WASHINGTON – White House Chief of Staff John Kelly suggests that some undocumented immigrants were “too afraid” or “too lazy” to sign up for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Kelley, after meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, says, “There are 690,000 official DACA registrants and the president sent over what amounts to be two and a half times that number, to 1.8 million,” according to audio posted by The Washington Post.
He adds, “The difference between 690 and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn’t sign up.”
Kelly later said some people who were DACA eligible but didn’t sign up had reasons but most probably “needed to get off the couch.”
Congress asks military brass to explain scandals
Top officials from the Department of Defense and each armed service branch are scheduled today to appear on Capitol Hill to explain a rash of cases involving misconduct among senior officers.
The House Armed Services Committee’s personnel panel is examining a series of incidents involving sexual misconduct, some of them brought to public attention by USA TODAY.
Since 2013, military investigators documented at least 500 cases of serious misconduct among admirals, general and senior civilian officials. According to the Pentagon’s Inspector General, the number of complaints about misconduct among senior officials has continued to rise.
Casino mogul Wynn resigns amid claims of sexual misconduct
Casino mogul Stephen Wynn steps down as chief executive and chairman of the board of Wynn Resorts, after accusations of decades of sexual misconduct, according to a report in The New York Times.
Wynn says in a release; his decision comes because of “an avalanche of negative publicity.”
Wynn was the subject of an in-depth investigation by The Wall Street Journal published last month that found that the 76-year old billionaire had harassed female employees for decades and coerced them into sex.
He also resigned last month as finance chair of the Republican National Committee, a post for which he was hand-picked by President Trump.
Wynn transformed Las Vegas with the Mirage, the Bellagio and the soaring Wynn Hotel and Encore towers, making the city not just a gambling but a tourist destination with the iconic slogan, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”
Senators probes USA Gymnastics, US Olympic Committee
Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced a bipartisan resolution to establish a special committee to investigate USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in the wake of the Larry Nassar sex abuse case.
“This was not a simple case of negligence or failed oversight,” Shaheen said at a news conference Wednesday. “There is ample evidence that many were alerted multiple times on Nassar’s behavior and they found excuses to look the other way.”
Nassar, a former team doctor for USA Gymnastics, was sentenced Monday to 40-125 years in prison for criminal sexual conduct. This was the third sentence Nassar received after sexual abuse allegations from young female athletes. More than 250 women and girls reported to authorities that Nassar abused them.
“While it began with the conviction of Larry Nassar, that is not where this ends,” Ernst said. “The reprehensible actions of this so-called doctor have been exposed, yet there are still so many questions that remain.”
Shaheen and Ernst have called for the resignation of Scott Blackmun, USOC’s CEO, after reports claimed he was informed of Nassar’s behavior in 2015.
“If these reports are true, this goes far beyond negligence and raises serious questions of culpability at USOC,” the senators said in a joint statement last week.
Omarosa: from the White House to the ‘Big Brother’ house
Omarosa Manigault, the cutthroat contestant on The Apprentice who parlayed her friendship with Donald Trump into a White House job, returns to reality TV today as part of the cast of Big Brother: Celebrity Edition, according to USA Today.
Omarosa will be locked in a house and must avoid being voted out by celebs such as former NBA player Metta World Peace, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Brandi Glanville, Sugar Ray singer Mark McGrath and others.
Houseguests (and viewers) will have plenty of questions about her exit from Trump administration last month. This version of Big Brother will go only two and a half weeks, instead of the usual 99 days.
FEMA contracted for 30 million meals, only 50,000 were delivered
The Federal Emergency Management Administration may come under congressional scrutiny after a $156 million contract to deliver 30 million meals to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, delivered just 50,000, according to The New York Times.
Democrats Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Del. Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands have asked GOP House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina to subpoena FEMA for documents related to a botched contract for Hurricane Maria relief in Puerto Rico.
The $156 million contract to deliver millions of meals went to an Atlanta-based entrepreneur, the paper notes, with “no experience in large-scale disaster relief and at least five canceled government contracts in her past. The award was the largest direct meals contract of the 2017 hurricane season and raises questions about how well-prepared the agency is to respond to disasters.
