Author: Erik Ortiz

Graham: Congress Will ‘Flex Muscle’ Over Wiretapping Claim

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham — frustrated by the lack of answers from the FBI and White House — vowed Wednesday that Congress would “flex its muscle” to determine whether a warrant was ever ordered by the Obama administration to wiretap the Trump campaign. FBI Director James Comey was asked by Graham and Judiciary Committee colleague Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse to confirm by Wednesday whether an active probe exists into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow. A bipartisan hearing is also being held Wednesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s crime-and-terrorism subcommittee to start an inquiry into whether Russia meddled in last November’s election. “I think the country wants to know if there’s something there there,” Graham told TODAY. The South Carolina senator said it’s imperative he knows about any potential criminal investigation by the FBI because he wants Congress to move forward with its own investigation. Meanwhile, Graham also wants Comey and Justice Department officials to confirm whether a warrant was ever issued by the feds to wiretap Donald Trump’s Trump Tower residence in New York prior to the election. Related: Comey Talks Russian Meddling, Trump Tower With Lawmakers Trump alleged in an explosive tweet on March 4 that the Obama administration had ordered such a move. He offered no evidence, and instead challenged Congress to get to the bottom of his claim. Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for former...

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Oprah Hints at White House Run Against Trump

Oprah Winfrey dances during a victory celebration for then-President-elect Barack Obama on Nov. 4, 2008, in Chicago. EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP/Getty Images While the TV mogul didn’t mention Donald Trump specifically, she hinted that his roots as a businessman and reality-TV star could make her reconsider. “I thought, ‘I don’t have the experience, I don’t know enough,'” Winfrey said. “Now I’m thinking, ‘Oh, oh.” If she ever did decide to wade into a career in politics, it would be an about-face from past remarks. In January, she told “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert that she would “never” run for president. “No, it’s not my thing,” she added at the...

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Trump: Even a ‘Bad High School Student’ Understands Travel Ban

President Donald Trump bashed the attorneys and the judges involved in deciding whether his travel-related executive order must be reinstated, calling the arguments “disgraceful” during a speech Wednesday. Trump’s attack comes after a three-judge panel from a San Francisco appeals court grilled Justice Department attorneys over his ban, which prohibits foreigners from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States. During oral arguments Tuesday afternoon, the judges wanted to know whether there’s any evidence backing up the Trump administration’s claims that national security is at risk because of people from those countries. A decision on the fate of Trump’s executive order, which remains temporarily suspended by a federal judge in Seattle, could come down this week. Critics have decried it as a “Muslim ban.” “I don’t want to call a court biased, but courts seem to be so political,” Trump complained during a joint conference in Washington, D.C., of the Major County Sheriffs’ Association and the Major Cities Chiefs Association. “I listened to a bunch of stuff last night that was disgraceful,” he added. “It was disgraceful.” The president in an earlier tweet Wednesday already blamed “politics” in the event the judges don’t rule in his favor. Trump defended his executive order by reading a section from the Immigration and Nationality Act, which says the president “may by proclamation” suspend certain immigrants from entering the U.S. if it “would...

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Trump: Even a ‘Bad High School Student’ Understands Travel Ban

President Donald Trump bashed the attorneys and the judges involved in deciding whether his travel-related executive order must be reinstated, calling the arguments “disgraceful” during a speech Wednesday. Trump’s attack comes after a three-judge panel from a San Francisco appeals court grilled Justice Department attorneys over his ban, which prohibits foreigners from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States. During oral arguments Tuesday afternoon, the judges wanted to know whether there’s any evidence backing up the Trump administration’s claims that national security is at risk because of people from those countries. A decision on the fate of Trump’s executive order, which remains temporarily suspended by a federal judge in Seattle, could come down this week. Critics have decried it as a “Muslim ban.” “I don’t want to call a court biased, but courts seem to be so political,” Trump complained during a joint conference in Washington, D.C., of the Major County Sheriffs’ Association and the Major Cities Chiefs Association. “I listened to a bunch of stuff last night that was disgraceful,” he added. “It was disgraceful.” The president in an earlier tweet Wednesday already blamed “politics” in the event the judges don’t rule in his favor. Trump defended his executive order by reading a section from the Immigration and Nationality Act, which says the president “may by proclamation” suspend certain immigrants from entering the U.S. if it “would...

