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Latest from Jamie Dupree

    The legal fight over the 2016 elections expanded further on Friday, as the Democratic National Committee filed a wide-ranging lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s campaign, top aides, one of Mr. Trump’s son, as well as his son-in-law, the Russian government, and others caught up in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 race for the White House. The 66 page lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, where an FBI raid recently took place on the President’s personal lawyer, alleges a broad conspiracy involving Russia, its intelligence service, and members of the Trump inner circle, like former campaign manager Paul Manafort. “No one is above the law,” the lawsuit begins. “In the Trump Campaign, Russia found a willing and active partner in this effort.” DNC lawsuit accuses Trump campaign, Russia of a conspiracy that 'constituted an act of previously unimaginable treachery.' — Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) April 20, 2018 The charges cover everything from racketeering, conspiracy, computer fraud, trespass, and more, claiming the hacking effort was a coordinated effort with the Trump Campaign, designed to damage the bid of Hillary Clinton for the White House. Along with the Russian government and intelligence service known as the GRU, the Democratic lawsuit names Julian Assange and Wikileaks, the Trump Campaign, Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Jared Kushner, and two campaign aides who have already agreed to help the Russia investigation, George Papadopoulos and Richard Gates. The document did not seem to make public any brand new details about how the hacking occurred at the DNC or with members of the Clinton campaign. In the lawsuit, Democrats charge “Russia’s cyberattack on the DNC began only weeks after Trump announced his candidacy for President,” in June 2015. “In April 2016, another set of Russian intelligence agents successfully hacked into the DNC, saying that “massive amounts of data” were taken from DNC servers. The lawsuit makes no mention of the FBI warning to the DNC that it was being hacked, and how that was ignored for weeks by officials at DNC headquarters in Washington. If the lawsuit actually goes forward, it would not only involve evidence being gathered from those being challenged by the Democrats – but some made clear it could open the DNC hacking response to a further review as well in terms of discovery.
  • The morning after memos written by former FBI Director James Comey were delivered to Congress – and then immediately leaked to the news media – President Donald Trump blasted both Comey and the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, denying that he had done anything wrong, and defending a top aide who had been caught up in the probe. “So General Michael Flynn’s life can be totally destroyed while Shadey James Comey can Leak and Lie and make lots of money from a third rate book,” the President thundered on Twitter from his Florida retreat in Mar-a-Lago, delivering a new nickname to the former FBI chief, and defending his former National Security Adviser, who has already plead guilty to lying to investigators about his post-election contacts with the Russian Ambassador. Early Friday morning, Mr. Trump again denied that he, his aides, or his campaign played any role in coordinating activities with Russia during the 2016 campaign, though the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller , as Republicans in Congress joined in arguing that the Comey memos only helped the President’s cause. Here is some of what the President found in the memos – as well as the reaction of GOP supporters in the Congress: 1. Trump again makes clear he did nothing wrong. The sun wasn’t even up yet at Mar-a-Lago, and President Trump was out with a familiar refrain on Twitter, saying there was “NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION.” Various press reports this week had said that aides had scheduled the President to be at his Florida retreat all week, ostensibly to be away from some of the furor over the new book by the former FBI Director. Mr. Trump has called Comey a ‘slimeball’ and more – and one might think there will be more Twitter daggers aimed at Comey after today. James Comey Memos just out and show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION. Also, he leaked classified information. WOW! Will the Witch Hunt continue? — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 20, 2018 2. Trump defends ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. One subject which gets a lot of attention in the Comey memos is how the President – and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus – paid special attention to the investigation into Flynn, who had been a close campaign aide and adviser to Mr. Trump. Priebus specifically asked Comey in a meeting if there was a FISA warrant on Flynn – Comey did not answer. And Comey also detailed how he felt the President had asked him to go easy on Flynn, who has already plead guilty to lying to FBI agents about his contacts with the Russian Ambassador to the United States. 3. Republicans say memos prove Trump’s innocence. As the full Comey memos leaked to the press, GOP lawmakers were quickly ready with their own read on what the memos proved, and what they did not. “Former Director Comey’s memos show the President made clear he wanted allegations of collusion, coordination, and conspiracy between his campaign and Russia fully investigated,” said Reps. Goodlatte, Gowdy and Nunes, three key GOP lawmakers in the House. “The memos also show former Director Comey never wrote that he felt obstructed or threatened,” as they wrote that the memos would actually help the President in any criminal proceeding. 