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The Latest News about Government and Politics

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is taking his argument on the road, but he doesn't want you to assume he's steering himself toward the White House. At least not yet. 'I have a job I love,' Garcetti says as he makes the rounds at the Democratic National Committee's annual meeting in Nevada on Saturday. But the 46-year-old mayor adds that he wants Democrats to have 'a wide open field' in 2020, and he argues that the party needs 'new energy' and 'a generational moment' at all levels if it hopes to counter President Donald Trump. After winning an easy second term this year, Garcetti is an increasingly visible figure nationally, traveling to raise money and campaign for other Democrats. A presidential bid would run against history; no sitting mayor has won the presidency or even claimed a major party nomination. But Garcetti and several other Democrats of his generation are eying their prospects on the heels of voters electing Barack Obama, four years removed from the Illinois State Senate, and Donald Trump, who never held political office at all. Garcetti argues frustrated voters should, perhaps, look to mayors, because they have to make government work. 'We will represent everybody and we will work with anybody,' he said. The mayor's recent circuit includes stops in the first presidential primary state of New Hampshire and the general election battleground of Wisconsin. He has upcoming plans to visit South Carolina, which hosts the South's first presidential primary. At each stop, he's urging Democrats to take an aggressive approach to Trump and the Republican Congress. 'We have a better platform, a better position. We fight for the underdog,' Garcetti told The Associated Press, 'and somehow Donald Trump convinced them he's for the underdog.' The necessary response, Garcetti said, is for elected Democrats to use their power to get things done. He pointed to his city's $120 billion infrastructure plan even as Congress struggles to agree on a national infrastructure overhaul and City Hall's investment in community college tuition grants. Garcetti also highlighted his work to convince more than 300 municipalities to commit to the principles of the Paris climate accords, even after Trump announced he was nixing U.S. participation in the deal. 'Keep playing offense and stop just crying on defense,' Garcetti said of his philosophy. The mayor doesn't fit neatly into the ongoing tussle between liberal grassroots and the Democratic establishmenta. He backed Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the 2016 nominating fight, but he's among the many rising Democratic stars to align with Sanders' call for universal government health insurance. 'I'm a single-payer guy,' Garcetti said flatly. The notion of a lingering party split after the 2016 primaries is overdone, Garcetti said, arguing that 'the loudest voices' aren't always 'the most representative.' He also defended California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is drawing a challenge that is exciting some liberal grassroots activists, against charges that she isn't liberal enough for California. 'I don't buy this meme that she's some moderate,' Garcetti said. ----- Follow Bill Barrow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP.
  • COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina political strategist Richard Quinn has boasted a client list that includes Republican notables such as Lindsey Graham and John McCain. The veteran consultant's name has long been synonymous with Republican political success in South Carolina. Quinn's indictment this week on criminal conspiracy and illegal lobbying charges could mean difficult and, at the very least, awkward circumstances for the remaining Republicans who still rely on him for advice. Not to mention the vacuum it could create if Quinn — who's advised presidential hopefuls in this early voting state for nearly 40 years — sits out the next White House cycle. Quinn, 73, began his consulting business in South Carolina in 1978, when the now deep red state was dominated by Democrats. Helping flip control to the GOP, Quinn began advising legions of Republicans within state politics, including his son, state Rep. Rick Quinn. Now, both Quinns are under State Grand Jury indictment, as are a pair of other Quinn clients. Two more - the state's former House speaker and former majority leader - have already pleaded guilty to misconduct. Quinn's been influential in presidential primaries here since 1980, his shop becoming the first stop for Republicans seeking to make a mark in the state's first-in-the-South primary. For more than 30 years, the state's primary winner went on to become the GOP nominee, a streak Quinn helped start in 1980, when he was hired by Ronald Reagan. Quinn started a long relationship with John McCain in 2000, forging a bond despite the Arizona Republican's primary loss to George W. Bush. The two would team up again eight years later, with Quinn's firm propelling McCain to South Carolina victory and the Republican nomination. Quinn has been advising Lindsey Graham since 1994, when the political newcomer became the first Republican to represent South Carolina's 3rd District in more than 100 years. When longtime Quinn client Strom Thurmond retired from the U.S. Senate, Quinn shepherded Graham's 2002 bid to replace him and has worked with Graham in every election since. When