Group targets gerrymandering in G.O.P.-run states
A Democratic group backed by former President Barack Obama and led by Eric H. Holder Jr., the former attorney general, plans to compete in a dozen states to block Republicans from unilaterally drawing congressional maps, according to The New York Times.
The National Democratic Redistricting Committee is targeting several key battleground states ahead of the 2018 elections, funneling cash into races for governorships, legislative seats and other state offices, according to the Times.
Holder tells the newspaper the group will hone in on the “trifecta” states where Republicans control both the governorship and entire state legislature. Such a position allows Republicans to redistrict congressional maps without too much Democratic interference.
Pressure on Trump to release Dem countermemo
President Trump is under mounting pressure to allow the release of a Democratic rebuttal to a GOP memo that alleges bias in the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation, according to The Hill.
Trump has until Friday to block the publication of the 10-page document, which right now remains classified. The White House has been mute about whether Trump will allow it to become public.
The president met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to review the document and “discuss some of the differences” with the GOP document, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Gay rights groups pressure Amazon over HQ2 location
LGBT groups are trying to use Amazon’s search for a city to build their second headquarters to push anti-discrimination efforts in states where those laws are not yet on the books, according to The Hill.
A coalition of LGBT groups has launched a “No Gay, No Way” campaign, aimed at spotlighting the nine finalist cities in states that do not have anti-discrimination laws.
The groups believe they can either force those states to change their laws to woo the mega-project, which is expected to be worth billions in economic activity or cause them the heartache of losing Amazon’s high-paying jobs.
Among the finalist cities are Austin, Texas; Dallas; Atlanta; Columbus, Ohio; Miami; Raleigh, N.C.; Indianapolis; and the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington.
Texas, Georgia, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Indiana and Virginia do not have anti-discrimination laws in effect.
Missouri win fires up Democrats
Democrats won an exurban St. Louis seat in the Missouri state House of Representatives, racking up another victory in a district carried easily by President Trump in the 2016 election, according to The Hill.
They will likely portray the unexpected win Tuesday as evidence that the party’s voters are fired up ahead of November’s midterm elections, after a string of special election wins over the course of the last year.
Voters in Jefferson County appeared to have chosen Mike Revis, a 27-year old Democrat, to fill a seat left vacant when the incumbent quit to run for county executive. With all 10 precincts within the district reporting, Revis led Republican David Linton by 108 votes, or about three percentage points.
If Revis’s lead holds, it would mark a significant swing from 2016, when President Trump won the district by a 61 percent to 33 percent margin.
Macron to make US state visit in April
French President Emmanuel Macron will reportedly make a state visit to the U.S. in late April.
The Independent reports that Macron and President Trump have settled on a date for the state visit.
Last month, it was reported that Trump was planning to invite Macron for an official state visit in Washington, D.C.
It would be the first state visit of Trump’s presidency.
Federal charges filed against undocumented immigrant in NFL player’s death
The undocumented immigrant accused in the death of an NFL player in a fatal car accident is now facing federal immigration charges, reports The Hill.
The Justice Department announced late Tuesday that it has charged 37-year-old Manuel Orrego-Zavala with illegally re-entering the U.S. after two prior deportations.
Orrego-Zavala is accused of hitting Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson, 26, and his Uber driver Jeffrey Monroe, 54, while driving drunk on a highway early Sunday morning.
Is the bumpy ride over?
Dow futures dropped about 150 points this morning as the volatility that has rocked markets for more than a week lingers, according to CNN.
The premarket losses signal a decline of about 200 points at the open.
But the mood has calmed somewhat after Wall Street staged a dramatic turnaround Tuesday. After sinking 567 points early in the day and stumbling into correction territory, the Dow ended the day with a mirror image gain of 567 points.
That powerful bounce gives hope to the bulls that the market has found a bottom after a period of extreme selling in recent days.