4. GOP calls for Comey to be prosecuted over memo leaks. Some of the information in the memos is redacted and noted as classified, which was seized upon immediately by GOP lawmakers, who argue that Comey should be charged with a crime. It immediately brought back comparisons to Hillary Clinton, and how details in her emails were seen as classified after the fact. “Intentionally leaking classified information is a big no no,” said Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). Here is an example of one Comey memo that was considered classified – from his dinner meeting with the President in January 2017. But when you go through the details, what was redacted had to do with a subject that was not leaked, that being the President’s anger with Flynn over a call by a foreign leader soon after the inaugural. It has been reported that the phone call was from Russian leader Vladimir Putin. 5. Conservative media quickly echoes GOP, Trump. The release of Comey’s book, and his subsequent book tour, have been a unique thing to watch from the sidelines, as supporters of the President have spent the week taking shots at the former FBI Director, trying to poke holes in his story, accusing him of double standards, and questioning whether he was trying to set up the President. Look for that to continue in the weeks and months ahead. . @Comey’s memos exonerate Trump, reaffirm what a poor writer Comey is, and prove that he’s petty and out for self. https://t.co/FeIumzfoeJ — John Cardillo (@johncardillo) April 20, 2018 6. In Congress, GOP lawmakers brush off Comey details. Echoing the President, Republicans delved into the details of what Comey wrote and found little to worry about, and more to bolster their argument that the President did no wrong. “If anything, this impugns the judgment of Director Comey,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who had joined in demanding the release of the memos by the Justice Department. “There’s nothing in here even approaching ‘obstruction of justice,'” Meadows wrote on Twitter. These Comey memos were supposed to implicate President Trump? Really? On page 13 POTUS appears to instruct Director Comey to investigate and find the truth about whether his campaign team did anything wrong. There's nothing in here even approaching 'obstruction of justice.' — Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) April 20, 2018 7. GOP zeroes in on Comey line that he doesn’t leak. As both parties cherry-picked items from the Comey memos to buttress their arguments for and against the Russia investigation, there was a juicy one for Republicans, when Comey said he told the President that he was not a leaker. “I said I don’t do sneaky things,” Comey wrote about their late January 2017 dinner. “I don’t leak. I don’t do weasel moves.” Obviously, after Comey was fired in May, he did leak portions of these memos, through a friend of his, who gave them to the New York Times. This tweet is from a Republican who is on the House Intelligence Committee. Actual quote from James Comey's own classified memos, 4 of which he leaked to @nytimes to trigger a Special Counsel investigation: 'I said I don't do sneaky things, I don't leak, I don't do weasel moves.' — Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) April 20, 2018 8. Leaks, leaks and more leaks. Republicans also raised questions about the initial briefing of the President at Trump Tower by Comey and other top intelligence officials. At that time, Comey first warned the President about the existence of the Steele Dossier, and also said the FBI was keeping a very tight lid on the details, because CNN and other news organizations were waiting to run stories about it. “I said media like CNN had them and were looking for a news hook,” Comey recounts himself telling the President-Elect. But the details did soon leak when the dossier was published by BuzzFeed news ( though the President’s private lawyer, Michael Cohen, has now dropped a $100 million defamation lawsuit related to that publication). 9. Reportedly, Mueller did not object to release of memos. While the Justice Department had resisted Republican demands for the release of the Comey memos, immediate news reports on Thursday night indicated that the Special Counsel’s office did not see a reason to prevent the material from going public. As with most things in Washington, the memos seemed to leak instantly. But it also prompted speculation that the GOP may have hoped that the feds would resist, and not release the memos, sparking a fight with Republicans in Congress. If demanding that DOJ turn over the #ComeyMemos was a bluff on House Republicans’ part (to create an excuse to fire Rosenstein), it may have backfired spectacularly. (Unless their goal was to dramatically bolster Comey’s credibility.) — Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) April 20, 2018 10. Release of Comey memos also generate other headlines. While the President and GOP lawmakers focused on items in the Comey memos which they say showed Mr. Trump committed no obstruction of justice, the memos also did something Republicans probably didn’t want – and that was to focus attention on some of the more salacious items in the Steele Dossier. Comey’s memos have repeated references to the President denying involvement with hookers, and even a quote from Russian leader Vladimir Putin about the quality of Russia prostitutes.  
