Gowdy, a former chair of the House Oversight Committee, told Jason Chaffetz Friday on “Hannity” he will not apologize, but instead offered advice to the former top law enforcement official.
“I never said Comey would or should go to jail. I’m certainly not going to apologize to anyone who violated FBI and Department of Justice policy, who violated an employment agreement, who shared sensitive information about an ongoing investigation, who sent classified information to an unauthorized person and then had amnesia when the FBI came to his home to try to retrieve government property,” the former lawmaker said.
“If that is your goal in life to just not meet every essential element of a criminal offense and you think you should be congratulated and apologized to simply because you were not indicted, you better give back some of those ‘Higher Loyalty’ speaking fees,” he added — referencing Comey’s recent book title.
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In response, Chaffetz asked Gowdy to confirm whether or not he would apologize to Comey for being critical of him.
“What temperature is it in Hell right now? Is it snowing?” the Fox News contributor responded.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., told an audience in South Carolina Friday that he is working on legislation that would “eliminate medical debt in this country.”
Sanders made the remark during a question-and-answer period following a town hall meeting in Florence on “Medicare-for-All.” A female attendee explained to Sanders that she doesn’t make enough money to qualify for ObamaCare and has a large amount of medical debt not covered by insurance.
When the woman asked Sanders if he had a plan for that, the self-described democratic socialist told her: “In another piece of legislation that we’re offering, we’re gonna eliminate medical debt in this country.”
The Sanders campaign confirmed to Fox News that the proposal was new, but details were scant.
“We are introducing legislation that would end all medical debt in this country,” Sanders told reporters as he departed the town hall. “The bottom line is it is an insane and cruel system, which says to people that they have to go deeply into debt or go bankrupt because of what? Because they came down with cancer or they came down with heart disease or they came down with Alzheimer’s, or whatever …
“In the midst of a dysfunctional healthcare system, we have to say to people that you cannot go bankrupt or end up in financial duress,” Sanders added. “That is cruel and something we’ve gotta handle. This is something that we’re working on and that we will introduce.”
Sanders has long touted his “Medicare-for-All” proposal, which would replace job-based and individual private health insurance with a government-run plan that guarantees coverage for all with no premiums, deductibles and only minimal copays for certain services. Health care has become a key issue in South Carolina, which is among the Republican-led states that turned down Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
Sanders’ legislation does not specify new revenues, instead providing a separate list of “options” that include higher taxes on the wealthy, corporations and employers while promising the middle class will be better off.
“You’re going to be paying more in taxes,” Sanders said Friday to a man asking how he’d benefit from Medicare for All if his employer currently pays for most of his premiums. “But at the end of the day, you’re going to be paying less for health care than you are right now. It will be comprehensive.”
The healthcare industry has become a favorite whipping boy for Sanders, who told his audience Friday: “Thirty years from now your kids and your grandchildren will be asking you was it really true? That there were people in America who could not go to the doctor when they wanted to? Was it really true that people went bankrupt because they could not pay their healthcare bills? And you will have to tell them, ‘Yes, it was.’ But together we are going to end that obscenity and we’re going to end it in the next few years.”
The new proposal is not the only debt that Sanders has called for canceling. He has repeatedly called for the elimination of $1.6 trillion in student loan debt as well and calling for public college and universities to be tuition-free.
According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Sanders is the second choice among Democrats nationwide, garnering 17.1 percent of the vote. Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a comfortable lead with 28.9 percent support, while Elizabeth Warren is narrowly behind Sanders in third place at 16.5 percent support.
WASHINGTON – While all eyes are on who could be the future occupant of the White House, the battle over control in both chambers of Congress is also heating up, especially as more than a dozen lawmakers have announced their retirement.
The retirements, most of which were announced by Republicans, open up a series of key races ahead of the 2020 elections as Republicans try to fend off Democrats aiming to take control of the Senate and maintain, or perhaps grow, their majority in the House.
Here is the list of lawmakers who have announced they aren’t running to keep their seats in 2020.
So far, 13 members of the House have announced they won’t be running in 2020, including 11 Republicans and two Democrats.
Many of the retirements were announced over the last several weeks, including by four Republicans in Texas. Among those leaving Congress are two of House Republicans’ 13 women, including the female lawmaker that was tasked with recruiting more conservative women and minorities to the body.
John Shimkus: Republican representing Illinois’ 15th District
Rep. John Shimkus announced Friday that he would not run for re-election in 2020. He announced his decision on KMOX radio in St. Louis. He said in a statement that he was looking forward to his “next chapter of life.”
Shimkus, who has represented the district since 2003, won about 70 percent of the vote in 2018 in a solidly red district, which Donald Trump won in 2016.
