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National Govt & Politics
Trump roils final campaign stretch - for both parties
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Trump roils final campaign stretch - for both parties

Trump roils final campaign stretch - for both parties
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Trump roils final campaign stretch - for both parties

President Donald Trump on Wednesday continued to knock both parties off balance in the waning days of the 2018 mid-term campaign, as he publicly rebuked the Speaker of the House from his own party, vowed to send thousands more troops to the border with Mexico, backed off a pledge from last week to unveil a new tax cut plan, again predicted massive stock losses if Republicans lose control of Congress, and trolled Democrats on health care.

Other than a few comments about the birthright citizenship issue, most Republican lawmakers seemed to go out of their way in recent days to ignore the latest moves from the White House, posting photos and graphics on Wednesday via social media related to Halloween, their campaigns, local constituent meetings, visits to local schools, and almost anything other than what the President was talking about at the White House.

This is from GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri.

But the internet fun couldn't obscure what was one of the odder days right before an election, as the President in one breath proclaimed that he was confident about the outcome of next week's elections, and in the next breath was critical of the top Republican in the House.

1. Trump slams the Speaker of the House. While it might be entertaining for many conservative voters who don't care for Speaker Paul Ryan, it was sort of an odd scenario to have the President attacking a Speaker of his own party less than a week before an election where the GOP could lose control of the House. In an interview on Tuesday, Ryan had said what most people on Capitol Hill believe - that President Trump does not have the administrative powers to change how children of illegal immigrants are eligible for U.S. citizenship if they are born in America. That did not please the President, who said Ryan 'knows nothing' about the issue, as he said the Speaker should be working on keeping the GOP majority. The irony is that when the Speaker made those comments, he was on the campaign trail doing exactly that.

2. Birthright citizenship push could endanger more GOP seats. While the President clearly sees the issue of limiting automatic citizenship for people born in the United States, so as to exclude the children of illegal immigrants as a positive for Republicans, that idea was not welcome news for some GOP candidates and lawmakers, who said the President was simply mistaken. "The President is wrong to end Birthright Citizenship," said Bob Hugin, who is trying to knock off Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey. "I strongly disagree with the proposed executive order," said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), whose district in the Miami area voted for Hillary Clinton over President Trump. The issue was a wild card from right field this week which clearly caught GOP lawmakers by surprise.

3. Number of troops heading to the border keeps going up. It started at 2,000 at the beginning of the week, went to over 5,000 on Tuesday, and then went up to 10-15,000 in the space of 48 hours, as the President told reporters Wednesday that he was ready to send a large number of active-duty soldiers to the Mexican border to deal with a caravan of immigrants that was still 1,000 miles away. "Nobody is coming in. We're not allowing people to come in," the President declared. "It's a dangerous group of people. They're not coming into our country." Some Democrats urged their colleagues to say little about the President's new military plans. "Don't fall for it," said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), "this is a trap," as most Democrats took a page from the game plan of their GOP colleagues, and tried to say as little as possible about the President's latest border plan.

4. Tax cut details punted into 2019. Last week, President Trump suddenly began talking about a new 10 percent tax cut for the middle class, saying it was going to be unveiled before the elections, and even talking about action in a Congress on a 'resolution' dealing with the issue, even though lawmakers aren't back for votes on Capitol Hill until mid-November. “We are looking a major tax cut for middle-income people,” the President said on October 20. Asked about a time frame, Mr. Trump told reporters, “the first of November, maybe a little before that.” Well, the first of November is here, and there will be no tax cut details coming out of the Trump White House, as a joint statement issued Wednesday with House Republicans promised action on tax cuts, but gave no hint of any the fine print.

Jamie Dupree
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Jamie Dupree

5. After month of stock losses, Trump says more to come if Democrats win. While the markets ended October with the first two day streak of gains this month, Wall Street ended the month with some deep financial losses. But President Trump predicted even larger losses if Democrats take control of the Congress in the November elections. “If the mid-terms for some reason don’t do so well for Republicans, I think you all are going to lose a lot of money,” the President said at an event on jobs and the economy at the White House. “I hate to say that, but I think you are going to lose at lot of money.”

6. Trump leaves Democrats spitting mad on health care. As Democrats vowed to keep the focus on issues like health care, President Trump continued to drive them nuts by proclaiming his support for a health system that protects people with pre-existing conditions. Democrats say the President is lying, and any other GOP lawmaker who repeats that assurance is lying as well. "They're backing a lawsuit to end pre-existing condition protections," said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). "Trump and Republicans continue to try and trick Americans with false claims," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). "You held a rally at the White House to celebrate the passage of a bill taking away protections for those with pre-existing conditions," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). "They can't lie their way out of this," added Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.

