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Donald Trump makes the wrong impression...

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 03:31:06 PM Steve Benen
When American presidents travel abroad, especially for the first time, they make a lasting impression. Donald Trump's missteps in Israel, therefore, matter.

Trump's sabotage takes its toll on the...

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 03:01:13 PM Steve Benen
With pointless threats and partisan games, Donald Trump is imposing a political surcharge on the cost of middle-class health coverage for no reason.

Trump administration gives sea-level...

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 02:22:02 PM Steve Benen
In case Trump administration officials need a reminder, sea levels will continue to rise whether Republicans accept climate science or not.

Joe: You can start calling this a scandal

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 01:53:44 PM
Joe tells the Morning Panel that President Trump wouldn’t make repeated attempts to squash the Russia investigation unless there was something to hide.

Senator Claire McCaskill on U.S. terror...

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 01:47:37 PM
The Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Committee discusses what we can do as a country to help stop the type of terror attack we just saw in Manchester, England.

Top Israeli diplomat on Trump’s Mideast trip

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 01:47:35 PM
Ambassador Danny Danon, Israel’s permanent representative to the U.N., says his country is hopeful there can be peace in the region.

NBC: ISIS claims responsibility for U.K....

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 01:44:26 PM
Mika reports late-breaking details about the bombing in England and the arrest of a 23-year-old man in connection to the attack.

Flynn's falsehoods create new troubles...

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 01:20:45 PM Steve Benen
While sins of omission are important, outright deceptions to federal investigators are even more serious. Take Michael Flynn, for example.

Supreme Court strikes down North Carolina...

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 12:40:08 PM Steve Benen
North Carolina Republicans went too far in using race to draw district lines in their favor.

Obstruction allegations against Donald...

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 12:00:17 PM Steve Benen
Donald Trump reportedly asked intelligence officials to intervene in the Russia scandal investigation. When Nixon was caught doing this, he was forced to resign

Interesting, Perhaps Relevant, Perspective

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 03:37:23 PM
This is a very interesting passage from former CIA Director Brennan’s testimony before the House from about 20 minutes ago. As a young analyst, I wouldn’t have had direct interaction with Andropov. But I have studied Russian intelligence activities over the years and I’ve seen it manifest in many different of our counterintelligence cases and how they have been able to get people, including inside the CIA, to become treasonous. And frequently, individuals who go along a treasonous path do not even realize they’re along that path until it gets to be a bit too late. And that’s why, again, my radar goes up early when I see certain things that I know what the Russians are trying to do, and I don’t know whether or not the targets of their efforts are as mindful of the Russian intentions as they need to be. 

Brennan: Trump Violated Protocol In Sharing Classified Intel With Russians

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 03:31:58 PM
Former CIA Director John Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday morning that President Donald Trump violated protocol when he reportedly shared highly classified Israeli intelligence with Russian officials in an Oval Office meeting in early May. Aside from reports that the U.S. was not authorized to share the intelligence at all—information about an ISIS plot involving explosives concealed in laptops—Brennan says the manner Trump did so was a breach of procedure. “Such intelligence, classified intelligence is not shared with visiting foreign ministers or local ambassadors, it’s shared through intelligence channels because it needs to be handled the right way and needs to make sure it’s not exposed,” he said. “He didn’t do that, again if the press charges are accurate.” “Secondly,” Brennan continued, “before sharing any classified intelligence with foreign partners, it needs to go back to the originating agency to make sure that the language in it is not—even just providing the substance—going to reveal sources or methods and compromise the future collection capability. It appears as though, at least from the press reports, that neither did it go in the proper channels nor did the originating agency have the opportunity to clear language for it. That is a problem.”

Trump's Note At Israeli Holocaust Memorial: 'So Amazing'

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 03:25:07 PM
President Donald Trump on Tuesday said it was “so amazing” to visit Israel’s national Holocaust memorial with all of his friends. “It is a great honor to be here with all of my friends — so amazing and will never forget!” Trump wrote in the guest book at Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial. .@realDonaldTrump vs. @BarackObama at Yad Vashem. Starkly different. — Emily C. Singer (@CahnEmily) May 23, 2017 During his visit, Trump lit an eternal flame and attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial, according to a travel pool report. After signing the guest book, he spoke briefly, calling the Holocaust “history’s darkest hour.” “It is our solemn duty to remember, to mourn, to grieve and to honor every single life that was so cruelly and viciously taken,” Trump said, per the pool report. “As long as we refuse to become bystanders to barbarity then we know that goodness, peace, and justice will ultimately prevail.”

