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National Govt & Politics

    President Donald Trump is joining a Texas welcome party for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who's visiting the United States amid trade tensions between the allies. Tens of thousands of Indian Americans were expected at a Houston rally — 'Howdy Modi!' — on Sunday. Trump planned to stop later in Ohio for an event with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, fresh from a state dinner on Friday at the White House, at an Australian-owned manufacturing plant. Trump was to end his day in New York as he readies for events this coming week at the U.N. General Assembly, where Modi also will give a speech. India and the United States have been talking for months to try to resolve trade issues. In June, the Trump administration accused India of imposing a wide range of trade barriers, and the U.S. ended preferential trade deals with India. In return, India levied higher import duties on U.S. goods. When Trump and Modi meet at the United Nations later this week, they also are expected to discuss the situation in Kashmir. The government in New Delhi stripped the disputed Himalayan region of its semi-autonomy and launched a security crackdown last month.
  • Rep. Paul Cook served 26 years as a Marine and was awarded two Purple Heart medals for combat wounds suffered in Vietnam. But amid his seventh year in Congress, the aching and discouraged California Republican has decided he's endured enough. At 76 and nursing brittle knees that make cross-country flights an ordeal, Cook is past the age when many lawmakers head home. Cook, who announced last week that he won't seek reelection next year, is the oldest of 18 House Republicans who have said they are leaving. He also is a case study in how some old-school moderate Republicans — the type that like him have Chamber of Commerce backgrounds and consider compromise laudable — feel alienated in an increasingly fractious capital. Cook believes Republicans will not win back the House majority in the 2020 elections, leaving the GOP once again with frustratingly little clout after spending most of this decade controlling the chamber. He dislikes President Donald Trump's late-night tweets and his criticisms of NATO and some of its member nations. And he bemoans Washington's 'toxic' political atmosphere, which he blames on hard-right Republicans and hard-left Democrats. 'The Freedom Caucus, a lot of them, they have a very right-wing agenda that encourages the same things that the far left does. And that is, 'We're going to raise hell,'' Cook said in an interview. 'That is not the road that I would advocate if you're going to try and reach a compromise. Our whole government is built on compromise.' His reference was to the House Freedom Caucus, about 30 fervent conservatives who try pushing the GOP rightward. 'We're mean. I don't know how else to say it,' Cook said. Conservatives say they make no apologies for not yielding on what they consider core principles such as the right to possess guns. 'I think that sometimes the fights are worth having and I'm happy to be in them,' said one Freedom Caucus member, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. Of the 18 exiting Republicans, only a handful have openly cited Washington's sharp elbows, though others who've retired previously have expressed similar complaints. Three of this year's other departing lawmakers could have faced tough reelection fights. Three are running for the Senate or governor, two are leaving as their allotted time as committee leaders is expiring and others have voiced variants of, 'It's time to go.' 'Most moderates are fighting through it. We're not a dying breed,' said Sarah Chamberlain, who heads the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership. Nonetheless, lawmakers concede that frequent, consuming conflicts between the parties take a toll. Both Democrats and Republicans have fewer House moderates than they did two decades ago. That's partly due to increasingly sophisticated district lines that strongly favor one side or the other, putting a premium on candidates voicing ardent adherence to party dogma. As a result, it's been harder for each side to find supporters from across the aisle for legislation. 'I don't know if frustration is the right word. There's an acknowledgement that it's become a zero-sum game on both sides of the aisle,' said Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., a leader of the Tuesday Group of moderate Republicans, which claims around 50 members. GOP leaders reject the assumption that they won't recapture the House majority, following last fall's drubbing in which they lost 41 seats. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., who leads House Republican's political committee, says that while 2018's Democratic challengers 'didn't stand for anything,' next year they'll have to defend hot-button progressive proposals like the Green New Deal. Cook is from safe, conservative GOP terrain: a vast, dry district that sprawls along the Nevada border and includes the Mojave Desert and Death Valley. Trump took it easily in 2016 and Cook has never won less than 57 percent of the vote since his first election in 2012. He hopes to win local office when he returns. Cook worked for his area Chamber of Commerce, taught history at colleges and was elected to local government and the California Legislature before coming to Congress. His legislative focus has included military and veterans' issues, and he's had a low public profile. He's tweeted 15 times all year on his official Twitter account — fewer than Trump might unleash on a raucous day. But Cook says he's bothered by a White House that takes positions that contradict prior policy, particularly on foreign affairs. He recoiled at Trump's questioning of NATO's value and episodes such as his musings about purchasing Greenland, a territory of Denmark that the NATO member spurned. 'You have to respect your allies or you're not going to have your allies when you need them the most,' Cook said. Cook tempers his criticisms of Trump, who endorsed him last year when he faced a conservative GOP challenger. Like most Republicans he's stood by Trump on most House votes, backing him 97 percent of the time, according to the nonpartisan website Fivethirtyeight.com. Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., a friend since they served together in the California Legislature, calls Cook 'a prince of a human being.' He says he thinks the ex-Marine privately disdains Trump, citing Cook's military service and sense of honor. Cook is 'a prisoner to a Republican politics that has turned into a Trump cult,' Huffman says. Most of all, Cook laments a hardball political atmosphere that he says inhibits compromise. 'I have a lot of great colleagues here,' he said. 'It's just a very difficult environment when you should be striving to see the other point of view.
