Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel

Embed this content in your HTML


Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels

Channel Catalog

Channel Description:

BuzzFeed, Find Your New Favorite Thing
    0 0

    Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

    The federal judge hearing the lawsuit brought by Texas and others states against President Obama's 2014 immigration executive actions issued an order Friday refusing to allow the case to be dismissed — a move the states themselves requested.

    The unusual order was just the latest twist from US District Judge Andrew Hanen, the federal judge overseeing the case. Hanen has been a harsh critic of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in the 2014 executive order. He also notably ordered Justice Department lawyers to take ethics training during the course of the litigation.

    The ruling keeps the case alive for now, although it was not immediately clear whether the order would have any long-term effect beyond requiring the states either to file a "different form of dismissal motion" or appeal his ruling.

    A spokesperson for the Texas Attorney General's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the states' next steps.

    Earlier this year, the Trump administration announced an end to DAPA and the expanded DACA program, but said the original DACA program would continue. In response, some of the states involved in the suit over the 2014 actions, led by Texas, threatened to amend the lawsuit to sue the Trump administration over the original 2012 DACA order if Trump did not announce an end to it by Sept. 5.

    After the president and Department of Homeland Security announced that they are rescinding the initial 2012 DACA program on Sept. 5, however, the states filed a "notice of voluntary dismissal" in the case later that same day.

    "Given these memoranda rescinding the DAPA program and phasing out the DACA and Expanded DACA programs, Plaintiffs file this notice voluntarily dismissing this action," the notice stated.

    Although the dismissal is to be effective without a further court order under the federal rule noted by the states, Hanen issued the Friday order to announce his holding that the states could not, procedurally, file such a notice.

    Finding the rule cited by the state "to be inapplicable" given the "lengthy history of protracted litigation on the merits" and intervention ordered of a party by the courts, Hanen wrote that he "holds the States’ Notice of Dismissal to be ineffective."

    Hanen went on to note that the order did not "presage" a ruling "should a different form of dismissal motion be filed," however, suggesting the parties to "file such a motion" including "a proposed order" — suggesting a portion of the federal rules that would require the court to approve the dismissal.

    0 0

    A protest last month in New York City over Kaepernick's situation.

    Drew Angerer / Getty Images

    When the top black lawmakers and operatives in America meet later this month at an annual, days-long conference in Washington, they want Colin Kaepernick there, too.

    The chatter in the lead up to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual legislative conference in two weeks is that there's a plan in place for Kaepernick to be involved somehow, a half-dozen independent sources told BuzzFeed News.

    Both Kaepernick and the CBC find themselves in an entirely different position than just a year ago: The now former NFL quarterback has become a political cause and lightning storm, while some CBC members like Rep. Maxine Waters have also moved to the forefront of national politics in the Trump era.

    The sources had no knowledge of whether an agreement had been reached. A representative for Kaepernick did not respond to a request for comment.

    The political environment is a complicated one for black lawmakers, who’ve emphasized taking on the president and by-and-large see a racial dynamic in the national news worth addressing: Just in the last month, there’s been the white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Trump’s controversial responses to the violent events there, and the apparent police profiling of a well-known NFL star. All the while, the apparent refusal by NFL owners to even hire Kaepernick as a back-up QB has become an activist cause — organizers involved in the winter’s Women’s March recently sent a set of demands to the NFL over the issue.

    Congressional Black Caucus chair Cedric Richmond said in July that Kaepernick had “superior talent” than players currently on teams and was simply exercising his first amendment right. “I think it's unfair,” Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat, told TMZ Sports. “I think that he has a lot of talent. He was the starting QB in the Super Bowl and he's a great athlete. And the fact that he spoke up means he's a great person and he spoke his conscience. And I don't think we should penalize people in this country for doing that.”

    And now the CBC annual conference is approaching in a much different landscape than last year when Barack Obama delivered an impassioned endorsement of Hillary Clinton. (A foundation spokesperson did not immediately respond to an email asking whether Trump had an invitation to speak this year.) The priorities this year look more like: getting back some of the progressives and young voters who didn’t show up to vote last year, and opposing Trump’s agenda on matters including Obama-era criminal justice guidance.

    “It has to be a collective meeting of the minds of first-time Obama voters, progressives, and younger folks, and more,” a Democratic strategist close to the CBC told BuzzFeed News. “We need that coalition [because] if you look what happened [in 2016], we lost some people. We’re not at a place where we can afford to have different segments and especially. So the message at ALC is unity and the need that everyone is active collectively and has a central role to play.”

    0 0

    Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

    Hillary Clinton didn’t have a firm answer to the first question she answered in a new TV interview: how are you?

    “I think I am good,” she told CBS’ Jane Pauley in an interview that aired Sunday morning. “But that doesn't mean that I am complacent or resolved about what happened.

    "It still is very painful," she said. "It hurts a lot.”

    The interview comes as Clinton prepares to embark on a tour for her new book on the 2016 presidential election, What Happened. The 2016 Democratic nominee is still working over how she lost to Donald Trump, and is still defending some of the roundly criticized steps she took in her campaign.

    Clinton gave a familiar defense for why she said in early September last year that “you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables”

    “Well, I thought Trump was behaving in a deplorable manner,” she told Pauley. “I thought a lot of his appeals to voters were deplorable. I thought his behavior as we saw on the Access Hollywood tape was deplorable.

    "And there were a large number of people who didn't care. It did not matter to them. And he turned out to be a very effective reality TV star," she said.

    In fact, the Access Hollywood tape, which showed Trump in 2005 bragging about how his celebrity status allowed him to grope women, was not made public until a month after Clinton’s “deplorable” remarks.

    Clinton would not concede that her comment “energized” Trump’s supporters.

    “They were already energized,” she told Pauley.

    Asked if she offended some people with the comment, Clinton said, “I don't buy that."

    "I'm sorry I gave him a political gift of any kind," she said, adding that the "gift" was not politically “determinative.”

    She did say that “the most important of the mistakes” she made was using personal email. But she pegged the problem to how it was explained to voters.

    “I've said it before, I'll say it again, that was my responsibility. It was presented in such a really negative way, and I never could get out from under it. And it never stopped.”

    And she said former FBI director James Comey’s decision to notify Congress that there were potentially new developments into the bureau's investigation into her email use over a week before the election “just stopped my momentum.”

    “At the same time [Comey] does that about a closed investigation, there's an open investigation into the Trump campaign and their connections with Russia. You never hear a word about it. And when asked later, he goes, ‘Well, it was too close to the election.’ Now, help me make sense of that,” Clinton said. “I can't understand it.”

    Jewel Samad / AFP / Getty Images

    Clinton told Pauley that Trump’s win took her by complete surprise. "I felt like I had let everybody down," she said.

    She said she “had not drafted a concession speech. I'd been working on a victory speech."

    “I just felt this enormous letdown, this kind of loss of feeling and direction and sadness. And, you know, Bill just kept saying, ‘Oh, you know, that was a terrific speech,’ trying to just kinda bolster me a little bit.

    "Off I went, into a frenzy of closet cleaning, and long walks in the woods, playing with my dogs, and, yoga, alternate nostril breathing, which I highly recommend, trying to calm myself down. And, you know, my share of Chardonnay. It was a very hard transition. I really struggled. I couldn't feel, I couldn't think. I was just gob-smacked, wiped out.”

    Clinton, who said she knew she would have to “work extra hard” during the campaign “to make women and men feel comfortable with the idea of a woman president,” gave Trump credit for his own campaign messaging.

    “He was quite successful in referencing a nostalgia that would give hope, comfort, settle grievances for millions of people who were upset about gains made by others,” she said.”

