WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will propose a deal on Saturday meant to end a 29-day partial government shutdown, offering a compromise with Democrats on immigration but sticking to his demand for funding for a border wall, a source familiar with his plan said.
U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One to travel to Dover Air Force Base to attend dignified transfer ceremonies for the remains of four U.S. military members and citizens killed during a recent attack in Syria as he departs from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., January 19, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
In a speech to be delivered from the White House, Trump will continue to demand $5.7 billion in wall funding, but also offer backing for legislation to protect young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers,” as well as temporary protected status (TPS) holders, the source said, confirming a report by Axios.
Vice President Mike Pence, White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, have been instrumental in crafting the deal, the source said.
Trump is to make the announcement in a 4 p.m. EST (2000 GMT) speech.
The source said Trump does not plan to declare a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexico border, a step he threatened to take earlier in his struggle with Congress over the shutdown triggered by his wall-funding ultimatum.
Declaration of an emergency would allow Trump to bypass Congress to pay for a border wall, although such a step would likely prompt a legal challenge over constitutional powers from congressional Democrats.
Trump is under pressure to end the shutdown with Americans increasingly blaming him for refusing to sign spending bills that would provide paychecks for 800,000 federal workers who have been idled or working without pay for nearly a month, the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
Trump told reporters on the White House South Lawn on Saturday he has no personal feud with House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top U.S. Democrat. She and other Democrats oppose the wall, calling it too expensive, ineffective and immoral.
“Whether it’s personal or not, it’s not personal for me,” Trump said. “She’s under total control of the radical left. I think that’s a very bad thing for her. I think it’s a very bad thing for the Democrats.”
Trump also said he was concerned about a new wave of immigrants moving north through Mexico toward the U.S. border.
“I’m disappointed that Mexico is not stopping them. I mean, Mexico seems unfortunately powerless to stop them,” he said. “If we had a wall, we wouldn’t have a problem.”
The “Dreamers,” who are mostly Latin American, are protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program protects certain people who illegally entered the country as children, providing about 700,000 immigrants with work permits, but no path to citizenship.
Former Democratic President Barack Obama put DACA in place in 2012 through an executive order. The Trump administration announced in September 2017 it would rescind DACA, but the policy remains in effect under a court order.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is given to nationals from designated countries affected by armed conflict or natural disaster. TPS holders are permitted to work and live in the U.S. for limited times.
The Trump administration has shown a deep skepticism toward the temporary protected status program and has moved to revoke the special status afforded to thousands of immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras and other nations.
Reporting by Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Leslie Adler
Want to feel old? Try taking a twelve year hiatus from gaming before jumping back in as if nothing had ever changed. That’s what I did, and folks, it’s been a wild ride.
Here’s just a sampling of the (somewhat embarrassing) discoveries I’ve made in the three weeks since I became the confused, proud owner of a Playstation 4:
· You have to install games now. Insane. · Controllers have colorful lights on them. · It’s incredibly easy to blow a bunch of money on games in one evening. · Still waiting on Half Life 3
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had coworkers, online acquaintances, friends, and family members coaching me on how best to navigate the Playstation life in 2019—the games to play, the accessories to buy, and the mistakes to avoid.
So I thought I’d share my findings to date, in a piece that will hopefully be a guiding light to other aging dweebs who need help figuring this stuff out.
The first mistake I made when setting up my PS4 was the easiest one to avoid: I plugged the dang thing into the wrong HDMI port.
You see, I own a Playstation 4 Pro and a TV that supports HDR, but since it’s a mid-range TV from 2017, only one of its four ports is HDMI 2.0a—the type of connection required for an HDR signal.
Newer HDR-compatible TVs are far more likely to offer HDMI 2.0a support across all of their HDMI ports, so there’s a good chance you won’t have to concern yourself with port management if your TV is relatively fresh out of the box.
And if your Playstation 4 isn’t of the “Pro” variety, none of this applies to you, either, since standard PS4s don’t support 4K HDR gaming at all.
2. What’s the best HDMI cable for a PS4?
Even if you intend to do some ultra-high resolution, 4K HDR gaming, it doesn’t matter which HDMI cables you use for your PS4, so feel free to use the one that came with your console or any of the ones you already own. Our recommendation is the ultra-affordable AmazonBasics HDMI cable from Amazon—a two-pack will only set you back nine bucks.
