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Reena Flores Feb-16-2017 37 0
President Trump’s freewheeling press White House press conference Thursday -- in which he announced his new labor secretary pick -- also included an awkward exchange on race, after a reporter asked him about his policies to improve inner cities.

“You go to some of the inner city places and it’s so sad when you look at the crime,” the president said. He went on to describe how people “lock themselves into apartments petrified to even leave in the middle of the day” in urban areas for fear of crime in the cities.

Journalist April Ryan, who serves as the White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks, followed up: “When you say the inner cities, are you going to include the CBC, Mr. President, in your conversations with your urban agenda?”
When Mr. Trump seemed unfamiliar with the “CBC” acronym, Ryan, who is black, clarified: “Are you going to include the Congressional Black Caucus -- “

The president interrupted: “Well I would. I’d tell you what -- do you want to set up the meeting?
“Do you want to set up the meeting?” the president pressed again. “Are they friends of yours?”
Ryan emphatically shook her head and said, “No, no, no, I’m just a reporter...I know some of them but --”

“No, get us -- set up the meeting,” he urged. “Let’s go, set up the meeting, I would love to meet with the black caucus - the Congressional Black caucus.”
The CBC tweeted at Mr. Trump after the news conference.

President Trump went on to say he had once had a scheduled meeting with Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who is a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“Every day I walked in and said I would like to meet with him, because I do want to solve the problem,” Mr. Trump said. “But he probably was told by [Senate Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer or somebody like that … he was probably told don’t meet with Trump. It’s bad politics.”  
“I was all set to have the meeting,” he said.

But Rep. Cummings, a Democrat, pushed back against the president’s claims in a short statement immediately after the news conference.

“I have no idea why President Trump would make up a story about me like he did today. Of course, Sen. Schumer never told me to skip a meeting with the President,” Cummings wrote Thursday. 
“I was actually looking forward to meeting with the President about the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs,” he said, adding that he looks “forward to meeting with [Mr. Trump] on this issue and others.
AP Feb-09-2017 129 0
A federal appeals court in San Francisco has refused to reinstate President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday wouldn't block a lower-court ruling that suspended the ban and allowed previously barred travelers to enter the U.S. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is possible.

U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order halting the ban last week after Washington state and Minnesota sued. The Justice Department appealed to the 9th Circuit.

Government lawyers argued that the ban was a "lawful exercise" of the president's authority and that the seven countries have raised terrorism concerns.

The states said Trump's executive order unconstitutionally blocked entry based on religion.

AP Feb-03-2017 86 0
The Republican-controlled Congress on Thursday scrapped Obama-era rules on the environment and guns, counting on a new ally in the White House to help reverse years of what the GOP calls excessive regulation.

The Senate gave final approval to a measure eliminating a rule to prevent coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby streams, while the House backed a separate resolution doing away with extended background checks for gun purchases by some Social Security recipients with mental disabilities.

The Senate's 54-45 vote sends the repeal of the stream protection rule to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it. The gun measure awaits Senate action.

Republicans and some Democrats say the coal-mining rule could eliminate thousands of coal-related jobs and ignores dozens of federal, state and local regulations already in place.

The Interior Department, which announced the rule in December, said that it would protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests, preventing coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby waters.

The vote was the first in a series of actions Republicans are expected to take in coming weeks to reverse years of what they call excessive regulation during President Barack Obama's tenure. Rules on fracking, federal contracting and other issues also are in the cross-hairs as the GOP moves to void a host of regulations finalized during Obama's last months in office.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the stream rule "an attack against coal miners and their families" and said it would have threatened coal jobs and caused major damage to communities in Kentucky and other coal-producing states.

"The legislation we passed today will help stop this disastrous rule and bring relief to coal miners and their families," McConnell said.

Democrats called the vote an attack on clean water and a clear win for big coal-mining companies and other polluters.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said the stream rule had nothing to do with the decline of coal, which faces stiff competition from cheap natural gas.

"This rule was not in place" when coal production began declining in the past half-dozen years, Cantwell said.

In the House, the issue was an Obama rule extending background checks for disabled Social Security recipients mentally incapable of managing their own affairs. The House voted 235-180 to scuttle it.

Under the rule, the Social Security Administration had to provide information to the gun-buying background check system on recipients with a mental disorder so severe they cannot work and need someone to handle their benefits. The rule, also finalized in December, would have affected an estimated 75,000 beneficiaries.

"There is no evidence suggesting that those receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration are a threat to public safety," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

"Once an unelected bureaucrat unfairly adds these folks to the federal background check system, they are no longer able to exercise their Second Amendment right," he said.

After the 2012 school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, Obama directed the Justice Department to provide guidance to agencies regarding information they are obligated to report to the background check system.

