FBI Director James Comey strongly defended Wednesday his decision to alert Congress just days before the 2016 election about his agency’s investigation into emails potentially related to Hillary Clinton’s personal server, telling senators while the idea of impacting the election made him “mildly nauseous,” he would not change what he did.
A Clinton County, Illinois high school senior’s dreams to graduate and attend college were shattered after authorities said another student struck him with a fatal blow.
The county coroner said the incident happened at a party Saturday night at a party near Germantown. Somebody hit 18-year-old Jacob J. Arter. Friends rushed Arter to the hospital in their own car. He was pronounced dead less than an hour later.
“It’s an unfortunate tragedy that affects two families,” said Clinton County Sheriff Doug Maue.
Arter’s family is mourning his loss. He was enrolled at Central High School in Breese. The suspected student behind the attack also attended Central High School. That individual remains in juvenile custody.
People at Central High School were stunned that Arter is gone.
“He was very smart and nice. People liked to be around him and he was very involved in school. He played football and he did activities in school,” said Shawnee Zimmer, Arter’s schoolmate. “I was very shocked. I didn’t think that would ever happen here in the community.”
WASHINGTON — Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s first national security adviser, may have violated federal law by not fully disclosing his business dealings with Russia when seeking a security clearance to work in the White House, top House oversight lawmakers from both parties asserted on Tuesday.
The revelation came after Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah and chairman of the House oversight committee, and other lawmakers on the panel examined classified documents related to Mr. Flynn, including a form he filled out in January 2016 to receive his security clearance. The form is known as an SF-86 and is required by anyone in the government who handles classified information.
As part of the review, Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s senior Democrat, said Mr. Flynn did not disclose in those documents payments totaling more than $45,000 that he received from the Russian government for giving a speech in Moscow in 2015, among others.
The development is the latest trouble for Mr. Flynn, who also did not disclose payments from Russian-linked entities on a financial disclosure form that the Trump administration released in late March. Earlier in March, Mr. Flynn filed papers acknowledging that he worked as a foreign agent last year representing the interests of the Turkish government, causing another uproar and more unfavorable headlines for the Trump administration.
It’s a dark day at ESPN.
The sports broadcasting network sent a memo to employees early Wednesday, informing them that a series of previously announced layoffs would take place today. The number of employees cut will be around 100, Fox News has learned.
The memo, from ESPN President John Skipper, noted that the network’s new talent lineup will be announced soon. The layoffs are expected to impact some of the network’s popular on-air personalities.
“Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent—anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play—necessary to meet those demands,” Skipper wrote to employees. “We will implement changes in our talent lineup this week. A limited number of other positions will also be affected and a handful of new jobs will be posted to fill various needs.
“These decisions impact talented people who have done great work for our company. I would like to thank all of them for their efforts and their many contributions to ESPN.”
Fox News has learned that ESPN employees were being informed of the cuts early Wednesday. A source with knowlege of the situation told Fox News that despite buzz that the planned number of layoffs has grown in recent weeks, the gameplan was always to cut around 100 people.
ESPN also outlined the network’s new strategy in a post on its media website published Wednesday. The company is placing an increased focused on its ESPN App with a “multi-screen approach around big events.”
“On the horizon is more live news video and enhanced video and audio streaming,” the release stated.
ESPN also plans to bolster its online presence.
“Our goal continues to be to maximize our unparalleled scale in every medium with storytelling that stands out and makes a difference. We are well-equipped to thrive going forward by embracing these themes.
Trump gives up on tax overhaul plan
Either Trump would shut the federal government down on Friday at midnight, which would be politically problematic for him and his administration, or Trump would surrender, which would be politically problematic for him and his administration.
The president has apparently chosen the latter.
President Donald Trump has indicated that he’s willing to back away from his demand that a government funding bill include money to build a wall on the Southern border, a move that could help clear the way for Congress to avoid a shutdown.
A senior administration official tells NBC News that the president is open to obtaining funding for the border wall in the regular appropriations process for 2018 later this year instead of insisting it be included as part of the large spending bill to keep the government’s lights on past this week.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters yesterday. “The president is working hard to keep the government open.” And by “working hard,” Mnuchin apparently meant, “crawling away from the corner he backed himself into without any plan for success.”
Democrats are likely to agree to some new funding for border security, in the form of investments in “technology and border agents,” and it’s easy to imagine the president pretending that this is money for some kind of symbolic, metaphorical wall, but let’s not play games: Trump and his team effectively told Democrats, “Allocate money for the wall or else.” Calling the White House’s bluff, Democrats replied, “No.”