  • Bowing to demands from Republicans in the House, the Justice Department on Thursday night gave lawmakers memos written by former FBI Director James Comey after meetings and phone calls with President Donald Trump, with the resulting leaks only amplifying Comey’s story that Mr. Trump had pressed him repeatedly about the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. And in classic Washington fashion – the memos were leaked almost immediately to news organizations. You can read the set of memos from Comey – written soon after meetings directly with the President, or after phone calls with Mr. Trump. There had been concerns that sharing the memos with Congress might cause problems for the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller – but press reports on Thursday night indicated otherwise, and a reading of the materials did not reveal a new treasure trove of information. And more than anything, they only seemed to bring the focus more on President Trump. It's almost like the House GOP wanted the Comey memos released to embarrass their party leader. — Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) April 20, 2018 Here are ten things we learned from the memos written by the former FBI Director. 1. Trump praises Comey at first meeting at Trump Tower. Before the former FBI Director could get to the subject of the Steele Dossier, the two men had some chit chat one-on-one. Comey said the President-Elect complimented the FBI chief on how he had handled the difficult situation involving the Hillary Clinton email investigation. “He said I was repeatedly put in impossible positions,” Comey recounted, quoting Trump as saying, “they hated you for what you did later, but what choice did you have?” Comey said the President-Elect said ‘he hoped I planned to stay on.’ 2. Comey moves into the Steele Dossier. With other top officials out of the room at Trump Tower, Comey then described briefing the President-Elect on the contents of the Steele Dossier, expressing concerns that it could soon leak in the media. “I said, the Russians allegedly had tapes of him and prostitutes,” Comey wrote, saying that Mr. Trump said, “there were no prostitutes.” Comey said he told the President-Elect that the FBI was not investigating these stories, but that “our job was to protect the President from efforts to coerce him.” 3. The late January “loyalty” dinner. After President Trump had been sworn into office, he invited Comey to the White House for dinner – just the two of them – telling Comey that even Chief of Staff Reince Priebus did not know of their sit down. Comey said he told Trump, “I was not on anybody’s side politically.” After a detailed discussion of the impact of the Clinton email investigation on the campaign – in which they disagreed on whether there was a case against Hillary Clinton, Comey said the President made a clear point. “He replied that he needed loyalty and expected loyalty.” 4. Comey relates Trump displeasure with Flynn. One interesting side story from the late January dinner was when Comey related how the President had been angry with his National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, for evidently not informing the President that another world leader had called after the inauguration. “In telling the story, the President pointed his fingers at his head and said “the guy has serious judgment issues.”” Comey then notes that he never gave Mr. Trump any indication of the FBI interest in Flynn – or the fact that agents had interviewed Flynn just a day before about his contacts with the Russian Ambassador to the United States. 5. A meeting with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. One memo from Comey detailed a meeting with the President’s Chief of Staff, who asked the FBI Director if there was an investigation going on into the President’s National Security Adviser. “Do you have a FISA order on Mike Flynn?” Comey quoted Priebus as asking. Later, their conversation went over the Hillary Clinton email investigation, and Comey’s late announcement which roiled the campaign. “At some point I added that it also wasn’t my fault that Huma Abedin forwarded emails to Anthony Weiner.” 6. Golden showers, hookers, and Putin. After meeting with Priebus, Comey was taken by the Oval Office for a quick visit with the President. There, Mr. Trump complained about leaks of his phone calls with foreign leaders, and again vented his frustration about details from the Steele Dossier. “The President brought up the “Golden Showers thing” and said it really bothered him,” Comey recounted. “The President said ‘the hookers thing’ is nonsense but that Putin had told ‘we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.'” 7. Trump presses Comey on Michael Flynn. In portions of the memos which had already been leaked, Comey describes how a broader meeting on homeland security ended, and then others left him one-on-one with Mr. Trump. “He began by saying he wanted to ‘talk about Mike Flynn,'” Comey recounts, adding later that the President said he had ‘other concerns’ about Flynn, but was aggravated about the leaks concerning his former National Security Adviser. But the President then returned to Flynn. “I hope you can let this go,” was how Comey remembered what the President had said in this February 14, 2017 meeting. 8. Trump urges Comey to ‘lift the cloud.’ Again, these details had been leaked previously, as Comey recounted a phone conversation in which the President complained about the Russia investigation, saying at one point that he would have won a health care vote in the House if not for the controversy over the Trump-Russia probe about the 2016 elections. Comey noted the President again returned to an issue that clearly aggravated him – “can you imagine me, hookers?” Comey’s memo also seems to say that the President was going to file a lawsuit against former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who had assembled the dossier. No such suit was ever filed. 9. More about loyalty to the President. In an April 2017 phone call, Comey says the President pressed him to publicly confirm that he (Mr. Trump) is not under investigation related to Russian interference in the 2016 election. “He spoke for a bit about why it was so important,” Comey recounted, saying the President feared it was overshadowing the work of his new administration. “They keep bringing up the Russia thing as an excuse for losing the election,” Comey wrote. Then Comey said the President pressed him again. “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal, we had that thing you know,” Comey quoted Mr. Trump. In a footnote to his own memo, Comey seems perplexed as to what the President was referring to. 10. The release may on spur more questions. Republicans in the House had been pressing for the release of these memos from Comey for months, convinced that they would show wrongdoing by the former FBI Director. Instead, the full memos added more context to what was going on during the first few months of the Trump Administration with regards to the Russia investigation, and seemed to give more hints about what the FBI knew of the Steele Dossier, and how Trump officials were worried about who was being investigated. Comey appears to have told Reince Preibus on Feb 8/17 that parts of the dossier had already been corroborated by the intellgence community. pic.twitter.com/GJivuaKAh5 — Dafna Linzer (@DafnaLinzer) April 20, 2018  
