Spain to impose direct rule over Catalonia after region declares independence – Washington Post

BARCELONA — The Spanish Senate gave the central government in Madrid unprecedented powers over Catalonia on Friday, just minutes after the breakaway region declared independence, sharply escalating a constitutional crisis in the center of western Europe.

The two votes — one for independence, one to restore constitutional rule — came in dueling sessions of parliaments in Barcelona and Madrid.

The central government easily won permission to take over control of Catalonia. Meanwhile, secessionists in Catalonia faced bitter recriminations from Catalan foes who called the move for nationhood a coup and a historical blunder, a month after a referendum that backed a split from Spain.

The widening impasse has left little middle ground in Spain for possible compromises and has spilled over to the European Union, whose leaders fear another internal crisis after major upheavals such as Britain’s exit from the bloc and the financial meltdown in Greece.

Immediately after the vote for independence, the president of the European Council Donald Tusk, tweeted, “For EU nothing changes. Spain remains our only interlocutor. I hope the Spanish government favours force of argument, not argument of force.”

Tusk’s remark mirrors fears in Catalonia that the Spanish government will employ police and harsh tactics to take back control of the newly declared republic.

The final ballot was 70-10 in favor of the declaration of independence in the Catalan parliament, where 55 deputies declined to vote, showing the deep divisions. 

“We have won the freedom to build a new country,” Catalonia’s vice president Oriol Junqueras tweeted.

Earlier in Madrid, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy urged the Senate to grant the central government extreme powers to establish control over Catalonia.

After the Senate invoked the never-before-used Article 155 of Spain’s 1978 constitution, the central government could move swiftly to remove the Catalan president, suspend his ministers and assume authority over the region’s public media, police and finances. 

Rajoy told the Senate that his government had repeatedly tried to rein in the secessionists in Catalonia. He scoffed at Catalan President Carles Puigdemont’s repeated offers of “dialogue” to end the impasse. 

“The word dialogue is a lovely word. It creates good feelings,” Rajoy said. “But dialogue has two enemies: those who abuse, ignore and forget the laws, and those who only want to listen to themselves, who do not want to understand the other party.”

Rajoy urged the Senate to approve Article 155 “to prevent Catalonia from being abused.”

“Catalans must be protected from an intolerant minority that is awarding itself ownership of Catalonia, and is trying to subject all Catalans to the yoke of its own doctrine,” the prime minister said.

[Whatever happens in Catalonia, anger with Spain is a sign of things to come]

In Barcelona, shouts of “independence!” and “democracy!” rose from an antechamber where hundreds of onlookers, including dozens of regional mayors, had gathered. 

The eruption was answered by disdain from anti-secessionists in the chamber. A member of the Catalan Socialist Party, Daniel Fernández, asked: “What is this? The storming of the Bastille?”

Carlos Carrizosa of the Ciudadanos party decried the prospect of a declaration of independence, comparing it to a coup. He pointed at Puigdemont and said: “You, president, have been pro-independence your whole life. This whole plan was already laid out.”

“This movement is textbook populism, full of magical thinking, that reality has destroyed. You are willing to sacrifice all, for your pure fanaticism,” said Alejandro Fernández, a Catalan lawmaker whose Popular Party is also running the central government.

On Thursday, facing a looming deadline to act, Puigdemont appeared in the government palace in Barcelona and said the regional parliament must decide what will happen next.

Puigdemont’s words Thursday clearly upset many of his constituents, who believed they were getting close to forming a new republic.

“They don’t care about the people, because we already voted for independence,” said Joana Romera, 25, a university student who had come to the Catalan government palace to hear what Puigdemont had to say.

“At the end, it’s always the politicians who decide,” she said, flashing disappointment and anger. “We’re in the same situation as before.”

Puigdemont denounced what he described as heavy-handed tactics by the central government in Madrid.

“I have considered the possibility of calling elections,” Puigdemont said. But he ruled it out because “there are not enough guarantees” from the central government not to seize control of the region.

Puigdemont reportedly sought a promise from Rajoy that the Spanish senate would not vote on Article 155 — a “nuclear option” that has never been tried.

More than 2 million people cast ballots earlier this month for independence, though the turnout for the referendum was around 40 percent of eligible voters.

During the vote, Spanish national police and Guardia Civil paramilitary officers used harsh tactics, in some cases beating voters with rubber batons and dragging people away from the ballot boxes.

The president of Spain’s Basque region, Inigo Urkullu, a key intermediary between Rajoy and Puigdemont, told journalists the situation is Catalonia “was very worrying” and required “responsibility” on the part of the two sides.” 

But he allowed himself note of optimism. “I think there is still time to reach a solution,” Urkullu said in Spanish and then added in the local Basque language. “And we are trying.”

Rolfe reported from Madrid. Raul Gallego Abellan contributed to this report.

Read more         

Meet the two jailed activists behind Catalonia’s independence movement  

Spain threatens to take over Catalonia as constitutional crisis looms  

     

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world            

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How the GOP Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Spending – Politico

Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s budget director, faced a jarring question Sunday on Face the Nation: Why have Republicans given up trying to rein in spending? The show’s host, John Dickerson, compared it to Weight Watchers giving up on dieting. Mulvaney sort of challenged the premise, but not with excessive vigor.

“Well, you’re not giving up entirely on spending,” Mulvaney said.

Story Continued Below

Mulvaney was a leading spending hawk in Congress before he joined the administration, and the 2018 Trump budget he unveiled this fall was a remarkably hawkish document, calling for drastic rollbacks of spending in almost every nonmilitary area of government. But the Republican-controlled Congress mostly ignored it, and these days the party’s top priority is clearly tax cuts, with spending cuts relegated to maybe-down-the-road.

The Republican budget resolution that passed Congress on Thursday required no mandatory cuts whatsoever, even though it paved the way for tax cuts that would boost federal deficits by $1.5 trillion.

That’s a stark contrast with Trump’s limited-government budget plan, which would have slashed $1.7 trillion out of so-called “mandatory spending” like Medicaid, disability insurance and food stamps over a decade. In fact the spending trajectory of the federal government has barely changed since Trump took office, except for some increased spending on defense and disaster relief, and significant change does not seem imminent. As Mulvaney told Dickerson: “There just isn’t the political will on the Hill right now.”

That’s putting it mildly. Congressional Republicans have ignored Trump’s proposals for severe cuts to “discretionary spending” like the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Institutes of Health. They still talk about reining in Big Government and taming the national debt, but so far their governing philosophy looks more like don’t-tax-and-spend economics.

“There’s no doubt that congressional Republicans have a decreased appetite for tackling overspending,” says Dan Holler, a conservative activist with Heritage Action. “It’s tough. There’s always resistance. People like spending money.”