Sean Duffy: Republican representing Wisconsin’s 7th District
Duffy, who has represented his district in northern Wisconsin since 2011, said in a Facebook post that he needs to step down in order to devote more time to a baby he and his wife are expecting in October that has a heart condition. Duffy’s was once a true swing seat in Congress but was made more Republican in 2011 by GOP redistricting, and has also shifted right as rural areas continue to tilt toward Republicans.
Kenny Marchant: Republican representing Texas’ 24th District
Rep. Kenny Marchant, an eight-term veteran, announced he wouldn’t run for re-election on Aug. 5. Marchant, 68, was re-elected by a 3 percentage-point margin last year from his suburban district between Dallas and Fort Worth. He’d won by 17 percentage points in 2016 and by 33 percentage points in 2014.
“I am looking forward to finishing out my term and then returning to Texas to start a new chapter,” Marchant said in a statement.
Will Hurd Republican representing Texas’ 23rd District
Rep. Will Hurd, the lone Black Republican in the House and a strong critic of President Donald Trump, announced Aug. 1 that he will not seek re-election. In 2018, Hurd won a very slim victory — less than 1,000 votes — in his western Texas district.
“I have made the decision to not seek reelection for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas in order to pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security,” Hurd wrote on Twitter.
Mike Conaway Republican representing Texas’ 11th District
Rep. Michael Conaway announced July 31 that he won’t seek a ninth term representing a sprawling West Texas congressional district.
Conaway announced his decision at a news conference in Midland. In a statement, he said that while serving in the House, he had asked his family “to make innumerable sacrifices.” He said the time had come for him to put his family first.
Martha Roby Republican representing Alabama’s 2nd District
Rep. Martha Roby, who has represented much of Montgomery and southeast Alabama in the House of Representatives since 2011, said July 26 that she will not run for re-election.
Roby did not specify a reason for her departure from Congress in a statement emailed and posted on Twitter, saying that she and her family “will be forever grateful to the people of AL-02 for giving us the tremendous privilege & honor of serving our state & country.”
Pete Olson Republican representing Texas’ 22nd District
Rep. Pete Olson said July 25 he won’t seek re-election in 2020, giving up his House seat that Democrats were already targeting for next year.
Olson said he’ll retire after his sixth term to “be a more consistent presence” with family. He narrowly won re-election in 2018 in his suburban Houston district.
Paul Mitchell Republican representing Michigan’s 10th District
Rep. Paul Mitchell, a wealthy businessman who spent millions of his own money to win a seat in Congress, said July 24 that he will step down after just two terms.
Mitchell, who replaced former Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, in 2017, after she stepped down, represents a safely Republican district, which includes parts of Macomb County and the Thumb.
Susan Brooks Republican representing Indiana’s 5th District
Rep. Susan Brooks, one of only 13 Republican women in the House as well as the head of GOP recruitment for 2020, announced she would not run for re-election in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY on June 14.
“While it may not be time for the party, it’s time for me personally,” Brooks, 58, said. Democrats have been eyeing her district, which includes the wealthy northern Indianapolis suburban areas, as potentially flippable as Republican support has eroded in some suburban areas under Trump.
Dave Loebsack Democrat representing Iowa’s 2nd District
Rep. Dave Loebsack announced April 12 that he will retire at the end of this term, after representing Iowa in Congress for 14 years.
The Iowa City Democrat, 66, who represents the southeast quarter of the state, was first elected to the House in 2006. He spent part of his career as the state’s sole Democrat in either the U.S. House or Senate. “I have enjoyed beyond my expectations serving the people of Iowa’s Second District for the past 13 years,” Loebsack said.
Jose Serrano Democrat representing New York’s 15th District
Rep. Jose Serrano, a 16-term Democrat from the South Bronx, announced on March 25 that he has Parkinson’s disease and will retire at the end of his term.
The 75-year-old is a fixture in Bronx politics and is among Congress’ foremost defenders of Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory where he was born. First elected in 1990, Serrano is the most senior Latino currently serving in Congress.
Rob Woodall Republican representing Georgia’s 7th District
Rep. Rob Woodall, who barely escaped defeat last year in a suburban Atlanta seat once considered safe for GOP candidates, announced Feb. 7 that he won’t seek re-election in 2020.
Woodall’s district was one of two Georgia congressional seats targeted in the 2018 midterms by Democrats. He won his fifth term by fewer than 450 votes. “I have realized over this past year of change—both in politics and in my family—that the time has come for me to pass the baton and move to the next chapter,” Woodall said in a statement.
