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National Govt & Politics
LIVE UPDATES - The fight for control of Congress

LIVE UPDATES - The fight for control of Congress

LIVE UPDATES - The fight for control of Congress
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

LIVE UPDATES - The fight for control of Congress

One of the biggest prizes in this year's mid-term elections is control of the U.S. House and Senate, as President Donald Trump and Democrats have battled for months, with all 435 seats in the House at stake, and 35 of 100 seats in the U.S. Senate.

Political experts in recent weeks have predicted a possible split decision in the 2018 mid-term elections, as Republicans are favored to keep control of the Senate, while Democrats are expected to add seats again in the House - the only question is will they get the net gain of 23 seats they need to take over the House.

Make sure to check my 'Viewer's guide' for tonight's election results, which give you a rundown of the key races nationally in the fight for Congress.

Check back here through the night as we chronicle how the votes go in both the House and Senate:


8:10 am - Even before his news conference, the President is lashing out at Democrats, and the possibility that they will use the oversight power of the House to investigate him, and his administration.

7:40 am - President Trump will be weighing in from the White House later in the morning. It will be only his second solo news conference at the White House since taking office.

7:15 am - If you are just getting up, the Democrats have taken back the House, while the Republicans have expanded their Senate majority. 23 House races are not yet final, with 4 undetermined in the Senate.

5:15 am - With some races still not final from the election results, 21 House incumbents – all Republicans – were defeated on Tuesday. And there could still be a few more. That would mean over 80 lawmakers in the House will be new in January, a turnover of almost 19 percent. That’s a little more turnover than in 2012 (78), but less than the 94 new members after the 2010 Tea Party election. Four Senators were defeated on Tuesday, with two more hanging in the balance as the votes continue to be counted (and recounted).

4:30 am - Rep. Dana Rohrabacher R-CA is the latest GOP lawmaker to seem like he is heading for defeat, as with 99 percent reporting, Rohrabacher is down by 2800 votes to Democrat Harley Rouda. There are several very close races in California which are still on the board.

4:15 am - If you are just tuning in, Democrats have won back the House, but their majority is going to be very small. Republicans have expanded their majority in the Senate by at least two seats - that could grow to four if they end up winning in Florida and Montana.

4:00 am - I've decided to have some ice cream at 4 am, and it was a good choice.

3:40 am - Remember how I said every vote counts earlier this morning? Well, the absentees which weren't counted earlier in GA6 have now put Democrat Lucy McBath ahead of Rep. Karen Handel R-GA by about 900 votes.

2:55 am - Democrats get a little consolation prize in the Senate, as they seemingly win one Senate seat back in Nevada - (AP) -- Republican Dean Heller concedes Nevada U.S. Senate race to Democrat Jacky Rosen.

2:45 am - Sometimes news organizations make mistakes on calling an election, and that seems to have happened in Texas 23, where Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) had been declared the winner, but now he's dropped into second place, as Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones leads by 282 votes. One would assume there will be a recount.

2:25 am - EVERY VOTE COUNTS: 100% reporting in GA6 and Rep Karen Handel R-GA leads by just 57 votes out of over 302,000 cast. Think about that for a minute.

2:20 am - A story line we've heard before tonight. A female Democrat has defeated a GOP candidate, as the AP calls MI11 for the Democrats - Haley Stevens wins a GOP seat in the west Detroit suburbs for the Dems.

2:10 am - Democrats pick up a seat in South Carolina of all places. AP declares Democrat Joe Cunningham the winner in SC1, as Democrats win the seat of Rep Mark Sanford R-SC, who was defeated in the GOP primary, and then refused to endorse the Republican winner.

2:00 am - President Trump is still up at this hour - and he's very happy with the Senate results.

Jamie Dupree


Jamie Dupree

1:30 am - New York did it four years ago, so it should be a surprise that in NY27, indicted GOP Rep Chris Collins looks to be a winner, as he leads by 3100 votes with 99% reporting.

1:00 am - The Republicans have a chance to make very big gains in the U.S. Senate, if two races fall their way in coming hours.

12:40 am - President Trump has called some of the Republicans who won key victories on Tuesday.