And in response, Team Trump blinked.
For a guy who billed himself as a world-class expert in negotiations, the president is remarkably bad at this. It was painfully obvious from the start that this strategy would fail, but Trump and his aides pursued this gambit anyway.
The fact that the White House took one posture last week, only to take a more conciliatory line this week, doesn’t count as a flip-flop, per se. It’s actually something far worse: it’s an example of Trump talking tough, only to quit when the pressure rose and no one much cared about his chest-thumping.
For a fairly new and unpopular president, developing a reputation for failing to follow through on threats will carry consequences. Trump said he desperately needed a Muslim ban. He vowed to unveil a cybersecurity plan. He swore his voter-fraud commission would tackle important work. He’d demand an up-or-down vote in the House on the American Health Care Act. He’d label China a currency manipulator. Each of these commitments were either ignored or forgotten about by an easily distracted president who, everyone now knows, doesn’t always mean what he says.
Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy is known for having said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Donald Trump’s maxim appears to be, “Speak bigly and carry a small golf club.”
Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions is preparing to face fresh scrutiny for a decades’ old charge he made racially-charged comments while a US Attorney in his home state of Alabama.
The allegations cost him a job as a federal judge in 1986 and have the potential to sink his nomination to be attorney general under President-elect Donald Trump. To survive, he will need to carefully distance himself from the damaging charges and deftly manage how his Senate colleagues — and the public — react to them.
It won’t be easy.
Many Democrats already are deeply disturbed by the allegations that Sessions may have called an African-American lawyer “boy” and accused the NAACP and ACLU of being “un-American.” They promise to re-investigate the charges to determine if they are still relevant. But Democrats are equally concerned about fourth-term senator’s current views on immigration and border control, which they consider strident and racially-biased.
They worry that in the sensitive post as the top law enforcement official in the country, Sessions may not treat all people equally under law and already some Democrats privately want to defeat him.
“While many of us have worked with Senator Sessions closely and know him to be a staunch advocate for his beliefs, the process will remain the same: a fair and complete review of the nominee. While Senator Sessions and I differ on a great many issues, I am committed to a full and fair process,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who will be the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee next year when it holds confirmation hearings for Sessions, who also sits on the committee.
In 2009, Sessions told CNN’s Dana Bash that his 1986 confirmation hearing before the Judiciary Committee — a contentious affair where he clashed repeatedly with Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and other Democrats — was “really heartbreaking to me.”
Visibly upset in the television interview, the earnest senator pleaded his case.
“That was not fair. That was not accurate. Those were false charges and distortions of anything that I did, and it really was not. I never had those kinds of views, and I was caricatured in a way that was not me,” he said.
The question is whether Session’s heartfelt appeal that he was a victim of wrongful allegations and not the perpetrator of racially-insensitive conduct can convince senators to confirm him. The haze of time and distance from the events may assist Sessions, especially with many of the players of the 1986 drama no longer in the Senate.
Sessions’ political ties to Trump and Senate Republican leaders could help him too. He’s a fierce defender of the President-elect and was the first senator to endorse him. Trump said he could have any job he wanted — and he mulled becoming secretary of defense before settling on AG.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said he “strongly supports” the nomination and promised a swift confirmation process for him. Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, noting that Sessions was once the top Republican on the committee, said he is “confident he would be reported favorably out of the committee.”
Also helping Sessions are the new Senate rules that will allow him to be confirmed with the support of just 51 senators, not the supermajority 60 that were required until recently. That means Republicans can confirm Sessions without any Democratic support.
Sessions, who will want to be confirmed with bipartisan support, will point Democrats to comments from the late Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who in 1986 was one of only two GOP members of the Judiciary Committee to vote against Sessions’ nomination to the federal bench. In 2009, as Specter was leaving the Republican Party and joining the Democratic caucus, he said he “regretted” that vote.
“Because I have found that Sen. Sessions is egalitarian,” Specter told reporters.
Defending Sessions’ record on civil rights issues, Trump spokesman Jason Miller noted Friday that Session had voted for a 30-year extension of the Civil Rights Act, had voted to confirm Eric Holder — who is black — as attorney general, and voted to give civil rights legend Rosa Parks the Congressional Gold Medal.
As an example of the Trump team readying for a battle, a public relations firm sent reporters pictures of Sessions attending the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday at the Edmund Pettus Bridge and holding hands with Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia. The release said the photos are ‘Worth 1,000 words” and the Sessions’ critics may not want the photos to be seen.