Rob Bishop Republican representing Utah’s 1st District
Rep. Rob Bishop announced back in Aug. 2017 that he planned to retire and not run again in 2020. First elected in 2002 to the heavily red Utah district, Bishop plans to retire at the end of his current term, when his service in committee leadership expires under GOP rules.
He has served as chairman of the powerful House Natural Resources Committee, and is now its ranking member.
Five members of the Senate have announced they won’t run for re-election in 2020, including four Republicans.
Democrats are hoping to take control of the chamber as they did with the House in 2018. In the midterms, though, Senate Republicans were not only able to fend off Democrats, they also picked up two seats.
But the 2020 election will differ from the midterms as the president will be on the ballot. Voter sentiment about Trump is likely to play a bigger role in determining who turns out at the polls and which party they support.
In 2020, Democrats need to gain four seats, only three if they take the White House. Twelve Democrats and 22 Republicans are up for re-election in 2020. Many of the GOP seats are in red states that previously voted for Trump but the retirement announcements could help in a number of key races.
Johnny Isakson Republican representing Georgia
Sen. Johnny Isakson announced Wednesday that he will retire at year’s end, a departure that sets up a rare election in November 2020 when both of the state’s Senate seats will be on the ballot and teeing up what could become a battle for Republicans to retain the state.
The 74-year-old lawmaker said he is leaving the job he loves because “mounting” health issues, including Parkinson’s disease, are “taking their toll” on his work, family and staff.
Enzi, 75, announced his pending retirement in his hometown of Gillette, where he owned a shoe store and “never intended to get into politics.” With Enzi’s retirement, Wyoming will have its first open Senate seat in more than a decade, though it’s expected to remain in Republican hands.
Udall said he believes he could win another term “but the worst thing anyone in public office can do is believe that the office belongs to them, rather than to the people they represent.”
Pat Roberts Republican representing Kansas
Sen. Pat Roberts, the longest-serving member of Congress in Kansas history, announced on Jan. 4 that he won’t run again in 2020, setting up a scramble to replace him in a GOP-leaning state where Democrats are energized by key victories in last year’s midterm elections.
The 82-year-old, four-term senator was likely to have faced grueling primary and general election contests next year.
The former Republican governor, who has served in the Senate since first being elected in 2002, announced in December 2018 that he will not seek a fourth term in the upper chamber. Alexander is chairman of the key Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, which handles everything from education policy to issues with the Affordable Care Act.
Contributing: Rebecca Morin and Ledyard King of USA TODAY, Brian Lyman of the Montgomery Advertiser, Todd Spangler of the Detroit Free Press, Craig Gilbert and Molly Beck of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Associated Press
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2019/08/30/2020-congressional-retirements-tilting-heavily-republican/2155526001/
A San Francisco Police Department booking photo shows Jose Ines Garcia-Zarate, a homeless undocumented immigrant who was acquitted of killing Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier in 2015. APhide caption
A San Francisco Police Department booking photo shows Jose Ines Garcia-Zarate, a homeless undocumented immigrant who was acquitted of killing Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier in 2015.
A state appeals court in California overturned the sole conviction of a homeless undocumented immigrant who admitted handling a gun that killed Kate Steinle, a San Francisco woman who died on a city pier in 2015.
Steinle’s death fueled the national debate over illegal immigration as then-candidate Donald Trump invoked the case in his 2016 presidential campaign speeches as evidence of a need to crackdown on immigration.
The immigrant, Jose Ines Garcia-Zarate, who had been deported five times prior to the shooting, was acquitted on the charge of murdering Kate Steinle. Instead the jury of six men and six women convicted him of being a felon in possession of a gun.
Garcia-Zarate’s defense attorneys argued that the shooting was unintentional, that he found the gun wrapped in a cloth under his seat at the pier and that it accidentally discharged. The bullet ricocheted off of the ground and struck Steinle in the back as she was walking, 78 feet away, with her father.
The 1st District Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the trial judge made a “prejudicial” error when he failed to give the jury “the momentary possession instruction.”
“It is undisputed that defendant was holding the gun when it fired. But that fact alone does not establish he possessed the gun for more than a moment. To possess the gun, defendant had to know he was holding it,” the appellate court wrote.
Garcia-Zarate faced three years in prison on the gun possession conviction, but was sentenced to time already served. He is currently in federal custody on new immigration and gun charges, including being an illegally present alien in possession of a firearm.
His defense attorney on the federal charges, Tony Serra, said Garcia-Zarate could be tried again locally on the state gun charge.
New York Times columnist Bret Stephens was ridiculed on social media Friday for a column that contained a not-so-subtle reference to “bedbugs” following a spat with a college professor who jokingly called Stephens a bedbug on Twitter.
