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The Latest News about Government and Politics

    A modified version of President Donald Trump's $4 billion-plus request to care for tens of thousands of migrant refuges massing at the southern border swept through a key Senate panel on Wednesday after senior lawmakers removed 'poison pills' that Democrats objected to. The Appropriations Committee approved the bill by a 30-1 vote on its way to a floor vote next week. The Democratic-controlled House has yet to unveil its version of the bill as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has struggled to win support from the chamber's potent Hispanic Caucus. The bipartisan vote likely means that the Senate will take the lead in writing the legislation, which needs to pass into law before the House and Senate leave for vacation next week. A spokesman for House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said the panel has drafted its version of the measure and expects a bipartisan vote early next week. The $4.6 billion legislation contains $2.9 billion to care for unaccompanied migrant children — more than 50,000 children have been referred to government care since October — and $1.3 billion to care for adult migrants. There's also money to hire new judges to decide asylum claims. All told, about 675,000 undocumented immigrants have crossed the border over that time. The bipartisan session came after weeks of acrimony and just in time to avert a humanitarian disaster as money is about to run out. To win Democratic support, panel chair Richard Shelby, R-Ala., agreed to drop Trump's request for Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds and agreed to a Democratic provision to block any of the money in the legislation from being diverted to building a border wall. 'Let's stay with the humanitarian aid,' Shelby said, describing his pitch to fellow lawmakers. 'Let's keep the poison pills out.' The White House and Capitol Hill Republicans had sought to attach the emergency border funding to a popular disaster aid bill that passed Congress last month, but objections by House liberals and the Hispanic Caucus scotched the idea. But pressure has steadily built this month amid warnings that money to care for the surge of migrants is about to run out and that the situation would turn from a crisis into a catastrophe. 'Our facilities are bursting at the seams,' said Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va. Top panel Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont and others described terrible, overcrowded conditions in federal holding facilities. 'Children in our care are being forced to sleep under bridges, and families are being placed in outdoor pens without shelter,' Leahy said. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., cast the sole 'nay' vote, outlining a variety of concerns with the government's handling of the migrant crisis, including abuses by for-profit detention facilities. 'America is better than this,' Merkley said. 'The way we are treating migrant children, the way we are treating migrant families awaiting adjudication.' But both Democrats and Republicans praised the legislation, which contains $30 million to reimburse local governments and nonprofits who assist refugees.
  • President Donald Trump's nominee to be the next U.S. envoy to the United Nations on Wednesday defended her record on climate change, saying it is a 'real risk to our planet' that must be addressed. Kelly Knight Craft told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that she believes human behavior has contributed to climate change and she'll push countries deal with it. However, she also said the United States should not have to bear an 'outsized burden' in mitigating its effects that harm American economic growth. 'If confirmed, I will be an advocate for addressing climate change,' she said. Her comments came in response to questions from Democrats on the panel prompted by previous remarks she made doubting the causes and severity of climate change . Democrats are also concerned about possible conflicts of interest as she holds extensive investments in fossil fuels. 'Climate change needs to be addressed as it poses real risk to our planet,' she said. 'Human behavior has contributed to the changing climate. Let there be no doubt: I take this matter seriously, and if confirmed, I will be an advocate for all countries to do their part in addressing climate change.' The Trump administration has been criticized by environmentalists and scientists for rolling back regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and announcing its withdrawal, effective next year, from the Paris Climate Accord that aimed to limit climate change. Craft is a longtime GOP activist from Kentucky who is currently U.S. ambassador to Canada. She would be first major political donor to occupy the U.N. post. She said that withdrawing from the Paris agreement did not mean the administration was ceding a leadership role on climate change. 'We don't need to be a member to show leadership,' she said, arguing that developing countries like China and India were not being asked to make the same contributions as the United States. Craft has been credited by supporters with playing a major role in her current role in helping to secure a proposed new trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico but has been criticized for frequent absences from Ottawa. Craft testified that all of her travel had been approved in advance by the State Department and that she and her husband had paid for all personal trips. In addition to climate change, Craft also faced Democratic questions about her relative lack of diplomatic experience, which her Republican supporters said was belied by her two years as serving as the top envoy to a close ally and neighbor. Craft vowed to continue the efforts of Trump's first ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, to push for reform at the world body and to fight against anti-Israel resolutions and actions by the United Nations and its affiliated agencies. During Haley's tenure, the administration withdrew from the U.N. Human Rights Council and the U.N. educational and scientific agency for adopting positions it deemed to be hostile to Israel. Trump nominated Craft to replace Haley after his first choice for the job, former State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, withdrew from consideration.
