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Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider

    Even as Democrats press ahead with a historic effort to impeach President Donald Trump in the House, lawmakers in both parties are on the cusp of possibly producing series of major, bipartisan legislative deals, covering everything from a crackdown on surprise medical bills to a compromise establishing the President's plan for a 'Space Force' at the Pentagon in exchange for a big benefits change for federal workers. The calendar doesn't offer much time for action in either the House or Senate, as lawmakers hope to leave town by the weekend before Christmas - which would give the House and Senate until around December 20-23. Here are some of the big issues which might get resolved in Congress at the same time as Democrats force a vote on impeachment. 1. Lawmakers cut deal on surprise medical bills. Sunday brought news that a group of key lawmakers - in both parties from the House and Senate - had reached agreement on a plan to rein surprise bills which consumers often face, especially after emergency care. Backers stressed the bipartisan nature of the agreement. 'The legislation includes proposals from 80 Senators, 46 Democrats and 34 Republicans,' said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in a Sunday statement. That does not necessarily mean this deal gets voted on in the next two weeks. 2. New minimum age to buy tobacco products. The deal on the issue of surprise medical bills also has some other items involved in it, including a provision which would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 years. The idea of raising the legal age for buying cigarettes and tobacco has been supported in recent months by the Senate's top Republican - Majority Leader Mitch McConnell - but it's not clear if McConnell would rush such a bill to the Senate floor over the next two weeks. 3. 'Space Force' might be ready for launch. Lawmakers in both parties were trying to finalize a major defense policy bill early this week, and the details are expected to finally give President Trump his plan to set up a 'Space Force' inside the Pentagon. The plan - which has been resisted by lawmakers in both parties - would not set up a brand new branch of the military, as sought by President Trump. Instead, the Space Force would operate out of the Air Force, sort of like the Marines are considered part of the Navy. Critics argued a plan to set up a separate new branch of the military would have been too expensive, and would create an unnecessary new bureaucracy. 4. Paid family leave benefit for federal workers? The President won't get his Space Force for nothing in this major defense policy bill, as reportedly the deal with the White House will give around 2.7 million federal workers a new benefit - paid family leave. The plan would reportedly include up to 12 weeks of such leave for federal civilian workers. While no final bill language has been released, a tweet from over the weekend by President Trump's daughter shows this exchange could well be part of the defense bill. Stay tuned. 5. USMCA trade deal still a late year possibility. With a flurry of late negotiations involving U.S., Mexican, and Canadian trade officials, it's still possible that the final touches could be put on a new trade deal among the three nations, and have it voted on by the House and Senate. The White House has been quietly working with Mexico and Canada in recent weeks to work out tweaks to the agreement, mainly dealing with labor and environmental enforcement, trade dispute resolution, and issues dealing with some medical drugs. While the President and his allies keep saying the plan has been sent to Congress already for a vote - that is simply not true. 6. Government funding plan remains in limbo. While there were seemingly agreement on surprise medical billing, the Space Force, and more, lawmakers still have not finalized a giant package of bills to fund the operations of the federal government for 2020. The current temporary funding bill runs out on December 20. While there is obviously the threat of a government shutdown, lawmakers in both parties hope they can either reach a deal now - or extend that temporary spending plan into the New Year. So, this could also be part of a late rush of big legislation.
  • The U.S. economy was humming last month, as the Labor Department reported Friday that 266,000 jobs were created in the month of November, with the nation's unemployment rate ticking down again to the historically low level of 3.5 percent, as job growth in 2018 is now almost equal to last year's levels. Not only were 266 thousand jobs added in November, but the latest jobs report also revised growth upwards in both September and October, adding another 41,000 jobs. Monthly average job growth in 2019 stands at just under 180,000 jobs per month, compared to 182,000 in 2018, and 195,000 in 2017. While some of the November job gains were attributed to workers ending a strike against General Motors, the November job gains were the second largest of 2019, trailing only the 312,000 jobs created in January. GOP lawmakers in Congress hailed the new numbers. While the jobs report indicated stronger than expected growth, the overall numbers in terms of U.S. economic output have shown a slower pace of growth in recent months than earlier in 2019. The U.S. Gross Domestic Product was at 3.1 percent in the first quarter of 2019, but dropped to 2.0 percent in the second quarter. The current estimate is for a 2.1 percent growth rate in the third quarter of 2019. President Trump has repeatedly blamed slowing growth on the head of the Federal Reserve - whom he nominated for the post - arguing the Fed should have cut interest rates more to spur economic activity in the U.S.
