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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 274)

Megathread: Democrat John Bel Edwards re-elected governor of Louisiana

Westlake Legal Group 8WgtmCpvXHVL2QMPz_EO6XzHeLv0CeXAl7a4PWzK7Nc Megathread: Democrat John Bel Edwards re-elected governor of Louisiana r/politics

The most important takeaway from this election is what happened in Jefferson Parish: an educated, well-to-do suburban county that JBE lost narrowly in 2015 to the scandalized David Vitter went Democratic by double-digits this time. This trend holds up with what we saw in 2017, 2018, and this year in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Virginia.

If the GOP continues to falter in the suburbs like this next year, we are looking at the electoral votes of Ohio, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, and Arizona all being up for grabs– in addition to the Senate.

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Colin Kaepernick Performs For Team Scouts ― Even After NFL Workout Falls Through

Westlake Legal Group 5dd0a384210000906434d2a7 Colin Kaepernick Performs For Team Scouts ― Even After NFL Workout Falls Through

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick finally got the opportunity to showcase his skill and strength for NFL talent scouts on Saturday. 

However, Kaepernick didn’t attend the original workout planned by the NFL to be held at the Atlanta Falcons’ practice facility and made public Tuesday.

“I’ve been ready for three years. I’ve been denied for three years. We all know why I came out here today and showed it in front of everybody. We have nothing to hide,” Kaepernick said after his session.

Due to disagreements between Kaepernick’s representatives and NFL organizers, Kaepernick moved the workout to the Charles Drew High School football field in Riverdale an hour away, according to CBS Sports.

Representatives for 25 NFL teams were scheduled to be at the original event, ESPN reported, but the last-minute change complicated their plans.

Eight teams made it to Kaepernick’s workout in Riverdale.

CBS Sports’ NFL reporter Jason La Canfora said in a tweet that Kaepernick received “some very positive feedback from the scouts in his attendance about his elite arm strength and ability to throw the ball.”

At least one NFL executive said that Kaepernick’s “arm talent [was] elite and is the same as when he came out of college,” ESPN reporter Adam Schefter reported Saturday.

Disagreements over the workout involved the injury waiver the NFL offered to Kaepernick, giving media access to the event and whether Kaepernick’s team could also film the session alongside the Atlanta Falcons camera crew, according to several reports.

Yahoo Sports reported that the NFL asked Kaepernick to sign an injury waiver that included a clause that his participation in the workout didn’t guarantee him employment. Kaepernick’s representatives Ben Meiselas and Jeff Nalley said in a statement that the league rejected a “standard liability waiver from physical injury” they sent back in return.

The NFL defended the original waiver in their own statement, saying it was a “standard liability waiver” based on ones used when other free agent players are trying out. The league also said that Kaepernick’s representatives sent them a “completely rewritten and insufficient waiver.”

Nalley and Meiselas said they wanted media to be allowed at the workout, as well as their own “independent film crew” in order to “ensure transparency” ― but they said their request was denied.

In response, the NFL said they would have allowed Kaepernick’s representatives to see how the Falcons’ video team was filming the workout. They also claimed that they would’ve allowed Kaepernick’s team to review both the video that would’ve been sent to all NFL teams and the raw footage.

“We are disappointed that Colin did not appear for his workout,” the NFL said in a lengthy statement. “Today’s session was designed to give Colin what he has consistently said he wants ― an opportunity to show his football readiness and desire to return to the NFL.”

Kaepernick’s public workout, which was open to the media, lasted for over 30 minutes. 

Representatives for the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, the Detroit Lions and the 49ers attended the session.

Kaepernick became a free agent after he started kneeling during pre-game national anthems in protest of police brutality and racial injustice. He has been unsigned for three years but has continued to stay in playing shape.

In February, he settled a lawsuit with the NFL after accusing the league of blackballing him for using his constitutional right to protest peacefully during the anthems.

“Our biggest thing with everything today is making sure we had transparency with what went on. We weren’t getting that elsewhere, so we came out here,” Kaepernick told the media after his workout.

“We’re waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, [NFL commissioner] Roger Goodell, all of them to stop running, stop running from the truth, stop running from the people,” he continued. “Around here, we’re ready to play, we’re ready to go anywhere, my agent Jeff Nalley is ready to talk to any team. I’ll interview with any team at any time.”

Read the NFL’s full statement below:

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In Louisiana, a Narrow Win for John Bel Edwards and a Hard Loss for Trump

Westlake Legal Group results-louisiana-governor-general-election-1573860583225-facebookJumbo-v4 In Louisiana, a Narrow Win for John Bel Edwards and a Hard Loss for Trump Trump, Donald J Rispone, Eddie Orgeron, Ed Louisiana Elections, Governors Edwards, John Bel (1966- ) Bevin, Matthew

BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, narrowly won re-election Saturday, overcoming the intervention of President Trump, who visited the state multiple times in an effort to lift the Republicans and demonstrate his own clout.

The victory was a deeply personal one for Mr. Edwards, a conservative Democrat in a state and region where his party can often be a disqualifier in statewide races. He campaigned on his accomplishments in office, like balancing the budget, increasing education spending and expanding Medicaid. He also highlighted his conservative stances on abortion and guns and showcased his background as a West Point graduate and son of a sheriff, to appeal to right-leaning voters.

The result was just as much a stinging rebuke for Mr. Trump, who had wagered some of his political capital on the race and, in the process, became its dominating figure, overshadowing the candidate he traveled to Louisiana twice in the last two weeks to support. The defeat comes on the heels of the concession on Thursday by Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky, another Republican who based his campaign on Mr. Trump’s support.

