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  • Here's what would happen if Trump declared a national emergency to build his border wall>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 10:07 PM:)

    donald trump

    • President Donald Trump appears increasingly likely to declare a national emergency to get funds to build a wall along the southern border.
    • He has demanded $5.7 billion from Congress, which has refused to provide it, prompting a 21-day government shutdown.
    • If he declared a national emergency, he would instantly be privy to a slew of special powers he could use to get the funds he needs.
    • Such an action would almost certainly trigger challenges from Congress and the courts, but it's unclear how the battles will play out.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday he "probably will" declare a national emergency to obtain the funds he needs for his long-promised border wall.

    A partial government shutdown, sparked by a dispute between Trump and Congressional Democrats over the wall, reached its 21st day on Friday and is on the cusp of becoming the longest government shutdown in US history.

    Trump has spent much of the last few weeks raging about a "crisis" he said has erupted at the US-Mexico border, propelled by of illegal immigration, drugs, and violent crime, which must be solved by constructing a physical barrier.

    Critics, meanwhile, have argued that there is no crisis — or at least none that a wall can solve. Illegal border apprehensions are at a decades-long low, drugs mainly enter the US through legal ports of entry, and studies show that unauthorized immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans.

    Read more: THE TRUTH ABOUT THE BORDER CRISIS: Experts say there is no security crisis, but there is a simple way to fix immigration — and it's not a wall

    Nevertheless, Trump has been locked in a stalemate with Democrats over the wall that shows no signs of stopping, making it increasingly likely that Trump will declare a national emergency to bypass Congress for the wall funding.

    Here's what you need to know.

    What is a 'national emergency?'

    Trump border wall prototypes

    A national emergency is something that the president declares to grant him special powers under the National Emergencies Act of 1976. Trump is hoping to use those special powers to allocate funding for the border wall.

    There are 136 statutes governing which special powers the president can use, according to The Brennan Center for Justice, and it's unclear at this point which ones the Trump administration has in mind.

    It's not uncommon for presidents to declare national emergencies. One of the most well-known examples is the national emergency that former President George W. Bush declared after 9/11, which is still in effect, and has been renewed by the sitting president each year.

    Can Trump do this?

    Experts are divided over whether it's legal for Trump to use a national emergency declaration for a wall.

    But he faces relatively few restrictions on declaring a national emergency. According to The Brennan Center, 96 of the 136 statutory authorities available to presidents during national emergencies need only their signature, and just 13 require Congress to also declare an emergency.

    Twelve of the authorities have a small restriction like requiring agency officials to certify that the measures are necessary, and the remaining 15 authorities require that the emergencies relate to particular subjects.

    Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman wrote in a New York Times op-ed that there's no way Trump could use emergency powers to build the wall — at least if he opts to use funds from the military budget and use military personnel to build it.

    Though there is some precedent for presidents' use of the military to enforce domestic law — primarily former President George W. Bush's authorization of the military to respond to Hurricane Katrina — that exception has since been repealed.

    katrina rescue flood hurricane

    "Is President Trump aware of this express repudiation of the power which he is threatening to invoke?" Ackerman wrote.

    Yet other experts said it might be easier for Trump to use national emergency powers than most think. Elizabeth Goitein of The Brennan Center for Justice wrote in The Atlantic that some of those 136 provisions available to Trump under the National Emergencies Act of 1976 appear "dangerously suited to a leader bent on amassing or retaining power."

    "We are in uncharted political territory," Goitein wrote.

    How would the Trump administration use these special powers?

    News reports in recent days have indicated that the Trump administration is reviewing at least two options for how best to use emergency powers to secure the wall funding.

    The White House has reportedly already asked the Army Corps of Engineers to review whether funds can be diverted from certain civil works projects in order to pay for the wall. NBC News reported that one of these projects could include reconstruction in Puerto Rico from the hurricane that struck the island in 2017.

    The Trump administration is also examining whether the Department of Homeland Security can request the funds from the Pentagon — an idea that former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis backed before his resignation in December, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    jim mattis

    What could happen next?

    If Trump does declare a national emergency, it's widely expected that he'll face major battles on two fronts: Congress and the courts.

    Lawmakers from both parties have already expressed dismay over Trump's potential use of emergency powers. Some Republicans fear it sets a precedent that could later be used by a Democratic president to pursue liberal policies, while Democrats have called it a misuse of executive power.

    One Democratic lawmaker, New York Rep. Grace Meng, even introduced legislation in the House on Friday to preemptively block Trump from potentially invoking a national emergency.

    "We must send a clear message to the President that creating this type of manufactured emergency for the sole purpose of securing an unrealistic campaign promise is unacceptable," Meng said in a statement.

    But a legislative challenge to Trump's national emergency powers could also hit roadblocks, thanks to a 1983 Supreme Court case that blocked Congress from using simple-majority votes to overrule a president's emergency declaration.

    The National Emergencies Act of 1976 was then amended to require that both arms of Congress pass two-thirds majority votes to override a presidential veto.

    lindsey Graham

    Since some Republican lawmakers, like South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, have already expressed support for Trump's use of a national emergency to build the wall, it may be unlikely that Congress puts up an effective fight.

    But Trump is certain to also face multiple legal challenges, which could meet an unpredictable fate. The current Supreme Court has been reluctant to question some of Trump's executive powers — even deferring to him on the controversial travel ban he implemented.

    Though plaintiffs in any lawsuits against Trump will likely try to question his administration's assertion that a national-security "crisis" is occurring along the southern border, the Supreme Court justices may well defer to his judgment on the issue, as they did with the travel ban.

    "If any court would actually let itself review whether this is a national emergency, he would be in big trouble," Goitein told The Times. "I think it would be an abuse of power to declare an emergency where none exists. The problem is that Congress has enabled that abuse of power by putting virtually no limits on the president's ability to declare an emergency."

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  • Senate Democrats want Matthew Whitaker investigated by Justice Department for not recusing himself in Mueller probe>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 9:56 PM:)

    matthew whitaker

    • Senate Democrats on Friday sent a letter to the Justice Department's inspector general calling for an ethics probe to be opened into Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.
    • The letter focuses on Whitaker's refusal to recuse himself from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference. 
    • The criticism directed at Whitaker raises questions about the challenges attorney general nominee William Barr might face during his upcoming confirmation hearing. 

    Senate Democrats on Friday sent a letter to the Justice Department's inspector general calling for an ethics probe to be opened into Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

    The letter, signed by every Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, zeroed in on Whitaker's refusal to recuse himself from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's alleged collusion, The Daily Beast reported.

    There have been broad calls for Whitaker to recuse himself from the probe, but he's made no moves in that direction. 

    The letter comes not long before Trump's nominee for attorney general, William Barr, heads to the Senate for his confirmation hearing. 

    Read more: Meet William Barr: What you need to know about the possible once and future attorney general

    "Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker's decision to disregard the advice of career DOJ ethics officials to recuse himself from oversight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicates that DOJ’s internal ethics procedures have failed," the senators said in the letter. "Not only does this raise serious concerns about Mr. Whitaker’s current actions as Acting Attorney General, but it also calls into question DOJ's ethics procedures to assess and address potential conflicts of William P. Barr, President Trump's nominee to be Attorney General."

    Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker

    Whitaker's elevation from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions' chief of staff to acting attorney general was controversial from the start, particularly in relation to his past criticism of the Mueller investigation.

    Read more: In a 'self-defeating and self-incriminating' slipup, Trump just indicated he installed Matthew Whitaker to kill the Russia probe

    Sessions resigned in early November at the request of the president after repeatedly facing criticism from Trump over recusing himself from the Russia probe.

    The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from INSIDER.