  • Invoking the concerns of the Founding Fathers about foreign interference in U.S. elections, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she was authorizing the House Judiciary Committee to draw up impeachment articles against President Donald Trump, possibly paving the way for a full House vote on impeachment by Christmas. 'In America, no one is above the law,' the Speaker said in a statement to reporters outside her office in the U.S. Capitol. A day after a closed door meeting with fellow Democrats, the Speaker said Congress could not close its eyes to the evidence gathered so far about the President's actions related to Ukraine. 'The facts are uncontested. The President abused his power for his own personal political benefit,' Pelosi said, as Democrats charge Mr. Trump withheld military aid for Ukraine in an effort to force the government to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, as well as a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine - and not Russia - had hacked Democrats in the 2016 campaign. At the White House, the reaction was one of condemnation. 'They have no Impeachment case and are demeaning our Country,' President Trump tweeted about Democrats shortly before the Speaker's announcement.  'But nothing matters to them, they have gone crazy. Therefore I say, if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business,' Mr. Trump added. The White House Press Secretary echoed the President's sentiments on Twitter. Democrats quickly showed their support for the Speaker's decision. “The president abused his power,” said Rep. Val Demings (D-FL).  “The president jeopardized our national security.    The president on multiple occasions obstructed justice.” While Pelosi did not set out a timeline for action, top Democrats have talked about action in the next week by the House Judiciary Committee, followed by a vote in the full House later this month. 21 years ago, Republicans faced a similar time crunch before the holidays, and ended up voting to impeach President Clinton on the Saturday before Christmas. It could be this Congress is heading for an impeachment vote holiday repeat.
  • As the focus of work in Congress on the impeachment of President Donald Trump shifted to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, a panel of constitutional experts became the proxies for both parties in this impeachment fight, with the two sides using the testimony to buttress their points for and against the impeachment effort. 'President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors,' said Harvard law professor Noah Feldman. 'If we are to keep faith with the Constitution and our Republic, President Trump must be held to account,' said Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan. 'If what we're talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,' added University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt. While Democrats focused their questions on their three witnesses, Republicans gravitated to their sole invitee, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. 'If you rush this impeachment, you're going to leave half the country behind,' Turley warned, comparing the Trump impeachment to that of President Andrew Johnson after the Civil War. 'This is the narrowest impeachment in history,' Turley added, urging Democrats to take extra time to bolster the investigative record related to President Trump. At one point, Turley questions about possible impeachment charges centering on abuse of power by President Trump on Democrats. 'It is an abuse power,' Turley said. 'It's your abuse of power.' While Turley said he was no supporter of President Trump, his testimony against impeachment drew interest - because he had testified 21 years ago for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. 'In my view, President Clinton's conduct demands an open and deliberative review under the conditions created for that purpose by the Framers,' Turley testified in November of 1998. 'Allegations of criminal acts in office by a president are perhaps the greatest threat to the perceived legitimacy of government,' Turley told the same House Judiciary Committee twenty one years ago before the Clinton impeachment. In the hearing, GOP lawmakers belittled today's proceedings. 'What a waste,' said Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH). 'This is not an impeachment, this is a simple railroad job,' argued Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). At the start of the hearing, Republicans forced a series of procedural votes which slowed proceedings, as they demanded testimony from the original Intelligence Community whistleblower who raised questions about the President's actions regarding Ukraine, and demanded the right to question Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the head of the House Intelligence Committee. With Christmas just three weeks away, it was not immediately clear when the Judiciary Committee would move to draw up actual articles of impeachment against the President, or when those votes would take place. 'What are we doing for the next two weeks?' asked Rep. Collins with an aggravated tone. 'I have no idea!' It was a similar situation in December of 1998, when there was talk from GOP leaders - exactly 21 years ago - of not voting on impeachment until the next year. Ultimately, the House Judiciary Committee, and the House, worked through two weekends, holding an impeachment vote in the full House on the Saturday before Christmas.
  • Phone records obtained by the House Intelligence Committee and made public in a new impeachment report from Democrats show President Donald Trump's personal lawyer speaking to the White House and figures in the Ukraine investigation at key times in 2019, and also reveal contacts between Giuliani a mystery phone number labeled only as '-1' in call records. 'Certainly the phone records show there was considerable coordination among the parties, including the White House,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff did not reveal how the call records were obtained, though the legal 'Bates' identifiers used in the report might indicate Giuliani's cell phone records were obtained with a subpoena. It was not immediately clear who the '-1' calls were with - but the New York Times reported that a similar number was found in cell phone records introduced as evidence in the trial of Roger Stone. 'We can't confirm yet who that '-1' number belongs to, but certainly there were indications in the trial of Roger Stone that when he was communicating with the President it would show up in phone records as a 'dash-one' number,' Schiff told CNN's Anderson Cooper in an interview Tuesday evening. The new report from Democrats also had phone records from Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, who helped Giuliani along with Igor Fruman in Ukraine. Parnas and Fruman were arrested in early October and charged with illegally funneling foreign money into U.S. elections. The phone records contained in the new impeachment report also showed Giuliani contacts with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, as well as phone calls between Nunes and Parnas. 'Devin Nunes, you should have recused yourself at the outset' of the impeachment hearings,' tweeted Joseph Bondy, the lawyer for Parnas, who was arrested as he and another Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, were leaving the country on a flight to Austria. While Nunes refused comment to reporters, he told Sean Hannity on Fox News that he didn't really remember calls with Parnas, saying it was 'possible' they had spoken. Ironically, the revelation of the Nunes-Parnas phone calls came as Nunes filed a $435 million defamation lawsuit against CNN, in which he said, 'Parnas was a renowned liar, a fraudster, a hustler, an opportunist with delusions of grandeur.