Ryan Justifies Waiting For CBO Score To Send Health Bill To The Senate

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 03:14:35 PM
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Tuesday downplayed the importance of an upcoming Congressional Budget Office report on House Republicans’ health bill, despite his delay in sending the bill over to the Senate for now nearly three weeks as he waits for the report. Ryan has delayed formally sending the American Health Care Act to the Senate after his chamber’s May 4 vote, Bloomberg reported last week, in order to receive a confirmation from the CBO that the bill cuts the deficit enough to qualify for reconciliation in the Senate — that is, the Senate’s ability to pass the bill on a simple majority vote, foregoing the threat of a Democratic filibuster. “We just want to have an abundance of caution to make sure,” Ryan said at his weekly press briefing Tuesday, explaining why he had rushed a House vote and then delayed sending the bill to the Senate. “CBO scores have been unpredictable in cases in the past. We don’t think that’s going to be the case, but again, we just want to make sure that we dot our ‘I’s and cross our ‘T’s exactly the right way, so that when we send the bill over to the Senate, it is not, as we say, fatal.” The CBO found in March that Republicans’ original, failed health bill would have resulted in 24 million more uninsured people by 2026. However, the office hasn’t yet scored the amended version of that bill, which would allow states to opt out of many of Obamacare’s pricing protections and other regulatory measures, and authorized $8 billion over five years to fund high risk insurance pools. The CBO report on the amended bill is expected to come out this week. House Democrats criticized Ryan for pushing a vote without a CBO score. In the days before and immediately after the bill passed the House, he scolded them for placing too much importance on the analysis. “A three-page amendment is not going to dramatically alter that bill,” Ryan said on May 7. “It does a narrow change to the bill.” But Ryan acknowledged Tuesday that the same amendment — and the same missing CBO score — were responsible for holding up Republicans’ health care effort.

Brennan: Intel Showed Contacts Between Russian Officials And People Involved With Trump Camp

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 03:32:23 PM
Former CIA Director John Brennan confirmed Tuesday to the House Intelligence Committee that “Russia brazenly interfered in the 2016 election process,” saying this fact “should be clear to everyone” by this point. Then, under questioning from Rep. Thomas Rooney (R-FL), Brennan went further, saying that he left office with “unresolved questions” about whether Russia had worked with any “U.S. persons” involved in the 2016 campaign to influence the outcome. Based on what he knows about Russia from decades of work as an intelligence officer, Brennan said: “They try to suborn individuals and try to get individuals, including U.S. individuals, to act on their behalf—wittingly or unwittingly,” he said. “I was worried about the number of contacts that the Russians had with U.S. persons. Therefore, by the time I left office on January 20th, I had unresolved questions in my mind, as to whether or not the Russians had been successful in getting U.S. persons involved in the campaign or not to work on their behalf again either in a witting or unwitting fashion.” Brennan said he does not know whether any Americans engaged in “actively conspiring” with Russia, but says he found evidence of contacts  between Russian officials and Americans troubling enough to warrant a serious investigation. “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign,” he said. “I was concerned because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals. And it raised questions in my mind again whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.” That cooperation, he noted, could have happened even without the knowledge of the U.S. participant. “Frequently, individuals who go along the treasonous path do not even realize they’re along that path until it gets to be a bit too late,” he said. Asked if the individuals he was referring to were official members of the Trump campaign, Brennan declined to identify them due to the classified nature of the intelligence in question. He reiterated under questioning that he “saw interaction” between Russian officials and people in Trump’s inner circle that “raised questions in my mind about what was the true nature of it.” Brennan noted that such interactions are not in and of themselves suspicious, and are in fact common, but the fact that the contacts happened at the very time the CIA was learning about Russian attempts to hack and influence the 2016 election raised his suspicions. “I don’t have sufficient information to make a determination whether or not such cooperation or complicity or collusion was taking place, but I know that there was a basis to have individuals pull those threads,” he said, emphasizing that he supports the FBI’s decision to investigate the matter.

WATCH LIVE: Ex-CIA Chief Testifies On Russian Election Meddling At 10 AM ET

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 02:19:44 PM
Amid an avalanche of daily revelations about the investigation into links between Donald Trump’s inner circle and Russia, the House Intelligence Committee will hear testimony on Tuesday from former CIA Director John Brennan. The lawmakers plan to question Brennan about “Russian active measures during the 2016 election campaign” designed to aid Trump and damage the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. Watch live below:

Politico: Trump Reached Out To Lewandowski As Possible Crisis Manager

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 02:18:24 PM
President Donald Trump reached out to his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski about working with the White House as a crisis manager, Politico reported on Monday. Trump personally reached out to Lewandowski and former deputy campaign manager David Bossie, Politico reported, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the situation. Lewandowski told Politico that he is not in “talks with anyone” to join Trump’s administration, while Bossie declined to comment. A White House spokesman told Politico that there are no immediate plans to hire the two “inside the White House,” though an unnamed source familiar with the potential crisis management operation said it would likely be housed outside the West Wing. Bossie is a veteran Republican strategist and president of Citizens United. Lewandowski was a newcomer to national politics when he joined Trump’s campaign in 2015, and — far from exerting a moderating force on Trump’s candidacy — caused several crises of his own before leaving the campaign in June 2016. He was charged with misdemeanor battery in March 2016 after a former Breitbart News reporter accused him of grabbing her by the arm and nearly pulling her to the ground. Florida prosecutors later announced that there was not enough evidence to support a criminal prosecution against him. Lewandowski also reportedly clashed with Paul Manafort, his successor as campaign chief. Manafort is a key figure in the investigation into possible collusion between members of Trump’s campaign and Russian officials, one of the controversies that Lewandowski would likely be tapped to manage for Trump.