In Newtown, 20 children and six educators were shot to death when a gunman entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. The gunman had earlier killed his mother inside their home, and he used a gun and ammunition that she had purchased. His mental health problems have been extensively reported since the shooting.

Democrats said Republicans were doing the bidding of the National Rifle Association, which opposed the Social Security Administration's rule.

"These are not people just having a bad day," Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., said. "These are not people simply suffering from depression or anxiety or agoraphobia. These are people with a severe mental illness who can't hold any kind of job or make any decisions about their affairs, so the law says very clearly they shouldn't have a firearm."

The NRA said overturning the regulation will protect a broad class of vulnerable citizens from government overreach. And the American Civil Liberties Union agreed, telling lawmakers that a disability should not constitute grounds for the automatic denial of any right or privilege, including gun ownership.

Republicans are employing a rarely used tool to roll back some of the rules issued in the final months of Obama's tenure. The Congressional Review Act provides a temporary window for a simple majority of both chambers to invalidate a rule. Trump would have to sign the disapproval measure for a regulation to be deemed invalid.

The law also prevents the executive branch from imposing substantially similar regulations in the future.

On the coal mining vote, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the sole Republican to oppose the repeal measure, which was supported by four Democrats: Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Claire McCaskill of Missouri. All four face re-election next year in states Trump won.

Daryl Washington Jan-31-2017 152 0
dan good Jan-16-2017 265 0
President-elect Donald Trump met with Martin Luther King III on Monday, as the country observed the holiday honoring King's father.

The two were seen shaking hands in the Trump Tower lobby following the early afternoon meeting, which addressed voter participation and poverty, King said.

Trump said "over and over" during the session that "he's going to represent Americans ... I think that we will continue to evaluate that," said King, who followed his father's footsteps in his work on human rights.

Trump had earlier been rumored to spend Martin Luther King Jr. Day visiting the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. — but the trip was called off due to unspecified "scheduling issues."

King answered questions from a handful of reporters after the meeting and briefly discussed the simmering feud between the President-elect and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who said that he didn't consider Trump a "legitimate president."

"In the heat of emotion, a lot of things get said on both sides," King said. "The goal is to bring America together, and Americans," he added. "We are a great nation, but we must become a greater nation."

"The goal is to bring America together, and Americans," he added. "We are a great nation, but we must become a greater nation."

William Wachtel – a lawyer who relaunched the Drum Major Institute, a think-tank and community action group, with King – also attended the meeting and later displayed a mock-up Social Security card featuring an image of Trump. The non-profit wants Trump to improve the government’s photo ID system to give more people the opportunity to vote.

The Rev. James A. Forbes and Scott Rechler were also present, the Washington Post reports.
Trump posted a message on Twitter honoring Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights icon who was assassinated in 1968.

“Celebrate Martin Luther King Day and all of the many wonderful things that he stood for,” he wrote. “Honor him for being the great man that he was!”

Lewis and dozens of other lawmakers have said they plan to boycott Trump's inauguration after Trump wrote on Twitter that Lewis was "all talk" and that his district was in "horrible shape and falling apart."

Lewis worked alongside King and other civil rights activists during the 1960s, and was severely beaten during the "Bloody Sunday" marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

"Congressman Lewis started this," Spicer told NBC's "Today" on Monday. "To see somebody of John Lewis' stature and iconic nature who has worked so hard to enfranchise people and talk about people getting involved with our voting systems, and talking about the integrity of our voting systems, to then go out when the candidate of his choice didn't win and try to talk about the delegitimization of the election, is frankly, disappointing."
mary papenfuss Jan-15-2017 100 0
Donald Trump not only slammed Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis after the black congressman challenged the legitimacy of Trump’s coming presidency, but he also ripped Lewis’ Atlanta district as “crime infested” and in “horrible shape and falling apart.” Now Atlanta residents are furious.

“He needs to do a little more research before he opens his mouth,” local mom Monique Smith told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

If “Trump believes Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District is ‘falling apart,’ then he believes Atlanta is falling apart,” the newspaper noted, and that’s hardly the case. The economically and racially diverse district includes 750,000 people and encompasses most of the city along with some suburbs.

It’s unclear what Trump meant by “falling apart.” As for “crime infested,” Atlanta was ranked 14th in violent crime rates by the FBI in 2015. Kansas City, Missouri, ranked 8th, and Washington, D.C., ranked 12th. The 5th District includes impressive sections of wealthy areas like Buckhead, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Trump’s knee-jerk perception of Lewis’ district is similar to views he expressed during his campaign when he characterized some black communities as crime-ridden hellholes worse than Afghanistan.