  • The Alaska Republican Party has canceled holding a presidential primary in 2020. In a statement Saturday, the party's State Central Committee passed a rule saying a primary 'would serve no useful purpose' because Republican Donald Trump is president. Earlier this month, Republican leaders in Nevada, South Carolina and Kansas voted to scrap their presidential nominating contests in 2020, erecting more hurdles for the long-shot candidates challenging President Donald Trump. Canceling primaries, caucuses and other voting is not unusual for the party of the White House incumbent seeking a second term. Doing so allows Trump to try to consolidate his support as Democrats work to winnow their large field of candidates. Challengers have emerged to Trump, including former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and Joe Walsh, a former Illinois congressman. Others may join them.
  • A whistleblower's complaint over President Donald Trump's interactions with a foreign leader is testing the political and practical power Democrats can use against a Republican in the White House who so brazenly ignores protocol and presidential norms. Democrats were unanimous in their condemnation of Trump for going to extraordinary lengths to tear down a chief political rival by asking the new leader of Ukraine to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden. But even as calls for impeachment amplified — Elizabeth Warren blasted Congress as 'complicit' in Trump's transgressions — there were no signs that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would move quickly to try to remove the president. Allies of Biden, the early front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary, seized on the developments to portray him as the candidate Trump least wants to face next fall. But the controversy could just as easily revive interest in the business activities of Biden's son, which would do little to further his campaign. Taken together, the developments bear a striking resemblance to the tumult of the 2016 campaign, in which Trump was accused of enlisting a foreign power to help him win an election. The president on Saturday denied any wrongdoing, and his most vocal allies and critics were energized. Political operatives in both parties suggested that for many increasingly numb to a constant sense of crisis, the fresh explosion of political drama may not seem so alarming. One thing is becoming clear: Trump is more than willing to cast aside norms to gain a political advantage. Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist and former top aide to Hillary Clinton, said the country 'has to be ready for the president to try to weaponize the government against them in a way we've never seen before in American history.' The president on Saturday embraced the parallels to the 2016 campaign and predicted he would prevail again in 2020. Trump said the latest allegations from a government whistleblower are 'just as ridiculous as the others,' branding it 'the Ukraine Witch Hunt' — a nod to former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, which he mocked as a 'witch hunt.' 'Will fail again!' Trump tweeted. The complaint from the intelligence community whistleblower is based on a series of events, including what sources now say is Trump's conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The conversation happened on July 25, just a day after Mueller wrapped up his own work by testifying on Capitol Hill. Trump urged Zelenskiy to probe the activities of Biden's son Hunter, who had worked for a Ukrainian gas company, according to a person who was briefed on the call. For legal scholars and ethics watchdogs, the interaction between Trump and the foreign leader is seen as nothing less than a pressure campaign that cuts to the core of the nation's public corruption and bribery laws. It came as the White House was holding up $250 million in military aid for Ukraine. Even if there was no quid-pro-quo from the president, the conversation could be seen by legal experts as improper. 