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National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights
  • TEXAS NEWS & POLITICS
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National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Blake Farenthold’s sexual harassment case revived by House panel

The sexual harassment case against U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, whose district includes parts of Bastrop and Caldwell counties, took on new life Thursday as a House committee unanimously voted to launch a new investigation into allegations that he made explicit remarks to a former aide and retaliated against her for complaining. The move comes six days after revelations that he had settled a lawsuit...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

INSIGHT: Hope after hardship — the story of Rohingya refugees in Austin

by Qiling Wang, Austin American-Statesman

About 620,000 Rohingya — a Muslim ethnic minority from Myanmar’s western Rakhine state — have fled violence this year in a refugee crisis that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson identified as “ethnic cleansing” after a trip in November. The persecution of Rohingya is a decadeslong story — and one that could be told here in North Austin by Mohamad Hussain, 40...

Abbott promise on postpartum depression goes unmet

by W. Gardner Selby, American-Statesman Staff

Gov. Greg Abbott agreed with lawmakers this year on a move that could encourage more Texas mothers to get checked for postpartum depression. For a second time, though, Abbott’s 2013 campaign call to spend money qualifying low-income mothers for a year’s worth of mental health screenings and services after giving birth didn’t pass into law. Last year, we had marked this Abbott campaign...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Abbott names Austin lawyer Dustin Howell to new court bench

by Chuck Lindell, American-Statesman Staff

Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday appointed Austin lawyer Dustin Howell to be the judge for a newly created state District Court in Travis County. The 459th District Court was created by the Legislature in May to handle civil matters. Howell practices civil appellate law as an associate at the McKool Smith law firm and previously represented Texas in appeals as an assistant solicitor general for the Texas...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Embattled U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold draws 9 challengers

by Johnathan Silver, American-Statesman Staff

Five Republicans and four Democrats are challenging U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, who used taxpayer dollars to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a former staffer and is now under investigation by the House Ethics Commission. The embattled, four-term lawmaker came under fire after a Dec. 1 Politico report revealed he had settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with $84,000 in...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

More turmoil among Travis Democrats: Former candidate files complaint

by Taylor Goldenstein, American-Statesman Staff

Mike Lewis acknowledges his own social media posts doomed his candidacy to become chairman of the Travis County Democratic Party — but only after they were plastered on a shadowy website run by an anonymous foe. If people should know who he was, Lewis said, they should also know who took him down and how. This week, Lewis said he filed two complaints with the Texas Ethics Commission: one against...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Jerry Patterson to challenge George P. Bush for land commissioner

by Johnathan Silver, American-Statesman Staff

Former Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson says he wants his old job back. Patterson, who served three terms as land commissioner before running fourth in a four-way Republican primary contest for lieutenant governor in 2014, said Friday he will challenge one-term Land Commissioner George P. Bush in the March GOP primary. Over the past several months, Patterson has criticized Bush over his oversight...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

M.J. Hegar isn’t your father’s congressional candidate. Here’s why.

by Maria Recio, American-Statesman special correspondent

Mary Jennings Hegar is a somewhat unusual candidate for Congress. A former Air Force helicopter pilot who won a Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor and a Purple Heart for her bravery in Afghanistan, Hegar led a suit against the Pentagon over excluding women from combat — and won. Last month, Hegar, who lives in Round Rock, did something that was also a little out of the ordinary for a candidate...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Democrat Lupe Valdez provides photos indicating migrant worker roots

by W. Gardner Selby, American-Statesman Staff

Lupe Valdez, the just-resigned Dallas County sheriff seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, responded to an inquiry about her family’s roots by providing a pair of photographs. On Thursday, Kiefer Odell of Valdez’s campaign, which was launched Wednesday, emailed the photos in reply to an inquiry from the fact-checking PolitiFact Texas project based at the Austin American-Statesman...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

House Ethics Committee revives investigation into Rep. Farenthold

by Michelle Ye Hee Lee, The Washington Post

The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday it has established a subcommittee to investigate allegations of misconduct by Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, expanding its work in light of new information that surfaced in recent weeks about a 2015 settlement agreement he reached with his former aide.  The committee initially launched an investigation into Farenthold in September 2015, but it was...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Trump signals he may be open to changes rich friends want in tax bill

by Damian Paletta, Josh Dawsey, The Washington Post

Some of President Donald Trump's wealthiest New York friends have launched a last-minute campaign to pressure him for changes to the GOP tax bill, telling the president personally that the current plan would drive up their taxes and hurt his home state.  Trump on Saturday attended a fundraiser at the home of Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive of the Blackstone Group and the former leader of...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Franks to resign, says he broached surrogacy with subordinates

by Mike Debonis, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, The Washington Post

Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican who is among the most conservative members of the House, said he would resign his seat after House officials learned that he had asked two female employees to bear his child as a surrogate.  Franks' announcement came as the House Ethics Committee said it would create a special subcommittee to investigate Franks for conduct "that constitutes sexual...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Emails show bid in Russia to help Trump

by Rosalind S. Helderman, Anton Troianovski, Tom Hamburger, The Washington Post

An executive at a leading Russian social media company made several overtures to Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2016 — including days before the November election — urging the candidate to create a page on the website to appeal to Russian Americans and Russians.  The executive at Vkontakte, or VK, Russia's equivalent to Facebook, emailed Donald Trump Jr. and social media...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

An accuser says Franken’s speech missed the mark: ‘No apology’

by Kimberly Kindy, The Washington Post

By the time Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., announced his resignation Thursday morning on the Senate floor, eight women had either written essays or given media interviews accusing him of kissing them, groping them or both without their consent over the past decade.  The accusations began three weeks ago with an essay written by Leeann Tweeden, a host on KABC radio in Los Angeles. Tweeden said that...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

To win swing voters, Democrat in Alabama Senate race appeals to morals

by David Weigel, The Washington Post

Doug Jones, the Democrat working to win a Senate seat that Republicans have held comfortably since the 1990s, is trying not so much to sway swing voters as to recruit them for a moral cause. On a day when his opponent, Republican Roy Moore, made no public appearances, Jones called for Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., to resign, then rallied with workplace rights activist Lilly Ledbetter to argue that Alabama...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Why Democrats decided Franken had to go

by Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

It seems like a distant memory now, but Al Franken's arrival in the U.S. Senate eight years ago marked the very moment when Democrats' control of Washington reached its highest point in a generation.  After an eight-month recount, the one-time "Saturday Night Live" star had been declared the narrow winner of the 2008 election in Minnesota — and Democrats, who also held the House...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Bannon finds new fight backing Roy Moore, but risks are high

by Jeremy W. Peters, The New York Times

Four months ago, Stephen Bannon was plotting a takeover of Washington and the Republican Party from his office in the West Wing as chief strategist to President Donald Trump.  On Tuesday, Bannon the private citizen stood where his latest fight had taken him: the mulch floor of a barn in southern Alabama, where he delivered a passionate plea to elect Roy S. Moore, the former judge who faces numerous...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Cory Booker expected to campaign for Doug Jones in Alabama Senate race

by Sean Sullivan, The Washington Post

Alabama Democratic Senate nominee Doug Jones and his allies are trying to finalize plans to bring in several high-profile current or former African American elected officials, including Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., to campaign for him this weekend, as he wages an aggressive final push to turn out black voters in a Tuesday special election with national stakes.  Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., has been...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Commentary: An apology, and a call for a second chance

by Ted Gordon, Special to the American-Statesman

For the better part of the past two years, I looked with skepticism at the whole Facility Master Plan process and what it meant for East and Northeast Austin, particularly in terms of equity for my district, District 1. Although I voted against the FMP for reasons related to my concerns about equity, I ultimately supported the $1 billion school bond proposition when it became painfully apparent that...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Texas retired teachers leaving state health program in droves

by Julie Chang, American-Statesman Staff

About 7,800 retired Texas teachers are abandoning the health insurance program the state has created for them — long one of the top benefits for Texas public school teachers — a troubling development for a health care system that faces a $700 million funding shortfall. The abnormally large wave of requests to leave the health insurance program, which is housed under the Teacher Retirement...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Herman: Andrew White launches bid to return to Governor’s Mansion

by Ken Herman, American-Statesman Staff

A Houston businessman on Thursday announced plans to move back into the Austin home in which he lived as a kid until the people of Texas threw his family out. His mom, Linda Gale White, who also lived in that house, sat in the front row, led the applause and had tears in her eyes when it was over. Linda Gale White says she’d love to spend some more time in that home, this time as a grandmother...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Republican primary race for Williamson County judge heats up