Trump appears to be less concerned about accuracy in his portrayal of the 5th District and more focused on devaluing a critic’s assessment of him by evoking a negative image of a blighted black community failed by its leadership.

Lewis’ furious constituents and others flooded Twitter after Trump’s comments with responses defending their congressman and their community under hashtags such as #defendthefifth and #notsad.

Houston Astros pitcher Collin McHugh of Atlanta tweeted: “As someone who lives in the 5th district, I don’t think #DJT has any idea what he’s talking about. And then doubling down by insulting the civil rights hero on #MLK wknd … wow #classy.”

Some people posted photos of high-rises, beautiful homes and children playing in a park. One Twitter user quipped that Atlanta should be relieved about Trump’s attitude — because it means he probably won’t be visiting.

Trump attacked Lewis and his district after the congressman said he wouldn’t be attending the inauguration. He said he believes Trump won the White House with the help of Russian hackers.


“I think it was a conspiracy on the part of the Russians and others to help him get elected,” he said in an interview Friday on NBC for Sunday’s “Meet The Press.” “That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not the open democratic process.”

Lewis added: “I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president.”

Lewis, an iconic civil rights leader who was once beaten so badly by a law enforcement officer in a protest that his skull was fractured, has represented the 5th District since 1987. The NAACP has called on Trump to apologize to him. Organization President Cornell William Brooks said in a Saturday tweet that Trump’s remarks “demeaned Americans” and the rights Lewis has fought for throughout his life.


Mallory Shelbourne Jan-14-2017 155 0
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) on Saturday said he will not attend Donald Trump's inauguration next week after the president-elect ripped Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).

"'All talk, no action.' I stand with @repjohnlewis and I will not be attending the inauguration," Takano wrote on Twitter.

Trump took to Twitter early Saturday to slam Lewis for saying he does not see Trump as "a legitimate president."

"Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk - no action or results. Sad!" Trump wrote in several tweets.

The attack sparked heavy backlash from several Democratic lawmakers as well as Republican Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who noted Lewis' prominent role in the Civil Rights Movement.

Lewis said Friday that while he believes in forgiveness, working with Trump would be "hard."

"I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people. It will be hard. It's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president," Lewis told NBC News on Friday.
AP Jan-14-2017 118 0
House Republicans have shown no inclination to challenge President-elect Donald Trump on ethics matters. Instead, they are going after the federal ethics official who questioned Trump's potential conflicts of interest.

Democrats slammed the move, saying GOP lawmakers are trying to intimidate an independent watchdog for having the temerity to challenge Trump's business arrangements.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has summoned Walter Shaub Jr., the director of the Office of Government Ethics, to answer questions about his public comments on Trump.

This week, Shaub issued a scathing review of Trump's plan to turn over control of his business to his sons. Shaub said in a speech Wednesday that the only way Trump could avoid a conflict of interest as president would be to divest from his business and have his assets placed in a blind trust. "Stepping back from running his business is meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective," Shaub said of Trump.

Chaffetz sent Shaub a sternly worded letter late Thursday requesting that he sit for a transcribed interview. He said the interview would "help the committee understand how you perceive OGE's role, among other things."

"Your agency's mission is to provide clear ethics guidance, not engage in public relations," Chaffetz wrote.

In an interview, Chaffetz said Shaub is offering opinions on conflicts of interest without fully researching the circumstances. "What he's doing is highly unethical," Chaffetz said.

Chaffetz said his own letter was drafted before Shaub's speech. Chaffetz said he has been trying to meet with Shaub since the fall but that Shaub has declined his invitations. "All I wanted to do is try to get him to come in and talk to us," Chaffetz said.

Chaffetz' letter cited a series of tweets by Shaub in November. In the tweets, Shaub congratulated Trump for agreeing to divest from his business — an agreement that Trump never made.

The congressman's letter did not mention Shaub's speech.

In the speech, Shaub noted that members of Trump's Cabinet — some of them very wealthy, like Trump — are required to place their assets in a blind trust. Shaub said the president should be held to the same standard. "The plan the president-elect has announced doesn't meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and that every president in the past four decades has met," Shaub said.

Shaub's criticism of Trump has been echoed by several government watchdog groups and both Republican and Democratic government ethics experts. They include Norman Eisen, a former chief ethics counselor for President Barack Obama, and Richard Painter, who served in the same role for President George W. Bush.

Congressional Democrats sharply criticized Chaffetz for summoning Shaub.

"The Oversight Committee has not held one hearing, conducted one interview, or obtained one document about President-elect Donald Trump's massive global entanglements, yet it is now apparently rushing to launch an investigation of the key government official for warning against the risks caused by President-elect Donald Trump's current plans," said Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, then top Democrat on the committee.

