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The Latest News about Government and Politics

    A Montana congressman misled investigators about his assault on a reporter the day before he was elected in May, claiming that “liberal media” were “trying to make a story,” the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Saturday, citing audio and documents. >> Read more trending news U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, a Republican, told an officer in an audio interview after the attack that reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian newspaper had grabbed him by the wrist and pulled both of them to the floor. Audio of Gianforte’s interview with Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Scott Secor was released along with documents requested by the Chronicle and other news organizations after Gianforte was cited for assaulting Jacobs on May 24. Gianforte later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault.  The Chronicle requested the documents in June. After Gianforte, Jacobs and Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert did not object to the release, Gallatin County District Court Judge Holly Brown ruled this week that the documents could be released. \The audio of the interview with Gianforte comes from a recording made by Sgt. Scott Secor outside of Gianforte’s headquarters shortly after the 5:07 p.m. call Jacobs made to 911, a minute after he posted on Twitter, “Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses.” Once at the scene, Secor spoke with Jacobs first. “This is the weirdest day,” Jacobs told Secor.  The documents include interviews with members of a Fox News crew who were in the room with Gianforte and Jacobs at the politician’s Bozeman campaign office.  Gianforte told Secor that he was preparing for an interview with Fox News when “this man broke into a private room in the back and stuck a microphone in my face and started asking me obnoxious questions.” Gianforte said he tried to explain to him that he was in the middle of an interview, but that Jacobs kept “waving” the microphone in his face, the Chronicle reported. “I probably shouldn’t do it but I reached out for his phone ... he grabbed my wrist, he spun and we ended up on the floor ... so he pulled me down on top of him,” Secor quoted Gianforte as saying. After the incident Gianforte’s campaign spokesman, Shane Scanlon, issued a statement that also blamed the attack on Jacobs, saying the reporter had grabbed the candidate’s wrist.  Gianforte publicly apologized to Jacobs and told supporters he wasn’t proud of his actions. His spokesman, Travis Hall, insisted on Friday that the documents contained “nothing new.” “No one was misled, and anyone who says otherwise is mistaken. Greg took responsibility for his actions and is focused on serving the people of Montana,” Hall said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press.
  • The Latest on President Donald Trump's decision to delay new policy on importation of elephant trophies from two African countries (all times local):11:30 a.m.A Republican congressman is praising President Donald Trump's decision to delay a new policy allowing trophies of African elephants shot for sport to be brought into the country.But Rep. Vern Buchanan, who co-chairs the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, says more needs to be done to protect African elephants from extinction. He says sport hunting of the endangered species is 'shameful' and calls for a permanent ban.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday it would allow the importation of elephant trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe, arguing that encouraging wealthy big-game hunters to kill the animals would help raise money for conservation programs.After animal rights advocates and environmental groups criticized the decision, Trump said late Friday he was delaying the new policy until he can review 'all conservation facts.'___11:20 a.m.President Donald Trump says he's delaying a new policy allowing trophies of African elephants shot for sport to be imported until he can review 'all conservation facts.'He announced the delay late Friday following criticism from several quarters, including environmentalists, animal rights activists and some lawmakers from his own party.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday it would allow such importation, arguing that encouraging wealthy big-game hunters to kill the threatened species would help raise money for conservation programs.Animal rights advocates and environmental groups criticized the decision. California Rep. Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, urged the administration to reverse the policy, calling it the 'wrong move at the wrong time.
  • President Donald Trump said he's delaying a new policy allowing trophies of African elephants shot for sport to be imported until he can review 'all conservation facts.'The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday it would allow such importation, arguing that encouraging wealthy big-game hunters to kill the threatened species would help raise money for conservation programs.Animal rights advocates and environmental groups criticized the decision. California Rep. Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, urged the administration to reverse the policy, calling it the 'wrong move at the wrong time.'Trump tweeted Friday that the policy had been 'under study for years.' He said he would put the decision 'on hold' and review it with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.Zinke issued a statement later Friday saying: 'President Trump and I have talked and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical. As a result, in a manner compliant with all applicable laws, rules and regulations, the issuing of permits is being put on hold as the decision is being reviewed.'U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Florida Republican who co-chairs the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, on Saturday said Trump's delay was a 'step in the right direction,' but more needs to be done to protect the species from extinction. In his statement, Buchanan called the sport hunting of African elephants 'shameful' and said the U.S. should support a permanent ban.Royce questioned the action because of concerns not only about African wildlife but U.S. national security, citing the political upheaval in Zimbabwe, where the longtime president was placed under house arrest this week by the military.'The administration should withdraw this decision until Zimbabwe stabilizes,' the committee chairman said in a statement. 'Elephants and other big game in Africa are blood currency for terrorist organizations, and they are being killed at an alarming rate. Stopping poaching isn't just about saving the world's most majestic animals for the future — it's about our national security.'The Fish and Wildlife Service said in a written notice issued Thursday that permitting parts of elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia to be brought back as trophies will raise money for conservation programs. The change marks a shift in efforts to stop the importation of elephant tusks and hides, overriding a 2014 ban imposed by the Obama administration. The new policy applies to the remains of African elephants killed between January 2016 and December 2018.'Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve those species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,' the agency said in a statement.Royce said that when carefully regulated, conservation hunts could help the wildlife population, but 'that said, this is the wrong move at the wrong time.'He described the perilous situation in Zimbabwe, where the U.S. Embassy has advised Americans to limit their travel outdoors.'In this moment of turmoil, I have zero confidence that the regime — which for years has promoted corruption at the highest levels — is properly managing and regulating conservation programs,' Royce said. 