Jamie Dupree


Jamie Dupree

12:35 am - Indictments don't seem to matter - at this point, two Republican lawmakers who were indicted on federal charges this fall are winning their re-election bids. Both Rep. Chris Collins R-NY and Rep. Duncan Hunter R-CA are ahead, though the results are not final.

12:20 am - Democrats are at the point now where every win they can get will add more breathing room to a narrow majority in the House. They've just picked up a second seat in Texas, flipping a suburban seat in Houston.

12:10 am - With more seats heading to Democrats in New York and other states, the AP has declared that Democrats will take control of the U.S. House in 2019: WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democrats have picked up 23 House seats, putting them on track to reach the 218 needed to seize control from GOP

12:00 am - The split decision in the Congress isn't bothering President Trump, as he declares victory.

11:55 pm

11:45 pm - A number of young women have won seats in the House for Democrats. A big change.

11:35 pm - A real surprise in Oklahoma, as Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) seems to have lost, as he trails by 3300 votes with all precincts reporting.

11:25 pm - Republicans definitely keeping the Senate. Democrats inching closer to winning the House.

11:10 pm - It looks like Democrats have pulled off a stunner and won three seats from the GOP in Virginia, as Elaine Luria was declared the winner over Rep. Scott Taylor R-VA in the Virginia Beach area, and now Abigail Spanberger has claimed victory over Rep. Dave Brat R-VA. Brat trails by 1900 votes with one precinct to report.

11:00 pm - At 11 pm, the fight for the Senate is over, though there are still some very important races for Senate that have to be tallied. In the House, Democrats are certainly making progress to net the 23 seats they need to win back the House, but it's not official as yet.

10:40 pm - Sen. Ted Cruz's victory in Texas means Democrats cannot win back the Senate in 2018.

10:35 pm - Three Republicans in Pennsylvania are behind at this hour, Rep Brian Fitzpatrick, Rep. Scott Perry and Rep. Mike Kelly. I don't want to go all crazy on this, but if the Democrats can win those three, they would take a giant step forward in their quest to get the House. If the Republicans hold all three, that would be huge for them.

10:30 pm - Democrats in the House are slowly chipping away at the GOP majority, but it's going to take several hours to figure out if they can do it. They have won 3 seats already in Pennsylvania. They have defeated Rep. Mike Coffman in Colorado. One seat in New Jersey has been lost by the GOP, along with one seat in Kansas.

10:10 pm - Pretty much the nail in the coffin for the U.S. Senate, as Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) wins easily in Tennessee. Add to that a GOP win in Indiana, and Democrats have run out of room to win back the Senate in 2018. The Blackburn win was much larger than expected.

9:55 pm - You don't think every vote counts? In Virginia, Democratic challenger Elaine Luria leads Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA) by 44 votes with 94 percent of precincts reporting.

9:50 pm - Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has survived a challenge led by President Trump. But with a victory in Indiana, this still seems like a Republican edge in the U.S. Senate.

9:25 pm - While the Senate still looks to be in the favor of the GOP, there are ominous signs in more races for Republicans. In Kansas, two GOP seats are at risk at this hour. Several Republicans trail in Illinois. And there could be a shocking upset in Texas and Oklahoma of sitting GOP lawmakers.

9:10 pm - The number of GOP seats in the House at risk continues to grow as more states start reporting returns. Along with slight leads in two key races in Virginia, Democrats have the edge in a series of races in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. As for the Senate, it looks like Republicans will hold the Senate - but there is a long way to go.

9:00 pm - Suddenly there is a late surge for Democrats in Virginia, as their candidates have gone ahead of two GOP incumbents with close to 90 percent of the vote in, as Rep. Scott Taylor R-VA and Rep. Dave Brat R-VA are both trailing by narrow margins. Every vote counts. That would be huge for Democrats.

8:50 pm - At this point, Republicans seem to be doing well in the Senate. They are leading Democratic incumbents in both Indiana and Florida. But there are some troubling signs for the GOP in the House. There isn't a huge 'blue wave,' but Democrats are making progress toward the 23 seats needed to win back the House.

