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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 72)

Dan Bishop, North Carolina Republican, Wins Special Election

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Dan Bishop, a Republican state senator, scored a narrow victory on Tuesday in a special House election in North Carolina that demonstrated President Trump’s appeal with his political base but also highlighted his party’s deepening unpopularity with suburban voters.

Mr. Bishop defeated Dan McCready, a moderate Democrat, one day after Mr. Trump made a full-throated plea for support for the Republican at a rally on the conservative, eastern end of a Charlotte-to-Fayetteville district, which the president carried by nearly 12 points in 2016.

With most votes counted on Tuesday night, Mr. Bishop was ahead by about two percentage points, according to The Associated Press.

As Mr. Trump heads into a re-election year, the closeness of the outcome in a district that hasn’t been held by a Democrat since the 1960s confirmed once more that he energizes Democrats and some independents to fight against him just as much as he inspires Republicans to fight for him. In 2018, Democratic candidates flipped several G.O.P.-held House seats in districts that Mr. Trump had won, a sign of distaste among moderate and suburban voters who reluctantly backed him in 2016.

For Democrats looking ahead to 2020, those midterm results and Mr. Bishop’s slim margin in a conservative seat offer more evidence that Mr. Trump could face trouble in states such as North Carolina, which is Republican-leaning but filled with the sort of college-educated voters who have grown uneasy with the president.

As even some Republican pollsters and officials acknowledge, Mr. Trump — who enjoys high approval ratings with Republicans, but slipping ratings with voters overall in some recent polls — needs to improve his standing with suburban voters, particularly women. He carried North Carolina by 3.6 percentage points in 2016.

In Washington, Mr. Bishop’s victory is unlikely to be seen among Republicans as improving their chances of winning the House back in 2020. Indeed, Mr. Bishop’s win came only after outside Republican groups poured over $5 million into the district. Republican strategists said they do not see a Bishop win as slowing the steady trickle of G.O.P. lawmakers who are retiring rather than seeking re-election with an unpopular president on top of the ticket.

The House district, which extends from Charlotte through a number of exurban and rural counties to the east, has not been represented by a Democrat since the early 1960s. But in the midterms of 2018, Mr. McCready, surfing the national anti-Trump mood, ran a close race, losing by 905 votes to the Republican candidate at the time, Mark Harris.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160551399_e860c37d-1133-40cb-a1cc-52ea7aed1f9f-articleLarge Dan Bishop, North Carolina Republican, Wins Special Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Elections, House of Representatives Bishop, J Daniel (1964- )

Dan McCready, a Democrat, ran seeking to flip control of the longtime Republican-held Ninth Congressional District.CreditLogan R. Cyrus for The New York Times

Then came one of the more bizarre plot twists in recent American politics: The state elections board threw out the entire election and ordered a new one after evidence surfaced that Mr. Harris’s campaign had funded an illegal vote-harvesting scheme in rural Bladen County.

Mr. McCready, 36, a businessman, decided to keep running, and had been on the campaign trail for 27 straight months. A centrist, he focused on the issue of health care affordability and criticized Mr. Bishop for opposing the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Bishop, 55, a Charlotte lawyer, is perhaps best known statewide for sponsoring the so-called bathroom bill that required transgender people to use restrooms that corresponded with the gender on their birth certificate. He boasted of his endorsement from the National Rifle Association, and he repeatedly attacked Mr. McCready by lumping him with the more left-leaning elements of the Democratic Party.

Mr. Trump tweeted his endorsement for Mr. Bishop and sent out a fund-raising email on his behalf. In July, Mr. Bishop spoke at Mr. Trump’s rally in Greenville, N.C., in which the crowd responded to the president’s attacks on Representative Ilhan Omar, a Somali-born Democrat, with chants of “send her back!”

The election was effectively the last campaign of the 2018 season, and what alarmed national Republicans was how ominously it recalled the midterm elections: As with so many races last year, a centrist Democrat raised significantly more money than the Republican candidate. And it happened in a historically conservative district that is now tilting toward the political center because of the suburban drift away from the G.O.P.

Live Results
North Carolina Special Election Results: Ninth House District
See full results and maps from the North Carolina special election.

Sept. 10, 2019

Westlake Legal Group results-north-carolina-house-district-9-special-general-election-1568140508937-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Dan Bishop, North Carolina Republican, Wins Special Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Elections, House of Representatives Bishop, J Daniel (1964- )

At Olde Providence Elementary School in Charlotte on Tuesday afternoon, voters moved in and out of their polling place at a steady trickle, braving 93-degree heat and a gauntlet of volunteers for local campaigns who lined the sidewalk outside.

The elementary school is surrounded by a relatively prosperous clutch of neighborhoods in South Charlotte — exactly the kind of place where Mr. McCready needed to rack up votes if he was to score an upset.

Lisa Rockholt, 58, a registered nurse, said she voted for Mr. McCready. She said she typically voted for both Republicans and Democrats, but was fed up with all the available options in the last presidential election, and wrote in her boyfriend’s name.

Ms. Rockholt said she disagreed with Mr. Bishop’s opposition to the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in this state. As an R.N., she said, she has seen the toll that a lack of insurance can take on North Carolinians. And she liked Mr. McCready’s talk about keeping down the price of prescription drugs.

Stephanie Dillon exited the polling place with her seven-week-old son, Wells, in a stroller. She considers herself a political independent and she recalled voting for Mitt Romney in a previous presidential election.

Ms. Dillon, 34, represented a kind of nightmare-scenario voter for Mr. Bishop and Mr. Trump. Her conservatism is of the fiscal and business-friendly variety. She works in human resources, though she is on maternity leave now, and has seen the pressures that businesses must overcome to survive. But this time around, she voted for Mr. McCready.

She is not an immigration hard-liner (Mr. Bishop has referred to himself as “pro-wall”) and she has very few kind things to say about President Trump. “The whole kind of sexist persona totally turns me off,” she said, adding, “Why is he spending his time tweeting to celebrities?”

Caroline Penland, 44, a Republican, said she voted for Mr. Bishop. She is a reliable Republican voter, and a Christian who opposes abortion and favors “keeping God in schools.” She also favors some gun control, after being deeply affected by a 2012 shooting that occurred at the high school from which she graduated.

But now, she said, was not a time to stray from the Republican fold. She voted for Mr. Trump and would do so again. “From an economical standpoint he’s doing really well,” she said.

“First of all, he’s in my party. And I’m going to stick to my party right now,” Ms. Penland said of Mr. Bishop.