  • After operating for almost fourteen months with acting leadership, NASA finally has a new Administrator, as the U.S. Senate voted Thursday to confirm Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) as the new head of the space agency, overcoming reluctance among some Republicans, and strong opposition from Democrats who said Bridenstine who too political for the job. “”It is an honor to be confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as NASA Administrator,” Bridenstine said in a statement. “I am humbled by this opportunity.” “Jim Bridenstine has been very passionate for trying to get NASA back on focus with a big vision and a big mission,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK). “I’ve known Congressman Bridenstine for a long time, and I know he is just the man for this important undertaking,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). But among Republicans, there were clearly reservations, even as the vote took place. “I was not enthused by the nomination,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said on the Senate floor, as he acknowledged that continuing with temporary leadership at the space agency was not a good answer. Rubio on the floor explaining his turnaround to support Bridenstine for NASA chief 'We give great deference to the president … and the more important the job, the more discretion the president deserves' — Erica Werner (@ericawerner) April 19, 2018 “There’s no way NASA can go two years and x-number of months without a permanent Administration,” Rubio added, his tone and body language sending the message that he would still have someone other than Bridenstine leading the space agency. For Democrats, Bridenstine’s more conservative political views – especially on climate change – overrode his military experience as a pilot in the Air Force. “Just because you know how to fly a plane does not mean you have the skills and experience to lead the federal government’s space agency,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). Remember the part in the astronaut movie when the unqualified former member of Congress running NASA saves the day by making the right decision regarding a launch? Me neither. — Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) April 19, 2018 “In short, NASA needs an Administrator who will be driven by science and not by politics,” said Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI). But as with most issues in the Congress right now, Democrats are don’t have enough votes to derail a nominee of President Trump – unless some Republicans break ranks to join them.
  • Embroiled in a new legal dispute after an FBI raid earlier this month, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has dropped a $100 million defamation lawsuit filed against BuzzFeed news, and the head of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which spearheaded the development of the Steele Dossier. “Michael Cohen hereby voluntarily dismissed the above-entitled action as to all named Defendants without costs to any party as against the other,” Cohen’s lawyers stated in a one page filing with a federal court in New York. Democrats in Congress quickly pounced. “Bullies wilt when their bluff is called,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA). “Buzzfeed should demand legal fees for Cohen’s frivolous suit.” Let’s review what Cohen charged, what issues he is no longer pursuing in this lawsuit, and why some of it may still be a focus of discussion in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. 1. The general questions about the Steele Dossier. The main charge made by Cohen – and many supporters of President Donald Trump – is that the dossier is filled with false stories and accusations against Mr. Trump and his associates. “This action arises from the immensely damaging and defamatory statements,” Cohen’s lawyers wrote in their original complaint against BuzzFeed news and Glenn Simpson, the head of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which assembled the dossier through the work of ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. The Cohen defamation lawsuit was simple – the statements about Cohen in the dossier were false, and he wanted millions of dollars in damages. Now, that lawsuit has been dropped. 2. The very first charge – the Prague trip. In Cohen’s lawsuit, the first specific item that is challenged is the report in the Steele Dossier that Cohen went to the Czech Republic in August of 2016, possibly to meet with people linked to Russia. “I have never in my life been to Prague or anywhere in the Czech Republic,” Cohen has said. Hours after the dossier was released, Cohen tweeted a denial, with a picture of his passport. “No matter how many times or ways they write it, I have never been to Prague,” Cohen tweeted just last week. If this lawsuit had proceeded, there would have been legal discovery about Cohen’s allegations.  Now, that won’t take place in the context of this proceeding. 3. Does the Special Counsel have different evidence? A story last week from McClatchy Newspapers said exactly that – that Cohen was in Prague. But it is notable that the details of that have not been matched by any other news organizations. And as with most questions about the Trump-Russia investigation, we can only go off the verified documents in the public square – and at this point, there is nothing to contradict Cohen’s denial. But if there is more to this story, it certainly could be a central part of the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office.  No one knows the answer to that right now, other than Mueller’s team. Bad reporting, bad information and bad story by same reporter Peter Stone @McClatchyDC. No matter how many times or ways they write it, I have never been to Prague. I was in LA with my son. Proven! https://t.co/ra7nwjUA0X — Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) April 14, 2018 4. Cohen’s testimony to Congress remains secret. In late October of 2017, Cohen went before the House and Senate Intelligence committees to testify about the Russia investigation, and was evidently asked about the allegation in the dossier – the basis for his lawsuit – that he met in the Czech Republic with a Russian intelligence operative. That testimony has not been released, but lawmakers sparred about it in another transcript which was made public by the House committee.  This exchange is between Rep. Peter King (R-NY), and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). 5. Cohen’s legal focus now on FBI raid. What’s next for Cohen is waiting to see what the feds do with the materials seized in the April 9 raids executed against him under a federal magistrate’s approval. Federal Judge Kimba Wood could either allow a special FBI “taint team” to continue to go through that material to look for any attorney-client privilege items related to President Donald Trump. Or, a special master could be appointed to oversee the process. No matter the choice, Cohen faces a tangled legal situation involving what was seized by the feds.