At some point in the future you might need to upgrade your HDMI cables, but at that point you’ll probably have upgraded your TV, too. I could go into the details about HDMI standards, transmission rates, and how cables work, but you would probably close the tab (and you’d be right to do so).
My colleagues and I write about this often, but it’s worth repeating: There’s no reason to spend a lot of money on HDMI cables. As long as your cables are long enough and made with quality, you’ll be fine.
That’s not to say that cheap, poorly-made HDMI cables don’t exist—they certainly do. But any company offering premium features, extra-high speeds, or special gold-plated connectors is probably giving you the run-around. Just make sure they’re durable and long enough.
You can read more about HDMI cables and how we tested them in our round-up of the best HDMI cables.
So you finally got that new copy of God of War up and running, and there’s a big, honkin’ letterbox wrapped around your picture. Not good! Those black bars aren’t a deliberate choice on the part of the game’s creators, so don’t settle for a scaled-down picture. Fixing the problem is as easy as accessing your PS4’s settings.
From the PS4’s dashboard, select “Settings,” then “Sound and Screen,” and then “Display Area Settings.” Next, enlarge the display to fit your screen.
I’m not sure why this particular display setting only affects certain games, but in any event, it’s good to get the adjustment out of the way, even if you’ve never encountered the bars yourself.
4. What are the best games to buy for the PS4?
Red Dead Redemption 2. Next question.
OK, but seriously—you should probably play Red Dead Redemption 2. If you’re looking for more recommendations, my colleague Lee wrote about the most popular video games last fall in the run-up to the holiday season.
When it comes to choosing the right games, the best advice I received came from an online acquaintance of mine who recommended I use the website PSPrices. In addition to letting you search for titles on the Playstation Store and track their price history, you can also sign up for email alerts from PSPrices whenever a game goes on sale. It’s the easiest way to keep tabs on the games you might be on the fence about paying full-price for.
Whether you need a way to chat with players online or you want to stay up late without waking up your housemates, a good pair of headphones is essential for most PS4 owners.
Over the years, we’ve tested several headsets—both wired and wireless—for Xbox and Playstation, so we’ve got a pretty good idea of what makes for a slam-dunk pair. You can check out our round-up of the best PS4 headphones for a the full story, but to summarize, we found the HyperX Cloud Stinger to provide the overall best value. One drawback: These cans aren’t wireless.
If you’re looking for a wireless pair of headphones and don’t want to fuss with third-party companies, consider the Sony Gold Wireless headphones. At $130, they don’t come cheap, but you’ll be investing in 7.1 surround sound and all of the ease that comes with using a first-party accessory.
For my money, there’s no better option than Sony’s official Dualshock 4 wireless controller. I used to despise the Dualshock controller until this current fourth generation, which feature fuller, “beefier” handles for better ergonomics.
Buying Dualshock 4 controllers on Amazon is a decent option if you don’t mind choosing colors that are in stock. The two color options that are seemingly always in stock and always listed at lower prices are the standard Jet Black variant and the Crystal variant, and some, like Berry Blue, are much harder to find at a sensible price.
A dismal mood has descended on Capitol Hill as the shutdown concludes its 27th day.
The House speaker and the president are at war. A bipartisan Senate push to reopen the government failed for a second consecutive week. And no shutdown talks are even planned between party leaders.
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“I feel like I’m going to strangle you,” quipped one senator who’s tried in vain to find a breakthrough when a reporter asked about their state of mind.
That lawmaker was joking, probably, but the vibes in the Capitol are funereal at best. And with most members headed home for a long weekend, the partial shutdown is essentially guaranteed to enter into its second month. It’s an unheard-of impasse even in a capital that’s seen debt crises, blunt budget cuts and scores of unprecedented political conflicts over the past decade.
But this one feels different, a shutdown in which the dynamics are frozen. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) don’t want money for a border wall, and President Donald Trump wants $5.7 billion. Rank-and-file lawmakers can make noise and try to create momentum, but Trump has dismissed everything they’ve come up with — leading some members to wonder what they’re even doing.
“It’s very frustrating for me because my whole instinct is: Let’s find a way to get this solved. But so far anyway, his idea of negotiating is to say, ‘Here’s what I want, I’ll give you nothing,’” said Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who tried to forge an immigration deal a year ago. “I could sit down with Mike Pence for an afternoon and we might come to some agreement. And then [Trump would] blow it up.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has seemingly tried everything to open up the government. She’s complained publicly about her party’s strategy. She’s signed on to a bipartisan letter urging Trump to end the shutdown in exchange for a three-week immigration debate, which was promptly rejected by the White House, according to sources familiar with the talks. She’s even endorsed moving forward with no wall money.