'Furthermore, I am not convinced that elephant populations in the area warrant overconcentration measures.'The world's largest land mammal, the African elephant has been classified as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act since 1979.Illicit demand for elephant ivory has led to devastating losses from illegal poaching as the natural habitat available for the animals to roam has also dwindled by more than half. As a result, the number of African elephants has shrunk from about 5 million a century ago to about 400,000 remaining. And that number continues to decline each year.Two other lawmakers, Reps. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., co-chairs of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, assailed the administration's decision.'We should not encourage the hunting and slaughter of these magnificent creatures,' Buchanan said. 'We don't get a second chance once a species becomes extinct.'One group that advocates for endangered species called for more action after Trump's Friday night tweet. 'It's great that public outrage has forced Trump to reconsider this despicable decision, but it takes more than a tweet to stop trophy hunters from slaughtering elephants and lions,' said Tanya Sanerib, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. 'We need immediate federal action to reverse these policies and protect these amazing animals.'___Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.
  • As the House voted along party lines on Thursday to approve a sweeping package of GOP tax reforms, one peculiar part of the floor debate came when a number of Republicans – who voted for the bill – took to the floor to request changes in the their party’s plan, as some highlighted unintended consequences, while others objected to the basics of the measure. Known in parliamentary parlance as a “colloquy,” the scripted exchanges between lawmakers are often done to clarify the legislative intent of a bill, or in this case, to urge action in a specific way in House-Senate negotiations. And for some Republicans in this week’s tax reform debate, it was clear they wanted some provisions altered. Some requests were specific, like Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), who made the case for historic preservation tax credits, which were eradicated by the House GOP tax reform bill. “Without the credit, projects that transform communities in all 50 states, from West Virginia to Texas, to Wisconsin, simply will not happen,” McKinley said on the House floor, as he asked for Brady’s word that he would help reverse the decision. That didn’t happen. “I commit to working with him and continuing to work with him on this issue because I know the importance of it,” Brady responded, making sure not to guarantee anything in some of these floor exchanges. For Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), a staunch advocate of the GOP bill, he was assured by the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee that more would be done in terms of tax help for the people of Puerto Rico, whose island was devastated by Hurricane Maria. “I look forward to working with you on ideas to best serve the people of this island,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), who thanked fellow GOP lawmakers for their concerns, but made no promises. For Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), the issue was with a new excise tax from Republicans that would be levied on the endowments of private colleges and universities. Barr said that would harm Berea College in his district, a ‘work college’ that uses its endowment money to pay the tuition of all students. It was noted in press stories back home. Barr Fights for Berea College in Tax Reform Bill – https://t.co/YoBgs5CWvp – — BereaOnline.com (@bereaonline) November 16, 2017 “I was pleased to learn that the Senate version of the bill exempts schools with fewer than 500 tuition-paying students from the excise tax,” Barr said, urging Brady to accept that position in any House-Senate negotiation. Brady said he would try. “Mr. Speaker, we will work together for a mutually accepted solution to make sure we exempt work colleges to use their endowments to provide tuition-free education,” the panel chairman responded. For Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the problem he brought to the House floor was under the heading of unintended consequences, as the GOP tax bill would subject native settlement trusts in Alaska to a higher rate of taxation. “This would make it more difficult for Alaska Native Settlement Trusts to provide long-term benefits to Alaska Natives,” Young said on the House floor, asking Brady to include provisions of a bill to remedy that and more. Unlike some of the other requests, Brady acknowledged that the GOP tax bill would “unintentionally” change the tax rate for the Alaskan settlements, agreeing to focus on this in conference as we finalize individual rate structures between the House and the Senate.” Others weren’t so lucky to get a guarantee of action, as they pressed for changes in maybe the most controversial part of the GOP plan, which limits a deduction for state and local taxes. “I am concerned about its impact on some of my constituents in Maryland who pay high state and local income taxes,” said Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), the only Republican member of the House from that state, which would be one of the biggest losers on the SALT issue. That subject also drew two California Republicans to make the same appeal to Brady later in the debate; Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA) and Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) echoed the concerns of Harris – all of them got a murky assurance of help. “I am happy to commit to working with both of them to ensure we reach a positive outcome for their constituents and families as we reconcile our differences with the Senate,” Brady said, making no promises. Other Republicans brought up education, and a provision in the GOP tax reform bill that would hinder colleges and universities from providing tax free tuition waivers and reimbursements, a matter that has drawn more and more attention in recent days. Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) – whose district includes Dayton University – and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) – whose district includes the University of Illinois – both appealed to Brady to make a change. “I believe that an unintended consequence of this bill would hinder middle class Americans pursuing a higher education degree in an attempt to better their lives,” Turner said. “I am worried it is going to have an impact on the custodians and the assistants in the Registrar’s Office who are just working at these institutions to be able to send their son or daughter to college,” said Davis. There was no guarantee that the provision would be changed. “I have a keen interest in this issue,” Brady told Turner and Davis. “I will work with you toward a positive solution on tuition assistance in conference with the Senate.” Democrats noted the exchanges on both days of the House tax reform debate, arguing that it showed off the haphazard nature of how the bill was put together. “I also was intrigued by the colloquy where Members came to ask the leadership if they will work with them to take out egregious elements of this tax proposal,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI). “We get this sort of, “Yes, I will work with the gentleman,” answer,” Kildee added, raising his voice on the floor. “Why did you put it in in the first place?” Kildee yelled. “Why are you cutting historic tax credits in the first place? Why did you put it in in the first place? You just wrote the bill. You just wrote it,” he said. GOP lawmakers said this past week that anyone can find a reason to vote against a big bill like this tax reform plan – we’ll see in coming weeks whether these publicly voiced concerns become an issue for the final version of tax reform in the Congress.