Some Democrats see a coordinated effort by Republicans to undermine the office responsible for ethics reviews of Cabinet nominees and ensuring they will avoid conflicts of interests.

"Instead of honoring his committee's responsibility to hold the administration accountable, Chairman Chaffetz has appointed himself President-elect Trump's chief strongman and enforcer," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

A week ago, Shaub complained that Senate Republicans were moving ahead with confirmation hearings before Trump's choices had reached ethics agreements.

This week, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., circulated an online petition that says, "It's time for the bureaucrats at the Office of Government Ethics to pick up the pace on vetting President-elect Trump's nominees for the cabinet."
Reuters Jan-07-2017 161 0
President Obama said on Friday that criticism from the left wing of his own Democratic Party helped feed into the unpopularity of Obamacare, his signature health care reform law.

Obama has been spending part of his last two weeks in office urging supporters to speak out against plans by Republicans - who will soon control both the White House and Congress - to dismantle the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

At a town hall event with Vox Media, Obama acknowledged the politics have been stacked against his reforms, mainly blaming Republicans who he said refused to help make legislative fixes to Obamacare, which provides subsidies for private insurance to lower-income Americans who do not have healthcare plans at work.

But Obama also said liberals like former Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders had contributed to the program's unpopularity.

During Sanders' campaign for the presidential nomination, he proposed replacing Obamacare with a government-run single-payer health insurance system based on Medicare, the government plan for elderly and disabled Americans.

"In the 'dissatisfied' column are a whole bunch of Bernie Sanders supporters who wanted a single-payer plan," Obama said in the interview.

"The problem is not that they think Obamacare is a failure. The problem is that they don't think it went far enough and that it left too many people still uncovered," Obama said.

Michael Briggs, a spokesman for Sanders, agreed that many people would rather the government "take on the private insurance industry and the pharmaceutical companies" and play a bigger role in providing healthcare.

"There are many millions of Americans, including many of Bernie's supporters, who don’t understand why we are the only major country on earth that does not provide healthcare as a right and they don’t understand why we pay more but get less for what we spend on healthcare," Briggs said.

Polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation last month showed 46% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Obamacare, while 43% have a favorable view. Americans are also split on whether the law should be repealed.

Trump and congressional Republicans have vowed to quickly repeal the law, but Obama and Democrats have argued they should reveal a replacement plan before dismantling the program.

More than 20 million previously uninsured Americans gained health coverage through Obamacare, according to the White House. Coverage was extended by expanding the Medicaid program for the poor and through online exchanges where consumers can receive income-based subsidies.
Jason Silverstein Jan-03-2017 109 0
Members of the NAACP started occupying the Mobile office of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions Tuesday, calling for him to turn down his controversial nomination to become the next U.S. Attorney General.

NAACP President Cornell William Brooks led several protesters into the office after noon, and said he'd be fine with leaving in handcuffs.

President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Sessions, 70, to be his Attorney General — a move that drew immediate rebukes for Sessions' history of opposing civil rights causes.

Sessions lost a nomination from President Ronald Reagan to become a federal judge after accusations that he had made racist remarks. Former colleagues said he called civil rights groups, including the NAACP, “un-American” and “communist inspired,” but said he was “okay” with the Ku Klux Klan until he learned that some members smoked marijuana.

Since then, he has earned a reputation as one of the staunchest conservatives in the Senate, and he has opposed Obamacare, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and all three of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominees.

In a press conference before the protest, Birmingham NAACP leader Hezekiah Jackson said the black civil rights group "has chosen not to remain silent on this critical matter."

"We have found no evidence of (Sessions') ability, past or present, to be impartial and unbiased as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States of America, especially in the areas of civil rights, voting rights and equal protection under the law," Johnson said.

There were not any arrests in the first hour of the protest, Mobile Police Public Affairs Officer Charlette Solis told the Daily News. She was not sure how many protesters were in Sessions' office.
A representative in Sessions' Mobile refused to answer questions and referred to News to the senator's Washington, D.C. office. 
ap Dec-12-2016 133 0
Former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah was sentenced Monday to a 10-year prison term by a judge who said he was "astonished" that a veteran legislator would steal government and charity funds to pay his son's debts and buy a vacation home.

Fattah, a Democrat who was born into a family of black activists in west Philadelphia, spent two decades in Congress working on housing, education, gun control and other issues of concern to his mostly poor district. Fattah and his TV anchor wife meanwhile took in more than $500,000 a year.

Yet Fattah's finances grew increasingly dire after a failed 2007 run for mayor, when he faced new campaign spending limits that led him to take an illegal $1 million loan from a friend. The trouble escalated when the friend called in the debt.