VIDEO: DNI Coats Won't Comment On WaPo Report On Trump Russia Request

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 03:41:51 PM
This story has been updated. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats would not comment during a Senate Armed Services hearing Tuesday on the Washington Post report that he was asked by President Trump to push back on the FBI probe into Russia-Trump campaign links. Asked if by Armed Services Chair John McCain (R-AZ) if the Post report was accurate, Coats said he did not feel it was “appropriate to characterize discussions and conversations with the president.” “I have always believed that given the nature of my position and the information which we share, it is not appropriate for me to comment publicly on any of that,” Coats said. The top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) followed up on the report and asked specifically about its revelation that other White House officials reached out to the intelligence community seeking that the investigation into former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn be dropped. “I am not aware of that,” Coats said. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) asked if Coats would turn over to former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who has been appointed special counsel in the FBI’s probe,  any memos he had documenting conversations with Trump regarding the Russia investigation, to which Coats replied that he had no such documents. She then asked if he would testify in front of the Senate Intel Committee for their Russia investigation. “I do believe the information, the discussions that I have with the president are something that should not be disclosed,” Coats said. “On the other hand, if I am called before a investigative committee, I will certainly provide them with what I know and what I don’t know.” Coats went on to say, when asked by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-MN), that he would be forthcoming with Mueller on the details about his conversations with Trump about the Russia probe if Mueller sought those details. Towards the end of the hearing, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) asked Coats if he discussed with National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers — who was also reported by the Washington Post to have received a request from Trump to push back on the Russia probe — efforts by Trump to “stifle” the investigation. After a long silence, Coats dodged the question. “That is something that, I, um would like to withhold, that question at this particular time,” he said.

DeVos: School Choice Opponents Are Akin To 'Flat-Earthers'

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 02:06:59 PM
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Monday compared opponents of school choice to “flat-earthers.” DeVos — a prominent fundraiser and advocate for school choice, charter schools and religious schools prior to her nomination to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet — was addressing the American Federation for Children’s National Policy Summit. “In order to succeed, education must commit to excellence and innovation to better meet the needs of individual students,” DeVos said. “Defenders of our current system have regularly been resistant to any meaningful change. In resisting, these ‘flat-earthers’ have chilled creativity and stopped American kids from competing at the highest levels.” DeVos’ address was thin on details. But she mentioned multiple times that reform would occur at the state level. “We won’t accomplish our goals by creating a new federal bureaucracy or by bribing states with their own taxpayers’ money,” she said. The education secretary added later: “All parents instinctively know that their child should not follow the money – the money should follow their child.” “If you hear nothing else I say tonight, please hear this,” DeVos said early in the speech, “education should not be a partisan issue.” Her own history of policy advocacy, though, heavily favored the Republican Party. And she was not subtle about her expectations. “My family is the biggest contributor of soft money to the Republican National Committee,” she wrote in Roll Call in 1997, the New Yorker and others noted last year. “I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect something in return. We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment.”

CNN: Special Counsel Mueller Briefed On Comey Memos

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 01:56:41 PM
The special counsel tasked with overseeing the Justice Department’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump campaign officials is already looking into memos former FBI Director James Comey wrote to document his conversations with President Donald Trump, CNN reported Monday. An anonymous person familiar with the probe told CNN that Robert Mueller has been briefed on the contents of some of the memos. According to one that the New York Times surfaced last week, Trump allegedly asked Comey to end the FBI probe into his ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who has come under scrutiny for failing to disclose foreign business dealings and contacts. Another anonymous source told CNN that part of Mueller’s investigation will likely focus on obstruction of justice. Trump fired Comey two weeks ago and publicly divulged that his decision to do so was influenced in part by “this Russia thing.” The Washington Post also reported Monday that both Trump and senior White House officials asked the director of national intelligence and of the NSA director to deny that there was any evidence of collusion between Russian operatives and his campaign staff, after Comey testified to Congress that this was a key part of the federal investigation. The White House did not deny the Times story detailing Trump’s request to Comey, but told the Post it would “not confirm or deny unsubstantiated claims based on illegal leaks from anonymous individuals.” Mueller is expected to meet with Comey in the coming days to discuss what the ousted FBI director can say in public testimony that he is expected to give after Memorial Day. Two people familiar with Mueller’s probe told CNN he has already visited FBI headquarters in Langley, Virginia to meet the agents who have been working on the Russia case since last July.