Ms. Penland, who works in marketing, also said that Mr. Bishop’s incessant ads targeting Mr. McCready stuck with her. She said her children were even referring to Mr. McCready as “McGreedy,” the epithet used against him in some attack ads.

In the late afternoon, Mr. Bishop arrived at an elementary school in a suburb southeast of Charlotte, wearing a Carolina-blue dress shirt and slacks. A group of reporters surrounded him and he reiterated his vision, which is squarely pro-Trump.

“The principles I stand for are timeless,” he said. “I think one problem we have is too many politicians shape-shift, and mold themselves to what they think people will want to hear and I don’t do that.”

Indeed, the fliers his supporters handed out painted a stark contrast between Mr. Bishop (“The Right Dan”) and Mr. McCready (“The Wrong Dan”), noting Mr. Bishop’s support for Mr. Trump’s border wall, his N.R.A. endorsement, his anti-abortion stance and his endorsement from Mr. Trump.

Mr. Bishop criticized the Democratic Party for a leftward lurch, and said that his opponent, who considers himself a moderate, has received funding from “the farthest-left sources of money in the country.”

The race, he said, was “a clear clash of different visions.”

“I represent a Trump vision of America. I join in President Trump’s vision of America of a booming economy and taxes that are lower and jobs that are more plentiful and border security and the idea of American exceptional continuing into the indefinite future.”

Mr. Bishop shook a few hands of voters as they made their way in to the polls, then huddled for an extended period of time with one man in shorts and a ball cap. After the man went inside, Mr. Bishop spoke with William Brawley, a former state representative who was defeated in 2018, and was handing out pro-Bishop fliers.

“What was his beef?” Mr. Brawley said of the man in the cap.

“Doesn’t like Donald Trump,” Mr. Bishop replied.

North Carolina Politics
Read more about the special election.
With the Faithful at Trump’s North Carolina Rally: ‘He Speaks Like Me’

Sept. 10, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_160520076_b90154dd-663a-4e83-b77c-df30cc81e5b0-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Dan Bishop, North Carolina Republican, Wins Special Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Elections, House of Representatives Bishop, J Daniel (1964- )
In North Carolina Do-Over Vote, a Reliable Republican District Is Up for Grabs

Sept. 8, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 08dc-northcarolina1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v2 Dan Bishop, North Carolina Republican, Wins Special Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Elections, House of Representatives Bishop, J Daniel (1964- )
North Carolina’s ‘Guru of Elections’: Can-Do Operator Who May Have Done Too Much

Dec. 8, 2018

Westlake Legal Group 09carolina1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Dan Bishop, North Carolina Republican, Wins Special Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Elections, House of Representatives Bishop, J Daniel (1964- )
A Rare Do-Over Congressional Election Is a Chance to Battle-Test 2020 Strategies

July 31, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 31northcarolina1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v2 Dan Bishop, North Carolina Republican, Wins Special Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J North Carolina Midterm Elections (2018) McCready, Dan Elections, House of Representatives Bishop, J Daniel (1964- )

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Court Seems Skeptical Of Overturning 5-Year Prison Sentence For Illegal Voting

FORT WORTH, Texas  ― A Texas appeals court appeared hesitant on Tuesday to overturn the criminal conviction of Crystal Mason, a 44-year old woman sentenced to five years in prison for illegally voting in the 2016 election.

Mason cast a provisional ballot in 2016 while on supervised release for a federal felony related to inflating tax returns. Texas prohibits felons from voting while they are serving their sentences, but Mason says she had no idea she was ineligible to vote.

Election officials didn’t count Mason’s ballot, but Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson (R) brought charges against her anyway and successfully convinced a lower court judge that Mason knew she was ineligible to vote and did so anyway. The state pointed to the fact that Mason signed a provisional affidavit warning her about voter eligibility to prove she knew she could vote. 

Much of a brief oral argument Tuesday afternoon focused on the fact that Mason voted with a provisional ballot. Mason didn’t actually vote because her ballot was rejected, Thomas Buser-Clancy, one of Mason’s attorneys, told the three-judge, all-Republican panel. Federal law requires election officials to offer people like Mason a chance to vote if they are uncertain about their eligibility, and it’s determined later whether their ballots should count. That’s exactly what happened in Mason’s case, Buser-Clancy argued, and by prosecuting her, Texas was essentially criminalizing a process protected by federal law. 

“Ms. Mason was convicted of illegal voting for following procedure set forth by the federal government to submit a provisional ballot,” Buser-Clancy, an attorney with the Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said during his oral argument. “Ms. Mason did not vote on November 8, 2016. Ms. Mason submitted a provisional ballot and that ballot was rejected. That is not a vote in an election.”

Justice Dabney Bassel noted the state’s illegal voting statute requires that the person know they are ineligible while voting to commit a crime. He pressed Buser-Clancy on whether prosecuting a person who knowingly votes illegally is incompatible with federal law that requires provisional ballots for people unsure about their status. 

Justice Elizabeth Kerr seemed interested in whether casting a provisional ballot could be construed as an “attempt to vote.” But Mason’s lawyer Buser-Clancy and Helena Faulkner, who represented the state of Texas, noted that Mason was not charged with attempting to vote; she was charged with actually voting.

Mason’s case immediately drew national attention last year because her sentence was so severe. Mason’s lawyers say her case is an obvious attempt to scare minority voters and people with criminal histories away from the ballot box.

Westlake Legal Group 5d77ed002300001005512b48 Court Seems Skeptical Of Overturning 5-Year Prison Sentence For Illegal Voting

Michael Caravella / HuffPost Crystal Mason attends church in Dallas on Sept. 8, 2019. Mason is fighting a five-year prison sentence for illegally voting.

The small courtroom for Tuesday’s oral argument was packed to capacity with spectators, including several members of Mason’s family and church. Passersby outside the courtroom stopped to ask what the case was about. 

When Buser-Clancy pointed to several provisions in Texas law that treated provisional ballots differently than votes, Justice J. Wade Birdwell, who asked the most questions on Tuesday, seemed unmoved. He noted that the word “vote” in the state’s illegal voting statute was a verb focused on someone’s conduct. The provisions Buser-Clancy was pointing to, he said, seemed to treat it as a noun.

Buser-Clancy said if there was any ambiguity about the meaning, the law required it to be interpreted in Mason’s favor.

The state’s two key witnesses during Mason’s trial failed to provide evidence that Mason had read a warning about voter eligibility, Buser-Clancy argued. One poll worker said Mason appeared to read the warning, but he couldn’t say for certain. The second said he saw Mason go over the language with her finger. But the provisional affidavit has two sides and the warning is only on one of it, Buser-Clancy noted. Neither witness testified that they saw Mason read the side with the warning.