In the piece published Friday evening titled “World War II and the Ingredients of Slaughter,” Stephens attempted to draw parallels between “the prewar era and the present” and compared radio — the “new technology” of the 1930s — to Twitter.
“Radio then, like Twitter today, was the technology of the id; a channel that could concentrate political fury at a time when there was plenty to go around,” Stephens wrote.
However, critics drew attention to the portion of the column that invoked the Jews living in the Warsaw ghetto.
“The political mind-set that turned human beings into categories, classes and races also turned them into rodents, insects and garbage,” Stephens wrote. “‘Anti-Semitism is exactly the same as delousing,’ Heinrich Himmler would claim in 1943. ‘Getting rid of lice is not a matter of ideology. It is a matter of cleanliness.’” Watching Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto burn that year, a Polish anti-Semite was overheard saying: “’The bedbugs are on fire. The Germans are doing a great job.'”
Dave Karpf, the George Washington University associate professor who unwittingly ignited a feud with the Times columnist by mocking him on Twitter, mocked Stephens again- this time for pursuing “pointless online vendettas.”
“This just stopped being funny,” Karpf tweeted. “The New York Times is the paper of record. The entire internet knows who Bret Stephens just subtweeted with his column. He should know better. He doesn’t. That’s not okay anymore.”
“Someone just pointed out a tweet you wrote about me, calling me a ‘bedbug,'” Stephens wrote in the email. “I’m often amazed about the things supposedly decent people are prepared to say about other people – people they’ve never met – on Twitter. I think you’ve set a new standard.”
“Bret Stephens is above me in the status hierarchy. He knows this. I know this. He has won a Pulitzer Prize and has a regular op-ed column in the New York Times. I am just some professor… So I was surprised to receive an email from Bret Stephens last night,” Karpf began his piece published in Esquire.
“What was most striking to me was that he had gone to the effort to CC the provost. Including the Provost clarifies the intent of the message. It means he was not reaching out in an earnest attempt to promote online civil discourse. It means he was trying to send a message that he stands above me in the status hierarchy, and that people like me are not supposed to write mean jokes about people like him online. It was an exercise in wielding power—using the imprimatur of The New York Times to ward off speech that he finds distasteful.”
Stephens has since deactivated his Twitter account.
MIAMI — The Stovalls are staying put for Hurricane Dorian.
On Friday afternoon, they installed hurricane shutters and sterilized three 10-gallon jugs that they will fill with water before they settle in to ride out what has now become a ferocious Category 4 storm.
But, just in case, they have also restocked their evacuation kit this week with sheets, towels, coffee, bug spray, batteries and wine. It stands by the door of their Coconut Grove home in the event they decide that maybe riding out the storm at home isn’t such a great idea.
“We want to make an informed decision,” said Colleen Stovall, 59. “We’re just monitoring everything.”
With Dorian expected to make landfall on Tuesday, Florida residents are engaged in a complex, high-stakes set of financial, logistical and psychological calculations of whether to stay or go.
And while residents follow the weather and gauge their own tolerance for risk, local and state officials are having to balance a mix of technical, meteorological and political considerations in deciding whether to order evacuations that carry risks no matter what the decision.
“Here’s the dilemma with evacuation: He who orders it, owns it,” said Russel L. Honore, a retired Army lieutenant general who earned acclaim for leading the military response to Hurricane Katrina.
For many households, the cost of evacuation and finding a place to stay is a major factor. Others must weigh the mobility of aging family members, pets and children, and the type of structure they call home. In 2019, given the flood of news, storm-track projections, information and misinformation on the internet, there is also the challenge of making sense of Too Much Information, from breathless social media updates to relatives with an opinion.
Ms. Stovall, for one, disapproves of her sister’s plan to evacuate from the Boca Raton area to the Florida Keys, a strategy many are contemplating with a forecast that, for the moment, predicts a more northern landfall.
“If it slips south, you’re stranded there!” Ms. Stovall, a theater director, told her.
And in South Florida, many Jewish families were trying to determine if they were allowed to work on boarding up their house or prepare to leave it over the Sabbath, which began at 7:25 Friday night. In Hollywood, Fla., Rabbi Gideon Goldenholz of Temple Sinai of Hollywood said they could.
“A hurricane is life-threatening,” he said, “so you have to do everything you can.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said shoulders on Interstate 95 had been cleared for traffic and would be open when local evacuation orders were issued. The state, he said, would largely advise rather than direct local officials on whether to tell residents to flee.
“You will see evacuations. I’m confident of that,” he said, adding, “But we’re not going to be telling every county, ‘Tell everybody to leave,’ because that may create some problems as well.”