  • The Trump administration has put the Palestinians on notice that it will shutter their office in Washington unless they've entered serious peace talks with Israel, U.S. officials said, potentially giving President Donald Trump more leverage as he seeks an elusive Mideast peace deal.The Palestinian foreign minister denounced the U.S. move as an attempt at 'extortion.'Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has determined that the Palestinians ran afoul of an obscure provision in a U.S. law that says the Palestine Liberation Organization's mission must close if the Palestinians try to get the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians. A State Department official said that in September, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas crossed that line by calling on the ICC to investigate and prosecute Israelis.But the law leaves Trump a way out, so Tillerson's declaration doesn't necessarily mean the office will close.Trump now has 90 days to consider whether the Palestinians are in 'direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.' If Trump determines they are, the Palestinians can keep the office. The official said it was unclear whether the U.S. might close the office before the 90-day period expires, but said the mission remains open at least for now.Even if the office closes, the U.S. said it wasn't cutting off relations with the Palestinians and was still focused on 'a comprehensive peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.' The State Department official said in an email that 'this measure should in no way be seen as a signal that the U.S. is backing off those efforts.' The official wasn't authorized to publicly discuss the developments and spoke on condition of anonymity.The Palestinian foreign minister, Riad Malki, told Palestine Radio that the Palestinian leadership 'will not accept any extortion or pressure.' Malki said the Palestinians were waiting for further communication from the U.S. government. 'The ball is now in the American court,' he said.The Israeli Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.Although the Israelis and Palestinians are not engaged in active, direct negotiations, Trump's administration has been working all year to broker a peace deal that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Led by Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and a senior aide, White House officials have been preparing a peace proposal they intend to put forward at an unspecified time.The Palestinians, though publicly supportive of the U.S. effort, have been skeptical because Trump's close ties to Israel suggest whatever deal he proposes might be unfavorable to them. The threat of losing their office in the U.S. capital could become another pressure point as the Trump administration seeks to persuade the Palestinians to come to the table.The PLO is the group that formally represents all Palestinians. Although the U.S. does not recognize Palestinian statehood, the PLO maintains a 'general delegation' office in Washington that facilitates Palestinian officials' interactions with the U.S. government.The United States allowed the PLO to open a mission in Washington in 1994, a move that required then-President Bill Clinton to waive a law that said the Palestinians couldn't have an office. In 2011, under the Obama administration, the United States started letting the Palestinians fly their flag over the office, an upgrade to the status of their mission that the Palestinians hailed as historic.Israel opposes any Palestinian membership in United Nations-related organizations until a peace deal has been reached.The Trump administration has not revealed any details about its effort to bring about a peace deal that would ostensibly grant the Palestinians an independent state in exchange for an end to its conflict with the Israelis. But Kushner and other top Trump aides have been shuttling to the region to meet with Palestinians, Israelis and officials from neighboring Arab nations as it prepares to put forward a peace plan.The requirement that the PLO office be closed if the Palestinians back an International Criminal Court move came in a little-noticed provision in U.S. law that says the United States can't allow the Palestinians to have a Washington office if they try to 'influence a determination by the ICC to initiate a judicially authorized investigation, or to actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.'Abbas, the Palestinian leader, said in his speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September that the Palestinians had 'called on the International Criminal Court to open an investigation and to prosecute Israeli officials for their involvement in settlement activities and aggressions against our people.'The U.S. law says that if the government determines the Palestinians have breached that requirement, it triggers a 90-day review period in which the president must decide whether to let the office stay open anyway. The president is allowed to waive the requirement only if he certifies to Congress 'that the Palestinians have entered into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.'The provision doesn't explicitly define what would constitute direct or meaningful negotiations.___Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP and Matthew Lee at http://twitter.com/APDiploWriter