  • With two months until the Iowa Caucuses, the Democratic race for President continued to shrink in size, as Sen. Kamala Harris of California gave up her bid for the White House, unable to hang on to momentum from the first two debates earlier this year, as she slid from the top tier to struggling to raise enough money to stay in the race. “To my supporters, it is with deep regret - but also with deep gratitude - that I am suspending my campaign today,” Harris said in a statement. Early on, Harris attracted a lot of attention in the first two Democratic debates, as she zeroed in on the early favorite, former Vice President Joe Biden, focusing on how Biden dealt with racial issues during his years in the U.S. Senate. “I do not believe you are a racist,” Harris said, as she launched a well planned attack against Biden which provided her with an early boost. But she could never sustain that momentum. “I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life,” Harris wrote in an email to supporters, announcing her decision. “My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue,” Harris said. “I don't know anyone who thought Harris would be dropping out & Biden would be at 50% with black voters in December, after that debate moment in late June... but here we are,” tweeted political analyst Harry Enten. Harris kept up her jabs at Biden in the second debate - and saw her poll numbers bubble up soon after - but that support faded away over the past four months. Recent national polls had Harris under 5 percent.  She had dropped to the same levels in Iowa, and was even lower in New Hampshire. The poll slide came as fundraising suffered as well. The decision by Harris comes just over two weeks before the next Democratic debate on December 19 in Los Angeles - which will be in her home state of California. At this point, these are the Democrats who will be on stage for the December debate: Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders, Steyer, and Warren.
  • A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that Congressional committees in the U.S. House are operating well within their legislative powers to subpoena the financial records of President Donald Trump and his family businesses, dealing another legal setback to the President's effort to block Deutsche Bank and Capitol One from turning over those records. 'The Committees’ interests in pursuing their constitutional legislative function is a far more significant public interest than whatever public interest inheres in avoiding the risk of a Chief Executive’s distraction arising from disclosure of documents reflecting his private financial transactions,' the Second Circuit Court of Appeals panel wrote in the decision. Like similar cases dealing with efforts by Congress and prosecutors in New York City to subpoena the President's tax returns from his accounting firm, Mazar's, this decision extended a legal losing streak for Mr. Trump. Two cases over subpoenas for the President's tax returns have already reached the U.S. Supreme Court - and this case involving Deutsche Bank and Capital One could follow as well. Mr. Trump's legal fight over his tax returns could be reviewed by the Justices in coming days. On November 25, the court temporarily delayed an order to Mazar's to abide by a subpoena from Congress for the President's tax returns. The Justices must decide whether to hear the case, or allowing the lower court order to go into effect.
  • After denying for over a year that he and his wife had illegally spent over $250,000 in campaign money for personal expenses like vacations, dinners, school tuition, and a variety of household uses, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) told a California television station on Monday that he will change his plea to 'guilty' in a Tuesday hearing before a federal judge in California. “It’s important not to have a public trial for three reasons, and those three reasons are my kids,” Hunter said in an interview with KUSI-TV., as the Congressman says he will plead guilty to one count of misusing campaign funds. Tuesday's court hearing was originally set as a 'status' hearing on the corruption case, but in a docket posting on Monday, that suddenly had become a 'Change of Plea Hearing' for the California Republican. Back in June, the GOP Congressman's wife, Margaret Hunter, had changed her plea to 'guilty,' turning up the heat even more on the Republican Congressman from San Diego, who had long claimed a federal investigation into his campaign contributions was politically motivated. 'We are seeing this with President Trump, we are seeing this with my case,' Hunter said, as he denounced the Justice Department investigation. 'This is the new Department of Justice - this is the Democrats' arm of law enforcement,' Hunter told reporters when he was arraigned, alleging political bias against a Republican by President Trump's Administration. 'The investigation of Congressman Hunter by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California began shortly after his public endorsement of candidate Trump,' Hunter's lawyers wrote in one of a series of evidence challenges, alleging that two prosecutors involved in the case were supporters of Hillary Clinton. But the facts of the case never bore out Hunter's claim - instead it showed how Hunter had used campaign money 'to carry out a series of intimate relationships' with a series of women who were not his wife. + Individual 14 - a lobbyist,  + Individual 15 - a staffer who worked in the office of a member of the House leadership,  + Individual 16 - a staffer in his Congressional office,  + Individual 17 - a lobbyist,  + Individual 18 - a lobbyist. The evidence produced by federal investigators included a lengthy tally of how campaign money was spent on dinners, vacations, school tuition for Hunter's children, concerts, and a variety of personal items. Hunter originally plead 'not guilty' back on August 23, 2018, when he was met by protesters outside the courthouse, who chanted, 'Lock him up!' Hunter would be the second early supporter in Congress of President Trump to plead guilty to major criminal charges - Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) resigned from Congress in September just before pleading guilty over insider trading allegations.