On Thursday, her plans to travel to Europe for a conference on the Arctic had been canceled. And the Energy chairman was unsure whether she’d even be able to hold hearings next week with so many of her members out of town.
“Glum. Glum. I’m not a glum person. I’m not somebody who gets down. But I’ve been discouraged,” Murkowski said of her state of mind. “People I work for back home in Alaska are asking me to ‘fix it.’ And it’s hard for one person to fix anything around here. Unless you’re the president. Or the speaker. Or the majority leader.”
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) summed up his feelings in more dire terms: “We are in this horrible purgatory between heaven and hell.” He said “fatalism” had set in: “That there is no way out unless either he or we relent entirely.”
“Democrats are more than willing to try to give him a face-saving way to step down. He doesn’t seem to want to even consider it,” he said.
Some Senate Republicans were also trying to give Trump an off-ramp, including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). They hoped to get as many as 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats to sign their letter to Trump, with the hopes that a substantial Democratic commitment to debating border security and a push from Trump’s own party could shift Washington’s stalemate.
But Republican support for the letter cratered this week amid a widespread belief that the president won’t support opening up the government without a border wall guarantee. The letter still might get sent, according to two people familiar with it. But nobody is superenthused.
“They came up with about nine or 10 Republicans. Which we didn’t think is enough to be convincing to the president,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
“I think he’s going to agree to open up the government on a hope and a prayer when donkeys fly. OK?” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), who spent more than an hour with Trump on a plane on Monday. “He says: ‘Look, I don’t want government to be closed. But I know as soon as I open it up, they’re going to say, ‘Thank you very much, I don’t want to talk about a border [wall].’”
Pelosi herself told Trump flatly last week that after the government opened, he would not get his wall. And that’s the last time they met face to face.
Since that meeting, their relationship has plummeted to a level of toxicity rarely seen. Pelosi surprised Trump on Wednesday by sending him a letter requesting he postpone his State of the Union address — or send it in writing — until the government reopens. Pelosi cited security concerns but the move would also deny Trump the undivided spotlight and pageantry that accompanies the annual address.
Trump shot back with a counterattack of his own Thursday, abruptly canceling Pelosi’s secret trip to Afghanistan in a letter the White House blasted out to reporters over email and Twitter before the speaker’s office was even aware he was doing it. The move was so last-minute that other lawmakers scheduled to accompany Pelosi had already boarded a charter bus set to take them to the airport.
“Pretty foul,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) about his mood after hearing about the back-and-forth. “Too much childishness. Not enough seriousness.”
For Democratic freshmen, their exasperation over inaction reached a boiling point. Several members of the new House class, including many who came from districts Trump won, have been meeting to devise a strategy of their own.
Some in the group seized on the circus-like atmosphere on Capitol Hill, holding an impromptu march to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office on Tuesday to demand he bring up House-passed spending bills to reopen the government. Some in the group tried again on Wednesday, delivering a letter to McConnell’s office and the Senate cloakroom demanding he act.
“Our freshmen were sworn in during a shutdown and only served during a shutdown and generally speaking want to find a way to end it,” said Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas), the freshman class president. He did not join in on the trip to the Senate but said he could relate to his colleagues’ frustration.
So could Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who held an unusual solo news conference on Thursday attacking Washington dysfunction. He said “everybody’s responsible” for the shutdown but offered no solution. Another high-profile freshman, Mitt Romney (R-Utah), seemed excited about being a senator but disappointed with the circumstances.
“I heard from one senator that it was very boring his first year here. It has not been boring,” Romney said on Thursday evening. “There’s a lot going on and I’m honored to be part of it. And I’d like to see more progress. I’m sick that the government is shut down.”
Senators are throwing out their own ideas to see what sticks. Kennedy suggested Pelosi and Trump each appoint someone, ship them out of Washington and make them get an agreement before coming back. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said bringing in more pieces to negotiate could shake things up: Federal spending numbers, the debt ceiling or immigration reform.
But Democrats aren’t open to anything other than reopening the government and then debating border security, which Trump will not do. Even those most urgently seeking an end to the shutdown won’t break from that stance, worried about encouraging Trump to seek more brinkmanship to win his priorities.