'It appears that the president might have used his official powers — in particular, perhaps the threat of withholding a quarter-billion dollars in military aid — to leverage a foreign government into helping him defeat a potential political opponent in the United States,' wrote lawyer George T. Conway III, who is married to a top Trump adviser, and Neal Katayal, a Georgetown University law professor and former acting solicitor general, in an op-ed in The Washington Post. 'If Trump did that, it would be the ultimate impeachable act.' Campaigning in Iowa on Saturday, Joe Biden said the president 'deserves to be investigated,' but he stopped short of calling for impeachment. 'He's using the abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try to do something to smear me,' Biden told reporters. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said Trump's actions show 'Joe Biden is correctly perceived by President Trump as the greatest threat to his re-election.' It's less clear whether the situation may ultimately hurt Biden, who has claimed the moral high ground in his 2020 campaign. When speaking about his experience as vice president, Biden often says he's most proud of the lack of scandal during his eight years in the Obama White House. Trump's allies hope that the focus on Biden's involvement in Ukraine may begin to chip away at his squeaky clean image. 'The longer we talk about what the Bidens did in Ukraine, the better,' said Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign adviser, who dismissed those who believe Trump will pay a political price for the latest controversy. The questions about Hunter Biden have circulated for years, particularly in conservative circles, after he was hired in 2014 by Burisma Holdings, whose founder had been a political ally of Russia-friendly former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. At the time questions were raised about whether the Ukrainian firm was seeking to gain influence with the Obama administration through its employment of Joe Biden's son. This year, Trump's personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani revived interest in the issue and said he reached out directly to the Ukrainian government. Joe Biden said he's never spoken to his son about his overseas business dealings. Hunter Biden has denied the claims that he used his influence with his father to aid Burisma, saying the criticism is false and stoked by far-right political critics. While Sen. Warren and other Democrats say there's no choice but to start impeachment proceedings, other Democrats have been reluctant to launch a process they say could scare away more moderate and centrist voters, especially for lawmakers in Congress. Pelosi showed no signs of moving off her position that Congress must continue to investigate the administration and not start impeachment proceedings unless the American public demands it. Instead, she said that Trump faces 'repercussions' if the whistleblower's allegations prove true and she said it's time to change the law to make sure future presidents can be indicted for wrongdoing. Democratic strategist Jefrey Pollock, who was a pollster for former presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand, suggested that the latest explosive allegations against the Republican president would have little impact on the broader 2020 debate. 'To date, no scandal has seemed to impact Donald Trump on its own,' Pollock said. 'And the fact that this one involves a political rival I suspect is no different.' __ Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe and Tom Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, and Stephen Braun in Washington contributed to this report.
  • The newly upgraded elevator at the Washington Monument stopped working just days after reopening to the public following a three-year renovation project. The National Park Service says there was a 'brief interruption in service' for about an hour Saturday. Spokesman Mike Litterst said Parks Service staffers resolved the issue and visitors who were at the top of the 555-foot stone obelisk were able to return to the ground floor using the elevator. First lady Melania Trump cut the ribbon Thursday morning as the monument opened to the public for first time since September 2016. It had been closed to replace the elevator and upgrade security systems. Litterst apologized to visitors for the inconvenience. He said tours were running on schedule later Saturday afternoon.