  • The head of the Capitol Hill office which deals with workplace harassment cases said Wednesday that she still does not have the power to reveal the names of lawmakers who used taxpayer dollars to pay legal harassment settlements, drawing sharp rebukes from members of both parties on a House spending panel, as lawmakers in both the House and Senate expressed growing frustration about the matter. “The transparency issue is revolting,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). “It is absolutely unacceptable that we continue to let members who abuse their employees hide.” At a hearing of a House Appropriations subcommittee, Susan Grundmann, the head of the Congressional Office of Compliance, said that workplace settlements which involve lawmakers, often include non-disclosure agreements, precluding any publicity. “Most settlement agreements – in fact all that I have seen – contain non-disclosure clauses in them,” said Grundmann. “Those are not by our doing.” In my opening statement to @LegBranch_OOC Executive Director Susan Grundmann, I emphasize the need for Congress to remedy workplace harassment on Capitol Hill. How can we expect others to follow our example if we're not willing to acknowledge and address this problem? pic.twitter.com/AHKtaPHVy9 — Congressman Tim Ryan (@RepTimRyan) April 18, 2018 Pressed sharply by both parties at a hearing where she asked for a nine percent budget increase to help deal with harassment training and case reviews, Grundmann made clear there was no plan to reveal the names of members who had engaged in such settlements in the past. “No, I think we are prohibited from under the law – in terms of the strict confidentiality that adheres to each one of our processes, and the non-disclosure agreements, we cannot disclose who they are,” Grundmann added. Grundmann said new reporting standards approved by the House would reveal every six months which offices had some type of legal settlements – and she also said that if a lawmaker agreed to a workplace settlement, taxpayers would pay the bill up front – and then have that member of Congress reimburse Uncle Sam within 90 days. So far, the House and Senate have not finalized an agreement on legislation to set new standards for transparency on workplace settlements involving lawmaker offices, as one leading Democrat today again demanded action by that chamber. “The Senate has no more excuses,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The Senate has no more excuses. We must pass these reforms before our next recess. Members of BOTH parties, men and women, agree that it’s time to act. https://t.co/vSr7sew5KN — Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) April 19, 2018 Back in Wednesday’s House hearing, lawmakers did not like to hear that while reforms in the House would publicly name the lawmaker and/or a top staffer if they were involved in harassment of other staffers, a Senate reform plan would not be as sweeping. “So, if a Chief of Staff engages in that conduct, or anyone else that isn’t the member, then their conduct is not disclosed?” Wasserman Schultz asked. “That’s correct,” replied Grundmann. “That’s absolutely unacceptable,” the Florida Democrat said. The hearing came days after the resignation of Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), who had taxpayers foot the bill for an $84,000 settlement with a former office employee – Farenthold had promised to pay that money, but now that he is gone, it seems unlikely to happen. Meanwhile, Grundmann denied press reports in recent weeks that any personal information about sexual harassment or workplace abuses in Congressional offices was left on unsecured computer servers. “We have not been hacked. We have never stored our data on an unsecured server,” as Grundmann said their computer precautions had been described by officials as “Fort Knox.” “Fort Knox doesn’t talk about their cyber security,” she added, offering to brief members in private about the issue
  • On hold for months, President Donald Trump’s pick to head NASA was finally given the green light by a pair of GOP Senators, as the Senate voted 50-48 to overcome a possible filibuster, and advance the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to be the next Administrator of NASA. A final vote to confirm Bridenstine’s nomination could come as early as Thursday in the full Senate. The key votes came from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) – Flake initially voted to filibuster Bridenstine, but after an extended wait, returned to change his vote for the final margin of victory. It wasn’t immediately clear why Flake – and then Rubio – had changed course on the President’s NASA nominee, as Bridenstine supporters had spent months trying to squeeze out a final vote in support of the President’s choice, who faced determined opposition from Democrats. Before the vote, Rubio’s office did not respond to requests for comment on the decision of the Florida Republican, who had repeatedly rebuffed the calls of fellow GOP lawmakers to support Bridenstine, a more conservative House GOP lawmaker who has not hesitated to make waves during his time on Capitol Hill. Sen Marco Rubio votes 'Yes' on cloture for Bridenstine – after months of opposing his nomination — Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) April 18, 2018 Just before the vote, Bridenstine’s leading Democratic critic in the Senate wasn’t backing away from his stern criticism of the three-term Republican Congressman from Oklahoma. “The NASA Administrator should be a consummate space professional,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) in a speech on the Senate floor. “That’s what this Senator wants – a space professional – not a politician,” Nelson added. “Senators on both sides of the aisles have expressed doubts – both publicly and privately to me – about his qualifications for the job,” said Nelson, who was the only Senator to address the matter before the vote on cloture, a procedure to end debate in the Senate. Since Bridenstine was nominated for NASA Administrator in September, Rubio had sided with Nelson and other Democrats, raising questions about Bridenstine’s ability to run a federal agency in a nonpartisan manner. But that suddenly changed this week – and GOP leaders quickly moved to take the Bridenstine vote, moving the President a step closer to having his choice in the job as NASA chief. The procedural vote on Bridenstine’s nomination almost went awry, as Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) voted “No,” leaving the vote tied at 49-49. Ordinarily, the Vice President would be brought in to break the tie, but Vice President Mike Pence was in Florida with President Trump, hosting the Japanese Prime Minister. After a wait of over a half hour, Flake returned to the floor and voted “Yes,” allowing the Senate to force an end to debate.