In interviews with HuffPost, both witnesses gave different stories about what happened at the polls. The worker who offered Mason the provisional ballot, who was 16 at the time, said he was aware that she was ineligible to vote but forgot when she walked into the polling place. 

Faulkner, the attorney representing the state, argued that Mason’s provisional ballot was a vote under Texas law. She said that if the court adopted Buser-Clancy’s argument, it would allow people to knowingly cast provisional ballots, have them rejected and walk away without punishment. 

“Nothing in the Texas election code indicates that the verb “to vote” has to include, only includes a vote that was tallied in the final election,” Faulkner said. “She knew she was ineligible to vote. She wasn’t mistaken, as the court found, she knew.”

Westlake Legal Group 5d789073240000c92b77cb5b Court Seems Skeptical Of Overturning 5-Year Prison Sentence For Illegal Voting

Michael Caravella / HuffPost Crystal Mason is appealing a 5-year prison sentence for illegally voting in the 2016 election.

The decision to prosecute Mason for casting a provisional vote was unusual. Since 2014, 12,668 people cast provisional ballots in Tarrant County, and election officials rejected 11,085 of them. Mason appears to be the only provisional voter who was singled out and prosecuted for illegal voting.

Birdwell also pushed Faulkner to explain what the election judge had done to ensure that Mason had read the warning about voter eligibility on her provisional affidavit. Faulkner said the election judge had directed Mason to read the provisional affidavit, but Birdwell said there was a question about what Mason had actually read. 

Westlake Legal Group 5d3b221b3b00004b00dad91e Court Seems Skeptical Of Overturning 5-Year Prison Sentence For Illegal Voting

Crystal Mason’s provisional ballot. 

A ruling in the appeal could come at any time. If Mason loses, she would likely appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest court, which could choose to either hear or reject her case. Buser-Clancy told reporters that Mason would appeal to that court if she lost at the Texas Court of Appeals. 

Mason is out of state prison on an appeal bond, but the case has already upended her life. Because she was convicted of a crime while on federal supervised release, she was sent back to federal prison last August and held there until May. Mason was the primary breadwinner for her family ― which includes three of her own kids, four of her brother’s kids and several grandchildren ― and they nearly lost their home to foreclosure while she was incarcerated.  

On Tuesday, Mason gathered outside the courtroom in a prayer circle before the court hearing began. She sat a few rows back in the courtroom with her children, nephews, nieces and grandchildren. Seated next to her was her 20-year-old daughter Taylor, who ran the household while Mason was in federal prison. Taylor bounced one of Mason’s grandchildren on her lap during the hearing as Mason sat expressionlessly, replaying the day she went to vote in 2016 while arguments went on.

“There’s no way I would do anything to jeopardize leaving my kids again. There’s no way that I would have went to vote if I knew I couldn’t vote,” Mason said during a press conference after the hearing.

She knew she was ineligible to vote. She wasn’t mistaken, as the court found, she knew. Assistant Criminal District Attorney Helena Faulkner

Voter fraud is rare in the United States. Recently, there have been several examples of prosecutors bringing charges against people who illegally vote, many of which appear to be instances in which someone was confused.

For example, a Tarrant County woman was sentenced to eight years in prison for voting repeatedly as a noncitizen, even though she said she didn’t know she was ineligible. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) has touted an entire unit in his office dedicated to election integrity, but nearly all of the cases it has brought have been resolved with little punishment. 

In North Carolina, a U.S. attorney loudly announced charges against 20 noncitizens for illegal voting, but almost all of the defendants have said in court over the last year they didn’t know they couldn’t vote. 

Most of the cases have been quietly settled.

“They know that these prosecutions and harsh sentences in cases like Crystal’s are thinly veiled attempts to suppress the vote,” said Beth Stevens, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project helping to represent Mason. “These are efforts that are meant to strike fear in the heart of other people.”

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Who Could Replace John Bolton?

President Trump on Tuesday announced the departure of John R. Bolton as his national security adviser, the third person to hold the job since the beginning of the Trump administration. Though the White House has said Mr. Bolton’s current deputy, Charles M. Kupperman, will take over in the interim, Mr. Trump has said he will announce a successor next week.

A guessing game immediately began among the president’s formal and informal advisers about who still left in the president’s orbit might get the job.

The expanding list of possibilities, generated by those hoping to promote their allies or harm their enemies, included Fred Fleitz, Mr. Bolton’s former chief of staff; Keith Kellogg, a retired lieutenant general and a former acting national security adviser; Jack Keane, a retired Army vice chairman currently advising the vice president on national security; Robert Blair, an adviser to Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff; and Robert C. O’Brien, the administration’s hostage envoy who called Mr. Trump the greatest hostage negotiator in American history.

As the administration begins to resemble a game of reverse musical chairs — too many open slots without enough loyalists to fill them — a short list of plausible replacements emerged.

The acting Adviser

Mr. Kupperman, a former Reagan administration official and defense contracting executive, is a longtime Bolton associate. Known by many national security officials by his nickname, “Kupperware,” for his blandness, Mr. Kupperman, 68, was appointed in January as deputy national security adviser under Mr. Bolton.

Shortly after Mr. Bolton left the White House on Tuesday, Hogan Gidley, a deputy White House spokesman, told reporters that Mr. Kupperman would serve as Mr. Bolton’s acting successor. Acting officials have a way of sticking around in this administration for indefinite lengths of time, but Mr. Kupperman’s track record as someone ensconced in Mr. Bolton’s inner circle could shorten his tenure.

Still, the president appreciated Mr. Kupperman’s just-the-facts style compared with Mr. Bolton’s often ideologically charged delivery: If Mr. Trump had to have a national security brief concerning long-term planning, he preferred it from Mr. Kupperman as opposed to Mr. Bolton, according to a person with knowledge of that process.

The representative to North Korea

Mr. Biegun, the United States’ special representative for North Korea, had a firsthand window into the clashes between Mr. Bolton, who never wavered from a hawkish, hard-line stance on North Korea, and the president, who has tried to use a charm offensive to persuade Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, down a path to denuclearization.

Mr. Biegun is considered a capable technocrat rather than a big-ideas person, unlike Mr. Bolton, who had firm ideological views that shaped his policy positions. Recently Mr. Biegun has been in closer alignment with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mr. Trump than with the hard-line, anti-North Korea views of Mr. Bolton.

In a speech at the University of Michigan last week, Mr. Biegun, 56, said that he did not question Mr. Trump’s choice to play down evidence that Mr. Kim was building an advancing arsenal.