  • The Latest on an environmental rule covering coal-fired power plants (all times local): 11:50 a.m. The Trump administration expects new coal-fired power plants to open as a result of a major new regulatory change. Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler says he expects that increase in coal plants as a result of the repeal of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. Wheeler spoke to reporters after signing the final version of the repeal. The Obama-era plan sought to fight climate change by prodding coal-fired power plants out of the nation's electrical grid. Wheeler says the administration's repeal will lead investors to put money into more coal plants. U.S. coal-plant closings have reached near record numbers in recent years owing to competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable energy. ___ 11:30 a.m. New York's attorney general says the state will sue to block the Trump administration's rollback of an Obama-era rule designed to wean the nation's electrical grid off coal-fired power plants and their climate-damaging pollution. Attorney General Letitia James announced the state's intentions on Twitter shortly after the Environmental Protection Agency replaced the rule with a less ambitious one. She makes reference to the administration's '#DirtyPower rule.' She tweets that it's 'another prime example of this administration's attempt to rollback critical regulations that will have devastating impacts on both the safety & health of our nation.' The Trump administration says the Obama administration overstepped its legal authority in approving the Clean Power Plan. EPA chief Andrew Wheeler says coal is essential to the nation's power grid. ___ 11:05 a.m. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the Trump administration's rollback of a rule targeting coal-fired power plants is 'a stunning giveaway to big polluters.' Pelosi says in a statement that climate change is 'the existential threat of our time' and that the administration is ignoring scientific studies about climate change and yielding to special interests. Pelosi is reacting to Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler's scrapping of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which sought to reduce the country's reliance on coal and move to renewable energy sources. Wheeler replaced it with a less ambitious rule. The administration argues that Obama's EPA overstepped its legal authority in approving the Clean Power Plant rule. ___ 10:35 a.m. The Trump administration has rolled back a landmark Obama-era effort targeting coal-fired power plants and their climate-damaging pollution. It's replacing the Obama rule with a less ambitious one that gives states more discretion in regulating those power plants. Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler says it's a sign that 'fossil fuels will continue to be an important part of the mix' in the U.S. energy supply. President Donald Trump campaigned partly on a pledge to bring back the U.S. coal industry, which has been hit hard by competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable energy. The rule will go into effect shortly after publication in the Federal Register. Environmental groups pledge court challenges. ___ 12:25 a.m. The Trump administration is close to completing one of its biggest rollbacks of environmental rules. Lawmakers, environmentalists and others are readying for an announcement about a replacement for an Obama-era regulation that sought to limit coal-fired plants in the nation's electrical grid. The Clean Power Plan was one of President Barack Obama's signature efforts to curb climate-changing emissions. Critics of the Obama administration say it overstepped its legal authority in issuing the power plant rule. Those opposing the rollback say it will worsen climate change and increase deaths from coal-plant pollution.