During the Barack Obama presidency, congressional Republicans constantly denounced out-of-control spending; in 2011, they almost forced the government into default to extract significant spending cuts from the White House. Now they’re reverting to their habits during the George W. Bush era, when Republicans oversaw a major spending spree on the military, homeland security and even prescription drug coverage.

The GOP has already punted on three belt-tightening opportunities in the Trump era.

First, it flatly rejected Mulvaney’s recommendations for major cuts in the “omnibus” spending package for the last several months of 2017, cutting a status quo deal with Democrats instead. The president grudgingly signed the deal, while threatening to force a government shutdown in September if the 2018 spending package didn’t reflect his priorities. But in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, there wasn’t much of an appetite for austerity in Washington, prompting a second bipartisan deal to maintain the status quo on spending until December.

Republicans had another chance to push spending restraint in their budget resolution. When I was working on a profile of Mulvaney this summer, his former colleagues in the rabble-rousing House Freedom Caucus were refusing to support any resolution that didn’t mandate at least $400 billion in mandatory spending cuts over 10 years. But Republican moderates balked, and so did conservatives worried about farm subsidies. The standoff continued from July until October, when the Freedom Caucus, worried about the slipping timetable for tax reform, finally agreed to a resolution that mandated only $200 billion in spending cuts. And when the Senate version of the resolution didn’t mandate anything but tax cuts—along with language authorizing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—the caucus caved again. Their only demand was that GOP leaders take up the tax cuts immediately, a fairly ironic ask after they held up the process for months.

“In Washington, the expectation is always that you’re going to keep spending whatever you’re spending,” says Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, another prominent spending hawk on the Hill. “Cutting spending is seen as a totally radical thing.”

Mulvaney has always been a limited-government true believer—he got into politics because he thought Republicans were spending too much under Bush—and he’s clearly frustrated his former Hill colleagues don’t share his sense of urgency. But his aides said there’s been at least a bit of movement in the House; of the $54 billion in specific discretionary spending cuts in Trump’s budget, about $9 billion were adopted in House spending bills, including cuts to renewable energy programs, global health assistance and popular grants for innovative transportation projects. And the Obamacare repeal bills that the vast majority of Republicans supported would have cut nearly $1 trillion out of Medicaid and other health spending.

“We’re in the process of turning around the battleship, and obviously, it’s a process,” one senior administration official said. “But we’re happy warriors. We’ll keep trying, even when Congress doesn’t want to join the fight.”

These days, the top priority for the administration as well as congressional Republicans is tax cuts, and Mulvaney’s team believes there might be more appetite for spending cuts after the tax cuts happen. Some liberals fear that they might be right, that Republicans will use the deficits expanded by their tax cuts as a rationale to go after Medicaid and other welfare-state programs favored by Democrats.

“They’ll say the fiscal outlook is so concerning that they need deep cuts for low-and-moderate-income folks,” says Joel Friedman, vice president for federal fiscal policy at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “That’s been a standard feature of Republican budgets. I think we need to take it seriously.”

The Tea Party movement demonstrated that budget austerity and limited government have some political power as an idea, but actual spending cuts tend to be politically difficult, because the people who lose the most tend to pay the most attention. It’s easier for politicians to give out benefits than take them away; tax cuts and spending are political ice cream, while tax hikes and spending cuts are broccoli. Trump has shown some willingness to propose cuts in programs that serve his own political base—including an economic development program for Appalachia, subsidies for rural airports, and technical assistance for U.S. factories—but Republicans in Congress have shown little willingness to adopt them.

That dynamic is currently playing out in the debate over disaster aid, as the administration has been gently raising the issue of offsetting cuts for some of the new spending, so far to no avail. There has been friction between Mulvaney’s Office of Management and Budget and the normally conservative Texas congressional delegation, which has requested a massive Harvey relief package that OMB officials consider above and beyond true emergency needs. It included $10 billion for vaguely defined Army Corps of Engineers work, more than the annual Army Corps budget for the nation, and $300 million for the Economic Development Administration in Texas, even though the Trump budget proposed to eliminate that agency entirely. But Senator John Cornyn of Texas is playing hardball; he’s vowed to hold up the nomination of Mulvaney’s deputy, Russell Vought, until Texas gets its cash.

“They’re anxious to add zeroes,” another senior administration official said. “We’re going to have to have an adult conversation about long-term needs.”

The next big test of Washington’s spending resolve will come in December, when the status quo deal from the fall expires and Congress needs to decide how to fund the government in 2018. The Budget Control Act that Obama negotiated with the Republicans in 2011 has set tight annual spending caps, but there have been bipartisan deals every year to go over the caps, because Republicans want to spend much more on defense and Democrats want to spend more on nondefense. This summer, Trump and his team were talking tough about vetoing any budget that didn’t include his priorities—including cuts to EPA and the State Department as well as more money for the Pentagon and his border wall—but these days, they sound resigned to modest tweaks on the status quo. They say Mulvaney wants to keep lighting the path to restraint, even if Congress doesn’t follow him right away.

And anyway, tax cuts come first.

“We can walk and chew gum at the same time,” the first official said. “Right now there’s enormous focus on tax reform. But we’re still figuring out the endgame on appropriations. It’s not getting public attention, but it’s got our attention.”

Michael Grunwald is a senior staff writer for Politico Magazine.

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Trump declares opioid epidemic a national public health emergency – CNN

“This epidemic is a national health emergency,” he said. “Nobody has seen anything like what is going on now.”
He added: “As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue. It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction. Never been this way. We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic. We can do it.”
The move is different from the broad order Trump previewed over the last few months. The President directed acting Health Secretary Eric Hargan to declare a public health emergency under the Public Health Services Act — which directs federal agencies to provide more grant money to combat the epidemic — not a national emergency through the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.
The difference between the two orders is money and scope. If Trump had used the Stafford Act, the federal government would have been able to tap into funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund to combat opioids. Asenior administration official, however, said the designation was not the right fit because the FEMA money is meant for natural disasters, not health emergencies.
Opioid addiction and the most controversial bathroom in New York Opioid addiction and the most controversial bathroom in New York
Under the Public Health Services Act designation, no additional federal funding will automatically be directed to the crisis, said an official, but federal agencies will be directed to devote more grant money already in their budget to the problem and take “action to overcome bureaucratic delays and inefficiencies in the hiring process,” according to a fact sheet on Trump’s order.
The Trump administration will work with Congress to fund the Public Health Emergency fund and to increase federal funding in year-end budget deals currently being negotiated in Congress.
Administration officials pushed back against the idea that Trump’s order is less sweeping than what he promised.
“Under the Stafford Act, as unfortunately we have seen on multiple occasions over the last several months, the Stafford Act is deigned to respond to mostly natural disasters that are (of a) very short time duration and a specific geographic region,” one official said, adding that the Trump administration believed the order under the Public Health Services Act is “a better use.”
Trump’s order will last 90 days and, according to another official, can be renewed every 90 days until the President believes it is no longer needed.
Since 1999, the number of American overdose deaths involving opioids has quadrupled. From 2000 to 2015, more than 500,000 people died of drug overdoses, and opioids account for the majority of those. Recently released numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that around 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016.
Trump, after campaigning for president in part on fighting the scourge of opioid addiction, has long teased sweeping action.
The President told reporters in August that he would designate the epidemic a “national emergency” but failed to follow through. The lack of action, treatment advocates said, has deprived the fight against the deadly drugs a designation that would offer states and federal agencies more resources and power.
During an impromptu press conference in the White House Rose Garden last week, Trump said that he would officially declare the national emergency when asked why he had not followed through with his initial pledge.
And speaking with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday, Trump said he would have a “very big meeting on opioids” on Thursday and will be declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency “in the very near future.”