That dilemma has a long history. In Texas, nearly 100 people died in vehicles while trying to evacuate from Hurricane Rita in 2005. But tens of thousands of people who did not evacuate during Hurricane Harvey required rescue. Officials were criticized for their decision to evacuate or not to evacuate in both storms.
For Floridians watching as Dorian gathers strength off shore, it does not help that this particular storm has such a large “cone of uncertainty,” as the meteorologists say.
Thousands of cars trying to evacuate Houston in 2005, before Hurricane Rita struck.CreditCarlos Barria/Reuters
“The forecasts are so iffy,” lamented Terry Gellin, 69, a retired high school English and social studies teacher. “They say the storm has slowed down. What does that mean? There are just a lot of unknowns.”
In Miami, Ms. Gellin and her husband, Samuel Schrager, 70, a corporate lawyer, live in a condo apartment a few yards from the water on Key Biscayne, an island minutes from downtown.
“There’s a lot of anxiety,” Mr. Schrager said. “You feel it throughout the city. People in my gym. In my condo. My friends. It’s everywhere.”
The couple are evacuating. They think. But they are only going as far as a sturdy motel inland, on the edge of Miami International Airport. “I’m the president of my condo,” Mr. Schrager said. “I want to stay close.”
The recent memory of Hurricane Irma, which in 2017 chased residents trying to evacuate to safety across the state as it shifted directions, has tipped some in the direction of waiting it out.
Valerie Preziosi, a retired nurse on Big Pine Key was among those stuck in traffic for many hours two years ago as she and her husband obeyed the mandatory evacuation order. Barred from returning home for nearly a week, they found their home filled with mold that they might have prevented had they stayed, she said.
“Unless we hear it’s a direct hit of Category 4 or 5 we’re staying put, no matter what they say,” Ms. Preziosi said on Friday. “And I’m not alone. There’s a ton of people that feel the same way.”
Hurricanes can be particularly deadly for people who live on boats and ignore evacuation orders.
“I don’t know anybody who tried to ride out a hurricane and is still alive,” said Larry Krug, who grew up in Queens and the Bronx and worked as a yacht captain in Miami for more than 30 years. “There were two guys who decided to do that in Hurricane Andrew. The rescue people found the boats. A few days later they found the bodies.”
Shortly after daybreak Friday, live-aboard sloops and big power boats began pulling away from the docks on the edge of Biscayne Bay in Coconut Grove. Mr. Krug said he often took boats to shelter in the Miami River. He never hesitated when evacuation orders were issued.
“The second they said, ‘Go, evacuate. Get out of here,’ I got out of there,” he said.
Along the coast from Florida to South Carolina, people were warily considering their options — if they have them. The Atlanta Motor Speedway, which is one 850 acres 45 minutes south of Atlanta has opened its gates for those fleeing the storm.
But many people figure they don’t have a choice.
On a farm just south of Charleston, S.C., on the mostly rural Johns Island, Thomas Legare, 55, said that with over 150 cattle, and a couple of hundred pigs and chickens to care for, evacuation would not be an option for him and his two sisters. “Our biggest worry living on an island is evacuating and not being able to get back to make sure the animals are O.K.,” he said.
In downtown Charleston on Friday afternoon, the city’s Emergency Management director, Shannon Scaff, cringed at the notion of people refusing to follow an evacuation order. During Hurricane Floyd in 1999, he worked as a Coast Guard rescue swimmer along the coast of North Carolina — airlifting residents who chose not to evacuate.
“Every single person I put in a rescue basket hanging out of a helicopter had the same shocked look on their faces,” he said. “They couldn’t believe they’d gotten into that position.”
But in Miami, Jaime Gonzalez, 65, a custodian at a high school, said he would have evacuated to North Carolina where his daughters live. However, the trip would have been too much for his 99-year-old mother, who lives with him and his wife. Instead, he shuttered his house and tested his 400-watt gasoline generator. He is prepared, he said, for when the electricity goes out.
A group of scientists studying evidence preserved in cave formations have found that sea level was as much as 52 feet higher than the present day more than 3 million years ago.
Their findings, based on an analysis of deposits from Arta Cave on the island of Mallorca, depict a time when Earth was two to three degrees Celsius warmer than in the pre-industrial era, and have implications for the study of current-day sea-level level rise.
Sea level rises as a result of melting ice sheets, but scientists have long worked to answer how fast and how much it could rise during a warming period.
“Constraining models for sea-level rise due to increased warming critically depends on actual measurements of past sea level,” said senior research scientist Victor Polyak in a statement. “This study provides very robust measurements of sea-level heights during the Pliocene.”