  • The ultra-wealthy, especially those with dynastic businesses — like President Donald Trump and his family — do very well under a major Republican tax bill moving in the Senate, as they do under legislation passed this week by the House.Want to toast the anticipated tax win with champagne or a beer — or maybe you're feeling Shakespearean and prefer to quaff mead from a pewter mug? That would cheer producers of beer, wine, liquor — and mead, the ancient beverage fermented from honey. Tax rates on their sales would be reduced under the Senate bill.On the other hand, people living in high-tax states, who deduct their local property, income and sales taxes from what they owe Uncle Sam, could lose out from the complete or partial repeal of the deductions. And an estimated 13 million Americans could lose health insurance coverage over 10 years under the Senate bill.Some winners and losers:__WINNERS— Wealthy individuals and their heirs win big. The hottest class-warfare debate around the tax overhaul legislation involves the inheritance tax on multimillion-dollar estates. Democrats wave the legislation's targeting of the tax as a red flag in the face of Republicans, as proof that they're out to benefit wealthy donors. The House bill initially doubles the limits — to $11 million for individuals and $22 million for couples — on how much money in the estate can be exempted from the inheritance tax, then repeals it entirely after 2023. The Senate version also doubles the limits but doesn't repeal the tax.Then there's the alternative minimum tax, a levy aimed at ensuring that higher-earning people pay at least some tax. It disappears in both bills.And the House measure cuts tax rates for many of the millions of 'pass-through' businesses big and small — including partnerships and specially organized corporations — whose profits are taxed at the owners' personal income rate. That's potential cha-ching for Trump's far-flung property empire and the holdings of his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner. The Senate bill lets pass-through owners deduct some of the earnings and then pay at their personal income rate on the remainder.— Corporations win all around, with a tax rate slashed from 35 percent to 20 percent in both bills — though they'd have to wait a year for it under the Senate measure. Trump and the administration view it as an untouchable centerpiece of the legislation.— U.S. oil companies with foreign operations would pay reduced taxes under the Senate bill on their income from sales of oil and natural gas abroad.— Beer, wine and liquor producers would reap tax reductions under the Senate measure.— Companies that provide management services like maintenance for aircraft get an updated win. The Senate bill clarifies that under current law, the management companies would be exempt from paying taxes on payments they receive from owners of private jets as well as from commercial airlines. That was a request from Ohio Sens. Rob Portman, a Republican, and Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, whose state is home to NetJets, a big aircraft management company.Portman voted for the overall bill. Brown opposed it.__LOSERS— An estimated 13 million Americans could lose health insurance coverage under the Senate bill, which would repeal the 'Obamacare' requirement that everyone in the U.S. have health insurance. The projection comes from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Eliminating the fines is expected to mean fewer people would obtain federally subsidized health policies.— People living in high-tax states would be hit by repeal of federal deductions for state and local taxes under the Senate bill, and partial repeal under the House measure. That result of a compromise allows the deduction for up to $10,000 in property taxes.— Many families making less than $30,000 a year would face tax increases starting in 2021 under the Senate bill, according to Congress' nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. By 2027, families earning less than $75,000 would see their tax bills rise while those making more would enjoy reductions, the analysts find. The individual income-tax reductions in the Senate bill would end in 2026.
  • Sen. Al Franken has written a letter to the woman who accused him of forcibly kissing and groping her, saying he is ashamed of his actions and apologizes.Los Angeles radio host Leeann Tweeden read the letter Friday while appearing on the TV talk show 'The View.' In the letter, Franken tells Tweeden that he wants to 'apologize to you personally.' He also says there is no excuse for the photo taken of him posing in a joking manner while apparently placing his hands on her chest while she was asleep aboard a transport plane.Tweeden says the unwanted kissing took place during a 2006 USO tour. Franken says he remembers their encounter differently but is 'ashamed that my actions ruined that experience for you.