by Claire Osborn, American-Statesman Staff

The primary race between two Republican candidates for Williamson County judge heated up before it even officially started. Prior to Justice of the Peace Bill Gravell announcing Dec. 2 that he was running for the job, Round Rock City Council Member Frank Leffingwell, his opponent, said in a news release that the judge had wasted taxpayers’ money by campaigning for months. Tension continued to...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Putin, aiming to cement his legacy, will seek a fourth term

by Neil Macfarquhar, The New York Times

President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that he would seek a fourth term as president of Russia in a March election that he is expected to win handily.  A full, six-year term until 2024 would make his 24-year tenure — including his years as prime minister — the longest by a Russian leader since Josef Stalin sat in the Kremlin for 29 years. It is widely believed that Putin...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Ironing out Senate and House tax bill differences

by Deborah B. Solomon, The New York Times

The Senate tax bill, which passed early Saturday morning, contained several last-minute changes that only widened the differences with the House-passed bill.  Lawmakers from both chambers are now headed to conference, where they will try to work out their differences and emerge with a final bill that can be passed by the House and Senate and then sent to President Donald Trump’s desk by...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

GOP leaders said to be mulling smaller corporate tax cuts

by Damian Paletta, Erica Werner, The Washington Post

Leading Republicans are looking at scaling back some of the corporate tax cuts that they are trying to usher into law, two people involved in the tax negotiations said, convinced that they need to find new revenue to make last-minute fixes to the giant package moving through Congress.  The House and Senate passed separate tax cut packages in recent weeks, and both bills would lower the corporate...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Flynn said Russian sanctions would be “ripped up,” whistleblower says

by Mark Mazzetti and Michael S. Schmidt, The New York Times

Michael T. Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, told a former business associate that economic sanctions against Russia would be “ripped up” as one of the Trump administration’s first acts, according to an account by a whistleblower made public on Wednesday.  Flynn believed that ending the sanctions could allow a business project he had once...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Tax bill is likely to undo health insurance mandate, Republicans say

by Robert Pear and Thomas Kaplan, The New York Times

House and Senate negotiators thrashing out differences over a major tax bill are likely to eliminate the insurance coverage mandate at the heart of the Affordable Care Act, lawmakers say.  But a deal struck by Senate Republican leaders and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine to mitigate the effect of the repeal has been all but rejected by House Republicans, potentially jeopardizing Collins’ final...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

On sexual misconduct, Gillibrand keeps herself at the fore

by Shane Goldmacher, The New York Times

When the floodgates opened on Wednesday to cast Sen. Al Franken aside, following a half-dozen accusations of sexual misconduct, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand had positioned herself at the crest of the wave.  “Enough is enough,” she wrote on Facebook, becoming the first of Franken’s Democratic colleagues to call for his resignation on Wednesday morning. By lunchtime, more than a quarter...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

House kills Rep. Al Green’s attempt to impeach Trump

by Kevin Diaz, The New York Times

The U.S. House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to block an impeachment resolution brought by Houston Democrat Al Green to remove President Donald Trump from office.  By a vote of 364 to 58, lawmakers approved a GOP motion to table Green's resolution, effectively killing it. In all, only 58 Democrats — including Houston's Sheila Jackson Lee — sided with Green. Four others, including...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Trump Jr. meets with House panel

by Karoun Demirjian, Rosalind S. Helderman, The Washington Post

Donald Trump Jr. met behind closed doors for roughly seven hours Wednesday with the House Intelligence committee, fielding extensive questioning about contacts he had with Russians during the 2016 campaign.  Committee members queried President Donald Trump's eldest son about a June 2016 meeting he held with a Russian lawyer after he was told she would provide damaging information about Democratic...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Democrats get a front-runner for governor: Lupe Valdez

by Chuck Lindell, American-Statesman Staff

Giving Democrats their highest-profile candidate for the state’s top race, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez launched her campaign for governor Wednesday after better-known politicians took a pass against a well-funded GOP incumbent in a strongly Republican state. Valdez entered a crowded 2018 Democratic primary against at least seven other filed or announced candidates, but she entered as a...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