  • Democrats were quick to back working-class United Auto Workers in their strike against General Motors, delivering doughnuts and holding picket signs outside factories to show solidarity. It's a union they long have aligned with politically. There were no doughnuts from Republicans. Led by President Donald Trump, GOP officials have largely avoided taking sides in the strike that threatens to upend the economy in Michigan, an election battleground, a year before the 2020 vote. Both here and nationally, most Republicans said little about the substance of the dispute beyond hope for a speedy resolution. The muted response reflects the tricky politics of labor for Republicans. Trump has made inroads with members of some unions, due partly to promises to get tough on trade and keep manufacturing jobs in the United States. The message pulled key voters away from their Democratic union bosses, who Trump argues are corrupt. But a strike prompted in part over GM's plan to close American plants highlights Trump's unfulfilled promises on manufacturing and gives Democrats a chance to play up their union credentials. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren planned to show up on the picket line in Michigan on Sunday, with rival Bernie Sanders expected this coming week. Nearly all the candidates have tweeted support for the workers. 'Proud to stand with @UAW to demand fair wages and benefits for their members. America's workers deserve better,' Joe Biden tweeted. The union says Biden will be at a picket line in at the Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas, on Sunday. Trump is in a bind. Backing the union would undermine Trump's message that labor does not advocate for its workers and give a powerful Democratic force a boost before an election. Siding with GM would call into question his promises to defend workers and he would risk getting blamed for economic woes in Rust Belt states he needs to win reelection. His task gets tougher the longer the strike goes on. 'There is a history of this issue being treacherous in Michigan,' said Michigan State University political scientist Matt Grossmann. He noted that Republican Mitt Romney's presidential campaign suffered in 2012 when Democrats pointed repeatedly to an opinion article he wrote opposing the auto bailout. The headline: 'Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.' 'It is treacherous to be against the autoworkers,' Grossmann said. The president has appeared mindful of the dilemma, saying little about the strike. On Monday, the first day of the walkout, he told reporters at the White House the dispute was 'sad' and he made a distinction between workers and their union leaders. 'I don't want General Motors to be building plants outside of this country,' he said. 'My relationship has been very powerful with the auto workers — not necessarily the top person or two, but the people that work doing automobiles.' The strike is playing out as a federal corruption investigation against top UAW officials widens. The FBI raided UAW President Gary Jones' suburban Detroit home last month and prosecutors have charged 11 people in the investigation so far, leading many of the 49,000 workers nationwide to question whether leaders have their backs . Trump may be wise to try to separate union workers from their leaders. Although union members have historically supported Democrats, Trump's promises to rewrite free trade agreements appeared to resonate with many in manufacturing areas. Nationally, union members were just slightly more likely than other voters to support Democrats in 2018, when the party gained control of the House. Six in 10 union voters supported Democratic candidates in House races, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 115,000 midterm voters nationwide. But Trump has struggled to make good on promises to stop companies from shipping jobs overseas. From the first announcement in 2018, he was quick to criticize GM for wanting to close U.S. plants, an issue at the center of current fight. He met with CEO Mary Barra at the White House on Sept. 5, days after suggesting the company should move jobs from China to the U.S. GM has not been persuaded yet. Trump's escalation of the trade war with China has hurt manufacturers, with factories in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania shedding workers since the end of 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. His administration's decision to stop California from setting its own emission standards for cars and trucks also has created uncertainty in the industry. 'If this strike goes into a second week, you're going to see parts of Michigan go into a recession,' said Patrick Anderson, CEO of the Anderson Economic Group, an East Lansing-based consulting firm whose work includes analyzing the auto industry. 'Parts of Michigan are feeling it today. You're already seeing losses in income and people cutting back on their spending.' There is some expectation that Trump will intervene in an attempt to prevent that. But the White House denied a report this past week that it engaged in talks with the company and the union. Michigan-based Republican strategist John Sellek said he believes Trump is on the side of the workers but is trying to 'thread the needle' and not 'blow up' GM's offer to save a plant or two. 'That fits his electoral victory path, and it fits his policy positions on trade,' he said. 'He's walking a more careful path rhetorically for now. But if he decides on any given day that it's time to jump in with both feet, we shouldn't be surprised that he does.' GM's proposal includes creating an electric vehicle battery assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, where the company is in the process of closing a small-car assembly plant. In addition, GM would pay for an electric pickup truck that would go into the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which the company also wants to close. The Lordstown facility would offer lower wages, according to a person briefed on the matter who was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity. The union wants to add jobs that pay the top UAW wage. GM workers who were picketing Friday outside the Grand River factory in Lansing — one that makes Cadillacs and Chevy Camaros — were mixed on whether Trump should weigh in. Many said their top priority is giving temporary workers a path to permanent jobs. Others also want commitments that vehicles would be made in the U.S. Keith Cannon, 47, of Lansing, said Trump, whom he does not back, should engage. He interpreted Trump's remarks about the strike as being supportive of workers. 'It's important because it affects the country he's running,' said Cannon, a 19-year GM worker who as a UAW district committeeman represents workers in disputes with management. 'He should weigh in on it because ultimately we affect the community. You have restaurants, stores, businesses that rely on us to support them as much as they support us with their services.' Cannon said he cannot spend much locally while living on strike pay of only $250 per week. Democratic presidential candidates are beginning to flock to the picket lines. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar went to Detroit on Thursday and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan met Monday with strikers in Lordstown, where GM halted production earlier this year, laying off 1,400 employees. ___ Burnett reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Josh Boak in Washington contributed to this report.
