fnc/politics

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Hillary Clinton cautioned House Democrats on Wednesday against immediately launching impeachment proceedings against President Trump following the release of Special Counsel Robert Muller’s report this month, urging Democrats to widen their platforms to a more “sensible agenda” for the upcoming elections.

The former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic nominee called the ultimatum presented by Democrats – “immediate impeachment or nothing” – a “false choice” in an op-ed published in The Washington Post.

“History suggests there’s a better way to think about the choices ahead.”

Clinton, whose husband, President Bill Clinton, was impeached in 1998, called the issue “personal” and said that while some might argue she was “not the right messenger,” her experience in politics has proven otherwise.

“My perspective is not just that of a former candidate and target of the Russian plot. I am also a former senator and secretary of state who served during much of [Russian President] Vladi­mir Putin’s ascent, sat across the table from him and knows firsthand that he seeks to weaken our country,” she wrote.

HILLARY CLINTON: ANYONE OTHER THAN TRUMP WOULD HAVE BEEN INDICTED FOR OBSTRUCTION

Clinton also looked back at her time as a “young staff attorney” in 1974 working on the House Judiciary Committee’s Watergate impeachment inquiry into President Richard Nixon.

Clinton said Congress should not be quick to vote on beginning impeachment proceedings without holding the proper public hearings to fill in the gaps of the Mueller report, something she blamed on Attorney General Bill Barr’s redactions.

Clinton slammed the 1998 impeachment of her husband as “a mistake then” and claimed that if voted on today, it “would be a mistake now,” arguing that the Republican-led House “rushed to judgment” then.

REP SAYS MUELLER REPORT SHOWS STEELE DOSSIER ‘FALSE AND FAKE,’ CHALLENGING ORIGINS OF FBI PROBE

She also urged both Democrats and Republicans to put aside party affiliations to come to a fair decision. “We have to remember that this is bigger than politics.”

She continued: “Whether they like it or not, Republicans in Congress share the constitutional responsibility to protect the country … It’s up to members of both parties to see where that road map leads — to the eventual filing of articles of impeachment, or not. Either way, the nation’s interests will be best served by putting party and political considerations aside and being deliberate, fair and fearless.”

Clinton also urged lawmakers to evaluate the national security threat facing U.S. elections and advised Democrats not to build a platform on impeachment alone but rather to focus on a “sensible agenda” ahead of the midterm elections.

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“For today’s Democrats, it’s not only possible to move forward on multiple fronts at the same time, it’s essential … It’s critical to remind the American people that Democrats are in the solutions business and can walk and chew gum at the same time.”

Clinton called the Mueller report a “warning about the future” and said that unless handled carefully and properly, the Russians would interfere again and Trump “may show even more disregard for the laws of the land and the obligations of his office.”

Source: Fox News Politics

Another Trump administration immigration control effort went before the critical eye of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Wednesday — and appears likely to suffer a similar fate as previous government programs that the court’s judges have struck down.

Wednesday’s case before a three-judge panel examined the legality of the Department of Homeland Security’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), an initiative announced in December to address what the feds called the “dramatically escalating burdens of unauthorized migration, which is causing irreparable harm.”

The idea: for Central American migrants who’ve crossed the U.S. border asking for asylum to be returned to Mexico temporarily. MPP was designed to provide relief to overburdened U.S. detention facilities by targeting people who were unlikely to make successful asylum claims.

Judge Paul Watford took issue with how the migrants have been processed and whether the government was giving them a fair opportunity to express their concerns about returning to Mexico – even if on a temporary basis.

“I don’t understand how that’s not arbitrary and capricious,” Watford said about current protocols which do not demand government border agents ask about fears migrants might have about staying in Mexico.

Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, a Reagan appointee who seemed favorably disposed to the government’s case, asked the lawyer representing migrants held in Mexico why her clients would rather be in detention in the United States than have freedom of movement in Mexico. “We don’t want to be in Mexico. We’d rather be in the United States,” Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU replied.

Outside the courthouse after the hearing, Rabinovitz, who said she was cautiously optimistic for a favorable ruling, went on further to say, “we have… heard of people who are kidnapped and given death threats – didn’t matter – they were returned to Mexico.”