New Poll Shows Dem Jon Ossoff Opening Up 7-Point Lead In Georgia House Race

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 01:55:55 PM
Democrat Jon Ossoff leads Republican Karen Handel by seven points in the special election to fill an open U.S. House seat in Georgia, according to a new poll from local television station WXIA. Ossoff earned 51 percent of voters’ support to Handel’s 44 percent support in the poll, which was released Monday and conducted by SurveyUSA. SurveyUSA’s previously polled the race in April, before the initial jungle primary that sent Ossoff and Handel, the top two finishers, into a runoff. In that poll, Ossoff had a significant lead over his numerous Republican opponents. Ossoff and Handel will face off in a June 20 runoff election in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. Democrats are hopeful they can channel anti-Trump fervor into a win for Ossoff, given that Trump won the ruby-red district by just one point in November. SurveyUSA polled 700 registered voters from May 16-20 by phone. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

WATCH LIVE: DNI Coats Testifies After Reports He Rebuffed Trump On FBI Probe

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 01:43:46 PM
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats appears in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday morning after a bombshell Washington Post report revealed that he was asked by President Trump to push back publicly against the FBI probe into allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. He is testifying in an unrelated hearing on “worldwide threats,” but it is likely that the allegations in the Washington Post report will come up. According to the Post, Trump reached out to Coats after then-FBI Director James Comey revealed in public testimony that the FBI was investigating links between Trump affiliates and Russia. Coats did not comply with Trump’s request to shoot down the claims about the investigation, as a former senior intelligence official told the Post, “The problem wasn’t so much asking them to issue statements, it was asking them to issue false statements about an ongoing investigation.” Trump went on to fire Comey earlier this month. Watch the hearing live below: ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

Cover Up as Reality Show

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 01:27:07 PM
Let me share a few more thoughts about yesterday evening’s breaking news about President Trump’s overtures to the head of the NSA and the Director of National Intelligence. Given what we knew already, these new details cannot be terribly surprising. Indeed, they fit a clear pattern. But they show just how far-reaching, widespread and brazen President Trump was in trying to shut down the investigation into his campaign and Russia. We know from Comey’s accounts that Trump repeatedly tried to get pledges of loyalty from Comey. He purportedly asked Comey privately to drop the investigation the day after he fired Flynn. Of course, Trump eventually fired Comey, by his own account over frustration with the Russian probe. Now we learn that after Comey’s March testimony in which the FBI Director first confirmed the existence of a collusion/coordination probe, Trump personally reached out to Admiral Rodgers at NSA and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to push back against or dispute Comey’s revelation. Both apparently politely demurred. Some minor props here for Coats. The former Indiana Senator’s qualifications for this position were slim. He’s a career politician, not an intelligence professional, with the different political antennae and loyalties that go with being a career elected official. Unlike almost all the rest involved – Comey, Rodgers, et al., he’s in his position because of Trump. Yet he appears to have seen the overtures in the same light and similarly rebuffed Trump’s requests. In many ways this is the most telling passage … In addition to the requests to Coats and Rogers, senior White House officials sounded out top intelligence officials about the possibility of intervening directly with Comey to encourage the FBI to drop its probe of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, according to people familiar with the matter. The officials said the White House appeared uncertain about its power to influence the FBI. “Can we ask him to shut down the investigation? Are you able to assist in this matter?” one official said of the line of questioning from the White House. There’s a lot here. It appears that Trump and his top advisors were increasingly concerned that they could not get through to Comey to drop the investigation. They then started reaching out to others in the intelligence community either to publicly rebut Comey’s statements or try to intervene with him directly. First, let’s consider what appears to have been the extreme importance Trump and his advisors attached to ending the Flynn/Trump-Russia probes. We’re focused on the loyalty pledge and Comey’s ouster. But they apparently tried every means they could think of to shut down the probe, all of them widely in appropriate and others quite possibly illegal. Second, look at Trump’s personal role. Even if a President or White House has decided to obstruct or shut down an investigation, this is not the way to execute the plan. Put in the most cynical possible way, the President should never have been personally made these calls, implicating himself directly in the effort. These kinds of overtures are made their advisors and hopefully with some ambiguity and thus deniability. Nor should Trump have called these men, apparently in their offices, where they could write perhaps literally contemporaneous notes of the conversations. It’s hard to unwrap what measure of this was desperation, recklessness or Trump’s complete unfamiliarity and inability to understand that all of these men were not executives in a private company run by him but high level officials in a government in which the President is the dominant but by not means only power center. To get our collective heads around this, we must take note of this complexity and yet keep it simple: The President desperately wants to shut down the Trump-Russia probe and is going to the wildest and riskiest lengths to end it. The unique dynamics of Trumpian psychology make it just plausible that rather than a consciousness of guilt or fear, he is driven here by a need to brook no opposition or a fear that any discussion of this issue detracts from his “legendary triumph” last November, as Turkish President Erdogan put it. But there’s a more straightforward explanation, even for Trump: a consciousness of guilt, if not necessarily his than those close around him, whose transgressions would rub off on him. There is of course my “Mailer Standard” theory: that Trump actually doesn’t know what investigators will find but has every reason to think it won’t be good. Simple: President must end the investigation because he can’t allow them to find what’s there. We’re far past any question of a cover-up or an attempt to kill the investigation. We have almost too much evidence, too many positive acts. It’s like Trump is still operating in a reality show, where every positive act is devoid of subtlety, infinitely direct so as to move the plot-line forward in the length of a single episode and ubiquitously recorded so we can see it all playing out before our eyes.