    SEE ALSO: Rudy Giuliani doubles down on his dubious claim that the White House should be able to review and correct Mueller's report before it's released

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    NOW WATCH: MSNBC host Chris Hayes thinks President Trump's stance on China is 'not at all crazy'

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  • There's a race for a $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract underway. Here's how the government shutdown could affect it (AMZN, MSFT, ORCL, IBM)>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 9:50 PM:)

    WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 02: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) talks to journalists during a meeting with members of his Cabinet, including acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, in the Cabinet Room at the White House January 02, 2019 in Washington, DC. A partial federal government shutdown entered its 12th day as Trump and House Democrats are at an impasse over funding for border security, including the president’s demand for $5 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    • The bid for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, a $10 billion cloud contract with the Pentagon that cloud giants are competing for, might potentially be delayed because of the government shutdown, some analysts say.
    • Since the Department of Defense wasn't closed from the shutdown, there won't be a direct impact on the JEDI race.
    • However, the shutdown could affect government cybersecurity, the ability of companies to obtain government security certifications, and the timing of the winner's announcement.

    Three weeks have already passed since the government shutdown began, tying it for the longest shutdown in history. While Congress tries to settle the standoff, there's one thing that cloud giants may have to worry about.

    There's a race for a $10 billion cloud contract with the Pentagon called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, and it's a winner-take-all competition between Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. An award is expected in April, and the shutdown could potentially affect this match some analysts say.

    The good news is, the government shutdown has no direct impact on the race. That's because the shutdown applies to agencies and functions outside the Department of Defense. The Defense Department was not closed as a result of the shutdown.

    Still, there could potentially be an indirect impact, although analysts disagree to what extent. Government cybersecurity is already weakening, as nearly 45% of employees at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency have already been furloughed during the shutdown, according to a Duo Security report.

    Renee Murphy, a principal analyst at Forrester, says that although the Department of Defense itself isn't shut down, the agencies it works with are shutdown, and this could lead to a delay.

    "I don't think for a second they would make a move on JEDI without having an office and budget there," Murphy told Business Insider. "They can't keep going. They're going to end up with a longer timeline. It's just going to take longer to get it down."

    Right now, Amazon is the only company in the race with the highest security authorization to handle government data — a major reason why it's the favorite to win the contract. If the other contenders want to catch up, they could face delays in getting the necessary certifications. After all, in the midst of the shutdown, this isn't a top priority.

    Read more: As bidding closes, Amazon's cloud is the favorite to win a $10 billion defense deal. Here's why everybody else is so mad about it

    Potentially, the situation could take a turn if the scope of the shutdown widens or if President Donald Trump decides he wants to use funds from the Department of Defense for the border wall, says Pund-IT Principal Analyst Charles King, but the chances are slim.

    "The chances of that happening seem remote since it would require the President removing JEDI funds and would also be challenged in court," King told Business Insider. "But with this administration, you should never say 'Never.'"

    Still, the shutdown itself will likely have minimal impact on JEDI. There are bigger fish to fry — members of Congress have requested an investigation of the bidding process, and Oracle filed a formal complaint protesting the winner-take-all bidding process. These are more likely to delay JEDI than the shutdown itself, King says.

    In the past few months, the contest for the JEDI contract has had its fill of turmoil, including Google dropping out of the race, an Amazon smear campaign circulating in Washington, and both IBM and Oracle filing official protests.

    "A government shutdown just adds a little more uncertainty from a timing perspective to when the deal could be announced," Daniel Ives, managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities, told Business Insider.

    Already, as a result of the shutdown, national parks are closed, federal workers aren't getting paid, food programs are losing funding, and airplane lines are growing longer.

    SEE ALSO: 5 DevOps startups to bet your career on in 2019

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    NOW WATCH: China made an artificial star that's 6 times as hot as the sun, and it could be the future of energy

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  • 30 of Trump's most famous quotes since becoming president>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 9:42 PM:)

    Donald Trump

    • As a businessman, President Donald Trump was never afraid to offer a piece of his mind in private, in press conferences, and on Twitter.
    • Since running for and being elected president of the United States, Trump's reputation for sharing his thoughts hasn't changed at all.
    • Trump's quotes are funny, historic, controversial — and all of them are memorable.
    • To commemorate Trump's second anniversary since he took office on January 20, here are 30 of his most famous quotes since being elected president.

    Jenny Cheng and Pat Ralph contributed to an earlier version of this post.

    SEE ALSO: 14 of George H.W. Bush's most presidential quotes

    DON'T MISS: 9 quotes that famous people didn't actually say

    Trump brought the country together in trying to decode what he meant in a late night tweet with the word "covfefe".

    Source: Twitter

    After meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump once again reiterated his belief that his campaign did not coordinate with Russia during the 2016 election.

    Source: CNN

    In a press conference at his Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, Trump doubled down on his support for the US intelligence community.

    Source: CNN

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider> <>
  • This map shows which states have been hit hardest by the shutdown, and blue states are faring worst>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 9:27 PM:)

    government shutdown

    • We are on day 21 of the third government shutdown of the Trump administration, which means hundreds of thousands of federal employees are working without pay, or not working at all. 
    • This hurts not only families but also states, particularly those who have a larger share of federal employees among their residents. 
    • Here are the states most and least affected by the government shutdown, according to research by WalletHub. 

    During a government shutdown, federal employees don't get paid, federal contract dollars are frozen, national parks are closed, and government-sponsored benefits, such as food stamps, are at risk of getting underfunded. This means states with a larger share of federal employees, with higher percentages of food stamp recipients, or with more federal contract dollars per capita are being affected by the shutdown more than states who don't depend on federal funds as much. 

    According to research by WalletHub, a personal finance site, the government shutdown — now on its 21st day — is having an overall greater impact on blue states than red ones given their larger dependence on federal funds. This map shows which states have been hit the hardest: 

    Source: WalletHub

    Based on five measures — share of federal jobs, federal contract dollars per capita, percent of families receiving food stamps, real estate as percentage of gross state product, and access to national parks — WalletHub found that the District of Columbia, New Mexico, Maryland, Hawaii, and Alaska are most hard-hit by the shutdown, while Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Iowa and Indiana are the least affected. 

    Read more: Several House Republicans broke with Trump and voted with Democrats to pass 2 bills that would end the government shutdown

    The District of Columbia, Hawaii and Maryland are tied for the highest share of federal jobs in the nation, while DC, Maryland, and Virginia receive the most federal contract dollars per capita. DC is also home to the highest percentage of families receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps, followed by Mississippi, which is the eighth state most affected by this shutdown. 

    "Although SNAP funding will continue during the 2019 partial shutdown, it is in danger of running out, depending on how long the shutdown will last," Jill Gonzalez, one of the study's analysts, told INSIDER. 

    The study did not measure the potential impact of the shutdown in Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands ,and the Virgin Islands due to lack of available data, but they are also being affected. For example, Bloomberg Law reported that the IRS has already used the shutdown as an excuse to get more time to object to a plan that would restructure Puerto Rico's sales tax bonds as part of the territories bankruptcy-like reorganization.

    Federal Emergency Management Agency workers continue working unpaid in the Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico, while the Guam Daily Post reported that the National Wildlife Refuge in the territory remains closed due to the shutdown. 

    SEE ALSO: The government shutdown is now in day 6 — here's how long previous government shutdowns have lasted

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    NOW WATCH: MSNBC host Chris Hayes thinks President Trump's stance on China is 'not at all crazy'

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  • These are the Judiciary Committee Senators to watch during attorney general nominee William Barr's confirmation hearings>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 9:23 PM:)

    william barr confirmation hearing seating chart

    • On Jan. 15 and 16, the Trump administration's nominee for Attorney General William Barr will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for confirmation hearings. 

    • Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a staunch Trump ally and conservative firebrand, now leads the Committee.
    • Some of Barr's controversial comments — combined with the high-stakes nature of the nomination, and hyperpartisan environment in Washington — could lead to some tense partisan clashes on the Committee.
    • Here are the key Senators to watch during Barr's confirmation hearings. 

    On Jan. 15 and 16, the Trump administration's nominee for Attorney General William Barr will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for confirmation hearings. 

    Barr, 68, previously served as attorney general in the early 1990s under President George H.W. Bush. Since then, he's worked as a corporate lawyer in private practice. 