Graham ran for president last year, Quinn was in his corner. Since 2002, Graham's campaigns have paid Quinn's firms nearly $3 million. Earlier this year, Graham said he would wait and see where the investigation went, calling Quinn 'a friend for a very long time.' It's unknown what role, if any, Quinn plays now with Graham. Quinn has also advised U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson and his son, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson. While investigating state House Speaker Bobby Harrell, the first lawmaker charged in what has become a yearslong investigation, the attorney general transferred the case to a special prosecutor, citing an unidentified conflict. Joe Wilson's campaign says it no longer retains Quinn for consulting and has no plans to use his services in next year's election. Quinn's lawyers haven't returned messages seeking comment. The indictments give few details, but accuse him of trying to influence state lawmakers' votes on unspecified issues without being a registered lobbyist. Prosecutors also say Quinn conspired for more than a decade with other lawmakers, including his son, to skirt ethics and campaign finance laws for personal profit. For now, his remaining clients wait and see what becomes of this powerful political player. 'I think the indictments make him radioactive with anybody looking to hire a political consultant,' said Dick Harpootlian, a Columbia attorney and former chairman of the state Democratic Party. Harpootlian said he regarded Quinn as a worthy adversary during their time in politics. But the former prosecutor also said his experience trying public corruption cases gives him an idea of the challenges Quinn is facing. 'I'm disappointed to see him in this spot,' Harpootlian said. 'When you're playing in the public sector ... there's a standard - lines you can't cross. We'll wait to see if he crossed them or not, but I think as a political consultant he's going to have a tough time going forward.' Joel Sawyer, who served as Gov. Mark Sanford's communications director and executive director of the state GOP, said, for politicians, the indictments mean working with the Quinns could now become a liability, instead of an asset, to their brands. 'Whether the charges stick or not, it's hard to think of anyone else whose entanglement in a probe of this nature would create an influence vacuum like this,' Sawyer said. ___ Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP . Read more of her work at https://apnews.com/search/meg%20kinnard
  • STERLING, Va. (AP) — President Donald Trump is portraying the Islamic State group's ouster from its Syrian stronghold as a milestone in the U.S. fight against terrorism and a step toward a political transition and lasting peace in Syria. That assessment, in a statement released Saturday, runs counter to warnings in recent days from his national security aides that the militants remain fully capable of striking American interests. And there are no signs of an impending political transition, with Syrian President Bashar Assad's government newly strengthened. Kurdish-led forces on Friday declared victory in Raqqa, the extremists' self-declared capital, where they had terrorized the population for four years. Trump called it 'a critical breakthrough in our worldwide campaign to defeat ISIS and its wicked ideology' and said 'the end of the ISIS caliphate is in sight.' He cited his efforts to empower U.S. military forces on the ground, and repeated his claim that more had been done to defeat the group in recent months 'than in the past several years.' The U.S. 'will soon transition into a new phase' in Syria, Trump said, and offer support to local security forces. He said the U.S. will back diplomatic negotiations to end the violence, allow refugees to return safely home, and 'yield a political transition that honors the will of the Syrian people.' There is no indication, however, that a political transition will come any time soon. U.N.-led talks have shown no serious signs of picking up steam. The ouster of IS forces from Raqqa and other parts of Syria has overlapped with the increased influence of Iran and Russia in the country and a stronger hand for Assad, dimming prospects even further for the type of political solution the U.S. has long wanted to see. Most Raqqa residents fled long ago and are now scattered across refugee camps or abroad, and there is little for them to return to. The once vibrant metropolis on the Euphrates River has largely been reduced to rubble and is littered with land mines and booby traps. So far, the Trump administration has shown little appetite for longer-term engagement or involvement in nation-building in Iraq and Syria. While it will work to clear Raqqa of mines and restore basic services like water and electricity, Washington has made it evidence that it has no intention of playing the leading role in rebuilding the city. National security officials, including CIA director Mike Pompeo, have warned that just because IS has been evicted from Raqqa, it doesn't mean the group won't be able to carry out attacks against the United State. The U.S. military this past week estimated that 6,500 IS fighters remain in eastern Syria and western Iraq, many concentrated along the Euphrates River valley straddling the border. Those fighters pose an insurgent threat in both countries and an ideological threat globally. __ Associated Press writer Josh Lederman in Washington contributed to this report.