  • President Donald Trump's participation in the nation's annual Fourth of July celebration will include a Trump speech honoring America's armed forces, along with music, military demonstrations and flyovers, the administration announced Wednesday, about two weeks before the patriotic holiday. Federal lawmakers, local officials and others have voiced concerns that Trump could alter the tone of what traditionally is a nonpartisan celebration of America's founding by delivering an overtly political speech after he added himself to an event that typically has not included the president. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said Wednesday that Trump will use the speech, which the president promised in a February tweet, to honor the military. Trump teased his event, which he is calling 'Salute to America,' during his reelection kick-off rally Tuesday night in Florida. 'And by the way on July 4 in Washington, D.C., come on down. We're going to have a big day. Bring your flags, bring those flags, bring those American flags,' the president said. 'We're going to have hundreds of thousands of people. We're going to celebrate America.' Bernhardt, who supervises the National Mall, which is the backdrop for one of the nation's largest July 4 celebrations, also said the World War II Memorial and areas around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool will be opened to the public for the first time in recent memory for viewing the annual fireworks display. As part of Trump's addition to the Washington schedule of July 4 events, the fireworks show is being moved west to West Potomac Park, closer to the Lincoln Memorial, from the area around the Washington Monument. Independence Day usually draws tens of thousands of people to the National Mall for the celebration. Regular events this year include the National Independence Day Parade down Constitution Avenue, a concert featuring the National Symphony Orchestra on the West Lawn of the Capitol and the fireworks display. After losing out on his wish for a military parade in Washington , Trump tweeted in February for people to 'HOLD THE DATE!' for the 'Salute to America' event, which he said would be held at the Lincoln Memorial and feature a major fireworks display, entertainment 'and an address by your favorite President, me!' Some groups are organizing anti-Trump protests. Democratic Sens. Tom Udall of New Mexico, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Chris Van Hollen, all members of the Appropriations Committee, requested details about plans and funding for the event in a letter this week to Bernhardt. They asked Bernhardt to carefully manage taxpayer funds and ensure that Trump's event 'remains a nonpartisan event focused on national unity and pride.' The lawmakers set a June 28 deadline for Bernhardt to reply. The White House said Trump's event was not meant to detract from the other events on the schedule. White House officials also declined to discuss the specific military aircraft that are expected to execute the flyovers. ___ Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap
  • The Latest on congressional investigations and special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report (all times local): 10:05 a.m. Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks has arrived for a closed-door interview with members of the House Judiciary Committee. The interview is part of the panel's investigation of President Donald Trump and obstruction of justice. Hicks is the first testimony they will hear from someone linked to Trump's inner circle since the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report. It is unclear how much information she will provide, as the White House has said she is 'absolutely immune' from testimony with respect to her service to the president. A White House lawyer will be in the room. Hicks did not respond to questions as she made her way through a throng of photographers into the second-floor hearing room. ___ 6:40 a.m. The closed-door interview that House lawmakers have with Hope Hicks, a former communications director for President Donald Trump, marks the first time they are hearing from someone linked to his inner circle since the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report. Obtaining the testimony Wednesday from Hicks, a close and trusted former Trump aide, is a significant victory for Democrats. The House Judiciary Committee originally subpoenaed Hicks to give public testimony, but agreed to the private interview after negotiations. Still, it is unclear how much new information Hicks will provide. She already cooperated extensively with Mueller's probe, and a White House lawyer who will be in the room for the interview is expected to try and block her from answering certain questions.
  • President Donald Trump raised $24.8 million less than 24 hours after kicking off his reelection campaign, a figure that dwarfs what the top Democratic contenders took in over the course of months. The staggering total was announced in a tweet on Wednesday morning by Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. She declared that it was proof that 'enthusiasm across the country for this president is unmatched and unlike anything we've ever seen.' Trump's massive haul is a demonstration of the power of incumbency, underscoring simmering Democratic worries they are not doing enough to prepare for the matchup with Trump. It's also a sign that Trump's fundraising operation is already in high gear at a time when many Democratic donors have yet to engage and their party contends with a sprawling primary that has drawn more than 20 candidates. Many Democratic White House candidates have hyped their fundraising pulls in the 24 hours after launching their campaign. Former Vice President Joe Biden reported a $6.3 million haul in the first 24 hours, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke took in $6.1 million and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders reported $5.9 million. Trump beat all three combined, including the front-runner Biden, whom he bested by nearly fourfold. Still, his campaign has yet to release a breakdown of how he raised the money, leaving it unclear how much was raised from wealthy Republican megadonors, versus grassroots supporters who chipped in a few dollars online. But the cash will add to the existing gulf in resources between Republicans and Democrats. Trump already reported $48.7 million cash on hand at the end of March, spread across three committees tied to his campaign. The Republican National Committee had an additional $34.7 million during the same period. The Democratic National Committee, meanwhile, had just $7.5 million with $6.2 million in debt, records show.