  • Confirming press reports about a secret trip by CIA Director Mike Pompeo to North Korea, President Donald Trump on Wednesday said the meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had gone “very smoothly and a good relationship was formed.” In the middle of his own summit with the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Trump said on Twitter this morning that details of a meeting between him and the North Korean leader “are being worked out.” “Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!” the President tweeted from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week. Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed. Details of Summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
  • The Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday gave Americans an extra day to file tax returns for 2017, after troubles surfaced for a number of hours with an online payment system, causing troubles for those trying to finish filing and paying their taxes just before the deadline. “This is the busiest tax day of the year, and the IRS apologizes for the inconvenience this system issue caused for taxpayers,” said David Kautter, who is the Acting IRS Commissioner. “The extra time will help taxpayers affected by this situation,” Kautter said in a statement. Urgent: IRS provides an extra day for taxpayers to file, pay their taxes following system issues. File by midnight, April 18. — IRS (@IRSnews) April 17, 2018 The trouble started on the final day of tax filing when the IRS payment portal, known as “Direct Pay,” suddenly wasn’t working mid-morning on Tuesday. At first, the IRS wasn’t going to give taxpayers any extra time. “Note that your tax payment is due although IRS Direct Pay may not be available,” the tax agency said on a web page which had the interesting link of “unplannedOutagePage.” The computer glitch lasted through the afternoon, but was then resolved, as taxpayers were advised to “to file their taxes as normal Tuesday evening – whether electronically or on paper.” The new deadline is midnight on Wednesday night. Urgent: IRS provides an extra day for taxpayers to file, pay their taxes following system issues. File by midnight, April 18. — IRS (@IRSnews) April 17, 2018 Of course, if you really aren’t ready to send in your taxes by the deadline – even with the additional 24 hours – you can still request a six month extension. That was the choice made by President Donald Trump, as he will get extra time to file his tax returns for 2017.
  • Republicans in the U.S. Senate were increasingly optimistic on Tuesday that they would be able to approve President Donald Trump’s nominee for NASA Administrator this week, as GOP backers say they believe there is finally a 50th Republican ready to vote for the confirmation of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK). “Who moved? I’ll let them speak for themselves,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), when asked how the votes had changed on Bridenstine, whose nomination has been in limbo for months. “I think we do have the votes,” Lankford said, in a comment echoed by other Republicans, including Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the number two Senate GOP leader, with signs pointing to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Asked if he’s confident @marcorubio is on board with confirmation of @RepJBridenstine as next @NASA administrator, . @JohnCornyn says: “I am.” — Ledyard King (@LedgeKing) April 17, 2018 For months, all Senate Democrats have been opposed to Bridenstine, while all Republicans were ready to vote for him – except for Rubio. With Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) at home dealing with cancer, a Rubio switch – in a procedural vote as soon as Wednesday – would provide the margin of victory for Mr. Trump’s choice to run the space agency. “I’ve heard the rumors about Sen. Rubio,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), when about a possible change of heart by his fellow Florida Senator. But Nelson told me he had not spoken with Rubio about the matter. Asked for comment, Rubio’s office did not respond to questions about his vote. Voting for Bridenstine would be a big switch for Rubio, as the Florida Republican has made no secret of his concerns, worried that Bridenstine was not a space expert, and more of a politician. Nov Rubio: 'I remain very concerned about the politicization of NASA, not even because he would do it on purpose but just given some of the resistance he’s already engendered. … As of this moment, I can’t assure anyone that I would support his nomination if it came to a vote.” https://t.co/jmcxFsOb7P — Alex Leary (@learyreports) April 17, 2018 Fellow Republicans in the Congress have tried for months to sway Rubio, but made little headway; for example, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said his outreach to Rubio showed that “he doesn’t like Jim Bridenstine.” Bridenstine was nominated in September, and then nominated again in January after his pick was returned to the White House at the end of the First Session of the 115th Congress. For months, he was in limbo – now that may change. “I’m looking forward to getting the chance to vote on that nomination,” Sen. Lankford said, reminding reporters that the current acting NASA Administrator, Robert Lightfoot, will be retiring at the end of the month. Now, Bridenstine may be ready to step into that post. “I think we have the votes,” Lankford. “I think the time is now.”