  • With Democrats in Congress returning from a Thanksgiving break ready to continue their push on a historic impeachment investigation, President Donald Trump on Monday once more blasted the work of House Democrats, saying impeachment undermines him during his foreign travel. 'For them to be doing this, and saying this, and putting an impeachment on the table,' the President told reporters as he left the White House for a NATO summit in England, 'it's an absolute disgrace what they're doing to our country.' The President's criticism of Democrats for scheduling an impeachment hearing on Wednesday - which White House lawyers refused to attend - was echoed by other Republicans and top Administration officials, part of a broader effort to push back against Democrats in the House. 'I regret that they've chosen to hold these hearings at the same time as the President and our entire national security team will be traveling to Europe,' Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told 'Fox and Friends,' as Pompeo accused Democrats of trying to 'distract' the President at the NATO Summit in London. The criticism from the President came a day after the White House Counsel sent a scorching letter to House Democrats, refusing their invitation to send legal representatives to a Wednesday impeachment hearing, where constitutional scholars will testify about impeachment. It's thought that hearing is just a prelude to work by the House Judiciary Committee to draft, debate, and vote on actual articles of impeachment against President Trump. The House Judiciary Committee has also set a deadline for this Friday for the White House to determine if it will send lawyers to participate in that process. Democrats say they're convinced the answer will be 'no.' 'The President and GOP allies demanded testimony, then refused to read it,' said Rep. Don Beyer. 'They said Trump lawyers must be at hearings, then refused to send them.' 'The only constant is that they can’t defend Trump’s abuses of power,' Beyer added on Twitter. During a visit to a climate change gathering in Madrid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked about the impeachment proceedings against the President - but at a news conference, she refused to comment. Impeachment proceedings will resume on Tuesday evening, when the House Intelligence Committee is expected to vote to approve a report on the Ukraine investigation, sending that to the House Judiciary Committee. That panel will then begin its impeachment work on Wednesday morning.
  • Returning to Capitol Hill from a Thanksgiving break, House Democrats are showing no signs of backing away from their efforts to impeach President Donald Trump, with plans this week to release a new report on the Ukraine investigation and hold the first hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, a process which could ultimately lead to a historic vote before Christmas to impeach President Trump. After wrapping up five public days of impeachment hearings in November, House Democrats spent the last ten days releasing more testimony about the Ukraine investigation, and writing a report on the findings. Here is some of what we learned over the Thanksgiving break, and some of what to expect in the days and weeks ahead: 1. Democrats to forge ahead on impeachment. Since the end of public impeachment hearings, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have been writing a report to summarize the findings from the panel's Ukraine investigation.  That report - based on information from a series of closed door depositions and public impeachment hearings on President Trump's actions regarding Ukraine - is expected to be voted on by the Intelligence panel in a Tuesday evening meeting. On Wednesday, the focus shifts to the House Judiciary Committee, which will hold its first impeachment hearing with a group of constitutional scholars. In other words, Democrats are not wondering what they should do on impeachment. 2. Will Trump legal team join in impeachment hearings? As House Democrats signaled last week that they were ready to push ahead with impeachment efforts, they also gave the White House until this Friday to decide whether to join the proceedings. In letter, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) set the December 6 deadline for an answer.  Republicans have complained about the inability of the President's lawyers to be involved in the process, but on Sunday night, the President's White House Counsel told Democrats they would not join in a hearing set for Wednesday.  It's a scathing five page letter. 3. Two White House budget officials quit over Ukraine aid delay. In a deposition released to the public just before Thanksgiving, there were some new nuggets from the impeachment testimony of career OMB official Mark Sandy. Sandy - who was the only OMB employee not to defy a subpoena for testimony - confirmed that he knew of two different White House budget staffers who had quit their jobs over the delay in Ukraine military aid. This wasn't a policy dispute. It was partly over concern that the White House was breaking the law by not spending money approved by the Congress for Ukraine. It's very interesting to note that in a city which is renowned for leaks to the press, the news of these Ukraine-related resignations at the White House never became public, until now. 4. Testimony reveals more pieces to Ukraine puzzle. The Sandy testimony also brought out more evidence of how important July 25, 2019 has become in the Ukraine investigation. That morning, President Trump spoke by phone with the leader of Ukraine, and asked the President of Ukraine to announce investigations into the Bidens and the debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine interfering in the 2016 U.S. elections. We also now know from the impeachment testimony that a few hours after that phone call, Ukraine government officials were already sending emails to counterparts at the Pentagon and State Department, worried the Trump Administration was delaying military aid for Ukraine. And Sandy confirmed in his testimony that on the evening of July 25, the White House officially put the aid money on hold, two weeks after basically deciding that would be the decision. 