Ethics Office Rejects WH Attempt To Block Disclosure Of Ethics Waivers

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 03:02:01 PM
In a scathing letter issued late Monday, the Office of Government Ethics rejected a request from the Office of Management and Budget that OGE suspend its request that federal agencies turn over copies of ethics waivers granted to former lobbyists hired under the Trump administration. “The unusual nature of your letter highlights OGE’s responsibility to lead the executive branch ethics program with independence, free from political pressure. Accordingly, OGE declines your request to suspend its ethics inquiry and reiterates its expectation that agencies will fully comply with its directive by June 1, 2017. Public confidence in the integrity of government decisionmaking demands no less,” OGE Director Walter Shaub Jr. wrote in a letter to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney. Mulvaney had asked Shaub to suspend his directive to agencies to disclose the ethics waivers, questioning whether OGE had the legal authority to demand the documents. In his letter to Mulvaney, Shaub argued that his office does have the legal authority to view the documents and generally oversee the executive branch’s ethics practices. He also noted that Congress supports giving OGE access to the waivers, citing a 2009 letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) urging the Obama administration to disclose to the public waivers granted to former lobbyists. Shaub wrote in his letter that Grassley’s call for the waivers to be disclosed in 2009 prompted OGE to begin the practice of posting the waivers on its website for the public to view. “OGE is exercising its authority and independence appropriately. OGE’s April 28, 2017, directive is supported by ample legal authority and compliant with applicable procedures,” Shaub wrote at the end of his lengthy Monday letter to Mulvaney. “I want to assure you that a request from the Director of the Office of Management and Budget is not something that I decline lightly.” Read Shaub’s letter:

Senate Intel Chair Won't Rule Out Holding Flynn In Contempt Of Congress

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 12:10:21 PM
Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC) said Monday night that he would not rule out holding former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents. “You’ll just have to wait and watch. [Contempt is] certainly one of the avenues that we could pursue,” Burr told reporters regarding Flynn, according to Politico. “It does us no good to have people insist on pleading the Fifth if you’re out trying to get information. The only thing I can tell you is immunity is off the table.” Lawyers for Flynn informed the Senate Intelligence Committee that Flynn would invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to comply with a subpoena for documents related to the probe into Russian election meddling. Burr indicated that he was perplexed by the letter from Flynn’s lawyers. “All I’ve asked him for is documents. I don’t know how you can plead the Fifth on a document request,” Burr said, per Politico.

Trump Condemns UK Concert Bombing Carried Out By 'Evil Losers'

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 11:16:02 AM
President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning addressed the Monday night attack at a concert in the United Kingdom, calling the perpetrators of such an attack “evil losers.” “I extend my deepest condolences to those so terribly injured in this terrorist attack and to the many killed and the families, so many families of the victims. We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom,” Trump said in Bethlehem, addressing the media along with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “So many young beautiful innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life. I wont call them monsters, because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name,” Trump continued. “I will call them, from now on, losers because that’s what they are, they’re losers, and we’ll have more of them, but they’re losers. Just remember that.” Authorities in the United Kingdom have confirmed that at least 22 people died after a bomb went off during an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester on Monday night. The attack appeared to have been carried out by a suicide bomber, and police are treating it as a terrorist attack. In his remarks Tuesday morning, Trump called for an end to violence carried out by “terrorists and extremists.” “This is what I’ve spent these last few days talking about during my trip overseas — our society can have no tolerance for this continuation of bloodshed. We cannot stand a moment longer for the slaughter of innocent people. And in today’s attack, it was mostly innocent children. The terrorists and extremists and those who give them aid and comfort must be driven out from our society forever. This wicked ideology must be obliterated, and I mean completely obliterated,” Trump said.