A closeup of the bulbous stalactitic feature of a phreatic overgrowth on speleothems (POS). (University of New Mexico)
The project zeroed in on cave deposits that form in coastal caves at the “interface” between brackish water and cave air when the ancient spaces were flooded by rising seas.
“We can use knowledge gained from past warm periods to tune ice sheet models that are then used to predict future ice sheet response to current global warming,” USF Department of Geosciences Professor Bogdan Onac explained.
The researchers were particularly interested in a time during Pliocene known as the mid-Piacenzian Warm Period, which was some 3 million years ago.
“The interval also marks the last time the Earth’s atmospheric CO2 was as high as today, providing important clues about what the future holds in the face of current anthropogenic warming,” Onac said.
WASHINGTON — If a White House official wanted to talk to President Trump, it helped to have a good relationship with Madeleine Westerhout, his 28-year-old assistant. She was known for brusquely deflecting officials senior to her both in title and age who wanted a few minutes of face time with the president with one withering question: “Why are you here?”
But it was not what some administration officials saw as Ms. Westerhout’s overprotectiveness of the president that led to her abrupt and unceremonious departure from the White House on Thursday. Instead, it was an act of disloyalty.
At an off-the-record dinner and several rounds of drinks with reporters two weeks ago during the president’s working vacation in Bedminster, N.J., she shared personal details about the president and his family.
Ms. Westerhout attended the dinner with Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman. After he left, she began to tell reporters about Mr. Trump’s eating habits; his youngest son, Barron Trump; and his thoughts about the weight and appearance of his daughter Tiffany Trump, according to a group of current and former administration officials who were told what happened.
Accounts of the dinner, which reporters from The New York Times did not attend, began circulating at the White House within a couple of days. But it took over a week for the information to reach the president. It was delivered to him by Mick Mulvaney, the president’s acting chief of staff, who said Ms. Westerhout had indiscreetly discussed details of his family with reporters.
An ambivalent Mr. Trump had to be persuaded throughout the day Thursday that Ms. Westerhout, who was on vacation in California, needed to resign, which she did that night.
In interviews, over a dozen current and former Trump administration officials said that the episode was emblematic of a White House where constant turnover has allowed inexperienced staff members to rise to positions of power — or, at least, to pursue them.
Ms. Westerhout, a 2013 graduate of the College of Charleston in South Carolina, came to the White House on the recommendation of Mr. Trump’s first chief of staff, Reince Priebus, the former head of the Republican National Committee, where she has been an assistant. Her previous experience included time as an intern in the 2012 Romney campaign and a job as a fitness instructor.
As he departed Washington for Camp David on Friday afternoon, soon after details of Ms. Westerhout’s comments were first reported by Politico, Mr. Trump said Ms. Westerhout had been drinking when she “said things about my children” to reporters. He praised Ms. Westerhout’s work in the White House and admonished reporters for breaking an off-the-record agreement.
“But still, you don’t say things like she said,” Mr. Trump added of Ms. Westerhout, “which were just a little bit hurtful to some people.”
Mr. Trump also said that he loved his daughter: “Tiffany is great,” the president said.
Even for a White House besieged with leaks from the beginning, Ms. Westerhout’s behavior was considered a stunning breach of protocol for an aide who Mr. Trump this year had promoted to special assistant and director of Oval Office operations.
“He was expressing confidence in her,” Martha Joynt Kumar, a political science professor at Towson University who has studied the presidency and the culture of the White House. “As president, you need to be confident that that person is going to respect your wishes and your privacy and also the privacy of the family.”
After two years in the White House, one former senior official said, “she thought she was a senior adviser” — one who tried recently to weigh in on crafting Mr. Trump’s tweets — rather than an aide in a secretarial role. In recent months, Ms. Westerhout had become more interested in traveling with the president and in Bedminster it was noticed that she was seated closer to the president than his chief of staff at a campaign briefing.
Ms. Westerhout’s main responsibilities were answering the phone and providing clerical help to the president. But her role was tailored to Mr. Trump’s particular eccentricities. Whenever the president held an event at the White House, it fell to Ms. Westerhout to make sure that it was well attended, according to one White House official.
“How’s the room looking?” she would email to dozens of White House staffers in different departments. If there was any question that the room appeared full, Ms. Westerhout would make sure to find staff members or interns to send to it to avoid Mr. Trump’s anger at lackluster attendance.
Ms. Westerhout became an expert at reading his moods and translating them for other aides, according to those officials. She also became good at monitoring whom he was speaking with and, in some cases, alerting other White House officials if someone had called to try to rile the president up, as some of his outside advisers have been known to do.