'Things seem to keep coming back to July 25th,' said Rep. Val Demings (D-FL). 5. Have you read any impeachment transcripts? Here is a link to all 17 of the impeachment deposition transcripts released by the House Intelligence Committee. There are three tweets in this thread with all of the links. Don't tell anyone you didn't have a chance to read some of the evidence for yourself. 6. Republicans still want to hear from the whistleblower. In the five days of public hearings before the House Intelligence Committee, GOP lawmakers repeatedly demanded to hear from the person who first raised red flags through the chain of command about the delay in Ukraine aid. So far, Democrats have stiff-armed those Republican requests. But don't look for the GOP to be silent about the matter in coming weeks. 7. Republicans also want testimony by Rep. Schiff. GOP lawmakers also are likely to keep up a steady drumbeat of jabs at Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. While Republicans charge that Schiff met with the unidentified whistleblower, and that he knows the identify of that person, Schiff has publicly denied that. For GOP lawmakers and the President, Schiff has become their impeachment pinata - and one would expect that to continue as this effort from Democrats continues in the House. 8. Trump echoes GOP broadsides on impeachment. Over the Thanksgiving break President Trump joined Republicans in Congress in continuing to belittle the impeachment investigation from Democrats in Congress. 'Schiff’s impeachment hearings wasting time when Congress must do real work,' the President tweeted.  'Trump did nothing impeachable,' he added in another post. 'Sen. Tim Scott Says Trump 'Innocent,' 'No Way' Senate Convicts,' was another Twitter missive from Mr. Trump. And as the impeachment proceedings continue, one should not expect the President to be silent. 9. The impeachment schedule was similar 21 years ago. Rewind to December of 1998. The story I wrote on this day said, 'The White House and Democrats are demanding that GOP leaders bring impeachment proceedings to a quick finish.' That sort of sounds familiar. Back then, it was Republicans pursuing a historic impeachment vote against President Bill Clinton. The partisan battle resumed after a Thanksgiving break, and raged until the Saturday before Christmas, when the House approved two articles of impeachment against Mr. Clinton. Given the calendar, an impeachment vote in 2019 against President Trump - by the Saturday before Christmas - would be a possibility this time as well.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Police in Titusville, Florida, said a man was arrested after a 9-year-old girl was accidentally shot Saturday afternoon. >> Read more trending news  Police said Titusville resident Dustin Adkins, 34, was arrested and is now facing charges including aggravated child neglect with great bodily harm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Adkins is on probation for manslaughter involving the shooting death of a child, police said. The shooting occurred as four young juveniles were with an adult relative target shooting in the woods near State Road 407 and I-95, authorities said. Police said that at some point, the adult left the children unsupervised, and the 9-year-old girl was shot by a sibling accidentally while the sibling was shooting at a target. 'It is outrageous that this adult provided firearms and ammunition to these young children,' said Deputy Chief Todd Hutchinson. 'Especially given his past arrest and conviction.' Police said the family transported the child to the hospital. The child was critically injured and is in stable condition, officers said. After a lengthy search, officers found several firearms on a trail hidden under a disposed tire in the wooded area, officials said. No other details were made available.
  • An Arkansas officer was killed in a shooting outside the Fayetteville Police Department on Saturday night, authorities said. >> Read more trending news  Update, 11:22 a.m. EST Dec. 8: Fayetteville police Chief Mike Reynolds identified the officer who was shot and killed outside the Fayetteville Police Department on Saturday night and also identified the shooter, KFSM reported. Reynolds said Officer Stephen Carr was alone in the parking lot waiting for his partner when the suspect, London T. Phillips, 35, approached and fatally shot him, the television station reported. Original story: According to a Fayetteville police news release, the shooting occurred just after 9:40 p.m. in the parking lot behind the police station. Officers in the building heard gunfire and rushed outside to find their colleague down and the suspected shooter fleeing, the release said. Police then chased the suspect, who exchanged fire with officers in a nearby alley, KTHV reported. The suspect was shot, authorities said. The officer and suspect both died from their injuries, according to the news release. Officials have not released the name of the slain officer or suspected shooter. No further information was immediately available. Read more here or here.