  • A Charlotte city councilwoman is under scrutiny for a controversial tweet she posted comparing President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield posted the tweet Friday morning, which reads in part: “For All who read about Hitler you are Now Living how he reigned in #45.' WSOC spoke with members of the community for reactions to Mayfield’s statement. 'I don't think it's appropriate,” Charlotte resident Ulga Mazets said.  Mazets is from eastern Europe and said her family was impacted by Hitler’s reign. “My grandfather was in (a) concentration camp, so I feel it's a very harsh comparison,” she said. >> Read more trending news Others felt the comparison was inappropriate but said Mayfield had the right to make it. “Everybody got their own opinion,” a Charlotte resident said. Earlier this year, one of Mayfield’s fellow council members, Dimple Ajmera, landed in hot water when she said Trump supporters have no place leading Charlotte government. [READ MORE: Councilwoman receives death threats following Trump comments] Ironically, Mayfield just called for an investigation into a Charlotte Housing Authority worker who allegedly posted a tweet on Facebook applauding the death of Keith Lamont Scott, who was shot by police during an incident that sparked a nationwide debate. University of North Carolina - Charlotte professor Anita Blanchard said these types of comments on social media are becoming more common. She said leaders and those who use social media platforms should learn to be more media savvy. “Finding a way to say something that’s not rude that still gets your point across,” she said. Mayfield didn’t immediately respond to Channel 9’s calls about the tweet, but she tweeted again Friday afternoon saying, “I wish the media would question #45 about why we were in Niger.” Mayfield is up for re-election. Her Republican opponent Daniel Herrera sent WSOC the following statement: 'I have heard of my opponent's divisive, and inflammatory tweet of political rhetoric comparing the President of the United States to Hitler, pure evil and everything President Trump and I stand to oppose.  While LaWana Mayfield only wishes to divide our community by using the power of fear to distract from her failures. I stand to change and unite District Three. I will move us forward with policies that support safer streets that allow mail to be delivered and not canceled because of street violence. I have a real plan to promote affordable housing rather than subsidized soccer stadiums that only support the developers who own her vote. I will always represent my faith and never write a policy like her devastating bathroom bill, the one she spearheaded and forced upon our Queen City and which brought so much distrain to our community. Shame on Mayfield for her continuation of divisive political tactics. Shame on her for disrespecting the over 400,000 Defenders of Freedom who fell beneath our flag to defeat Hitler.'  Mayfield's statement in response to the backlash: 'The Constitutional right of 'Free Speech' is a precious and uniquely beloved gift among Americans. With this gift of free speech comes great responsibility. To some, I did not express that responsibly within the limited characters of my earlier tweet. I apologize for the brevity of my statement due to being limited to 140 characters. Many times, we cannot fully express intent or emotion through this limited platform.' 'I do not want to diminish the heinous treatment and genocide that our Jewish brothers and sisters experienced at the hands of this dictator nor do I want to further create a dialogue that does not focus on the facts at hand.' 'Today, we read about history as a story in a book and sometimes disassociate from the realities of lives impacted. Our communities must unite and realize that at this intersectionality of both conservative and liberal, white and people of color, gay or straight, young and seniors, these variances and diverse populations have strength when they unite in one voice.' 'My anger and passion when tweeting was directed to those that continue to make excuses for a man who is leading our Nation in a divisive direction. His policies, the creation of the 'Birther movement,' executive orders and continual mistreatment of marginalized communities has quickly eroded the landscape of civility and civil discourse in our society.  'I value the diversity of my community, work to be inclusive and give voice to those that are not at the table and bring equity to this city that I love.'While my words chosen have offended some, my intent was to bring attention to the continued crisis that we face each day while this president is leading us. My post angered some and I stay in a state of anger every day I watch the news and this like many posts was shared to shine a light on hypocrisy and the discourse rising in our nation.