Mr. Trump did not immediately trust her when she was hired at the White House. She had no prior relationship with the president, and according to “American Carnage,” a recent book by Tim Alberta, the chief political correspondent for Politico Magazine, she wept on election night at the fact that he won — an account confirmed by White House officials.
But she was immediately installed outside the president’s office. Mr. Trump, who was whipsawed and overwhelmed by his own surprise victory, has historically cared a great deal about who guards access to him; at Trump Tower, it was a role of considerable influence. With so much to learn and so many jobs to fill, Mr. Trump had little choice but to go along with the staff that was provided to him, according to current and former officials. He was told by Mr. Priebus that she could be trusted.
Mr. Priebus eventually left the White House but Ms. Westerhout developed her own relationship with her perennially suspicious boss. The president appeared happy to see her when she would pop her head into the Oval Office to try to interrupt a meeting that had dragged on too long, even if he shooed her away, according to White House aides.
The president had grown to trust her and grew fond of her. According to Mr. Alberta’s book, he would refer to her as “my beautiful beauty.” She was often at his side on trips to Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach, Fla., resort, where she would accept gifts on behalf of Mr. Trump and trade business cards with his supporters. Some of them knew that if they wanted to reach the president by phone, they could bypass his other gatekeepers and go directly to her.
But she also had a fairly large coterie of enemies, including some in the East Wing, the purview of the first lady, Melania Trump, which viewed her with suspicion. Some of the president’s friends counseled him over the last two years that she was, in the words of one, “immature,” and was blocking access to him from some people he’d known for years.
She had also raised suspicion with her indiscreet comments about the president, including openly complaining to aides that Mr. Trump had disrupted his own schedule because he had been late leaving the White House residence after his daily executive time sessions, according to one former official.
Inside the faction-split White House, Trump loyalists cheered Ms. Westerhout’s departure as a move that was long overdue, and said they hoped it served as something of a wake-up call for Mr. Trump to bring in more loyalists into the West Wing. But current and former officials also expressed alarm about what information Ms. Westerhout could share down the road, not just about the president, but her colleagues.
Adding to the concern was the fact that, unlike most other officials, Ms Westerhout was not thought to have signed a nondisclosure agreement, a document that Mr. Trump has frequently used in effort to tamp down on leaks.
At least one publishing house on Friday had discussions about trying to approach Ms. Westerhout for a book, according to one person familiar with the discussions.
Chris Whipple, who has written a book about White House chiefs of staff, said that Ms. Westerhout had broken a cardinal rule in discussing the president’s family.
“This is a unique presidency,” Mr. Whipple said in an interview. “But the idea that the first family is off limits is certainly not unique and that’s certainly something that White House staffers in the past have done at their peril.”
Awais Chudhary, 19, was arraigned in Brooklyn federal court on one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein ordered Chudhary held without bail.
Prosecutors say Chudhary communicated with undercover FBI agents in text messages, telling them he planned to carry out a stabbing or bombing to kill innocent people in the name of ISIS and wanted to record it to “inspire” others. Chudhary, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, allegedly identified two potential attack locations in Queens: the World’s Fair Marina and a pedestrian bridge over the Grand Central Parkway to the Flushing Bay Promenade
Chudhary allegedly ordered a tactical knife, a mask, gloves and a cellphone chest-and-head strap so he could record the attack. He was arrested while trying to pick up those items from an online vendor’s retail location.
“Awais Chudhary had accepted the call from ISIS to kill fellow New Yorkers in the city he called home,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said in a statement. “He had carefully planned, conducted reconnaissance, picked a target, and was in the process of obtaining the weapon. All he has left to do was to strike.
“The FBI agents and NYPD detectives of the JTTF [Joint Terrorism Task Force] should be commended for the disruption of this plot. Their work almost certainly saved lives.”
Chudhary allegedly told one undercover agent he wanted to use a knife for the attack “because that’s what he knows,” but would be open to learning how to build a bomb if the undercover agent could teach him. That done, he would consider using a bomb at a “mini-bridge over a busy road with many cars,” according to the Justice Department.
Chudhary allegedly sent another undercover agent the screenshot of a document titled “Islamic State” that allegedly instructed users where to stab someone and what knives were “ideal.” The document included diagrams with directions on where to stab someone’s body, the DOJ said.
Chudhary also scoped out his locations, and FBI agents saw him take cellphone photos and videos at several locations.
“There’s no doubt Chudhary allegedly wanted to make headlines by attacking innocent people going about their daily lives,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney. “Thanks to the diligent work of the agents, analysts and detectives on the FBI New York JTTF, the only thing to report today is his arrest, and the only photos Chudhary will be featured in are the ones taken in our prisoner processing room prior to his arrival in federal prison.”
If convicted, Chudhary faces up to 20 years in prison.