  • Jamie Dupree

    Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog.

    A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989. Politics and the Congress are in Jamie’s family, as both of his parents were staffers for members of Congress. He was also a page and intern in the House of Representatives. Jamie has covered 11 national political conventions, with his first being the 1988 Democratic Convention in Atlanta. His political travels have had him on the presidential campaign trail every four years since 1992, chasing candidates throughout the primary calendar.

    He is heard on Cox Radio stations around the country: WSB-AM Atlanta, WDBO-AM Orlando; WOKV-AM/FM Jacksonville; WHIO-AM/FM Dayton, Ohio; and KRMG-AM Tulsa, Oklahoma.

    Jamie and his wife Emily live just outside the Beltway with their three children. Some may know Jamie from his other on-air hobby, as he is a licensed amateur radio operator. When not at work or playing with his kids, you can often find him with a golf club in his hands.

    Follow Jamie on Google+

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A Louisiana woman with a history of identity theft faces 10 years in prison after she was convicted Wednesday of stealing another woman’s background to land an executive position with a six-figure salary. Cindy T. White, 41, of Slidell, was found guilty of identity theft over $1,000, according to a news release from the office of 22nd Judicial District Attorney Warren Montgomery. It took jurors just 15 minutes to find White guilty of the charges.  Montgomery said in the news release that White used information stolen from another woman’s LinkedIn profile to beef up her resume in September 2015, when she applied for an executive-level position with Diversified Foods & Seasonings. NOLA.com reported that the company, based in Covington, was founded by the late entrepreneur Al Copeland. White also used the other woman’s Social Security number and driver’s license number when applying for the job, the news release said.  She was initially hired as a human resources manager, a position with a $95,000 annual salary, Montgomery said. Five months later, she was promoted to senior human resources director, a job with a $105,000 salary.  >> Read more trending news Company officials became suspicious a few months later when they noticed that White had trouble with duties that she should have been able to perform based on her alleged educational background. Her resume listed a bachelor’s degree from Tulane University and a master’s degree from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. “That’s not this person,” prosecutor Casey Dieck said in court, pointing at White. “This person stole the victim’s hard work and used it to get a six-figure salary and benefits to boot.” Officials at Diversified Foods & Seasonings also noticed that White delegated a large number of tasks assigned to her, Montgomery said in the news release. They took a closer look at her personnel file and found discrepancies in it.  Company officials called the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office in April 2016.  Investigators determined that White lifted her educational background directly from the LinkedIn profile of a woman with a similar name, Montgomery said. They also discovered that she obtained the woman’s driver’s license and Social Security numbers from an unnamed online site.  A look at White’s real background revealed that this was not the first time she had stolen someone’s identity, the news release said.  White, a former Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office employee, was arrested in New Orleans in 1997 on suspicion of theft, forgery and malfeasance in office after she was accused of stealing a co-worker’s identity and emptying the woman’s bank account. She was caught when she was spotted in surveillance photos and identified, the news release said. She pleaded guilty that September to two counts of forgery and received probation.  Her probation was terminated in 1999 when the court was sent information that White had died, Montgomery said.  White also had a 1998 conviction in Jefferson Parish for attempted theft of goods.  Prosecutors argued that White, who admitted to St. Tammany Parish investigators that she used the victim’s identity to get the job, fraudulently collected $56,209 during the seven months she worked at Diversified Foods & Seasonings. Her defense attorney argued that she earned the salary she received.  Dieck denied the defense claim, Montgomery said in the news release.  “We have here a defendant who admits to stealing to cover up the fact that she’s a convicted thief,” the prosecutor said. 