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — The NAACP turned to an insider Saturday to help bring the nation's oldest civil rights organization back to prominence. Derrick Johnson, 49, of Jackson, Mississippi, was hired as the NAACP's 19th president and CEO after having served as interim leader since July and previously as vice chairman of the NAACP board of directors. Johnson, in an interview with The Associated Press, said the NAACP will be much more politically active in the coming years and will alter its nonprofit status so it can more effectively lobby for its members' positions. Johnson's hiring was finalized Saturday at a meeting of the board of directors in Arlington, Virginia. 'In his time serving as our interim president and CEO, Derrick has proven himself as the strong, decisive leader we need to guide us through both our internal transition as well as a crucial moment in our nation's history,' said Leon Russell, the NAACP board chairman. 'With new threats to communities of color emerging daily and attacks on our democracy, the NAACP must be more steadfast and more immovable than ever before, and Derrick has the vision, mobility, and courage to help us meet that demand.' The NAACP parted ways with its previous president and CEO, Cornell William Brooks, in May. Johnson has been the face of the NAACP since then as the organization has refocused its work on supporting its local chapters and tried to retool in the face of rising organizations like Black Lives Matter. Currently as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the NAACP can only engage in insubstantial lobbying efforts. So it will reorganize as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, similar to its local affiliates, which will allow it to conduct unlimited lobbying and promotion of political candidates and issues. The change will happen 'so we can have the collective voice and impact that a civil rights organization in 2017 and forward should have,' said Johnson, former president of the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP. Shedding its 501(c)(3) status will allow the NAACP 'to be able to clearly state without any equivocation our positions and to encourage our members and the communities we represent to do the same,' he said. The NAACP has been conducting a listening tour around the country, trying to figure out how best to support civil rights workers in communities who are working on issues like police brutality, the upcoming census, redistricting and voter suppression. The listening tour stops in Los Angeles on Thursday and Nashville, Tennessee, in November. Local chapters 'want to be able to have a stronger voice,' Johnson said, and the national NAACP wants to be 'able to better support our members on the ground.' The NAACP recently sued the Trump administration to stop it from eliminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allowed immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to be temporarily shielded from deportation. Trump is phasing out the DACA program, giving Congress six months to act before recipients' work permits begin to expire. The job of the NAACP is 'to really engage in a political landscape to lift up the needs and interest of the community we represent,' Johnson said. 'When our members speak in a collective voice our national office should also speak in tandem with the collective public policy voice.' ___ Jesse J. Holland covers race and ethnicity for The Associated Press. ___ Contact him at jholland@ap.org, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jessejholland or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jessejholland. You can read his stories at AP at http://bit.ly/storiesbyjessejholland and other stories by AP's Race & Ethnicity team at https://apnews.com/tag/Raceandethnicity
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch says that suppressing disagreement in the name of civility is wrong. Gorsuch tells a conference of lawyers meeting near the high court that he's worried that college students with unpopular views aren't 'able to express themselves.' The newest Supreme Court justice says civility 'doesn't mean suppressing disagreement.' The 50-year-old justice joined the high court in April. He filled a seat that had been vacant since Justice Antonin Scalia's death last year. Republicans who control the Senate refused to confirm President Barack Obama's nominee. President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch in January and the Senate confirmed him, largely along party lines. He'd served on the federal appeals court in Denver for more than 10 years.