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday ruled out censuring President Donald Trump if the House doesn't impeach him, downplaying a less drastic censure as 'a day at the beach' for the president. Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor that censure would be 'just a way out' of House Democrats' efforts to see if Trump has committed impeachable offenses. 'If you're going to go, you ought to go. In other words, if the goods are there, you must impeach,' she said. Pelosi spoke as she tries restraining House Democrats from jumping quickly into a pre-election effort to impeach Trump. Several dozen of the 235 House Democrats have said they favor launching an impeachment inquiry. Pelosi has said she wants the numerous committees investigating Trump to gather more evidence, including on whether he obstructed special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Pelosi said some House Democrats have suggested simply censuring Trump. A censure would rebuke him, but is far less serious than the House voting to impeach, or essentially indict Trump. Unlike impeachment, censure would not automatically trigger a Senate trial on whether to remove Trump from office. 'That's a day at the beach for the president, or at his golf club or wherever he goes,' she said of censure. Pelosi also said a less redacted version of Mueller's report on his investigation would be made available this week to more lawmakers, rather than just restricting its viewing to congressional leaders. She said while she initially wanted the entire public to be allowed to see any less redacted report, she'd changed her mind. 'I accepted that because I'm afraid. I really don't trust the attorney general of the United States,' she said. 'And I'm afraid that he may, depending on what is in there, try to deal with ongoing matters in a way that is not constructive for our Constitution. I can't say anything more than that.' The House Judiciary Committee has struck a deal with the Justice Department to receive some underlying materials from Mueller's report. Panel Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., has called these some of Mueller's 'most important files' and said all committee members will be able to view them. That includes redacted portions of the report pertaining to obstruction of justice.
  • Former top White House adviser Hope Hicks is refusing to answer questions related to her time in the White House in an interview with the House Judiciary Committee, dimming Democrats' chances of obtaining new or substantive information about President Donald Trump as part of their investigation into obstruction of justice. Less than an hour into the interview, frustrated Democrats taking breaks from the meeting said Hicks and her lawyer were following White House orders to stay quiet about her time there working for Trump. She was answering some questions about her time on Trump's campaign, the lawmakers said. 'She's objecting to stuff that's already in the public record,' said California Rep. Karen Bass. 'It's pretty ridiculous.' Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., called her answers 'a farce.' California Rep. Ted Lieu tweeted about the interview, writing that Hicks refused to answer even innocuous questions such as whether she had previously testified before Congress. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., declined to comment on the substance of the interview so far, saying 'all I'll say is Ms. Hicks is answering questions put to her and the interview continues.' Republicans had a different perspective, saying she was cooperative and that the interview was a waste of time. The top Republican on the panel, Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, said they were 'simply talking about things that are already out there in public or getting the same answers over and over.' It was so far unclear whether Democrats would take Hicks or the administration to court to challenge the claim of immunity. In a letter Tuesday to Nadler, White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote that Trump had directed Hicks not to answer questions 'relating to the time of her service as a senior adviser to the president.' Cipollone said Hicks, as one of Trump's former senior advisers, is 'absolutely immune' from compelled testimony with respect to her service to the president because of the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. The White House has similarly cited broad executive privilege with respect to many of the Democrats' investigative demands, using the president's power to withhold information to protect the confidentiality of the Oval Office decision-making process. Democrats say they disagree that Hicks' answers are covered by such immunity or privilege, especially since she has already cooperated with Mueller. Jayapal said that at one point Hicks started to answer a question, and the lawyers jumped in and said 'we're starting executive.' 