Public health emergency vs. national emergency

House panel threatens to subpoena DEA over pill dumping in West VirginiaHouse panel threatens to subpoena DEA over pill dumping in West Virginia
The primary difference between the two designations is access to funding.
The designation Trump will announce Thursday does not allow the federal government to tap into FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund and it is an open question whether Congress will offer more money to fund the Public Health Emergency fund, which Congress has not funded in recent years.
But multiple Obama administration health officials told CNN that they believe using the Public Health Services Act is the more appropriate avenue.
Using FEMA funds to combat the opioid crisis would be “a little bit like asking an engineer to bake a cake,” said Rafael Lemaitre, the former communications director for the White House Drug Policy Office under Obama.
“I do think the public health service act is more appropriate route to take than the Stafford Act designation,” he said. “I worked at FEMA for two years and dealt with multiple disasters. The Stafford Act is not structured to deal with a long term, complicated public health crisis like the opioid crisis.”
Lemaitre added that FEMA’s fund is “already running on fumes because of the three hurricanes” that hit this year.
Tom Coderre, a former senior official under in Obama’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration office at HHS, echoed that sentiment.
“One of the things that I think is most beneficial part of having a public health emergency is you really can marshal public support and then you can bring all the resources of the federal government to bear on it, bringing people from all of the agencies to combat the issue,” he said.
Though both Lemaitre and Coderre said this step was important, both argued that it was not a “silver bullet solution to the opioid crisis.” That, they said, would be additional funding from Congress.
“A smarter play here would be for the administration to move beyond this declaration and pass the billions in funding needed to address this crisis. That is how you move the needle on this,” Lemaitre said.

2016 election

What you need to know about fentanylWhat you need to know about fentanyl
Shortly after taking office, Trump convened a White House commission to study the problem and provide recommendations. Earlier this year, despite then-Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price saying it wasn’t needed, the commission recommended Trump declare a national emergency using either the Public Health Services Act or the Stafford Act.
“I commend the President on the bold action he is taking today by adopting the first recommendation” the commission made, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the head of the panel, said Thursday.
The businessman-turned-politician made combating the opioid epidemic a top priority during the 2016 campaign.
The issue was elevated to such importance that during the closing moments of Trump’s 2016 campaign — when time is at its most precious — the Republican nominee headlined an opioid roundtable where he met face-to-face with those directly impacted by the issue.
“I just want to let the people of New Hampshire know that I’m with you 1,000%, you really taught me a lot,” he said before promising to help people who “are so seriously addicted.”
His actions as president, though, have left even members of his own commission with concerns.
Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, a member of the President’s commission on opioid addiction, told CNN on Wednesday that he worries the President and his administration are using the opioid epidemic for photo ops.
“We don’t want any more photo-ops,” the former Democratic congressman from Rhode Island said. “I’m just speaking as an advocate, in this fight every single day as someone who is in recovery and someone who is an advocate. We don’t want any more visits to rehab centers and photo-ops, saying how courageous we are. Enough already. We want to save lives.”

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5 things for October 25: GOP senators, ransomware and national parks – CNN

1. GOP senators

On most days, US senators criticizing a US president isn’t exactly breaking news. But the spectacle of a pair of GOP senators tearing into a sitting Republican President — well, that’s not something you see every day. Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker went in on Donald Trump, saying that the President’s behavior is a danger to our democracy.
Corker started things off just a couple of hours before Trump had lunch with Senate Republicans to talk about tax reform. Trump had been tweeting out insults all morning long to Corker. The senator responded with a barnburner of a hashtag — #AlertTheDaycareStaff. Then he talked with CNN’s Manu Raju and really let loose. Corker called Trump a liar, suggested he shouldn’t have access to the nuclear codes, said he’s a bad role model for kids and said debasing the country would be Trump’s legacy. Oh, and Corker said he’ll never support Trump again. Ouch.
Before anyone could catch their breath, Flake dropped a bombshell of his own in a stunning speech we’ll be talking about for years. Flake said he won’t run for re-election, partly because he feels a conservative like him has a narrow path for victory in the age of Trump. Flake decried the “coarsening” of US politics and blamed the President’s tone as the culprit. He went after his fellow Republicans too, saying they’re being complicit if they just sit around and not call Trump out because it’s politically expedient: “We must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. They are not normal.” The White House seemed almost pleased with Flake’s decision, saying it’s “probably a good move” for him to retire. The President never responded to Flake’s speech — at least not yet.

2. Politics

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that led to the now-infamous dossier of allegations about President Donald Trump and Russia, a source familiar with the matter told CNN. The source said the law firm Perkins Coie, as part of its representation of the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained the intelligence firm Fusion GPS and entered “into an engagement for research services that began in April 2016 and concluded before the election in early November.” We also know that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has met with the British former spy who wrote the dossier.
But that wasn’t the only Clinton-related news of the day. House Republicans say they’re going to investigate a seven-year-old uranium deal with Rosatom, a Russian agency, that took place when Clinton ran the State Department, which had a representative on the committee that OK’d the deal. There are accusations of racketeering and extortion floating around, as well as claims that Russian nuclear officials funneled cash to the US that ended up benefiting the Clinton Foundation.
And finally, House Republicans are returning to an old favorite — Clinton’s emails. Investigators will look into the Justice Department’s handling of her use of a private email server. CNN’s Chris Cillizza believes the just-announced investigations are just shiny objects being used to take the focus off of Trump.
The Kurdish government is rethinking its independence plans in the face of the military response from Iraq. The leaders of the autonomous Kurdistan region, in oil-rich northern Iraq, propose not acting on last month’s independence referendum to stop the violence which has since erupted between Iraqi troops and the Peshmerga, the Kurds’ military force. Kurdish leaders want a ceasefire and the start of talks with Baghdad, but Iraq hasn’t responded to the proposal yet. The US is watching all of this closely, because both Iraq and Kurdistan are critical allies in the fight against ISIS.