    Asked by Pauley if she meant “millions of white people,” Clinton agreed: “Millions of white people, yeah, millions of white people.”

    At the end of the interview, Clinton said that she will never run for office again.

    “I am done with being a candidate,” she said. “But I am not done with politics because I literally believe that our country's future is at stake.”

    0 0

    Gillibrand speaks at a conference last year.

    Ben Hider / Getty Images

    John Burnett, a Harlem Republican who ran for New York City comptroller in 2013, and was a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention, is considering a run for U.S. Senate in 2018, he told BuzzFeed News.

    Burnett is weighing whether to join a Senate primary for the chance to try and unseat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is considered to be a possible Democratic presidential contender in 2020, but has said she plans on running to keep her Senate seat and staying there. Any Republican challenger to her Senate seat would face a highly challenging race: She won re-election in 2012 with 72% of the vote in blue New York.

    The Cornell grad and businessman said he began to think about it when a friend “strongly encouraged” him to consider a run, and now he's wondering if there's a path to victory and if can raise the money. “An ordinary candidate is not going to drive the numbers to the polls that are necessary to win,” he said. “Especially, downstate in New York City, where Republicans are outnumbered 7 to 1. The ideal candidate has to appeal to crossover voters and independents.”

    Burnett, who is an adviser to the New York Republican Party, ran unopposed in the 2013 Republican primary for New York City comptroller. He was crushed by Scott Stringer in the general election, garnering just 16% of the vote.

    That doesn't mean he doesn't think he’s got what it takes for 2018, though. “The ideal candidate,” he said, “should have a diverse background and experiences coupled with the ability to serve all by finding common ground.”

    And you don’t need to have a track-record of electoral success to find your way to the GOP nomination in New York. The same candidate who Gillibrand defeated in 2012 was the GOP nominee to run against Sen. Chuck Schumer in 2016. The candidate, Wendy Long, found a nearly identical result.

    0 0

    Spencer Platt / Getty Images

    The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to stop part of an appeals court ruling from going into effect that would limit enforcement of President Trump's refugee ban.

    The ruling of the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, issued Sept. 7, would exempt refugees who have received assurances of support from resettlement agencies from the ban.

    That ruling upheld a district court's modified injunction against enforcing parts of Trump's March 6 executive order. The district court also found that "grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in- law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States" count as "close familial relationships" exempted from the travel ban. The Trump administration had fought for a more narrow definition, but the 9th Circuit upheld that ruling as well.

    Notably, the Justice Department is not asking the Supreme Court to halt that more broad definition of a "close familial relationship."

    By way of explaining the Justice Department's different treatment of the rulings, lawyers noted in Monday's filing that "the government already has been applying the lower courts’ reading of close family members, whereas the Ninth Circuit’s refugee-assurance ruling would upend the status quo and do far greater harm to the national interest."

    Absent Supreme Court action, the 9th Circuit's decision was due to go into effect Tuesday. However, shortly after the filing, Justice Anthony Kennedy put the 9th Circuit ruling on hold "with respect to refugees covered by a formal assurance" pending a response by noon Tuesday from Hawaii, which brought the lawsuit against the executive order, and a further order from Kennedy or the full court.

    The moves over the scope of the injunction against Trump's travel and refugee bans have taken place even as the 90-day ban on travel from six Muslim-majority nations and 120-day halt to the refugee program took effect — with exemptions, under a Supreme Court order, for those with a "credible claim of a bona fide relationship" to a US person or entity.

    The debates here, now before the Supreme Court, have centered around what constitutes such a "bona fide relationship."

    The justices already have agreed to hear the government's appeal of the challenges to the legality and constitutionality of the executive order itself. Those arguments are set for Oct. 10.

    Under the terms of Trump's order, the 90-day travel ban would end before the arguments even happen — on Sept. 27. The refugee ban would still be active, but for less than another 20 days — ending Oct. 27. It is not yet clear what effect, if any, that will have on the Supreme Court's consideration of the case.

    Read the filing:

    The order from Justice Anthony Kennedy:

    The order from Justice Anthony Kennedy:

    0 0

    Eric Thayer / Getty Images

    The Supreme Court will allow the Trump administration to keep blocking a large group of would-be refugees from entering the US during the 120-day halt to the refugee program under President Trump's travel ban executive order.

    Hawaii had successfully argued to lower courts that the group of approximately 24,000 people — would-be refugees who have received assurances of support from resettlement agencies — were the type of people intended to be exempt from President Trump's travel and refugee ban under a June order from the Supreme Court.

    The justices exempted those with a "credible claim of a bona fide relationship" to a US person or entity from the refugee ban, which affects those from anywhere in the world, and the 90-day travel ban from six Muslim-majority countries.

    The fight between the government and lawyers for Hawaii, which is challenging the executive order, over the summer has focused on what constitutes a "bona fide relationship."

    On Monday, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to stay the part of an order from the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that would have allowed would-be refugees with assurances to travel to the US during the refugee ban, which is slated to end Oct. 27 under the terms of the executive order. The Justice Department has stated that approximately 24,000 refugees have such assurances currently.

    Hawaii opposed the request, but the court granted the stay in a one-sentence order on Tuesday afternoon.

    The justices are due to hear arguments over the legality and constitutionality of Trump's executive order on Oct. 10, in the second week of the court's new term.

    0 0

    Stephanie Keith / Reuters

    President Donald Trump’s personal attorney and confidant, Michael Cohen, is scheduled to speak next week with investigators from the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed-door meeting.

    Cohen has been subpoenaed by lawmakers investigating Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. He is expected to speak with investigators on Sept. 19. That hearing will not be open to the public.

    Cohen, 51, emerged as an important figure in the investigation after he was named in a 35-page dossier alleging Russia and the campaign worked together to help get Trump elected. That document was researched and written by a former British spy and published by BuzzFeed News in January after top law enforcement officials had briefed President Barack Obama and Trump, who was then president-elect, about it. The dossier asserted that Cohen visited Prague to meet with Kremlin officials and was an important player in the “ongoing secret liaison relationship” between Russia and the campaign.

    Cohen called these claims “profoundly wrong” in a letter sent last month to lawmakers. His passport, which he showed to BuzzFeed News, had no stamps from the Czech Republic. He later told lawmakers that was his only passport.

    Cohen urged congressional investigators to “discern and publicly disclose” those who paid for the dossier, and that he has no documents tying him to any of the allegations.

    Reached late Tuesday by BuzzFeed News, Cohen declined to comment.

    The Trump Organization has turned over documents to congressional investigators, including an email in which Cohen asked a spokesperson for President Vladimir Putin for help advancing a Trump business project. In another email, a business associate boasted to Cohen that he would help get Trump elected and that he could get “all of Putin’s team to buy in on this.”

    Cohen has agreed to testify before the House Intelligence Committee as well, and has offered up several dates. So far, no date has been set, and the committee continues to suffer partisan infighting.

    0 0

    Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

    The top US national security official has directed government departments and agencies to warn employees across the entire federal government next week about the dangers and consequences of leaking even unclassified information.

    The Trump administration has already promised an aggressive crackdown on anyone who leaks classified information. The latest move is a dramatic step that could greatly expand what type of leaks are under scrutiny and who will be scrutinized.

    In the memo about leaks that was subsequently obtained by BuzzFeed News, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster details a request that “every Federal Government department and agency” hold a one-hour training next week on “unauthorized disclosures” — of classified and certain unclassified information.

    The request includes “[s]uggested training materials” — provided by the National Counterintelligence and Security Center — that include the 15-minute C-SPAN video of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ August news conference about leaks and a six-minute Fox News video of an interview with the National Counterintelligence and Security Center’s director, William Evanina.