8:40 pm - The first bad news of the night for Republicans comes from Illinois, where three GOP lawmakers are all trailing Democratic challengers in the early vote. Democrats are going to win the race for Governor there, which will certainly help boost turnout for their candidates. Something to watch.

8:35 pm - The first early returns from New Jersey show three Democrats ahead in GOP seats. The numbers from New Jersey and Pennsylvania will start to show us soon whether Democrats can win the House or not.

8:25 pm - Outside of two seats around Miami, GOP candidates for Congress seem to be holding GOP seats that were in play. Good news for Republicans.

8:20 pm - Early vote totals from Texas show that GOP candidates for Congress there could have a tough night in the suburbs of Houston and Dallas, as Democrats really got their vote out. Whether that holds when the Election Day totals are added in, we don't know that answer right now.

8:15 pm - Democrats make their first official pick up in Virginia, as Rep. Comstock loses in Virginia. Democrats are also leading narrowly in two South Florida districts. But GOP candidates are holding the line for the time being. In other words, there isn't a blowout happening right now in returns from states on the East Coast.

7:45 pm - In VA10, Jennifer Wexton (D) is leading big over Rep Barbara Comstock R-VA, 58-42%. This may be the first seat to flip for Democrats tonight as they try to win back the House. The Democrats are also leading in KY6, with half of precincts reporting.

7:40 pm - One of the biggest races to watch tonight is for Governor in Georgia. Most people don't realize it, but Georgia has a rule that if you don't get a majority in the general election, there is a runoff. The question in Georgia is simple - will the race be so close that the Libertarian candidate causes a runoff.

7:30 pm - In Florida, Democrats won the early vote in the major cities like Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Miami, Tampa, and around Orlando. But there is a long way to go in both the Senate and Governor's races in the Sunshine State.

7:20 pm - The same themes are being shown in Florida, where it's all about how well Democrats can do in urban areas, versus how well the Republicans can do in rural areas. Remember, President Trump was able to offset big advantages for Democrats by churning out extra votes in smaller, more Republican counties. So far, we are seeing a repeat of that theme tonight in the Sunshine State.

7:10 pm - In the Indiana U.S. Senate race, Sen. Joe Donnelly D-IN continues to run better than other Democrats, while Mike Braun (R) is under-performing other statewide Republicans. But Braun is churning out more votes than past elections. Donnelly's future will depend on how many votes he can churn out from suburban areas around Indianapolis and other urban areas like Gary, Fort Wayne, and others larger cities.

7:00 pm - A statement from the White House at this hour from Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: "This in from Sarah Sanders:

“As President, Donald J. Trump has headlined an unprecedented 50 rallies — 30 in the last two months alone — and he has campaigned for dozens of candidates at all levels of government. The President has energized a staggering number of Americans at packed arenas and in overflow crowds at rallies across the country. Under President Trump’s leadership, the Republican National Committee has raised more than a quarter billion dollars, fueling an extraordinary ground game geared toward defying midterm history and protecting the GOP’s majorities. He has made the choice clear to the American people: Tonight, we can continue down the path of American prosperity and security or we can go backwards. The President and First Lady look forward to watching the results come in with friends and family in the White House residence.”

6:55 pm - With 2 percent of the vote in from Kentucky's 6th district, Rep. Andy Barr R-KY leads by 12 votes.

6:50 pm - The pace of the night will really pick up over the next hour. The polls close at 7 pm ET in the Eastern Time Zone counties of Florida, all of Georgia, all of Virginia, and the rest of Indiana and Kentucky. Virginia and Florida will give Democrats their first big opportunity to win some seats in the Congress. We'll see whether they're up to the task tonight, or not.

6:40 pm - I don't know if this will mean anything, but in the Indiana U.S. Senate race, the Republican candidate is getting fewer votes than other Republicans who are running statewide, for Secretary of State, Auditor, Treasurer, and more - while Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is doing better than the Democrats in those races. Also, the Libertarian is getting about 1.5% more in votes for Senate, than the Libertarians in those other statewide races. Just something to think about.

6:35 pm - The formula for success is a familiar one tonight in statewide races for U.S. Senate, as Republicans will see a lot of Red in more rural, Republican-leaning counties, while Democrats will try to run up big margins in the cities, and pick off more GOP voters in suburban areas. In 2016, President Trump was able to motivate enough people to the polls in those less populated areas to offset the Democratic strength in cities. That will be an important measurement tonight as well.