As he awaited his sentence, Fattah told the judge he had mixed emotions: saddened to find himself in court but grateful for the work he was able to do over 37 years as a state and federal lawmaker.
"I've helped tens of millions of people," said Fattah, 60. "(That) has nothing to do with the fact that I've been found on the wrong side of these questions by a jury."

Fattah lost the spring primary days before trial and resigned his seat following his June conviction. The jury found he took the $1 million loan from the chairman of Sallie Mae, the student loan corporation. He returned $400,000 of it and repaid some of the rest with federal grant money he had steered to an education nonprofit run by former aides.

The nonprofit efforts — including a NASA-funded mobile science classroom emblazoned with Fattah's name that roamed Philadelphia during the mayoral campaign — helped promote Fattah's political career, prosecutors said. Fattah was also ordered Monday to repay $600,000 to Sallie Mae and NASA.

"For someone so interested in advancing education for the disadvantaged, you had the temerity to steal from the Educational Advancement Alliance, a nonprofit supported by government funds," U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle said. "While you have done much good, you also engaged in grave and widespread criminal activity."

Four co-defendants who helped Fattah move government grants and other money between his campaign, the nonprofits and his consultants will be sentenced throughout the week.

Fattah used the money on campaign and personal expenses, the jury found. He put $23,000 in nonprofit funds toward his son's college loans and took an $18,000 bribe to try to help a friend become an ambassador. Fattah and his wife used that money for a down payment on a Poconos vacation home. They told authorities it covered the friend's purchase of a Porsche owned by Fattah's wife, but the Porsche never left their garage.

Fattah had insisted the Justice Department had been out to get him and his family for years. He plans to appeal the conviction.

"There are so many people in this courtroom and outside that owe their success — and also are able to serve the community so much better — as a result of the congressman's influence, support and inspiration," said Joseph Quinones, a one-time high school dropout who said that Fattah's encouragement led him to earn a master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

The congressman's son is serving a five-year prison term in an overlapping fraud case that went to trial last year. Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr. was convicted of using fraudulently obtained business loans to fund his jet-set lifestyle.

The elder Fattah, who earned $174,000 as a congressman, is married to longtime Philadelphia news anchor Renee Chenault-Fattah. They have two school-age children. Chenault-Fattah spent 25 years with WCAU-TV before she resigned after the indictment named her a participant in the bribery scheme. She was never charged and has denied wrongdoing.

Fattah's co-defendants include former Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Herbert Vederman, of Palm Springs, Florida, who had sought the ambassadorship. Two political consultants pleaded guilty and testified at trial.

Prosecutors had asked for a 17- to 21-year sentence. The judge gave Fattah until Jan. 25 to report to prison.

Fattah entered Congress in 1995. Former state Rep. Dwight Evans, a fellow Democrat, now holds his seat.
Brooke Seipel Dec-12-2016 174 0
A West Virginia government employee who was removed from her position for a Facebook post referring to first lady Michelle Obama as an "ape in heels" will get her job back, according to recent reports.

Pamela Taylor, director of the Clay County Development Corp., was fired in early November after she said "It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I'm tired of seeing a Ape in heels."

The Clay County Development Corp. announced on Saturday that Taylor would be reinstated on Dec. 23.

The post also cost the local mayor her job. Former Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling resigned after commenting that Taylor's post "just made my day."

The post was a source of public outrage, with nearly 1,500 people demanding the resignations of both via a petition. The two have since made public apologies.
AP Nov-15-2016 162 0
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) will introduce legislation on Tuesday to get rid of the Electoral College, after Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election despite leading in the popular vote.

"In my lifetime, I have seen two elections where the winner of the general election did not win the popular vote," Boxer said in a statement. "In 2012, Donald Trump tweeted, 'The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy. I couldn't agree more. One person, one vote!"

"She added that Clinton, whom she supported, is "on track to have received more votes than any other presidential candidate in history except Barack Obama."

The Electoral College is an outdated, undemocratic system that does not reflect our modern society, and it needs to change immediately," she said.

Clinton is currently leading Trump by nearly a million votes, according to a Cook Political Report tracker of the national popular vote,  but Trump won the Electoral College, leading the former secretary of State 290-232.

According to Pew, Clinton would be the fifth person to win the popular vote, but lose the election.
Boxer's legislation would amend the Constitution to abolish the Electoral College. Even if it is approved by Congress it would need to be approved by three-fourths of the states within seven years before it would take effect.

Trump called the Electoral College "genius" on Tuesday morning, despite past criticism.

The tweet comes after Trump said during a "60 Minutes" interview on Sunday that he still has issues with the Electoral College.