FBI officials praised Comey, mocked lawmakers
Two FBI officials who disparaged President Trump in text messages reportedly exchanged other messages in 2016 praising former FBI director James Comey and criticizing Congress, The Associated Press reports.
The exchange is part of pages of text messages the Justice Department gave to Congress.
The discovery of messages critical of Trump between Strzok and Page led Special Counsel Robert Mueller to remove Strzok from his team. Those texts have also fueled accusations among GOP lawmakers that Mueller’s probe is tainted by partisanship.
The two officials — FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page — in an exchange mocked Congress as “worthless,” according to the news service.
In the exchange in July of 2016 — while Comey was defending the bureau’s decision regarding Hillary Clinton’s private email server to Congress — Page wrote in a text message that Congress is “utterly worthless.”
Strzok responded: “Less than worthless.”
They also offered praise for Comey, referring to him as “brilliant.”
Meghan McCain: I don’t believe Trump will attack my dad again
Meghan McCain says in a new interview that she doesn’t think President Trump will attack her father, GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona, again.
“I don’t think at this point in his administration it would be beneficial to him in any way,” she tells Politico’s Women Rule podcast.
Meghan McCain says Trump called her and said he would ease up on attacks on her father.
“I don’t think he has obviously attacked him in a while, but when the news came out that he was apparently, allegedly making physical mockeries of my father’s war injuries…I was deeply hurt by it,” Meghan McCain says during the Politico interview, referring to reports that Trump physically mocked her war hero father behind closed doors.
Gamechanger SpaceX’s giant rocket takes sports car into space
SpaceX’s big new rocket blasted off on its first test flight, carrying a red electric sports car aiming for an endless road trip past Mars, according to The Associated Press.
The Falcon Heavy lifted off Tuesday from the same launch pad used by NASA nearly 50 years ago to send men to the moon. The rocket, now the most powerful in use today, could be a gamechanger.
By doubling the liftoff punch of its closest competitor, it could one day be used to hoist supersize satellites and equipment and enable crewed missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
For SpaceX’s test flight, the private rocket company run by Elon Musk, a red sports car made by another of Musk’s companies, Tesla, with a dummy driver was the unusual cargo, enclosed in protective covering for the launch.
Russian hackers hunt high-tech secrets, exploiting US weakness
Russian cyber-spies pursuing the secrets of military drones and other sensitive U.S. defense technology tricked key contract workers into exposing their email to theft, according to an Associated Press investigation.
The hackers exploited a national vulnerability in cybersecurity: poorly protected email and little direct notification to victims, according to the news service.
The hackers known as Fancy Bear — who also intruded in the U.S. election — went after at least 87 people working on militarized drones, missiles, rockets, stealth fighter jets, cloud-computing platforms or other sensitive activities, the AP found.
Charles Sowell, a former senior adviser to the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, reviewed the list of names for the AP, noting it’s “really scary” because information the hackers accessed could undercut U.S. defense and military competitive advantage. Companies, trade groups, contractors in U.S.-allied countries and/or on corporate boards as well as defense giants like Lockheed Martin Corp., Raytheon Co., Boeing Co., Airbus Group and General Atomics were targeted.
Despite lawyers’ warnings, Trump may still sit down with Mueller
President Trump still wants to talk with Special Counsel Robert Mueller despite his lawyers urging him not to sit for an interview, CNN reports, citing Trump allies.
One person familiar with the president’s thinking told CNN that Trump wants to talk with Mueller because the president thinks he is completely innocent.
The source says, “He thinks he can work this. He doesn’t realize how high the stakes are.”
The source added that if Trump does sit down for an interview, he can’t back out of it, noting, “You can’t get up and walk away.”
Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci says that Trump is “basically saying that ‘I’m wide open as a book. I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong and I’m willing to say so under oath.’ ”
Scaramucci tells CNN, “So again, I still think that that is on the table,”.
The report comes after The New York Times reported this week that Trump’s lawyers are urging him to not sit for an interview with Mueller.