6:25 pm - The counties reporting so far in Indiana are mainly rural, Republican areas, which are giving Braun a healthy lead over Sen. Donnelly. That calculus should change once larger cities start reporting their vote totals, as Democrats should do well in the Indianapolis area, and up in the northwest corner of the state.

6:17 pm - And we get our first batch of votes from Kentucky as well, from the Sixth Congressional district, where Rep. Andy Barr R-KY is trying to hold on against Democrat Amy McGrath. This is not a 'must-win' for Democrats, but GOP loss here would not be a good way to start for Republicans. Again, this is very early vote results.

Jamie Dupree


Jamie Dupree

6:15 pm - The first votes have come trickling in from Indiana - it must have been early votes from a GOP enclave, because it gave a health advantage to Republican Mike Braun, who is running against Sen. Joe Donnelly D-IN. One notable thing about this batch of 4,800 votes is that the Libertarian candidate received 5 percent. If that 5 percent happens when Braun is on the losing side in larger counties, that could be a big problem. It's very early.

6:10 pm - As we wait for the first votes, what counties now often total up first are the early votes, along with any absentee ballots that have already been cast. That's a big change from many years ago, when the absentees were an afterthought. But now, so many votes are cast early in a number of states, that the first numbers you see are from those early votes. Any absentees or mail-in ballots which arrive later, will be counted at the end of the process, along with provisional ballots.

6:00 pm - The polls are now closed in the Eastern Time Zone portions of Indiana and Kentucky. This means we will start getting actual returns soon on the U.S. Senate race in Indiana, and the Sixth Congressional District in Kentucky. Those are the first two races to pay attention to this evening.

5:45 pm - Republicans were managing expectations a bit today, with the national Republican chair declaring that if Democrats don't match the Tea Party 'wave' election of 2010, then whatever Democrats gain tonight in the House will be small potatoes. Historically, that 63 seat net gain in 2010 by the GOP was the largest since Democrats had won 75 seats in the 1948 elections (that was the infamous "Dewey Beats Truman" election).

5:30 pm - No matter what happens today, there will be a lot of change within the Congress. So far, 58 House members won't be back in January, which is already more than the entire turnover associated with the 2016 election. Only eight House members lost on election night two years ago - it seems like more may get booted out this time around, but you never know what the voters will decide. Read my story about this year's turnover, and check the statistics for what's happened in elections going back to 2006, as there has been double digit percentage change in the House for seven straight elections. That's a lot of new faces. And depending on what happens tonight, there could be many more.