    While Barr is widely-respected in the conservative legal world, some of his opinions have garnered controversy. Barr came under scrutiny for sending an unsolicited 20-page memo to the DOJ criticizing the Mueller probe's line of investigation into possible obstruction of justice and witness tampering by Trump.

    Read more: Meet William Barr: What you need to know about the possible once and future attorney general

    The memo called Mueller's inquiry into whether Trump obstructed justice by when he fired FBI director James Comey "legally unsupportable" and "potentially disastrous."

    Barr also said Trump's firing of Comey was "the right call," supported Trump's firing of Deputy AG Sally Yates, and expressed concern that special counsel Robert Mueller's team of prosecutors is biased against Democrats. As attorney general, he would oversee the Mueller probe. 

    Barr's previous comments around the Mueller probe combined with the high-stakes nature of the nomination, and hyperpartisan environment in Washington could lead to some tense clashes. 

    Conservative firebrand and Trump-allied Sen. Lindsey Graham, who made headlines for his angry attack on his colleagues during the Kavanaugh hearings, now leads the Committee. 

    Here are the key Senators to watch during Barr's confirmation hearings: 

    SEE ALSO: Republicans are worried about a 'Kavanaugh 2.0' scenario with Trump's attorney general nominee

    Newly-named Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham

    Graham used to be criticized as a "RINO" (Republican-in-name-only) for publicly opposing Trump during the 2016 Republican primary — but now he's one of Trump's staunchest defenders and most loyal surrogates on the Hill.

    Graham commanded attention and earned the praise of his fellow Republicans in September during the Judiciary Committee hearings on sexual assault allegations facing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, when he lashed out at his Democratic colleagues and vowed revenge. 

    "When you see Sotomayor and Kagan, tell them that Lindsey said hello because I voted for them. I would never do to them what you've done to this guy. This is the most unethical sham since I've been in politics," Graham said, referring to Obama-era nominees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

    When Kavanaugh told Graham that he'd "been to hell and then some" over the allegations, Graham angrily responded, "This is not a job interview, this is hell."

    Previously, Graham told reporters that Democrats can expect their judicial nominees to also face misconduct allegations in the future. "If this is the new norm, you better watch out for your nominees," he said.

    Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris has been accused of hostility against Catholic judicial nominees — and is laying the groundwork for a 2020 presidential campaign.

    Sens. Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono (also a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee), have recently been accused of anti-Catholic bias for questioning whether judicial nominee Brian Buescher's membership in the Catholic fraternal organization Knights of Columbus would compromise his impartiality on the bench.

    Barr himself is Roman Catholic, although not known to be a member of the Knights of Columbus.

    As Harris embarks on a book tour ahead of a rumored presidential announcement sometime in late January, all eyes will be on whether she questions Barr's faith during the hearings, and whether she takes advantage of the spotlight to bolster her campaign ambitions. 

    Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey is also reported to be mulling a presidential bid.

    During Kavanaugh's initial confirmation hearings, Booker took the dramatic step of threatening to release documents purportedly proving Kavanaugh supported racial profiling.

    Booker was mocked by some for then declaring, "this is about the closest I’ll probably ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment" given that the documents had been released that morning.

    The comment was a reference to Stanley Kubrick's 1960 film "Spartacus" about an unsuccessful slave rebellion in ancient Rome. 

    Now that Booker is taking steps towards a 2020 presidential bid, political observers will be watching to see if he creates more "Spartacus" moments for himself during Barr's confirmation process. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider> <>
  • Ivanka Trump is reportedly under consideration to lead The World Bank>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 8:45 PM:)

    ivanka trump

    • Ivanka Trump is one of the names being considered to replace The World Bank's outgoing president, Jim Yong Kim, the Financial Times reported Friday. 
    • Before joining the White House, she worked as a vice president of acquisitions at the Trump Organization.
    • She also directed her own fashion line, the Ivanka Trump brand, which was shuttered last summer. 
    • President Donald Trump also floated Ivanka as a replacement for the outgoing US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, but ended up nominating State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert after concerns of nepotism were raised.

    President Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, who works as a White House adviser, is one of the names being considered as a replacement for The World Bank's outgoing president, Jim Yong Kim, the Financial Times reported Friday.

    The DC-based World Bank, founded after World War II to finance economic-development projects in emerging economies, has traditionally been led by an American. Kim's sudden departure from the bank came as a surprise to employees and leaves the bank's future uncertain. 

    The Trump administration, which has been wary of and even hostile toward Western-led international institutions like the World Bank, will now be tasked with submitting a recommendation to the bank's board. 

    Other possible American nominees to lead the bank include undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs David Malpass, United States Agency for International Development director Mark Green, and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, the Financial Times said. 

    Read more: From rich kid to first daughter: The life of Ivanka Trump

    Unlike some of the other proposed candidates, Ivanka does not have a background in international trade economics, but she has been a businesswoman.

    Before joining the White House, she worked as a vice president for acquisitions at the Trump Organization. She also directed her own fashion line, the Ivanka Trump brand, which was shuttered last summer. 

    President Trump also floated Ivanka as replacement for Haley's position, but ended up nominating State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert after concerns of nepotism were raised. 

    "So nice, everyone wants Ivanka Trump to be the new United Nations Ambassador. She would be incredible, but I can already hear the chants of Nepotism! We have great people that want the job," Trump tweeted at the time. 

    A spokeswoman for the Treasury Department told the Financial Times that the department been sent "a significant number of recommendations for good candidates" and was "beginning the internal review process" to choose a candidate to put forth to The World Bank's board. 

    SEE ALSO: How Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner built their $1.1 billion fortune and how they spend it

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: MSNBC host Chris Hayes thinks President Trump's stance on China is 'not at all crazy'

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  • On his 2nd day in office, George H.W. Bush told the CIA he wanted more jokes in his secret intelligence briefings>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 8:39 PM:)

    George HW Bush

    • President George H.W. Bush took office in the waning days of the Cold War.
    • Even during those heady days, his sense of humor showed through, like when he asked the CIA to make its briefings funnier.
    • Bush's jokes and humor were widely recounted in the days after his death in November 2018.

    President George H.W. Bush occupied the White House during tumultuous times, conducting military operations in Panama and the Persian Gulf and grappling with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in just four years.

    But that doesn't mean we can't have a little fun, he told the CIA officers tasked with briefing him each day.

    As vice president and president, Bush took special interest in the intelligence he was provided and in the personnel who provided it, according to a remembrance in the most recent edition of the CIA's Studies in Intelligence journal, written by its managing editor, Andres Vaart, a 30-year CIA veteran.

    In a 1995 article in the journal, one of Bush's briefers, Charles A. Peters, recounts how, on January 21, 1989, the day after his inauguration, Bush injected levity into one of the more severe daily tasks the president takes on.

    George Bush and barbara bush

    "When the President had finished reading, he turned to me and said with deadly seriousness, 'I'm quite satisfied with the intelligence support, but there is one area in which you’ll just have to do better.' The [director of Central Intelligence, William Webster] visibly stiffened," Peters wrote, according to Vaart.

    "'The Office of Comic Relief,' the new President went on, 'will have to step up its output.' With an equally straight face I promised the President we would give it our best shot," Peters wrote. "As we were leaving the Oval Office, I wasted no time in reassuring the Director that this was a lighthearted exchange typical of President Bush, and that the DCI did not have to search out an Office of Comic Relief and authorize a major shakeup."

    The CIA staffers compiling the PDB included a "Sign of the Times" section, which included amusing or unusual anecdotes meant to lighten otherwise heavy reading.

    Read more: Bill Clinton once lost the nuclear codes for months, and a 'comedy of errors' kept anyone from finding out

    "Libyan intelligence chief recently passed message via Belgians laying out case for better relations with US and expressing desire to cooperate against terrorism… even suggested he would like to contribute to your re-election campaign," one January 1992 entry read, according to Peters.

    "French company says it has won contract to export vodka to Russia… deal apparently stems from shortage of bottles and bottling equipment… no word on whether Paris taking Russian wine in return," a July 1992 entry read.