    White House and National Security Council officials did not respond to requests for comment on the memo on Wednesday.

    Last month, Sessions said his department was pursuing a number of leak investigations, and that the FBI had created a unit to deal with leaks of classified information. “We will not allow rogue anonymous sources with security clearances to sell out our country any longer,” he said in the August press conference.

    The memo, dated Sept. 8, signals a potentially dramatic expansion of the previous administration’s war on leaks. The Obama administration moves focused on alleged national security leaks and “insider threats” — an effort centered around the intelligence agencies under an October 2011 executive order from President Obama. Those investigations — and in some cases, prosecutions — were widely criticized, particularly in the media.

    McMaster’s memo is directed to a much larger group, including virtually every senior official in the federal government — from the vice president and cabinet heads to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the director of the Peace Corps. Perhaps more importantly, the memo asserts that “unauthorized disclosure” of both classified and “controlled unclassified” information “causes harm to our Nation and shakes the confidence of the American people.”

    The McMaster memorandum itself likely would be seen as a type of such a “controlled unclassified” document, as it is marked: “UNCLASSIFIED//FOUO [For Official Use Only].”

    The first year of the Trump administration has been characterized by leaks at all levels, a source of considerable public criticism from the president himself. Axios reported Sept. 10 that Sessions has suggested employing lie detector tests in at least one leak investigation.

    In the memo, McMaster requests that every government department and agency “dedicate a 1-hour, organization-wide event to engage their workforce in a discussion on the importance of protecting classified and uncontrolled unclassified information.” Although issued as a request, the memo later notes, “In order to ensure a consistent and strong message is given to the entire federal workforce, such training should occur the week of September 18-22, 2017.”

    Planning is taking place to hold the trainings, one department confirmed Wednesday. Although a date has not yet been set, Education Department press secretary Liz Hill told BuzzFeed News, “The Department has received the White House Memorandum dated September 8 from General McMaster, and it intends to comply.”

    While highlighting concerns regarding unauthorized disclosures of classified information, McMaster also writes regarding the trainings that “it is equally important to discuss the importance of protecting controlled unclassified and personally identifiable information from unauthorized public disclosure.”

    In addition to the videos, which would constitute about one-third of the training time, the training draft schedule from the National Counterintelligence and Security Center includes discussion from “Department/Agency leads” on the differences between espionage, “unauthorized disclosures (of classified information),” “leaks (to the media),” hackers and whistleblowing. There also is to be a discussion of “[d]amage to national security, to the organization, to the American public,” “[p]enalties for unauthorized classified disclosures,” and “[a] specific case, if possible in this particular D[epartment]/A[gency].”

    The full text of the memo:

    Memorandum for the Vice President

    The Secretary of State

    The Secretary of the Treasury

    The Secretary of Defense

    The Attorney General

    The Secretary of the Interior

    The Secretary of Agriculture

    The Secretary of Commerce

    The Secretary of Labor

    The Secretary of Health and Human Services

    The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

    The Secretary of Transportation

    The Secretary of Energy

    The Secretary of Education

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs

    The Secretary of Homeland Security

    Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

    Director of the Office of Management and Budget

    United States Trade Representative

    Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations

    Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers

    Administrator of the Small Business Administration

    Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor

    Director of National Intelligence

    Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy

    Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council

    Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism

    Director of the National Drug Control Policy

    Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality

    Director of the National Counterrorism Center

    Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

    Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

    President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States

    Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

    Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

    Administrator of General Services

    Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

    Director of the Office of Personnel Management

    Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration

    Chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

    Director of the Peace Corps

    Chief Executive Officer, Millennium Challenge Corporation

    Director, White House Military Office

    Director of the National Security Agency

    Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency

    Director of the Selective Service System

    President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation

    Chair of the Federal Communications Commission

    Executive Director of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board

    Director of the National Science Foundation

    Administrator of Drug Enforcement

    National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

    SUBJECT: Request for Provision of Training on Unauthorized Disclosures

    The unauthorized disclosure of classified information or controlled unclassified United States Government information causes harm to our Nation and shakes the confidence of the American people. In this era of unprecedented unauthorized disclosures, it is important to take time to review with your workforce their roles and responsibilities in safeguarding United States Government information.

    In light of the recent press conference by the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence regarding unauthorized disclosures, I am requesting that every Federal Government department and agency dedicate a 1-hour, organization-wide event to engage their workforce in a discussion on the importance of protecting classified and controlled unclassified information, and measures to prevent and detect unauthorized disclosures.

    For those with access to classified information, a review of the non-disclosure agreement reminds us of the responsibilities that come with access to, and penalties for unauthorized disclosure of, classified information. However, it is equally important to discuss the importance of protecting controlled unclassified and personally identifiable information from unauthorized public disclosure.

    Although there are policies and guidance already in place to prevent unauthorized disclosures, it will be time well spent to shine a spotlight on the importance of this issue, and engage the workforce in conversation about what it means to be a steward of United States Government information. It is particularly important to stress the sharp difference between unauthorized disclosures of information and whistleblowing — the responsibility of all federal employees to report waste, fraud and abuse through proper channels.

    There are many resources available to frame this 1-hour event, including a review of policies, guidance, videos, and training materials, and perhaps most important, an open discussion to answer questions and raise issues to ensure that our safeguarding measures are understood and effective.

    Suggested training materials are attached. In order to ensure a consistent and strong message is given to the entire federal workforce, such training should occur the week of September 18-22, 2017.

    H.R. McMaster

    Lieutenant General, United States Army

    Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

    Molly Hensley-Clancy contributed reporting.

    0 0

    Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio.

    Alex Wong / Getty Images

    WASHINGTON, DC — Rob Portman is a serious senator. He's Midwest nice, a little old-fashioned, and in possession of deep wells of knowledge about taxes, trade, and health care. In some alternate universe, you could imagine him as Mitt Romney's vice president.

    This week, in his quiet office on the opposite end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Portman shared one way a serious senator deals with this insane moment in politics. Asked how he learns about President Donald Trump’s disruptive and frequently combative tweets, the Ohio Republican grinned.

    “I get it two ways,” he began, as he rose from a chair in his office.

    He walked behind his desk and grabbed his iPhone.

    “I can’t follow everybody, right? But guess who I do follow? Donald Trump,” Portman continued as he returned to his seat. “So every one of his tweets, I get on my phone.

    “I have an alert,” Portman confirmed as he tapped away at the screen. “You know why? Because when I didn’t have an alert, I would be in the middle of an interview with someone like you, and they would ask me about something he tweeted, and I would be caught flat-footed.”

    And, just to be safe, Portman’s press secretary sends him an email each morning with Trump’s tweets, which more often than not jolt the day in different directions and into various diversions.

    During a half-hour interview this week with BuzzFeed News, Portman offered a glimpse of how Republicans like him — a mild-mannered conservative who came of age in the Bush era but now seems moderate when compared to Trump’s far-right champions — are trying to navigate the reality of Trumpism and a president who has taken their party down a more populist and unpredictable path. These days it’s tougher to figure out where a Portman fits.

    What does it mean to be a Republican right now? Portman, once an unabashed free-trader who served as George W. Bush’s US trade representative, framed his answer around an issue that was central to Trump’s “America First” message.

    “I consider myself a good Republican, but I’ve also been willing to talk about fair trade,” Portman said. “On something like that, I feel like, even though I was a little out of the mainstream of my party on some respects there, I’m not uncomfortable with where they’re going, because I do think fairness and a level playing field is consistent with my principles and values as a Republican.”