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What Is the Johnson Amendment That Trump Wants to ‘Destroy’

In a room full of faith leaders Thursday, President Donald Trump echoed a campaign promise to “get rid of and totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment. While the line was well-received at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., outside observers pounced — saying that altering the provision would threaten the sanctity of America’s separation of church and state and raise issues of religious lobbying. Doing away with the Johnson Amendment, however, won’t be so simple. What does the amendment do? Essentially, it’s supposed to stop leaders of houses of worship from using the pulpit to campaign for certain politicians. In a broader sense, it affects 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations — which includes not only religious institutions, but charities and universities — and says they can’t participate in or wield an influence in political campaigns. “Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes,” the IRS website says. Groups can still benefit from another type of tax-exempt status if they do want to engage in political campaigning, but their donors won’t see their gifts be tax deductible. Churches are also allowed to engage in nonpartisan voter drives. Who was behind the amendment? Its namesake is President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was a senator representing Texas when a Republican-controlled Congress passed it in 1954. Johnson pushed for the rule in response...

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WATCH: Jon Stewart Rips Trump With Satirical Executive Orders

https://youtu.be/bqcuhspVapE Jon Stewart doesn’t need “The Daily Show” to do what he’s best known for: savagely skewering Washington’s politicos. The former TV host made a surprise appearance on Tuesday night’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” dressed up as President Donald Trump and armed with executive actions of his own in a bid to spoof the new administration. “We have never faced this before: Purposeful, vindictive chaos,” Stewart said of Trump’s unorthodox presidency. Trump in his first 12 days in office has fired off a flurry of executive orders and memos, which have not gone unnoticed by Stewart. The political satirist appeared on the show wearing a long red tie and dead animal strapped to his head in an apparent parody of the president. Stewart, who left “The Daily Show” in August 2015 after 16 years in the anchor’s chair, also told Colbert that Trump has other executive orders up his sleeve. The first: Requiring China to ship its Great Wall to America’s southern border. “It’s [cash on delivery], Mexico has to sign for it, boom, they have to pay for it,” Stewart said, channeling Trump. “Done.” Then, Stewart said, the new official language of the United States would be “bulls–t.” “And by the way, none of that, ‘Sure, I’ll speak bulls–t at work, but at home I’m going to use facts and real information,'” Stewart said. Finally, reading...

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Senate Committee to Vote on Sessions Amid DOJ Turmoil

Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions is poised to clear his first Senate hurdle Tuesday morning on his way to becoming head of the Department of Justice — a role thrown into sudden upheaval hours after the firing of the acting attorney general. But before his nomination makes it before the full Senate, a hearing for the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote could last longer than usual as Democratic committee members unleash against President Donald Trump’s immigration-related executive order being widely criticized as a ban against Muslims. Related: Sessions Once Told Yates: You Have ‘to Say No to President’ Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the committee, is leading a vote to block Sessions, calling into question his civil rights record, hard-line immigration stance and ability to enforce the nation’s laws independently from what the White House would want. “I have serious doubts that Sen. Sessions would be an independent Attorney General,” Leahy said in a statement Monday. Sessions was the first Senator to endorse Trump’s candidacy for president. During two days of hearings earlier this month, Sessions denied decades-old racism charges against him, including that he sympathized with the KKK. Those charges cost him a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama in 1986 after being nominated by President Ronald Reagan. “These are damnably false charges,” Sessions said this month. The...

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Sessions Once Told Yates: You Have to ‘Say No to President’

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired Monday night for defying President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. But the very notion of her pushing back at the president was brought up — and encouraged — at her 2015 Senate confirmation hearing as deputy attorney general, when she was grilled about being able to challenge Barack Obama if she disagreed with him. And who was the man who introduced the idea of dissent? Republican Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is now poised to himself become the U.S. Attorney General in the Trump administration. “You have to watch out because people will be asking you to do things you just need to say ‘no’ about,” Sessions told Yates. “Do you think the attorney general has the responsibility to say no to the president if he asks for something that’s improper? A lot of people have defended the [Loretta] Lynch nomination, for example, by saying, ‘Well [Obama] appoints somebody who’s going to execute his views. What’s wrong with that?'” “But if the views the president wants to execute are unlawful, should the attorney general or the deputy attorney general say ‘no?'” Sessions added. “Senator, I believe the attorney general or the deputy attorney general has an obligation to follow the law and the Constitution,” Yates responded, “and to give their independent legal advice to the president.” Yates, who spent her career...

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