  • President Donald Trump, a self-described deal-maker, is saddled with a long list of unresolved foreign policy deals he has yet to close heading into his U.N. visit this coming week. There are challenges with Iran, North Korea, the Afghan Taliban, Israel and the Palestinians — not to mention a number of trade pacts. Some are inching forward. Some have stalled. Trump has said repeatedly that he is in 'no rush' to wrap up the deals. But negotiations take time. He is nearly three years into his presidency and the 2020 election looms, which will crimp his ability to tend to unfinished foreign business. 'I don't blame the president for having so many deals open,' said Nicholas Burns, a former undersecretary of state who has worked for Republican and Democratic presidents. He gives Trump credit for going after China on its trade practices and talking to the Taliban to try to end 18 years of war in Afghanistan. 'But I do think you have to be tough-minded as citizens and grade him,' Burns said. 'How's he doing? Well, in my book, he doesn't have a single major foreign policy achievement in more than 2½ years in office.' Trump's critics say that lack of success means the president is going to the United Nations in a weakened position. Some foreign policy experts give Trump credit for opening up international negotiations. Yet there is plentiful criticism of his brash negotiating style — blasting foreign leaders one day, making nice the next — because they think it makes the global chessboard more wobbly. In his defense, Trump says: 'It's the way I negotiate. It's done very well for me over the years, and it's doing even better for the country.' Trump's 'America first' mantra hasn't gone over well at the United Nations before. Now, as tensions escalate between the U.S. and Iran, the president needs international support to help put pressure on Tehran. Ever since Trump pulled the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal and reinstated crippling economic sanctions, Iran has lashed out. Iran downed an American drone, has impounded ships in the Persian Gulf and is being blamed for the attack on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities. 'He's argued in the past that each country should act solely in its own interest, and he's argued that American might, combined with his negotiating skill, would build U.S. power,' said Jon Alterman, Middle East program director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 'Now we have a General Assembly meeting where the president really needs allies on Iran.' The prospect of Trump talking with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly has evaporated. Alterman said the best-case scenario of another negotiation with Iran would be one leading to the end of Tehran's destabilizing activities in the Mideast, new limits on its nuclear program and greater visibility into its missile program. The worst-case scenario, he said, is that the president alienates his allies and Iran carries out more attacks on U.S. interests and allies. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was fired by Trump, told a group at Harvard University recently that successful negotiations occur when both parties leave with an acceptable outcome. In a comment seemingly aimed at Trump, Tillerson said: 'If you ever think about a negotiation as a win/lose, you're going to have a terrible experience, you're going to be very dissatisfied, and not very many people are going to want to deal with you.' Trump's other disarmament talks — with North Korea — have hit a wall, too. Trump's initial summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore was a first, as was Trump's historic step inside North Korea at the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea. Still, the U.S. and North Korea have failed to gain traction on nuclear talks. Negotiations to get Kim to give up his nuclear weapons have been stalled since a February summit in Hanoi, which collapsed over disagreement about sanctions relief in exchange for disarmament measures. On Friday, Trump claimed that his three-year relationship with Kim is the 'best thing that's happened' to the United States. 'We'll see what happens,' Trump added. 'It might work out. It might not work out.' But Trump stressed that since they started talking, Kim has not conducted nuclear tests and has only fired short-range, not long-range missiles. Trump's Mideast peace negotiations also have no momentum. The administration's long-awaited peace plan, developed by Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, has not come out and the path forward is unclear. Tentative plans to release the proposal had been scrapped at least twice. The plan already is facing rejection by the Palestinians, who cut off ties with the administration after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The Palestinians have accused his administration of losing its standing as an honest broker by repeatedly siding with Israel. And then there is the long-running conflict in Afghanistan. While Trump has public backing to end the war, he just cut off nearly a year of U.S. talks with the Taliban. He said the Taliban were ramping up violence to gain leverage in the negotiations. 'They made a mistake,' Trump said Friday. 'I was totally willing to have a meeting.' Trump has the public's support for withdrawing U.S. troops, but he was harshly criticized for planning to host the Taliban at the Camp David presidential retreat just before the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The Taliban were harboring al-Qaida when al-Qaida orchestrated 9/11. Trump biographer Michael D'Antonio said that where international affairs are concerned, the president appears more interested having something showy to announce than in long-term problem-solving. 'Once he has a partner engaged, he'll likely announce something that sounds important,' D'Antonio said. 'Others will clean up the details after the election.