  • DOHA, Qatar (AP) — As U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits the Middle East this weekend, he'll hope to achieve something that has eluded top American diplomats for a generation: sealing a new alliance between Saudi Arabia and Iraq that would shut the doors of the Arab world to neighboring Iran. While the United States strives to heal the rift between the Gulf Arab states and Qatar, and resolve civil wars in Yemen and Syria, Tillerson is the Trump administration's point man on an even more ambitious and perhaps even less likely geopolitical gambit. U.S. officials see a new axis that unites Riyadh and Baghdad as central to countering Iran's growing influence from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea, particularly as the Iraqi government struggles to rebuild recently liberated Islamic State strongholds and confronts a newly assertive Kurdish independence movement. History, religion and lots of politics stand in Tillerson's way. He arrived in Riyadh on Saturday and planned to visit Qatar on Monday. The effort to wean Iraq from Iran and bond it to Saudi Arabia isn't new, but U.S. officials are optimistically pointing to a surer footing they believe they've seen in recent months. They're hoping to push the improved relations into a more advanced phase Sunday when Tillerson participates in the inaugural meeting of the Saudi Arabia-Iraq Coordination Committee in Riyadh. Tillerson will seek Saudi financial generosity and political support for Iraq, its embattled northern neighbor. Two U.S. officials said Tillerson hopes the oil-rich Saudis will contribute to the massive reconstruction projects needed to restore pre-IS life in Iraqi cities such as Mosul and lend their backing to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. He is treading delicately among a host of powerful countries on Iraq's borders which are increasingly trying to shape the future of the ethnically and religiously divided nation. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to publicly preview Tillerson's plans. Shiite-majority Iraq and Sunni-led Saudi Arabia, estranged for decades after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, have tried in recent years to bridge their differences. Nevertheless, the relationship is still plagued by suspicion. Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad in 2015 after a quarter-century, and earlier this year unblocked long-closed border crossings. But the emergence of arch-Saudi rival Iran as a power player in Iraq continues to gnaw at Riyadh and Washington. Iran's reported intervention in Iraq's semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region, following last month's much criticized vote for independence in a referendum, has deepened the unease. President Donald Trump wants to see 'a stable Iraq, but a stable Iraq that is not aligned with Iran,' H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser, said this past week. He suggested Saudi Arabia could play a pivotal role. The U.S. view is that the alternative may mean more conflict in Iraq, which endured years of insurgency after the U.S.-led 2003 invasion and ethnic warfare when the Islamic State group rampaged across the country in 2014. 'Iran is very good at pitting communities against each other,' McMaster said Thursday at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. 'This is something they share with groups like ISIS, with al-Qaida. They pit communities against each other because they use tribal and ethnic and sectarian conflicts to gain influence by portraying themselves as a patron or protector of one of the parties in the conflict and then they use that invitation to come in and to help to advance their agenda and, in Iran's case, I think is a hegemonic design.' Trump and his national security team have framed much of the Middle East security agenda around counteracting Iran, which they see as a malign influence that poses an existential threat to Israel and other American allies and partners in the region. They also accuse Iran of menacing the United States and its interests at home and elsewhere in the world. Shortly after taking office, Tillerson identified improving Saudi-Iraqi ties as a priority in the administration's broader policy to confront and contain Iran. Officials say he has devoted himself to the effort. On his second official trip abroad, Tillerson in February canceled a planned 'meet and greet' with staffers at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City to focus on the matter, according to one of the U.S. officials. Tillerson's decision to skip that gathering was widely criticized at the time as a sign of disengagement with his employees, but the official said Tillerson adjusted plans to speak by secure telephone to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on the Iraq rapprochement. Tillerson, according to the official, implored al-Jubeir to visit Baghdad as a sign of Saudi goodwill and commitment to the effort to defeat IS, which then still held about half of Mosul. Al-Jubeir agreed. Two days later, he made a surprise trip to the Iraqi capital. He was the first Saudi foreign minister to do so in 27 years.