Senate GOP's Obamacare Repeal Efforts: Lots Of Talk, Little Action

Tuesday May 23rd, 2017 10:00:47 AM
The Senate GOP’s progress on Obamacare repeal has been hard to decipher so far, with lots of public assurances that negotiations are continuing but few tangible results. The process, which Republicans claim began even before the House passed its repeal bill, has been notable for what it’s been missing. It’s unclear, publicly at least, who is leading the effort, the direction they’re taking and whether there’s even agreement on how far the Senate will stray from the deeply unpopular House proposal, which guts Medicaid while scaling back the Affordable Care Act’s widely-liked consumer protections. The Senate GOP’s 13-member working group initially unveiled to iron out an approach that could bring 51 votes was quickly met with ugly headlines about the lack of women, while rival groups have popped up among the members left out of the original task force. GOP leaders have since stressed that all Republicans are invited to participate in the talks, which happen twice or thrice weekly in Capitol, behind closed doors. In the meantime, trial balloon after trial balloon has been floated with anonymous leaks, only to be immediately popped by other Republicans, who sometimes are only hearing of alleged proposals directly from the press. An automatic enrollment option for states? That was quickly labeled “corporatist single payer” by a Republican staffer. Maintaining the individual mandate for a transition period? “Lord, comma, no, exclamation point,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) responded, when asked about the idea. A short-term measure to stabilize the market while longer-term reform is still being hashed out? “I don’t think there’s anything in particular that’s happened,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) told TPM on Thursday. “I am not sure we have resolved that. There’s an awareness, but I don’t think there’s a point on it.” If Senate Republicans are close to coming up with a plan to repeal Obamacare that can pass their chamber, they’re certainly not making a show of it. GOP senators participating in the ongoing health care discussions say they want to avoid airing the negotiations in public. However, the lack of the details may also reflect how far the GOP Senate still has to go in cobbling together a health care bill that 51 of its members will support. “This is going to take some time. There are a lot of different points of views and a lot of different conflicts here,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said last week. “We’re still in full discussion stage,” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) told reporters. There have been “good conversations about health care,” said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who added, “I am not going to comment on the subject of individual conversations.” Since House Republicans surprised Washington by reviving their zombie health care bill, the American Health Care Act, and narrowly passing it earlier this month, they’ve passed the politically toxic hot potato to the upper chamber, where GOP senators have stressed it will be slow-going on their end to write their own legislation to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. “We are going to meet diligently and work together until we come to solution, but that’s going to take some time,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told TPM last week. Contrast that with the enthusiasm Republicans showed last year in describing a lightning strike-like process that would make way for tax reform and other agenda items. While GOP Senators swear their not adhering to any specific timetable, some deadlines do in fact exist. To stay on track to pass both Obamacare repeal and tax cut legislation this year, the Senate will likely need to wrap up their health care talks this summer. More pressing, however, is insurers’ filing deadlines for their 2018 plans. Insurers would like to see more certainty on what the marketplace will look like, including what will happen to key ACA subsidies Republicans have previously attacked. According to a Politico profile on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) role in the effort, the hope is to have a final vote in June, or by July at the latest. “He’ll have to make some decisions. I’m sure it will be with the recommendation and input from our members, but there will come a point in which we’ve talked some of this stuff to death,” Sen. John Thune (R-SD),the Senate GOP’s No. 3, told Politico about MccConnell’s approach. All the divisions in the House that stalled their repeal efforts exists to perhaps a greater degree in the Senate. Twenty GOP Senators represent Medicaid expansion states, and many have expressed discomfort with how quickly the expanded program is wound down in the House bill. Senate conservatives have pushed for an even more aggressive timeline to scale back the program. Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) are leading the talks around a compromise, but those discussions are reportedly getting nowhere. Then there’s the longer-term overhaul of Medicaid in the House bill, including its transformation of the traditional program from an unlimited match rate into a so-called per capita cap system, in which there’s a limit on the funding states will receive on a per enrollee basis. “We’re definitely tweaking the House bill on that,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) said, when asked about the formulas used in the House bill to raise the caps each year. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) is lobbying for states to be able hold on to savings in years their Medicaid programs perform below the caps, so they can bank on the savings in years their programs go over. Moderates are also hopeful that a more robust tax credit scheme — which is being ironed out by Thune — will help cushion the landing on Medicaid cuts. However, any extra money thrown into Senate bill will have to be offset elsewhere, as the savings in the Senate bill must match those in the House’s. Perhaps the most closely-watched factor, at least in the near term, is the release of the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the final version of the House legislation expected on Wednesday. The score will determine the savings targets Senate Republicans must hit for their bill to be eligible for reconciliation, the complicated process by which the GOP can avoid a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. It will also set the tone for the political climate they will be operating in while writing of their bill. The CBO score of the original House GOP bill estimated that 24 million people would lose coverage over the next 10 years — a number that was clearly unacceptable for many Senate GOPers. A round of changes to the House bill before it passed scaled back pre-existing conditions in a way that is unclear how it will affect coverage numbers, while Republicans hope that it at least brings average premiums down — an effect that many GOP lawmakers have said is their primary goal in the repeal effort. There’s an off-chance that the numbers in the House bill shake out in a way that might require another House vote, if it is found that the legislation did not save enough money total or did not save enough money in the proper committees of jurisdiction. But if those bars are cleared, as expected, there will be pressure for the Senate to get past some of its stalling. “I can act quickly,” Hatch said, of what happens after the new CBO score is released. “I don’t know how quickly you can bring everyone together.”

Another Big Break

Monday May 22nd, 2017 10:51:06 PM
The Washington Post is reporting that after James Comey confirmed the existence of ‘collusion’ investigations in Senate testimony in March, President Trump personally called the head of the NSA, Adm Michael S Rodgers and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats asking them to dispute that there was any collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. Separately, White House officials asked top intelligence officials to intervene with Comey to shut the investigation down. Here’s our run-down.