“The challenge is to find a way through diplomacy to resolve it,” Mr. Biegun said. “The president has made it clear that short-range missiles don’t make him happy, but it’s not going to disrupt our efforts in order to engage diplomatically to resolve the very issues that we are referring to.”

This summer, Mr. Biegun was initially floated internally as a possibility to succeed Jon Huntsman Jr., who resigned in August as the administration’s ambassador to Russia. That job ultimately went to John Sullivan, the deputy secretary of state under Mr. Pompeo.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment about whether Mr. Biegun had recently interviewed with the president for the job of national security adviser.

Mr. Biegun also served as an executive secretary of the National Security Council under President George W. Bush. In August 2001, Mr. Biegun was with the president, then on vacation at his ranch in Texas, when Mr. Bush received a daily brief containing an article with the title “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”

The administration’s Iran representative

ImageWestlake Legal Group 10dc-adviser2-articleLarge Who Could Replace John Bolton? United States Politics and Government United States International Relations O'Brien, Robert C (1952- ) North Korea National Security Council McMaster, H R Kupperman, Charles M Kellogg, Joseph Keith Jr (1944- ) Keane, John M Iran Grenell, Richard Bolton, John R Appointments and Executive Changes

Brian H. Hook, the special representative to Iran, is one of the remaining appointees of the Rex W. Tillerson era.CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

Mr. Hook, 51, is also said to be in contention to succeed Mr. Bolton. He is the administration’s special representative for Iran and a senior adviser to Mr. Pompeo.

Mr. Hook, a lawyer brought into the State Department under Rex W. Tillerson, is one of the remaining survivors from that era. An administration official familiar with Mr. Hook’s relationship with Mr. Trump said that the two “interact on Iran” and that “the president is happy with how the strategy is going there.”

He would also probably have the support of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who has tried to push his allies into high-profile administration positions before. But Mr. Hook could already be engaged. He has stepped up to take on Mr. Kushner’s Middle East portfolio as Jason Greenblatt, the co-architect of the administration’s peace plan for that region, prepares to leave.

Another Fox News fixture

Mr. Trump is almost certainly familiar with Mr. Macgregor, a retired Army colonel who has written several books on reorganizing the military. But more important to Mr. Trump, he also appears frequently on one of the president’s favorite Fox programs, “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

In June, when Mr. Trump decided at the last minute to call off a round of strikes against Iran, he had listened to Mr. Carlson’s assertion that a strike could prove politically fatal. A frequent guest on the show that week was Mr. Macgregor, who backed up that rationale.

Reached by telephone on Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Macgregor seemed to expect the call. “It’s no comment, no comment, no comment,” he said, declining to say whether he had talked to the White House about Mr. Bolton’s job.

Either way, solid television performances may not be the safest route to Mr. Trump’s good graces. The president had also liked the look of Mr. Bolton’s fiery Fox News performances before he hired him for the national security adviser post.

The wild card

Mr. Grenell, the American ambassador to Germany, is personally liked by the president. At times, he has emulated Mr. Trump’s brash diplomatic style. Shortly after beginning his post in Germany, he elicited the annoyance of politicians there by admonishing any German companies doing business with Iran.

Mr. Grenell, 52, who is gay, is perhaps best known for enthusiastically defending the president’s position on gay rights, even as the Trump administration has taken steps to roll back civil rights for gay and transgender people. He has also led an effort to decriminalize homosexuality around the globe.

Throughout his tenure, Mr. Grenell has told his allies that he has been considered for several high-ranking positions — this year, his name was floated as a prospective nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, a position that Kelly Knight Kraft, the ambassador to Canada at the time, ultimately filled. He expects to be interviewed for Mr. Bolton’s job, according to a person with knowledge of the planning process.

The really wild card

General McMaster, who was ousted last year weeks after a furious tweetstorm from Mr. Trump over his comment that there was “incontrovertible” evidence of Russian election interference, has received at least one phone call from the president on matters of national security, according to a report from NBC News and confirmed by The New York Times.

The chances he is offered the job? “Less than zero,” according to a person familiar with his historically fraught relationship with Mr. Trump.

In any other administration, that would mean he wouldn’t have a chance.

Another possibility from the McMaster era could be Ricky Waddell, a former deputy national security adviser who left the White House last year. In an interview on Tuesday with Fox News, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said that Mr. Trump had mentioned Mr. Waddell by name, along with Mr. Hook and Mr. Kellogg.

Adam Goldman, Edward Wong and Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

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Authorities identify 5 more victims of fatal California dive boat fire

Authorities in California on Tuesday identified five additional victims of last week’s fatal dive boat fire.

The five victims, all from California, were ID’d as: Adrian Dahood-Fritz, 40, of Sacramento; Lisa Fiedler, 52, of Mill Valley; Kristina “Kristy” Finstad, 41, of Santa Cruz; Fernisa Sison, 57, of Stockton; and Kristian Takvam, 34, of San Francisco.

Finstad, a marine biologist who led the scuba tour, had led hundreds of dives in the Channel Islands. She had just returned from spending several years sailing across the Pacific with her husband.

Westlake Legal Group Kristina-Finstad Authorities identify 5 more victims of fatal California dive boat fire Frank Miles fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/us-regions/west fox-news/us/disasters/transportation fox news fnc/us fnc cf5aac1d-1755-5a8c-9c6f-35a112b99218 article

Kristina “Kristy” Finstad, 41, of Santa Cruz, Calif. (Facebook)

Fiedler, a Michigan native, was a hairdresser and photographer who thought of herself as “part fish” because of her ocean addiction.

CALIFORNIA DIVE BOAT OWNERS FILE LAWSUIT TO AVOID LIABILITY AFTER DEADLY FIRE

Westlake Legal Group Lisa-Fiedler Authorities identify 5 more victims of fatal California dive boat fire Frank Miles fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/us-regions/west fox-news/us/disasters/transportation fox news fnc/us fnc cf5aac1d-1755-5a8c-9c6f-35a112b99218 article

Lisa Fiedler, 52, of Mill Valley (Facebook)

The other three victims identified Tuesday were on the boat with co-workers and loved ones.

Sison’s husband, Michael Quitasol, and her three stepdaughters also perished in the fire. Sison and Quitasol worked at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton.

Westlake Legal Group Fernisa-Sison Authorities identify 5 more victims of fatal California dive boat fire Frank Miles fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/us-regions/west fox-news/us/disasters/transportation fox news fnc/us fnc cf5aac1d-1755-5a8c-9c6f-35a112b99218 article

Fernisa Sison, 57, of Stockton (Facebook)

Dahood-Fritz and her husband, professional photographer Andrew Fritz, also both died in the blaze. Dahood-Fritz had recently started a job as a senior environmental scientist for California’s Ocean Protection Council under the California Natural Resources Agency.