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he doesn't plan to block the scheduled release of thousands of never publicly seen government documents related to President John F. Kennedy's assassination. 'Subject to the receipt of further information,' he wrote in a Saturday morning tweet, 'I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.' The National Archives has until Thursday to disclose the remaining files related to Kennedy's 1963 assassination. The trove is expected to include more than 3,000 documents that have never been seen by the public and more than 30,000 that have been previously released but with redactions. Congress mandated in 1992 that all assassination documents be released within 25 years, but Trump has the power to block them on the grounds that making them public would harm intelligence or military operations, law enforcement or foreign relations. 'Thank you. This is the correct decision. Please do not allow exceptions for any agency of government,' tweeted Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics and author of a book about Kennedy, who has urged the president to release the files. 'JFK files have been hidden too long.' The anticipated release has had scholars and armchair detectives buzzing. But it's unlikely the documents will contain any big revelations on a tragedy that has stirred conspiracy theories for decades, Judge John Tunheim told The Associated Press last month. Tunheim was chairman of the independent agency in the 1990s that made public many assassination records and decided how long others could remain secret. Sabato and other JFK scholars believe the trove of files may, however, provide insight into assassin Lee Harvey Oswald's trip to Mexico City weeks before the killing, during which he visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies. Oswald's stated reason for going was to get visas that would allow him to enter Cuba and the Soviet Union, according to the Warren Commission, the investigative body established by President Lyndon B. Johnson, but much about the trip remains unknown. Longtime Trump friend Roger Stone, who wrote a book alleging that Johnson was the driving force behind Kennedy's assassination, had personally urged the president to make the files public, he told far-right conspiracy theorist and radio show host Alex Jones this past week. 'Yesterday, I had the opportunity to make the case directly to the president of the United States by phone as to why I believe it is essential that he release the balance of the currently redacted and classified JFK assassination documents,' Stone said, adding that 'a very good White House source,' but not the president, had told him the Central Intelligence Agency, 'specifically CIA director Mike Pompeo, has been lobbying the president furiously not to release these documents.' 'Why? Because I believe they show that Oswald was trained, nurtured and put in place by the Central Intelligence Agency. It sheds very bad light on the deep state,' he said. After the president announced his decision, Stone tweeted: 'Yes ! victory !' The files that were withheld in full were those the Assassination Records Review Board deemed 'not believed relevant,' Tunheim said. Its members sought to ensure they weren't hiding any information directly related to Kennedy's assassination, but there may be nuggets of information in the files that they didn't realize were important two decades ago, he said. 'There could be some jewels in there because in our level of knowledge in the 1990s is maybe different from today,' Tunheim said. The National Archives in July published online more than 440 never-before-seen assassination documents and thousands of others that had been released previously with redactions. Among those documents was a 1975 internal CIA memo that questioned whether Oswald became motivated to kill Kennedy after reading an AP article in a newspaper that quoted Fidel Castro as saying 'U.S. leaders would be in danger if they helped in any attempt to do away with leaders of Cuba.
  • AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — All five living former U.S. presidents will be attending a concert Saturday night in a Texas college town, raising money for relief efforts from hurricane devastation in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Democrats Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and Republicans George H.W. and George W. Bush are putting aside politics in contrast with President Donald Trump, who has vowed to help Texas and Florida for as long as it takes but has criticized Puerto Rican leaders while suggesting aid there won't be unlimited. Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria, which made landfall after Harvey and Irma had battered other areas. Having so much ex-presidential power in one place is unusual. George H.W. Bush spokesman Jim McGrath said all five of Saturday night's attendees haven't been together since the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas in 2013, when Obama was still in office. He didn't answer a question about whether Trump was formally invited. The concert features the country music band Alabama, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer 'Soul Man' Sam Moore, gospel legend Yolanda Adams and Texas musicians Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen. It's happening at Texas A&M University's Reed Arena in College Station, home to the presidential library of the elder Bush. At 93, he has a form of Parkinson's disease and uses a motorized scooter or a wheelchair for mobility, though he participated in the coin flip at February's Super Bowl in his hometown of Houston. George W. Bush was Texas governor before leaving for the White House and now lives in Dallas. There is precedent for former presidents joining forces for post-disaster fundraising. George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton raised money together after the 2004 South Asia tsunami and Hurricane Katrina the next year. Clinton and George W. Bush combined to seek donations after Haiti's 2011 earthquake. 