"I'm not going to change my mind just because I won," the president-elect said. "But I would rather see it where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes and somebody else gets 90 million votes and you win."
Mark Hensch Nov-14-2016 236 0
Two Democratic members of the Electoral College have launched a campaign to keep President-elect Donald Trump from entering the White House, according to a new report.

Washington's Bret Chiafolo and Colorado's Michael Baca hope at least 37 of their GOP colleagues will abandon Trump and force the House into picking the next president instead, Politico said Monday.

Politico said the pair's so-called "Moral Electors" movement has already found one backer in Washington's Robert Satiacum.

"This is a longshot," Chiafolo told Politico in a phone interview Monday. "It's a hail Mary. However, I do see situations where - when we've already had two or three [Republican] electors state publicly they didn't want to vote for Trump. How many of them have real issue with Donald Trump in private?"
Politico said neither Baca nor Chiafolo is seeking the election of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Both vowed they would encourage GOP electors to write-in either Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) or 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney instead.

The House would choose from among the top-three vote getters should enough electors reject Trump's claim to the White House.

Politico noted the 538 members of the Electoral College are scheduled to gather in their various state capitals and formally vote for president Dec. 19.

Baca and Chiafolo are seeking 37 other electors to halt Trump due to the Republican's results in the Electoral College vote last week.

Trump claimed 290 electoral votes to Clinton's 228, and currently leads in Michigan, which awards another 16.
Michigan would boost Trump's total to 306 electoral votes if all electors there go his way, well past the 270 threshold required for the presidency.

Politico added it could find only one GOP elector on record considering a break with Trump, his party's nominee.

Texas's Art Sisneros, a Libertarian activist, on Monday said he remains "undecided" but state party leaders and fellow GOP electors are pressuring him to go with Trump.

Twenty-nine states have laws mandating their electors support the victor of their state's popular vote, though Politico acknowledged none has ever been challenged or enforced.

Clinton's loss to Trump remains controversial as the former secretary of State won the national popular vote by less than 1 point over him.
Paul Farhi Nov-01-2016 219 0
CNN chose an odd way to announce some news about itself on Monday: It waited until reporters called to disclose the fact that, yes, it had parted ways with one of its longtime commentators, Donna Brazile.

And it waited two weeks to do even that.

The cable network accepted Brazile’s resignation on Oct. 14 after it learned about her undisclosed role in back-channeling questions intended for a CNN-sponsored primary debate to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. According to Wikileaks, which posted hacked emails sent by Brazile to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, Brazile tipped the Clinton camp to at least two debate questions.

On Monday, a spokeswoman said in response to press calls that CNN was “extremely uncomfortable” with Brazile’s involvement in helping Clinton and had accepted her resignation — two weeks earlier. She didn’t explain why news about Brazile’s status at CNN was delayed for weeks.

On Tuesday, CNN President Jeff Zucker told staffers in an internal conference call that he found Brazile’s behavior “disgusting.” But that statement raised its own set of questions, such as: Why was it “disgusting” for a political operative employed by CNN to try to help a candidate she’s promoted on CNN?

A CNN spokeswoman reiterated on Tuesday that no one at the network gave Brazile the information she secretly sent to Podesta. People at the network said CNN didn’t disclose her resignation on Oct. 14 because it was hoping to avoid calling attention to it at the time.

What’s known to date is that the leaks of the debate questions did not appear to come from within the cable network.

Brazile appears to have gotten one advance question about the death penalty from Roland S. Martin of TV One, who was a co-moderator of a CNN-sponsored town hall debate on March 13 between Clinton and Democratic challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Martin, or people close to him, evidently sent the question to Brazile, who passed it on to Podesta and Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri. The question was later asked at the town hall.

The circumstances behind the second question are somewhat murkier. Brazile told Podesta on March 5 to expect a question from a resident of Flint, Mich., about the city’s water crisis, writing in an email, “One of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman with a rash.”

At the Flint debate the next day, CNN moderator Anderson Cooper introduced Flint resident Lee-Anne Walters, who said the city’s water had poisoned her family. She asked what the candidates would do about the issue. (Walters told Fox News on Tuesday that she still has a rash from the tainted water.)

CNN sources say Brazile learned that such a question would be forthcoming from a woman she met at a CNN-sponsored volunteer event in Flint held before the debate. But people at CNN couldn’t explain how Brazile knew the woman she met had been picked to ask the question.
Brazile was unavailable for comment.

A high-ranking CNN executive said Zucker described Brazile’s behavior as “disgusting” on Tuesday because “she took proprietary CNN information – a specific question that might possibly be asked at the town hall .?.?. and gave it to one of the candidates in the town hall. Regardless of how she got the information, even though she didn’t get it from us, it was wrong.”