4. Ransomware attack

You need to be careful where you click today. A new ransomware attack has hit Russia and it’s spreading around the globe. Cybersecurity experts say the ransomware — a virus called “Bad Rabbit — poses as an Adobe update, but when clicked on, it locks down computers and demands money for people to get their files back. The current attack targeted Russian media companies and transportation systems in Ukraine. But it’s also been detected in the US, Germany, Turkey, Poland, Bulgaria, South Korea and Japan.

5. National parks

You may have to start shelling out more cash when you visit America’s national parks. The National Park Service wants to more than double entrance fees at 17 popular parks — including the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Yellowstone — to help pay for infrastructure improvements. The fee for private vehicles would rise from $25 to $70 during peak season. Critics have blasted the proposed fee increase, saying it will make a trip to the parks unaffordable for many Americans.

Breakfast browse

People are talking about these. Read up. Join in.
RIP, Benson
He was the boss on “Sports Night” and the voice of Rafiki in “The Lion King,” but we’ll always remember Robert Guillaume, who died at 89, as “Benson.”
In 1922, Albert Einstein couldn’t give a courier a tip, so he gave the messenger two handwritten notes instead. They just sold for $1.8 million.
May the odds be ever in your favor
So the price of a Mega Millions ticket is doubling, and the odds of winning the biggest jackpots are getting longer. And they say that’s a good thing?
Breaking up is hard to do
Sears and Whirlpool are calling it quits, after more than a century together. Like many divorces, this one had to do with money.
Say cheese
This fancy, hi-tech mirror only works if you flash a smile. Yeah, it sounds silly, but it has a serious purpose:  to uplift the spirits of cancer patients.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Booking and boarding flights on American Airlines could subject them (to) disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions.”
The NAACP, warning African-American travelers to be careful when flying with American Airlines. The airline said it’s “disappointed” by the advisory.

AND FINALLY …

Like oil and water
Cats and balloons really don’t mix, because cats don’t like balloons (or anything else, to be honest). But it sure is entertaining to watch them together.

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Fats Domino, Rock and Roll Pioneer, Dead at 89 – RollingStone.com

Fats Domino, the genial, good-natured symbol of the dawn of rock and roll and the voice and piano behind enduring hits like “Blueberry Hill” and “Ain’t That a Shame,” died Tuesday at the age of 89. Mark Bone, chief investigator with the Jefferson Parish coroner’s office in Louisiana, confirmed his death to the Associated Press.

A contemporary of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis, Domino was among the first acts inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and was reportedly only second to Presley in record sales thanks to a titanic string of 11 top 10 hits between 1955 and 1960.

Those hits, which also included “I’m Walkin’,” “Blue Monday” and “Walking to New Orleans,” sounded like nothing that came before. Thanks to his New Orleans upbringing, Domino’s signature songs fused Dixieland rhythms, his charming, Creole-flecked voice, and his rolling-river piano style. His hits, most co-written with his longtime producer and partner Dave Bartholomew, became rock standards, covered by Led Zeppelin, Cheap Trick, Randy Newman, Ricky Nelson, and John Lennon, among many others. Lennon, who remade “Ain’t That a Shame” (first called “Ain’t It a Shame” on Domino’s recording) on his 1975 Rock & Roll album, said the song had special meaning for him: It was the first tune he ever learned to play, on a guitar bought for him by his late mother. “It was the first song I could accompany myself on,” he said in 1975. “It has a lot of memories for me.”

“After John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Fats Domino and his partner, Dave Bartholomew, were probably the greatest team of songwriters ever,” Dr. John told Rolling Stone in 2004. “They always had a simple melody, a hip set of chord changes, and a cool groove. And their songs all had simple lyrics; that’s the key.” Domino himself, who preferred to let his music rather than image do the talking, was typically modest about his accomplishments: “Everybody started callin’ my music rock and roll,” he once said, “but it wasn’t anything but the same rhythm and blues I’d been playin’ down in New Orleans.”

Born in 1928, Antoine Domino was playing piano and performing in New Orleans honky tonks and bars by the time he was a teenager. At 14, he dropped out of high school, taking jobs like hauling ice and working at a bedspring factory as a way to supplement his music. Domino’s career was effectively kicked off at New Orleans Hideaway Club. While playing piano in local bandleader Billy Diamond’s band, Diamond nicknamed Antoine “Fats” — partly in homage to keyboard-playing predecessors like Fats Waller and partly because, as Diamond told one crowd, “I call him ‘Fats,’ ‘cause if he keeps eating, he’s going to be just as big!” Domino was initially hesitant about the nickname, but it stuck.

Later, at the same club, Domino met Bartholomew and Imperial Records head Lew Chudd, who signed Domino to his label. In 1949, Domino cut his first Imperial single, “The Fat Man,” a rewrite of the drug-addiction song “Junker’s Blues” that many consider one of the earliest rock records. Although it didn’t make the top 40, “The Fat Man” was a huge R&B hit and established Domino’s sound and image for decades to come. 

From then on, Domino’s hits kept coming. He scored nine gold singles, although he never had a No. 1 record on the pop chart. (Frustratingly, Pat Boone’s vanilla remake of “Ain’t That a Shame” did go No. 1 in pop in 1955.) In his memoir, Chuck Berry wrote admiringly that, in 1955, Domino was making $10,000 a week on tour.

From the start of his career, Domino wasn’t a larger-than-life figure like Presley or Lewis. Married at 20, he was a notorious homebody who eventually had eight children (all of whose names began with the letter “A”). Asked by Rolling Stone in 2007 about riots that took place during early rock and roll shows that featured him and other acts, Domino simply replied, “I don’t know. It wasn’t anything in the music, so it must have been something in the audience.”

Yet Domino’s influence was tangible. In 1968, Paul McCartney wrote the Beatles’ “Lady Madonna” with Domino in mind (Domino would cut his own version that same year). To ensure that bass guitars on his records could be heard above his rumbling piano, Bartholomew would double the bass and guitar parts — a technique later picked up on by Phil Spector for his Wall of Sound. Domino’s dexterous piano style, influenced by pioneering predecessors like Waller and Professor Longhair, also reverberated. “Anytime anybody plays a slow blues,” Dr. John told Rolling Stone, “the piano player will eventually get to something like Fats. It was pre-funk stuff and it was New Orleans and he did it all his way. He could do piano rolls with both hands. He was like Thelonious Monk in that way.”