'Basically, she can say her name,' Jayapal said. As Hicks spoke to the lawmakers, Trump tweeted that the investigation is 'extreme Presidential Harassment.' He wrote that Democrats 'are very unhappy with the Mueller Report, so after almost 3 years, they want a Redo, or Do Over.' Hicks is expected to answer some questions about her time on Trump's campaign, but it was unclear how cooperative she will be. Jayapal said she told lawmakers that she would tell the truth. The interview marks the first time lawmakers are hearing from a person linked to Trump's inner circle since the release of Mueller's report. Obtaining the testimony Wednesday from Hicks, former White House communications director and a close and trusted former Trump aide, was a victory for the committee, given that Trump has broadly stonewalled their investigations and said he will fight 'all of the subpoenas.' But given the White House orders, it is unclear how much new information Hicks will provide. Testimony from witnesses such as Hicks is one step in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's methodical approach to investigating Trump. More than 60 lawmakers in her caucus — including around a dozen on the Judiciary Committee — have called for opening an impeachment inquiry, but she has said she wants committees to investigate first and come to a decision on impeachment later. While Trump has continued to block their requests, Democrats have made some minor gains in recent weeks with Hicks' appearance and the Justice Department's agreeing to make some underlying evidence from Mueller's report available to committee members. The Judiciary panel wanted a higher-profile interview with Hicks, subpoenaing her for public testimony. But they agreed to the private interview after negotiations. A transcript of the session will be released in the days afterward. The committee has also subpoenaed Hicks for documents, but she has only partially complied. She agreed to provide some information from her work on Trump's campaign, but none from her time at the White House because of the administration's objections. Hicks was a key witness for Mueller, delivering important information to the special counsel's office about multiple episodes involving the president. Mueller wrote in his 448-page report released in April that there was not enough evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia, but he said he could not exonerate Trump on obstruction of justice. The report examined several situations in which Trump attempted to influence or curtail Mueller's investigation. Democratic aides said they plan on asking Hicks about several of those episodes, including efforts to remove Mueller from the investigation, pressure on former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the firing of FBI Director James Comey. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss their plans for the closed-door meeting. The aides said that lawmakers also plan to ask about Hicks' knowledge of hush-money payments orchestrated by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump — the porn actress Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal. Trump has denied the allegations. Cohen is now serving three years in prison partly for campaign violations related to the payments. The Democrats plan to use some of Hicks' answers to those questions to inform a committee hearing with experts to review Mueller's report on Thursday. ___ Associated Press writers Padmananda Rama and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.
  • President Donald Trump jabbed at the press and poked the political establishment he ran against in 2016 as he kicked off his reelection campaign with a grievance-filled rally focused more on settling scores than laying out his agenda for a possible second term. Addressing a crowd of thousands at Orlando's Amway Center on Tuesday night, Trump complained he was 'under assault from the very first day' of his presidency by a 'fake news media' and an 'illegal witch hunt' that had tried to keep him and his supporters down. He painted a disturbing picture of what life would look like if he loses in 2020, accusing his critics of 'un-American conduct' and saying Democrats 'want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.' 'A vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream,' he said. Trump made only passing mention of any of the Democrats running to replace him even as he tossed out 'radical' and 'unhinged' to describe the rival party. Trump has long railed against the special counsel's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the ongoing probes by House Democrats in the aftermath of Robert Mueller's report . The apocalyptic language and finger-pointing made clear that Trump's 2020 campaign will probably look a whole lot like his run three years ago. Even after two-and-a-half years in the Oval Office, Trump remains focused on energizing his base and offering himself as a political outsider running against Washington. Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted Wednesday morning that Trump had raised $24.8 million in less than 24 hours for his reelection. In his speech, Trump spent considerably more time focused on former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton than on his current 2020 challengers, even though she is not on the ballot. Thousands of Trump supporters began gathering outside the arena on Monday. 'Trump has been the best president we've ever had,' said Ron Freitas, a retired Merchant Marine and registered Democrat from Orlando. Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters clapped and took photos when a 20-foot (6-meter) blimp of a snarling Trump baby in a diaper was inflated. Some members of the far-right hate group Proud Boys were also spotted marching outside the rally. Trump aides scheduled the kickoff near the four-year anniversary of the day when the former reality television star and New York tabloid fixture launched his longshot campaign for president with a famous escalator ride in front of a crowd that included paid actors. Trump spoke fondly of his 2016 race, calling it 'a defining moment in American history.' He said that in the years since, he had upended Washington, staring down 'a corrupt and broken political establishment' and restoring a government 'of, for and by the people.' He never has really stopped running. He filed for reelection on Jan. 20, 2017, the day of his inauguration, and held his first 2020 rally in February, 2017, in