Brazile, who was vice chair of the Democratic National Committee at the time of the primary debates and is now interim chair, was an outspoken proponent of Clinton during her many CNN appearances. She also was a paid commentator for ABC News. (ABC said Tuesday that Brazile’s status remains unchanged; her contract with the network was suspended in July when she became interim DNC chair.)

Brazile’s dual roles point up the inherent conflict of interest in the networks’ employment of political figures as commentators, said Edward Wasserman, dean of the graduate school of journalism at the University of California at Berkeley.

“There’s a clear conflict of loyalties,” he said. “She behaved in a way that is thoroughly unprincipled for a journalist and as an employee of CNN because she’s giving away proprietary secrets. Her obligation to a Democratic campaign outweighed her obligation to CNN and to the audience of CNN.”
Several of the major networks employ political figures such as Brazile to provide analysis. Fox News has given prime slots to a long list of former, and potentially, future Republican presidential candidates such as Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin. CNN employs Paul Begala, a former aide to Bill Clinton, and — perhaps most controversially — Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, despite a non-disparagement agreement between Lewandowski and the campaign.

“We’ve seen what a generation ago would have been unthinkable become fairly accepted,” said Wasserman, a former newspaper editor. “Back when I started in journalism, the door only opened one way. You were a journalist or you were a politician. Now the door swings both ways. It’s highly problematic and confusing the audience.”
His solution: “If you’re going to put these people on the air, question them as sources, not as employees with a horse in another race.”
Sean Sullivan Oct-27-2016 157 0
Donald Trump on Wednesday pledged what he called a “new deal for black America” as he attempted to make late inroads with a voting bloc that polling shows favors Democrat Hillary Clinton by a vast margin.

“I will be your greatest champion,” Trump said during an campaign rally here. “I will never ever take the African American community for granted. Never, ever.”

In a scripted speech heavy on policy specifics, the Republican presidential nominee laid out a plan that he said is built on setting up better schools, lowering crime in inner cities and creating more high-paying jobs.

He told the largely white audience that “massive numbers” of black Americans have been ignored and left behind, and he blamed Democrats and Clinton for the “crippling crime and total violence” in the nation’s inner cities.

Trump was speaking in a city that was rocked by protests last month after police killed an unarmed black man. In his speech, he accused Clinton of waging a “war on police” that he said puts black lives at risk, and he called for police and residents to work together.

The GOP nominee pledged to remove gang members from inner cities and continued to falsely assert that the national murder rate is the highest it has been in 45 years.

“Some of our inner cities are more dangerous than the war zones we’re reading about and seeing about every night,” Trump said.

The real estate mogul said he wants to allow cities and states to declare disaster areas in blighted communities and give microloans to black entrepreneurs to help spur jobs. He championed school choice, which he called the “great civil rights issue of our time,” and increased funding for historically black colleges and universities.

He proposed tax holidays for inner-city investment and incentives for foreign companies to invest in “blighted American neighborhoods,” though Trump did not say what they were.

Trump later campaigned in Kinston, N.C., rallying an overwhelmingly white audience in a city that is about 68 percent black.

Trump’s candidacy is barely registering with African American voters. He had 3 percent support among African Americans in an ABC News tracking poll released Sunday, compared with Clinton’s 82 percent. Romney had 6 percent support among African Americans in 2012.

Toward the end of his speech, Trump also took a shot at a long-vanquished Republican rival as he slammed Clinton.

“She has less energy than Jeb Bush,” Trump said, saying he had brought up Bush because he didn’t live up to his pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee.

During the primary, Trump had disparagingly called Bush “low energy.” A Bush spokeswoman said Trump continues to be fixated on the former Florida governor.

“Donald Trump’s unending obsession with Governor Bush is very sad. Donald Trump should be focused on his current race — he certainly needs all the help he can get,” Kristy Campbell said in an email.

Ben Kochman Oct-16-2016 508 0
A Republican candidate for state Senate was busted Friday for bilking at least 10 people in a Craigslist rent scam, police said.

Jon Girodes, 38, faces several grand larceny charges for listing his ritzy Hell’s Kitchen apartment online and collecting rent deposits — only to back out of the deals and keep the cash, cops said.

Girodes, who is running for the Harlem state Senate seat now held by Bill Perkins, stole a total of $50,000 from 10 victims, both men and women, police said.

After listing his luxury digs at 635 W. 42nd St. and demanding a year’s rent in cash up front, the politico refused to hand over the keys, cops said.

He stole over $11,000 from one woman alone — $7,750 for a purported lease and another $3,500 to “help” her find an immigration lawyer, ABC reported.

Girodes, wearing an untucked violet button-down shirt, jeans and loafers, grinned at reporters as detectives led him out of the 7th Precinct on the Lower East Side Friday night.