UT graduate students protest low wages, possible tax on waived tuition

by Ralph K.M. Haurwitz, American-Statesman Staff

University of Texas graduate students are protesting wages they consider too low as well as a measure passed by the U.S. House that would require them to pay taxes on tuition charges waived by the university. About 200 staged a walkout at noon Wednesday to rally on UT’s Main Mall in a cold rain, chanting, “Grad students will not stay overworked and underpaid,” and brandishing...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Groups call for pause on student special education data project

by Andrea Ball, American-Statesman Staff

Two statewide groups are calling on the Texas Education Agency to temporarily suspend a $4.4 million, no-bid contract with a company hired to do data mining of confidential special education records, saying the project needs further scrutiny in light of recent complaints. Disability Rights Texas — a federally created group that advocates for people with disabilities — and the Texas Council...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Commentary: Gerrymandering and the great Texas property tax swindle

by Mike Collier, Special to the American-Statesman

When the Texas Legislature meets to redraw our congressional districts after the 2020 Census, they’ll have more computing horsepower at their fingertips than Neil Armstrong had when he landed on the moon. Big data, the likes of which Eldridge Gerry and the good people of Massachusetts could never have imagined in the 1800s, will be used by the Republican-controlled Legislature to draw political...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Lupe Valdez, Texas gubernatorial hopeful, touts migrant worker roots

by W. Gardner Selby, American-Statesman Staff

Democrat Lupe Valdez, who has resigned as Dallas County sheriff and declared her candidacy for governor of Texas, often underscores her family’s background as migrant farm workers. Valdez told reporters in Austin Wednesday: “I was born the eighth child of migrant farm workers.” Similarly, Valdez told the Democratic National Convention in July 2016: “I am the youngest of eight...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Tax plan crowns a big winner: Trump’s industry

by Patricia Cohen and Jesse Drucker, The New York Times

After a frenzy of congressional action to rewrite the tax code, salesclerks and chief executives are calculating their gains. Business was treated with the everyone’s-a-winner approach that ensures no summer camper goes home without a trophy.  Some got special prizes. Cruise lines, craft beer and wine producers (even foreign ones), car dealers, private equity, and oil and gas pipeline managers...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Democratic Rep. Al Green says he will force House impeachment vote

by Mike Debonis, The Washington Post

House lawmakers will take their first vote on whether to impeach President Donald Trump this week if a Texas Democrat follows through on plans he announced to colleagues Tuesday.  Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, said in a memo to fellow lawmakers that he planned to bring articles of impeachment to the House floor on Wednesday as a "privileged resolution," one that would be entitled to a vote...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Stephen Bannon returns to the air with satellite radio program

by Maggie Haberman, The New York Times

Stephen Bannon, who was President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, has garnered national attention after leaving the White House as he tries to influence political races, and is sometimes given equal billing with Trump in some news accounts about their different stands.  This week, Bannon will have another platform to criticize the Republican establishment and to portray himself as defender...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Conyers faced more allegations as he weighed his future

by Kimberly Kindy, The Washington Post

As Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., this week weighed calls for his resignation from a Michigan hospital bed, more women were coming forward with accounts of sexual misconduct by the lawmaker.  A former office intern who spoke to The Washington Post, described new complaints about Conyers as the congressman remained hospitalized, assessing whether he would continue his 52-year run in Congress...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Senate confirms Kirstjen Nielsen, a top White House aide, to lead Homeland Security

by Nick Miroff, The Washington Post

The Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Kirstjen Nielsen as the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, installing a close confidant of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to lead the federal agency responsible for carrying out many of President Trump's most ambitious domestic policy plans.  Nielsen, 45, developed a reputation for fierce devotion to Kelly as his deputy at the White...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Grad students arrested during tax protest at Speaker Ryan’s office

by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, The Washington Post

Eight graduate students were arrested Tuesday protesting the Republican tax plan outside the Capitol Hill office of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the latest demonstration against legislation that students fear will make their education less affordable.  Graduate students say their taxes will skyrocket if a proposal to treat their tuition benefits as income makes it into the final version of...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Mueller’s budget tops $3.2 million so far in Trump-Russia probe

by Chris Strohm, Bloomberg News

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has spent more than $3.2 million in the opening months of his federal criminal investigation into Russian interference in last year's U.S. election and whether President Donald Trump or anyone close to him colluded in it.  The spending, compiled by Mueller's office, was released by the Justice Department on Tuesday and covers the period from May 17 through Sept...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Bannon rails at Romney in Alabama speech: ‘You hid behind your religion’ to avoid Vietnam

by David Weigel, The Washington Post

Former White House political strategist Stephen Bannon rallied for Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore by picking another fight with a figure from the so-called "Republican establishment" — 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.  "Judge Roy Moore has more honor and integrity in that pinky finger than your entire family has in its whole DNA," Bannon said in his 30-minute...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Despite improvements, CPS missing mark on timely investigations

by Julie Chang, American-Statesman Staff

More caseworkers are staying on the job and employee workloads have dropped, but the state’s troubled child protection agency is still missing the mark on seeing children in potential danger in a timely manner. Late last year, the Legislature approved $150 million that gave caseworkers, including child abuse investigators, in Child Protective Services a $12,000 yearly pay increase and allowed...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

