residents, of whom more than 80 percent are white, according to 2017 census data. Councilwoman Hope Weeks wrote that the mayor told her that Henry was a good candidate, "but he was black and we don't have a big black population and she just didn't think Hoschton was ready for that." Weeks wrote that account in a document dated March 4, released by the city in response to the newspaper's open records request.


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