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Orlando Democratic Representative Anna Eskamani is co-sponsoring a bill to allow illegal immigrants living in Florida to legally obtain a state driver’s license. “We can talk about the need to reform immigration as a whole, but this is one solution to make sure that our roads are safer,” Eskamani said over the phone on Thursday. Illegal immigrants would still have to take a driving test to get a license, and they’d be able to buy car insurance, which Eskamani said would generate additional revenue for the state.  She also believes the bill will encourage people to report accidents and crimes they see on the road. Eskamani agreed with the assessment that the bill (HB 969) does not attempt to change immigration policy but rather change policy dealing with Florida’s current immigrant situation. “On our roads, you have people who are undocumented who are driving their kids to daycare, who are going to work,” Eskamani said.  “They’re doing their best to live life to its fullest potential.” Under current Florida law, residents must prove U.S. citizenship or show a resident alien green card to get a state driver’s license.  This bill would allow people to use documents such as foreign passports, international birth certificates, or tax ID number to get one.   With the 2019 legislative session well underway in Tallahassee, neither the bill nor its Senate companion has seen a committee vote. The bill has gotten notable attention from Fox News, to which Eskamani mused on her Facebook page, “Wow, my first ever mention in Fox News!  This has to come with some sort of award right?”
  • The Florida man accused of sending pipe bombs last year to several high-profile critics of President Donald Trump pleaded guilty Thursday in a Manhattan federal court. >> Read more trending news Cesar Sayoc appeared Thursday for a change of plea hearing before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff.  Sayoc pleaded not guilty in November to a slew of charges after he was identified as the man suspected of mailing pipe bombs to targets including CNN, former President Barack Obama and actor Robert De Niro. >> Cesar Sayoc Jr.: What we know about the man arrested for sending package bombs Sayoc has been held without bail since his late-October arrest outside a South Florida auto parts store. He had been living in a van covered with stickers of Trump and showing images of some Trump opponents with crosshairs over their faces. Authorities launched an investigation in October after pipe bombs were mailed to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and philanthropist George Soros. In the subsequent days, similar devices were mailed to several other prominent Trump critics, including U.S. Rep Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Democratic donor Tom Steyer. >> 2nd mail bomb to Tom Steyer recovered; suspect agrees to remain jailed, face charges in New York Authorities said Sayoc was linked to the packages after investigators found his fingerprints and DNA on some of them. Without a plea deal, Sayoc faced charges carrying a potential penalty of mandatory life in prison. A court filing last Friday didn't indicate which charge or charges the plea would involve. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Federal authorities and Butler Township police are investigating after an explosive device was placed inside a mailbox and detonated, according to police. >> Read more trending news  The explosive device, which police believe was a commercial-grade firework, was detonated and destroyed the mailbox sometime between 7 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. Wednesday, Butler Township Police Chief John Porter said in a media release. Police did not say what road the incident occurred on but described the area as a rural part of the township.  “Since tampering with a mailbox is covered under federal law, federal authorities have been notified and are participating with us in a joint investigation,” Porter said. “Our initial investigation shows there is no indication of any type of hate or bias crime at this time.”  Authorities continue to investigate.
  • The sister of a Minnesota woman accused of killing a stranger to steal her identity in Florida last year is now facing criminal charges of her own after investigators say she grew angry at her intoxicated son and ran him over with her SUV.  Cynthia Lea Grund, 58, of Salem Township, was jailed on suspicion of second-degree assault and reckless driving. Olmstead County Jail records indicate she has since been released.  >> Read more trending news Olmstead County deputies were called Monday evening to Grund’s home, where they found her 37-year-old son, identified by the Minneapolis Star Tribune as Jason Finstad, suffering from significant lower body injuries, a Sheriff’s Office news release said. The man had been run over by a vehicle.  Investigators determined that Grund had run over her son with a 2004 Ford Explorer, the news release said.  According to detectives, Finstad was very intoxicated when he began walking down the rural driveway to go to a friend’s house. His mother and stepfather no longer wanted him staying at their home.  Grund drove down the driveway to pick Finstad up and drive him to the friend’s house, the news release said. Finstad refused to get in the SUV. “Why don’t you just run me over,” he allegedly said before lying in the driveway in front of Grund’s vehicle.  “Grund then backed the vehicle up and intentionally ran over the victim,” the news release said. “Grund admitted to her actions and at one point made a comment to the effect, ‘He didn't believe I would. He has been drinking all day. We gave him a chance.’” Grund was taken into custody at the scene. >> Related story: ‘Losing Streak Lois,’ killer grandma wanted in 2 slayings nabbed near U.S.-Mexico border Finstad underwent surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester to repair damage to his pelvis. He also suffered head injuries in the incident, investigators said.  He was in fair condition as of Tuesday, the Star Tribune reported. According to the newspaper, Grund is the sister of Lois Ann Riess, 57, of Blooming Prairie, who is being held in Florida on a charge of first-degree murder in the April 5 slaying of Pamela Hutchinson, 59, of Bradenton.  Riess was arrested April 19 on Texas’ South Padre Island after a multistate string of crimes that investigators allege began with the shooting death of her husband, David Riess, 54, at their worm farm. Saturday will mark a year since David Riess’ decomposing body was found. Authorities said David Riess had been dead for several days by the time his body was discovered. The Star Tribune reported last month that a .22-caliber semi-automatic handgun found in Lois Riess’ Texas motel room matched shell casings found at the scene of her husband’s death. Dodge County investigators have turned their case over to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office for review.  Lois Riess, who authorities nicknamed “Losing Streak Lois” for her penchant for gambling, fled south to Florida -- stopping at a casino on the way. Riess’ abandoned Cadillac Escalade, which Minnesota investigators alleged she left the state in after gunning down her husband, was found in a park in Fort Myers, Florida.  Surveillance footage from a restaurant two blocks from Hutchinson’s borrowed timeshare condo showed the victim chatting with Riess at the bar on April 5, the day authorities believe she was shot to death. Hutchinson’s body was found four days later in the bathroom of the condo.  See the footage of Lois Riess chatting with Pamela Hutchinson below, courtesy of the Fort Myers News-Press.  Investigators believe Hutchinson was killed so Riess could assume her identity. They also believe Hutchinson was shot with the same gun that killed David Riess. According to Riess’ Florida indictment, Lois Riess stole credit cards, money, jewelry, sunglasses and other property from Hutchinson after she was killed. Surveillance footage from Hutchinson’s condo complex showed Riess walking into the parking lot, getting into Hutchinson’s Acura TL and driving away.  The indictment also alleged that Riess went to a Fort Myers bank and used Hutchinson’s identification to withdraw $5,000 from the dead woman’s account before leaving town. Riess was next spotted the following day at an Ocala Hilton hotel, where she used Hutchinson’s identification to check into a room, Lee County officials said. She stayed there the nights of April 6 and 7, according to investigators.  Surveillance footage from inside and outside the hotel showed both Riess and the stolen Acura. According to the News-Press, a white straw hat Riess wore in the footage belonged to Hutchinson.  While in Ocala, Riess is accused of withdrawing another $500 from Hutchinson’s bank account.  From there, Riess is accused of making her way west across the southeastern U.S., making several stops in Louisiana -- including at another casino -- before being seen driving the Acura around Corpus Christi, Texas. She attempted to get $200 from Hutchinson’s account at a gas station, but the effort failed, the News-Press reported.  Riess used her own ID to claim a $1,500 jackpot at a Louisiana casino, the newspaper reported.  Riess remained at large until April 19, when she was arrested on South Padre Island in Texas. Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose said a man recognized Riess when she walked into a restaurant on the island, located about 25 miles from the Mexican border, and looked at a menu. Riess did not stay to eat at the restaurant, identified as Dirty Al’s Seafood, but the man called police to report the sighting. A South Padre Island police officer and a federal marshal responded to the area and spotted the white Acura that had been stolen from Hutchinson at another nearby restaurant, the Sea Ranch.  Riess was taken into custody as she sat at the bar inside, eating a meal and chatting with fellow patrons. She was subsequently extradited back to Florida to face charges in Hutchinson’s homicide.   Riess was indicted June 6 in the case, according to court records. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in Hutchinson’s slaying. 

