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Updated: 7 hours 16 min ago

Report: Senior HHS Official On Leave Over Conspiratorial, Racist Social Media Posts

Tue, 2018-02-20 18:52

Jon Cordova, the principal deputy assistant secretary for administration at the Department of Health and Human Services, has been placed on leave in the wake of revelations about conspiratorial and racist posts he shared on social media, CNN reported Tuesday.

“Mr. Cordova is currently on administrative leave while we look into this issue further,” an unnamed agency spokesperson told CNN.

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3 Things You Should Know About Mueller's Latest Scalp

Tue, 2018-02-20 18:06

There are some vague signs, inklings really, that today’s guilty plea by former Skadden Arps lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, the London-based Dutch son-in-law of Ukrainian-Russian billionaire German Khan, could be more significant than first appears. Emphasis on “could.”

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GOPers 'Riled Up' As They Vow To Fight New PA House Map Upon Trump's Urging

Tue, 2018-02-20 17:52

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Urged on by President Donald Trump, Republicans vowed Tuesday to fight Pennsylvania’s new court-imposed map of congressional districts, as dozens of candidates assessed their chances under newly formed districts and the odds that a federal court could block them.

Republican members of Congress and Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers planned to sue in federal court as early as Wednesday in a bid to block a map expected to improve Democrats’ chances at erasing the GOP’s U.S. House majority.

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Trump Says He's Asked DOJ To Create Regulations Banning Bump Stocks

Tue, 2018-02-20 16:39

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he has signed a memo directing the Justice Department to propose regulations to “ban all devices” like the rapid-fire bump stocks involved in last year’s Las Vegas massacre.

Seeking to show action days after a deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Trump spoke during a White House ceremony recognizing bravery by the nation’s public safety officers.

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WH Dodges Questions About What Kind Of Gun Legislation Trump Would Support

Tue, 2018-02-20 16:36

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday dodged questions about specific legislation President Donald Trump would support in order to prevent future mass shootings, like the one that left 17 people dead last week in Parkland, Florida.

“The President in 2000 did support an assault weapons ban. What’s his position now? Is he open to reinstating the ban?” NPR’s Mara Liasson asked Sanders during her daily press briefing.

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Far-Right Conspiracists Attack Teen Shooting Survivors As Plants

Tue, 2018-02-20 16:04

On a sunny afternoon last Wednesday, Nikolas Cruz entered the campus of his former high school in Parkland, Florida and unleashed a fusillade of bullets, slaughtering three adults and fourteen teenagers.

In the days since, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have made their heartbreak public. They’ve gone on camera to call for renewed efforts to reduce gun violence, and they’ve harshly criticized the National Rifle Association, President Donald Trump and Congress for blocking gun control legislation. They’ve also organized the March for Our Lives, a mass rally in Washington, D.C. slated to take place next month.

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WH: Trump 'Absolutely' Acknowledges Russia Meddled In 2016 Election

Tue, 2018-02-20 15:50

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s recent indictments of several Americans and Russian individuals and institutions made it “absolutely” clear that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

“Absolutely,” she told a reporter who asked Tuesday, during a press briefing, whether “the President now acknowledges what the special counsel indictments made clear, which is that Russians not only tried to meddle but interfere and influence the 2016 election?”

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Mueller Tacks On Another Guilty Plea In Russia Probe

Tue, 2018-02-20 15:21

A former lawyer for a major U.S. law firm pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Washington D.C., to lying to federal authorities in a case that is part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s wide-ranging Russia probe.

The guilty plea by Alex van der Zwaan, who worked at the firm Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLC until he was terminated in November, came as part of a plea agreement between Mueller’s team. The case is being overseen by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is also overseeing Mueller’s cases against former Trump campaign aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates.

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Weekly Sum Up on Health Care Policy

Tue, 2018-02-20 14:51

Here’s your weekly – every TuesdaySum Up of all significant developments on Obamacare and health care policy over the past week. Read these 500 words and we’ll make sure you’re totally up to date and haven’t missed anything. Voting rights and Democracy on Monday; Health care policy and Obamacare on Tuesday; Russia on Friday.

WATCH LIVE: Sarah Huckabee Sanders To Give Press Briefing At 3 PM ET

Tue, 2018-02-20 13:30

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is scheduled to deliver a press briefing at 3:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Watch live below:

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What's the Story with Tom Barrack?

Tue, 2018-02-20 12:38

I want to share with you some notes I’ve been keeping about Tom Barrack, the man who is supposedly one of the President’s closest friends and confidantes as well as a friend of Paul Manafort. He had a big speaking role for Trump at the convention. He organized the inauguration. He’s a big person in Trump World. But the first thing to know about Barrack (pronounced ‘bare-rick’) is that he is the guy Donald Trump pretends to be: he is a fabulously successful and fabulously wealthy investor, developer and manager of real estate properties on a global basis. He operates what is essentially a private equity firm called Colony Northstar (formerly Colony Capital). This is what supposedly makes Barrack such a valuable sounding board for Trump: he doesn’t need Trump or his money. Trump is surrounded by clowns, frauds and phonies. But Barrack is, when it comes to global real estate/investor titans, the real deal.