Westlake Legal Group Adrian_Dahood-Fritz Authorities identify 5 more victims of fatal California dive boat fire Frank Miles fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/us-regions/west fox-news/us/disasters/transportation fox news fnc/us fnc cf5aac1d-1755-5a8c-9c6f-35a112b99218 article

Adrian Dahood-Fritz, 40, of Sacramento (Facebook)

Takvam was a vice president of engineering at the education platform Brilliant in San Francisco. His coworker, Carrie McLaughlin, also died.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Fox 11 reports that investigators have identified 27 of the 33 people whose remains were recovered from the wreckage of the Conception. Authorities said efforts to find the final victim and salvage the Conception are expected to continue Wednesday.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said the victims, 21 women and 13 men from 16 to 62 years old, appear to have died from smoke inhalation before they were burned. Five of six crew members, including the captain, survived after multiple efforts to rescue the dozens trapped below deck.

As part of the investigation, the FBI is seeking photos and videos related to the fire as multiple agencies examine whether the captain and boat owners followed safety requirements.

Click for more from FOX 11 Los Angeles.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group ec93ddab-Boat-Fire-2 Authorities identify 5 more victims of fatal California dive boat fire Frank Miles fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/us-regions/west fox-news/us/disasters/transportation fox news fnc/us fnc cf5aac1d-1755-5a8c-9c6f-35a112b99218 article   Westlake Legal Group ec93ddab-Boat-Fire-2 Authorities identify 5 more victims of fatal California dive boat fire Frank Miles fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/us-regions/west fox-news/us/disasters/transportation fox news fnc/us fnc cf5aac1d-1755-5a8c-9c6f-35a112b99218 article

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Gun control: Alyssa Milano begs Ted Cruz 'to have the courage to lead' at meeting after Twitter spat

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Gun control: Alyssa Milano begs Ted Cruz 'to have the courage to lead' at meeting after Twitter spat

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is usually unflappable when speaking to reporters, but she became visibly angry Tuesday when discussing gun violence legislation that she said is being held up by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (Sept. 10) AP, AP

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and actress-turned-activist Alyssa Milano met in person Tuesday in Washington, D.C., after the outspoken conservative and the equally outspoken liberal got into a lively Twitter discussion about gun control and the Bible that resulted in the senator telling the actress he would be “happy to sit down & visit next week about uniting to stop gun violence & about the Constitution.”

There was even a Facebook live stream, as the unlikely pair met on Capitol Hill, along with Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jamie was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Parkland, Fla., mass shooting. Guttenberg has since become an activist on the issue of gun violence. 

Tuesday’s meeting was also attended Ben Jackson, co-founder of #NoRA, an anti-NRA organization “inspired by the Parkland shooting,” according to its website.

More: GOP leaders meet with Trump as pressure mounts on gun legislation

The sit-down happened as senators arrived back on Capitol Hill following the summer recess.. While Congress was absent from Washington, four high-profile shootings occurred this summer. Now, Republicans are facing pressure to take up legislation on guns and congressional Democrats say they aren’t going to back down in their demands that the Senate and the White House do something.

Congressional GOP leaders also met at the White House with President Trump Tuesday in an effort to chart a path forward.  

Texas, the state Cruz represents, has seen multiple mass shootings in the last few years, including a recent rampage through Odessa and Midland that left 7 dead, a shooting last month at Walmart in El Paso where 22 were killed, a 2018 shooting at a high school in Santa Fe where a student shot and killed ten people and another in Sutherland Springs in 2017 where a gunman killed 26 people at the First Baptist Church.

When she originally challenged Cruz to meet, Milano had said in a tweet last week that the meeting should be live-streamed so the “American people can hear your bull**** first hand.”

But, the consensus after the hour-plus-long meeting was that there needs to be civility in political conversation and policy debates, even if their legislative views remain unchanged.

On the issue of gun violence, Milano told Cruz that she is begging him “to have the courage to lead” and that “for many people in this country, your stance has made you almost like this caricature of a villain.”

“That is why this meeting was so important to me. I wanted to look at you in the eye, and know that you really are a human with a heartbeat,” she continued. 

Throughout the meeting, both Milano and Guttenberg pressed the conservative senator to “please do something,” and talked about how little they could do as private citizens compared to what a legislator like Cruz can do. 

Cruz consistently decried legislation backed by Democrats, such as bills that would impose more comprehensive background checks, especially for private firearm purchases and purchases at gun shows. He often pivoted to highlight the gun control bill he and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced that aims at “keeping guns out of the hands of violent criminals.” 

Cruz said he fears more restrictive bills could lead to a gun registry and buyback programs. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Cruz’s 2018 Senate race opponent and now a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, has already proposed mandatory buybacks of assault weapons.

More: Beto O’Rourke takes on Meghan McCain over gun rights

“A gun registry is how gun confiscation is carried out,” Cruz stated Tuesday.

Following the meeting, Milano tweeted: “I just left. He was gracious. I’m unsure if it changes anything. But appreciative for the opportunity to bridge the divide with civil, meaningful, discussion. Link to entire meeting below. #NoRA”

Guttenberg also posted online with the same tone, saying: “Thank you @SenTedCruz for agreeing to meet with @Alyssa_Milano, @DadoftheDecade and I today.  Our meeting lasted a very candid 90 minutes. While I am not sure it changed anything, I appreciate that we had the chance to try and find some common ground.”

Cruz tweeted a thread following the meeting, beginning with: “Always grateful for the opportunity to engage in positive, civil discussion on substantive issues. Today’s meeting with @Alyssa_Milano and @fred_guttenberg was productive and respectful, and I appreciate their willingness to come here with an open mind.”

Before the streaming video of Tuesday’s meeting ended, Cruz and Milano hugged.

Contributing: Jeanine Santucci, Nicholas Wu, and Christal Hayes.

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New England Patriots’ Antonio Brown accused of sexual assault, rape by former trainer

Westlake Legal Group NFL-Antonio-Brown7 New England Patriots' Antonio Brown accused of sexual assault, rape by former trainer Melissa Leon fox-news/sports/nfl/pittsburgh-steelers fox-news/sports/nfl/oakland-raiders fox-news/sports/nfl/new-england-patriots fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/person/antonio-brown fox news fnc/sports fnc d112286e-8269-50d5-a86f-847c756539f4 article

New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown sexually assaulted and raped his former trainer in three separate incidents in 2017 and 2018, according to a federal civil lawsuit filed Tuesday in Florida.