“Several efforts have been made by Republican senators, by the vice president, by people in the administration to try and find a path forward. And each time in the past three weeks the president has personally shot them down,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.). “Reopen the government and negotiate. Or there’s no point.”
Marianne LeVine and James Arkin contributed to this report.
Today a PolitiFact fact check caught my eye: “Mike Pence wrong that ISIS has been defeated.” Assigned a rating of “Mostly False” by the site, the assessment reminds us that as much as 20 percent of ratings by some fact checkers are actually “opinion checks” based on interpretation rather than indisputable fact.
The controversy over Pence’s remarks stems from a speech he gave earlier this week in which he said, “The caliphate has crumbled, and ISIS has been defeated” and that the U.S. would now “hand off the fight against ISIS in Syria to our coalition partners.”
Pence’s speech explicitly noted that “defeat” of ISIS would still entail a continued war against the insurgency.
Two years ago, CNN touted, “ISIS defeated in Raqqa” as “major military operations” came to an end, despite “pockets of resistance” remaining. Iraq was declared “fully liberated” from ISIS, with the organization “defeated” in the country. ISIS was “in retreat” and “on the run” and U.S. efforts to “defeat the terror group on the battlefield” were seeing “significant … victories.”
At the same time, CNN took pains to argue that the credit was former President Obama’s, not President Trump’s. As the Syrian conflict has increasingly become Trump’s war, the outlet’s stance seems to have changed, running the headline this week “Fact Check: Has ISIS been defeated?”
Just what does it mean to “defeat” a terror organization?
The term “defeat” has specific military meaning. The U.S. Army’s Field Manual 3-09 defines “defeat” as when “an enemy force has temporarily or permanently lost the physical means or the will to fight” and is embodied by “mass surrenders, abandonment of positions, equipment and supplies, or retrograde operations.”
Such a definition would certainly fit ISIS’s loss of its caliphate and its degradation from a quasi-nation-state back into a traditional federated terror organization. Indeed, the Atlantic Council has previously used the term “territorial defeat” to describe the U.S. focus in Syria and said that such “defeat” would still leave an “insurgency” on the ground.
The Council on Foreign Relations similarly clarified the “military defeat” of ISIS would still leave an insurgency that could effect and inspire attacks. The Center for Strategic and International Studies offered that “defeating’ ISIL in [Iraq and Syria] is at best likely to defeat its ability to hold any territory” and that “new forms of terrorism will emerge even if ISIL is formally disbanded.” Even the 2003 United States National Strategy for Combating Terrorism clarifies that “victory against terrorism will not occur as a single, defining moment,” but rather a point “where the threat of terrorist attacks does not define our daily lives.”
Each of these definitions of “defeat” would appear to support Pence’s claim that ISIS had been “defeated” and that post-defeat there would still be a powerful insurgency left to fight.
Indeed, the very question of what it means to entirely eradicate a terror or hate organization is fiercely debated. Such groups pose unique challenges in that even after their formal structure has been eliminated, their remnants can still inspire others from afar to commit violence. Three-quarters of a century after the Nazis were “defeated” there are many thousands of neo-Nazis who commit acts of violence in their name. In the case of ISIS, its mastery of social media means it will likely continue to inspire terror acts long after its leadership has been neutralized.
How then did PolitiFact come to its conclusion that Pence’s statement was “Mostly False”?
PolitiFact arrived at its rating exclusively through interviews with seven “experts who study terrorism and foreign policy.”
Rather than adhering to Pence’s literal statement that “defeat” of ISIS will still leave a vibrant and militant insurgency behind, the seven individuals redefined his use of the word “defeat” to mean the absolute elimination of all traces of ISIS.
This redefinition of the vice president’s words from their literal form into a straw-man argument is a common, but unfortunate, tactic adopted by fact checkers, which undermines their credibility.
Putting this all together, few would argue that ISIS no longer poses any threat. The vice president did not actually claim this and was quite explicit that there is still a vibrant insurgency remaining. Fact checkers including PolitiFact and FactCheck.org reached their verdicts by redefining Pence’s words into an argument he did not actually make.
PolitiFact notes that “in the world of speechmaking and political rhetoric, there is license for hyperbole” and that it does not review statements that are not “rooted in a fact that is verifiable.” One could easily argue Pence’s use of the word “defeat” strongly comports with the Army’s military definition and thus was a “True” statement. There is also considerable room to view it as a succinct political sound bite for a complicated story and thus not eligible for fact checking under PoltiFact’s standards.
