Author: Sam Levine

Rex Tillerson Defends Not Taking Reporters On Foreign Trip, Says ‘He Doesn’t Need’ Them

  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson defended the State Department decision not to bring the American press corps with him on his trip to Asia, saying he wasn’t “a big media press access person.” In an interview with the conservative Independent Journal Review, the only outlet allowed on the trip, Tillerson said he would evaluate whether to take reporters with him on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether he needed them to communicate his message or not. “First and foremost is what is my mission and why am I going? How can I best accomplish that mission? What’s the most effective way for me to do that? I’m not a big media press access person. I personally don’t need it,” said the former ExxonMobil CEO in the interview, published Saturday. “I understand it’s important to get the message of what we’re doing out, but I also think there’s only a purpose in getting the message out when there’s something to be done.” Some reporters were quick to point out that the job of the press isn’t simply to communicate the needs of the secretary of state or his department, but to hold America’s chief diplomat accountable. Rex Tillerson does not appear to understand that he now works for the U.S. taxpayer, not ExxonMobil:https://t.co/iQmaYHinnl — Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) March 18, 2017 Tillerson has no concept he doesn’t work for Exxon shareholders; he...

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Just A Reminder That Trump Has Still Provided Zero Evidence Of Voter Fraud

  This is an ongoing feature keeping track of the lack of evidence to support President Donald Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election. It will be updated intermittently, and should any such evidence be offered to the public, we will note it. President Donald Trump still hasn’t provided any evidence of voter fraud in the U.S., despite repeatedly claiming that it’s a widespread issue and that thousands of people voted illegally in New Hampshire in November. Trump, who has tapped Vice President Mike Pence to lead an investigation into the issue, first made the New Hampshire claim last month during a closed-door Oval Office meeting with Democratic and Republican senators. The president told the group that he lost the state and that former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) didn’t retain her seat because thousands of people had been bused in to the state to vote illegally. Multiple studies and investigations have shown that widespread voter fraud does not exist. Still, the White House hasn’t backed down. Stephen Miller, a top Trump aide, said it was obvious there was voter fraud in New Hampshire. “I can tell you that this issue … is widely known by anyone who’s worked in New Hampshire politics. It’s very real, it’s very serious,” Miller said two days after Trump’s initial claim. Apparently, it isn’t so widely known. New Hampshire election officials said immediately after Trump’s...

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Only 1 Republican In New Jersey Is Holding Town Halls. Constituents Aren’t Wasting The Opportunity.

  Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) faced angry questions over his refusal to demand an independent investigation into President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia during a Saturday town hall packed with hundreds of constituents. Most of a 900-seat auditorium at Raritan Valley Community College was filled on Saturday, according to NJ.com. Lance, the only Republican member of Congress to hold a town hall in the state this week, drew shouting from the audience when he repeatedly declined to support efforts to launch a Russia inquiry. “At the moment, I favor the investigations that are occurring by the two intelligence committees, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee,” he told the audience. He said he was encouraged by the fact that Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, and its Vice Chairman Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) had together sent a letter to the White House requesting the it preserve documents regarding possible involvement between the Trump administration or the his presidential campaign and the Russian government. “It’s my experience that the intelligence committees work in a bipartisan fashion,” Lance added. His insistence that the House and Senate Intelligence committees would look into the matter prompted audience members to shout, “Read The Washington Post!” On Friday, the Post reported that the White House had asked the chairman of the House and Senate intelligence committee to counter news reports about Trump’s...

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GOP Congressman: Getting Rich Will Solve That Whole Environment Thing

  Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) argued Tuesday that one of the best things the United States could do for the environment was grow the economy, because rich people like clean air and water. Brat made the comments during a contentious town hall in Blackstone, Virginia, where he was heckled for a little over an hour. It was one of a number of similar events around the country in which constituents angrily confronted members of Congress in their home districts. His answer on the environment came after he was asked what he would do to protect the Environmental Protection Agency. After saying that he agreed with the agency’s mission of providing clean air and water, Brat went on to say that the best way to guarantee those resources for a country was economic growth. “I worked at the World Bank, and they’re very interested and they have departments that do clean air and clean water. And guess what the No. 1 thing you can do to have clean air and clean water is? Increase your economic growth. Rich people, it turns out, like clean air and clean water,” Brat said, immediately earning loud boos from the crowd. Brat responded by saying he didn’t think he had said anything controversial, and then went on to ask the crowd, “Do you want to be poor or do you want to be rich?” He...