Race and the Capitol
The difficult topic of race relations is never far from the surface in the Capitol, where momentous battles over slavery and civil rights were fought out on the House and Senate floors. Today, lawmakers remain divided over questions about police shootings of black Americans, voting rights and even the appropriateness of Confederate imagery in the historic building.
Sessions is certainly not the first senator to grapple with racial issues but still advance his career.
Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia, was a member of the Ku Klux Klan as a young man before serving 51 years in the Senate. Byrd repeatedly apologized for his membership in the group — calling it the “greatest mistake of my life” — and rose to become majority leader and one of the most respected members of the body.
Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-South Carolina, ran for president as a segregationist in 1948 and led a record-breaking 24 hour filibuster of a civil rights bill in 1957. Through his 48 years in the Senate, he took steps towards racial reconciliation and today a room in the Capitol is named for him. (Although aides will work to ensure that the bust of the controversial senator is not visible when that room is used for TV interviews.)
One man who was unable to escape a racially-based political maelstrom, is former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi. In 2002, at a birthday party for 100-year-old Thurmond, Lott said the country “wouldn’t’ have had all these problems over the years” had Thurmond won the White House in 1948.
He was out of a job in a matter of weeks.
Lott’s former aide, Ron Bonjean, told CNN that his boss really lost his job because he was in a power struggle with President George W. Bush, not because of the off-handed, impolitic comment at a birthday party.
“He stepped into the fray not realizing the grave political situation he was in. Not realizing the Bush administration was out to get him beyond the comments he made about Strom Thurmond, for which he apologized several times,” Bonjean said. “It was exacerbated by the Bush administration, which saw an opportunity to put in a new majority leader that would be more responsive to their needs.”
Bonjean, a longtime Capitol Hill aide and now a political strategist, had thoughts on what Sessions should do if Democrats bring up his alleged old remarks.
“He needs to be very clear about what he thinks about race in America today and that everyone is equal under the law in his eyes and disavow anything that could be construed as comments that would showcase otherwise. You have to do that straight away. It’s a very dangerous situation when you’re trying to parse your comments,” Bonjean said.
Hillary Clinton issued a blistering takedown of Donald Trump Thursday, accusing him of racism and arguing that “fringe” elements have taken over the Republican Party.
“From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia,” Clinton said at a campaign rally here. “He’s taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party. His disregard for the values that make our country great is profoundly dangerous.”
She added, “This is what I want to make clear today: A man with a long history of racial discrimination, who traffics in dark conspiracy theories drawn from the pages of supermarket tabloids and the far reaches of the Internet, should never run our government or command our military. Ask yourself: If he doesn’t respect all Americans, how can he serve all Americans?”
Clinton attacking the alt-right — what is it?
The comments — delivered in what could be a crucial swing state in November — mark a dramatic escalation in the war of words between Clinton and Trump. The Republican nominee flatly labeled her a “bigot” on Wednesday, prompting Clinton to tell CNN he was “taking a hate movement mainstream” and was outside the norm of American politics.
Trump offered a prebuttal in New Hampshire earlier Thursday, saying that Clinton “paints decent Americans as racists.”
“She bullies voters who only want a better future and tries to intimidate them out of voting for a change,” Trump said at a campaign event in Manchester. “Hillary Clinton isn’t just attacking me, she’s attacking all of the decent people of all backgrounds — doesn’t matter — of all backgrounds who support this incredible, once in a lifetime movement.”
He later tweeted after her remarks, “Hillary Clinton’s short speech is pandering to the worst instincts in our society. She should be ashamed of herself!”
Asked by WMUR in Manchester later Thursday if he wanted white supremacists to vote for him, Trump simply responded, “No. I don’t at all.”
Speaking at a community college, Clinton sought to link Trump to the “alt-right,” an informal group of mostly white conservative men aligned with the Republican Party that sees Trump as the only choice in 2016. The “alt-right” lives primarily online, regularly pushing racist, homophobic and sexist content.
Trump, however, has been embraced by the fringe groups, in part because he tapped Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, as the CEO of his campaign. Bannon has said that his former publication is “the platform of the alt-right.”
Clinton says Trump leading ‘hate movement’; he calls her a ‘bigot’
Clinton said the Bannon hire has led to a “de facto merger” between Breitbart and the Trump campaign represents a “landmark achievement” for a “fringe element that has effectively taken over the Republican Party.”
“All of this adds up to something we’ve never seen before,” Clinton said. “Of course there’s always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, steeped in racial resentment. But it’s never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it, and giving it a national megaphone. Until now.”