State lawmakers concerned that Alamo redesign effort not transparent

by Julie Chang, American-Statesman Staff

State lawmakers on Tuesday chastised Land Commissioner George P. Bush for not doing enough to involve the public in the redevelopment of the Alamo site. “Everybody that’s here today sitting in front of you voted for legislation during the regular session that would have made … what you’re doing illegal,” Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, told Bush during a hearing of the Senate...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Herman: A nontraditional gubernatorial candidate

by Ken Herman, American-Statesman Staff

Good morning, class. From the following list, please choose the one you’d least expect the Great State of Texas to be the first state to do. Remember, we’re looking for the one you’d least expect Texas to be the first to do: 1. Officially recognize football as a religion. 2. Make it illegal to be poor. 3. Declare education optional. 4. Make football the official religion of...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Commentary: Why the ‘attack’ on Christmas is an American fallacy

by Ann Young, Special to the American-Statesman

“If one more person says ‘Happy Holidays’ to me, I just might slap them. Either tell me ‘Merry Christmas’ or just don’t say anything.” So went a festive holiday message Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller made on Facebook a couple of years ago. Non-Christians can stop reading here, as this message is not aimed at you. Instead, I would like my Christian...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Commentary: How Austin could atone for policies that harm the homeless

by Richard Troxell, Special to the American-Statesman

Imagine that you are an employer deciding between two people who seem equally qualified for a job you are offering. However, when examining criminal records, one person has a clean report but the other has seven convictions. You end the interview and hire the chap who’s “clean.” Now, imagine you are a landlord. The same two people are before you — and both have sufficient funds...

Austin piecing together plan to provide jobs to homeless, panhandlers

by Anusha Lalani, American-Statesman Staff

The Austin Public Health Department is taking its first steps toward providing paid job opportunities to panhandlers and those experiencing homelessness. A resolution, proposed by City Council Member Ellen Troxclair, calls for creating a pilot program, Residents In Search of Empowerment ATX, that would offer temporary work to those in need. According to a 2016 annual report from the Ending Community...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Austin police predict up to $30M hit if council won’t approve contract

by Tony Plohetski, American-Statesman Staff, KVUE News

With a looming Austin City Council vote, police officials have begun preparing for the possibility that dozens of officers could retire by the end of the year, bringing an unexpected financial burden of millions of dollars. Council members will vote next Wednesday on whether to approve the new labor agreement with officers that would continue an often-debated benefit under which officers are paid...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Diversions and disguises: Behind Austin’s city manager search

by Philip Jankowski, American-Statesman Staff

To dodge reporters, consultants suggested the finalists to be Austin’s next city manager don wigs, pretend to be tourists or possibly even wear Halloween masks after American-Statesman reporters managed to identify several candidates during the city’s top-secret search for its next leader. That was one of many details revealed in more than 400 pages of communications the city provided...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Public Safety Commission endorses proposed Austin police contract

by Mark Wilson, American-Statesman Staff

Members of Austin’s Public Safety Commission and the Citizen Review Panel have recommended that the City Council approve a proposed contract with Austin police that ties pay increases to greater transparency and police accountability. Several activists spoke out against the five-year contract, saying it does not provide enough oversight, and that more could be done to ensure that the officials...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