  • Lee Boyd Malvo, who terrorized the Washington region in 2002 as one-half of a sniper team, is at the center of a case the Supreme Court will hear this fall. But the justices' eventual ruling probably will mean less for him than for a dozen other inmates who, like the now-34-year-old Malvo, were sentenced to life without parole for murders they committed as teens. At issue for the Supreme Court is whether Malvo should be resentenced in Virginia in light of Supreme Court rulings restricting life-without-parole sentences for crimes committed by juveniles. But the case could also be an opportunity for the Supreme Court, which has recently become more conservative , to put the brakes on what has been a gradual move toward more leniency for juvenile offenders . Regardless of the case's outcome, Malvo isn't leaving prison anytime soon. He's serving four life-without-parole sentences in Virginia. He was sentenced to another six life life-without-parole terms for shootings in Maryland. But an appeals court ruled last year that Malvo should be resentenced in Virginia, the decision the Supreme Court will review. The appeals court explained that after Malvo was sentenced, the Supreme Court issued a series of decisions affecting juvenile killers, decisions that required Malvo to be resentenced. But even if the justices were to agree that Malvo should receive new sentences in Virginia and even if he were given something short of life without parole, then he still would have to successfully get his Maryland sentences reduced before having a shot at freedom. 'The reality is that other people have more at stake in this case than he does,' said Jody Kent Lavy, the executive director of the Washington-based Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, which has filed a Supreme Court brief supporting Malvo. Lavy says a dozen other Virginia inmates will be affected by Malvo's case. They include Donte Jones, who was 17 when he fatally shot a convenience store employee during a robbery; Holly Landry, who was 16 when she participated in a robbery in which a man died after being beaten with a hammer, and Jason Clem, who was 16 when he fatally stabbed his boss at the restaurant where he worked as a dishwasher. Youth advocates have generally been pleased with the direction of the Supreme Court on juvenile sentencing in recent years. The court has recognized that minors should be treated differently from adults, in part because of their lack of maturity and greater ability to change. In 2005, the court eliminated the death penalty for offenders who were under 18 when they committed crimes. Then, in 2012, the justices said teenage killers couldn't automatically get life sentences with no chance of parole, explaining that punishment should be rare for juveniles. Four years later, the court made the decision retroactive , giving additional prisoners the hope for freedom. 'I have no idea what they're going to do in Malvo, but I would hope that they wouldn't do anything that pulls back from that progression,' said Kathleen Wach, whose firm represents Derek Ray Jackson Jr. He was 17 when he killed a man during a convenience store robbery; he will be affected by the Malvo case's outcome. The justices' 2012 and 2016 rulings provided opportunities for inmates such as Jackson and Malvo, who went back to court to challenge their sentences. Malvo argued he should be resentenced in Virginia because after a jury convicted him of murder but rejected the death penalty, he was automatically given a life-without-parole sentence. But Virginia has argued that Malvo's sentence — and others like it — weren't automatic, and that a judge could have suspended all or part of it, so Malvo shouldn't be resentenced. 'This case is about Lee Malvo, a convicted mass murder who killed Virginians in cold blood and terrorized an entire region. He received a fair trial in which he had a chance to make his case, and he should not have the chance to get out of jail or receive a lighter sentence,' said Michael Kelly, a spokesman for the Office of Virginia's Attorney General. Two lower courts have sided with Malvo, ruling that a court should assess whether he's one of the rare juvenile offenders deserving of a life-without-parole sentence. The Supreme Court will decide if that's right. Having Malvo as the face of the issue, however, has some advocates worried because his crimes make him unlikely to elicit sympathy from the justices. Malvo was 17 when he and John Allen Muhammad went on their sniper spree, killing 10 people in the Washington area. They picked off victims going about their daily business: shopping, getting gas and mowing the lawn. Muhammad, who was 41 at the time of the shootings, was sentenced to death and executed in 2009. Lawyer Joshua Toll, who represents a client affected by Malvo's case, acknowledged that lawyers in his position wish a different defendant were before the justices. Toll wants his client, David Sanchez Jr., to be resentenced and said that after two decades in prison he's a different person from the 17-year-old who fatally shot a motorcyclist while under the influence of alcohol and LSD. He shouldn't spend the rest of his life in jail, Toll said. 'He deserves the chance to at least make the case,' he said. The case is Mathena v. Malvo, 18-217 .
