Author: Brian Naylor

Trump To Propose $54 Billion Defense Increase, Cuts To Domestic Programs

President Trump will propose a budget that he says “puts America first,” with increased military spending and cuts to domestic programs. Evan Vucci/AP President Trump’s budget will propose a $54 billion increase in defense spending, while slashing domestic programs by the same amount. The president told the nation’s governors on Monday that his plan “puts America first,” and that “we’re going to do more with less, and make the government lean and accountable to people.” An official with the White House Office of Management and Budget, who spoke to reporters only if not named, said most agencies will see budget cuts, including foreign aid, which comprises less than 1 percent of federal spending. A formal budget blueprint will be sent to Congress in March. The official said this the first step of “internal collaboration” between the White House and federal agencies. The official said details about tax cuts and entitlement programs, including Social Security and Medicare, will come later. The administration is not expected to proposed changes to entitlements. It will be up to Congress to write the final spending plan, and it’s likely there will be strong objections from Democrats to the proposed domestic cuts. Already, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer tweeted that the budget will take “a meat ax to programs that benefit the middle-class.” NEW: Schumer blasts @POTUS budget outline that would cut middle class programs...

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White House Asked FBI To Publicly Refute Reports Trump Associates Had Russia Contacts

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, seen here walking toward the Oval Office in January, had been in touch with the FBI over media reports about Trump associates and contacts with Russia, according to a senior administration official. Drew Angerer/Getty Images The White House is admitting that it discussed with the FBI media reports that Trump campaign officials were in contact with Russian intelligence agents, and that Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked the FBI to publicly knock down the story. FBI Director James Comey refused. The administration is pushing back on a CNN report that White House officials “sought the help.” A senior administration official told reporters Friday morning that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe asked to speak to Priebus on Feb. 15, and told him the report in the New York Times about Russia contacts was inaccurate. Priebus had first been approached by McCabe after a meeting in Priebus’ office on another matter, according to the official. McCabe told Priebus the New York Times story was wrong, and then Priebus asked McCabe, “What can we do about this?” the official said. Later, according to the official, McCabe called Priebus and told him the FBI “would love to help but we can’t get into the position of making statements on every story.” The official said Comey later reached out to Priebus and said “the story was garbage.”...

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Former Rep. Giffords: Lawmakers Should 'Have Some Courage,' Hold Town Halls

Enlarge this image Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords says lawmakers should “have some courage” and face their constituents at town halls, despite protests. Spencer Platt/Getty Images hide caption toggle caption Spencer Platt/Getty Images Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has a message for members of Congress who are citing the possibility of protests as a reason not to hold town meetings: “Have some courage.” Giffords, wounded in a 2011 shooting outside a Tucson supermarket where she was meeting with constituents, was responding to a statement by Republican Congressman Louis Gohmert of Texas. Asked why he wasn’t holding public meetings, Gohmert said: “Unfortunately, at this time there are groups from the more violent strains of the leftist ideology, some even being paid, who are preying on public town halls to wreak havoc and threaten public safety. Threats are nothing new to me and I have gotten my share as a felony judge. However, the House Sergeant at Arms advised us after former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot at a public appearance, that civilian attendees at Congressional public events stand the most chance of being harmed or killed—just as happened there.” Article continues after sponsorship Giffords’ response was posted on the website of the gun violence prevention group she co-founded, Americans For Responsible Solutions: “To the politicians who have abandoned their civic obligations, I say this: Have some courage. Face your constituents. Hold town...

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Trump Calls On Court To ‘Do What’s Right’ And Uphold His Travel Ban

President Trump says it would be great for the justice system if courts would “do what’s right.” Evan Vucci/AP President Trump addressed the legal battle over his immigration ban on Wednesday morning, saying the courts “seem so political.” Speaking to a gathering of sheriffs and police chiefs in Washington, D.C., Trump said he had watched television coverage of the oral arguments before the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday night “in amazement,” and that he “heard things that I couldn’t believe.” A three-judge panel of the appeals court is weighing a ruling by a lower court judge that blocked Trump’s ban while the case proceeds, and is expected to issue its ruling later this week. “I don’t ever want to call a court biased,” Trump said, adding, “but courts seem to be so political, and it would be so great for our justice system if they would be able to do read a statement and do what’s right.” Trump said he would not comment on the statement made “by certainly one judge.” But, Trump said, “right now we are at risk because of what happened.” He said that if the judges wanted to “help the court in terms of respect for the court, they’d do what they should be doing.” Trump read parts of the statute that he says gives him authority to issue the ban on...

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Trump’s Defense Pick Challenges Rules Around Civilian Control Of The Military

CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/Getty Images Retired General James Mattis’ nomination to be President-elect Trump’s Secretary of Defense may, well, march through the Senate, but there is one potential obstacle to maneuver around; the retired general part. The National Security Act of 1947, which established the national defense structure as we know it, had a key stipulation, requiring the secretary of defense be a civilian who’s well removed from military service. In fact the law is quite clear: “That a person who has within ten years been on active duty as a commissioned officer in a Regular component of the armed services shall not be eligible for appointment as Secretary of Defense.” The idea was to ensure that the nations armed forces be controlled by a civilian. Congress almost immediately waived the rule, allowing President Truman to name the revered Army General George Marshall to serve as defense secretary in 1950. The law was changed in 2008, reducing from ten to seven the number of years that a nominee must be retired from the military. Still Mattis does not qualify, because he retired from the Marine Corps in 2013. The question is, how big of a problem is this for Mattis’ confirmation chances? A few Democrats have already weighed in. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York issued a statement yesterday saying: “While I deeply respect General Mattis’s service, I will oppose a...

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Meet Paul Manafort, The Washington Insider Running Trump’s Campaign

Paul Manafort leaves the Four Seasons Hotel after a meeting with Donald Trump and Republican donors last month in New York City. Drew Angerer/Getty Images Donald Trump is running for president as a Washington outsider. Yet to manage his campaign, he’s picked someone who is very much a Washington insider. Paul Manafort has been a political operative and lobbyist for years, including for some controversial figures seeking to influence U.S. politics. For a candidate who loves to rail against the Washington establishment, Donald Trump’s choice seems a bit of a head-scratcher. After all, as Manafort told a congressional hearing in 1989, “the technical term for what we do and what law firms, associations and professional groups do is lobbying. For purposes of today, I will admit that in a narrow sense, some people might term it influence peddling.” Manafort was testifying about his role in a scandal at the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Reagan administration. It’s not the only time that Manafort’s business practices have come under scrutiny. His lobbying firm, Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly, was included in a 1992 report by the Center for Public Integrity titled “The Torturers’ Lobby.” It cited the group’s work on behalf of unsavory governments in Nigeria and Kenya, the UNITA rebels in Angola and a group with ties to Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Riva Levinson was hired by...

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