There are now just five days to go.

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A large cargo plane crashed Saturday in Texas, killing all three people on board, officials said.  Photos: Amazon cargo plane crashes into shallow bay Federal Aviation Administration officials said the twin-engine Boeing 767 plane crashed around 12:45 p.m. about 3 miles west of the Chambers County Airport, KHOU reported. The Chambers County Sheriff’s Office said no one survived, WPLG reported.  Witnesses said they heard the plane’s engines surging and that the craft turned sharply before falling into a nosedive, Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said. Dave Clark, senior vice president of Worldwide Operations at Amazon, said:  “Our thoughts and prayers are with the flight crew, their families and friends along with the entire team at Atlas Air during this terrible tragedy. We appreciate the first responders who worked urgently to provide support.” Hawthorne told the Houston Chronicle late Saturday afternoon that police had found human remains at the site of the crash. Investigators have also recovered parts of the plane, he said. “There’s everything from cardboard boxes to women’s clothing and bed sheets,” Hawthorne said. The largest piece from the Boeing 767 that police have recovered is 50 feet long, Hawthorne told the newspaper. The sheriff said recovering pieces of the plane and its black box containing flight data records will be difficult in muddy marshland that extends to about 5 feet deep in the area. Air boats are needed to access the area. The plane, operated by Atlas Air, departed from Miami and was headed to George Bush International Airport. >> Read more trending news  Atlas Air operates 20 cargo planes for Amazon. The Amazon Prime Air branded aircraft was converted from a passenger to cargo plane in 2016, Airways Magazine reported. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller’s sentencing memorandum for former President Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was submitted Friday and parts of it were made public Saturday. >> Read more trending news Mueller’s team filed its recommendation for Manafort’s punishment in one of his two criminal cases, but U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson says it contains sensitive information that prosecutors want to keep secret.  UPDATE 3:30 p.m. EST, Feb. 23: Robert Mueller has recommended a U.S. District Court judge not be lenient when sentencing Paul Manafort, according to an 800-page sentencing memo made public Saturday. In the memo, Mueller alleges Manafort “repeatedly and brazenly violated the law” and shows a “hardened adherence to committing crimes,” the Washington Post reported. Mueller didn’t recommend a specific sentence for Manafort, but noted that federal guidelines call for a sentence of 17 to 22 years. However, under Manafort’s guilty plea, the statutory maximum he faces is 10 years, according to the Washington Post. The special counsel said they may ask Judge Amy Berman Jackson to order a sentence that runs consecutive to whatever sentence Manafort receives in Virginia federal court. 'Based on his relevant sentencing conduct, Manafort presents many aggravating sentencing factors and no warranted mitigating factors,” Mueller wrote. Manafort is set to be sentenced March 8 in Virginia, and will be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on March 13. ORIGINAL REPORT: The midnight deadline for special counsel Robert Mueller’s office to make recommendations about the sentencing for Paul Manafort passed Friday night, but the report was not publicly released as of Saturday morning.  Manafort, President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, pleaded guilty to several charges last year.  Prosecutors may have sent the document to Judge Amy Berman Jackson under seal, with proposed redactions, CNN reported Saturday. It would then be up to Jackson to decide what happens next. Prosecutors were expected to file the sentencing memo in federal court in Washington, where Manafort pleaded guilty in September to charges including conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice through witness tampering. >> More on Robert Mueller's investigation  Manafort agreed to fully cooperate with Mueller’s team as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors; however, authorities later said Manafort lied to investigators. Prosecutors are not expected to recommend leniency for him. Manafort’s attorneys will have until midnight Monday to file their own sentencing memo. A judge is expected to hand down Manafort’s sentence March 13 at a 9:30 a.m. hearing before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. >> Judge rules Paul Manafort intentionally lied after agreeing to cooperate In a separate case that also stemmed from Mueller’s investigation, a jury in Virginia found Manafort guilty last summer of tax and bank fraud charges in a case related to work he and an associate did for pro-Russia political forces in Ukraine. Prosecutors last week recommended Manafort serve between 19.5 and 24.5 years in prison and be fined as much as $24 million for those crimes. Manafort is scheduled to be sentenced in that case during a 9 a.m. hearing March 8 before U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, according to a court filing. >> Mueller recommends Paul Manafort be sentenced to 19.5-24.5 years in prison and $24M fine Last month, defense attorneys said Manafort has been kept in solitary confinement for his own safety. He’s had severe gout for several months of his incarceration, according to his attorneys, and it’s sometimes been severe enough to require him to use a wheelchair. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A 31-year-old man was arrested Friday in connection with the fatal shooting of his grandfather at a home near Ocoee. Deputies said the victim was shot shortly before 7:15 a.m. in the Lake Florence subdivision near Good Homes Road.  Relatives said the victim was boxing icon Lucious 'Lou' Harris.  Deputies said they arrested Lucien Harris in connection with the shooting.  “My father was, like, an icon in the boxing world,' said Steve Harris, the victim's son and the suspect's uncle. 'Everybody knew him -- all across the world.'  He said he and his family almost expected something bad to happen.  'It's not a complete surprise. Not to me,' Harris said. 'It could have been me. It could have been my other brother in the car, my sister. We all knew something was going to happen eventually, but not my dad.'  Lou Harris owned Harris Boxing on Ivey Lane in Orlando and trained hundreds of fighters, including his grandson, relatives said.  'He took people from the street and took them right to the Olympics -- and (they won) gold medals, bronze medals. He did it all,' Steve Harris said of his father.  He said the suspect was living with his grandfather at his Florence Vista Boulevard home.  He said Lucien Harris was once a boxer, too, but was not successful and had resentment and jealousy because of it.  Records said Lucien Harris was arrested in October after he was accused of threatening to kill his uncle with a hammer and knife.  His uncle told investigators at the time that Lucien Harris has 'schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and does not take medications for his issues,' records said.  Lucien Harris was not prosecuted in that case.  Records said his arrest history dates back to 2004, when he was arrested on charges of assault with a deadly weapon.  Since then, he has also been arrested on charges of possessing a gun as a convicted felon, armed burglary and grand theft.  'His grandson had issues for many years,' Steve Harris said. 'He did time at an early age.'  Lucien Harris was booked into the Orange County Jail on charges of first-degree murder.
  • Who doesn't love food and drinks, especially when it comes to trying out a variety of kinds all in one visit? Thankfully, if you don't have any weekend plans, you can check out the annual Downtown Food and Wine Fest located in the heart of downtown Orlando at Lake Eola.  This year's celebration on Robinson Street features over 30 dishes from Orlando's premier restaurants, over 50 domestic and international wines, and of course, LIVE entertainment.  However, before you set out to enjoy the festival there's a few things you need to know:  - You can't bring any outside food or drink to the event.  - Pets are not allowed inside due to food health laws set by the City of Orlando.  - You can bring your own blanket and chairs to sit and enjoy the live music.  - Since its on the weekend, you can expect road closures. Here they are:  Southbound Eola Drive from Robinson Street to Washington Street at 10am  Northbound Eola Drive from Robinson Street to Washington Street until 2pm.  Broadway, Cathcart, Hillman from Ridgewood Street to Robinson Street until 2pm.  Robinson Street from Rosalind Avenue to Summerlin Avenue at 6am.   Ticket prices for the event vary, depending on what you want to do. You can check them out here:  https://downtownfoodandwinefest.radio.com/ticket-info  The events starts on Saturday, February 23rd from 12pm to 9pm and Sunday, February 24th from 12pm to 7pm.
  • Southeastern Grocers announced the closing of another eight Florida stores in coming months. Jacksonville based Southeastern Grocers, is the parent company to Winn-Dixie, Harveys, Bi-Lo and Fresco y Mas grocery stores.  The company owns more than 550 stores throughout the southeast and declared bankruptcy last spring. The bankruptcy restructuring included closing 94 stores to help lower debt by about $600 million.  In addition to the eight stores closing in Florida, two of which are in Central Florida, another 14 are closing throughout the South.  The two in Central Florida include the Winn-Dixie at 7840 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy in Kissimmee and the Winn-Dixie at 5732 N. Hiawassee Road in Orlando.

Washington Insider

  • Democrats in the House of Representatives unveiled their one page plan on Friday to overturn President Donald Trump's bid to funnel more money to a border wall by declaring a national emergency, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters said the House would vote next Tuesday to block the President's executive actions on funding for the wall. 'Members of Congress all swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution,' the Speaker said. 'The President’s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated,' Pelosi wrote earlier this week in a letter to fellow Democrats. Democrats said they already have more than a majority of members signed on to the one page resolution to reject the Trump national emergency. 'We hope that enough of our normal Republican enablers will join us to stand up for the Constitution,' said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX). 'If not, we’re ready to turn to the courthouse.' As of Friday, only one Republican in the House had signed on to the plan to reject the President’s national emergency, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI). “Trump’s absurd declaration of a “national emergency” undercuts the Constitution,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), as approval in the House would send the plan to the Senate. Under special rules governing this process, GOP leaders would not be able to ignore the House action, as a vote must take place on the resolution. But even if it passes in the Senate, a veto is likely by President Trump, and at this point - it seems unlikely that Democrats could muster enough GOP votes for a two-thirds supermajority to override a veto.