WaPo: Trump Asked DNI, NSA Director To Push Back Against FBI Russia Probe

Monday May 22nd, 2017 11:02:36 PM
President Donald Trump in March asked the director of national intelligence and director of the National Security Agency to push back against the FBI’s investigation into whether members of his campaign colluded with Russian officials last year, the Washington Post reported on Monday. The Washington Post reported, citing unnamed current and former officials, that Trump asked Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and NSA Director Michael Rogers to publicly deny that any evidence of collusion existed. He made that request after former FBI Director James Comey confirmed to the House Intelligence Committee that his bureau was conducting an investigation into whether there was any “coordination” between Russian officials and Trump’s associates during the campaign, according to the Washington Post. Two unnamed current and two unnamed former officials cited in the report said that Coats and Rogers deemed Trump’s request inappropriate and refused to do so. Trump made the request to Rogers in a phone call, according to the Washington Post, and a senior NSA official documented the conversation in an internal memo written at the time. Senior officials in Trump’s administration also approached top intelligence officials about the possibility of asking Comey to shut down his bureau’s investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the Washington Post reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter. An unnamed official told the Washington Post that those officials wondered whether they could ask Comey “to shut down the investigation.” The White House did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment, but told the Washington Post that it “does not confirm or deny unsubstantiated claims based on illegal leaks from anonymous individuals.” The New York Times reported last week that Trump personally asked Comey in February to drop the FBI investigation into Flynn, a request that Comey also documented in a contemporaneous memo. Also in February, CNN reported that White House officials — including chief of staff Reince Priebus — asked members of the FBI and other federal agencies to refute stories about contact between members of the Trump campaign and Russian nationals. According to CNN, Comey was one of the officials approached, and refused to comment on the stories because of the ongoing FBI investigation.

Sessions Narrowly Defines ‘Sanctuary Cities' That Would Lose Funds

Monday May 22nd, 2017 10:34:35 PM
Attorney General Jeff Sessions specified Monday that President Donald Trump’s executive order threatening so-called “sanctuary cities” with the loss of federal funds would apply to a narrowly defined group of localities that violate existing federal law. In late April, a California judge issued a preliminary injunction against enforcement of part of the executive order, citing its ill-defined scope and applicability. “The Order’s uncertainty interferes with the Counties’ ability to budget, plan for the future, and properly serve their residents,” Judge William Orrick III wrote on April 25. “Without clarification regarding the Order’s scope or legality, the Counties will be obligated to take steps to mitigate the risk of losing millions of dollars in federal funding, which will include placing funds in reserve and making cuts to services.” Orrick noted that the the federal government had argued that the order was “merely an exercise of the President’s ‘bully pulpit’ to highlight a changed approach to immigration enforcement.” In his memo to Justice Department employees Monday, Sessions specified, “I have determined that, for purposes of enforcing the Executive Order, the term ‘sanctuary jurisdiction’ will refer only to jurisdictions that ‘willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373.’” That law does not state that localities must proactively comply with federal agents’ requests to detain arrestees past when they would have otherwise been released. Instead, it states that government officials “may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.” Sessions also said the order would only affect “federal grants administered by the Department of Justice or the Department of Homeland Security, and not to other sources of federal funding,” and specifically to any existing grant “that expressly contains this certification condition” to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373, and “to future grants for which the Department is statutorily authorized to impose such a condition.” Sessions’ specifications limit the potential scope of the executive order. In his April preliminary injunction, Orrick noted that only three DOJ or DHS grants were eligible to be withheld from localities under the government’s argued definition of the order. “This interpretation renders the Order toothless;” he wrote, referring to a situation in which affected grants and sanctuary cities were defined by existing law. “[T]he Government can already enforce these three grants by the terms of those grants and can enforce 8 U.S.C. 1373 to the extent legally possible under the terms of existing law.”

Labor Department Finds Evidence Microsoft Discriminated Against Female Employees

Friday August 5th, 2016 05:28:29 PM Lauren C. Williams
A Labor Department investigation found preliminary evidence of gender discrimination at Microsoft. The post Labor Department Finds Evidence Microsoft Discriminated Against Female Employees appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Looking At Brazil’s Economic Fall From The Top

Friday August 5th, 2016 04:07:43 PM Alejandro Davila Fragoso
In less than a decade Brazil went from miraculous growth to a historic collapse. The post Looking At Brazil’s Economic Fall From The Top appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Scott Walker Is ‘Proud’ Of Gutting University Of Wisconsin Budgets

Friday August 5th, 2016 03:13:24 PM Aaron Rupar
Fact is he has nothing to gloat about. The post Scott Walker Is ‘Proud’ Of Gutting University Of Wisconsin Budgets appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Trump Campaign Circulates Misleading Video Claiming Clinton Promised To Raise Taxes On Middle Class

Friday August 5th, 2016 02:54:26 PM Bryce Covert
Context clues. The post Trump Campaign Circulates Misleading Video Claiming Clinton Promised To Raise Taxes On Middle Class appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Donald Trump Announces Economic Policy Team: 13 Men

Friday August 5th, 2016 02:11:17 PM Josh Israel, Evan Popp
While the list does not include any women, it does include five Steves. The post Donald Trump Announces Economic Policy Team: 13 Men appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Economy Shrugs Off Signs Of Trouble With Strong Job Growth In July

Friday August 5th, 2016 12:30:43 PM Bryce Covert
Analysts had expected 180,000 jobs to be added. The post Economy Shrugs Off Signs Of Trouble With Strong Job Growth In July appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Apple Store Employees Are Diverse, But Their Silicon Valley Co-Workers Lag Behind

Thursday August 4th, 2016 09:07:48 PM Lauren C. Williams
Racial and gender diversity in retail has jumped significantly since 2014. The post Apple Store Employees Are Diverse, But Their Silicon Valley Co-Workers Lag Behind appeared first on ThinkProgress.