Judge William Fletcher criticized the government’s legal justification for the migrants it’s placed in Mexico under existing laws that appear to have given separate classifications for different types of asylum seekers.

“We’ve got dogs and cats who go to the pound but that doesn’t turn a dog into a cat or vice versa,” Fletcher, who was appointed by President Clinton, analogized. President Obama appointed Watford.

BORDER GROUP LEADER INJURED IN NEW MEXICO JAIL FIGHT

Earlier this month, a lower court judge determined the Trump administration’s policy violated existing federal law and failed to give adequate protection to migrants who feared for their safety in Mexico.

Judge Richard Seeborg issued a nationwide injunction immediately stopping immigration authorities from placing migrants in Mexico. President Trump blasted the decision, tweeting: “A 9th Circuit Judge just ruled that Mexico is too dangerous for migrants. So unfair to the U.S. OUT OF CONTROL!”

But, several days later, Seeborg’s injunction was stayed temporarily to allow each side to present Wednesday’s arguments. That prompted another presidential tweet, “Finally, great news at the Border!”

Over the past couple of years, the 9th Circuit has ruled against the Trump administration’s travel ban and attempt to end protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. It also has ruled in favor of “sanctuary” laws giving protection to illegal immigrants.

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The judges gave the packed third-floor courtroom no guidance on when a decision would be announced. The tenor of the arguments suggested the stay would be lifted but it wasn’t clear whether the underlying injunction would be preserved in full or modified in a way that would keep MPP in place under an altered state.

If the judges decide to reinstate the injunction, the government has asked for a one-week delay to file an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court.

Source: Fox News Politics

Former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting director and Fox News contributor Tom Homan called on Wednesday for the Trump administration to pursue a national law-enforcement operation that would illegal immigrants remaining in the United States after a judge ordered them out of the country.

“We need to do operationally what Congress is failing to do legislatively,” Homan said after blasting congressional Democrats for inaction. A national operation, Homan indicated while appearing on “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” would help deter illegal border crossings.

“I ran an operation like that three-and-a-half years ago, and the results were, the border numbers went down significantly,” Homan told Neil Cavuto.

Under President Trump, ICE has continually made headlines for carrying out large raids that often resulted in hundreds of arrests each. The agency, under Homan’s leadership, carried out at-large arrests as a way to mitigate the effects of state and local governments refusing to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.

Homan also called on ICE to work more within Mexico, casting doubt on the Mexican government’s cooperation with immigration enforcement.

TRUMP WARNS MEXICO OVER GUNS DRAWN ON US TROOPS: ‘BETTER NOT HAPPEN AGAIN!’

“I appreciate what Mexico is doing right now but my concern is this,” he said. “Is it a dog and pony show just to appease the president for a short time or are they actually going to sustain [an] operation that’s going to result in the arrest and removal of Central Americans back to their home country?”

Both Homan and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan have pointed to Mexican cooperation as an important factor in halting the migration crisis. “Any solution we’re going to have to reduce the flow is going to rely on Mexican authorities to take stronger action,” he told Fox News’ Dana Perino on Tuesday.

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On Wednesday, the president praised Border Patrol’s efforts and blasted both Mexico and congressional Democrats for their handling of the issue.

“Can anyone comprehend what a GREAT job Border Patrol and Law Enforcement is doing on our Southern Border,” he tweeted. “So far this year they have APPREHENDED 418,000 plus illegal immigrants, way up from last year. Mexico is doing very little for us. DEMS IN CONGRESS MUST ACT NOW!”

Source: Fox News Politics

A California lawmaker recently proposed a bill that would put the decision to dole out a vaccine exemption in the hands of a state public health official – a move that has anti-vaccine supporters up in arms in a state that already has some of the toughest immunization laws in the country.

California state Sen. Richard Pan introduced late last month Senate Bill 276, which if approved would take the decision to grant vaccine exemptions out of the hands of doctors and put it under control of state health officials. Pan, who before turning to politics was a pediatrician, brought forth the legislation in response to reports that some doctors in the state are abusing their power and selling medical exemptions to parents.