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Oklahoma Man Gets Life In Prison For Fatally Shooting Lebanese Neighbor

Tue, 2018-02-20 12:06

TULSA, Oklahoma (AP) — A 63-year-old Oklahoma man convicted of murder and a hate crime in the fatal shooting of his Lebanese neighbor was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Stanley Vernon Majors was convicted earlier this month of gunning down 37-year-old Khalid Jabara outside of his Tulsa home in August 2016. The murder charge carried a life sentence, and the jury recommended that Majors never get the chance to go free — a recommendation the judge followed Tuesday.

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Parkland Boosts Push To Lower Voting Age

Tue, 2018-02-20 11:53

The Parkland shooting has spurred an inspiring surge in activism among the teen survivors, as well as other high school students around the country, demanding efforts to reduce gun violence. The movement gains much of its power from the fact that these activists, like those with Black Lives Matter, are literally fighting to save their own lives.

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White House Says There's A 'Revision Of History' On Trump's Approach To Russia

Tue, 2018-02-20 11:49

White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah on Tuesday morning defended President Donald Trump’s tweets attacking the Obama administration regarding Russia, and charged that there has been a “revision of history” when it comes to comparing Trump’s attitude toward Russia to that of former President Obama.

Trump attacked Obama on Twitter Tuesday morning, accusing Obama of responding to Russian election meddling too late and claiming that he has been “much tougher on Russia than Obama.”

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Dallas Official Calls On NRA To Find New City For National Convention In May

Tue, 2018-02-20 11:28

Amid another national debate about how to respond to mass shootings after a massacre at a Florida high school last week, a top official in Dallas has asked the National Riffle Association to “reconsider coming to Dallas” for its annual exhibition and convention in May.

Dwaine Caraway, the mayor pro tem in Dallas, said that while he is a “believer in the Second Amendment” and is the owner of five guns, he doesn’t want the event in Dallas and said it would likely be met with protest. He asked the organization to come together with lawmakers to “address this madness,” according to a video of the press conference, published by ABC News affiliate ABC13.

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NRA Has 'Wakeup Call' Over Billboard Tagged With 'Kill The NRA' Message

Tue, 2018-02-20 11:24

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The National Rifle Association is rallying members after a Kentucky billboard was spray-painted with the message “Kill the NRA.”

The NRA’s verified Facebook page posted a photo of the sign Monday, telling gun owners, “this is a wakeup call. They’re coming after us.” It asks members to like and share to spread the word. The post had been shared more than 50,000 times by Tuesday morning.

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Sum-Up: Here's the Latest in the GOP War on Obamacare

Tue, 2018-02-20 11:12

The Trump administration’s “death by 1,000 cuts” strategy against the Affordable Care Act took a step forward Tuesday morning with a proposal from HHS to allow insurers to sell skimpy short-term plans that don’t comply with the ACA’s rules. When finalized, this rule could create a parallel market where insurers can once again turn away people with preexisting conditions, charge sicker people higher premiums, and refuse to cover services as basic as emergency room visits and prescription drugs.

Meanwhile, as the rollback of federal oversight and regulation continues, Idaho is emerging as the state most determined to test how far the administration will allow it to go in flouting the rules that remain. The state recently moved to allow insurers to sell cheap plans that don’t meet the ACA’s minimum standards. Speculation that no insurer would actually offer these bare-bones plans for fear of being sued was put to rest this past week when one of the biggest companies in the state’s market—Blue Cross of Idaho—announced it would begin offering these plans this year. The state is allowing insurers to exclude coverage of maternity care, put a lifetime limit on a patient’s expenses, and charge people higher premiums if they have a preexisting condition—all policies that violate the ACA.

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Yiannopoulos Drops Lawsuit Against Former Publisher 'Without Costs'

Tue, 2018-02-20 11:09

NEW YORK (AP) — Milo Yiannopoulos is dropping his lawsuit against his former publisher.

In papers filed Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court, Yiannopoulos and Simon & Schuster asked that the case be dismissed “without costs or fees to either party.” The far-right author and agitator sued for $10 million last summer after the publisher canceled the release of his memoir “Dangerous.” Simon & Schuster acted after video clips of Yiannopoulos surfaced in which he appeared to defend sexual relationships between men and underage boys. Yiannopoulos alleged breach of contract and said the publisher gave in to “false and misleading reports.” Simon & Schuster had called the suit a publicity stunt.

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Trump Denounces Rachel Crooks, Who Accused Him In 2016 Of Sexual Assault

Tue, 2018-02-20 10:58

President Donald Trump on Tuesday denounced one of several women who have accused him of sexual assault.

A woman I don’t know and, to the best of my knowledge, never met, is on the FRONT PAGE of the Fake News Washington Post saying I kissed her (for two minutes yet) in the lobby of Trump Tower 12 years ago. Never happened! Who would do this in a public space with live security……

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Missouri Gov Adds New Lawyer Amid Expanding Criminal Probe

Tue, 2018-02-20 10:57

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) has added a new lawyer to his defense team amid an expanding criminal probe, KMOV reported Monday.

The addition of former circuit judge Jack Garvey comes after reports that St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has convened a grand jury. Garvey’s hiring is a possible sign that Greitens is preparing for a drawn-out investigation.

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