  • A suspect died Friday morning after opening fire at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing at least three people and injuring seven others. >> Read more trending news  Authorities said the shooting was reported just before 7 a.m. local time in a classroom building at NAS Pensacola. Responding deputies with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office exchanged gunfire with the suspected shooter, killing him, officials said. Here are the latest updates: Update 3:42 p.m. EST Dec. 8: Officials are still trying to determine whether Ahmed Mohammed al-Shamrani acted alone or was part of a terrorist group Friday when he opened fire at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, The Washington Post reported. Rachel Rojas, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville division, said at a news conference that the agency’s main goal is to determine whether the Saudi air force lieutenant worked as “part of a larger network,” the newspaper reported. Rojas said Shamrani’s weapon, a 9mm Glock, was purchased legally, but she did not describe how Shamrani obtained it and brought it onto the base, according to the Post. Update 10:38 p.m. EST Dec. 7: The third victim of the Naval Air Station Pensacola shooting was identified as Cameron Scott Walters, 21, of Richmond Hill Georgia. “The Sailors that lost their lives in the line of duty and showed exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil,” Capt. Tim Kinsella, commanding officer at the installation, said in a release. 'When confronted, they didn’t run from danger; they ran towards it and saved lives. If not for their actions, and the actions of the Naval Security Force that were the first responders on the scene, this incident could have been far worse.” Update 9:58 p.m. EST Dec. 7: Two of the three victims in the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola were identified. Mohammed “Mo” Haitham, of St. Petersburg, Florida, was killed as he tried to stop the shooter, The Tampa Bay Times reported. Haitham, 19, joined the Navy after graduating high school last year. He was assigned to flight crew training and was expected to graduate later this month. “He said he was going to get his flight jacket for Christmas,” his mother, Evelyn Brady, who also served in the Navy, told the Times. Update 3:08 p.m. EST Dec. 7: Authorities said Mohammed Saeed Ashamrani, the Saudi student who fatally shot three people at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola hosted a dinner party earlier in the week, and he and three other people watched videos of mass shootings, The Associated Press reported Saturday. The official was briefed by federal investigators, according to the AP. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, whose district includes the Pensacola area, tweeted he received condolences from Saudi Ambassador Reema Al-Saud, WEAR-TV reported. Update 11:05 a.m. EST Dec. 7: Family members identified one of the victims fatally shot at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, the Pensacola News Journal reported Saturday. Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who reported to Pensacola two weeks ago, was one of the three people killed during Friday’s shooting, the newspaper reported. Watson’s brother, Adam Johnson, confirmed the death in a Facebook post, the News Journal reported “Joshua Kaleb Watson saved countless lives today with his own,” Adam Johnson wrote Friday night. ”After being shot multiple times he made it outside and told the first response team where the shooter was and those details were invaluable. 'He died a hero and we are beyond proud but there is a hole in our hearts that can never be filled.” Watson’s father, Benjamin Watson, told the News Journal his son was the officer on deck at the time of the shooting. Joshua Watson was shot at least five times, his father told the newspaper. Update 11:05 a.m. EST Dec. 7: Family members identified one of the victims fatally shot at Florida’s Naval Air Station Pensacola, the Pensacola News Journal reported Saturday. Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who reported to Pensacola two weeks ago, was one of the three people killed during Friday’s shooting, the newspaper reported. Watson’s brother, Adam Johnson, confirmed the death in a Facebook post, the News Journal reported. Update 9:30 p.m. EST Dec. 6: The shooter has been identified as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani according to WKRG. He is one of hundreds of international military members who are receiving training there. In a news conference Friday night, the FBI declined to comment on his possible motivations. “There are many reports circulating, but the FBI deals only in facts,” said Rachel L. Rojas, the FBI’s special agent in charge of the Jacksonville Field Office. “This is still very much an active and ongoing investigation.” Update 2:25 p.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities declined to confirm the identity of the person who shot several people Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing three people before being shot and killed by deputies. “I think there’s obviously going to be a lot of questions about this indivdual being a foreign national, being a part of the Saudi Air Force and then to be here training on our soil and to do this,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday morning at a news conference. “The FBI is working with (the Department of Defense), they’re working with (the Florida Department of Law Enforcement), they’re working with Escambia County sheriff’s to answer those questions.” DeSantis said he spoke earlier Friday with President Donald Trump. “One of the things that I talked to the president about is given that this was a foreign national in the employ of a foreign service ... obviously the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for the victims,' DeSantis said. 'I think that they, they are going to owe a debt here, given that this was one of their individuals.” Authorities confirmed at a news conference that the suspect used a handgun in Friday’s shooting. Capt. Tim Kinsella, commanding officer of NAS Pensacola, said the suspect was at NAS Pensacola for aviation training. Earlier in the day, deputies said the suspect opened fire just before 7 a.m. local time in a classroom building at NAS Pensacola. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 1:45 p.