Washington Insider

  • Frustrated by opposition on some college campuses to conservative speakers, President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order which threatens to take away federal research grant money from colleges and universities, if those schools don't guarantee First Amendment protections for those who want to speak on campus. 'We're dealing with billions and billions and billions of dollars,' President Trump said in a White House ceremony on Thursday. Flanked by conservative activists who have run afoul of protests at college and university campuses, Mr. Trump made clear that he wants new opportunities for their voices to be heard. 'Universities that want taxpayer dollars should promote free speech,' the President added. 'This order is part of the Trump Administration’s administrative and legislative efforts to support a focus on student outcomes and improve transparency, accountability, and affordability in postsecondary education,' the White House said in a statement. The President had raised this matter earlier in the month, during an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference just outside Washington, D.C. It was not immediately clear how the Thursday signing would change the current landscape governing money being sent to schools by the feds, as there are already requirements to uphold the First Amendment. In a morning conference call with reporters, a senior administration official refused to give any hints about how the requirement would be enforced differently going forward. 'I won't get into implementation details,' the official said, repeatedly deflecting questions in a Thursday conference call with reporters about how the plan would work.  'But schools are already supposed to be following these rules,' as the official said 'the goal of the order is to promote free speech more broadly across college campuses.' The plan drew immediate fire from the President's critics. 'President Trump’s concept of free speech is speech that he agrees with, which is, in fact, the antithesis of what the First Amendment seeks to protect,' said Randi Weingarten, the President of the American Federation of Teachers union.