    He also acknowledged his own shift, something that signals just how sharply the party’s dynamics on trade have turned: Portman came out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership last year during his reelection campaign. And though he does not favor withdrawing from North American Free Trade Agreement, Portman said he wants to see substantial changes to that pact.

    Despite the changing political environment, Portman still views the GOP as, in his words, a team. And he doesn’t appreciate it when the ostensible head of the party, Trump, or his allies do something that messes with the chemistry. Specifically, Portman called out Trump for his recent attacks on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “Going to the team concept, McConnell’s going to be the majority leader. You’ve got to figure out a way to work together as adults — we don’t have to love each other.”

    Portman also isn’t happy that Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, is using his perch at Breitbart News to threaten primary challenges against sitting Republican senators perceived as unloyal to Trump. He wishes Bannon would use his influence to run a positive campaign to build support for GOP plans to rewrite tax code and overhaul Obamacare.

    “I mean, people can do whatever they want,” Portman said. “But do I like it? No. I think it’s not team play. Here we are with 52 votes [in the Senate], trying to get tax reform done with only a two-vote margin. Health care reform, you saw, two-vote margin. It’s hard enough as it is. … I think instead of having a circular firing squad, we have got to be focused on how to get things done.”

    A spokesperson for Bannon did not respond to a request for comment.

    All of these — the tweets, the sniping at McConnell, Bannon’s intraparty warfare — are things Portman sees as distractions from crafting and talking policy. And Portman really likes to craft and talk policy.

    He gives the White House a pass, for example, on its slow implementation of recommendations from an opioid task force. Instead, he expresses frustration that his colleagues in Congress are not moving fast enough to pass legislation that would address the crisis. Portman also hopes the Trump administration will support his bill to restrict websites that promote sex trafficking with what he calls “a ruthless kind of efficiency.”

    Portman “met with a victim two weeks ago in Ohio … who started being trafficked at 9 years old. Her dad would take her to Super Bowls and traffick her online. She told me she was sold as many as 20 times in a day. … So, I’m the author or coauthor, I think, of four or five trafficking bills that I’m proud of, but frankly none of them are making as big of a difference as this would make. Because if we could shut down these online websites that facilitate sex trafficking knowingly — knowingly; I’m not talking about inadvertently — it would make a huge difference.”

    While Portman is diplomatic when discussing his relationship with Trump, he is not reverential. After the white supremacist demonstrations and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month, Portman issued a rebuke of the president (if a relatively mild one) after Trump offered a “both sides” response that seemed to put the racists on the same moral plane as those who came to protest the racists.

    “When I disagree with him on something, I make it clear,” Portman said. “I’m very comfortable in that role. In some ways, it’s easier, you know? Because with George Bush, I really felt such … loyalty to him — obviously I worked for him later, but even before I worked for him.”

    It wasn’t all that long ago that Portman, given his extensive government experience and battleground state pedigree, was viewed as a future vice president, or even a future president. But now, after winning reelection by a margin much larger than Trump’s over Hillary Clinton in Ohio, he said he sees himself more as a lawmaker who can swing bipartisan deals in the Senate. “I’m not here to give speeches and write red meat columns,” he said.

    So can he see himself ever running for president? “No. No,” Portman replied, repeating himself. “I don’t think so. I feel like my role is here in legislating, trying to get things done.”

    Does it bother Portman, then, that Trump’s antics on Twitter — and the constant questions from reporters who expect senators like Portman to defend or disavow them — often overshadow these initiatives?

    “I don’t view it in personal terms like that, but I do view it in terms of policy,” Portman replied. “In other words: When we’re distracted by the shiny object over here, which is the latest tweet that offends people, then we’re not making progress on the policy issues, because I’m not communicating that to my constituents. They aren’t understanding and hearing about it, because instead, they’re hearing about something that is not, frankly, what I should be focused on as part of my job.”

    Portman then reached for a positive. “I can’t give you examples from the last 24 hours, because he’s been pretty good on his tweets, focused on the hurricane,” he said. “The hurricane has kind of centered the White House and centered him more. But some of the stuff is just not helpful, including attacking McConnell and things like that.”

    It was a minute or two later when Portman picked up his cell phone to demonstrate how he monitors Trump’s tweets and read aloud the most recent: “Fascinating to watch people writing books and major articles about me and yet they know nothing about me & have zero access. #FAKE NEWS!”

    The tweet was widely interpreted as a blast of Katy Tur, the reporter whose book about covering Trump’s campaign had been released that day.

    0 0

    Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

    President Donald Trump again blamed the violence in Charlottesville on both sides on Thursday, when discussing a conversation with Sen. Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, the day prior.

    On Thursday, on board Air Force One while returning from touring Hurricane Irma damage in Florida, Trump reinforced his previous controversial comments defending white supremacists by pointing to a sometimes violent group that opposes them, Antifa.

    Trump told reporters he and Scott "had a great talk yesterday. I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what’s going on there. You have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also and essentially that’s what I said. Now because of what’s happened since then with Antifa. When you look at really what’s happened since Charlottesville, a lot of people are saying and people have actually written, ‘Gee, Trump may have a point.’"

    Trump added, "I said there’s some very bad people on the other side also. But we had a great conversation. And he has legislation, which I actually like very much, the concept of which I support, to get people into certain areas and building and constructing and putting people to work. I told him yesterday that’s a concept I can support very easily.”

    When told of Trump's comments, Scott, of South Carolina, told BuzzFeed News that it's unrealistic to think President Trump would have an immediate "epiphany" regarding race after their meeting.

    Scott met with Trump on Wednesday to discuss the topic, especially after Trump defended white supremacists who marched on Charlottesville.

    "At the end of the day, I voiced my concerns about the thought that somehow three centuries of American history of raping and murdering people based on their color is somehow equal to what Antifa is doing today," Scott said on Thursday.

    When asked if he found it frustrating to see that Trump might not have gotten the message, Scott said, "No, I mean, listen. He is who he has been and I didn't go in there to change who he was, I wanted to inform and educate a different perspective. I think we accomplished that. To assume that immediately thereafter he's going to have an epiphany is just unrealistic."

    Sen. Tim Scott before meeting with Trump on Wednesday

    J. Scott Applewhite / AP

    Scott has previously said Trump had "compromised" his moral authority through his handling of the race-fueled Charlottesville riots.

    "They talked about [Charlottesville] pretty in-depth," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday of the meeting, "but the focus was primarily on solutions moving forward, and that was what both people came to the meeting wanting to discuss — is what we can do to bring people together, not talk about divisions within the country."

    Scott's office later released the following statement:

    In yesterday's meeting, Senator Scott was very, very clear about the brutal history surrounding the white supremacist movement and their horrific treatment of black and other minority groups. Rome wasn't built in a day, and to expect the President's rhetoric to change based on one 30 minute conversation is unrealistic. Antifa is bad and should be condemned, yes, but the KKK and white supremacist groups have been killing and tormenting black Americans for centuries. There is no realistic comparison. Period.

    At the same time, it was encouraging to hear the President commit, as he did yesterday in their meeting, to diversifying his staff, as well as make clear his support for the Senator's Investing in Opportunity Act. These are concrete steps that will help our poor and minority communities and ensure their voices are heard.

    No matter what is said or not said, the Senator will continue his efforts to unite our nation and move forward as one American Family.