MIAMI, Aug 30 (Reuters) – Hurricane Dorian churned toward Florida with increasingly powerful winds and drenching rains on Friday, wreaking havoc on people’s Labor Day weekend plans in one of America’s biggest vacation destinations.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center said in a statement at 830pm EDT (0030 GMT) on Friday that Dorianhad strengthened into an “extremely dangerous” category 4 hurricane, packing maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 km/h).
In the Bahamas, evacuations were underway, two days before Dorian is expected to bring a life-threatening storm surge of as much as 10 to 15 feet (3 to 4.5 meters) to the northwest of the islands, the NHC said.
On Florida’s east coast, where Dorian’s winds are expected to begin hitting on Monday morning, items ranging from bottled water to plywood were being bought as quickly as they could be restocked. There were reports some gas stations had run out of fuel.
“They’re buying everything and anything that applies to a hurricane, flashlights, batteries, generators,” said Amber Hunter, 30, assistant manager at Cape Canaveral’s ACE Handiman hardware store.
The hurricane has the potential to put millions of people at risk along with big vacation parks such as Walt Disney World, the NASA launchpads along the Space Coast, and even President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.
In its longer earlier bulletin at 8 pm EST (0000 GMT), the NHC said: “Additional strengthening is forecast, and Dorianis anticipated to remain an extremely dangerous hurricane while it moves near the northwestern Bahamas and approaches the Florida peninsula into early next week.”
NHC Director Ken Graham saw a worrying, unpredictable situation for Florida with the hurricane set to hit land somewhere up its east coast.
“Slow is not our friend, the longer you keep this around the more rain we get,” said Graham in a Facebook Live video. While it was unclear where the hurricane would make landfall, the results were expected to be devastating: “Big time impacts, catastrophic events, for some areas 140 mph winds, not a good situation,” said Graham.
Mindful of that warning, Cocoa Beach Mayor Ben Malik was putting up storm shutters on his Florida home on Friday afternoon and worrying about the flooding Dorian could unleash on his barrier island town.
“It’s slowed down, we’re looking at a multiple day event, we were hoping it would just barrel through and leave,” Malik said of forecasts Dorian could sit over Florida for up to two days dumping up to 18 inches (46 cm) of water. “I’m really worried about the amount of rain we’ll be getting.”
WEEK’S WORTH OF FOOD
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis urged residents to have at least a week’s worth of food, water and medicine.
President Donald Trump told reporters before leaving for Camp David for the weekend: “We’re thinking about Florida evacuations, but it’s a little bit too soon. We’ll probably make that determination on Sunday.”
But Fort Pierce Mayor Linda Hudson urged its 46,000 residents who planned to evacuate to go now.
“It’s decision time now. Don’t wait until I-95 north and I-75 north and the turnpike are parking lots,” said Hudson, who lived through two devastating hurricanes in 2004.
Dorian’s course remains unpredictable. One of Florida’s last major hurricanes, 2017′s Irma, swept up the peninsula, instead of hitting the east coast.
Florida residents like Jamison Weeks, general manager at Conchy Joe’s Seafood in Port St. Lucie, planned on staying put.
“I’m planning on boarding up my house this evening,” said Weeks. “The mood is a little tense, everybody’s a little nervous and just trying to prepare as best as possible.”
In the Bahamas, Freeport’s international airport is set to close Friday night and not reopen until Sept. 3, amid worriesDorian will slam tourist hotspots Grand Bahama and Abaco on Saturday.
Dorian began on Friday over the Atlantic as a Category 2 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale. It is moving at 10 miles per hour, giving it more time to intensify before making landfall.
Two thousand National Guard troops will have been mobilized for the hurricane by the end of Friday, with 2,000 more joining them on Saturday, Florida National Guard Major General James Eifert said.
Florida officials also were making sure all nursing homes and assisted living facilities had generators.
Only one in five Florida nursing homes plans to rely on deliveries of temporary generators to keep their air conditioners running if Dorian knocks out power, a state agency said on Friday, short of the standard set by a law passed after a dozen people died in a sweltering nursing home after 2017′s Hurricane Irma.
North of Cape Canaveral, the Kennedy Space Center’s 400-foot launch tower was dragged inside a towering vehicle assembly building to shelter it from Dorian, according to a video posted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)-owned space launch center.
(Reporting by Zachary Fagenson in Miami, Peter Szekely and Stephanie Kelly in New York, Richard Cowan in Washington, Andrew Hay in New Mexico, Gary McWilliams in Houston and Rebekah F. Ward in Mexico City; writing by Paul Simao; Editing by Bill Tarrant, Grant McCool and Rosalba O’Brien)
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