nearby Melbourne. He has continued holding his signature 'Make America Great Again' rallies in the months since. Trump asked the crowd whether he should stick with 'Make America Great Again' or upgrade his slogan. His new one — 'Keep America Great' — was greeted with boisterous cheers. Trump is hoping to replicate the dynamics that allowed him to take charge of the Republican Party and then the presidency as an insurgent intent on disrupting the status quo. In 2016, he successfully appealed to disaffected voters who felt left behind by economic dislocation and demographic shifts. He has no intention of abandoning that mantle, even if he is the face of the institutions he looks to disrupt. The president underscored that on the eve of the rally in must-win Florida, returning to the hardline immigration themes of his first campaign by tweeting that next week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement 'will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.' That promise, which came with no details and sparked Democratic condemnation, seemed to offer a peek into a campaign that will largely be fought along the same lines as his first bid, with very few new policy proposals for a second term. Early Democratic front-runner Joe Biden said Trump's politics are 'all about dividing us' in ways that are 'dangerous — truly, truly dangerous.' Another leading Democratic contender, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, said Trump had delivered 'an hour-and-a-half speech of lies, distortions and total, absolute nonsense.' But those involved in the president's reelection effort believe his version of populism, combined with his mantra to 'Drain the Swamp,' still resonates, despite his administration's ties with lobbyists and corporations and the Trump family's apparent efforts to profit off the presidency. Critics have pointed out his constant promotion for his golf courses, both at home and abroad, and note that this daughter, White House senior aide Ivanka Trump, made $4 million last year from her stake in the president's Washington hotel, which has become a favored destination for foreign nationals looking to curry favor with the administration. Advisers believe that, in an age of extreme polarization, many Trump backers view their support for the president as part of their identity, one not easily shaken. They point to his seemingly unmovable support with his base supporters as evidence that he is still viewed the same way he was as a candidate: a political rebel. Trump tried to make the case that he had made good on his 2016 promises, including cracking down on illegal immigration and boosting jobs. Near the rally's end, Trump ran through a list of promises for a second term, pledging a new immigration system, new trade deals, a health care overhaul and a cure for cancer and 'many diseases,' including eradicating AIDS in America. ___ Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writers Kevin Freking, Josh Replogle, Zeke Miller and Juana Summers contributed to this report.
  • Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris is stepping up her campaign outreach to the black community. The California senator is seeking to mobilize students and graduates of historically black colleges and universities — known as HBCUs — as well as the country's nine black fraternities and sororities. The effort getting underway Wednesday includes adding a new section to her campaign website that will make it easier for people connected to these groups to organize and to advance her candidacy. Supporters will be encouraged to host events that could feature Harris' senior campaign members or surrogates. HBCUs and black Greek organizations are a natural constituency for Harris. She graduated from flagship HBCU Howard University and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, America's oldest sorority started by and for black women. Since getting into the 2020 race in February, Harris has visited more HBCUs than any other candidate. The new outreach is a recognition that she needs to do more to organize this network of schools and Greek organizations. 'As we look to realize the promise of the first African American female president, we must be intentional about organizing these communities to ensure they feel part of this campaign and incentivized to take political action going forward,' Missayr Boker, Harris' national political director, told The Associated Press.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Police arrested a 33-year-old man Monday on suspicion of intentionally driving into pedestrians in Jefferson City, injuring a 61-year-old man and killing a pregnant woman and her 2-year-old son, according to investigators. >> Read more trending news  Authorities said William David Phillips, of Jefferson City, swerved to intentionally hit Tillman Gunter, 61, while driving west on East Main Street on Monday afternoon. Police said Phillips traveled less than a mile before swerving again, striking Sierra Wilson Cahoon, 30, and her 2-year-old son, Nolan Cahoon. Cahoon, Nolan and Cahoon’s unborn child were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, according to investigators. Gunter was taken to a hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening, police said. Authorities were called around 3:30 p.m. Monday after Phillips lodged the car he was driving into a building for Sustainable Aquatics, a fish hatchery, according to The Citizen Tribune and the Knoxville News Sentinel. Witness Bill Ray Jones told WBIR-TV he heard Phillips yelling that the “government told him to do it” as he tried to flee from the scene of the crash. 