  • Earlier this year, a Russian-American lobbyist and another businessman discussed over coffee in Moscow an extraordinary meeting they had attended 12 months earlier: a gathering at Trump Tower with President Donald Trump's son, his son-in-law and his then-campaign chairman.The Moscow meeting in June, which has not been previously disclosed, is now under scrutiny by investigators who want to know why the two men met in the first place and whether there was some effort to get their stories straight about the Trump Tower meeting just weeks before it would become public, The Associated Press has learned.Congressional investigators have questioned both men — lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin and Ike Kaveladze, a business associate of a Moscow-based developer and former Trump business partner — and obtained their text message communications, people familiar with the investigation told the AP.Special counsel Robert Mueller's team also has been investigating the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, which occurred weeks after Trump had clinched the Republican presidential nomination and which his son attended with the expectation of receiving damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton. A grand jury has already heard testimony about the meeting, which in addition to Donald Trump Jr., also included Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, and his then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort.The focus of the congressional investigators was confirmed by three people familiar with their probe, including two who demanded anonymity to discuss the sensitive inquiry.One of those people said Akhmetshin told congressional investigators that he asked for the Moscow meeting with Kaveladze to argue that they should go public with the details of the Trump Tower meeting before they were caught up in a media maelstrom. Akhmetshin also told the investigators that Kaveladze said people in Trump's orbit were asking about Akhmetshin's background, the person said.Akhmetshin's lawyer, Michael Tremonte, declined to comment.Scott Balber, a lawyer for Kaveladze, confirmed that his client and Akhmetshin met over coffee and that the Trump Tower meeting a year earlier was 'obviously discussed.' But Balber denied his client had been contacted by associates of Trump before he took the meeting with Akhmetshin, or had been aware of plans to disclose the Trump Tower gathering to the U.S. government.Balber said the men did not discuss strategy or how to line up their stories, and did not meet in anticipation of the Trump Tower meeting becoming public and attracting a barrage of news media attention.He said Akhmetshin did convey during coffee the possibility that his name could come out in connection with the Trump Tower meeting and cause additional, unwanted scrutiny given that he had been linked in earlier news reports to Russian military intelligence, coverage that Akhmetshin considered unfair. Akhmetshin has denied ongoing ties with Russian intelligence, but acknowledged that he served in the Soviet military in the late 1980s as part of a counterintelligence unit.'That was the impetus,' Balber said of the men's get-together. 'It had absolutely nothing to do with anticipation of the meeting coming out in the press.'The meeting in Moscow occurred during a tumultuous time for the administration. Mueller had been appointed as special counsel weeks earlier following the firing in May of FBI Director James Comey, and associates of Trump were under pressure to disclose any contacts they had with Russians during the campaign.The June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower first became public on July 8 in a report in The New York Times.The White House initially said the meeting, which also involved a Russian lawyer who for years has advocated against U.S. sanctions of Russia, was primarily about an adoption program, but days after the story was published, Trump Jr. released emails showing he took the meeting after being told he would receive damaging information on Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to aide his father's candidacy.Mueller's investigation has included scrutiny of the White House's drafting of the initial incomplete statement.As part of their inquiry, congressional investigators are reviewing copies of the text messages between the two men that were turned over, Balber said. He declined to say what the text messages showed. One person familiar with the messages said they reflect the logistics of the meeting during a trip by Akhmetshin to Moscow.___Associated Press writer Chad Day contributed to this report.___Follow Desmond Butler, Mary Clare Jalonick and Eric Tucker on Twitter: https://twitter.com/desmondbutler and http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP and https://twitter.com/mcjalonick
  • You can do anything,' Donald Trump once boasted, speaking of groping and kissing unsuspecting women.Maybe he could, but not everyone can.The candidate who openly bragged about grabbing women's private parts — but denied he really did so — was elected president months before the cascading sexual harassment allegations that have been toppling the careers of powerful men in Hollywood, business, the media and politics. He won even though more than a dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct, and roughly half of all voters said they were bothered by his treatment of women, according to exit polls.Now, as one prominent figure after another takes a dive, the question remains: Why not Trump?'A lot of people who voted for him recognized that he was what he was, but wanted a change and so they were willing to go along,' theorizes Jessica Leeds, one of the first women to step forward and accuse Trump of groping her, decades ago on an airplane.The charges leveled against him emerged in the supercharged thick of the 2016 campaign, when there was so much noise and chaos that they were just another episode for gobsmacked voters to try to absorb — or tune out. 'When you have a Mount Everest of allegations, any particular allegation is very hard to get traction on,' says political psychologist Stanley Renshon.And Trump's unconventional candidacy created an entirely different set of rules.'Trump is immune to the laws of political physics because it's not his job to be a politician, it's his job to burn down the system,' says Eric Dezenhall, a crisis management expert in Washington.Now Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, accused of assaulting teenage girls when he was in his 30s, is waving that same alternative rulebook.Long a bane to establishment Republicans, Moore is thumbing his nose at calls by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP members of Congress to drop out of the campaign, and accusing them of trying to 'steal' the race from his loyal insurgents.As for Trump, the president who rarely sits out a feeding frenzy is selectively aiming his Twitter guns at those under scrutiny.He quickly unloaded on Democrat Al Franken after the Minnesota senator was accused Thursday of forcibly kissing and groping a Fox TV sports correspondent, now a Los Angeles radio anchor, during a 2006 USO tour.Yet Trump has been largely mum as Washington Republicans try to figure out what to do about Moore. McConnell and company have zero interest in welcoming an accused child molester to their ranks nor in seeing their slim 52-48 Senate majority grow even thinner should Moore lose to Democrat Doug Jones in a special election Dec. 12.Trump did support moves by the national Republican Party to cut off money for Moore. But he hasn't said whether he still backs Moore's candidacy.Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, pressed repeatedly on the matter this week, would say only that Trump 'thinks that the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their next senator should be.'As for the allegations against Moore, Sanders said Trump finds them 'very troubling.'As for Franken, presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News that Trump had merely 'weighed in as he does on the news of the day' when jabbing at the senator.But Trump's broadsides at Franken served as an open invitation for critics to revisit his own history of alleged sexual misconduct.Leeds, for her part, called the president 'the walking definition of hypocrisy.'Look no further than the bipartisan howl that greeted Ivanka Trump's statement this week about Moore for a demonstration of the perilous crosscurrents around Trump on the issue.'There's a special place in hell for people who prey on children,' Trump's daughter told the AP, adding that she had 'no reason to doubt the victims' accounts.' She did not call for Moore to leave the race.Liberals and conservatives both pounced. Those on the left noted she had waited a week to chime in and had never given similar credence to the claims of her father's accusers. Some on the right faulted her for buying into unproven accusations.Liberal movie director Rob Reiner tweeted: 'Ivanka believes Roy Moore's accusers. But the more than 12 women who accuse her father of sexual abuse are all liars. The difference is? ...'The sexual assault drama is playing out as a painful sequel for Leeds and other women who came forward during the 2016 presidential campaign to accuse Trump of harassment and more — only to see him elected president anyway.'My pain is everyday,' Jill Harth, a former business associate who claimed Trump put his hands under her dress during a business dinner in 1992, tweeted in October. 'No one gets it unless it happens to them. NO one!'It's the same for those who accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct, their charges once written off as 'bimbo eruptions.'I am now 73....it never goes away,' nurse Juanita Broaddrick, who accused Clinton of raping her in 1978, tweeted Friday.Allegations of womanizing, extramarital affairs and abuse dogged Clinton over the course of his political life, culminating in his 1998 impeachment — and acquittal — over his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. He also agreed to an $850,000 settlement with Arkansas state worker Paula Jones, who had accused him of exposing himself and making indecent propositions when he was governor. The settlement included no apology or admission of guilt.Leading feminists and Democratic-leaning groups stayed loyal to him throughout — though some are rethinking that stance now.Even in the current charged environment, when every new allegation can produce screaming headlines, Trump may well be able to go his own way — and take a hands-off approach to Moore.'Trump's base likes him when he's gratuitously ornery: Insulting war heroes, Gold Star families and the disabled have all been good for him, so what does he gain by strongly opining on Moore?' asks Dezenhall. 'Nothing that I can see, so as a guideline, he doesn't need to do all that much.'___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
  • Standing on the white marble steps of Alabama's Capitol, Kayla Moore surrounded herself with two dozen other women to defend husband Roy Moore against accusations of sexual misconduct that are dividing Republicans, and women in particular.'He will not step down. He will not stop fighting for the people of Alabama,' Kayla Moore said Friday at a 'Women for Moore' rally. Acting as her husband's lead defender, she lashed out at the news media and thanked people who were sticking behind her husband. 'To the people of Alabama, thank you for being smarter than they think you are,' Moore said.Not everyone is sticking with Roy Moore, however, and certainly not all women.'I was going to vote for him. I was going to be one of his voters. I just don't know that I can vote for him anymore,' said Laura Payne, a Trump delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention.Since last week, Moore has been engulfed by accusations of sexual misconduct toward women in their teens when he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s. Several of his accusers have allowed their identities to be made public.One said Moore molested her when she was 14. Another said Moore assaulted her when she was a 16-year-old waitress after he offered to drive her home. Five others said Moore pursued romantic relationships with them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18.'I have not found any reason not to believe them .... They risked a whole lot to come forward,' Payne said of the accusers.Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she also has no reason to disbelieve the women and is bothered by their allegations. But Ivey said she will vote for Moore anyway for the sake of GOP power in Congress.'We need to have a Republican in the United States Senate to vote on things like Supreme Court justices, other appointments that the Senate has to confirm and make major decisions,' Ivey said.Moore has ignored mounting calls from Washington Republicans concerned that if he stays in the race against Democrat Doug Jones he may not only lose a seat they were sure to win but also may do significant damage to the party's brand among women nationwide as they prepare for a difficult midterm election season.The Alabama GOP, meanwhile, reaffirmed its support for Moore on Thursday.The accusations sent a shockwave through the Senate race in Alabama, where Republicans typically have a lock on statewide election. Democrats already hoped to stand a chance against the polarizing jurist who was twice removed from chief justice duties because of defying court orders regarding the Ten Commandments and gay marriage.A Fox News poll released Thursday, a week after the first accusations, showed Jones leading Moore by eight points. Support from women was helping to give Jones the edge with 68 percent for Jones compared to 32 percent for Moore.One of them is longtime Republican Tracy James, who worked for former senator and current U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Her cousin was a Republican governor. She won't vote for Moore, a decision she made before the election.'My hope is that the Moore debacle will not only be a wake-up call for evangelicals, but also for Republicans, who should stand back and say, 'Wow, look at the kind of person we almost elected to our ranks,' James said.But Kayla Moore says her husband is exactly the kind of person who needs to