  • Lagging in polling and fundraising, Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker said Saturday he may end his run unless donations from supporters increase quickly. 'I don't believe people should stay in this just to stay in it. You either have a trajectory to win or not, and right now if we don't raise $1.7 million we won't be able to make the investments necessary,' he told The Associated Press after speaking at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Des Moines. 'If we don't have a pathway to win, we should get out of this race.' Booker told reporters that 'the trajectory of the fundraising before today was not there.' And his campaign manager, Addisu Demissie, said in a memo made public that the New Jersey senator needed to raise an additional $1.7 million by Sept. 30 to remain competitive in the crowded field of candidates seeking the nomination. 'If we're not able to build the campaign organization, which means raise the money that we need to win the nomination, Cory's not going to continue running and consuming resources that are better used on focusing on beating Donald Trump,' he said. Without such a fundraising surge, the campaign does 'not see a legitimate long-term path forward,' according to the memo. Booker did see the beginnings of a fundraising bump on Saturday, with Demmissie tweeting that the candidate had raised nearly $200,000 as of 5 p.m. Eastern time. Booker has qualified for a spot in the next debate, in October. But he has struggled with fundraising and yet to break through in either early state or national polls.
  • The White House campaign of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) teetered on the edge of being abandoned in coming days, as the candidate on Saturday publicly confirmed the existence of an internal memo which bluntly said that unless Booker could get a surge of donations in the next ten days, his 2020 campaign was doomed. 'I want people to see where we are and understand that we have a pathway to victory,' Booker wrote on Twitter Saturday morning, 'but I can’t walk it alone.' Booker's comments came soon after NBC News had reported that the campaign's top aide told the candidate and staff that a major infusion of money was needed to keep Booker's campaign going. 'This isn’t an end-of-quarter stunt or one of those memos from a campaign trying to spin the press,' said Addisu Demissie. Booker's predicament in the Democratic race is much like a large number of other candidates right now - they are mired in low single digits in most polls, and have shown no ability to break out of that group to challenge the leaders in the race. For example, in the latest national poll from Fox News on the Democratic race, Booker is a 3 percent - that's where he was in August, June, and May. Others who have shown little to no ability to jump up in recent polls would include Marianne Williamson, Tim Ryan, Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, Julian Castro, John Delaney and Michael Bennet. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was also in that group - he officially quit the race on Friday. Others stuck in the polls have been Andrew Yang, Amy Klobuchar, and Beto O'Rourke - and even Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris - who while they are above most of those in the race, the two have been unable to make up ground on the Democratic Party leaders. Harris encountered rough waters in the last week as repeated stories reported that her campaign was going to focus much more on Iowa - a decision which is often a signal of broader difficulty for a presidential candidate. Meanwhile, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders seem locked in to the top three spots in the Democratic race, with little evidence that any of the other Democrats were going to be able to pull them down at this point. And for Booker - it's been a bridge too far. “Now or Never,” his campaign chief wrote.