    Bush's single term stretched over the final days of the Soviet Union, possibly giving CIA staffers the opportunity to draw on their cache of Soviet jokes to liven up the daily briefing.

    Jeb Bush George HW Bush

    Bush's briefs also included updates about his counterparts. From time to time, Vaart writes, Bush would call one of those leaders to chat about something interesting they were doing.

    For staffers working on the President's Daily Brief between 1981 and 1993, during Bush's time in office, "no labor was too intense to produce the needed story and no hours were too many or too late to make certain we ... made it good and got it right," Vaart writes.

    Read more: How Pablo Escobar's Medellin cartel tried to get Jeb Bush to help it fight extradition

    "This may have been true with later presidents," Vaart adds, "but what stood out with President Bush was that we ... knew well that the effort was truly appreciated."

    "We also saw through those interactions, as though at first hand, the humor and personality of a man who deeply cared about the people who served him," he writes.

    Bush's mirth was widely recounted in the days after his death on November 30. Friends and colleagues remembered his enthusiasm for jokes — at his expense, like when he invited Dana Carvey to the White House to impersonate him after his 1992 electoral defeat, and at the expense of others, like the "award" he gave aides who fell asleep during meetings, named after national-security adviser and frequent dozer Brent Scowcroft.

    SEE ALSO: A retired general has twice turned Trump down to be defense secretary — a sign Trump has a self-inflicted personnel problem

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    NOW WATCH: This video shows all of the US presidents in order of height

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  • A lot of Republicans are worried about the dangerous precedent Trump could set with a national emergency declaration for the border wall>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 8:38 PM:)

    donald trump

    • A number of Republican lawmakers have expressed concerns about the ramifications of President Donald Trump declaring a national emergency to fund his border wall. 
    • "If today, the national emergency is border security ... tomorrow the national emergency might be climate change," Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said on Wednesday. 
    • GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley said, "I don't think he should do that. I think it's a bad precedent. And it contravenes the power of the purse that comes from the elected representatives of the people."
    • As president, Trump has the option of declaring a national emergency, but the process could be messy and lead to yet another dead-end in his fight to build a border wall. 

    A number of Republican lawmakers have expressed concerns about the ramifications of President Donald Trump declaring a national emergency to fund the wall he wishes to build along the US-Mexico border. 

    Trump has floated the idea amid an impasse with Democratic lawmakers over border wall funding, which has led to a partial government shutdown. The president on Thursday said he's hopeful Democrats will "compromise" on the issue, but that he's still willing to declare a national emergency if they don't. 

    "Either we're going to win or make a compromise," Trump told reporters before departing for a trip to a border city in Texas. "I'm OK to making a compromise. Compromise is in my vocabulary a very strong word. And so, we're either going to have a win, make a compromise because I think a compromise is a win for everybody, or I will declare a national emergency."

    Read more: Mayor of McAllen, Texas, where Trump is visiting, doesn't support the president's border wall

    Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close ally of Trump, has in recent days called on the president to invoke his emergency powers to build the wall.

    But other members of the GOP are not on the same page.

    'I don't think he should do that. I think it's a bad precedent.'

    Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday warned Trump that if he declares a national emergency on this issue it could set a precedent that may lead to actions from Democratic presidents in the future that are unpalatable to conservatives. 

    "If today, the national emergency is border security ... tomorrow the national emergency might be climate change," the Florida senator said during an interview with CNBC.

    Sen. Marco Rubio said he's not ready to support Trump declaring a national emergency over border security because under a Democratic president, "the national security emergency might be climate change." pic.twitter.com/2taNpiW5Nr

    — Rebecca Harrington (@HarringtonBecca) January 10, 2019

    Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah has since echoed Rubio's sentiments. 

    "I don't want to see a declaration of national emergency," Romney, a former Republican presidential nominee, told MSNBC on Thursday. "I think that's an action that would be taken in the most extreme circumstances, and, hopefully, we don’t reach that."

    Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, one of the most influential figures in the Senate, has also voiced concerns about a national emergency. 

    Read more: Mattis reportedly told Trump before he resigned that a national emergency was the most realistic option to get the wall and the Pentagon could help build it

    "The president is threatening emergency action, a national emergency declaration," Grassley said during an interview with CNBC on Friday. "I don't think he should do that. I think it's a bad precedent. And it contravenes the power of the purse that comes from the elected representatives of the people."

     If Trump declares a national emergency, Grassley added, "I believe you’re going to find it in the courts almost immediately. And the courts are going to make a decision."

    Sen. Chuck Grassley doesn't believe that President Trump should declare a national emergency to fund his border wall. "I think it's a bad precedent and it contravenes the power of the purse that comes from the elected representatives of the people." https://t.co/DFBbB7MtoY pic.twitter.com/njvUURNF7m

    — CNBC (@CNBC) January 11, 2019

    Some members of the deeply conservative House Freedom Caucus have also expressed dismay about Trump's threat to declare a national emergency. 

    "I do see the potential for national emergencies being used for every single thing that we face in the future where we can’t reach an agreement. That’s the slippery slope that I’m concerned about," Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, a key ally of Trump, told Politico on Thursday

    Declaring a national emergency on a highly politicized issue would be extremely controversial and met with significant legal challenges

    The president has the authority to declare a "national emergency" under the National Emergencies Act of 1976.

    Some legal experts have argued that the president is also granted emergency powers via the Constitution, as it provides him expansive and ill-defined "executive power" while also making him commander-in-chief of the US military. 

    If Trump declared a national emergency to obtain funding for the border wall, he would in effect be bypassing Congress and its constitutionally-defined authority to determine how the US government spends its money. Technically, the president has the power to do this, but it would be a controversial move. 

    Since the National Emergencies Act was passed in 1976, presidents have declared national emergencies 58 times. There are 31 active national emergencies, including three declared by Trump. Most of these have been uncontroversial and involved imposing sanctions on people accused of human rights violations, which is why they've been renewed by multiple presidents. 

    A national emergency declaration on border security, a highly politicized topic, is far more dubious territory.

    Many experts contend there is not a crisis at the border, as Trump has claimed, and accuse the White House of attempting to mislead the public on immigration so the president can deliver on a lofty, unnecessary campaign promise. 

    Read more: THE TRUTH ABOUT THE BORDER CRISIS: Experts say there is no security crisis, but there is a simple way to fix immigration — and it's not a wall

    As Grassley noted, such an extraordinary move would undoubtedly face major legal hurdles and put the fate of Trump's wall in the hands of the courts. 

    There are well over 100 statutes a president can invoke during times of emergency, and an analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law identified two Trump could lean on if he declares a national emergency. These statutes would, in theory, allow Trump to dedicate military resources and funds to the construction of a wall. 

    But there are open questions as to whether it would be legal for Trump to use military funds for a non-military purpose. There's also a debate on the language of the National Emergencies Act, in terms of how an emergency is actually defined and whether the situation at the border constitutes one. 

    Congress could also overturn such a move via a veto-proof majority, though this is a less likely scenario given the GOP controls the Senate. 

    In short, Trump has the option of declaring a national emergency, but the process could be messy and lead to yet another deadend in his fight to build a border wall. 

    SEE ALSO: Why a GOP congressman who represents more of the border than anyone in Congress opposes Trump's wall

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  • From Snoop Dogg to Mark Hamill, celebrities are reacting to the government shutdown>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 8:28 PM:)

    shutdown protest

    • The federal government's partial shutdown is now one of the longest in history. 
    • President Donald Trump has continued to strike out on lawmakers in favor of his $5-billion border wall, though Congress hasn't shown any signs of budging. 
    • A number of celebrities have shared condemnations of the shutdown, showing sympathy for the hundreds of thousands of federal workers going without pay, and fact-checked some of Trump's claims on Twitter.  

    As the federal government entered its 21st day of a partial shutdown, President Donald Trump continued to issue hits against Democratic lawmakers about his wishes for a $5-billion border wall. 

    However, Trump wasn't the only vocal figure on Twitter about the shutdown.

    From fact-checks to pleas on behalf of federal workers who are going without paychecks, celebrities also took to Twitter to share their takes on the shutdown. 