Appeals court rejects separate challenge to Trump University settlement
A federal appeals court has upheld the $25 million settlement President Donald Trump agreed to in a bid to resolve long running lawsuits claiming fraud in his Trump University real estate seminar venture, according to a report in Politico.
The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a challenge brought by Florida bankruptcy lawyer Sherri Simpson, who said she wanted to take Trump to trial over the $19,000 she paid for classes and a mentorship program.
Lawyers for Simpson said notices sent to thousands of Trump University participants earlier in the litigation promised the right to opt out of the class-action suits immediately or after any settlement was proposed, but the three-judge appeals court panel disagreed.
Lo-cal ice cream wars heat up
Ben & Jerry’s, known for its ice cream filled with chunks of fudge, brownies or cookie dough, is the latest big brand to launch a slimmed-down version of its frozen treats to better compete with Halo Top, a low-calorie, low-sugar ice cream that is growing fast and sending shivers through older brands, according to the Associated Press.
Halo Top’s pints have fewer than 400 calories, emphasizing the full calorie count on the front of its package — a move others are mimicking. Breyers — which, like Ben & Jerry’s is owned by Unilever — launched a line of light ice, cream in July whose pints have 330 calories or less, with the totals printed on the front.
Ben & Jerry’s entry, which will hit stores this month, is called Moo-phoria, comes in three flavors and still has some crunch. A chocolate and vanilla ice cream mixed with cookies has 140 calories for half a cup, or 560 calories for the whole pint. A regular Ben & Jerry’s pint can top 1,000 calories.
Sister of North Korean leader to go south for Olympics
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, an increasingly prominent figure in the country’s leadership, will be part of the North’s delegation to the South Korean Winter Olympics, officials said today, reports the Associated Press.
Kim Yo Jong, believed to be around 30, will be the first member of North Korea’s ruling family to visit South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. Analysts say her inclusion in the Olympic delegation shows North Korea’s ambition to use the Olympics to break out from diplomatic isolation by improving relations with the South, which it could use as a bridge for approaching the United States.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s office welcomed North Korea’s decision, saying it showed the North’s willingness to cooperate in easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
No word whether Kim Yo Jong will meet with Moon, a liberal who has expressed a desire to reach out to the North.
GOP voters trust CNN, N.Y. Times over Breitbart, InfoWars
Led by President Trump, Republicans have railed repeatedly against The New York Times, Washington Post and CNN — but, as a group, they trust these mainstream sites more than “fake news” sites or even highly partisan outlets like Breitbart and InfoWars, according to a Yale study.
By the same token, Democrats hold a dim view of Fox News, but still rate it as more trustworthy than fake and hyper-partisan sites.
The Yale study, released Tuesday, directly mirrors the methodology being used by Facebook to identify “trusted” sites, and suggests that as Facebook conducts its own surveys, designed to help the massive social network rank its own news feeds, mainstream media organizations could get a boost.
Citing tax cuts, Chipotle to give out bonuses and new benefits
Chipotle employees will see one-time bonuses of up to $1,000, as well as expanded training programs and parental leave, the company announced today, according to The Hill.
The announcement comes less than two months after President Trump signed a sweeping series of tax cuts into law that slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.
Chipotle says that tax savings from the new law prompted it to offer its roughly 71,000 hourly and salaried employees the bonuses and new benefits.
White until the DNA says you’re also African
As more Americans take advantage of genetic testing to pinpoint the makeup of their DNA, the technology is coming head to head with the country’s deep-rooted obsession with race and racial myths, according to The Washington Post.
This is no more true than for the growing number of self-identified European Americans who learn they are actually part African.
One white supremacist who discovered he had African DNA claimed on the white nationalist website Stormfront.com that the testing company was part of a Jewish conspiracy to “defame, confuse and deracinate young whites on a mass level.”
Henry Louis Gates, whose PBS show “Finding Your Roots” helped actor Ty Burrell and singer Carly Simon discover that they had African ancestry, said he hopes that mounting awareness of the complexity of DNA will help lead to greater understanding across racial and ethnic lines.