Mr. Edwards beat a Republican challenger, Eddie Rispone, a construction magnate from Baton Rouge. Before the election, Mr. Rispone, who had never before run for political office, had been unknown. He vaulted ahead after more prominent Republicans decided against running and became competitive against the governor after cloaking himself in Mr. Trump’s popularity.

The results indicated that many voters here were happy with the incumbent.

And on a night when the attention of many Louisianans was split between the election and the football game between top-ranked Louisiana State and the University of Mississippi, Mr. Edwards ventured an explanation for why voters were comfortable re-electing him.

“It is an easier state to govern when the Saints and LSU are winning,” he said in an interview. “People are just in a better mood.”

Republicans had succeeded during the state’s all-party jungle primary last month in forcing Mr. Edwards into a runoff against Mr. Rispone, who came in second. The race then narrowed into a virtual dead heat, as Mr. Rispone closed the gap with a flood of support from Republicans, who poured millions of dollars into the campaign and brought in prominent figures, including, most notably, the president and Vice President Mike Pence.

In a rally this week, Mr. Trump acknowledged the stakes, saying, “You’ve got to give me a big win, O.K.?” For Mr. Trump, the importance of the outcome grew considerably this week when his chosen candidate in Kentucky, Gov. Matt Bevin, conceded his race, which also hinged on whether he could depend on the president’s clout to win.

Mr. Trump had carried Louisiana by 20 percentage points in 2016, but his investment in the governor’s race was still regarded as an unusual expenditure of his political capital in a state that is unlikely to be competitive in the presidential election next year.

Republicans had viewed Mr. Edwards as vulnerable from the outset, and political analysts said that the governor was left in an even more precarious position as Mr. Trump leapt into the fray.

Mr. Edwards faced “an opponent that has replaced what he hoped would be a referendum on his own incumbency with a narrative that is, more or less, a referendum on Donald Trump,” said Mary-Patricia Wray, a political consultant who has worked for Democrats and Republicans, including Mr. Edwards during his 2015 campaign.

Mr. Edwards and Mr. Rispone entered the runoff after the state’s nonpartisan primary in October, where Mr. Edwards came up shy of the 50 percent threshold needed to assure his re-election, receiving 46 percent of the vote. Mr. Rispone, with 27 percent, came in second place by edging past the Republican congressman Ralph Abraham.

Throughout the campaign, Mr. Edwards, a rare Democrat holding statewide office in the South, shined a spotlight on his conservative bona fides, like his support for a state law barring abortion after the pulsing of what becomes the fetus’s heart can be detected. He also campaigned on his role in closing a $2 billion deficit he inherited from his Republican predecessor, Bobby Jindal, and has argued that Mr. Rispone, by pursuing aggressive tax cuts, would put Louisiana back in the same place.

And he distanced himself from national Democrats. One of his most influential megawatt backers has not been anyone from Washington, but instead Ed Orgeron, Louisiana State University’s football coach. (“I know the state of Louisiana believes in him just like a championship quarterback,” the coach said at a fund-raiser in April.)

Mr. Edwards has steadily refused to criticize Mr. Trump and indeed has seized every opportunity he could to visit the White House to burnish his image with conservatives. Yet he had no reservations about slamming Mr. Rispone for clinging to the president’s coattails.

“If he had a message that resonated with Louisiana voters, that was about Louisiana, he wouldn’t need to try to nationalize the race,” Mr. Edwards told reporters at a campaign stop in New Orleans this week. “He’s an uninspiring candidate who doesn’t know very much about how state government works.”

Still, Mr. Rispone, who founded with his brother an industrial engineering, construction and maintenance company in Baton Rouge, considered his neophyte status as a benefit rather than a deficiency, casting himself as a Trump-like candidate for Louisiana, putting his business experience to use for the state.

Indeed, Mr. Rispone never passed on an opportunity to highlight his allegiance to the president. He opened his candidacy with an ad boasting of how he had a Trump bumper sticker on his pickup truck. He ran as much on the same national issues the president did, most notably illegal immigration, as he did anything connected to state government. And when Mr. Rispone addressed supporters at an election night gathering in October, he started his speech by saying he had just gotten off the phone with the president, leading the crowd to chant “Trump!” Mr. Rispone’s first two ads in the runoff showed footage of Mr. Trump but none of the candidate.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump traveled to Bossier City, La., near Shreveport in the northern part of the state, to renew his attack on Mr. Edwards and to urge the crowd to “send a message to the corrupt Democrats in Washington” by voting for Mr. Rispone. He reiterated his support for Mr. Rispone on Saturday with multiple tweets.

Mr. Trump’s support helped sway Michael Derouen, who works in seafood sales. He described both candidates as “pretty decent,” but ultimately, he sided with Mr. Rispone because he believed a change might jolt Louisiana forward and a strong relationship with the president would only offer more of a boost.

“He’s not just a politician,” Mr. Derouen said just after voting at a fire station in East Baton Rouge Parish. “He’s a businessman, which opens the door for us and the state. We want an all-around guy, not just a politician.”

While many voters acknowledged the influence Mr. Trump has had in the race, they also noted that it had the potential to motivate his detractors as much as his supporters.

“This is about the power of the vote and about people in this state standing up and standing together to do what’s right for this state,” said the Rev. A. J. Johnson, a pastor at First Pilgrim Calvary Baptist, a predominantly African-American congregation in Geismar, southeast of Baton Rouge. “It’s not about what a president thinks is right for this state.”

Jonathan Martin contributed reporting.

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Buttigieg surges clear of Warren, Biden, Sanders in latest Iowa poll

A new poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers published Saturday shows South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg nine percentage points clear of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., indicating the one-time longshot is now a force to be reckoned with in the race for the Democratic nomination.

The CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll showed Buttigieg with 25 percent support, a 16 percent increase over his numbers in the September version of the poll. Behind Warren (16 percent) came former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who each garnered 15 percent support.