In 1960, Domino released his last top 10 hit, “Walking to New Orleans.” Soon after, he left Imperial and continued recording for a number of other labels. As with his 1950s peers, he scored few hits from that point on — but more due to changing times than from the scandals or army duty that derailed Presley and Lewis. As Rolling Stone writer Charles M. Young wrote about Domino’s less-than-dark side, “Offstage, he gambled a bit, had a thing for fancy cars and jewelry and was known to cook beans in his hotel room.”

Domino continued to record and tour for decades after his initial success. In 2005, he was back in the news after his Lower Ninth Ward home was flooded to the roof during Hurricane Katrina. After initial reports that he was missing, Domino was eventually rescued and, with his wife Rosemary and one of their children, lifted into a boat. “I ain’t missin’ nothin’,” Domino said after the rescue. “Just one thing that happened, I guess. I’m just sorry it happened to me and everybody else, you know?” In the storm, he lost most of his possessions, including almost all of his gold records.

As disastrous as it was, Katrina also gave Domino a renewed life. Alive and Kickin’, a new album released a year after the storm, became one of his most acclaimed works (RS named it one of the top albums of the year). In 2007, he released Goin’ Home, an all-star Domino tribute album featuring covers by Elton John, Nell Young, Tom Petty, Robert Plant, Willie Nelson, Norah Jones, Lenny Kravitz, and Lucinda Williams.

Of his partner’s contributions to rock history, Bartholomew said Domino is “just like the cornerstone — you build a new church and you lay the cornerstone, and if the church burns down, the cornerstone is still there.”

Fats Domino – “Blueberry Hill”


Fats Domino – “Ain’t That a Shame”


Fats Domino – “I’m Walkin'”


Fats Domino – “Blue Monday”

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Jeff Flake’s diagnosis is right. But it’s not enough. – Washington Post

SEN. JEFF FLAKE, an Arizona Republican, delivered an address to the U.S. Senate Tuesday that was profoundly eloquent in its diagnosis of the degradation that President Trump has brought to American politics. It was also profoundly depressing. If Republicans can be honest only after they have taken themselves out of the political arena — or if by being honest they disqualify themselves from future service — then their party and therefore the nation are in even graver trouble than we knew.

Mr. Flake had intended to run for reelection next year. But a book he published that criticized Mr. Trump made him vulnerable to a primary challenge. “It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, and who is pro-immigration has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party,” Mr. Flake said Tuesday. “
It is also clear to me for the moment we have given in or given up on those core principles in favor of the more viscerally satisfying anger and resentment.”

So Mr. Flake will not run in 2018 — and, liberated from political necessity, he offered a cogent lament for the state of the union: “We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country — the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions; the flagrant disregard for truth or decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons. . . . And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else: It is dangerous to a democracy.”

“None of this is normal,” Mr. Flake said. “And what do we as United States senators have to say about it?”

The answer: not much. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) has been speaking up — after he, too, decided not to stand for reelection. A few others have shown some courage at times: Mr. Flake’s fellow Arizonan, the indomitable John McCain; the independent-minded Susan Collins of Maine; Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski. But given that Mr. Flake’s fellow Republicans privately agree with much of what he had to say, the silence from his leaders and most of his colleagues is overpowering.

Will they be emboldened by Mr. Flake’s candor — or chastened by his example? We fear the latter is more likely. Republicans who fancy themselves true conservatives, such as Mr. Flake, should stand up against Mr. Trump’s noxious politics, as the senator implored on Tuesday. But they have to do more than that. They have to fashion an agenda and a political style that can compete successfully in primaries against Trumpism. Until they do, all the eloquence in the world will not be enough.

Read more on this topic:

Jennifer Rubin: Flake leaves the Trumpified GOP

Ronald A. Klain: He who must be named

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The story of Clayton Kershaw’s dominance told through his 11 World Series strikeouts – CBSSports.com

LOS ANGELES– No matter how much we learn about statistical analysis, no matter how educated we get on sample sizes, no matter how much we try to embrace logic, sports will always be governed by one eight-letter word: ringzzzz.

That’s how we end up doing something as spectacularly stupid as doubting Clayton Kershaw. It doesn’t matter that once you adjust for park and league effects, today’s lefty-of-the-gods is better than the immortal southpaw who trod the same mound at Chavez Ravine more than 50 years ago. What matters is that when the stakes have been highest, the already extraordinary Koufax turned into Superman, while pre-2017 Kershaw often struggled at the worst possible time.

We’re three games away from ending the preposterous Kershaw-the-playoff-disappointment narrative forever. The Dodgers ace buried the Cubs with six one-run innings in Game 5 of the NLCS. Then in Game 1 of the World Series, he performed like the entity that he truly is: a transcendent pitcher who will go down as one of the five greatest ever to play the game.

We’re spectacularly lucky to have two research monsters on call during this postseason: CBS Sports Director of Research John Fisher, and Nick Pollack, the pitching-obsessed genius behind the indispensable website PitcherList.com. I hit up both to break down Kershaw’s three-hit, one-run, no-walk, seven-inning, 83-pitch masterpiece. Let’s tell the story through each of Kershaw’s 11 strikeouts.

#1 – Slider to George Springer

Poor, poor George Springer. Kershaw was at his nastiest Tuesday night, and Springer was his primary victim, striking out three times in three at-bats, en route to a golden sombrero. First-pitch swinging, Springer could do no more than foul off Kershaw’s first offering, a fastball. Kershaw then broke off his deliciously slow curve, a knee-buckler that moved the count to 0-2. Then, just to completely torment Springer, Kershaw went to a third offering on his 1-2 pitch: His devastating slider, a pitch he had never thrown off a mound in his life before a random bullpen session in 2009. The pitch burrowed under Springer’s bat for a vicious swinging third strike.

#2 – Fastball to Yuli Gurriel

As Pollack notes, the pitch you don’t see here is the 1-2 offering that looked exactly like Kershaw’s strikeout pitch, except that it turned into a slider halfway to the plate and disappeared beneath the zone for strike two. With that slider of death fresh in his mind, Gurriel laid off the next offering… only for the ball to slap Austin Barnes‘ mitt for an easy called strike three. Kershaw’s hesitation delivery, combined with his uncanny ability to disguise the identity of the pitch he’s throwing until the very last second, make him nearly impossible to hit when he’s on his game.

#3 – Curveball to Marwin Gonzalez

All but 12 of Kershaw’s 83 pitches were fastballs and sliders, because apparently it was Randy Johnson Lookalike Night at Dodger Stadium. So when Kershaw broke that pattern to throw his big, looping Uncle Charlie, the oooohs and aaaahs rang out throughout the ballpark. Kershaw put Gonzalez in the spin cycle, working fastballs and sliders for the entire at-bat, only to drop a 75-mph curve from the heavens into the zone for a cruel called strike three.