be in the Senate.Decades ago, then known by her maiden name, Kayla Kisor, she was performing in a hometown dance recital when she first caught Roy Moore's eye. As he wrote in his 2009 autobiography: Seeing her was something he never forgot.'Years later,' Moore wrote, when she was 23 — she's 14 years his junior— he finally met her. They wed in 1985.Now, Kayla Moore is doing more than standing by her husband — she's his most aggressive defender against allegations threatening his Republican bid for U.S. Senate.When Moore makes a public appearance, Kayla Moore is there. When something pops up on social media that could help his cause, she shares it on Facebook. And she was the star at the Statehouse rally in Montgomery.Speakers there said the allegations against Moore were out of character for the man they have known for years.'I do not recognize the man these ladies are describing,' Ann Eubank, a fixture in Alabama Republican politics, said of the accusers.Across the street from the rally, Rose Falvey, 25, who runs an LGBT community center, said she was angered by the stories about Moore since he had fought to block gay marriage in the state.'I think it's really hypocritical and an embarrassment for the state of Alabama, and he's dragging us backwards,' Falvey said.____Associated Press writers Steve Peoples and Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama, and Zeke Miller and Catherine Lucey in Washington contributed to this report.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • An Orlando Police department officer is in the hospital after crashing their pickup truck into a toll booth on State Road 408 Saturday morning.   The truck crashed into a collapsible safety barrier at the toll plaza on the East/West Expressway eastbound near Andes Avenue.    The truck catapulted into the guardrail and caught fire, prompting the officer to flee from the scene. Police are investigating this as a hit and run.    The pay lanes were closed and traffic was diverted into the E-pass lanes. Tolls were waived by the Expressway Authority while the scene was being cleared. All lanes are now open.    Police have not released the name of the officer driving the vehicle, but were able to locate him and took him to the hospital for his injuries. No other vehicles were involved in the crash.    The officer involved in the crash has been relieved of duty and an internal investigation is underway.    The identity of the officer, as well as whether or not they will face charges has not yet been released.
  • A Montana congressman misled investigators about his assault on a reporter the day before he was elected in May, claiming that “liberal media” were “trying to make a story,” the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Saturday, citing audio and documents. >> Read more trending news U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, a Republican, told an officer in an audio interview after the attack that reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian newspaper had grabbed him by the wrist and pulled both of them to the floor. Audio of Gianforte’s interview with Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Scott Secor was released along with documents requested by the Chronicle and other news organizations after Gianforte was cited for assaulting Jacobs on May 24. Gianforte later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault.  The Chronicle requested the documents in June. After Gianforte, Jacobs and Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert did not object to the release, Gallatin County District Court Judge Holly Brown ruled this week that the documents could be released. \The audio of the interview with Gianforte comes from a recording made by Sgt. Scott Secor outside of Gianforte’s headquarters shortly after the 5:07 p.m. call Jacobs made to 911, a minute after he posted on Twitter, “Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses.” Once at the scene, Secor spoke with Jacobs first. “This is the weirdest day,” Jacobs told Secor.  The documents include interviews with members of a Fox News crew who were in the room with Gianforte and Jacobs at the politician’s Bozeman campaign office.  Gianforte told Secor that he was preparing for an interview with Fox News when “this man broke into a private room in the back and stuck a microphone in my face and started asking me obnoxious questions.” Gianforte said he tried to explain to him that he was in the middle of an interview, but that Jacobs kept “waving” the microphone in his face, the Chronicle reported. “I probably shouldn’t do it but I reached out for his phone ... he grabbed my wrist, he spun and we ended up on the floor ... so he pulled me down on top of him,” Secor quoted Gianforte as saying. After the incident Gianforte’s campaign spokesman, Shane Scanlon, issued a statement that also blamed the attack on Jacobs, saying the reporter had grabbed the candidate’s wrist.  Gianforte publicly apologized to Jacobs and told supporters he wasn’t proud of his actions. His spokesman, Travis Hall, insisted on Friday that the documents contained “nothing new.” “No one was misled, and anyone who says otherwise is mistaken. Greg took responsibility for his actions and is focused on serving the people of Montana,” Hall said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press.
  • Two men are recovering in the hospital after a shooting incident took place in Pine Hills.   Around 1 a.m., deputies responded to 4919 West Colonial Drive for a possible shooting.  When they arrived at the scene, they located a 40 year old man with a gunshot wound. The other victim, a 39 year old male was found nearby with an injury to his hand. His 29 year old girlfriend was found with him as well.    Both men were transported to the hospital with non life threatening injuries and remain in stable condition. The victim's girlfriend is considered a suspect by investigators and was taken into custody.    It is not yet known how the man's hand was injured or if the woman would face charges.
  • District 4 Orlando City Commissioner, Patty Sheehan, Veterinarian Geoffrey Gardner and specially trained volunteers showed up to participate in the City of Orlando's 10th Annual Lake Eola Swan Round-Up.   The round up began at 7:00 a.m. where trained volunteers arrived on foot and took to their kayaks in the water to safely corral the famous Lake Eola swans to the west end of the park. From there, the volunteers brought the swans to a temporary clinic where they would be weighed, inoculated, and checked by the Veterinarian. The swans would also be given a a name and fitted with a microchip, along with having their wings clipped. They would then be released back into the lake and free to go about their business. Each swan has its own health record that will continue to be updated.    Lake Eola is home to over 50 swans from over five different breeds including Trumpeter swans, Black Neck Swans, Whooper swans, Royal Mute swans and Australian black swans.    The quarters that are collected from swan food feeders around the lake also help to generate annual income each year to help insure that these swans receive proper medical care.