Warren’s support has dropped six percentage points from the September CNN/DMR/Mediacom poll, while Biden’s backing has slipped five percentage points. Sanders’ support has risen four percentage points from two months ago.

FOX NEWS POLL: CLOSE RACES BETWEEN TRUMP AND DEMOCRATS IN NORTH CAROLINA 

No one else in the poll cracked double-digit support. In fifth place, behind Sanders, is Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who earned six percent of the vote.

“This @DMRegister  poll confirms what we’re seeing every day — MOMENTUM!” Klobuchar tweeted Saturday night. “

Sen. Corey Booker, D-N.J.; Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii; businessman Tom Steyer and entrepreneur Andrew Yang are all tied at three percent. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has not formally announced his candidacy, earned two percent.

Buttigieg has moved to the front of the pack in other recent polls of Iowa. A Monmouth University poll released Tuesday pegged Buttigieg at 22 percent, Biden at 19 percent, Warren at 18 percent and Sanders at 13 percent. Buttigieg’s support jumped 14 percentage points compared to Monmouth’s last survey in August, while Biden’s dropped seven percentage points, Warren’s edged down two percentage points, and Sanders jumped five percentage points from the August survey.

Westlake Legal Group Pete-Buttigieg-Ap Buttigieg surges clear of Warren, Biden, Sanders in latest Iowa poll Morgan Phillips fox-news/politics/elections/presidential-primaries fox-news/politics/elections/polls fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/pete-buttigieg fox news fnc/politics fnc article 8de33550-dae6-567e-b2a4-2390e608d524

 South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm, File)

A Quinnipiac survey released last week however had Buttigieg one point behind Warren, at 19 and 20 percentage points respectively.

BUTTIGIEG CLAIMS NARROW IOWA LEAD AMID PRIMARY SURGE: POLL

Buttigieg is a 37-year-old Navy war veteran and would be America’s first openly gay president if elected. Without any sort of Washington name-recognition, the mayor’s campaign seemed a longshot before he rose to middle-tier status in the spring.

Buttigieg for many seems to offer a more moderate approach than the radical policy proposals of Warren and Sanders, and unlike Biden, he does not have to fight many concerns about his age or past voting record. Among Iowa caucusgoers, 63 percent say Buttigieg’s views are about right, while only seven percent say they are too liberal and 13 percent say they are too conservative.

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According to the CNN/DMR poll, Buttigieg excels with caucusgoers with incomes over $100,000 (32 percent)  and self-described moderates (also 32 percent) but underperforms with union households (17 percent) and those who call themselves very liberal (12 percent).

Westlake Legal Group Pete-Buttigieg-Ap Buttigieg surges clear of Warren, Biden, Sanders in latest Iowa poll Morgan Phillips fox-news/politics/elections/presidential-primaries fox-news/politics/elections/polls fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/pete-buttigieg fox news fnc/politics fnc article 8de33550-dae6-567e-b2a4-2390e608d524   Westlake Legal Group Pete-Buttigieg-Ap Buttigieg surges clear of Warren, Biden, Sanders in latest Iowa poll Morgan Phillips fox-news/politics/elections/presidential-primaries fox-news/politics/elections/polls fox-news/politics/elections/democrats fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/pete-buttigieg fox news fnc/politics fnc article 8de33550-dae6-567e-b2a4-2390e608d524

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Bolton and Trump Met Privately Over Withheld Aid, White House Official Testified

ImageWestlake Legal Group 16dc-impeach2-articleLarge Bolton and Trump Met Privately Over Withheld Aid, White House Official Testified Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Office of Management and Budget (US) Mulvaney, Mick House Committee on Intelligence Defense and Military Forces

John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, in the Oval Office in August.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — John R. Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, met privately with the president in August as part of a bid to persuade Mr. Trump to release $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine, a senior National Security Council aide told House impeachment investigators last month.

The meeting, which has not been previously reported, came as Mr. Bolton sought to marshal Mr. Trump’s cabinet secretaries and top national security advisers to convince the president that it was in the United States’ best interest to unfreeze the funds to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia. But Mr. Bolton emerged with Mr. Trump unmoved, and instructed the aide to look for new opportunities to get those officials in front of Mr. Trump.

“The extent of my recollection is that Ambassador Bolton simply said he wasn’t ready to do it,” said the aide, Timothy Morrison, referring to Mr. Trump, according to a transcript of his testimony released by House Democrats on Saturday.

Mr. Bolton, who left the White House in September, has emerged over weeks of interviews as perhaps the single most important witness who has evaded House Democrats as they build a case that Mr. Trump abused the powers of the presidency by withholding vital military assistance and a coveted White House meeting from Ukraine until it delivered investigations he wanted. The new disclosure only makes clearer the significance of his potential testimony.

It also underlines the dilemma that House Democrats face over their decision to press ahead with proceedings without his testimony. Last week, Mr. Bolton’s lawyer told House investigators that his client could discuss “many relevant meetings and conversations” of interest to their inquiry, but he has so far refused to appear without a subpoena and a court order. Democrats have said that Mr. Bolton should show up as is, and that they would not waste their time in court.

The outpouring of public testimony and growing political pressure could push Mr. Bolton to change his mind. But for now, there are no signs that either he, or House Democrats, will budge.

The release of the transcript was part of a flurry of activity by House Democrats on Saturday, including a rare weekend of closed-door deposition where investigators questioned for the first time a senior budget official about the aid freeze.

Mr. Trump unexpectedly withheld the aid in July, despite overwhelming support in Congress and his own administration for its allocation. He only released the money in September, after Mr. Bolton departed and in the face of intense political pressure from Republicans.