In the end, when a fact-checking verdict relies exclusively on the opinions of a hand-picked group of experts regarding a claim that was not actually made, it raises the question once again of why we place so much power in the hands of so few with no oversight.
RealClear Media Fellow Kalev Leetaru is a senior fellow at the George Washington University Center for Cyber & Homeland Security. His past roles include fellow in residence at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government.
On Friday, the Pentagon identified three of the four Americans killed in this week’s attack in Syria, including Army Chief Warrant Officer and Bowdoin College graduate Jonathan R. Farmer. Bowdoin’s president, Clayton Rose, posted a letter addressing Farmer’s passing.
You can read the letter in full below:
To the Bowdoin community,
Today we learned the tragic news that our graduate Jonathan R. Farmer ’03 was among nineteen people—including four Americans—who were killed Wednesday when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest inside a restaurant in the Syrian city of Manbij.
Jon, who was thirty-seven at the time of his death, was a US Army Green Beret from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, who had attained the rank of Army Chief Warrant Officer 2. He joined the Army on March 30, 2005, and graduated in 2007 from the Special Forces Qualification Course as an engineer sergeant. Selected to attend the Special Forces Warrant Officer Candidate School, Jon earned his commission in 2016. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and served on ten overseas tours, including six combat tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and, most recently in Syria.
Jon received numerous awards and decorations during his time in the military, including the Bronze Star Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart, and the Army Commendation Medal.
Born in Boynton Beach, Florida, Jon lived for a time in Laconia, New Hampshire, before returning as a teenager to Florida, where he attended the Benjamin School in Palm Beach. At Bowdoin, he was a history major and a forward and captain of the 2003-2004 men’s basketball team. His teammate, roommate, and close friend, Michael Harding ’03, remembered Jon today as a “loyal and selfless friend.” Men’s basketball coach Tim Gilbride said Jon was “…a great teammate and competitor” and “a quality person—someone we all enjoyed being around.” In May 2004, Jon was awarded the William J. Fraser Trophy given to the player “who best exemplifies the spirit of Bowdoin basketball.”
Jon is survived by his wife, their four young children, and his parents.
Jon was part of a long and inspiring list of Bowdoin graduates and community members who served and are still serving the common good in the US military. Sadly, he will now join those across the generations at our College who are memorialized on our campus and in our hearts for the ultimate sacrifice made on our behalf.
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What’s going for it? We shan’t mention HS2 and the new Euston station (well, OK, just once more). But ’twas ever thus. Apart from a brief fancy period in the early 19th century when Charles Dickens and Mary Wollstonecraft lived here, Somers Town has always been on its uppers, easy prey for grands projets. When London ended at Euston Road in the 18th century, it was famous for being where the city chucked its rubbish in mountainous landfills. By the mid-19th century, London’s most notorious slums were here. In the name of “improvement” and slum clearance, railway companies saw nothing wrong in charging through the neighbourhood with new lines, plonking their stations here, rather than posher Bloomsbury to the south. There’s no escape from the railways. That said, the commuters mostly dart down holes in the ground, leaving Somers Town, these days, one of London’s best-kept secrets, ripe with history and character, like the magnificent 1920s Ossulston Estate social housing, Drummond Street’s Indian cafes, and the spooky St Pancras Old Church, one of the oldest sites of worship in London, in whose churchyard the Hardy Tree grows among gravestones moved by the young Thomas Hardy (when he was an architect) to make way for St Pancras station; railways even bothering the dead.
The case againstThe disruption of HS2 construction for years to come. Gruff around the edges. Euston Road is choked with traffic and pollution 24/7.
Well connected? Trains: I think you’ll be OK. Euston, King’s Cross, St Pancras and Marylebone stations are all walkable, with the Bakerloo, Circle, Hammersmith & City, Northern, Victoria and Metropolitan tube lines on your doorstep. Driving: why would you? But Euston Road is right there, if you need it.
Hang out at… You have the pick of all London has to offer on your doorstep. But it’s hard to beat Malaysian caff Roti King on Doric Way.
Where to buy There are some stretches of late Georgian and Victorian townhouses, almost all in flats these days: hunt in the grid around Drummond Street and Chalton Street. You’ll find some modern “luxury apartments”, too. But much of the neighbourhood is in various (and mostly well-designed) social housing estates, from the late 19th century to the postwar period. The very odd house, mostly ex-council, around £850,000-£1m for four to five bedrooms. Flats: three bedrooms, £600,000-£1.4m; two, £450,000-£1.2m; one, £350,000-£825,000. Rentals: a one-bedroom flat, £1,450-£3,500pcm; a three-bedroom flat, £2,200-£4,500pcm.