'It's certainly a triple, if not a home run, every time,' said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. 'Presidents have the most powerful and prolific fundraising base of any politician in the world. When they send out a call for help, especially on something that's not political, they can rake in big money.' Amid criticism that his administration was initially slow to aid storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, Trump accused island leaders of 'poor leadership,' and later tweeted that, 'Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes' while saying that Federal Emergency Management Agency, first-responders and military personnel wouldn't be able to stay there forever. But Rottinghaus said those attending Saturday's concert were always going to be viewed more favorably since polling consistently shows that 'any ex-president is seen as less polarizing than the current president.' 'They can't get away from the politics of the moment,' he said of current White House occupants. 'Ex-presidents are able to step back and be seen as the nation's grandfather.' Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas' Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane on Aug. 25, eventually unleashing historic flooding in Houston and killing more than 80 people. Shortly thereafter, all five ex-presidents appeared in a commercial for a fundraising effort known as 'One America Appeal.' In it, George W. Bush says, 'People are hurting down here.' His father, George H.W. Bush, then replies, 'We love you, Texas.' A website accepting donations, OneAmericaAppeal.org, was created with 100 percent of proceeds pledged to hurricane relief. Hurricane Irma subsequently hit Florida and Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, while both affected the U.S. Virgin Islands. Organizers expanded the fundraising campaign to help those storm victims, too. ___ Sign up for the AP's weekly newsletter showcasing our best reporting from the Midwest and Texas: http://apne.ws/2u1RMfv
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the dispute over White House condolence calls to military families (all times local): 8:30 a.m. President Donald Trump doesn't seem ready to put to rest his tussles with a Florida congresswoman over his condolence call to a military widow. Democrat Frederica Wilson has criticized Trump for his comments during a phone call with the widow of an American service member who was killed in the African nation of Niger. The heated words from both sides — and questions about how presidents should or shouldn't try to console families of the fallen — have rattled the White House and overshadowed the rest of Trump's agenda in recent days. Trump has taken again to Twitter to jab at the lawmaker. He tweets: 'I hope the Fake News Media keeps talking about Wacky Congresswoman Wilson in that she, as a representative, is killing the Democrat Party!' ___ 7:35 a.m. The White House is defending chief of staff John Kelly after he mischaracterized the remarks of a Democratic congresswoman. Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says it is 'inappropriate' to question a retired four-star general such as Kelly. The administration also insisted it's long past time to end the political squabbling over President Donald Trump's compassion for America's war dead, even as it lobbed fresh vilification at Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson. Kelly said Wilson delivered a 2015 speech at an FBI field office dedication in which she 'talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building.' Video of the speech contradicted his recollection. For her part, Wilson is bringing race into the dispute, telling The New York Times, 'The White House itself is full of white supremacists.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Police are investigating after a young child's body was found on a Texas beach. >> Read more trending news Officers responded to a call Friday evening from an individual who said they found a body near the shoreline of a Galveston beach, according to the report posted on the Galveston Police Department's Facebook page. Police determined that the body was that of a white boy, approximately 3-5 years old. The child has not been identified and no missing persons reports match the child's description, KHOU reported. Galveston police Capt. Joshua Schirard told KHOU that this is a very unusual case. Schirard said the U.S. Coast Guard and agencies in surrounding counties are assisting with the case.
  • A 26-year-old Bunnell man is dead after his motorcycle crashed on an Interstate 95 on-ramp, the Florida Highway Patrol said.  Read: Florida man arrested after bombs, ammo, school maps found in home Troopers said the man was driving on the entrance ramp to I-95 from U.S. 1 around 1:30 a.m. Saturday when he lost control of his motorcycle.  Read: Teacher embroiled in student sex scandal in Seminole County bonds out of jail His motorcycle flipped over and threw him off, troopers said.  The man died at the scene, troopers said.  The crash remains under investigation.  Troopers have not yet identified the man. 