In addition to Mr. Morrison’s transcript, House Democrats released the transcript of a November interview with Jennifer Williams, a longtime State Department employee with expertise in Europe and Russia who is detailed to Vice President Mike Pence’s national security staff.

Earlier in the day, lawmakers and their staffs privately questioned Mark Sandy, a senior budget official, who told investigators that political appointees above him did not provide a rationale for the hold and that he had never encountered a similar situation in his time at the agency, according to two people familiar with his testimony.

Mr. Sandy also said that he had sought guidance on the legality of the hold, echoing testimony from a Defense Department official who similarly said that she had raised legal concerns.

Many of the most significant elements of testimony by Mr. Morrison and Ms. Williams have already been publicly reported, including Mr. Morrison’s account of how a top diplomat close to Mr. Trump informed a top Ukrainian official that the country would likely need to publicly announce investigations Mr. Trump sought before the security money would be released.

Still, the transcripts filled in many new details, some of them colorful, about the events under scrutiny by the House and clarified the set of facts both parties are working with as they prepare for another week packed with public hearings.

In her hourslong interview, Ms. Williams helped explain why Mr. Pence, who had been scheduled to attend President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inaugural in late May, abruptly canceled his trip: She said an assistant to the vice president’s chief of staff, Marc Short, told her that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Pence to stay home. That fact was included in an anonymous whistle-blower complaint about the Ukraine matter that helped prompt the impeachment inquiry.

Mr. Morrison’s testimony added to a portrait of Mr. Bolton working feverishly to ensure the regular interagency policymaking of the executive branch prevailed over an irregular policy channel that appeared meant to serve Mr. Trump’s personal political interests. That channel included the United States’ ambassador to the European Union, the president’s private lawyer and a handful of others pressing Ukraine to commit to investigations of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and a debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine and the 2016 election.

In his testimony, Mr. Morrison said that Mr. Bolton advised him to be wary of the president’s irregular policymaking channel, including the envoy to the European Union, Gordon D. Sondland.

“My consistent direction from Ambassador Bolton was, ‘Do not get involved, and make sure the lawyers are tracking,’” Mr. Morrison said, referring to Mr. Sondland and the efforts he was involved in. Mr. Morrison’s predecessor as the National Security Council’s senior director for Russia and Europe told investigators that Mr. Bolton issued a similar instruction after a run-in with Mr. Sondland, who will testify publicly himself next week.

Mr. Morrison’s testimony made clear that he and Mr. Bolton were deeply skeptical of Mr. Sondland, a wealthy hotelier and political donor turned ambassador. He said he suspected Mr. Sondland’s stated influence with the president might be exaggerated. Following Mr. Bolton’s directions, he reported interactions he had with the ambassador to White House lawyers. But when he followed up, Mr. Sondland seemed to be telling the truth and appeared to have Mr. Trump’s ear on Ukraine matters.

“Ambassador Sondland believed and at least related to me that the president was giving him instruction,” Mr. Morrison testified.

Mr. Morrison described witnessing Mr. Sondland approach an aide to Mr. Zelensky during a high-level meeting in Warsaw in September. The conversation took place just after a meeting in which Mr. Pence assured Mr. Zelensky that the United States still fully supported Ukraine and would be making a decision on the security aid soon. The vice president did not mention the investigations during the meeting, Ms. Williams said.

Mr. Sondland was blunter, though, he later told Mr. Morrison. He told Mr. Zelensky’s adviser that “what could help them move the aid was if the prosecutor general would go to the mic and announce that he was opening” the investigation Mr. Trump wanted.

Mr. Morrison’s account already prompted Mr. Sondland to revise his own private testimony, but it also underscores the importance both to Mr. Trump and to Democrats of his public appearance next week, as one of the few cooperating witnesses who directly spoke to Mr. Trump about his interest in Ukraine.

Both Ms. Williams and Mr. Morrison listened in on a July 25 phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky.

She told investigators she was taken aback by the mention of investigations of the Bidens and Burisma, a Ukrainian energy firm that Mr. Biden’s son worked for. She found the discussion to be “more political in nature,” and therefore “unusual and inappropriate.”

Mr. Morrison had a different reaction. He testified he found nothing inherently problematic about the call, but still he went to White House lawyers to express concerns that a record of the call could leak and would be unflattering for the president. He recommended that access to it be limited, and eventually a reconstructed transcript was placed on the White House’s most secure server.

Mr. Morrison testified that John A. Eisenberg, the council’s top lawyer, told him that had been a mistake and that he had only intended for access to the document to be restricted. He “related that he did not ask for it to be put on there, but that the Executive Secretariat staff misunderstood his recommendation for how to restrict access,” Mr. Morrison said.

Republicans believe the testimony undercuts Democrats’ allegation that the White House was trying to cover up the call. But it does not explain why the call summary was not removed from the highly secure server when Mr. Eisenberg learned it was there.

The president’s allies are also likely to use Mr. Morrison’s closed-door interview to try to undercut Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the White House’s top Ukraine expert, when he testifies publicly next week about his deep alarm over the July 25 call and other matters.

Mr. Morrison told investigators that, “I had concerns that he did not exercise appropriate judgment as to whom he would say what.”

Mr. Sandy was the first budget official to speak with impeachment investigators. At least three higher-profile Trump administration officials connected to the budget office have stiff-armed the inquiry: Russell T. Vought, the agency’s acting director; Michael Duffey, who helped carry out Mr. Trump’s directive to freeze the aid; and Mick Mulvaney, who retains the title of budget director and is the acting White House chief of staff.

He testified that he was directed to sign paperwork on July 25 enforcing the hold, but that Mr. Duffey, a political appointee, signed such paperwork going forward, a highly unusual intervention by his account.