The White House has a new, long-shot idea for getting President Donald Trump’s border wall: persuading the Senate to take up the president’s wall request to force a deal with the Democrats, then reopen the government.
As the government shutdown enters its fifth week, the White House wants the Senate to take up legislation that would provide $5.7 billion for a barrier along the southern border, among other options that have been discussed with GOP leaders. Vice President Mike Pence and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner met Thursday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and one option batted around was for congressional committees to take up the border request and potentially amend it in committee, all while the government is shutdown, according to a person familiar with the talks.
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But even Republicans on the Hill recognize the idea is a nonstarter. About 10 of them have been urging the White House to accept their proposal to open up the government for three weeks and allow a quick immigration and border debate, because Democrats are resisting any negotiations until government is reopened.
“If there’s not a short-term shutdown [solution] to give us the space to negotiate, the Democrats won’t negotiate,” said a GOP senator in contact with the White House. “We all know the Democrats are unwilling to talk at this point.”
The administration, the senator added, is not fully factoring in that the Senate’s 60-vote threshold will require Democratic support.
“Every time I talk to them. That’s the assumption, that they believe we can just do it,” the senator said.
The discussion among Pence, Kushner and the majority leader centered around the GOP-controlled Senate taking the lead on legislation, given that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is unwilling to take up new border security funding until the government reopens. The White House, however, has opposed a short-term spending bill to do that.
And Democrats are refusing to entertain the White House’s ideas until the funding lapse ends.
In colorful terms, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) summed up the party’s stance toward Trump: “If a kid that is screaming for an ice cream, you can’t give him an ice cream cone. Because if you give in, he’ll never eat his vegetables again.”
The lack of progress on shutdown negotiations prompted a bipartisan group of senators this week to organize a letter that asked Trump to end the shutdown for three weeks in exchange for a debate on immigration and border security. Among the senators leading the effort were Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.).
The letter’s organizers hoped to get 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans to sign on — but several Republicans declined to do so, stating that Trump would not open the government without a border wall. The letter could still be sent.
Senators from both parties voiced frustration with the shutdown on Friday. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who has objected to the Senate adjourning, offered by unanimous consent to bring legislation passed by the House to temporarily fund the Department of Homeland Security. But Senate Republicans blocked that effort.
Ideas intended to break the impasse “seem to be pulled back by those that don’t want us to get out of the mess that we’re in,” groused Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). “And I have a difficult time understanding that.”
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office on Friday disputed key elements of a media report that President Donald Trump directed his former lawyer to lie to Congress about a Moscow real estate deal, raising questions about a story that has dominated U.S. news coverage for the past 24 hours.
BuzzFeed News reported late on Thursday that Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer who is slated to go to prison for lying to Congress and other crimes, told investigators working for Mueller that Trump had instructed him to lie about efforts to build a skyscraper in Moscow while he was running for president.
“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, said in the special counsel’s first comment on a media report since its probe started 20 months ago.
While Carr did not directly address whether there was evidence that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, he disputed portions of the story about how BuzzFeed corroborated the explosive allegations against Trump.
Citing information from two federal law enforcement officials, BuzzFeed said Cohen told the special counsel that after the 2016 presidential election Trump instructed him to tell Congress that negotiations over the Moscow project had ended earlier than they had in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.
Carr’s statement also appeared to dispute BuzzFeed’s assertion that the special counsel learned about Trump’s directive from interviews with employees of the Trump Organization, emails, text messages and other documents.
BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith said in a statement: “We stand by the reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing.”
After the BuzzFeed report was published on Thursday night, investigators in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives said they planned to investigate the allegations, while some Democrats described the report as a game-changer that, if true, could be grounds for impeaching the president.
Earlier on Friday, the White House said the story was false. “Look, that’s absolutely ridiculous,” spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.
David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor, said Mueller’s decision to comment highlighted the significance of the allegations made in the BuzzFeed article and the attention it was getting in the media and among lawmakers.
“They are making a public comment to tell everyone to calm down,” Weinstein said. “He doesn’t want people to think his silence is confirming the truthfulness of the report.”
Trump said on Twitter that Cohen was lying to get less prison time. Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said in a statement that any suggestion that Trump told Cohen to lie is “categorically false.”