    Tweet Embed:


    George Takei:

    Tweet Embed:
    Imagine if the paycheck you expected today instead just gave you exactly zero dollars, and the next one was also looking like zero. Would you worry, maybe feel a bit panicked? My thoughts are with the federal workers as they and their families bear the brunt of the #TrumpShutdown


    Rosie O'Donnell:

    Tweet Embed:
    stand strong in the truth - democrats must right this travesty #TrumpShutdown #AmericaDeservesBetter #StopTHEM pic.twitter.com/omDM9szB1E


    See the rest of the story at Business Insider> <>
  • A new migrant caravan plans to leave Honduras on January 15, and Mexico's government is bracing for its arrival>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 8:26 PM:)

    migrant caravan

    • A new caravan of Central American migrants is planning on leaving Honduras on January 15. 
    • The Mexican government is reportedly preparing for the caravan's arrival. 
    • The new caravan, like the first, originated through a flier circulating on Honduran social media. 

    "We're seeking refuge. In Honduras, they're killing us," reads a flier being shared on Honduran social media to promote the departure of a new migrant caravan that is scheduled to leave the Central American country towards the US on January 15. 

    The new migrant caravan presents a renewed challenge for the Mexican government to respond to the presence of large migrant groups making their way north.

    Olga Sánchez Cordero, Mexico's interior minister, said the country is "already taking the necessary steps to ensure the caravan enters in a safe and orderly way.”

    When the first caravan reached Mexico last year, the government closed down the border but allowed migrants to reach its territory by swimming across the river that separates Mexico from Guatemala. During a Monday news conference, Sánchez Cordero said guards will be placed on all 370 illegal crossing points. The border, she said, will be “controlled to prevent the entry of undocumented people.”

    However, she also suggested that members of the caravan could be allowed into the country legally if they apply for visas.

    Walter Coello, a taxi driver from Tegucigalpa who helped organize the last caravan and is playing a similar role in the organization of the new one, told the Washington Post that he doesn't know how many people will be traveling in the latest caravan but that "it's a lot."

    "With this caravan, the goal is to give them a chance to work and have a better life, be it in Mexico or the United States," he said. 

    Around 7,000 people are estimated to have traveled with last year's caravan, which became a major point of contention between Republicans and Democrats during the 2018 midterm election. President Donald Trump has threatened to close the border over the news of a new caravan. 

    Read more: THE TRUTH ABOUT THE BORDER CRISIS: Experts say there is no security crisis, but there is a simple way to fix immigration — and it's not a wall

    Karen Valladares, executive director of the National Forum for Migration in Honduras, told the Washington Post that "caravans are an opening for people." Central Americans traveling in them feel safer among large groups of people and are less likely to depend on smugglers.

    "Every day, people leave, but this way they feel more secure," she said. "There is more solidarity in going with groups. They don’t have the fear that they are going to be the victims of organized crime." 

    SEE ALSO: The Trump administration just moved to restrict its asylum system as migrant caravans head toward the US

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  • Drug companies are still focused on raising prices, but some in the industry realize things need to change>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 8:23 PM:)


    • The US spends far more than other industrialized countries on health care. But Americans, on a per-person basis, don't go to the doctor or hospital more than people in other wealthy nations.
    • Health care companies, even not-for-profits like hospitals that don't have typical investors, have prioritized meeting revenue and profitability goals.
    • That suggests that pricing practices won't change any time soon. 

    Health care executives gave no indication to bankers and investors at this year's J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference that their pricing practices would change any time soon.

    Why it matters: That sentiment comes the same week when three of the original authors of an influential 2003 article — which studied why health care is so expensive in the U.S.— published an update. Their conclusion was the same: "It's still the prices, stupid."

    The big picture: The US spends far more than other industrialized countries on health care. But Americans, on a per-person basis, don't go to the doctor or hospital more than people in other wealthy nations. There are also fewer doctors, nurses and hospital beds, per capita, in the U.S.

    • That means the U.S. spends more because hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, device manufacturers and others charge higher prices, and health insurers aren't negotiating good enough deals.
    • "Lowering prices in the U.S. will need to start with private insurers and self-insured corporations," the authors wrote in this week's update, published in the journal Health Affairs.

    Reality check: Health care companies, even not-for-profits like hospitals that don't have typical investors, have prioritized meeting revenue and profitability goals, and that short-term thinking compromises reform, according to interviews with people who attended the J.P. Morgan event.

    • Many executives continue to tout different ways of getting paid, like "value-based" pricing, but there's no evidence those models will save money.
    • Drug companies are still focused on raising prices or buying lucrative biotechs, while providers find more ways to maximize what they get paid from insurers. As a result, insurers and employers raise premiums or deductibles for taxpayers and employees, which affects everyone's paychecks.
    • One example: Dennis Dahlen, the chief financial officer of Mayo Clinic, told attendees how his academic medical center is building its own "five-star" hotel and is expanding proton beam therapy, even though that expensive treatment has limited or no clinical benefit.
    • "This is about money and [investors] getting a return," said Stephen Buck, founder of cancer tech app Courage Health.

    Yes, but: Some in the industry realize they need to act.

    • Marc Harrison, CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, said in an interview his hospital system has lowered the "cash price" of some services, like normal vaginal childbirth, to help people who have high deductibles — although services like childbirth often cost a lot more than the deductible.
    • Intermountain also has negotiated with insurers, with the exception of one unnamed company, to hold patients harmless if they get a surprise out-of-network bill, Harrison said.
    • Stephen Ubl, CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, acknowledged in an interview that "the status quo is not acceptable. We understand the system needs to change."
    • However, he continued to argue for changes in what people pay out of pocket, instead of changing the patent system or how companies price their products. Ubl described the Trump administration's proposal to index the prices of some Medicare drugs to lower rates in other countries as "fruit of the poisonous tree of government price-setting."

    What to watch: Democrats are using "Medicare for All" and price-setting as a litmus test for 2020 candidates, and Democrats in Congress are proposing Medicare negotiation for drugs — an idea that Trump supported in the past. Regulatory or legislative changes to pricing are not completely out of the question if the industry fails to act.

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  • Over 80 US government websites have become insecure or completely inaccessible because there are no workers there to update security credentials>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 8:22 PM:)

    government shutdown

    • More than 80 US government websites have now become either insecure or inaccessible due to the sites not updating a security credential known as a TLS certificate, according to a report by Netcraft.
    • Sites impacted include the likes of NASA, the US Department of Justice, and the US Court of Appeals.
    • Most of these affected sites will allow users to proceed past the security warning page, but that can leave users vulnerable to cyber attacks.

    The US government shutdown has taken a toll on public spaces — with garbage and human feces overflowing at National Parks — but now the deterioration is being felt online. 

    More than 80 US government websites have now become either insecure or inaccessible due to the sites not updating a security credential known as a TLS certificate, according to a report by Netcraft.

    Sites impacted include the likes of NASA, the US Department of Justice, and the US Court of Appeals.

    Most of the affected sites (like this NASA site) will allow users to proceed past the security warning page, but according to Netcraft, that can leave users vulnerable to attacks. For instance, if a connection is not secure, websites can be impersonated and sensitive information (like credit card numbers and passwords) can be stolen if entered into the fake site. 

    government shutdown

    Other sites cannot be accessed at all. The stricter security may be comforting, but it also makes the site's information and functions completely blocked while no government employees are there to maintain them. 

    Read more:  The effects of the shutdown are only going to get exponentially worse as the fight drags on

    At 21 days as of Friday, the current government shutdown ties for the longest in US history. And as more days pass, more un maintained .gov sites could leave more online users vulnerable. 

    SEE ALSO: Alphabet's board of directors is being sued for allegations that it covered up claims of sexual harassment by top executives

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How Apple went from a $1 trillion company to losing over 20% of its share price in 3 months

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  • GoFundMe is refunding all donations made to the 'Fund the Wall' campaign>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 8:15 PM:)

    trump border wall gofundme

    • The GoFundMe campaign that was raising money to build a wall along the US-Mexico border did not meet its $1 billion goal, meaning the platform will begin refunding donors.
    • On Friday, Brian Kolfage, who created the fundraiser, updated its GoFundMe page to urge donors to redirect their money to a new "501(c)(4) non-profit Florida Corporation named 'We Build the Wall, Inc.'"
    • The campaign, created in December, raised $20 million.