Why precisely Mr. Trump withheld the congressionally allocated funding in mid-July as he pressed Ukraine for the politically beneficial investigations and what Mr. Mulvaney told the agency about the decision remain central unanswered questions in the inquiry.

“This is a technical part of our investigation. We want to know exactly how the president translated his political objective to shake down the Ukrainian government for the favors he wanted translated into the budget process,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland.

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Trump undergoes tests at Walter Reed as part of annual physical, White House says

President Trump spent more than two hours at Walter Reed National Medical Center Saturday to undergo what the White House said were medical tests as part of his annual physical, despite undergoing the exam in February.

The appointment didn’t appear on the president’s public schedule, as was the case for his physicals last year and this year. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told Fox News’ “Justice with Judge Jeanine” Saturday that Trump had decided to “kind of get a headstart with some routine checkups.”

“We’ve got a really busy year ahead, as you can imagine,” said Grisham, referring to the 2020 election campaign. “… It was very routine. We had a down day today and so he made the decision to head there.”

Grisham added that the president “is as healthy as can be … He’s got more energy than anybody in the White House. That man works from 6 a.m. until very, very late at night. He’s doing just fine.”

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES ‘WORKING AGAINST THE PRESIDENT’ SHOULD RESIGN, WH PRESS SECRETARY SAYS

In a statement earlier Saturday, Grisham said Trump, 73, had “a quick exam and labs” and assured he remains in good health.

“The President remains healthy and energetic without complaints, as demonstrated by his repeated vigorous rally performances in front of thousands of Americans several times a week,” she said.

Westlake Legal Group AP19320728532920 Trump undergoes tests at Walter Reed as part of annual physical, White House says Vandana Rambaran fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc ebff6a4d-ef25-50b8-a568-7b0bd734cdf3 article

Trump’s motorcade waits at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Saturday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

While at the hospital, Trump spent time with the family of a special forces soldier injured in Afghanistan and met with hospital staff “to say hello” and “to share his thanks for all the outstanding care they provide to our Wounded Warriors, and wish them an early happy Thanksgiving,” according to Grisham.

Saturday’s visit was Trump’s ninth trip to Walter Reed since taking office in January of 2017.

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Results from Trump’s last physical nine months ago revealed that he had gained six pounds since taking office. At 243 pounds and 6 feet, 3 inches tall with a Body Mass Index rating of 30.4, the president passed the official threshold for being considered obese. Obesity, a common weight condition that affects 40 percent of Americans, can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some forms of cancer.

Trump doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke but has a hearty appetite for fast food, steaks and desserts. His primary form of exercise is golf.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group AP19319733159994 Trump undergoes tests at Walter Reed as part of annual physical, White House says Vandana Rambaran fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc ebff6a4d-ef25-50b8-a568-7b0bd734cdf3 article   Westlake Legal Group AP19319733159994 Trump undergoes tests at Walter Reed as part of annual physical, White House says Vandana Rambaran fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc ebff6a4d-ef25-50b8-a568-7b0bd734cdf3 article

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GOP’s Rispone holds slim lead over Dem incumbent Edwards in Louisiana gubernatorial runoff

Republican Eddie Rispone held a narrow lead over Democrat incumbent John Bel Edwards in Louisiana’s gubernatorial runoff Saturday evening, with more than three-quarters of the Pelican State’s precincts reporting.

With nearly 1.3 million votes cast, Rispone led Edwards by just under 9,000 votes in what was expected to be a close race that has drawn President Trump’s close attention.

Trump is eager to see Rispone regain the governorship for the GOP, particularly after Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin was defeated by Democrat Andy Beshear 11 days ago. The president put in a vigorous plug for Rispone on Twitter shortly after the polls opened, reminding locals to “Get out and VOTE for @EddieRispone to be your next Gov!” In another tweet, Trump provided a link to polling locations and said: “LOUISIANA, VOTE @EddieRispone TODAY! He will be a great governor!”

Rispone was not among the top-tier candidates GOP leaders hoped would challenge Edwards. The 70-year-old owner of a Baton Rouge industrial contracting company had never run for office and had little name recognition. He hitched his entire candidacy to Trump, introducing himself in ads that focused on support for the president.

Westlake Legal Group AP19304012600728 GOP's Rispone holds slim lead over Dem incumbent Edwards in Louisiana gubernatorial runoff Samuel Chamberlain fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox-news/politics/elections/gubernatorial fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 15862962-6c3a-5da0-a5a3-f0ba290cbd30

Republican candidate Eddie Rispone, left, shakes hands with Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards before a debate last month. (Hilary Scheinuk/The Advocate via AP)

FiveThirtyEight average of recent polls shows Edwards holding an average lead of about two percent. Should Rispone pull off the victory, Republicans would certainly hail the win as proof of Trump’s pulling power in the red state, which he most recently visited Thursday.

“This Saturday, the eyes of history are looking down on the great people of Louisiana,” Trump told rallygoers Thursday in Bossier City. “It’s a close one. You gotta vote on Saturday. You’re gonna have a great Republican governor.”

“I’ve known Eddie for a long time,” Trump added of Rispone. “He was a very successful guy, made a lot of money.”

“We want Louisiana to be No. 1 in the South when it comes to jobs and opportunity. We have to do something different,” Rispone said this week. “We can do for Louisiana what President Trump has done for the nation.” Rispone says he’s like Trump, calling himself a “conservative outsider” whose business acumen will help solve Louisiana’s problems. He’s promised tax cuts, without saying where he’d shrink spending, and he pledged a constitutional convention, without detailing what he wanted to rewrite.

Democrats, meanwhile, are keen to show that they can win conservative states with the right candidates, and Edwards is certainly a conservative Democrat. Edwards, a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger, opposes gun restrictions and speaks positively of Trump.