How one company actually plans to spend its tax cut money

by Natalie Kitroeff, The New York Times

Republicans have pitched their tax plan as an economic godsend that will offer deliverance from middling growth and set off a torrent of investment, hiring and raises. But at a quarry here in Southern California’s high desert, the outcome does not look so straightforward.  The pit of rock belongs to CalPortland, which mines limestone to create the cement that goes into some of the country&rsquo...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Trump urges Hatch to run for reelection as speculation about Romney swirls

by Josh Dawsey, The Washington Post

President Donald Trump on Monday said he wanted Sen. Orrin Hatch to run for reelection, lavishing praise on the Utah Republican on several occasions during a brief visit to the snow-covered state.  "We hope you will continue to serve your state and your country in the Senate for a long time to come," Trump said in the state Capitol, calling Hatch a "fighter," a high compliment...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Congressman who settled sexual harassment complaint to reimburse taxpayers

by Elise Viebeck, The Washington Post

Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, said he will reimburse taxpayers after it was revealed he used public funds to settle with a former aide who sued him for sexual harassment in 2014.  Farenthold, speaking to an NBC affiliate in Corpus Christi, said he will "hand a check over" this week for the $84,000 received by his former communications director, Lauren Greene, who accused him of making...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Roy Moore losing money race to Democrat in Alabama Senate contest

by Bill Allison, John Mccormick, Bloomberg News

Fundraising by Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is lagging behind that of his Democratic rival Doug Jones as Democrats flood the race with money in hopes of stealing a victory as the special election campaign for the seat enters the final stretch.  Democrats have given Jones $8.1 million more than donors to his embattled rival in the period from Oct. 1 through Nov. 22, according...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

How an unequal tax cut grew more unequal

by Heather Long, The Washington Post

When Senate Republicans introduced their tax bill in mid-November, they faced competing interests: Some senators thought it wasn't generous enough for working-class families. Others thought it didn't deliver enough to business owners.  As Republicans moved closer to a final vote on the bill Friday night, they made several tweaks to the tax legislation. They announced more benefits for business...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Trump’s lawyer says a president can’t technically obstruct justice. Experts are dubious but to varying degrees

by Aaron Blake, The Washington Post

It was a whirlwind weekend for President Donald Trump's legal team, from Michael Flynn's guilty plea to Trump's problematic tweet to new reports that fill out the picture of a broadening Russia investigation. And it concluded Monday morning with Trump's personal lawyer making a bold claim: Regardless of all of it, John Dowd says, a president can't even technically obstruct justice.  Here's the...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

FBI “destroyed” Flynn’s life for lying, Trump says, but “nothing happened” to Clinton

by Eileen Sullivan, The New York Times

President Donald Trump on Monday said the FBI ruined the life of his former national security adviser and said his Democratic opponent for president, Hillary Clinton, suffered no consequences after she lied “many times” to the FBI.  Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI when he was questioned early this year about...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

After a high-drama vote, here’s what the Senate tax bill means for schools, parents and students

by Moriah Balingit, Nick Anderson, The Washington Post

The Senate tax bill that passed in the wee hours of Saturday morning could have massive implications for schools and universities, students and parents. Public education advocates warned that certain provisions could put pressure on state and local spending for public schools while giving parents incentives to send children to private schools.  The bill passed 51 to 49 after senators worked through...

National Politics: News, Opinion & Insights

Inside the secretive nerve center of the Mueller investigation

by Robert Costa, Carol D. Leonnig, Josh Dawsey, The Washington Post

A white sedan whisked a man into the loading dock of a glass and concrete building in a drab office district in Southwest Washington. Security guards quickly waved the vehicle inside, then pushed a button that closed the garage door and shielded the guest's arrival from public view.  With his stealth morning arrival Thursday, White House Counsel Donald McGahn became the latest in a string of...

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Fox’s Lou Dobbs says Obama should be arrested for implying Trump needs a filter

by Cleve R. Wootson Jr., The Washington Post

Call it an unwritten rule — a matter of decorum among the small fraternity of men who once held the title "leader of the free world."  Before he left office, Barack Obama said his goal was to steer clear of the political spotlight — as George W. Bush had done when he left the White House — giving the new president room to govern without Obama's shouldering into every...

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Trump’s campaign: Big Macs, screaming fits and constant rivalries

by Michael Kranish, The Washington Post

Elton John blares so loudly on Donald Trump's campaign plane that staffers can't hear themselves think. Press secretary Hope Hicks uses a steamer to press Trump's pants — while he is still wearing them. Trump screams at his top aides, who are subjected to expletive-filled tirades in which they get their "face ripped off."  And Trump's appetite seems to know no bounds when it comes...

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Analysis: Did Trump’s tweet about Flynn’s guilty plea admit something it shouldn’t have?

by Aaron Blake, The Washington Post

A little more than 24 hours after Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, President Trump finally took to Twitter to offer his thoughts. He may wish he hadn't.  In his first tweet on the subject since Flynn's plea, Trump argued that Flynn had no reason to lie about his actions because they weren't unlawful. But it's the first part of the tweet that caught plenty of people's attention...