Britney Taylor alleges that Brown sexually assaulted her twice in June 2017 while they were training together and that he forcibly raped her almost a year later in May 2018, according to court documents.

Brown’s attorney, Darren Heitner, said late Tuesday his client denies “each and every allegation” and “refuses to be the victim of what he believes to be a money grab.”

Brown is alleged to have “exposed himself and kissed Ms. Taylor without her consent” in June 2017. Later that month, the lawsuit says he positioned himself behind Taylor and “began masturbating near her without her knowledge and ejaculated on her back.”

Taylor cut off her relationship with Brown but says he later reached out seeking forgiveness and asking to train with her again, the lawsuit states.

On May 20, 2018, Taylor claims Brown cornered her, “forced her down onto a bed, pushed her face into the mattress and forcibly raped her,” according to the lawsuit.

“She screamed and cried throughout the entire rape, repeatedly shouting ‘no’ and ‘stop.’ Brown refused and penetrated her,” court documents state.

BILL BELICHICK DISCUSSES ANTONIO BROWN SIGNING, INVOKES RANDY MOSS TRADE

Heitner says Taylor approached Brown in 2017 asking him for a $1.6 million investment in an unspecifiied “business project,” but Taylor didn’t tell Brown “she had just been levied with a $30,000 IRS tax lien or that $300,000 of the $1.6 million so-called ‘investment’ was to be used to purchase property already owned by the accuser and her mother.” Brown refused to give her the money and Taylor “supposedly” cut off communications with him, according to Heitner.

Then in 2018, Heitner says Taylor offered to travel to Pennsylvania and South Florida with Brown to train, and she engaged Brown in “a consensual personal relationship.”

“Any sexual interaction with Mr. Brown was entirely consensual,” Heitner said, claiming Taylor also traveled from Tennessee to Florida to see Brown “10 days after the alleged assault.”

In May 2018, Taylor “invited herself” to join Brown and a group of friends at a Miami club and later “solicited” Brown and the two “engaged in consensual sex,” Heitner said.

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Both emails are dated June 29 with no year listed. Brown was playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers at the time of the alleged incidents.

Brown was released by the Oakland Raiders last week after clashing with the team throughout training camp. He agreed to a contract with New England on Saturday but has yet to play for the Patriots.

The Patriots and the NFL did not immediately comment on the lawsuit.

Westlake Legal Group NFL-Antonio-Brown7 New England Patriots' Antonio Brown accused of sexual assault, rape by former trainer Melissa Leon fox-news/sports/nfl/pittsburgh-steelers fox-news/sports/nfl/oakland-raiders fox-news/sports/nfl/new-england-patriots fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/person/antonio-brown fox news fnc/sports fnc d112286e-8269-50d5-a86f-847c756539f4 article   Westlake Legal Group NFL-Antonio-Brown7 New England Patriots' Antonio Brown accused of sexual assault, rape by former trainer Melissa Leon fox-news/sports/nfl/pittsburgh-steelers fox-news/sports/nfl/oakland-raiders fox-news/sports/nfl/new-england-patriots fox-news/sports/nfl fox-news/person/antonio-brown fox news fnc/sports fnc d112286e-8269-50d5-a86f-847c756539f4 article

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Trump Eyes Crackdown on Homelessness as Aides Visit California

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WASHINGTON — President Trump is pushing aides to find ways to curtail the growing number of homeless people living on the streets of Los Angeles, part of broader discussions his aides have held for weeks about urban problems in liberal locales, according to his personal lawyer and administration officials.

A team of administration officials is in California on what was described as a “fact-finding” mission as they weigh proposals to address the burgeoning crisis. But it is not clear what steps the administration could legally take on an issue that has traditionally been handled at the local level.

“Like many Americans, the president has taken notice of the homelessness crisis, particularly in cities and states where the liberal policies of overregulation, excessive taxation and poor public service delivery are combining to dramatically increase poverty and public health risks,” said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman. He said that the president signed an executive order to ease affordable housing development in June, and that he had “directed his team to go further and develop a range of policy options for consideration to deal with this tragedy.”

The visit of the administration officials to California was first reported by The Washington Post. The intensified discussions took place as the president, who has frequently criticized how urban areas in Democratic states are managed, prepares for a swing through California next week.

California has the largest homeless population in the country, according to a 2018 report compiled by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, at an estimated 130,000 people.

And the nature of homelessness in California is markedly different than in other parts of the country; the state also has the highest percentage of homeless who are unsheltered, with nearly 70 percent of the homeless — or about 90,000 people — living on the street. That report estimated that nearly half of all people without shelter in the United States were in California in 2018. New York State had the second largest homeless population, nearly 92,000, according to the report. But of those, fewer than 5 percent lacked shelter.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer and former mayor of New York, who was known for his aggressive crackdowns on street-bound homelessness, said he had been discussing the issue with administration officials.

“I think they feel that there’s got to be something that creates an incentive, carrot and stick, for cities to do something about it,” Mr. Giuliani said, adding that the discussions had been going on for two months.

Word of the efforts by the administration, which has repeatedly sought to cut housing assistance in its budget requests, alarmed advocates for the homeless and angered city leaders across California.

“Simply cracking down on homelessness without providing the housing that people need is not a real solution and will likely only make the situation worse,” said Mayor London Breed of San Francisco, whose city has been an object of the president’s scorn.

An estimated 59,000 homeless people live in Los Angeles County, according to a count conducted this year by the county, about a 12 percent increase over 2018. Of those, an estimated 44,000, or 75 percent, were unsheltered. Within the city of Los Angeles, which is distinct from the county, there were 36,000 homeless, including 27,000 who were unsheltered, according to that same count.

Los Angeles’s mayor, Eric M. Garcetti, and other political leaders faced intense scrutiny this summer after the release of the results of the 2019 count, which also showed that the number of homeless had increased 16 percent in the city. The surge was especially shocking because the government spent hundreds of millions of dollars in 2018 to address the problem.

Voters approved two high-profile initiatives in recent years to fund homeless services in the region, including a 2016 city bond that earmarked $1.2 billion to build housing for the homeless and a 2017 county quarter-cent sales tax increase to raise about $355 million annually for 10 years. The mayor’s defenders and city officials have pointed out that the city housed nearly 22,000 people in 2018, a record number for the government and an increase of 23 percent from 2017. But even amid those efforts, the high cost of housing in Los Angeles, one of the priciest rental markets in the country, has continued to push more individuals and families out of their homes.

While Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles has often been a focal point for national conversations about homelessness, the high rate of unsheltered people has become a source of friction across the state, in cities including Eureka, Oakland and San Francisco. With nowhere else to go, the homeless often set up encampments on sidewalks and beneath highway overpasses. Increasingly, encampments are nestling against wild lands, raising concerns amid increasingly intense and volatile wildfire seasons.

But while the displeasure of middle-class urban residents often receives attention, the homeless themselves — many of whom have full-time jobs but cannot afford California’s high rents — have the most to be frustrated about. Safety is a huge concern: An analysis published earlier this year by Kaiser Health News found that a record 918 homeless people died last year in Los Angeles County.

The administration has discussed refurbishing homeless facilities or building new ones, The Post reported. An administration official said that while those ideas have been discussed, nothing has been settled.

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State media: Kim Jong Un supervised North Korea’s firing of super-large rocket launcher

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw Tuesday’s testing of a super-large multiple rocket launcher, state propaganda organ KCNA said late Tuesday.

Two short-range projectiles were fired hours after the North indicated a willingness to resume denuclearization talks with the United States later this month.

The projectiles were fired from South Pyongan Province, which surrounds the capital city of Pyongyang, and landed in the waters off North Korea’s east coast, South Korean officials said.

NORTH KOREA WILLING TO HOLD DENUCLEARIZATION TAKLS WITH US IN COMING WEEKS, STATE MEDIA SAYS

Westlake Legal Group AP19253018529007 State media: Kim Jong Un supervised North Korea's firing of super-large rocket launcher Louis Casiano fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/us/disasters/nuclear fox-news/person/kim-jong-un fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/world fnc f9e08247-2da2-5fdc-92c3-ca90792b184a article

People watch a TV showing a file image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Seoul Railway Station Tuesday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Kim was accompanied by senior military personnel and officials with the Workers’ Party of Korea during the tests, KCNA said. He said the weapons system “has been finally verified in terms of combat operation” and “running fire test” is what remains to be done. It was not clear what such a test would entail.

KCNA reported that Kim said future tasks and steadily attaining goals to cutting-edge national defense were also needed.

President Trump has downplayed a slew of recent weapons tests by the North this year. The latest was the tenth such launch since May. He has said the short-range firings do not violate any agreements.

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Before Tuesday’s launchings, North Korean officials said they would be willing to restart denuclearization negotiations with American officials.

Talks between Trump and Kim fell apart in February when Trump rejected Kim’s demand for sanctions relief in exchange for partial denuclearization.

Westlake Legal Group AP19253018832314-1 State media: Kim Jong Un supervised North Korea's firing of super-large rocket launcher Louis Casiano fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/us/disasters/nuclear fox-news/person/kim-jong-un fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/world fnc f9e08247-2da2-5fdc-92c3-ca90792b184a article   Westlake Legal Group AP19253018832314-1 State media: Kim Jong Un supervised North Korea's firing of super-large rocket launcher Louis Casiano fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/us/disasters/nuclear fox-news/person/kim-jong-un fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/world fnc f9e08247-2da2-5fdc-92c3-ca90792b184a article

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Trump officials look to fix California homeless problem, state officials say back off

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Trump officials look to fix California homeless problem, state officials say back off

Despite efforts to reduce homelessness in Los Angeles, new numbers show the issue there has hit a new high. Video provided by Newsy Newslook

SAN FRANCISCO — Trump administration officials confirmed Tuesday they are on the ground in California looking at ways to intervene in the state’s mounting homelessness issue, which President Donald Trump has criticized as “disgusting” and a “disgrace to our country.”

But many elected officials and homelessness experts in the Golden State said any White House assistance would be disingenuous given federal housing cuts have helped exacerbate the problem. Some also accused Trump of using the homelessness issue to win over conservative supporters ahead of the 2020 election. 

“We need federal support and resources to build more housing for people living on the streets,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “But simply cracking down on homelessness without providing the housing people need is not a real solution.”

Nathan Click, chief spokesman for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, also in part blamed the president for the state’s poverty woes. “If the president is willing to put serious solutions, with real investment, on the table, California stands ready to talk. He could start by ending his plans to cut food stamps, gut health care for low-income people and scare immigrant families from accessing government services,” he said.

State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) was even more blunt.

“Trump needs to back off and focus on his own mess of an administration,” Wiener said. “Rounding up homeless people into federal facilities won’t solve the problem. We need to get people the help they need, including shelter, housing, and other services.”

Trump plans still unclear

Trump officials have not specified what kinds of actions or solutions they would implement in California. 

A senior administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations confirmed to USA TODAY that a team of federal officials was on the ground in California assessing local homeless camps. The official said the team was conducting a fact-finding mission to learn more about the crisis.

The news was first reported by The Washington Post, which cited unnamed officials describing a coming crackdown, particularly in cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, which have some of the nation’s largest homeless populations.

The report did not specify what actions officials planned to take, but suggested that camps could be razed with homeless individuals moved into either new facilities or refurbished buildings.

According to last year’s survey by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, some 130,000 Californians were homeless, or nearly a quarter of the national total.

Officials said Los Angeles’ “Skid Row” was a particular priority. The area has seen a growing number of homeless as housing prices there and in most California cities continue to skyrocket. Los Angeles County saw nearly 59,000 homeless residents during a June count, up from approximately 55,000 people in 2017. 

Late Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti released a letter written to Trump that outlined a number of things his administration could do to help the homelessness issue in Los Angeles, which with some 79,000 homeless residents, trails only New York City. 

Garcetti, who recently led administration officials on a tour of a range of homeless shelters and housing complexes, said that although “this crisis is decades in the making,” solutions could include protecting existing fair-housing laws, rescinding proposed HUD rules to evict mixed-status immigrant families from assisted housing, and supporting measures that would expand the housing safety net for veterans and the poor.

No where in Garcetti’s letter did he address the prospect of L.A. homeless encampments being razed and its population’s moved to federal housing projects.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement Tuesday that “like many Americans, the president has taken notice of the homelessness crisis, particularly in cities and states where the liberal policies of overregulation, excessive taxation and poor public service delivery are combining to dramatically increase poverty and public health risks.”

Deere added that Trump has “directed his team to go further and develop a range of policy options for consideration to deal with this tragedy.”

First reaction: ‘Internment camps’

But critics are far from eager for the president’s help.

Bob Erlenbusch, executive director of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness, fretted that president was looking to round homeless people up.

“My first reaction is that it felt like internment camps for people experiencing homelessness,” he said. “The president doesn’t seem to have any grasp of the homeless crisis not only in California but around the country.”