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“They talk about I’m some sort of a radical liberal. The people of Louisiana know better than that. I am squarely in the middle of the political spectrum,” Edwards said, according to The Associated Press. “That hasn’t changed, and that’s the way we’ve been governing.”

The Democrat highlighted his bipartisan work with the majority-GOP state Legislature to end years of budget crises, pass the first K-12 statewide teacher raise in a decade and overhaul criminal sentencing laws. He also hit Rispone for his support of unpopular former Gov. Bobby Jindal, saying Rispone would return Louisiana to policies that boosted state deficits. Edwards said Rispone’s proposal to freeze enrollment in the state’s Medicaid expansion program would force hundreds of thousands off health coverage.

Fox News’ Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group AP19304012600728 GOP's Rispone holds slim lead over Dem incumbent Edwards in Louisiana gubernatorial runoff Samuel Chamberlain fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox-news/politics/elections/gubernatorial fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 15862962-6c3a-5da0-a5a3-f0ba290cbd30   Westlake Legal Group AP19304012600728 GOP's Rispone holds slim lead over Dem incumbent Edwards in Louisiana gubernatorial runoff Samuel Chamberlain fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox-news/politics/elections/gubernatorial fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 15862962-6c3a-5da0-a5a3-f0ba290cbd30

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Bolton and Trump Met Privately Over Withheld Aid, White House Official Testified

ImageWestlake Legal Group 16dc-impeach2-articleLarge Bolton and Trump Met Privately Over Withheld Aid, White House Official Testified Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Office of Management and Budget (US) Mulvaney, Mick House Committee on Intelligence Defense and Military Forces

John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, in the Oval Office in August.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — John R. Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, met privately with the president in August as part of a bid to persuade Mr. Trump to release $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine, a senior National Security Council aide told House impeachment investigators last month.

The meeting, which has not been previously reported, came as Mr. Bolton sought to marshal Mr. Trump’s cabinet secretaries and top national security advisers to convince the president that it was in the United States’ best interest to unfreeze the funds to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia. But Mr. Bolton emerged with Mr. Trump unmoved, and instructed the aide to look for new opportunities to get those officials in front of Mr. Trump.

“The extent of my recollection is that Ambassador Bolton simply said he wasn’t ready to do it,” said the aide, Timothy Morrison, referring to Mr. Trump, according to a transcript of his testimony released by House Democrats on Saturday.

Mr. Bolton, who left the White House in September, has emerged over weeks of interviews as perhaps the single most important witness who has evaded House Democrats as they build a case that Mr. Trump abused the powers of the presidency by withholding vital military assistance and a coveted White House meeting from Ukraine until it delivered investigations he wanted. The new disclosure only makes clearer the significance of his potential testimony.

It also underlines the dilemma that House Democrats face over their decision to press ahead with proceedings without his testimony. Last week, Mr. Bolton’s lawyer told House investigators that his client could discuss “many relevant meetings and conversations” of interest to their inquiry, but he has so far refused to appear without a subpoena and a court order. Democrats have said that Mr. Bolton should show up as is, and that they would not waste their time in court.

The outpouring of public testimony and growing political pressure could push Mr. Bolton to change his mind. But for now, there are no signs that either he, or House Democrats, will budge.

The release of the transcript was part of a flurry of activity by House Democrats on Saturday, including a rare weekend of closed-door deposition where investigators questioned for the first time a senior budget official about the aid freeze.

Mr. Trump unexpectedly withheld the aid in July, despite overwhelming support in Congress and his own administration for its allocation. He only released the money in September, after Mr. Bolton departed and in the face of intense political pressure from Republicans.

In addition to Mr. Morrison’s transcript, House Democrats released the transcript of a November interview with Jennifer Williams, a longtime State Department employee with expertise in Europe and Russia who is detailed to Vice President Mike Pence’s national security staff.

Earlier in the day, lawmakers and their staffs privately questioned Mark Sandy, a senior budget official, who told investigators that political appointees above him did not provide a rationale for the hold and that he had never encountered a similar situation in his time at the agency, according to two people familiar with his testimony.

Mr. Sandy also said that he had sought guidance on the legality of the hold, echoing testimony from a Defense Department official who similarly said that she had raised legal concerns.

Many of the most significant elements of testimony by Mr. Morrison and Ms. Williams have already been publicly reported, including Mr. Morrison’s account of how a top diplomat close to Mr. Trump informed a top Ukrainian official that the country would likely need to publicly announce investigations Mr. Trump sought before the security money would be released.

Still, the transcripts filled in many new details, some of them colorful, about the events under scrutiny by the House and clarified the set of facts both parties are working with as they prepare for another week packed with public hearings.

In her hourslong interview, Ms. Williams helped explain why Mr. Pence, who had been scheduled to attend President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inaugural in late May, abruptly canceled his trip: She said an assistant to the vice president’s chief of staff, Marc Short, told her that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Pence to stay home. That fact was included in an anonymous whistle-blower complaint about the Ukraine matter that helped prompt the impeachment inquiry.

Mr. Morrison’s testimony added to a portrait of Mr. Bolton working feverishly to ensure the regular interagency policymaking of the executive branch prevailed over an irregular policy channel that appeared meant to serve Mr. Trump’s personal political interests. That channel included the United States’ ambassador to the European Union, the president’s private lawyer and a handful of others pressing Ukraine to commit to investigations of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and a debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine and the 2016 election.

In his testimony, Mr. Morrison said that Mr. Bolton advised him to be wary of the president’s irregular policymaking channel, including the envoy to the European Union, Gordon D. Sondland.