#4 – Fastball to Dallas Keuchel

Kershaw knows better than to screw around with finesse when the opposing pitcher comes to bat. Facing Dallas Keuchel, he fired five straight heaters, ringing up the strikeout on a high heater that Keuchel fouled off. This was a straight-up GTFOH punchout.

#5 – Slider to George Springer

Oh, you think you can pick up on patterns when Kershaw’s on the mound? Hilarious.

After firing a first-pitch fastball by Springer to start the game, Kershaw slidered thim into a huge whiff to get ahead 0-1. He then painted the inside corner with a perfectly-placed slider. On 0-2, Kershaw went out of the zone, burying a slider that completely flummoxed the Astros leadoff hitter. Total filth.

#6 – Slider to Jose Altuve

A rare time when we can fault umpire error for a KKKKKKKKKKKershaw K. Working carefully to the dangerous Altuve, Kershaw aimed for the edges of the zone, running the count to 3-2. The second pitch of the at-bat had been called a ball…and Altuve justifiably freaked out when Kershaw’s 3-2 slider at the same height was somehow called strike three.  

#7 – Curveball to Carlos Correa

Here’s a new strategy to try against Kershaw: Don’t swing! Correa gave that approach a go here, seeing three pitches: a curve, a slider, and another curve, without swinging at any of them. The knockout pitch evoked memories of a 19-year-old Kershaw, wearing the telltale rookie number 96 in spring training, unleashing a rainbow yakker that the legendary Vin Scully called “Public Enemy Number One.” Chuck D would’ve been proud of this one.

#8 – Slider to Yuli Gurriel

Mr. Pollack, take it away:

“What you aren’t seeing here is Kershaw missing badly with a fastball in the previous pitch, but it worked in his favor as Gurriel fouling off the pitch that ended in the middle but well above the zone. With Gurriel’s eye level up near his chest and timed at his heater, Kershaw went with a slider that traveled a bit slower and dove below Gurriel’s knees. Gurriel saw fastball early and didn’t have a chance to make such a major adjustment as he gave a weak swing-and-a-miss.”

#9 – Fastball to Josh Reddick

Even on his best night, no pitcher is going to hit his spot every time. Kershaw certainly didn’t with this whiff of Reddick. He started the Astros right fielder with a surgical low-and-outside-corner fastball at 93 mph for strike one. The next pitch was further outside, and off the plate… but Kershaw got a generous call for strike two. Barnes set up outside on the third pitch, anticipating a third straight pellet to that part of the plate. But throwing from a lower arm angle, Kershaw missed worse than he had all night, with the pitch somehow clipping the inside corner instead. Everyone involved looked on confused, including Reddick, who grimaced as a 94-mph heater froze him for strike three.

#10 – Fastball to Dallas Keuchel

Here’s something funny: Keuchel somehow wrung 10 pitches out of Kershaw in his two at-bats. Kershaw missed location on each of his five pitches in this sixth-inning matchup. Not that it mattered. On a 2-2 count, Kershaw simply fired a fastball right down Main Street, knowing Kershaw wasn’t going to do anything with it. In so doing, he recorded the fifth 10-strikeout game of his postseason career.

#11 – Slider to George Springer

Give Springer credit for trying anyway. He fought off a 2-2 slider, then resisted a curveball that missed the zone. The final pitch was irresistible, though. It looked like a fastball out of Kershaw’s hand, only to drop to subterranean levels.

GIF aside, here’s actual video footage of Kershaw’s treatment of Springer on this night:

[embedded content]

—-

Kershaw’s 11 Ks tied the all-time World Series record for most strikeouts in a game without a walk. Only three other pitchers have ever totaled 10-plus strikeouts with no walks in a World series game… and one of those happened in the first EVER World Series game in 1903.

Most Strikeouts without a walk in a single game in World Series history:

Game

Pitcher

Strikeouts

2017 – Game 1

Clayton Kershaw

11

1949 – Game 1

Don Newcombe

11

2009 – Game 1

Cliff Lee

10

1903 – Game 1

Deacon Phillippe

10

Other facts and highlights:

– 10 of Kershaw’s 11 Ks came on pitches in the lower third of the strike zone or below.
– Six of his 11 Ks were looking.
– Five of his 11 Ks came on pitches out of the strike zone.
– Five of his 11 Ks came on four pitches or fewer.
– He threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of 24 batters (71 percent).
– He faced 24 batters and struck out 11 of them (46 percent).
– He had just two(!!!!!) three-ball counts all night, and struck both those batters out.
– Despite getting 11 of his 21 outs via strikeout, he still had six plate appearances end in two pitches or fewer.

We’re three games away from Kershaw ending his run as the Lord of the Ringless. And if along the way he gets another chance to pitch in this series and performs like he did in Game 1, we can finally, officially, forever blast Kershaw’s Rockedtober reputation into the sun, where it belongs.

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Clinton Campaign and Democratic Party Helped Pay for Russia Dossier – New York Times

WASHINGTON — The presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee paid for research that was included in a dossier made public in January that contained salacious claims about connections between Donald J. Trump, his associates and Russia.

A spokesperson for a law firm said on Tuesday that it had hired Washington-based researchers last year to gather damaging information about Mr. Trump on numerous subjects — including possible ties to Russia — on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the D.N.C.

The revelation, which emerged from a letter filed in court on Tuesday, is likely to fuel new partisan attacks over federal and congressional investigations into Russia’s attempts to disrupt last year’s election and whether any of Mr. Trump’s associates assisted in the effort.

The Run-Up

The podcast that makes sense of the most delirious stretch of the 2016 campaign.

The president and his allies have argued for months that the investigations are politically motivated. They have challenged the information contained in the dossier, which was compiled by a former British spy who had been contracted by the Washington research firm Fusion GPS.

The letter that was filed in court said that Fusion GPS began working for the law firm, Perkins Coie, in April 2016. Written by the firm’s managing partner Matthew J. Gehringer, the letter said that Fusion GPS had already been conducting the research “for one or more other clients during the Republican primary contest.”

Perkins Coie was paid $12.4 million to represent the Clinton campaign and the D.N.C. during the 2016 campaign, accoring to filings. The role of the Clinton campaign and the national party in funding the research for the dossier was first reported on Tuesday by The Washington Post.

At the time that Democrats began paying for the research, Mr. Trump was in the process of clinching the Republican presidential nomination, and Ms. Clinton’s allies were scrambling to figure out how to run against a candidate who had already weathered attacks from Republican rivals about his shifting policy positions, his character and his business record.

Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele, a respected former British spy with extensive experience in Russia, to conduct research into any possible connections between Mr. Trump, his businesses, campaign team and Russia.

Mr. Steele produced a series of memos that alleged a broad conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to influence the 2016 election on behalf of Mr. Trump. The memos also contained unsubstantiated accounts of encounters between Mr. Trump and Russian prostitutes, and real estate deals that were intended as bribes.