“Medical exemptions have more than tripled since the passage of SB 277. Some schools are reporting that more than 20 percent of their students have a medical exemption,” Pan said in a statement. “It is clear that a small number of physicians are monetizing their exemption-granting authority and profiting from the sale of medical exemptions.”

Pan’s legislation also comes as the United States has seen a rise in the number of measles cases nationwide, with California being one of the hardest hit areas for the contagious, but preventable disease.

NYC MEASLES OUTBREAK: FIRST VACCINATION FINES, 4 MORE SCHOOLS SHUT DOWN

Health officials at the University of California, Davis Medical Center last month warned around 200 people about a potential exposure to the measles virus in its emergency room, and there are reports that travelers with measles have recently passed through Los Angeles International Airport – one of the nation’s busiest travel hubs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday announced that measles outbreaks have continued to spike this year – putting 2019 on track to break a record for number of cases since it was declared eliminated in the U.S. back in 2000.

While Pan argues that the new measure would thwart fraud attempts by families and doctors, and keep communities in California safe from preventable diseases, anti-vaccine and pro-informed consent advocates have labeled the move “modern tyranny” and a move by California lawmakers to reach a 100 percent vaccination rate in the state.

A group of doctors, alternative healthcare practitioners and members of parental rights groups traveled on Wednesday to Sacramento to voice their anger and opposition to the bill, which was scheduled to be discussed in the Senate.

LAX TRAVELERS WARNED ABOUT POSSIBLE MEASLES EXPOSURE AGAIN 

“A law that prevents a doctor from using his professional judgement is immoral and dangerous,” Barbara Loe Fisher, the co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center, told Fox News. “[Supporters of SB 276] are more concerned about achieving a 100 percent vaccination rate in California than they are about these children who are vulnerable of being injured or dying from a vaccine.”

Fisher did not attend the rally in Sacramento.

There have been cases in the past of children getting sick, and even dying, from being vaccinated, but according to public health records these cases are rare and for the vast majority of those immunized the only issues that arise – if any – are mild symptoms similar to the disease the vaccine is trying to prevent.

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The CDC reported that a serious allergic reaction and infection related to a vaccine occurs in one out of every million doses administered.

SB 276 is not the first piece of legislation in California to try to bring up the state’s vaccination rate.

In 2015, the state passed SB 277 – another piece on legislation led by Pan – that did away with the personal belief exemption from a list of approved reasons not to immunize a child. It is now mandatory for a child to be vaccinated to attend school in the state and parents cannot rely on the argument of religious or philosophical convictions to not inoculate their children.

Source: Fox News Politics

It’s never too early to try to avoid the next government shutdown. Or the next debt ceiling crisis. Especially when:

  • The federal government recently faced three shutdowns in a little more than 15 months (albeit one for just a few hours).
  • President Trump threatened to veto spending measures twice after everyone thought they had a deal.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., advanced a measure through the Senate to fund the government around Christmas before Trump and House Republicans torched it.
  • The battle over immigration policy and construction of a border wall remains an epic cloud menacing the American political landscape with 19 months to go before the next presidential election.

So it should surprise no one that McConnell announced earlier this month that he had discussed the possibility of a broad bipartisan, bicameral, two-year, spending arrangement with Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

“I’m hoping this will be the beginning of a bipartisan agreement, which will be necessary in order to have an orderly appropriations process, not only this year but next year as well,” McConnell said at the time.

ACTING DHS CHIEF PREDICTS PROGRESS BUILDING SOUTHERN BORDER WALL DESPITE CONGRESSIONAL INACTION

McConnell knows the debate over the border lingers, with Trump and many congressional Republicans pushing for additional wall funding. He’s not just worried about the prospect of another shutdown Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year and when the current round of funding expires, but a second shutdown on Oct. 1, 2020, right before the presidential election.

The chances of another shutdown are high, considering that Trump went around Congress to declare a national emergency in order to marshal money for the border wall. The courts will determine whether that maneuver was constitutional, but the president’s action alone bolstered the chances of another shutdown. The possibility increased even further after Congress failed to override Trump’s veto of a measure to terminate the national emergency.