    The GoFundMe campaign that aimed to raise $1 billion for a border wall is shutting down, and the $20 million raised will be refunded to donors.

    A GoFundMe spokesman, Bobby Whithorne, told INSIDER that the campaign's founder, Brian Kolfage, initially promised donors that all donations would be used to pay for a wall along the US-Mexico border, like the one President Donald Trump has proposed, if it met its $1 billion goal.

    "However, that did not happen," Whithorne said. "This means all donors will receive a refund."

    Kolfage, a US veteran who supports Trump, updated the campaign's page on Friday announcing the refunds. He said donors could redirect their donations to a new "501(c)(4) non-profit Florida Corporation named 'We Build the Wall, Inc.'" if they still wished for their money to be used, in one way or another, to build a wall.

    In his update, Kolfage said he had reached out to several experts in "law, politics, national security, construction, and finance" and created a team that "has spent countless hours over the holidays reviewing all issues pertaining to the construction of a southern border wall."

    Read more: Donations to the GoFundMe campaign that's raising $1 billion to pay for the wall have slowed down — but the fundraiser is about to hit $20 million

    "Unanimously," Kolfage said, "we have all come to the conclusion that the federal government won't be able to accept our donations anytime soon."

    He said this was why his new nonprofit would accept any donations previously made to the GoFundMe campaign.

    Among the group of people listed on the GoFundMe page as being involved with the nonprofit are Erik Prince, an American businessman known for founding the security firm Blackwater (he is also Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' brother), David Clarke, the former Wisconsin sheriff known for expressing controversial views on immigration, and Mary Ann Mendoza, a proponent of stricter immigration laws whose son died when his car was hit by an intoxicated driver who authorities said had been in the country illegally.

    The group also includes Kris Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state, who in a statement said that "when government fails in its most important duties — protecting its citizens and preserving the country's sovereignty — We the People have the right to do it ourselves."

    In the update, Kolfage said the group was "highly confident" that it could "complete significant segments of the wall in less time, and for far less money, than the federal government, while meeting or exceeding all required regulatory, engineering, and environmental specifications."

    In a statement to INSIDER, Kolfage said the group was "already taking action on identifying the most densely crossed areas of the border, soliciting affected landowners along the Southern border, and ascertaining the willingness of border landowners to provide no or low-cost easements on their property for wall construction."

    He added: "Better equipped than our own federal government, we have made significant progress in less than a month, having begun extensive due diligence and commenced feasibility studies."

    Whithorne told INSIDER that if a person who donated to the original GoFundMe campaign did not want a refund and instead wanted the money to go to the new organization, "they must proactively elect to redirect their donation to that organization," adding that "if they do not take that step, they will automatically receive a full refund."

    "All donors will be contacted by GoFundMe via email, and they can also find additional the donor form directly on the campaign page," he said.

    The GoFundMe campaign went viral during the week of its creation in December. Reports soon surfaced of Kolfage's previous endeavors, which included stints running conspiracy-theory websites and a related Facebook page that was kicked off the platform in October.

    SEE ALSO: Someone created a GoFundMe campaign to 'buy ladders' to counter the fundraiser created to pay for Trump's border wall

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • Rep. Steve King could be censured after asking why terms like white supremacist and white nationalist were offensive in an interview>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 8:02 PM:)

    Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, arrives for a closed-door interview with Peter Strzok, the FBI agent facing criticism following a series of anti-Trump text messages, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 27, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    • Republican Rep. Steve King is increasingly likely to face a potential censure motion for repeatedly making remarks widely seen as racist.
    • One House Democrat has already directed his staff to draft a censure.
    • Republican leaders have widely condemned King's latest remarks, as they have done several times in the past.

    WASHINGTON — Republican Rep. Steve King has had no small share of controversies surrounding comments he has made about race, which have typically drawn condemnation from his Republican colleagues.

    But King is now in a different, more threatening situation after his latest remarks. A Democratic-controlled House is now looking to censure him, a rare rebuke offered for only the most heinous acts by a member of Congress.

    Read more: Republicans and high-profile donors are suddenly abandoning Steve King after years of racial insensitivity

    When King questioned how terms like "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization" became offensive in the American vernacular during an interview with the New York Times, he spurred a Republican primary challenger back in his Iowa district.

    Top House Republicans condemned King's recent statements, as they have done many, many times before.

    Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the newly elected chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, called King's comments "abhorrent and racist and should have no place in our national discourse."

    "Everything about white supremacy and white nationalism goes against who we are as a nation," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement. "Steve's language is reckless, wrong, and has no place in our society. The Declaration of Independence states that 'all men are created equal.' That is a fact. It is self-evident.”

    House Minority Whip Steve Scalise told reporters it is "offensive to try to legitimize" the terms King used, adding, "I think it's important that he rejected that kind of evil, because that's what it is: evil ideology."

    King addressed the latest comments in a statement Thursday afternoon, denying he is a racist but still identifying himself as a nationalist.

    "I want to make one thing abundantly clear; I reject those labels and the evil ideology that they define," King said. "Further, I condemn anyone that supports this evil and bigoted ideology which saw in its ultimate expression the systematic murder of six million innocent Jewish lives."

    "Under any fair political definition, I am simply a Nationalist," he added. "America's values are expressed in our founding documents, they are attainable by everyone and we take pride that people of all races, religions, and creeds from around the globe aspire to achieve them. I am dedicated to keeping America this way."

    "This conviction does not make me a white nationalist or a white supremacist," King continued. "Once again, I reject those labels and the ideology that they define."

    King also took to the House floor Friday afternoon to clarify further, saying he "made a freshman move" by accepting an interview request from the New York Times and that his remarks created an "unnecessary controversy."

    "I regret the heartburn that has poured forth upon this Congress and this country and especially in my state and in my congressional district," he added. "But the people who know me know I wouldn't have to even make this statement because they do know me. They know my life, they know my history, they know that I have lived in the same place since 1978. There's nothing about my family or my history or my neighborhood that would suggest that these false allegations could be supported by any activity whatsoever."

    King could face a potential censure motion from House Democrats

    And while the House Republican leadership issued sharp condemnations, the newly powerful Democrats are now thinking that is not enough.

    Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio has put his staff in motion to bring a censure motion before the House that would condemn King.

    While the government shutdown continues, the censure could still come to the floor. Most censures in the House — the last of which was in 2010 when former Rep. Charlie Rangel of New York was condemned for inaccurate financial disclosures and failure to pay taxes — are due to sexual misconduct and "un-parliamentary language."

    This is not the first time King has faced the threat of censure either. Shortly before the 2018 midterm elections, the Anti-Defamation League sent a letter to then-House Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to censure King for what they described as "antisemitic and offensive not just to the Jewish community, but to all Americans."

    The heightened criticism prompted then-National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman and Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio to withdraw support from King in the lead up to the election. In addition, many of King's high-profile donors jumped ship as a result.

    Whether King finally gets censured is still to be determined, but even if Republicans are not willing to pull the trigger, King's fate is now in the hands of Democrats who have been looking to rebuke him for years.

    SEE ALSO: Trump's threat of a national-emergency declaration to fund the border wall is leaving Capitol Hill in shock

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  • Air traffic controllers haven't been paid since the government shutdown began, and now their union is suing the federal government>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 8:00 PM:)

    air traffic controller

    • America's 22,790 air-traffic controllers have gone unpaid since the government shutdown began on December 22. 
    • The National Air Traffic Controllers Association sued the federal government on January 11 for "unlawfully depriv(ing)" its union members of wages.
    • One air traffic controller said she was unable to attend her grandmother's funeral during the shutdown as she hasn't been paid for weeks.
    • Two other federal employee unions have sued the government since the shutdown commenced.