  • As the House voted along party lines on Thursday to approve a sweeping package of GOP tax reforms, one peculiar part of the floor debate came when a number of Republicans – who voted for the bill – took to the floor to request changes in the their party’s plan, as some highlighted unintended consequences, while others objected to the basics of the measure. Known in parliamentary parlance as a “colloquy,” the scripted exchanges between lawmakers are often done to clarify the legislative intent of a bill, or in this case, to urge action in a specific way in House-Senate negotiations. And for some Republicans in this week’s tax reform debate, it was clear they wanted some provisions altered. Some requests were specific, like Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), who made the case for historic preservation tax credits, which were eradicated by the House GOP tax reform bill. “Without the credit, projects that transform communities in all 50 states, from West Virginia to Texas, to Wisconsin, simply will not happen,” McKinley said on the House floor, as he asked for Brady’s word that he would help reverse the decision. That didn’t happen. “I commit to working with him and continuing to work with him on this issue because I know the importance of it,” Brady responded, making sure not to guarantee anything in some of these floor exchanges. For Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), a staunch advocate of the GOP bill, he was assured by the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee that more would be done in terms of tax help for the people of Puerto Rico, whose island was devastated by Hurricane Maria. “I look forward to working with you on ideas to best serve the people of this island,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), who thanked fellow GOP lawmakers for their concerns, but made no promises. For Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), the issue was with a new excise tax from Republicans that would be levied on the endowments of private colleges and universities. Barr said that would harm Berea College in his district, a ‘work college’ that uses its endowment money to pay the tuition of all students. It was noted in press stories back home. Barr Fights for Berea College in Tax Reform Bill – https://t.co/YoBgs5CWvp – — BereaOnline.com (@bereaonline) November 16, 2017 “I was pleased to learn that the Senate version of the bill exempts schools with fewer than 500 tuition-paying students from the excise tax,” Barr said, urging Brady to accept that position in any House-Senate negotiation. Brady said he would try. “Mr. Speaker, we will work together for a mutually accepted solution to make sure we exempt work colleges to use their endowments to provide tuition-free education,” the panel chairman responded. For Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the problem he brought to the House floor was under the heading of unintended consequences, as the GOP tax bill would subject native settlement trusts in Alaska to a higher rate of taxation. “This would make it more difficult for Alaska Native Settlement Trusts to provide long-term benefits to Alaska Natives,” Young said on the House floor, asking Brady to include provisions of a bill to remedy that and more. Unlike some of the other requests, Brady acknowledged that the GOP tax bill would “unintentionally” change the tax rate for the Alaskan settlements, agreeing to focus on this in conference as we finalize individual rate structures between the House and the Senate.” Others weren’t so lucky to get a guarantee of action, as they pressed for changes in maybe the most controversial part of the GOP plan, which limits a deduction for state and local taxes. “I am concerned about its impact on some of my constituents in Maryland who pay high state and local income taxes,” said Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), the only Republican member of the House from that state, which would be one of the biggest losers on the SALT issue. That subject also drew two California Republicans to make the same appeal to Brady later in the debate; Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA) and Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) echoed the concerns of Harris – all of them got a murky assurance of help. “I am happy to commit to working with both of them to ensure we reach a positive outcome for their constituents and families as we reconcile our differences with the Senate,” Brady said, making no promises. Other Republicans brought up education, and a provision in the GOP tax reform bill that would hinder colleges and universities from providing tax free tuition waivers and reimbursements, a matter that has drawn more and more attention in recent days. Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) – whose district includes Dayton University – and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) – whose district includes the University of Illinois – both appealed to Brady to make a change. “I believe that an unintended consequence of this bill would hinder middle class Americans pursuing a higher education degree in an attempt to better their lives,” Turner said. “I am worried it is going to have an impact on the custodians and the assistants in the Registrar’s Office who are just working at these institutions to be able to send their son or daughter to college,” said Davis. There was no guarantee that the provision would be changed. “I have a keen interest in this issue,” Brady told Turner and Davis. “I will work with you toward a positive solution on tuition assistance in conference with the Senate.” Democrats noted the exchanges on both days of the House tax reform debate, arguing that it showed off the haphazard nature of how the bill was put together. “I also was intrigued by the colloquy where Members came to ask the leadership if they will work with them to take out egregious elements of this tax proposal,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI). “We get this sort of, “Yes, I will work with the gentleman,” answer,” Kildee added, raising his voice on the floor. “Why did you put it in in the first place?” Kildee yelled. “Why are you cutting historic tax credits in the first place? Why did you put it in in the first place? You just wrote the bill. You just wrote it,” he said. GOP lawmakers said this past week that anyone can find a reason to vote against a big bill like this tax reform plan – we’ll see in coming weeks whether these publicly voiced concerns become an issue for the final version of tax reform in the Congress.