'He knew he had hit (Cahoon) and I'm sure he did because he was talking all crazy,' he told the news station. Sustainable Aquatics owner John Carberry told the News Sentinel he arrived at the scene of the crash within minutes Monday and found Cahoon and her son dead on the sidewalk. “There was a hole in the building and one of my employees ran out,” Carberry told the News Sentinel. “She had minor injuries. She ran up to the main building, and the perpetrator ran out of the hole and ran up and some local citizens grabbed him.” The crash ruptured several fish tanks and destroyed four fish systems, Carberry told The Citizen Tribune and the News Sentinel. He estimated about 2,000 wild-caught fish died after the crash caused more than 10,000 gallons of water to rush from the tanks. “I just want to let the police do their job and mourn the passing of this mother and child,” Carberry told The Citizen Tribune. “It’s very sad.” Phillips, of Jefferson City, was arrested on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder. Authorities filed an additional murder charge against Phillips on Wednesday for the death of Cahoon's unborn child, WATE reported. In a news release, police said investigators believed 'this was an intentional act of violence toward randomly chosen pedestrians. “Investigators have determined that Phillips did not know the victims,” police said. In an arrest warrant obtained Wednesday by the News Sentinel, authorities said Phillips told investigators “a voice told him that he needed to go kill meth addicts.” After Phillips spotted Cahoon and her son, 'He said the voice told him that the baby stroller had meth in it so he intentionally drove into (the mother and child) ... killing them both,' the warrant said, according to the News Sentinel. Records from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department showed he remained jailed Wednesday. A spokesperson for Carson-Newman University, a Christian university in Jefferson City, told WBIR-TV that Cahoon and Nolan were the wife and son of Matt Cahoon, an assistant athletic trainer at the school. “Our hearts are breaking for one of our own,” Carson-Newman University interim President Paul Percy said Tuesday in a statement. “We take comfort in knowing that God also feels our pain and hears our prayers. Because of this, we ask for prayers for Matt and his family now and in the days ahead.” Officials at First Steps Preschool at the First United Methodist Church told WBIR-TV Nolan was a happy student who always gave out hugs and high-fives. 'He was a joy,' the preschool’s director, Jessica Lawson, told WBIR-TV. 'He would walk through the door smiling every morning.' Officials at Carson-Newman University started a fund to benefit the Cahoon family. Those wishing to contribute can donate online to The Randall and Kay O’Brien Benevolent Fund on the university’s website.
  • A man who stabbed a New York City man early Tuesday also partially severed his own finger during the attack, police said. >> Read more trending news  The 35-year-old victim, who was repeatedly stabbed, lived in the Bronx, WPIX reported. According to police, the attacker and victim were arguing outside a bar at 1:15 a.m. when the stabbing occurred. The victim was stabbed in the back, while the attacker partially cut a finger on his left hand, WPIX reported. The assailant then ran away, police said. Police said the attacker appeared to be in his mid- to late 20s, the television station reported. The man had a beard and tattoos on his right forearm and upper right arm, WPIX reported. Police said the man was last seen wearing a red baseball cap, white T-shirt and dark colored shorts, the television station reported.
  • A mentally ill Oregon woman suffered life-threatening injuries Monday when she apparently climbed into a garbage chute at her boyfriend’s condominium community and plunged 16 stories to the bottom. The Oregonian reported that the woman, who was not publicly identified, suffered head injuries in her fall from the 16th floor of the Civic, a condo building in Portland’s Pearl District.  Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman Rich Chatman told the newspaper the woman, who is in her late 20s, slid down into the garbage collection area, where firefighters found her unconscious. Police declined to file charges against the woman. “I can say there was a mental health component involved,” Chatman told the paper.  On Tuesday, Chatman said it appeared the woman put herself in the chute.  “The prevailing assumption is that she got into the chute on her own will,” he said.  Steven Lofton, who lives on the 16th floor of the Civic, told a reporter that the woman and her boyfriend are known on their floor for getting into fights, both verbal and physical. Neighbors had voiced their concerns to the building’s management. >> Read more trending news Lofton said he heard someone pounding on his door just after lunchtime Monday and went to the door to find the woman, who told him she was afraid. When he opened his door, she rushed in, screaming, and began trashing his condo, he told the paper.  “She was wild, just absolutely wild,” Lofton said. “She was breaking and throwing everything in her sight. Plates, vases, cutlery. You name it.” The woman ran out into the hallway, where she encountered her boyfriend. They got into a physical confrontation, Lofton said.  Lofton said he closed his door and called 911. The woman went down the garbage chute moments later, The Oregonian said.  A Portland police spokeswoman told the paper Tuesday that a domestic violence investigation is ongoing, though detectives are waiting for the woman’s condition to improve. “The involved woman’s medical situation is of a higher priority than the criminal investigation at this time,” Jones said in an email to the newspaper.  