    The union that represents America's 22,790 air-traffic controllers is suing the federal government. 

    The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) is alleging that "the government unlawfully deprived NATCA members of their earned wages without due process," and thus violated the Fifth Amendment. 

    On January 11, according to the NATCA's motion, air-traffic controllers and other NATCA members should have been compensated for the first pay period of 2019. But, as some air-traffic controllers posted on Twitter this week, their pay stubs reflected a take-home pay of no more than $0. 

    Read more: Air-traffic controllers working unpaid during the government shutdown are posting their $0 pay stubs on Twitter

    Neither NATCA nor its legal counsel Molly Elkin, partner at Woodley & McGillivary LLP, immediately returned Business Insider's request for a comment. The White House also did not respond.

    The suit also argues that the federal government violated the Fair Labor Standards Act for not paying air-traffic controllers and other NATCA members at least minimum wage or overtime pay.

    As Business Insider's Benjamin Zhang reported yesterday, air-traffic controllers who are working unpaid are due to receive back pay once the shutdown ends. Furloughed workers might not receive any pay.

    air traffic control

    The shutdown has hurt air-traffic controllers in ways that won't be addressable through back pay, the suit alleges. One NATCA member said she couldn't afford travel to her grandmother's funeral on January 8, and others could not afford urgent medical care for their family members. 

    "Measuring the weight of these individual losses as they are multiplied across the thousands of Air Traffic Controllers represented by the NATCA becomes unbearable; a continued deprivation of rights is not sustainable for NATCA's members, who already serve the nation in one of the most stressful jobs in the country," the case describes. "These are losses for which future monetary compensation is insufficient."

    Air-traffic controllers earn a median of $124,540 per year. There's already a shortage of controllers, and the job requires four years of training. 

    Since the shutdown began on December 22, some 420,000 federal employees are working without pay. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers are experiencing "extreme financial hardships" as they're working without pay, and some have quit. Many TSA employees are calling in sick as they lack the funds to get to work. 

    Read more: Delta, United, and JetBlue pilots are warning that flying will become more dangerous as the government shutdown continues

    Two other government worker unions have sued the federal government since the shutdown began.

    National Treasury Employees Union sued the federal government on January 9 as workers represented in their union also went unpaid. The NTEU represents 150,000 employees across 33 government agencies and departments, tens of thousands of which have worked unpaid during the shutdown. 

    The American Federation of Government Employees, a union that includes correctional officers, Border Patrol and ICE agents, sued the US government on December 31 for requiring employees to labor without pay. 

    SEE ALSO: As TSA agents go unpaid, Travis Scott and Kanye West songs are blasting through JFK's loud speakers

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  • Federal workers affected by the government shutdown have more than $400 million in mortgage and rent payments due this month, and it could cause chaos for the US housing market>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 7:21 PM:)

    government shutdown protest

    • The ongoing federal government shutdown could start affecting the US housing market soon.
    • Federal workers not receiving pay owe $249 million in mortgage payments and $189 million in rent payments this month, according to Zillow.
    • Some federal housing programs such as Federal Housing Administration loans, Veterans Affairs loans, and USDA loans are experiencing delays.
    • Additionally, the Department of Housing and Urban Development cannot pay rental assistance to landlords who provide roughly 100,000 low-income Americans with affordable housing.

    The ongoing government shutdown looks like it may cause a mess for the US housing market.

    As the shutdown enters a record-tying 21st day, a number of worries are piling up, ranging from looming mortgage payments for federal workers to missing rent assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

    The problems have left workers worried about making ends meet, potential buyers frozen out of loans, and affordable housing experts concerned about evictions.

    Missing paychecks mean missed payments

    government shutdown protest.JPG

    The most direct effect of the government shutdown on the housing market is the increasing possibility that the 800,000 federal workers who are not receiving paychecks during the shutdown are going to face a mortgage or rent bill without any income to pay it.

    According to online real estate database firm Zillow, federal workers who are not receiving paychecks have $249 million in mortgage payments and $189 million in rent payments due this month.

    Read more: From airport lines to food inspections, here are all the ways the government shutdown is impacting the lives of average Americans

    While the Office of Personnel Management released guidance for federal employees who may experience problems, many employees worried that the suggestions — which include writing letters to landlords asking for a delay — are woefully inadequate.

    "No payments means no gas for our cars, no money for our prescriptions, our groceries, our rents and our mortgages," Steve Ching, an electrician who contracts for NASA, told the Washington Post. "We're all wondering how long our families will be able to hold out."

    Services for homebuyers are experiencing some problems

    TSA agent airport government shutdown - resized

    In addition to the looming payments for federal workers, the federal government has also stopped activities such as loan programs and income checks that people need to buy homes.

    While Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veterans Affairs (VA) loans are going out during the shutdown, new applicants may experience delays as FHA/VA employees who work on the underwriting process are on furlough, which means they aren't working.

    Additionally, the US Department of Agriculture, which provides loans for people buying homes in rural areas, is not processing those requests.

    The IRS is also working through a backlog of income verifications that are needed for some borrowers because the process was paused when the shutdown went into effect, so some buyers may experience delays.

    Read more: The government shutdown is in a record-tying 21st day and the fight between Trump and Democrats is only getting uglier. Here's everything you missed.

    These pauses are causing problems for some people trying to buy a new home, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors released on Tuesday.

    Three-quarters of realtors surveyed reported no clients having issues due to the shutdown. But 22% said a current client or potential client was having trouble, with reasons for disruptions including:

    • 25% said "the buyer decided not to buy due to general economic uncertainty, though they were not a federal government employee"
    • 17% had a client who was unable to get a USDA rural home loan processed due to the shutdown
    • 13% had a delay due to IRS income verification problems
    • 9% had a delay due to the FHA pausing loans
    • 9% said they had a client who decided not buy because they were a federal employee
    • 6% had a seller who could not sell because their move was impacted by the shutdown
    • 3% had a client who was rejected for a loan because they were on furlough
    • 3% had a buyer who decided not to buy because they were on furlough

    Affordable housing problems

    Donald Trump

    Thr housing problems are also threatening to hit some of the most vulnerable Americans, with HUD experiencing a funding shortfall.

    Contracts with 1,150 landlords who offer subsidized units for low income Americans have expired during the government shutdown and another 500 contracts will expire in January, according to the Washington Post. This means those landlords will not receive the federal assistance to offset the lower rent costs, and as many as 100,000 low-income tenants could face eviction.

    HUD has sent letters to those landlords who are no longer under contract asking for extensions and a HUD spokesperson told the Post that no one has ever been evicted due to a shutdown.

    But the current funding lapse is poised to set the record for longest shutdown in the modern budgeting era on Saturday — and the unprecedented length could mean unprecedented effects.

    SEE ALSO: Here's what happens to food stamps and other federal food programs during the government shutdown

    SEE ALSO: The housing market is cooling off — and uncertainty isn't helping

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  • From $1.6 million to $1.1 billion: How much the 10 wealthiest members of Trump's cabinet are worth>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 6:56 PM:)

    donald trump cabinet

    • President Donald Trump's Cabinet is the wealthiest of recent administrations.
    • Populated by former executives, bankers, and public figures, Trump's cabinet represents some of the most elite groups in the country. 

    President Donald Trump's Cabinet is regarded to be the wealthiest among previous administrations.

    When Trump raised eyebrows by announcing the select group of executives, bankers, and media-made millionaires, he defended his choices as deliberately searching for successful people, likening the future department heads to wealthy athletes.

    "I want people that made a fortune because now they're negotiating with you," Trump said in December 2016. "It's not different than a great baseball player or a great golfer."

    Though there have been a bevy of staff changes over the past two years, Trump's Cabinet has remained full of high earners.

    Based on the most recent rankings and previous ranges of the value of assets for each member, here are the 10 wealthiest people in Trump's Cabinet:

    SEE ALSO: Depressing photos show closed Washington, DC monuments and attractions as the government shutdown continues

    DON'T MISS: Trump has fallen 138 spots on Forbes' wealthiest-Americans list, his net worth down over $1 billion, since he announced his presidential bid in 2015

    Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos: $1.1 billion

    Both the education secretary and her husband, Amway heir Dick DeVos, hailed from wealthy and powerful Michigan families.