McConnell felt burned by the president after he forged ahead with a government spending plan in December, only to have Trump tell then-House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., he wouldn’t sign the package. So after congressional leaders forged a mid-February deal to run the government through this fall, McConnell sped to the floor to publicly announce Trump’s intention to sign the measure. McConnell’s move locked in the president, lest he try to renege. McConnell understands Trump’s fickle and volatile approach to governing. The president dumped McConnell and Ryan under the bus during a 2017 Oval Office meeting in favor of a spending gambit pushed by Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Wiser for that experience, McConnell knows the best bet is to secure broad, long-term buy-in from the White House and Congress on a topline spending measure to avoid potential shutdowns – pre-empting Trump’s incessant oscillations.

Let’s examine exactly what’s at stake. You may hear these negotiations referred to rhetorically as a “caps deal.” This refers to an effort to establish total spending caps for discretionary spending (read: anything but entitlements) for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. The “caps” refer to a set of mandatory spending restrictions (known as sequestration) which Congress imposed as part of the debt ceiling agreement in 2011. The goal is to make everyone happy as long as they can reach a topline accord for all spending by eliminating the caps. The advantage for Trump and many Republicans? Military spending and some additional money for a border wall. The advantage for Democrats? More spending on everything else.

Debts and deficits? Forget about it.

HOUSE DEMOCRATS POSTPONE BUDGET MEASURE VOTE AMID PROGRESSIVE RESISTANCE

Sure, some fiscally-conservative Blue Dog Democrats may balk, as will fiscal conservatives like Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee, R-Utah. But the key here is the right mixture of Democrats and Republicans. In divided government, leaders need to secure buy-in from both parties and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. But remember, these are discussions focused on overall spending numbers, not specific appropriations. A dispute over the latter is what led to the monstrous government shutdown in December and January.

House Democrats drew criticism two weeks ago when they yanked their budget blueprint off the floor because they lacked the votes to adopt it as divergent voices split the caucus. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told Fox that if the budget (which only sets broad spending guidelines and is not binding) “had been critical … I think Nancy (Pelosi) and I could have gotten it passed.”

Hoyer pointed out that the discussions with the administration and McConnell are more “substantive.” That’s true. The budget House Democrats aimed to approve was simply a wish list, much like President Trump’s budget in the winter. So, if the sides can get an agreement on spending caps, that would, in theory, make it easier to focus on the hard part, which is appropriations.

Here’s the issue with the sequestration caps: Sequestration always hits the military hardest because Congress spends the most on the Pentagon. Sequestration restricts the Pentagon to $576 billion for fiscal year 2020 and could impose a cut of $71 billion to defense next year and $55 billion for non-defense programs.

TRUMP, GOP PLAN TO RESCIND BUDGET SPENDING HAS PRECEDENT BUT FACES ROCKY PATH IN CONGRESS

Trump and defense hawks want to spend more on the military. So, if they get a “caps deal,” and cancel sequestration, they can spend a lot more. Of course, the deal must be made with congressional Democrats who also want to eliminate sequestration caps on non-defense spending.

Even though the House failed to adopt a budget this week, Democrats did set an overall discretionary spending figure (encompassing all 12 appropriations bills) of $1.295 trillion for fiscal year 2020. This excludes non-discretionary spending which includes entitlement spending.

But here are the politics: Both sides believe if they can get the president on board with the defense hikes, he could sign off on other Democratic priorities. And if both houses of Congress are behind the plan, Trump could agree and avoid the shutdowns.

The gambit would establish new spending caps for the remainder of the president’s term, drastically reducing the chances of shutdowns while baking in a debt limit increase. They could also forge a deal on a supplemental spending bill to cover a host of natural disasters, from Puerto Rico to flooding in the Midwest. One GOP plan to address natural disasters is stalled in the Senate.

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“If we can come to the agreement with the Senate, that puts the onus on the White House,” said House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky. “There will be no way [Trump] can explain it away. If he wants that [responsibility of a shutdown], it’s on his shoulders.”

Pelosi and Schumer are slated to visit the White House Tuesday to discuss a possible infrastructure plan with Trump. The last time Pelosi and Schumer huddled with the president in the Oval Office, sparks flew as the leaders verbally sparred with one another on live TV. The conclave produced one of the most memorable episodes of the Trump presidency. This tableau could prompt similar combat, even though the subject matter is infrastructure. The border wall dispute and immigration policy will remain a flashpoint as long as this president is in office and won’t be settled by any caps agreement.