The States That Do Nothing To Help Working Parents

Thursday August 4th, 2016 02:50:26 PM Bryce Covert
Many states haven't passed a single law or program that would make life easier for parents. The post The States That Do Nothing To Help Working Parents appeared first on ThinkProgress.

The Brownbacklash Is Finally Here: Kansas Primary Voters Send Conservatives Packing

Wednesday August 3rd, 2016 08:00:58 PM Alan Pyke
Gov. Brownback might finally be facing a revolt from Kansas Republicans. The post The Brownbacklash Is Finally Here: Kansas Primary Voters Send Conservatives Packing appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Student Suspended For Sexual Assault Complaint Argues The College Practiced ‘Anti-Male Bias’

Wednesday August 3rd, 2016 07:37:28 PM Casey Quinlan
This Columbia University student, who was disciplined for sexual assault, is arguing that he is the victim of "anti-male bias." The post Student Suspended For Sexual Assault Complaint Argues The College Practiced ‘Anti-Male Bias’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Why Trump Can Bully Paul Ryan And Get Away With It, In One Chart

Wednesday August 3rd, 2016 02:32:31 PM Ian Millhiser
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) endorsed his party’s racist presidential nominee. Now that nominee has publicly humiliated Ryan by refusing to endorse the speaker back. Sad! The post Why Trump Can Bully Paul Ryan And Get Away With It, In One Chart appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Trump Family Has Very Predictable And Unhelpful Advice On Sexual Harassment

Tuesday August 2nd, 2016 03:28:49 PM Laurel Raymond
The Trump family's reactions place the blame for the harassment squarely on the victim's shoulders. The post Trump Family Has Very Predictable And Unhelpful Advice On Sexual Harassment appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Massachusetts Becomes First State Ever To Ban Employers From Asking For Salary Histories

Monday August 1st, 2016 06:06:54 PM Bryce Covert
The state will be the first in the country to ban employers from asking prospective hires for their salary histories. The post Massachusetts Becomes First State Ever To Ban Employers From Asking For Salary Histories appeared first on ThinkProgress.

The Paid Sick Days Movement Is Already Paying Off. Here’s the Proof.

Monday August 1st, 2016 03:03:53 PM Bryce Covert
New data shows the effort to pass paid sick leave laws is working. The post The Paid Sick Days Movement Is Already Paying Off. Here’s the Proof. appeared first on ThinkProgress.

6 Common Assumptions About ADHD That Aren’t Helping Students

Monday August 1st, 2016 12:15:24 PM Casey Quinlan
Teachers can help students with ADHD if they set aside stereotypes. The post 6 Common Assumptions About ADHD That Aren’t Helping Students appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Analysts Say Clinton Proposals Would Strengthen The Economy

Friday July 29th, 2016 02:52:29 PM Bryce Covert
The economy would benefit in particular from some unique policy platforms Clinton has proposed. The post Analysts Say Clinton Proposals Would Strengthen The Economy appeared first on ThinkProgress.

A Kentucky Politician Called Out Her Daughter’s School For Banning Cornrows And Dreadlocks

Thursday July 28th, 2016 03:18:08 PM Casey Quinlan
A Kentucky politician is unhappy with her daughter's school after she noticed it bans cornrows and dreadlocks. The post A Kentucky Politician Called Out Her Daughter’s School For Banning Cornrows And Dreadlocks appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Debt Collectors’ Harassment Tactics Are Put On Notice For First Time In 40 Years

Thursday July 28th, 2016 02:58:37 PM Bryce Covert
The country's consumer watchdog issued brand new regulations to crack down on debt collectors. The post Debt Collectors’ Harassment Tactics Are Put On Notice For First Time In 40 Years appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Democrats Grapple With The Economic Anxiety Fueling Trump’s Campaign

Thursday July 28th, 2016 12:46:21 AM Alice Ollstein
"There is a widespread alienation and disinterest in politics." The post Democrats Grapple With The Economic Anxiety Fueling Trump’s Campaign appeared first on ThinkProgress.

New York City Is About To Take A Step Toward Ending The School-To-Prison Pipeline

Wednesday July 27th, 2016 08:37:17 PM Evan Popp
The move could help begin to address the school-to-prison pipeline. The post New York City Is About To Take A Step Toward Ending The School-To-Prison Pipeline appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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