    Later in the day, Trump signed a resolution condemning the "violence and domestic terrorist attack" that took place in Charlottesville. Here's the full text:

    S.J.Res. 49, which condemns the violence and domestic terrorist attack that took place during events between August 11 and August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, recognizing the first responders who lost their lives while monitoring the events, offering deepest condolences to the families and friends of those individuals who were killed and deepest sympathies and support to those individuals who were injured by the violence, expressing support for the Charlottesville community, rejecting White nationalists, White supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and other hate groups, and urging the President and the President’s Cabinet to use all available resources to address the threats posed by those groups.

    0 0

    The Ku Klux Klan protests the planned removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee in July in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    Chet Strange / Getty Images

    In a new poll, registered voters of color in Virginia say removing Confederate statues and memorials from public spaces is only “somewhat important” compared to other issues.

    Conversely, those voters ranked access to quality education, safety for people of color, and standing against the rise of white nationalism as matters of “extreme importance.”

    The poll, conducted by two Democratic-leaning groups, BlackPAC and brilliant corners strategies, comes amid a broad and fraught debate about how to handle and when to remove Confederate memorials — especially in Virginia, where a man who attended a white supremacist rally rammed a car into a crowd of counterprotesters, ultimately killing a woman. The debate has also entered into the state’s upcoming governor’s race.

    The groups surveyed about 1,000 voters of color registered in Virginia, including 600 black voters, and 200 Latino voters, and 200 Asian American-Pacific Islander voters, respectively. Voters were asked to rate a set of issues based on race and identity — with 10 being “extremely important,” 5 being “somewhat important” and a 0 being “not important at all.”

    Forty-three percent of black voters (the highest percentage) put the removal of Confederate monument at or near the top of their personal priorities; 31% of Hispanic and 35% Asian-American Pacific Islander voters ranked removing Confederate monuments that high. All told, the removal of Confederate statues and monuments had an average score of 5.8-level importance among groups participating in the survey.

    Confederate symbols have become a flashpoint in national politics: On the left, symbols like the Confederate flag are held up as relics of white supremacy that represent a legacy of violence against black people over whose freedom the Civil War was fought. Their supporters, meanwhile, largely describe the symbols as an ode to heritage. That debate has been shadowed by violence: both in Charlottesville and in places like Charleston, South Carolina, Dylan Roof killed several members of a black church. He had been photographed with the Confederate flag, which the state subsequently removed from the statehouse grounds after the shooting.

    Trump’s response to the Charlottesville violence, in which he described “very fine” people among white supremacists who had rallied around a statue of Robert E. Lee, was widely criticized, especially by black Americans.

    But according to the poll, voters of color say they are less likely to respond to specifically anti-Trump messages, and far more likely to be motivated to cast a vote that sends a strong message about their feelings on racism. People who say they are concerned about the protection of voting rights are most likely to vote, according to the poll.

    Cornell Belcher, the Democratic pollster who conducted the poll, told BuzzFeed News he wasn’t surprised that the issue of the Confederate monuments was such a low priority.

    “When you think about communities of color feeling literally threatened and unsafe in this current environment, issues like the statues are important, but clearly they’re not going to rise to the issue of some of the other issues around racial profiling and community safety where it is a life and death situation in these communities,” he said.

    Adrianne Shropshire, BlackPAC’s executive director, said she found the response to the issue of the removal of Confederate monuments and statues “a little bit surprising” but that it was important to look at voter attitudes through the lens of responses to questions about ending white supremacy and fight racism and discrimination. “Ultimately, the visuals of Nazis marching in the street in Charlottesville took precedence over the monument issue. [The responses] didn’t center necessarily on the monuments but instead on the potential for racialized violence,” said Shropshire.

    Belcher said that Latino voters in particular are “much more interested” in elections than in years past, but that you “don’t see the same some voter intensity” with black Americans, particularly younger voters. Belcher said that the way to engage is to hammer a compelling message on fighting against discrimination, alluding tangentially to a fear that black voter turnout — black women, for instance, trail both Latino and AAPI women in vote likelihood, according to the survey — could be returning to pre-Obama era levels.

    “That’s really problematic for Democrats and progressives if there's a pre-Obama reversion,” he said.

    Virginia’s elections take place Nov. 7. Ralph Northam, the Democratic candidate for governor, is trailing Terry McAuliffe's 2013 performance with voters of color. Justin Fairfax, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor who is black, leads in popularity over Republican Jill Vogel with voters of color. A July Virginia Commonwealth University poll had Fairfax with a six point lead over Vogel, but the pollsters recommended Fairfax and Democrats take action increase his name ID.

    0 0

    The federal courthouse in Akron, Ohio

    Carol M. Highsmith / Library of Congress

    A federal judge in Ohio is suing the federal judiciary, claiming that other judges violated his constitutional rights in ordering him to undergo a mental health screening — and threatening his position on the court if he refused — after finding he committed misconduct.

    US District Judge John Adams, who sits in Akron, faced disciplinary action last month after a panel of judges found that he mistreated another official in his courthouse and refused to cooperate with an investigation into his behavior by undergoing a mental health exam.

    Adams, represented lawyers from the conservative government watchdog group Judicial Watch, filed a lawsuit on Thursday in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, naming the panels of judges who issued orders against him as defendants.

    For a federal judge to file a lawsuit, let alone to sue his colleagues and the court system that he works in, is unusual. Federal judges filed a lawsuit several years ago against the US government seeking pay raises, but that didn't involve judges accusing each other of violating the law, as Adams has done.

    Adams could not immediately be reached. His lead attorney, Paul Orfanedes, litigation director at Judicial Watch, did not immediately return a request for comment. Judicial Watch is best known for filing Freedom of Information Act lawsuits seeking documents from federal agencies, but Orfanedes has represented Adams during the misconduct proceedings.

    Adams was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2003. Before he was confirmed, he was a state court judge and a prosecutor in Ohio, and also worked in private practice.

    According to a public document issued in his misconduct case in August, Adams was accused of committing misconduct in his dealings with a magistrate judge in his court. Federal magistrate judges are not Senate-confirmed like US district judges, but often take on significant roles in managing cases, including ruling on whether recently arrested criminal defendants should be released before their next court appearance and managing the exchange of evidence in civil lawsuits.

    After a magistrate judge missed a deadline that Adams had set for completing work on a case in February 2013, Adams issued an order that the magistrate judge explain why that magistrate judge should not be held in contempt. The magistrate judge submitted an explanation, and Adams accepted it.

    Adams' district court colleagues objected to how he had handled the situation, however, and four judges filed a judicial misconduct complaint against him. A special committee of judges — publicly available records about the case don't specify who those judges were — led the initial investigation, and eventually expanded the probe to include whether Adams was suffering from any emotional or mental instability. The committee hired a forensic psychiatrist to examine him, but Adams refused to undergo testing or provide any documents to the psychiatrist.

    In July 2015, the special committee gave its report to the Judicial Council of the Sixth Circuit — the body of judges that handle judicial complaints against judges who serve within the Sixth Circuit, which covers Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The committee concluded that Adams' behavior suggested he might have a disability that prevented him from having a relationship with his colleagues and handling his work as a judge.

    In February 2016, the Sixth Circuit council issued an order finding that Adams had committed misconduct in his treatment of the magistrate judge and his refusal to undergo the mental health exam. The council ordered that Adams be reprimanded and undergo the mental health screening. It ordered that he also not handle cases for two years — a limitation that could be suspended if Adams took the exam and was found to be able to do his job. If Adams continued to refuse the testing, the council said that it intended to recommend that Adams voluntarily retire.

    Adams challenged that order before the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability of the Judicial Conference of the United States, which can review circuit-level decisions in judicial misconduct cases. That committee largely upheld the Sixth Circuit council's order in August, although it said that Adams could continue to handle cases.