That’s why many want to get started on a spending arrangement now. They know the next round of arguments over the wall could be more intense than the last.

Source: Fox News Politics

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., announced Wednesday that voters can expect to see a female on the ticket if he wins his party’s nomination.

Speaking at the She The People Presidential Forum in Houston, the presidential hopeful was asked if he would pledge to having a woman running mate – something he has shied away from commiting to in the past.

“I will have a woman running mate,” Booker said. “To me it’s really clear that we do that.”

Booker previously suggested that “if I have it my way,” he would pick a woman to run alongside him.

KAMALA HARRIS AND CORY BOOKER MISSED MOST VOTES OF ALL DEM SENATORS RUNNING IN 2020

“I am very confident that this election, we will make history, because no matter what, I’m looking you in the eye and saying this, there will be a woman on the ticket. I don’t know if it’s in the vice president’s position or the president’s position,” Booker said last month at a campaign event in New Hampshire.

Booker’s announcement could give him a more competitive edge in the crowded field of Democratic contenders, which includes a number of female candidates.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., also recently announced that he would be choosing a female running mate, saying he thinks the next president should run with someone who can speak to a different “experience” then he can as a “white man.”’

“I’ve pledged that I would ask a woman to serve as Vice President,” he said Tuesday. “ I would put forward a diverse candidate and I would put forward policies that would make sure that inherent bias that exists or discrimination that exists in communities would be eliminated.”

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Among the female Democratic presidential candidates are Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

Booker’s appearance Wednesday marked the first-ever presidential candidate forum focused on women of color. The other candidates to appear included Harris, Warren, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Former interim Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile, a Fox News contributor, said she thinks former Vice President Joe Biden  “is a proven leader,” and has what it takes to “go the distance” in the 2020 presidential race.

Brazile made her comments on “America’s Newsroom” Wednesday, the day before Biden is expected to declare his candidacy for president.

The announcement would end months of speculation as the 76-year-old Biden mulled making what would be a third White House bid. Despite the recent #MeToo controversy complicating his would-be campaign, the former vice president has remained at the top of most public opinion polls.

BIDEN CAMPAIGN LAUNCH PUSHED TO THURSDAY

Biden’s potential political campaign hit a bump recently after several women complained publicly about the prospective 2020 Democratic candidate, accusing him of touching them inappropriately at events.

“With 20 candidates I’m not sure that it’s time to pick number one. But he is number one in the polls. That’s because, of course, he was vice president for eight years. He’s been a public servant. He is a proven leader,” said Brazile.

She added, “The race to the White House is about delegates and the question is, will he have enough, what I like to say, enough miles to go the distance? I do believe he will go the distance and that’s because voters know him, they appreciate his leadership. But what’s his vision? That’s what this generation of Democrats will be asking him. Where do you want to take us?”

‘THE VIEW’ CO-HOST JOY BEHAR BLASTS TRUMP OVER MUELLER REPORT OMISSION: ‘THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE NAIL IN THE COFFIN’

Brazile also weighed in on congressional Democrats pushing to keep investigating President Trump despite Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrapping up his Russia investigation with no new indictments.

When asked if it is a good strategy for Democrats to continue to push, Brazile answered, “Absolutely,” adding, “No one is above the law. In fact, Democrats will be running on protecting our democracy.”

She added, “Democrats can walk and chew gum at the same time. You have Democrats out there talking about everything from jobs and the economy and infrastructure, they’re running for president, they’re running to replace Donald Trump in 2020. But you have Capitol Hill Democrats. That’s part of their responsibility in our system of government. So yes, we could do both.”

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“No one is above the law. I think the president should comply with the request from the United States House of Representatives,” said Brazile.

She added, “This is important for the health of our democracy and the future of the United States of America. This is not partisan.”

Source: Fox News Politics

Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Donald Trump, apparently reneged on his admissions for some of his alleged crimes, indicating that he only pleaded guilty to avoid dragging his wife through a prolonged legal battle.