“My consistent direction from Ambassador Bolton was, ‘Do not get involved, and make sure the lawyers are tracking,’” Mr. Morrison said, referring to Mr. Sondland and the efforts he was involved in. Mr. Morrison’s predecessor as the National Security Council’s senior director for Russia and Europe told investigators that Mr. Bolton issued a similar instruction after a run-in with Mr. Sondland, who will testify publicly himself next week.

Mr. Morrison’s testimony made clear that he and Mr. Bolton were deeply skeptical of Mr. Sondland, a wealthy hotelier and political donor turned ambassador. He said he suspected Mr. Sondland’s stated influence with the president might be exaggerated. Following Mr. Bolton’s directions, he reported interactions he had with the ambassador to White House lawyers. But when he followed up, Mr. Sondland seemed to be telling the truth and appeared to have Mr. Trump’s ear on Ukraine matters.

“Ambassador Sondland believed and at least related to me that the president was giving him instruction,” Mr. Morrison testified.

Mr. Morrison described witnessing Mr. Sondland approach an aide to Mr. Zelensky during a high-level meeting in Warsaw in September. The conversation took place just after a meeting in which Mr. Pence assured Mr. Zelensky that the United States still fully supported Ukraine and would be making a decision on the security aid soon. The vice president did not mention the investigations during the meeting, Ms. Williams said.

Mr. Sondland was blunter, though, he later told Mr. Morrison. He told Mr. Zelensky’s adviser that “what could help them move the aid was if the prosecutor general would go to the mic and announce that he was opening” the investigation Mr. Trump wanted.

Mr. Morrison’s account already prompted Mr. Sondland to revise his own private testimony, but it also underscores the importance both to Mr. Trump and to Democrats of his public appearance next week, as one of the few cooperating witnesses who directly spoke to Mr. Trump about his interest in Ukraine.

Both Ms. Williams and Mr. Morrison listened in on a July 25 phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky.

She told investigators she was taken aback by the mention of investigations of the Bidens and Burisma, a Ukrainian energy firm that Mr. Biden’s son worked for. She found the discussion to be “more political in nature,” and therefore “unusual and inappropriate.”

Mr. Morrison had a different reaction. He testified he found nothing inherently problematic about the call, but still he went to White House lawyers to express concerns that a record of the call could leak and would be unflattering for the president. He recommended that access to it be limited, and eventually a reconstructed transcript was placed on the White House’s most secure server.

Mr. Morrison testified that John A. Eisenberg, the council’s top lawyer, told him that had been a mistake and that he had only intended for access to the document to be restricted. He “related that he did not ask for it to be put on there, but that the Executive Secretariat staff misunderstood his recommendation for how to restrict access,” Mr. Morrison said.

Republicans believe the testimony undercuts Democrats’ allegation that the White House was trying to cover up the call. But it does not explain why the call summary was not removed from the highly secure server when Mr. Eisenberg learned it was there.

The president’s allies are also likely to use Mr. Morrison’s closed-door interview to try to undercut Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the White House’s top Ukraine expert, when he testifies publicly next week about his deep alarm over the July 25 call and other matters.

Mr. Morrison told investigators that, “I had concerns that he did not exercise appropriate judgment as to whom he would say what.”

Mr. Sandy was the first budget official to speak with impeachment investigators. At least three higher-profile Trump administration officials connected to the budget office have stiff-armed the inquiry: Russell T. Vought, the agency’s acting director; Michael Duffey, who helped carry out Mr. Trump’s directive to freeze the aid; and Mick Mulvaney, who retains the title of budget director and is the acting White House chief of staff.

He testified that he was directed to sign paperwork on July 25 enforcing the hold, but that Mr. Duffey, a political appointee, signed such paperwork going forward, a highly unusual intervention by his account.

Why precisely Mr. Trump withheld the congressionally allocated funding in mid-July as he pressed Ukraine for the politically beneficial investigations and what Mr. Mulvaney told the agency about the decision remain central unanswered questions in the inquiry.

“This is a technical part of our investigation. We want to know exactly how the president translated his political objective to shake down the Ukrainian government for the favors he wanted translated into the budget process,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland.

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards leads GOP challenger Eddie Rispone with most runoff votes counted

Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards held a narrow lead over Republican challenger Eddie Rispone in Saturday’s gubernatorial runoff, with more than 91 percent of the state’s precincts reporting.

With more than 1.4 million votes cast, Edwards led Rispone by just over 9,300 votes in what was expected to be a close race that has drawn President Trump’s close attention.

Trump is eager to see Rispone regain the governorship for the GOP, particularly after Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin was defeated by Democrat Andy Beshear 11 days ago. The president put in a vigorous plug for Rispone on Twitter shortly after the polls opened, reminding locals to “Get out and VOTE for @EddieRispone to be your next Gov!” In another tweet, Trump provided a link to polling locations and said: “LOUISIANA, VOTE @EddieRispone TODAY! He will be a great governor!”

Rispone was not among the top-tier candidates GOP leaders hoped would challenge Edwards. The 70-year-old owner of a Baton Rouge industrial contracting company had never run for office and had little name recognition. He hitched his entire candidacy to Trump, introducing himself in ads that focused on support for the president.

Westlake Legal Group AP19304012600728 Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards leads GOP challenger Eddie Rispone with most runoff votes counted Samuel Chamberlain fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox-news/politics/elections/gubernatorial fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 15862962-6c3a-5da0-a5a3-f0ba290cbd30

Republican candidate Eddie Rispone, left, shakes hands with Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards before a debate last month. (Associated Press)

FiveThirtyEight average of recent polls shows Edwards holding an average lead of about two percent. Should Rispone pull off the victory, Republicans would certainly hail the win as proof of Trump’s pulling power in the red state, which he most recently visited Thursday.

“This Saturday, the eyes of history are looking down on the great people of Louisiana,” Trump told rallygoers Thursday in Bossier City. “It’s a close one. You gotta vote on Saturday. You’re gonna have a great Republican governor.”