  • Meet Poncho Via - the newest holder of a Guinness World Record with a sensational set of 10 foot-7.4 inches horns from tip to tip. The 7-year-old steer makes his home in Goodwater, Alabama and has been living with his family, the Pope’s, since he was six-months old. The family said they knew Poncho was something special when his horns began to grow out to the sides inside of curving up, like other longhorns’ do. Poncho is very popular around town too, with his ‘dad’ saying of him, 'All my neighbors (around) here, any time they have company, they come over to see the longhorn. He's just a big, gentle character. Everyone brings (food) with them -- he likes apples, carrots and marshmallows.' Mobile user see tweet here. His humongous horns aren’t all glitz and show, though. They’ve gotten him into trouble a time or two. George Jones, a family member who helps out with Poncho on the ranch, tells the story, “He pulled a water bottle right out my pocket with his tongue. He's there playing with the bottle and I reached and scratched him for a bit.'  The caretaker said he was knocked into a pond once, when the longhorn became spooked by something. 'That went on for a little while and I guess a horsefly got on him or something (because), all of a sudden, he turned that head and I went airborne into the pond. He just knocked me completely off my feet into the water,' Jones said. The former record holder, a Texas longhorn named Sato, had a horn spread of 10 feet, 6.3 inches, when measured in September, according to Guinness World Records. As the tweet below mentions, Poncho’s horns measures more than twice the width of a concert grand piano. Mobile user see tweet here.
  • An independent investigator for the United Nations says there is 'credible evidence' warranting a probe into Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's possible involvement in the 2018 slaying of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.  >> Read more trending news  According to The Associated Press, U.N. special rapporteur Agnes Callamard said in a 101-page report that 'a proper authority' should consider whether the crown prince or senior adviser Saud Alqahtani bore 'criminal responsibility' in the death. 'Mr. Khashoggi's killing constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible,' the report said.  Khashoggi, who was critical of the Saudi regime, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October. Saudi officials later blamed the death on 'rogue operators,' CNN reported. Eleven people – five of whom could receive the death penalty – are being tried in Saudi Arabia in connection with the slaying. The report said Callamard made 'no conclusion' as to whether the crown prince or Alqahtani are guilty but determined that Khashoggi's execution was 'deliberate' and 'premeditated,' news outlets reported. The report also named 15 suspects in the incident, during which Khashoggi was drugged, suffocated and dismembered, CNN reported. Read more here or here. – The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Washington Insider

  • After weeks of negotiations over a White House request for extra money to deal with a surge of illegal immigrants along the southern border with Mexico, Senators on a key spending panel voted 30-1 on Wednesday to approve a $4.59 billion spending package to insure that various federal agencies have enough money to address what President Donald Trump has said is a crisis at the border. 'This situation as most of us realize is past the breaking point,' said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL). 'I believe we must act.' 'The fact is that we do have a humanitarian crisis on the border that does need to be addressed,' said Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), who recounted crowded holding facilities for illegal immigrants. 'We've seen big numbers in the past, but we're going to exceed that this year,' said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). 'This bill is absolutely necessary,' said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). 'There are families and children who need our support.' The only 'no' vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee came from Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). The bill only deals with money to help address the humanitarian needs along the border - it does not address any changes in U.S. immigration laws desired by President Trump. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee had been scheduled to start work on a bill which would make some of those immigration reforms, but that work will be delayed into July in search of a bipartisan agreement. “This is not a crisis - this is a disaster,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is leading President Trump's charge to change immigration laws. 'Our immigration laws are a disgrace and the Democrats can get together with the Republicans and solve the problem quickly,' the President told his campaign kickoff rally on Tuesday night in Orlando, Florida. It's expected the full Senate could vote on the package next week. It is not clear if the House would follow suit before lawmakers leave town at the end of June for a break during the week of July Fourth.