The revelations came from a recorded March 25 phone call he had with actor and Cohen’s close friend Tom Arnold, the audio of which The Wall Street Journal obtained and published Wednesday. Although Cohen reportedly stood by his plea on campaign finance violations, which implicated the president over his alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, he appeared to reverse admissions related to tax evasion and a charge related to a home equity line of credit (HELOC).

“There is no tax evasion,” Cohen said. “And the HELOC? I have an 18 percent loan-to-value on my home. How could there be a HELOC issue?” Cohen portrayed himself as a victim — noting how he lost his insurance, business, and law license — and lamented the lack of support he received after coming forward to law enforcement.

“I shouldn’t be alone anymore. I mean, after over a hundred hours of testimony, right, including seven-and-a-half hours of being beaten up on national television,” he said.

MICHAEL COHEN ASKS HOUSE DEMOCRATS TO HELP KEEP HIM OUT OF PRISON

He also described his dedication to his wife, Laura Shusterman, and his intent to help her avoid legal trouble. “I love this woman. I am not going to let her get dragged into the mud of this crap,” he said before noting he wasn’t expecting the three-year sentence he received.

Cohen’s name made its way back into the news in April when Special Counsel Robert Mueller released his report on the Russia investigation. Mueller’s report made 14 criminal referrals, which included Cohen, who admitted to paying Daniels hush money just before the 2016 presidential election.

While Trump has denied wrongdoing related to that payment and another to Karen McDougal, Cohen stood by his guilty plea. “They had me on campaign finance,” he said in the call with Arnold.

During his call, Cohen appeared to describe the conflict he faced in turning on the president, whom he had served for a decade. “I needed to get the truth out there, and (it’s) very hard when you spend 10 years taking care of somebody and their family,” Cohen told Arnold.

MICHAEL COHEN LAWYER ATTEMPTS TO CLARIFY TESTIMONY ABOUT PRESIDENTIAL PARDON, AMID CRITICISM

“And look, I always knew, you know, who he was and what he was and so on, but it didn’t really matter because it’s — he’s a small microcosm of New York real estate. It’s very different when you start looking to seeing what’s happening now in the country,” he said.

Former mayor Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s new attorney, labeled Cohen’s walkback “poetic justice.”

“Since Cohen began composing for the Angry Democrats he has demonstrably lied under oath in his guilty plea and his testimony to Elijah ‘I’ll throw the book at you’ Cummings,” Giuliani said in another tweet. “Report ignores all of this and provides no facts to evaluate Cohen’s credibility. One of many deceptions,” he said in an apparent dig at the Journal.

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Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, told Fox News: “Nothing said by Mr. Cohen to Tom Arnold contradicts Mr. Cohen’s previous defense attorney, Guy Petrillo, in his sentencing memorandum to the presiding federal U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley III back in December. I would also add the important words used by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and others, in describing Michael Cohen’s cooperation and testimony as ‘credible’ addressing the ‘core’ issues involved in his investigation.”

The White House did not respond for a request for comment.

Fox News’ Tamara Gitt contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

President Trump on Wednesday touted his administration’s success in combating the opioid epidemic in the United States, while acknowledging that there is still more work to do.

Speaking at the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, the president’s remarks noted the steps his administration has taken to battle the epidemic, but also veered into his frequent critique of drugs coming over the U.S.’s southern border into the country.

“We will not solve this epidemic overnight,” Trump said to an audience of elected leaders and health and law enforcement officials gathered in the Georgia capital. “But we will never stop until the job is done.”

Trump added: “We will succeed and we’re making tremendous progress.”

NEW YORK SUES MAKERS OF OXYCONTIN DAYS AFTER COMPANY AGREES TO $270M SETTLEMENT

The president has declared opioids a national health emergency, while First Lady Melania Trump, who also spoke at the conference, focuses on the issue in her national “Be Best” child welfare campaign.

“I’m proud of this administration’s historic progress,” the first lady said before introducing her husband.

Opioid abuse claimed a record nearly 48,000 American lives in 2017. An estimated 2 million people are addicted to the drugs, which include both legal prescription pain medications and illegal drugs like heroin.