“I love the NYPD, but there are two sides to every story,” the candidate quipped.

He was still smiling as cops loaded him into the back of an unmarked SUV, as he headed to Manhattan Criminal Court to be arraigned.

Girodes’ bust comes just days after he outraged Harlem residents by telling a reporter he planned to woo prospective voters in the historically black neighborhood with Kool Aid, fried chicken and watermelons.
Alan Gomez Oct-15-2016 192 0
Attention U.S. travelers going abroad: You now can bring home all the Cuban rum and cigars you want.


The Obama administration announced Friday a new round of executive actions designed to increase trade and travel with the communist island. And this is the one many Americans have been waiting for — no more restrictions on the island's famed rum and cigars.

Under the new rules, travelers can purchase unlimited quantities of Cuban rum and cigars in any country where they are sold so long as they are for personal consumption. Sorry American couch potatoes: You can't order Cuban rum and cigars online and have them shipped to your home.

The regulations issued by the U.S. departments of Commerce and Treasury will make it easier for U.S. companies to import Cuban-made pharmaceuticals, U.S. agricultural companies to sell their products to the island and Cubans to purchase U.S.-made goods online.

The changes follow a series of steps taken since President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced on Dec. 17, 2014, that the Cold War foes would normalize relations after more than a half century of enmity.

On Friday, Obama added to the regulatory changes with a presidential policy directive that outlines his Cuba strategy thus far and lays out the future course. It includes a call for Congress to rescind a 50-year-old economic embargo on the island, something lawmakers have been unwilling to do so long as the Castro regime suppresses political and other freedoms.

The goal of the new regulations and policy directive are to make Obama's Cuba policy "irreversible" by establishing so many relationships with Cuba that a future administration wanting to scale back those ties would face widespread opposition from U.S. businesses and citizens.

"Challenges remain — and very real differences between our governments persist on issues of democracy and human rights — but I believe that engagement is the best way to address those differences and make progress on behalf of our interests and values," Obama said. "The progress of the last two years, bolstered by today's action, should remind the world of what's possible when we look to the future together."

The most noticeable — and likely most welcome — change for most Americans is the removal of the five-decade ban on Cuban rum and cigars. The Obama administration partially lifted that ban in January 2015, allowing Americans traveling directly to Cuba to return home with up to $100 in rum and cigars in their carry-on luggage.

Now, that monetary restriction is removed and U.S. citizens can purchase as much Cuban tobacco and alcohol as they want from anywhere they find the products abroad. That means all those Cuban bottles and boxes at duty free shops in foreign airports are fair game. The only restriction, according to Treasury: "Normal limits on duty and tax exemptions will apply."

All the changes go into effect Monday.
Oct-07-2016 193 0
Wading into a racially-charged case from his past, Donald Trump indicated that the "Central Park Five" were guilty, despite being officially exonerated by DNA evidence decades after a notorious 1989 rape case.

"They admitted they were guilty," Trump said to CNN in a statement.

"The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same."

The five men were convicted as teenagers after implicating each other under intense questioning over a brutal sexual assault on a jogger that dominated the tabloids. Defenders said they were coerced into confessing and all five were later cleared by DNA evidence and a separate confession in 2002 from another criminal who took credit for the assault.

New York paid them $41 million in a settlement in 2014 over their ordeal.
Trump took out a full-page ad at the time of the crime calling for New York to reinstate the death penalty in response.

The case was notable for its racial politics: Four of the Central Park Five were black and one was Latino while the victim was a white banker.
Jordan Fabian Oct-06-2016 220 0
President Obama on Thursday commuted the sentences of 102 inmates, the White House announced.
Obama has commuted the sentences of 744 individuals, more than the past 11 presidents combined, according to the White House. Thursday's announcement brings the total number granted this year alone to 590.

The latest round of commutations is part of the Obama administration's effort to free prisoners serving lengthy sentences doled out during the government's war on drugs.

With just three months left in office, Obama is accelerating the use of his clemency power. Obama in August handed out commutations to 325 inmates - including 214 on Aug. 3, the largest single-day total since 1900.

That alone nearly doubled the number of commutations granted during Obama's presidency.
Obama first launched a clemency initiative in 2014 to review sentences of non-violent drug offenders who would receive shorter prison terms under today's guidelines.

It's part of the president's broader push to reform the criminal justice system.
Facing pressure from reform advocates to pick up the pace of commutations, the administration has tweaked its strategy to accommodate more inmates.

He's shortened some inmates' sentences without immediately releasing them, leaving them years left to serve. That has allowed Obama to grant commutations to prisoners who have committed more serious offenses.

A larger number of inmates convicted of gun charges have received clemency from Obama, according to a USA Today review.
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