“I’ve known Eddie for a long time,” Trump added of Rispone. “He was a very successful guy, made a lot of money.”

“We want Louisiana to be No. 1 in the South when it comes to jobs and opportunity. We have to do something different,” Rispone said this week. “We can do for Louisiana what President Trump has done for the nation.” Rispone says he’s like Trump, calling himself a “conservative outsider” whose business acumen will help solve Louisiana’s problems. He’s promised tax cuts, without saying where he’d shrink spending, and he pledged a constitutional convention, without detailing what he wanted to rewrite.

Democrats, meanwhile, are keen to show that they can win conservative states with the right candidates, and Edwards is certainly a conservative Democrat. Edwards, a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger, opposes gun restrictions and speaks positively of Trump.

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“They talk about I’m some sort of a radical liberal. The people of Louisiana know better than that. I am squarely in the middle of the political spectrum,” Edwards said, according to The Associated Press. “That hasn’t changed, and that’s the way we’ve been governing.”

The Democrat highlighted his bipartisan work with the majority-GOP state Legislature to end years of budget crises, pass the first K-12 statewide teacher raise in a decade and overhaul criminal sentencing laws. He also hit Rispone for his support of unpopular former Gov. Bobby Jindal, saying Rispone would return Louisiana to policies that boosted state deficits. Edwards said Rispone’s proposal to freeze enrollment in the state’s Medicaid expansion program would force hundreds of thousands off health coverage.

Fox News’ Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group AP19304012600728 Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards leads GOP challenger Eddie Rispone with most runoff votes counted Samuel Chamberlain fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox-news/politics/elections/gubernatorial fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 15862962-6c3a-5da0-a5a3-f0ba290cbd30   Westlake Legal Group AP19304012600728 Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards leads GOP challenger Eddie Rispone with most runoff votes counted Samuel Chamberlain fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox-news/politics/elections/gubernatorial fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 15862962-6c3a-5da0-a5a3-f0ba290cbd30

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Polls close in Louisiana governor’s race, narrow margin expected

Louisianans voted to settle their contentious governor’s race once and for all Saturday, choosing between incumbent Democrat John Bel Edwards and Republican businessman Eddie Rispone in a runoff election that has drawn President Trump’s close attention.

Trump is eager to see Rispone regain the governorship for the GOP, particularly after Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin was defeated by Democrat Andy Beshear 11 days ago. The president put in a vigorous plug for Rispone on Twitter shortly after the polls opened, reminding locals to “Get out and VOTE for @EddieRispone to be your next Gov!” In another tweet, Trump provided a link to polling locations and said: “LOUISIANA, VOTE @EddieRispone TODAY! He will be a great governor!”

Rispone was not among the top-tier candidates GOP leaders hoped would challenge Edwards. The 70-year-old owner of a Baton Rouge industrial contracting company had never run for office and had little name recognition. He hitched his entire candidacy to Trump, introducing himself in ads that focused on support for the president.

Westlake Legal Group AP19304012600728 Polls close in Louisiana governor's race, narrow margin expected Samuel Chamberlain fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox-news/politics/elections/gubernatorial fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 15862962-6c3a-5da0-a5a3-f0ba290cbd30

Republican candidate Eddie Rispone, left, shakes hands with Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards before a debate last month. (Hilary Scheinuk/The Advocate via AP)

FiveThirtyEight average of recent polls shows Edwards holding an average lead of about two percent. Should Rispone pull off the victory, Republicans would certainly hail the win as proof of Trump’s pulling power in the red state, which he most recently visited Thursday.

“This Saturday, the eyes of history are looking down on the great people of Louisiana,” Trump told rallygoers Thursday in Bossier City. “It’s a close one. You gotta vote on Saturday. You’re gonna have a great Republican governor.”

“I’ve known Eddie for a long time,” Trump added of Rispone. “He was a very successful guy, made a lot of money.”

“We want Louisiana to be No. 1 in the South when it comes to jobs and opportunity. We have to do something different,” Rispone said this week. “We can do for Louisiana what President Trump has done for the nation.” Rispone says he’s like Trump, calling himself a “conservative outsider” whose business acumen will help solve Louisiana’s problems. He’s promised tax cuts, without saying where he’d shrink spending, and he pledged a constitutional convention, without detailing what he wanted to rewrite.

Democrats, meanwhile, are keen to show that they can win conservative states with the right candidates, and Edwards is certainly a conservative Democrat. Edwards, a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger, opposes gun restrictions and speaks positively of Trump.

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“They talk about I’m some sort of a radical liberal. The people of Louisiana know better than that. I am squarely in the middle of the political spectrum,” Edwards said, according to The Associated Press. “That hasn’t changed, and that’s the way we’ve been governing.”

The Democrat highlighted his bipartisan work with the majority-GOP state Legislature to end years of budget crises, pass the first K-12 statewide teacher raise in a decade and overhaul criminal sentencing laws. He also hit Rispone for his support of unpopular former Gov. Bobby Jindal, saying Rispone would return Louisiana to policies that boosted state deficits. Edwards said Rispone’s proposal to freeze enrollment in the state’s Medicaid expansion program would force hundreds of thousands off health coverage.

Fox News’ Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group AP19304012600728 Polls close in Louisiana governor's race, narrow margin expected Samuel Chamberlain fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox-news/politics/elections/gubernatorial fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 15862962-6c3a-5da0-a5a3-f0ba290cbd30   Westlake Legal Group AP19304012600728 Polls close in Louisiana governor's race, narrow margin expected Samuel Chamberlain fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox-news/politics/elections/gubernatorial fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc article 15862962-6c3a-5da0-a5a3-f0ba290cbd30

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