The contents of the memos circulated in Washington in late 2016, and were briefed to Mr. Trump by senior American intelligence officials during the presidential transition. The memos, which became known as the “Steele Dossier,” were made public by Buzzfeed — sparking an ongoing debate about their accuracy and about who funded the research.

Fusion GPS was started by three former Wall Street Journal employees. The firm worked directly with Perkins Coie and its lead election lawyer, Marc Elias, according to the law firm spokesperson, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information about confidential business relationships. The law firm’s payments to Fusion GPS for the Russia research ended just before Election Day, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said that neither the Clinton campaign, nor the D.N.C., was aware that Fusion GPS had been hired to conduct the research.

Earlier this year, Mr. Elias had denied that he had possessed the dossier before the election.

Anita Dunn, a veteran Democratic operative working with Perkins Coie, said on Tuesday that Mr. Elias “was certainly familiar with some of, but not all, of the information” in the dossier. But, she said “he didn’t have and hadn’t seen the full document, nor was he involved in pitching it to reporters.” And Mr. Elias “was not at liberty to confirm Perkins Coie as the client at that point,” Ms. Dunn said.

Brian Fallon, who served as a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, on Tuesday wrote on Twitter that he did not know that Mr. Steele had been working on behalf of the Clinton campaign before the election.

“If I had, I would have volunteered to go to Europe and try to help him,” Mr. Fallon wrote.

A lawyer and spokeswoman for Fusion GPS did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokeswoman for the D.N.C. sought to distance the national party from the work, noting that the party’s chairman, Tom Perez, was elected only after last year’s election. He and his leadership team “were not involved in any decision-making regarding Fusion GPS, nor were they aware that Perkins Coie was working with the organization,” said Xochitl Hinojosa, the D.N.C. spokeswoman.

The work by Fusion GPS on the dossier has come under scrutiny from congressional investigators, who have questioned one of its founders and subpoenaed its banking records to try to determine who funded the research.

Fusion GPS is fighting the subpoena in federal court, and Mr. Gehringer’s letter was produced in connection with that legal case.

In the letter, Mr. Gehringer praised Fusion GPS for its “efforts to fulfill your obligation to maintain client confidentiality. In the circumstances, however, we believe it is appropriate to release Fusion GPS from this obligation as it relates to the identity of Perkins Coie.”

Mr. Gehringer added that, “given the interest in this issue, we believe it would be appropriate for all parties who hired Fusion GPS in connection with the 2016 presidential campaign to release Fusion GPS from this obligation as well.”

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

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House Republicans launch new probes into Obama-era Uranium One deal, FBI handling of Clinton case – Fox News

Former Clinton communications director speaks out about the revelation.

House Republicans on Tuesday launched new probes into several Obama-era controversies, covering both the Justice Department’s 2016 handling of the Clinton email case and the administration’s 2010 approval for the sale of a mining company that gave the Russians partial control over American uranium reserves.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., announced his committee and the House Oversight Committee will investigate the so-called Uranium One deal.

“We’re not going to jump to any conclusions, but we’re going to try and get the facts,” Nunes said.

Separately, the House oversight and judiciary committees announced a joint investigation into the Justice Department and FBI’s handling of the Clinton email probe.  

“Decisions made by the Department of Justice in 2016 have led to a host of outstanding questions that must be answered,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said in a statement. 

TABLES TURNED AS DEMS FACE RUSSIA CONTROVERSIES?

Both controversies have returned to the headlines in recent weeks. The uranium deal, which was covered extensively in 2015, concerns the 2010 approval of the sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to Russia’s Rosatom nuclear company. The U.S. was involved because the sale gave the Russians control of part of the uranium supply in the U.S. 

The Hill reported, however, that the FBI had evidence as early as 2009 that Russian operatives used bribes, kickbacks and other dirty tactics to expand Moscow’s atomic energy footprint in the U.S., related to a subsidiary of the same Russia firm. Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill quickly started asking questions about how the deal was approved the following year by an inter-agency committee.

Nunes said Tuesday the main question for Hill investigators will be whether there was an FBI probe at the time and “if so, why was Congress not informed of this matter.”

“It’s important that we find out why that deal went through,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said.

Devin Nunes, presidente de la Comisión de Inteligencia de la Cámara de Representantes, dice a reporteros que realizará una audiencia abierta el 20 de marzo para investigar la presunta interferencia rusa en la elección presidencial de 2016, el martes 7 de marzo de 2017, en el Capitolio, en Washington. (AP Foto/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., has announced a new congressional probe of the 2010 Uranium One deal.

 (AP)

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., threatened to use subpoena power to get access to a former FBI informant in the case who apparently has not yet been released from a nondisclosure agreement.

While scrutinizing the 2010 approval, Republican lawmakers have also revived questions that first surfaced in 2015 about payments to both Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation from “interested parties.”

Addressing the matter Monday on C-SPAN, Hillary Clinton said “it’s the same baloney they’ve been peddling for years, and there’s been no credible evidence by anyone. In fact, it’s been debunked repeatedly and will continue to be debunked.”

The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee said these issues are just part of the “distraction and diversion” from the investigation into Russian meddling and possible coordination with Trump associates in last year’s election.

“The closer the investigation about real Russian ties between Trump associates and real Russians … the more they want to just throw mud on the wall,” Clinton said.  

As for the separate probe of the handling of the Clinton email case, Goodlatte and Gowdy said the investigation would cover:

  • The FBI’s decision to publicly announce the Clinton email investigation but not announce the probe of Trump campaign associates
  • The decision to notify Congress that the bureau was revisiting the email probe in the fall of 2016
  • The decision to “appropriate full decision making in respect to charging or not charging Secretary Clinton to the FBI rather than the DOJ”
  • The FBI’s “timeline in respect to charging decisions”

Goodlatte and Gowdy said: “The Committees will review these decisions and others to better understand the reasoning behind how certain conclusions were drawn.”

The circumstances surrounding former FBI Director James Comey’s public decision not to pursue charges against Clinton have come under renewed scrutiny in recent months, following allegations that Comey drafted an “exoneration statement” for Clinton months before she and other key witnesses were interviewed.

The FBI last week released emails appearing to prove that Comey began drafting a memo regarding his July 2016 statement as early as May. The contents of the emails were largely unclear as nearly all of it was redacted. The now-public records show the email titled “Midyear Exam — UNCLASSIFIED” was sent by Comey on May 2, 2016, to Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, general counsel James Baker and chief of staff and senior counselor James Rybicki.

On May 16, a response email from Rybicki, said, “Please send me any comments on this statement so we may roll into a master doc for discussion with the Director at a future date. Thanks, Jim.”