    According to committee's August memorandum, the investigation showed that the incident with the magistrate judge "was the culmination of an increasingly strained relationship between Judge Adams and his colleagues that began in 2008," when Adams' preferred candidate for a magistrate judge position was not selected. Adams had also stopped participating in court events and administrative business and had generally refused to interact with other judges, the conduct committee noted.

    In his lawsuit against the Sixth Circuit council and the Judicial Conference committee, Adams is claiming that forcing him to go through an involuntary mental health screening violates his constitutional rights to due process — he said he wasn't given notice about what judicial duties he was allegedly unable to perform as a result of any suspected mental disability — and against unreasonable searches. He's also challenging the constitutionality of the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act, the federal law that lays out the authority of federal judges to mete out discipline.

    Adam's lawsuit is unusual, but not unprecedented, according to Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University School of Law and an expert on judicial ethics. He cited the case of the late Oklahoma federal judge Stephen Chandler, who in the late 1960s went to the US Supreme Court when the Judicial Council of the Tenth Circuit temporarily barred him from handling cases. He was eventually reinstated, according to a 1989 obituary by the Associated Press, and the Supreme Court never ruled on the merits of his claim.

    "Adams claims the Judicial Counsel and the Judicial Conference are violating his constitutional rights. He has nowhere else to go now but court and he’s entitled to seek relief there," Gillers said.

    0 0

    Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images

    A federal judge isn't convinced she can vacate former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's criminal contempt conviction in the wake of President Trump's pardon and instead asking for more briefing on the effect of the presidential action.

    The move doesn't mean US District Judge Susan Bolton is still seeking to sentence Arpaio for the conviction, but it does signal that she is considering simply dismissing the case while leaving the guilty verdict on his record.

    The controversial Arizona sheriff was found guilty of criminal contempt of court for refusing to stop traffic patrols targeting suspected undocumented immigrants. After the pardon in August, Trump's first as president, Arpaio asked Bolton to vacate the conviction and dismiss his case.

    Bolton was set to sentence Arpaio on Oct. 6 for his conviction until Trump's pardon. Now, she is scheduled to consider his request to vacate the conviction on Oct. 4.

    In response to Arpaio's request, the Justice Department agreed, calling it "just and appropriate" for the judge to vacate her orders and dismiss the case.

    The move led several outside parties to weigh in, with many going so far as to ask the judge to consider whether the pardon itself was void.

    Bolton did not directly address that issue, instead focusing in Thursday's order on the effect of the pardon.

    Arpaio has asked Bolton to vacate the "verdict and other orders in this matter," she wrote, and the Justice Department "appears to agree with" that request. The cases cited by Arpaio and the Justice Department, Bolton wrote, focus on vacating the final judgment in a case before dismissing it — not the more broad request of vacating all of the orders in the case.

    Because Arpaio had been convicted, but not sentenced, for criminal contempt due to his repeated refusal to follow federal court orders in a case challenging his policies for detaining people based solely on their perceived immigration status, there was no final judgment. As such, Bolton wrote that the cases cited "suggest that dismissal with prejudice is all that remains to be ordered."

    She continued, however, noting that "U.S. Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit case law suggest that a presidential pardon leaves intact the recipient’s underlying record of conviction. ... The Government’s Response does not sufficiently address this issue. Therefore, supplemental briefing is appropriate."

    The Justice Department is to file a five-page brief on the question by Sept. 21. Arpaio can also file a reply, per the order.

    LINK: Joe Arpaio Wants His Conviction Tossed Out Now That He's Been Pardoned

    LINK: President Trump Has Pardoned Controversial Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio

    0 0

    “You have become the swamp.”

    As President Trump flirts with making a deal with Democrats on DREAMers, some of his hardcore supporters are turning on him by burning their iconic "Make America Great Again" hats.

    As President Trump flirts with making a deal with Democrats on DREAMers, some of his hardcore supporters are turning on him by burning their iconic "Make America Great Again" hats.

    Alex Wong / Getty Images

    House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Wednesday that they had reached an agreement with President Trump on DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Trump said Thursday that no deal had been made, but appeared to embrace the Democrats' goals in crafting legislation to protect undocumented people brought to the United States as children.

    "Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military?" he tweeted Thursday. "Really!"

    @realdonaldtrump / Via Twitter: @realDonaldTrump

    View Entire List ›

    0 0

    Carlos Barria / Reuters

    Michael Flynn's family has set up a legal defense fund and is now soliciting donations as multiple investigations scrutinize the actions of the former Trump national security adviser.

    The family is setting up the fund because "[t]he enormous expense of attorneys' fees and other related expenses far exceed their ability to pay," according to a statement from Joe Flynn and Barbara Redgate, Flynn's brother and sister, respectively.

    A source familiar with his legal representation said Flynn's "core team" is seven attorneys from Covington — including partners, counsel, and associates — with "numerous" others involved at certain points. The fees will "certainly be into the seven figures," according to the source.

    Flynn, who played key roles in Trump's campaign and is a retired Army lieutenant general, has been under scrutiny in the various investigations relating to Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 election, including special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Flynn tweeted out the news about the legal defense fund first thing Monday.

    @GenFlynn/Twitter / Via Twitter: @GenFlynn

    "The costs of legal representation associated with responding to the multiple investigations that have arisen in the wake of the 2016 election place a great burden on Mike and his family," the website reads. "They are deeply grateful for considering a donation to help pay expenses relating to his legal representation."

    Flynn's personal business dealings and his actions during the Trump transition have been an enormous source of coverage. There have been questions about foreign payments to Flynn, as well as other Flynn meetings with foreign officials.

    Flynn turned over more than 600 pages of documents to congressional investigators in June in connection with their investigations. He has not, however, personally testified — earlier citing fear of prosecution.

    In addition to Robert Kelner, the Covington partner who has been Flynn's lead counsel throughout the investigations, the primary attorneys representing Flynn include partner Stephen P. Anthony and counsel Brian D. Smith. Anthony is a white-collar criminal trial lawyer who previously worked in the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section. Smith, a former lawyer in the Clinton White House counsel's office, currently advises clients on investigations — including matters involving the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The three of them have signed various congressional correspondence, the source told BuzzFeed News.

    In addition to the core team, "numerous" other Covington attorneys have been involved from time to time — when documents have needed to be reviewed, for example — the source told BuzzFeed News.

    Related Links:

    LINK: Trump Advisers Secretly Met With Jordan’s King While One Was Pushing A Huge Nuclear Power Deal

    LINK: Michael Flynn Refuses To Comply With Senate Subpoena, Citing Fear Of Prosecution

    0 0

    Alabama Sen. Luther Strange shakes hands with his predecessor, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on June 13 in Washington, DC.

    Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

    A political nonprofit loyal to President Donald Trump will spend nearly $500,000 to boost interim Alabama Sen. Luther Strange in a high-stakes Republican runoff election next week.

    America First Policies will pay for pro-Strange digital ads, direct mail pieces, and get-out-the-vote phone calls between now and next week’s vote, a spokesperson confirmed to BuzzFeed News.

    “From repealing Obamacare to building the wall, Luther Strange is a proven ally in the U.S. Senate who's working with our president to make America great again,” the spokesperson, Erin Montgomery, wrote in an email that referenced the Trump campaign slogan. “We at America First are proud to continue to support him ahead of the September 26 runoff.”

    The last-minute assistance comes as Strange, who was appointed earlier this year to the seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, faces a tough fight from Roy Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Moore finished first in last month’s primary, has been leading in recent polls, and is presenting himself as the candidate friendliest to Trump and his agenda. He also has received help from a key Trump ally: former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, who is using his perch at Breitbart to boost Moore.