Outreach to Republicans
Clinton devoted large portions of her speech to making overtures to Republicans, calling this election “a moment of reckoning for every Republican dismayed that the party of Lincoln has become the party of Trump.”
“This is not conservatism as we have known it. This is not Republicanism as we have known it,” Clinton said, departing from her prepared remarks.
“We have our disagreements. We need good debates. Need to do it in respectful way. Not finger- pointing. Every day, more Americans are standing up and saying “enough is enough” — including a lot of Republicans,” Clinton said. “I’m honored to have their support. And I promise you this: With your help, I will be a president for Democrats, Republicans and Independents. For those who vote for me and those who don’t. For all Americans.”
The Democratic nominee also praised former Republicans who had denounced racism.
“Twenty years ago, when Bob Dole accepted the Republican nomination, he pointed to the exits and told any racists in the party to get out. The week after 9/11, George W. Bush went to a mosque and declared for everyone to hear that Muslims ‘love America just as much as I do.’ In 2008, John McCain told his own supporters they were wrong about the man he was trying to defeat. Senator McCain made sure they knew Barack Obama is an American citizen and ‘a decent person.’
“We need that kind of leadership again,” Clinton said.
‘Taking a hate movement mainstream’
In a video published on Thursday, the Clinton campaign links clips of KKK members, including Duke, backing Trump. It also highlights Trump failing to disavow the support in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
The video then cuts to media clips of Bannon joining the Trump campaign with a reporter describing the alt-right as “sort of dressed-up-in-suits version of the neo-Nazi and white supremacist movement.”
Trump’s campaign denounced the ad as a “disgusting new low.”
“This type of rhetoric and repulsive advertising is revolting and completely beyond the pale,” Trump surrogate Pastor Mark Burns said in a statement. “I call on Hillary Clinton to disavow this video and her campaign for this sickening act that has no place in our world.”
Trump spokesman Jason Miller described Clinton’s attacks as a “desperation play.”
And Kayleigh McEnany, a Trump supporter, also told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin that the real estate mogul has “repeatedly disavowed” Duke.
“What I saw was a mischaracterization of Donald Trump’s record,” McEnany said.
But in an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Clinton was defiant in her characterization.
“Donald Trump has shown us who he is, and we ought to believe him. He is taking a hate movement mainstream. He’s brought it into his campaign,” Clinton told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “He’s bringing it to our communities and our country.”
Clinton added that “someone who’s questioned the citizenship of the first African-American President, who has courted white supremacists, who’s been sued for housing discrimination against communities of color, who’s attacked a judge for his Mexican heritage and promised a mass deportation force, is someone who is very much peddling bigotry and prejudice and paranoia.”
Donald Trump: ‘I want to do this my way’
Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, rejected the idea that her candidate is the leader of the alt-right.
“We’ve never even discussed it internally,” she said on CBS. “It certainly isn’t a part of our strategy meetings. It’s nothing that Mr. Trump says out on the stump.”
The fact Clinton is giving her speech in Reno, a traditionally red city in a key swing state, is significant as well. Washoe County, where Reno sits, is a key county for any Republican hoping to win Nevada.
Clinton, more so than other swing states, has struggled to grow a lead in Nevada. Her campaign chalks the issues up to a smaller than average number of college educated white voters.
A distraught college student attacked a couple in their Florida home, stabbing them to death and biting the face of the male victim, authorities said.
“It’s a tragedy without words to describe,” said Martin County Sheriff William Snyder.
“We have two people — middle-age people — sitting on their couch enjoying the night and out of nowhere for reasons we may never know, they are attacked by a man with a knife who overcomes them both and kills them,” he added. “To say it’s sad somehow misses it. I’m not sure I have the words to tell you how I feel.”
Authorities arrived at a home near Tequesta on Monday night after receiving a 911 call of a fight across the street.
“As the deputy approached, they observed the suspect biting the male victim in the face,” the sheriff’s office told CNN.
Deputies attempted to Tase the suspect, identified as Austin Kelly Harrouff, 19. A fight ensued between authorities and Harrouff, who was critically wounded before being taken into custody.
The couple, Michelle Mishcon, 53, and John Stevens III, 59, were stabbed multiple times, police said.
A neighbor who called 911 and came to the aid of the couple was also stabbed but is expected to survive.
The sheriff’s office says it doesn’t know why the couple was targeted, saying there was “no connection between the victims and the suspect.”
Austin Kelly Harrouff, 19.
Austin Kelly Harrouff, 19.