  • A Pennsylvania teacher was suspended last week after he cooked breakfast for his students as they took state assessments. LancasterOnline reported that Kyle Byler, an eighth-grade teacher at Hand Middle School, was suspended without pay and warned that he would be fired for “causing a distraction” while his students took the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, or PSSAs.  Byler told local media that he brought an electric griddle to school the morning of April 10 and cooked each of his students a whole-grain pancake to eat while they took their exams. An assistant principal walked in and questioned why he was making the children breakfast. >> Read more trending news The teacher, who many parents consider the “eighth-grade dad” at the school, was called into a meeting with administrators within 24 hours and told he would be fired, LancasterOnline reported.  Byler said in an interview Monday that he did not understand what he did wrong. The state education department does not have a rule against serving food during the PSSAs. Pennsylvania Department of Education spokeswoman Nicole Reigelman told LancasterOnline, however, that “those activities would likely interfere with ‘actively monitoring’ the assessment, which is a key task.” Byler said the pancakes did not deter the students.  “At no point was it any distraction for any of the students,” Byler said. “They worked their butts off.” A student told the news site that the assistant principal was the only distraction. “The moment she walked in, everybody turned,” Alizea Rodriguez told LancasterOnline. “She was the distraction. Not pancakes. Not Byler.” Rodriguez and other students were distraught when Byler was not in class the next day. Many of those students showed up at a Tuesday night school board meeting, at which Byler expected to learn his fate.  School district officials dismissed the claim that he was to be fired Tuesday, saying that there was never a dismissal action on the meeting agenda and that a teacher cannot be fired without the board approving a written notice setting a hearing in the matter. None of that had taken place. “Nor will it occur in this situation, as the personnel matter has been resolved with the employee, who is scheduled to return to work,” School District of Lancaster officials said in a statement.  The district statement said that free breakfast and lunch are offered to all students every day, including testing days.  “Moreover, the Pennsylvania Department of Education strictly requires that teachers who proctor PSSA testing focus their full attention on monitoring students during the test,” the statement read. “All teachers serving as PSSA test proctors receive specific training on testing protocol. Had permission been sought by a teacher to cook in the classroom during PSSA testing and serve food to the students, the response would have been that such activities would distract the teacher from the required duties as a test proctor.” LancasterOnline reported that about 100 concerned residents, including both parents and teachers, turned out at Tuesday’s board meeting to support Byler.  “It takes a village to raise children,” mother of two Crystle Martinez said. “He’s part of that village.” Students and teachers were not Byler’s only fans. Officials at Holiday Inn Express sought to gift him and his students a one-touch pancake machine -- like those on the breakfast bars in Holiday Inn Express hotels -- and enough pancake batter to get them through the remainder of the school year.  “As a hotel brand that knows how important an energizing breakfast is to being ‘THE READIEST’ for the day ahead, Holiday Inn Express salutes Byler for taking the initiative and making pancakes for his students,” said Lauren Schuster, manager of PR firm Weber Shandwick.  “The brand welcomes this teacher back to school, and hopes he and his students enjoy their very own one-touch pancake machine as much as Holiday Inn Express guests do,” read a statement from the company.  It was not clear if the school district would allow Byler to put the pancake machine in his classroom. 
  • Swedish DJ Avicii was found dead Friday in Oman, his publicist confirmed. He was 28. >> Read more trending news
  • The Democratic National Committee filed a wide-ranging, multimillion-dollar lawsuit Friday against the Russian government, President Donald Trump’s campaign officials and WikiLeaks, alleging the group conspired to meddle in the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump over Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton. >> Read more trending news The 66-page lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, alleges that members of Trump’s inner circle, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and son-in-law Jared Kushner, conspired with Russian government officials and the country’s intelligence service to sway the election for Trump. >> Read the lawsuit “During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russia launched an all-out assault on our democracy, and it found a willing and active partner in Donald Trump’s campaign,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement released to The Washington Post. “This constituted an act of unprecedented treachery: the campaign of a nominee for President of the United States in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency.” The president was not named in the suit, in which Democrats said, 'Russia mounted a brazen attack on American Democracy' with a cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee’s servers.  >> Related: WikiLeaks emails: FBI investigates, Podesta claims he was targeted by Russian hackers 'In 2015 and 2016, Russian intelligence services hacked into the DNC's computers, penetrated its phone systems and exfiltrated tens of thousands of documents and emails,' according to the lawsuit.  'Russia then used this stolen information to advance its own interests: destabilizing the U.S. political environment, denigrating the Democratic presidential nominee and supporting the campaign of Donald J. Trump, whose policies would benefit the Kremlin. In the Trump campaign, Russia found a willing and active partner in this effort.' Democrats said the stolen data was shared with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who released thousands of emails last year that were allegedly taken in a hack of the DNC's servers. The lawsuit alleged Assange shared the emails because he “shared the defendants’ common goal of damaging the Democratic party in advance of the election.” >> Related: Julian Assange: WikiLeaks source was 'not the Russian government' Assange said in late 2016 that his source for the DNC emails “was not the Russian government.” The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the hack. Democrats did not mention in their lawsuit that FBI officials warned the DNC that it was being hacked or that officials at DNC headquarters in Washington ignored the warning for weeks, Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree reported. >> From Jamie Dupree: Democratic Party sues Trump campaign, WikiLeaks, Russia, others over 2016 elections The suit seeks millions of dollars in damages, as Democrats said the hacks hindered the party’s ability to communicate with voters or effectively operate, according to the Post. Officials, including special counsel Robert Mueller, continue to investigate whether people who worked on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign worked with Russian government officials to sway the election. Trump has repeatedly denied collusion allegations. The Kremlin has denied that officials meddled in the election.
  • One person was injured Friday morning in a shooting reported at Forest High School in Ocala, according to the the Marion County Sheriff's Office. >> READ MORE: 'National School Walkout’: Everything you need to know about Friday’s event | Florida school shooting: How difficult is it to purchase a gun in Florida? | What are the worst school shootings in modern US history? | How to talk to your child about traumatic events like school shooting | MORE