There have been signs of progress.The number of prescriptions for opioid painkillers filled in the U.S. fell substantially in 2017. Still, it’s unclear whether the opioid problem is on the decline.

Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump’s top advisers, said at a White House gaggle Wednesday that Twitter and Google have helped the administration combat the opioid and drug crisis. So far, the administration has helped collect 3.7 million pounds of unused and expired medications — enough to fill seven Air Force One planes, she said.

The next “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day” is Saturday.

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Conway said she met Tuesday with drug enforcement and officials from Google, which is helping the administration by displaying links to about 5,500 locations where people can drop off unused and expired pills.

Trump also hit Mexico for allowing heroin and other opioids to come into the country, and promised that his much-touted border wall will help stem the flow of drugs into the U.S.

“Heroin alone kills 300 Americans, 90 percent of which enter the Southern Border,” Trump said.

While it’s true that the vast majority of heroin in the U.S. comes from Mexico, virtually all of it makes its way into the country through legal ports of entry and not by traffickers sneaking it across the border unnoticed.

“A small percentage of all heroin seized by CBP along the land border was between Ports of Entry (POEs),” the Drug Enforcement Administration said in a 2018 report.

There is also contention over Trump’s claims of progress in combating the opioid epidemic.

Keith Humphreys, a drug policy adviser in the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations who now is at Stanford University, said some states are making progress in combating opioids abuse, but not because of Trump’s actions. Humphreys cited Rhode Island and Vermont as examples. He also said some states have regressed.

Humphreys said the president’s declaration of opioids addiction as a public health emergency in 2017 failed to translate into significant concrete action. Members of Congress, he said, “figured out they were going to have to do it themselves and they did.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Dan Caldwell, the executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, said on “America’s Newsroom” Wednesday that while many Americans get quality health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs system, those who served in the military and wish to join private networks should have that choice.

He said that New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “is really off base” with her contention at a Town Hall last week that the veterans health care system is efficient and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

“In many cases, yes, the V.A. is performing well, it is giving veterans high-quality care, but in other cases they aren’t,” Caldwell said. “Just because some veterans are getting good care isn’t an excuse not to fix the V.A. for the veterans who aren’t getting good care. And that’s why we support giving veterans a choice, so if a veteran wants to access care in the community because he or she feels they aren’t getting good care in the V.A., they can do that. And that’s what President Trump supports — not privatizing the V.A., not dismantling the V.A.”

The V.A. Mission Act, which Congress passed in June and President Trump signed into law, allows veterans the option of using their benefits at a network of private health care providers.

OCASIO-CORTEZ DECLARES VA ‘ISN’T BROKEN,’ ALREADY PROVIDES TOP-NOTCH CARE 

“Through legislation like the V.A. Mission Act, they’re trying to put the veteran at the center of the V.A., not the bureaucracy,” Caldwell said. “Giving veterans a choice will force the private sector and the V.A. to compete for veterans, this will give veterans the power to choose.”

The department was plagued by scandal during the Obama administration — including secret wait lists, systemic neglect and veterans dying while waiting to see a doctor.

Caldwell credited Trump, Congress and V.A. Secretary Robert Wilkie for getting the measure passed. Wilkie is the fourth secretary to lead the VA in the past four years, while the VA’s $200 billion budget has doubled in the past decade.

“If implemented properly, it will fix a lot of the long-term systemic problems in the V.A.,” he said, adding “You’re seeing more people like Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez inside and outside trying to stop the implementation of the bill and keep veterans trapped in many cases in failing V.A. hospitals. And that’s not just wrong, that’s immoral.”

President Trump on Wednesday took aim at Ocasio-Cortez’s V.A. remarks, tweeting: “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is correct, the VA is not broken, it is doing great. But that is only because of the Trump Administration. We got Veterans Choice & Accountability passed.”

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Ocasio-Cortez said at the Town Hall: “They are trying to fix it. But who are they trying to fix it for, is the question we’ve got to ask. And this is who they’re trying to fix it for. They’re trying to fix the V.A. for insurance companies. They’re trying to fix it for insurance corporations, and ultimately they’re trying to fix the V.A. for the for-profit health care industry that does not put people or veterans first.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Source: Fox News Politics


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