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities in Pensacola are expected to provide an update Friday afternoon on the investigation into the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola that left four people dead. Update 1:20 p.m. EST Dec. 6: President Donald Trump said Friday afternoon that he’s spoken to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and received a full briefing on the deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time,” Trump said. “We are continuing to monitor the situation as the investigation is ongoing.” Update 12:50 p.m. EST Dec. 6: An official told The Associated Press that the person who opened fire Friday at Naval Air Station Pensacola, killing three people and wounding several others before being shot and killed by authorities, was an aviation student from Saudi Arabia. Authorities are investigating to determine whether the shooting was terrorism-related, according to the AP. Military from around the globe attend the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Authorities are expected to hold a news conference at 12:30 p.m. local time Friday to update the public on the investigation. Update 11:50 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities expect to hold a news conference at 12 p.m. local time Friday to provide more updates on the shooting that left four people dead at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Update 11:05 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities said a total of 11 people were injured or killed in Friday morning’s shooting, including the suspected shooter. The injured included two responding deputies with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff David Morgan said Friday at a news conference. One deputy was shot in the arm and the other was shot in the knee, Morgan said. They were both expected to survive. Morgan described walking through the scene left by Friday’s attack as being similar to “being in a movie.” “You just don’t expect this to happen here at home,” he said. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 10:45 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials are holding a news conference to update the public on Friday morning’s deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Update 10:25 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Vice President Mike Pence said he’s monitoring the situation in Florida after a shooting left two victims and a suspect dead at Naval Air Station Pensacola. “Praying for the victims & their families,” Pence wrote Friday morning in a Twitter post. “We commend the first responders for their swift action in taking down the shooter & getting those on base to safety.”  Update 10:20 a.m. EST Dec. 6: White House officials said President Donald Trump has been briefed on the deadly shooting reported Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Update 10:15 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials with Naval Air Station Pensacola said the base will closed for the day Friday after a shooting left three people dead earlier in the day. Authorities said at least three people, including the suspected shooter, were killed in the incident. Reports indicated at least eight other people were wounded in the shooting. The incident happened two days after authorities said a U.S. sailor shot and killed two civilian employees before turning the gun on himself at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. One other person was injured in that shooting. Naval Air Station Pensacola employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel, according to officials. Update 10:10 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said his office has been in “close contact with all the relevant officials & closely monitoring events” after a shooter opened fire at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday morning, killing two people. Authorities said the shooter also died. “Please pray for everyone impacted by this horrible situation,” Rubio said in a Twitter post. Update 10 a.m. EST Dec. 6: A spokesman at Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital told CNN that hospital officials expected to get three patients who had been injured in Friday morning’s shooting, down from the six expected earlier in the day. Hospital spokesman Mike Burke told the news network most victims were taken to Baptist Hospital because of its proximity to the base. Kathy Bowers, a spokeswoman for Baptist Hospital, earlier told the Pensacola News Journal that the hospital had received five patients wounded in Friday’s shooting. Update 9:45 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials with the U.S. Navy have confirmed that a second person has died after a shooter opened fire Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola.  Update 9:35 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials told the Pensacola News Journal two people were confirmed dead after Friday morning’s shooting, in addition to the shooter. Naval officials previously said at least one person had been killed. Update 9:20 a.m. EST Dec. 6: At least 11 people were hospitalized in the immediate aftermath of Friday’s deadly shooting, according to The Associated Press. Ascension Sacred Heart spokesman Mike Burke told the AP six people were taken to the hospital after a shooter opened fire at Naval Air Station Pensacola early Friday. The Pensacola News Journal previously reported five other people were taken to Baptist Hospital with injuries. Naval officials said at least one victim was killed in Friday’s shooting. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 9:10 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Officials with the U.S. Navy said at least one person died Friday morning in a shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. Authorities said the suspected shooter was also dead Friday morning. Update 9 a.m. EST Dec. 6: An official with Baptist Hospital told the Pensacola News Journal five patients were taken to the hospital after Friday morning’s reported shooting. Authorities continue to investigate. Update 8:55 a.m. EST Dec. 6: Authorities with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said a suspected shooter was dead Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Original report: Authorities are responding Friday morning to reports of shots fired at Naval Air Station Pensacola, according to base officials. Authorities at NAS Pensacola said both gates to the base were closed Friday morning as authorities investigated. Officials with the U.S. Navy said the base was on lockdown around 7:45 a.m. local time. A spokeswoman for ECSO told the Pensacola News Journal deputies were working to “take down” what was described as an active shooter around 7:30 a.m. local time. Officials with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office told WEAR-TV injuries were reported. Details on the number of people wounded and the extent of their injuries was not immediately available. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Check back for updates to this developing story.