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Trump Again Falsely Insists He Would Have Won New Hampshire If Not For Voter Fraud

  President Donald Trump falsely insisted again Thursday that widespread voter fraud in New Hampshire cost him and former Sen. Kelly Ayotte the state in the November election. Trump made the comments in a private meeting with Ayotte and a group of senators that was meant to be a bipartisan discussion to build support for Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court. According to a source briefed on the discussion, Trump told Ayotte that she would have won re-election had she not been critical of him during the course of the campaign. He then alluded to thousands of people who supposedly went into New Hampshire illegally to vote against both him and Ayotte, saying they both would have won “if there hadn’t been voter fraud” in the state. The source called the exchange “uncomfortable.” It was first reported by Politico and independently confirmed by The Huffington Post. Though he’s been president now for three weeks, Trump remains preoccupied with the idea that he was robbed of a win in the popular vote. He has mentioned it with senators before, and his spokesperson, Sean Spicer, has confirmed it is a genuine belief of his. There is no evidence at all to support the claim, as confirmed by state authorities across the nation. “I can say that the number of election related matters coming out of the general election is relatively ordinary...

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New Group Organizes To Punish Politicians Who Push Voter Suppression Laws

  Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D) announced Tuesday that he is starting an advocacy group to punish elected officials who advance restrictions on the right to vote. The group, called Let America Vote, will aim to win over public opinion in defense of voting rights. In a statement, Kander said that lawmakers who pass voter restrictions should face “political consequences.” “Let America Vote will make the case for voting rights by exposing the real motivations of those who favor voter suppression laws. For the first time, politicians intent on denying certain Americans the right to vote will first have to consider the political consequences,” he said. Let America Vote launches as President Donald Trump is still insisting there was widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election. Although there is no evidence to support that claim, Trump has pledged a federal investigation, led by Vice President Mike Pence. Meanwhile, a number of states continue to push voter ID laws that make it more difficult for low-income, minority and elderly Americans to cast ballots. Before leaving office, President Barack Obama criticized efforts to restrict the franchise, saying they were tied to the legacy of Jim Crow and slavery in the United States. Several former Obama administration officials, including Press Secretary Josh Earnest, speechwriter Jon Favreau and senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer will serve on Let America Vote’s 27-member advisory board....

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Donald Trump Casually Threatens To ‘Destroy’ The Career Of State Lawmaker

  President Donald Trump threatened to “destroy” the career of a Texas state senator after a Texas sheriff accused the lawmaker of getting in his way by promoting asset forfeiture reform. “Want to give his name? We’ll destroy his career,” Trump told Sheriff Harold Eavenson of Rockwall County, Texas. Trump’s comment was met with laughter and Eavenson declined to give the official’s name. Trump made the remark during a listening session with county sheriffs at the White House. Eavenson is in line to become president of the National Sheriffs’ Association in June, the Dallas Morning News reported. Trump typically uses Twitter to go after anyone he’s angry at, including officials who disagree with him. In 2015, he attacked journalist Megyn Kelly because he believed she treated him unfairly in a presidential debate. He also targeted Gonzalo Curiel, an Indiana-born federal judge overseeing a lawsuit against Trump University, by saying that Curiel was incapable of doing his job because of his Mexican heritage. On Saturday, Trump questioned the legitimacy of a federal judge who temporarily halted his executive order banning refugees and individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. How will Trump’s first 100 days impact you? Sign up for our weekly newsletter and get breaking updates on Trump’s presidency by messaging us here. Suggest a...

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Virginia Advances Citizenship Requirement To Vote

  The Virginia House of Delegates passed a measure on Wednesday that would require residents to show proof of citizenship before registering to vote. The bill is the latest example of several voting restrictions that Republicans are pushing across the country as President Donald Trump has falsely claimed that millions voted illegally in last year’s election. While the office of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) says he would veto the bill and Republicans do not have a veto-proof legislative majority, the bill signals the kinds of voting restrictions that Republicans in different states are on the verge of passing under Trump. Virginia already has a photo ID requirement, but the citizenship measure would require residents to show a passport, birth certificate, naturalization document or other federally accepted documents in order to register to vote in local elections. It would not apply to voters registered before Jan. 1, 2018. Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that states could not require proof of citizenship on a federal voter registration form. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Trump adviser, had been enforcing the provision, which prevented tens of thousands from being able to vote over several years. Even though the Virginia requirement only applies to local elections, voting rights advocates said it was no different from the Kansas system. “Requiring documentary proof of citizenship in order to...

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