Some, however, welcomed the possibility of federal intervention.

When asked about whether razing homeless camps could be seen as a violation homeless peoples’ civil rights, U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) said Democrats across the state might be overreacting.

“Civil rights based on people squatting on land that isn’t theirs, that is a bit of a reach there,” he said.

A meeting held this earlier this year on homelessness in California seemed to presage the administration’s interest in potentially stepping in.

Jonathan Anderson, executive director of the Redding-based Good News Rescue Mission, the only homeless shelter in Shasta County in northern California, said that during a national homelessness conference in April, officials from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development asked to meet with the 30 executive directors of rescue missions from California, Washington and Oregon about possible future partnerships.

The discussions touched on “how could these faith-based nonprofits co-locate and partner and bring the government agencies into sharing the workload that we’re doing. That was very encouraging. No decisions were made. It was just very open dialogue,” he said. 

“They did say,” Anderson added, “that no matter what happens, the majority of this is going to be focused around the L.A. region.”

Trump has had a long running feud not only with California’s governor, but also with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents San Francisco. California has filed roughly 50 lawsuits against the Trump administration in the past two years over matters ranging from immigration to the U.S. Census.

The president has not hesitated to blast the largely liberal state, whose importance in the 2020 election has grown since its primary was moved to March.

“Nearly half of all the homeless people living in the streets in America happen to live in the state of California,” Trump said during a rally in Ohio last month. “What they are doing to our beautiful California is a disgrace to our country. It’s a shame.”

Newsom ran for governor on a range of liberal platforms, including addressing homelessness, which in Newsom’s hometown of San Francisco has led to needles and feces being strewn along main business and tourist thoroughfares such as Market Street. 

The governor has pledged $1 billion from his budget to tackling homelessness, including allocating $650 million to local governments to deal with emergency homelessness aid and shelter, and $265 million for mental health support.

It’s unclear how much authority a federal entity might have in trying to implement anti-homelessness measures in California. 

“If you’re not doing anything illegal, authorities can’t just pick you up to tell you where to go,” says Steve Berg, vice president for programs and policy with the National Alliance to End Homelessness in Washington, D.C., a non-profit that works with communities to tackle homelessness.

“Having people at all levels pay attention to this issue is good,” he says. “But only if you’re approaching it in a solution-oriented way.”

Feds can help — with money

David Garcia, policy director at the University of California, Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation, said he was skeptical about the Trump administration’s aims. 

“Any strategy that focuses on removing homeless camps and displacing the homeless lacks compassion at best, and at worst exacerbates the challenges,” says Garcia. “Based on this administration’s rhetoric, they don’t seem to be focused on really solving the homelessness crisis.”

Garcia notes that the administration’s increasing pressure on immigrant populations within the U.S. has only added to the growing legions of homeless, as federal assistance continues to dry up and immigrants fear applying for aid.

“If the federal government is interested in helping, that’s great,” says Margot Kushel, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and director of the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, a research center founded by a donation from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne.

“What they can start with is dramatically increasing their financial support for affordable housing,” says Kushel.

Since Trump entered office, the White House budget has proposed slashing funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in each year’s budget. The White House’s 2020 budget proposes slashing the department’s funding by $9.6 billion.

Amid these cutbacks, the Trump administration has expanded grant programs for local agencies working to help individuals experiencing homelessness. The 2020 budget proposed increasing funding for services for people experiencing homelessness by 9% to $2.6 billion.

Despite widespread skepticism over the Trump administration’s potential plans for homeless people in California, some officials acknowledged that the problem may well now be beyond the scope of local and even state officials.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican, has been critical of the Trump administration and said he didn’t vote for the president in 2016. But like Trump, the San Diego Mayor also says California politicians have largely failed to address the state’s homelessness crisis. In 2018,  the homeless population in San Diego dropped to 8,576 people, down by 600 people from the year before. 

“San Diego has taken significant action over the last few years to reduce homelessness, but cities can’t do it alone,” said Faulconer, who has funded shelters and storage facilities for individuals experiencing homelessness and implemented policies to curb tent encampments and people sleeping in their cars. “We welcome additional federal resources to help us move more individuals off the streets and into housing.”

In nearby Palm Springs, City Councilwoman Christy Holstege said the president was likely attacking state lawmakers for political gain as the 2020 election creeps closer. 

“He’s using talking points to rally his base,” said Holstege. “That’s what he’s doing here, trying to shame California about our homelessness crisis.”

The number of individuals experiencing homelessness in Palm Springs has skyrocketed in recent years, growing to 196 homeless people earlier this year. On Monday, state lawmakers earmarked $10 million to be used to fund homelessness services and infrastructure in the city.

“My question to the president would be if he’s going to raze camps, then where will those people go,” Holstege said. “The reason there are tent camps is because there isn’t sufficient housing.”

Contributing: Samuel Metz, Palm Springs Desert Sun

Follow USA TODAY Network reporters @marcodellacava @michele408 @jfritze

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New Law Requires New York Schools To Take Moment Of Silence For 9/11

Westlake Legal Group 5d783323240000d32677cb23 New Law Requires New York Schools To Take Moment Of Silence For 9/11

Every public school in New York state will be required to take a moment of silence on Wednesday in remembrance of the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, according to new state law.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bill into law on Monday establishing September 11th Remembrance Day at all public schools in the state in order to “ensure we never forget ― not just the pain of that moment but of the courage, sacrifice and outpouring of love that defined our response,” the governor said.

The legislation requires schools to take a “brief moment of silence” at the beginning of the school day on Sept. 11 every year. The bill was introduced into the New York Senate by state Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo (D) this year as another generation of students born after 2001 enters the school system.

“I am hopeful that this new law will mean that the significance of the tragic events of September 11th, whether it be the loss of loved ones or the largest rescue operation our nation ever witnessed, will be forever acknowledged by school students too young to have witnessed this life-changing day,” Addabbo said in a statement.

On the day of the attacks, nearly 3,000 people in the U.S. were killed when terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes. Two of the jets crashed into the Twin Towers in New York, one was flown into the Pentagon and one crashed in an open field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

An estimated 343 Fire Department of New York firefighters and 71 police officers died while responding to the attack on the World Trade Center. According to CNN, 200 firefighters died in the years afterward from illnesses linked to their search and recovery efforts at Ground Zero.

“9/11 was one of the single darkest periods in this state’s and this nation’s history, and we owe it to those we lost and to the countless heroes who ran toward danger that day and the days that followed to do everything we can to keep their memory alive,” Cuomo said in a statement.

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