Representatives for the Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment on the BuzzFeed report.
Cohen, who once said he was so loyal to Trump that he would “take a bullet” for him, is scheduled to begin a three-year prison sentence in March after pleading guilty to charges including campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress.
If Trump did tell Cohen to lie, that would constitute criminal activity, said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat. He added that he would look into the matter.
“Directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime,” Nadler said on Twitter.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said the allegation that Trump may have directed Cohen to lie under oath “is among the most serious to date.”
“We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true,” Schiff, also a Democrat, said on Twitter.
Some Senate Intelligence Committee investigators hope to ask Cohen about the BuzzFeed report when he testifies behind closed doors in February, a committee source told Reuters. He also will face questions about it in testimony before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 7.
Yet Mueller’s move to push back on the BuzzFeed report could give some lawmakers pause, while also giving ammunition to allies of Trump in their efforts to criticize the media and in their calls for Mueller to complete his probe.
“Today’s development only underscores the need for the special counsel to wrap this investigation up immediately,” Republican Representative Mark Meadows said on Twittter. “The constant secrecy and breathless speculation helps no one.”
Legal experts said the allegation, if true, exposed Trump to a new level of risk in an investigation that has already resulted in convictions of or guilty pleas from four former campaign aides, including ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
If true, “it’s a seismic event,” Andy Wright, an associate White House counsel under former Democratic President Barack Obama, told Reuters.
Cohen, his left arm in a sling, did not comment as he entered his apartment building in New York on Friday. His adviser, Lanny Davis, also declined to comment to Reuters, and his lawyer, Guy Petrillo, did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump denounced Cohen as a “rat” after he began cooperating with investigators while Cohen, whose duties included making payoffs to two women who said they had affairs with Trump, said on Thursday he regretted giving “my blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it.”
Directing or encouraging someone to lie under oath is a crime known as subornation of perjury. The report also raises questions about obstruction of justice and conspiracy.
William Barr, Trump’s nominee to be attorney general, said at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that a president would be committing obstruction if he directed a subordinate to lie under oath. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.
While the Justice Department has previously concluded that a sitting president cannot be charged while in office, such an allegation, if found true, could fuel impeachment proceedings in Congress.
Trump repeatedly has denied collusion with Russia and slammed Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt.” Russia also has rejected U.S. intelligence findings that Moscow interfered in U.S. politics in the 2016 election in an effort to boost Trump.
Trump said during the presidential campaign that he had no ties or business dealings with Russia.
Democrats, who took over the U.S. House of Representatives this month, have generally been cautious regarding any talk of impeachment to remove Trump from office although some rank-and-file members have pushed for such a resolution.
Impeachment proceedings would face an uphill battle in the Senate, where Trump’s fellow Republicans have a majority.
A combination photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump’s onetime personal attorney, Michael Cohen and U.S. President Donald Trump from outside federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018 and in the White House in Washington, U.S., July 18, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson, Leah Millis/File Photos
BuzzFeed also reported that Cohen regularly updated Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and his daughter Ivanka Trump, who is now a top White House adviser, about the Moscow project.
A spokesman for Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Ivanka Trump, said she was minimally involved in the development. Trump Jr., who has also testified previously before Congress, in a Twitter post called the BuzzFeed report “fake news.”
After Mueller’s statement disputing the report, Trump Jr. called out the media and Schiff in a series of Twitter posts. “Hey Adam, turns out it was Full of Schiff!” he wrote.
Additional reporting by Eric Beech, Nathan Layne, Mark Hosenball, Steve Holland, Andy Sullivan and David Alexander; Writing by Andy Sullivan and Susan Heavey; Editing by Leslie Adler and Stephen Coates
The remains of a West Virginia airman and two other servicemen who died in Europe during World War II have been identified.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Thursday that Sgt. John Kalausich’s remains have been identified. A memorial service and burial for Kalausich will take place Feb. 23 in Charleston.
On March 21, 1945, Kalausich’s bomber was struck by anti-aircraft artillery while trying to obstruct German troop movements in preparation for the Allied crossing of the Rhine River. He was 19.
In 2016, a German researcher reported a crash site in a horse paddock. Scientists used DNA, dental and anthropological analyses and other evidence to identify Kalausich’s remains.
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The remains of the pilot, 2nd Lt. Lynn W. Hadfield, and another crewman, Sgt. Vernon L. Hamilton, were also identified.