    But Trump announced on Twitter over the weekend that he planned to attend a Saturday rally for Strange in Huntsville. (The event actually is scheduled for Friday, according to an advisory the Strange campaign sent Monday.) And Politico, citing unidentified sources, reported that Vice President Mike Pence will hold a get-out-the-vote-rally for Strange next Monday in the state.

    Trump’s reinforcement of support — he endorsed Strange in last month’s primary — has been a bit of a surprise, given the polling trends in the race. Trump had done little since the primary, and his silence was interpreted as a sign that he didn’t want to tie himself too closely to Strange in the event of a loss. A week ago, those close to the White House spoke of the race pessimistically and doubted that Trump would do any more on Strange’s behalf.

    Aligning with Strange also puts Trump in a unique position: on the side of the GOP establishment. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his allies are heavily invested in Strange’s bid.

    Now Trump and Pence, having agreed to spend more time on Strange, risk political embarrassment if Moore prevails. So it makes sense that America First, which exists in part to provide cover for the White House’s political moves, is spending more money.

    “I think they feel it's winnable,” a source familiar with America First’s plans told BuzzFeed News when asked what changed between last week and this week.

    0 0

    Clinton and Bloomberg share a stage in 2009.

    Chris Hondros / Getty Images

    The annual Manhattan conference hosted for a decade by the Clinton Global Initiative became a kind of shorthand for what some hated about the Clintons: a mix of worthy and venal motives, a slosh of money and shady rich people around their world, and flashy and enduring relationships with autocrats in the Gulf.

    Tomorrow, Bill Clinton will hand what used to be CGI's main event off to Mike Bloomberg. And Bloomberg is reviving part of the event’s original role as a kind of US government in exile. The conference was created during the worst of the Iraq war and amid intense American isolation. European and Middle Eastern allies loathed George W. Bush, and turned instead to the open and sympathetic face of Bill Clinton's America.

    Bloomberg’s move to take over the conference (renamed the Bloomberg Global Business Forum) hasn’t drawn much attention, but it’s worth seeing in that context: The former New York mayor is inheriting not a conference, but a platform for an alternative American diplomacy. (Bloomberg, Axios wrote on breaking the news, is "the new Clinton.")

    Bloomberg is formalizing the posture that brought him to Paris in June. After Donald Trump announced that he was canceling the climate accord, Bloomberg said he'll rally American businesses to meet its targets anyway.

    "Nations are bound together by trade and investment, and while chief executives are not diplomats, they can be voices for cooperation on issues where the private sector can be constructive — from infrastructure to climate change,” he said in an emailed comment Tuesday. “Actions taken by the private sector, while not replacing official diplomatic channels, can often carry more weight than words spoken (or tweeted) by public officials."

    Bill Clinton’s power at the event was always his personal ability to convene giant figures, something that made CGI a delight to cover. The halls of the Sheraton New York were filled with people you’d never get on the phone. I once cornered (a displeased) Carlos Slim to grill him about his financial relationship with the New York Times. The main stage featured people with real power — King Abdullah, Tony Blair, Kofi Annan, Condoleezza Rice.

    And Clinton could cajole his array of connections onto stages that their PR handlers should not have allowed. In 2005, after Clinton had painstakingly mended fences with Rupert Murdoch — part of a long dance that ended abruptly in 2012 — he somehow persuaded the irascible right-wing media baron to appear on a panel with the CNN chairman Richard Parsons on a Friday afternoon in a dimly-lit hotel basement, moderated by Clinton himself.

    When Parsons boasted that CNN was “the best and best-positioned global news media company in the world,” Murdoch simply couldn’t take it.

    “I don’t watch CNN International, and I doubt that anyone else does,” he snapped. The channel is “unwatchable… and it’s so anti-American."

    Both Barack Obama and John McCain spoke at CGI in 2008, and it lost its place as the alternative government in 2009. Instead, CGI built a not unfriendly relationship with the new White House. They stopped putting media moguls on stage to trash one another, started locking the press in a basement hold room, and political reporters like me stopped enjoying it quite as much.

    It also grew over time to be a bit better organized, and directed millions to a dizzying range of charities. It will continue in some smaller forms, and many of the grants it facilitated have long-term implications — an emblematic one was the decision by a Minnesota hearing aid company, Starkey, to donate a million hearing aids to people in the developing world.

    Bloomberg’s version has some of CGI’s trappings, with the added polish of the kind of government in exile he represents. This isn’t the former governor of Arkansas, balancing his pro-business policies with folksy populism. This is pure anti-Trumpism, globalist on the big issues of trade and climate, firmly progressive on social values. The global figures Bloomberg has been able to attract to this Trump-free safe haven reads like a wish list for (now collapsed) Trump advisory panels: Tim Cook and Jack Ma, Macron and Erdogan and Trudeau, Blankfein and Schwarzman. The hotel is a little fancier than CGI’s and the guests need some qualification other than a simple willingness to give millions at Bill Clinton’s say-so.

    Clinton will open the Bloomberg event tomorrow, formalizing the handoff. This isn't the first project Clinton has passed off to Bloomberg; that was the Clinton Climate Initiative. And while the men are very different, the partnership reflects what they share, which is a kind of relentless ambition.

    Bloomberg's new stage is a sign that on the issues on which he's already begun to dog Trump — climate change, in particular — the former mayor is likely just getting started.

    0 0


    President Donald Trump is using targeted Facebook ads to reassure supporters that he still plans to build the border wall after his recent public comments caused many to question whether he would keep his promise.

    "There's been a lot of noise and a lot of rumors," reads the text of a Facebook ad from Trump's personal Facebook page that was targeted to specific users in recent days. "....WE WILL BUILD A WALL (NOT A FENCE) ALONG THE SOUTHERN BORDER OF THE UNITED STATES..." The ad concludes with a pitch for donations.

    That all caps declaration is in contrast to a widely discussed tweet last week in which the president said the wall was already underway "in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls." That led supporters such as Fox & Friends' Steve Doocy to ask "has the wall almost become symbolic?"

    The personal Facebook page of Vice President Mike Pence is also running a version of the ad. One difference between the Pence and Trump ads is the VP's refers to "Fake News media," while Trump's calls out the "mainstream media." Both ads include a dig against "liberals in congress."

    A White House spokesman told BuzzFeed News the ads are being run by the Trump campaign, and referred all questions to it. The Trump campaign did not respond to emails or phone messages about the ads.

    The ads are not visible on the timelines of the Trump or Pence Facebook pages. They are, therefore, so-called "dark post ads" because they can only be seen by people the campaign chose to target with the message. This is the same type of ad Facebook recently acknowledged was purchased by a Russian troll factory in order to target Americans during the election. That revelation has caused lawmakers such as Sen. Mark Warner to discuss the need to regulate online political ads.

    "An American can still figure out what content is being used on TV advertising. ... But in social media there's no such requirement," Warner said, according to CNN.

    The Trump and Pence ads also highlight how politicians can use targeted ads to push a message to supporters that walks back or contradicts a public statement.

    "If candidates (and outside groups) can say different things to different voters, it is harder to hold them accountable for campaign promises," Erika Franklin Fowler, director of the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks political ads aired on broadcast television during state and federal elections, previously told BuzzFeed News.

    These ads are also an example of how targeting can miss its mark. Nancy Levine, an author of books about pugs, was shown both ads in her News Feed and provided them to BuzzFeed News. She said she is far from a Trump supporter or potential donor.

    "I wonder how was I targeted? Most everything I post on FB is of the 'Fuck Trump' variety," Levine said.