The existence of the documents was first brought to light by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also a member of the committee, after they reviewed transcripts of interviews with top Comey aides who alluded to the email’s existence.

The issue has raised questions about Comey’s past explanations for his decision to go public in the case.

In a June hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey was asked whether his decision to announce the results of the investigation was influenced by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s infamous meeting days earlier on an Arizona tarmac with former President Bill Clinton.

“Yes, in an ultimately conclusive way, that was the thing that capped it for me – that I had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation,” Comey said.

At a House Judiciary Committee hearing in September 2016, Comey also testified that he made the decision not to recommend criminal charges “after” the FBI interviewed Clinton.

The potential conflicts revived interests among Clinton’s critics in revisiting aspects of the case. Last month, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee formally renewed their call for a second special counsel to probe 2016 controversies involving Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration.

Fox News’ Judson Berger, Chad Pergram and Catherine Herridge contributed to this report. 

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Trump arrives on Capitol Hill as Corker slams him for ‘untruths,’ ‘debasing’ the country – Washington Post

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) accused President Trump of “debasing” the country with his “untruths,” “name-calling” and “attempted bullying,” escalating his criticism of the president and further fueling their feud just as Trump arrived on Capitol Hill to meet with GOP senators about tax legislation.

“For young people to be watching, not only here in our country, but around the world, someone of this mentality as president of the United States is something that is I think debasing to our country,” said Corker, who spent the morning lambasting Trump in media interviews.

“You would think he would aspire to be the president of the United States and act like a president of the United States. But that’s just not going to be the case, apparently,” Corker said.

Trump returned fire, insulting “liddle” Corker on Twitter ahead of his visit to the Senate to address Republicans at their weekly policy luncheon. The gathering was billed as a chance for Trump to discuss the GOP’s effort to cut taxes, but his back-and-forth with Corker and his penchant for veering from one subject to another could lead to an unpredictable afternoon.

The feud lays bare the rising tensions between Trump and congressional Republicans and increases the uncertainty surrounding the GOP’s effort to advance tax cuts, its last-ditch attempt at a major policy accomplishment this year.

Trump has sharply criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for failing to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Republican senators have also thrown some rhetorical elbows at the president, with McConnell saying that Trump’s limited experience in politics gave him “excessive expectations” about how quickly landmark legislation can pass.

Earlier Tuesday, Corker stood by his previous description of the White House as an “adult day-care center” and his comment that Trump’s volatility could set the United States on a “path to World War III.” He also urged Trump to stop interfering in the debate over tax legislation.

Asked whether he regrets supporting Trump, Corker told CNN he would not do it again.

“The president has great difficulty with the truth on many issues,” he said. “He’s proven himself unable to rise to the occasion.”

Hours earlier, Trump had attacked Corker on Twitter for helping former president Barack Obama “give us the bad Iran Deal.” Trump also said Corker changed his plans to run for reelection in 2018 after he declined to endorse him.

In reality, Corker organized opposition to the Iran deal and voted against it. The senator and his top aide have said Trump offered his support for Corker’s reelection, and that after Corker announced that he would retire after next year, Trump called asking him to reconsider and to run again.

“Same untruths from an utterly untruthful president,” Corker tweeted Tuesday. He added the hashtag #AlertTheDaycareStaff, repeating an earlier description of Trump’s White House.

Wall Street is on the verge of its first major win in Trump’s Washington

Republican lawmakers had high expectations for Trump’s visit to Capitol Hill.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said he was “glad” Trump was coming and argued the White House’s dispute with Corker will not hinder Republicans’ rewrite of the tax code.

“Put this Twitter dispute aside . . . All this stuff you see on a daily basis, Twitter this and Twitter that, forget about it,” Ryan told reporters at a news conference Tuesday.

Trump has promised changes to the tax code will not affect tax-deferred retirement plans, the mortgage interest deduction or the deduction for charitable contributions. Republicans like Corker say these promises raise expectations prematurely while making it more difficult for lawmakers to make up the revenue that will be lost to tax cuts.

[The great dealmaker? Lawmakers say Trump is untrustworthy negotiator.]

When Trump addresses the GOP luncheon, “it’s important for him to convey to us the things that he thinks are priorities, and not only with respect to the tax bill, but some of the other things that we are currently working on,” said Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the third-ranking Republican senator.

“I want him to tell us to do our job,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), a Trump ally who, like the president, has openly voiced his frustration that a handful of Republican senators sank the repeal-and-replace effort. He expected the president would argue that the tax- reform push is “bigger than tax,” in that it marked a chance for Republicans to prove they can govern, among other things.

Republicans continue to wrestle with health-care reform, particularly since Trump decided to end federal subsidies to offset lower-income Americans’ coverage costs. In response, a bipartisan coalition of senators offered a compromise bill authorizing those funds in exchange for giving states broader leeway in regulating coverage under the ACA.

Trump, who phoned Democratic and Republican lawmakers this month to push them to make a deal, has sent mixed signals on the plan, seeming to support it before backing away.

White House officials are now urging Senate Republicans to move the bill to the right by including provisions offering retroactive relief from the ACA’s insurance mandates for individuals and certain employers, according to people briefed on the talks.

“The White House has the ball right now,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), the Republican who took the lead on negotiating the bipartisan package. “They’ve made some suggestions publicly about what they’d like to see in the bill. I’m for all of those things. The question is whether they can persuade Democratic senators to agree to that.”

But Alexander, who said the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office could release an analysis of the plan as early as Tuesday, wasn’t expecting to hear Trump sketch out his latest thinking on the framework during lunch. “I’d like for the president to focus on tax reform,” he said.

Others were more eager for Trump to discuss health care.

“I’d like to hear him reinforce the movement to get something done,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), who supports the deal Alexander reached with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

Looming over the luncheon were the mutual hostilities between Trump and Republican senators.

[McConnell says Trump needs to provide clarity on health care]

Until Tuesday morning, both sides had appeared determined to move past their differences and project more harmony. Trump and McConnell sat down for lunch at the White House last Monday and came out for a 40-minute joint news conference afterward.

Republicans are trying to forge ahead in their effort to rewrite the tax code by the end of the year. They took an initial step toward passing a tax bill last week, when the Senate passed a budget resolution allowing them to pursue the plan without Democratic votes.

The GOP didn’t need Democratic votes to undo the ACA, but that effort still failed because of disagreements among Republican senators. Brewing disputes over tax policy threaten to disrupt if not defeat the tax endeavor in a similar way.

Passing a bill could rest on more unpredictable GOP senators, such as Susan Collins (Maine), one of three Republicans who voted against the ACA repeal bill in July.

“I’m hoping to hear more about his plans on tax reform, with more detail in it,” she said of Trump’s visit.

Read more at PowerPost

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