  • More than 60,000 people have already registered for the  event, which is meant to help people with food following Hurricane Irma. Over 100,000 thousand are expected to show up throughout the week. Organizers say the event was prepared based off of similar event that were held in Volusia and Brevard Counties. The events caused huge lines that stretched out the door. The DCF Regional Director says the program is open for people not already on public assistance who suffered some sort of loss or damage because of the storm. They will leave with a debit card to buy groceries. Those who live in neighboring counties but could not make it to their county’s registration events will not be turned away. Roughly 15,000 Orange County residents have already been served at other events. People in Seminole County are encouraged to go to Orlando Live Events in Casselberry. People who decide to show up should expect to wait in line for hours, as well as expect traffic congestion. Attendees are advised to bring a valid Florida Driver License or Identification card. Attendees are also advised to show up on days corresponding to the first letter of your last name. The centers will be open between October 21st and October 25th. The information for the Orlando and Casselbery centers are as follows: Orange County: Camping World Stadium1 Citrus Bowl PlaceOrlando, FL 10/21 – A - F10/22 – G - J10/23 – K - O10/24 – P - Z10/25 – Make-up Day Seminole County: Orlando Live Events6405 S US Hwy 17 92Casselberry, FL 32730 10/21 – A - F10/22 – G - J10/23 – K - O10/24 – P - Z10/25 – Make-up Day More information can be found here: https://www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/access/fff/siteLocations.shtml
  • A Florida man was arrested after homemade bombs, an AK-47 assault rifle, ammunition and school maps were discovered inside his bedroom.  Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in a news conference Thursday that deputies were set to search the home Randall Drake, 24, of Dunedin, Florida, shared with his parents for a child pornography investigation. >> Read more trending news During a search of Drake’s bedroom on Wednesday, authorities said detectives found explosives and numerous firearms in a locked closet, The Associated Press reported. The weapons included the following: An AK-47 rifle with a 60-round clip A .308-caliber rifle A .50-caliber pistol A 12-gauge shotgun Numerous other handguns About 15 knives A baseball bat with protruding nails in it  A crossbow Brass knuckles A container of gunpowder More than 2,300 rounds of ammunition Three incendiary devices A homemade silencer Tactical vests Detectives also said they found a map and aerial images of an elementary and middle school in Tampa, Florida, as well as the Hillsborough County Water Treatment Plant. According to deputies, journals and a handwritten letter that talked about revenge were also discovered. Gualtieri said his office is trying to figure out why Drake had the incendiary devices and what he was going to do with them. Drake has since posted $20,000 bond. He faces two charges of unlawfully making, possessing or attempting to make a destructive device.
  • A day after Senate approval of a budget outline for 2018 that authorizes expedited work on a tax reform plan- without the threat of a Senate filibuster – House GOP leaders set the table for a vote next week on the budget measure, hoping to give more momentum to the bid for the first major tax reforms since 1986. Friday afternoon, House GOP leaders signaled their plan to simply accept the budget plan passed 51-49 by the Senate, setting a Tuesday meeting of the House Rules Committee, which sets the ground rules for bills on the floor of the House. “We want Americans to wake up in the new year with a new tax code, one that is simple and fair,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan. “Now it is time to meet this moment and deliver real relief to hardworking people.” Approval of the Senate-passed plan would allow tax-writing committees in both the House and Senate to get to work on the actual details of tax reform; what’s been released so far is an outline, but not the fine print. “This is another important milestone for tax reform, and sets the stage for us to pass major tax cuts that will deliver more jobs and higher wages for hardworking Americans all over the country,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. As for Democrats, some feel like they are being set up by the GOP, predicting that Republicans will unveil their tax reform bill, and then demand a vote on it days later. “I am perfectly willing to negotiate,” said Sen. Clare McCaskill (D-MO). “I can’t do it in a vacuum.” “It doesn’t work that way,” McCaskill told reporters. “Why can’t we have a bill?” When you look back at the 1986 Tax Reform Act – that took months to make its way through the House and Senate, and then a conference committee for final negotiations. Need some weekend reading? Here is the link to the explanation of the 1986 Tax Reform Act – it’s only a little under 1,400 pages. It’s a gentle reminder that if you do ‘real’ tax reform – it is a very complicated endeavor.