Harrouff lived with his mother about three miles away and his father also lived in the immediate neighborhood, according to authorities. He is a student at Florida State University, authorities said. Fall semester is set to start August 29.
Harrouff had been eating dinner at a restaurant with his family when he stormed off, agitated, officials said. His parents were so worried by his behavior that they called police and some of his fraternity brothers, according to a timeline provided by the sheriff’s office.
“Standing there last night, looking at that scene, I was forced to think about the futility of the whole thing — the randomness of it — as it began to become clear to us that there was no nexus between the victim and the suspect,” Snyder said in a press conference.
Harrouff was in critical condition Tuesday and has only provided minimal details to police.
Calls to Harrouff’s family were not immediately returned.
Southern Louisiana faces continued flood warnings Tuesday, even as communities struggle to recover from a deluge over the weekend that killed at least seven, stranded more than 20,000 and left more than 11,000 seeking shelter after a historic rainfall.
Towns downstream of the areas hardest hit over the weekend watched anxiously as floodwaters crested and slowly began receding overnight into Tuesday.
SLIDESHOW: Federal Emergency Declared in Louisiana Flood
Officials announced late Monday that another body had been recovered from the water in Baton Rouge, raising the total number of fatalities to at least seven.
The ongoing flood risk forced the closure of city offices in Baton Rouge on Tuesday.
Over the weekend, parts of Southern Louisiana received as much as 25 inches of rain. The National Weather Service estimates the chance of that much rain falling in any given location over the course of a year at .1 percent, meaning that it is only likely to occur once every 1,000 years.
The National Guard mobilized 2,500 personnel and nearly 195 high-water vehicles and had rescued nearly 3,400 people and 400 pets as of Monday.
“That’s what we are focused on, saving lives. said Maj. Gen. Glenn Curtis, adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard. “We can also bring on military police and give police officers a chance to rest and check on their homes.”
The National Guard has so far distributed more than 600,000 sandbags, close to 96,000 bottles of water and 2,300 meals-ready-to eat (MRE) in affected communities.
Unapologetic and blunt, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has won legions of supporters on the right with his frequent commentary that slams Black Lives Matter and other liberal groups.
As violence roiled Milwaukee this weekend, Clarke took to Twitter chiding the left and black activists, whom he derides as “Black Lies Matter.”
Clarke, who’s African-American, raised his national profile recently with his speech at the Republican National Convention and his vigorous defense of law enforcement. Although he’s not a registered Republican, the sheriff is no fan of Democrats either, often blaming them for creating “misery-inducing, divisive, exploitative and racist” urban policies.
His outspokenness on such issues have won him fans such as Rush Limbaugh and the Conservative Political Action Conference as well as critics such as rapper Talib Kweli.
‘A collapse of the social order’
Clarke hasn’t been shy about his views on the turmoil in the city of Milwaukee after Saturday’s police shooting of an armed black man named Sylville Smith. He called protests that turned violent “black cultural dysfunction.”
In an opinion piece he wrote for The Hill, he likened the chaos in Milwaukee as “tribal behavior.”
“What happened Saturday night and again Sunday night had little to do with police use of force — it was a collapse of the social order where tribal behavior leads to reacting to circumstances instead of waiting for facts to emerge,” Clarke wrote.
“The law of the jungle replaced the rule of law in Milwaukee Saturday night over an armed career criminal suspect who confronted police.”
He described the urban, black poor as victims.
“The actions were the manifestation of a population with no hope, no stake in the American dream that could provide advancement and purpose and pride of self. They are the ones lied to, exploited by and ultimately manipulated by the Democrats who claim to care. They are victims of the left, but they are not without blame.”
‘Anti-police rhetoric sweeping the country’
Since 2002, Clarke has been the sheriff of Milwaukee County. Now in his fourth term, he has won each election by a wide margin of victory. The suburbs, where he serves, is more heavily white than the city of Milwaukee, which has its own police force. He lost a bid to become Milwaukee mayor in 2004.
In July, Clarke had a heated interview with CNN’s Don Lemon over the police shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that killed three law enforcement officers and wounded three others.
Sheriff and Don Lemon get heated over police shootings
Sheriff and Don Lemon get heated over police shootings 05:00
He told Lemon that he had predicted that police officers would be targeted.
“This anti-police rhetoric sweeping the country has turned out some hateful things inside of people that are now playing themselves out on the American police officer,” he said.
Clarke has frequently blamed the Black Lives Matter movement for inspiring violent crimes against law enforcement officers, calling the group “purveyors of hate.”
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