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Analysis: Trump’s best and worst day as president

by ArLuther Lee, Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

Donald Trump's young presidency entered a new dimension of surreality on Friday, with his 315th day in office delivering both his greatest achievement to date and his darkest omen of peril ahead.  At the very moment the Senate was poised to pass a $1.5 trillion tax cut bill — a big step toward Trump's first major legislative victory — word came that his former National Security adviser...

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Democrats call for Nevada Rep. Kihuen to resign amid harassment allegations

by Elise Viebeck, The Washington Post

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other leading Democrats are calling on a freshman House lawmaker considered a rising star in the party to resign his seat after allegations surfaced that he sexually harassed one of his campaign aides.  In an article published Friday by BuzzFeed, Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., was accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward his then-campaign...

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What does Michael Flynn’s plea deal mean for Trump? Here are 4 big questions.

by Aaron Blake, The Washington Post

The first member of President Donald Trump's White House has been charged with and pleaded guilty to a crime stemming from interactions with Russia. And depending upon whom you ask, Michael Flynn's plea deal either signals doom for the Trump administration or is a good sign about the lack of a case being pieced together by special counsel Robert Mueller.  Mostly, though, the plea deal leaves...

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North Korea says it’s now a nuclear state. Could that mean it’s ready to talk?

by Mark Landler and Choe Sang Hun, The New York Times

After firing an intercontinental ballistic missile higher than ever before, North Korea this week said it had mastered nuclear-strike capability and become a full-fledged nuclear state. That claim was immediately met with skepticism, not least in the White House.  But by showing that its missiles can reach Washington — even if there is doubt that North Korea can deliver a nuclear warhead...

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A closer look at the stories behind three anti-Muslim videos Trump shared on Twitter

by Megan Specia, The New York Times

Early Wednesday, President Donald Trump set off international outrage when he shared a series of videos depicting Muslims in a negative light.  The videos, taken in three countries at three different times, have one thing in common: They all purport to show violence carried out by Muslims and offer no clear explanation of what is happening in front of the camera.  But a closer look at the...

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What Republicans say when asked why their tax bill benefits the rich most of all

by Jeff Stein, The Washington Post

A number of studies have made clear that the tax bill Senate Republicans are trying to pass this week offers some of its biggest rewards to wealthy Americans. The GOP's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would cut taxes on wealthy Americans, while raising taxes on those earning between $10,000 and $75,000 over the next decade, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress's official scorekeeper. The Tax...

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Trump touts benefits of tax cuts for ‘the people that like me best’

by John Wagner, The Washington Post

With a critical Senate vote looming, President Donald Trump on Wednesday pitched the Republican tax plan as a boon to his working-class supporters, even as independent analyses have indicated that the wealthy and corporations would be the biggest beneficiaries.  "Our focus is on helping the folks who work in the mail rooms and the machine shops of America, the plumbers, the carpenters, the...

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38 percent of Americans won’t get a sizable tax cut under the Senate GOP plan

by Heather Long, The Washington Post

President Donald Trump flew to Missouri Wednesday to pitch his tax plan as a great benefit to the middle class, but a new analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress' official scorekeepers, shows that many American families won't pay significantly less under the Senate GOP tax bill.  In 2019, 62 percent of Americans would get a tax cut of $100 or more, according to JCT. The remaining...

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U.S. calls on all nations to completely sever ties with North Korea

by Carol Morello, Simon Denyer, The Washington Post

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Wednesday urged all countries to sever economic and diplomatic ties with North Korea, and warned Pyongyang that the regime will be "utterly destroyed" if a standoff over missile tests leads to war.  Speaking at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss North Korea's latest missile launch, Haley said Pyongyang had brought the world closer...

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Trump’s tweets elevate a tiny fringe group of anti-Muslim activists in Britain

by William Booth, Karla Adam, The Washington Post

In a sharp personal rebuke, the British government told President Donald Trump he was "wrong" to retweet on Wednesday a series of anti-Muslim video clips promoted by a leader of an ultranationalist fringe group that the prime minister's office said "peddles lies" and "hateful narratives."  Trump had alerted his millions of followers to three video posts by Britain...