    When it comes to all of her assets, the public disclosure form indicated DeVos raked in an income between $53,962,468 and $134,894,706 between January 2016 and Spring 2017.

    Though the secretary is considered a Level 1 member of the executive branch, and therefore qualified to receive a base pay of $207,800, DeVos said at her confirmation hearing that she would like to take home a salary of $1.

    Source: Politico

    Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross: $506.5 million

    Ross spent decades working with a bankruptcy advisory business before starting a private equity firm, WL Ross & Co., in 2000, which he later sold for around $375 million

    The secretary has been the subject of controversy after insisting, but not being able to prove, that he was worth $2 billion. He has also faced multiple allegations of referencing phony transactions and embezzling money going back years. 

    In 2017, Ross's assets were estimated to be worth between $326 and $687 million.

    Source: Politico

    Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin: $252 million

    Mnuchin spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs before a stint working with billionaire George Soros, which led to Mnuchin founding his own hedge fund.

    His other business interests in recent years include funding movies such as "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "American Sniper."

    In 2017, Mnuchin's assets were estimated by the New York Times to be valued between $154 and $350 million.

    Source: Politico


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  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's allies announce their first Democratic primary target, conservative Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 6:51 PM:)

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi poses during a ceremonial swearing-in with Rep. Henry Cuellar on January 3.

    • A progressive group allied with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced on Friday that it would target Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas for a primary challenge in 2020.
    • Cuellar is one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, despite representing a deep-blue district.
    • The Texan is the progressive left's first target in a controversial national effort to target incumbent Democrats in safe blue districts.

    Justice Democrats, the progressive group that helped Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez win her insurgent primary bid, announced on Friday that it would recruit a 2020 primary challenger to Rep. Henry Cuellar, a conservative Democrat who represents a deep-blue South Texas district.

    Progressives argue that Cuellar is the ideal Democrat to challenge — he's one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, his South Texas district is safely blue, and he's even allied himself with Republicans in recent years. Last year, Cuellar controversially fundraised for GOP Rep. John Carter, a fellow Texan, in his competitive race against the Democrat MJ Hegar.

    The activists want to replicate the 2018 successes of Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, both of whom ousted popular longtime incumbents in their deeply Democratic districts. They've established a fund that will support a candidate they'll help recruit for the primary race.

    "We're trying to build on our learnings and successes from AOC's primary victory against Joe Crowley, which was to start early on recruitment and campaigning," Waleed Shahid, Justice Democrats' communications director, told INSIDER, using Ocasio-Cortez's nickname. "We also want to show Democrats and progressives that we need a mission-driven caucus in Congress of people just like AOC who will take risks and fight back just like she does."

    Cuellar has held his seat since 2005 — and hasn't faced a competitive primary in 12 years. He insists he maintains a strong hold on his seat.

    "They came after me twice, and I beat 'em," Cuellar told The Washington Post last year. "LBJ used to say: What's the difference between a cannibal and a liberal Democrat? Cannibals don't eat their own."

    Liberal critics point to Cuellar's conservative legislative record — he's voted with President Donald Trump 65% of the time — as reason enough to oust him. His district, which stretches from parts of San Antonio to the US-Mexico border, went for Hillary Clinton in 2016 by nearly 20 points.

    Progressives have long been critical of Cuellar's work in Congress.

    "Henry Cuellar is a f---ing disgrace, a vile misogynist, and a Trumpist," Sean McElwee, a progressive activist who founded Data for Progress, told INSIDER. "The sooner he is gone, the sooner the Democratic Party can embrace its progressive future."

    They argue that Democratic leadership will have a hard time defending the lawmaker.

    "Can Pelosi, Hoyer, and the Democratic Party leadership really defend that Cuellar is a real Democrat after receiving an A rating from the NRA and voting to defund sanctuary cities?" Shahid said, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

    An array of progressive activists and groups expressed support for the initiative on Friday.

    "Cuellar had a 43 percent score from us on civil rights and civil liberties. Much room for improvement!" Faiz Shakir, the American Civil Liberties Union political director, tweeted, citing the organization's legislative scorecard.

    Shahid said the group's next steps would involve building relationships with organizers and activists on the ground in Texas to begin the candidate-recruitment process.

    But Justice Democrats have found little solidarity with their effort among members of Congress.

    The push to move the party left has upset many Democrats who want the caucus to remain focused on their Republican opponents.

    Even some of the House's most progressive lawmakers — including Rep. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat endorsed by the group and the only member of Congress to support Ocasio-Cortez's primary bid — have said they won't sign on to the effort.

    "I believe that you should have competitive elections and that everyone in this country has a right to run, but personally I would like to see our focus on turning Texas blue, winning states in the Midwest, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, making sure we expand our majority," Khanna told INSIDER in an interview last month.

    Ocasio-Cortez has also declined to publicly declare support for the effort to oust Cuellar.

    "We're not active in their process," Ocasio-Cortez's press secretary, Corbin Trent, told The Post. "We're focused on getting up and going."

    But on a November call with Justice Democrats and other activists, Ocasio-Cortez and some of her top aides encouraged fellow progressives to run against incumbents.

    "We've got to primary folks," said Saikat Chakrabarti, the former executive director of Justice Democrats and now Ocasio-Cortez's chief of staff.

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  • Puerto Rico's governor criticizes Trump's talk of using disaster funding for border wall>
    (Politics - January 11 2019 - 6:40 PM:)

    donald trump puerto rico governor ricardo rossello

    • Gov. Ricardo Rosselló of Puerto Rico hit President Donald Trump over his talk of using disaster funds to pay for the US-Mexico wall.
    • Trump is said to be looking in to using disaster funding, allocated for areas hit by hurricanes, for the wall.
    • Rosselló tweeted that there was "no justification" for US disaster relief funds to be taken from Americans trying to rebuild their communities.

    Gov. Ricardo Rosselló of Puerto Rico didn't hold back Friday when commenting on the idea of using disaster funds to pay for a wall along the southern US border.

    "No wall should be funded on the pain and suffering of US citizens who have endured tragedy and loss through a natural disaster," Rosselló tweeted. "This include those citizens that live in CA, TX, PR, VI and other jurisdictions. Today it's us, tomorrow it could be you."

    On Friday, the Associated Press reported that Trump was considering using disaster-relief funds earmarked for hurricane-affected areas such as Puerto Rico and Texas to pay for his proposed border wall, which is at the center of the partial government shutdown. According to the AP, the White House directed the Army Corps of Engineers to examine whether part of its budget could go toward building a wall.

    No wall should be funded on the pain and suffering of US citizens who have endured tragedy and loss through a natural disaster. This include those citizens that live in CA, TX, PR, VI and other jurisdictions. Today it’s us, tomorrow it could be you.

    — Ricardo Rossello (@ricardorossello) January 11, 2019

    Last year, Congress allocated nearly $14 billion in emergency funds for specific projects that have not yet been contracted out, the AP reported.

    Read more: Trump is reportedly upset about old video footage showing him throwing rolls of paper towels at first responders in Puerto Rico

    On Twitter, Rosselló said there was "no justification" for reclassifying money meant to help US citizens rebuild their communities. He added that "if anything, the conversation should be how we get more resources to rebuild those impacted areas faster."

    "This is a classic case of choosing between obstruction and construction," he said in another tweet. "Which side are you on, @realDonaldTrump?"

    Rosselló asked the president to "explicitly state what his intent is."

    "Mr. President, don't tear down US citizens in order to build a wall," he said. "Help the USA rebuild."

    Puerto Rico is still recuperating from Hurricane Maria, the 2017 disaster blamed for more than 1,400 deaths.

    Most of the deaths were associated with a lack of medical care caused by widespread power failures that were part of the largest blackout in US history. It took nearly a year for electricity to be restored in almost all of Puerto Rico.

    SEE ALSO: Trump could end up taking money from Puerto Rico disaster funds to build his border wall

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