    At BuzzFeed News' request she visited the ad preferences page on her Facebook profile, where anyone can view the interests the social network has identified for a user based on their behavior on and off the platform. To her surprise, Levine discovered her interests included "Donald Trump" and "Conservatism," as well as other outliers such as "Chainsaw."

    "I don't even rake my leaves, much less use a chainsaw," she said.

    0 0

    Sanders speaks during an event to introduce the "Medicare for All Act of 2017" on Capitol Hill.

    Yuri Gripas / Reuters

    When he introduced his Medicare-for-all bill last week, Bernie Sanders also put down on paper the idea he’s been talking about, sometimes loudly, sometimes with caution, other times not publicly at all, for more than 20 years: a “wealth tax” in the United States.

    In 1997, in his book, Outsider in the House, he declared it “high time to establish a tax on wealth similar to those that exist in most European countries.” Nine years later, during his first race for U.S. Senate, his opponent quoted the passage online, printed it on brochures, and pushed it in statements: “Sanders’ European-style wealth tax,” on “everything they own every year. Every tractor, cow, and acre.” In response, the Sanders campaign argued that he had never formally proposed a wealth tax, just floated the idea.

    During the Democratic primary in 2016, the Sanders campaign did consider an official wealth tax, two former officials said, but the idea died over concerns about the reality of implementation and that the tax plan would be perceived as far out of the mainstream.

    Now, nearly a year after the election, the 76-year-old Vermont senator is one of the most popular politicians in America. Ahead of his Medicare-for-all announcement last week, a total of 16 senators backed the bill, putting about one third of the chamber’s Democrats behind single-payer health care, an almost real-time shift in the party’s baseline.

    But few American lawmakers have embraced a wealth tax — an annual federal tax on the net assets of the very rich — though economists and academics, both liberal and conservative, have made the case for one before. Others have argued that any wealth tax would be dauntingly complicated, and potentially unconstitutional. Sanders has described it as one way to spread the concentration of wealth.

    Last week, he outlined a wealth tax policy for the first time in a white paper released alongside the single-payer bill, with a list of 10 ideas for how to pay for such a program.

    “This is something that he's always given some consideration to,” said Warren Gunnels, a policy adviser who has worked for Sanders for 18 years, served on his presidential campaign, and helped craft the new bill.

    As outlined in the six-page fact sheet, titled “Options to Finance Medicare-For-All,” Sanders’ federal wealth tax would establish an annual 1% levy on net worth exceeding $21 million. (For a family with $21.5 million in assets, that would mean paying a 1% tax on $500,000, or $5,000. For the wealthiest man in the United States, Bill Gates, whose net worth is speculated to be valued around $86 billion, the annual 1% tax would likely apply to all but a sliver of his net assets, and potentially total hundreds of millions of dollars.)

    In the white paper, Sanders claims that a tax on net worth would raise $1.3 trillion in 10 years. Implementing a federal wealth tax is untested and would involve complexities. Sanders officials said the IRS could be responsible for assessing net worth annually. The Treasury Department could handle items not easily appraised, using average appreciation rates and appraisals every 5 years instead of one.

    The idea, more broadly, is to level the distribution of wealth. During the presidential campaign, young and progressive voters gathered in massive numbers to hear Sanders punctuate his stump speech with dire statistics on the state of inequality. He is quick to tell voters that the 160,000 families in top 0.1% hold about the same share of wealth as the 144 million families in the bottom 90%; that the wealthiest 20 families, own more than the bottom 50%; and that just one family, the Waltons of Wal-Mart, owns more than the bottom 40%.

    “If you know anything about Sen. Bernie Sanders, reducing the extreme amount of wealth inequality in America has been a very strong concern of his. One of the most obvious ways to reduce this extreme wealth inequality in our country is to impose a tax on wealth,” Gunnels said, citing the French economist Thomas Piketty as a reference point on their own tax.

    Piketty's 2013 international bestseller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, makes the case for an annual “global” wealth tax of up to 2% for rich households, adopted by cooperating governments across the world (a “utopian” ideal, he says, for a tax that might first be tried regionally). The book, a 700-page theory-of-the-case on the history and trajectory of wealth inequality, describes a widening gap in private capital “even more worrisome” than the widening gap in income — with accumulated and inherited wealth growing at a higher rate of return than the economy. The result, Piketty says, is “indefinite” wealth concentration, a threat to “meritocratic values” and “social justice.”

    In the U.S., the book generated a months-long debate among economists, academics, and columnists. But in Washington, even as Democratic lawmakers praised his work, they steered far from the words “wealth tax.” When questioned about the idea in a 2014 interview, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the biggest star in progressive politics at the time, didn’t engage. “We need to take a hard look overall at our approach to taxation,” she replied.

    Sanders’ embrace of a federal wealth tax, even as merely an “option,” puts him in a tiny group of national politicians who have voiced support for the idea.

    In 2012, the left-leaning Green Party proposed a tax of 0.5% on assets exceeding $5 million in its official platform. (Though when asked about the plan at the time, their candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, stressed the room for “distinction” between her positions and the platform.) And before that, in 1999, there was Donald Trump. The business mogul, exploring a presidential campaign at the time, pitched a one-time tax of 14.25% on individuals with net assets of more than $10 million. (In a line that could have come from Sanders, Trump said the tax would, and should, affect the “1 percent of Americans who control 90 percent of the wealth in this country.”)

    As Democrats sidle up to Sanders, some planning their own presidential campaigns, they now face the question of paying for these programs, and with that, how closely they will or will not align with Sanders when it comes to tax and economic policy.

    Among the 16 Democratic senators backing the Medicare-for-all bill alongside Sanders, spokespeople for just four replied when asked if they would consider the wealth tax option: Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont (“This was a white paper for discussion and not part of the bill or the plan going forward”), Al Franken of Minnesota (“The financing isn’t part of the bill”), Jeff Merkley of Oregon (“There are multiple paths to get to Medicare for All”), and Kamala Harris of California (“She is open to discussing a host of different options to pay for the guarantee of health care for all Americans”).

    "As Sen. Sanders said, this is the beginning of the debate: Let's have a debate on the revenue options, let's have a debate on Medicare-for-all,” said Gunnels.

    “They're options. If somebody has a better idea then we'll look at those."

    0 0

    Manigault-Newman and Trump

    Pool / Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — A planned reception at the White House in recognition of the Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation has been canceled for now.

    Would-be guests were told on Wednesday that it wasn't clear if the White House was going to send out an official invite or not, in an email sent to people who RSVP’d. That email was shown to BuzzFeed News.

    A second email, which was also shown to BuzzFeed News, delivered the news that the event would be “postponed.”

    “Mrs. Omarosa Manigault-Newman was instructed by the president to discuss women's issues at the UN event taking place in New York City,” the email read. “Being that she was the event sponsor she would have to be present in order to have the event.”

    Broadly, the annual conference here in Washington took on a particularly sharp anti-Trump bent Wednesday, as black lawmakers lamented the current state of the country. Reps. Cedric Richmond, Robin Kelly, Marc Veasey, and Sheila Jackson Lee opened a press conference highlighting the meeting’s importance and the need for more advocacy related to civil rights, voting rights, and additional aid for the victims of recent hurricanes that have devastated areas in the South. Rep. Al Green of Texas told a small gathering he was going to continue to push for impeachment.

    “Some have said we have to make America great again,” said Richmond, the chair of the CBC. “The problem is they forgot what made this country great in the first place.”

    It wasn't clear if black lawmakers were among the invitees. Informed about the proposed event, a senior aide to a member of Congress snickered, “We’re not going to that.”

    “We never announced this reception you're referencing,” a White House official told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday evening.