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy has now been given the go ahead by a judge with his lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company. According to AV Club, the complaint stems from when his show was produced by Buena Vista Television. The agreement reportedly entitled Nye to 16.5% of the net profits from sales and distribution of the show. Back in April 2008, he received a payment of $585,123, but then it was retracted by Disney three months later, with them claiming it was an accounting error, and they asked for a payment back of $496,111 and that he would not get any more money until he paid that back.  In the complaint, Nye says he hired an auditor to review Buena Vista's records, which he claims Disney dodged until May of 2016, which showed that he was owed more than $9 million in under-reported royalty payments.  After making certain changes to his complaint, the judge ruled that he may proceed with his $28 million lawsuit, which not only covers what he is owed, but also includes legal fees and damages. In a statement from Nye's legal team, they told Fox Business that 'it is our hope that this case, which Disney has fought so hard to stall, will finally shine some light upon the improper accounting practices that Disney utilizes to unjustly deprive profit participants, like our clients, of their fair share of revenues from the programming that they work so hard to create.'  While Disney has sold a select amount of episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy to Netflix( which has since been removed in May of this year), the show cannot be found on Disney+.
  • Despite it being a week since a 73 year old Sanford man has been missing, his family and members of the community are not giving up. Police in Sanford say Robert Ford left his home on November 29th on the 300 block of Fern Drive and has not been back since. They say Ford is a Navy veteran who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and is on medication for depression.  While police continue their search, his daughter has put up flyers around the community and has even set up a Facebook page so that volunteers can help look for him.  Ford is 5 feet, 7 inches weighing 160 pounds and was last seen wearing a dark colored shirt and a jacket. Police say he may act confused and might not know his own name. Anyone who knows where he is is asked to contact the Sanford Police Department at 407-688-5070.

Washington Insider

  • Even as Democrats press ahead with a historic effort to impeach President Donald Trump in the House, lawmakers in both parties are on the cusp of possibly producing series of major, bipartisan legislative deals, covering everything from a crackdown on surprise medical bills to a compromise establishing the President's plan for a 'Space Force' at the Pentagon in exchange for a big benefits change for federal workers. The calendar doesn't offer much time for action in either the House or Senate, as lawmakers hope to leave town by the weekend before Christmas - which would give the House and Senate until around December 20-23. Here are some of the big issues which might get resolved in Congress at the same time as Democrats force a vote on impeachment. 1. Lawmakers cut deal on surprise medical bills. Sunday brought news that a group of key lawmakers - in both parties from the House and Senate - had reached agreement on a plan to rein surprise bills which consumers often face, especially after emergency care. Backers stressed the bipartisan nature of the agreement. 'The legislation includes proposals from 80 Senators, 46 Democrats and 34 Republicans,' said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in a Sunday statement. That does not necessarily mean this deal gets voted on in the next two weeks. 2. New minimum age to buy tobacco products. The deal on the issue of surprise medical bills also has some other items involved in it, including a provision which would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 years. The idea of raising the legal age for buying cigarettes and tobacco has been supported in recent months by the Senate's top Republican - Majority Leader Mitch McConnell - but it's not clear if McConnell would rush such a bill to the Senate floor over the next two weeks. 3. 'Space Force' might be ready for launch. Lawmakers in both parties were trying to finalize a major defense policy bill early this week, and the details are expected to finally give President Trump his plan to set up a 'Space Force' inside the Pentagon. The plan - which has been resisted by lawmakers in both parties - would not set up a brand new branch of the military, as sought by President Trump. Instead, the Space Force would operate out of the Air Force, sort of like the Marines are considered part of the Navy. Critics argued a plan to set up a separate new branch of the military would have been too expensive, and would create an unnecessary new bureaucracy. 4. Paid family leave benefit for federal workers? The President won't get his Space Force for nothing in this major defense policy bill, as reportedly the deal with the White House will give around 2.7 million federal workers a new benefit - paid family leave. The plan would reportedly include up to 12 weeks of such leave for federal civilian workers. While no final bill language has been released, a tweet from over the weekend by President Trump's daughter shows this exchange could well be part of the defense bill. Stay tuned. 5. USMCA trade deal still a late year possibility. With a flurry of late negotiations involving U.S., Mexican, and Canadian trade officials, it's still possible that the final touches could be put on a new trade deal among the three nations, and have it voted on by the House and Senate. The White House has been quietly working with Mexico and Canada in recent weeks to work out tweaks to the agreement, mainly dealing with labor and environmental enforcement, trade dispute resolution, and issues dealing with some medical drugs. While the President and his allies keep saying the plan has been sent to Congress already for a vote - that is simply not true. 6. Government funding plan remains in limbo. While there were seemingly agreement on surprise medical billing, the Space Force, and more, lawmakers still have not finalized a giant package of bills to fund the operations of the federal government for 2020. The current temporary funding bill runs out on December 20. While there is obviously the threat of a government shutdown, lawmakers in both parties hope they can either reach a deal now - or extend that temporary spending plan into the New Year. So, this could also be part of a late rush of big legislation.